It was hot, and Schuyler thought it was summer. But he had seen snow elsewhere and knew it was winter. It was the fires that raged all across the city that made it hot. People were scarce these days. Corpses littered the streets. No one was safe from the assassins and the explosions. Countries had been wiped out and more would follow.
Schuyler walked through the streets, stepping right through the fires and feeling nothing but heat. His clothes had long ago burnt off, just as the clothes of the other three assassins had. There was no need for clothes, for decency, modesty. Everyone was either attacking everyone else or running for their lives.
There wasn’t much life left in this city. There wasn’t much of anyone to kill. Schuyler contented himself with walking through the city, observing the evident destruction and wondering if Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell were still alive. He would kill them the next time he saw them. He swore it to himself, his one promise to himself and his fellow assassins. The two doctors had to die for what they had done to the four of them.
The ground beneath his feet and the buildings around him exploded. His ears began to ring and he felt as though he were aloft in the sky. He looked down and found that he was indeed in the air. The city had been targeted and had been blown up.
“Glimmer,” he whispered to himself, having no idea where he would end up.
He was still floating. But he wasn’t in the Earth’s atmosphere anymore. He looked down and saw the Earth far below him. Even from this high up he could see huge red spots, where the fires raged, ravaging the earth.
He wondered if the Earth would explode. Would he be able to see it from where he was? Should he go back and get his fellow assassins so they could wait and watch for the Earth’s explosion?
It was quiet here, quiet as it had never been before.
Schuyler closed his eyes and listened to the quiet. It was cold, but it didn’t affect him. He stretched out his limbs in space and enjoyed the coolness and the silence. It was almost pleasant to just lie here and float away.
And then he was jarred back to reality. Something wrapped around him and he was being reeled into some space shuttle. He was inside before he could react, the doors shutting almost immediately. He was surrounded by three men and a woman, all in silver and black space suits.
Without a thought, he thrust his hand up and killed one of the men. The other three quickly traded glances and then the woman pulled out a hypodermic needle. She quickly jabbed it into his arm and his eyes began to close.
“Who is this?” he heard one of the men whisper as his eyes closed.
“Don’t you mean, what is this?” the woman asked. “He looks human, but have you ever seen anyone kill someone like that? He just stuck his hand into Martin’s chest. His hand and arm are clean. He can’t be human.”
“Then what is he?” the second man asked.
“That’s what I want to know,” the woman replied. “Go get some others…”
Her voice faded away as Schuyler lost consciousness.
* * *
Schuyler awoke suddenly, his eyes wide open and alert. He was lying down and found his upper body encased in a sleeve-less garment. His arms were tied down beneath the long shirt by thick ropes. Chains encircled his torso and bound arms above the shirt. He squinted into the dim light and realized this was the first time he had awoken on a mattress and not a metal lab table.
Slowly, he turned his head and saw a man dressed in dark blue standing across the room, speaking quietly through a wire mesh square in the door to someone on the other side. When he was done speaking, the man turned and walked over to Schuyler. He bent down and his intense blue eyes bore into Schuyler’s cerulean orbs.
“Where are Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell?” Schuyler asked in a flat voice.
“Who?” the man asked, puzzled.
“Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell.”
“There are no doctors by those names here.” The man gave Schuyler an odd look. “Don’t you want to know where you are?”
Schuyler turned his head so he was staring at the ceiling again. “No. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters anymore. Why can’t I move?”
“You became violent while still unconscious. My colleagues and I thought it would be better to restrain you. Of course, the Continental Restraining Institute hasn’t been used in centuries, so the usual restraining jackets wouldn’t hold you still. We had to tie your arms down with rope and chains for that. Congratulations for being the first inmate here for five centuries.”
Schuyler didn’t answer. He had no answer. He didn’t care where he was, who the man was, what had happened. He only wanted to know where Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell were. He had a score to settle with them.
“Where are Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell?” Schuyler demanded again.
“I already told you there are no doctors by those names here,” the man repeated as a knock came at the door.
The man stood and opened the door. Three other men entered the room. Schuyler didn’t bother to look at any of them.
Together, the four of them lifted Schuyler, carried him from the room, and down a long eerie hallway. They set him down in a smaller, dark room. There was no window, only four walls and a door. It seemed tiny, but it didn’t matter to Schuyler. He had no use for space. He had been locked up in a tiny room in Shyan Lab for months. This small room was a familiar setting.
The four men set him down in the middle of the room. Schuyler turned so he was facing away from the door and sat down on the hard, cold floor. A moment later, he heard the heavy iron door swing closed. Faintly, he could hear the locks being turned. As the footsteps faded away, Schuyler grinned.
“Glimmer,” he whispered.
A frown stretched across his face as he realized he wasn’t dematerializing. A wild look came in his eyes as he tried again and again to glimmer, all with the same results: he couldn’t. He was a prisoner.