An unusual storm

Helena stopped the car. Jeffrey looked up, wondering what was going on. He saw a bloody old lady walking on the border of the highway, going south. She looked quite worn out, but seemed determined. Helena ran out of the car and went towards the woman.

“What the hell are you doing?” Jeffrey shouted at her, trying to move out of the car.

“Grandma!” Helena shouted.

The old lady turned around and saw Helena. “Helena?”

Helena grabbed and guided her to the car. Jeffrey had not managed to squeeze out from the tiny space he was confined in. “Helena, don’t bring that woman in! We don’t know her!”

“I do know her! She is my grandma!” Helena explained.

“Your grandma? That old lady who killed so many eco-policemen some time ago?” Jeffrey asked.

“Yes, this is her. Grandma, this is Jeffrey, she is a friend of ours” Helena introduced them.

Helena’s grandmother pointed a gun to Jeffrey’s face. “I have no reason to trust any of your friends, Helena. See what happened with Maud. This one could also be a spy”.

“Wow, you better calm down, old hag” Jeffrey got sassy. “I’ve saved your grand-daughter several times now, I think you should be thankful”.

“Mira, m’hija. I don’t know who you think I am, but make a wrong move and I’ll kill you” Helena’s grandma said.

“Hey, you two, calm down!” Helena said. “We are all in the same team”.

“I don’t think so” Helena’s grandma said, still pointing her gun at Jeffrey’s face.

“You don’t think so? You don’t think so?” Let’s see what you think about this!” Jeffrey said, putting a gun to Helena’s grandmother’s face. “You better behave, or I’ll have to make you leave my car”.

They did the rest of the trip holding their guns against each other’s faces. Helena’s grandmother did not trust Jeffrey, and Jeffrey thought that Helena’s grandmother had gone bonkers. They had no reason to trust each other. In the evening, clouds started to move up from the south. They were moving pretty quickly.

“Weird. That storm doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before” Helena commented, looking at her rear-view mirror.

Jeffrey and Helena’s grandmother looked back, and they could not help pulling a face of horror. “That’s not a storm” Helena’s grandmother said.

“Helena, push the engine to its very limit! And take the first exit!” Jeffrey shouted.

Helena panicked, and did as she was told. They were speeding towards a small town. “What now?” Helena shouted.

“This is an abandoned town!” Helena’s grandmother pointed out. “Let’s hide into any of the houses! Quick!”

Jeffrey somehow squeezed herself out of the car and ran towards a detached house. She opened the garage with brute force, let the car in, and closed the door behind her. Helena stopped the engine and walked out of the car. The three of them saw the cloud of modified eco-soldiers approaching the town fast. There were tens of thousands of them, flying quickly.

“Let’s hide in the basement” Helena said.

They went down and waited in silence, in darkness. The modified eco-soldiers would notice any sort of movement or light, and they could not afford to fight so many of them. They would need to wait this one out. The prospects were terrifying.

Seminar

Dear Vera,

I hope you are receiving my letters. I imagine that you are, because I have received three more letters from you and Alek (thank you for telling him where I am, by the way! I had not had the time to write to him).

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to read any of these letters, and I think there is some sort of pattern with this that I am not capable of discovering. One of your letters suddenly turned into a fiery phoenix when I opened it, and flew out of my window before I could get it to give me your message.

Your second letter literally started to materialize in gigantic letters. It was quite a weird experience: the words started to fall out from the letter, and they grew in size until they filled my apartment (oh, yes, I forgot to tell you! Now that I am officially working for the Illuminati, I have a company flat, which I share with three shadowy figures who look like they’ve turned into one with their shadows). It took a bit of effort, but I managed to open the window, and the letters started to grow out of the window, flowing out and shattering against the floor, several floors below. When I tried to reconstruct the pieces, they turned to dust.

Finally, Alek’s letter must have disappeared, and I feel like it had never existed in the first place. All memory of it has disappeared from my mind, and everyone else’s minds. Nobody remembers that letter, but I had apparently written the first paragraph of this letter before Alek’s letter disappeared out of existence. I am now doubting whether the letter has actually ever existed. Weird.

Anyway, let’s get back to the topic. I’ve attended a few seminars this week, and some extra training. Apparently, every Priest and Priestess of the Dark Lord, Assistant of the sub-Lieutenant Third of the Illuminati branches need to be sacrificed every 23rd of February to quench the thirst of blood of the Dark Lord. My boss, Lisa, has told me that I might take her position if she gets sacrificed, or that I might be the sacrifice myself if she manages to murder her boss and take his position. I am happy to hear that there are many and fast routes for promotion in the Illuminati.

