Killzone Excerpt: Route Of Discovery

by Shan Shaikh

Killzone patrolled alone that cold, winter night. His thoughts revolving around her. Walking as if he was chasing her shadow. Eventually, he came across a transit station. He then realized he had no ride, and was very tired from walking. Only option was to take the transit, or the "Route of Discovery". That's what Jeff always called it. He would say: By the end of your journey, no matter where you got off, you'd end up a different person through self-discovery. Killzone never really listened to what Jeff had to say, seeing as Jeff always tried to fool Killzone into doing something stupid. But, those words seemed to stick. 


He hadn't been on the transit in ages. He was afraid he forgot how to even get passed the terminals. It was quite simple though. You bring your I.D and scan it on the machines. The terminals would then ask you where you were going, and why. If everything cleared out, you would get a green screen, and could proceed to the loading docks. If an error occurred, you would get a red screen. Alerting the authorities, of course. Killzone had an identification card, provided by his commander, but it was only used for accessing certain weapon caches on other bases. As well as having something other then his name engraved on the barrel of his weapon as proof he was enlisted. But, does it work here? He thought. The military was no friend to small city states like Marykov. He wouldn't be surprised if he was gunned down the minute he boarded one of their transits.


Already tired, and feeling ill, he hid his weapon beneath his sweater--pressing it against his chest, and descended. When he reached the terminals, he took a few quick seconds to scope out the area. It was dead. He checked the time, to assure that it wasn't past running hours. But, it was only 9:00 PM. Still feeling uneasy, he managed to reach into his sweater without moving his weapons position. He then pulled out his I.D and looked at it. It read:


Name: James Killzone

D.O.B: December 2nd, 2226

Rank: Gunnery Sergeant

Home Base: Vetra

Valid Through 2254-section break


He looked around once more, then scanned it on the terminal. It was checking its databases. He stood there. Tapping his foot. Waiting. The machine then made a strange beep noise. Almost exactly like the sound of a button on a phone. It began to beep quicker, and quicker, and quicker. He was terrified. He had been face to face with a 10 foot tall Dreadlock and not move a muscle, but when he heard the beeping, he jumped like a child who heard the end of a scary story. Then, suddenly. It flashed green. He stopped moving about. Confused. Was it tampered with? He thought. But, it didn't matter anymore. He was now legally allowed to board a transit.


Although in shock, he was satisfied with the result, and proceeded to the loading dock. No longer feeling like he was being watched, he began to explore the dock. Reading signs he didn't really care for. Laughing at things that weren't intended for laughter. Gazing at dirt covered walls. He was soon interrupted by a sound. A familiar sound. He didn't jump, but he slowly turned to where he thought he had heard it. In front of him was a pillar. But, behind it sat a weeping man. The man was wearing a suit, and in his right hand was a briefcase. It shouldn't have seemed odd to Killzone that a man was by himself at 9:00 PM in a suit, weeping at a loading dock. Seeing as Killzone had been to many other city states. Curious though, Killzone walked towards the man. Half way there, Killzone stopped. He thought about the beeping noise made from the machine. It could have been a trick. This man may be an undercover officer waiting for me to get close so he can get the jump on me, Killzone thought. Paranoid, he began to step back. But, it was too late. The man looked up, and revealed his face. It was full of tears. It was almost like he had finished playing the game where you dunk your head in water trying to pick up an apple with your mouth. "Who are you?" The man asked. "...Who are you?" Questioned Killzone. "My name's Carl. Carl Ramirez." "Dean. Dean Rivers." said Killzone, sure of his new identity. The man tried to hold back the tears, but there was no use. He broke into another weeping session. "I'm so-so-sorry. I don't me-me-mean to be rude." Said the man trying to hold back the tears. "It's fine." Killzone said. "I just didn't think there wo-would be someone, other than myself here." "Why are you here?" Killzone asked. "Why, I'm here for the transit. Isn't everybody?" There was a silence between them. "Oh, I know what you mean. You're asking me why I'm here alone crying my eyes out?" Killzone continued  to stand a good distance from the man, but stayed attentive to what he was saying. "Well, it's because of my life. Yeah, I know people have heard this one before. My life sucks, I want to kill myself, my girlfriend dumped me, blah, blah, blah. Well you know what? That's the case. My life is in a shit hole, and I can't get it out." The man pulled out a small bag of pistachios from his coat. "Is there something I can do?" Killzone said, regretting it soon afterwards. "Nope. No one can do anything. I have to fix it myself. So I'll probably end up dead by tomorrow." The man reached into a small bag in his right hand. "Pistachio? " "No, thank you." replied Killzone. "No one ever does seem to like pistachios, except me. I don't know why I can't change that. They seem easy to get to on the outside, like it won't require too much effort. But when you try to get at it, it won't crack open. You have to be very precise. Gentle almost. Patient as well. And if you get it right, it will open smoothly. Revealing what it had locked inside." The man was obviously trying to figure himself out, and pity the troubles of a businessman in the city, but it was enough to keep Killzone interested.


