The Sarilan Bridge was thirty meters’ wide and was on incredibly nice quality. It had no pillars or towers on it; it was just a simple bridge, but the design was elegant. The color was white, which was uniquely compatible with the golden desert environment. The cars drove in two directions easily and nicely, without the risk of hitting or being hit. Almost everyone smiled with delight, or at least grinned, as they watch the elegance of the bridge and the asphalt. The sunset became the most interesting and beautiful view at the moment and also the touching background for the bridge.
Adam looked at the rear-view mirror, which displayed his sullen face. He could hear his own breath expressing anger and tire. His blood got boiled inside his head, making his body as if it intended to explode, his legs punching the gas fully, and his hands grasping the wheel so tightly.
When he arrived downtown, the sky was already turning dark. The city had turned into exotic neon-y entertainment, second Las Vegas. All roads were lightened by light-rain neon bulbs, bright and plenty enough for the roads. The buildings also had very bright neon lights at them. Each one was lucrative and tempting, like, hotel, restaurant, club, casino, and any other place he couldn’t care less. The people were mostly gentlemen, with chicks stuck to their sides. They all rode on exclusive and expensive cars.
Some people indeed stared at him with wonder, even rudeness and understatement. He then looked to himself: a man wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and sandals, carrying a camera, and riding a big filthy jeep. “Oh.” He responded, and then decided to ignore them all.
He turned into a big restaurant building. The font “Black Mammoth” was set at the entrance door of the restaurant, below the sign of a black mammoth raging on. The whole decoration of the restaurant was mainly ridiculous to him, but he had to park at the lowest story of the underground parking building, which also were full of the same exclusive cars.
At the 36th story, he finally found a lot for his jeep. He quickly parked the jeep there, though there was no one else beside him. He turned it off, jumped off and walked toward the lift; it also had the “Black Mammoth” sticker at the lift.
He stopped for a while and stared at the sticker. It reminded him to someone who seemed like the restaurant owner that encountered him like a ghost—as no one really knew who the owner was.
Oh, “Black Mammoth?” The mammoth refers to the dishes the restaurant provided, that had been extinct, from every corner of the world, as you already know… as the mammoth that had extinct already. It’s to remind people that extinction is, and will be, the worst fault possible ever. And the black color is the main color skin of this nation.
Extinction… not a pleasant theme for a restaurant. He thought. He pushed the button to call the lift.
The design of the restaurant’s interior was heavily colorful, and a bit too much, at all part of the restaurant. The lights were many as those a club should have, and it was so noisy; it made Adam nearly blinded and deaf when he entered. It only took a while for him to adjust his senses to the surrounding.
Amateur speaking, the design theme was abstract, even absurd. There were lounge bars at several points; all were separated instead of merged into one. The tables were various, from two people to ten people, from square to circle. There was as well dance floor, attached with plastic transparent curtains. There were also some “Black Mammoth” stickers at wall, floor, ceiling, or table; they weren’t as dominating as the one at lift, but they were surely catchy to the eyes.
As he was close to one of the lounge bars, three people left from the bar. They were a man and two girls; they seemed so drunk. Adam quickly took the seat in the middle. He called the bartender, “Tequila, please.”
“Coming up.” the bartender said. Adam turned around and watched all the people. Most of them were ordinary citizens of the city, due to the fact that the restaurant wasn’t deluxe as the others, and that the price wasn’t really expensive. The laughter and the chatter dominated the restaurant, while the pop music worked as the background. It was like everyone were having a personal birthday party.
“Come again?” a man suddenly appeared and sat next to Adam. He recognized it as the man he assumed was the owner.
“You!” Adam said. “Are you the owner?”
“Yes… or no… It matters not.” he replied. The bartender gave Adam the tequila he requested. “Here you are, sir?”
“Thanks.” Adam watched the bartender; he simply asked the man, “Anything to have, sir?”
“Straight-up martini.” he smiled.
The bartender responded ordinarily, “Sure.” it seemed that the bartender also didn’t know who the man is.
“You haven’t told me your name.” Adam said.
“So did you.” he replied.
“Jeez… it’s Adam.” he said.
