Needless to say, the citizens of Puloso had not taken to Wolfe's admissions and proclamations. In fact, they hated it so much that a mob had formed and marched immediately to Valhalla, the core of the city that served as the command centre, city hall and public service central. Unfortunately, as a design flaw – it had not been so at the time – the massive floodgates had been closed and sealed with magnetic locks. And protected by sentry guns. The leading council – The Magnificent Five as they were called – had been paranoid about anyone getting ideas about a possible coup, and had made sure that Valhalla was impenetrable once under lockdown.
The mob had been beaten down, ground under Wolfe's shoes, chewed by Wolfe's dogs – if he had them – and spat out again.
When news of this reached the centralized population, chaos broke out. People looted, fought in the streets over supplies and made general chaos and mayhem look like a peaceful afternoon by a river. Or by a window, in the case of Puloso.
The upper-class area, in which the Kanes' apartment was located, was relatively untouched.
At the moment, at least, though Willy as they hurried up the stairs.
"What's going on?" asked the elderly millionaire Mr. Wilson from the apartment opposite Ryan's.
"Apparently, the city has been taken over," said Willy without breaking a stride as he walked into the apartment. Ryan lingered a little outside, lost in thoughts.
"Oh," said Mr. Wilson and disappeared in his own apartment.
"Why?" was the general question that floated around in his head.
"Ryan?" asked Mr. Wilson, emerging from his apartment carrying a small bundle wrapped in a towel.
He looked up. "Hm?" he half-asked, half-acknowledged.
"I heard about your father. I'm so sorry for your loss. He was a good man." He handed Ryan the bundle. It was heavy and lumpy. "Take this," said the old man. "If the city has been taken over, then it may come in handy later."
Ryan started to unwrap the bundle, but Wilson's frantically waving hand stopped.
"Wait! Wait! Not yet. Wait until you're alone and only you can see what's inside. Don't let anyone know what it is, not even Willy." Something in the old man's face told Ryan to obey, so he did and carefully held the bundle in his arms.
"Thank you," he said hesitantly.
"My pleasure," said Wilson and retreated into his apartment. Before he closed the door, he took a long look at Ryan and sighed. "Good luck," he said and closed the door. Seconds later, the sound of many locks and chains being slid into place could be heard.
"Ryan, are you coming or what?" asked Willy, standing in the door opening. He spotted the bundle. "What's that?"
"Mr. Wilson gave it to me."
"Well come inside. Who knows how long we'll have until the looters and troublemakers get here?"
Willy had been busy the few minutes Ryan had been talking with Wilson. In the middle of the living stood a steamer trunk, and Willy had already managed to load several things in it, including food and clothes. Willy was not in the living room, but could be heard walking around in the adjacent rooms.
"What are you doing?" Ryan asked when Willy emerged from the kitchen, carrying some kind of bat.
"Never hurts to be prepared in case we have to leave in a hurry. Rich places like these are prime targets for looters and other hooligans, you know."
"So why not be ready?"
Ryan didn't answer, partly out of shock, because he was now seeing Willy in a state he had never seen him in before: panic. Willy was panicking. He looked on as Willy dumped more and more stuff in the trunk, before sighing and standing up. He grabbed Willy's arm.
"First of all, where would we go? We're at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Willy. There's nowhere to run."
Willy seemed to have an epiphany. "Oh, right."
"And," continued Ryan, "If we absolutely have to move, we need to pack lightly. Don't know if you've noticed, but steamer trunks aren't exactly easily manoeuvrable. Don't we have bags?"
Ryan had no idea how he was able to think like this at that particular moment. By all logical conclusions, his brain should be working on processing the news and sights he had seen during the last twenty-four hours.
Maybe my brain just isn't good at prioritising…he thought.
Willy sat down in the spacious couch. The small thump made a hollow sound that echoed around the spacious living room. Ryan sat down next to him.
"What's going on?" asked Willy quietly. "Why now? Why couldn't it wait another month or something? Then we wouldn't be here."
"We wouldn't?" asked Ryan, surprised.
"No. As a part of your sixteenth year, we were going to travel around the world for a bit."
