© By Gary L Morton, (8,700 words)
* Order Paperback Copies of My Horror Collections and Novels
* Order Paperback or e-Book versions of my Books
Officer Donner booted an empty mace jetcan and watched it rattle out of the dusty alley. His reddened nose twitched at the scent of something vile then he stepped out, kicked the can into the gutter and scanned the empty street. Something dark and fleeting passed in the corner of his eye; he spun left quickly and yanked an Ingram semi-automatic from his hidden holster.
Fast on the trigger, he nearly opened fire; it clicked in his mind that it was nothing. The movement belonged to a torn black flag fluttering from a window post. The black anarchist shade had led to his quick reflex action.
Soiled candy wrappers, cigarette butts and leaves spun up in a dust devil sweeping the lonely concrete square across the road. The street itself had deteriorated to a stretch of shattered windows and abandoned cars. He noted that the center of it had already been swept, meaning a riot sweep team had forced all civilians and protesters out.
Feeling glum but confident, Donner stepped around a wrecked car and began to march up the road. On his fifth step he slipped and nearly went down. “Shit,” he said, noticing that he'd walked through a pool of glistening oily liquid - spattering the gooey stuff halfway up his tall black boots.
Pulling a soft rag from his pack, he bent over to clean the slime off. Close up he noticed drops of blood. That froze him for second then he straightened up, and was about to take a second look around when he felt a tug at his cape.
Spinning on his heel, he ripped the cape from the offending fingers and found himself looking down at a bloodied face. The young man was on his knees and his swollen lips were moving as he tried to plead for help. Only no words were coming out - just some sort of sticky gurgle. His T-shirt had been badly torn and he was crawling in shards of broken glass. Filth jelled his dark hair and vomit and blood leaked at the corners of his mouth. Gas and pepper spray had turned his pupils to spreading black holes; a grimace of agony came and went like a ghost on his face.
Donner felt little sympathy for him; he spotted an anti-poverty-fist sunburst graphic on the stained T-shirt and got angry. Lifting his heavy boot, he slammed it into the guy's face.
“Another protest punk down and out,” he thought as he continued down the road. “If he doesn't choke to death he'll have learned his lesson. This is the zone - the no protest zone - the brutality zone … anyone who enters it leaves sympathy behind.”
Wind dusted in from the alleys. A cloud of black CS gas drifted at the intersection so Donner put on his gas mask. He heard the distant ringing of a flash-bang grenade. The sound indicating fighting several blocks south. He gathered that the gas had simply drifted a long way off course on the wind.
Donner walked through the cloud, looking like a hybrid of a cop and a robot. His thick lips formed a faint smile inside his mask. Donner loved the black version of the tear gas; once you had a solid cloud of it formed, it would drift on and on. Unsuspecting morons were often caught by it and put down.
Two more empty blocks passed, leading Donner to a dead end, and there he climbed a mesh fence and walked through a vacant lot. His heels crunched on thistles and broken chips of stone. Another fence and the tall walls of Sandpoint rose in the distance. The guard tower showed as a squat beast in the gloom. He could see a column of vehicles approaching on the road. A personnel carrier, jeeps, police cruisers, canvassed trucks and buses containing the shackled prisoners were entering the old military complex they were now using to house and beat political prisoners.
Everything came to a halt at the gate. During the delay, Donner reached the road, hailed a fellow cop and jumped into the back of his cruiser. On the inside, he got out and crossed the square to command headquarters.
A screw-faced guard barred the door and he told Donner to wait, so he shuffled about impatiently on the cobblestones. Pulling a cigar from a foil pack in his breast pocket, he watched as the prisoners were escorted from the trucks. Voices echoed and faded into the high stone walls. Some of the detainees were still chanting defiantly in spite of the gassing, others shivered with nerve reactions to the gas and were too weak to walk. Many more were bleeding, choking and vomiting. And who really cared. Donner sure didn't, and he figured that those sorts of people didn't have enough sense to care about themselves or they wouldn't be here.
On the inside, Donner told the commander he'd come to identify a prisoner and pick up another cop being held in protective custody. Both were wanted for questioning.
The commander, Major Bush, refused to cooperate. As Donner expected. Re-lighting his cigar, he told Bush to phone his superiors and he'd find that clearance had been granted. Then he waited; knowing Bush would look up in surprise when the clearance came through. Most of the higher ranking men couldn’t grasp it - couldn't figure out how Donner outranked them when he was only a riot cop. And that was because Donner wasn't genuinely a cop; he was Secret Service (SS), planted in with the police. His boss was the Man - and his job was to see to it that protesters got hurt and hurt bad. Only one crime was certainly on the books; acting against the New World Order which consisted of the Big Banks and Government, and the wealthy one percent of humanity that controlled the planet, space stations and the moon.
