OCTOBER 8TH, 3:59 PM (2:59 PM MOUNTAIN TIME)
Evan closed his eyes. It didn’t make any sense why he knew it would work, but he just knew. All of us, to the surface entrance, safely.
“Evan, no!” Dad took his arm off Evan. “What did you do?”
He opened his eyes and looked straight ahead. No longer were those stupid, boring twin beds and white walls in front of his face. A hilly range, covered in dried grasses, small tumble weeds, a few rocks here and there, and gray dirt patches, stretched out to the right and left of them. Birds chirping and wind blowing sounded wrong, too slow, deep, and eerie, but it was still better than the sounds at the underground base. “I’m sorry, Dad. I just had to.” He looked down. Their small hull tent was upon a flat, cracked rock with some of the same grasses as on the hills growing between crevices. “You have to admit. It looks a lot better than where we were.”
“Yes, but we’re supposed to remain at the base.” Dad gently released his left arm from around Kyleigh. They began helping each other to stand up. “Remember what Colonel Stevens told us, national security and all?”
But Evan’s mind was elsewhere. “It worked. I can’t believe it actually worked!” Excited energy surging through him, he practically jumped up to a standing position. “I know about national security, but we’re just…we’re just dying down there. It’s pointless.”
“Evan, you crazy bloke!” Alan yelled. “You got us out of there! Mega thanks!”
Evan turned around. Nahas, Alan, and Robert were standing nearby. “You’re welcome, Alan.” Evan eyed their positions carefully. “Wow. The hull moved you guys here in the same spots as you were in your rooms.” He looked for Akina. Sure enough, she was in the same place as her room would have her. She was smiling and heading over to Nahas. “Something just told me it would work.”
Robert headed closer. He looked at Evan, but then stared at Dad and Kyleigh.
Evan looked back up at Dad. He and Kyleigh were finally standing, but Kyleigh was still holding Dad’s hands. And she was staring up into his eyes, like nothing else mattered. Another thing he knew would work.
“Hey Lang,” Robert said, his arms crossed under his hull. “Do you even listen to yourself?”
Kyleigh released Dad’s hands and shot a disgusted look at Robert.
“What do you mean?” Dad asked Robert.
“I heard what you said. They’re keeping us trapped in our rooms with armed guards, and you’re worried about U.S. national security? So, what about us? Are we getting the same consideration as they want us to give your country? I would have removed us out of there hours ago, if I had that special bond with the hull.” He winked at Evan, but it didn’t seem like he really meant it. “It’s my ass that got us into this mess in the first place, so it’s the least I could do.”
“Well, I just think we should cooperate with what they want,” Dad said. “It’s our only hope now.”
Robert contorted his face. “Are you serious, Lang? We’re lucky they don’t blow us up to all points in the galaxy with that nuclear testing they got going on.” He uncrossed his arms and stretched his hands out into instantly accommodating hull sleeves. But then he put his hands on his hips.
“Well, true. I just think we’re making more trouble, than if--”
“So, Kyleigh.” Robert ignored Dad’s answer. “When’s the wedding? That is, if you’re not married already.”
“That’s none of your business,” she snapped. “And no, I’m not married.”
Robert thrust his hands up. “Whoa. You don’t have to get all hostile. I get it. You’re in love with him.”
Kyleigh squinted in anger at Robert. “No, that’s not it…I was just…I just…Ooo, just forget it.” She turned away, embarrassed.
“Kyleigh, wait,” Dad said, his voice hurting for her.
But she ignored him. She walked to the other end of the hull tent, pushed her hands against the hull’s side, and got out. Their hull tent quickly decreased in size.
“Robert, she needed my help.” Dad’s words came short and curt, though he didn’t sound that angry. “Her son passed away a year ago. She broke down, that’s all, especially because of all the recent decrease events and all of us being locked in our rooms.”
The color in Robert’s face almost vanished to white. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” He let out a big sigh. “Just another reason why we shouldn’t be down there, Lang. You need to think straight about this.” He looked up and around. “But never mind. We have more important things to deal with now.”
Dad looked for Kyleigh, his eyes sad. Evan glanced around. Kyleigh was walking toward Akina.
