Chapter 28:


Pyro's Grand Demise

“You. It’s time to go,” a security guard says, his finger pointed at me. He holds a baton elongated at his side. It’s humming with electricity.

I move to stand, but when Joe doesn’t let go of my hand, I give him a squeeze. “I’ll be alright,” I say. Hopefully my smile doesn’t look as anxious as I feel.

Back in the day, I could simply turn off my emotions directly before a job. But things were so much easier then. Now I’m completely wrapped up in the job, rather than only knowing the bare details. It’s personal.

So yes, I’m a big ball of anxiety right now.

“Pyro, wait,” Joe says and I’m pulled into a crushing hug. He’s shaking slightly, or maybe it’s me. Either way, it’s comforting to be held. I set my forehead against his collarbone and take a deep breath.

“Alright, enough with the bullshit. Let’s go,” the guard snaps. I pull away from Joe and give him a quick peck on the cheek. “Stubbly,” I mutter.

He gives me a weak grin. I turn on my heel and stalk out the door.

Three more guards stand outside, and they block me in as we walk. We’re somewhere with restricted access. The only person we pass is a man in a lab coat, and he purposefully ducks down a veering hallway in order to avoid us. I wouldn’t want to risk brushing against a charged baton either.

I’m led into a room and the guard behind me abruptly hit me in the back with his baton. The initial strike hurts, but is almost immediately overcome by the electric shock which runs throughout my body. I fall down and am hit several more times before being left alone.

The electricity causes my body to jerk and I’m left prone on the floor. I try to take in my surroundings, but the beating of my heart coincides with the pounding in my head. There are dark smudges in my vision.

I spy what looks like a dentist’s chair, except this one has straps. My breathing hitches at the sight of it.

“Hello, Pyro,” the CEO says from her position seated mere feet away. “I do hope you don’t take this personally. I wouldn’t have had you beaten if you didn’t get so involved with my son. Despite being a rather hands-off parent, I can’t help but react when I see him being tainted by the likes of you.

“Not that I particularly dislike you, of course. It’s just because of what you are. For a cyborg, I’ve grown rather fond of you actually. I do have to say that you took it too far tonight. I can only be so pliable.”

I groan at the pain still reverberating through my body, but manage to look up at her. She’s watching me with intense focus, her eyes slightly wider than usual. Her hair is pulled back so tightly, it tugs at the skin around her eyelids.

“I know I’ve appeared cold to you, especially as a parent. But I want you to realize that I truly care about my son. I wouldn’t have let you stay as you are for so long, had I thought harming you wouldn’t affect him. He’s a sensitive boy, and it’s apparent he has a soft spot for sad things. I know you’ve met Kaden.”

I starkly remember meeting him. He’d been a kind-hearted, awkward kid. Occasionally, Joe would bring back word of him. They’d meet up for lunch or something whenever Joe inspected the facility he was at. Anymore than that, and Joe was afraid his mother would get involved.

Well, apparently Joe and myself should have adopted that policy. Instead we confessed our love for each other. We’re kind of morons, if I’m being honest, but we hadn’t planned on staying here for long. We were too sloppy with our encounters though, and it wasn’t like we were trying to hide our friendship. His mother had been on the back burner in my mind because I simply thought she didn’t care about us being friends.

I guess she suspected something more before even I did.

“Anyway,” she sighs and takes a sip of something looking to be much stronger than tea. The ice clinks inside. “Now you’re forcing my hand. I can’t have you running amok, knowing what you know. So I’ve come to a conclusion. I won’t waste your potential since we’ve come so far with your progress. Indigo-types which survive the transition are so rare after all.

“Instead I’m going to have my finest surgeons do a memory sweep. You’ll remember nothing, or very little when you wake up. You won’t be the same person, since experiences do morph us, but I’m hoping you’ll retain your useful characteristics. I’m also riding on the hope that due to your lack of memories, you’ll be more malleable. No one wants a dog that bites its owner’s hand.”

“My memories?” I say, hardly audible. No.

There’s too many things I can’t forget. Too many good and bad. Losing my memories may have been more doable three years ago, but not now. Not after everything.

“I won’t remember Joe,” I say to myself. Or my parents, for that matter. Even now, their faces are hardly discernible. I was their only kin, so I’m the only person who can remember them. They’ll be lost forever.

“Correct,” she states. “He’ll of course be troubled, but I’ll keep him contained until I’ve sent you somewhere even he is unaware exists.” She blows out a breath and massages the bridge of her nose, as if I’m the source of a huge migraine.

