In The Shadows
This has really got my interest. How come this guy has a blue light in his neck and everybody else that I’ve seen so far has a red one? Why do I seem to have more access to this bunker than anybody else that I’ve met here so far? Including Kate. I wouldn’t describe myself as unlucky, but neither am I a magnet for massive good fortune. So the thought that I might be the only person on the planet to be able to access virtually all the areas of this secret facility is preposterous. I’m sixteen years old for goodness’ sake. I’m still not allowed to buy a pair of scissors, let alone access a top secret military facility.
Something is going on here and I’m becoming increasingly intrigued, the more I learn. I’m desperate to take a look around Levels 3 and 4, but I want to know what this man is up to. He seems very intent, whatever it is, but I reckon that this blue and pulsating light must single him out as being different in some way. Maybe he’s a higher rank, or perhaps he has unique access to the entire bunker. Who knows? Anyway I’m going to postpone my visit to the newly discovered levels and see what he’s up to first. But not before I do a quick test.
‘Excuse me!’ I shout to him as the lift doors open to reveal him walking along the corridor.
‘I’m trying to get to Level 3 and the lift doesn’t appear to be working.’
‘Level 3 doesn’t exist,’ he replies. ‘It’s there in case they expand the bunker in future.’
‘Okay, thank you!’ I reply and pretend to head off the other way along the corridor.
Scooby-Doo and Shaggy would be proud of me. I double back and follow at a safe distance along the corridor. Whatever is going on with Levels 3 and 4, the bunker staff certainly believe that they don’t exist. Or, they’re forbidden to share that information. However, that lady who did the demonstration earlier certainly couldn’t operate the lift beyond Level 2. I wonder if this chap with the blue flashing light in his neck could do it. Maybe that’s what the colours signify? No time to debate this now though, he’s heading at some pace along the corridor.
He seems to be making for the bunker entrance, but that can’t make sense, there’s nothing to be done out there for now. According to Kate, we have to wait here until we get mission instructions. And then I observe something as I walk quietly behind him in the shadows. Ever since we committed to heading out towards the bunker entrance, I’ve noticed something different about the surveillance cameras. Beforehand, they were constantly showing signs of life via their whirring lenses and flashing LEDs. But these cameras are lifeless, they don’t appear to be powered up.
Whatever this man is up to, it is going on unseen by anybody else in this bunker.
They both believed that the entire scenario was for real. They carried out the mission with complete conviction and commitment. In fact, they would never know that it was just a simulation. They were test subjects Zero-97/4 and Zero-98/4.
A series of metrics, measurements and data that would feed into the program and get them towards their 99.9 percent outcome. In actual fact it was 100 percent, but in scientific and data terms, the tiniest margin for error was always left. The ‘Act of God’ in the home insurance. Wriggle room.
The metrics were so accurate by this stage that he was almost bored with the predictability of the outcome he was about to see played out before his eyes. But then he got the surprise of his life. A jolt out of complacency that was to give him a solution all those years later. He’d just found his 0.01 percent.
A Sudden Noise
The woman and the child sat close together at the left-hand corner of the bunker door. They’d said very little, and mainly the woman had attempted to comfort and reassure the child. It was a strange experience to be next to somebody in such blackness, and with no vision, it was almost obvious to maintain some form of physical contact. At first, they’d just huddled up, but as the darkness became complete, she’d placed her arm over the child’s shoulders. If it was Dan, David or Harriet she’d have done it instinctively, so it seemed perfectly normal to do it with this child.
The laptop and Dan’s phone were close to hand. Harriet’s juice had been discarded in the rush, they were hungry and uncomfortable, but otherwise – other than being confused and concerned about what was going on – they had little choice, but to wait and stay still. Unknown to her at that moment, her eldest son was doing exactly the same thing on the other side of the strong, impenetrable blast doors. Such a short distance between them, yet so far away.
And there was another person close by too, but neither of them were aware of his presence. He was standing in the entrance area, far enough away not to be heard, but still and quiet, waiting with the patience of a man who was accustomed to playing the long game. Yet he had one advantage over them. Because of who he was – and where he came from – he had the benefit of limited vision. Before the darkness dominated, he’d managed to put on a special visor. This was like nothing you’d see anywhere else. From a secret place. A special organization. A visor and breathing aid that would protect him from the power of the darkness until he was able to enter the bunker. For a moment after putting on the visor, he’d silently cursed as his view was completely obscured. A change from Night Vision to Penetration Mode, and the two figures huddled together would become much clearer and sharper. Well, one of them became visible at least, the child could not be seen in the darkness, whichever viewing mode that he used. That’s why the child was so important to this project, she was special.
He knew the woman; he’d been with her only days before of course. Driving her to the training facility, returning her to the hospital which they were to use as part of her cover story. She would not recognize him, that memory would be erased via the implant in her neck. Or not so much erased. The brain is a powerful thing. It would be suppressed, as good as being erased as far as the brain is concerned. No, she would not recognize him, he’d be just another face in the crowd, maybe with just a slight inkling of familiarity. But it was this youngster who was troubling him. At first, he’d thought the woman had just ended up with someone who’d headed to the bunker at the same time as her. The first thing he’d noticed was that this person was about the same height as the boy, probably the same kind of age. But as he stood in complete silence in the darkness, he was struck by a sudden and shocking realization. As he thought back to the youngster’s face that he’d observed earlier, he grew more sure of himself. He was as certain as he could be that this was the child that he’d been responsible for killing three years earlier.