Second Section: Abandoned
Chapter Seven: The Abandoned’s Base
After calming down a little, Ella took the five friends directly to the leader of the Abandoned. He was waiting just a short distance away, speaking to two other men. As Ella approached, he ended his conversation and prepared to meet Cara and the others.
“I apologize that we let you get so close to the Ravagers. Welcome to our home. I’m Sid Grey.”
Sid invited them to look around. The base that they had been brought to was as spacious as a small airplane hangar. The space was populated by tents and many makeshift buildings. The old and worn tents were used as homes for each of The Abandoned and were surrounded by crates that marked each person’s property line. Being trapped underground for so long, it was necessary for them to retain the societal ideas of ownership and privacy as best they could.
“My name is Cara.”
“I’m Adam and this is Tracy.”
“It’s nice to meet all of you,” Sid said. “I assume Ella already introduced herself.”
“Of course I did, Sid. It’s not like you ordered me to go out and kidnap them,” Ella spoke playfully.
“Of course,” Sid responded before turning his attention to the five. “Now I know you all have questions about why you’re here and what happens now, so let’s head over to the conference room.”
They were led past a series of tents that seemed to make up the residential area of the base. They passed several other members of the Abandoned who looked at the five with varying expressions and reactions. They began to talk among themselves as they stared at the children who had come from the surface.
Ella had already spoken about this. She said that their presence was a symbol of hope. All of the Abandoned were hopeful about something that Cara didn’t understand. As she looked at them, she got the feeling that they were looking at her specifically. Almost as if hope was radiating from her and her alone.
As Cara dismissed this idea, Sid announced that they had reached their destination. He guided them behind a tent that was a bit larger than the others. Then they walked into an area surrounded by tall crates. It wasn’t a real conference room of course, but it at least had some walls comprised of crates and a large table.
Sid sat down at the head of the table and Ella sat to his right. Cara sat to his left and the others sat down on that same side.
“Now if you don’t mind, I’ll give you a brief explanation of why we’re here.”
Everyone listened intently. The idea that all these people were trapped down here and surrounded by monsters was crazy. They all wanted to see if Sid’s explanation would make it seem more rational.
“Around fifteen years ago we were brought to this facility as researchers. We were sponsored by the Alpha Group; very powerful and mysterious businessmen. Not long after our research began, some of our scientists began to exhibit odd symptoms. Naturally, I reported this to The Alpha Group and they provided us with instructions for how to act. The people that exhibited the strange symptoms slowly got worse and became more violent. Eventually, they became what we call Ravagers.”
Everyone continued to intently listen to Sid.
“Due to the threat posed by the Ravagers, our research here was shut down,” Sid continued. “After I was informed of this, before I could even react, Ella reported to me that we had been sealed in. The Ravagers have taken control of the majority of the facility and we’ve been unable to make our way to any of the exits. There was no hope until you arrived here. Now we can all be saved.”
“We’re supposed to help you escape?” John asked slightly aggressively. He had the immediate impression that they would be used like bait to distract the monsters.
Ella responded. “You might notice that there aren’t any children here. Children are the key; the Ravagers won’t attack them. With you, we can enter enemy territory and leave this place.”
“Didn’t they just try to attack us a second ago?” Adam asked.
“No, you weren’t their target. The base door opened to let you in and they wanted to get through so that they could feast on us. All of The Abandoned are adults and adults are what they feed upon.”
“Excuse me, but if there aren’t any children then how do you know that they won’t attack children?” Tracy asked.
“Excellent question,” Sid said. “And I’ll answer it tomorrow. For now, all of you should get some rest. It’s going to be night soon and everyone will be going to sleep.”
“The day has only just started. It can’t be later than 9 A.M.,” said Martha.
“Because we’re underground, it’s necessary for us to simulate our own nighttime. It seems we’re not synchronized with the surface anymore, but I am afraid we cannot adjust our schedule and disrupt everyone else.”
Ella stood up. “I’ll take the girls to their tent. Sid will guide you two boys to yours.”
