Joel was the only one not happy about their situation, he had met his uncle before all this kicked off, and they had virtually been chucked out. At least that was how he viewed it, probably Uncle Madison would say his work was all important. Well good for fucking him, Joel harboured a lot of animosity towards his uncle over those previous events.
“Can you stop playing around!” Joel almost shouted at the other two who were rolling around on the huge bed.
Jack crawled over Mark and sat up on the edge. “What's up?” He could see Joel was in one of those moods, but why, he didn't have a clue.
“Who's got the sat phone? We need to make that call to Kado.”
“Don't you think we should hold off until we meet your uncle?” Jack asked.
“Why? That's not gonna change the fact that we found him here like Kado hoped.”
“What Jack is trying to say is that maybe it’s best to hear what your uncle has to say about things before telling Kado.” Mark was sitting up next to Jack.
Joel didn't look too pleased, actually Mark thought he looked as though he wanted to hit him, and they were supposed to be in love. What's wrong with him? Mark couldn't work it out, why so heavy, must be to do with meeting his uncle?
“Alright, suppose you have a point,” Joel admitted grudgingly.
“What is it with you and your uncle?” As soon as the words were out of his mouth Mark regretted saying it.
“Nothing,” Joel scowled.
An uneasy silence entered the room. Jack looked at Mark who was staring at the floor. Neither wanted to speak for fear of the reaction they might get.
Joel paced around the room, stopped at the bookshelf on the far side, opposite them, and picked up a photo. It was in a neat little black plastic frame, not big, unusual. You wouldn't normally see printed framed photos, it was so old fashioned, people didn't do that anymore. It was the oddness of having a photo on the bookcase shelf that diverted Joel's attention, and the picture itself. A family portrait of him, Charlie and their mother, who was standing behind them. It must have been taken some years ago, because he looked about fourteen and Charlie would have been nine, or there abouts. The difference in their height made Joel look like he towered over Charlie. He was quite tall, but that photo kind of emphasised it.
“That was taken about five years ago.”
The voice startled him and made him look up. His uncle had come into the room and was standing there with Joseph his assistant.
“I know why you’re here. You've been sent to find me. I was expecting corporation people, so that is different, but whoever sent you here, it doesn't matter. They want to stop the cloud seeding and Project Weatherman.”
Joel listened, Jack and Mark were watching him and his uncle.
“It's too late! You can report back that the cloud seeding began yesterday and they will know that once started it’s irreversible. But you Joel, and your friends here,” he looked over at Jack and Mark. “You need to know that this is a last chance. By that I mean this project works or everything is finished. Everything meaning life on this planet and probably the planet itself.”
Jack stared intensely wondering if this was some kind of show, a ploy in the game, or real. Mark was thinking about it being the end of everything when things were only starting for him, and Joel was trying to figure where that left them.
“There are no guarantees it will work, but there is a Plan B.” His Uncle once again looked over at Jack and Mark. They were only boys, he didn't know how they would react. How would anyone react to this?
“A Plan B?” Joel questioned.
“Do you all know about Operation ReGen?” He asked them.
“Operation ReGen?” Joel looked blank.
“You can watch the video later, but it amounts to this; three interstellar space craft were launched to establish human colonies on suitable habitable planets they may find. They will be travelling for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, carrying human seed and eggs. Manned by robots, these craft will eventually found new life on distant stars.”
Joel didn't react, neither did the other two boys. They were all shocked, they had not realised that things were so bad that the government would abandon the planet.
“So that's the Plan B?” Joel thought that sucked, because they were left on a dying planet if the professor's project was unsuccessful.
“No actually that is simply a means to ensure the survival of mankind. The Plan B is another interstellar spacecraft that will also take human seed and eggs with it, but the robots will be different.”
“I'm getting to that. They will have a copy of the memories of humans, in fact each robot will become a replica of a person.”
“You mean like so we live forever as robots!” Mark exclaimed excited by the professor’s announcement. “And do we get one of these robots?”
