10: Arcane

Every channel was chaos. The wall of LED screens in the sleekly minimalist steel and glass head office of Arcane Developments flickered violently with news feeds from all over the world. A catalogue of panic, misery, fear and suffering. It was perfect.

Drax had been CEO of Arcane for just two years, at 39 the youngest in the company’s dark history, but had finally made his mark. He lay back in an Eames lounger, rattling the ice in his festive whisky mac, and chuckled with righteous glee as he watched the chaos erupt. Bloody riots in London, a delusional cult attacking random innocents, historic buildings reduced to ashes, mutant killer spider hordes swarming the countryside, the great and good barricading their homes and sweating with self-loathing as inner demons rampaged through their tiny minds.

People were eating themselves, and all because a white horse reminded them who they really were. The unicorn had been his idea, one the board were initially reticent to approve, but the equine beauty had paid dividends. The mythic creature had always been the stuff of dreams throughout history, and nothing broke people more than seeing those dreams perverted.

“Pleased with yourself aren’t you?” The voice shocked Drax from his reverie. He spun round in his rocker to see Hennessy leaning back on a Corbusier behind him, casually fingering a Beretta in his lap.

“What… how long have you…”

“Just a wee while laddie. Felt like getting a niggle out of my system.”

The man’s calmness unnerved Drax, used to being the brightest guy in the room. He collected himself, the sour Scot shouldn’t be a problem. It was usually money they were after. It’s not as though Hennessy could really trace the unicorn back to them…

“You signed the thing, you egotistical prick.”

The biochip. Of course. The Arcane trade stamp on the unicorn, maybe that was a mistake, but the organisation had never tried to hide it’s work.

“The only mistake is thinking you won’t be paying the piper someway down the line.”

Wait, could Hennessy read his…

“Yep, sure can. Seems your little rage demon rubs something off on everyone it meets. Didn’t kill me though, didn’t make me want to kill myself either. Maybe felt I wasn’t worth it, or we had too much in common. Maybe thought I’d ensure no one gets away scot free, no matter what they’re used to.”

Drax smiled, but with the irony saw his way out. He put his glass on the table and held up his hands in mock surrender. “Okay, you got me, but you know Mr Hennessy, it’s not as though the young really die good is it? I mean, if you understand what the unicorn was, then you know that Arcane don’t actually kill people. We let them do it to themselves.”

Hennessy snorted. “Balls. Not as though the horse shagged a woman to death on live TV is it?”

“Ms Bailey’s own egotism and delusions of grandeur walked herself to that fate. The unicorn is… was… a physical manifestation of our own desires, fears, our malice and spite. Our anger feeds it, our lust engorges it.” He picked up his glass again, and rattled the ice in his mac. “Je suis unicorn.”

Hennessy thought of his niece, Briony. The wee bairn was the apple of his eye, the one shining light that offered glimmers of hope in the darkness he walked through. This preening arseclown would lump her into the same black pot as everyone else. Not on his watch. He raised the gun. That took the smile off the rich shite’s mug.

“This organisation has been going for hundreds of years, but our motto has remained unchanged. Enim Tellus. For the planet. Generation after generation of Drax has fought for the rights of beast and fauna against the destructive force of Man, it is a noble cause.”

“A cause worth dying for.” Hennessy snorted. “Not with yer own skin I tally. You’re rich pranksters with more money than balls. If you really wanted rid, why not just blow us all to kingdom come and get it over with?”

Drax shook his head. “And leave the planet in ashes? Where’s the karma in that? Where would be the satisfaction of knowing that Man chooses his own fate, and in those final moments each human realises their own corruption, their own delusional weakness, their own mistake?” He stretched out his arms. “We are a blight as a species Mr Hennessy, a destructive force of shite, but so many of us still cling on to the delusional notion we are in some way decent, heroes of our pathetic fantasy world. Even if you discount the murder, torture, enslavement and callous brutality meted out every day, there are still many more nuanced moments of common spite. The schadenfreude enjoyed by supposed brothers, name calling from gossiping neighbours, whispered belittling, animal kicking, tax dodging, fare skipping, charity robbing, casual slights, subtle snidery, the most beautiful veneer disguising a true ugliness within.”

