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THE OPUS - PART VI
Winsor and Carter awoke to the sound of their own screams. They had both been strapped into what appeared to be dentist-like chairs. In a pitch black room with nothing but a bright white screen in front of them, it started to feel like something out of A Clockwork Orange.
"What's going on Carter? What happened? Where the hell are we?"
"I-I Don't know, the last thing I remember was trying to stop you from being stuck with that awful needle, but they overpowered me. The fuckers!"
"Leonard, the old deceiving bastard, I knew he couldn't be trusted. It's a trap I tell you."
"He's been lying to us from the fucking beginning. The old twat!"
"How the hell do we get out of these chairs!"
"No idea, these straps are pretty tight."
"What the fuck is that in front of us? It's like we're in the cinema or something."
"Pearl and Dean... baba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-baaa!"
"Yeah it'd be funny if Batman came on or like a weird message."
Suddenly, the sound of crisp static crackled through the air and the white screen flickered into life. A strange old-fashioned voice seemed to talk from out of nowhere:
A LONG TIME AGO
I, HENRIQUE PINTO STUMBLED UPON A MIRACLE.
THE STRANGEST THING HAPPENED...
NOTHING COULD EXPLAIN THE EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE.
OR WHY THEY OCCURED.
BUT I WAS A BELIEVER...
I BELIEVED IN FATE, CHANCE AND DESTINY.
ONCE A SLAVE...
THAT WOKE UP IN A CAVE
I WAS NO LONGER IN THE SAME PLACE.
FROM DIARIES LEFT BEHIND
I ALLOWED MY MIND
AND THUS THE OPUS WAS BORN.
I WILL EVENTUALLY DIE BUT HOPEFULLY NOT IN VAIN
I WILL LEAVE WHAT I HAVE LEFT TO THOSE THAT ARE LEFT
AND THEY CAN SET ABOUT FINISHING WHEN I DEPART
BY GOING BACK TO WHERE IT ALL STARTED
THE FORAMEN MAGNUM.
I NEVER POSSESSED THE COURAGE TO RETURN
Winsor and Carter turned and looked at each other's faces. A look of shared bewilderment at what they had just seen and heard. Neither of them spoke for a few seconds and then, they both broke into a confused fit of laughter. The video felt like some kind of practical joke to scare them.
"What the fuck?! What was that all about?" Winsor couldn't say his words without laughing.
"I don't know!" Carter laughed some more.
"Did you take any of that shit in?"
"Yeah, some of it. Not sure what it means though. Something about a man called Pinto creating something called The Opus."
"The Opus, that's what Leonard was telling us about earlier, right before we started watching that other strange video, right before we were knocked out and strapped into these fucking chairs."
"You worry too much brother. Listen, it makes more sense now. They didn't knock us out and put us here because we are their enemy. They put us here to tell us something, to calm us down."
"Yeah, well why didn't they just say calm down instead of putting needles in us!"
"Because you were yelling and interrupting the video."
"That's ludicrous. They don't even have a pause button?"
"Don't be so disrespectful man. Anyway, I don't think it works like that. Leonard was telling me that the Samaritans have been waiting a long time to watch this video. The last thing they need is two kids causing a bloody riot."
"But my body just reacted. I recognised the man who was standing beside the projection screen, he's our school teacher Carter! Did you not notice him?"
"Yeah, I did... But only after you started yelling 'he's a teacher at my school!' like some stupid idiot. So he's our teacher, big deal, we find out he's a member of some secret cult called The Opus, big deal. We've had nothing but revelations and mysteries since we were stood at the bus station waiting to be killed by imaginary female snipers. So Mr. Miller the Geography teacher extraordinaire being some kind of secret robed and hooded assassin slash Templar guy doesn't surprise me one bit."
"But Leonard said we weren't a cult. He's a liar, he lies about everything."
"Yeah, but do you ever ask yourself why he's lying? To protect us."
"To protect his own interests more like. We're just a couple of suckers who got sucked into this whole charade. It sucks!"
"I think it's quite exciting and liberating, life up there... in Blackburn, it was boring. We weren't really free were we? We weren't being taught real history, our lives were just small and meaningless. Playing Call of Duty, the same news, the same TV junk. People up there are in the dark, while a whole underground network fight for some kind of supremacy or justice. I don't know yet."
"Probably supremacy, human beings tend not to have everyone's best interests at heart."
