Broken Mirror: Apophis 2029 (8 page)

BOOK: Broken Mirror: Apophis 2029
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  Haiti kept watch through the night on the roof as the rest of us slept, dreaming of an entire complex full of food and untainted water.  Maybe there were people down there, or maybe it was nothing more than an empty sub-basement filled with nothing more damp cement walls.  We would find out soon enough. 

  We set off to find an entry point at first light.  Upstairs in the executive office we failed to find anything on the holographic chart that would explain what the hydro generators were actually connected too.  Pipes from the circular array shown in the lower basement were directed vertically straight into the ground where they merely disappeared from the graph.  After some digging around in the building, the men found a few shovels and a crowbar stashed in the garage maintenance room and we decided to take another walk outside. 

  Serena and I kept guard after we made our way off the balcony and around the rear of the building.  Cautiously, we made our way to the fresh break in the ground along the exterior fence.  Roy was brave enough to tap on the circular metal plate that was now submerged a few feet below the dirt.  He jumped back, expecting something to happen, but we all relaxed when it did not react after several moments. 

  "Let's dig around this thing and see what we find," he ordered.  Felix and Thorn swapped turns shoveling as Roy helped with an empty bucket to remove the soil from the hole.  The ditch grew ever wider as they slowly exposed metal plate rimmed by reinforced cement nearly twelve feet wide in diameter.  In the center sat the edge of the cylinder we had seen before which was imbedded with sensors.  We were all a little on edge, not knowing if the thing was going to shoot up at any moment and zap one of us.  We took turns listened to the plate cover, but we couldn't detect any sound coming from below.

  "So, now what?" Felix huffed as he leaned on the shovel and wiped the tired sweat from his brow, "Maybe we should just bang on this thing until somebody answers," he suggested halfheartedly as he raised the handle to strike the metal plate below their feet.  Quick as an asp, Roy grabbed the shovels handle to stay his blow.  By the reaction shown on his face, it was obvious Felix was a little surprised at how fast the old man could move. 

  "How about if we don't act so rashly, and actually try to proceed with a measure of caution first, son," Roy shot back, with the derogatory note in his voice to respect his age, "if there is anybody down there, we don't want to give them the impression that we're hostile," he added while lowering the shovel back down gently, "...that could end badly for some of us," he offered with final resolution.

  Thorn took a moment to confer with Felix, who finally admitted that they did not wish to trip a reactionary response from any automated defense system that might be in place.  So far, digging the area clear of earth had not gotten us detected, and we wanted to keep it that way for now.  At the edge of the supporting wall, Felix noted one side had a slanted edge and found what appeared to be the rim of a hatch after digging a few more feet down the exterior wall.  After clearing to top section off, we discovered that the panel opening itself was simply too small to accommodate an adult sized person.  That is when the crowbar we had found earlier came in handy.  Prying off the hatch, we discovered a mass of live electronics embedded inside.  It actually took Felix less than a minute to crosswire the connections and we all jumped back when the entire plate lifted from its seal as chunks of dirt fell within the open casing.

  We stood back with guns drawn and waited in silence for a few moments while the dust settled, only to be startled once again when a section of the plate folded in to reveal a metal staircase that descended into the darkness beyond.  Serena returned to our camp to grab some extra flashlights and gear for us to use on the decent down the shaft.  Felix was a little reluctant to venture down into the pit, but it was clear that we would likely need his expertise if we came across any additional electrical panels.  Haiti accompanied the dark haired girl when they came back down, and Thorn scolded him for leaving the child up there all alone. 

  "Serena, stay up top and keep an eye on the boy while we take a look below," Thorn instructed the girl while motioning to his previous position up on top the roof, "we don't know how long this will take, but we will try to make it out before nightfall," he stated, which would be roughly another five to six hours.  Haiti had his trusty machete stuffed in the back of his belt, and Thorn handed his rifle to me.