Seeing that I am going to have to participate in the great sacrifice, we have had a few seminars to remind us of the protocol for the Dark Mass. Cloaks and fancy attire are a must, and blood daggers are also necessary for the ritual sacrifice. I have been told that it is considered rude to keep a mobile phone in the Magic Stone Pocket of the cloak, and that the Dark Lord once enslaved and destroyed humanity because of a similar incident. This was apparently in another timeline of our universe.

I was also told that I would get to see the Dark Lord, who is the one that actually controls all of humanity and the universe. We the Illuminati are just the Dark Lord’s executing hands. Sounds quite amazing! I am going to get to see the actual boss of my company! I think that is so considerate of the Dark Lord, approaching the workers of the company and showing that we are part of something greater than ourselves. It’s so much better than one of those corporations where the boss is just an unknown being who, for some unknown reason, manages the company.

Anyway, I’ll send more news as soon as I know what’s going on. Wish me luck for the promotion! I really hope I get it!

Regards,

Jan

Some explanations

It was quite an awkward trip. Jeffrey did not say a thing until they reached zone 11, out of the city. They left the train and started to walk outside. Helena was not happy with the situation, but it was not as if she actually had much of an option. Jeffrey walked directly towards a tiny car, opened the door, and signaled for Helena to come in. She had to make an effort to fit inside the back of the car, so Helena drove the car.

“Take the North route” he signaled.

Helena sighed. “Are you going to just point directions until we get wherever we need to go, or are you going to tell me what’s going on?” she asked.

“I can tell you now” Jeffrey said. “I am on Dani’s faction. My work was to destabilize the eco-regime… And well, seeing that you ended up getting tangled with the Sisters somehow, save you in the process of doing so”.

Helena was extremely surprised. “Wait, what? This was Dani’s doing?”

“Yes, who else’s?” Jeffrey answered.

“So you’re not a Sister?” Helena said.

“Nope, I’m not. I am web design and community management expert. Well, I was, before this whole eco-revolution thing” Jeffrey explained. “I was saved by Dani, and I was given an extremely important mission. I infiltrated the Sisterhood and quickly went up the ranks because of my knowledge of social media, which gained me the title of Preacher Supreme. I forced everyone to follow me on social media, and thus made my word the visible moral authority of the eco-community. In fact, I need to make an update…”

Jeffrey brought out a phone and started to update all of her social media. She posted messages about their terrible escape, and how they had been attacked by the eco-government’s forces. She was ambiguous about the state of Helena, their newly appointed Prophet, and thus created an uproar.

“I didn’t know that social media could give you such power” Helena said. “At least, not in this eco-obsessed world”.

“Well, the thing is that it’s not even been a year since the world governments were toppled by the new eco-world order, and after a decade of social media… You know, old habits die hard”.

“And what is next?” Helena asked.

“Well, Dani has planned everything, don’t you worry. Right now, we need to decompose the eco-world. I mean, it’s not very difficult to do, because the eco-regime has had quite some self-harming practices, so we are going to have it quite easy. Then…” Jeffrey went on.

“Halt!” Smith shouted.

Jeffrey could not finish his sentence. Smith and Smith, the two eco-police agents that had searched Helena’s house for some sort of evidence to find her grandmother, were blocking their path with their guns out. Helena had to stop.

“What now?” she asked.

“Let me handle them” Jeffrey reassured her.

Helena tried to curl a little and put her face down, as she did not want to get recognized by the two agents. Jeffrey opened the door and walked herself out of the car. Smith and Smith were suddenly taken aback, as Jeffrey towered high above them, and they felt like ants. Jeffrey used her deep voice as a form of authority.

“Excuse me, agents, don’t you read social media updates? I am the Preacher Supreme, and I am taking our prophet to a safe place”.

They kneeled. “Sorry, Preacher Supreme, we didn’t recognize you at first… Please, go on”.

Jeffrey took five minutes to get back in the car. They then moved on.

“That was easy” Helena commented.

“Yup” Jeffrey agreed.

After a while, Helena talked again. “I have so many questions. The world does not seem to make sense at all. It’s like suddenly a lot of weird stuff is going on”.

“That’s what life is about, really. A lot of weird stuff happens, and you cope with it” Jeffrey responded. “Think about it, before the eco-revolution people were spending their money on receiving a random box of stuff they did not want every month. They also cared more about watching sports than voting for their leaders… The world is, and has always been, quite a weird place, when you actually think about it”.

