Bill had the same routine each and every weekday morning: he ate a bowl of plain oatmeal (which he hated but which his wife Donna insisted helped his cholesterol), drank a cup of half-caf coffee, showered and then watched the news. Sometimes, one of his daughters would send him a quick text about their life at college and he would carefully type back a message, complete with proper capitalization and punctuation.
Then he would drive to work, inevitably caught up in rush-hour traffic. As he sat parked on the interstate, he would listen to NPR and stare out at the desert with its beautiful mesas. Bill would purposely ignore the concrete walls of Gehenna that rose up in the distance, vast and ominous against the bright blue sky.
When he got to work, he always checked his email, sifting through messages about IT upgrades and safety and the warnings from HR about the dress code. Then he would eat a donut (or two) in the break-room since the oatmeal that he ate earlier in the morning was always so godawful. When he returned to his computer, he would surf the Internet for awhile, hardly noticing when the lights flickered or when the giant’s sadistic laughter would drown out everything.
All in all, his life wasn’t too bad.
Bill arrived early to work that Friday, hoping to sneak out at a reasonable time. He had promised to take Donna out somewhere fancy, Appleby’s or something, so he wanted to avoid the traffic rush. As he walked toward the squat building where his cubicle was located, he noticed commotion. Well, what he actually noticed was the giant, as tall as a skyscraper and with a perfect physique that made Bill feel inadequate about his own dumpy body.
Raum was leaning against the wall of Gehenna, his massive arms folded across his chest as he pretended not to listen to the current director of Extermination. The harsh desert sunlight glinted off on the band of dark metal around his powerful neck.
“One endorsement, Raum. That’s all we’re asking,” Greg pleaded.
“How about if we give you something?”
“Another dog? I liked the last one a lot. Mr. Stumpy and I were great friends.”
“Jesus, you ate that dog. PETA was all over us for a month straight. No. Absolutely not.”
Greg rubbed at his temples and turned to the young woman on his right. She was slender and tall but her face was homely, with a facial structure that was almost mannish.
“Lynn, you’re one of the Handlers. Can you convince him to do the damn endorsement?”
“Sure thing, Greg,” Lynn replied and then typed something into her tablet. Raum jerked without warning, his immense body seizing up. He let out a small cry of pain as they delivered an agonizing amount of electricity directly into his brain. For one moment, Bill felt sorry for the giant. Then Raum opened his mouth.
“You little motherfuckers! Greg, I’m going to crush you someday, you know that, right?” The truck-sized blue eyes narrowed dangerously. Bill decided that it was probably safer for him in his office, but curiosity froze him in place. The director started to order another shock but Raum decided to cooperate. He gently picked up a ridiculously-overpriced luxury SUV, a big, bloated one that Bill could never hope to afford. The giant held the vehicle in the palm of his gargantuan hand and spoke in a monotone voice.
“Raum here! Boy howdy, I sure think these new Escalades are nifty! Especially when I feel that my dick isn’t big enough! And that’s saying a lot!”
“Lynn…” Greg started.
“Already on top of it, Greg!”
Raum yelped when they shocked him again and he dropped the SUV. The vehicle plummeted, falling hundreds of feet until it smashed against the ground far below. Luckily, no one was hurt. Greg glared up at the giant.
“Hey,” Raum said. “It looks better that way.”
It was around 11:07 AM when the surveillance system went down, which meant that they couldn’t record anything for the show. Which meant that they would get a personal phone call from Lucas or one of the other Party members. Which meant that heads would roll…literally. Bill noticed that very few people were terminated from their jobs; instead, they conveniently committed crimes and were sent to Gehenna, where Raum killed them in a number of awful ways.
One of Bill’s jobs was the maintenance of the surveillance system so he headed out with Kurt in one of the trucks. Honestly, he hated going into Gehenna. Even though it was rebuilt year after year, it still had that post apocalyptic feeling to it. As they drove through one of the gates, it was eerily quiet, the streets deserted. It made sense that everyone would be hiding; when Raum came into the city, he crushed and devoured and raped everyone in his path.
“So you got any big plans for the weekend?” Kurt asked. Kurt was Bill’s age and they had worked together for several years. He seemed like a nice enough guy.
“No, probably going to repaint my fence,” Bill said. “Maybe watch the game on Sunday.” He purposely ignored the appalling quantity of blood that painted the side of one building brownish red. There were also some half-mashed corpses littering the sidewalk, waiting for the clean-up crew to dispose of them. At least he didn’t have that job.
“Yeah, I’m definitely watching that. Hey, if you’re not too busy, you should come over for a beer,” Kurt said. The truck radio crackled and Bill could half-hear something about a riot in Gehenna. Riots were rare, especially since Raum would just show up and stomp everyone involved flat.
