You will not be aware of this, but 'The Mercyship Incident', my most recent solo piece, was based on a dream which was most likely subliminally inspired by the work of Chopin. One of the most vivid parts of my dream did not really gel with the rest of the story, yet it led to the discovery of the L.O.R.D. I was unable to make it fit in with the story when I wrote it, so I left this part out. Now, in my boredom, I am going to show you the innermost workings of my subconscious.
My wristwatch began to bleep, its usual condescending cry suddenly biting, alien to my ears. Mr Forest's voice began to become recognisable from the white noise in which it was couched.
"414, are you receiving?" I keyed in the appropriate response.
"Have you been able to find anymore information on the illness?"
"I have pieces, here and there, but I need more time. It's like a puzzle, sir - I need more time to put it all together."
"We cannot afford to waste time, Asthore."
"I am fully aware of that, sir. I'm sure that after this evening, the links will have become more apparent."
"And why is that?"
"I'm going to the theatre."
Mercyship, the giant wasteland it had become, had a bastion of civilisation. In my pale hands I clutched a flyaway poster, detailing an upcoming performance of 'The Importance of Being Earnest.' Looking ahead, two skylights illuminated the sky, moving back and forth.
"Asthore, if you let me down on this, I'm pulling you out of there immediately. Do you understand?"
The theatre lobby was bright and luxurious. Before heading to the counter to buy a ticket, I slipped into the bathrooms to the left of the counter and found an empty cubicle. I opened my case and drew out the executive outfit I had worn on the flight - although a little crinkled, it was much smarter than my dusty black gear. Having adjusted my appearance to an acceptable level, I returned to the lobby, bought my ticket and went through the mahogany double doors that led to the auditorium, and gasped, taking in the golden grandeur of the pillars and the artwork on the walls. I took my seat and waited for the performance to begin.
Algernon and Jack took their places before the curtain rose, with lines concerning cucumber sandwiches and marriage being passed between the two of them. As this was going on, I studied the audience carefully. There was quite a large number of them, laughing as the comedy progressed. I wondered how they had managed to avoid the outbreak. Time passed quickly, and I was more drawn into the production, taking mental note of the actors and their expression. Soon, the production paused for the interval. I watched the audience as they went about their business, buying merchandise and food, talking loudly as they went. I was struck by the normality of these people, and puzzled by it. How have this group of normal people survived the outbreak? I glanced at my watch, noting that half an hour had passed since the beginning of the interval. The performance should start up again soon, I thought.
Fifteen painful minutes passed before the curtain rose again. I had been about to head backstage to investigate, but sat down as the music started up again. As the performance continued, although slick, the performers appeared somewhat altered. The audience continued to laugh, albeit a little emptily. Around five minutes later, the action stopped, and the audience fell silent. One hundred heads turned to face me, including those on the stage.
With those heads, came two hundred eyes of a deep, deep blue.
As soon as I had realised this, I rushed to the doors, but they were slammed shut by the ushers, their eyes the same dark shade. I kicked off my heels; the flew into the opposing wall.
All hell broke loose.
I grabbed my case and took out my pistol, holding it tightly. Each audience member seemed to have a weapon of their own. It became apparent that someone, or something, was organising this. And then I remembered the blonde woman's voice, ancient and eerie, telling me of the L.O.R.D. I ran down the steps and on to the stage, shooting those who seemed intent on killing me. I wrangled with the woman who played Gwendolyn, knocking her to the floor of the stage, before escaping through the wings and out of the dressing room into the corridor beyond.
There was a spiral staircase beyond. I heard the doors being pummelled with the blue-eyed creatures and leapt down each flight of stairs in an attempt to make up a gap between myself and my pursuers. As I reached the bottom, there was another door. It was unlocked, so I went through, emerging a tiled underpass. There was silence. I sighed in relief, having escaped the strange eyes.
Then, I heard regimented footsteps. From both sides, shadows stretched across the walls. I was surrounded. I reloaded my gun and stood ready to fight. From both sides, seemingly all of the residents of Mercyship approached me in zombie-like fashion. I ran to my left, shooting all those who got in my way, desperate to discover why they had all congregated down in the underpass. I rounded the corner when I was temporarily blinded by a harsh blue light. When my sight was restored, I realised what it was that emitted the light.
A huge blue crystal loomed in the corridor, connected to many wires and buzzing with a strange energy. The zombie-like figures rounded the corner. I felt death's fingertips on my shoulders. Then, the figures stopped, seeing the crystal, and dropped to the floor. I turned to see them bowed in supplication before the light. It was then that I realised.
This crystal was the L.O.R.D.