Loosing off another shot, a printer exploded in a shower of sparks, paper and ink, causing Hank to veer around another corner. One of his earlier victims was slumped against a desk. Hank picked up the body and dropped it on a chair, removing a grenade from the guard's bandolier and clipping it onto his belt. Ripping the phone cord from the wall, he tied the body to the chair, pumped the shotgun and waited.
"You do realize that he's trying to kill me..? Us..?" Hank shouted at his body. "Where do they find these people?!" Hank questioned, as his body stood motionless, awaiting the arrival of the beast. When it lumbered slowly around the corner of the main thoroughfare, a moving target greeted it and the massive cannon spread the remains of the unfortunate guard across a wide area. As a wisp of smoke drifted out of the barrel, Hank chose this moment to act. Calmly, he walked out, advancing on the huge individual and unloaded shot after shot into the torso and head of his foe. Blinded, it pulled the trigger once more, only to hear an agonizing 'clunk' from the mechanism, showing that the ammunition was spent. On the fourth attempt, it decided to throw the massive gun.
The lump of metal arced through the air slowly and caught Hank in the right arm, sending the shotgun spinning away. Hank's arm hung limply by his side, as his mental self yelled in anguished pain, at the injustices of the world. Blinded by the spread of the buckshot, the brute charged forward, flailing madly. Hank stepped to the side, allowing the brute to charge past, into the wall at the end of the room, which it hit at speed, before falling to the ground, motionless.
Through the sobs of pain and fear from his inner self, Hank looked at his arm, forlornly and lifted it back up. With a snap and more screams of agony reverberating around his head, the shoulder relocated and Hank picked up the shotgun, which had seen better days. Looking to the elevator, Hank noted that it was descending to his floor and moved towards the broken window.
Hank poked his head through the window, noting the corpse below. He turned his gaze skywards and noticed a window cleaning cradle further up the side of the building. He took the rope off his shoulder, attached the grapple and started to swing it in long, slow circles.
On the cradle, a worker was wiping suds off the windows with his squeegee, a gun sticking rather obviously out of the back of his dungarees. Suddenly, a grappling hook lunged up from underneath and stuck between his shoulder blades. A few seconds later, a few sharp tugs on the cord pulled the worker over the edge and it plummeted.
As the corpse fell from the cradle, Hank reeled in the excess rope and flicked his wrist. The blood stained hook came loose and the body continued to fall, as Hank prepared a second throw. The grapple caught this time, when the elevator doors slid open and three men, wearing body armour and carrying assault rifles ran through the office, towards the window. Hank jumped, unhooking the grenade from his belt and removing the pin with his teeth as the breeze buffeted his face. He swung back towards the window and let the grenade go, allowing it to drop in through the opening.
A figure appeared at the window and levelled the assault rifle, just as the explosive detonated, blowing smoke, debris and the guard out of the window. Satisfied at some level, he continued to climb.
"So, you're just going to kill everyone here are you, is that the plan? Or will you finally stop if something kills me?" Shattered by the pain wracking his body, Hank was desperately seeking answers to the main question - would he ever wake up, or have his body back? As Hank reached the cradle, he pressed the green button on the controls, sending the cradle up toward the top of the building.
* * *
In a dimly lit office, a man sat in on oversized chair, clicking through CCTV images. As the grenade went off and one of the guards plummeted to his inevitable death, he allowed himself a small chuckle and he shook, uncontrollably for a few seconds, before resuming watching Hank's climb, from a safe distance.
* * *
Hank pried open the cover for the ventilation shaft and dropped in on top of a guard, driving his head in the floor and breaking the fall. As he found some cover, one of the guard's colleagues unloaded a few rounds into the human shield that Hank was now equipped with. Patting him down, Hank acquired a hand gun and a knife, which he threw back at the second guard, causing him to duck. Hank dived sidelong and slotted one shot between the second guard's eyes.
The large doors were bespoke carved wood and appeared to have the word 'manager' scrawled across them in what looked like dried blood. "This is it - we're right at the top now. Is this the end?" thought Hank, as he opened the door.
"Hello Hank. I have been watching your progress with interest." The large chair swiveled around and the clown sat there, his menacing grin fixed across his face and madness glinting within his eyes, in contrast to the sharp suit and Goth stomper boots.. Hank stood there, as his mind filled in the blanks.
"You know my name. How do you know me?" The stare of Hank almost matched that of the clown.
"What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" The clown chortled as he stood up and paced across the room, towards Hank, who moved in a circling pattern with the mysterious clown. On the screens, a bearded figure walked calmly through the main doors and started shooting guards with precision and finesse.
"You're not going to tell me, are you? This really is the end. Come on, we might as well leave." Hank ordered his body to walk away, but the powers controlling his motor function did not listen.
"You're so boring in real life - you were so much better on candid camera." With that, the clown swung a fist and Hank reflexively parried it, allowing the fist fight to start in earnest. The fists flew and on the screens, the bearded man walked with purpose through the destroyed office, taking the elevator.
The clown landed a punch on Hank's jaw and he struggled back, blood trickling from the tight mouth line. He replied with a punch of his own, which squeaked off the clown's nose. The bout continued, as guards foolish enough to stand in the way of the mysterious visitor were given one way tickets to the end of their lives. Finally, the clown pushed Hank back and held out his hand.
"I'm sorry, but now is time I put a stop to this." With that, a cloud of black smoke, tinged with red formed a pole shape in his hand, and a stop sign coalesced in his grip. With Hank surging forward, the clown drove the sign through Hank's chest, laughing all the while, as he planted it in the floor. He returned to the chair and picked up the welding mask from the arm and pulled it over his face, framing two shocking spikes of red hair and a glint of malice in his eyes.
The spark faded from Hank's eyes and his mind felt the pain and the emptiness of the lack of heartbeat. "Is this it? Am I to die here, not knowing any answers?" Tears rolled down the face of Hank's inner self and he looked around the darkening room. Suddenly, he spotted a little child, a memory of himself, long dead, long forgotten. A larger child was chasing him, bunched fists raised and he tripped young Hank, bearing him to the ground.
"Give me your candy! You've gotta pay the toll!"
"I don't have any candy!" The boy wailed, struggling to be let free.
"Then give me your money, so I can buy some candy!" The bully pulled back a fist and scowled at the child, who continued to cry. Upon seeing this long forgotten memory, Hank walked over to see what was going on. As the bully attempted to strike the child, Hank threw his fist in the way of the bully's, causing him to recoil, as if hurt. Lifting the bully off the blubbing child, Hank pulled him close.
"Leave him alone."