Killzone sat down next to the man. The man continued, as if not interrupted by Killzone's movements. "Just think about it. I've been asked to try peanuts, cashews, almonds, the list goes on! And, I've been reassured that I would love them. But, I always go back to the damn pistachios..." "Do you work around here?" asked Killzone. "No. I work in a bank on the other side of town." replied the man. "Why take this station?" questioned Killzone. "It's much more quieter on this side of town. Hardly anyone takes the transit here. Just thought it would be a nice place to gather my thoughts. What about you? What brings you here?" "Work." Killzone continued. "I'm an architect. Had no ride, so I decided to take the transit." The man smiled. "I see. I used to be an architect. I'm actually the one who designed the Bedridge Tower." "Really?" asked Killzone, amused by the man. "Oh yeah. Was a huge project. Lots of blueprints, very little time. But, in the end, it was all worth it." "Wow, that's amazing." said Killzone. "Why aren't still an architect?" "It was just too much work. Every night I'd come home with more work than the previous. I just wasn't fit for the job anymore. So, I became a bank teller." "Do you have any family?" asked Killzone. "A mother, aunt, and grandmother. They're all back on Titan." "Where's your father?" asked Killzone. "Wouldn't I like to know..." said the man. "Oh I'm sorry. I didn't-" "I'm not." interrupted the man. "Never knew the man. So, why bother giving him the burden of our pity." "How are your relatives on Titan?" said Killzone, trying to change subjects. The man hesitated before answering. "I'm not sure. Last I heard of them was a week ago." "What did they have to say, if you don't mind me asking?" asked Killzone. "Not very much. Just-We talked about the weather and-" The man was breaking his sentences. Before Killzone knew it, the man was in tears once more. Killzone sat there, acting like he was not disturbed by the man's weeping. The man pulled out a tissue, and wiped his eyes dry. "I'm sorry. It's just. I heard very bad news about my grandmother." Killzone just sat there, not wanting to say anything that might trigger the wetworks again.  "She um-well, she is very ill. I'm just very concerned about her. That's all." "I understand." Killzone said. "Do you? Do you really?" questioned the man. "Do you really know how it feels to have to find out that your grandmother is fatally ill through a complete stranger?" Killzone said nothing. "...I'm sorry, Dean. I didn't mean-" "It's alright." said Killzone. The man continued. "I just wish people could think about more than just themselves sometimes. And I guess I'm guilty of that too."


The sound of the metal tube rushing through the tunnel echoed across the dock. The lights of the snake lit up the area, making it seem like the both of them had been chatting in the dark. "Well, I believe that's your ride." said the man. "Isn't it yours too?" asked Killzone. "No. My car's parked in the lot." "Wait? Then what are you doing here?" asked Killzone, puzzled. "I told you, I come here to gather my thoughts." The transit stopped right in front of them, and its doors opened. "We'll drive safely." Killzone said. "I will. Oh! I almost forgot to tell you. When I was designing the Bedridge Tower, I wanted to add a special piece. A piece that would always remind me why I wake up in the morning, and continue to fight." "What was it?" asked Killzone. "You'll figure it out when you see it. Good-bye." The transit began to move. Killzone waved to the man, and found a seat to rest in. Suddenly, Killzone rushed up off his seat, and ran to the window. He yelled out,"Wait! Carl! My name isn't really Dean!" The man turned and replied, "What did you say?" "I said, my name isn't Dean! It's James! James Killzone!" The sound of the transit was far too loud to talk over. The man simply said, "Don't worry about it! If what you said was important, I would have heard you!" Killzone smiled. He then waved to the man as the transit pulled out of the dock. He sat down, confused. What had just happened? He thought. That was such a strange encounter. But, nonetheless, Killzone was on his way to his base now. All he had to do was wait.


When Killzone reached his stop, he got off the transit and walked up the steps to the city of Vetra. But, he walked differently. He walked much slower, and took the time to see each person walk by him. Their face, their posture, their story. He discovered that there is much more going on in someones life than you think. The rules even applied for Killzone. It was self-discovery. As Killzone walked to his base, he noticed something. Bedridge Tower had only been 6 blocks away from his base. Killzone examined the beautiful structure. Admiring it's height, and design. But, at the very top, he could barely make out the distinctive carvings of an object. An object he had seen before. A special object. It was a pistachio.