The End by The Doors has already been playing for what feels like forever. I really need to find a better playlist on this thing.
I’ve managed to roll onto my back and see the sun as it rises in the distance.
It’s gorgeous. Out here, alone, watching the sun chase the clouds in the sky. I can’t help but make the comparison to my own situation. Those stupid clouds wanting to block out my light.
I’m obviously delirious.
And I can’t move.
But I’m not ready to give up yet.
The rock closes down over us and we are left in the dark.
“You know a bunker isn’t going to keep us safe from napalm, right?” The Geek says nervously.
“Don’t worry, son,” Dad answers. A click sounds, the floor begins vibrating, and it feels like we’re going down deeper into the earth.
“No way,” I scowl, even though no one can see me in the dark. “There is absolutely no possible way I’m going to believe for a second that you’ve got a secret underground base exactly where we need you to have one the most.”
“With how often we’re breaking people out of Grand Island,” my Mom joins in, “it only made sense for us to set up a base out here.”
“Alright,” I say. The lights turn on and we find ourselves in a dank steel room, the downward sensation decreases. “But then why is it underground? Didn’t you say underground bases were dangerous and that’s why you had all your secret above-ground ones?”
“That’s true,” Dad answers. “But since the Grand Island base was here before us, we had to come up with something a bit more hidden for the construction phase.”
“Okay, so, we’re hidden, but do you guys have any idea of how we’re going to get out of here?” The Geek asks with hope in his voice.
“Of course, we do, sweetheart,” Mom answers. “But first we need to get a better grasp of what all you know.”
“What do you mean?” I ask. “Shouldn’t we be the ones asking questions? Like how in the world you just so happened to be hanging out in the middle of the forest exactly where we landed?”
My dad laughs.
“What’s so funny?” Eve asks.
“You’re making this sound like an interrogation, where we just want to know what has happened. The last we heard you were in DC, but then you’re suddenly in Grand Island. We just–”
“We got caught, end of story,” I say smugly. “Now about you and—”
“We could certainly have guessed that,” my mother replies. “However, what we don’t understand is why you were sent to Grand Island. If the Street Patrols had been the ones to retrieve you, you would have ended up being sent back to one of the government-owned bases, like Fort Devens.”
“Eve got sent to Grand Island when she got caught,” I argue.
“That’s true,” my father agrees, “but she wasn’t captured by the Street Patrols.”
“What?” Eve asks in disbelief. “I’m fairly certain I was.”
“They were Mackenzie-Lena operatives in disguise.”
“And how could you possibly know that?” The Geek debates.
“Because they took her to Grand Island, sweetie,” Mom answers.
“Circular reasoning does not constitute a logical form of thinking, Mom,” The Geek states matter-of-factly.
“Perhaps it would be useful if we let you in on some of what we know about Mackenzie-Lena,” Dad answers. “But first, why don’t we grab a spot to rest. You three look absolutely exhausted.”
“I’m not sure I’m willing to go to sleep anywhere with you guys,” I argue.
“Still don’t trust us, son?” Dad looks hurt.
“I don’t trust anyone who has lied to me my entire life,” I answer.
“Fair enough,” Dad says resolutely. “How about this? We’ll go find a spot to sit and get some food and drink. I’m sure the three of you could at least use that.”
“Deal!” Eve says excitedly. Then, regaining her composure, “Um, I mean, sure. Whatever.”
“Great,” Mom says, trying to hide a smile, “follow me.”
We start down the hall and a loud boom sounds overhead and the entire building shudders around us.
“Uh oh,” Dad frowns.
“What was that?” I shout.
“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about,” Dad answers. “We’re down far enough that they shouldn’t be able to break in here.”
“Who is they?” The Geek asks, knowing the answer.
The lights go out. A red light flashed, joined by the deafening sound of a siren filling the halls. And just as quickly, we’re surrounded by people who are in an incredible hurry to get somewhere.
“What the heck is going on here?” I scream.
“Okay, well,” Dad says quickly. There’s a sense of urgency in his voice as he takes care in what to say next. “It looks like the good folks at M&L might have finally figured out we’re down here. And since we’re currently harboring the three people they are most interested in capturing, well, it looks like they might be willing to take out the entire complex to retrieve you.”
“What your father is trying to say is that we need to move quickly to the escape tunnels or we could end up being flattened,” Mom says right before rushing down the hall away from us.
“Right,” Dad agrees, “that.”
He also runs down the hall away from us. This time The Geek and Eve do take the second to share a glance before running off. However, I’m the one who chooses not to wait.
“Come on!” I shout to them.
We follow my parents down the hall and take a hard right at the end of it. The ground quakes beneath us and dust falls from the ceiling. The sirens and lights make it seem like everything is about to explode, like someone set off a self-destruct button without telling us to get out first. At the end of this hall, we take a hard left and find ourselves traveling down yet another long hallway.
“Are we going anywhere, or are you just running us ragged until the building comes down on us?” I yell to my parents.
“It’s right ahead,” Dad says. He is visibly out of breath, obviously not used to this type of physical exertion. My mom, on the other hand, appears to be doing just fine, as though this were just another run through the park.
We reach the end of this hallway and there are no more turns left, just a large metal door with what looks like a steering wheel attached to the front of it. Dad spins it open, which takes a great deal of effort, and inside is nothing but a small metal room.
Mom and Dad step inside and wave us to join them. I consider questioning the act, but the sirens remind me that at this point moving is better than standing still.
The five of us cram into the small metal room and my dad pulls the door shut behind us.
The room sinks deeper into the ground.
“We’re going deeper?” I scream. “Don’t we want to get topside?”
“We’re heading down into the cave system,” Dad answers. “From there we can get anywhere we need to go.”
“The caves?” Eve asks.
“That’s right,” Mom replies proudly. “The caves stretch through a great portion of the Northeast. I believe you had found the one in Pewaukee, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Great,” I mutter. “Another bunch of tunnels. That’s exactly what I need.”
Go to Chapter Ten