  "Here, you and Serena will need my scope to keep an eye from the rooftop, and you two can trade shifts until we get back." he offered as an assignment.

  "I'll go with you guys; I can handle myself." I stated firmly, as I handed Thorn

s rifle over to Serena in kind.  All the men just stared at me for a moment, a hint of unwillingness to argue with a 6 ft tall woman glinting in their eyes.  Thorn seemed as though he was about to disapprove, but eventually shrugged his shoulders in surrender and waved Serena off to her post.  The five of us looked down the dark stairwell, wondering what we might find in the depths below.

  A moist heat rose through the narrow shaft as we descended the tight switchbacks; all the while, trying to keep as quiet as possible.  We were completely oblivious to the motion sensors we had triggered which were deftly hidden on the landings between each set of stairs.

  There was no hint of what type of structure this was, if it was either civilian or military made.  There was always the chance it was a private complex, but that was highly unlikely.  In my travels, I had stumbled across more than a dozen civilian made underground bunkers.  They called them bug-out shelters, which were usually poorly designed and not much more than the old bomb shelters reproductions from back in the dawn of the atomic age.  It was ludicrous thinking, as most of those vaults where nothing more than glorified storm shelters, which might have been sparsely useful for protection, from say, a tornado, but undoubtedly useless from an actual nuclear blast or radioactive fallout. 

  It was beyond foolish to outright crazy how people would think they could hide their entire family in such tiny boxes underground.  I had guessed they gleefully imagined they would all sit there smiling while they eat ate their cans of beans and read a pleasant book as they waited for weeks to months for the death and chaos raging above to subside. 

  Some of these 'preppers,' as they were called, had poured their life saving into these faulty shelters that were nothing more but claustrophobic death traps.  There were actually companies that sold these family sized coffins where they would basically do nothing more than just dig a shallow hole and plop it into the ground to be covered with nothing more than loose dirt.  Little to no reinforcement or insulation whatsoever was ever installed; and in most cases, they even failed to pour a foundation. 

  After the asteroid impacts, when the earthquakes rattled the terrain and vast ocean flooding poured inland to submerge the coasts; those tiny confined shelters would bury their occupants alive during an avalanche or mudslide, and could fill with invading sea water in a matter of minutes.  Barricaded in a little hold like that with water point in through cracks and air vent, would be a horrible way to die.  Tsunami or leaking rainwater would end up drowning their victims as their sleeping bags and cans of food floated around their heads while they gasped for breath in their last seconds of life, wondering where they had gone wrong in their planning.  They didn't think to prepare for that eventuality.

  I had seen this with my own eyes, passing across back yard shelters with putrefied bloated bodies floating among dank water.  Even when someone had taken the effort and foresight to build a proper refuge, none of them took the time to disguise their white candy cane air filters sticking up from out of the ground like a sore thumb or the obvious access hatchways they left in full view above. 

  I found several such shelters that had been forcibly entered and ransacked.  Looters would stuff the air filter to the bunker with a rag and simply waited for the armed occupants inside to either open the door or suffocate.  With great effort, the doors would be broken in, and what was once a family of survivalist were now nothing more than a rotting pile of corpses curled up in the corners that had smothered to death.  The large cities were the worst hit as violent mobs of both Weepers and Scavengers took to the streets.  What ever was left of their broken bodies were eventually ravaged by rodents and packs of wild dogs until there was nothing left but shredded cloth and bones.

  Survivors would barter food and supplies at gunpoint, as nobody trusted one another.  There were always wild rumors floating around of some military or government shelter complex somewhere out on the horizon as our salvation.  It was a wild story that changed every time it was retold.  It was a fantasy we kept alive by some twisted need for hope that we could actually restore civilization, someday.  Such rumors were always quelled by those few citizens who had barely escaped the medical concentration camps with their lives, or fled their way to safety after the military had abandoned them.  Underneath our hard exteriors, we all felt forsaken.

