He looked down at his phone to see the last name he wanted to see calling him, this could only be bad news. His vacation had been just what he needed after such a tumultuous time at work and the last thing he wanted to see flash up on his phone was “Boss” calling.
His doctor had suggested he take the time off after a smattering of problematic conversations in which he’d sobbed his way through his work issues. His boss had grumbled but was ultimately content for him to take the time off with the proviso that he could guarantee his staff could take on his workload. He had entrusted his two best members of staff with the reins and departed with a spring in his step. He hadn’t even thought about work once as he lay back with his feet up. After four decades of what felt like constant graft, he could finally relax safe in the knowledge that things were being taken care of.
He took a deep breath, braced himself and swiped to answer. “Hi Jay!” he cheered “how’s things?” “How’s things?!” spat Jay down the phone incredulously in a tone which suggested that things weren’t entirely great. Someone clearly needed their own vacation he thought. “How’s fucking things?! Do you have any idea how long you’ve been on vacation for?” He thought about this for a second, he wasn’t entirely sure if it was a rhetorical question. “To be honest, times gotten away from me Jay, I’ve been focussing on me for a change and trying to just take the time to relax, how, uh, how long has it been?” he knew he was expected to ask but given the tone of the conversation, he really didn’t want to know the answer. “Times gotten away from you” muttered Jay under his breath. “It’s been six fucking decades mate” Jay said bluntly. A pregnant pause hung between them. “Did you hear me?!” Jay shouted “six fucking decades. And those two buffoon’s you left in charge have made an absolute shit show of things. My Dad is furious, man. Things are going to shit. Get it together, get back here and meet me at 10am tomorrow. Sharp.” Jay went to hang up then jumped back on “Oh and Peace, don’t bother speaking to those two fools you left in charge before tomorrow, I think it best if you just come in blind, it’s going to be a bit of a shock to the system. Bring coffee.” He hung up without any pleasantries.
Peace looked down at the phone, shook his head and looked in the mirror. Six decades, he thought. What could have possibly happened? When he left things had looked good. War had been quiet, knocked back down to the small time criminal she’d been in the very early 1900’s. Yes, she’d been responsible for the 2 biggest events in human history to date but Peace had taken her to task and beaten her to a bloody pulp, sent her off with her tail between her legs. The people had even come up with a little sign for Peace’s name, they were all throwing it about, it was like the new way of saying ‘goodbye’. His name was literally on everyone’s lips. He’d felt he’d left things on a high. Bowed out at a perfect time to hand the reins off to someone else. ‘Buffoons’ Jay had called them. He’d had full confidence in Tranquility and Serenity to keep things ticking over, yes they were young but they’d come up under him and he’d thought they were ready to lead.
He began packing his things, trying to maintain positive thoughts, he wasn’t ready to throw away all this good work just because of a bad phonecall. Tomorrow was another day.
He hadn’t slept well. He’d been tempted to phone Tranquility or Serenity during the night but had thought better of it. The way Jay had spoken to him was enough to give him the feeling that today wasn’t going to be a good today and, even worse, he’d mentioned his Dad being furious, probably best to play things straight. Not the greatest idea to piss off for six decades then go against the boss’ wishes when you get summoned back to a supposed ‘shit show’.
He checked his watch, 9:59am. At least he wasn’t late he thought. He punched the ‘up’ button at the lift and jumped in, making sure not to spill the two coffees he was carrying. He pressed the illuminated ‘T’ for top floor and slowly paced the lift until it chimed. The doors opened presenting a beautifully lit corridor, filled with bright, oddly shaped lamps. At the end of the corridor just in front of a large wooden door stood the silhouette of his boss. “Come on then” said Jay as he opened the large wooden door to his office and beckoned Peace in.
