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WARNING FIRST DRAFT MATERIAL
by Einar Petersen. Written 1999, First Published 2009 - Copyright 2009 - All rights reserved Duplication on any media or by any means, known as well as unknown is strictly prohibited. Distribution of this document is also in breach with existing copyright laws. This document is for evaluation use only. Violation of any of the stated terms will be prosecuted in a court of the copyright holders choice.
A more free license permitting redistribution will be implemented after editing, please respect this and be patient.
Klack… there was a short intermission in which everything around him seemed to fall into an absolute silence. He looked up, held his breath until…
Klack, then another followed by a third and a fourth. He let a finger pass over the shade of his cap.
The melancholic feeling which almost always came over him at the beginning initial of every shower hit him from the ensuing shower would stay with him for years to come.
“Rain”, he said with a mysterious smile. “Rain isn't like anything we have down here”.
He took great pleasure in explaining about the wonderful moistness that used to spread through his garments when droplets of fresh rain fell from the sky. One of the things he recalled the best were the smells. Yes the smells, fresh odors, dirt, flowers, each image filled him with strange and heart-felt emotion.
On one side there were joyous memories in the rain and on the other hand his soul was torn over the fact that neither he nor the children woul ever experience a proper rain shower ever…
He looked at the door to the garden room, they were sprinkling and nobody was allowed in during maintenance cycles. He was overwhelmed with sorrow at the thought of the children. They weren't even allowed to play in there. No green mountains, no blue sky.
He wiped a single tear which had chosen this moment to trickle down his furrowed cheek.
“Tell us about the rain”, a young boy said pulling Xavier's sleeve which tore the old man from the path towards total self pity.
“You all know how the shower feels”, he asked and looked at the group.
The children agreed loudly, off course they knew what the shower felt like. It was hot and delicious.
“Well when I was young”, Xavier began “When I was young, water used to pour from the skies just like in the shower, only it was the most wonderful thing…”, his thoughts trailed off again.
It was hard for him to explain anything about the phenomena to the children. They would never experience rain themselves, nor would their descendants, not that mankind ever might.
It wasn't even a health issue. Everybody in the facility were in peak condition if you looked at their physical medical read-out, not that Xavier was supposed to have acces to any such information, but as a former computer security operator it was hard not to find out about what went on and how it was handled.
But nothing he had come across could explain the decline in birthrates but Xavier had noticed how everyone seemed increasingly apathic in their behavior. Very few had the necessary courage to bring children into a world where the only thing that would keeping them alive were a horde of maintenance robots and the concrete walls of the complex, and the walls were already beginning to show their first signs of fatigue, but who could blame them 17 years was a long time.
“Really water from the skies?”, a young boy asked with surprise in his voice.
Xavier eyed the boy, he hadn’t seen him before, he was yet another addition to the small horde which had started gathering on a regular basis to hear stories from the realm above, stories which their parents didn’t know or were reluctant to tell
“Yes, droplets of all shapes and sizes from the clouds above”, Xavier said with a streak of melancholy in his voice.
“My daddy says we don't need rain, that it was a nuisance anyway”
Xavier managed to smile, but his mind was filled with sadness as he sat down heavily.
“Some people thought that…”, he paused “Rain does have drawbacks when you aren't prepared for it I'll grant you that. But we must never forget that rain was the gift that made the plants grow. Without rain life would not exist, we wouldn't be here”.
Some of the children stared at Xavier with awe.
“My mother says it's the shelter that keeps us alive”, another child interrupted suspiciously.
Xavier turned his head and looked at the girl with watering eyes. He nodded in silent contemplation. They were sharp, he had to give them that. The high intensity training provided by their teachers was stealing every bit of childhood away from them. Not that he envied them their mole like existence.
“You know what… I think your mother is right when she says that the walls are keeping us safe. But remember there is a world up there, it is your world and one day you or your descendants will inherit her abundant resources”.
“And that day will come”, he added with conviction in his voice “The rain will see to that!”
The rythmic pounding increased untill it filled the entire soundscape like wild tribal drums the sound grew louder and louder pushing him closer to a frantic extasy suddenly something tore him from his uneasy sleep with a scream which dissapeared into the empty hallways of the complex.
“Honey are you okay?”, a gentle voice whispered in the darkness.
Xavier turned his head “Aida?”. Xavier sat up with a surprised gasp “My God….. I just had the most terrible dream”, he said with a thick voice.
The dark skinned beauty looked at him with with sparkling jade eyes and embraced him…
“Poor, poor Xavier”, she said while her touch became increasingly unreal, “It is no dream!”
Another scream was carried through the heavy set corridors.
Tales and thorns.
There were three of them Jason Kroczynski was being led by his sister Susan and Ricky Mantis was sort of following them a few leisurely paces behind but all three of them froze instantaniously as the agonized scream reached them.
The children looked around suspiciosly as if they expected the corridors which had fallen prey to the evening dusk to be filled by curious people investigating the sound, however nothing happened, the hallways were still as devoid of people as when their little outing had begun.
