For all those people who didn't have anxiety coming into this but do now, or the routine changes and looming virus are heightening their anxiety, I can only offer a virtual hug. Very Large Historical Events do happen, and we have written history of them because people lived through them. I'm certain everyone, everywhere, who lived during a previous Very Large Historical Event felt exactly the same as we do now, in as many individual and personal ways as we do now. Please be safe, please be kind, and I hope you can enjoy your weekend.
“So we start in the rooms down here for people who died in the attack. The places they lived while they were working so they didn’t always have to go in and out of the base,” Nate said. “People usually cache food. Their favorite chocolate bars, better sandwiches or drinks than they can get from a cafeteria, or a pizza. That kind of stuff.”
Ray and Jerry looked at each other and then back to Nate.
“What? You guys think they put mini fridges and microwaves in hotel rooms as decorations?” Nate asked.
“Can you find the resident rooms?” Jerry asked Ray.
“This layout is a lot like –” Ray stopped, interrupting himself. “This facility is a lot like that other underground place I toured often but can’t tell you about without shooting you after.”
“We don’t need to find the rooms,” Nate said. He was staring toward the computer lab’s hallway door behind Ray and Jerry. Nate swallowed hard. Ray and Jerry spun in place to look the same way and froze.
The teen standing in the door to the hallway looked like Ray, but a few inches taller and his face had the defined cheekbones and wide eyes from the lion’s side of the genetics he’d been made from. His skin was a tawny brown, lighter than Ray’s, and the yellow of his irises was a ring of gold around his wide pupils under the string of temporary lighting in the hallway. He rubbed at the worst of the wrinkles in his tee shirt, showing hands that were blunter and thicker than an average person’s, and no fingernails on any of his fingers. The strangest things about him were his lion-like ears, which sat higher on his head than a Human’s and were twitching to different angles as he listened in all directions.
“I followed you since the aviary,” the teen whispered. “Kaff says we shouldn’t trust anyone, but I argued right now we need to trust somebody,” his added with a shrug. His stomach growled loudly and he pressed his palms against his belly, as if his hands could silence the sound. “And there’s that,” he said. He bit his bottom lip the same way Ray used to when he’d been young and uncertain.
Jerry grabbed the front of the teen’s tee shirt and jerked him into the computer lab. He ducked down behind the nearest desks, nearly throwing the kid, to block them from being seen by anyone from across the gym.
“What are you doing exposing yourself like this?” Jerry hissed in a chastising whisper. “Check the hall for the other two,” he ordered Ray.
“We already raided the abandoned rooms for food and water,” the teen said, relaxing once he was sitting. “We grabbed what we could on the first day but the rooms got cleaned out the next day. We ran out of food yesterday and water this morning. We don’t have any weapons, and it looks like Prof and his goons moved in to wait us out.”
Jerry looked up at Ray when the retired General stepped back into the computer lab. “There’s nobody else in the hallway,” Ray confirmed.
“Who’s Kaff?” Jerry asked. He released the teen’s shirt now he was certain the kid would stay sitting. The teen cocked a grin at him.
“Based on what I’m seeing, he’s obviously your clone,” he told Jerry.
“What’s your name?” Ray asked, crouching down nearby and pointing as if gesturing for Nate to join him to look at something from a different angle. Best to keep up appearances in case anyone was passing by. Thankfully nobody had been looking through the gym when the kid had showed up in the computer lab door.
“Fuggy,” the teen answered. “My full name is DeFuuga, but everyone calls me Fuggy.”
“That means Kaff is short for Karloft,” Nate guessed. Fuggy nodded agreement. “So the last missing kid is Alexander. Making him… Alex, I guess?” Nate asked.
“No, just Lex,” Fuggy said. “So, you guys have a plan, resources, and topside reinforcements to get all of us out of here? We really want to get out of here.”
“Well, we have a few ideas to start making a plan. So about a half out of three,” Nate admitted.
“It’s just us, no reinforcements or extra resources. We’ll come up with a plan once we know more,” Jerry said.
“A plan and getting out is enough,” Fuggy said. “I’m really tired of being stuck down here after this past week.”
“Week? We were told it had been three days since the attack?” Nate asked.
“Well yeah, but we were doing academic exams before that and I’m really done with every part of this whole week,” Fuggy admitted.
“That’s three ‘really’s in three sentences,” Nate pointed out.
“Wow. Lex really is your clone,” Fuggy said.
“Where are Lex and Kaff?” Jerry asked, re-centering the conversation. “And where are the other twenty-three kids being held?”
“Everybody’s in the aviary. We looped the holding cell security feeds to show the last forty-eight hours and got everyone to the aviary last night. Shan and Pinky both got shot, but they can still move okay,” Fuggy explained. “We just can’t get any further because Prof changed all the pass codes after his people took over the base. Plus there’s the new check point inside the parking bay that always has someone standing at it.”
“You know the parking bay?” Ray asked.
“Of course,” Fuggy said. “We do most of our training outside,” he explained.
“Richard said you’d never left the secured areas down here,” Nate said.
“And you believed him?” Fuggy asked, shaking his head at Nate.
“Can you get us back to the aviary unseen?” Jerry asked.
“Probably,” Fuggy answered, looking unsure as his stomach growled loudly again.
“We’ll need somewhere to leave the security pass cards, as well. They’re thick enough to have trackers in them,” Ray said.
“Really?” Jerry asked. He pinched the pass card he’d been given between his thumb and finger. Ray smiled at him.
“Technology kept advancing in spite of you retiring,” Ray joked.
“Why not leave the cards here?” Fuggy asked.
“Too easy to look in here and see we’re not with the cards,” Nate said.
“Okay. I think I know a good spot, but it’s opposite the way we have to go to get to the aviary,” Fuggy said.
“Sounds perfect.” Jerry gestured for Fuggy to lead the way.
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!