Thursday, November 04, 2004

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Well, I'm writing more per day than I was, I'm really stepping up everything for the sake of getting farther. I really don't think 50000 words will be enough to write everything I'll want to write, by my calculations it will only be about 75 pages or so, and I'm already on page 28. I did very near six pages today and I'm really proud of it. I'm at 18,100 words. If I keep up this pace, I don't really want to keep posting everything I write every day unless I have a way of writing expandable posts. I've done a good bit with this blog and I really can't wait to do more littel things here and there. I really love this thing now and I'm enjoying it a lot. For now though, I guess I'm going to keep posting everythign I write in case there's anyone actually reading it, hehehehe. Well, here goes....

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Rob did some walking around the garage this time in the morning light looking for anything he might have missed in the dark. He tried checking the bay doors first, but sure enough, they were locked. The window on the far side however was sturdy and still in good shape fitted into the metal siding. He wiped at it with his sleeve, but the interior was far dustier and still blocking his view.

At last he pulled out his flashlight and went inside. The interior of the office was bright enough to see and examine everything well enough without too much trouble. He checked the shelves and found a good deal of books that were suffering far more than the average decay due to the unusually high humidity that seemed to permeate every part of this wreck. The air itself felt a little drier. Robbie felt that might perhaps be because of the door being open all night long. His eyes traces over the collapsed desk in the corner, every last support in it had started to simply fall apart. All the drawers had locks embedded in the crumbling wood. He found himself talking out loud to no one there, “ Locks are useless when the container itself is fundamentally broken. “

He ripped them open a drawer at a time, most of them having nothing but black rot inside of them. Almost no white was left in what he guessed had once been paper documents and other various things, there were also pens, and paperclips, and markers, and other little tidbits. Most curiously there was a necklace with a tiny triangle with an eye in its center as decoration and a small gold wedding band. Rob pocketed both of them. In the bottom drawer after fishing through gunk and wood chips he found a key ring with maybe thirty keys on it. He wondered if it would be useful for anything at all, and linked it to his jeans on the chance that it might be.

Robbie then looked up and turned his attention to the door leading into the actual garage bay. He walked over to it and inspected the door. It was even less solid than the one on the exterior. Wherever that leak was, it had been destroying everything in this whole building from the inside out for maybe a year. Maybe it had been even longer than that. That sort of thing wasn’t exactly his area of expertise. He brought up his right hand and pressed his palm into the wood, it was slimy and he felt it accept the print of his hand before he put more force into it and the whole thing slumped down into the next room breaking apart when it hit the floor.

He reached back down for his belt, wiping his hand off on his aging shirt before wrapping his fingers around his flashlight and turning it on before raising it up and looking into the next room. It was full of junk and at least one car. Rob already knew what he wanted to look for first, his light moved slowly over the collapsed desks and rusted sheet metal toolboxes and the car blocking the view over the rest of the garage and then fell on the faint light near the floor where the first sliding door was clamped shut and locked.

The only sound that graced his ears were the tapping of his worn boots on the cement as he moved toward the door and the dripping of that leak, which sounded much more pronounced now that it was in the same room. When he stood in front of the door he let the focus of the light roam back and forth from the top of the door until he found the lock near the middle of its structure. He thought it would be a fair bet that one of the keys on that ring that he had picked up would more than likely turn that lock and let some decent light and warmth into this cold little tomb. His mind was a little reserved over how many keys he might have to try. It struck him that it would be incredibly ironic and a pointless waste of time if he had to try them all and it was the very last one. It would be nice to have a little bit of luck here.

After about ten tries, Robbie was startled into jumping by a loud noise that sounded sort of like clapping echoing through the whole room. He jumped back so hard that he ran into the grill of the jeep behind him, and dropped his flashlight. After looking around for a second he asked out loud, “ Holy mother, what was that? “

***

Will let his finger up off the button. With a full tank of gas, this baby would run seventy-two hours, at least. Even better yet, he guessed that there was at least one refill truck parked somewhere around the base, probably two, but he was only willing to gamble that one would have any fuel. He remembered seeing them around, useless, but with plenty of fuel in the tank he checked. All the same, they had more than enough to flip everything on for a few minutes as a nice little morale perk of accomplishment for the trio.

