Hostile Environment - Chapter 7
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The closer we walk the brighter the light becomes. My visor’s not equipped to handle a light of this magnitude. It was designed to enhance the dim light of our world there was no reason for it to block out light of any kind. My eyes start burning from the intensity but I find I don’t want to turn away…I can’t to stop staring…the sight is…unbelievable.
My worries change from being discovered to amazement as I draw closer. Buildings start to materialize in the light. Actual buildings like my grandfather had described to me, not caves of rock and ice like the ones in the New Capital, but metal structures.
Shiny metal like the kind we would occasionally stumble across trapped below the surface in the ice. The metal we found always belonged to the giant metal behemoths with the huge blades that lay below the surface trapped in the ice and snow. This is not the case down here.
I slow down to a shuffle as the sights in front of me overwhelm my senses. From the distance it looked wonderful but as I get closer I start to wonder if I hadn’t died when I fell and perhaps I am now approaching heaven.
A push in the back lets me know I’m not dead or dreaming. Then a more forceful shove urges me forward. I stumble a few steps then regain my footing. My thoughts of amazement fade quickly as I am returned to the brutal reality of my predicament.
Shading my eyes I increase the gait of my stride. The path we are following leads downward at a slow but steady slope then bends around a large outcropping of rock. The view of the city is momentarily lost although the cascade of bright light remains to illuminate our way.
Winding around the rock the view of the metal buildings and surrounding area slowly start to reappear in front of me but now they become much clearer and larger as each footstep brings me closer to this alien place.
A crowd of people can be seen gathering on the trail ahead of me. More footsteps, the buildings and crowd of people growing bigger with each step I take, the city now rising right up in front of me. I keep my eyes focused straight ahead on the trail ahead of me not wanting another push to the back reminding me to keep moving.
I can’t help it. I slow again and stare dumb struck at the sites. The whispers of the crowd’s voices start to drift down the trail to my ears. People can be seen walking from all directions in front of me increasing the size of the crowd that had already gathered.
Everyone is clothed the same as the two people behind me, flowing robes but in a variety of colours, some with sashes some without. It takes me a while to notice but these people aren’t wearing helmets of any kind or any type of breathing apparatus that I can see unlike like my two captors.
Could it be possible? Is the air clean enough and the temperature warm enough to allow breathing with out any mechanical assistance or are these people different in some way that the air caused by the erupting volcanoes is not toxic to them?
I think back several hours. Didn’t I experiment with the air quality myself? When I discovered my feeding tube had broken when I fell. Do I dare shut off my suits air scrubber?
I decide against it. Probably not a good time to experiment with my breathing until I find out what lays in store for me. I should find out soon. I am only yards away from the crowds of the glimmering city.
I take a chance and look from one side to the other. We have obviously traveled a great distance from the river of lava, but I don’t see any signs of packed ice anywhere around. I look up. The height of this cavern is enormous, the brilliant light of the city is not able to penetrate the darkness at the upper reaches of the dome.
I am now close enough to clearly make out the faces of the crowd awaiting our approach. All the faces carry the same blank look. Everyone is staring at me like I am some strange entity unlike anything they have ever seen before.
“Stop.” A voice from behind me commands. I do as I am told and stare awkwardly at the people standing in front of me. As much as I want to look up at the shiny city behind the crowd I am unable to raise my eyes. I hear murmurs but everyone is standing still looking at me and me looking back at them.
Then in the back of the now sizeable crowd I notice movement. Men and women moving aside as a small group of colourfully robed elderly men stride toward me followed closely by four other people, three men and a women who are dressed in what I think is some type of military uniforms. The four soldier types have guns strapped to their sides. My heart races in unknown trepidation.
Three very old men dressed in bright green robes stop in front of me, the soldiers are a step behind them and I watch as they all look quizzically first at me and then at each other.
“Who are you?” One of the men asks. “Where are you from?”
“Mike…my name is…” I start to answer but another of the old men motion with their hand silencing me.
“Take him to the cages.” He says as turns to address the soldiers behind him.
“Hey!...I…” I start to protest as two of the soldiers grab my arms and begin leading me forward through the blank staring milling crowd. People watch me closely as I am paraded through the throng of people on my way to who knows where.
The grasp of my new escorts is firm on my arms; the other two soldiers follow tight behind us. What have I fallen into I wonder. Nobody here seems very happy to see me in fact I notice fear hidden behind the eyes of the watching bystanders as I pass.
I try to catch glimpses of the city as I am led to wherever and whatever the cages are. I mean I know what cages are but is my definition and theirs the same? And why a cage. Obviously these people can see that I am not a threat. From the looks of these strange people and the bright, shiny city they must know by looking at me that their technology is certainly better then anything I would have.
My journey doesn’t last long. The soldiers stop just inside the outskirts of the city. One of the soldiers behind me rushes in front of our group and opens a door to a low-lying building.
I try to resist going inside but am overpowered. Lights flicker on. Cages…rows and rows of cages. I am dragged to the one nearest the entrance and watch as the cage door is opened. The two men holding me thrust me through the opening. By the time I regain my footing I hear the metal door clang shut.
“Stop. You don’t understand.” I manage to say before the soldiers walk back outside leaving me alone in this room filled with cages. I stand unmoving staring at the closed door. Now what.
Finally I come to terms with being locked up. The lights in the room are dim, almost dark but with the help of my visor I have no trouble seeing the contents of my cage. A shelf over on the far wall, which I presume is a bed and a hole in the floor and then lots and lots of round metal bars to keep me confined.
I wander over to the shelf and sit down. My throat is scratchy and dry. The thought of a drink enters my mind again. I forgot how thirsty I was amidst all the excitement.
“Can I get a drink of water?” I holler a few times. The echo of my own voice in the room is the only answer I get. I hang my head in despair feeling sorry for myself.
I don’t know how long I sit like this before I hear a voice.
“They are going to do away with you…you know.” A quiet female voice announced. I jumped to my feet and walked the few steps to the front of the cage. With my hands grasping the bars I turn my head trying to get a glimpse of the girl in the poorly lit room. Looking toward the far end of the room I gaze unblinking.
Slowly out of the shadows I spot a girl about my age walking toward my cage, her hands holding a tray in front of her. As she comes closer I see a drab brown robe draped around her shoulders, her arms jutting out from an opening in the front of the robe.
“Who are you?” It was my turn to ask to ask the question.
The girl stops in front of the bars and looks up at me with sorrow filled eyes. Through a slot in the bars she passes me the tray.
“What do you mean…who are you?” I desperately ask searching for answers.
“They will do away with you like they did away with all the others.” She repeats as she backs away from the cage and disappears the way she came.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.