“That’d be great,” Bill said, noticing the prisoners who started to trickle out into the street. Most of them did not look like nice people. They were glaring balefully at the maintenance truck and Bill urged Kurt to drive faster. He did drive faster…straight into one of the crater-like footprints of the giant. One minute they were driving down the street; the next, the truck sailed through air and crashed into the deep depression. They hit hard enough that the airbag expanded, pummeling Bill in the nose.
Except for his nose, nothing seemed to be broken. Kurt was swearing even as he jumped out of the truck, which was probably no longer drivable.
Bill tried calling for back-up but Security told him that several more riots had broken out, probably because the prisoners had figured out that the cameras were down. Wonderful. Bill looked up just in time to see several convicts peering down into the huge footprint at them, their eyes burning with hatred.
“Bill and Kurt are stuck out in Gehenna and all available personnel are trying to quell the riots,” the chief of Security told Greg.
“Jesus H. Christ, what else can go wrong? Lynn, where’s Raum?”
“I think he’s around the studio somewhere. No point in having him in Gehenna if we can’t record anything.”
“Go find him and tell him to bring Bill and Kurt back,” Greg said.
Lynn found Raum in the building where he spent most of his time when he wasn’t in Gehenna. It was a truly gigantic structure, built into the side of one of the city’s walls, and being inside of it was awe-inspiring. The titan was sitting cross-legged on the floor, reading something on the immense wall-mounted screen. There was a cage beside him filled with about thirty people, most of them deathly quiet. That changed when Raum casually reached in through the top and scooped out a third of them.
“Oh, hey, Lynn,” the giant said casually as people writhed and wiggled in his titanic hand, their limbs and heads poking out from between his fingers.
“Hi, Raum. What’re you up to?” she said, grasping her tablet tighter.
“I’m reading Swann’s Way,” Raum said and he snorted when he saw Lynn’s surprised expression. “Everyone seems to think I’m a mindless killing machine.” With that, he popped the handful of shrieking people into his mouth and began to chew. Lynn tried hard not to cringe at the sounds of bones cracking and flesh pulping.
“Raum, you have to come with me. There are some employees trapped in Gehenna and Security already has its hands full in dealing with the riots,” Lynn said. The giant finished chewing, swallowed and then ran his killer-whale sized tongue over his bloodstained teeth.
“Once my lunch break is over,” he replied, looking briefly at the convicts in the cage. They were huddled together in one corner, as far away from Raum as possible. Then he went back to reading.
“Raum-,” Lynn started and he held up one hand.
“I get a half an hour for lunch.”
“Come back in half an hour and I’ll go save your friends or whatever. Right now, I think I’m going to finish eating,” Raum said and the prisoners began to scream in horror as he reached for another fistful.
“Should I just shock him and make him go into Gehenna now?” Lynn asked Greg.
“He does have a right to a lunch break…at least, that’s what Legal told us. Hopefully, Bill and Kurt will be okay until we can get out to them.”
There was a small pistol in the truck, but it wouldn’t do a lot of good against a dozen prisoners, many of whom were wielding makeshift knives and clubs. Bill was still inside the truck but he could see people crawling down into the crater, warily approaching them. Somehow, he managed to squeeze down into the footwell on the passenger side, watching through the window.
“Hey, how y’all doing?” Kurt asked feebly, inching closer to the ruined truck.
A sinewy man with skin that had been baked by the desert sun crept forward, clutching a switchblade.
“We’re doin’ jus’ fuckin’ wonderful,” the prisoner growled. “I jus’ love bein’ chased by a giant psychopath. You know what my morning was like?”
“ ‘Not good’ is right! I saw three people get torn in half by your goddamn pet monster. So you know what?”
Kurt’s face blanched. “W-what?”
“I’m going make your day ‘not good’ too.”
The prisoner moved with amazing speed; Kurt didn’t even have time to raise his hands before the other man sliced his throat wide open. A waterfall of blood seemed to pour out of his neck, splashing down onto his neatly pressed oxford. Bill covered his mouth and looked on helplessly as his companion collapsed bonelessly to the ground.
“Y’know, Raum’s gonna be pissed,” one hulking convict who was missing an eye commented.
“Who cares? He’s always pissed. Dude has anger management issues.”
The man missing the eye laughed. “That’s true.”
While they were joking, Bill took the opportunity to tuck the pistol into his pocket and slip out of the truck. The prisoners were picking over the body and didn’t notice him until he started to climb the side of the footprint.