"Dad arranged that?" asked Ryan, who had wanted to see the world for quite a while. Only seeing cities grew incredibly dull and while staying under water was a blast for the first couple of months, that too got predictable. "Look, a whale. Oh, a turtle this deep? Amazing."
"Arranged?" scoffed Willy. "It was his idea. He knew you wanted to see a bit more of the world than America. He spent weeks planning and reserving hotels."
Mr. Kane kept surprising Ryan.
How did dad know that?
He was sure that his father had known practically nothing about him, but apparently, he knew most of his interests.
"Dad…" whispered Ryan to himself. "What the hell?"
"So what's in the bundle?" asked Willy, steering away from the awkward moment.
"I don't know," said Ryan, weighing it in his arms.
"Open it then," pushed Willy.
"He told me not to open it until I was alone. It's a secret, apparently. Told me it would be useful."
Willy stared at him with incredulous eyes. "I don't know about you, but I think receiving wrapped bundles from eccentric old men and told not to open it until you're alone is a tad strange."
"Mr. Wilson is nice," protested Ryan.
"Of course he's nice. But you have obviously never seen the inside of his apartment."
"What's inside?" asked an intrigued Ryan.
"Trust me, you don't want to know. Only that it was…weird and unsettling."
Ryan thought for a minute, and put the bundle in the trunk. "Might come in handy. Don't we have bags?" he asked again.
"Yeah, yeah," sighed Willy and went to find some.
"We have confirmation. It is indeed Kane's son. He lives in the Golden Valley apartment complex."
"The fancy housing, is it? Very well. Get him, then, and bring him to the orphanage."
"Uh, sir, if I may ask…"
"Uhm…why the orphanage?"
"That is for me to know, and for you to never figure out."
"…but…er…yes, sir. I'll send some guys to Golden Valley."
"There's someone in the hall," said Ryan from the kitchen.
Some hours had passed since the rioting started, and Willy was nervous about how much time they would have before they had to run. He hoped they would never have to.
"Who?" he asked.
"I don't know." Ryan went over to the door and looked out the little spy-hole. Two men in suits, carrying a paper from which one of them seemed to reading aloud, the sound muffled by the thick door and wall. One of them knocked on Mr. Wilson's door. A minute went by. He knocked again, more forcefully. Wilson opened the door eventually, and seemed to freeze when he saw the two. They talked for a bit, and the suit seemed to ask something. Wilson shook his head no and shrugged before slamming the door in the suit's face. The suit, unperturbed, shook his head to his partner, who started looking closely at the paper.
"They're wearing suits, and they seem to looking for something, or someone."
Willy's eyes sprung open and he was at the door less than a second after, shoving Ryan aside and peeking out himself.
The suits started to argue, the one doing the reading gesturing wildly while the other threw his arms in the air, shouting. Whatever they were arguing about, it was lost in the muffling. Then the reader pointed to the Kanes' door.
"Shit! Ryan, go to your room and lock the door."
"Just do it!" shouted Willy, hoping the suits hadn't heard them.
Ryan, sensing Willy's distress did so, but not without collecting the bundle from the trunk.
"What are you doing with that?" hissed Willy.
"Just for safekeeping," replied Ryan and closed his bedroom door, locking the deadbolt in place.
Willy sighed and waited. The door was knocked on. He opened it and faced the two suits. "Can I help you gentlemen?" he asked cheerfully.
Perhaps a bit too much, Willy, he told himself.
"We are looking for the Kane residence," said the first in an obvious British accent.
"Don't know where that is," replied Willy, keeping a smile on his face.
The other suit made a deliberate show of looking at the wall behind Willy, in the kitchen. Willy looked as well.
He had forgotten about the large family-tree that had been painted on the wall. Ryan's father's name had been burn away in an accident involving a boiling pot of fat. He had not been happy about it. Willy's smile faded.
"Well…" he began.
"Well indeed," said the other suit and punched Willy in the face.
Willy hit the floor with a crash, but flew up immediately and punched the suit back as hard as he could. The suit did not get back up. Unfortunately, while Willy was occupied with the first suit, the other had made his way to the only door that wouldn't take him past Willy: Ryan's.
