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Original Sin - Preview

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Prologue

 

   The man sat motionless in the dark office, his posture perfect.  The far wall was made entirely of glass, and he looked down onto the night-time cityscape; from the ninety-seventh floor, the only view to be seen was below him.  In a city this large, the stars were always invisible.

   The monotonous click of a grandfather clock echoed as predominately through the stately office as it did in his mind.

   Tick.  Tick.  Tick.

   Each moment the timepiece tolled was weighted with tension and potential.   The man was waiting.  He was practised at waiting.  Not the lazy, hopeful waiting of a person who dreams of a day when the world will be offered to them on a plate.  He was like the spider waiting, a creature who’d mapped, laboured and manipulated, and now waited to reap the rewards of his endeavours.

   From his view above the world, the Earth was a carpet of lights that sparkled like jewels within a golden miasma of electronic luminescence.  The dirt and drudgery of real life was hidden in the sporadic pockets of darkness where the glow failed to dispel the night.  From his vantage point, the world looked only beautiful, but he knew the façade was a lie; a superficial mask that hid the true nature of life and the real world.

   As if a statue, he sat rigidly in the expensive leather Chesterfield.  Everything in the office was expensive and elegant.  Only his intense blue eyes and the rhythmic tap of his right index finger - synced perfectly with the heavy beat of the clock - showed any sign he was alive.  The clock ticked.  His finger tapped.  He watched.  And he waited.

   The hypnotic pattern was broken when the hourly musical chimes overrode the beat of the swinging pendulum and marked the end of yet another increment of time.  The chiming chords jarred him from his brooding thoughts and brought him back to the present moment, and the room in which he sat.  He stood and moved around the office, frustrated he could not attain the calm and mental control he had been trained to, and to which he was accustomed.  He ran through the countless possibilities in his mind and reassured himself there was a contingency plan for every outcome.  He had missed nothing, but still the uncertainty gnawed at him.  To be so close now, after so long, seemed almost surreal.  Within days, his life’s work, his passion, would be realised.

   The man was tall and lean; physically imposing.  He had an athlete’s body with the grace and movement of a dancer.  His hair was dark and long - unusually so, compared to the usual business types who inhabited his building - and although he wore it out, just above the shoulder, nothing about him looked ragged or unkempt.  His suit was a woollen three-piece work of art from Savile Row and his shoes were equally expensive and bespoke.  He was a man dressed perfectly for the office in which he stood, or perhaps the office was adorned perfectly to suit the man who stood in it.

   Despite the obvious care taken with the image he and the room portrayed, he was not a man who cared for superficial things.  The twin guises of wealth and status he wore meant nothing to him, except as useful tools he could wield to realise his mission, and the one thing he needed most to achieve it: access.

   A soft knock at the door announced the arrival of an associate. He turned to face the door and leaned back against the mahogany desk.  His posture was one of indifference, but his held breath betrayed his anxiety, and his blue eyes flashed with anticipation.  With no discernible gesture of permission or audible cue, the associate nevertheless seemed to anticipate one, and entered the darkened room.  The glow from the city was enough for both men to see each other clearly.

   The visitor was similarly tall, but blonde, and as physically imposing as the man he had come to see, although he lacked the magnetism and force of presence the other possessed.  He was clearly the subordinate in this dynamic.

   “The files will be arriving shortly.  The physical files,” he elaborated.  “They were never converted when the Department switched to digital.”

   “Hence the delay?” the man offered.

   The fair-headed man before him nodded.  

   He smiled thinly.  The digital age was still relatively new, but even he had come to prefer and depend upon the immediacy of electronic data.  In recent years, it had gotten him closer to his goal than most of his lifetime’s work before it. The delay in sourcing these physical reports weighed heavily on his patience. 

   He had waited so long.

   “Report back the moment you’ve located her,” he ordered.

   The subordinate nodded his head and left the room, leaving the man alone again with his thoughts and the heavy ticking of the clock as it continued its endless counting of the passage of time.