(Meet a key player named Max. He's had it rough, but he's someone worth a lot to very nasty people later on. The best way to describe him is the young dad in the Hills Have Eyes remake; wimpy at first, but a boss at the end. Gaaah! Too much spoilers! Off with you and read!).
“Say ‘Papa’. Come on, please? Pretty please for your old man?”
A small baby, a girl barely past her first year of life, sat in a padded chair, her tiny legs sticking over the edge. She stared blankly at the person in front of her as she nibbled away at the ear of a stuffed pink elephant. A tall man, his tie unraveled and hanging loosely over his shoulders put on a thoughtful pout as he stared down at her.
His little baby girl.
“Come on Sera, I know you can squeak a bit. I did hear you the other day in your room when you thought I wasn’t listening.”
The baby giggled, her face brightening up. She accidentally let slip her pink elephant, the fluffy plush falling to the ground with a soft bounce.
She stopped giggling; instead, her voice began to rise. Piercingly.
The baby girl began screaming, tears forming as she tried to move from the restraining confines of her chair. Her father panicked; he didn’t mean to scare her. He just wanted to play.
“Max baby, don’t scare the girl with your twisted evil ways. Especially before she’s finished her breakfast.”
A very beautiful woman, cherry blonde hair pulled into a modest ponytail and dressed in a sensible daisy pattern dress. She stooped slightly and whisked up the pink elephant, shaking it loose of any dirt that got on it.
Baby Sera immediately stopped crying when she saw her elephant, now instead bouncing up and down eagerly.
Her mother lifted her up from her chair and held her in her arms, crooked slightly while trying not to drop the elephant again.
With a devious smirk, she plopped the baby in the arms of Max, leaving him looking mildly stupid in his spiffy suit. Seizing the moment, she planted him with a kiss; the action immediately broke his spell and he kissed her right back, all the while holding a wiggling baby trying to get at her elephant.
Max rubbed his forehead gently against hers, both meeting eye to eye, regardless if he towered over her on the best of days.
“So how’s Mama doing? You look bright and eager today.”
She gave him a sad smile; her face shone cheery, but her eyes grieved. Max felt broken; he wished he could help further, but he was only one man. It was his curse that he could never be truly there to understand what had happened. With a free hand, he placed it on her cheek.
“Look Lynn…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”
“Shhh. I know baby. I know. You’re only trying to help is all. If only the Lord made Adam like you, maybe there wouldn’t be such happenings in the world.”
With slender fingers, she pulled his hand to her stomach, letting him feel. Max remembered the happiness he felt with the news. Another baby, a little sibling for Sera to love and play. To have a comforted childhood like he never had.
But then a mechanical monster shattered their happiness. Scared Lynn to the point she went into convulsions, and the baby they never knew was taken to paradise.
Bettermen called them the salvation of souls. A way to save those trapped in failing bodies. But he didn’t see them as such. Those things…those Handymen…they were monsters who needed to be wiped out. Every single one of them.
Lynn could see the darkness edge into his eyes, and she gently brushed her hand against his face, pulling him out of his stupor. She then picked up Sera and held her up high on her shoulders.
“Well, there’s only so much we can do in this life. But Maxy, don’t worry about us. ‘Sides…isn’t there someplace you have to go?”
Max’s heart dropped; he’d totally forgotten! He had to issue out exams for the school children today!
“Son of the devil, I don’t know where my head is today! If I don’t get to the elementary school as of yesterday, the principal’s going to turn me into a braindead helmeted weirdo.”
Sera giggled; sometimes her parents wondered is their girl was a genius among the other children by how she was able to understand sentences at that early of an age.
Max grinned quickly kissed his girls goodbye, grabbing a dark suitcase he had left at the side of the dining area and stumbled out of the house in his rush, trying to fix his tie as best as he could as he rushed to the nearby park.
The park was small, mainly there for social reprieves following a hard work day. Sometimes Max took Sera out into the park to look at the flowers when the weather permitted the plants to bloom. But the park was also very important for one thing: skylines.
A transport system of electrically magnetized wires bridged the huge city together into a collective unit; an area well over 50 miles of flying buildings operating in cohesion like a complex organ system. Normally terrifying to even approach, but when there was no other way to get to a destination in time, you had to put your fears aside and take a flying leap.
Max ran to the edge of the rail surrounding the floating section where he resided in, double checking the heavy industrial lock in his bag. With a deep breath, he pushed a button on a bracelet attached to his arm.
The heavy cuff suddenly extended out to several huge pairs of revolving hooks, bits of electricity flowing through as they activated.
“Well…nothing ventured. Nothing gained!”
With all of his strength, Max leapt the edge of the land mass, plunging forward. The magnetized hooks immediately flew straight to the wires, dragging him along with them.
Maximilian Lexingcraft disappeared through the morning clouds, his adrenaline fueled shouts fading rapidly behind him.
But unbeknownst to him, a figure watched him as he traveled. A woman in rags. The same one who surveyed the wintry night. The noises and images she saw repeated to her continuously. The same snarls, screams, shades of blood.
The monster with the white eyes. And the sounds of gears stopping and going.
But now something new added to the mystery, fixing a puzzle with no box.
White eyes. Active gears. And a pulsing, beating heart.
Fear gripped her as she started to understand the creature. But why this creature? What did it have to do with this man? The spirits in the wind became agitated around her, moving the air in thick, heavy drafts.
This was no time and place for such thoughts. Her work must be done in the shadows. Besides, monsters ruled the day in this world. And it was best not to be seen when they came out to hunt.
Question time! So now you've spent some time with the Lexingcraft family. Nice people, just wanting some peace after a rough incident. But because I'm a jerk, I want to start off the events leading to the biggest source of trauma for poor old Maxy.
So, what should be done with him that leads to a horrific incident?
A. We see him being a teacher at the Columbia School for Future Patrioteers.
B. Take his family to the Santa Monica peer equivalent that Columbia has. (you know anyplace with a Ferris Wheel is bound to be screwy).
C. Go to a party, bringing his family along with him. Specifically a Founder party because his boss is a Founder (Max is a Columbian Libertarian. He hates both parties, but works with one side to help his family.)
Whichever choice leads to Hell on Earth. So pick away so as I can ruin lives even more! Muahaha!
Oh, and bonus question:
Should there be one of the creatures referenced in the first chapter in the 3rd part of the story?