“I just know I’m never going to hear the end of this,” she says. “Well, no one said parenting was easy. Strap her down.” She motions to the goons behind me.

Too quickly I’m lifted and plopped down onto the dentist’s chair. I gasp as pain shocks through my back and stomach where I was hit the most. They strap down my legs and my arm, but I bite through the pain and raise my left hand.

“Don’t you move another inch or I’ll fucking roast you, you son of a bitch.”

The security guard raises his hands, then looks questioningly at the CEO.

She scoffs, still seated. She swirls her scotch. “Her firestarter is deactivated. She’s bluffing.”

The guard relaxes and places a firm hand on my elbow. I press my palm against his chest and let the flames pour from inside until there’s nothing but a gaping cavern where his heart had been. Dead, he falls to the ground.

Smoke rises from the hole and swirls with the air conditioning.

“How did you--” the CEO stands and drops her glass. It shatters on the ground and amber liquid splashes. A cube of ice skitters until it hits the man’s corpse. “Joseph,” she says with a snarl.

I extend my arm and keep it aimed at her. The other guards don’t know what to do. It’s obvious I’m no longer bluffing, and I might as well be holding a flame thrower directed toward their boss. “You’re right,” I say. “He cut out the device you stuck in there to keep me remote-controlled.”

As if to emphasize my point, a droplet of blood which had traveled down my arm falls to the floor.

“You had nothing sharp on you,” she says angrily. “How did you cut so deep?”

“Tile flooring isn’t the best idea,” I point out with a humorless smirk. “It can shatter so easily, especially if I stomp on it just right.”

“Now,” I say with newfound gusto. “You’re going to have your goons unlock me, or you’ll be medium to well-done in about ten seconds.”

Once I’m free from the chair and can stand, I crack my back loudly, never taking my aim off the CEO. The pressure release has me feeling much better.

“I’m going to destroy this place. If you love your son, you'll free him from that room right now and get out of here as quickly as possible. If you don’t, well, I guess you can say your legacy died here along with the GravityTech name.”

“Destroy?” she repeats then eyes my hand. Hey eyes widen in realization.

I smile. “You’ve seen the test results yourself. There’s no reason for me to have pyrotechnic abilities this strong, unless it’s for complete and utter destruction. I suppose you can consider this the final test.

“Now I’ll say this one more time. Go get Joe, and get out of here. I have nothing to lose. I’ll never feel guilt for having killed him if I’m not alive to experience it.”

“You wouldn’t kill all those cyborgs,” she says, but her certainty is lacking.

“Ha!” I laugh. “What’s a better existence? Staying here and suffering for the rest of their lives, or dying here and now? I’m setting them free.”

She must see the truth and hint of my psychotic nature in my eyes, because she jerks her head and slowly moves to the door.

I’m willing to do just about anything at this point. But first, I need her to get Joe out of this place. In actuality, I’ll feel terrible about there being cyborg casualties. But if Joe does as I say, and calls the media as soon as he’s out of this compound, this company can be exposed for all the unethical harm they’ve done.

They won’t be able to hide their secrets anymore if I blow this facility off the damned mountain. GravityTech might just go down for good.

And I think that’s a win for cyborgs everywhere.

As soon as the CEO and her goons leave the room, I lock the door and fry the circuits. This thing won’t be sliding open so easily. Then I sit down in the far corner and wait. I agreed with Joe that there would be a fifteen minute window to get out. Whether he makes it or not, well, that’s on him now.

Now, you might be wondering why Joe is okay with me possibly burying myself alive. To make it short, I lied to him. I know the ins and outs of this place after memorizing both maps, and I told him there was an emergency exit I’d make it through if everything went according to plan. There isn’t one, of course, but he doesn’t know that.

I also told him I was only planning on causing minor damage--just enough to maybe damage the exterior enough for the media to get one of their drones inside. That’s not true either. If I’m doing this, taking this chance, I’m going all in. I want this place’s guts inside out. There’ll be no covering this up with money.

When fifteen minutes pass, I wait another five just to be sure. If there’s an afterlife, and I find out I killed Joe, that would be really fucking tragic.

I decide it’s time and place my left hand against the wall, towards the inside of the mountain. I take a deep breath, then with as much power as I can muster, I start a fire.

The mountain didn’t crumble at first, but it did shudder. It was as if the billions of pounds of rocks and snow took a giant breath then--released.

Steward McOy