"That's a very dangerous and ignorant thing to assume brother. Good and bad is inherent in all of mankind. Even the most evil have done something good at one point in their lives."
"We have already conquered nature, so why start trying to conquer each other? Aren't we supposed to be one race."
"In order to achieve a goal, there has to be both leaders and followers. Without hierarchy, this whole cookie system could crumble man."
"Its bullshit, all of us. We all die in the end, whatever we have set out to do, wasted. All this death, decay and destruction, and for what? To die out. What actually is the end game?"
"The end game is unity. Total and utter unification, to put it bluntly, henosis."
"Henosis, it simply means oneness."
"Yeah, but where the hell did you learn it?"
"When I was reading about Neoplatoism."
"And the purpose?"
"Theurgy. Every single one of us dedicating our lives to improve the created world, to connect with the created world and most important of all, achieving total unity amongst mankind. Pinto's Magnum Opus. Our People United in Salvation. All as one.
"I still don't understand. How do you suddenly know all this stuff?"
"I read a lot. There is little compassion in this world. If only you could even begin to comprehend the scale, fighting, and more fighting. The human being is truly a horrifying and compassionless creature. It doesn't matter how old or innocent you are, there will always be someone out there to get you. It doesn't matter how well protected or wrapped up in cotton wool you are, there will always be someone out there to get you. People will kill you without rhyme or reason. The end game my friend."
"But life is not a game!"
"Yet everybody insists on playing it. Is Call of Duty a game? Or a training exercise? Would millions of people rather play a game where you run around shooting everyone in the head until they bleed out, or would they rather play a game where they look after each other and try to achieve total unification and perfection on this planet?"
"They'd rather shoot people to death."
"Of course they would. History proves that. But what if we could achieve world unity?"
"That's crazy talk. How the hell can we dictate the actions of over seven billion inhabitants?"
"You only have to convince a few, then the rest follow. It's always been the human way, like a big domino effect."
"How about convincing Leonard to let us out of these fucking chairs! This strap is digging right into my hip man."
"No problem, just press the clip in under the seat."
"The clip-what? How did you know that was there?"
"I used my sixth sense. remember we are free now, we're not cooked up in our skinner box no more. We have the ability to change things. Even if we are sat in the dark."
"How do we change things?"
"By thinking outside the box. Just think of how much of our lives we have wasted, day after day, doing nothing but kill time. But in time, time is going to kill us. That is when we're going to have to ask ourselves a little question... like was it all worth it?"
"Was what worth it?"
"We've done lots of meaningful things."
"We started our own band, we've done things for charity, there was that time when I rescued Matt's dog when it was stuck on that shed roof. See, we have made a difference."
Sigh... "Why do I get the feeling that I haven't lived Winsor, like I've achieved nothing. There has to be some reason why this has happened to us, why we're sitting here listening to a man who keeps going on and on about connects and the bloody foramen magnum! Fuck knows what that is!"
"It's probably just some gigantic scam, from a man who had nothing better to do than make a home-made video because his life was more meaningless than ours! It's like you know what, I'm feeling bored and insignificant... I know what I'll do, I'll invent some kind of weird conspiracy and fool other people into believing that it exists, because that's how I get my fucking kicks!"
"No-No. Nah... I just don't buy it. Henrique Pinto can't be joking around here. Just look at this place we're in, it's like a 10th wonder of the world for goodness sake. All these notes he left behind, there are just too many of them for him to just be playing some kind of practical joke."
"So what do you think it's all about then? Why do we exist Mr smart guy?"
"That is what we have to discover for ourselves. We'll know the exact reason why we were born, some people are born into slavery, others into freedom. It's just the way our world rolls."
"Now I'm going to ask you a question. Are you a slave? or are you a leader brother?"
"I'm your second in command... brother."
"Nah, we're equals."
Winsor and Carter both gave each a knowing smile and nodded.
"Okay then brother, now let's get the hell out of here."
SOME TIME LATER
Carter had been tasked with calming his brother down. A deliberate ploy in which an unconscious Winsor was carried to the small viewing room. Carter had feigned a similar fate by strapping himself into one of the chairs. This scenario had been arranged by Leonard and the older and wiser of the two brothers had agreed to play along with the scam.
Eventually they had cut loose from the chairs and made their way through the exit door and found themselves back in the main hall along with Leonard and several of the Samaritans.
"Ah, so you two found your way back easily enough!" Leonard started to laugh almost uncontrollably, knowing that Carter was in on the joke.
