They were coming for him.
The Boss snatched at the lacy curtains with a mottled hand and peered out at the verdant gardens beyond. The brilliant blue sky and the impossibly green lawn seemed like a world away from the musty confines of his manor prison. The Boss gazed up at the cracks spidering across the lofty ceilings high above and wondered how many days it had been since he’d last ventured outside.
Ornate crystal pendants hanging from a gargantuan chandelier overhead tinkled with a draught breezing through the mansion from an unseen source. Were they inside?
The Boss slipped off his leather loafers and tiptoed towards the enormous oak door ahead on the landing. Silently, he eased the door open and stepped through, slipping the heavy bolts closed behind him.
His most trusted cohorts should be here, but they weren’t. It had been months since the Boss had deigned to speak to any but his trusted triumvirate. Now, today, when it was all going down, even they were nowhere to be seen.
He mustered every bit of strength in his ailing frame to shunt an antique bookcase across the doorway, then rummaged in his dirty old tracksuit pants for the keys to the next room. The Boss grimaced as he caught sight of himself in a full length mirror. Dark eyes. Grey palloured skin. He was old, but there was fight left in the old dog yet, he reassured himself as, again, the sound of voices floated up from the grounds below.
The Boss crawled on all fours across the thick pile carpet, propping himself on creaky, septuagenarian limbs beneath the window to peer out. No movement out there. Stark sculptured figures portentous of those who would come, but they did not seem to be here yet. When they did come, the Boss knew, they would tear them all down. Destroy everything he’d built. He muttered to himself, “You poor idiots. You have no idea how much you need me. Without me you are nothing!” His voice cracked as it rose from a whisper to a crescendo. White globules of spittle flew from his thin lips as he ranted, momentarily obscuring the view of the lush greenery and behind it the cool ultramarine of the harbour.
The Boss’ wiry hand slipped from the window ledge on which he leant. Catching his balance, he lowered himself to the floor again and eased back away from the window, not standing ‘til he was out of sight again. A door slammed downstairs. More voices – a shout. They were inside alright. No time to waste now. The Boss headed for the study.
As he strode purposefully through the top floor of his compound, not caring whether they heard his footsteps anymore, the Boss wondered how he had let it come to this. He had always ruled with an iron fist. His followers used to idolise him. Adore him. He had done so much for them, but at the first sign of doubt, they had turned on him.
Sure, there had been some folly, some transgressions. “Gotta break eggs to make an omelette”, he whispered to himself as he punched the code into the keypad beside the study door. “We’re just getting started. So many great things ahead…if you just let me show you what I can do…”
He was in. The study, his inner sanctum. His last hope. The Boss stood behind the french windows and gazed down through one-way glass at the crowd milling outside the front gates. There were a lot of them. A helicopter hovered over the garden, the reverberations of its blade beat rattling the window catch. The noise was deafening. The Boss crouched and flicked on the machine. A trail of lights illuminated as the electricity coursed through its circuits. The whole huge contraption buzzed with amperage. The Boss paused, picked up the microphone and flicked it on. The screech of feedback from the speakers suspended from the roof silenced the crowd.
“Minions!” the Boss began. The faces of the crowd turned as one to gaze up at him. The Boss felt the old tingle thrill down his spine. “I have looked after you all like my children. I have protected you from those who would harm you. I have led you from the darkness to the light…”
Without warning, a second door to the study flew open and daylight flooded the room.
Dust particles glimmered in the sunbeams. His most trusted adviser reached down and plucked the power cord to the PA system from the wall. The Boss’ red rimmed eyes blinked in disbelief.
“No…no…I need more time!”
“Mr Howard, you have to come out sir. Legally you have to actually vote today…”