The Fallen Part 1 Preview: James Peterson ’17

Truth took a deep breath. The hood over his head severely impaired his vision but did not affect his hearing. He had to figure out where he was. But first, how did he get here? He remembers being in the store. The cashier eyed him suspiciously as he feverishly scavenged for his preferred brand of chips. Then the Outcasts came in. There were two of them, both wearing their gang colors, both carrying guns. They killed the shopkeeper without a single care. This wasn’t surprising though as the two warring gangs who fought over the area were known for their ruthlessness and brutality. In fact, their bloody feud is probably the reason that this collection of cities is called Ground Zero.

Anyway, they killed the shopkeeper and, hoping to avoid any confrontation with the attackers, Truth asked if they could give him a lift. They were hit some time after that. Was it as they were driving? It had to have been, he had no recollection of getting out of the car. He had no doubt that the two Outcasts were dead. But why was he spared? It didn’t matter. Truth knew he had to capitalize on this situation. There’s always a way out.

He focused on the surroundings that he was able to concentrate on. There were two people guiding him. He could hear a conversation going on about a dozen feet ahead. At least two more people. There had to be more behind him. He could hear their footsteps. No telling how many there were though.

There was a sharp creaking sound as a metal door was thrown open. He was lead inside, and put in a chair. Two people immediately went to work binding his hands to the arms of the chair. Were they going to try to interrogate him? That would be a grave mistake. He smiled at the thought. Then, realizing he needed to refocus on the situation, he took another deep breath.

The area smelled of smoke and desolation. He had to be in some sort of abandoned building. Hushed voices spoke in lowered tones all around him. He was surrounded. Did they think he was an Outcast?

The hood was yanked away from Truth’s head and after a brief moment of letting his eyes adjust, Truth began to observe his surroundings. There were several people in the warehouse. He assumed they were all of some importance to the leader. The room was dimly lit but he could make out another figure in the corner, he had his arms crossed and his back to the wall. He stood by the door, avoiding eye contact with Truth. For some reason he looked familiar, but Truth didn’t have time to think it over.

A nearly inconspicuous door on the left side of the room swung open and out stepped a tall, muscular Hispanic man. Judging from his face, anyone could tell he was in his mid to late 20s. An air of calm settled when he entered the room. Truth was more at ease now. In fact, he was more curious than he was afraid. This man wasn’t the interrogator. He was the head of the gang. He was the leader of the Fallen.

Truth smiled again. He knew exactly how to handle this situation. He had to be the first to talk, “Gabriel Gonzalez. Leader of the Fallen. Caretaker of the people. I didn’t expect to see you here. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

Gabriel was taken aback by Truth’s speaking up but knew that he must keep control over the situation. He quickly shot back, “You’re in no place to speak. You’re sitting there with my binds tying you to my chair, surrounded by my people, in my warehouse, on my turf, in my city. You were seen with the Outcasts, and I am going to make sure you tell me everything you know about them.”

Amused, and a bit insulted Truth replied, “Oh really? What exactly do you plan on doing Gabriel? I don’t think you understand who I am. What you’re doing now, this used to be my life. Interrogation. The extraction of information. It’s all I used to know. I know all the secrets, all the tricks. And I’ve found the little known secret to not giving away info.”

“He’s lying,” Gabriel thought, “there’s no way that’s true.” He then called the bluff, saying, “You’re lying. There is no secret. Everyone can eventually be broken.”

“I’m not lying,” Truth explained, “I’ve done this for years. I’ve witnessed every possible strategy of withholding information that you can imagine. And I’ve broken through them all. In fact, if these roles were reversed,” he thought aloud, “I would have already gotten what I needed from you. Funny isn’t it? How different things could be.”

“You ought to stop talking, Truth,” Gabriel immediately spat out.

Truth went over the situation in his mind. Why had he put so much stress on saying his name? Had Gabriel played all of his cards? Either way, Truth couldn’t let this affect him. He leaned forward and defiantly spoke, “You think that knowing my name gives you power over me? It doesn’t. You’re not in control here Gabriel. I really don’t know how long it’s going to take for you to understand that.” He leaned back and relaxed, continuing, “But go ahead. Do whatever it is you wish. Whatever you think will make me talk. Just know that I won’t. And at the end of this, I’ll still know more about all of you, than you do about me.” Then he saw movement in the corner of his eye. The man on the left of the room had moved forward and into the light. Now he recognized the man. It was his girlfriend’s brother. “This will be fun,” Truth thought to himself. “For instance,” he continued, “your little friend over there in the corner, yes you who skulks among the shadows. Ruin right? At least that’s what they call you. Your sister won’t be too happy when she figures out that you helped kidnap me. The one she cares about most.”

“Absolutely not,” Ruin thought, “I won’t let him bring her into this.” He knew that he would lose that fight, and he was not about to be made a fool of. Not here, and not by Truth. Ruin quickly attempted to shut it down by shooting back, “You don’t know anything about my sister. Not even a little. She trusts me, much more so than-”

“Don’t even finish that,” Truth cut in, “You’re wrong. I do know her. Possibly more than you do. Cause I know she’s going to find out. And you seem to think-”

“She won’t.” Ruin interjected. He couldn’t let Truth keep talking, “I’ll take care of it.”

Truth thought about this for a moment before responding, “I’d believe you, but she’s smart. Much smarter than you give her credit for.” He smiled and added, “Hell, she’s even smarter than I give her credit for. It’s safe to say that she’ll figure it out. At least, she’ll figure out that you knew about it. Then that you had something to do with it. That’s when she’ll come looking for me. And then she’ll really see how involved you were in this. And you know Amber. No second chances. She’ll hate you for this.” He put emphasis on each word to drive home the point. “She. Will. Hate you.”

For a moment, Ruin was shocked. He told himself that couldn’t be true. Attempting to defend himself he answered, “No. That’s not true she would never-”

“Actually it is.” Now Truth had him. “I’ve seen how determined she can be. Though you may have not.”

That was it, Ruin had heard enough. He could feel his fury guiding him through the room as his fingers tucked into a fist. “You little-”

“Go ahead.” The remark surprised everyone in the room, just as Truth had hoped, “Strike me with all the strength you can summon. Just know that sooner or later, you’re gonna pay for this.”

Now in the middle of the room, Ruin looked over at Gabriel, as did everyone else. He could feel Truth’s arrogance puncturing his air of authority. It invalidated Gabriel as a leader, calling out his lack of control and inability to remedy the situation. He felt foolish, for he had unknowingly made a major miscalculation by underestimating this man. Interrogation was Truth’s game, and Gabriel mistakenly fought the battle there. Looking back at Truth, he could feel a tempest of anger and hate swirling throughout his body. He refused to be disrespected like this. He wouldn’t stand for it. Maybe Gabriel couldn’t get information out of Truth. But he could still show him why The Fallen were feared in this town.

“Your threats don’t concern me Truth,” Gabriel started. He signaled for all the members to move in closer as he calmly commanded, “Boys, show him why we run these streets.” Knuckles cracked and necks rolled as the Fallen moved in. They were ready for a fight, but so was Truth. Little did these people know, they had run out of time.

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