The ceiling lights had been dimmed to create a sense of daily continuity but the children took great care not to make any noise, if they were found prowling around midnight there would be hell to pay. The adults were very strict about enforcing night curfew but all the boring rhetoric about how they needed sleep to grow up properly didn't spring to mind as they proceeded down the hallway finally slipping into a dark and narrow allyway.
Jason pulled his sister to a full stop “What did you say you found?”, he asked after blinking a few times to recover from the sleepy feeling that encompassed every part of his body.
“A tree, maybe its just like the one in that story Xavi told us!”, his sister announced enthusiastically.
“What story”, Jason inquired rather annoyed, it wasn't like his sister to concoct stories or pull people out of bed at odd hours, but she had been very insistent that he'd come and about not telling their parents.
“You know, that one about the soldier and the dogs…you know the one mister Andersen wrote”
“Wait a minute, Hans Christian Andersen?”, being five years older than his sister Jason began to wonder if Susan had suffered from one of her vivid dreams again.
“Yes the one where the soldier marries the princess”, Susan answered with a triumphant smile and pulled her reluctant brother onward.
“Don't be daft, it was a fairy tale, there are no such things as hidden treasures in the complex”, he protested as Susan pulled him onward toward the garden.
The garden had a smell of wet dirt hanging over it. The night sprinkling had just ceased which the children realized sneaking across the wet lawn which covered the biosphere floor.
“This is it!”, Susan proclaimed. The two boys looked at the tree which didn't seem particularly different from the other trees in the garden.
“What?”, Jason said and shrug his shoulders.
Susan turned her head and faced her older brother with an accusing look “Come closer”, she demanded quite hurt by her older brothers indifference.
Well I've come this far, Jason thought and obliged his sisters demand.
The draft was cold, not like the draft from the ventilation shafts and had a sting to it he couldn’t recognize.
“Look there's the hole”, Susan said and pointed at the opening. “Do you think the tree is magic”.
“Look Susan there is no such thing as magic”, Jason stated flatly. “But Xavi says…”, Susan began.
“Susan, Xavier is 60 years old. He wasn't even born here, off course he says strange things”.
“Wow, it peels right off”, Ricky said and flung a large piece of debris toward his companions.
“I don't think we should be doing that”, Jason began slightly frightened.
“Why no…”, Ricky started and vanished before their weary eyes.
Susan screamed and Jason slammed his hand in front of her mouth to muffle the sound as he stared at the hole with surprise in his eyes.
“Ouch”, a voice complained. The sound emanated from the darkness of the tear.
“Ricky is that you”, Jason shouted softly while trying to peer into the dark abyss.
“I think so”
Jason looked at the door in panic.
“Mmmmm…”, the sound returned and at that very instant Jason recognized the source of origin.
“Oh crap… I’m sorry Susan”, Jason said removed his hand from her mouth.
“I'll tell dad”, his sister threatened furiously.
“Really… and you're gonna tell him what?”, Jason answered smugly
“That you…”, she didn't get any further before she realized that they were bound by a pact of secrecy.
Off course she couldn't tell their parents. They would be furious that she hadn't told them about the draft. Aything out of the ordinary was to be reported to the council. It was one of the countless rules that the children were fed on a daily basis.
“Check this out… this is a funny looking tin, Jason what does it say?”, Ricky said and threw a cannister through the hole.
Jason grabbed it and looked at the label “Quality ..eer, or something, the label has been damaged”. “Føroya Bjór - ella annar Softdrink - prøva at fáa eitt sindur av pengum til bókaútgávuna, ” Listen Susan
“It sure doesn’t look like anything we get in the cantina… oh look. Here is another one“, Ricky announced and kicked the container.
The sound container bounced back and forth through the tunnel with a series of loud noises leaving Ricky with an eerie feeling when it finally dissappeared giving a final clank before silence once again fell over the dark shaft.
Jason felt equally bad but knew that something had to be done, they couldn’t very well leave Ricky in the pit and it would probably be best to avoid parental meddling at this stage.
“Listen very carefully Susan, I need you to fetch me a flashlight, and Ricky stay put I'll get you out of there”.
Susan nodded, this was getting very exciting, she had always loved Xavi’s stories and now she was living one for real.
The quiet sobbing stopped her with great concentration she leaned toward the wall pressing her left ear completely up to the wall.
“It was that dream again… wasn’t it?”, the female said accusingly.
“Jesus Linda… it was a dream!”, the man tried in response.
“If it crops up again you are going to see a therapist… that or I leave. I can’t stand this, I need you to share yourself, youre withdrawing from me… are you listening”
Susan hurried on, if there was one thing she hated it was arguments, especially between two people who loved and cared for each other.
Moments later she returned unscathed carrying a flashlight, why she hadn’t brought one in the first place seemed stupid to her now.
They climbed down the ladder Jason had snatched from the tool shed.
“Can you feel it?”, Ricky said and held up his hand.
Jason looked at the boy “What?”