A severe expression of distaste developed on Bush's rugged face as he spoke on the cell hotline. He emphasized it further by slamming it shut, tossing Donner a pass from his drawer and saying - “You know what you're looking for - find your way around.”
Donner tossed Bush a mock salute and ignored his cursing as he turned and walked out. He'd never actually been inside Sandpoint but he’d played a role in refurbishing the mothballed base. A few weeks back, with a few other SS men, he'd used a computer map to lay out the temporary prison for use in the fight against this latest series of planned anti global order protests. There'd been some cheating as they used the plans from an old German concentration camp as a model.
Emerging in the square, he scratched his itching head. He could see drifting mist melting to wet prints on the coarse stone walls. The blur of sun seemed a match for his thinking. Things came together slowly - he'd ordered Gallagher held in special detention and he supposed that his other man would be in with the general crowd of prisoners in one of the interior courts.
Off to his left the doors to one of the decommissioned hangars were ajar and a group of regular police officers were marching in. Hurrying over, Donner tagged in behind them. He watched as they turned right and went through a rusted door with a faded sign marked CUSTOMS. A tarnished turnstile was directly in front of him and beyond it shackled prisoners had been tossed into taped-off areas on the pocked cement floor. Military guards and cops walked about in the yellowed light filtering down from the stained skylight.
Groans, agonized moans and the gruff voices of the police were about the only sounds, and then screams began to reverberate. The guards in the north corner were dragging a prisoner by his dreadlocks while an obese state trooper beat at the bottoms of his bare feet with a baton.
Donner grinned as the stick of high impact plastic lay in with heavy smacks; the new batons were cool. In appearance, they resembled oak baseball bats and were just as effective when it came to breaking legs, shoulders . . . faces, balls.
“I want your fucking name!” one guard hollered as the shakedown continued. And at that point, Donner saw the prisoner's face. Eyes lighting up with surprise, he immediately jumped the turnstile and marched over to the trooper using the baton.
“Hey! What the fuck do you think you're doing, man! I have a request in for a prisoner of that description. His name is Jimmy T. He should've been delivered to me!”
“You're just another fucking cop, pal. You can wait for your turn at him.”
Donner frowned. His smaller right eye and hawkish nose twitched, his lips tightened then his baton came out at gunslinger speed. He delivered a hard jab to the obese trooper's breadbasket. Spittle flew from worm-white lips as he crumpled and stumbled.
The guards stared in surprise, the trooper released an anguished cry and a soldier stepped up. “What was that for?”
“That was for breaking the rules. File a police brutality complaint if you don't like it. I'm Donner, here with a special pass - check with Major Bush if you want. That prisoner is one of two men I want delivered to our command post over in the zone.”
“If you want him you can have him. We'll have him deloused and sent over.”
“Good, I'll leave my delivery instructions at the gate.”
The halls in the special lockdown shone with fresh polish. Donner's heels clicked like hammerheads as he passed the rows of cells. The tall black guard in the lead stopped at the last set of bars and turned. “This is it,” he said.
Donner peered into the dim space and saw Gallagher slumped on a bench. His riot uniform was badly rumpled and he was puffing on a thin cigarette.
“You got poor posture for a cop,” Donner said.
“And bad manners, too.”
“Yeah - well, I'm supposed to be a cop. You just said it. So why am I locked in here with that piece of shit?”
Donner looked across the cell. One of the protesters, a big brown one, had been locked in with Gallagher -- and it looked like either Gallagher or the guards had beaten the shit out of him. Pounded his face to scabbed liver, pepper-sprayed him and left him slumped in a corner chair.
“Sorry about that,” Donner said. “You're supposed to be in protective custody. We want you over at zone HQ to answer a few questions, and then you're out.”
Donner drew the heavy bar back and opened the rooftop door. He had a sort of crude patio set up here at SS zone headquarters. This was his lair and he'd selected it for the bird's eye view of some of the streets being policed.
He stepped out figuring there wasn't much to view today. It was a gloomy afternoon and smoke from protesters' bonfires drifted over the mottled rooftops lower down. He heard the sound of distant shouts and traffic. Tied with the view the noise seemed unreal - dream sounds - like another world existed below in time that’d gone gray.
A paddy wagon cruised up the empty street. Donner watched as it halted out front. Officer Gallagher and Jimmy T emerged with the guards; they'd be up in a minute and with that in mind, he lit a cigar and sat near the railing. “How to handle this,” he thought. “Get Gallagher's story first, and then the kid's. Out of it I should be able to gather why cops and protesters are claiming Butch Cooper is out there somewhere in the zone.”
Jimmy T had to be brought out to the patio in a wheelchair. His swollen feet were bandaged and he wouldn't be walking on them for a long time. Gallagher looked pretty slimy - in appearance and attitude.
“So who wants to question us?” Gallagher said.
“Shit, Donner. You could've questioned me at Sandpoint. I need to go home and clean up. If I don't get the grime from those scumbags off me I'll likely come down with hepatitis and retro Aids.”
