I have never put much stock in dreams; I find them trivial and ambiguous. I think that people have always wanted to understand the inner workings of the human mind and therefore dissect anything that may or may not have relevance to them. I have never thought much about my own dreams. I had never had reason to do so. But the dream I had during the hours of unconsciousness from Johnny’s needle was, shall we say, enlightening.
It started without vision, just a sensation. I felt air rushing past my face, like the feeling of being on a motorcycle flying down the highway. Slowly, my vision returned, spinning into focus. I saw an enormous city with a shadowy tower in the distance; Tryst Tower. Chicago. No, only partly Chicago. My right eye saw the Windy City. My left was much more modern…Seattle, judging by the Space Needle. The world to my right became a war zone. The ground shook, the sky started twisting and contorting. The blue sky became as red as blood, and it started snowing. The thing was, the snow wasn’t snow at all. It was ash. The buildings to my right had burst into flames, the smoke was clouding my vision. The world to my left began shifting, and suddenly the worlds were one. Tryst Tower, still in flames, morphed over the top of the Space Needle. The patchwork building became as large as a castle. A lone figure stood atop it, cloaked in shadows. He held his head high, as if he alone ruled the world. But as the king looked out over his kingdom, his world burned. He was the king of nothing.
I woke up screaming, not knowing why. I was disoriented, lost in the caustic nature of my dreams. I was sweating and shivering, both burning and freezing. I sat there a while trembling, trying to regain my composure. I closed my eyes and counted to ten. I had to get my thoughts under control. One…Two…where was I? Why was my body in such a state of shock? Three…Four…I had to find Raiden. I had to get to Chicago and get my niece…Five…And punch Johnny in the face when I got a chance…Six…Seven…Eight…Come on Jared…Wake up…Nine…Ten. I took a deep breath and looked up. I was in my room in Raiden’s building. My head was killing me. I reached up and felt a small goose egg on the side of my head. I must have hit it on something when I passed out.
My room had undergone a few changes; a large television had been brought in, the windows were darkened, and my door was bolted shut. Damn. The television had a note taped to it with my name written on it in bold letters. Great. A love letter from Raiden, I guessed. I sighed, shook out the cobwebs in my skull, and swung my legs around to the side of the bed. I had a new accessory; an ankle bracelet with a bright red light on it. Even better. I knew exactly what that little gadget was. I was now on house arrest. I swore again and grabbed the letter off of the TV.
I can imagine how angry you are right now. Please, channel this anger just towards me. Johnny only acted as I directed him to. I wrote you this to explain my actions. We have talked before about your disposition, and how volatile you can be. I have warned you not to let your emotions rule you, but I do not believe you are your own master. Not yet. This is why I drugged you and have locked you in your room. I am sure you’ve noticed the tracking device around your right ankle, and I’m sure you don’t care for it. Please, do not try to remove it. It has a trigger to release the R5 (the drug you were put to sleep with) if you tamper with the lock.
I am sorry to do this to you, my friend. It is not my desire to imprison you, especially with your history, but I cannot allow you to return to Chicago. I need you in the days to come, and I fear you would be killed. I have taken it upon myself to be present at your sister’s funeral and to try to be civil with Regan Trystix. I hope to convince him to help out my research for the virus that has infected your niece.
I apologize again for the primitive method to which you must succumb. The funeral will be broadcast this evening, and I hope you will watch. If not for your sister’s sake, then your own. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are still human. Your humanity needs this closure. Embrace it. You must acknowledge your own demons and release your past if you wish to be a part of the new day that approaches. War is coming.
That son of a bitch. He had gone without me and locked me up like an animal! I crumpled the note and threw it across the room. I got up and walked around my newest cage. I couldn’t believe he would do this to me, after all the things I have done for him! I should kill…Wait, I thought. This is exactly why he locked me up. I knew I had trouble containing my ire, and so did Raiden. He knew I would want to go back to Chicago and raise hell. He knew I was a loose cannon. He knew I wasn’t in control of myself, despite what I might have said. Damn. I have always hated it when people prove me wrong.