“The wind, I think it is coming from that direction”.
Jason was uncertain of what to do, this was without doubt one of those things that the grown up would want to know about, but then they would just be pushed aside while the council or someone took over. Grown up people did that a lot and that thought elevated Jason from all doubt he was going to see this one through on his own terms.
“Are you coming”, Jason said and turned around suddenly, holding the flashlight up to his face.
“Eeek”, his sister screamed and jumped back a couple of feet, Ricky and Jason laughed heartily.
Susan couldn't quite see the fun in the situation and was prone to turn back when Jason encouraged her and Ricky to follow.
The tunnel was at least fifty meters long and had to stretch the entire length of the garden.
“This is amazing”, Ricky whispered as they passed through a an arched doorway leading to a dark ladder.
Jason looked up into a pitch black sky that was filled with stars, were it people he was hearing up there?
He decided he had to take a peek.
“Listen Ricky, stay here and take care of my sister. If anything happens you'll have to tell my parents okay?”.
Ricky looked at the older boy with thoughtfull eyes “Ya, sure I will”, he nodded.
This was the first time Jason or anyone had shown him respect and trust like that. He wouldn't fail.
Jason started climbing the ladder, he soon found out to put the flashlight into his mouth to avoid the cumbersome way he had to climb. After that things happened fast.
“You see anything up there”, Ricky whispered and looked up the shaft.
“There are people up here”, Jason whispered back “I'm going to tell them we are stuck in the underground facility, maybe they can help remove the rubble in front of the entrance”.
Ricky looked at Jason with pride “Okay”, he said and put an arm around Susan, she didn't seem to mind.
The boy climbed over the edge, the uniformed man hadn't noticed him.
“Excuse me Sir”, the boy began.
The man swirled around and held up a strange looking device. All of a sudden a bolt of energy jumped from the device and hit the child. The flashlight was twitched from his hand by his compulsions and flew in an arch toward the shaft. Seconds later the flashlight crashed into the bottom.
“Come on Susan, something has happened up there”, Ricky said and pulled the girl away from the ladder.
A light swept across the bottom of the shaft.
“Anyone down there?”, a voice boomed.
“We have to tell out parents, we have to tell our parents”, Ricky chanted while fumbling his way back, dragging Susan through the dark tunnel towards safety.
The camp was bustling with activity, guards and technicians were running among the domed buildings.
On the inside general Caplan and his staff were discussing the events that had taken place the previous night.
“And the equipment is back in place?”, the General inquired.
“Yes sir, it was a close call but the hole has been re-sealed and the broken camera is back in position”.
“And you are sure there was nobody who saw you?”
“Damn blunder. How the hell could something like that happen?”
“I'm not certain sir, apparently the devices placed in the aperture were to be replaced only when the technicians had removed the surveillance package the new one hadn't arrived. They must have figured it didn't matter if they could install a temporary seal”.
“Who would imagine a kid would start examining the area around the tree?”
General Caplan nodded, he hated close calls, intruders he could deal with but those darn technicians were becoming sloppy he did not need escapees from the facility, not on his watch. “And the boy?”, he inquired
“Well the boy has gone into a state of shock, he won't communicate, obviously he is very scared and quite frankly I'm not too sure about those shrinks”.
Davies nearly jumped from his chair as the phone behind him rang.
“General Caplan's office, Jim Davies speaking. May I help you?… Hold on I've got him right here!”
The general looked at his secretary “Yes?”, he said in the most authoritarian way he could.
“It's the hospital, something about the boy, he insists on talking to you personally”
General Caplan paced across the floor with heavy feet, it had been a long night.
“Caplan here what's up?”
“Uhu.. yes a bird? What!!! God damned amateurs!”, he slammed the receiver down.
“That was the hospital chief psychiatrist… the boy is dead!”
Davies sat up straight “What?”, he asked.
“I said he is dead”, the general muttered.
Several of the assembled staff members mumbled, dead?. “How?”, a shocked attendant finally asked.
“He fell through a window, he was on the third floor… there was nothing they could do. Would you believe me, he was trying to catch a pigeon. A bloody pigeon, apparently he woke up and got out of bed then opened a window in an attempt to catch a pigeon on the window frame. His sense of balance must have been off pitch and he fell”
“They put him in an unsecured room?”, Davies asked.
“Apparently no one figured a 9 year old would try to climb out a third floor window”
“Jeez the boy had never seen a true blue sky in his life what did they expect?”.
“I don't know Davies, I really don't know. Sometimes I wonder if it hadn't been better if all the nukes had been fired that day.
Davies nodded emphatically “I know exactly what you mean sir. Exactly”. Aftermath.
“I think she is simply compensating for the loss by making up the story, we have had several people down there to look for that aperture we didn't find anything. I suspect she was with him in the BioMec Purification Plant and that she is suffering trauma from the experience. I can only imagine how it would feel to watch your own brother… the machines… they tore him apart. We have buried his remains but it will take a long time before the colony recovers”.
“And the ?”, Councillor Abbot asked with concern.