“Yes you get one of these robots, but it is your memories which will be preserved and developed, that is not exactly the same as offering you immortality. Just as the human seed will fertilise those eggs to ensure the survival of the human race, so the robots with human memories will, in a way, ensure those individuals continue to live.”
The concept of what was being explained was pretty difficult to grasp. Mark wondered what was the difference between his memories living and developing, and himself. Then it hit him – feelings – the robots would have his memory, but not his emotions, not even how he thinks. He would live on like the character in a story, developing and changing, but not quite real, although how do you know what’s real?
“Right now we need to work out, together, what to do immediately, what you report back. Joseph here will take care of the robot transfer, but it would be good if we could get everyone together, I mean your mother and Charlie.”
“And Steve and Grif,” Mark added.
“Your friends?” Uncle Madison asked.
“My brother and our friend. Actually Steve was sent to find Joel's mom and brother.” Jack kicked Mark when he said that, it was too much information.
If Professor Madison noticed the kick, he said nothing, he told them that Joseph would take them now to prepare the robotisation of their memories. A totally painless experience that would be like dreaming and had no bad side effects.
“So, I need to get back and see how things are going with the cloud seeding. I'll come and see you all tonight and we can work out what to do next.”
“Follow me,” Joseph indicated for them to come with him.
□ □ □ □ □
The room they found themselves in was large, one wall was covered in electronics, it reminded Joel of the control room in his uncle's house where they had stayed. Joseph went over the procedure, explaining that they would each lie down on one of the trolleys he had moved into the room. One of the staff, they had been joined by half a dozen guys in surgical gowns, wearing gloves and masks, would administer an injection.
This would be like a sedative and they would drift off, falling asleep. It would, he repeated what Joel's uncle had told them, be just like dreaming. Before things could start they each needed to change into a gown, removing all clothing.
What neither Joel's uncle nor Joseph had told them was that the procedure was revolutionary, on a par with the cloud seeding project, and it had never been done before. Of course, if they had explained that the boys were guinea pigs in a mad scientist's experiment akin to Frankenstein, they most likely would not have agreed to take part.
□ □ □ □ □
Eve was certain that now was the right time to act, they couldn’t wait to find out the situation with Professor Madison, they had to hack into the X-Corp mainframe and get some information about their situation. It was a big risk, but it seemed like they had no viable alternative. However, she wouldn't make that decision alone, they all had to agree.
“Well team, my personal opinion is that now is the right time to find out what exactly is going on. At least to try, but I need your agreement, because we do it together or not at all. So, what do you all think?” She looked from one to the other and waited.
Andre spoke up first, “I agree.”
Evan was next, “I'm in.”
And finally Mark, “Yeah, let's do it.”
Evan took the main seat in front of the monitor, with the others spread out behind him. Everyone was peering at the screen.
“Here goes nothing!” He keyed in the mainframe address, bringing up the security screen. There was a two phase password and security alpha numeric code.
After a brief moment the screen went blank before they were staring at the X-Corp mainframe menu, underneath a message gave their location and stated Access level 2. Evan keyed in a search for ICEX and Weatherman. They waited.
Again the screen blanked, which was not usual, not what you would expect. In about five seconds a list appeared, punctuating the screen with numbered lines that gave a title and one line summary.
Each of them read through the list. Mark shouted out, “Twelve.”
“Yeah, I see it,” Andre chipped in.
Eve read it out loud, “Evacuation Executive – Escape pod locations, memory download station, executive list.”
As Eve was reading it Evan hit twelve, then one. A list of pod locations appeared together with a series of instructions, access codes and procedures, checklists and something called data control coordinates vector analysis.
Eve pointed out Morro Bay which Andre had caught sight of at the same time. Mark saw Mount Columbus, then there were about twenty other sites.
“Download the codes and data for those two, there's nothing nearer.” As Eve gave him the instruction Evan hit the key sequence to download Morro Bay. He put a memory stick into the keypad, somehow he didn't trust instant cloud transfer.
