“Who is this Him?” Randy asked.
“The ruler of the city, of this entire portion of the globe, such as remains,” Amanda said. “He rarely appears in public, and wears a mask when he does.”
“And he wants me?”
“Badly,” the bearded council member said. “He discovered the Time-tech years ago in an old government lab and has been trying to get to you ever since. The only problem is that you’ve been protected somehow. At least until your thirty first birthday. Any attempt to overtly interfere with you before that is thwarted. We don’t understand how.”
“My thirty…” Randy gasped. “The Limping man! That really happened!”
“What?” Amanda frowned and looked around, but the others were wearing puzzled expressions too.
“Never mind.” Randy waved a hand in dismissal. “So, what can I do?”
“Well,” the third councillor said. “We were kind of hoping you could tell us.”
Randy thought hard, trying to arrange his thoughts into some kind of coherence. The past few days had been so far off the scale of amazing, he had trouble processing it. Still, one thing stood out. “I may have an idea why he’s after me,” Randy said. “Not sure if it will help or not though.”
“Go on.” Amanda leaned forward.
Randy glanced left and right. “This is going to sound a bit crazy…”
“Get on with it,” said the bald councillor, tapping the table.
“Well, there’s this Voice that speaks to me, guides me actually.” He paused as the council members glanced at one another.
“A voice?” Amanda raised an eyebrow.
“Yes!” insisted Randy. “It speaks to me sometimes, helps me in times of need.”
“So, what does this… voice sound like then?” the bald woman asked.
“It’s kind of raspy. Low. Whispery.” Randy shrugged.
“And it just pops up anytime?” the man said. “Can you get it to give us some advice now?”
“Well… it doesn’t always respond,” Randy replied.
“Give it a go why not?” Amanda said.
Taking a deep breath, and feeling more than a little foolish, Randy spoke to the air in general. “Hello? Voice? Come in.”
Everyone looked around expectantly.
“Come on! Speak to me!” Randy pleaded.
“Perhaps it’s on a lunch break,” suggested the man.
“Look! I’m not making this stuff up you know!”
“Of course not,” the bald councillor said, winking at her colleagues. “Still, you’ve been under a lot of pressure, perhaps the imprisonment has been a bit much?”
“Don’t humour me!” Randy shouted, losing his temper a bit. “I heard it back in my home, in the toilet! I shit all over the floor!”
This remark was met by a surprised silence.
“I mean…” Randy put his hands to his head. “I mean… look! It was there, in the toilet! And then in the closet too.”
“Closet?” Amanda asked.
“Yes! I was in the closet, with that bitch Claire!”
“Claire?” The man scratched at his beard.
“Yeah, she was dead hot. Wanted me she said, then she fucking knocked me out, nearly killed me with a fur coat…”
“And the voice came from the coat did it?” asked Amanda.
“No! It was outside, my friend Don was there too.”
“In the closet?” Amanda asked.
“No! He was outside! Well, at the party anyway.”
“So Don is the voice?” the bald woman said.
“No! But there was someone else; they tried to pull me out of the closet.”
“Was this before or after the voice?”
“Before… after! I don’t know! I wasn’t in the best position to record events. But it came to me in the cell, it told me how to get out.”
“Was this Don person there too?” Amanda queried.
“No! Well, probably not, not unless he was keeping really quiet. It was dark, really dark you know? I couldn’t see anything. Anyway, then it spoke again in the other cell.”
“I see, and did the other prisoners hear it?” Amanda glanced at her colleagues. The man was resting his head in his hands now.
“It came from one of them,” Randy answered. “Look, it sometimes speaks through people. I don’t know how it works okay? It’s been the only fucking thing helping me all through this mess you know? I mean, I’ve been apparently dragged into the future where a mad king wants me for tea and everyone I know is dead, oh, and they keep locking me! And to top it all off I’ve fucking killed someone today! Killed them dead! Fucking dead I tell you! And I need to piss really badly,” he added, before beginning to blubber, the stress of the last few days finally catching up with him.
“We’ve all killed,” Amanda replied evenly. “Death is a way of life here.”
“Well it’s not where I come from.” Randy paused as he remembered where he was. “When I come from.” He sniffled and wiped his nose on his sleeve.
“I think you need some rest,” the bald woman said. “John, take our friend to the dorms, let him get some sleep. Get him some rations too. I think he’s in shock.”
“Yes ma’am.” Randy’s escort stepped forward and led Randy away, sniffling all the while.
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