"It's okay Leonard, I've managed to calm him down just like you told me to. He was just a bit shocked at seeing Eyal. So was I to be honest. It's not everyday you find out your school teacher is a part of some secret underground... cult."
"I told you Carter, we're not a cult. I don't ever want us mentioning in the same breath as a cult. We don't believe in any God, we don't have a sole leader. We are all as one down here, there is nobody jockeying for position, neither is there anybody interested in giving orders. We are unified in our goal to bring salvation to the world. There is no hidden agenda, what you see is what you get."
"I'm sorry Len, I'm just so used to reading about cults."
"Don't worry about it. Very soon, our intentions will speak for themselves."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"It means that Matt and his team have found another connect, the second one!"
Winsor butted in, "Connect? What is he on about connect?"
"Yeah Len, what's a Connect?"
"I can explain on the way there. I think it's important you see this one for yourself. It'll also give you a chance to ingratiate yourself into the expedition team that we have."
"Just what the hell is going on down here?"
No time. Right, Winsor, you're going to head into that stockroom just there on the other side of the room. You're going to break the ice with Eyal and stay nice and calm as he is going to equip you, don't pester him with trivial questions. Just stand there, listen carefully, he's going to give you a little bit of basic training, then when you're ready, you'll get a gun."
"Fuck me, a gun! I'm not killing anyone!"
"Listen Winsor, we need to protect ourselves and believe me, the firepower is necessary."
"So what is it then old man? Is this anything to do with the Magnum thingy and Pinto? Are you telling me he travelled through time or something stupid like that? Why are we fighting a dead man's battles Leonard?"
"Because nobody else will. If the Foramen Magnum had not existed, neither would we."
"We know he wasn't lying about the Foramen Magnum because we have already located it. That much we do know for certain. But the approach is a bit tricky."
"The Foramen Magnum? What's that? Some kind of gun?"
"Ha! Winsor!" Leonard giggles some more. "You crack me up sometimes boy! Well all the time really!"
"Listen boy. I'm going to go one better than telling you what the Foramen Magnum is, I'm going to take you directly to it. But first, I want you to meet up with Eyal, he's going to tool you up."
"Tool me up?"
"Of course, guns, armour, more guns... more armour. Where we are going, we are going to need the extra firepower like I said. This is not a safe expedition we are travelling on."
"But I thought you said we were men of peace and harmony!"
"We are Winsor. And if we're not attacked we wont need to use a single bullet. But let them fire as much as a single shot at us... just one measly shot, and I promise you right now, it will be the last living action they ever perform as human beings. However, it is important that they fire the first shot because we wont shoot until they do."
"What about Carter? Why doesn't he have to come with me to get tooled up?"
"I need him, he's going to help me with a couple of things first, then I will make sure he and I are both well equipped for our journey ahead. This is the way that things have to be done, and I know you haven't known me for very long, but you just have to trust me. All will make sense when we get to where we're going."
"Hey! What about all this stuff on the table? These books and diaries?"
"That's what Pinto left behind, quite a lot eh? But I don't expect you to understand any of it just yet Winsor. Lots of stuff about wormholes, canals, tunnels and connects. talks about a convenient accident taking place."
"Who the hell was this Pinto guy Leonard? Has he been dead thousands of years?"
"Pinto hasn't been dead for thousands of years. Only years."
"But the video said 13 hundred and something."
"Yes, that's right, he was born in the 1300s."
"So Pinto is immortal?"
"Obviously not silly, if he's dead now."
"But why leave all these mysteries behind?"
"For other people to solve them, and finish what he couldn't. He was somewhat of an enigma you see."
"Okay, let's not waste any more time. Winsor, head for the storage room, I've already instructed Eyal to brief you. Carter, you'll come with me. I need you to help me pack the climbing equipment. Don't worry Winsor, when we have finished, we will come back and collect you, meet in here, then we will set off and rendezvous with Matt and his team. One more thing Winsor, Eyal will give you your own walkie talkie, these are very important for where we are heading as there is a very realistic possibility that we could all get separated. Some of these cave foundations are a little weary."
"Okay Len got it. I guess I'll see you guys later. Make sure you don't leave me behind."
"We wont. Don't worry we're brothers, and brothers stick by each other."
Winsor and Carter gave each other a little manly hug and handshake, then parted ways as Winsor headed for the weapon storage room, while Carter and Leonard headed in the complete opposite direction towards a small office-like room.
