Ongoing Story: Hang the Pundit Pt. 3

After being lured back to his apartment in the last installment, Jacob Marlowe, our flawed protagonist, watched his apartment building erupt in flames. The threat on his radio broadcasting life just became all too real. With his building ablaze and Marlowe slowly regaining consciousness, we continue. Are you ready? Because here we go again with writer Jon Kennedy at the helm.

 

Click on picture to see print version.

Click on picture to see print version.

JACOB STOOD IN SHOCK. His eyes stung from the streams of pluming smoke. He could still make out a couple of darkened figures scurrying about the flaming fallout. Their mouth’s opened in screams but their insane looking cries were not audible to Jacob’s bleeding ears. He was standing senseless as if hypnotized in a trance with nirvana in sight. A second later he was in full sprint down the sidewalk, kicking his drunken legs out like an ostrich trying to take flight.

            After three blocks of uncustomary running, Jacob collapsed in mid-stride and splashed all over the sidewalk. He wanted to vomit, to clear it all out of his system in hopes to gain some sobriety. He glanced about and frantically fingered drying blood out of his ears.

            The streets were void of any signs of life. He was alone as others were taking cover in their individual condos. His was no more.

            Jacob felt himself up, checking for any bones that may be protruding from his body. None were found. He relaxed a little after realizing that he was in decent condition for someone who just survived a close proximity explosion.

            “What now?” Jacob asked himself out loud.

            He slowly started to become aware of the seriousness of his situation. Some psychopathic delusional asshole just blew up everything he owned. Everything including his classical collection of Bach and his 40-year-old aged Scotch assortment. The adrenaline and oxygen-rich blood was wearing thin and he remembered he was being watched before the explosion. And Maybe now too.

            “I can’t do this,” Jacob shouted but his voice sounded muffled in his head. “I am nobody, really! What did I do to you?”

            Jacob’s pocket started to vibrate. He pushed his back up against a wall and looked liked a feral man who had been raised by monkeys and now, after 50 years, has been introduced into civilization.

            “I’m not answering my phone. I’m not doing this.” Jacob’s voice rang off of the overbearing buildings, echoing off each other, slowly diminishing until they were absorbed into the approaching sirens.

            The phone stopped vibrating. Jacob scrambled to his feet and used his shirt to wipe the remaining blood off his face and out of his ears. His hearing returned but was accompanied by fuzzy white noise and a constant high pitch ringing that hurt deep inside his ear canal. For a second, he thought, “I bet this is what it feels like when an earwig burrows into your ear and lays its egg-sacks.”

            The phone started again.

            “I’m not answering it. I don’t care what you have to say. You are crazy. Do you understand that you are crazy? You just blew up my condo,” yelled Jacob.

            Silence.

            “I’m not crazy, Mr. Marlowe,” came a self-assured voice from across the street. “You may not understand the situation and may be frightened by it, but that doesn’t give you the right to dub it crazy. You do this too often.”

            Jacob’s eyes scanned the landscape for any signs of the voice. There was nobody. He was terribly afraid.

            “What do you want? Who are you and what do you want?” called out Jacob. “Answer meeeeeee!”

            A figure stepped out of the darkened alleyway directly across the street from the panic-stricken Jacob. The man stood like an authoritative figure, commanding respect through a heart piercing fear. His face was hidden in shadows and his black overcoat blended seamlessly into the abyss. The man didn’t move. He didn’t sway in his stance but looked as if a dressed up mannequin standing in the corner of some dusty attic.

            Jacob listened to the approaching sirens and prayed to God that they would hurry up and save him. His paralyzing fear subsided a bit and a hateful rage began to boil within him. His phone started to vibrate again. Jacob looked at the man, who simply stood and hoping his prays were answered, pulled his phone out of his pocket. He flipped it open to a blocked number. He looked up and saw the figure running at him, almost upon him and it was too late.

            The man’s hand wrapped around Jacob’s throat and quickly constricted. The figure pushed Jacob’s head back, putting his centre of gravity behind him and his body quickly followed until it lay pinned on the ground.

            “Now listen to me, Jacob Marlowe. You have seen what I am capable of, but believe me, I can do much worse.” The man’s breath smelt minty fresh. “Your opinions are bigger than yourself Mr. Marlowe and you have offended many people because of your crude, close-minded views. Now you will preach a different message.”

            The powerful hand eased its grip allowing Jacob to suck in a deep breath of air through his nose. The tunnel vision faded, restoring sight and revealing the figure’s face for the first time.

            Jacob didn’t know the man. He didn’t recognize his trimmed beard, his grey eyes or his short-cropped black hair. The face’s strong bone features made it look like it had spent hard time in the military. It looked cold and kept many secrets buried deep inside a secure room.

            “If you do not cooperate then this will get painful. I will contact you when it is time and then your life will be in your hands. Do you understand?” asked the well-groomed face.

            “No, I don’t understand. I have no idea what all this is about. You blew up my condo! Who are you?” The hand tightened again.

            “I did blow up your apartment and now you are the centre of attention, Mr. Marlowe. All eyes are on you. You are going to be on every newspaper and broadcast. They are going to be hanging on your every word,” the man laughed mockingly to himself. He looked into Jacob’s eyes and loosened his grip again.

            “Who are you?” hissed out Jacob between gasps of breaths.

            The sirens were screaming as cop cars raced around the adjacent streets. Reds and blues flashed off the buildings.

            “You tell them that you know nothing about the explosion. If you don’t, then you will force me to blow up something else.” The man’s voice was bitter, but warmed when he said, “Your time has come, Jacob.”

            The man released his grasp and stood locked in a stare with Jacob. Their gaze was broken as a police cruiser came sliding around the corner, tires screeching and engine roaring like a wild animal claiming its prey. Jacob looked back at the man and saw him sprinting back into the shadows of the alleyway from where he came.

This article originally appeared in the Photography Issue. To be continued next issue…

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