The Hidden--Episode 3: Destroying Dawn

This is your future and your present. This is a story that was never meant for your ears, a story that never should have been told. Hear it now, and take heed. This is a message that has been left for you; listen to it. Truth is contained in the words that follow, truth and wisdom. Sown among the good of science is an equal amount of evil. Sown among the evils of Man are equal amounts of good. Science is not a god, and Man is not a devil. All the same...history often makes us wonder.

Mistrust what you can see. What is true may seem false, and what is not may seem to be true.

Sometimes, I no longer think that I know what is true.


I can see his face as clearly as in the dream, I can see it in front of me. Just like one of those Arabian Nights people...the Arabs. I suppose that's not nice of me, not fair of me...racist. I shouldn't be. It's bad to be racist, very bad.

But at any rate, I can see his face. I don't know his name. I don't know which of the Three he belongs to. I don't know if he's found anyone yet. I don't know so many things...but all I know is, he's running, he's hiding, and he needs me. I saw him in the dream, and he needs me now.

Why do I have these dreams? I'm not one of Them...I'm only a normal human. Why do I have the dreams, then? Is this a curse given to me...or a job that God is entrusting to me? Whichever it is, it's confusing. Somebody help me before my brain explodes.


"Troy, is that you?" a female voice called out as the door clicked shut in the dead silence.

"Yeah...it's me..." groaned Officer Johnson's voice.

A redhead, lithe and a bit short, came up to the man, who was shuffling down the entranceway to the house. "What have you been doing so late at night? I've been so worried about you..."


"Another late operation? Why don't you tell me these things?"

"No-I...no...I had to get air. Fresh air..."

"Troy, what were you doing? Was it something at work? Are there problems now? I thought you were the star officer..."

"It's not the force that's giving me...problems. It's...things."

"Things? What kind of things?"

"Well...things. Stress. I'm under a lot of stress, Ashley! Please...can you let me just relieve my stress, make life a little easier?"

"I didn't marry you to see this happen, Troy. I love you, I don't want to see you like this." She moved in closer, and slid her arms around him, looking up into his eyes. "Please, Troy, tell me. I don't care what it is, no matter what, you can tell me. Please."

Troy paused, and slid his right hand around her. He ran his left hand through her shoulder-length hair, and a tiny smile cracked his lips. "You're so beautiful like that...no wonder I married you."

"Nice try, lover boy," Ashley smiled back. "Nice try. Fine, I'll leave it at that for now...just...I don't like knowing that you're in trouble of some sort."

"Don't worry about me. It'll all be over in a week. Trust me on this one. It's almost over. I love you."

"I love you too, Troy."

He bent his head down, and the couple kissed for a brief moment. Troy smiled, and then stepped backward, letting her arms slide away. He moved to the side, and walked up the stairs, glancing back at her. The woman shook her head, and moved to the living room windows in front. She glanced out, and murmured softly to herself. There was something wrong with Troy. Undoubtedly. Ashley Johnson knelt by the window, and began to softly whisper prayers.


There was a faint hum as the motorized automatic prepared its volley from its strategic position: pressed against the head of Sam Browning. The owner of the gun sneered as he looked Browning straight in the face. The hitman's eyes were open and motionless, staring back at the man who held the gun. He pulled it back, aiming directly between Browning's eyes. He moved to a more comfortable position, and opened his mouth.

"Tough luck, Sam," he gloated. "I've got you for good this time. And that's a nice wad of cash that my buddy's giving to me. Sorry about that. I think your luck just ran out. I'll keep you around, because you're alive. You're useful, at least to the guys offering the bounty. So let's make this easy. I have you at gunpoint, if you move, you die. And I still get my bounty."

"All right, I give up," Sam said, standing. "You beat me this time. But just watch out, I will be coming after you."

"No need to worry about that," said the bounty hunter, standing, gun still trained on Sam. "Now, come with me. I'm not letting you out of my sight."

Sam nodded, and humbly followed. The man paused for a moment, and glanced up at the sky. "Such a beautiful scene...all of those colors...I want the world to end like that, don't you?"

When he turned back, Sam had vanished. The man started to cuss. Those words were the final ones that he spoke. A knife-thrust is a simple way to kill someone.

Dawn broke on the crimson scene.


