Someone once said to me that if you try hard enough eventually you will succeed. Whoever that person is has way too much wisdom to be in their 20’s. Those words are probably the most useful things anyone has ever said to me and would take me far through this twisted world.
I had a reason for coming to this place, I had a mission to carry out but now in the state I’m in I don’t know if I can fulfil what I had to do. I guess the story can start from the beginning where I first came to this place, this place they call Equator.
My name is James Forrester; I used to be a professional hitman who worked for the Russian government. They used me for many different things involving assassination, cover ups and the usual. When World War II started they tried to use me to assassinate presidents and start black mailing and creating false alliances with the other countries. This was so that Russia could prosper and become the most powerful out of all the others in the war.
That’s why I quit the job however they said there was no quitting until I did one final mission otherwise they would kill my family. They said that this would bring about the end to the war, that if I could kill this city’s ruler and steal their technology I could come back as a war hero.
One final mission, one last chance to save my family. If I failed the mission or pulled any funny business they would put a bullet between my wife and my son’s eyes. I of course accepted the mission and at 12:00am exact they sent two agents to come for me and give me one bag with all of the essentials I would need to carry out this mission.
Within the bag was a sniper rifle with only three bullets in it, a map of this city known as Equator, a picture of the president of the city and the picture of the person I need to avoid known as the Guardian. A person clad in black metallic Armor with some sort of weapon attached to its wrist that I couldn’t explain in words for I had never seen such technology before.
After some time passed I was taken aboard a large ship that took me across the sea, into the deep mist and headed towards a large rocky hill with a lighthouse at its very edge. After that I was sent there on a small boat which I had to row myself in the howling wind and blistering rain before I reached the shore. I had no rope to attach to my small boat so as soon as I left it got crushed within the rocks.
The agents told me that I had to use the flare gun in my bag to signal them if I managed to get back to this hill so they could send someone to get me. I started to climb up the stone steps towards the dark grey lighthouse before reaching it cold, metallic door. The door itself had the picture of a large pickaxe with a gleaming ruby on its hilt.
As soon as I took a step towards it the door creaked open by itself revealing its dark innards to me. I could see nothing as I entered the lighthouse, all I could see was the outlining of stairs which I walked downwards until I reached what I swear was a marble tiled floor. The lights snapped on, illuminating the darkness and revealing a trail of blood leading down a tiled corridor which was pure white.
I followed the trail until I reached a door which required my ID. The agents also gave me an ID card as to allow passage into Equator. I swiped the card across the lining of the scanner before it turned green and the door opened showing a man tied crucified on the wall, a pool of blood below him.
Written in blood along the wall were the words “do not fail us, one last chance, and one last attempt, kill the monarch and save your family.” My throat was dry and I felt sick inside, they were dead serious and they were dead ruthless. There was no room for error, if I failed that was it, game over.
I continued down the beaten track until I reached a medium sized silo with a drill attached beneath it. Such an elaborate piece of technology and it seemed my only way into the city as there was no path left. I entered the silo as the door closed behind me and I looked out at the window before me.
The lights went red and a siren went off before my world started to shake and spin before my very eyes and the drill turned on. Suddenly the entire silo moved and I could see only rock from the window. Then I saw the water and plentiful fish as the silo went beneath the stormy sea and into the very ocean floor below me.
The drill turned on again and once more I saw nothing but rock and sometimes water before the silo suddenly heated up and I started to sweat. Everything went so quickly before a light shone in my eyes and I opened them to see thousands of lanterns fly around the silo and illuminate the darkness. But as they cleared away I saw something else that would truly amaze and defy all logic.
I saw a large bustling city surrounded by large forests and a large dome that must have been keeping them cool and full of oxygen because no oxygen could find its way here, this deep into the ground. I could see cracks of lava outside of the city’s walls implying that this must be on the edge of the earth’s crust, its very core.
The silo went into a glass tunnel before being sucked into the city’s dome and towards a large gate which opened and took me into the city. I went past a large sign that said “Welcome to Equator, the future of the industrial revolution.” Past that I saw some more signs that said “no war, no violence and no heresy. Welcome to the land of law and truth.”
