Peripheral Vision, Epilogue

Well, here it is. The end. I’m kind of sad to see it go, honestly. I have enjoyed writing this story so much.

Just over six months from initial idea to completion. That’s pretty good, I think.

Damn. I don’t really know where I’m going to go from here. Huh. I really haven’t thought about that at all. I’ll keep making the show, obviously, which takes a decent amount of time, but I don’t really know what else I’ll do.

I’d like to edit and prepare for publication Induction of Insanity, Mostly Hidden, Comatose Experiments, and Peripheral Vision, then publish them all in one book. (Which makes sense, since they all take place in the same world and are connected to Mind Pharmaceuticals in some way.)

I’ll also be editing two stories and submitting them to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction before too long, also.

New-story-wise, though, not sure. I’m sure I’ll come up with some new stuff before long.

Oh yeah, the “soundtrack” for Peripheral Vision. Here we go:

Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz: Clyde’s Theme/Mostly Hidden Overture

Ton-y-botel – Thomas John Williams: Thomas’ Theme

Mr. Self Destruct – Nine Inch Nails: Gerome’s Theme

Little Pistol – Mother Mother: Caroline’s Theme

Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix) – Rob Dougan: Stephen’s Theme

~

I am Michael, and in my final days. I’ve assigned Paul to take control of my money and followers once I’m gone. The world will need him to take my place, soon. Great things are on the rise.
Gerome gave me these pages after finding me in his travels and learning of who I am. He took them from Thomas’ office after he killed him, leaving right before the horde descended upon the building. He didn’t feel like he fit in to the group any more. His personal goal had been reached. It was time for a new start for him, his life would start afresh.
He walked away from the building with a calm determination. He felt washed, in a way. His hands were washed of Thomas’ blood and that of the company at large. He thought back again to that passage from some book he couldn’t remember, a leader washing his hands of another’s symbolic blood. A leader. That’s what he would be, now. He would lead the rebuilding of the world.
Caroline came back to me after she had left Introspect. She returned the money card and apologized that she hadn’t convinced Thomas to do anything major, but she felt proud of what she had done. She felt victorious, though she couldn’t quite understand why.
I knew she had done something. She told me she had made Thomas write her story, and I knew that was a victory in and of itself. That story – this story – would be important.
The world would be rebuilt, before long, with Caroline at the head, and I knew this story would be something important to keep in that world as a view into a time when things went wrong. Perhaps it would hold of humanity’s hubris, for a short time at least. We had all shared a horrible situation in which we lived, and would hold onto that interconnectedness for a few years, perhaps long enough to give some amount of power back to the government and law enforcement. Or just completely recreate them.
I have high hopes for Caroline. She’ll go far in this new world, I’m certain. I’ll be gone soon, but with people like her, the world doesn’t need me any more.

Mostly Hidden, Epilogue

I’ll write a little post soon with some thoughts and notes about Mostly Hidden and stuff. For now, enjoy the end.

Michael rushed out into the street and looked around frantically. Clyde was nowhere to be found.

Clyde had noticed a man he recognized as Gerard’s brother looking at him several times throughout the trial. When Clyde himself had been mentioned in the trial, he had seen a look of horror and rage pass through Michael, and knew he had been recognized.
This excited him, and, in a way, gave him something to live for. A life without plans was nothing, to him, and he had already been thinking about what he’d do next. Michael provided a perfect solution.
He left the trial early, to get a head start, and left. Left the city, the state, the country. He’d go anywhere, do anything. Perhaps he’d have some more fun in different places, make new plans, in different places, while Michael would be on his tail.
He had no need for money. He, of course, had amassed quite a bit from his job position, but had gotten a recent “bonus”, in a way, which would nicely fund his next ambitions.
Snitches get stitches, yes, but whistleblowers get quite the nice little nest egg. It was all information he had gained while he was CEO, observing some things Gerard had been doing in the company even before he got to that position. The data in Mind Pharmaceuticals affirmed what he said, and the authorities believed it. Ah, one couldn’t help but loving the judicial system.

Michael had a feeling about where Clyde was going. And, as he was steadily learning to do, he followed through with that feeling. He wouldn’t stop until he found Clyde and exposed what had really happened.

Mostly Hidden, Chapter Fifteen

Gerard was almost home when he heard the police sirens. They weren’t at his house, but they were nearby. He pulled into the driveway, turned off the car, and rushed to the door, fumbling his keys when he got to the door. The sirens were getting closer.
He unlocked the door and rushed into the living room, throwing back the rug over the secret chamber. He searched for the right knot in the wooden floor, pushed it, and lifted up the door. He spun the safe’s lock, the sirens getting closer and closer. He opened the safe door and lifted everything in there out, trying to think of somewhere else he could put it all. He ran his hands through his hair, staring at everything gathered there.
The police cars pulled into his drive. He couldn’t think of anywhere to put it all. There was nowhere… This was the most secure spot, but…
He threw everything back into the safe, shut the door, and closed the secret door. He searched for what he would otherwise consider the “wrong” wooden knot-button. He swallowed a lump in his throat that was threatening to choke him, and was about to push the button when five police officers burst through his door and pointed their guns at him.
“Stop what you’re doing.”
Gerard froze. Pushing the button and destroying everything seemed his only hope, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. Suddenly he remembered that he had idiotically brought the gun Clyde had given him with him, and left it in the car.
A glimpse of hope rushed through him that, even if Clyde had been careful and worn gloves when he handled it, he knew Jem hadn’t. Jem had taken it in his bare hands when he took it from Gerard. There would be that one slim chance of redemption for Gerard.
“Get on the floor and put your hands over your head,” the same police officer said.
Gerard did so, and a different officer came and handcuffed him. But how had they known to come? Even if Clyde had contacted them some time before, he couldn’t have known that he would be shot, and he wouldn’t know exactly when Gerard would be arriving home. Damn that bastard.

Clyde looked at Jem as he removed his skin-tight gloves. Not gloves exactly, though. Jem had found someone who was able to take a hand-print and make gloves that left the identical print. Clyde had gotten them based on Gerard’s hands. It was an extra precaution, if Gerard wore gloves and Jem had to jump in, or if Gerard didn’t take the gun at all and Jem had to get it himself. Gerard’s prints had to be on there.
The gun was a fun thing to design, Clyde thought. He hadn’t altered it personally, but he had developed the plan for it, and gotten the same guy who made the gloves to actually change it.
He had procured two identical handguns – down to the identification number, which wasn’t terribly important for his uses, but still a good precaution -, saved one for personally killing Devin, and then started work on the second one.
It wasn’t that tricky of a feat of engineering, basically just the addition of a small switch that was activated by the trigger. The switch was what started a massive data transfer from his server to that of the police and government and anyone else he thought would be interested. Information that he had collected, partially true and partially falsified but completely believable and technically “true” now, given the changes he had made to Mind Pharmaceuticals right before leaving. Editing the history of a company was so much fun.
It was sort of like an inverted deadman’s switch. Still triggered by someone dying, but instead of the person who died triggering it, it was the person who killed that person. Rather useful for his plan. That way, if, for some reason, the gun didn’t go off, all information would still be retained in secret for a future time.
The bullet, too, had been customized. It wasn’t even really a bullet, of course. It was a round that had a lower dose than usual of gunpowder – he didn’t want to accidentally die from it, of course -, with fake blood filling the rest. The smack with the gun that Jem had given him helped with that, too, by providing extra blood for the scene.
He smiled at how well the plan had worked. Perfectly, even.

