Fatal Introductions Chapter 23

chapter 23 factory

Harold followed a strangely serpentine path as he left the parked truck.  Parking his truck some distance away to avoid the attention of the cameras.  The path was mapped out.  Harold knew the timing that he had to follow to accomplish his task.  The corporation did not spend a lot of money to watch over a pallet warehouse. The cameras were probably piloted from another site. The programmed route held in a different location than Sienna’s work station.  It was common practice for companies to upgrade in a high production area.  If the cameras were still good they would move them to replace older cameras in a less desirable location.  This worked to Harold’s advantage as the cameras were exposed. The saboteur was easily able to follow their scanning path.

The bomb fit snugly under his coat, and reminded him of its presence, as it pressed into his side.  Reminded him of all the planning, all the espionage, all the work that had gone into making tonight successful, he knew would be worth the effort.  This was going to be his calling card for the time being, an act big enough to draw attention for possible recruits to know their capabilities.  This was war and he needed soldiers.  As the bomb rubbed back and forth against his ribs he grew more and more excited.

The dock doors were all full of trailers limiting the area of his entrance to the service door that the painters used.  That spot would work giving him access to a catalyst for his fires.  Many of the chemicals stored in the room were hazardous and flammable but were excellent at removing old paint.  The faster the fire blazed the less chance it could be stopped in a timely manner, especially if the inventory of tires there, caught the flame.  Harold knew his path and all the stops he would have to make.

Before entering, the first stop would be at the fire suppressant valve.  He had to place it in the closed position or water would flood down on any blaze saving the company millions.  That could not be allowed, they had to pay.  Turning the wheel to close the water supply from the pipes would take care of that.  He chuckled as he looked down after completing the task to see cigarette butts all around the pipe.  The irony that the fire suppressant was also the smoking spot for the workers, hit a funny spot in him.

The lock was barely strong enough to be called a lock as he easily bypassed it.  It was buildings like this one that made it easy for him to commit his acts of sabotage.  Grabbing a few cans of the flammable chemicals, he knew the path he needed to take to get to the heart of the building undetected.  He set up a few pallets to create a pyramid into which he would place his sarcophagus of destruction.   Opening the can of chemicals, he made trails throughout the building leading to the stockpiled wooden pallets.

Thankful there was so much flammable substance in the building; it would help Harold create a strong fire.  The terrorist muttered something about a cleansing fire was needed to free the company of the wrong it had committed.  Harold took a moment to reflect on how badly the company treated him.  He had given them hours upon hours of sweat and struggle.  Harold enjoyed his job. The end was too bitter to forgive the injustice he suffered.  The Human Resource representatives told the family man he would have no trouble finding work.  It was a shame that they lied to appease him.   Shortly after unemployment, his life fell apart.  This fire would make amends for all the wrong they had created in his life.

A revolution is never one simple act. Harold could not attempt a coup on big business without taking the right steps. First was damage, hit their pockets. Next was exposing their political connections.   They had their puppets for protection of their own reputation and interests that kept the people at bay.  Simple exposition eliminated that protection.  Last he could go for the kill.  Harold felt a bit smug in fighting the true power of corporations that others did not see.  Instead of going after the puppets first, he would knock out the back bone first.  Cutting the strings, the puppet will fall.  That meant taking the means of their influence away by costing the corporations money.

The moment was now. His blood pumped and heart raced as he set the timer.  The plan only needed a few minutes to get out before the explosion would happen.  A few minutes where it no longer mattered what he had planned. A few minutes it would be done.  The act would be complete and his vengeance would get an appetizer.

There no longer was a question for the safety of others.  Any worker caught in the crossfire was an acceptable casualty.  They obviously were aiding the enemy.  That included Sienna.

***

Antonio had done his job ensuring that a fresh body would be there for the taking.  He had friends who needed the flesh to escape the pits of torment.  Harold had followed every step on his descent.  He just needed Antonio to corrupt him.

Awaiting in the warehouse, was the dark spirit of a tormentor.  When Harold arrived, he would commit his last bit of damnation.  The remaining spirit would no longer be guarded by the soul.  The shell that remained would be easy to occupy.

