For the first time since entering strange places alone and afraid, I smell the pure scent rubbing alcohol and plastics instead of rotting food and decay. I come through a dark hallway that opens to a larger room full of blinking screens and recessed peach-colored lighting. No other equipment adorns the room. The screens are not particularly bright or frantic, but informational.
In front of each screen is a tiny black keyboard. I press each key in order but the screens don’t change. The dogs start to sniff their way into an adjacent chamber and I follow them. The large room wraps around a circular one that is filled with expensive-looking chairs, a circular table, and many papers. In the center is a huge map, showing elevation and water table locations for the county.
Around the table are two black coffees that have long since gone cold, and one mug with a Chamomile tea bag hanging from it and a packet of honey unopened and resting against the mug.
Each sheet of paper is a record of a different town in the area. I find the one for Danton almost immediately. It lists population, demographics of age and income, the mayor and city council members, which roads lie to the north and south, how many vehicles are registered in the area, and who and how many people own registered firearms within the legal limits. The other information seems useless; elevation, number of registered businesses, town festivals and holidays, the list goes on. I count the papers; there are twenty four and two more for the outlying areas outside the towns. All carry the same information.
The map is unmarked, it seems to have come straight out of a printer but I can’t locate one.
I jump, startled as the dogs each start barking an alarm. The breeze outside begins to kick up and I can hear some sort of engine whirring. After standing still for a moment I bolt to the entrance at a dead sprint.
Climbing out of the hole I see a dark helicopter, its windows reflecting the sun’s light. Two men in front of me hold weapons but they aren’t pointed at me. They are in full hazmat suits. Behind them I see the rowboat I came over on, being shoved into the water.
“Miss,” one says, “please come with us.”
Illogical with fear, I start to back away. Two huge arms come from behind me and restrain my own.
“Everything will be fine. Just relax.”
A sharp pinch invades my left thigh and the helicopter becomes a dark blur. The thought of protesting crosses my mind as the sky goes black.