The Hidden--Episode 2: Dinner and a Date With Death

This is your future and your present. It is a warning and a story of hope. Destruction and chaos are the lords of the inner cities, despite the best attempts of authorities to stop the syndicates of New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. To brave the cities, a person must either be stupid, suicidal, or in the pay of the gang lord with the most power. Or else, they have to have a sizable weapon on them at all times. It is a world of daily killings, where murder is commonplace in the streets. Civilization has reached new heights; justice in the cities is no longer hindered by the law, because the law has practically ceased to exist in the cities.

Johnny got his gun, and he has become the judge, jury and executioner.


"Get on the ground, now," the girl hissed. "Do you see this gun? It may be old, but it still shoots. I don't need a sniper pistol to blow your brains out. You're going to handle this slowly, and very carefully, if you want to live. If you're lucky."

"How did you find me?" growled the brown-skinned man. "And why are you trying to kill me?"

"You know why I came after you. Nobody screws with me on the streets. You're new around here, I bet. Because you should know about me, otherwise. Call me Adriann, and don't forget it. Otherwise, you'll get an extra bit of carbon alloy in your brain, courtesy of this beauty." She leveled her semi-automatic directly at his forehead. "You like the sight of that barrel? It's a lot prettier from the other end."

"What do you want?"

"This time, a warning for you. Don't screw with me again. Or the last thing you will see is my cute little finger pulling the trigger of this gun. Get out of here."

The man backed up, and slowly got to his feet. The girl sneered back at him, still aiming for his head with the pistol. The man nodded slowly, one hand on the handgun holstered across his chest. He picked up the submachine gun that Adriann had knocked out of his hand, and then turned away, walking down the street. He paused, and then looked back at her. She had lowered her gun, but still held it ready to aim and fire, ready to kill him. The man held his gun loosely.

"In case we meet again, you can call me Jim. Jim Eastman. I'm looking for my dad Peter. If you come across him, tell him that Jimmy's coming for him."

Adriann watched him leave, as she stood ice-faced. Dad. He's looking for his dad.


"I'm glad you could make it, Senator Prowetts," President Keldey told the man two seats down. "After all, it's nice to have the Chief Guest at dinner."

"I was attending to a brief emergency, Mr. President," replied the man, whose suit was slightly rumpled and waterstained. "I thought I could have it done long before dinner."

"Indeed. Well, I heard that you were sponsoring the bill up for debate tomorrow?" President Keldey sliced his steak, and put a small piece in his mouth.

"Yes, the Legatus Program. They promise to deliver the same number of soldiers to our army, for half the cost. Now that's a deal we can't refuse. Anywhere we can save money, we should. This bill will cut our military costs, and let us alleviate the budget elsewhere."

"I see. And exactly how does this 'Program' promise to deliver?"

Senator Prowetts took a small sip of water from his glass. "New training techniques, cost-effective equipment, and access to raw materials. I am very impressed by them."

"Well, I'm glad that you've found a contractor you like. We'll see how the debate plays out."

Prowetts nodded, and turned his attention to his plate. He glanced up, and saw Senator Young sitting a few chairs down, across the table. The youthful Congressman narrowed his eyes for a moment, but then turned his attention to conversation with another politician next to him. Jon Young...one of the most recent Senators elected, and yet for some reason, he was gaining prestige.

Stupid kid, he thought, continuing to eat.


"Mr. Branning, what do you have to say about the people who criticize your pending government contract as 'warmongering'?" shouted one of the reporters who was shoving a microphone at the Neolabs Chairman. "Can we get a statement about the Legatus Program?"

Arthur Branning, third-generation philanthropist, pushed past the media, and said, "I'll be releasing a statement to the press. Watch for my statement."

He shook his head, going past the crowds that had gathered in front of Turner Memorial Hospital. There were definite benefits of having an escort. It helped to get through crowds. His media team had definitely done a good job on this one, covering all the bases. Message boards, a cleverly done "amateur" video online, a blog post or two...guerrilla media certainly had its perks. Branning reached the top of the steps leading to the main entrance of the hospital, and stopped, turning back towards the crowd. One second to let them start whatever video recorders they had...and then he began.

"I am very grateful for this opportunity," he said, "to give back to the citizens of Washington DC, to give them the chance that should be given to any person. This hospital will be the best-equipped in the nation, the most up-to-date in the country, and one of the best hospitals in the world. Here, any person will be able to get treatment, and we will enter into a glorious future! I thank you all for the opportunity which you have given me to give back to our nation. Turner Memorial Hospital will be the brightest star in our medical history!"


