Anchors No More #9: Hurry Up And WaitMar 17, 2014
Gary and Holly followed Sebastian Restrepo without question.
In a daze they walked, their confusion matched only by their weary fatigue as they were taken this way and that, down the hall then left, waiting, needing to ask questions, to probe for some indication of where they were being taken, where was their research, what exactly were the military’s intention? But they didn’t ask, they had learned nothing new except for one basic lesson: to follow their armed and stoic guard without question when he commanded.
So with Restrepo they went, Gary curious when he took them up a service elevator instead of following the signs on the wall that told them the way to the labs. The last Gary recalled was that they were supposed to be taken to the medical labs for a post-emergence physical examination before meeting with military physicists to begin answering questions about their work. Instead they were being taken up, closer to ground level.
The elevator doors opened and Gary and Holly found themselves in the back of a massive delivery warehouse stocked full of large boxes, barrels, and an array of miscellaneous machinery and equipment. Restrepo told them to wait there by the elevator, to not move and to not make a sound, he would be back in a moment. They both nodded with anxious obedience and Restrepo left them where they stood, casting glances around, checking out the room as he walked to the small office across the warehouse, opened the door and went in.
After watching him enter the office and shut the door behind him, Gary turned to Holly and quietly asked, “What the hell is going on?”
Looking around the room, Holly shook her head, “Maybe we’re being transferred.”
“To where?” Gary responded, keeping his eyes on the door Restrepo had entered. “It sounds like everything they need to keep us busy until they decide to bury us is right here.”
Holly did not find the humor in his candor, “Well, I don’t know, okay? I know as much as you do.”
Gary looked at her, blue eyes shot with red and sunk within deep, dark bags. She was exhausted and scared, too much the introverted, reclusive genius type to handle the circumstances well. He wanted to hug her but he was afraid to move, he wanted to tell her it was going to be all right but he didn’t want to lie. He carried no hope that it would be all right again. Leaning his body over, he nudged her slightly with his shoulder. “It’s going to be all right,” he lied protectively, still needing to comfort his friend, his partner, his best and perhaps only confidant. He had never directly lied to her before now, he had always told her everything, hiding nothing, sharing every secret he ever had except for one. The one that explained his periodic misty-eyed gazes when she spoke, his habits of opening doors for her and letting her pick the restaraunts and movies. A flash of sadness pierced Gary’s heart; the rainy day he had been waiting for to tell her this would probably not be coming now.
Holly looked up at him, unable to form a smile, though her eyes softened. “Thanks,” she said gently, not believing him but thankful for his attempt.
Before she could say more, the sound of a door opening drew their attention. Restrepo exited the office and approached them in large, quick strides. He drew up beside them and raised his rifle, pointing it at Gary’s chest. “Listen closely,” he said, “In less than thirty seconds, a guy is coming out of that room and coming with me up this elevator. I need you to hide there,” he pointed his gun at the backside of a row of forklifts, “and wait until the elevator shuts. Then run to that door,” again he pointed, this time to a small door to the side of the closed and locked delivery dock, “and get outside. There’s a small forest across the parking lot. Run through it and wait at the edge on other side. If I’m not there by nightfall, head east. Get your asses to a phone and call Franklin Automotive, ask for Franklin Junior and tell him who you are. Listen to what he tells you. Got it?” They were confused. They did not get it. Restrepo pushed Gary in the chest with the butt of his weapon. “Now.”
The light to the office went out and the door opened, Restrepo glared nervously at Holly. “Go,” he commanded and she finally understood. She nodded in disbelief and grabbed Gary’s hand, pulled him into a crouch and lead him to the forklifts. Footsteps behind them, they crawled behind the machines and laid on the ground, hands clasped together, hearts pounding. Two pairs of footsteps now, a bit of undecipherable small talk, the sound of an elevator door opening. The small talk faded as the door slid shut, a soft hum began as the elevator car moved up the shaft. Gary and Holly gave one another an anxious look, “Come on,” she said, yanking him to his feet.
They sprinted across the warehouse and opened the metal door. Gary poked his head outside, the day was overcast, the delivery parking lot empty and still. A lone birdcall rattled the quiet. He glanced back at Holly, “Okay,” he said, and stepped out the door, moving quickly down the small flight of concrete stairs. She was right behind him, sprinting across the tarmac, looking around with paranoia as they entered the sparse woods, the crinkle of dead leaves crunching under their feet as they ran deeper into trees, breathing heavy, propelled by fear and a sting of hope. When they reached the other side, they stood for a moment, catching their breath, checking both ways down the small country road that was the only visible sign of civilization. A single car approaching them in the distance prompted them to lie down on the ground. After the car had passed, they stayed there behind some bushes in the tall grass, waiting on their bellies for some inspiration or indication on what they were supposed to do next.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.