***

Hank had his blade out from the sheath on his ankle and was gripping it as tight as he possibly could. He wasn’t all that good with it, but god, it was better than nothing after that noise. The pounding of his heart felt like it was going to jump out of his chest as fast as it could and bounce back to camp. He shakily got onto his knees with his blade still up and at the ready as he reached for his flashlight, which was now lying still with its beam pointing in his own direction. His breathing started to steady a little when it was comfortably held in his off hand while he started to head back around the countless shelves of crates that were both full and empty. Right before he reached the door he got another shock that made him drop his light again.

***

Will let a wicked smile spread across his face as his eyes wandered over the primary control panel for the generator. It was amazing how much they let this thing run, and it seemed like it was only for the above ground facilities, there had to be something bigger somewhere down below, he hoped, that ran the majority of the base. His eyes wandered from the manual to the now lit buttons on the controls, the loud rumbling of the machine filling the room surrounded him.

It took him a few minutes to get his bearings between the rather obscure schematic and the very real, very poorly labeled thing in front of him. He looked again at it, and decided that it had been labeled, once upon a time. It had been a hell of a long time since the last label fell away or faded till it was illegible to anyone. More than a few minutes passed before he stumbled on exactly what he was looking for and he thought to himself about what a surprise Rob was in for if he was inside any dark rooms as he started to activate subsystems.

***

Robbie was looking rather cautiously around the garage in places that he hadn’t looked before. Not so cautious as that he could give anyone any kind of inventory for what he had seen as his eyes were preoccupied with finding anything that was capable of sending out such a startling noise as he had heard earlier while he was trying out keys on the bay doors. He was almost panicked and he had his knife in his off-hand, which he hoped would serve well enough against anything less than passive that he might find hiding around inside of anything. He found plenty of horrid little roaches and pill bugs in the grime and rot, and his stress rose as he continued to fail to find anything.

Right about this time a new noise started, a softer click than the earlier and a low hum that seemed to fill the air like it was physically there. He looked around, it seemed to be coming from above him and all around him, and then suddenly there was a flicker of light, followed by a flood of lights clicking on so fast that he felt instantly blinded and had to do his best to stand perfectly still to keep from stumbling into anything. After the last of the lights came on and he started to try to open his eyes, he saw sparks coming from a wall in the back of the building. Shit, he though, someone turned on the power and everything in here was permeated with water.

He had stopped breathing, though he wasn’t aware of it, and his vision was still impaired as he started to move towards the exit. The crackling of the rear wall got louder as the lights started to dim and he broke into a run as soon as he saw a clear path out of the room. There was something similar to an explosion as he left the room and all the lights flickered and went out as abruptly as they went on.

Robbie staggered out of the tiny office and out into the near noon sunlight outside, shielding his eyes, but only for a moment before they adjusted and he dropped to his knees on the grass just off the sidewalk. His breathing was ragged and he felt like his heart was ready to just stop ticking as he let the fresh air start to calm him down. Good god, that had him at his wits end and he was finding himself unable to think clearly. At least everything was okay, he bet it was Will, if anyone had done this, it had been William. He was probably found the generator and fired it up without telling anyone about it. Good lord, I almost shit myself, Rob thought.

***

Hank was absolutely stunned when the sound of the lights coming on filled the room. He’d never heard anything like it; the fluorescent lighting only took another second before it started lighting up the entire room a quadrant at a time. He dropped his flashlight one more time but his hand never loosed its very shaken grip on the handle of his blade.

His left hand went up to guard his eyes for a second or two before his pupils acclimated to the light in the room. After that he got a good look at everything that was inside of the building. His jaw dropped open, more at the how all the lights had suddenly come on than anything else. His mind was racing trying to figure out what the hell had happened. Had it been Robbie, or William? Those were easily the best explanations, but they weren’t exactly someplace where he could just rule out the potential that anything else could have happened.

When his flashlight was back up in his hand he turned it off and started heading into the now well-lit kitchen and then into the room beyond. Robbie would have been relieved to know that Sanders knew to find out what was happening in unusual circumstances and meet up with other team members as soon as possible. He knew Rob worried about his capacity to act responsibly and do things right, and it always gave Hank a sense of pride to prove Rob right, more out of an affectionate hope for respect than out of spite.

Before he reached the exit from the mess hall he noticed a laminated and plastic encased paper on the wall, that was obviously old, but decently protected from the years that wore on it. Wow, he thought as he looked closely at it. He put his finger onto the plastic and moved it to different spots as he started to seriously examine it. This was exactly what he needed.