“Well, the name of mine is Sorrell.” the man said; his dialect seemed so weird and funny.
“Sorrell?” Adam asked. “Is that a surname?”
“Middle name.” Sorrell said. “You should not expose your real name to a mere stranger, even in Antananarivo.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“Straight-up martini.” the bartender gave him the martini.
“Thank you. No. It’s true.” Sorrel said, in soft, but cold expression, and drank it up. “The African Conflict has just started to spread to Madagascar as well, all thanks to that stupid ass Falajo. It’s proven just few hours ago, when a riot happened in Frankus… as a small riot.”
“You don’t know, which is predictable. As I said, it’s proven just few hours ago, and we’re partying like we’re already in paradise.”
“Your paradise.” Adam corrected.
“It’s fascinating to see how you assume my status as the owner in matter of short time, instead of a loony know-it-all weirdo. Most people would have forgotten on my deduction of the restaurant’s name.” Sorrell said, and drank his martini.
“Your explanation. It’s your restaurant alright, Mr. Your-Middle-Name-is-Sorrell.” Adam scolded.
“It has no more meaning.” Sorrell said. ” in their side, they fail to comprehend that life is more than flattening a fancy restaurant to the dirt for satisfaction and ridiculousness. What’s the use of claiming the ownership?”
“What do you mean?” Adam asked.
“I mean,” Sorrell answered, “it’s the matter of time until they take down Madagascar, including this restaurant… which is only a restaurant.”
Adam snorted for his stubbornness, but also felt awe for the diction. “At least people won’t die wondering who the owner of the famous ‘Black Mammoth’ restaurant is.”
“It doesn’t do them any important good. Might as well let it concealed.” he drank up more.
He took his tequila just then and had it. He said in low voice, although the other people were busy with their owns. “What happened?”
“The riot was begun at Mimbades.” Sorrell said, also in low voice.
“Mimbades? But that’s… close to the airport!” Adam said.
“Your comment can’t be more precise.” he said. “The houses were set ablaze, merely. Nevertheless, it all was dealt within an hour. It won’t be big, but it’s not small.”
“Who did it… I mean, is it really them?” Adam said.
“Who would you say then?”
He was shut for a while, and then he said, “So the conflict has finally reached Madagascar.” Adam said. “Why? Nothing’s special there.”
“Everywhere will be everyone’s main focus, depending on the subject.” Sorrell said. “An actress paying a visit to a mere citizen’s house will be projected in every media, even though they’re not her relatives.”
“So… what are you arguing?”
“I deduct that they are seeking for attention, for which wherever is excellent… though I suspect for the most vital transports in Madagascar.”
“The most… the airport!” Adam said. “…and the harbor too!”
“Likely.” Sorrell said.
“Then we need to run away.” Adam said. “Before it’s too late.”
“You don’t carry everyone leaving Madagascar. You know why.” Sorrell said.
He gasped, but then understood, “Falajo, but… he can’t go that far, can he?”
Sorrell didn’t answer directly. He finished his martini and said, “Because Falajo cares not to boundaries of moral and humanity. He has his focus to wealth, prosperity, and ignorance. Him, and everybody else.”
“Everybody else…!” he turned back and looked at the people; they indeed seemed like they’re drunk.
“Everybody else.” Sorrell repeated.
“Not everyone.” Adam said. “Surely at least one third will know this and come to their sense.”
“Such property, if still exists, is an expensive rarity. Anyway, additionally, we’re… mentally… caged. By Falajo and their own. You don’t discover this from TV or newspaper, as Falajo demands specific inquires from such information.”
“Then…” Adam was surprised. “Wait… what do you mean?”
“It means that Falajo controls news. Simple.” Sorrell said.
He didn’t ask further, letting his mind process the fact. He stared to his glass with empty look.
His mind recalled back on the moment he watched TV, few weeks ago. He then received a call from his friend in France, and chattered with him. As they chattered, his friend told him about the bombing of a hotel in France, where the presidents going to attend a conference dealing with African Conflict stayed. In spite of the huge gravity of the news, Adam hadn’t heard of the bombing from any news from any news in Madagascar, much less people talking about it.
Why has Falajo neglected on this problem? Madagascar is on a brink of doom. What is it?