“He has been a notorious liar for all the time I've known him”, the counselor said with distaste she had never liked these meetings, the room was to small and stuffy.
“Listen he is probably sticking to the story because he gets a kick from it. We had the garden searched over and over, there is no trace of any cracks like that which they described”.
Abbot nodded and made a waving gesture with his hand. The meeting was over and counselor Tran got up from her chair.
She had a nagging feeling that there was something odd about the story. Susan should have responded to therapy by now, that Ricky Mantis was an entirely different story though.
Xavier nodded thoughtfully “A hole you say?”.
The boy looked at the old man “Yes”, he answered in the most accusing voice he could muster.
“And you went through it?”, Xavier asked and searched the boy's eyes for the truth.
“Yes I told you, we all did”
The boy looked very hurt but Xavier had to ask the questions, he had to be sure “And it brought you where?”, he demanded.
Ricky was almost certain, he was probably just like the counselor “To the surface…”, he answered.
Xavier shook his head “But the surface is hot - see the numbers?”, he punched a few keys and data streamed down the display. Like poring rain.
“I'm telling you the truth”, the boy had tears in his eyes “You're just like all the other grown up people here… I hate you”, Ricky shouted and ran away.
Xavier rubbed his forehead. Could it be true, but if anyone is up there why haven't they shown up on any of the daily surface scans? Maybe I ought to give the system a complete shakedown overhaul, hell it wasn't like there was anything else to do.
He leafed through the papers once again, this was absurd. The system was supposed to be a closed circuit system but the notes Xavier had noticed on one of the margins scribbled down by an anonymous author in haste painted an entirely improbable scenario concerning the security system onto his inner self.
Nobody could be that diabolical, not anymore.
The task took him weeks to complete but little by little he gained access to the root system and within days he had acquired administrator status. He giggled to himself. Bloody amateurs, and they called this a security system….
A month passed without further progress and Xavier couldn't connect the dots. He was beginning to act erratic and had been advised to see the counselor. Yeah right! as if that would do him any good he had to work this problem out by himself. That pea brain couldn't even begin to comprehend the depths of… wait a minute maybe it isn't a problem with the layout itself but… suddenly the possibilities dawned before him and he stormed out of the garden.
His hands whirled over the keyboard like a couple of tornadoes. The schematics flickered by on the screen until Xavier finally found what he was looking for.
He pressed a series of keys and the words Camera 1-16 off-line; Error check in progress; System will re initialize in T-10 minutes, appeared on the screen in large friendly letters.
A small counter appeared as well which started the race.
Xavier spun from his chair like an unwinding spring, 9. He set his watch and started off like never before.
A door was flung aside and a surprised couple saw Xavier Hansen speed by without as much as a friendly hello, 8.
The word Airlock was painted onto the door. The yellow paint had faded over the years but Xavier didn't notice instead he pulled a lever, 7.
The doors hissed and refused to open properly. Xavier threw himself into the battle with all his might. With great effort the doors slowly gave in and slid aside. Xavier wedged himself through the gap, 6.
The brown windows were severely cluttered. Both by dust on the inside but also by the wear and tear of the strong winds that lived on the outside.
The muffled sounds came as a shock to him, 5. “What the hell is wrong?”
“I don't know sir” “You don't know?”
“You're the chief technician and you don't know?”
“Listen monkey man. You might jump around when generalissimo orders you to but I am telling you get tha fuck out of my face I'm working on it and unless you leave immediately we could be in deeper shit than you and your piss-ant outfit could ever imagine”.
The colonel looked at the technician with disbelief, in his entire career nobody had answered back like this, this was an outrage there would come a time to deal with this man but this was not the time.
Xavier had heard most of the conversation and was stunned. This is not happening, he thought and decided he needed a better look, 4.
The technician was working on a small camera on the outside. The camera didn't seem to have just one connection to the inside rather several cables were running down the wall of the building and off into the distance.
Then he snapped out of his dreamlike stare, 3.
Xavier pushed hard and shut the inner airlock door. He looked at his watch, 3 minutes left.
Once again Xavier stormed past the Pattersons without as much as a hello.
“I think he is loosing it”, Mr. Patterson said with a serious look on his brow.
“I think you're right”, his wife answered and pulled her husband a little closer.
He threw himself into the chair. “Error check complete”, a voice announced.
“System will be back on-line in 30, 29, 28. 27”, the countdown went on with metallic precision.
A series of beeps told the chief to drop everything he was doing.
He jumped from the step ladder and pressed his body against the wall beneath the camera “What the hell is going on”, he hissed into the microphone.
“Dunno sir… the whole system just seemed to come back on. Probably just a glitch or something”.
“Glitch you say… a glitch? Now you listen to me punk. Get those fucking fingers out and make sure we have that camera under complete control. If the system has been down for a level 1 error check it will re initialize and they might be able to see what is going on outside, you get the picture”.
There was a slight pause before the answer came it was brief and understandable.
“Oh Shit, Simmons out”.
