The New Haven Incident - Part Two

Published on 24 May 2024 at 08:00

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Sebastian closed the door quietly behind him. At this time in the day the small three storey walk-up apartment building would be empty. The downstairs neighbours worked regular jobs and wouldn’t be home until maybe six in the evening. The basement apartment was currently empty, pending new tenants.

Taking a moment at the door, Sebastian cast his gaze around his apartment; a small, one bedroom, sparsely furnished space with no decorations at all. Sebastian spent almost no time here, save for the few weeks of eating and sleeping in between missions. There was nothing of his personality in the space at all; not that he could think of what that might even be. He had been moving non-stop since Cedarwood; from surviving the Cedarwood Incident straight into training in a top-secret programme at Tumnus, the training facility The Department shared with the several other agencies. Then from training straight into missions. He had no time to process what had happened to him.

The sessions with the therapist did not help. She was paid for by the Department. It was not her job to get him well again. It was her job to get him back out and into the next mission. Every session had been a strain. Every time he returned knowing nothing had been resolved. It was too much now. He was done.

The rage that simmered in his chest broke loose, Sebastian strode over to the sofa. With a grunt, he lifted it and tossed it aside, flipping it upside down. Turning to the small dining set that shared the space, he lifted the table and threw. It shattered against the wall, breaking through. Robbed of his senses by grief, guilt and anger, Sebastian’s world went black. When he recovered himself, he found himself standing in his bedroom. Weak and out of breath, he cast his gaze around the room. The furniture was nothing but splinters. He looked down and saw that he held the fighting knife given to him by Master Sergeant Berkley, the man who had trained him to be the efficient killer he was now; one of the Department’s most effective operatives.

Looking up, Sebastian saw, carved into the wall, the words “I can’t.” Exhausted, he stumbled back. The crook of his left elbow began to itch, expressing his craving before he became cognizant of it. Stumbling as if drunk, Sebastian slid the knife into its sheath which he always wore on his chest beneath his jacket, and searched through the rubble of what used to be a bedside table in search of his tools. He found them, scooped them up and then crawled to where his headboard used to lean against the wall. He dropped everything in front of him and took a quick stock.

A lighter, a spoon, a stand, a candle, a syringe and needle, and a length of rubber tubing. Long practiced by now, it took Sebastian little time to set up, and before long the contents of the small bag he had bought were melting in the spoon.

“Enough to kill a horse,” he whispered to himself as he ripped open the syringe’s packaging and, hands trembling from need, assembled it. He placed the needle into the melted puddle in the spoon and drew every drop into the syringe. Using one hand and his teeth, he tied off his left arm above the elbow with the rubber hose and, with practiced precision, he slipped the needle in the raised, straining vein. Calm now, he pushed the plunger down, emptying the syringe.

It was not a buzz that hit him when he untied the hose and let the drugs through. It was relief. It was escape; from his mind, from his past, from himself, from the murderous monster the Department made of him. He stared at the far wall a moment before reaching beneath his jacket once more and withdrawing the knife. By rights, he shouldn’t have this blade. It should be with Berkley. But Berkley was gone. Chewed up and spat out by the Department and then, when they had thoroughly broken him, put down like a rabid dog.

They would not do the same thing to him. He had no say in being recruited. They simply dragged him from the ashes of Cedarwood City, put him in a car, and sent him to the barracks. Training began immediately. Training became missions, and the whole time he had never once consented to his service.

No more. The Department would use him no more. They could find someone else to clean up their messes.

Now was as good a time as any, when there was no pain. Now, when he was flying.

He would fly forever.

Sebastian placed the edge of the knife against his wrist and pulled. The blood was warm as it splashed against his shirt in a thick crimson wave. Not hesitating, feeling nothing but relief, he cut his other wrist. He closed his eyes and let the knife drop. His head lolled back against the wall and let the drugs do their work.

Sebastian smiled.