Carter looked a little concerned about separating from his brother, but Leonard quickly reassured him, "Don't worry about him, this will do him some good, he needs to discover his independence, you on the other hand have matured much quicker, you have started to take things onboard very quickly, which is why I wanted to break the bad news to you first."
"It concerns your foster mother... Alison."
"What about Alison?"
"I'm sorry boy, she was... she was... just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"What are you saying?! No! No! No! Don't tell me she's...!"
"I'm so sorry boy, I can confirm it happened only a few hours ago. She was in the house and then heard a disturbance out back, she went out to investigate and was... sniped... by one of them."
"Fuck no! By one of who? Who did this!!"
"The Red Army."
"The Red Army? The Red fucking Army? Who the fuck are the Red Army?!"
"Call of Duty is not as much fun now is it? When it's happening in real life."
"You didn't answer my question Leonard, who are the Red Army? They can't just go in ordinary neighbourhoods and murder people? How have they got away without being seen?!"
"They're snipers boy, it's what they do, stealth kills. Although, we do get our information pretty quickly. We have it on good grounds that the person responsible for this execution is none other than Lyudmila Pavlichenko herself."
"Yeah...Who? You say that like I'm supposed to know who the fuck you're talking about!"
"It'll only confuse you more when I tell you that she died about 38 years ago."
"So let me get this straight, my foster Mum has just been murdered by a dead woman who has been technically dead for 38 years?"
"That is correct."
"Pardon me Len if I cannot properly digest what you are telling me. Hmm! Ludicrous comes to mind."
"I thought you were a believer Carter? I'm asking you boy, to trust me, this is the absolute truth. You can either believe it now, or I can take you to the Foramen Magnum and you can believe it later. Either way you're going to have to accept the truth of the situation."
"The female snipers on the roof near the bus station? Were they Red Army too?"
"Yes. And had I not stopped you from catching the bus home, you and Winsor would have joined Alison, it would have been all three of you that got the bullet."
"But who are the Red Army and why are they after us all of a sudden?!"
"This isn't something that has just happened all of a sudden. This has been going on for a number of years. It's actually me that the Red Army want, and in order to get to me, in order to break me, they'll try and kill everyone around me. They are cold-blooded killers, they don't give a damn who gets hurt, they would put a hole in your head, no problem... bang! with a smile on their faces. Ruthless sadists. Russian sadists. The atrocities, that's why we need guns. Because we sure as hell don't want to get captured."
"Yes, and I'm not in the mood to get mutilated by already dead members of the Red Army."
"You said that the Red Army kill everyone that's close to you? So why me and Winsor huh? Why come after us? You're just a stranger to us."
Leonard suddenly paused and became more serious in tone as he spoke, "Carter. Stop for just a second and look at yourself. Have you still not noticed the resemblance between us? Do you think it was just an accident that I was on that bus shelter on the same night you were? You have no idea boy." Leonard started to well up and began to lose the grip on his emotions, "All these years... I've wanted to tell you, to make contact and tell you the truth. But I couldn't do it without putting both of your lives in danger... You have to understand, that what I did, it was for the best, your safety and comfort was paramount to me. I had to protect you both from the truth, and from danger, but recently, they finally discovered that I had two children and used it against me. It was then when I knew I had to act, I had to intercept you both and drag you into my world. I'm so sorry Carter I really am. I had no choice!"
"All these years... Over and over again, I was told my Dad abandoned me, and all this time, you were right underneath my feet playing Battleships with the whole fucking world!"
"I'm truly sorry Carter. You have to understand that it was impossible to raise you, the world I was in was much too dangerous to involve either of you. I did abandon you both, and the only saving grace was that you had a wonderful foster mother in Alison, she raised you so well, in a safe loving environment. I never wanted to endanger either of you by putting you both into the line of fire."
"She was there when you weren't. And what about my real Mum? What happened to her?"
"We separated. It was another sacrifice I had to make. We both had to make."
"Where is she now?"
"Close. I can feel her. If it's the last thing I do, I will reunite you with your real mother. She would be proud to hear the big strong boy that you have become. And Winsor."
"What do you mean hear?"
"Your mother is blind Carter. Blind but beautiful as anything you have ever seen. I know she was heartbroken when she had to abandon you both. She felt suicidal."
"Now you've told me, but not Winsor, this is going to kill him, he wont handle all this news."