“Yep you would be if you screwed this one up laddie”, the chief muttered confidently. He knew that his men had the situation under control they were the best of the best, it was a confidence that didn't take into account what Xavier had just seen and heard. Tinker time.
“I'm telling you I got into the system, acquired administrator status and disabled the security grid.
“Okay Xavier… then explain to us lay-people why the log doesn't show the shutdown?”, councillor Abbot said with a poisonous smile.
“I don't.. its no good going into detail, that would be a waste of time. I'm telling you that I opened the inner airlock door and took a peek”.
“You did what?”, the councillor thundered, he couldn't imagine a more idiotic gesture.
“I took a peek and…”
“I heard you the first time!”, Abbot cut him off “Of all the stupid things anyone has ever done this rates among the top three on my list. I want guards posted 24 hours a day and you… you are banned from using all terminals except the closed circuit terminal in the library”.
Xavier glared at Abbot “You can't do that!!!”.
“I just did…. Period ”, the councillor answered and got up.
Xavier was speechless, all his years here he had faithfully followed the rules, not one single transgression and this was how they rewarded him?
“I don't think you understand, there are people up there, people without protective suits or anything”, he tried.
Abbot looked at him with disgust “Oh yes, to the contrary we understand perfectly”, and with those words the robed councillor and his entourage left the room.
Weeks turned into months and a gloomy feeling came over the inhabitants of the complex. Xavier was treated as a pariah but not one they could deal with properly.
Only a handful of children still came to listen to his stories, most of the others were forbidden to do so by their parents.
But tonight Xavier was sitting in their private cabin stabbing his slab of synthetically grown ham.
“Would you please stop doing that?”, his wife pleaded.
“Doing what?”, he replied.
“That?”, his wife said putting her hand on his in an attempt to stop the repetitive motion.
“Oh…” “Listen honey I know you were fond of the kid… but just forget it okay. He is dead, there is nothing out there, you can't change what happened”, her voice sounded desperate.
“I'm telling you what I saw was real”, Xavier argued.
“Yes dear the counselor told me about all that, you think it is real, but it is not. Its like that story you told me about the time when you thought the government was watching you because of your computing skills”.
Xavier looked at his wife and wished he had never told her about the experience but once she got started she simply wouldn't stop, it was driving him mad.
“They weren't it was just UniWorld who was taking care of you and your expertise, the people you thought followed you, were simply out making sure that their new employee wasn't being harmed by competing firms”.
Xavier stared at his food. Darn crummy, he thought appalled about almost every aspect of his life in the complex.
If only he had been able to recreate the system shutdown, every time he seemed to come within reach of a terminal something happened that forced him to withdraw from the venture.
It was getting late maybe the library would be empty “I think I'll go for a walk”, Xavier announced.
He had been right about the library which lay in a dusk when he arrived. He didn't bother to turn on the main lights but selected a seat in one of the small alcoves where he flicked on a reading lamp. He wasn't sure how long he had been sitting there when a voice interrupted him, it was Ricky Mantis.
“You believe me don't you?”, he asked carefully.
Xavier looked up “Yes I do Ricky”. The boy was very much aware that people could be hurting for a long time when someone said something bad so he quickly added an apology.
“By the way I'm Sorry”, the boy said.
“Bout what”, Xavier said and shrugged, he'd been young too and words… well they were nothing but words.
“Well everything, that they punished you for believing me when the others didn't”
“And the other thing”
“Forgotten and forgiven a long time ago”, Xavier said and smiled. A big burden lifted from Ricky's shoulders. The man believed him and he didn't bear a grudge, this was incredible.
“They're pretty stupid huh?”, the boy stated.
“Maybe… but most off all they are scared”, Xavier replied and looked back at the map. The distance to the city wasn't far, but the complex was situated within a controlled zone.
“So what are we gonna do?”, Ricky inquired the way only a child can.
Xavier thought long and hard but found that there was no easy way to break the news to the boy.
“We are going to do nothing”, he said “I am going to find a way to get out of the complex. Then I am going to find out what is going on maybe get some help. Once I've done that I think should be able to come out. You will get to see trees birds and….”
“Xavier is that you?”.
“Its my wife quickly hide, I'll speak to you when the plan is further along but don't say a thing to nobody, otherwise they won't let you talk to me again”.
“Here darling”, Xavier said and turned the reading light out.
Ricky sat alone in the dimly lit library “You ain't leaving without me… You can't make me stay”, he muttered to himself.
Another sleepless night was passing Xavier had to get up. His wife was snoring happily in the bed beside him.
He looked at his watch the dial showed 03:33, his wife had been asleep for several hours. That was one thing Xavier had always admired about her. She could always sleep no matter what was going on around her.
He slid out of bed, his wife turned and mumbled a few words. She smiled, he loved those lips but there was work to do.
The workshop was devoid of any activity, it had been since the complex was shut off from the outside world and would remain that way until the sensors reported a significant drop in radiation levels.