The police, of course, had found the pistol in Gerard’s car, and found that two shots had been fired with it. They weren’t sure of one of the shots, but the other one matched a bullet wound in a man named Devin Caldwin who had been found dead the previous day.
Gerard’s prints, of course, were all over the gun, but, somehow, no one else’s were. Their natural conclusion was that, as Gerard had been the only one to handle it, he was obviously the murderer of at least one person.
But this was only the beginning. Gerard wasn’t able to burn the information he had gathered in time, and the police added it to an already substantial amount of information they had somehow gotten.
Gerard hadn’t known about half of this information. When they looked into Gerard, they found that he had been the CEO at Mind Pharmaceuticals for the past five years, and no denial from Gerard could convince them otherwise. They learned of the human testing, the deaths that resulted from it all, and everything else.
Clyde’s final words echoed in his mind. Have fun picking up the pieces, Gerard. He doubted if he’d even be able to do that much.
He was ruined.
There was no hope of redemption, nothing that could stop what Clyde had already done. Even after dying, Clyde still trumped everything Gerard was able to do. His comparison of them to two very unequally matched chess players was all too true.
The court date had been set for the next week. Until then, Mind Pharmaceuticals had been shut down, the employees fired, and the test subjects, if the reason for their incarceration not deemed too serious, set free. The thought of Michael being free was Gerard’s one comfort. He still didn’t know if Michael had forgiven him for everything he had done. He doubted he ever would.

James vomited into a bucket he had sitting next to the couch he was laying on. He wiped his mouth with an already dirtied cloth that he clutched in his left hand.
Withdrawals were a bitch, he thought.
For some reason, two days ago when he had arrived at Mind Pharmaceuticals, it had been locked with a sign behind the door saying that it was closed. Looking through the glass, he had seen crime scene tape forming perimeters around certain areas.
Dread had filled him at the realization of what this really meant for him, and the days up till then had been absolute hell, and he was sure the hell would continue for several days.
And after that, of course, he’d have to find another job.

John arrived at Mind Pharmaceuticals to find that it was locked with a sign saying it was closed until further notice.
Dread filled him much in the same way it filled another employee there that he did not know of, but for a different reason. Smashed were his chances of continuing to work there and slowly making his way up the chain of command until he was something more than a lowly intern.
Little did he know that the chaos caused by a detour of boredom that he had caused directly contributed for this situation. It was best that he didn’t know.

Michael was free. He didn’t know what to do with that freedom. It all felt utterly surreal and strange to him. He first went to Gerard’s house, where the two of them had lived together for some time before all of this happened, but found that it was now wrapped in crime scene tape.
“God, what happened?”
Not knowing anything about it all was torture to him. There wasn’t even anything about it in the news. He supposed that even when it was released, it would be a heavily edited version of the true story.
When he had first been released, he had thought with no small amount of joy that Gerard had succeeded. Soon enough he found that wasn’t the case at all.
He rented a small apartment that wasn’t located far away from Mind Pharmaceuticals. Passing by it often as he did brought back horrid memories, but it was the cheapest he could find in the area.
A few days later, he received a notice in the mail saying that one of his relatives would be at court the next week.
He didn’t know what to think of that, other than that he would certainly be attending.

Devin’s body was covered in flames, burning in a furnace. It felt nothing, it knew nothing of what had happened. And that was for the best.

Clyde drove his car, Jem seated in the passenger seat, down a long and winding dirt-and-gravel road.
Finding this address had taken no small amount of effort, as Desmond had refused to tell it to him – not that he didn’t want them to come, but email was far too insecure for him – but Clyde had found it, as he always did for information he wanted, and they were going there.
He could see that Jem was filled with excitement. He smiled, with no cruel intentions in mind, for the first time in a while. He was free from it all, finally. His original plan had always been something like this, and when Gerard had stuck out his neck just a little too far, it provided Clyde with the perfect scapegoat for it all.
He had found the date and time of Gerard’s trial. With a little more effort, he found the contact information for the jurors and judge. It was one final plan, and one a little too blunt for Clyde’s tastes, but it was done and would work.
Clyde appreciated art. Not just “the arts”, but art in everything that he and anyone else did. Cooking could be a humdrum process, or it could be an artistic process. So could paving roads, or assembling fans in a factory, or gardening, or anything else. As a result, Clyde strove to make his plans artistic and aesthetically perfect as possible.
Again, it wasn’t a particularly artistic plan, but it was simple enough that, just perhaps, the simplicity of it was the art itself.
The two of them pulled into a drive in front of a large house. Behind it was growing a forest of a very recognizable, to those who knew it well, tree. Grand Willowdraught.
Clyde smiled again, getting out of the car. Two car doors closed, and Clyde and Jem began walking towards the house.
They knocked on the door and it was opened by a man Clyde hadn’t seen in far too many years. Clyde shook his hand, then hugged him.
“It’s been a long time, Desmond.”
He looked towards Jem, who was quite stupefied by Clyde’s expression of emotion. Clyde laughed.
“This is Jem, who I’ve mentioned. I believe he’d like to become a bit of an apprentice to you, isn’t that right?”
“Certainly.” Jem extended his arm and shook Desmond’s hand. “It’s very nice to meet you.”
“The same to you. Would you two like to come in? Some refreshments, perhaps? You know, I was just about to test a new batch.”
“I’m sorry, old friend, but I have a court date to attend to, so I must be leaving soon. Well, perhaps not soon, but sooner than I would be able to if I… indulged in some of your product.”
“Fine, fine. Still, come in, the two of you. I’m sure Jem would like to sample it, at least. And perhaps some real refreshments for you, Clyde?”
Clyde and Jem entered the house.
Clyde was not a happy person in the least. He held the idea of “happiness” with no small degree of disgust. It was only something that weak people held onto and tried to shield themselves against the fury of the world against.
But at this moment, he could admit he was happy, and was enjoying it.