A speaker turned itself on within the silo as I went past large buildings and neon lights with people driving cars that hovered above the ground and large robots with metal wings on their back performing maintenance on damaged structures.
“If you are listening to this then congratulations, you have found Earth’s crown jewel and I welcome you to the underground city of Equator. My name is Kale Weathers, founder and president of Equator; I built a city that no man on earth could dare to dream. A place free from the war above, a place where no violence or sin can come and break our peace.
“This is a place where law and order reign and those who wish it can live in everlasting peace free from all the things that will destroy mankind. This is a city for the peacemakers, the environmentalists that love nature and worships it rather than fill it with garbage and pollute it with filth. A city for the rich and the poor, the religious to believe in what they want and who they want and for those who believe in mankind’s rights to be whoever they want to be.”
“So do you get it now? If you are the person I think you are then you will abide by my rules, if you do then we can become friends and you can enjoy living in a peaceful paradise. Let mother Nature watch over you on your journey and welcome to Equator” said the recording of Kale being played on the speaker.
I kind of smiled listening to it, the entire place built underground to create an earthly paradise free from all violence and pollution. It did seem like a paradise full of equal rights both in race and who you love. Equator seemed like a dream yet I know it was real for everything from the look and feel of it was solid and real.
I knew though that this paradise would have to go down if my family were to live. I didn’t understand why Russia would have a problem with this place when it has no involvement in the war and is far away from the surface world that it couldn’t invade even if it wanted to.
So what was this all about? Was it just a simple assassination just to show that no city is invincible or was it something much more sinister and I’m just the pawn being used to execute it? They said it would end the war but I just didn’t see how this place was linked to it.
The second part of the mission was to steal their technology meaning I would have to steal whatever weapons they have down here. Maybe that can help Russia win the war. The mission was crazy to begin with and I still didn’t know if there was a way out of here once you’re in the city but I had to make a plan and fast because the silo was about to pull into a port of some kind.
The silo came to a halt as the door opened and I walked out, bag on my back, into the city of Equator. Five seconds into stepping out into this strange world before a two guys clad in metallic Armor with spherical helmets around their heads pointed two large spears with some kind of rock at its tip right at my neck.
“State your business” asked first guard in a deep rough voice.
“I am just a simple visitor who has come to see this magnificent city for my own eyes. It’s hard to believe that someone built a city underground” I replied.
“Yes that’s what they all say when they first arrive but you get used to it after a while. Well we need to some form of identification before you take another step in this city” said the second guard.
I quickly handed them the ID I used to get into Equator without hesitation hoping that I had to use that. They used a scanning device to check it before nodding and handing it back at me.
“Alright you can come on in to the Welcome Centre, we need to verify how long you are going to be here and we also need to allocate you with a job and a place to stay. Do you have any money?” asked the first guard.
“Yes” I replied.
“Destroy it then” said the second guard.
“Your money doesn’t work in Equator. This city is its own world; we will have no items or money from the surface come into this place. Instead everything here works with trade which is why mining is a very important job here. People pay in rocks, minerals and precious ores which in turn we use to expand upon our humble city. It’s a win-win situation we have here and you must accustom to it if you are to succeed in Equator.”
So everything here is paid in what you mine, rocks are the currency in Equator which meant that if I was going anywhere here I would have to become a miner. Of course I wasn’t going to do that for I wasn’t here to stay, just to find Kale Weathers and put a bullet in his head.
I was taken past more officers and guards before I stood in front of a large desk with a man sitting in a floating chair hovered over to me and smiled. I looked past him to see a large screen with a list of jobs on it. I saw over 250 jobs on the list and past that were the words Active and Non-Active in bold.
“Hello my good man, I see you’re new to our fair city, my name is Fredrick Rodriguez, I’m the man who will see you into Equator and will also give you all you need to start off. Now first I must ask you what your past job was up in the surface” said Fredrick.
I couldn’t just blurt out that I was a hitman otherwise my mission would be over before it even begun. “I work as a Private Detective, help solve crimes and gather up evidence” I said.
