“Our current mission involves the targeting of a serial killer, who has so far kept his activities within the borders of this mega-structure. He has evaded the action squads, the police investigators, and ourselves. I want to show you a video.” The major looked at the wall behind Mary. The wall became a hallway in one of the middle levels of the building. Mary recognized the scene; it was outside one of the largest shopping centers in the entire city.
The time must have been late at night or early in the morning. The holographic sky was black and littered with stars. A few people milled about, mostly homeless and hobos coughing in corners against the walls. Trash was everywhere, as was normally the case in any popular section of any building.
A man wearing a hooded cloak entered the scene. He walked down the hallway at a quick pace. Mary noticed that the shadows of objects and other individuals were faint, the streetlights casting them in several different directions. The cloaked man had a shadow that was solid black.
He had yet to pass near another person. When he did, his shadow, like pure night, reached out to cover an old man who had passed out against a wall. When the shadow returned to the shape of the man’s figure, the old man was gone. No sign of him remained.
“What the hell?” Mary said, unable to hold the curse back. “What happened? And how did you get this video? Is this real?”
“Please, just watch for now,” Mike said. Major Tom was intent on the content of the holographic screen.
Mary hesitated before turning around to watch. The hooded man continued his walk without even a turn of his head toward where his victim had lain. When he passed the people in the hallway, the shadow reached out toward its prey, seeming to erase them from existence. Ten, maybe twelve people, gone into nothing, not even dust, before the cloaked man walked out of the view of the camera. The wall returned to its normal concrete face.
Major Tom sighed. “I’ll answer your last question first. Yes, this is real. For your first question, we don’t know. As to your second, there are cameras planted all over Friendship City. Some of them are ours. The others are privately owned surveillance cameras that we have the legal authority to tap into.”
“You just watch us for fun?” Mary said. Her eyes burned into Major Tom’s.
“We do what is necessary to protect this city. The last thing I wanted was to take you in on this mission. Specifically you is who my superiors asked for. I understand their reasoning, but my attempts to show them why they are wrong have failed. So, here we are. Either you can listen up or you can walk out to an uncertain fate.”
“That’s a threat.”
“It’s a true statement. Listen to what we have to say, or you will go back to just being a gladiator, a tool of entertainment to control the populace.”
Just being, Mary thought. She calmed herself and heard her heart beating in her eardrums. A cold feeling formed in her stomach. Just being…