The Peacemaker Incident
by George S. Karagiannis
After he got out of the Prominent Palace Complex, he sprinted for his parked car, not paying attention to the street first. He rushed to the driver’s seat, sighed and pressed his eyeballs with his fingers to alleviate the blood pressure from his head.
So Jay F. is a dummy, thought Aidan. And way stronger than I am. That explained a lot; the feeling of insecurity Jay F. was casting on Aidan subconsciously; the fact that Aidan was a cripple dummy, unable to pass through Jay F.’s barriers.
Outside, the pine trees were shaking like inverted pendulums, as the rough wind was hitting their tops. Their shadows seemed to be dancing in the moonlight, though only a few beams of moonlight had managed to cut through the opaque stream of clouds. Sporadic lightning gave a gothic perspective to the front of the buildings. Scattered thunder gave the feeling of an old-style horror movie with a serial killer closing in.
Aidan sensed the typical smell of tobacco in the air. He couldn’t be sure, as it had been quite long since he quit, but he could also outline tiny smoke rings trapped inside the car, fresh and recently blown.
“You can’t stop what’s coming, Mr. Reed,” a croaky voice with a clear English accent boomed from the back seat, and Aidan, startled, turned around to find out where it did come from. It was the first time he had been shocked by a sneak attack. The apparition of a man sat motionless but mostly emotionless, devoid of any sympathy towards his victim’s stunned state, expressing no interest to talk further.
“Who are you?” Aidan said in a fiery burst. His abrupt question posed no threat to the ghost, which continued playing the role of tranquility freak.
“Is this an answer that you really seek?” said the man, efficiently retaining a façade of dread and mystery.
“Who the hell are you?” Aidan only repeated.
“I’m the one that’ll give you answers, given you ask the proper questions.” The man kept to his riddle game, uncaring of the inconvenience he’d caused.
“Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my car?” Aidan persisted.
“I’m with the Agency, Mr. Reed. I’ve been sent to look into your whereabouts and file a report on your progress.”
“You have a very invasive approach in looking into the progress of other agents, Mr. Ghost,” Aidan said sarcastically.
“Oh, don’t I?”
Aidan eyed him with disgust. The rough rain kept abusing the windshield in the dead of night. “Is the CIA involved in the plan for the peacemaker’s assassination?” Aidan decided to receive the intrusion as an opportunity.
“Ahh, the peacemaker! Don’t you think there’s already too much war going on around his name? So much that no one can keep justifying the property any more?”
Aidan realized his comment was not far from the truth.
“I’m tempted to say this might equal a yes.”
“This Compostian individual has a big mouth, I guess. It’s very risky to jump to vague conclusions and link the whole core of an Agency to conspiracies.”
“Do tell,” Aidan grunted.
“Fair enough, Mr. Reed. The problem is that the Zotras will take him out anyway. You see, his majesty has worn off. This is one thing you can’t understand, Mr. Reed. We are all pawns in a nasty game here. Anyone can strike from any possible direction.
“Unfortunately, you only have one shield, and you have to decide which side to protect before learning which strike is the lethal one.” The man had started philosophizing with a tone of superiority. That was something Aidan detested.
“I love your metaphors,” Aidan interrupted, casting some irony.
“The Zotras have put all their efforts into creating a myth behind the peacemaker. The myth has turned to a legend. The legend is now instilled into the veins and hearts of every Zotran residing in Nosteria. And when you worship a mythical legend as an actual hero, you become very sensitive to his loss; you end up blinded and willing to sacrifice everything to punish the killer. Seems to be carefully planned from their side.”
“So they do have an agenda,” Aidan concluded.
“It’s far more complicated than that. The peacemaker has served his purpose. It’s all a matter of time before the Zotras wish to create an occasion to take his blood.”
“Are you implying the Zotras are planning to fool their own people then?”
“You will decide on that.”
Aidan hissed out multiple sighs after realizing the situation was a dead end. “Why was I assigned this investigation in the first place? It seems redundant to me.”
“The Agency should be politically correct in all its decisions. We had to take proper actions and send the most talented officer in preventing the potential crime. You know how it works; simply for the record.”
“So my whole investigation could serve as your smokescreen?”
“You did your part, Mr. Reed. No hard feelings.”
“You know what: I simply don’t get it. Up to this moment we kept trying to save a peace treaty no one seems to give a damn about. Is this treaty that dangerous?”
“Compared to what?” the man said. “Bubonic plague?” He then murmured. “Look, I think I’m done here, Mr. Reed. I’ll leave you off with a tiny piece of advice. Do not try, no matter what, to find an answer to the question that will keep haunting you from now on. I tried and it literally drove me crazy.”
“What’s the question?”
“Who’s the bad guy?”
* * *
Aidan threw the keys on the kitchen table and gulped down the last remnants of orange juice from the fridge, in one shot. He tossed the carton on the floor and loitered around trying to frame together all details of his investigation. Reflexively, he pushed the play button in the stereo. He couldn’t stand the frustration of being so dry of imagination. Jenna’s ambient compilation could be the perfect drug.
Understanding the true rationale behind emotions and motivations is indeed a difficult task. Even a telepath like me, a psychic that can scan through the people’s souls and minds and theoretically has an advantage over that, has utterly failed to predict correctly. Motivation, such a complicated thing...
He passed through all the tracks one by one until he reached “Illusions within ourselves.” This was the proper track for the time being. He so desperately needed that sound now. He so desperately wanted to live this illusion over and over again.
He sat by his computer screen. He visited his mailbox; there was one new message by an anonymous sender. It read, “Jay F. is down. Zotran sniper on the roof got caught and confessed. No need for further investigations. Your mission is accomplished. Successfully.”
It is extremely difficult when you try to debate and choose between two sides that both play a dirty war. It’s even harder trying to be a neutral observer, while watching the strings of war being pulled so ruthlessly and no one gives a damn about the innocent.
When you opt to be part of the game, you should always count on the possibility you may be the loser and the winner at the same time. Everything runs on a grey scale, spreading a colorless gradient between the two sides of black and white.
Aidan sighed and moved to the living room couch, embraced his pillow, got lost in his own maze, decided to stay there for a while. He ran his fingers across his belly skin to help him relax. He figured out it would be a perfect idea to get some sleep.
Nothing could be more real than a dream.
Would you like to know what I saw in his mind? I saw the peacemaker is a very tormented and confused personality; a depressive and catatonic being. He will end up committing suicide, and this is the opportunity everyone wants to seize.
Just look at the press conferences, Aidan; every time the camera zooms in his face, you can see it in his tired eyes. He can no longer be the peacemaker; he knows he can only be worshipped as a outdated hero. The peacemaker... there is much more weight in this title than he can handle anymore. And he is a very decent creature to push back.
Maybe this is what Jay F. Compostian had told him back when they talked. Or maybe this is what his dream is all about, just now.
Copyright © 2013 by George S. Karagiannis