“Ah interesting, you’re a man of law and order, keeping the peace, you know we do need more detectives in the work force. We might have soldiers and officers guarding the citizens however whilst this is a city of peace sometimes violence does break out and murder happens. Nowhere is perfect which is why we need more detectives as the local police are small.”
“Oh really? Well that would be a perfect career but the thing is I don’t plan to stay long.”
“Oh…I see, so how long are you here for?”
“I’m only here for most likely a couple of days, a week tops.”
“Wait, wait I forgot to tell you our leaving policy.”
“Well you see once you get here you can’t leave that’s why we have a career board in the Welcome Centre and scan your ID. Once you’re here, you’re here for life and there’s no way out.”
“No that can’t be right there must be some way to leave I mean how do you get food and drink down here?”
“We make our own, the natural forests, climate and farming areas of the city provide us with plenty of food. Natural springs are found around the water factories at the edge of the dome and animals have been brought down from the surface when the city was first built and bred down here. We have more than enough food and drink to go around and alcohol is home made here, there is no reason to go to the surface.”
“There has to be a way.”
“I’m sorry that it wasn’t told to you on the surface but there is no way out.”
“Then if there is no way out why did you ask how long I have here?”
“Because once your time is up we send the Hunters to come and kill you so as to make sure you don’t find a way out.”
I stared at him for a while, my face blank and expressionless. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; so much for a paradise this place was as violent and insane as the surface. There had to be a way out, I just had to find it before the Hunters came, whatever they were.
“Okay then let me change my duration of stay from a couple of days to permanent then” I said.
“Ah good choice it’s what every visitor chooses these days” said Fredrick.
I wonder why. “I guess I will pick the Private Detective job then as a career.”
“Good man, I’m sure they will be well pleased when you arrive at their doorstep by the morrow.”
“Wait I start work tomorrow?”
“Why? Did you think just because you’re new you can’t work as hard as everyone else?”
“No, not at all I just thought I could settle in first.”
“That’s what today is for, now here are the keys to your apartment at Rosie’s Corner and good luck to you sir, welcome to Equator, our paradise is your paradise.”
I took the keys and started walking down the hallway towards a large black door that the officers were pointing to. Paradise, it was more like the embodiment of hell. The doors pushed open and a bright light burst into my eyes before I saw the city for the first time as a citizen.
The ground was made of cobblestone with streets being tightly condensed and packed with cars and people. There were not paths to walk on; both people and cars went on the same path, as ridiculous as that is dangerous. All over walls and large TV like screens attached to buildings were advertisements for some impossible things.
Machines that could serve humans and had emotions and thoughts just like a human. Strange pills that gave a human unimaginable powers and abilities known as Plasmo made up half of the advertising along with these cars that hover above the ground.
This place was strange and its technology was incredible. The surface had no idea what they were missing out on and by the weapons I’ve seen on the soldiers and officers working here, I see why I needed to steal it.
Of course by the sheer size of this city I saw that walking was no option so I looked around for something that could take me to my apartment which was apparently located in the Local Living and Business district. By the map the areas of Equator followed as is; Equator Industries, which was the Factory and Mining district, Equator Opportunities, the Art and Theatre district, Paradiso, the Local Gardens, Forests, Farming and Holiday district.
Equator Life, Local Living and Business district, Equator Populace, the downtown and from what I’ve heard poor district, Equator Being, the aristocrat-rich district, Equator Crystallis, the shopping district and Atlas, the central part of Equator.
Atlas was where Kale Weathers was and that’s where I needed to go but I had to kill him at the right time or the mission would turn into a failure. There were other parts of Equator but I only knew those written on the map which didn’t really show the entire city.
Either way it was a monolith and it spanned further than I realised. I kept on looking around until I found a large carriage attached to the rails above so it could go over the city and reach its destination. It served as a taxi in the city though you can catch actual taxis if you wanted to.
There was some kind of vendor with a robotic man attached to it which handed out the tickets when people placed one piece of ore in its slot as payment to ride the rails. This served as a problem as I had no ores or minerals to pay this machine.