Chapter 5:

William studied the control panel intently, watching as power started running throughout the base. He wished he knew where Sanders and Rob were, he wondered what the effect of having the lights pop on in whatever dark holes they were in would do to them. It would probably be safest if they were together; Will started to seriously reconsider what he had just done.

He’d never gotten to play with anything quite like this before. He had certainly studied quite extensively more advanced technologies like genuine computers and other machines with software controls, but a large piece of hardware like this usually didn’t attract much attention in the towns where only people who knew what they were doing messed with them. This was turning out to be quite and experience, and he was enjoying it a good bit.

After a few seconds he noticed something odd with one of the sections he had activated, a yellow and black strip above the main section was flashing and the power lights went off. He kneeled down and looked closely at it. After a while he flipped through the manual, and eventually, while looking for the index he found some custom diagrams in the back. Maybe these panels weren’t pre-wired to various areas and they had to be carefully labeled to know which panel had been custom routed to which part of the base.

Sure enough, after about half a minute or so he found the corresponding label, it was the garage, there was something wrong with the breakers over there. He set down the manual, there was no need for dealing with something as simple as breakers, and he had worked with those his entire life. Will walked back over to the map on the wall and located the garage; maybe one of the other two would be there. Probably the least shaken of the two if they were separated, he guessed since the power probably hadn’t come on at all after all these years. He mostly expected to find nothing more than a bad breaker rotting in the building’s power box.

He turned right toward the door and-

***

-almost shit his pants when he stepped into the shed and almost slammed right into William, who had been turning to leave. Sanders actually jumped backwards and hit his head on the wall on the other side of the door. He let out a little bit of a yelp and William, the more outspoken of the two actually spat out a profane word or two, or even three.

It was more than a minute before he regained full control of his senses and stuttered, “ Ah-ah-I’m s-s-sorry, holy shit you scared me. “

“ If I’d wanted to kill you right now, it wouldn’t be too hard with your blade sitting on the floor like that “, Will growled at the young man. Doubly bitter about being so startled and extra perturbed at seeing his friend drop his knife at the first sign of what might have been trouble, the second one was extra un-nerving with adrenaline running through every part of his body. Dammit, if Sanders had been in real trouble right now, he would seriously be bleeding out on the floor already, probably all over the knife that he had dropped.

Weakness in a fellow journeyman was the worst kind, especially one who you traveled with and on whom your life could someday rely. He walked out of the door quickly, a sudden desire to find someone competent filled him up as he gave Sanders a pat on the cheek while he stepped out, and said, “ Follow me, there’s something I want to check, and then we should find Rob. “

Hank stopped stuttering and bent down onto the ground leaving his eyes on William’s back. His breathing was starting to steady and he picked up his blade and sheathed it back on his ankle before he started after the leader. He only replied, “ Yes, sir. “

William started walking toward the rear of the base, un-knowingly headed right towards Robbie, and quite knowingly headed towards a dark garage. Hank was wondering why Will had turned on the power without telling them, but he was too afraid to ask and question his authority. Worse, he was afraid that he had already told Robbie and that maybe he had merely been left out as a practical joke that he hadn’t found very funny at all. There was only one way to know though, and it was the one he didn’t feel like asking at the moment.

“ How long did it take you to turn on the power, Will? “ Hank did manage to force this question out of his mouth; it was complimentary enough.

“ Only been working on it today, it was what I found when we split up last night, I got really lucky and found a manual stored with it. I’ve been working on it all morning, there’s a problem with one of the buildings though, that’s where we’re going right now “, he recapped what he had been up to in such a brief way for Sanders. He slowed down a little even after his nerves calmed.

“ Oh, that must be quite a find, is it anything like the ones that power Cherry Wood? “

“ I wouldn’t know, I’ve never seen the generators we use at Cherry Wood. Never bothered to look at them, never really expected to find working ones in the field just waiting to be turned on “, Will replied, “ it was unbelievable luck that this one worked, I half expected it to be falling apart. This place was probably abandoned out of lack of funding near the fall of the New United Nations. Maybe even not totally until a few years after the worst of everything. “

Hank got a look of wonder in his eyes. His speech was rather hurried with excitement, and punctuated with wild hand gestures, “ Do you think that maybe just maybe this was a record keeping facility? “

“ There’s only one way to know, and we’re not going to even give it a try till a second party is here to accompany us. “


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