“True” Helena had to agree.

“Take the highway. We are going to drive for a couple of hours, and then stop somewhere to rest”.

First mission

Dear Vera,

I have finally received one of your letters! I’m glad to hear that everyone is doing well back home. Well, I am imagining that the letter said that, because I’m not very sure whether it did. The envelope had been torn open, and half of the letter was charred, as if it had been touched by a fiery claw of some sort. I tried to rebuild it using some magic, but the letter did not respond to magic, as if its contents had been blurred out by some powerful dark magician (that’s weird, am I right?).

Anyway, I have finally started work this week. It’s been quite a stressful period, after studying so intensely for the selection process, but luckily all of that is behind me. I just need to concentrate on my work now (and I even get some leisure time to do what I want to, which is quite nice, if you ask me).

My boss is a woman named Lisa who has the position of Priestess of the Dark Lord, Assistant of the sub-Lieutenant Third of the American Branch of the Illuminati, which I think makes her quite important in the corporate structure of the Illuminati. I am basically her assistant, and she explained to me that she was responsible for handing out missions to her assistants, who were to carry them out. So she is something like an operations manager, I think. I still don’t understand very well how this whole thing works.

A couple of days ago, I received my very first mission. I was told that it was extremely important, and I was given two papers, one of them contained the instructions to get to my destination, and the other one I was not allowed to read until I reached my destination. In fact, I mistook the papers when looking for directions, and a strange ray of light blinded me for a few minutes.

When I recovered my vision, I took the other paper and followed what was written there. I got out of The Occult District and started to walk. In 10 meters, I had reached my destination, a Starbucks in the corner of a nearby street. I got inside, waited for the queue to advance and then read the other paper, which said:

2 x Mocca caramel frappuchinno
1 x Almond special with cream, with no dairy, no sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and no caffeine

I placed the order, waited for ten minutes, got only one Mocca caramel frappuchinno and two lattes, asked for a change, got a tea, gave the tea back, received a Mocca caramel frappuchinno with whipped cream, gave it back once more, received and Almond special with cream, but it was not made of soy, so I gave it back, received the second Mocca caramel frappuchinno, dropped the first one, ordered another Mocca caramel frappuchino, got an Almond special with cream, no dairy and no caffeine, got a rooibos which I gave back, but apparently it belonged to some other lady who had been sitting in a table for quite a while, so I asked for it again, finally received the Mocca caramel frappuchino, left the shop, went back in because I had forgotten the pinch of cinnamon, explained that I had just bought the coffee there to the manager, got some cinnamon, and headed back to The Occult District.

When I got back, Lisa drank the two Mocca caramel frappuchinnos in one go, took the Almond special for her boss, and congratulated me on the success of my mission. My work had apparently had results! I was so happy that I was being part of changing the way the world works. This mission truly inspired me to work harder.

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well at home. Hopefully the next letter will arrive in one piece. Regards,

Jan

The escape

Sister Jeffrey kicked the door open. It was sent flying through the room, and Helena and Barbara were startled to see the super-muscular Sister running into the room. She looked for Helena, and we she saw her, she approached with long and firm steps that made the floor vibrate.

“Prophet, you are in danger here. Your words of wisdom have divided the community, and the eco-government considers you dangerous. We need to leave, now” Sister Jeffrey said.

“What?” Helena was confused.

Sister Jeffrey did not wait for her response. She just took Helena on a shoulder and started to run out of the building. Barbara tried to follow, but Sister Jeffrey was over 2 metres tall, and it was difficult to follow her when she was running. With a free hand, Sister Jeffrey punched a guard so hard in the stomach that he flew for over ten metres before landing, completely unconscious.

The soldiers were confused, and did not know how to react. What was Sister Jeffrey doing? Could they stop her? They definitely could not shoot against two Sisters, so they let Jeffrey do as she pleased, and did not react until someone made the alarms go off. It was too late. Jeffrey had already planned how to escape.

People moved out of Jeffrey’s way (not like they had an alternative, really), and when she reached a relatively empty area, she turned a corner and ran into an open shop. There was an elderly black lady behind the counter, and she smiled at Jeffrey. She smiled back, and without stopping to say a word, she walked to the back of the shop, where she lifted a few of the boards on the floor and went down with Helena, closing right behind her.

“No talking, OK?” she said.

There was noise upstairs someone walked into the shop. Helena and Jeffrey stayed silent, and listened to what was going on. Jeffrey started to braid her long hair.

