“They’re calling it Edukation, with a ‘k’,” Lauren said, her delicate complexion being lit up by the onrushing headlights of passing cars.
“Cute,” Alan grunted in reply, his hand steady on the wheel. Gravel crunched under the weight of the heavy tyres as the car pulled into the driveway. Alan marched up to the door, hoping they weren’t too late, but he had a bad feeling that the party had scattered. As soon as the call came in about a noise disturbance in the area he knew that it was Lewis’ house. The boy was a minor player in the corrupt city but he was protected by his friends and Alan was afraid that Lewis would slip through his grasp once again. The door opened to reveal the cool, assured smile of Lewis.
“Ah Detective, what a pleasant surprise.”
“Hello Lewis. Got a call about a noise disturbance coming from your house. Have you heard anything?”
“No, not really. I’ve just had a small gathering of friends, noting too big, it’s always a risk having a large crowd in one’s own home. I’d hate to see any of my valuables damaged.”
“Do you mind if we come in and take a look around anyway?”
“Be my guest,” Lewis said with an air of false sincerity. Alan walked through to the lounge, Lauren followed close behind. They found the room barren, save for a few people. Alan tried to not let his frustration show.
“These are my friends Matthew and Nick,” Lewis said as he gestured to the blonde-haired boy and the man with the golden tooth, “and this is my lady friend Stacy,” he said with great pride as he held out his hand to a girl of ravishing beauty, not that Alan would entertain such thoughts. The boys grunted at them, but their gaze lingered on Lauren. Matthew was more subtle about it, his eyes danced to and from her body but Nick looked at her with unfettered desire. As he licked his lips his gold tooth gleamed and Lauren was disgusted. She wasn’t the only one; Alan noted that Stacy had a distant look on her face, although it didn’t seem to dispel Lewis’ affections.
“As you can see there are but a few of us. It appears as though someone has been misinformed.”
“Yes, it seems that way,” Alan said, his words dripping with a sharp cynicism, his eyes roaming about the room looking for any sign of a clue but if there were any they went undiscovered.
“Have you heard of Edukation?” Alan said bluntly, hoping to catch them off guard. None of them had any discernible reaction, although Lauren thought she saw Stacy flinch.
“I assume you don’t mean the type that schools provide.”
“I think you know what type I mean.”
“I honestly don’t. I think you have some misconceptions about me. I am just a humble man enjoying a pleasant evening with some friends. I think you should go and find out who gave you the wrong information, I’m very sorry that your times been wasted.” Alan grinned, there was a dark humour about how dark his job was sometimes.
“You think you’re so smart. One day this will all come crashing down and you’ll realise that you’re not as big a deal as you think you are.” Lewis inclined his head slightly, wounded by Alan’s words but not allowing his feelings to show. They amicably departed, both despising the other. As soon as the door was shut Lewis’ face darkened and he smashed his cane against the wall, causing Matthew and Stacy to jump in shock, while Nick seemed to enjoy it.
“Worried boss?” Nick asked, grinning from ear to ear.
“No, just annoyed. It’s of no consequence, he can’t do anything to us. He’s entirely powerless.”
“Sure boss?” Matthew asked, straining to keep his voice from trembling.
“Have you ever had cause to doubt me?” Matthew shook his head. “Then trust me. Everything is proceeding as planned,” he turned to Stacy, “since our plans have gone awry I suggest we adjourn to a more appropriate locale.”
Alan slammed the steering wheel and gripped it tightly as it reverberated. Lauren stroked his arm.
“Don’t let him get to you,” she said soothingly.
“It’s not him, it’s the whole damn thing. We’re so close to getting something, I can feel it, but I just can’t get there. I don’t know who’s behind this but I can feel them laughing at me and I hate it. I just wish I could wipe that smug little grin off his face.” The haggard lines in his face were becoming more drawn as his eyes began to fade into a vengeful fantasy, only brought back by the calming touch of Lauren’s fingers on his cheek. She leaned over and whispered in his ear, her hot breath washed over his neck and the tension slipped away. He laughed and his eyes sparkled while he listened to her desire-laden promises. The car pulled away and slipped into the beckoning night.
Meanwhile Peter had walked Stephanie home. She made him promise that he wasn’t going to go back to the party, but even though he agreed they both knew he was lying. As soon as the door closed he tore off his clothes and donned the mask of Felicio. Excitement surged through his body and he ran through the suburbs, grateful for the chance to stretch his limbs and use his muscles to their full capacity. He longed to get back to the party, madness had brewed and boiled over and he knew the sooner he returned the less chance there was of somebody getting seriously injured. The last thing he wanted was a repeat of the blazing building, and he couldn’t bear it if that girl became a victim.