Xavier tried to figure out a way to open the small hatch that led to the outside when revelation occurred. He snapped his fingers and ripped a screwdriver from the rack.
“No safety is going to keep me from that command loop of yours baby, nosiree…”, Xavier muttered and started meddling with a nearby probes. Three days later he was ready and as Xavier prepared the last probe he started to think about the final phase of the plan.
If he was wrong the probes would return to the complex after going through a thorough decontamination process and he would probably be spewing his guts out somewhere alone on the outside. On the other hand if he was right, this would be the biggest thing since hot dogs, governments would tremble that much was certain, however he couldn't do it without help.
Ricky was hiding in the shadows he had already cut the wires of two locker pads, the janitors would be bitching about that for weeks. Now he was finishing the master piece of the month. Boy oh boy Miss Hildebrandt was going to regret sending him to the counselor yesterday, he giggled when suddenly he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.
“There you are”, Xavier declared while the boy jolted like he had been hit by a bolt of lightning.
The shock slowly dissipated and Ricky's heart rate returned to normal “You scared me man…”.
“Sorry but I need your help”, the old man said looking around with suspicious eyes.
“Are we going to leave?”, the boy asked with anticipation.
“You can't come!”, Xavier said sternly.
“But”, the boy began loudly.
“Shush… don't speak so loudly it is too dangerous!”
“But I want to come”, Ricky insisted.
Xavier took another look around the hallway “What about your parents”, he asked seriously.
“My parents hah… they don't care about me, they never have”, Ricky answered firmly.
“Come on, off course they do”, Xavier said attempting to smoothen the boy's relations with his parents.
“No”, Ricky replied, still quite firm about the matter.
“Well bickering about it is pointless, come see me at the workshop at 23:00 hours tonight… or is that too late?”
Xavier wasn't sure about the time but he needed as few people about as possible if they were going to succeed. “Not a problem… I'll be there”, the boy answered.
Xavier checked the hallway again “Good”, he said warmly and did about. Maybe things would work out after all.
It was getting late and Xavier looked at his watch 23:15. If somebody has found out, he thought and shivered. This was his last and only chance if this failed he would be confined to the ward. The mere thought scared the hell out of him.
The ward, it sounded so innocent but it was yet another sinister part of life inside the complex. When your problems with confinement became too big for the rest of the population to handle. Whoosh!!! and you would find yourself in the ward. Once there you either got well real fast or you were recycled, well that was the word anyway, people stayed as far away from the ward as possible.
The door opened it was the boy. A wave of relief washed upon Xavier when he saw that Ricky was alone.
“What took you so long?”, Xavier asked strictly.
The boy looked up “I had to sneak out man”, he finally answered.
“Are you sure your parents didn't notice?”
A smug smile spread across Ricky's face “They didn't discover a thing old timer”.
Xavier nodded, he was pleased. “Heck they wouldn't discover an elephant if it tiptoed past their bed, they're fast asleep!”, Ricky said and showed Xavier an empty package of sleeping pills.
“You drugged them”, Xavier asked very concerned.
“Relax man… they did that all by themselves”
“Hmm”, Xavier mumbled. For a moment he had been ready to abandon his project, nobody should have to be harmed unnecessary.
“Well?”, the boy said and stared at the probes which were lined up in a nice row.
“Well what”, Xavier answered a bit puzzled.
“What are we going to do?”
Xavier peeked out into the hallway, it was still empty. “Okay listen up, it is very important you follow my instructions precisely because if I am right there could be some nasty people out there and I don't want them to be thinking about me. Thus a distraction!”, he hinted at the probes.
Ricky looked at the machines, they looked pretty hefty all black and chrome.
“So this is a distraction?”, Ricky asked and laid his hand on a drone, it felt cold.
“Oh yeah… if somebody out there is monitoring the area and these babies come buzzing around”, he chuckled.
“When these come out there is going to be panic. Several of these are long distance probes and they can go really fast I tell you…Big time panic!!!”
The boy nodded, Xavier still hadn't told him the entire plan but it sounded really cool so far.
“What I need you to do, is to turn the power on in the same sequence as I have parked the drones. If you do that the drones will shoot off once they are outside. I will use the opportunity to slide out together with a probe and make a run for it. I haven't been outside for a long time boy but I can tell you this the land will be on my side”.
Ricky gazed at Xavier with a serious look on his face, then he nodded.
“Should I begin?”, the boy asked still staring at the old man.
Xavier walked up to the boy and put a hand on Ricky's shoulder.
“You turn those machines on and hurry straight back to your room before anyone notices is that clear?”, there was a streak of sadness in Xavier's eyes as he spoke and the boy noticed how the old man fought to keep the tears away.
“Okay”, Ricky said and moved toward the outermost drone. “So how do I turn them on?”, he asked.
Xavier almost hit himself “Stupid old me…”, he said and hurried over to the probe.
“You see this wire?”
Ricky bowed his head with interest “Yeah I see it”.
“This wire goes into here”, Xavier said and plugged the cable in and then you twitch the screwdriver like this.
