Anchors No More #27: There’s Nary a Locale Like HomeJul 22, 2014
Down Hall C, turning left and then left again a little further, Daniel and Gary walked slowly with Restrepo positioned behind them a few meters. They passed scientists, guards and security cameras, finally taking a right and ending up in an empty hallway about thirty meters long.
Restrepo took a few quick steps, closing the gap between himself and his comrades. “It’s gonna get busy up ahead again,” he whispered, “once we hit the turn off for the lab elevators. How are you doing?”
Daniel’s face remained wooden, “I’m okay,” he said softly, not turning around.
Gary whispered, “I’m here,” and glanced over at Daniel who gave him the slightest of smiles. Restrepo dropped back to his original position and the three men continued down the hall.
From around a corner, a woman dressed in a nurse’s smocks approached them. She smiled as she passed and Gary felt his chest constrict. He tried to smile back but was certain it looked closer to gas pains than good will. Restrepo tensed but it was for nothing, the woman kept walking without a second glance.
A few moments later, they turned the corner and passed two guards outside of an administrative office. Daniel could feel the guards’ eyes on him as they walked by. He fought the urge to look back, curious if they were still watching, wanting to see the expressions on the faces. Did they know him? Did they recognize their former colleague Restrepo? It didn’t really matter at this point, he thought, just keep moving, avoid eyes, avoid sinking feelings, avoid the mindset that they were obvious, well known and doing nothing but walking further into a trap already sprung. Moving around the next corner, they could see Hall Nine up ahead: the major crossroad leading towards the laboratory elevators.
Hall Nine was wide and bright, bustling with people coming from every direction as multiple hallways all filtered into this major artery cutting through the middle of ARCC. In another thirty seconds they would reach that hall and turn left, walking fifteen meters until they reached the next of their many points of no return: the elevators leading directly to Sub-level 3, the main laboratory wing. Once down there, it was going to be tight, fast, and intense. Guards would be everywhere, scientists and researchers filling every possible workspace as they went about their various tasks. They all knew that this is where everything in their plan became equal parts preparation and chance.
Gary could imagine them making it down the elevator, could picture them winding their way through Ward H2, the temporal division, he could even envision the trio making it into the lab where Holly’s machine was kept without anyone stopping them or asking them questions. There was one thing, however, that he simply could not imagine: the exchange that would take place when they handed the lead scientists their forged forms authorizing the removal of the Marshall Temporal Device from the lab and its transfer to a ‘more secure location for final project initialization.’
In some dark corner of his mind, Gary could evoke the look of doubt in his opponent’s eyes, the suspicious questions and building tensions. There would be guards with guns and little to no mercy. The only glimmer of hope Gary could conjure was the fact that they were not alone, that Pierre was ahead of them and by this time he had already gone down the elevator and was getting into position. Elizabeth and Kate were behind them forty meters or so and would wait for the next elevator, spacing out their arrival by a few minutes.
They had reinforcements and guns but only Restrepo and Kate had flack jackets. Elizabeth had a thin Kevlar vest but at close range Restrepo had informed her it might only slow the bullets down, not keep them out. Gary had nothing, his flesh guarded only by a thin button down blue shirt and poly-cotton lab coat. His sole comfort was the knowledge that Holly had a vest exactly like Elizabeth’s. It wasn’t much but at least it was something.
They reached the elevators, surrounded by people waiting for the next cars. More people walked by, groups of guards moving with noticeable immediacy as they headed to wherever they were going. Gary glanced at Daniel with a raised eyebrow, noticing the buzz in the air, the vibrancy of an area excited by something urgent. Low murmuring voices, scientists and lab techs looking around as the military presence slowly began to swell, four guards in the vicinity became seven then nine, six more soldiers jogged by the elevators and turned down the hall the way Gary and his group had just come.
By the time the elevator doors opened a few moments later, Gary understood what was happening, overhearing a pair of scientists next to them whispering phrases such as, “Can you believe it,” and “they’ll kill ‘em all.” Gary’s worst fears were realized when he heard one of the men say, “I heard they had their own machine built, what were they trying to do?”
Entering the elevator, Daniel and Restrepo right behind him, Gary’s headache began to grow, a dark weight coalescing where his neck and shoulders met. He wanted to look at Restrepo, to see what he was thinking, but he didn’t dare turn to him with the elevator full of strangers who were alert and already whispering of conspiracies.
The doors closed and the elevator car climbed down towards Level B3. Gary felt an icy shiv dig into his spine and he winced with the flash of pain. He needed water, he needed to vomit. God, he would feel better if he could just vomit… B3 was the floor he and Holly had been imprisoned on, the sickly mint colored holding cell where this whole mess had began. Home sweet home, he thought as they descended, moving ever nearer, ever closer to the end of their particular road.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.