“You probably had both for a long time,” Jimmy T said.
Gallagher tightened his knuckles. “Mind your manners, boy.”
Donner frowned. “You too, Gallagher. We've got more than one wheelchair in this place.”
“So what happens to me?” Jimmy T said.
“This is about Butch Cooper. You both told people you saw him out there in the zone. I want you to answer questions about that. Then you go the hospital and charges against you are dropped.”
“That's right, let the scumbag off,” Gallagher said. “What about me? What compensation do I get for being held illegally?”
“Just a kick in the head. Same as you give out. Now let's get down to business. By now you've probably figured out that I'm with the SS. My job with the organization over the last few years has involved surveillance and military actions to block Butch Cooper and his protest affiliates. We've believed all along that Cooper and his band of anarchists are the board of directors, secretly organizing and planning actions for numerous other protest groups in the anti global order movement. Cooper went missing a year ago. His body has disappeared, but we are sure he is dead. The question we are working on is - who murdered him? Many rumors out there are to the effect that police killed him. We're now sure that union leaders did the job in cooperation with other kingpins in the protest movement, and we want to get charges on these people. Only right now we can't even investigate because reports have come in that he’s alive and is here in the city. Those reports are traceable to you two. Gallagher, you filed the police report on it that changed our investigation from murder back to surveillance on Butch Cooper. Jimmy T's confession mentioning seeing Cooper in the fighting has been used to support the Gallagher police file. This whole thing screws me royally. We'd made progress and we were prepared to go ahead with murder charges against a number of individuals. Now I got orders to keep tabs on the activities of a dead man. Which isn’t possible.”
“Come on, Donner. Get it straight. Would I file a police report saying Cooper is alive if he’s really dead?”
“Both you and Jimmy T were under heavy stress and exposed to things like tear gas that are known to impair vision and cause hallucinations. I want to record both of your stories and from them we'll be able to demonstrate that you were under duress. As for the Jimmy T, he may simply be lying. The protesters may want us to think Butch Cooper is alive.”
Jimmy T coughed. “I hope you aren't planning on framing me in this murder?”
“Of course not, and it's important that you be completely honest for these records. Neither of you have to worry about the press getting your testimony. It's a top secret thing that can't be used against you.”
“Now I get it,” Gallagher said. “You want to destroy my credibility as a cop. That's why you put me in with that creamed punk at Sandpoint.”
“Not at all. We just want to say you were under stress. What you'll get is time off and a bonus to aid you with your medical bills. We feel a long vacation in a warmer climate would speed your recovery. Same goes with Jimmy T. We don't know who did it, but he's been a victim of police brutality and should be compensated.”
Gallagher chewed on Donner's words. “Doesn't sound too bad. All right, I'll give you my story.”
“Okay, the recording begins. Go ahead.”
“I'm not lying. I did see Butch Cooper on day one. We'd cleared most of the front line protesters off with tear gas, tasers and rubber bullets when the orders came in to go down hard on a union march. A lot of the men disagreed with that order. The reason being that a splinter group of anarchists called the Black Bloc was trashing stores at the edges of the zone. Nothing was being done to stop them. For some reason the big shots wanted them to get away with it. Maybe to make the protesters look bad in the press.
We pooled our forces at the head of Sanderson Blvd., massing about 300 men, horses and an armored personnel carrier. A giant crowd of unionists approached in the distance and at first, we were laughing like hell at the silly costumes some of them wore. They were dressed like animals, birds, and stuff with taser and rubber bullet protection vests built in.
So it was fun at first but the humor died when some SS guy circulated a false report stating that three riot cops had been murdered by union terrorists on the south line. We were to expect the same sort of violence. It was only later that we found out the report was false.
Basically, it worked to pump us up and turn us mean. Once we were grouped, the armored carrier moved forward and we had a man on the platform firing a high-speed hopper gun of paint pellets filled with pepper spray. Those things rain down on a crowd and don't seem to hurt until the burning starts and people scream like hell.
Tear gas was next and we started by firing low, bouncing a few canisters and grenades off heads and picket signs. The rest we fired high and strategically in order to build a local gas cloud of the white-gray variety. Def-tek 38 caliber weapons firing rubber bullets and chemicals ripped the crowd and we aimed for faces. Even from a distance, I could see blood spurting as the projectiles gouged into cheeks and noses.
Once the cloud was up, we rolled in with it - horses charging right in to build panic and chaos. Baton men started to break up human chains by pulling off masks and kerchiefs and pepper spraying the idiots straight in the face. After that, the tasering and clubbing began and we had special spine whipping and face slamming tactics for the reporters present. Generally, we busted their equipment and them.