But everything around them really needed investigating right now. “I’m going to get out,” Evan said. “I want to run, see some things.” He put up his hands by the hull’s side.
“No. Wait,” Dad said. “How did you do this?”
Evan lowered his hands. “I don’t know. I just knew it would work, for some reason. I thought about being up on the surface, in a safe spot, but by the entrance to this place, so we can know where we are. And I guess the hull read my thoughts. And so, here we are.”
“Yeah, kid, but the last time we were all in that hull tent together,” Robert said. “You moved us as a unit. We were separate now.”
“I don’t know why.” Evan shrugged, truly not sure of an answer, and really not wanting to speak with Robert anymore. He looked up at Dad. “Can I get out now?”
“All right,” Dad answered. “Run a bit, but not that far. We need to stay together and figure out what to do next.”
After those seventeen seconds, Evan quickly rushed out. Getting out of a hull tent and into one hull was becoming quite easy, and actually rather fun.
He looked around. Akina, Kyleigh and Alan stood about fifty real feet away by a chain-link metal fence. But it felt all wrong seeing them next to it; they only stood about half the fence’s height.
Ignore it, Evan, he told himself. He charged off running, loving the motion of his arms and legs moving freely, his breathing flowing fully and completely unhindered. Wasn’t as free-feeling as on Kyleigh’s bus, but certainly more spacious. The flat rock area soon ended, and the ground became mostly dry grasses and clumps of other dry plants. He tried to avoid them, shooting his rapidly moving feet to land directly on sandy dirt spots.
Two white signs, hung on separate sections of the fence and farther to the right from where Akina, Kyleigh and Alan stood, came into view. Evan slowed his run, curious to read them clearly. One, with black letters, read ‘U.S. Department of Agriculture – Research Facility’, which really made no sense. The other, in red letters, read ‘No Trespassing Allowed’, which did make sense after how that stupid general behaved.
“Look!” Akina said excitedly, though keeping her voice down. “I see my subway car.”
Evan ran faster again. He came up to the fence and carefully wedged himself between Kyleigh and Alan, so the repulsion didn’t happen. The fence’s diamond-shaped wire sections were far larger than he remembered them ever being. “Where?”
Alan pointed below. “Down there, next to those parked cars. See it?”
He looked in the direction Alan pointed, though taking all of the view in at the same time. This fence actually bordered a gradually declining cliff covered mainly in grassy lumps, a few rocks, and sandy patches. At the cliff’s bottom was some type of farm, with a very large garage that had six tall garage doors, big enough for tractor trailer trucks, and a sand-covered parking lot adjacent to the garage doors. Not far from the garage was a gray-blue, one floor ranch-style house, surrounded by green lawns and a sandy driveway that led down to a gravel road in the distance.
But he focused back on the sandy parking lot. Placed perpendicular to the noses of four parked cars and one truck, and about as long, was Akina’s hull-covered subway. “Wow,” Evan said. “Why did they bring it up here?”
Alan let out a short chuckle. “Who the hell knows why those dumb bastards do what they do.”
“Oh no!” Kyleigh said, nearly whispering. “I think I see Colonel Jennings. She just walked out from around the front of the subway. I guess that’s why we couldn’t see her before.”
The sunlight didn’t feel right, like less bright on the eyes. Evan squinted to see better. And it didn’t help that the subway was over a football field away, in real measurements. “She’s where?”
Kyleigh pointed. “At the farthest end of the subway from our view.”
He concentrated and looked carefully. There she was; Colonel Jennings, and some of her Air Force scientists, were at the subway’s end, slowly moving around, talking, and looking up at the sky now and then. “I hope they can’t see us. But this just proves this has to be their above ground entrance. But their entrance is some farm place?” He looked up at Kyleigh. Her eyes were still red, though her tears were gone. She seemed a little happier.
“They don’t want anyone to know what’s really underground here.” Kyleigh yet kept her voice low. “How sneaky of them.”
“And just where the hell are we anyway?” Alan spoke loudly and looked around.
“Shhh,” Kyleigh told him. “Keep it down.”