The wait would not take long.  Anger caused death.  Anger in the guise of vengeance easily snuck into the psyche of any individual.  A small slight, an unwanted change in life, were just the opportunity it would need.

***

A pull Yancey could not describe was guiding his every step.  It took him off the beaten path that his evening walks usually took.  The walks had been more calming to make sure he gained complete control over his actions before going home to his wife and son.  There would be no control today.  Today there would be violence.

The doors swung outward.  Yancey was a bit in luck.  It would be easy to trap whatever forces he needed to stop inside the factory.  A few items would need to be found to pin the door shut.

Something was inside that could not be allowed out.  If it was allowed out, Yancey’s life would be a failure.  The city was already suffering.  Releasing the force held within the warehouse would be inviting a wolf into the flock of sheep.

In the grass was a posted sign marking where the workers should assemble in case of an emergency.  Buried deep in the ground and weighed down with cement created a bit of trouble for Yancey.  Straining muscles were able to overcome the death grip the ground had placed.  The dirt gave way.

The groove of the metal pole fit snugly under the door’s handle.  With a strong kick, he replanted the opposite end of the post in the ground.  The angle would not allow the door to budge.  Satisfied that one door was blocked, it was time to cover the other doorways.

All other exits were covered.  Every dock door had a trailer in front of it.  The other doors appeared to be locked.  Only the front entrance was left.  A stack of pallets could be drug over.  The inner strength of Yancey made the movement a simple task.

Once in place a nudge toppled them over blocking the front door from allowing an escape.  Yancey’s task was complete.  The urges had passed.  Once again, he had gambled and walked away a free man.  Now it was time to cash in on that freedom and go be a father and husband.  Until he was pushed into action again.

***

Harold was making his way back to the door where he had entered. Curiosity about what the explosion would look like made him want to stay but common sense told him to get out.  He knew it would be a grand explosion.  Maybe even a grand spectacle equivalent of a firework display for the onlookers.  He thought if he got out in time he could see the display from a good vantage point far away from the blame.  He wanted them to pay but did not want prison term because of it.

They were to blame for what was happening.  Harold was simply carrying out justice.  The terrorist had suffered much hardship already. It was their turn to do the same.  He had gone through too much planning for this event to fail.  It was now time to get revenge.  A grand explosion followed by an enormous fire. It was the perfect disaster in his mind.

Reaching the door, avoiding camera detection, he was home free.  He needed to get out within the next minute to get to safety.  The victorious self proclaimed champion pushed hard against the door.  Harold already tasted the victory of the act.  He could see the accounting lines suffer another set back from this win.  Maybe even a few more investors losing interest and they would drop the stock.  The door would not budge.

The saboteur pushed harder ramming his full force against it.  The door would not budge. It would slightly crack open but would not move more than a half of inch.  It did not even allow any view of the outside.  Panic slipped into his mind.  The panic took away logical thought as he felt the timer expending all safe time.  Survival was on his mind now nothing else.  Stepping back, the panic made him kick with all his might.  The door would not budge.

There was another door.  He could rush to get there but it would expose him to the cameras.  Cameras were the least of his worries.  He wanted to live.  There was still so much work to do. The company had to pay for much suffering.  How could that be possible if he was dead?   The time was running out, there was no time to slither through the aisles of pallets he had to get out.  The adrenaline rush he would appreciate later. He felt a strength he had never experienced before.  The danger of being trapped in his doing was growing as the moments passed.  He was frantic.

Reaching the front door he pushed with all his might.  The door would not budge.  He stepped back kicking it hard.  The door would not budge.  Panic stricken, fueled by the adrenaline set in motion, he kicked over and over.  Placing all his weight with the blow of each kick, the door would not budge.

Ear shattering in the echo from the metal walls of the structure, the explosion detonated.   The moment stood still when he first heard the fuse reach its end.  The fire ignited the combustible chemicals and took no pause to ignite the dry wooden pallets.  The temperature instantly soared.  Even at the distance, the climb in heat instantly scorched.  Harold could no longer feel the cold air inside the building.