“Wait, we’re not going to let you split us up,” Adam protested.
“Only for sleeping. Once we show you where your beds are you can return to one another, but it would be inappropriate for you all to share a tent.”
After saying this, Ella quickly guided the girls a small distance to their tent. Inside there were two bunk beds and a small chest.
“This is where you’ll sleep. You can use that storage container if you’d like. The bathrooms are to the right of this tent and we’ll wake you in the morning for breakfast. Any questions?”
No one had any questions, so Ella left. Cara immediately went over to the chest and opened it. She took the book she had found in the library’s study and placed it inside. After doing so, she realized that she had forgotten she was even carrying it.
That was wrong. She hadn’t forgotten; she hadn’t even noticed. Cara had no memory of carrying the book from the study, through the science sector hallways, and then into the tent. Even so, the book was there. Cara started to reach into the chest to reexamine it until Tracy interrupted her.
“Do you think we’re safe here?”
“I think so,” Martha said. “I don’t think we can leave, even if we wanted to, so I’d like to think we’re safe.”
“What about you, Cara?”
“I don’t even know. Something isn’t right.”
These words concerned Tracy and Martha. They were about to ask her what she meant when there was a knock on the tent’s wooden frame.
“Can I come in?” asked Sid.
“Sure,” Martha said.
Sid opened the tent flap and revealed that Adam was there as well.
“Adam said he wanted to come see all of you. There’s less than an hour for all of you to talk with one another before nightfall. Everyone is expected to be in their own tents at that time and we expect you all to stay in your tents until morning.”
“Alright,” said Cara. It was way too early for them to go to sleep, but after what they had been through, they might be tired enough to take a nap in half an hour. Cara hoped this would be true as she didn’t want to question Sid who, for all she knew, might become an unstable maniac if his rules were to be broken.
Cara couldn’t imagine what it was like for them to have been trapped underground for 16 years. She wasn’t sure if that was the truth, but it was what Sid and Ella believed. The actual span of time didn’t matter. As long as they believed they had been trapped for so long, then that was their reality.
“Did you leave John all alone?” Tracy asked.
“He’s asleep right now,” Adam said. “I wouldn’t just leave him there, Tracy.”
“Are you sure?” Martha asked.
“Hey, that’s not fair. John and I aren’t exactly close friends.”
“Well, Cara is the only one who could be considered close with him. Well, maybe not after what happened today,” Martha replied.
“He’s really not a bad person,” Cara said. “And we shouldn’t talk about him while he’s sleeping. We need each other right now.”
Everyone agreed and they changed the subject. Adam spent around 25 minutes talking with the girls before going back to his tent. When he walked outside, he could see the environment was becoming darker. The lights were slowly dimming to simulate the coming of night and Adam began to notice how tired he really was.
Once he was back in his tent, he took off his shoes and placed them under his bed. Seeing as he wasn’t prepared for being stranded underground, he was forced to sleep in the clothes he was wearing. He thought to himself that this was probably the first time he had ever slept in his clothes. Luckily, his fatigue was enough to put him to sleep.
The same thing happened to everyone else. None of them had realized how tired they actually were until ‘night’ had arrived. They had only arrived at the library three hours ago at most, but the stress of the situation had taken its toll on them.
The lights in the Abandoned’s base were now fully off. Even with the monstrous entities roaming the hallways surrounding the base, no noise could be heard. It was easy to forget everything that they had been through that day and they were all able to drift off to sleep.
The flap of the girls’ tent was opened very carefully. A person stepped inside and approached Cara’s bed. That person then took a syringe out of their pocket and lowered it onto Cara’s skin.
The darkness and silence of the night obscured everything that was happening. It was too dark to tell whether Cara was being injected with something or whether blood was being drawn.
That person finished their task and then left the tent. There were no witnesses to this action. So as far as anyone was concerned, it was simply a peaceful night of sleep. The only people who knew the truth were those watching from a different place.
The outside observers.