Complete flashed on screen and he moved to repeat the process for Mount Columbus, but at that moment the screen died.
“That's it,” Eve told them. “We need to get out and grab a car before all hell brakes loose. It won't take them long to locate the unauthorised access point and shut everything down.”
Evan pocketed the memory stick and they were out of there, making their way to the south exit vehicle bay. It seemed like a long way, but it was the mixture of adrenaline and the thought of what they were doing that made it long.
“Key in any destination,” Eve told Andre when they were in the car. “We'll have to stop and reprogram it once we're out of here.”
It was at just that instant that the red lights came on with the message, lockdown sequence initiated.
“Go! Go!” Evan urged.
The car lifted and shot forward through the car park and out of the exit. They couldn’t really see, but they each suspected that they just made it in time.
□ □ □ □ □
Depolarisation Joseph had called it, but that meant very little to Joel, Jack or Mark. After the injection he drifted off as if floating across an endlessly smooth soft landscape. Joel saw Charlie, his mom, the centre and Grif. The images were like a replay of all the recent events, but then he started thinking back further.
The strangest of feelings overcame him, a sensation that he could get lost in his own memories. That he might endlessly pursue past experiences and in a detail as real as when they had happened, but he might not be able to make his way back. He could forever be spinning around inside his own head, full of thoughts and sensations that he'd already lived.
He started to panic, because the events were getting mixed up, they were no longer in sequence. He had started going back in time, but then he, then he had the weirdest thing happen. It was as if all of a sudden, he stepped outside of himself. It was so very odd, not normal. No, none of this was normal.
Joel was looking at a baby being born. He was watching his own mother giving birth. That's not possible, he thought. This can’t be my memory, because I wasn't there when Charlie was born. He was getting spooked, but at the same time he couldn’t look away, or think about how to get back. Then it hit him like a thunderbolt. It was him. He was watching his own birth. NOT POSSIBLE! He screamed out those words, he was losing his sanity. Something is not right here.
The landscape then spread out in front as far as the eye could see. A desert plain and two figures dressed in sweeping white robes and wearing head scarves were riding two magnificent white horses. The dust of the desert swirled around the horses hooves. He was still outside his body, but who the hell was he looking at. It was like a film, not his memory.
“It was the weirdest of weirdo experiences,” Jack told the other two.
“Yeah, I know,” Joel looked from Jack to Mark.
“Same here. I think they mixed my memories with some other kid.”
Whatever happened all three agreed on one thing, it was like nothing else they had ever experienced.
“You need to get some sleep,” Joseph told them. “I know it sounds a bit odd, after you’ve been dreaming through your memories, but it's necessary. So go to bed and we'll pick things up in the morning.”
He left them in the large bedroom with the single big bed.
“What do you think happens next?” Mark asked as he was getting undressed.
“I got no idea, except...” and as he said that Joel leaped on Mark and wrapped his arms around him. They fell together propelled by the momentum onto the bed.
“I think he said get some sleep dudes,” Jack was smiling at the two of them.
They separated, lay back down and looked at him.
“Come and join us then.” Joel smiled at Jack.
“Unless you wanna sleep on the floor,” Mark added.
Jack pulled off his sweat and kicked off his shoes. Standing in front of the two of them he flipped open the top button of his jeans, slowly pulled the zipper down, revealing a hint of red. Mark was staring, Joel grinning. Jack slid out of his jeans and stood there in just his underpants, he had a very nice body, a little white, but totally smooth. It didn't escape Joel's attention that Mark's cock was sticking straight out as he watched.
“I see someone liked the show,” Jack grinned at Mark, then came to join them on the bed. In very little time Joel had stripped and the three of them had squirmed under the sheets together.
□ □ □ □ □
“How long will it take you to reprogram the car,” Eve asked.
“Not long, maybe thirty minutes or so,” Andre replied.