So I did what one usually does when they need some quick cheap money, they search and scour the ground to see if anyone dropped anything. I did find a rock in a sewer vent which I picked up carefully so no one looked at me and thought I was crazy.
“Welcome to the Equator Metro Railway Line, been the best source of transport in the city since it was first built. Please one ore as payment and enjoy your trip!” said the Ticket Machine.
I stared at this thing before placing my rock in its slot and climbing the stairs to get the carriage. The carriage itself harked back to somewhere in the 1800’s of royalty. It looked like something so ancient yet so futuristic, underneath it was an ever growing maze of clinking cogs that moved and clunked with the energy that drove this thing. The carriage itself was laid with gold linings but the inside had walls made of red velvet, a black carpet and linings of gold.
I took a seat as the carriage started going along the rails, the sound of banging and clinking filling my ears along with that classical music that reminded me of home. This place was further ahead of its time than the surface world yet on the inside it was still in the same year as us. It just had better technology, that’s all.
I looked at the overhead view of the city as the carriage went past monolith buildings that went as high as the dome itself. I looked outside the dome to see four large tower or pillar like structures that went to the rocky roof high above us. Electricity flowed through large wires that went along the burning ground and to the dome.
I figured that those towers were the dome’s power source and I was certain that some people had to leave the city to reach those towers. I still think that there was a way out; I just couldn’t see it yet. As a looked carefully at this city I realised one thing, these people weren’t truly free, they were all trapped in a giant fishbowl and now so was I.
At every station stop more and more people left until no one but me and some girl in a bright red dress with dark blonde hair and bright blue eyes who sat behind me. As the carriage started moving towards my district the girl moved and sat next to me, smiling at me.
“You know I’ve never seen a Russian here in Equator before, you’re new here aren’t you?” asked the girl.
“How do you know I’m Russian?” I replied.
“Simple, it’s got something to do with your rough accent, eyes and the clothes you wear; nobody wears those clothes in America or speaks like that.”
“You’re a keen looker, so you’re from America, how did you reach this place?”
“I was only a young girl when I first came here; my family and I were smuggled into the city undetected. The guards killed my family for committing a criminal act but my mother bought me an ID before we arrived meaning that I could be a citizen in Equator. My mum died so I could live and here I am twenty years later living the high life as a professional actress.”
“Ah, I’m sorry to hear that, I’m sure you miss them very much.”
“Yes I do but I try not to remember it so much, gives me nightmares at night. So what’s your story, why are you here?”
“Well there’s not much of a story to tell, just a guy come to do a job in a strange city.”
“Oh come on there must be more to it than that, what’s your job?”
“Can’t tell you that miss, it would break my code of silence.”
She stared at me with those piercing blue eyes of hers. I swore that if you stared close enough into them you could see the living embodiment of the ocean and its crashing waves moving in her eyes. She smiled and clicked her fingers as a small robot on wheels wearing a bowtie appeared and took out a bottle of Champaign.
“Would you like a glass?” she asked me.
“I would actually if it’s not too different from the surface Champaign” I replied.
“Don’t worry it taste exactly the same, by the way this is my butler Winslow, as you can see he is a bit…mechanical.”
The alcohol was poured into a crystal wine glass that sparkled in the dim lighting of the carriage. I took the glass from her warm hands and took a sip of the cold, endearing bubbly drink which immediately tasted better than the surface Champaign.
“Its good stuff” I said.
“It is indeed, after drinking this you cannot go back to the surface stuff in my opinion” she said.
The radio station news had ended; I didn’t listen to it for there was nothing interesting in there. The music had switched to “Somewhere over the Rainbow” a song which I remember was from the Wizard of Oz, what a fitting song to such a strange place.
“So where does a pretty young lady like you live in such a vast city, the rich district I assume?” I asked her.
She chuckled subtly before replying with “do you assume just because I am wearing a fancy red dress and make-up that I come from that district?”
“Oh no I just thought…”
“Don’t stress yourself I’m just playing with you but no I don’t live there, I come from Atlas.”
" Atlas? I thought the president and his guard were the only ones allowed there?”
