The Border Part Eight (6 page)

BOOK: The Border Part Eight
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“In a year.”

“But then you’ll go down again?”

“The job’s done when it’s done,” he replied, with the cases and tupperware pots in his arms as he opened the door and stepped through into the darkness. After staring down the steps for a moment, he turned back to Lucy and smiled. “Say hi to your Mom for me. Tell her I miss her, tell her you bumped into me or something, but don’t tell her where I am or what I’m doing. And tell her to dump that Bob asshole. Sorry, kid, but your father’s a loser. If I ever get done with the Border, I’m gonna come back up and chase that S.O.B. right out of town.”

She smiled.

“Be seeing you,” he added, turning and heading down the steps. “Have fun at college! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”

She paused, before hurrying over to the doorway and looking down. For a moment, she saw Ben’s shadow on the wall as he disappeared into the Border. She wanted to go after him, to just get a glimpse at the place, and after a moment she made her way down the first few steps and then leaned forward, peering around the corner. She could hear Ben whistling in the distance as he made his way down to the next level, but all she could see was a bare, red-walled room with bullet holes peppered across several of the surfaces.

Fighting the temptation to go further, she turned and headed back up into the office. Once she’d pushed the door shut, she could no longer hear Ben whistling.

***

“Hey.”

“Hey.” Looking up from where she was sitting on the steps in the cold night air, Jane saw Lucy emerging from the building.

“He said to say thanks,” Lucy continued, taking a seat next to her. “He said he’d stick to the same routine or something like that, whatever it means.”

Jane nodded. “I figured.”

“It’s not true, is it?” Lucy asked. “I mean, it
can’t
be! There can’t be this place underneath Bowley that just keeps going down forever, with more and more levels. If it
was
true, what would he even be finding down there? People?”

“I don’t know,” Jane replied. “I stopped asking a while ago. He never told me much anyway.”

“It’s not right,” Lucy continued. “Uncle Ben’s such a nice guy. I mean, I know he can seem kinda weird sometimes, and I know Uncle Jack used to have some pretty bad things to say about him, but I don’t believe any of it. I think Ben’s cool, and I hate to think of him spending his whole life… Well, whatever he’s doing down there, he should be happy.” She paused. “Do you think he’ll ever be finished with the Border?”

Jane looked up at the stars for a moment as she contemplated her answer. “I think one day I’ll come to meet him and he won’t show up,” she said finally, “and I think that’ll be the end of that.”

“So you don’t think he’ll get to the last level?”

“I think if he does, he won’t have the strength to come back. I think whatever he finds there…” She paused, before turning back to Lucy. “I should have stayed down there with him, but I had Stuart and Oliver to think of, I couldn’t leave them behind to go fight whatever’s in the Border. Ben
could
do that, finally someone was willing to make the sacrifice, and all of Bowley should thank him except… No-one has any idea. He’s fighting the darkness so that the rest of us don’t even have to admit that it exists.”

They sat in silence for a moment, each of them thinking about Ben making his way wearily down into the depths.

“Let me know,” Lucy said finally. “I won’t ever tell anyone, but… Let me know if one day he doesn’t show up anymore.”

Jane nodded.

“And if he ever
does
get finished with the Border…” Sighing, Lucy stared ahead, seeing the edge of the town square in the distance and hearing the sounds of people laughing and talking. After a few seconds, all she could think about was the fact that she’d be leaving town soon, and that she’d be living in a city. “Wait,” she said cautiously, with a frown, “what were we just talking about?”

Jane stared at her niece, before putting an arm around her shoulder and smiling. “I think we were talking about how you’re going to be getting out of town tomorrow, and how you’re going to be moving to the city.”

“I can’t wait,” Lucy replied. “I mean, I love Bowley, but… This might sound crazy, but do you ever feel as if there’s something dark here, something that people don’t notice?”

Jane paused. “Like what?”

“I don’t know. Like, something beneath our feet. It’s just, like, an itch of a thought really, but it’s been nagging at me.”

