Prologue: Midway Point
All was silent on Benson Street save for the rhythmic squealing of the rickety shopping cart as Old Roger steered it along, his head buried in his worn and shoddy coat. The sky had been grey all day, and the cold wind was making his aging joints ache. But in spite of having to deal with the dreadful weather, he deemed it to have been a successful day’s work; he happened upon many interesting items while rummaging around in the neighboring dumps and alleyways, many of which now filled his cart.
An overpass loomed up ahead as Old Roger advanced at a slow pace. Fellow vagabonds saluted him as he passed by, and he waved back with sincerity. He was a recognizable face in the Brooklyn area, especially among the homeless, as he had a knack for finding invaluable items for the harshness of life on the streets. They would often come to him to trade for food or clothing, much to Old Roger’s benefit; he was able to eke out a meager existence in this way, and it suited him just fine.
He turned his cart as the overpass came and descended the small, steep hill, struggling to keep control of his cart and his belongings as the load tried to pull him downwards. Once at the bottom, he pushed his cart beside a dirty looking mattress and settled down on it to rest his weary legs. The underside of the pass was his most recent dwelling place, one that he thought to be quite cozy, for it shielded him from the rain and the wind, and people seldom came down there to bother him.
Once he retrieved his strength, he got a fire going in the nearby rusted barrel and began to sort through his hoard of objects and trinkets. A pair of mismatched shoes, a portion of blue tarp, a half-empty bottle of shampoo; it was all excellent by a beggar’s standards. After he divided the lot into things he would trade and things he would keep, he rewarded himself by breaking out a bottle of whiskey and began to drink his all of his worries away.
Old Roger had been living on the streets of New York for many years. He was getting old now, his age showing in the grey hairs of his unkempt beard and long matted hair that seemed to grow from the edges of his bean hat. He only vaguely recalled his name; people have been calling him Old Roger for longer than he cared to remember. As the night went on and the liquor gradually took its soothing effects, he began to forget his loneliness and his past regrets in life.
He had a strong buzz going after the midway point of his bottle, and as he stared out into the distance, sitting on the ground with arms propped against the mattress, he had the vague sensation that something was moving in the air. He paid little attention at first, but soon the rippling of the air caught his drunken attention. A sudden gust of wind extinguished his fire. The buzzing noise swelled; his body rang with a nauseating vibration. Then a high pitched ring filled his ears, a painful sound that drowned out everything else, and as he sat still, paralyzed with fear, he began to see faint objects taking form. The ground began to crack beneath the fluttering shadows, now vague humanoid silhouettes that struggled to keep their shapes.
Then to Old Roger’s astonishment, four men dropped from thin air, crashing down on the earth with a thud as though they had been suddenly snapped into existence. The old man retreated back on his mattress in panic. The men, clad in beige long-coats and black tuques, appeared to be in pain, gasping heavily, as if the very air was poisonous. They fumbled in their coats, and took out syringes filled with a reddish liquid, which they promptly injected themselves with. They all appeared relieved after the shot, and they lingered on the ground for a moment before standing up with dazed expressions. One of them took out a cell phone and made a call while the others came to their senses.
“Alright, listen up”, said the cell phone man. “We’re heading out to the NWG outpost in the Westside. Our boys will be waiting for us there. Let’s take the H-Rods and get the hell out of here.”
They moved to pick up three small metal rods that stuck up from the ground, which were arranged in a triangular pattern around the area in which they stood. Those rods sure as hell weren’t there yesterday, Old Roger thought to himself. And as the unit began to move out, one of the four, a grim looking man who held a cigarette in his mouth, glanced over in the beggar’s direction, and halted. The others noticed, and they too stopped to look over where haggard Old Roger sat. The four men stared at the old man with menacing eyes.
Then the cell phone man walked forward, and reached in his long-coat, only to pull out a pistol; it was nothing like Old Roger had ever seen. It was very sleek, and had a peculiar, almost otherworldly design. The man stopped and aimed it directly in Old Roger’s direction. The wide-eyed vagabond stood up at the sight, arms outstretched in an effort to ward them off.
“Please, d-don't shoot me!" he pleaded. "Stay away from me!"
The man stood motionless, weapon at the ready, when his cigarette-smoking associate moved forward and put his hand on the aggressor’s shoulder.
“He ain’t worth the trouble, Mosley. I mean, who’s gonna believe some crazy-ass hobo anyway?”
John Mosley stood for another moment, staring intently with razor sharp eyes, before finally conceding, placing his pistol back in his coat. He left, and the others followed suit; they disappeared from sight as they passed beyond the hill, never to be seen again.
And as for Old Roger, he made sure to stay clear from that overpass for the rest of his days.
PULLING THE STRINGS
Part 1: The Arrival
A Fringe Fan Fiction Series by Omniscient_Jay