Michael arrived at the trial, along with all the other onlookers. As he entered the court room, he passed by a tall, unnaturally pale man who wore a perfectly tailored suit and an utterly black – blacker than any black Michael had ever seen – hat that concealed most of his face. Michael was unnerved by this man, though he couldn’t tell why. The man went into the court room as well, though once he was seated, he kept his head low, the hat further blocking his features. But Michael, seated to the man’s side, saw a cruelly delighted look pass over his features as the trial developed, very contrary to the content of the case and the expressions other onlookers were wearing.
The trial itself horrified Michael. He had gotten the feeling that things could go wrong when Gerard had spoken to him, but he couldn’t have imagined how they could’ve possibly gone this wrong.
Gerard admitted – falsely, Michael was sure – to the murder of one man, Devin.
Not known to Michael, Gerard hadn’t mentioned the murder of Clyde – which wasn’t, he argued with himself, actually his doing at all -, as there was no evidence for it. Somehow, the police hadn’t found any evidence of it, no body, nothing.
Michael was sickened by the entire ordeal. He still had some distrust of Gerard, lasting from several years being falsely incarcerated and tested on, but Gerard was his brother, after all, and they shared many good memories. Memories of their father.
Once, the name Clyde Edison Orrville had been mentioned, and Michael happened to be looking at man who so unnerved him at the time. At the offhand mention of the name, there appeared a deep, dark smile on the man’s face. His eyes were open in an expression of euphoria.
Something clicked in Michael’s mind, and he was instantly sure of who it was. He had no actual proof, but he had a deep-seated feeling that he couldn’t explain or justify, but was utterly convincing at the same time.
He would’ve attacked him at that very moment, but knew, as he was in a court, that would only end up with himself being arrested. He resolved to confront the man immediately following the trial.
He went back to observing the trial. It went on for a long time, many audio and video recordings being played and written accounts being read. It was incredibly engrossing, and Michael thought he would’ve enjoyed it if it hadn’t been under such horrible circumstances.
Gerard was sentenced for life, for many, many things. Manslaughter, aiding and abetting of commonplace crimes that happened at Mind Pharmaceuticals – the same ones Clyde had laid out to him right before he was killed -, bribing authorities, and so on. It sickened Michael.
As the case finished, Michael got up and looked over to where the man he was sure was Clyde had been sitting. He was gone. Michael hadn’t looked over in some time, being very caught up in the trial and had somehow forgotten. Clyde was gone.

Mostly Hidden, Chapter Fourteen

Well, it’s all finished now. It’s actually been finished since Wednesday night. I’m sort of skimming over it right now, and noticed a few things I’d have to change (for example, early on, Gerard said he had met Clyde a few times, but that actually can’t be. So forget that. Gerard has never met Clyde before, got it?

Gerard checked his watch. It read eleven fourty-five. He had enough time, he thought. He walked along the cells of the people that were used for testing. He was walking in the direction of Jem’s cell, but he had one stop to make first.
He halted in front of a cell and knocked softly on the bars. The man inside stirred, then sat up, rubbing his eyes.
“Who the hell is waking me up at this time?” he asked, looking towards where Gerard stood.
He completely stopped all movement. “Gerard. What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Hello, Michael.”
“Again, what the fuck are you doing here?”
“Something is about to happen, and I don’t know how it will all turn out.”
“What, you’re going to take this time to finally make some grand speech about how ‘you didn’t mean for it to turn out this way’, blah blah blah?”
“No. Truthfully, I did mean for it to turn out this way. But that isn’t really an excuse for what I did for you, all the same. I should’ve let you know beforehand, or something. I don’t know.”
“You should have. We could’ve worked it out better than this.”
“Maybe. Maybe. But I want to let you know that, whatever happens tonight, it’s going to be something big. And… we may not see each other again. It’s very possible. There are a few short things I want to tell you. You’ll be getting out of this all fairly soon, as I think your sentence will be up soon. Perhaps, depending what happens, you may even get out sooner than that. But the man behind everything is Clyde Edison Orrville. Don’t forget that name, promise me you won’t. I’ve also collected all the information I’ve gathered in a hidden spot in the house.”
Gerard then explained in-depth where it was, Michael nodding in affirmation that he understood.
“Remember, if you push on the wrong area, it will all be destroyed. That could possibly end all chance of ending Mind Pharmaceuticals.”
“Okay.”
Gerard checked his watch. He had to get going soon.
“One last thing, Michael. I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done to you.”
Michael nodded silently.
Gerard checked his watch. The time was eleven fifty-three. He began walking down to Jem’s cell.
Seven minutes later, he pushed open the door leading into testing room four. He thought for a moment, then opened the side door into the observation room.
“Until you’re needed, just stay and watch in here. I’d like to talk to Clyde by myself at the start, anyway.”
Jem nodded and walked through into the observation room, shutting the door behind him. Gerard then walked into the main testing room.
Unsurprisingly, a man was already in there. He was laying on the cot, his arms folded up under his head. When Gerard walked in, he sat up.
“Well, well, well. Hello, Gerard, so glad to see you showed up. And perfectly on time, too.”
He crossed his legs, still sitting on the cot, looking at Gerard. Gerard was in a bit of shock, realizing who this was. This was the same man he had seen at the cafe. It wasn’t that implausible of a meeting, really, but it still surprised him. He recovered himself and spoke.
“Yeah, I’m here. Let’s talk.”
He leaned against the wall. “More importantly, how about you talk.”
Clyde smiled. “No, no, I was actually thinking, with how much of a… ah… ‘final showdown’ this is, we should each have a lengthy monologue for the sake of full disclosure. And to make this as fun and chronologically correct as it can get, I’d like you to start first.”
Gerard slid down the wall so that he was sitting on the floor, still leaning against it. “Sure thing. You know, I’ve waited for this for quite some time, really. My very excitement at finally meeting you after so long can hardly be contained.” He said the last with a sneer of sarcasm.
“That’s true, to an extent. But yes, anyway, I’ll begin. I’m sure you already know a fair amount of this, but I’d prefer that you  not interrupt and thereby spoil my monologue.”
“Of course.”
“I’ve been planning this all for quite some time, Clyde. My initial reason for coming to Mind Pharmaceuticals was prompted by that. As you may or may not know, my father died as a result of some things that went on here. Whether you had anything to do with this, I don’t know, but it was the start of my search for knowledge and information pertaining to the corruption that takes place here. And I learned, before too long, that the source of the corruption was none other than our dear CEO. For a while, I wasn’t honestly sure if you existed or were just a creation of some board of the company. To this moment, I had never seen you before – except for when I unknowingly saw you an hour ago at the cafe – and didn’t know you existed. But everything pointed to it, and I made my plans accordingly. I gathered a few other people around me to work with me at times, but mostly just used them to further my plans without having much care for what happened to them in the end. And at this point, I must pause my story for a question – did you kill Devin?”
Clyde laughed. “Yes, yes, I most certainly did. Don’t bother trying to find any evidence of it, I’m quite good at covering my tracks, as you can imagine. With that answered, please continue.”
“I thought so. Anyway. I have slowly been gathering information, filling out my entire case against you and this company. I have it all hidden away securely, and no one but myself and one other person knows of how to obtain it. Once I had gathered enough to end this all, I would present it to the authorities, and, based on my calculations, you and everyone else related to it would be sent away for a very, very long time. I suppose that’s it. I mean, of course, there were many other minor parts of the plan, nuances that held it all secure, but that’s the jist of it.”
“Mmm. Very good, very good. Unfortunately, you’re much like the head of his chess team at a high school thinking he can go head-to-head against someone like Emanuel Lasker. Quite foolish, but from everything he’s experienced, he’s been the best big fish in his little pool. Little does he know how much greater things can get once outside that little pool and swimming in the ocean.”
Gerard kept silent, anger flowing through him.
“Anyway, I suppose it would be my turn. You see, I never had such grand plans from the start. For me, it more started by me gaining power in the company, then beginning to understand what I could really do with it all. You may or may not know that there are certain… allowances made in the company which both incriminate it while keeping it safe. How? I wouldn’t normally subject myself to such crass language, but it sums it up well: ‘snitches get stitches’. That’s only the most simple version of it, though. For example, in the production center, it is well known that many, many employees steal drugs. Some do it for their own benefit, some do it to sell on the street. But in either case, they cannot hold any thoughts of revealing the company. For one, the ominous fear that something ‘might happen to them’, though for such unimportant people, that sort of force would be rarely used. It would seem subtlety works better in these situations; if they were to expose the company, their access to drugs would stop, simple as that. Furthermore, they would be incriminating themselves to even mention it to any authorities.”
He took a sip of water, then continued.
“There are situations similar to this, but different in many key ways, in many other sections of the company. As a result, they are all whole-heartedly devoted to the company in their own ways, you see?”
Gerard nodded.
“As for human testing. It is the most efficient way of testing things, and it was easy enough to set up an agreement with our neighbors, those of the Keene State Correctional Facility.”
Clyde laughed. “The police and government have always been far more corrupted and corrupt-able than this company ever has been. Now Gerard, I wouldn’t suggest even trying to root out the core of all that evil.”
Gerard gave a wry grin in response.
“Despite unavoidable ‘costs’, those of bribes and such, the extra revenue we made by using human testing made it completely worth it. That reminds me, you have a brother in there, don’t you?” Clyde smiled cruelly. “I’m sure we could work something out with that, don’t you think?”
Gerard pulled the gun out of his pocket, flipping it out of safety. He didn’t point it at Clyde, but he held it in his hand, ready.
“Don’t you talk about him.”
“My, my, aren’t we touchy? He doesn’t interest me, anyway. He’s just a failed part of your plans, tossed away to the wind like so many paper ashes. Anyway, let’s see where I left off. I suppose this brings us up to the recent days. I had… a foreboding, we’ll say, and found the source of it. It would appear an intern here – John, I think his name was – had stumbled into one of your secrets. I made him tell me everything he knew, which honestly wasn’t that much, and rearranged my plans accordingly. Although he didn’t know much, he gave me just enough information that I could change things perfectly. And, I suppose, this brings us up to the present.”
“Almost. But there’s someone you’ve neglected to mention.”