“Chill man, it’s OK” said Jay as Peace bent to lay the two coffees down on the large faux-mahogany desk in front of him. He had noticed the numerous beads of sweat dripping down onto the glass surface. “I realise how I sounded on the phone last night and I apologise for that. I’d just had my ass chewed out by my Father and passed that onto you. Yes, things are in the shitter, but I’m hopeful we can sort it out today. Do I have your forgiveness?” Peace wiped his forehead, picked up Jay’s lofty name tag reading ‘Jesus H Christ, 2nd in Command’ which he had knocked over in his haste to put down the hot coffees and pursed his lips to blow out a long deep breath. “Of course” he said, smiling at his boss and longtime friend.
They had sat for an hour or so sipping their coffees exchanging small talk and catching up on the last 60 or so years before Jay had stood up and started throwing down files across his desk like a Vegas blackjack dealer. It never seemed to end. He couldn’t believe his eyes. That son of a bitch Evil, who had been small time for years, had unleashed this guy Charles Manson just after he’d left, ambushing Tranquility and Serenity. Evil and Terrorism had put their heads together and birthed the 9/11 attacks, he could imagine that puppet master Death kicking back in his office chair revelling in the chaos.
War had reared her ugly head again, years after he’d left. She’d been busy – Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, The Falklands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Syria. She’d been everywhere it seemed. He winced each time he apprehensively opened another file. Regret filled him like an air tight blow up mattress. He felt like he couldn’t breathe. How could he have been so selfish?! How could he have disappeared for so long with no inkling that this was going on? Jay had talked him down, reassured him that he’d left things in a fantastic state of affairs after decades of battling with that jezebel War.
Jay bent over the desk and dramatically slid all the files off the desk. The discarded paperwork made a dull thud as they dropped off the edge of the table and flopped across the shiny wooden floorboards. “OK, I know that’s alot to take in but bear with me” said Jay. “I’m not telling you all this to bum you out and to make you feel guilty. No, all of that sets the foundations for what I’m about to now show you. I need to introduce you to a few of the newer guys on the scene. These are the guys I want you to concentrate on, just like you did War all those years ago.” Again, Jay began dealing out the files, throwing out names as the files hit the desk. “Bigotry, Narcissism, Climate, Ignorance, Disease, AI” Peace looked them over, taking in the names Jay was reeling off. “I suppose I’m not surprised about Disease, he’s always been an asshole. But Climate? Why’d she switch sides?” he asked. Jay scoffed “Yep, you’ll probably need more coffee for her, that’s a big file.” He had spent the rest of the day reading about social media, fake news, humans’ love affair with technology, the abuse of antibiotics and issues of race and religion which he thought he’d eradicated when he defeated War decades earlier. His head pounded and the pit of his stomach ached with regret.
It was now late and much to his surprise 12 hours had passed since he had walked into Jay’s office. He had his work cut out. He knew that. But he had a good team of people who he would link back up with tomorrow. For the first time that day he booted up his laptop and opened his emails. He drummed his fingers as the 4.25 million unread emails filled up the screen before him. He clicked on ‘compose’ and began scrolling through his address list, he clicked on his most trusted of colleagues that he knew he would now need with him to fight this forthcoming battle. He just hoped they were still up for it. He plopped his fingers onto the keyboard and began to write:
To: Unity; Inclusiveness; Love; Empathy; Hope; Intelligence
CC: Serenity; Tranquility
I know it has been many years since you have heard from me and I know that you are now facing battles well beyond what you faced when I was last in office. Today I have received a whistle stop tour of the last 60 or so years from Jay. I understand that his Father is mightily concerned. He believes he is losing the battle with the Red Prince. Having read Jay’s files today, I understand why.
I am confident, however, that with you by my side we can slow the plans of that nefarious bastard Death. We know we’ll never stop him, but we cannot allow him to achieve his ultimate goal. If he does, we will no longer have a purpose. His master will have won. We cannot allow that to happen.
If you are with me, meet me tomorrow at the usual place. I have a plan. We can do this.
Your trusting friend,