  I was nobody special, just like everyone else trying to survive.  I didn't have any specific training or military background.  Years before the MN4 asteroid had graced our skies I had dated a guy for a short while who had taught me the value of being cautious.  I had always wondered what had happened to him after our lives went our separate ways.  It was practical advice he had offered that I now put into practice every day since the event; that Trust was something to be earned; not demanded. 

  Several flights down the stairwell we came across a pair of sealed shafts decorated with large round hatches that apparently only opened from the other side.  Farther down we also found a similar pair, until our decent came to a sudden halt when we hit a steel cage blocking the rest of the stairway.  Roy glared at Felix who had taken a rock from his spare pocket and let it drop down the stairwell beyond the bars.  The clank of metal subsided after several seconds had passed as it ring of it bouncing along echoed up the shaft.

  "Seems like it still goes a way down," the red head commented as he tried to brush off Roy's stern gaze.

  "I don't think we're going to get through these doors," Thorn added softly, trying to keep his voice low.  Thus far, we had failed to come across any signage that would designate what this place had been constructed for.  Felix gave a closer inspection of the nearby hatches, which were situated opposite from one another across the small platform
.

  "There is no access panel I can detect," he blurted, stating the obvious, but also pressed his ear against the dull metal door, "but I can hear something inside," Felix mentioned as Roy and Thorn took their turn to listen.  It was like the sound of wind, which didn't make much sense where we were down here.  Luckily, Haiti had the sensibility to bring the crowbar along with us and mentioned we should have a go at the bars to access the lower stairs.  There was no padlock on the gate, as it appeared to have some sort of internal lock; which certainly didn't make things easier for us.

  We all took turns trying to widen the bars, hoping our iron crowbar was up for the job.  After nearly a half hour of grief and strained muscles, we managed to get the bars separated wide enough to squeeze ourselves through, but just barely by a hair.  Stripping off our packs and extra gear, we stuffed them through one by one; all except for Felix, since he was a little too chubby for the gap we had made.  Try as we might, we could not get the bars to bend any further to let him through the gap.

  "Get back up top and help Serena," Thorn instructed him with resignation, "we will be back up in a few hours no matter what." 

  Felix nodded apologetically, his plump love handles now bruised and a little worse for wear.  We gave him one of our spare flashlights for the long climb back up top while he gave us a doleful look before he turned and ascended back up the stairway.  Past the locked gate we noticed that the footing was constructed differently, and lacked the finesse of craftsmanship of the stairwell above.  My ears began to pop which made me wonder just how far down we had come. 

  Roy estimated over twenty stories down so far, which surprised me since I hadn't kept count.  Going down was easy, and I was starting to dread the long climb back up.  The old man came to a sudden halt and told us to hush for a moment as he held up his hand; it was only then that we heard the ever so faint buzzing of a distant alarm.  There was no clue of where it came from until we reached the bottom of the stairwell which ended at a landing in a large rectangular room where the cool moisture had pooled upon the glistening floor.

  A single open shaft reached into the darkness, adjacent to it sat a large rusted grate that appeared to be an elevator door.  By the amount of thick rust accumulated on its surface, we doubted it was still functional, and I wouldn't be entirely keen on using it even if it was.  There was no other direction to go except to make our way down the dim tunnel, from which and we began to discern the volume of the alarm was rising the closer we approached.  We could see a dim yellow light flashing far ahead through the corridor, so we proceeded with caution until we came to an especially interesting room.

  The ceiling opened up to exposed raw bedrock like you would find in a cave, though the floors where cemented and there were rooms and passages lined entirely with glass suspended off the floor.
As high up as they were, there seemed to be nothing within the chambers themselves.  The flashing light came from a beacon mounted above a horizontal tube that was half-buried in the floor with an opening on one side, where at both ends there bore deep shafts into the wall itself.  Surrounding us, two thick yellow handrails lined the interior walls.  It was all very strange, indeed.

BOOK: Broken Mirror: Apophis 2029
6.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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