Mars sat at his desk, crunching down on an apple. He had just been chewed out again by Mr. Cunningham, and he was in the position he often found himself in where he wasn’t sure if he was going to look for a new job or plot the death of his current boss. Of course, plotting his death wasn’t practical. Not because at this point he was unwilling, or even that he would be immediately suspected - Mr. Cunningham’s likability rating was at an all time low. But he just wasn’t sure he could find a place to hide the body.
“Hey, man. How’s it going?” a familiar but unfamiliar voice said to him. He looked up to see someone that had that vague recognition to him.
“Hi?” Mars said after swallowing his apple.
“Yeah, I’m your new neighbor,” the man said, then chuckled, “but her there, neighborino!”
Then Mars remembered from the company newsletter he took half an afternoon reading because it was better than work and he was bored of the internet. This was Tyler, the guy that cost the company a lot of money for some reason.
“What are you doing here?”
This was the point in where the memory took a quick turn. Tyler originally threw out a joke about being too great to be at his current position and was being moved out of the way to make people stop looking bad. This time, however...
“Because you’re in terrible, terrible danger.”
“Apparently I’m being allowed to cross the dimensional plane, whatever that means, and I’m accessing your dream through your memories.”
These words were unfamiliar to Mars.
Tyler sat down on the edge of his desk, “That death guy you met yesterday! He came and told me I could do this to give you a grave warning!”
He said “grave warning” in his best spooky voice, because he felt like that’s what people would do in a situation like this.
“You’re making no sense, now let me get back to work before Mr. Cunningham comes and yells at me again.”
As if on cue, Mr. Cunningham came over to Mars’ cubical. Which didn’t happen originally. No, once he yelled at Mars, he took his regular trip to visit Mistress number two. Or was it Mistress number one. Mars couldn’t remember.
“Listen to him, Mars. He’s got a warning for you.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Cunningham,” Mars replied in his best “placate Mr. Cunningham” voice.
“I’m not Mr. Cunningham. I’m the Angel of Death. We met earlier, and you obviously don’t remember what I look like. Thanks.”
Mars got the vague notion that he shouldn’t be insulting this man who wasn’t Mr. Cunningham, but somehow was. He looked back at his desk, which instead of being cluttered, was now completely bare. All noise in the office had stopped, and the apple that he held in his hand turned into a Nicolas Cage action figure, which he promptly dropped as he stood up.
“Wait...” the gravity of the situation started to set in.
“Now he gets it,” Not Cunningham said. His face started to morph slightly until Mars was staring into the face of death. Quite literally.
“Listen, we don’t have much time,” Tyler said, “I’m dead.”
“Bummer, man,” Mars regretted the words, but wasn’t sure what else fit in this situation. Sorry for your loss?
“Don’t get TOO broken up about it.”
“Gentleman, the point, Mars is about to be woken up by the sirens just about any minute.”
“Right, listen, Elizabeth is a bad guy.”
“What?” Mars replied.
“Cage. she’s working for Nicolas Cage and she was sent to spy on you. Or something. She chased me with a knife and I died in a heroic fashion.”
The last part was Izzy’s idea. He felt it would just be nicer if Tyler didn’t explain that, while running from the 19 year old holding a knife he chose to run into the dark woods and tripped, thus falling off a cliff.
“I’m allowed to bring you that message and one more before I go!” Tyler said.
But he didn’t get to finish. Just as Izzy said, there was the sound of a loud siren approaching the hotel.
Mars slipped on his shoes and headed outside into the cold pre-dawn air. Ambulances were always strange to see up close, but they were even stranger in the morning like this, when it was dark but getting rapidly less dark. This was the time when everything was supposed to be still. The light from the ambulance seemed almost otherworldly. A light fog gently grazed the scenic overlook behind the Scenic Hotel.
After shaking off the effects of the dream and telling Evie to stay put for a few moments, Mars made his way downstairs, ready to accept the fact that he knew why the ambulance, firetrucks, and police were all gathered around. He didn’t expect to see Kaplan already there.
“Tyler’s dead,” Kaplan said immediately, “came to me in a dream. Told me all about how Elizabeth betrayed me.
Mars wondered if Kaplan was cold; he was just wearing his boxers and his T-Shirt.
“Yeah, I had the same dream,” Mars replied.
“Pretty freaky stuff. Is that where you worked?”
“Wait, you dreamt...”
“Yeah, I was in an office. Seemed pretty horrible. Who was that Cunningham guy? Seemed like a prick.”
“Let’s focus. What are the police saying?”
“They’re saying he tripped. Now they’re saying that someone stole a car.”
They didn’t have to say who. They both knew it was Elizabeth. Kaplan actually hadn’t known Elizabeth that long. A few months ago she came into the comic book store and managed to charm the owner despite the fact that they didn’t have enough hours for the two of them to work all the time. They often found themselves working together. In his wildest dreams, he didn’t suspect that this was going to happen.
Mars approached one of the Police Officers. Not one of the ones who looked like he was in charge, mostly because he didn’t want to bother them. This was a mistake, because Daniels was currently coming off a double shift and didn’t have time to deal with tourists that wanted to go wandering on a mountain in the middle of the night. Also, he was going to forget the milk his boyfriend asked him to pick up on the way home, which would lead to another fight and an even longer day for Officer Daniels.
“So, what happened?”
“I need you to step behind the line, sir,” Officer Daniels pointed back to where Kaplan was standing.
“This is where they told me to stand!” Kaplan shouted.
Mars shook his head, “look it’s my friend there. I just want to know what happened. Was there a sign of a struggle.”
Officer Daniels shook his head and put his head in his hands. He did not need this right now, especially when everything was obvious to him, “Yes. We’re getting CSI on it right now. After a lighting montage set to some stupid soundtrack, we’re going to get the results right in, then we’ll call you to identify the perp. NOW GET BACK BEHIND THE LINE!”
Slowly, Mars walked back to where Kaplan was standing. Kaplan leaned in.
“They’re probably not going to do all of that stuff.”
“So, now what do we do?” Mars said, trying to catch a glimpse of the sheet covering Tyler.
“We get the keys and keep going,” Kaplan said, “It’s like the Angel Dudes, said, this was a matter of life and death. I’m sorry about your friend, but we can’t let this stop us. Especially if everything is as fucked up as the Angels said.”
“What about Evie?” Mars asked.
“What about her?”
“Well, I think we should leave her behind. You and I are the chosen ones. And since we already lost someone, maybe we should just leave her behind.”
“You think she could be a spy?”
Mars was partially ashamed to admit that the thought had crossed his mind, briefly. That being said, he realized that he’d known her way to long for her to be a spy for anything. But he didn’t want her hurt. Of course, he didn’t want himself hurt, either, and it was looking more and more like these people knew what they were doing.
“No. But this does make me think that Nicolas Cage is sending people after us.”
Kaplan would have to agree. Every movie with the chosen one, someone or something was trying to stop them. Elizabeth was probably just the first wave of troublemaker. They were going to have to be on their toes from here on out. Which meant leaving Evie behind was probably not the best idea in the world, since she was now probably a target.
Being a Chosen One was pretty hard.
Mars was about to say when the twins approached them.
“Sorry about your friend,” the one on the right this time said.
“But you need to come with us,” Left one said.
“What?” Mars said, but before he could say anything else, a bag was thrown over this head.
Officer Daniels thought he heard something, but turned around to just see those two idiots walking away with those creepy twins. Looked like they were wearing some kind of funny hat. He didn’t care at this point. He went back to watching the accident scene, waiting for his day to be over.