Smoke hit the roof of the building before descending. It began to engulf him and choke away his breathing.  There were cracks in the walls and doors, not enough to vent out the darkness.  He was losing his strength and mental awareness.  The heat pounded against his flesh causing beads of sweat to pour down.  He was not used to the intense heat and it was making him pay.  The flames were not going to kill him the after effects of the blaze was going to be his demise.

A second explosion rocked the metal walls completely crushing his ear drums.  The fire had reached the paint room and the chemicals that were stored there.  He was successful, Harold assessed.  The fire was quickly accomplishing its task.  The blaze would not be easily contained and the fire suppression could not stop it.  Fire suppression he thought with a grimace would have saved him.  He wished he would not have shut off the sprinklers.  There was no plan for this.  Flexibility that was not present was needed.

***

Alarms snatched Sienna from her complacent boredom.  She had never heard them activated before. She had read all about the alarm system of the plants.  Scanning over the camera system to see where the fire was located, or if it was another failed wiring issue.  The failed wire was common in other alarms but she had never heard this alarm before.  Panic froze her reaction for a few minutes. The security guard had never planned for this kind of excitement.  Hopefully, no one was hurt in the process.

The black and white of the camera monitor cast a strange glow.  She could recognize something was going on but hated how low the quality of the image was on screen. Watching the fixed position camera of the front entrance to one of the storage facilities, it was definitely a fire.  The black and white screen could display that.  Sienna did not need a color photo to know what burning looked like.

She paused for a moment when she had seen the movement.  The facility was supposed to be empty.  Why was there someone there?  The middle aged woman screamed in panic to her supervisor.  Disrupting him from the usual wasting of time, he made into a nightly ritual.  The moving body was in pain, her motherly instincts could tell by its movements.  She was drawn to him for some reason.  Sienna was so enthralled that she could not look away even to call the fire department.

“What is it this time?”  The grogginess in his throat revealed he had been sleeping away in his office.

Sienna could just gasp as she started to realize who the person was.

“SIENNA!” Trying to snap her from her panic was an impossible task.  Her supervisor left the panic stricken guard to do what he knew had to be done in this situation.  The sprinklers failed and he had to get the fire department.

How could the man she had been seeing for the last three weeks now become trapped in this fire?  She loved him perhaps, no she knew.  Three weeks of him were enough to change her mind about finding someone to share happiness.  Now the cruel twist of fate had placed him in the fire.  Who could have done this to him? Harold was supposed to be at home sleeping.  He said he had a big day ahead.  She thought that meant he had a job interview.

The love of her life in danger meant Sienna had to get there.  The facility was not far from their location.  She could be there in moments by car.  He was her future.  Why was his ending?  Without thought, she left her post, and ran to her car.  Sliding into the driver seat of her vehicle, she did not take the time to adjust the seat belt.  Sienna sped off.  She had to get there. Sienna did not have time to explain herself or even question why she was doing it.  Her supervisor wouldn’t understand that the victim was her man.

She sped past the lights and any possible hiding spot for a police officer.  Who could have done this to him? He was a good man.  There is no way he would have done this act.  He was down on his luck but not an arsonist.  She pulled her against the safety pole of the building, right in front of the tumbled stack of pallets.  No wonder he could not escape the door had been blocked.

With strength the single mother was unaware of, she moved quickly pulling pallet after pallet aside.  The sirens made a bare appearance in the back ground.  One of the advantages to being in a city was the proximity of rescue services and their response time.  She did not even shut off her car.  She had to get to him.  There were so many pallets. The smoke was oozing out of the cracks of the slight opening in the door as well as the few holes in the wall.  The heat was intense and for the first time since her panic state she could feel it beat against her skin.

Pulling the door open, she felt it slam hard against the stopper on the exit.  Smoke gushed out, escaping to the fresh night air.  The inflow of oxygen fueled the ferocity of the flames.  She felt it expand though she was not sure if it could get any hotter. Covering her mouth with her sleeve, realizing for the first time she departed without her coat, Sienna fought her way in.  Crouching low, she pleaded in prayer to discover her man.

