Home > BZRK: Apocalypse (BZRK #3)(8)

BZRK: Apocalypse (BZRK #3)(8)
Michael Grant

I have to stop this. I have to get control of my thoughts.

Too easy to let that consciousness of another universe take over her mind. Too easy to go from distraction to revulsion. She had to be able to be with another human being without always picturing that other, stranger reality.

“Maybe it was something totally different,” Noah suggested. “Maybe there was a fuel leak on the boat. Maybe we’re just overreacting.”

“Maybe,” Plath said. “But our time in the Garden of Eden had to end eventually. We had to go back. We’re supposed to be running things.”

Keats met her gaze and shook his head slowly. “No, not we. You, Sadie.” Then with a wry smile he corrected himself. “You, Plath.”

She could have said that they were partners. She could have said that obviously he was as important as she was.

But she had not told him about the message from Lear telling her to get back in the game. The message she had ignored for days.

She wondered if she should tell him now.

But instead she copied him and mopped up some gravy. She didn’t have time to worry about tending to Keats’s ego. Her mind was filling with the implications of the suspicion that they were being shepherded.

Driven.

Manipulated.

· · ·

Anthony Elder, who had once used the name Bug Man, was shopping for onions at Tesco. Not just onions, there were other things on the list, too. But it was onions that somehow irritated him.

Nutella

Beans

Bread

Pasta (store brand, nothing fancy)

Mushrooms (fresh, button, 1/2 pound)

Cheerios

2 oranges

3 onions (the white kind)

Three onions. The white kind.

This was his life. Again. His mother was already on him about going back to school. To school!

“You don’t want to go on neglecting your education, Anthony. That’s most likely why you were let go.”

Let go.

Well, no, Mum, I wasn’t exactly let go. I ran for my life—flew for it, actually, all the way back to England—after my mistakes caused the American president to blow her brains out in front of the whole world. It wasn’t because I couldn’t conjugate French verbs or recall the date of the Battle of Hastings.

He didn’t say that to his mother, of course.

He walked down the cereal aisle searching for Cheerios, maneuvering around a woman who was pushing both a baby buggy and a shopping cart. He found the cereal, puzzled for a moment over what size box he should be getting. His mother would chide him no matter what he chose.

Small, then. Easier to carry home. Less chance of catching some smart remarks from passing thugs.

He’d been on top of the world. Now he was self-conscious about being seen by others his age, struggling with plastic bags of pasta and Nutella and onions. The white kind.

A pretty girl coming toward him looked right through him as if he was invisible.

He’d had the most beautiful girl in the world. Jessica. She’d been a slave to him. A slave. The memories made him ache inside. He would never get within conversational range of a girl like that again.

Top of the world, that’s where he’d been. But all that was gone now. All that gone and now he was invisible to women and girls. He was a moderately attractive black teenage boy with no obvious signs of wealth or future prospects. Why would they look at him?

He rounded a corner, walked glumly past aisles of this and that, entirely forgetting the pasta, ignoring the plastic-wrapped slabs of meat to one side, heading to onions.

He felt rather than saw that something had changed.

Instinct. Some sense that was not quite sight—sound, smell, or touch. The certainty that he was being watched. Without turning to look he knew he was being followed. His speed was being matched.

He walked slower, stopped, pretended to admire the lamb; but the presence did not pass him by.

He moved suddenly toward the produce department, walking too fast, and he felt his pursuer keep pace.

Well.

Well. Ah. So. So was it cops or killers?

His heart was heavy in his chest. His feet dragged a bit, just the toes scraping on the tile. Shit, he’d just started to think maybe he was out of it, that maybe the Armstrongs would let him go. He’d given them a lot of good work, after all.

If not some hitman for the Armstrongs, was it police? Or even MI5?

He stopped in front of a bin of oranges and rested his hand on one, just feeling it. He liked oranges. Was this the last one he would see for a long while? Or the last one ever?

He turned, resigned, not seeing the point really in continuing to pretend. And there was his pursuer.

Now surely that was not a cop or MI5.

The man was well dressed, almost like a banker. Far too elegant looking to be a cop. He was a black man, tall, thin, with glasses, and when he met Anthony’s eyes he smiled. Like an old friend. At first Bug Man felt himself relaxing, but no, no, that was a bad idea. A smile meant nothing.

“You want something?” Bug Man asked. His voice was ragged. Maybe the expensive suit hadn’t noticed.

“Anthony Elder?”

He nodded. What would be the point in lying?

What about running? He could surely outrun this man.

“Are you here to kill me?”

The man was not surprised by the question. “Not at this time.” He smiled. “But you will be taken for questioning by this time tomorrow.”

“Haven’t done anything.”

“Oh, come now, you know better than that. People of our particular skin tone don’t need to be guilty of anything to be questioned by the police, now, do we?”

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