In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
August 25, 1993
John found the sight of Zara both heartbreaking and frightening. Lost in a cocoon of machines, tubes and hospital white, her every breath punctuated by the hiss of a respirator. An IV tube was plugged into each arm, feeding nutrients and medicine into her. Her head was shaved and bandaged, her eyes were taped closed, there were tubes up her nose and in her mouth. Was life worth this? John wondered. At least in death there was a kind of dignity and wasn't that better than having each breath raped into you?
The doctor observed emotionlessly as Phil knelt at Zara's side, caressing his face with her limp hand. He was begging her to come back to him. The sight made John more than a little bit uncomfortable, he mumbled that he'd be back and exited the room.
Special Agent Gawain Wight was outside waiting for him.
“Hello Mr. Sig, may I speak to you for a moment?”
“It's a free country.” John headed for the elevator, the tap of his cane echoing through the hallway.
Gawain followed, “Your file is required reading for new agents.”
“Really?” John raised his eyebrows.
“You're living proof that your kind should not automatically be regarded as the enemy.”
They reached the elevators, John pressed the call button, “An interesting assumption.”
“If not for you, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.”
“It's sad really, because it seems that ever since your group retired the majority of our encounters with the so-called secret races have ended in bloodshed.”
“Victor's methods were... unique.” The elevator arrived, John stepped inside.
Gawain followed him, “So I've heard.”
“And I wouldn't advise trying to duplicate them.” John pressed the lobby button.
“That goes without saying.”
The doors whispered to a close, the elevator lurched downwards, “Who's in change of the Project now?”
John reappraised the man standing beside him, “And since when do Project Director's go out into the field?”
The elevator shuddered to a stop, “Since the budget cuts of 1987.”
“Interesting.” the doors opened, John stepped out into the hospital's first floor, “I'm surprised they never shut the Project down.”
“In all honesty there were some close calls around the time Bush left office...”
“Why are you here?” he interrupted as they navigated the maze of hallways, skirting the admissions desk, the ATM machines and the gift shop.
“I wanted to meet you, and ask for some advice.”
“Bullshit.” John commented as they found themselves at the commissary cafeteria. He approached one of the vending machines and began feeding dollar bills into it.
“No, we've tried so hard to approach other Vlodek but-”
“Most of the other Vlodek are either dead or enslaved.”
The vending machine dropped three candy bars into its bin, after a brief mental debate he inserted another dollar for a fourth. “So why are you here, really?”
Gawain ran his fingers through his hair, “S.O.P..”
John bent to retrieve his candy and then stopped, “Really?”
“We tracked you all down years ago. Whenever one of your group is hospitalized or... passes away, we have to investigate”
Hershey bars in hand he headed for a table near the back. “But why?” John asked, only to pause in mid-step and answer his own question, “Because you want to make sure that we all die under natural circumstances.”
“This isn’t about us. This is about Victor isn’t it?”
“Show us a body.”
“Besides, who'd want to come back to this world? At least in Hell you'd know what to expect from one day to the next.”
“Over the years we've done a lot of research on the Victor Kovach problem.” They sat down at a rickety table, Gawain looked the older man in the eye as he spoke.
“That’s a hell of a way to talk about your founder.” Victor Kovach problem! John had to shake his head and smile at that, it sounded as though they equated him with other dangers like the San Andreas Fault and the hole in the ozone layer.
“Victor Kovach’s official record is that he saved the world but there is enough data available now to suggest that his reasons for saving the world weren’t altruistic ones. He wanted the world for himself.”
“A bit melodramatic.”
“Melodramatic? The last of the so-called ‘Dark Gods’ was banished in nineteen thirty-nine, the Monarchs didn’t start to become a serious threat until the early sixties. There was a period in there, a period of almost twenty years, when anyone could have come to power in the secret world and used that power to control the mundane world. Nobody came forward, if anything, the most likely candidates fell to squabbling amongst themselves.”
“You can spare me the lecture. I was there.”
“Victor could have moved in and took over, by some accounts he was about to. Events in 1950 bear this theory out.”
“I was there.”
“We’ve investigated Victor Kovach extensively, tried to discover if he was a sinner or a saint. The thing is that since the events of 1958 there are no records, aside from what little the Pharos Project has in its archives, to suggest that the man ever existed.”
“There is no birth certificate, passports, travel visas bank accounts- no paper trail at all.”
“But his family... the Kovach fortune...”
“There was a Kovach family. They were landowners in the Midwest but were certainly never wealthy, and the only Victor Kovach we have any records of is a stillborn child from the year 1890.”
John shook his head and unwrapped one of his candy bars, after all this time the bastard was still surprising him.
Excusing himself, Gawain approached the coffee machine spilled a trio of quarters into it. John took a bite from the candy bar and observed him. His instincts told him this was a man he could trust but he also knew that the Monarchs had minions that could fool his senses in every way.
Gawain returned to his seat, sipping from a steaming paper cup. “The trouble is that from our understanding of things Victor’s last piece of unfinished business is haunting us now.”
“Supposedly anything even remotely preternatural pays homage to them now. To make matters worse they now control or influence several world governments, maybe even this one. They also outright own the Trinity Advance Corporation.”
“You probably know them as the TRIAD Corporation.”
John shook his head, “No, I'm afraid I don't.”
“They made about half the equipment your friend is hooked up to in there.” his expression became demoralized, “They've got their fingers in a hundred thousand pies. They have so much money that they're a law unto themselves, they can make you disappear. Or they can take your life apart piece by piece.”
“What do they want?”
“Control. Control of our governments, our institutions, our souls.”
“But...” the old man felt a familiar frustration creeping over him, “but why?”
Gawain took another sip of coffee, “I don't know Victor knew and I think he knew how to stop them as well.”
John finished one Hershey bar and pocketed the rest, he suddenly didn't feel hungry anymore “They're winning aren't they?”
“Winning?” the Special Agent snorted derisively, “They won years ago, this is occupied territory.”