Second Section: Abandoned
Chapter Nine: “Morning of April 16th, 2011”
Martha was the first to awaken. She slipped out of her bed and peered outside of the tent. It was still dark, but the day’s first rays of sun were being simulated. Martha gently closed the flap of the tent, sat down on her bed, and began to think about what was happening.
All this time she had only been reacting to the situation, but now she was taking the time to really think about it. The dark library, their teacher’s disappearance, the sorcerer, the book Cara had found, the Abandoned, Ella, Sid, everything.
Something had definitely felt off when they had first arrived. Even now, it still felt like a complete fantasy. The sorcerer had told them they needed to head downwards to stop an army of demons from destroying Earth. They had believed it at the time, but it was a completely unbelievable story. Everyone except for Cara had been skeptical, but no one seriously challenged the idea. The Abandoned hadn’t mentioned anything like that either, although the Ravagers might be something that could be considered demons.
Next, she thought about the sudden darkness that led to the disappearance of their teacher. And then, during their time in the library, the other students never spoke to them. It was as if they weren’t even there. They didn’t move or speak and it was as if they didn’t even exist.
After they descended via the elevator, everything began to seem real. It was far from normal, but it felt like they had finally woken up. Ella, Sid, and the other Abandoned were the first real people they had encountered. And they were all inspired by the hope the group had brought them.
The more that Martha thought about it, the more it seemed like there was a clear division in what had happened so far. Their time in the surface library seemed like a complete fantasy. But when they left the surface and began their descent to the base of the Abandoned, everything became real. Could it be possible that something had happened in the elevator?
“Good morning,” Tracy said.
Martha jumped and turned to face her friend. “Oh, sorry,” she said with a nervous smile. “I didn’t think anyone else would be up for a while.”
“I’ve never needed a lot of sleep.”
“Not even now? We had a traumatic day yesterday.”
“I’m fine. The worst thing about yesterday was my panic attack. I’m over it now.”
“I’m glad you’re feeling better,” Martha said.
“Besides, Cara needs the most sleep.”
They both looked over to Cara who was sound asleep. They were both glad that she was finally getting some rest.
“She’s done a great job keeping us all together so far,” Martha said. “But she’s too worried about making a wrong decision. I think we should help her.”
“We haven’t been making decisions as a group. We put all the responsibility on her.”
“Only because we trust her. She’s never been an official leader, but she has that kind of personality.”
“We’ll help her,” Martha said after a moment. They both understood that it was unfair to leave everything to Cara. They were a group of friends, not a group of strangers. There was no reason to leave all the decisions up to her. She was just as frightened as everyone else.
Cara woke up about a half an hour later. Ella returned to the tent and escorted them to the conference room for breakfast. While the other Abandoned ate by themselves, the five children had been invited to have breakfast with Sid and Ella.
“I hope you don’t mind eating with us. I figured you would want your questions answered as soon as possible.”
“We appreciate that,” Martha said.
“So, where should-”
Sid had begun speaking, but John quickly interrupted him.
“Where did you get this from?”
They each had a plate of scrambled eggs, a small bowl of salad, and a glass of water. John found it strange that they had access to food and wanted to ask about it before anyone began eating something that might be poisonous.
“We have a farm. Run by the A.I. system. It grows crops and raises livestock. I’ve never seen it, but we’ve been eating the food made down here for a very long time.”
“You have an A.I. system?” Adam asked. “You’ve been down here since the 90’s though.”
“The people that fund us, the Alpha Group, are an incredibly powerful organization,” Ella said. “We’re all amazed even now at what they were able to create. This facility was designed and constructed in 1993 and opened in ’94. It contains everything we could ever ask for, but most of that is inaccessible now because of the Ravagers. Luckily we were able to secure a passage to the kitchen.”
“I don’t understand why they would leave you here with those Ravagers,” Tracy said. “They put so much effort and money into this place.”
“It happened so long ago,” Sid said. “Their justification was that they didn’t want the Ravagers escaping. I’m not surprised that they left us here. With the amount of funds and power they have, they could have built another facility just like this one to continue our research.”
“They would be able to build something like that less than a mile away and you’d never know about it,” Cara said.
“I certainly hope they didn’t. That would mean more people are dead or were converted into those creatures,” Ella said. “To the Alpha Group, we’re completely disposable, but I hope they learned their lesson from what happened here.”
“We do have to thank them though. Their food production system is still working even now after all these years. It kept us alive long enough for you to get here and save us.”
“And why is it that we can do that again?” Martha asked. “Just because we aren’t adults?”
“It has to do with the signal that controls the Ravagers,” Sid explained. “The older you get, the more vicious they become. Because all of you are teenagers, you haven’t reached the stage where they become violent yet.”
Everyone was silent. It sounded a bit too convenient.
“Wait, if they constructed a food production system then why do you sleep in tents here? Didn’t they build a living space?” Adam asked.
“Ravager territory,” Sid said. “Our personal rooms weren’t secure enough to keep safe.”
“Less than a tenth of the facility belongs to us now,” said Ella. “This room, the kitchen, and a few other rooms. The initiation sector is relatively free of Ravagers, but that just leads to the elevator you arrived in.”
“Things have been this way since the beginning,” Sid said. “Originally there were many more of us Abandoned. I led about fifty of us to this place while the others refused and wanted to stay near their beds. They were too afraid to understand how strategic this location could be and we lost them.”
After Sid finished speaking, everyone was nearly done with their breakfast. The group of five headed back to the girl’s tent to talk and Sid and Ella tended to their daily tasks.
Tracy noticed that Cara was still tired and proposed that they move to the boy’s tent to allow her to rest. Cara protested at first, but lost. Martha and Tracy were resolute in their plan to ease Cara’s burden. Everyone forced her to try to go back to sleep and then left her alone.
It seemed strange, but Cara could see the genuine concern on the faces of her friends. They all wanted to support her so she gave in and chose to feel grateful that they were so worried about her.