“Okay well as quickly as possible. I don't want to hang around too long.”
“I’ll plug the memory chip in and we can see what we've got.” Evan took the little memory stick and pushed it into the console as Andre set about the reprogramming.
On the screen in front of them was displayed a list of information, as much as they had time to grab before the hack was detected.
Location 312003, 1205027
Executive list not available
Launch instructions not available
Access codes 6799859, 6744321
Procedure not available
Checklist not available
Data control Morro Bay Facility Four
Journey time estimate 998 years
“Wow, what the hell does that all mean,” Mark spoke out loud.
“It doesn't look like a viable escape plan for humans unless they have some really long hibernation system, which we know there isn't.” Evan added.
“We can worry about all that later,” Eve said. “It's obvious our only course of action is to get to Morro Bay and either find Professor Madison or find this Facility Four. Whatever it is, it could be useful.”
“I'll be finished in five minutes, it's easier than I thought. Then we can get out of here.” Andre looked up from the keyboard before returning his attention to the task at hand.
□ □ □ □ □
“We need to consider our next step carefully,” Professor Madison was addressing the boys. “I think you will agree with me that getting your mom and Charlie here, along with your brother,” he glanced at Mark, “would be a good move.”
“Of course we agree,” Joel said, “but how do we do that?”
“Yeah, once we've found you we're supposed to contact Kado using the sat phone.” Jack added.
“Phone and say the professor wants everyone together. Get them all here, including Kado and Henry.”
“You really think it’s that easy? That they'll just all pack up and come on down, like one big happy family.” Sometimes Mark's immaturity annoyed Joel.
“Well, why not? If you tell them about the Plan B.”
“He's right,” Professor Madison stated. “It's probably the only thing that will work to get them here. There isn't too much time to do anything else. If Project Weatherman isn't successful, then we all have to leave or die along with the planet.”
“Well okay then, I'll make the call. Get the sat phone Jack.” Joel was thinking he'd judged Mark wrongly on that one, the youngster was not so stupid. He'd make it up to him later.
Jack pulled the phone out from his backpack and handed it to Joel. Everyone was quiet as he put through the call.
“Kado,” Joel said on hearing him pick up the call.
There was no speaker option on the sat phone so everyone apart from Joel heard only one side of the conversation.
“Good news, we found them.”
“The situation is good and bad.”
“Well first off the cloud seeding is well underway.”
“Yes. It had started before we got here.”
“No. Once it’s initiated there’s no off switch.”
“No, but here is something that puts a whole other dimension on things.”
Joel then explained about the interstellar evacuation Plan B. He suggested they should all come here. He told Kado that he needed to move quick, because nobody really had any idea as to whether or not the cloud seeding would work and if it failed, they might never make it here. Joel said he wanted his family, and Steve, here. They could sort everything out when he arrived. His uncle was willing to give him the low down on everything, there was nothing to keep back anymore.
Finally, he ended the call and Jack and Mark were obviously eager to know what Kado’s answer was. His uncle wanted to know as well, but was a bit more restrained about it than were the boys.
“Okay, he will talk to Henry and call back soon.”
“And Steve was there with them?” Mark asked.
“Yes. Steve found my mom and Charlie and they are all back at Mount Columbus.”
“What about Grif?” Jack wanted to know.
“I never asked. I thought one thing at a time, I'll ask him when he calls back.”
They would all now have to wait on that call to see what happens.
□ □ □ □ □
“It's done,” Andre told them. “What next?”
“Morro Bay. Can you get us there?” Eve looked at him.
“The location given,” Evan interrupted. “I think those numbers are the GPS coordinates. Degrees, minutes and seconds. If I'm right and you enter them we should arrive at the exact location of the facility.”
Andre called up the destination screen and keyed in the numbers as GPS degrees, minutes and seconds.
“Good work,” Andre glanced at Evan. “That takes us right to the place, somewhere in a park area of Morro Bay.” He hit the GoTo destination key.