I got involved in scuffles and inhaled some of the gas. A hysterical woman pulled my mask off. It didn't stop me. I continued to fight, pausing to vomit occasionally. In less than an hour, we turned about six hundred people into piss-pants sacks of weeping human rubbish and made two hundred arrests. I was still active on front line cleanup at that point and ended up chasing some of the unionists down a side street.
These 2nd level union guys hadn't been on the front line and the cowards had kids and babies with them as they tried to flee to safety. About ten of us pursued them up the narrow street firing tear gas and rubber bullets. We got one of them out front of a smashed mall, pepper spraying him and his baby as he tried to get in his car.
People from the mall started yelling and booing so we turned and fired on them. Tear gas canisters crashed right through the glass doors and panic followed. At that point, an anarchist punk appeared, threw a heavy stone and got me right in the shoulder. It hurt like hell and I stood there grimacing as the other men ran up the road in pursuit of more unionists.
That blow really pissed me off and I saw the punk taking off toward an alley and pulling a black bandana up to hide his face. Orders were orders but at that point, I decided to break them and forget about the union goofs. I took off after the punk, hell bent on the notion of getting hold of him and breaking every bone in his body.
Of course it was just my luck to charge into an obstacle course of trash heaps and oil puddles. I jumped a spilled trashcan, slipped on a slick, did a running dance and crashed into a stack of heavy drums. They came down on me as I fell and they stunned me even further. I was lucky to avoid serious injury.
I began to crawl free of the tangle but I didn't get far. The punk had heard me fall, smelled blood and returned. “Payback time,” he said then he bounced a drum off my legs. A rain of boots followed that and during the exchange I managed to grab his foot.
He went over backwards and though I could barely move I forced myself up. Grabbing my baton I got to my knees and threw myself forward - coming down as hard as I could I managed to whip him across the pelvis and breadbasket.
We both fell in the rubbish in a sort of who- would-rise-first challenge. I won it, managing to get partly up to fire some pepper spray at him. That sent him rolling in agony and gave me time to rise. And when I was up it was with a whisky bottle in one hand.
I shattered its base and prepared to ram the rest into his face. At that point, I regretted spraying the little slime ball because he couldn't see me to beg for mercy. My knees buckled to go down with the blow and it was then that Butch Cooper appeared.
It was unmistakably Cooper - the trademark scar on the right cheek, iron jaw, blazing blue eyes and burglar black cat outfit. He was armed with street weapons - a mask and gas gun and a length of pipe strapped to his leg.
I'd seen his mug on the news enough times to know he was real, yet I also knew he'd disappeared more than a year ago and was not thought to be in the city. Yet he was present and he'd been in the fighting, too - his boots were spotted with blood and his face was bruised and sickly green.
The whole thing seemed weird - the clouds of gas floating up the alley and whirling in wisps around his electrified short hair. I stood frozen with a gasp on my lips and the broken bottle in my hand.
It was Cooper who broke the silence. He said, 'Tell Donner I'll be seeing him around.' That's all he said. He didn't try to help the kid and he wasn't afraid of me either. He just turned and disappeared in the gas cloud.
I stood there another moment then I started seeing evil inhuman faces in the shifting gas. A horrible burning odor filled my nostrils. It was like the burning of something straight from hell - corpses, mold, rotting wood, rust and ashes. My skin and scalp crawled and I turned and ran from there.”
Donner stopped the recording and gave Gallagher a look of raw skepticism. “I'm amazed that anyone would’ve believed that story. You were obviously hallucinating. I'm also not impressed by the fact that you didn't have the guts to fight Cooper.”
“And you would have the guts, Donner?”
“Of course I would. I've been in a number of scraps with Cooper. Plus there's more I haven't told you. Fact is I know he's dead because I found his body. It was during an action in Germany. We were following Cooper's gang using a helicopter with a super spotlight. It lit up the alleys like daylight and blinded anyone that looked up. We jammed their cell phone frequencies and over the course of an hour, we tracked them and sent in men to pick them off as the group splintered. By midnight, we had about half of them but we couldn't get Cooper. He simply vanished in a maze of alleys and we went over and over the territory and found nothing. Finally, I went down on a ladder and walked in alone.
This wasn't a job for you, Gallagher. It was dark. Motherfucking dark, and I was vulnerable. Couldn't even use my flashlight. I did get jumped at one point but I had my protective gear set to emit gas automatically. I thought it was Cooper and I really pounded the guy - but he went down too easy so I knew it wasn't Butch.
I looked him over quickly then gagged him and marked him for pickup. After that, I got lost, spending more than two hours in that territory. My phone got caught by our own jamming so I couldn't make contact.
Any other cop would've been killed, yet I managed to take out a couple more of Cooper's men. Then I found the body. He looked pretty bad and when I checked his pulse, he was dead. He'd been beaten to death with some sort of club and there were traces of pepper spray on him. Whoever did it set it up to look like a cop murder.
