Part 2 if Daniel’s apocalyptic saga.
“What is this place?” I asked the people ahead of me. I counted thirteen sets of eyes staring into mine and I could feel my four companions standing close behind.
“Who are you and why are you here?” An anonymous voice replied.
“No,” I demanded with clenched fists, “You will tell me who you are.”
An older woman stepped forward. She had a tiny head and it seemed to have far too much skin on it because the stuff rolled over her face in huge, deep wrinkles.
“I’m Alice and we are researchers.” She said.
“That wasn’t research out there.”
“No. That was our enemy.”
“Well what do you do down here that makes you so murderously hated?”
Alice took a deep breath and shuffled her small frame. I felt a little foolish barking at this grandmother, so I took a half step back and relaxed a little myself.
“I’ll make you a deal, stranger. I want each of you to tell me your names and what you do for work. I need to know what I’m dealing with. Then I will tell you what we do down here.”
I said nothing for a moment, so Alice continued with, “Can we at least agree that you cannot leave this place?”
I replied with, “Fine. I am Edison Blue and I am a soldier.”
“A soldier? What kind of soldier?” Alice asked, but I ignored her.
“Next.” I said and Virginie stepped forward, past my shoulder.
“I am Virginie and I’m a real estate agent.”
“I’m William and that’s my brother, Eddy. We’re barmen.” And the Welsh brothers both nodded to our hosts.
Then Faizah stepped forward and her dark skin and short black hair seemed to shine in the glow of the fire.
“My name is Faizah and I’m a cell biologist.”
As Faizah uttered this simple, nervous introduction, a loud cry erupted from the lips of each of our new acquaintances.
“Ye-yes. I am”
And with that a round of applause rang through the confined space. Faizah leapt back, shocked by the sudden jubilation of this gathering of dirty strangers.
“What is going on? Tell us!” I cried out over the clapping and I stepped up to Alice once again.
Alice’s smile faded and she repeated, “Do you agree that you cannot leave this place?”
I looked back to my companions, searching for support.
“Your only other option is out there.” Alice added, pointing two fingers towards the heavy barred door.
“Yes. It seems we cannot leave.”
Alice led us through the black cavern to a lit area. There were hundreds of tiny blue LED bulbs in long strips on the walls, like the emergency lights in dark aeroplanes. The structure was some kind of medical facility with steel and plastic everywhere. Everything had been sanitised and everything shined as though the caretakers took great pride in the maintenance of every surface, but there seemed to be no power.
None of the overhead lights were on and the large machines that seemed to define each and every room were all silent and still. Not a single lamp or monitor was active.
“Please, tell us what is happening here.” I began to beg and as Alice stopped, the train of people stopped to listen to her.
“Before I continue, I need you to remember you cannot leave.”
“We all know that.”
“We were trying to cure a disease without government approval when the people outside decided that this deception is punishable by death. They’ve cut us off from the outside world, but our security is strong enough to protect us while we’re inside. We are besieged. We need to figure out a way to get out of this bunker and away from here, or we’re all going to die.”
“This can’t be happening, oh god no,” Virginie began to weep and the Welsh brothers comforted her so that we could continue our orientation into that wretched horror.
“I don’t understand, I was asked to come here. I was told to bring supplies.”
“What? By who?”
“Antonio, he emailed me four days ago.”
“What’s wrong? Why do you look so afraid?”
“Antonio has been dead for weeks.”