Jem was sitting in the observation room, watching and listening to everything that was going on. He knew just enough of both of their plans to know they had both left out many crucial details, and was quite entertained by the whole thing.
Clyde had glanced towards the one-sided mirror a few times. There was a whole in it, but Jem had remained concealed behind the still-whole part of the glass. Clyde still knew he was back there, though, and Jem had seen when Gerard had taken the gun out of his pocket.
He smiled. That gun was quite important to everything. He wasn’t sure how Clyde had managed it, but he had learned to not question Clyde’s abilities by this point, and went along with it all.
At hearing this last statement by Gerard, Jem left the observation room and entered the testing room.
Clyde rose his eyebrows when Jem entered, and Gerard smiled at his expression.

“This is Jem, Clyde. I’d give you a more thorough introduction, but I think we don’t have time for that right now. Suffice to say, he knows what you did to Christopher.”
“Oh he does, does he?” Clyde said with a smile.
“Yes, of course. I’m not sure what you were intending with that. Did you think Christopher was part of my plan? One of the people I intended to involve? How mistaken you were. But I suppose I should be thanking you, as it was the final straw that convinced Jem to join me.”
“I see. Well, I suppose you’re welcome. But what do you intend to do, now? Our secrets are all spread out upon this table of conversation, and what will you do with them?”
Gerard sighed. “The end goal has always been to end this all. And I must say that…”
Clyde interrupted him. “You know, you really could’ve ended this a whole lot more simply with just the addition of one easily-procured item.”
“What?”
“An audio recorder. If you had come in here with one, I never would have known, of course,” he said with sarcasm, “and it could’ve been the final piece of evidence you needed. Perhaps the only piece of evidence, actually. I think confessions of guilt are pretty weighty in the judicial system, right?”
Oh, fuck. How could’ve Gerard not have thought of that? It would’ve been so simple, so effective, so…
“I’m afraid this is a perfect example of your one major flaw, Gerard. Impulsivity. You’re really quite impulsive at times. This can both work for you and against you, and it would appear this time, it worked against you. So, you were saying? About ‘ending this all’.”
Gerard lifted the gun and pointed it at Clyde.
“When you’re weeding a garden, you can’t just rip off the top parts of the plant. You’ve gotta get at the roots. You have to kill the roots. And that’s what I intend to do.”
His hand shook.
“It’s pretty easy to use humans as test subjects, isn’t it? Rather impersonal. But directly pointing a gun at someone is much harder. So, Gerard, I ask you; will you be able to use your impulsivity to help you this time as well?”
Gerard bit his lip and stilled his hand, pointing the gun at Clyde’s head.
“Here, perhaps a little ‘trigger’, so to speak – forgive the pun, I must ask – may help. If you don’t, maybe something willI happen to Michael. Perhaps he’ll die, just like Christopher,” he said with a smirk, “if you don’t end this all right now. One might take offense at not being able to summon your anger! One might want to avenge that little fact. I’d kill him just like I’ve killed Christopher and Devin and so so so many other people. They don’t mean anything to me, their deaths don’t even need to have a place in my plan for me to kill them. Someone such as myself can get very bored, predicting accurately everything that will happen. I’ve got to liven things up – again, excuse the pun – every once in a while.”
Jem let out a yell, lunged towards Gerard, and grabbed the gun. He rushed up to Clyde and grabbed him by the neck, pushing the gun against his head.
“Don’t you talk about him like that, you fucking piece of shit. I’ve been meaning to do this for so, so long. I’m going to fucking kill you and dance over your dead body. I don’t give a damn about prison and life sentences. Who even fucking cares? I just want you to die, and die in pain.”
He smashed the gun into Clyde’s head and threw him to the side of the bed. He pointed the gun at Clyde’s head and fired. Blood splattered over Clyde’s head and body, flecking the floor and walls around him.
Clyde let out a yell of pain, his body already slackening. He turned slowly to Gerard, smiling weakly. “I’m glad that happened. Were you not suspicious that I provided you with a weapon? Well, I won’t spoil the surprise. But, well, you might want to check on all of your gathered information as soon as possible, anyway. Have fun picking up the pieces, Gerard.” His voice had gotten weaker and weaker as he spoke, and his voice trailed off at the end. His head fell to the floor with a dull thud.
Jem tossed the gun to Gerard.
“I’m done with this. I’ll get rid of his body.”
Gerard walked up to the body and checked for a pulse. There was nothing, and he could feel the body’s warmth fading already.
Gerard fell to the floor. He didn’t know whether he should feel fear or exhilaration, or something else. All he could feel was numbing shock that it was all over.
“Yeah… okay. I…” Gerard got up, thinking about Clyde’s final words. “I should… go. I should probably… check on stuff? I don’t…”
Jem nodded.
“Thanks for killing him, Jem. I honestly don’t know if I… really… could’ve. I just… I had lost all ability to think or act or do anything.”
“I noticed,” Jem replied.
Gerard struggled to his feet, took a few shaky steps, then ran out the door and out of Mind Pharmaceuticals. He got into his car and raced home. If he knew anything about Clyde, it was that everything hadn’t really ended.

