“Can you hear me?”
Henry’s eye opened, and he groaned. Although the words were clear and concise, they were barely audible through the receiver. Had Henry been in the adjoining room, or much further from the desk where he had fallen asleep, he would not have heard them at all. Straining to pull the radio closer, he turned up the volume, though there was no amplification.
“Hello?” came the voice again.
The voice was soft, light, and certainly pleasing to the ear. The voice was a woman’s. Despite going unanswered for some time, the woman remained amiable in tone, “Is anyone there?”
At last, Henry put his finger on the transmitter, and replied, “Yes, I read you.”
There was a pause on the other end, and then a sound of relief. “Thank God.”
“Who is this?” Henry asked.
“I’m Charlotte. The only one here.”
“Henry. Where are you?”
“A bunker in Sector 9. I’ve been calling for weeks. Missing this. Conversation, I mean. I didn’t think anyone would answer though. Guess I was wrong.”
“Sector 9?” a worried Henry pried.
“That’s right. Where are you?”
“Sector 1.” Henry furrowed his brow, “Are you sure you’re in Sector 9, Charlotte?”
“Where are you exactly?”
“The base is called Slazenger-Hunt. Outside of Helena.”
Henry noticed his supervisor Mr. Wyatt enter the room. He didn’t speak, he simply watched and waited.
Henry continued, “Of course…Uh, Charlotte?”
“Have you tried to leave the base?”
“Yes, but I can’t.”
“Why is that?”
“Are you serious?”
Henry looked at his boss again, who was listening to the conversation intently. When Henry didn’t answer, Wyatt prompted him with a rolling motion from his hand. Henry understood the command, and obeyed. He pressed Charlotte for information. “I’m afraid not. Please Charlotte, why you are unable to leave the base.”
Charlotte sighed, but answered Henry’s question. A question to which she felt everyone knew the answer. “There was an explosion. Bombs were dropped over the U.S mainland; vaporising major cities, killing millions, and irradiating everything that wasn’t destroyed. The worst part, is we saw it coming. Months in advance.”
Once again, Henry sat silent, until Mr. Wyatt glared at him, though he looked as troubled by the conversation as Henry.
“Charlotte… when did this happen?”
“Three weeks ago. November 3rd.”
With this answer, A worried Mr. Wyatt quickly pulled out his mobile, running out of the room to update his own superiors.
“Henry… Why are you asking me this. Did the attacks not happen in Sector 1? Because I thought for sure that New York… the Eastern Seaboard, was a major target. I thought there would be nothing left.”
Before Henry could say anything further, Mr Wyatt returned, and pressed the transmitter button himself. “Charlotte is it?”
Although trying to sound kind, he said, “My name is Wyatt,” in a manner that seemed far more condescending than anything else. “You are the sixth person to call us from Slazenger-Hunt.”
“Well,” began a confused Charlotte, “That’s good. But… I think I’m the only one here.”
“That may well be the case, Charlotte, I can’t dispute your reality. But Sector 1 has not been compromised. Neither has Sector 9, nor any other sector in the mainland United States. Not yet.”
“I know, you think it’s impossible,” Mr. Wyatt said, anticipating her protest. “It isn’t. You claim the U.S was attacked on November 3rd, and it is now the 24th. It’s actually April 17th.”
“No, that can’t be true—”
“It is, Charlotte. Furthermore, there is no Slazenger-Hunt Base, there never has been. We believe you, and the other five who have contacted us from that base, on November 24th, may be survivors of a nuclear holocaust in America. From an attack that has yet to happen.”
“I don’t understand,” replied a frightened Charlotte.
“We understand little more than you. I can only hope we will be able to stop it from ever happening.”
Now Henry and Mr. Wyatt heard only crying.
“I’m sorry. But now, I have to sever this communication, and switch frequencies.”
“What? No!” Charlotte exclaimed, “No, please! Don’t leave me alone! Wyatt, Henry! Please—”
Mr. Wyatt turned off the radio, and turned to the silent Henry. “If you can’t do your job, Henry, I’ll find someone who can; the next time someone from that base calls, ask the questions, then end the conversation. No more reluctance. You hear me? Oh, and you can sleep when your shift is over, not before.”
Henry nodded, and Mr. Wyatt walked away, hiding his regret.
“Turn the radio back on in two minutes. The transmissions are coming in more frequently now,” called out Mr. Wyatt.
More discouraged than ever, Henry struggled with his objective. With knowledge of an impending attack, coming from people supposedly speaking to him from the future. However, he was constantly assured by Mr. Wyatt and his bosses, that there was not going to be an attack, and that they were only listening to something called phantom radio.
He reclined, and turned the radio on. A few hours later, Henry heard another voice.
“Can you hear me?”