That didn't help because later when the body disappeared I had to answer all sorts of questions. They thought I killed him, and they didn't like it because they wanted Cooper alive. They were going to have him testify at some international tribunal and thought I killed him because he knew too much.
Of course I didn’t kill him, and later when we went over the scene we found new clues pointing to union goons as the hit men.”
Jimmy T frowned, his darkened eyes running like grease prints. A feral light shone in them as he spoke. “You're about as believable as Gallagher. If you weren't a cop you'd already be in the electric chair.”
“You'd like that wouldn't you. And how about you? How believable is that crazy story you handed in?”
“You want the truth. Okay, but don't complain if you don't like it.
First piece of news is that I have little in common with Butch Cooper, union rioters or even anarchists, though I understand their beliefs. I'm an independent street person. I hitched in from Oregon with my friend Danny. We're from the HellRaisers Gang.
We believe the monster corporations have already destroyed the world. All that can be done now is raise hell and chaos to make the masters and their slaves uncomfortable. The way we see it, Butch Cooper and his legions of utopian dreamers just can't see that it's all over. Protest and reform can't save a dead world.
Creating a riot was the plan we had in mind the other day before we encountered Butch Cooper. We had it in mind but we didn't start out anywhere near the police lines. Danny thought it would be better to have some fun so we left the cops having a gas with the others at the various fronts while we ran with renegade Black Bloc anarchists. Working with them we trashed everything in sight - display windows, newspaper boxes. We put our message up with spray paint and black flags - started rubbish bonfires.
Later a rowdy local gang of university kids joined up. They were less political so we split from them. We began by trashing food outlets because we were hungry. But that didn't go all that smooth because I was getting tense with Danny over his trying to tie us to this horny blonde named Mary.
I prefer other men so I hated her at first. But when she came up with this plan for a 3-pronged raid on a huge variety depot, I started to like her. We ran in with masks and bandanas up and started throwing things around. The customers and staff ran out so fast it was like we were high-class terrorists. This big cigar-fat store manager was the only guy with the guts to fight us and he paid for that - Danny kicked him in the balls then we chased him around like a screaming chicken, bashing him with clothing racks, plastic baseball bats - all sorts of stuff.
The rest of the gang ignored that and got wise, stealing jewelry and electronic gadgets. Danny advised me to let them do the work - then if they didn't get busted, we'd steal the stuff from them later.
There was a lot of horsing around at that point. We passed a joint and Danny and Mary went tumbling through a big heap of clothes. A few of us jumped in after them. We rolled around then laid there laughing our heads off.
None of the clothes in the store were worth taking so we laughed even harder when Mary started talking about stealing some. Then she said she meant as disguises. The cops would be around soon, looking for rough-and-dirty looters, so suppose we packed up our grubbies and appeared in our Sunday best.
Danny nudged me and winked, giving me the drift that he wanted to play along so he could watch the girls undress. We did that and by the time we were finished we looked worse than we ever thought possible. I had on these shiny polyester pants and pointy shoes with an alligator pattern. Mary looked like return of the nerd girl, except that her horny smile and big slutty brown eyes gave her away. Danny was the funniest - he looked like a geek from the old movies.
We decided to get out of there. When we ran back outside ordinary pedestrians were gone and the riot lines were getting closer. Groups of gas-blinded vomiting protesters stumbled by. Then the cops showed - formations of them wearing flak and riot helmets.
Our ruse worked. We'd moved quickly down the road to the steps of an Anglican church and stashed our clothes and the stolen stuff inside under the pews. The girls sang this horrible school song that sounded like a hymn and we were grouped there singing it as the parade of cops arrived.
These cops looked worn and frazzled - eyes getting tired and beaten. I was tapping a tambourine nervously as they aped us over and I saw it in their eyes that they didn't suspect us of being anything more than what we looked like. Some of them inspected the damage on street. Others asked us a few questions. When they got to me, I gave a phony name and pointed at the people gathering at a bonfire up on the next corner. “The looters are in that crowd,” I said.
The head cop believed my tip and before long they were massing in the center of the street. They formed a tough riot phalanx of about eight across and three deep, then they began advancing up the street, beating their batons against their shields, grunting and chanting in unison. The people milling around the bonfire at the corner were completely stunned by it. All of them froze and watched, but not for long as concussion and stun grenades suddenly flew from the cops, hitting the area with brilliant light and frighteningly loud explosions.
A lot of people fled but there were many who fell stunned and didn't get away. Those ones got turned into hamburger as the grunting cop phalanx turned into a huge pounding machine.
Danny found this disgusting and before long we'd crept up at the rear of the cops, watching them clean up. We waited for an opportunity. That came when two cops went into a busted-up store a good distance from the main body of men.
We peeked in and saw them looking down at a guy lying in the spilled goods. He was undergoing some sort of uncontrolled spasmodic movements. Looked like someone hit by nerve gas. His condition seemed to stupefy the cops and while they were confused we got behind them. Danny bashed one from behind with a section from a metal rack and I tripped the other one as I pushed him forward.
