This is my NaNoWriMo entry, 2012. It is the sequel to my first novel, In Days Gone By, available for purchase here:
Let me know what you think!
My eyes snapped open. The room was dark; a black ceiling suspended far out of reach. My back was cold and I realised that I was lying on the freezing concrete floor. I pushed myself to my feet.
Where am I? I thought, glancing around the room.
It was empty.
There was nothing in here.
No windows; no lights; no furniture.
Fear began to crawl down my back as I realised I was trapped.
I heard footsteps echoing from outside the room and I darted to the wall slamming my fist against it in desperation to be heard. “Let me out of here!”
The wall felt soft to touch, almost like it could be moulded purely by my hitting it. I took another look around the room and saw that the four black walls surroundingme were textured; patterns etched into them from floor to ceiling. I traced my fingers over one of the lines and gasped, immediately retracting my hand as a small electric shock greeted me. What is this place?
The clicking footsteps became audible again and reminded me of my desperation to get out of this place.
“Is anybody out there?” I yelled out again. Fearwrenched at my gut. There could be nobody out there... I could be trapped inside an inescapable room and be going mad. I had no idea where I was, how I got here or what was happening. And now I was talking to a solid wall.
The footsteps stopped.
My stomach flipped as the anticipation shot through it, as the spreading dread I had felt earlier returned to me and now flooded through my body. Slowly, I backed away from the wall; I had no idea who it was out there. A sudden wave of doubt swept through me, fear riding with it. I pushed myslef away from the door and the clicking footsteps. It could be anybody out there. Friend or foe, I had no idea. For all I knew my captor was the one out there.
“Name?” A female voice asked, muffled by the wall. I took a deep breath, heart pounding. Should I tell her the truth? Who is it out there? Are they going to kill me if they know who I am? I had no idea as to why I was in here; maybe it was a holding cell before trial, or a prison camp or even death row. I had no idea as to where I was. Deciding to go against my better judgement, I approached the wall once more and inhaled a large breath.
“Jacob Peter Crown,” I declared. There was utter silence for a few moments.
Suddenly, a loud electric whining echoed through the room and I watched in awe as the wall in front of me began to rise up. Yet again, I tried to comprehend the incomprehensible and, yet again, I failed. A pair of shoes was on the other side of the wall, stood on what appeared to be a stone floor. As the wall continued to rise, the shoes were accompanied by a pair of legs and then the bottom of a skirt.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“We don’t have time,” the woman said, turning and walking off. “We have to leave. Now.”
“Wait!” I yelled, darting forwards and under the wall. Alarms began to blare the moment my foot was outside of the room. The whole building began to flash red, a shrill noise ringing throughout the corridor I now found myself in. Noticing, but ignoring, the computer screens embedded in the walls at periodic points, I spotted the woman and ran after her.
“Where are we?” I yelled over the noise that now filled the corridor. “What the hell is going on?”
The woman didn’t even turn to look at me. She continued to march forwards and I struggled to keep up with her pace. I heard footsteps behind me and, glancing backwards, spotted a large guard striding along behind us. An escort?
“You’re inside a military facility, Mr. Crown, called Westfield, just outside New York. Two weeks ago, you were kidnapped by a group of rogue American government figures who are trying to use the nuclear arsenal of both the USA and USSR to bring the world to its knees. The group calls themselves NSEF; we believe members include Marcus Goldenberg and Alexander Schwarz. Have you ever heard of the group or these men?” As she marched, I saw her figure disappear into the distance as the room circled around me and the flashing lights faded out of view. A haze of vision crashed into me.
“What is your name, Professor?” I asked. The professor closed his eyes and nodded slowly.
“My name is Professor Alexander Schwarz,” he replied. “And I am here to help you.”
Despite my blurred outlook on the vision, I remembered the scene that was unfolding before me. The file that I had read on the professor began to comeback to me. Born in Moscow, Alexander Schwarz had taken up his position working for the US Government at the age of 40, in 1979. Five years before the White House was blown up. Five years before I arrived in his laboratory and he tried to frame me for murder. The scene began to shift and warp and it faded into a black abyss, instead replaced with another.,
“Where? What is the place called?” I saw myself ask. The professor sighed and closed his eyes as he walked towards me. Not even glancing over his shoulder, he quietly replied “Westfield, Jake.” The electric door that the professor was walking towards – the door I was stood in front of – slid open. “This is a military facility called Westfield,” the professor repeated as his image walked through my non-present body. The door slid closed behind me and I was left in the room, alone with myself. “This is taking too long,” I heard a voice say faintly from outside the room. I turned and looked through the door, out into the corridor beyond my reach. The blur of the vision began to encroach upon my field of view and I felt myself losing touch with the scene. Fighting the fading feeling, I saw the professor leant back on a polished marble wall. His head was hung low, almost in defeat. Another figure appeared from out of my field of vision and placed a hand on the professor’s shoulder. Who is that? I thought. Why had I not noticed this conversation before?
I glanced back at myself sat on the bed. I hadn’t moved in the time I had been here, almost as if I was frozen in place. I simply sat, staring blankly into space. I wanted to yell. I wanted to yell at myself to get up and look at the conversation occurring outside the door. However, before I could, the scene was wrenched out from my grasp and it, too, disappeared into a black abyss. I was now stood in what looked like a hospital ward. I was sat up on one of the white-sheeted beds and Mark was stood beside me, a gun pointed at me.