“Your destination is not within the grid. Please enter an available destination.” A rather nicely spoken woman’s voice filled the interior of the vehicle.
“Override,” Andre commanded.
The engines came alive with a humming vibration and the car once again took off.
“Estimated energy reserves insufficient for the distance.” The woman's voice was once more there with them.
“Detail the short fall,” Andre questioned the computer.
“Estimated ZERO batteries at 2.97 miles from destination. There is no recharge station known.”
“Well if she's right we'll have a three mile walk at the end of this.”
□ □ □ □ □
Kado had decided not to explain everything to Henry. Now, he thought, it was time to leave Henry here and go to Morro Bay with Joel's family and Steve. What he did tell Henry was that he needed to take everyone with him to Morro Bay and that that was because he might need to negotiate with Madison. He did not tell Henry that Project Weatherman had launched and could not now really be sabotaged. However, that maybe wasn't entirely true. It couldn’t be stopped Joel had told him, but perhaps it could be made to fail?
Grif was still unconscious, so he would stay there under medical supervision, but he would allocate a vehicle to follow. Like that, because he was sure the boys would ask, he could tell them that Grif was recovering – a lie, but was still too weak to travel – a quasi-truth.
□ □ □ □ □
Joel, Jack and Mark took time out to watch the video on Operation ReGen and another short documentary on what the professor had named Plan B. None of these seemed to Joel to offer any hope for them, here and now. Jack and Mark were pretty much banking on the cloud seeding working although they didn't really understand the concept.
What was especially difficult to grasp was the memory transfer they had each been through. Having a robot with your memories, that could act and think, walk and talk as Mark put it, what would that mean?
“It can't really be me, just a double that knows everything about me. It's absolutely crazy, no?” Mark looked across at Joel as if he might magically have the answer to that question.
“Yeah it’s weird, and what would it do moving forward?”
“Moving forward?” Jack didn't get what he was talking about.
“Yeah, like when the robot has to decide something. Is it gonna use your memories in that choice? On it’s own a robot just makes logical choices.”
“You mean if I had to decide whether to leave here and go find Steve, I would do it because he’s my brother. Would my robot self do It?”
Mark wondered about this, how would memories interact with logic. The short video gave no real clues, it was almost as if, whoever came up with the concept had no idea of the consequences. What it more or less showed was some people, scientists, who had developed a process of memory transfer from human to robot. So now they were using it, but no one knew the outcome.
“We're guinea pigs!” Mark exclaimed.
“Yeah, perhaps,” Joel responded. “I wonder what your robot self would say if I wanted to fuck him.”
Jack burst out laughing. “He'd tell you go fuck yourself human!”
“You guys only ever think about sex. I was being serious.”
“Well, being serious,” Joel made a serious face. “The robot might change his decision because of your memories. That is, he might decide he should leave to find Steve because of the kinds of memories he had.”
“In that case,” Jack said, still laughing. “I take it back! The robot wouldn't say go fuck yourself, he'd say you better make it last longer than last time!”
Mark started smiling and Joel had a big grin on his face. “What you been telling him Mark?”
All three ended up laughing so hard that they were almost crying.
Just as Joel was recovering, the sat phone rang.
“That'll be Kado,” he picked it up. “Right on cue!”
The others listened as Joel replied.
“Yes, okay fine, that's great.”
“But how's he doing?”
“Okay, I get it.”
“So we wait.”
“Yes, see you tomorrow then. I'll let my uncle know.”
The call ended. Joel put down the phone and turned to Mark and Jack.
“Kado’s coming here tomorrow. With my mom, Charlie and Steve. Grif is doing okay, but he can't travel, so he might follow later. That's all he said.”
“I don't trust him one hundred percent. He always tells half truths and mixes stuff up. He uses people.” Jack told them.
“Yeah, but it's like that, we don't have a choice in how things play out.”
