- “How did you do it?”
- “I already told you; with my knife.”
- “I wasn’t talking about slitting his throat. I was talking about you running over the lake’s surface. I didn’t see any equipment.”
Luke sighs and remains silent for 10 seconds staring at the void. He then turns his face over to Remi with tired eyes: “I told you not to follow me.”
- “Then what I saw was real! What are you?”
- “What's real is the blood on this knife. What's real is that we will get caught if you don’t start this car and start driving.”
Remi takes a deep breath, turns his face towards the windshield, turns the engine on and drives away. Gradually, the streets become more crowded and more lit up with neon signs. The windshield wipers start to squeak louder as the rain turns into a drizzle.
“You can turn off the wipers now” says Luke in a low voice. Remi does so, and his heart is no longer racing. They are both silent and staring through the wet windshield glass.
“Are you hungry?” asks Luke.
“I could eat something, what about you?” replies Remi.
“Jake's is on the way, so we can stop there for a bite” says Luke, looking through the door glass gazing at people walking.
A few minutes later, Remi parks the car at Jake's cafe and turns off the engine and headlights. They both step out of the car, and walk over pebbles and sand till they reach the door and walk in. Both Remi and Luke are wearing buttoned-up, long, black coats and black shoes. Jake's cafe has dimmed lights, purple and yellow. The cafe is spacious and filled with sofas and coffee tables, no chairs or stools except at the bar where Jake works. Each pair of three-seat sofas opposes another, separated by a short, rectangular coffee table. The music is just loud enough to make conversations inaudible to other sofa pairs. Luke and Remi take off their coats and sit opposite of each other. The waitress arrives, wearing black pants and a red top with an apron on.
- “What can I get you guys?”
- “Hi Sara, grilled cheese and.... do you have fresh juice?”
- “Only the orange and strawberry are fresh.”
- “Good, give me a mix of those two.”
- “Sure… What about you Remi?”
- “Same as him, but add some mango into mine.”
- “I'll mix them myself. Jake will be with you in a bit.”
Remi is popping his joints and then after a few stretches; he leans his elbow over the sofa cushion and puts a leg over the coffee table. Luke sinks himself into the sofa a bit as well, but with legs crossed.
- “Luke, I've been your friend for years now....”
- “Yes, and as a friend, I'd ask you not to talk about this to anyone, me included.”
- “I wont talk about this to anyone, but we have to talk about it just this once.”
- “I’ll explain to you later. It wasn’t witchcraft if that’s what you’re thinking.”
- “Then what was it? The hidden scrolls of the Shaolin Temple?”
- “That’s funny.”
- “I am not trying to patronize you. And you’re right we’ve known each other for so long and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. So I think I deserve to know…”
- “Which part of ‘I don’t want to talk about this’ you don’t get? We’ll talk about this at the right time, and this is not the right time.”
Sara arrives with the tray. She places the drinks and plates on the table. Jake stands behind her waiting till she's done. He kisses her on the cheek as she walks away, and then he sits next to Luke: "It's been a while. How many more hits do you have left?”
Remi feels alienated from the conversation, so he prefers to listen and chew his food and drink his juice. Luke eats more slowly as he is interrupted with conversation. Jake is tall with a built up body, a disconnected moustache and goatee, and thick black hair with long side-burns.
- “Three more for this month.”
- “Damn! So it’s really going to happen. I’ve been watching too much news these days. You can really feel it happening.”
- “Speaking of the news, isn’t Fox due in 10 minutes?”
- “That's what Genghis said. That guy is never punctual for anything. We'll see.”
- “I can see your cafe is packed. Is it just tonight?”
- “Are you kidding me? Since Starbucks collapsed, we've almost doubled our profits.”
- “That's really good to hear. This is the kind of news that tells us our work is not going in vain.”
Remi interrupts “Yes but so many of us were caught and tortured, and you never know when our turn will come.”
Jake replies “What are you talking about? They keep making random arrests and tell the media that they had caught suspects or that they got a big lead. But we know they got nothing because all our members are still free and operating.”