"Which is precisely why I had to tell you first, you are stronger than Winsor, and I need you to be even stronger when we do finally explain this whole sorry mess to him too. Together."
"Why? Are you too much of a coward to do it alone?"
"No. He'll accept it quicker coming from us both, he trusts you and depends on you. If I tell him, he could start throwing his weight around again, and we just don't need that right now. We have too much to deal with already. As cold and as callous as it may seem, we have to move on Carter. We need to do this, let's do it for Alison."
"I'll tell him Leonard, tell him when the time is right."
"Good boy Carter, I knew I could depend on my little warrior to stay strong."
"Oh nothing... Come on boy, let's go and pack these rucksacks. There is a lot of equipment to gather together. Matt has sent me a list."
"What do we need all this stuff for?"
"Please stop asking too many questions, go with your instincts boy. This is always a time and place to sit and explain things, but right now we have an expedition to prepare, and it might be very dangerous, but it is also very necessary and we have to do this. There is no other option. If the world wants it's peace and stability, then this is the only way."
"So the way to bring peace and stability is to go charging in, all guns blazing?"
Leonard just laughed.
"Sounds contradictory doesn't it? Fighting fire with fire, There are two types of people in this world, there are those who fight for peace and stability, and there are those that fight just for the pleasure of killing things. We are certainly not the latter. But we have to defend ourselves, we can't just go in empty handed and expect that they will do the same. If we do, they will take great pleasure in killing us. I don't know about you Carter, but I don't intend on leaving this world just yet. If we die, there will be nobody left who can continue the brilliant work of Henrique Pinto."
"Okay Leonard. I'm going to go with my instinct and trust you on this one." Leonard gave a knowing nod and smile, they had reached a mutual understanding.
"Now! Show me to the guns."
Leonard smiled some more.
SOME TIME LATER
Eyal, Leonard and the two brothers eventually reunited in the main hall. The four of them now looking more like a team of NATO soldiers. They were wearing black combat vests, and menacingly armed with MK23s. Standing together in front of the huge mural on the wall.
"World peace you say Len?"
"Absolutely boy, Everybody pulling in the same direction... as one."
"Okay, I trust you. Now what?"
"Vinicius! Light the way Vinicius!" Leonard began to mutter over and over, speaking what sounded like a verse in front of the giant bird.
For a split second nothing at all happened, but then something truly wondrous began to take place. The giant wall mural of the Macaw started to elevate upwards with a weary scraping sound. Inch by inch the mural was fed into the upper recess, until the staggering realisation finally dawned on Winsor and Carter that what they were actually looking at and had been looking at before was a crafty entrance.
For once, they were both speechless as the mural finally disappeared from view and what now lay in front of them appeared to be a heavily lit path into nothingness.
Leonard turned aside to face his three accomplices and coolly spoke.
"Okay guys, we go. It's time to find out what the hell it was that frightened Pinto so much."
As the four of them began walking into the darkness, Leonard began to mutter to himself again."
"They have filtered into every facet of our society, they control banks, schools, courtrooms, businesses, every form of resource, because they know if they control every resource that the people depend on and need, then they ultimately control the people. And that's dangerous. Without free will, we will never have a natural world, everything will be synthetic. Every inch of ourselves, taken."
"And what makes you think that a group of irrelevant nobodies like us can stop them?"
"Because... We have stumbled upon technology not yet afforded to them. For all their years of development, discovery and power they haven't got the one thing that we have found, and it's that one thing that we have which changes the odds of the game... drastically, in our favour."
In the darkest deepest recess of an underground cave.
"Have you contacted Leonard, Matthew?"
"Yes, he's on his way Andrew."
"Good. I'm telling you this is risky! Sending John up there without any safety equipment. Why can't we just wait for them to come with the harnesses and ropes?"
"Because he's already 70 foot up."
"He'll slip, those rocks look fucking lethal!"
"I wonder why this connect is different Andrew? First a bright light, now rainwater?"
Andrew didn't response, and the two of them raised their heads up and saw John as he heaved himself higher, the rain was now bouncing off him making it harder to both see and breathe. Then he shouted down to his team...
"Guys! My God! This is the most incredible thing I've ever seen! Guys!!" As he tried to tell to relay back to the team what he was seeing, and as he stretched his left hand upwards more to pull himself through the hole, a pop of electricity went right into him, throwing his body off the rocks and sent the screaming man spiralling 70 feet downwards to the ground, which he hit with a sickening thud.
To be continued...