He paused and shook his head in rapture of the horror. “Oh my, the sheer lack of empathy the average dishonest joe exudes on a daily basis. Aren’t we magnificent? Well, Arcane shows people their selfish truth. It makes them accountable for a change. We give them a nudge in the right direction, sure, but unfortunately it never takes that much of a nudge. Given the chance to help or hinder their fellow, most don’t admit which side they stray. That’s all this little… experiment was. A catalyst for honesty.” He smiled. “And a metaphor, it has to be said, I was quite proud of, especially given the events this year we didn’t have a hand in.”

Hennessy thought of Briony wanting a pony for Christmas. Every girl deserved their horse, and this wee shitefuhrer wanted to ruin that harmless wish. He cocked the Beretta. The click started Drax from his smarm.

“Look, I understand if you feel you’ve been… used… Mr Hennessy, but are we not all pawns in a much bigger game?” The gun stayed level, so Drax changed tack. He motioned to his pocket, and produced a cheque book and pen, both stamped with the Arcane logo. He would really have to talk to Accounts about updating to a company credit card next year. He scribbled out xxxxx and held the cheque out towards the scowling hitman, making sure not to be too obvious about flapping it under his nose. “Perhaps everyone needs… compensation for their troubles, from time to time… especially at this time of year.”

Hennessy walked over to the nervous CEO and stared down at the bank slip. It would do nicely to swell the coffers of Briony’s trust fund, if need be providing some protection for her if the world really did start burning. He pocketed it with a grunt.

“Make sure we don’t see each other again laddie,” said Hennessy, then turned and strode from the office. “Burn the world all ye like, just keep the bit with me and mine alone.”

Drax breathed a sigh of relief. He really thought the pie faced Hibernian was going to finish him, and Drax had so many more plans to unfold. He laughed. Yep, playing on simple greed always worked when all else failed. Thank Drax for human nature. That was why they must ultimately succeed, despite being a few centuries behind schedule. Not that the Scot could know that… oh, wait…

Hennessy was at the door again. This time he smiled as he raised the gun, a cruel leer topped with the blackest eyes. “Put this in yer pipe and smoke it,” he said, and squeezed the trigger.

People knew who they were when they died all right, thought Hennessy as he buttoned his overcoat against the chill outside. The rich prick’s final split seconds were filled with the remorse of ill achievement and hopeless mediocrity just the same as everyone else. Except Drax had the extra cherry of a last minute faux pas and phallic insecurity when his brains were blown messily out the back of his skull by one clean shot to the centre of his forehead.

Sure there’d be a replacement, but that was someone else’s concern. Hennessy had a niece to attend to. He patted the cheque in his pocket next to the warm gun. As the first flakes of snow brushed his nose, he wondered if it was too late to buy her a pony. He’d love to see the wee bairn riding the highlands.

It was Christmas after all.

THE END

ON THAT CHEERY NOTE, WE BRING AN END TO DARK DECEMBER, AND BID FAREWELL FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON.

IT HAS BEEN A POOR MONTH FOR THIS SITE IN OUR DEBUT YEAR, AS IRREGULAR POSTINGS DO NOT AN ONLINE MAGAZINE MAKE. TO COMPENSATE, THE SLAVE MONKEYS HAVE A LOT TO DO OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS.

HOVE PRINTING WILL RETURN IN THE NEW YEAR WITH THE MUCH DELAYED RELEASE OF OUR FIRST BOOK PROTECTED SPECIES, NEW LONG FORM ADVENTURE SERIAL THE GUIDE AND A RETURN TO THE REGULAR DAILY DIET OF FICTION, SATIRE AND ESSAYS.

2017 LOOKS TO GET EMOTIONAL. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE.

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2 thoughts on “10: Arcane

  1. Thanks Mary. Arcane was just a bit of trashy fun (I wanted to write something totally deranged!), but Protected Species, and it’s sort-of sequel The Guide are what I really want to be concentrating on in the New Year. Have a good one yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

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