Everything comes to an end; your life, the planet, everybody’s life, and all stories have to reach their conclusion. Sometimes things are left open, there is the possibility of a continuation, but not here. It failed: Project Weatherman was a unique idea – stop the rain by suspending the water in the clouds, control geographically where it falls, but it didn't work out as planned.
The rain stopped, the sky looked black, ominous and threatening. You might expect that at any minute the heavens would open with a torrential downpour. Which is exactly what happened – uncontrollably.
The rain stopped that night, after Joel had got off the sat phone to Kado.
There was a brief alarm that sounded in the building, the lights went out and came back on. Professor Madison came to their room to give them the news, and to get them out of there.
“I hate to have to tell you this,” he was standing in front of Joel, Jack and Mark. “Unfortunately we've lost geographic control. There will be one almighty flood in the next five or six hours. All power, everywhere is out. We are running on backup, but it won't last long. Everywhere else is mostly blacked out.”
“Everywhere else?” Joel questioned.
“The rest of the planet.”
“We're fucked!” Mark exclaimed.
The professor coughed. “Not quite how I would put it and not completely correct.”
“Plan B,” Jack was looking intently at Professor Madison.
“Exactly. No time to really explain in detail, but we will get you to the launch station and from there the pod will take you to the fourth and final escape ship.”
“And then what?” Joel asked.
“Then you get to live out the rest of your lives onboard. There will be a lot of things that need doing. You will after all be preparing to found a new planet with human life, to construct a new civilisation, a new beginning.”
“A new beginning we never get to see,” Jack added.
“You might never get to see it, but it will be your creation, and isn't it a whole lot better than the mess you're leaving behind?”
“When we get to this pod thing, what do we do?” Joel wanted to know.
“Joseph will give you the access codes. Then everything is automatic.”
“And what about my mom and Charlie?”
“Yeah, and Steve?” Mark couldn't leave his brother behind.
“If they get here in time, but if they haven't already left, then there is a pod at Mount Columbus.”
“I'm gonna call Kado and see if they've left.”
Professor Madison left them with Joseph who handed Joel a set of two codes and the pod location, he told them a vehicle was waiting , they should probably leave soon.
Joel picked up the sat phone hoping to make contact with Kado before they all left.
He picked up immediately. “What's going on, the rain has stopped, has it worked?”
“No, it failed. Everywhere is blacked out and a flood is expected in the next five to six hours. Where are you?”
“About a third of the way.”
“And mum, Charlie and Steve are with you?”
“Not Steve, he decided to stay with Grif.”
“Is there anyway to contact him?”
“You could try the control room at Mount Columbus, but I don't know if it will work. If there is no power and they are running on backup. Try messaging.”
“Okay. How long till you arrive?”
“Around five hours or so.”
Joel hung up, there was no point saying that was cutting things fine, he would have already realised that.
□ □ □ □ □
Steve was sitting in the chair next to Grif when the alarm went off. He had no idea what it meant other than the power went down then almost immediately came back on, but a lot dimmer. They were in the medical bay with emergency lighting only. The place seemed to glow an eerie pale yellow, accentuated by its emptiness. He thought that maybe they were the last forgotten two, that everyone else had left.
Except that idea was broken when a young looking orderly came in to give him a message.
“This came through the control room for you,” he handed Steve the paper.
“Thanks.” He didn’t know who had sent him a message, but guessed it must be Kado.
“We're evacuating.” He looked at Steve with the obvious question that didn't need saying.
“Okay, I'm staying here.”
The young man gave him a smile. “Good luck.”
“Yeah thanks, you too.”
Once more it was just the two of them, and looking at Grif, the thought crossed his mind that maybe this was the end. However, a movement of Grif's arm, like a twitch of a muscle, forced Steve to concentrate harder on the young man lying in bed. Did he move? Then there it was again, a muscular twitching in his arm. Steve lent over and took hold of Grif's hand. A couple of seconds later he felt life in that hand, he turned to stare at Grif. His eyelids fluttered and opened.