I grabbed a mirror off the wall and smashed it on the floor in frustration. It shattered without hesitation; the little pieces showed me a thousand visages of my face. I barely looked human. Again, I proved Raiden’s point. I shook my head in frustration with myself and walked back to my bed. I turned on the TV, the channel preset to Trystix’s funeral coverage. It was taking place in a small cemetery just outside of Chicago, miles from Tryst Tower. It was wide open, not a building in sight. There were hundreds of people there, crawling like insects over the beautiful gardens ironically placed in the middle of a cemetery. I found it almost sacrilege to surround the desolation of death with such aesthetic beauty. To me it seemed to detract from the magnitude of the situation. Then again, I burned down buildings in my spare time.
The news anchor was talking about the weather being subdued and the mood being somber throughout Chicago on this day. In the middle of her rambling, a long dark limousine pulled into the beautiful cemetery. I knew who was inside immediately because of how low the car was set on the road. The driver got out, walked the long way around the limo, and opened the door. Two giant legs in a tailor-made suit stepped out. The car lifted as the great girth of Regan Trystix exited his car. He was wearing all black, his face serious. He smoothed out his suit and surveyed the scene around him. Finally satisfied, he began to walk to the burial site. Cameramen and reporters swarmed around him as he made his way towards the main assemblage of people. The driver waited patiently for Trystix to clear the door, then slammed it shut.
This was odd; where was my niece? Lena surely would have wanted to be there, regardless of how sick she was. Had she…Was she…gone? I felt a lump in my throat.
The news anchor commented on how low-profile Trystix had been of late. The world hadn’t laid eyes on him nor been treated to one of his web casts since the day before I had laid siege to his tower. The anchor spoke of how she couldn’t blame him for it, after all that he had been through. She spoke of what a great man he was to put the East on his shoulders and that it had cost him his beautiful wife. The whole narrative made me sick. Trystix, even now, had made my sister’s death a publicity stunt.
A beautiful oak casket, polished to shimmer in the rays of the sun, stood brilliantly before the assembly. Trystix made his way to the front, shaking a few hands as he went. He walked with a noticeable limp, favoring his right leg. I wondered if he’d ever walk the same. The news anchor again plugged what a trooper Trystix was, calling him a victim and a hero. He had survived a frightening ordeal, after all. Trystix stopped near the front, speaking with a tall man wearing sunglasses: Raiden. Raiden said a few words, shaking Trystix’s hand, then put his arm around him. Trystix responded in kind, clapping the tall man on the back. They were awfully good at faking that they liked each other. Trystix continued to a small podium next to the coffin in which my sister lay.
Trystix stood before the microphone, seemingly overcome by emotion. He motioned to one of the cameramen to come closer. The camera raised to his eyes, he looked directly into it.
“I’d like to say a few words on behalf of my dear wife. She was a great mother, a beautiful wife, and my best friend. She was preceded in death by her brother just a few years ago. She was an incredible woman…I loved her very much. Her daughter hasn’t stepped crying since she was killed. I just want to say that the perpetrators of this heinous act will be found! They will be brought to justice! I will find my nemesis! This act of insurrection will be put down! I will reap redemption for myself and my family!” Trystix raised his fist to the sky and lowered his eyes.
The crowd cheered. Imagine that for a second; cheering at a funeral. A funeral for my sister. A funeral for Trystix’s wife. A funeral where her own husband didn’t even say her name nor bring their daughter. And the people cheered. Hundreds of people gathered to mourn my sister’s death, and none of them even heard her name. And yet they were standing up and clapping for her so-called husband sending a death threat to his nemesis. A death threat to me. And the people cheered.
Trystix soaked it in for a moment, then made his way back to his limousine. His driver opened the door for him, closed it behind him, and went back to his seat in the front of the car. The engine started and the car departed. People were still clapping and talking amongst themselves. The news anchor was buzzing about the power of his words. Only one man seemed to notice that he was at a funeral. Raiden took the flower off of his lapel and laid it on the beautiful coffin. He began to walk to his own car, being pelted with questions as he went. He merely smiled for the cameras and continued his departure.
That was it. The funeral had lasted a grand total of ten minutes. I was irate. I began shaking, my vision clouded with rage. I was seeing red again. Trystix wanted to call me out and say he’d find me more than he’d wanted to say goodbye to his wife, my sister. He cared more about his own vengeance than anything beyond it. That was something he and I had in common. I too wanted recompense. He had named me his nemesis; he’d been mine longer than I could remember. So be it. One of us would have our revenge. I’d play by Raiden’s rules for now, but I would get out sooner or later. Trystix would be mine soon enough.