“Yo, there’s another one!” Someone shouted and Bill climbed as fast as he could. One of the convicts heaved a rock at him but fortunately, it missed. Once he reached the street level, he ran for his life, wishing that he wasn’t so out of shape. He turned down an alleyway and cursed his bad luck when he saw that it was a dead-end. Frantically he looked around and then noticed the window that was slightly open. He stood on some empty crates and forced himself through, only to fall on his face on the other side. Bill winced and sat up, frightened to see that he wasn’t alone.
There were several women standing there, dressed in the standard prison uniform but with dark chokers around their necks.
“Look, I just want to get out of here,” Bill said. “Raum is coming to pick me up soon and I-,”
“You know Raum?” One of the women, middle-aged but still beautiful, looked at him as if he said that he personally knew Buddha.
“Uh, yes?” He wasn’t sure if mentioning that he was one of the show’s employees was a good idea. A young woman who barely looked over eighteen clasped her hands together, as if in prayer.
“You can bring us to our God!” She looked like she was in rapture.
“Raum is our God. We call ourselves the Maenads,” the middle-aged women explained. Apparently, he had stumbled upon a cult. It explained the choker things around their necks…on closer inspection, they did sort of resemble the neural interface unit that the giant wore.
“He is Power and Sex and Death. We sacrifice ourselves to His Appetite,” the girl said fervently. Bill honestly couldn’t think of anything to say. Luckily, the older woman spoke. “Many of us purposely committed crimes so that we could be here, with Him.”
They were clearly insane. Bill backed away, toward the door. The Maenads watched him as he opened the door…and saw the convicts from earlier. The sinewy man who had murdered Kurt gave him a gap-toothed grin and waved his knife slowly, back and forth.
“I tolja there was another guy,” he sneered, lunging toward Bill.
That was when all hell broke loose.
One of the Maenads gave a bone-chilling screech and jumped at the other prisoner. He looked surprised as she threw her slender arms around him and bit off the top of his ear. Blood dribbled out of her mouth as they screamed together, his cry one of agony and hers of madness. There was pandemonium everywhere and Bill tried to run, only to be knocked over by One-Eye. The huge man scowled at him and cracked his knuckles.
“Can’t we discuss this?” Bill asked.
“No.” With that, the man kicked him in the stomach, hard. Bill folded in half, whimpering in pain. The convict was preparing to deliver another kick when they all felt the ground tremble.
“Fuck! It’s Raum!” Someone yelled and people began to scatter. Well, everyone except for Bill and the Maenads, who had turned their full attention to the giant striding down the street. Bill had to admit that he looked terrifying in the Old Testament sense, simply walking through buildings as if they didn’t exist. Some of the prisoners didn’t flee quickly enough and Raum crushed them underfoot like ants. Bill supposed that was how the colossus viewed people…like insects. To his relief and terror, Raum stopped and addressed him.
“Hey, Bryan! Finally found you!”
“It’s Bill,” Bill said quietly.
“Whatever. Close enough.” The giant’s gaze moved from Bill to the cult members. “Hi, ladies.”
The women were prostrating themselves before Raum, literally praying to him. He squatted down and grinned broadly, his colossal shadow engulfing Bill and the Maenads.
“Would you look at that? I think they’re praying to me or something. Usually, people just scream a lot when I’m around.” He extended his right hand and the tiny women rushed over to it, touching his immense palm and fingers. Bill would have thought they were touching the hand of God, the way they were babbling in ecstasy. Perhaps, to them, they were.
“You ladies think my hand is impressive?” The giant winked suggestively and tugged at his shorts with his free hand, his cock already throbbing.
“Raum, I think we should go,” Bill said and immediately regretted it. The titan gave him an icy stare.
“Bob, don’t be a cockblock. Seriously.”
Raum didn’t answer; he was too busy depositing the women onto his erection, which could have dwarfed a grain-silo. They were stripping their prison outfits, their naked bodies insignificant in comparison to the giant’s massive column of flesh. To Bill’s amazement, the Maenads were writhing and moaning like things possessed, licking and caressing and calling out the name of their dark deity. Raum just smirked at them, looking down with a mixture of lust and barely-concealed contempt. One of the women, a gorgeous blonde that Bill would have loved to fuck, eagerly lapped at the giant’s slit, her tongue darting in and out.
“Accept our sacrifices!” She howled and Raum smiled horribly.
“With pleasure,” he said, wrapping his boat-sized fingers around his member…and all of his worshippers. Bill felt sick to his stomach as the giant nonchalantly mashed them against his cock, the women praying even as they died. When he finally came, their blood mixed with his copious semen, crimson and white against the gargantuan fingers.
Bill just quivered as Raum wiped his fingers along the road and stood back up, a gigantic and more than threatening being.
