They arrived as the first light of dawn seeped over the edge of the world. Abby blinked awake at the crunch of wheels on sand. The car had pulled off the road among some ruins; Remnants of wooden and stone buildings in various states of collapse. They parked between two of these crumbling structures, somewhat concealed in the low morning shadow.
“Where are we?” Abby asked, sitting up and rubbing her eyes.
“Tempiute,” he said, “It’s an old mining town from the late 1800’s.”
He got out of the car and went to the trunk and Abby unbuckled and followed. He pulled out a folded sheet of textured desert camo and started to put over the car. Abby grabbed a corner to help him.
“So what’s the plan?”
He tossed the last corner over the car and brushed the dust from his hands. “One of those might be nice to have,” he smiled. “I know how to get inside, but past that it’s all pretty vague. We need to find out who is in charge of The Tesla Program and why they are suddenly in a hurry.”
“That sounds like a plan to me.”
“That’s an objective, not a plan.”
They walked up a little ways through the stone foundations of a long-gone town. The side of the slope was covered in loose rock and it slid and skittered as they climbed. Abby could see the mine entrance, a gaping black square against the next hill. A piece of the railroad was still there, leading into the mine.
“I have to warn you,” he said. “It’s a long walk through a dark hallway.”
The instant they walked into the mine the air temperature dropped. It smelled like mold and rust. They went straight to the back wall of the room, which was covered in boards. The mine shaft curved sharply to the right, but Xander was looking at the wall. He ran his hands along the damp, rotting wood.
CREAK. He slowly pulled open a door that was hidden in the wall and pulled out a flashlight he had stashed in his jacket. Abby peered in over his shoulder as he flashed the light down the long stone hallway. It was a perfect square, big enough for two people side by side, cut straight through the rock for miles.
“Here it is,” he said. “The path of good intentions.”
“It feels warmer in there.”
“That’s the air from the base,” he said.
They stepped inside and he closed the rickety wooden door behind them. They started down the hallway, their footsteps hollow, echoing against the walls. The tunnel was warm and dry and silent. Sanctuary.
A few steps further, the illusion of sanctuary vanished. A siren bristled through the air, screaming at them. It echoed along the length of the tunnel until there were thousands of voices wailing. Xander grabbed Abby’s arm and whipped her around, pulling her back to the door. They burst through and sprinted for the car. Too late.
A white SUV was parked just outside the mine entrance. Two bland-faced men with guns pointed, wearing desert camo. The faint pounding of an approaching helicopter. The distant sirens calling across the mountains.
They put their hands up.
“That wasn’t there last time I came through.” Xander said.
Of course there would be security in the mine shaft. Maybe this guy was just delusional after all.
“Yeah? When was that?” She challenged him.
“Well, this is another way to get inside, I suppose,” he said.
She glared at him.