“Jake, you don’t know as much as you think you do,” Mark hissed. The vision me wassat frozen to the bed, and I rembered trying to find words, sounds, noises. Anything to try and convince Mark not to shoot me. I was stood by the door, once more, watching the scene unfold before me. A nurse was stood just outside of the room, desperately trying to get the electric door to open. But it wouldn’t budge.
“But, now, you know too much. Now, you don’t have to lie for two days. You won’t be around to lie any more. If there was any other way, Jake, I’d take it…”
“There is another way, Mark,” I blurted out. Shock overcame me as I realised that I was repeating what my other self was saying. I remembered this scene; Mark shot me for remembering who he was. “Let me live,” I was saying. “I can pretend for two days. I can pretend not to remember anything. I can pretend I don’t know anything. Please, Mark.” My determined tone of voice had once more declined into a desperate and pathetic plea. Jesus, I thought, I’d have had trouble convincing myself not to shoot me.
“No, Jake. No, you can’t,” Mark hissed once more. There was a loud crack as a bullet erupted from the end of the gun. My body was thrown across the bed and I crashed down onto the floor. Blood slowly spread across the marble and Mark strode away, pressing his hand against the fingerprint scanner and walking out the open door. I watched as Mark passed the nurse who had been struggling to get inside and pushed the gun into her stomach. There was another gunshot and the woman gasped out as her life left her. She collapsed backwards against the cold wall and slid to the ground, leaving a deep garish red stain. The scene imploded again and the dark and empty corridor warped into a small, contained bedroom. My bedroom.
I heard voices from below me and I walked to the window. Peering out, I found myself looking into the Chamber and at my body crouched on top of Professor Schwarz’s.
“Jake, you can’t kill me,” the professor groaned out from beneath my body. I watched myself as I pummelled the professor with punch after punch. If I was in my shoes, now, I would kill him. Without question, the professor would die on that floor beneath me. But, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Schwarz would be alive until the missiles launched, until the world was condemned to its inevitable fate.
As I watched, the floor of the Chamber began to pull itself open. I stepped backwards from the window, trying not to be taken from this vision. The wall in front of me was pulled loose and it fell away, disappearing into the large hole below. I tried to move further into the room as the floor and walls were stripped away in front of my very eyes. Before long, I had reached the far wall. Closing my eyes in fear, the floor beneath me gave way and I was sucked down into the ever-widening chasm. Blackness engulfed me as the vision was taken once more.
“Jake? Jake?” A woman’s voice slowly brought me back to reality. The blaring of the sirens returned to me, along with the flashing interior of the building. At some point I had fallen to the floor, and was now slumped against a wall, with the woman staring at me.
“Who are you?” I asked. “What do you want with me?” The woman smiled at me.
“We want you to help us catch NSEF, Mr. Crown. We know you have had encounters with them in the past and that they brought you here. To Westfield. We need your help to catch them.”
“They’re dead,” I mumbled. “I killed them all before the war.” The woman looked at me and shook her head, confused.
“War? What war, Mr. Crown? What are you on about?”
“The nuclear war,” I breathed. “In 1984. I killed them all. All of the NSEF members are dead. I killed them all.” The woman pulled back away from me and glanced up at the guard who was stood next to her before looking back at me again.
“Mr. Crown,” she started, “there hasn’t been any nuclear war. At any time. You couldn’t have seen a war in 1984.”
“Why?” I asked. “I know there was a war. I killed everybody.”
“No,” the woman snapped. “Mr. Crown, the year is 1979. NSEF is a terrorist group who want to use the nuclear arsenal of the USA and USSR to take over the world. There hasn’t been and will not be a nuclear war. We won’t let it get that far.”
Confusion engulfed me. 1979? No war? NSEF? Everybody was alive. What was happening? Where was I?
“Who are you people?” I asked, trying to push myself to my feet. The woman helped me up and stared at me.
“My name is Katherine Jones, Mr. Crown. I work for an organisation called Black Heart. We are part of the US Government. NSEF was a branch of Black Heart that was set up to investigate possible terrorist threats across the United States. Both by international and domestic war-mongers.” Katherine turned and started down the corridor, again. I followed quickly and the escort behind me was now marching at an increased speed. They definitely wanted to get out of here.
“NSEF was a huge success,” Katherine continued as we walked, “and it managed to quell nearly three hundred separate acts of terrorism during its time in operation. However, three days ago, the entire group disappeared. No tracers, no communication, nothing.” Glancing over her shoulder at me, her face dropped and I realised where she was going with this conversation, “This morning, we received a message from an anonymous sender,” she resumed, turning left into a shorter, wider corridor. “The letter has been sent around the world, with stamps from Peru, China, Australia and the United Kingdom. They didn’t want us to be able to trace them. The sender claims to have access to enough nuclear materials to rip the world apart. We’re sure it is them. Not only was it addressed directly to the director of operations of Black Heart, it claims that the identity of each and every agent embedded in terrorist organisations across the world will be leaked within twenty-four hours.”
Katherine stopped and turned to look at me, anger swelling in her eyes as she did. Nobody else has that information, Mr. Crown. Nobody. We are going out on a limb here, trying to bring in every possible connection to NSEF that we can find. You were our top priority and, now that you have been secured, we can send in assets to attain our other leads. It appears, Mr. Crown, that we need your help, once more.”