In The Company of GhostsMature

At the street, the team fanned out as per John's hand signals. Each member knew exactly where to go in this kind of situation, which meant the likely paths of approach were well covered as a small number began crossing to the other side one at a time.

“Your turn,” John said, tapping Michael on the shoulder who crossed as quickly as he could while remaining hunched over. John shook his head, finding Michael's discomfort and awkwardness slightly amusing. He turned to Bobby, “Alright Bobby, see you on the other side.”

Bobby waved behind his head, but didn't take his eyes from their position as they scanned down the street, the blurred aiming posts of his weapons iron sights resting at the bottom of his field of vision.

“Alright Bobby, give'er,” said Christopher as he watched John take up a firing position on the other side of the road.

“Cheers Chris, see you in a bit.” Robby grunted as he lifted himself and his heavy pack. He then snatched up the light machine gun from its handle and jogged across the street, his clattering kit the only thing heard in the desolate "T" intersection.

“Alright,” John said, turning to the team members that were not in a defensive position. “For reference, we're at the top of the "T" intersection. The foot of the "T" is that way," John pointed westward, "The direction we came from. Everyone on the same page?"

The team nodded.

"Zoe, you and Amanda will take samples out here and then meet us inside when you're done. Brian, you'll be our door man, and keep an eye on Kevin, he'll signal you if he see's anything. If Shifty shows up, we regroup here. Bobby will stay outside with the LMG and help cover us to the north while Kevin has the south if we have to cross the street under fire. Michael,” He turned and made eye contact, realizing now how much better he looked showered and shaven in comparison to when he'd first met him in the forest outside of town. “You're with me at all times, understood?”

Michael nodded.

“Alright,” John twirled his index, “Get to work.”

The group burst from the meeting in their respective directions, all but Bobby who was already prone with his LMG watching down the road.

Michael and John made their way through the rusted warehouse door. They walked up a ramp as John signaled quietly for Michael to move to the other side of the bay door at the top of the gradient. Michael nodded and made his way to the far end of the ramp, keeping his weapon up as John did while they continued forward.

John peered into the darkness of the warehouse and saw no movement. He gave a thumbs up to Michael, who returned the same. John then signaled to Michael to turn right after going through the doorway, and then put three fingers up and counted down to the initiation of their entrance.

Michael nodded each time a finger disappeared into John's fist and then they entered simultaneously, both turning away from each other to clear their respective corners. Nothing was seen, and when Michael turned around John was already walking toward a doorway at the far end of the warehouse, Zoe and Amanda closing behind him.

When he caught up, they'd cleared the small office, again with nothing to report. Michael's mind was alight with memories of this place. “John, we need to get to the elevator.”

“You're going to have to direct me, I've never been here before.”

“Around the corner, there's a bay door. Inside, there were always a lot of crates, I'd assume it will be relatively empty nowadays. At the far end, there'll be a cargo elevator that looks like it's simply there to bring loads up from the third loading bay on the far side of the building, but it's got a false electrical box in it that's actually hiding a keypad.”

“Do you think the elevator will still work? You have to remember, there's no power.”

“The facility has its own nuclear plant underground. It's the only way the sphere could be powered, and I'm thinking that's why Joshua had no choice but to rebuild it here, where the power source is.”

“Alright, let's go.”

As Michael had assumed, the cargo bay on the far side of the warehouse was pretty near empty. Large shelves stood vacant, some of them rusted and collapsed as the ceiling bore gaping holes from water damage. Morning sunlight entered through these holes as golden shafts, dust particles glistening in their midst. The small group crossed the warehouse, Amanda and Zoe with their environmental equipment in hand taking samples of the air and scanning for radiation.

At the elevator, John stopped Michael. “I'll check it first,” he said pushing past Michael with his weapon at the ready. He scanned the relatively large platform and then signaled to Michael when he felt there was no immediate danger.

Michael walked in and turned to his left, finding the electrical panel with ease. “This is it,” he said crouching in front of the rusted box. He tried opening it, but it remained stubbornly shut. “Damn it, this thing's seen better days,” he said prying as much as he could with his gloved fingers.

“Let me see,” said John walking over to the box.

“Just be careful not to -”

John struck the thing with the butt of his rifle, its panel door popping open and swinging; bent at the locking mechanism.

“Not to break it,” Michael finished. “Does everything require brute force with you?”

John thought for a moment. “Mostly.”

“Okay, something to remember,” Michael said, shaking his head as he wiped the dust from the old keypad. “I think it's still getting power.” The small LCD display glowed a pale green. “Do you know the code?” Michael asked.

“Shouldn't you know it?”

“How the hell would I know it, Joshua rebuilt the project, he would have been the one to reset all the passwords.”

“Actually, now that I think of it I think I saw a reference to a code in the report from the team that was attacked here. If I knew we were going to go inside I'd have made an effort to remember it.”

“Well now's the time John.”

“Don't pressure me, it won't help.”

“The longer we wait, the better there is a chance that our not-quite-so-friendly friends show up.”

“I said don't pressure me!”

“Just saying.”

“I know the risks Michael, I'm the one who did the threat report.”

“Then you know we don't have time for your shitty memory.”

“I swear Michael if you don't stop I'm going to rifle butt you in the back of the head.”

Michael looked up at him to see if he was joking and made the quick assertion that he wasn't. He remained silent for the next few minutes as John paced the elevator platform.

“Try two zero one zero”

“Alright,” Michael entered the numbers and hit enter.

They both struggled to keep their footing as the platform shook to life.

“Guess you were right.” Michael said, standing as the platform continued to descend accompanied by an uncomfortable level of vibration.

“Lucky guess.”

“You guessed?”

“Yeah, I couldn't remember.”

Michael thought for a moment. “Twenty ten. Two thousand ten. What's important about that year?”

John looked at him, yelling over the noise of the elevator. “It's the year his mother, or your daughter, was born.”

Michael nodded awkwardly, “Right, my daughter.”

The platform slowed, and then stopped completely. The two were about to disembark when suddenly the lights on the four walls of the elevator extinguished, leaving them in completely darkness.

“Shit.” John muttered as he fumbled for his headlamp. A column of red light blazed through the eerie concrete room. John flicked the filter up to allow white light and cleared the small chamber. “Feels like a crypt.”

“You said it my friend.”

Each of the three concrete walls stood, blank and without indication of any other passage except for the presence of another electrical box. John walked over to it. “Here's another keypad.”

Michael moved to him and opened the panel, this one in considerably better shape. He punched in the code that was but a few days old in his mind and an invalid response chimed. “Got any other good hunches?”

“Well, this guess would make Joshua's concept of security pretty lacking, but try two zero six seven.”

Michael entered the numbers and the keypad beeped, the far wall rumbling as it moved back to slide sideways and out of view. Behind the false wall was a large lobby, a crescent shaped counter just ahead of them. Michael shrugged, “Is this too easy or is it just me? Who was born in two thousand sixty seven?”

“Andrea,” John said, his weapon up as he entered the dusty hall.

Michael put his hand on John's rifle. “The only thing you'll shoot in here is sensitive equipment and maybe the odd ghost.”

John sighed, realizing Michael was right. After all, they were the first people to set foot in this room in twenty four years.

The End

161 comments about this story Feed