Blood pressure is dropping … Naloxone, now! … crashing … Get me … We need …

“I’m beginning to doubt your resolve, Recruit,” Master Sergeant Berkley said dispassionately as he stood at the edge of the clearing, flipping and catching his knife in his fighting hand. He watched Sebastian with his unnerving, flat grey eyes.

Here again. Sebastian turned, his rifle raised, to face the world’s most dangerous man. Berkley was his target this mission, a dangerous psychopath that needed to be taken out. Yet Sebastian found himself unwilling to pull the trigger. Berkley noticed his hesitation and laughed softly. It was a sinister sound.

The insects and birds cared little for the tension between the two men as they stood, facing one another in the small clearing that sat on a precipice overlooking a cloud-covered valley. They roared and shrieked in their never-ending quest to continue their lines.

“Why did you do it, Berkley?” Sebastian demanded.

Berkley shrugged, then grinned. “Ever hunt anything that was hunting you?”

“They were people, Berkley. With families. With futures.”

“They were animals, kid. Like everything else. Only more fun.”

“Fun?” Sebastian had heard enough. He fired his rifle… and somehow missed. The Master Sergeant moved with a preternatural speed. He was suddenly in front of Sebastian, his combat knife against Sebastian’s throat. The agent’s rifle clattering to the ground, ripped from his hands., his back slammed against the trunk of one of the enormous trees that surrounded the tropical clearing. Sebastian struggled as Berkley leant his bulk against him, pinning him in place.

“Tsk, tsk, Agent Connors,” he whispered in Sebastian’s ear. “Very sloppy.”

Sebastian had no reply. Berkley was right. He was too highly trained to be disarmed and pinned, especially since he’d had the advantage. He turned his head away as Berkley turned his own towards him. This was it. This was how he was going to die; at the hands of the man who had trained him to be one of the most effective agents in The Department. He had failed. Again.

“So pretty,” Berkley breathed. Sebastian gritted his teeth. Berkley had used that descriptor often in his training, always as a pejorative. He hated the mention of his appearance. Berkley knew this. He smiled. “So…. disappointing.”

Sebastian scowled. Something was wrong; off. He had been here before. More than once, he suspected. This was not how it had gone down. Reality had been very different. Sebastian opened his eyes.

“No,” he said firmly. “This isn’t right.” He turned to meet Berkley’s malicious gaze. “You’re dead. I killed you.” The pressure of a knife hilt materialised in his palm. He closed his fingers around it. The grip was familiar, heavy, almost comforting. With what strength remained, he thrust the blade into Berkley’s chest between the fourth and fifth rib. Berkley grunted and fell to one knee, releasing Sebastian.

The pressure of the tree trunk against his back vanished. He was nowhere near the trees now, but kneeling beside the master sergeant in the middle of the clearing, his hand still wrapped around the hilt of the knife that was embedded guard-deep into the big man’s chest. They were both bleeding heavily, breathing hard. It had been a hell of a fight.

The shock of the strike had numbed Sebastian’s forearm. He stared down, disbelieving, at his own hand before turning his gaze to his former instructor’s face. Berkley’s cold iron eyes shifted from staring at the ground to meeting Sebastian’s gaze. Berkely smiled, a ghastly wolfish grin. Blood dribbled down his chin.

“I killed you,” Sebastian repeated in a whisper.

Berkley laughed, expelling a thick spurt of blood from his throat. He lashed out, wrapping his large, gnarled hand around Sebastian’s throat. He stood, rising effortlessly and lifting Sebastian equally as effortlessly into the air.

“And look at you,” Berkley snarled.

Sebastian cried out as twin sharp pain flared in his wrist. The skin split, perfect cuts down his forearms, spilling horrific amounts of hot blood.

“You killed me,” Berkley said. “But I. Still. Won.”

Roaring, the master sergeant threw Sebastian. The agent hit the ground, bounced and rolled. He could do nothing to stop himself as he tumbled over the edge of the precipice and plunged into the valley below.

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