Jem watched Gerard leave, then turned back to Clyde’s motionless body. He retrieved a small syringe from his pocket and injected it into Clyde’s arm.
Almost instantaneously, Clyde’s eyes opened. He turned over and let out a few retches before turning back to Jem.
“Did he take the gun?” he asked.
“Yup,” Jem said, laughing.
Clyde rubbed his head. “You could’ve hit me a little softer.”
“Hey, I needed to sell it.”
Clyde nodded. “That worked really well, didn’t it?”
“Very.”
“Okay, I want to wash off this blood. I should also probably bandage myself up a little bit. I’m sure I’m going to be covered in bruises tomorrow. Liquid projectiles hurt like hell. That hit of tripe later tonight sure will be nice.”
“Same here,” Jem said.
Clyde took his phone out of his pocket and logged into a personal server website he had. He smiled at the “transfer completed” message in the log.
“Looks like everything worked out just perfectly,” he said.
Jem and Clyde left testing room four.

Mostly Hidden, Chapter Thirteen

Gerard was troubled. He hadn’t heard from Devin in a while. He thought that perhaps Devin had learned of the death – and the true cause of the death – and was secluding himself away while he thought. Gerard thought of Devin as a sort of rodent, in a way; he had a lot of similar characteristics with the order of Rodentia.
He had tried sending him letters, emails, and – the most horrid – instant messages, but all to no avail. He got no response from Devin.
No matter. He would continue the plan without him; Devin had played most all of the roles that he was needed for at this point, and if he had decided to not interact with Gerard anymore, it was his loss.
He had been keeping in correspondence with Jem. Jem was gathering information from other people who were used as test subjects.
Originally, this role would’ve been played by Michael, but at the amount of offense Michael had taken at what Gerard had done, which was justified, in a way, though Gerard had hoped that Michael would at least see the greater good that needed to be reached, and still do what he needed to do. But he didn’t, and that was why Jem had been brought into everything. It wasn’t ideal, but it was what had to be done.
He randomly clicked around on the company website, ending up on the small page that was the “About Me” for Gerard. He had seen it many times before, and his eyes lazily drifted across the page.
Then they saw something they hadn’t seen before, and he sat up straight, reading it again.
Under “Job Position”, it said “CEO”.
He squinted at the page, refreshed it, read it again and again, rubbed his eyes to make sure they weren’t deceiving him. They weren’t.
He sat back in his chair, struggling to breathe with the weight of what this all could mean. It must’ve been part of Clyde’s plan, he had no doubt of that. But if something like this could happen without his knowing, then what else could Clyde have done?
Devin’s scarcity alarmed Gerard more, now. The time for action had come, and he’d have to pick up the pace immediately.
An instant messaging window popped up on his screen, saying it was from Devin.
“Hello, Gerard.”
Gerard was sure this wasn’t Devin, but he asked anyway. “Devin?”
“Guess again. I’m sure you’ll get it right, this time.”
“What do you want?”
“I simply want to talk things over with you, Gerard. I would like to give you an idea of what all is going to be happening soon. I’m sure you’ve gotten the news of your… promotion?”
“Yes, I just learned of it right now. Your doing, I assume?”
“Of course.”
“What is all this for, Clyde?”
“To learn about that, you’ll have to come talk with me. How about sometime tonight, after Mind Pharmaceuticals has been closed. Ah, I know, how about that testing room where you killed someone. A foolish move, that. I can’t imagine what you were thinking by doing it.”
Gerard smiled. It would seem that Jem’s importance still was unknown to Clyde. This was something he could use to his advantage.
“It was a necessary test, that was all.”
“Sure.”
“Midnight, testing room four?”
“See you then, Gerard. Perhaps tonight will be the end of things. Perhaps it won’t.”
“I dearly hope it will,” Gerard said.
“Oh, one last thing. Being the CEO has certain perks, one of which is a very nicely sized office, which you’ll find in room 241. Hope you enjoy it. And I left you a gift in there, on the desk. You don’t need to bring it tonight – I won’t bring one myself – but you have already killed once for the plan – why not once more to put an end to things? Again, it’s your choice, but you may want to be prepared tonight.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“I look forward to our meeting, Gerard.”
‘Devin’ then logged out of his account. Damn, Gerard had meant to ask Clyde about Devin, not that he could’ve trusted whatever Clyde said in response. Oh well. From what he had said, it sounded like tonight would be quite the event.
Gerard left his office and navigated to where Jem’s cell was, bringing a small bag of tripe with him. He needed Jem’s help tonight, and thought the tripe would sweeten the deal for him.
Once he arrived at the cell, he knocked on the entrance. Jem was within, reading a book and smoking. Gerard pulled back from the smell; ironic as it was given the amount of paper he burned, he abhorred the smell of smoke.
“You really aren’t supposed to be smoking in here,” Gerard said.
Jem looked up at him. “What’re you gonna do about it?”
Gerard shook his head slightly and passed the bag of tripe through the bars. “This is three doses. I got it ready for you myself, as I think Clyde killed Devin.”
Jem’s eyes widened at that, though Gerard wasn’t sure what specific bit of information he had reacted to. The amount of tripe, he was sure. Jem had never liked Devin, thinking him the weakest link in the chain of their group.
“I’m giving you a large amount because I want you to be very helpful tonight. At midnight, I’m meeting up with Clyde. I want you to come and help things along a bit. This could be ‘the end’, and I’m sure it won’t be easy.”
Jem nodded. “Got it.”
“I’ll come by and unlock your cell a few minutes before then and wake you up if you’ve fallen asleep.”
Jem waved the bag. “I’m sure I will be.”
Gerard frowned. “I’d prefer you to be completely ‘with it’ tonight, if you know what I mean.”
Jem nodded. “Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. I mean, it will mostly be out of my system by then anyway.” He smirked at Gerard.
Gerard sighed and started walking away. “Midnight. Be ready to do anything.”

Jem had, of course, found a perfect stashing spot in his new cell already, and inside it was a small cellphone and a few other small but important things that Clyde had covertly given him a day or so before.
He held it in his pocked while he prepared the tripe, then when it buzzed quietly, he took it out and flipped it open. He had received a text from Clyde.
“This is it. Get ready. Midnight tonight. Remember the plan.”
Jem replied with a “k”, then turned off the phone and stashed it away again.
One-fourth – he did want to play it safe tonight – of the tripe was ready, and he consumed it in a few short snorts.
As the ease and anxiolytic bliss flowed over him, he played through the plan in his mind, reviewing every step of it for later tonight. This should be fun.

Desmond was up later than usual. He had felt something stirring in the air, and wanted to be ready to hear of anything as soon it happened.
And soon enough, it did. He received a second email from Clyde. In it was merely written “It’s starting tonight, and should be finished by tomorrow.”
Desmond smiled and closed the email. He and Clyde really needed to catch up once this whole thing was over and done with. He’d like to hear about everything that happened.
He didn’t necessarily agree or condone some things – or anything, even – that Clyde did. But that was how Desmond viewed almost everything in life; he was a non-biased observer of all that happened. He played his small parts in things, it was true, but found the actions of others so much more interesting.
And he was almost as excited to meet this Jem fellow.