“I think you forgot his family, no when I got here I was adopted into the royal family because I resembled his late daughter, Isabelle. I am now the daughter and essentially heir to the throne after his wife, Felicity Weathers dies.”
“So your Kale Weather’s daughter? Wow you lucky duck.”
“I do think that sometimes I was picked out of some kind of royal lottery out of all the other people in the world to be his daughter. I am thankful for his kind charity though but I wish he wasn’t so protective over me all the time I mean I am an adult after all, I don’t need to be suffocated.”
“Parents, what are you going to do?”
“Tell me about it.”
The carriage came to a stop the song ended as I looked at the sign which said “Equator Life” and immediately got up and put my hat back on. “Well sorry miss but this is my stop, safe trip and hope to see you again some time” I said.
“Glad we could talk by the way I don’t remember giving you my name, I’m Sarah Weathers what’s your name?” asked Sarah.
“Well Sarah, a beautiful name for a beautiful and elegant woman, the name’s James Forester, pleased to make your acquaintance” I replied as I left the carriage and the door shut closed behind me. I saw Sarah walk up to the door as the carriage left, smiling and shaking her head. I think I made an impression, too bad I wasn’t here to make friends for I had to kill her adoptive father very soon.
Equator Life was well fitted to the Business and Living district simply because the two mixed together just like the title said. All along the streets were people bustling down the road carrying papers to other business, papers flew past me like leaves as thousands of dropped papers littered the concrete roads. Banks, banks and more banks lined most of the buildings here. Apartments, houses and even mansions arose out of the business areas to create the living.
However as I continued down the road to try and find my apartment building I saw that the bustling had stopped and bells were ringing. People started running and screaming around me as I tried to see what was going on in all of the chaos. A man pushed past the crowd and ran towards me.
Thinking he was a crook by the look on his face and by the gun in his hand I immediately tripped the man as he pushed past me. He rolled across the ground screaming as he attempted to scramble back up on his feet.
The crowd formed a large circle around the scene that was playing before them, staring with their beady and somewhat insidious eyes just waiting for what was going to happen next with anticipation. I looked closely past the man he got back on his feet and saw the air shift and distort.
The air exploded and I was almost pushed back by its force. It took the man off guard and he fell backwards, his eyes wide and full of terror. I saw something that was neither human nor machine, something that struck fear in me even though I wasn’t scared. I couldn’t explain this feeling but I instantly knew what its was; a Hunter.
The creature was wearing a think black cloak that covered its body and a hood to cover its face. It had four large black wings on its back and held a scythe in one hand and some sort of gun in the other. Its hands were the only part of the body not covered up but from what I saw it wasn’t human for they were ash coloured and skeletal in way.
“Please I didn’t do anything, please just let me go I’ve learned my lesson, I’ve learned my lesson” cried the man on his knees.
“You have broken the sacred rules of this city. You have broken the peace of this city, you have committed a vile act and raped a young girl and ruined her innocence. We do not want to be constrained by what polluted the minds of mankind on the surface world here. This is a place of new beginnings and we will have none of your kind here” said the Hunter in a deep, sinister voice.
“Wait, please, can you just send me to jail, I beg of you, there are laws.”
“The surface laws were weak, they gave pity to the ones who broke the peace. We are not weak but strong, the law says that jail is only for those who simply hit a woman not rape her. Jail is for those who steal an apple not the people’s money and jail is for those who start a pointless fight not take someone else’s. The punishment for these crimes is fifty years jail or life imprisonment, the punishment for rape is death.”
“No please, I beg of you, please just give me life imprisonment, please!”
“I thought you would be happy would you not? Jail is a soulless place of endless pain and suffering. It’s a hellhole for sinful souls, why would you want to spend eternity there when I can simply lift your soul from this world and take you to hell myself? No you deserve nothing more but death!”
The man attempted to beg once more but as he was doing so the Hunter threw his scythe at the man as it cut straight through his heart. He then proceeded to fire his gun which shot out some strange beam of energy at the man’s head causing it to explode. Just like a boomerang the scythe came back afterwards, going through the man’s chest once again and going back to the Hunter’s hand bring a sliced open heart with it.