"How much for the kill?" whispered the man.

His name was Sam Browning. Every man in New York City knew his name. Every man in New York City knew that he was a wanted man. Every man in New York City was terrified at the thought of trying to capture him. Yes, there was a bounty on his head. The problem was, he would kill you probably within twelve hours of when you accepted the job. It was usually with a knife that he did it, sometimes with a blast-pistol. That was his trademark, a short-range attack. Never a sniper rifle, never a machine-gun spray, always a single, short-range attack. One that would normally be easy to stop. Yet somehow, he always was able to infiltrate any defense, able to kill his target with ease...and able to escape, undetected.

"The usual price," replied the man in the trenchcoat. "I need this job carried out quickly. Can you manage that one? I want this one in the news, too. Make it spectacular."

"I think I have to ask double for that, then," Sam answered. "Quick and spectacular."

"I'll pay double. As long as you do it."

"You've got yourself a deal. He's dead meat."


The Hidden--Episode 1: Policing and Politics

This is your future and your present. There are some things you may find familiar, other things that you may find strange. America still exists, and it is mostly the same as it has been for many years. Things have changed from the events that you, the people of the early 21st century, are witnessing now. You speak of the Iraq War...in this future, the Iraq War is far in the past, and remembered only as one of the many "Sand Wars" that raged in the Middle East. You speak of liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, war hawks and peace doves...in this future, the lines have been erased and redrawn too many times.

Times have changed...and yet, they are about to change again. This is the world of the Hidden.


"I hope this is worth it," the man in the suit growled. "It's time for me to go to dinner, and if it takes any longer, I'm going to be ten minutes late. I have a reputation to keep up, and you had better remember that. If you want any sort of support at all..."

"Shut your fat face, Senator," hissed the figure in the hoodie. "Do you want soldiers or not?"

"If you want me to support the Legatus Program, you have to show me why. I will not simply take promises made by a stupid punk like you."

The hooded figure paused, and the man in the suit could barely detect a sneer on the shadowed face beneath. "I'm putting up with your crap because I get told to. You wanna see something? Then watch closely."

And then, as he spoke the last words, the teenager stepped back, hiding in the darkness. Except that...there was nothing to see. The Senator would have been able to see at least something, should have been able to see something...but there was nothing. All that could be seen was the slimy alley, its walls coated in rain and gunk. The Senator stepped forward, slowly, wincing as his black, polished shoes splashed in an iridescent puddle of water and oil.

Oil...an old part of the city. Those people who still use oil regularly...

Oil had once been more common, before the Sand Wars. Humankind had been lucky, discovering new energy sources before the wars annihilated over half of the Middle East's supply of oil. Yet one of many ways that the human race had lucked out in the first half of the Mid-21st Century.

"Right behind you, fatso," came the messenger's arrogant voice.

The Senator wheeled on his heel, nearly slipping and falling, and faced the voice—the hooded kid had reappeared there. He laughed. "So, is that enough for you? Ever thought about how useful an invisible man could be? Legatus is going to give it to your army, and much more. So, are you going to shut up and support Legatus?"

The suit's mouth was wide open. He slowly nodded, and turned to leave. The punk's laugh chased after him.

"What, scared of a little kid like me?"


"Congratulations, Johnson," the Chief said, glancing at the man before him. "Another successful arms bust. Those toughs just keep getting cockier and cockier. I'm glad we've got such an exceptional man on our force."

"It's not that I'm exceptional," replied Troy Johnson, as he shifted uncomfortably in his stance. "There's nothing different about me, I'm just like everyone else. I just got lucky again."

The Chief snorted. "Thirty years in the police force, and I've never seen anyone with such a streak of luck as you claim to have. You've got something going, Johnson. I oughta send you up to Interpol, but I guess I'm being selfish. Which means you get to keep working in the Apple."

"Like I said, I got lucky. I wasn't even the one who did the bust. That was Lindsey."

"Corporal Lindsey wouldn't have gotten anywhere without your investigation and setup. It was amazing...you followed them...almost as if they couldn't see you, as if you were invisible."

"Invisible? That's a crazy idea."

"Well yes, of course. But the point is, you did a good job. I commend you for it. And keep your eyes open...I'll make sure you get a reward for all of this."

"Yes, Chief."