The drone hummed into action. With slow and deliberate movements it hummed toward the hatch while Xavier stared at it with a enchanted look on his face.
The hatch popped open and the drone slid inside while the hatch closed behind it.
“Now you”, Xavier said and handed the screwdriver to the boy. Ricky looked at the wire for a moment, then he plugged it in. “I'll come back for you!”, Xavier said and walked over to the hatch which had opened again.
“Promise?”, Ricky said with a thick voice.
“I promise”, Xavier answered. You bet I'll be back…
The probe was barely inside before Xavier dove straight into the shaft that the machine would follow to the outside.
“Good-bye”, was the last he heard before the hatch closed firmly behind leaving him in total darkness.
The shaft was suddenly filled with a gush of fresh air and years of dust whirled around in the small tube. Xavier coughed and followed the probe to the outside only to find the first one lying lifeless a few meters from the complex. Xavier hurried over to it like a doctor to a patient, the wire had come loose. He quickly inserted the cable and the probe hummed on just as the second passed them with a growing roar.
He wasn't sure how many hours had passed but it seemed as if daylight was about to break. He could hear dogs barking in the distance but nobody had seen him yet, if he could just get that guard to look the other way for a while.
“Listen we do not have any remaining probes in this sector, the tech guys have advised that they will contaminate them in order to provoke a bleep but nothing dangerous and the chief added that his guys would feed some bogus information into the critters before they send them back”
“Uhu… no off course I haven't talked to the colonel… he is still pissed off about the incident with Williams yesterday….
The guard gazed across the landscape It sure was beautiful, picture perfect nearly, a hellowa lot nicer than what those poor sods in the complex thought. Still no need to pity those folks, they were pioneers of a sort, in the years to come they and their skills in dealing with the long term effects of sub surface living would be utilized in building bigger and better bunkers it was as simple as that.
“Ya I will ask for leave…”, the soldier answered and turned slightly, was that a sound?
Xavier took another stone and hurdled is as far as he possibly could.
“Okay…”, the thud was louder this time, definitely a sound. “Hang on a while”
“Whoever you are come out of there”, the guard said and moved away from Xavier. No time like the present Xavier though and got up right behind the guard as fast as he could without making a noise. The clonk when he rammed the rock into the helmet sounded oddly muffled but the result was exactly the one Xavier had hoped for. “Halt”, a voice boomed from behind Xavier. Had there been two guards?
Xavier tried to run, there was a small plop and Xavier found himself moving toward the ground at dangerous speed.
In the seconds that followed after the bullet had burrowed into his body a burning sensation spread from the entrance wound.
Xavier groaned loudly and rolled over expecting to see the man who had shot him, instead he saw young Ricky Mantis standing over a lifeless body with a blood stained screwdriver in his hand.
Xavier crawled over to the guard Ricky had stabbed.
“Is he dead?” the boy asked anxiously.
Xavier checked the body. Then he noticed the bracelet, they had been experimenting with those when he was just starting at UniWorld.
“No he is not dead, you see this light, as long as it's flashing he is alive. Quickly, go check that man's pockets and see if he has a keycard or something like a small control device”.
Ricky obliged and ran over to the unconscious soldier. He searched his pockets “Is this it?”, the boy yelled and held up a white plastic card.
Xavier squinted. He hadn't found anything himself, hopefully the boy had better luck. Xavier nodded and managed to struggle his way over to the open vehicle.
Ricky handed him the card with a triumphant smile on his face. Xavier took a good look at the card. It could definitely be a key.
“I told you to stay put”, Xavier coughed.
“I know… I don't listen”
Xavier tried to clear his throat “You know how to drive?”, he asked coarsely
“I've tried some games”
“Well this is probably a little different… military vehicles don't obey orders from anyone but their driver, I mean it would be a bit stupid if you could remote control them and then the enemy found out how eh?”
Ricky nodded in silent agreement.
“Here take this”, Xavier said and handed the keycard back to the boy. They needed to get away fast and he didn't think he would be able to drive due to the pain that was washing upon him.
“Wait don't put it in”, Xavier said after taking a better look.
“Do you think you can drag that man over here?”, Xavier asked and pointed to the man he had struck.
“Why?”, the boy replied somewhat puzzled that they couldn't just leave.
“Just do as I say”, Xavier said with a groan. His face paled and he clenched his fists as another wave of pain rolled through him.
The boy shot off and immediately started the tough task of hauling the unconscious man toward the vehicle and a moment later which seemed like an eternity to Xavier the boy had pulled the body up alongside the car.
“Now this is the tricky part… we need to get him into the driver's seat.
The situation seemed absurd to the boy “Why?”, he asked wanting an answer very badly.
“You see this?”, Xavier said and fought off another volley of pain “This is a scanning device, if it doesn't recognize the driver, were in a spot of trouble. Do you know what retina scan means?”
“Something with your eyes”, the boy answered nervously.
“Precisely and this car wants to check if the driver is authorized to drive the vehicle or not”, Xavier said coughing. This time there was a salty taste in his mouth.