He stared at him in the eyes. The owner, as he assumed, was presumably close to sixty years old, and the face was Caucasian. However, the dress suited him like an honorable businessman, not the head of some mafia rich of information.
“Wait—who are you?” He asked in a bit frustation. “How do you get the news?”
“You already know who.” Sorrell said; he said straightforward and no longer rambling, as if he turned into a different man. “And it doesn’t matter how. I take it that you are the right guy to have… to be entrusted with this news. Am I right?”
The transformation apparently shocked him. He held his self back, and interrogated further. “Yes, I am. Well, I’d appreciate if I get to know how.”
He laughed. “You just assured me that you’re the right guy.”
“The wrong guy will ask further on how.” He said.
“So, the right guy won’t ask further on how?” Adam said. “They simply have to believe on the news from a stranger?”
He spoke in deeper and smaller tone. Adam needed to put his ears closer. “You clearly don’t understand the gravity of your question, do you? Let me entertain you with interesting true trivia. People might call it ‘African Conflict’, but in fact, this is a war between Africa and the world, even bigger than World War 4. Every nation, from Russia to Vatican, are the participants of this petty war.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Bigger than World War 4… you’re saying that this is… World War 5!?”
“It will be. And worse, this is war of everything… of weapons, tactics, media, casualty… everything is at stake, and trust me when I say everything is at stake.” he replied.
“Why-why did you tell me, then?” Adam said.
“Because I’m now sure that you are Adam Longshot, a famous photographer.” Sorrell said; Adam quickly gasped. “I read magazines. Your photos are… beautifully pitying.”
He looked deeply to Sorrell; it was like he wasn’t Sorrell. “So?”
“So, you’re not a spy.” he whispered plainly in very low voice.
Adam somehow felt that he was hungry. He said, “Wait. Can I order food in bar?”
“Yes.” he said. “It’s spicy lamb soup for special today.”
“Excuse me. Special order, please.” Adam said to the same bartender.
“Sure.” he said.
As the bartender left, Adam said, also in the same low voice as Sorrell’s. “Spy.”
“Spy.” Sorrell repeated. “I also received that they found a spy, of Africa, in White house.”
“Wait a minute. It’s just an internal continental conflict, not international one!” Adam cut.
“Because they tell you so. Africa is now having internal conflict, indeed, but they don’t stop there. They’re anarchist, and you know it; no matter who troubles them, they intend to conquer every nation.”
“What if I’m a spy? Do you think it’s wise to tell me that?” Adam said.
“It’s useless.” Sorrell said. “They made it happen themselves; they know it already. What’s priceless is what they don’t know yet, which would win the war for them.”
“That, or the source, is it?” Adam said.
“Yes. Now you understand, they would kill anyone either for the information, or the source.” Sorrell said.
“Now… why would I trust you? How could I trust that you won’t do any harm to me?” Adam said.
“If I were a bad guy, there wouldn’t be use of telling you, much less killing you.” Sorrell said. “You said that this is my restaurant, right? It’s a big restaurant, in a big city, next to a big desert. I could have made the waiter put drug in your drink, then sent you out to the desert. Simple.”
Shit! I’m dead! He started to sweat and his heart started to beat in nervousness and fear. The way he spoke it was as if he had done it so many times.
“So… if I tell anyone about… about the war… would you kill me?” Adam braved himself.
“No, but I don’t think that they would believe it.” Sorrell said. “And the one who might kill you would be Falajo, not me.” he took from his pocket a plain card. He wrote a word “FREE”, and his name “Adam Longshot”, and signed on the card. “This will get you free service, of everything.” he said in normal voice.
He watched closely to the card. It was a simple cut carton. “Is this a joke?” he said loud voice.
“Harry, is that a joke?” Sorrell said to the bartender, and pointed to the card.
The bartender looked at the card, and then said, “Ah, no, that’s not a joke. As long as it has his handwriting and his signature, it’s legal here.”
He looked back to the card. The handwriting was indeed unusual, and the signature was his own, which was pretty difficult.
“See?” Sorrell said. “I’m already tired, so good night.” He rose and simply left Adam in confusion and amazement.