“So,” the giant said casually, as if he hadn’t just killed several people in order to make himself orgasm. “Where’s Peter?”
“Do you mean Kurt?”
“He-he didn’t make it it. The prisoners…”
“Oh, too bad. So what were you doing out here, anyway?”
“Fixing cameras. Well, trying to. The whole system is down.”
“Gotcha. Well, I’ll let everyone know that you guys died doing your best.”
Bill stared at the giant, wondering if he had misheard him. “Raum, Kurt was the only one who…oh. God. You’re kidding, right?”
Raum’s smile was hideous. “You wanna know a secret, little buddy? I may kill countless prisoners, but I don’t hate them. They’re just my playthings, to use as I see fit. But I don’t bear them any ill-will. You fucking Extermination employees, though…do you know what I dream about? Killing each and every one of you. And I will, someday. For now, I’ll start with you, Bill.”
Bill screamed and ran for his life.
Raum should have stomped him flat. And he would have too, if there wasn’t a gigantic explosion in the southeast part of the city. Bill didn’t know it at the time but the rioters had gotten hold of some heavy-duty explosives and had blown themselves to Kingdom Come. Raum stopped and stared as the orange fireball blossomed above the city, giving Bill time to push aside a manhole cover and crawl into the sewer.
“Hey, Bill! I was kidding! It was all a joke…I’m not really going to kill you. Bill?” Raum called out as Bill sprinted through the foul water, trying to figure how to get to the main gates. If he could make it back or if the cameras came back online, he would be okay. If not…well, he knew that Raum wasn’t kidding. There was anger and bloodlust in the giant’s inhuman eyes. He had the pistol but Raum wouldn’t even feel it.
Bill knew all about the surveillance system but not much about the sewer system, so he groped his way blindly through the tunnels, the cold water up to his knees. Donna would be enraged when she saw what he had done to his pants.
At first, he thought he had lost the giant; then Raum’s thunderous voice reverberated down into the sewers.
“Bill! Look, Security’s shown up. You can come out now!”
“Raum, I’m not an idiot,” Bill shouted back.
“Oh. I was hoping you’d fall for that. I’ll tell you what. If you come out now, I’ll kill you painlessly. What do you say?”
There was a ladder built into one of the concrete walls, leading up to the surface. But what good would it do, with Raum around? Bill just sat in the filthy water, suddenly very tired. He wondered whether he would ever see Donna and his children again.
There was a second explosion, this one on the street above his head. Dust and small debris rained down on Bill as he looked up in wonder. Then he saw something even more surprising: a tall woman climbing down the ladder. He couldn’t see much of her in the semi-darkness although he did notice that she was wearing a gold mask of some kind.
“Would you like to get out of here?” She asked in a distinctively husky voice.
“Who are you? And why the hell do you want to help me?”
The woman shrugged, her every movement one of confident grace. “Because I like to torment Raum and he obviously wants you. He’s such a beautiful creature, isn’t he? And pain only makes things more beautiful.”
Was everyone crazy here? Bill wondered.
“And as to who I am…you can call me The Queen,” she said, motioning toward the ladder. “Now. Let’s make Raum angry.”
Apparently, the masked woman and her henchmen had somehow managed to blow up a five-story building and fires had spread to the surrounding structures. The dancing light from the flames highlighted Raum’s muscular legs as he raised one colossal foot and brought it down on several convicts, their guts spluttering out in awful patterns. Bill stood there, petrified, until The Queen grabbed his hand and motioned toward a Kawasaki Ninja.
Bill looked at the motorcycle, reluctant to get on until Raum swung his head around and spotted them. The firelight reflected in the giant’s eyes gave them a terribly demonic appearance. He started to grab for them, his mind-bogglingly huge body bending down. But the motorcycle zipped forward, avoiding the gigantic grasping fingers.
The Queen drove at an incredible speed, easily over a hundred miles per hour. Bill wrapped his arms around her waist, pressing close to enough that he could smell her, a subtle scent of lavender. Everything rushed by in a blur as she avoided debris and footprints. And behind them, like an angry living storm, was Raum, simply crashing through neighborhoods as he pursued them.
As the buildings crumbled and toppled, prisoners began to flee into the streets. This proved to be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, they were able to blend into the mass of humanity that screamed and fled before the rampaging titan; on the other hand, it took some serious maneuvering to avoid the people everywhere. Bill closed his eyes, fighting back the urge to be sick as prisoners shrieked and died behind them and the ground rocked and heaved.
The giant’s voice was garbled with rage as he tore after them. “Bill, you little fucker, get back here! I swear to Christ, I’m gonna eat you and shit out your bones!”