“When I said us I wasn’t talking only about the group,” answers Remi, “but as in our community; our cities; our people.”
“They've been doing this since before we started.” Says Luke, “They've been doing this since they started bombing public places like subway stations, airports, and hotels; and have been blaming it on scapegoats. The only difference this time is that the targets are not us, but them.”
Jake nods in agreement and adds: “You have to admit that most people are so dumb and unimaginative… They kept buying into the stories spoon-fed to them by the media without ever questioning why the inexistent terrorists kept attacking civilians when the root of their problems came from those in power. They probably believed that the terrorists chose easy or soft targets because the ones in power were extremely fortified and unreachable. But for the last 4 months, that's been proven wrong over 17 times now.”
The lights at the cafe go off momentarily and come back on. Then a subtle sound is heard from a distance; an unmistakable sound; the sound of an explosion. Jake signals to Sara, who switches the music to N.P.R.: “Two buildings have been struck by – what witnesses claim – fighter jet missiles. The two buildings are the CNN and NBC headquarters. ‘This is a deliberate attack on the freedom of the press in our free country,’ the president said shortly after. As of now, the two broadcasting networks are down.” Random crowds at the cafe whistle and cheer as they hear the news.
“I thought you said Genghis was after Fox”, says Remi.
“The explosion you just felt a few seconds ago was Fox for sure. The CNN and NBC attacks were half an hour ago”, says Jake.
Luke smiles slightly and says, “This was a good day. It was good seeing you Jake. Take care of yourself.”
Remi and Luke get up, put their coats back on and walk out of the café. As soon as they push the doors open, they squint. Huge flash lights including one from a helicopter swarming around, and rifles with red lasers are pointing at them. A voice reaches them from a loud speaker: “Put your hands up. Do not resist the arrest.”
Jake and Sara slowly withdraw themselves from the café floor, leaving behind other waiters to take care of the customers, while they climb up onto the roof of the building. The drizzle had stopped and nothing but a chilly wind was still blowing over their faces. They quickly head toward the edge of the roof, where they remove a huge gray blanket, uncovering a four-headed missile launcher and a turret. Sara gets the turret and slowly aims down at the SWAT front line. The wind is blowing harder against her face and hair.
SWAT loud speaker reiterates: “Hands up I said. This is your last warning.” Remi raises his hands slowly, and with loud and clear annunciation he says: “You’re making a deadly mistake. We don't want anyone to get hurt. Put down your weapons, get back into your cars, and go home.”
Then hundreds of blue laser pointers flash over the SWAT men's eyes to get their attention. They now look at each other and see blue beams pointing at their chests and heads. The helicopter swarming above directs its light at the roof of the cafe. This was an unfortunate mistake.
Jake fires one missile. From such a short range, the helicopter has no time to avert the hit. It's blown to pieces with a big fireball decimating in the black sky. That's when the SWAT officers look up, giving the perfect opportunity for Luke and Remi to escape. They both run in opposite directions leaving the car behind. The SWAT tanks aim at the cafe's roof, but Jake had already fired two missiles, and Sara begins to spray the SWAT men with a blaze, flipping their cars and bodies into the air.
- “Where do they get these weapons from?! God damn it!” screams the head of the SWAT operations command center over the dispatcher, “I am going to send back up, just hold on a little bit longer. Hello? Can you read me?”
- “Sir, the air force has approved and the target will be hit in 10 seconds.” says one officer interrupting the head of the SWAT operations command center.
Meanwhile at Jake's cafe, it becomes very quiet. The entire SWAT force has been destroyed. Sara unties her apron and sits down next to the turret. Jake reloads the missile launcher and puts the gray blanket back on. He starts walking over to Sara but stops when he hears a screech in the black sky ripping the air apart. A few seconds later a dozen silver spheres in the size of fists bounce over the roof and begin to swirl very fast in the air 3 meters above the roof. Jake jumps over Sara's body. But he wasn't fast enough. The cluster bombs have already sprayed them both with hundreds of 4-inch long nails sinking deep down into their bodies and tearing their flesh