Day 64 of 100 Word Prompts: Pipe
“Quick, get in there!” Glade yelled as the cars pursuing them gained rapidly.
Kolin slid the manhole cover over and dropped, ignoring the ladder entirely, the fifteen feet to the bottom. He looked up, waiting expectantly for Glade, who appeared a moment later, dropping to his feet next to him. They didn’t wait a moment longer before they turned to run down the sewer.
“Thankfully, we haven’t had much rain,” Glade said as he led the way through the maze of pathways toward their escape.
“Who would have thought that anyone would take this so seriously,” Kolin said, flipping the steel canister in his hands.
“Please don’t do that,” Glade replied, snatching it from the air and placing it gingerly in his pocket. “This is worth more than you can imagine.”
“I still don’t even know what it is,” Kolin replied, looking expectantly at his partner.
“It’s best if you don’t know,” Glade replied, checking behind them as a splash echoed from the tunnel behind them. “We should hurry.”
“Lead away,” Kolin replied as they began running further into the network.
Glade kept a sprint going as they rounded corner after corner. Kolin assumed that he knew where he was going based on the speed in which they traveled. Passing the pipes in the walls trickling small amounts of water, or nothing at all, Kolin wondered in passing where the pipes led. In what part of the city above them did they end?
“Here,” Glade said, skidding to halt between two pipes where the wall looked as though it needed repairs. “This is where we take our leave.”
“What?” Kolin asked as Glade reached up and pressed on a brick high above his head.
The wall opened without a sound, revealing another stone pathway, this one much darker than the one they had been in previously. Glade motioned for Kolin to go first, and without hesitation, he did, letting Glade step into the new passage behind him. The wall closed itself just as the echo of footsteps grew closer, plunging them into pure darkness. A sudden bright light flared to life as Glade clicked the button on his flashlight.
“Where are we?” Kolin asked.
“This is a resistance hideout,” Glade replied, walking ahead.
“I don’t understand how you know all this stuff,” Kolin said, shaking his head as he followed his friend. “We’ve worked together for nearly ten years, and I didn’t know that you were involved in any of this stuff.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know, Kolin,” Glade said.
“Wait,” Kolin said, pulling Glade around to face him. “I’m not taking another step until you explain some things to me. How much didn’t you tell me?”
“Why the sudden hostility?” Glade asked.
“Because I’ve done nothing but follow you for the last two days, and people have been trying to kill us the entire time,” Kolin said. “You invited me to go with you on a road trip. You didn’t say anything about burglary, or assassins, or anything else.”
“I did tell you that I’d be making a few stops, and things might get dicey while we were out,” Glade replied, “I never lied to you about any of it.”
“No? What’s in the canister then?” Kolin asked, pointing to Glade’s pocket.
“It’s a solution that Goliath Inc had been researching for the last ten years. I’ve been watching them for years to make sure they never pulled it off. I even went to far as to destroy their data a handful of times before they began getting suspicious about me,” Glade said.
“What does it do?” Kolin asked.
“The solution is specifically an immortality serum,” Glade said.
Kolin rocked on his feet for a moment. “Immortality?” Kolin repeated.
“Yes, immortality. Of course, it’s only going to be available for the super-rich, because that’s how these things work. Still, the world is already so broken with their vast wealth already taking ninety-eight-percent of everything in the world,” Glade said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I know it sounds crazy, but things can only get worse for everything if they are allowed access to this. That’s why I had to act now. It’s also part of why I needed you to come with me. You’re my friend, and once my cover was blown, I knew that they would come after you.”
“You said this is a resistance tunnel. What resistance? Who are they resisting?” Kolin asked, choosing to move on to another subject.
“The resistance is specifically here to redistribute the wealth in any manner they can,” Glade replied. “They go by many names that you may have heard before, but ultimately it’s all the same organization. The goal is to strip the ultra-wealthy of most of their resources and reinject it into society in a way that doesn’t create any more of the ultra-rich.”
