Second Section: Abandoned
Chapter Ten: Escape
“Cara,” a voice called out.
“Who’s there?” she asked. Cara could only see darkness and she had no idea where she was.
“Don’t worry about this place. Your body is asleep right now. I’m using this opportunity to speak with your subconscious mind.”
“Who are you?” Cara asked again.
“I am someone who will be coming to visit you soon. Today is a critical day: the day you will leave that abandoned place.”
“Sid is going to use us to escape.”
“No. He plans on doing that, but that I have a much better plan. I’m going to guide you out of this place. Right now.”
“How can you do that?”
“This place is still a fully functional facility. You may think otherwise due to the dim lights and dark areas, but that is simply because I am conserving power for my plans. I am what was left in charge of this facility and what still maintains it.”
“If you control the facility, why are the Abandoned still here? If you’re responsible for trapping them, then why would you help me and my friends?”
“It is because they are the Abandoned that they cannot leave. However, you are not Abandoned and neither are your friends. You do not belong in the science sector so I will help you to leave this place.”
“So you want to help us escape because we don’t belong here?”
“Yes. You will go to a place that the Abandoned will never reach. We will go now, so please wake up.”
Cara opened her eyes. It had taken her an hour to awake, but she wasn’t aware of that fact. That conversation just now seemed like it had happened only a second ago and it was fresh in her mind.
A figure appeared before her. It was the image of a full-sized holographic man. The hologram was made up of varying shades of blue. Even though it was in the shape of a person, it didn’t have any distinct features and was smooth all over.
“Hello, Cara. I would like to show you how to leave this place now.”
“Shouldn’t I get my friends first?”
“Not yet. I’ll show you the way out and you can come back here and get them later. Please follow me.”
Cara followed the hologram as he slipped behind the various tents of the Abandoned. They moved in such a manner that they couldn’t be seen by anyone else. Cara understood that the hologram didn’t want anyone following them, but she still wasn’t sure why the escape route had to be such a secret.
“What should I call you?” Cara asked.
“When this place was populated, they called me Program Blue.”
“I see. Thank you, Program Blue.”
“There is no need to thank me. You do not belong here. It is my job as the supervisor of this facility to escort you out.”
“It’s not about me. I want to thank you for saving my friends after I led them down here and put them in danger.”
“You could not have known. I was unable to warn you because the library is out of my reach and the elevator to the surface is not in my control.”
Program Blue and Cara arrived at a small dark hallway at the back of the base. He led Cara inside and around a corner that revealed a locked door. There was a panel next to it.
“Your hand, as well as the hands of your friends, are the only ones able to open this door. I have made it this way. When you are ready to leave, this is how you will do so. The path from here on out will be straightforward and you should have no trouble leaving.”
“Where do we go once we’re beyond this door?”
“The path is straightforward. You need not worry.”
“…is it really okay for us to leave?”
“You do not belong here. Why would you desire to stay?”
“It’s not that. Aren’t you worried that information will get out? This place was designed and built in secret.”
“No, I am not worried about that. I doubt anyone would even believe you. Even if they did, the Alpha Group has dissolved completely. Discovering this facility harms no one. The Ravagers will not survive exposure to direct sunlight. This place is nothing more than a ruin now.”
It seemed awfully convenient for the exit to be so close, but she trusted Program Blue. She wanted to be able to guide her friends out of this place, so if she didn’t believe this was a proper exit, then they would be stuck down here. She felt trusting this A.I. would be the best decision.
“Gather your friends when you are ready, and leave this place,” Blue stated once again.
The hologram disappeared and she went and did just that.
After Cara had gathered her friends, she showed them the way and opened the door Program Blue had shown her. They proceeded to walk through several well-lit hallways before they found themselves in an incredibly dark chamber. It was a room that felt as large as the base of the Abandoned.
The lights snapped on. There was a large monitor mounted above a gigantic machine. The monitor revealed an image of Program Blue.
“Welcome. The exit is just down these stairs.”
An arrow appeared on the monitor and pointed down toward a large transparent dome at the back of the chamber. There was a door leading into the dome and stairs in the floor that led deeper.
The door they had entered the room from closed. Then, the door in the dome opened as if to invite them in.
“How can the exit be down those stairs?” Martha asked.
“The exit is down those stairs,” Blue stated.
Everyone became tense. This wasn’t right. They had come down an elevator to get to the science sector. So they needed to go up, not down. Unless something was wrong with their memories, it was obvious that these stairs led somewhere else.
“You said you’d help me get back to the surface,” Cara said.
“Did I promise you a return to the surface? If so, that is my mistake. I intended only to promise you an exit from this place.”
Pleasure arose within his robotic voice. They all knew now that they had fallen into a trap.
“You left the library and entered the science sector. Now you are leaving for somewhere else. Not from this facility, but from the science sector,” Program Blue said, returning to his robotic voice.
“No,” John said. “We’re staying here.”
“You can do so if you wish, but I suspect you will change your mind shortly. There is a reason I am called Program Blue after all. I can’t imagine you know the reason.”
Everyone waited for him to continue. It was clear that he was in control of the situation now. Perhaps he had even been the one to lead them down into the science sector in the first place.
“I am Blue; a calming color. I emit a signal that pacifies the Ravagers. As we speak, I have stopped broadcasting that signal. I am also in control of this facility, so I have full control over all entrances and exits.”
The monitor changed to show a large barrier. It was the entrance to the base of the Abandoned. Slowly, the barrier began to open. The five could hear the sounds of running through the speakers. A massive swarm of Ravagers was approaching that door.
“After they feast on the Abandoned, they’ll surely come here and feast on you,” Blue said. He sounded immensely pleased. “They won’t be able to devour you if you listen to me and go down those stairs. As long as you do as I say, no harm will come to you.”
The monitor returned to the image of Program Blue and an arrow pointing to the stairs.
“You can’t just slaughter all of them!” Martha yelled.
“They’ve been trapped down here in an underground base for sixteen years. They have lived in fear and horror, but no more. I have given them the gift of death. They will suffer no more.”
Everyone was stunned into silence.
“And I’ve given the Ravagers the gift of food. And you are given the gift of escape. Do you not see how kind I am? We’re all getting exactly what we need.”
The A.I. system had gone insane.
“If we do what you say, will you stop the Ravagers and spare the Abandoned?” Cara asked.
“No. Didn’t I just tell you about the wonderful gifts I am giving? It might even be appropriate to call them my blessings. For in this place, I will be a god.”
“We need to go,” Cara said to her friends.
“We can’t just do whatever he says. He’s insane!” John yelled.
“It’s not okay to just stand here and be mauled to death either,” said Adam.
“Adam and Cara are right,” Tracy said.
“We have to go,” Martha said quickly. “There’s no time!”
“I’m glad you’ve decided to accept my gift. My blessing of protection.”
They were all angry at the fact that this thing was in control of them now. As much as they hated it, it was best to do what he said until they could find a real way to escape. There would be no point in dying by trying to save the Abandoned from monsters they’d never be able to defeat.
They all proceeded into the dome and began to descend the stairs. Lights on the steps revealed the staircase extended a far distance downward. There was clearly something down there. He wasn’t leading them to death; not directly at least.
He was leading them to this facility’s third section.
END OF SECOND SECTION: ABANDONED