The Queen laughed at this and turned her head to blow Raum a kiss. Bill didn’t look behind him but he could hear the monster’s bellows of pure hatred. The fact that he was causing them was positively terrifying. He fought to keep down the donut from earlier and squeezed his eyes shut as the motorcycle zigged and zagged. The screams were gradually fading.
“You can stop holding me so tightly. We’ve lost him,” his rescuer said. Bill opened his eyes and loosened his grip. They had indeed lost the giant and they were by themselves on a narrow street. Gehenna’s park was to left, although it looked more like a war zone than a park. From the amount of mutilated corpses and the small pond of semen, it looked like Raum had pleasured himself there recently. Bill wondered how the hell anyone could have such a powerful sex drive. Everything about the giant was unnatural.
The Queen stopped the motorcycle and he got off, noticing that his shirt was plastered to his back with sweat. He still felt light-headed as he thanked the masked woman.
“You’re welcome. I’m sure you can pay me back someday,” she replied as she pulled away. Bill watched her until she disappeared around a corner and then he continued on his way toward the main gates.
It was safe to say that Raum was often angry. He especially loathed the tiny employees of Extermination since they treated him like their trained dog, ready to jump through hoops. Oh, if he could ever get this goddamn collar off, he would squash every last one of them into jellied smears. And then he would cum all over their ruined bodies.
But right now he was absolutely furious. So much so that he toppled every building in one neighborhood and was about to move onto the next neighborhood when he remembered the reason for his blind rage. Bill. That puny little insect, the one who managed to evade him several times already. He would find him before the surveillance system came back online and then he’d pull his limbs out, one by one.
So where could he be? Heading toward the main gates, of course. Once the fucker was through the gates of Gehenna, Raum couldn’t kill him. Not without them shocking him until he was a whimpering wreck. So he headed toward the gates, smashing through anything in his path. Only the voice that came from the collar made him stop. It was Lynn, one of his Handlers. He had frequent fantasies of shoving her up his piss slit and making her drown in his precum.
“Raum, it’s Lynn!” She said.
“Hi, Lynn,” he said, imagining how she would feel as she wiggled in vain inside of him. His cock stirred to life at the thought.
“Have you found Bill yet?” She asked hopefully.
“No, still looking. The guy’s hard to find,” he told her. Which was the truth. Lynn was quiet for a moment, obviously thinking.
“Raum, you’ll try to bring him back, right?” She spoke slowly.
“Oh, yeah. Sure.”
That was also the truth. He just never told her that he didn’t plan on Bill being alive when he did so.
“Has Raum found Bill yet?” Greg asked Lynn.
“No, he said he’s still looking.”
“Fuck, what a mess. This is almost as bad as the time when they thought it would be good idea to give a tour of the studio to elementary school students. Those kids are going to be traumatized for life,” Greg said.
“I’m sure everything will be okay,” Lynn said. Neither of them believed it.
Raum stalked down the street, which was, not surprisingly, completely deserted. People tended to hide when he was around. He turned down a side street and saw several convicts on the balcony of a waist-high skyscraper. They didn’t scream or flee when they saw him but rather stared with the vacant expressions of drug addicts. He paused in front of them.
“Hello, my drugged-up friends! Have you seen a little guy come by here?” Raum asked.
“What’d he look like?” One of the convicts spoke up. He was a short man with wide, glazed eyes. God knew what he was currently high on.
“I…well, you know what, I can’t really describe what he looks like. Brown hair, kind of overweight. He looks like the sort of guy who’d take his wife to Appleby’s.”
“I dunno, big dude. Lots of guys look that around here,” the addict said. He shrieked when the giant plucked him from the balcony. Looking pointedly at the others, he popped the man between his fingers like a ripe berry.
“Where is he?” Raum snarled.
“Whoa, man! Chill! Chill!” A woman with ratty hair and track marks up her arms said. Raum was reaching for her when she pointed toward a building further down the street.
“I’m pretty sure he went in there,” she told him.
“Great, thanks! I’d eat you but damn, you look gross,” the giant said with a look of disgust. So he brought his hand down onto the balcony, swatting them like bugs. He briefly looked at the dark blood splattered on his open palm and then wiped it onto the neighboring skyscraper. Then, with a nightmarish smile, he marched down the street toward the building that the addict had directed him to. It was small, only reaching just above his knees.
“Bill, you in there?” Raum demanded, his hands on his hips. There was frantic movement inside the building and it triggered his predatory sexual response. “Oh, I’m going to enjoy this, you little bastard.” He pulled apart another building with ease, using the rubble to block all of the exits. Then, with deliberate slowness, he pulled off his shorts and exposed his erection. These encounters were as close to lovers as he would ever have. He stroked his member playfully, although he was aroused enough that there was really no need. He just wanted to savor this.