One cop got knocked out cold. The other went down on his face and when he rolled over his faceplate was cracked. Danny lunged and went down on him, bashing him all over with his length of metal. In spite of that, the cop was surprisingly tough. He managed to throw Danny off and rise with his baton.
I was afraid he’d yell so I backed off and prepared to run. That never happened; instead, a brawl erupted with him and Danny throwing each other around the store. They moved slowly to the back in this duel and finally Danny tried to escape out a back door. Only the cop got him from behind. He pushed him so hard he went for a tumble out into the alley.
I ran back up as the cop went out after him. From the doorway I saw him clubbing the crap out of Danny as he lay there twitching in a puddle. Then a moment later I saw the cop stop and stare at a person stepping out of the shadows.
That person was Butch Cooper - dressed in black and holding a long club he'd stolen from a cop. The light seeping in there was dim - Cooper looked amazingly sinister and strong and his skin seemed tinted green like he'd died of poisoning or something. Yet he was still walking around.
His appearance frightened the cop and at first, he backed off. Then when the cop saw him moving into a corner, he lunged.
This fight was no contest. Cooper threw him over and proceeded to bust him up bad. He smashed his faceplate and face. Hammered him into a brick wall then body slammed him and put hard boots to his groin.
The cop squirmed as Cooper dragged him down the dark alley. It was so dim that at first that I couldn't see much in there other than swimming shadows. Yet if I saw nothing, it wasn't that way for the cop - whatever he saw made him scream like a madman. These were the most terrifying screams I've ever heard, and I could see vague misty shapes like tentacles and twisted human forms gathering around Cooper and the cop.
Moments later the other cops rushed in and put me down. They ran down the alley to rescue their buddy - but they never found him. There was nothing there - no Cooper, no body. And I had to spend hours and hours under questioning, trying to convince them that I had no idea what happened in there. How in the hell could I explain how people just disappear?”
Donner stared at Jimmy T, like he couldn't quite believe the story had ended. He wiped the gathering sweat from his forehead and raked his oily hair with his fingers. “Kid, you're one crazy fuck to tell that story in the first place. The cops that bought it are even crazier. You expect me to believe that Cooper and a bunch of ghosts or monsters are dragging people off into the Twilight Zone?”
Gallagher grinned. “Guess Cooper won't be easy to find if he's in a killer twilight zone.”
“Shut up, Gallagher. Just shut the fuck up. Cooper is dead. He can't be out there. It's just a question of whether this kid is on drugs or lying.”
“Wait a second,” Jimmy T said. “I never said Cooper wasn't dead or that he's in the Twilight Zone. I said I saw him out there in the zone - the Brutality Zone. He looks like he is dead, and some sort of evil comes with him. Anyone he gets hold of gets dragged off into some part of the zone that people can't find. I believe it, and once I recover, I'm never going back out there. I'm getting out of this city.”
“Cooper was asking about you, Donner,” Gallagher said. “You better not go out there. If he gets you, he'll drag you into that place. The kid heard the screams - don't let it happen.”
Confusion swept Donner's face, and then his expression turned to anger. He snapped his phone open and hit a key. “Guards, get up here right now. I want these fucking idiots thrown out of here. You got that?”
The wind howled through the city scrapers like a haunted stray dog. Donner knew its gusts would soon be filled with the whimpering of protesters. Wiping dust from his faceplate, he watched the lines of riot police march down a narrow corridor toward a huge open section of the street. Hundreds of the toughest breeds of protesters were massed there and the image was of a broad human mural patched with the red, white, blue and black of bandanas, costumes and placards. All of this blurred by the drifting smoke and gray weather.
Orders had been to forgo the use of teargas as it was too windy and there were reports of canisters of nerve gas being mixed in with the supply. Donner had no use for orders; shielding his eyes from the glare, he watched the lines close, and when the clash was just about to begin, he gunned his bike and rolled forward. Once in range he dismounted, pulled a special launcher from his shoulder and loaded the gas grenades.
His aim was high and accurate. The first grenade flew over the crowd and bounced off a building wall. He scattered more shots to the perimeter, rolling them off the curbs and garbage bins. Lowering his barrel, he lobbed some into the center of the crowd.
The gas fizzed up and the riot lines began breaking up the human chains - to make sure things got out of hand he fired several more grenades straight into the front lines. One ricocheted off a helmet, another took a protester down, and the rest disappeared like stones in the sea, only to bubble up a moment later with smoke.
Tall office buildings lined the wide section of street and in spite of the wind a heavy cloud of gas billowed up. Most of it hung in place and whirled as the alleys slowly sucked it up. The scene was now one of violence and brutality; the protesters had panicked and the riot cops were reacting with extreme force. A whole line of people who'd tied themselves together were getting kicked and beaten, and they shouted and screamed as they went down. None of the police even stopped to untie them; instead, they stomped over them and charged into the rest of the crowd.
