A Rock and a Hard Place

Someone’s playing me, and whoever it is is managing to stay one step ahead of me all of the time. It’s not a position I’m used to; I’m supposed to be the God of Forethought!

“Police are investigating the death of a family of four discovered on the same day a man’s body was found at his home. The man, believed to be in his 50s, was found dead in his garage by local police who were tipped off by an unnamed source. They discovered the body around midday on Wednesday, just after uncovering another tragic scene. 

A family of four, described by their neighbours as ‘the perfect family’, were found slain in their home after police received another tip-off. One officer who was called to the scene described it as the ‘most vile and sickening act he had witnessed on the job’.

Detectives believe that the deaths may be linked and are looking to speak to a ‘muscular’ man in his 30s described as ‘over 6ft with blonde, medium length hair, wearing a suit and sunglasses, and walking a dog believed to be a border collie’. Witnesses have placed the man at both scenes on the day and it is believed he may have further information.”

Son of a bitch!

Someone’s playing me, and whoever it is is managing to stay one step ahead of me all of the time. It’s not a position I’m used to; I’m supposed to be the God of Forethought!

One thing’s for sure, it can’t be the Olympians; they’ve been far too busy chasing Titans to bother playing mind games with me, which is both good and bad. Better the devil you know. 

My phone buzzes with a message: “Seen the news Pro? A”. I should just block the number, or maybe I should ring it and see if the mysterious ‘A’ answers. Actually, that might not be too bad an idea. I’ve sat back for too long, now it’s time to be proactive. I need to find this bastard.

I search the internet and find some tracking software. If he does answer the phone then I can try to track his location. It’s remarkably easy to download and install something which might do the trick and within a few minutes, I’m up and running. What remarkable creations you mortals have come up with to pry into each other’s private lives.

I plug my phone into my laptop using the USB cable, type his number into the software, and then I ring him. The tracking software zips into action, but it needs a connection to find the GPS coordinates of the phone.

First ring, no answer. He’s getting his phone out of his pocket.

Second ring. He’s looking at the number.

Third ring. He realizes who it is and contemplates what to do.

Fourth ring. He’s caught in two minds; he wants to answer to continue with his little game, but he knows this isn’t scripted and that he’ll be taking a risk if he does.

Fifth ring. Sense wins, and he starts to put his phone away.

Sixth ring. He wants to hear my voice. He wants to play.

Seventh ring. He pauses.

Eighth ring. Nothing.

Ninth ring. He answers.

He doesn’t say anything, he just puts his phone to the ear. He wants me to make the first move. I look at the tracking software, which has so far narrowed his location down to the earth; I will need to keep him on for a little while.

“Who are you?” I ask, and let anger seep out and into my voice. He wants me to be flustered, so I’ll be flustered. He doesn’t respond, but I can hear him laugh through his nose.

“What do you want with me?” I check the tracking software, which is slowly narrowing his location down. I can hear him breathing, but he remains silent. He still hasn’t decided what he wants to do.

“Scared to face me?” I ask, trying to push some buttons.

“Scared of you?” he laughs, finally breaking his silence. His voice is deep and hoarse, and I recognise it as the voice of the man who showed me the beak of Koraki in the coffee shop. “Not even a mortal would be scared of you,” he barks at me.

“Why?” I ask.

“Why what?” 

“Why did you kill them?”

“I didn’t, you did. This call is over, but I’m not done with you.” He hangs up and I wonder what he meant when he said that I killed them. 

The call may have been brief, but it told me a few things: ‘A’ is confident, he was willing to take the risk of answering the call, he can also be easily provoked and has some anger issues, which are currently being directed at me. I also know he has something more in store for me, and I reckon he’s building up to something. My laptop pings: I also have a location.

It’s my gym.

*  

I joined a 24-hour gym when I returned to the God Complex because I couldn’t sleep, and exercising in the middle of the night gave me something to do. The weights are futile and I nearly broke the running machine when I used it, but it’s a good place for mortal-watching.

Since I started going, I’ve found myself falling into a routine with some other mortals who work unusual shift patterns or who, like me, struggle to sleep. I would consider them acquaintances, if not friends, and none of them looked like the ‘A’ I saw in the coffee shop. Was it a coincidence, or was ‘A’s’ next move somehow linked to my gym?

There’s only one way to find out, and this time I would be one step ahead.

I walk to the gym keeping my eyes alert for ‘A’ all the time. Chances are he’s moved on, but if not I’ll have him. The streets are quiet and there’s no sign of him.

“Hi,” the receptionist says as I walk in. I don’t recognise her, but I don’t usually come to the gym at this time so that’s not a surprise. I smile and flash my card and she lets me in.

I walk into the changing room and spot a naked man, fresh out the shower, flexing his ample muscles in the mirrors. He sees me but doesn’t stop. He then picks up a hairdryer and starts to dry his body with it. I look away having already seen far too much.

“Alright?” he asks me as I start to put on my shorts.

“Yes, thanks. Good workout?” I ask out of politeness.

“Not been in yet,” he replies and I decide not to ask any more questions.

The gym is quiet, far too quiet, but there’s no sign of ‘A’ anywhere. I sit down on the bench press, which is already heavily weighted and do a set of ten. When I sit up the man from the changing rooms is standing over me.

“I’ll spot you if you want,” he states, and I reluctantly agree. I don’t need spotting, but there’s only one bench press and he wants to share, despite the fact that all the other equipment is free. “Shall I up the weights?” he asks and places another 40kg on the bar before I have a chance to answer.

“Do you want a go?” I ask.

“No, don’t worry,” he replies. 

I complete my set of ten, pretending to struggle with the weight, and then sit up. “Want a go?” I ask again.

“I’ll let you finish first,” he tells me and places some more weights on the bar. 

I do another set, and as soon as I finish he places more weights on the bar. “I think that’s enough,” I comment, realising that if he adds any more weights I’ll be breaking world records. 

“Try that,” the man tells me. “Don’t worry, I’ll spot you.”

I lie down, lift the bar, and let out a groan. This time I am struggling. What has he put on it? I manage to extend my arm and can feel them shaking. Then the bar plunges on top of me, and the man is standing over me staring into my face. There are two other men on either side of him. I’m pinned down and cannot move. The weight has forced the air out of my lungs and I cannot talk or breathe.

I look up to see something dropping towards me; it looks like a raindrop. It falls into my eye and stings. I blink as more droplets fall towards me. All of a sudden I’m feeling sleepy. I’ve not slept properly in so long, and every inch of my body is craving rest. My legs and arms feel heavy. They flop down either side of me. The weight is off my chest and I can breathe again. It feels good. 

I close my eyes and rest. 

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