Raum knelt down and positioned himself so that his cock was directly in front of his target. Precum dribbled from his tip, splashing the windows and facade of the little building. He almost came when he heard the frightened squeaks of the people inside but he resisted it. Instead, he carefully thrust forward, his cock punching through the walls with no resistance. The feeling was incredible as usual. What felt even better than the walls giving way was the distinctive sensation of minute bones breaking and flesh liquifying as he ground people under his manhood. He groaned low in his throat and began to thrust harder and faster. His muscular stomach slammed into the top of the building, crushing the top floor.
“Fuck you, Bill,” he growled and then gasped as he orgasmed. He rammed into the building with astonishing force, driving his penis and balls deep inside. His first blast shot out the other side, carrying several squashed bodies with it. The subsequent ejaculations simply filled the inside of the building, his thick semen pouring out from the open windows. Raum sighed contentedly and withdraw his cock. This was something deeply satisfying about fucking someone to death.
He started to stand up when the afterglow of his orgasm faded. Then he glanced down at the building, doubt gnawing at him. He cracked open what was left of the structure and saw that he had indeed killed several tiny people, either by crushing them beneath his penis or drowning them in his seed.
But Bill wasn’t among them.
Raum was suddenly angry again.
In the building across the street, Bill had watched the entire thing. He had been reluctant to leave, even when the giant’s attention was obviously diverted. And now that Raum was finished with the building, he definitely didn’t want to leave. He could hear the giant’s heavy breathing, like that of a colossal and furious beast. Except this beast was highly intelligent and wanted to kill him with the utmost pain. He’d have better luck trying to reason with a rabid grizzly bear.
When Raum started to destroy the buildings across the street, either out of anger or to flush him out, Bill slipped through one of the windows. Thank God that the giant didn’t turn around. He was so intent on pulverizing the buildings that he didn’t see Bill sprint down another street.
There were subway stations throughout Gehenna, although they were more for show than anything else. The city was destroyed too frequently to actually have functioning subways. In Bill’s case, it would have been nice to just hop on a subway train and get out of this living Hell. But no, that would have been too easy.
Bill trudged past one of the stations where an abandoned subway train rested, its exterior covered with obscene graffiti. He was trying to decide the best route to the gates when he felt the familiar earthquake. The good thing about being chased by a giant was that it was near-impossible for Raum to sneak up on anyone. The bad thing was that he was a giant. The reservoir was on one side of the tracks, a colossal manmade lake of stagnant water. Bill was considering jumping in when he heard a terrible whistling noise that made his eardrums ache. At first, he couldn’t figure out what it was. Then he realized that it was the giant, whistling the theme song to Extermination. Normally, the song was just an obnoxious ear-worm but coming from a man who was several hundred feet tall, it was bonechilling.
When Raum appeared, Bill panicked and dove into one of the subway cars. There were several other people huddled inside; apparently, they had had the same idea. They watched him with frightened eyes as he peered out the window. A mammoth foot slammed down a few feet from the train, the impact rocking it violently.
“I saw you go into that subway car, Bill. No more hiding,” the giant declared. Colossal fingers wrapped around the subway car, the walls crumpling inward. Some of the convicts shrieked as the car was effortlessly lifted up into the air. The titan’s face filled the windows.
“This is your final destination, Bill. Ha! That was clever, wasn’t it?” Raum said. The huge blue eyes gleamed with savage triumph.
“Uh…” Bill managed.
“Well, I thought it was.” With that, the giant ripped off the entire back end of the subway car and then lifted it over his open mouth. Bill reacted instinctively, grabbing onto one of the handles hanging from the ceiling as the entire car tilted at a steep angle. That was the only thing that prevented him from tumbling down into the fleshly abyss that was Raum’s mouth. Unfortunately, the other people in the car were caught off-guard and simply fell down screaming into the darkness of the giant’s immense throat. Bill dangled above the chasm, praying that the handle wouldn’t break. Raum’s breath was hot and humid and smelled like a charnel house, which made sense considering the mangled corpses caught between his boulder-sized molars.
So this was it. He was going to be eaten by a gigantic sociopath.
That was when he heard Lynn’s voice, amplified because it was coming from the device around Raum’s neck.
“Raum! Just checking in. Have you found Bill yet?”
Bill breathed a sigh of relief when the terrifying mouth moved away.
“No, still looking, Lynn.” There was more than a hint of irritation in the giant’s bass voice.