Gerard slowly found his way to room 241. When he arrived, he almost forgot the position he was currently in when faced with a sort of glee at his new office and role at Mind Pharmaceuticals. He walked around the large room with the thought of “This all is mine, now” playing through his head.
Then his mind was cleared as he glanced towards the desk and saw a handgun sitting on it. He walked over to it and picked it up. In all practicality, he decision he was making was whether he should dispose of it or keep it, preparing himself for whatever could happen at midnight tonight.
Clyde was right, he’d give him that. He would want to be prepared for anything tonight, and this gun was a good start at it.
He tucked it into a pocket after checking that the safety was on, then patted the area where its cold metal pressed against his leg through the thin fabric of his pocket. It certainly did make him feel prepared.
He glanced at the clock. Somehow, it was already nine o’clock.
He left Mind Pharmaceuticals and walked to a small cafe that was nearby. He sat up at the bar, ordered a cup of coffee, and lit a cigarette.
A man seated a distance to his left, also at the bar, sipping coffee and with an ashtray in front of him, a few butts in it, lifted up his cup and tilted his head to the side as a greeting.
Gerard nodded at him, then sipped his coffee. Tonight was a long night, and he wanted to be plenty ready for it.

Clyde had wanted to stay somewhere within easy access to Mind Pharmaceuticals without actually being in there before the predetermined time, so had chosen a little cafe nearby. He had ordered coffee and lit a cigarette before it had yet arrived. He sat there, mulling over his ideas and plans until they were all one perfect sphere of thought, until a man he recognized stepped through the door and ordered the same thing Clyde had done.
Clyde smirked internally as he realized who it was. It was Gerard, of course, though Gerard wouldn’t notice him. He gave Gerard a sort of informal greeting from across the bar, which Gerard responded to in like manner. Clyde went back to sipping his coffee. As much as he was looking forward to the night ahead, he was even more looking forward to the contents of the small metal box beneath his bed, which he’d partake in later tonight. Before then, though, a carefully timed pill… He checked his clock. It wouldn’t start to take effect for two and a half hours, so he downed it with a gulp of coffee.

Jem was in the midst of bliss, nodding in and out, checking his clock occasionally when he was conscious. The hands slowly moved in their appointed course, slowly making their way to midnight.
He still had about an hour to go, and could already feel the heavy weight of the tripe fading from him, just as he had hoped. He still wanted to feel it plenty while everything was going on, but couldn’t nod off in the midst of it all.

The man who had been seated to Gerard’s left stood up from his stool, paid the bill, and left the cafe around eleven o’clock. Gerard sighed. He wished that damn clock would hurry up already. He had things to do, but he knew leaving early wouldn’t help them along at all.
He instinctively touched the gun in his pocket, to make sure that it was still there. Of course it was, it wasn’t going anywhere. He still felt somewhat divided about bringing it, but nothing could be done now. He thought it was still probably for the best that he did, but…
He went to the bathroom, then returned to the bar, finished his coffee, and paid the bill. The clock now read eleven-thirty.

A rattle at the bars shook Jem out of one final nod-off. Facing him was Clyde.
He nodded at Jem. “Everything’s ready?”
Jem nodded back. “Hey, if you don’t mind me asking, where did you get some of this stuff?”
“I do mind you asking, actually. Remember, once this is over, we aren’t seeing each other again, got it? Gerard will be here momentarily. I actually saw him in a cafe just a moment ago, and he brought the gun. Good. Things would’ve been pretty tricky if he didn’t, but I’m glad to see I had predicted him accurately. Well,” he said, touching his head where the brim of a hat would’ve been, “see you in a few minutes.”
Jem nodded to him again, and Clyde disappeared. Jem went back to laying on his bed, facing the ceiling. He had ‘butterflies in his stomach’, probably half of which was from the tripe, but he was still filled with a nervous excitement at the fact that this all really was happening.
The bars of his cell rattled again and he sat up. Facing him, this time, was Gerard.
“Okay. You ready?”
Jem nodded.
Gerard unlocked his cell and quietly slid the door back. The two of them made their way towards test room number four. When they arrived, the time was eleven fifty-nine.
They stopped outside the door, both took deep breaths, and Gerard opened the door. The time was exactly twelve o’clock.

Mostly Hidden, Chapter Twelve

Jem was awakened by the same guard as always rattling the bars of his cell.
“It would seem you’re a busy man, Jem.”
Jem sighed and got up. His head spun momentarily and he remembered how long tripe lasted in the system. He got up, steadying himself, and walked over to the entrance of his cell.
“Ah, good, I was actually somewhat predicting this one.”
He let himself be handcuffed and led back through the maze of corridors to the same door as always. The guard opened the door, but the man inside was not Devin. It was a tall, well-composed man with black hair.
Jem prepared himself for the encounter, then took his seat on the opposing side of the table from the man, who he assumed was Gerard.
Gerard waited for the guard to close the door, then turned to Jem.
“Jem, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
“Well, first, who are you? Devin implied there was more than one person, but I don’t know who you are.”
“I’m Gerard.” He stuck out his hand to shake Jem’s, but Jem declined.
“I’m guessing you’re here to try and convince me to join you again. Devin wasn’t strong enough – or strong at all – to break me, so you figured you’d take your turn. Is that it?”
“Not quite. I’d still love for you to join us, and I have the feeling you might by the end of this, but I’m here to present you with some rather unfortunate facts.”
“And what would those be?”
“Christopher died.”
Lying had always come easy to Jem, but when he was on tripe, it didn’t even feel like he was lying any more. He became the person he pretended to be, and responded to the news accurately; an expression of shock, of outrage, of a kind of repugnance; all of these flashed across his face in an instant. He composed himself again and spoke.
“How?”
“The drug testing you probably knew about at Mind Pharmaceuticals. Guess who ordered it?”
“Who?”
“Clyde Orrville Edison. He’s really the reason we’re trying to expose Mind Pharmaceuticals. He’s been overseeing these testings – and the death they often create – for far too long, and it needs to end. You can help immensely in his demise. If you were to join us…”
Jem – or the character Jem was playing, anyway – was thinking. Gerard gave him space to think, and there was a silence of a few minutes while Jem mulled it over.
“Okay. But only because of Christopher. And I’d still better get the tripe Devin promised.”
Gerard smiled. “All right. That will be fine.”
“And I want to deal Clyde his final blow, the one that will send him reeling for years.”
“Fine.”
“And one last thing. I don’t want to do the drug tests.”
Gerard gave him a wry grin. “You drive a hard bargain. That might be a little tricky. I should be able to minimize the amount of trials you do, and possibly you won’t even have to do any before our plan is set into motion. We’ll see. Sound fine?”
Jem nodded. “All right.”
Gerard extended his hand again, and Jem shook it, internally smiling. Things were going just perfectly so far.
“I’ll have someone come by to pick you up in a few hours,” Gerard said.
Jem nodded. He could still feel the tripe coursing through his veins, which made things even better than they already were for him. And if he’d manage to get more, for a little bit at least… He couldn’t wait. And as long as everything worked out in the end, he doubted if he’d ever have any trouble getting it in the end. He kept his face resolute the entire time these thoughts were going through his mind. As far as Gerard knew, he was a pretty desperate punk who’d fallen out of society’s good graces and didn’t have a hope in the world; and that’s the way he wanted Gerard to think of him.

