|HELLGATE by Steven Havelock|
Zac stood on the bridge, ready to throw himself from the top.
Two Weeks previously
Email from email@example.com
If you are reading this then I’m already dead. This is a failsafe email designed to be sent out I if I don’t log in for ten days.
They’ve finally done it, despite my objections and criticism of the dangers. They did it anyway.
The gates to hell have been opened and the Antichrist is on his way here! I know this sounds unbelievable but it is absolutely true.
Just then a message appeared across Zac’s screen and a loud beeping sounded.
INTRUDER ALERT!! INTRUDER ALERT!! INTRUDER ALERT!!
Zac pulled the plug on his computer. The machine died with a low whine.
One month previously
Zac was a hacker, not the best in the world but competent.
I’ve done it! I’ve broken into a top-secret government scientific research site! Just wait until the rest of the Earth Storm crew here about this!
Zac had hacked into the research facility and added himself to the facilities email contact list, of one of its most famous scientists.
One year previously
BEEEP!! BEEEP!! BEEEP!!
Zac opened his eyes and looked at the luminous green digital clock on the bedside table next to him.
Oh my God! Is that the time? I’m late!
Zac jumped out of bed, slipped on his shirt and jeans and was out of the door without so much as a drink of tea, never mind breakfast.
Five minutes later he was at the local mental health centre to have his injection of Risperidone.
On the buttocks, like always; slightly humiliating, but it did the trick.
The injection stopped the nightmares and psychotic delusions, if only for a short time. Without the meds, he’d been suicidal and psychotic as hell. He’d thought the secret service was after him. And yet he had committed no crime except that of a low-level hacker.
They surely can’t be after me for hacking into my ex-girlfriend’s computer. I erased all my tracks.
His ex was a sore point and he didn’t discuss it with anyone; not his friends and not his family—not that he had any family that he was on speaking terms with. He’d hacked into her computer and found out she had been cheating on him with a guy who worked at the local bank.
He had been livid when he found out and then he’d done it, hacked into his girlfriend’s uni database and changed her degree from a first to a third, but it hadn’t abated his rage. Next, he’d hacked into her driving file at the DVLA and given her 12 points on her license. She was no longer able to drive.
A smile spread across his normally serious face. Revenge is sweet.
Then the police found him standing on the bridge, ready to throw himself from the top.
It was a way out of the total nightmare his life had become. The nightmares were fresh and visceral, like nothing he had experienced ever before. So terrifying that he could barely think of them.
Fear!! Utter and total fear!! The kind of fear you get when you realise you are about to die.
The police had taken him to the local mental hospital and there he had spent several months slowly coming to terms with his demons.
I haven’t had a pleasant life, he thought. My mother died of cancer when I was eight and my dad had to give up work to look after me.
I know my dad always resented giving up work to look after her. Maybe that’s why he took the belt to me and made my life a misery. I endured the regular beatings until I was old enough to get out and run away...
He had found himself homeless and on the streets.
No place for a young 15-year-old boy to be.
He had met many people from all walks of life, from teachers who had cracked with the stress from their jobs, to lazy layabout bums who just sat and drank their worries away, day after day.
Many of the homeless he’d seen around him had succumbed to the lure of elicit and illegal drugs, to wash away their cares and pain.
I’m smarter than that.
He avoided taking the drugs, seeing what they’d done to their regular users, the women becoming working girls and the men burglars and muggers, most with criminal records longer than their arms.
Eventually... Eventually his case worker had managed to get him a flat.
For once I’m safe... safe and happy.
He had always had a keen interest in computers and computer games.
Now, I have my own place and my own computer!
His father had never let him play computer games and he remembered the pain he had felt when he’d seen the games in the shops or on the TV adds.
Eventually, he had the one thing he had wanted for so long; his own place and a computer and some the best games he could have ever hoped to play. He spent night after night on the computer, playing games to his heart’s content.