“Lynn! I’m here, I’m here!” Bill shrieked at the top of his lungs.
“What was that?”
“Nothing, just some convict I’m about to eat,” Raum replied, giving the subway car a good shake. Bill wailed as he swung around wildly, hitting the wall of the car hard enough that he saw stars.
“Well, let me know if you find him,” Lynn said. Bill’s heart sank as he realized that he really was doomed. He glanced down, the ragged opening in the subway car directly beneath him. Bill quickly decided that it was better to fall to his death than be digested alive in Raum’s belly. He took a deep, shuddering breath and then let go of the handle, plunging through the gaping hole.
He expected to splatter against the ground below so he was shocked when he hit water. It took several seconds for him to react and he simply sank downwards. Then he flailed wildly, his lungs already on fire from lack of oxygen. When he broke the surface of the water he wheezed and choked, frantic to breathe. He had fallen into the reservoir, he realized. Jesus, what dumb luck. He wondered if Raum noticed that he was no longer in the subway car.
It was obvious that the giant had. The subway car flew by overhead, hurled at several hundred miles an hour. It landed somewhere in the distance. Bill treaded water, trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible. Raum dropped down on his hands and knees, searching the subway station. While he was looking around the station, Bill paddled over to the edge of the reservoir and pulled himself out, his soaked clothes weighing him down. The walls of Gehenna were visible over the skyscrapers, which meant he was close. Just a few more blocks…
His legs and lungs ached fiercely as he ran in that direction.
Bill stopped at one point to lean against a streetlight pole, panting from sheer exhaustion. He really wished he wasn’t so out of shape. If he survived this mess, he would start going to the gym more and eating donuts less. The key word was “if,” though. People usually didn’t survive for very long if Raum was after them.
He was still gasping for breath when he saw the convicts headed toward him. He immediately recognized the one who had murdered Kurt, his injured ear crusted with dark blood from where the Maenad had bitten him. The prisoner recognized him as well and he gave Bill an overly wide smile.
“Well, if it ain’t that guy from earlier. Looks like your pet monster lost you,” he said. More like he had purposely lost Raum, but Bill didn’t mention that. Something flashed in the convict’s hand and he saw that it was the switchblade, the one that had been used to slice open his friend’s neck. And it probably would have carved a red smile in his own throat if the giant hadn’t bashed his way through a line of buildings.
“How the hell do you keep escaping? Goddamn, you’re one lucky sonvabitch, aren’t you?” Raum marveled. “I think I’m gonna wear your head as a good luck charm.” He took an impressive step forward, grinning. Some of the prisoners took off running, but others remained where they were, petrified.
“Hey, look! You have friends here, too! I’m gonna have fun with you guys,” the giant said, looking at the convicts with hungry eyes.
Perhaps it was all of the stress that he had been under, but Bill exploded.
“Just try it! I’ll blow this whole place to smithereens!” He shouted. Raum’s smile slowly faded.
“What are you talking about, Bill?”
Normally, Bill was a terrible liar. Whenever Donna asked him to do something and he forgot, he would try to lie and he always failed terribly. She could always see the way that he diverted his eyes, his ears turning crimson. But right now, standing in Gehenna, the lie flowed through his mouth with ease.
“What the hell do you think I’m talking about? This whole city is wired to explode in the event that something goes wrong. We’re basically sitting on an atomic bomb. And not even you can survive that, Raum.”
The giant squinted suspiciously at him. “And let me guess…you have the codes to blow us all up, right?”
“Of course I do. The surveillance system, the detonation system, everything in this place is tied together. And I am one of the chief technicians.”
“You’d be killing yourself as well,” Raum said, although Bill could see the doubt in his eyes.
“It’s better than being killed by you! You know what, I may just do it. I’d be doing humanity a favor by getting rid of you!” Bill snarled.
“Hey, relax. It’s okay, just calm down,” the convict missing part of his ear said, holding up his hands placatingly.
Bill was intoxicated with rage and he was beginning to understand why Raum must have enjoyed being so angry all the time. His voice was distorted as he roared, “I’ve just had the worst day of my goddamn life!”
“You know, I’m the tragic one here. I’m programmed to just feel hate and sadism. Just a sad, pathetic pawn of the State-,” Raum started.
“Shut the fuck up, you giant fucking psychopath!” Bill screamed.
Raum looked sad. “I wish people would stop calling me that.”
Bill began to back away, toward the cluster of convicts. They respectfully moved aside to let him through. But his focus was more on the giant, who was watching him with barely-controlled rage. As soon as he was past the prisoners, he started to run. He could hear Raum as he dashed down the street.
“Huh. I think he lied to us,” the giant said thoughtfully.