Desmond was doing a final review of his finished products and logging the final precise weights into his computer when he noticed he had an email. He virtually never got email, as very few people actually knew of his existence. Intrigued, he opened it.
It was from a person whose name he hadn’t seen in a very long time. Clyde Edison Orrville. He took a shaky breath. If he was getting an email from Clyde, after so long of a silence, he was sure it was important. He had been keeping an eye on Clyde’s company for quite some time, and had gotten a few hints that everything that happened there wasn’t completely above board, and he had been convinced for quite some time that, knowing how Clyde worked, something big would happen with the company, and soon.
He opened the email and gave it a long, in depth reading. Clyde’s writing style had always been quite intricate, with additional meanings that could be seen hidden in certain purposeful supposed “gaps” in the intricacy, gaps that gave much more meaning than they could’ve if they didn’t break the intricacy to begin with. Thus it was important to search for every bit of meaning hidden in the message.
Desmond smiled. Clyde didn’t give much information into what was actually going to happen, but Desmond could imagine. Clyde merely asked a favor that implied much more than it said, and Desmond wrote a quick response in the affirmative.
At the end, he wrote one final sentence: “Long time no see, Clyde.”

Clyde got the response from Desmond and smiled. Good to see that he was, if only marginally, still “on the grid”. In college, he had the tendency to lock himself away when working, not speaking to anyone and rarely eating.
Seeing that Clyde hadn’t seen much about him for a while, since his book on Grand Willowdraught had been published, he assumed that he still did that to some extent. But he was in on the plan, and that was enough.
He stepped out of his office and took a short stroll around, to check on a few things as well as to aid in his thoughts. Walking was the physical expression of thought, Clyde decided.
A very simple thought that somehow hadn’t struck him until just now came to him. Nobody, except for that intern and Jem, and a few minor people who worked with him occasionally – they were of no consequence – knew what he looked like. He almost laughed aloud at how much of an upper hand this gave him, more of an upper hand than he already had.
He was sure Gerard was the leader of this little rebellion. He didn’t know if there were people other than he and Devin in it, but he doubted it. From everything he knew about Gerard, he was an intensely careful person. This was both what made him a somewhat difficult person to plan around, but also served as his, hopefully final, weakness. Clyde could use Gerard’s carefulness and extremely thorough documentation to his own desires.
Yes, Gerard, you are an interesting opponent, but one I can defeat easily. Just wait, your time will come. And assuming everything works out correcty – and it will – you won’t even have a chance to realize what happened until it’s all too late.
What’s that? You say you have hidden things that will spell my demise? Trust me, dear Gerard, I’ve planned for them. I know you well enough to know the sort of things you will do, things you have done, and I have made spaces in my plans to allow for them. Do what you like, you will find it is all a part in my plans.
No, I do not wish you to give up the battle now! Certainly not, my dear adversary. I wish to play out this game to the very end, one by one capturing your pieces until your king lies cornered and trapped in a checkmate. Only then will I allow you to admit defeat – ah, but then, it will be to late. I will be gone, and you will be forced to pick up the pieces by yourself.
This monologue continued through Clyde’s head as he walked through the main hall and stopped by the doorway. There was the plaque that had “his” picture and name. But there was an all-important change in it that had so recently happened. He doubted anyone would notice until it was too late.
And beside it, an even more important plaque. A plaque which showed the name “Gerard Crossley Darwin”, with an engraving of his bust, naming him the current – and prior, for several years – CEO of Mind Pharmaceuticals. It would have to be so, of course, because “Clyde Edison Orrville” had resigned years ago. He smiled as he began the trek back to his office.
Well, not his office for much longer. He had emptied it out and was paying one final trip to it to pick up a few final things. The white rat, Andrew, as well as the notebooks that had been added to continually for the past few days. While he was there, he went to his computer one final time and checked a few processes that he had set running on Mind Pharmaceutical’s servers. They were almost done. He watched the progress bar slowly move across the screen.
Once this was finished, there would be so, so many changes at Mind Pharmaceuticals. He had spent a long amount of time thinking through and documenting each and every change that would happen, and the effect that would have on the flow of everything that happened.
He smiled once again as the progress bar said it was almost completed, but needed to restart the computer to finalize everything. He knew why; it had to delete his account and set the deletion date to some specific time in the past. He clicked okay and watched his existence at Mind Pharmaceuticals dissolve away into virtual time.
He picked up the rat and notebooks and made a final sweep to make sure he hadn’t accidentally left anything behind.
Then, one last thing, something he would purposefully leave behind. A gun, the almost-identical – a very small but very important difference between the two – twin of which was also in his possession, with the amount of residue that would be left from a single shot in the barrel. The empty shell had been saved. Clyde set the gun on the desk, in plain sight. Gerard was careful, but impulsive. He could be oh so very impulsive.

Before he left, Clyde had granted himself access into Gerard’s account at Mind Pharmaceuticals. It was easy enough to do, and quite necessary for what he had to do.
He logged into the instant messenger program, on his personal laptop – he had taken special precautions first, of course -, in a small room within Mind Pharmaceuticals that he had reserved. It was typically used for conferences, but often lay unused, and Clyde took advantage of it. He searched for a contact: Devin Caldwin. He sent a message and began the first active step that he would take in the plan.
“Devin.”
A slight pause, followed by “Devin is typing…”.
“what,” Devin replied.
“We need to meet up, now. The testing room, in fifteen minutes.”
“okay, but…”
“What?”
“i dunno. whats this about?”
“It’s important. It’s about Jem.”
“ohhhhh”
(Clyde could almost hear Devin starting to sweat. He didn’t know what had happened, and last he knew, Jem was going to report him to Clyde himself.)
“okay ill be there then”
“Good. Don’t be late.”
With that, Clyde closed the messenger, turned off his computer, and headed in that direction. Everything was prepared, and now he had only to wait.
He sat in the chair that was used by the person overseeing the test, putting on a pair of black leather gloves. Perhaps he was a person overseeing a test. Was he? He supposed that he’d find out.

Devin had found the message he received from Gerard rather odd. Gerard had typically shunned the instant messaging system, decrying it as terribly insecure.
Devin decided that it must’ve just been that Gerard had deemed this as important enough of a meeting to use it instead of a more… analogue form of communication. After all, he hadn’t directly spoken of any sensitive information, so he guessed it was okay. He picked up a notebook and pen – always an important thing to have when going to a meeting, especially one with Gerard.
He thought for a moment about which testing room Gerard was meaning, but it didn’t take him long to decide. Gerard, for some reason, had almost always only used testing room #4. He doubted that Gerard paid much heed to “lucky numbers”, but thought this might’ve been at least part of it, or at least a certain liking of that number, or perhaps just the room itself – although all of the testing rooms were identical in all practicality.
He headed towards that room, then walked through the door into the testing area of the room. He looked at the cot that so many had suffered in – and several had died in – and let out a sort of mortal shudder at it. He had no liking of such things. That was why he had been doing this from the start.
There was no one else in the room, though. He was surprised. Gerard was never late. Never.
Just as he started to get suspicious, and stood up, sensing a trap, three things happened at the same time.
First, a gunshot. Then, immediately after, a shattering of glass. Immediately following that, a sudden and forceful impact on his body. He looked down at himself and saw blood pouring down his chest from a shot through his heart.
He looked up, through the now-shattered one-way mirror. A man was standing behind it, a gun in the epicenter of the shattered part of the glass, smoke drifting out of the barrel.
The man lowered the gun and smiled at Devin. Devin opened his mouth to speak, but found he was unable to, his mind suddenly growing fuzzy.
“Hey, Devin, it’s nice to meet you. Oh, and when you get to hell – tell them to prepare for my coming. It should be quite the arrival.”
Devin’s body slumped onto the floor, lifeless.

