The Settlement Part 3
Freddie Yates | 6 March 2016

Read Part 2 In Issue 9

***

The Mayor

 

‘Are you sure we should go through with this?’ the visitor asked uncertainly, trembling where he sat on the opposing side of the desk. The Mayor saw that he was nervous.

The Mayor, who had been standing with his back to the pale window, calmly eased himself into his seat and lay his elbows on the table so that his eyes were level with the visitor’s, which seemed wary to make contact for any extended periods of time.

‘Why do you ask?’ the Mayor said.

‘I mean, nobody’s going to believe a word he says anyway. They think he’s crazy.’

‘You know as well as me what’s at stake here,’ the Mayor said. ‘The old man knows too much about what’s going on and for obvious reasons that could be problematic. Look at it this way: say we let it go that he knows about us, and then he starts telling people things. Sure, most people would dismiss it, but even the slightest doubt that what he’s saying could be truthful would ruin this whole operation. A doubt becomes a concern; a concern becomes a fear; a fear becomes a reality. The snowball effect. Do you see what I’m saying?’

The visitor was shaking his head. ‘What if it gets back to you?'

‘It won’t. You silence him and I explain it away as an accident. An unfortunate, tragic, terrible, unexpected accident. So, have you finalised the plan? It needs to maintain the illusion of an accident, remember.’

‘We’re going with the fire.’

The Mayor furrowed his brow. Leaning forward, he stared at the visitor with curiosity. He told the visitor that the use of a fire might be a little excessive. A fire would create panic, chaos. Surely it would better be avoided when trying to carry out a discrete silencing.

‘We were thinking that,’ the visitor said, ‘but we can’t do anything that’ll leave behind evidence, can we? The plan is suffocate and then start a fire. Nothing left to chance, you know? A freak accident, like you said.’

The Mayor leaned back in his chair and pondered on the thought. The idea wasn’t entirely satisfactory but other methods could be equally if not more messy. He knew he would need to act fast before jeopardising the greater plan.

‘Nothing left to chance. Very well then. So long as it maintains the innocent façade of an accident. Come by later so you can go through the specific details with me. I want it clean.’

The visitor paused for a moment and then hurried out of the office. The Mayor smiled to himself. When the door closed with its familiar click, he turned back toward the window and let his eyes wander once again across the frozen settlement and then over the desolate world beyond its walls. The empty, colourless features of the landscape merged into one single abomination: a great expanse of nothingness; the mark of the plague that had inverted the ordinary world, leaving behind a vast wilderness absent of human life. All he could see now was a cold, foreboding nightmare. He pulled back from the window as if in revulsion and slammed the shutters into place, allowing the dreary sight to fade from his eyes and to float from his mind like ash on the vicious winter winds.

 

Written by Freddie Yates

Original image by  Lucy Roberts

James Routledge 2016