Just one problem, he thought. I’m never content. I play night after night and day after day and yet never get bored.
Then he’d come across a game that would change his life in a big way. The game was called ‘Hack.IT’; a game which taught people how to hack.
Six months down the line and he was an experienced, if new, hacker.
Then the nightmares started. Nightmares about demons and the Antichrist .
I’ve never told anyone of my nightmares... never... until now...
The occupational therapist’s name was Megan and he was hooked on her from the first moment he saw her. Her kind, compassionate manner touched something in Zac.
All I’ve ever known after my mum’s death is aggression and violence.
Slowly over the weeks he was in hospital Megan’s manner seduced him so totally and that he would do anything for her... anything... even tell her his deepest and personal fears.
“Mankind is blinkered and opening the door to hell, once that door is opened humanity is doomed!” he’d said to her one Wednesday afternoon in a private appointment.
Little did he know, she was recording everything he told her and writing it down in his medical notes. And then he’d told her something he had never told anyone else.
He’d told her about his hacking.
She hadn’t reacted, but later when he hacked into the mental health centre’s computers, he read she’d written he was ‘a dangerous risk’ to companies and government organisations due to his psychotic delusions of a secret society trying to bring the Antichrist to this world.
Email from firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the second failsafe email my computer has been programmed to send out.
The scientists have finally done the unthinkable. If you receive this email please spread the message as far and wide as possible.
The countdown timer has begun. They have opened the gate to hell and the Antichrist is on his way.
If you are receiving this message then I am already dead. So don’t try to look for me. I will be as brief as possible. The Antichrist ’s arrival on Earth is going to be around September 2017.
YOU MUST GET THE MESSAGE OUT!!
Close down the doorway to hell before it’s too late!!
Zac and the other two members of Earth Storm parked in the particle collider’s car park. They entered through a side entrance and headed for the toilets. Once there, they changed into white scientific overalls they had brought with them in their sports bags.
“There’s no going back!” said Zac to the other two.
Lisa, the youngest, looked deathly pale and frightened as hell. Then there was Marcus, a well-built dark-haired male who spent as much time on the rugby field as on his computer.
They had already studied the schematics of the building and knew exactly the location of the control room to the ‘Hell Gate’ as they had termed it.
Then they were there. At the main control room for the Hell Gate. As they entered, three scientists turned around in surprise which quickly turned to fear as Zac and his group pulled out guns.
I hope to hell they can’t tell that they’re replicas, thought Zac.
Within seconds the scientists who didn’t offer any resistance were tied up hands and feet by cable ties.
Zac saw the countdown timer on the computer screen on the far wall. They walked over and looked at the controls, which looked like complete gobbledygook. There were numbers next to more numbers which were next to more numbers.
“What the hell do we do now?” asked Marcus, just as stumped as Zac and Lisa.
Then the unthinkable happened. The facility’s alarm sounded.
“Oh my God!” said Lisa, white and terrified with fright. “They know we’re here!”
Marcus noticed something. “That piece of shit has got a mobile behind his back!”
Zac did the unthinkable.
There’s no way to disable the hell gate.
“We got to get out of here now!” Zac screamed.
One corner of the facility had CCTV screens, and he saw several people in black suits with guns heading their way. Zac turned and fled, not looking to see if the others were following.
That was one week ago. Lisa and Marcus hadn’t made it out alive. Zac had just reached their car in time, and, not waiting for the others, had sped away. He was grateful that Lisa had had the brains and sense to use a cloned license plate on their car.
Zac stood on the bridge looking down at his death. He glanced at the countdown timer on his watch. 1:35 until the arrived.
How could we have been so stupid? Three young kids thinking they could beat some of the best and smartest people in the world.
A police car down below. Don’t they realise their lives in approximately one minute are about to change forever? That they will have to kneel and bow to the Antichrist or face death?
He saw the seconds tick by, 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...
He stepped forward.
Steven Havelock’s books are available on Amazon.