“Hey, lady. Have you seen two people running around?” a muffled voice asked.

The woman answered in a fragile voice. “I’ve seen a lot of people, running around to their jobs”.

“But did you see anyone running away just now?” another voice asked.

“I’ve seen my years running away from me in an instant” she continued.

“We mean people. Two people” the first one insisted.

“I’ve seen you two running into my shop” she said.

“Apart from us” the first one said.

The second one was getting nervous. “We mean a young girl and a huge dude wearing a wig”.

Sister Jeffrey had just finished making her braid, and was surprised and enraged. “Oh, no, you didn’t” she said.

She jumped up, throwing the floor boards flying up. Before they could react, she had them both up by the necks, one held in each arm. They tried to escape from Jeffrey’s strong grip, but their weak complexion was no match for her muscles. Before they asphyxiated, Jeffrey threw them to the floor with disgust.

“This is not a wig, understand?” pointing at her braid.

The two men were recovering on the floor, and could not say a thing. Helena walked towards the front of the shop.

“We need to leave, Helena” Sister Jeffrey told her. She then turned towards the old woman, made a hand gesture and nodded. The old lady nodded back at her. Helena looked outside, and seeing that the streets were empty, the two of them slipped out. They ran to a main street, and saw a tube station. It had been closed with the new eco-regime, which opposed cars and public transportation, somehow. Jeffrey and her managed to break in through a window.

Helena looked at Jeffrey as they started to walk down. “What’s going on?”

Jeffrey did not answer, she just walked up to a payphone, took one of the phones and waited for approximately 30 seconds. “We’re both here” she finally said. She hung up the phone and started to walk towards the stairs. Helena did not move, so Jeffrey turned towards her. “Come on, we need to go”.

“No. I want to know what’s going on” Helena said.

“No time for that” Jeffrey answered. He waked towards Helena, held her with both arms, and took her away on one shoulder. Helena complained and tried to escape, but Jeffrey just took her downstairs, all the way to one of the lowest platforms.

“There is no train” Helena said. “The eco-government stopped the tube service”.

Jeffrey did not say a thing. She just waited. And a train came. To Helena’s surprise, a London tube train came into the platform, and stopped to pick them up. The wagons were empty, and the train did not stop in any of the other stops. The train had come to pick them up.

Induction

Dear Vera,

I hope that you received my previous letter. I haven’t received any direct response from you, so I was wondering if there is something wrong with the mail system here. I mean, it’s a bit unorthodox: you have to write your letter in a weird red ink that smells kind of funny, almost as if it had been harvested from a recently sacrificed animal, and then seal it with a demonic pentagram seal. When I did this I lost consciousness, and the next thing I remember I was cleaning a sacrificial knife in an altar that I had not seen before. The letter had disappeared, and my tutor informed me that it had been sent to its destination. Weird, I don’t remember adding a stamp onto the envelope.

Anyway, last week I told you that I was studying hard to pass an entrance exam and that I would hopefully be inducted into the Illuminati this week. I had prepared myself to impress the examiners, and during practice hours I even managed to summon the Behemoth once more, thinking that I was going to impress my Summon examiner and pass that exam with flying colours. I needed to get a good mark in that to compensate for the lower mark that I knew that I was going to get in my Brainwashing exam (I mean, come on! There are so many herbs, potions and mind techniques to learn in that subject that it’s impossible to learn them all!).

I did great at the Marketing and Business related subjects, and I was satisfied with my Revised History and Dark runes responses. They went quite well, and I think I did better than the other candidates in those subjects. However, the second to last exam was Brainwashing, and it was an extremely tiring five-hour exam (which I somehow managed to pass). By the time I got to my Summon examination, I was exhausted, and I kind of messed this one up.

I did all of the basic summons just fine, minor demons and weak fairies are quite easy to call into the human realm, and they don’t require elaborate magic pentagrams to materialize and act on the world. The last question was just to summon whatever I felt like summoning, so I tried to summon the Behemoth once more. The problem was that, due to my tiredness, I was kind of sloppy, and I mixed up the coordinates of the plane of existence in which the Behemoth is usually contained, resulting in opening up a portal to a plane of pure void.

Everything and everyone around me started to get sucked into the vacuum, and the rest of candidates and half of the examiners were sucked in, too. When I finally managed to close the portal, the examiners that were left looked at me, raised their shoulders and decided to accept me, because there was nobody else left to compete against me. I felt extremely ashamed, because I had not managed to summon the Behemoth, and the examiners looked sort of neutral? Disappointed? I couldn’t really read their literally faceless expressions. I apologized twice, trying to explain that I had intended to summon the Behemoth, but they just said that it was OK.