Two Secret Service men dressed as riot cops emerged on a balcony and began to sweep the crowd with a heavy spray of rubber bullets. At the same time, another line of riot police began to toss flash bang grenades as they moved in with horses at the rear of the crowd.
A hellish scene of screaming, spattering vomit, blood and confusion developed in the square. Wounded people tried to scatter in all directions, growing even more desperate as the horsemen rode in. Alleyways were the only avenues of escape and there were four of them - narrow and gushing with windblown teargas.
Police managed to move in to block three of the alleys and the fourth was near the front where nearly everyone was down. A few people had smashed storefront windows and dashed indoors to escape, but police had pursued them. Generally, it looked like a massacre. Donner saw maybe two cops pick up minor injuries while the main use of the protesters' bandanas was now to sop up blood and tears.
He considered hopping on his bike and driving away; then his eyes flashed to a female protest medic trying to aid some of the downed people by washing off pepper spray with a backpack water gun. Three cops moved in swinging batons at her. A figure in black suddenly emerged from the smoke and drove a fist straight into one of the men's faceplates. It shattered and he went down and out cold.
The other two cops turned and fired pepper spray - a direct hit, and it did nothing to stop the assault. Donner saw the man pull a pipe from his leg and lash out. The hit was on the canister of pepper spray, which exploded in the cop's face and sent him reeling back.
A second pipe blow sent the cop tumbling, and then the guy in black lunged and took out the last of the three cops with a body blow. He then ran across the square and leapt like a cat up the side of a building. The SS officers launching the rubber bullet attack were up there and they swung down with their clubs trying to stop the man from getting over the railing.
It didn't work; a taser shot bounced off him, he swung up hard and battled them on the balcony. Blood flew as he bashed one officer's head on the railing. Moments later, both men were checked over the railing and fell into the street.
Taking hold of the high-speed gun, the rebel began to rain rubber bullets straight into the police lines. Horses bucked, cops were thrown - other officers fell to their knees as the shots got them in the back.
Donner's momentary stupefaction vanished. He pulled out his binoculars for a closer look. The man's kerchief had dropped, allowing a reasonably clear view. A flash grenade went off at that moment and a bright image was superimposed on Donner's retinas. Then he choked and dropped the glasses. They clattered on the road beside him and he stood there with an open mouth.
The protester firing from the balcony was Butch Cooper. No doubt about it - the distinctive eyes and jaw were something that couldn't be mistaken. Yet it couldn't possibly be Cooper because Cooper was dead. The memory ignited deep inside Donner's brain; he had Butch Cooper down in that alley in Germany. After a long fight he smashed him and booted him - picking up everything he could find to bash him. Blood poured at the corners of his mouth, filling it with the taste of hot metal as he killed Cooper. And kill him he did; he fractured his skull - he broke his neck and every bone in his body . . .
. . . and there he was, standing like a picture of strength on a balcony. But not for long, because a second later he jumped into the street with the power of an Olympic athlete and ran off into the smoke. Cooper turned and fled down that fourth empty alley, with no one on his tail.
Donner's head stopped whirling and for a moment his thoughts froze like ice. When his head cleared, it was in a sudden flash of anger; he jumped on the bike, gunned the engine and raced up the street. His wheels weaving around bodies as he made his way to the alley mouth. When he got there, he stopped and looked. Tear gas was rolling for a long way down but it was mostly clear of debris, so he gunned the engine again and raced forward.
He saw no sign of Butch Cooper or anyone else. About halfway down the long alley a trash heap blocked his path. Braking, he killed the engine and dismounted, being sure to look around quickly for any ambush by Butch.
He didn't want his view clouded by a helmet so he took it off and left it on the bike. So much sweat poured on his face that he had to sweep it off to see. No one was behind him; beyond the trash heap the alley continued to the next street. Another section of alley forked off to the right of the heap.
For an unknown reason he believed Cooper had taken the fork. Working around the heap, he stepped out and looked down it. This was a dead end deal; wide with some sickly trees weaving thin branches above the rubbish. Chipped brick walls with dust-streaked windows showed here and there. An old structure rose at the dead end; factory or warehouse, he wasn't sure. A bleak atmosphere cloaked it; he looked up at the smoke blowing over the roof and spotted a black cloth covering one of the windows.
That was the clue he needed; stepping forward carefully, he approached the rear door. Lumpy concrete broke up and tall weeds choked his path, whipping his legs as he forced his way through. Sweat poured on his back - the image of Cooper's dead body kept rising in his mind. He tried to rationalize it but he couldn't. He considered the possibility of a twin, and then struck the idea down - simply because he knew Cooper so well. He'd had him under surveillance for years.