I watched as blood poured forth from the wounds and the dead lifeless body fall onto the ground turning it from a distant shade of grey to a crimson, sickening red which ran across the ground, a pool spanning over thirty centimetres until it stopped.
I looked at the Hunter as he wiped off his scythe and walked over to the body before lighting it on fire. “Will you stop it, he’s dead already, how much more dead can you make him?” I blurted out as everyone’s hearts stopped beating.
The Hunter turned to face me before the air around him started to distort again. “I have to dispose of the body to make sure not a single speck of him remains, only then can he be sent to Limbo for punishment and sentencing to see whether he can be redeemed for Heaven or suffer in Hell” said the Hunter.
With that said the body turned to ash and the Hunter waved his scythe over the pile which immediately made the ash move around towards the scythe and become absorbed by it. It glowed a perfect shade of blue before receding into darkness and the Hunter vanished just like that.
In an instant the citizens returned to their daily routine and continued on with their lives like nothing happened. There’s always a problem with eternal peace, it makes people more despicable and disgusting. Nobody cares about lives, everyone makes mistakes, sure his one was major but he could have changed if given an opportunity. In this world there is no second chance, mistakes are now faults and if there are faults in a peaceful society then they would be dealt with.
These lives were worthless to them and that meant that the people around me wouldn’t care about there own family, friends or the ones they love because of their faults. This city only cared about one thing; perfection. I kept on walking until I found Rosie’s Corner, a tall silver building with a large lavish red door and the name of the building lit up in a large, elaborate neon sign.
But as I entered it the whole building was exactly the same as apartment buildings from home, small, delicate and somewhat run down yet with a sense of rich design. The walls were rose pink and the carpet was just simple grey carpet that people usually have at home.
I saw a lady at the counter who smiled at me as I walked towards her. Her hair was chestnut brown; she had dark skin and hazel eyes to match her dark complexion. “So you must be Rosie” I said to her.
“Yes I’m Rosie, Rosie LeBlanc and you must be new guy in town that Fredrick told me about. I know that you already have your keys and you don’t need to pay me the first week until you have money yourself. Your apartment has been arranged so it’s right at the top with a great view of the district” said Rosie.
“Thank you, you’re the second person today that has actually made me feel a bit welcome here.”
“Don’t get used to it because it’s not going to be like that here. Oh and by the way you might not get any sleep tonight as the parades are going on and it will get pretty loud so just prepare yourself.”
I nodded my head before taking an elevator up to the top floor and entering my apartment room, room 127. The room itself was dark and shaded with the curtains closed letting in only some light before I turned on the lights myself. The room had a kitchen, one bedroom, a bathroom, a lounge room; two TV’s which were both quite wide and sleeker than the surface TV’s.
I turned on the TV in the bedroom as I headed for the shower to clean myself off and try and get my head together so I can be prepared for tomorrow. After having a shower. I put on some fresh clothes and just as I was going to have dinner I heard loud banging, fireworks and trumpets pounding against the building.
After opening the curtains I was exposed to a flash of colours as men marched across the streets playing trumpets, some girls performed tricks and did back flips across the streets. Large, elaborate floats followed closely behind them detailing the events of Equator in a sort of diorama form. I didn’t fully understand it all but I saw fire twirling and juggling along with contortions and fireworks.
All of the colours painted the dark canvas laid out before me showing me an interesting picture. The city was celebrating but for what reason I wondered. I kept watching the TV for answers until a news reporter came reporting from another parade in another district stating that the parades for the New Year have started. He then stated that tomorrow was New Years Eve and the people of Equator would be graced by a public appearance and countdown by Kale Weathers.
At night, the countdown to the New Year, a celebration and the perfect cover for an assassination. This was perfect and all I had to do was get to Atlas on the night and kill him during that countdown. I turned off the TV and went to bed, I had to recover from all of this and regain my energy. For tomorrow I will change Equator forever and assassinate Kale Weathers in front of the entire city.
I closed my eyes, slowed my breathing and slipped away into darkness.