“Don’t you remember what just -” Another pause, before finally Jane understood. “I wouldn’t worry about it,” she said finally. “If there
is
anything dark here, I’ve got a feeling someone’s taking care of it.”

***

“I think,” the man in the suit said with a frown as he stared at the screen, “maybe we finally have to admit defeat here.”

He watched for a moment as the screen showed a CCTV image of a man approaching a door. With a shotgun in his hands, the man kicked the door open and stepped forward, before opening fire.

The man in the suit flicked a switch and the screen switched off.

“He’s not going to give up,” he muttered. “The Border beneath Bowley is obviously lost.”

“So should we start working on a plan to start it up again?” the technician asked. “It probably wouldn’t take that long. We could have a team there within a weak, they could deal with the guy who’s causing all the trouble and then, I don’t know, they could probably have a new Border up and running by Christmas.”

“I don’t know about that,” the man in the suit replied, heading across the room and stopping to look at the vast world map that filled the far wall. Tens of thousands of red lights were showing dotted all over the map, marking locations on every continent. “Maybe the Bowley site should remain closed, as a reminder to us that sometimes, just sometimes, we can still be vulnerable.”

“But -”

“I’ve made my decision, and I’ll relay it to the boss.” He turned to the technician. “Bowley is to remain inactive. Ben Freeman is never going to get back up, he’ll just keep going down and down until he reaches…” He paused, and slowly a faint smile crossed his face. “Let him have his little victory. Let Bowley become a peaceful, calm town again. We have so many other facilities, so many other Border locations, I honestly don’t see the need to worry about that little scratch of a town. Bowley was one of our smaller sites anyway, its only real value was sentimental. After all, it was one of the very first Border locations that ever existed.”

“So should I stop monitoring the place?”

The man in the suit nodded, before heading to the door. “Forget about Bowley. Let it sink back into insignificance and just become a boring little town where nothing ever happens. I’m sure everyone will be so much happier like that.”

Rolling his eyes, he stepped out into the corridor and paused for a moment to light a cigarette. He took a long, slow drag and felt an immediate sense of relief, not only because of the nicotine but also because finally, after twelve years, he’d come to accept that the Border at Bowley would have to remain lost. The situation had already taken up far too much of his time and as he turned and headed along the corridor, he couldn’t help but smile as he thought of Ben still down there, still fighting, still trying to keep Bowley safe.

Stopping at the far end of the corridor, the man in the suit stubbed his cigarette out, took a moment to check that his tie was straight, and then opened the door.

“It’s me,” he said as he stepped into the control room. “I’ve reached a decision regarding Bowley. We’re going to abandon the site. Let it rot. Let’s just focus on all the other Borders out there.”

OTHER BOOKS
BY AMY CROSS INCLUDE

Horror

3AM

The Farm

The Scream

Tenderling

The Girl Clay

The Haunting of Emily Stone

The Prison

Asylum

American Coven

The Night Girl

Devil’s Briar

Ward Z

Ward Z: Revelation

The Devil’s Photographer

 

Fantasy / Horror

 

Dark Season series 1, 2 & 3

The Hollow Church (Abby Hart 1)

Vampire Asylum (Abby Hart 2)

Dead Souls volumes 1, 2 & 3

Lupine Howl series 1 to 4

Grave Girl

Graver Girl (Grave Girl 2)

Ghosts

The Library

Journey to the Library (The Library Saga 2)

The Ghosts of London

Archangel (The Ghosts of London 2)

 

Thriller

 

Ophelia

The Dead City (Ophelia 2)

Fallen Heroes (Ophelia 3)

The Girl Who Never Came Back

The Dead and the Dying (Joanna Mason 1)

The House of Broken Backs (Joanna Mason 2)

The Pornographer’s Wife

Other People’s Bodies

 

Dystopia / Science Fiction

 

The Shades

Mass Extinction Event series 1 to 4

BOOK: The Border Part Eight
8.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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