Suddenly Donner stopped and shivered all over. He remembered Gallagher's warning, and knew it was correct. If Butch Cooper was in there he'd somehow come back from the dead. Unless he'd never been dead. Maybe some miracle of modern medicine had saved him. A lot of international big shots had wanted him alive to testify, so maybe they used some super treatment to revive his body and mind.
The more Donner considered it the more he believed it. His shivering stopped as he reached the door. Then he heard some noise above and stumbled back as quickly as he could. He looked up and saw a bird taking flight, and when he lowered his gaze, Butch Cooper's face appeared in one of the ground floor windows.
He'd opened it and was grinning as he looked out. His skin was greenish and deathly just as Jimmy T had said. Donner also noticed tiny drops of blood dripping with the sweat from his chin.
Cooper's deep voice echoed in the alley as he spoke. “I've been waiting for you, Donner. We've all been waiting for you here in the zone.”
Donner felt himself losing it. “You're dead Cooper! You're fucking dead! I killed you and you deserved it! All those years - you rallied people against the state. You warped their minds. You ruined them, you put them in jail, killed them. Cops died because of you - you murdered the innocent so I murdered you.”
“Well that's funny, Donner. I don't feel dead. I also remember things well enough to know that it wasn't me. It was you, Donner! It was always you! We had rules. We played the game a certain way. My people and the cops didn't get killed then. Don't you remember that it was you who changed things? You created the violence, you created death and you created the brutality zone. You did it because you're a fucking piece of shit, Donner. The fate you deserve is one worse than death!”
“Worse than death, Cooper! I'll show you worse than death! Because I'm coming in there to finish you and whoever you're with!”
“Go ahead and open that door, Donner. Do it and know that you opened it a long time ago. You created the zone. You unlocked the beast in us all. There comes a time when a father has to return to his children.”
Donner felt his head grow so hot with hate he thought it would explode. “Fuck you, then. I'm just going to leave you here. I don't have to go in there and you know it!”
“Is that right, Donner? So what are you going to do when I testify? Haven't you figured it out - they kept me alive, they put me back together and now I'm going to sing like a canary. Your people will hang you, Donner. You know it and I know it. So walk away with the noose around your neck.”
His face twitching with rage, Donner drew his semi-automatic and opened fire. Bullets shattered glass and the rotten sill but Butch was gone.
Fear vanished as the adrenaline flowed; Donner was pumped up to kill now. He ran fast for the door and started booting it. On the fourth kick it flew open and Donner moved off to the side.
Dust and stale air rushed out but Cooper didn't follow. A quick reload then Donner took his gun in his left hand, ran to the opening, jumped and rolled.
He came up in dust and darkness, and spun around firing bullets into the gloom. Then he burst forward and got his back to a wall.
As his vision cleared, he saw an enormous empty warehouse, mould-eaten floors and sweating walls. Wide wooden pillars stood here and there. Cooper could be behind any one of them. He thought that at first - then he suddenly realized something.
A smart cookie like Cooper would've let him bust in and then would’ve simply jumped out the open window. He was probably out there laughing at him right now.
All the windows but one were boarded. He ran across the creaking floor and looked out into the gloomy alley. As he'd suspected Cooper was there. He stood in sickly weeds with a grin on his mug. And his face wasn't greenish but pinkish white; he looked healthy and young like the old days.
“You should've known that nothing mortal could’ve put me back together. Don't you remember how bad you beat me? It's the spirit of the zone, Donner. The brutality zone put me back together because it never really wanted me - it needs you because you belong. So I made a trade. It's you for me. And I hope you enjoy yourself because eternity is a long time.”
“You want to play head games!” Donner yelled. “Eternity is now, so eat lead!”
He opened fire and as flame licked the barrel, the window suddenly vanished. He saw boards in front of him and nothing else. Then he spun around and saw an eye shrinking into a wall of oozing blackness. A scraping sound came from deep in the warehouse, and it was followed by the heavy thudding of hooves. He saw the rotted floorboards breaking up. Twisted forms were rising from every dark niche in the room, and with them came horrible odors of blood, ashes and decay.
Black earth crumbled from deformed hands, ravaged faces and gaping mouths. A huge thing like a cross between a pit and a vortex whirled in the center of the room and the maggot-dripping monster emerging from it was the most terrifying creature of all.
Bullets flew as he emptied the clip, but they had no effect, except that they seemed to ignite the walls with flames. He saw a vista of fire and the morbid creatures belonging to it . . . rolling smoke and the crowds of some dead zone; mobs he could never put down. And they were coming for him.
Donner cowered and struggled as something rising from the earth threw wet tentacles around his legs. He felt his bladder empty and when he saw the flaming eyes of the creatures approaching he began to scream. His voice was full of terror and it was full of hate. He knew that Butch Cooper had made the trade. Out there in the alley, he was walking away from the brutality zone.
---- the end -----