Every one of my experiences and fully formed thoughts went into this, as well as my feelings on...
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I woke and he was gone. I didn’t want to wait there alone and risk him getting killed and me having no way of finding out, but I forced myself. I started studying that map he gave me, and practiced loading the pistol. I changed, and then went back to studying.
A few hours passed and he came in: “Everything looks clear. I’m going to go get that horse and we’ll meet up, alright?”
“You sure I can breathe in there for a few days? When it gets narrower?”
“You’ll have to. Here,” he handed me bags of food and water bottles, “this should be good. Oh, I guess you could have this,” he found while going through the pockets he’d stuffed the food in, “my inhaler. I haven’t used it in years really; it’s just habit to carry it along; hopefully that’ll help.”
I took it graciously, “well, thank you very much. You’re very thoughtful.”
“I want to get you out.”
“Now you listen.” he said seriously. “If they come down there after you, don’t be afraid. These people we’re dealing with, they live off of fear. They know our care for life and love of everyone around us is our weakness, but that’s also what they’re scared of. It’s why they want us dead. I know this is all harsh as Hell but you have to understand how serious it is. If they find you down there, destroy all of them.”
“Thank you, Ken.” I was shaken greatly, but settling in, I felt, was total determination.
“You’re very welcome. I couldn’t have done this without you.” I know he was just saying that.
“So we’re heading out now?”
“Yep. Take only what you need.”
I ripped out the pages of notes I had from the notebook, and a few blank ones and stuffed them in my back pocket. I put the gun in my pocket, and my make-shift walkie talkie, and my wallet, and the inhaler. That was it.
He slid the bed to the side that revealed a hole that led to a deeper tunnel. He gestured to it, “In you go. See you on the other side.” I stared at him a moment, then to the hole, and climbed in. It was a few feet’s drop. I couldn’t quite stand upright but almost. I got the gun out, immediately frightened, and headed forward; south.
I had been going for 20 minutes, when Ken radioed me: “you have a family, Tim?”
“No. I’ve always wanted one though. You?”
“Well then, as soon as we get out of here, right?”
An hour went by and he told me: “they’ve sent the kid out looking for us.”
“That’s right. He does know the layout pretty well; better than Foxx, but I’m sure he hasn’t figured out the tunnels yet, so you should be fine.”
“What about you? Is Seth with anyone?”
“Might as well be the whole town, they got nothing else to do.”
“What would they do?”
“To me? I couldn’t say. And if they do find me, I’ll be sure to draw them away from our extraction point.”
“But you must come with me; I’ll be lost.”
“Just head south a ways and you’ll hit land.”
“Free of this experiment?”
“You have to come with me.”
“I will if I can, there’s nothing else we can do. And don’t go looking for me.”
“How much longer until we’ve arrived?”
“We’re close to the federal facility.”
“Where the cloning happens, and everything I warned you about before.”
“So that’s the half way mark?”
“Thank you, you too.”
I could sense the tension on the surface rising, as they searched for us. It quickened my pace as well, until I found myself in line with a vent that led to a grand laboratory. Holograms and sketches all over, of our universe and heroic figures. My eyes locked, wonder and magnificence came over me, and I lifted the vent and jumped in and gazed around still. I could have stayed there forever. The glimpse into this world I was allowed seemed right, intuitively. Comfortable and brilliant. Something you could get obsessed with. Bardia Foxx then came in and spoke to me: “Every religion, every God or Gods worshipped, in all the stories, from the Native Americans to the Egyptians, there’s the same basic plot, and the same basic idea of Sun Worship. Where did this story come from? How did they all know about it? And how, in their primitive minds, was it distorted? It’s magnificent that we are all united in this way, and sometimes horrifying to me to know that there is something so much grander out there that knows us. That brought us here. We were not born from nothing, we were created by something.”
“You’re insane. It’s the simple will to live that has brought us this far, that allows us to change, that instinct.”
“It’s more complicated than that.”
“It’s what we know to be true.”
“Something that looks good and sounds good, not true. There is more chemical evidence to back this up. And we’re coming so close to being able to do it. Imagine; we could obliterate all imperfections from someone’s DNA. People can be perfect. I am not customizing them as I wish, I am enhancing them. Look at our own DNA. We’ve been spliced. This has been going on since time immemorial. We’re just now rediscovering it. This is not a bad thing. We’re just beginning to pick up where we left off. I’ll let you go this time. But if you publish what you’ve seen here today, even so much as an utterance, it’s your life. And we can easily destroy anything you may have said with the median that filters the truth.”
“When do you plan on executing this?”
“When I can.”
“I’m almost there.”
“Goodbye.” I said with an unexpectedly warm earnestness. I suddenly understood why he wanted all this: an escape. And no good man doesn’t have a modicum in his mind that feels the way he does.
“Take care, Tim.” he said with a sadder, but similar inflection.
I climbed back down and continued. A few hours passed and Ken radioed me again: “okay we’re almost out. Row like hell.”
“That’ll do a lot of good.”
“Seth has ordered another group to get to the boat, and stop us from escaping. Guess they figured out that’s where we’re headed. So a slight change of plans.”
“When you reach the next side path, take it and describe to me your surroundings and I’ll meet you there. Then you take the horse and get to the boat.”
“You’ll make yourself a diversion.”
“You need to start that family.”
“I’m too far into all this. It’d be selfish.”
“You deserve it.”
“But it wouldn’t be right.”
“How do you stand all this deprivation?”
“Because I know it’ll be worth it.”
“None of this was your fault. Let’s just make sure you’ll be free.”
“I’m heading up.”
“What do you see?”
“A few old trees, crops in the distance.”
“I’m on my way, five minutes.”
Seth walked across the field alone, saw me, froze, and walked up to me: “what are you doing?”
“Waiting for Ken.”
“He’s giving me the horse so I can get to the boat before your guys’ do.”
“I trust you.”
“Your father is a good man, and so are you. He’s just a little mixed up right now.”
“You do not lead an expendable life.”
He paused, “thank you.”
“You’re welcome. You should leave before Ken gets here.”
He nodded and headed east.
There was a breeze for a few minutes. Then dark clouds rose and Ken rode up and dismounted.
“Get on.” He said, to which I followed. “Don’t thank me again, I can’t do that.”
So I offered him my hand and we shook, then I kicked the horse definitely and we shot down to the beach. I looked back and Ken was headed into the field.
I got to the boat, scrambled to set it up, and slapped the horse which sent it back to the fields, and rowed like hell. Rain started and fog rose above the waters. Perfect for my escape, bad for my journey. I sped up, pushing against the winds, took everything from my wallet to my pocket, and used it to scoop the water out and dump it into the sea. The rain thickened and the wallet soon became useless. I could see land ahead, barely, so I kept on as fast as possible, then a wave finished off the sinking boat, so I emptied my pockets and took off my sweater, and swam. The water was freezing, I thought I was going to die, but I couldn’t, I had to fulfill the object Kenneth Scott assigned me. I passed out from the cold and the waves brought me to shore.