Ricky pushed and Xavier pulled “Harder, push, push”, the old man wheezed.
Finally the man was inside the car “Now put the card in”, Xavier muttered while his body was screaming from exhaustion.
“Please Stand By for retina scan…”, a metallic voice said while a small lid slid aside.
Xavier fought to keep the soldiers right eye open while the scanner operated, he hoped the program didn't account for the effects of trauma in its security check.
“Thank you have a safe ride”, the voice announced. It wasn't, Xavier toppled the man over and Ricky did the rest. Within seconds the man was lying outside the car.
“Now get in”, Xavier commanded.
Ricky pressed the pedal all the way down but there was nobody to see the spectacular gush of dirt that sprayed from the tires as the vehicle screamed ahead on a wild and bumpy ride.
Ricky poked hard at Xavier “What now?”, he asked when the old man finally came around.
Xavier glimpsed a few times before he came around properly. “What?”
“I said what now”, Ricky said and pointed at the fence.
“Press the pedal down as hard as you can and ram it. You see that small road?”, Xavier said and looked around. The sun had begun to rise, there was not a lot of time.
“Yeah I see it”, Ricky answered and pressed the pedal.
“When you reach the road turn left toward the ocean you got that?”
“Fence, then left toward ocean”, Ricky said. Xavier nodded as the car sped forward.
A massive electric discharge sent sparks flying in all directions Ricky turned hard to avoid the sign which seemed to have appeared right in front of them.
UniWorld Consortium Long Term Exposure Camp DO NOT ENTER Use of deadly force is authorized
Ricky didn't quite understand the contents of the sign until years later.
“We found the vehicle sir there was blood all over the car but he wasn't there”
The soldier nodded into his view screen “No sir but we followed a trail leading down to the water, he must have drowned I guess”
“Yes sir, my thoughts exactly, I've already sent for a unit, they'll be here in about an hour”.
“Well thank you sir but I've been trained with the best”
“Yes sir company and corps forever”
20 years later
“We are standing here on December twenty-fourth, on what is supposed to be a day of joy and gifts for the children, but to some this day will mean much more than just a gift under a tree or a simple celebration. To the people of Facility 51 Christmas eve will forever stand as something extraordinary'. It will be the day that they received the greatest gift of all: Freedom”.
“Five years have passed since legendary hacker John Xavier Hansen brought the financial world to a standstill in an attempt to reveal the truth about Facility 51. The statement brought the UniWorld Consortium into the spotlight and there they have remained during these last years while investigations have begun to unravel what appears to be the worst experimentation on human beings since the great war of 45 ended.”
“From what became known as event zero sprung the beginning from which the total world ban of nuclear weapon experimentation grew”.
“1256 people were locked up inside what scientists here referred to as the complex, which is close to ground zero where allegedly a lone madman intent on stopping nuclear weapons research brought such a device to detonation”.
“An entire kindergarten class on a field excursion was apparently trapped inside this complex along with staff when the first alarms went off and warned that a nuclear device had gone off. The children scheduled to a tour through the area were reported killed by the blast when the military and UniWorld troops sealed the entire area off. If we look over there we can see most of the parents waiting along with officials from the state department”.
“The state department has not commented about the fact that the UniWorld Consortium was conducting long term exposure experiments for the government but this reporter thinks that heads will roll if there is any truth to those rumors”.
“As you can see emotions seem to run high here today but the man we can thank for stopping this atrocity is not with us today”.
“John Xavier Hansen, a harsh man by today's standards never lived long enough to see his dream fulfilled, the opening of the doors to Facility 51, which is part of a huge sub surface settlement built by the UniWorld Consortium”.
“It seems the weather gods are not entirely on our side and… wait something is happening. I think they're opening the airlock”.
“Yes it has been confirmed, the technicians have opened the airlock and someone is coming out… It's a female, early thirties I gather, hold on while we try to get closer”.
“Sorry Mam you can't get any closer”, the police officer said stopping the newswoman.
The cameraman panned away from the officer and zoomed in on the woman, then he lowered the camera. The female reporter looked at him with disbelief.
“Are you completely out of your mind? This is live coverage, we're on all web channels”, she growled.
“Susan?”, he yelled. “Susan is that you?”.
The woman being led out from the facility stopped. She looked toward the cameraman.
For a while the female reporter watched as the event unfolded then with a resolute pull she tore the camera from her companion and started her solo performance.
The officers didn't stand a chance. In a single movement the cameraman had slid under the barrier while flashbulbs twinkled. Now multitude of cameras were following his run and the desperate officers hadn't got a clue what to do.
The woman stopped and her two companions froze beside her.
“Ricky… is that you?”, she shouted and broke out in tears. She started running towards the cameraman and they met in an embrace that could be seen across the entire globe.
“Do you know what this is?”, the cameraman laughed with tears in his eyes.
Before she could answer he spun around like a small child holding the woman tightly in his arms.
“It's rain Susan… Rain, just like he told us!”.