The gates were straight ahead and Bill willed his legs to move faster. He was only a few hundred feet away when the familiar rumbling of the giant’s voice made him freeze. He glanced backwards and saw the colossus.
“Hello, Bill,” Raum said and there was something truly horrifying about his expression. It took Bill a moment to understand that he was seeing the giant as he truly was, once all of the superficial charm and paralyzing anger had been stripped away. Bill felt his skin crawl as he looked up at something that was merely posing as a human. No, he wasn’t a person at all. He was a horrible and cruel thing whose only purpose was to kill and kill until every last human being was dead. If he ever managed to get free, he would do exactly that…exterminate humanity.
“Raum, please,” Bill pleaded as the giant strode toward him.
“Begging won’t work, Bill. I’m going to kill you now.” The voice was calm and matter-of-fact. Bill preferred the angry Raum. At least he could understand that version of the giant. This one was terrible in its inhumanness. He tried to run but the concrete wall was blocking his path. And right in front of him was the living embodiment of his death and the death of all humanity, vast and pitiless.
He didn’t struggle when the giant grabbed him between two fingers, surprisingly dexterous for such a colossal being. After all, his luck had run out. Raum stood up, the desert sun blinding Bill for a moment as he was dangled high above Gehenna.
“Hey, guys!” The voice came from a bullhorn. Both Raum and Bill looked over to where several members of Security were standing on the top of the wall.
“Look who I found,” the giant said, his charming personality falling back into place. Bill wanted to scream out that Raum had almost killed him several times, but he could still see that awful monster lurking behind the blue eyes. There was an unspoken promise of pain and torment if he dared to open his mouth. Besides, the giant was squeezing him hard enough between his fingers that it was difficult to even breathe.
It was not until Raum placed him on the top of the wall that Bill was able to breathe normally again. He winced, touching his tender ribcage and wondering if the giant had broken anything.
“Jeez, man. You sure are lucky,” Ben commented. He was one of the members of Security, a tall, fit man who looked like he belonged in black fatigues.
“Yeah, he sure is. Thank goodness I was there to rescue him,” Raum said, staring intensely at Bill.
“Um, right,” he whispered.
“Well! Now that this is all over, I’m going back to reading Swann’s Way. That Proust guy sure is a profound writer,” the giant told them, giving Bill one last dreadful glance. “I’ll see you guys at Rachel’s baby shower.”
Bill watched as he thundered away, hardly believing that he was still alive and with all of his limbs intact.
“Does anyone know why he keeps getting invited to parties? I mean, he scares the crap out of me,” Ben said.
“I dunno. I think HR is trying to make him feel included or something,” someone else said. Bill was staring off into space and he jumped when Ben clapped him on the back.
“You okay? You look like you’ve been through a lot,” Ben said.
“You can say that,” Bill replied.
When Bill returned to his desk, his boss handed him several incident report forms. He just wanted to go home at that point and instead of completing the forms, he went onto the company website. Raum’s handsome face greeted him on the front page. Fucking homicidal giant. He would need to find a job somewhere else, but where? The studio was the only employer in the area. Besides, the Party tended to not look kindly upon people who abandoned their jobs frequently, especially if that job involved tending to their godawful monster.
That was when Bill happened to click on a new job posting on the website. He carefully read through the description and then decided to apply.
One Month Later…
“Ready, take one!” Greg announced.
“Mmmm, this Slurm soda sure is delicious!” Raum was holding a titanic can, several times bigger than the tank on a town water tower. He lifted it to his lips, took a large gulp and then promptly spat the mouthful back out. Gallons of soda sprayed against a nearby studio building, shattering the windows.
“This shit tastes like cat piss!” The giant’s expression was one of disgust.
“Raum, just do the damn promo!”
“Screw you, you little twerp.”
Greg sighed and reached into his pocket for more aspirin. He had a raging headache and dealing with the prima donna giant wasn’t helping it. Raum seemed to sense his discomfort and he leaned against Gehenna’s towering wall, a smirk on his face.
“Where’s the new Handler?” Greg demanded, then spotted him. “Control him, please.”
Raum continued to smirk until the jolt ripped through his body. The giant obviously hadn’t been expecting such high voltage; his vast body went rigid and he opened his mouth to scream but no sound came out. He began to spasm wildly and the people at his feet ran for their lives.
“Stop! Stop! That’s enough!” Greg yelled even as bloody spittle dribbled from the corners of Raum’s lips. Once the Handler stopped pressing the button, the giant slumped to the ground, looking dazed and hurt. He blinked and turned his murderous attention on the tiny man who had dared to cause him pain.
Then Bill pressed the button one more time. For good luck.