The building creaked as the thin metal expanded in the heat.  She knew the sounds of the inside area was a warning of impending disaster.  The single mother whispered a prayer, and turned back to the fresh air to shield her eyes.

Sienna could see that the reporter had already arrived at the scene and was taking notes.  The quill pen should have been put down.   She should be inside helping.  She understood that reporters needed to remain neutral but this was life and death.  Why would she get so close anyway?  There was no time for the discussion or the mental debate, she had to either flee or save Harold.

Sienna made her decision quickly and without thought.  It was reassuring her reaction.  Reassuring that she must truly love him, she hated finding out this way.  The building creaked more as she frantically searched, trying to remember from the monitor where she had seen him last.  Sienna needed to be near him to have a chance to get him out.  The smoke was blinding her, filling her eyes with smoke and causing them to tear.  She then saw Harold’s shirt sleeve and knew she found him.

Bending to him she moved her arm to lift his head. Raising it slightly off the ground Sienna begged that would give her a sign of life.  He remained motionless.  The building creaked and growled at a faster rate.  The heat was intense penetrating her pores and establishing its presence deep against her bones.  She shook the limp form of his body, demanding to know her love still had to be alive.  Sienna cursed if he was gone, fate would have pulled a cruel trick on her.

A sharp pain struck her back, her vision blurred.  The beam had come from the ceiling, gaining speed from gravity as it fell landing hard on her back.  She could hear the firemen clamoring from their engines to get the hose in place but they could not stop the destruction that had begun.  The flashing of consciousness she had, was of the deep pain along her back.  The smoke allowed the piercing red and yellow strobing lights to pass through.  She admired their beauty as the shock of not being able to move set it. She crumpled under the weight of the beam her head landing on to rest upon Harold’s chest.  The heartbeat absent she realized she had lost him.

***

Clemmons hated this type of work.  It would be hours on his feet keeping curious people away from the area while work had to be done.  The firefighters were scattered around but seemed to do enough to slow the burn to a controllable state.  Something did not sit well with the Sergeant, with all the trouble caused by the owning company’s former employees Clemmons need to see if there was any insight.

“Hey Bud!”  He caught the closest one to him in his trap of interrogation. “Do you got a second?”

“Whatcha need officer?”  The man was clearly busy but had recognized Clemmons from earlier call.

“What does this look like? An accident? Wiring issue? Or a bum kicking over a burn barrel?”

“None of the above.”

“How do you know?”

“We found a couple of bodies inside.  One holding on to life the other smelled of gasoline.”

“Do you think he started the fire?”  A break would be great, the rise in crime had become unnerving.  Too many new graves being dug.

“You will need a séance to ask him.”

Now another new grave would have to be placed as well.  “wonder why he could not get out if he caused the fire?  Or maybe he was set up.”

“Out back someone pinned the door shut, strangest thing ever.”  The fireman pointed off past the trailers, in case the police officer wanted to go see it for himself.

The direction caught something else in Clemmons eyes.  Another entrance the firefighters were using to control the blaze.  “The door up here was it blocked when you guys got here?”  The patrol sergeant needed to put the pieces together.

“I wasn’t first on the scene but I am sure the ones that were had to move those pallets.” Pointing to a haphazardly stack of pallets on the side of the door.

It all began to be clear to him now.  The security guard had to be clean, the arsonist got trapped inside.  The real question was who knocked over the barrel in the back to block the door there? Who moved the pallets in the way to block this exit?  Did they know there was an arsonist inside?

***

The tormentor waited in vain for a body that never appeared.  When a living mortal arrived, her soul was too strong.  The mother had sacrificed all for her family, and kept the faith things would get better.  That faith had cracks in it at the loss of her love, but not enough to allow the demon in.

A tormentor’s existence in the pits of Hell is one of the punisher not punished.  For the time being it would abandon life on the surface.  There were spirits to feed off in the fire.  Not as gratifying as torturing and draining a mortal going through tests, but still enough to keep the demons alive.

With the desperation rampant in the city, it would not be long for another shell to become open for him on earth.

 

Photo Credit Rick Rupert (rupertrick@gmail.com)

 

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