The suit didn't even bother to try the handle; he just kicked the several inches thick oak door down, a feat that really shouldn't be possible when one considered the suit's slight frame.
He looked around. On a raised platform with stairs there was a bed, but no one was in it. Closets and other things lined the walls, along with a large television set and a radio. The green hue of the ocean painted the room in the same colour, giving an eerie feeling. At least until Willy threw himself on the suit's back and wrestled him to the floor.
Ryan sprung up from the platform on the opposite side of the one the suit had looked at clubbed the suit over the head with a lamp. It shattered, raining glass on the floor.
Willy stood up and surveyed the damage. "One passed out in the foyer, one in here, and they know your name. Hm," he said.
"They were after me?" asked Ryan.
"It seems so. Or possible something in here, but your dad keeps all his important files and such at the office topside."
"Maybe they didn't know that," said Ryan, picking up the bundle.
"Perhaps, but I'm not taking any chances. Grab your bag, we're leaving."
"Don't say it."
"That's what they said as well…"
Advancing carefully through the streets, Willy and Ryan made their way to Manny's cinema. Pools of water had gathered here and there where cracks had appeared in the glass ceiling.
The shaking must have weakened them, thought Willy.
Something that could not be seen with the plain eye was that this particular part of puloso had a slight declination, and that became very apparent when Ryan and Willy could see that people were up to their ankles in water close to the transit hall. People had gathered outside there as well, appearing to have nothing to do apart from loitering around.
Manny's cinema was dark once again, and Willy and Ryan went in the back door, which was – suspiciously – unlocked. The dark hall appeared to be even more run down than the last time they had been there. Which was less than eighteen hours.
"Manny? You here?" yelled Willy.
"We don't have time to play hide and seek, Manny. We need a place to hide!"
Willy walked up to the door of Manny's office and opened it. Manny was sitting in his chair behind the desk, puffing on a cigar.
"Hey," he said simply.
"It's funny, isn't it? How they always figure out who is friends with whom. Quite amazing, really."
"Manny, what are you talking about?"
"Two men came by, wearing expensive suits. They were asking about you, Mr. Kane," he said and pointed at Ryan.
"M-me?" asked Ryan.
"Did you tell them anything?" asked Willy, not knowing if he could take anymore stress.
"Not a thing, and as a result, they did this," Manny said and stood up slowly, revealing that the chest area of his shirt was covered in blood. A small rift could be seen just above his heart.
Willy's mouth fell open, as did Ryan's.
"I'm afraid they found some contracts I had with your father, however, and I believe your address was on them, judging by Willy's nose there." He coughed. "I must say, Mr. Kane," he began. "You are just like your father. Everyone wants you, but damned if anyone tells them how to reach you."
"Everyone?" asked Ryan, still shocked that Manny had taken a bullet for not telling the suits about him.
"Rumour has it that this Wolfe character knew your father, and seems to be looking for you."
"But why? Why would they be interested in me?"
"Damned if I know," said Manny, a smile on his face, "but something I do know is that you're not safe in this district. Here," he gave Willy a piece of crumpled paper. "Go to Jotunheim and find this address, and speak to a man calling himself Chronus. He'll know what to do."
Willy walked up to Manny, who had sat down in his chair and started puffing on the cigar again. "Manny…"
"Yes, yes, I know. You're grateful, can never repay me, blah blah blah. Just go, and don't look back."
Ryan couldn't look at the cinema manager. "I…"
"Don't worry, Mr. Kane. If I was not okay with this, then I would have told them about you. I would appreciate if you took care of my films if this situation sorts itself out though. Can you do that?"
"Thank you. Now go."
When the two didn't move, he screamed.
"Just bloody go and leave me the hell alone!"
Manny smiled. "Good luck to you, Ryan. I hope you'll be okay," he whispered and closed his eyes.
To be continued…
It's weird how a cold can just sneak up on ya like this snaps fingers. Anyway, thanks again to StarSplit144 and Undrahas for reviewing, it makes me very happy.