Even though he had only caught a glimpse of her that moment seemed to stretch out to eternity and left an indelible mark on his heart. It was as though a god had taken an image from his dreams, made it real and set her before him. He didn’t believe in love at first sight, but his young untamed heart had taken the first steps to a heady infatuation, a dizzying height from which it would be impossible to descend gradually. This feeling spurred him on to run faster than he ever had before, as if through his speed he could mould the will of the universe to his benefit and find her favour.
Rushing through the park, he was distracted from his journey by a commotion in the distance. At first he wanted to ignore it, and let fate take its course so he could reach the party and find the girl but then he admonished himself. He reminded himself of the vow he made to himself, and he had to be true to that vow no matter what. It was important for him to hold himself to the highest standard, because he wasn’t just a man, he was Felicio.
Skulking through the darkness, he approached the disturbance and saw that there was a small group laughing hysterically, but over the laughter came throttled screams. Through the figures Felicio saw that they were burying a man alive. Eventually the bodies shifted to allow him a better vantage point and he saw that they were attempting to bury the midget from the party. He was struggling, to no avail for every time he flicked dirt away they piled it back on and his body was soon submerged in the wet sticky soil.
The group danced around, as if they were making a ceremonial sacrifice but they were soon interrupted by Felicio. He ran amongst them and they quickly scattered as he swiftly jabbed them in the sides. They fell to the floor one by one. Felicio quickly fell to his knees and yanked the midget out of the soil. In a blaze of unbridled fury the midget screamed and went on a berserk rampage, barrelling through the people who were just getting to their feet and then running off into the distance. By this point a number of the crowd had recovered. One was near a spade, so he picked it up and viciously swung it, the metal made a loud clang as it struck Felicio’s shoulder. Any lesser man would have fallen but Felicio absorbed the pain and remained steadfast, much to the amazement of those surrounding him.
He stood up and assumed an intimidating position, ready for an attack but it never came. Instead, they all dropped to their knees and proclaimed him a god.
“Our lives are in your hands. We are the star children, you are our star father. We pledge our souls to you and we will do your bidding,” one of them said as they all bowed their heads. Felicio looked at them, utterly baffled by the turn of events. He walked up to one of them, a girl, and tilted her head up. She acted as though she was in a dream, her face moved as if she were experiencing things on an entirely different plane. But her eyes were glazed over and bloodshot, her pupils were dilated so much that her irises seemed non-existent, he stared into each of their eyes and each time it was as if he were gazing into a lonely abyss, once which he was sure they would all be cast into before too long. He pondered it over in his mind then in a stern voice he said,
“Your star father commands you to return home and be better tomorrow than you were today.” They breathed in his words and gave a knowing sigh, as if they had just been given the secrets of the universe. When they looked up Felicio had disappeared, and they were all sure they had been in the presence of something supernatural.
Felicio tried to shake the ridiculousness of the scene out of his head and resumed his spring to the party, although now he feared that he was too late, if those star children had already left the party there may not have been many people left. However, he had to try, although as he approached the house he found his pace slowing. Apprehension had crept in, not fear of a fight but fear of seeing that girl. So many possibilities were twisted in an entangled mess and suddenly his skin was hot and flushed, was it right that she should meet Felicio before Peter? Could he ever trust her with his secret? Would she be in danger? And then the thought occurred that she may not share his feelings. Suddenly the whole world became an intricate web, and such a simple moment became a complicated multitude of potential realities. Perhaps if he was merely Peter he would have turned his back and let his soul be burdened with shame, but the strength of Felicio steeled him against the nagging doubts of his own mind and gave him the resolve to continue, although it was to no avail as the house appeared to be deserted.
Still, just to be sure he investigated the premises. All was quiet and barely anything stirred, but as he slipped through an open window he heard heavy panting coming from a bedroom. Jealously began to cloud his mind and he tensed his muscles as he climbed the staircase. The door was ajar, he pushed it further open and saw two bodies writhing on the bed, one of them had flowing blonde hair and his heart burned within. Rage flowed through his blood and he was driven to a passion he had never before experienced. With one movement he strode to the bed and yanked the man off, the woman screamed and in the faint light Felicio saw that it wasn’t the girl of his dreams, but her eyes had the same glazed look as those star children in the park. He turned back and Nick was scurrying to cover up his manhood. Felicio stood over him menacingly.
“WHERE ARE THEY?” he yelled in a hoarse voice. Nick blubbered and barely formed a coherent sound. Felicio kicked him, his head violently swung to one side and blood poured from his mouth.
“D-D-Dock Gate 4,” he stammered. Felicio marched out, leaving the two of them wondering what had happened. With a grim resolve Felicio ran to the docks. He was determined to make Lewis pay for what he had done to all the ‘star children,’ and he was equally determined to find that girl and introduce himself, although he wasn’t sure whether it would be as Felicio or Peter.