Mostly Hidden, Chapter Eleven

In some time long passed, two young men, brothers, made a plan. They had both lost someone dear to them due to some type of corruption at Mind Pharmaceuticals.
Their father had worked there, and had paid for it with his life. Before he died, he had began exposing some small part of it, scrawled away into documents in his office.
Gerard, the elder brother, had originally found them while going through things some time after the funeral. He had scanned over them quickly, grasping the horror of it, and showed them to Michael. They had read and re-read them, trying to squeeze every bit of information out of it. Once they had each read them so much they almost had them memorized, they burnt the pages.
The path of their life they’d led so far was littered with ashes and scraps of burnt paper.
They had spent close to a year planning, and perfecting the plan they came up with, further and further, until it was nearly foolproof. The only variable left was that of human error – not theirs, but that of others -, but they had certain things planned that could at least minimize the damage that could cause.
There was only one chink left in their plan, though. Gerard had studied and planned and thought for far too many sleepless nights, and knew there was one thing that had to be done that he couldn’t tell Michael about.
It was utterly necessary, he knew. For the amount of information they’d need to document, they would both need to be “on the inside”, yes, but not necessarily the “inside” of the same place.
Gerard knew there were very shady connections with a nearby prison, the Keene State Correctional Facility. This was one of the most incriminating things connected with Mind Pharmaceuticals, and he knew that they would need information from within that corrupted system as well.
It had been fairly easy to set up, and he had made it so that it wouldn’t be too long of a sentence, just long enough for the plans to take place, but he framed Michael for a crime, so as to land him in the prison. Michael didn’t know anything about it until it happened and, even then, Gerard was nowhere to be seen.
Truth was, he had hid himself in remorse. No, not just remorse; remorse mixed with a feeling of glee at taking the first big move in the plan; he knew the ball was rolling, now, and there wasn’t any way to stop its movement.
He started as an intern at the company, and quickly worked his way up. His outwardly calm demeanor and excellent abilities aided him in that, as he had predicted. Soon he was in the perfect position to gather the information he needed, and gather he did, Michael loathing him and thinking him a traitor the entire time.

Clyde sat at his desk, feeding Andrew and thinking about his updated plan. He glanced at the leather notebook – a smaller notebook by the side that now served as the overflow – that held everything.
His phone rang and he almost fell out of his chair. He had actually forgotten he had a phone in here, it rang so rarely.
Clyde recovered from the surprise and picked up the phone.
“Hello, you’ve reached Clyde Edison.”
“One moment.”
He didn’t recognize the voice, but there was a moment of silence before a different voice spoke this time.
“Hey, is this Clyde?”
Clyde didn’t recognize this voice either, but continued. “Yes, it is.”
“I’ve got something to tell you that I think you’ll be quite interested to hear.”
“Okay.” Two interesting things in one day? What a lucky day for him. “What’s your name?”
“Jem Drake.”
Clyde, phone still pressed against his ear, retrieved the two notebooks from the bookshelf and flipped one of them open, scanning for a name. Ah, yes, Jem was the one who was blackmailing Devin. Perfect.
“It’s nice to hear from you, Jem. I actually just heard about you a few hours ago.”
“Wait, really? How? Wait, no, I don’t really want to know, it doesn’t matter. Point is, there’s someone working for you named Devin who is planning some sort of coup.”
“I know. That’s how I learned about you, actually.”
“Huh. Anyway, from what I know about you – not much, but enough – I think we might work well together.”
“And what, precisely, would we be working on together?”
Jem hesitated. “Well, I guess, ending this.”
Without responding to the proposition, Clyde spoke. “Do you know anything about Gerard?”
“No. At least not directly. I haven’t heard his name, but Devin implied he was working with someone, and this Gerard could very well be that person.”
“It is. I don’t know who is the leader in this all, but that doesn’t particularly matter.”
Clyde’s computer screen was on in front of him, and he noticed a notification blinking in one window. That particular window was a sort of “log” of the more shadowed proceedings that happened at Mind Pharmaceuticals, and he noticed that one of the test subjects had just died.
Jem hadn’t responded yet, so Clyde spoke again. “Do you, by any chance, know someone named Christopher?”
“Yes. He was taken into your company as a test subject. I’m guessing Gerard specifically requested him as an attempt to make me join them, to be reunited with him or some shit.”
“Well, you don’t have any hope of that. He just died.”
“What!”
“In one of the drug trials. Let me.. check something.”
Clyde navigated through a few pages connected with that log of activities, and found what he was looking for; the overseer of the trial.
“Ah, I thought so,” he said.
“What?”
“It was overseen by Gerard.”
“Oh…”
“I’d imagine he was going to attempt to pin it on me as a way to make him join…”
Jem cut him off. “Fuck him. Fuck him! Yeah, that’s what he would’ve done. Fuck him. Okay. I don’t know how, but I want to help you. I want to end him with you.”
Clyde smiled. His re-invented plans had actually left a space for one extra person. It would have been possible without another person, but more difficult. This was perfect.
“I think we can work that out,” Clyde responded.
“Good.”
“First of all, though, I’m going to need you to ‘fall’ for his plan. I have no doubt that they’ll be contacting you soon in some way or another, and you need to join them. Make it believable, too.”
“I can do that easily.”
Clyde flipped through his notebook until he found the section he was looking for. He made a few amendments, then began talking Jem through the plan.
He smiled. This was just so fucking perfect.

Jem hung up the phone when their conversation was over and handed it back to the guard.
“Took a while,” the guard said.
“Yup. What, you gonna charge me extra?”
The guard frowned at him and led him back to his cell, locking him in.
As soon as the guard had left and there was no one around, Jem let out a laugh. Everything was in place, and he wanted to celebrate. He smiled at his stash, knowing just the perfect thing for that. Hell, since he was joining Gerard and Devin, he might even get some more of this, for a little while at first. Before the third step of the plan was enacted, anyway.
Checking once more that nobody was around, he retrieved the tripe and prepared it. He wasn’t going to get to inject it, much to his dismay, but snorting it would be almost as good. He shook out the powder onto a book he had in his cell – The Process of Rehabilitation -, a book he had chosen just specifically for this purpose.
He fished out a butter knife and straw he had stolen from the cafeteria, scraped the powder together into two lines, and snorted them, one in each nostril.
All the withdrawals had been worth it, he thought, just for this one moment. Utter relaxation and a sense of his consciousness floating on an endless ocean filled him, and he let out a sigh, falling backwards onto his cot. The pain from hitting his back on the metal edge didn’t phase him – he didn’t feel it at all, actually.
He adjusted his body so he was fully laying on his bed, one arm dangling over the side. He had waited so long for this. So very long. He let out a long, hard laugh.
He was suddenly having trouble keeping his eyes open. He glanced over at the clock. Eh, it wasn’t too early to go to bed. He wanted to stay awake a little bit longer at least, to be able to feel this a little longer. He flipped open the same book he had snorted the tripe off of and flipped through it, laughing at the sections where they bashed the very drug that he was on right now.
Gradually, his eyelids drooped lower and lower until the book slid from his grasp and he fell asleep on his cot, his arm draped over the side as before.
One thought passed through his mind before he was completely asleep, a thought which left a smile on his face: I can’t wait to start this plan tomorrow.