“Grif!” Steve called his name softly. “Grif, can you hear me?”
The body on the bed stirred as if in some kind of acknowledgement. Grif stared back at him, eyes wide open now.
“Yes.” The faint word escaped his lips.
Steve quickly moved to get some water. He helped him to sit up and placed the plastic cup and straw next to Grif's lips. They had told him that if ever he comes round he would need liquid. Grif moved his lips to cover the straw and suck in the first drink in days, he felt very groggy.
After some time with Steve holding the cup for Grif to drink, he finally spoke.
The inevitable question which Steve fielded by explaining the events that had taken place whilst he had been lying there unconscious. As he finished, he remembered the note handed to him, he unfolded it and read the message.
Plan B is an escape pod
Coordinates are 404018, 1114624
Get there and launch
Well, that was clear enough, whatever it meant, but he'd need to see if Grif could stand up and walk, that was not a sure thing.
□ □ □ □ □
“The good news is it's stopped raining,” Eve told them as the door opened.
“That means Project Weatherman was successful then,” Mark was looking for confirmation.
“Well we are about to find out as soon as we locate the facility.”
“It's north, north-west, exactly 2.97 miles,” Evan held the GPS in the palm of his hand.
“Let's go,” Andre smiled, “should be there in an hour.”
They grabbed the couple of bags they'd brought with them and set off. It was remarkable that the incessant rain had finally stopped, but the gloom was ever present with a ceiling of dark and threatening clouds.
It was easy going and they made good progress in just under fifty minutes they were there.
“This is it,” Evan said, double checking the GPS.
“It's just a park, with a couple of buildings. Nothing here looks like a control centre,” Mark looked around.
“I guess we take a look in there,” Andre pointed to the closest building, which was no bigger than a large hut and looked about as substantial.
Eve pushed open the door and walked in. Looking around there was nothing much on the inside. Andre flicked the light switch, nothing happened.
“Then what is that glow,” Mark was looking across to the back where a wooden balustrade seemed to indicate stairs.
“Perhaps there is a basement to this place. Let's check it out.” Eve lead the way to what was a set of wooden stairs. They followed her down but the stairs just finished at a door which the faint green light was outlining.
Andre pulled a torch from the bag he was carrying, switched it on and pointed the beam forwards.
“Here take this,” he handed the torch to Eve.
“There’s a touch pad, number display,” she reached forward, touched the small screen and the number pad lit up with the same faint green glow that surrounded the door.
“The access codes you downloaded. Let's try them.”
Eve keyed in the first code as Evan read it out. “Six, seven, nine, nine, eight, five, nine.”
There was a click and the screen lit up with the word spelled in green letters – PROCEED.
“Looks like we're in.” At least something was working out, Eve thought.
“Doesn't look anything like the facility we were expecting,” Andre was a little concerned.
A long dimly lit tunnel led them further down at a slight gradient until a second door barred their passage. This time a gentle push was all that was needed to enter into a brightly lit room, which had one small door on the far side. There was a screen set into one wall and a number of bench seats, but otherwise is was clinically white.
The four of them stopped in the middle of the room. There was no sound other than their own breathing and an almost indiscernible humming. The screen displayed what Mark at first thought was a clock, well it was, but it was counting down – 03:12:55, 54, 53, 52. He watched the numbers changing.
“Where are we?” Andre voiced the question on everybody's lips.
“The same keypad is on the other door,” Eve moved to get close. “Give me the second access code.”
Evan read out the numbers, ”six, seven, four, four, three, two, one.”
The door clicked and Eve pulled it open.
“It's a vehicle, some kind of transport,” she told them. “It looks quite large, probably could hold about ten or a dozen people.”
“So we've found a bunker with an underground railway?” Andre was rather despondent.
“I think it might be more than an underground railway. It's certainly got power.”
“Hold it a minute! Did you hear that?” Mark asked.
“Sounds like we've got company.” Evan added.
Footsteps echoed along the passageway they had just come from.