In the not so distant future, news had been flashing ceaselessly on television screens around the world. For the first time nations shared a common ground. World leaders and others of importance were being killed indiscriminately. It was still unclear who was responsible but the west began looking to the east and the east to the west and tensions were high. Because of the widespread nature of the murders it wasn’t easy to point the heavy finger of blame in any particular direction. The killings were different each time and despite many militia and terrorist groups laying claim to the assassinations, the culprit was thought to still be on the loose. CIA, FBI, NSA and all the other lesser known government agencies had been searching for the killer or the group offering him the opportunities. The terrorist cells responsible were particularly difficult to place because they seemed to have no real motive. There was no political statement made and no payments demanded. Many terrorist groups throughout the world were claiming the killings as their own but their claims were always found to be without merit.
President Philip Owen had been stirred from his bed as new news was emerging of yet another death.
“You must come immediately,” said the emotionless voice over the telephone. His entire body leapt from sleep to wake in cold shakes. He looked to his wife Jackie lying beside him. The phone was still buzzing on the night stand so he switched it off and without turning on a light he left his wife sleeping and made his way to the Oval Office, pulling a green sweatshirt over his pyjamas to try to make himself more presentable at such an ungodly hour.
Inside the Oval Office a member of his staff had already switched the television on in anticipation. A news report was being carried out by a young journalist wearing a long black coat and a smug expression. President Owen had seen his face so often recently as he kept the world up to date with the exploits of the ‘Chaos Killer’. He was an American reporter named Jaimya Van Hols and he always managed to get himself the exclusives on the murders. People were dying but he could only offer a small amount of care because it was causing his career to flourish. Words scrolled underneath which read ‘Chaos killer strikes in the Middle East’. His Highness Mohamar Al Sayeed Ambhad, a Saudi Arabian prince had been found hanging from the ceiling by his feet in his stately room in the palace. His throat had been cut in a ceremonial way and when his security happened upon his body, blood was still dripping from the wound. Someone had managed to make their way in and back out of his chambers with the swiftness of a cat but no money had been taken and there was no sign of a struggle. It almost seemed like he had gone willingly to his death. Amateur footage that had been taken earlier showed Mohamar hanging and his distraught attendants weeping close to his body.
Prince Mohamar Ambhad had been a pioneer in building relations between his country and the rest of the world. He was beloved by his people and respected by his counterparts in the west. He had no known enemies and his death would only hinder progress.
President Owen dropped his head into his hands and brushed his dark brown hair back, which was gathering more grey as the death toll increased. He reached out to take some water but his hand was met by an empty glass. Jackie appeared in the doorway still in her nightdress.
“Another killing?” she enquired. Philip looked back at the screen without replying. “They will find the one who is doing this.” Whether as a wife, mother or politician Jackie was always found the same way. Her optimism was why the American people loved her.
Philip had met Jackie at a political conference back when they were both starting out in their careers. Both of them hailed from old political families. Their parties were in direct opposition so when their union was announced the nation rejoiced because it meant that the entire spectrum of American politics was brought to the centre. Jackie’s grandfather had been a man of great influence in political circles but Jackie was not without her own astuteness. She was a caring wife and mother but also an excellent partner. They would be married twenty years the following Tuesday and Philip didn’t know how he would have handled the past few weeks without her.
Beside President Owen the faint buzz of the telephone sounded again. It was hardly noticeable to him because the ringing had begun to merge with all the thoughts calling out in his mind. It wasn’t until a commotion erupted in the corridor outside, as the Secret Service agents on staff began to discuss the latest killing that he finally answered.
“Please hold for the Prime Minister, sir,” said the sweet voice of Emily Miller, the secretary for the Prime Minster of England. The voice was very familiar to Philip Owen although they had never met in person. She was always pleasant and he had come to know her so well over the telephone that he had sent her flowers of condolence when her mother had died recently.
Soon her sweet voice was replaced by that of the Prime Minister, Selena Samson. It was harsher and much less formal. “Another one Philip,” she greeted.
The President fell silent for a moment. “They will be lucky if they do find the killer. Already half of Europe is looking for him not to mention Australasia and still nothing concrete has turned up. He has been wanted by Interpol since the first.”
It had all began when Jacques Marlode, the prime minister of Belgium, was found in the bathrooms of The Hague. His body was trapped inside the window where the authorities believed he had been trying to escape his attacker. Jacques’ body was intact but his head had been taken cleanly. This was followed closely by Antonio Romero of Italy, who was discovered in the back seat of his silver car with diplomatic license plates showing no discernible cause of death. Arnold Grigsom, an Austrian official, had been murdered on his favourite golf course on the outskirts of Vienna. A cart carrying his body came crashing into the club house where guests were being served lunch. His torso had been torn and his heart removed. The assassinations had caused such an upset that the tabloids had dubbed the assassin ‘The Chaos Killer’. The latest killing in Saudi Arabia showed the assassin was continuing on his murderous rampage and they were no closer to finding him.
“He is definitely a professional. He has found his way into some of the most secure locations,” Selena was saying. “You and I seem to have been kept safe enough though. If I didn’t know any better I would swear it was one of us.”
President Owen immediately became defensive. No matter how late the hour, he would always be alert enough to return a challenge. “Something like this would never be funded on US coin!” he said. He had been particularly edgy lately.
Selena began to laugh, easing the tension. “Of course not. I’m just saying what others are thinking. Something has to be done so I’m calling an emergency summit. We will meet in the coming week or so.”
“A summit at this time?” He felt his people would feel safer if he remained in the United States at the present time.
“What else do you suggest? We wait around to see who is murdered next? None of us are safe you know. We had a break in at number eleven last week. We thought we had him at first when MI5 took him into custody. After hours of questioning it seems he was just an enthusiast.”
President Owen sighed. “I guess we have no choice.”
“My office will co-ordinate with yours,” said Selena. The President agreed and just when he was at the point of disconnecting the call she added. “Oh and Philip… Keep safe.”
President Owen’s eyes were immediately drawn back to the screen. Now the report was showing a large map of the earth with red markings on the places in the world that had been affected by the recent killings. South America and Canada had been touched but so far the U.S. had managed to evade attack.
“I don’t trust her,” Jackie was saying to her husband, stirring him from his swimming thoughts. “She is a little too ambitious. She would knife your back as soon as sit you on a pedestal.”
“I don’t trust her either but she is the Prime Minister of England and a good ally for us,” Philip assured.
“Doesn’t anyone think that having all the world leaders in one room together gives the assassin ample opportunity? It doesn’t seem likely he would make an attack in such a public area but you can’t be too careful.”
President Owen shrugged his shoulders. “Security will be very tight.”
Jackie Owen pursed her lips tightly. “I was in Saudi Arabia last month. I was on a diplomatic mission but it took me several hours to get through that security. This killer managed to get in and out without anyone noticing. Security doesn’t seem to concern him.”
Philip looked at his wife. He was used to having debates with her; it gave him well rounded opinions to take to his cabinet. They always argued over their political differences but this time she was genuinely concerned.
“If I’m called I can’t refuse to go. We need to show that we are doing everything possible. Besides, it might draw the attacker out. With so many people there it might cause him to make a mistake.”
“I am going to make a few phone calls,” she told him. “I’ll send for some coffee. I think it’s going to be a long night.”
“Send for water instead,” Philip called after her pushing the empty glass away from him.
Philip Owen laid his hands on the desk that he had fought several years to sit behind and for the first time in his political career he had no idea what to do next as the world began to wake to the terrible news.
Subscribe to the page for more images, news and stories from the Conflict series.
COMING SOON as a graphic novel!