Heads on rope
The sun went down hours ago, below the skyline of the city of Ann. High rises were crammed into the city walls to accommodate the residents of the safest city in the world. Amin, a loner in such a densely populated utopia, sits looking out the window of his apartment. Some would call it a shoe box of a room, but it was all he needed. His enormous frame remained unmoving as he sat in silent expectation, waiting for a sign that he wasn't alone. He did this every night, until 9pm, convinced that he would be contacted by life from outside the city. He sat forward with his elbows on his knees, his face wrinkled beyond his 26 years.
A hard life lay behind him, his parents killed in a fire he started as a child, his sister in prison for 30 years after drug charges, himself going to jail for vagrancy. The laws in Ann were tough, the product of out of control riots years and years ago. The original sin of the townsfolk gone by stained all who lived there, but Amin was different. He'd beaten the system. Years ago as a prank, he'd rigged barrels to burn and explode all over the city. Sure people had gotten hurt, but it was worth it. The fires had raged for five hours, and he'd never been caught, he'd even attracted the attention of Hafan, a mystical god of the cosmos. The one who told him to light fires.
Amin was tired of waiting. He'd been told to plan and wait for a sign to act on. His whiskery face rubbed against the palms of his hands, a quiet beeping rang from his left. His watch let him know that it was alright to stop waiting, to go to sleep and waste another day waiting some more. Out of the chair and into the bathroom, he proceeded with his bedtime routine, brushing his teeth and evacuating his body. He ducked under the doorway as he came back in. He was incredibly tall, six foot something with a wide frame, yet he didn't bother toning it. The people of the city were all little gray lumps, links in the chain that runs the city. He closed the blinds, allowing lights to dance on the ceiling only, before getting into bed and preparing to sleep. For four years he had been waiting for a sign, waiting for contact. He didn't know it, but tonight was the night.
Three long shadows appeared on the ceiling, his eyelids closed slightly, on the verge of sleep, dragged back up into reality. The shadows spoke in unison, in deep, soul rattling tone.
"I am the one who is called Hafan. Sit at attention."
With no further prompting, Amin sat upright in his bed, now seeing the omen of his deeds to come. Three human heads hung suspended by rope from the top of his window. Each had long, dark hair and sagging gray skin. The eyes seemed to reflect non existent light, layers floating above the leathery bags of otherworldly wonder. The head's unified speech filled the room again.
"Tomorrow's tomorrow is when it will be done. Then, travel to a hole in the sand, a resting place for my brothers. There you will be judged and given passage to Dyfnir, my city."
The heads slowly spun the ropes around themselves, pulling their haunting images with them. Before long they disappeared into the darkness above the window, leaving just the dim city lights on the ceiling, the light which had created such strong silhouettes. A normal man would have wondered where they went; if they'd left the room. Not Amin, he had other things to worry about, his plan had to be carried out in two days, or he may disappoint Hafan. He got up and stood at the window, looking down at the ants, scurrying around the city. They could never comprehend the shadowy future which awaited them, what it would take for Amin to further the human race, to bring the technology of time travel to the people.
"Why is the largest pool always the most stagnant?" He pondered out loud, pitying the people who would live, die and do everything in between without ever wondering of the possibilities of their life. He felt ashamed to live in a society where people lived their lives according to the morals of people who didn't even know them. A product of his upbringing perhaps, to feel sorry for the people weaker than himself. In many ways, all of this was simply a side dish, to the main course of solving the problem of social impotence. Still, Amin felt the most sorry for the people he would have to kill to prove his point.
He kept these emotions to himself, focusing them on his goal. This is what made him capable; this was what let him sleep at night. He walked back to his bed and shut himself off for the night, content the meticulous planning would pay off.
- Morning peak hour, two days later -
Unlike simpler times, sunrise didn't signal the beginning of a day's duties. People from all walks of life commuted to various parts of the city before any rays of solar energy shone inside its walls. The growth of Ann had led up to this point quickly over past decades. A city so defined by its laws and efficiencies still hadn't solved the problem of people traveling to opposite sides of it. Fortunately, it sat upon a complex system of underground tunnels.
A man, like any other, boards a train. All trains in Ann are crowded early morning, this was no exception. He pushed his way into the crowded car and found anything to hold onto. Nothing felt out of place, nothing made him feel uncomfortable. He was complacent in his existence, knowing that no one but an idiot would dare try to disturb the peace of the city. Cameras were everywhere, not to control, but to apprehend.
Public opinion of the police force had been a rollercoaster ride since the origins of the desert metropolis. The people had been punished for three year riots, chaos contained only by the blood stained fortifications surrounding them, keeping out past fears. Any one who'd survived those days would recall the instability of anarchy, and the bodies of the punished.
The man read a newspaper over the shoulder of a woman in front of him. He was careful for her not to notice, but somehow he was sure she knew. The weather and the sports were all he would read anyway, so he thought there was no point in buying one for himself. Rereading the weekend forecast, he intently listened to the announcer, calling out stations, awaiting the simply titled, "Central".
After ten more minutes of waiting, he heard it, and prepared to push his way to the door, even though he was sure he'd be more likely pushed. With the sound of plastic sweeping metal, the doors opened, allowing the impatient crowd to march out. He'd no sooner reached the door than he'd felt the heat.
Fire burst up from behind the carriage and onto the platform. His skin blistered and his clothes burned like the hundreds surrounding him. The briefcase he'd so tightly clutched now buckled and warped and sprung open. The flames licked all in their way, eventually escaping up the stairway to the street. Death had become a sign of justice and peace in the city, the execution of criminals no longer spanned only to killers. Only now had it spread to the ignorant and the mediocre.