Several strange sounds rumbled into Evan’s ears. He looked up. The blue sky, with a few high, small clouds didn’t look right – it was larger than it should be, and more indistinct, or hazier. A large fly buzzing around flew in slow motion, and made a low, strange humming noise. “Wow. You guys see that fly?” Yet he didn’t concentrate on anyone’s response but instead searched around for the source of a louder sound. He found it. A plane flew high up in a cloudless area, sounding like it was traveling far too slow.
For some unknown reason, a bad feeling quickly coursed through Evan.
Was that why they put Akina’s subway up here?
He turned back. Dad, Nahas, and Robert were just arriving by the fence. “Dad. We need to leave. I have a bad feeling about that plane. Plus Colonel Jennings is down there, by Akina’s subway.”
“What? Really?” Dad’s eyes widened. “Did they see you guys?”
Evan took a quick glance back. Didn’t seem they had. “No, not yet.”
Robert gave Evan a wondering stare. “Other than the fact that everything around us looks and sounds incredibly whacky, why do you have a bad feeling about that plane?”
“I don’t know. I…I sense something, like they can see us from up there. But look, it’s important we leave. But first…does anyone want to go back?”
“You’re joking, right?” Robert said gruffly. “We go back now, they’ll surely lock us away. I say a definite NO.”
Akina gazed at Evan, her kind eyes sincere. “I really don’t want to go back, but I’m not sure we should do this.”
“They’re not helping us, Akina,” Alan said without delay. “Don’t you get it? They’re no help at all. They can’t seem to do a damn thing. Evan’s connection with this bloody hull crap is our only hope now. I’m staying here, for certain.”
“Alan. Do you have to keep talking so loud?” Kyleigh scolded in her same low voice. “They’ll hear us!”
Robert gave Alan a funny grimace. “She’s right, ya big wally.”
“Up yours, Rob.”
“Men,” Nahas said. “Please.”
The plane was getting nearer, its sounds like something Evan had never heard before, with slow, deep jet echoes. He looked up at it in the sky. “Hurry. We have to decide right away.”
“Why, Evan?” Dad asked. “What are you going to do?”
Evan looked back at the fake farm. The chain-link metal fence bordered the entire farm in an irregular rectangular shape, with no breaks in the fence anywhere, except for a chain-link gate at the sandy driveway’s entrance.
He looked at the terrain in the direction the plane came from, probably north, judging by the sun’s position. Lots of trees with different colored leaves were there, some leaves slowly dropping off to the ground. A hilly, barren range lay beyond the trees, but no homes, and no buildings.
He turned back and stepped forward a little, so that he could see past the others, and looked way down to his left, probably southward. Ahh, much better. A town was nestled in a valley, far away in the distance, and at a much lower elevation than where they stood. “I’ll take us there.” He pointed in that direction.
“I don’t want to go back, Evan,” Kyleigh said. “I can’t be alone in my room anymore with those beastly DFRs.”
Evan glanced around at everyone. “What about the rest of you?”
Nahas walked closer to Akina and gazed down at her kindly. “I have to agree with Alan. They’re not helping us, Akina, and I don’t think they can help us. And we don’t need to worry about food or water.” He looked up and around. “Shelter, maybe.”
“Okay,” she said, staring up at Nahas, her eyes admiring him. “I’ll stay with you.”
Evan stared up at Dad. “Well?”
Kyleigh was looking at Dad with almost the same admiring eyes as Akina. After that hugging session, and how they could be close some more now, his answer seemed inevitable.
Dad sighed. “All right, Evan. Do what you need to do now. But I’m not happy with this alien thing reading your mind.”
“Yes, Dad, but you--”
“I know.” Dad put his hand up. “Like we’ve said many times before, it’s already interacting with all our minds anyway. I get it. I know. But I’m still not happy about it.”
“Same with me,” Nahas said. “But what can we do?”
“Christians,” Robert said, shaking his head.
“I know, I know,” Dad said. “But hopefully we can get back here later if we need to.”
The plane was starting to pass over them and heading toward that town. “Okay.” Evan closed his eyes. “I’m getting us out of here then.”