“How’s that going for you?” Kolin asked, crossing his arms. “How are they doing it? Robbing banks? Hacking their networks for ransom? How?”
“Currently, our focus is stopping them from achieving larger goals, but ultimately, if we eliminate enough of the younger generation in their families, the money remains unclaimed and not passed on to another set of ultra-rich people-”
“You’re talking about murder,” Kolin said, raising his voice.
“I’m talking about equalization,” Glade shot back. “Murder is reserved for those that don’t deserve to die. You think it’s right that these ultra-rich people continue to collect nearly trillions of dollars a year each while not lifting a finger? You think it’s right that so many people in this world spend their entire lives working a hundred plus hours a week not to make an inch of progress in their lives? You think its right that people can’t afford to eat and pay their bills unless they spend most of their time working?”
“I’m not saying that,” Kolin said, suddenly feeling silly. “But there has to be a better way.”
“We tried doing it through political pawns, but it turns out that having most of the money in the world makes it nothing to buy political pawns? We have maybe gotten three members of the republic representatives elected, yet they have hundreds. Nothing will change unless we step it up. Nothing will get better for everyone else until something is done to level the field,” Glade said. “Look, I care about you, but if you don’t want to do this, you can step back out into that tunnel and hope that they don’t kill you when they see you.
“You can tell them everything that you know, but they will probably kill you anyway. They will torture you, and then, when they decide that you are of no further value, they will shoot you in the back of the head. That’s how they work.”
“They can’t do that,” Kolin protested, “Those are police out there. They are sworn to protect-”
“The wealthy,” Glade said. “When’s the last time you heard of anyone in the upper class going to jail or being arrested? When’s the last time any sort of investigation was announced regarding a death in which a rich person was involved? I’d be willing to bet my life that you’ve never heard of one.”
“Of course I’ve heard of one,” Kolin said, “What about the case with Savannah George?”
“What? The failed child actor that shot eight people in broad daylight?” Glade asked.
“Yeah, she went to prison,” Kolin said, though he had doubts about how it turned out. The news had shifted very rapidly after that.
“No, she didn’t,” Glade corrected. “Eight people dead, twenty-two witnesses, as well as camera footage, and she’s still living in her mansion out in the hills. She didn’t get so much as a slap on the wrist. She was sentenced to counseling and probation, which she refused to do either, and still didn’t have to go to prison.”
“So you’re saying that this resistance is better? You’re putting your beliefs above everyone else’s and making decisions for people that never asked you to,” Kolin replied.
“We are choosing to try to fix the system,” Glade said. “It’s been broken for seventy-five years, and so we’re here to try to balance the scales again.”
“And that immortality serum would help millions of cancer patients,” Kolin said.
“And also make sure that the rich never need to pass along another penny to anyone else,” Glade said. “I don’t know if you know it, but there was this old game called Monopoly that taught children the basics of capitalism, and normalize things like making other people go bankrupt. It was a sick ‘game’ created and pushed by the rich so that by the time anyone was old enough to question the system. They had already been brainwashed.”
Kolin turned back toward the door, holding his hand out toward the latch on the inside. He paused for a moment, thinking about how many hours he had worked with Glade at Goliath Inc. How many times he had complained to him about the ridiculous reasons that the company had docked his pay. The AI system had fired eight people that past Christmas. It was sickening to even think about helping the company. His hand dropped back to his waist as he slowly turned back to face his friend.
“You really brought me with you because we’re friends?” Kolin asked.
“One-hundred and ten percent,” Glade replied. “I didn’t want to get you involved in this, but it was inevitable. Either you came with me, or they would have you in some torture chamber right now.”
“No more secrets?” Kolin asked.
“No more secrets from me, at least,” Glade replied.
“Okay, I’ll follow you to this ‘resistance,’ but if I don’t agree with their fight, I’m gone,” Kolin said, holding out his hand. “And you will make sure that I can live the rest of my life comfortably someplace far away from Goliath Inc.”
“I swear it on my life,” Glade replied, shaking Kolin’s hand. “Follow me.”