Monday, August 1, 2011

The Tesla Project- part four

They arrived as the first light of dawn seeped over the edge of the world. Abby blinked awake at the crunch of wheels on sand. The car had pulled off the road among some ruins; Remnants of wooden and stone buildings in various states of collapse. They parked between two of these crumbling structures, somewhat concealed in the low morning shadow. 

“Where are we?” Abby asked, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. 

“Tempiute,” he said, “It’s an old mining town from the late 1800’s.”

He got out of the car and went to the trunk and Abby unbuckled and followed. He pulled out a folded sheet of textured desert camo and started to put over the car. Abby grabbed a corner to help him. 

“So what’s the plan?” 

He tossed the last corner over the car and brushed the dust from his hands. “One of those might be nice to have,” he smiled. “I know how to get inside, but past that it’s all pretty vague. We need to find out who is in charge of The Tesla Program and why they are suddenly in a hurry.”

“That sounds like a plan to me.”

“That’s an objective, not a plan.”

They walked up a little ways through the stone foundations of a long-gone town. The side of the slope was covered in loose rock and it slid and skittered as they climbed. Abby could see the mine entrance, a gaping black square against the next hill. A piece of the railroad was still there, leading into the mine. 

“I have to warn you,” he said. “It’s a long walk through a dark hallway.”

The instant they walked into the mine the air temperature dropped. It smelled like mold and rust. They went straight to the back wall of the room, which was covered in boards. The mine shaft curved sharply to the right, but Xander was looking at the wall. He ran his hands along the damp, rotting wood. 

CREAK. He slowly pulled open a door that was hidden in the wall and pulled out a flashlight he had stashed in his jacket. Abby peered in over his shoulder as he flashed the light down the long stone hallway. It was a perfect square, big enough for two people side by side, cut straight through the rock for miles. 

“Here it is,” he said. “The path of good intentions.” 

“It feels warmer in there.”

“That’s the air from the base,” he said. 

They stepped inside and he closed the rickety wooden door behind them. They started down the hallway, their footsteps hollow, echoing against the walls. The tunnel was warm and dry and silent. Sanctuary.
A few steps further, the illusion of sanctuary vanished. A siren bristled through the air, screaming at them. It echoed along the length of the tunnel until there were thousands of voices wailing. Xander grabbed Abby’s arm and whipped her around, pulling her back to the door. They burst through and sprinted for the car. Too late. 

A white SUV was parked just outside the mine entrance. Two bland-faced men with guns pointed, wearing desert camo. The faint pounding of an approaching helicopter. The distant sirens calling across the mountains.
They put their hands up. 

“That wasn’t there last time I came through.” Xander said.

Of course there would be security in the mine shaft. Maybe this guy was just delusional after all. 

“Yeah? When was that?” She challenged him. 



“Well, this is another way to get inside, I suppose,” he said.

She glared at him.

Ordinarily, a helicopter ride is a wonderful experience. Ordinarily, the headphones block out some of the noise and the view is incredible. 

Abby had no headphones. She covered her ears with her hands but the noise level was still intense. The only view she had was of three grim faces staring her down over three glinting gun barrels. She was also sitting in a tight space, leaning against Xander, whom she was not happy with at the moment. The trip felt much longer than the hour it was in reality. 

Before they touched down the men covered their heads with black hoods. Maybe to prevent them from seeing anything sensitive, maybe to rush them straight to their executions. When they touched ground there was a commotion and they were bundled out of the helicopter only to be handcuffed by more men, the helicopter blades still whirring. Abby was jerked away by one guard, at least two others walking by her side. They entered a building, then a small room. They stopped. A door slid shut. The floor shifted and her stomach flopped. It was an elevator. 

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Wherever they were now, it was silent. It felt empty and expansive, their footsteps echoing across the floor. Abby was shuffled into a room and pushed into a wooden chair. Her captors left and closed the door.

There is no way to know how long she waited in the dark. She thought she had been forgotten. Dark is a word indivisible by three. The hood was scratchy around the ears and it smelled like it had been left in a drawer for fifty years. Would she be left in this room for fifty years?

The door slammed open and Abby jumped. Someone stumbled into the room, crashing into something and falling to the floor. The door shut and the person immediately scrambled towards her from the floor. Her hood was pulled off and there was a gentle hand on the side of her head. Abby blinked rapidly, eyes acclimating to the light. 

Xander was kneeling next to her. He had a bruise on his cheekbone and a cut just above his eye. A rivulet of blood was dripping down the side of his pale face. No handcuffs on him. There was a black metal collar snapped around his neck. 

“They didn’t hurt you?” he asked, “You’re okay?”

Abby nodded. 

The door slowly opened, creaking in the silence. Footsteps approached, slow and deliberate, echoing in the large room outside the door. A man appeared, framed in the doorway, a man with strange, piercing brown eyes and a thin angular face. His hair was slicked down, parted to the side. He stared at Xander, hands crossed behind his back.

Xander stared back, his white face going even whiter. There was a silent moment before Xander recovered his composure. “So you accomplished your goal after all,” he spat at him. 

A bitter smile curled the edges of the man’s mouth. “We still have things in common, I see,” he spoke with a heavy accent, maybe German. “This life does not appeal to either one of us.”

“You did this to yourself. Live with it.”

The man laughed loudly, then stepped closer, eyeing Abby for the first time but still speaking to Xander. “I do not have to ‘live with it’ for any longer. I will reverse it, but I must find the right subject.”

Xander was shaking with anger. “You are killing the best minds in the country to correct a mistake, a mistake I warned you of. If you’re suffering because of it, you deserve it.”

The man stared Xander in the eye. “I’m not the only one suffering,” his voice was subdued. He contemplated Xander’s face. “No, you wish to die as much as I do.” Xander’s eyes faltered and he stared at his hands, streaks of blood from touching his head. The man observed his hesitancy. “Are you not willing to make some sacrifices to end this? This endless empty existence. Everything good requires sacrifice.”

Xander glanced up at Abby, his eyes dark. Eyes that had seen too much. “I can make any sacrifice needed of me. I can’t sacrifice other people. It isn’t my decision to make.”

The man smiled, cruel and cold. “I see that you do not understand quite yet. You made that decision for these people a long time ago. Alexander, your brain is the one I needed. You knew this, and yet you ran. I could have reversed it. No one else would have had to die.”

“You know why I ran.”

“I know that these people are dead because of your weakness.”

“Do it, then,” Xander stood. “Reverse it now. Let Abigail go and any others you haven’t murdered yet, and you can use me.”

“Oh, I will be using you, but no one is leaving just yet. What would I use as leverage if your sweetheart goes home safe? Pardon,” he addressed the guards outside the door, “Take the little girl to a holding cell in Deep Nine.”

A burly man in an ill-fitting suit entered, and the black hood was shoved back over her head. He jerked her to her feet and dragged her to the door. 

“Everything will be okay, I’ll find you,” Xander said just before she was pulled away.

Soon I will do a real post on here, I promise. For now, enjoy this section of The Tesla Project and check out if you haven't already!


1 comment:

Marian said...

Great job! Now I'm Xander time-travelling or does he have prolonged life? [But if the answer's spoilery, don't tell me. :) ]