That night, I was taken to a meeting point in a garden. There were hundreds of people there, watching from under their dark cloaks, some of them hissing, and their scales only partially visible under the light of a large fire that shone bright in the middle of the darkest night that I had ever seen. I was given my internship contract, which I read and signed. A dark priestess (probably just someone from HR) threw the contract into the fire, which became the brightest black I’ve ever seen, illuminating the night with its blackness, and then it turned into the darkest white, darkening the night even further. The fire then turned red once more, and a dark cloak came out of it. The dark priestess placed the cloak on my shoulders, and welcomed me to the Illuminati.

I’ve been told that I’m going to start working on Monday, I’m so excited! I hope everyone is doing fine at home. Give them my regards. Lots of love,

Jan

Leaders of the world

Helena was taken back to the Palace, as they called it. She did not have much of a chance: when she tried to escape, a crowd had held her and raised her on their arms as if she was their leader. She was taken to a Council room, where several men and women were waiting for her, expectantly looking at her. A few of them had military suits on, but there were also two representatives of the Sisters, and the president of the world eco-government was there.

“Please, sit” the president of the world eco-government told her, indicating the only chair that was available. The Sisters looked at her with pride, as Helena complied. “I am glad to have you here with us, Prophet” he continued. “Rescuing you was the best thing that could happen. You are a beacon of light for our followers, the source of wisdom that they drink from to continue their holy mission”.

“I am not a Prophet” Helena continued.

“That’s so humble of you” the president of the eco-government continued. “The Sisters have told me about this, it is indeed the mark of the Prophet.

One of the Sisters, who oddly enough looked a lot like a man on a wig to Helena, spoke on a basso-profondo voice. “The prophesy will then turn true: a humble one will descend upon the Earth, one that will not trust her own powers. She will appear in the midst of the cleansing fire, and she will guide humanity to the last war of all, restoring the balance of nature”.

As he spoke, Helena inspected him and noticed that he actually did have a 5 o’clock shadow. That was definitely a man. When he stopped talking, the other Sister spoke. “You came from the fire of Newcastle, the cleansing fire intended to kill the rebels there. We had not noticed initially, but you are our chosen one”.

“Cleansing fire? You mean the nuclear bomb that was thrown there?” Helena was enraged by the memories.

“The nuclear attack was necessary to stop the advance of the rebel front in the north” the president of the eco-government said. “It was the eco-friendliest option”.

“That’s not true! Now Newcastle is a wasteland that will be contaminated for the next tens of thousands of years! That’s not eco-friendly at all” Helena objected.

“It is!” the president of the eco-government insisted.

“It’s not!” Helena continued.

The tension had extended to the whole room. The men and women were all looking around, not one of them daring to speak up for one or the other. Apparently, Helena had enough power to hold her ground against the president of the eco-government.

“Look, I had several scientists working on this problem. It was the best solution that they could come up with” he explained. “Also, sometimes sacrifices are needed”.

“I don’t think that massacring the population is an eco-friendly thing to do” Helena stated.

The Sisters gasped. The rest of the people in the table looked at her, eyes wide open, terrified by the consequences of what she had just said. The highest spiritual leader of the eco-world had just pronounced herself. The president of the eco-government did not have words to respond to that. Seeing that opportunity, Helena left the room.

It was impossible to go out without being spotted, so Helena went back to her room. Barbara was waiting for her there. She looked concerned.

“Helena, are you OK?” she asked.

“I am perfectly fine. I’ve said what needed saying” she answered.

“I know. Sister Jeffrey has told me” Barbara told her. “It was so brave of you to speak the truth… In front of all of those world leaders, too!”

“Wait, what do you mean that Sister Jeffrey had told you?” Helena asked.

Barbara brought out a brand new smartphone from a pocket in her Sister garments. “Sister Jeffrey tweeted it. You know, the Sister that looked like a super-muscular heavyweight mixed martial arts champion?”

“Wait, so this is public?” Helena asked.

“Yes, in fact it is compulsory for every citizen to follow Sister Jeffrey, to get spiritual updates. He has uploaded a video of it, too. Oh, you look so fierce saying it, I really admire you”.

The reaction did not take long. The news had soon gone viral, and the still-forming eco-world was now boiling with one of its initial crises.