This story is really starting to take some interesting turns. We’re seeing some growth in our yet unnamed character in this installment. He’s having to take some drastic measures and is gambling on his future. I’m still not sure how this will turn out, but I think some familiar characters from my other work might emerge in this one as it progresses.
Road Kill – Part 5
Things were not looking promising. If I was going to prove my innocence, I had to get out of the Mother Ship and get access to a computer. I had learned long ago to cover my ass by backing up everything that I did securely. With today’s cloud technology, I could back up images of my computer’s hard drive to cyberspace and access them from wherever. I had an automatic job that ran in the background on my computer to do this. If I could find the before and after images, I could prove to Donovan that I was innocent.
Right now, I needed to get out of here. I sat on my single bed and went through the possibilities. I could overpower the food delivery person, but that wasn’t a viable idea. Everyone that performed menial tasks like delivering food and emptying the trash doubled as security. This meant that each of them knew 76 ways to disable me with a toothpick. I was an analyst. I used brains not brawn. I needed to use my brain to get out of here. I wasn’t going to overpower anyone.
The Mother Ship was a bunker with state-of-the-art security, surveillance, and defense systems. They all had redundancies upon redundancies. Everything was designed to protect the work being done here, if not the people. There was a fire retardant system laden with chemicals that would extinguish any type of fire instantaneously without regard to what it might do to the humans that happened to be hit by the chemicals.
I went through all of these systems in my mind, and then an idea came to me. I would have to be fast and things would have to work out just right. If they didn’t, I would just seal my fate by looking guiltier as I racked up an actual attempted escape with all of my other fabricated infractions. I would have to wait until night when there was a slight drop in security. I had a few hours to kill.
I spent the time going through my plan once I escaped. There was no point in planning for failure. If my scheme failed, I was a dead man. Actually, worse than dead. I would cease to exist. If any of the rumors were true, I would be hidden away to die a miserable and lonely life. This was the fate that awaited people like Edward Snowden if he ever returned. I was no Snowden, but at this moment, I envied his escape to and asylum in Russia.
I passed the time watching old episodes of the original Star Trek series. The show was way ahead of its time. I was trying to psych myself up to be more Captain Kirk and less Mr. Spock in my current situation. I needed to steel myself for what lay ahead.
Finally it was 10PM. I knew that they had surveillance in my room, so it was time to use my acting skills. I doubled over in pain and began writhing on the bed. I clutched my chest and did my best to pretend that I was having a heart attack. Between gasps for air, I muttered that I needed help. If they were monitoring me, someone would come any minute.
As predicted, the lock on the door disengaged and two beefy ‘custodians’ entered my room. They asked what was wrong and I kept up my mantra of clutching my chest and saying it hurt while I struggled for breath.
They looked at each other and apparently decided I needed medical attention. One grabbed me by the armpits and the other took my legs. They were taking me in the direction that I hoped. We were headed for the infirmary. If I could get them to leave me in the triage area while they went for help, I would be able to do what I set out to. The triage area had gurneys where patients could be examined before deciding what to do with them. It looked much like an ER trauma room. There were medical personnel on call in the Mother Ship that rotated in 12-hour shifts. They were likely sleeping or close to it now, so there would be a gap in between the time I was left in the triage area and when they arrived. There was only a triage nurse on duty at the front counter to log me into the treatment room. By the time she came back there to take my vitals, my plan would be in progress and moving toward success (or failure).
Sure enough, I was laid on a gurney and the two custodians went out to fill the nurse in. As soon as they left, I jumped down from the gurney and ran toward the big red button in the hallway. You see, the infirmary was prepared for all types of medical emergencies. One of them might involve extremely contagious diseases. If this were to happen, the big red button put isolation protocols into action. Doors to the infirmary would seal as would doors to the outside world. Loud alarms would sound throughout the Mother Ship.
We had conducted drills on this, but it had never actually happened. The drills sounded the alarms, but the sealing of the building had never been fully enacted. Basically, it allowed 30 seconds for all doors in and out of the subterranean complex to seal. No one could get in or out unless the all-clear came from the infirmary. If my instincts were correct, I would have just enough time to slip out of the Mother Ship and leave any pursuers locked inside.
I sprung toward the red button and pushed it. Almost immediately, the alarm sounded and an announcement began playing that the facility was going under medical lockdown. I ran from the infirmary toward one of the auxiliary staircases. It was a gamble, there might be people using the staircase, but at this late hour, and if I moved fast enough, the chaos of the lockdown would serve as my cover. I was in luck. The staircase was abandoned with the exception of one person in medical scrubs hurrying down the stairs. I hid my face as I hurried past him on the last flight of stairs. I could see the fire door and the metal panel that would seal it off was about halfway down the door. In a sudden burst of speed that risked causing an actual heart attack, I threw myself at the door handle and tumbled out into the blackness in the middle of a wooded area. The door was disguised to look like an old shed. The chilly nighttime air could not have been more welcome. I escaped just before the metal panel sealed the Mother Ship from the outside world. I had maybe ten to fifteen minutes to put some distance between myself and the facility.
I had minimal survival training in the military, but I did know how to find north when I was in the dark outdoors by looking at the sky. I knew that if I headed north, I would eventually come to a highway in about a mile. This was my destination. If I could make it before word got out of my escape, I would be able to avoid roadblocks and other methods of pursuit.
As I ran through the woods, I wished I had spent more time in the gym and less time eating in restaurants. I used to be a runner, and my muscles reacted from memory, but my lungs weren’t happy with what was going on. I could feel a stitch developing in my side and I wondered if I was going to make it.
My doubt soon turned into hope. I could see the lights passing on the highway as I approached it. This highway was heavily traveled by big rigs. Drivers of big rigs were apt to pick up riders that didn’t look threatening. Luckily, I was still in my work clothes and looked professional. I could easily be a motorist whose car had broken down.
It took four passing big rigs before one stopped and picked me up. It was an independent trucker hauling furniture that was being moved. The rig was new and comfortable.
“Where are you headed?” he asked as I climbed in.
“I live down by Sinclair Mill Road. My car broke down and I want to get home and call it in to my insurance so that I can get it towed.”
“That’s not too far from here. I can give you a lift.”
I had thought this through. I had no phone, no identification, no money, and nothing to help me get very far. I did, however, have a good friend that lived on Sinclair Mill Road. If I could get to him and convince him to help me, I might be able to get to the one person that was smart enough to get me out of this jam.
I made up stories about the line of work that I was in and my non-existent family as the trucker, named Jeff, took me on the 10 mile ride south. I thanked him and apologized for not having anything to pay him with as I exited. He said not to worry about it and that he was glad to help. There is hope for humanity yet. If he knew he was helping an escaped fugitive who was thought to be guilty of treason, he might not have been so cheerful.
I walked about a quarter mile toward the familiar house of my former shipmate, Ben Simpson. Luckily, the front light of Ben’s house was on. I stepped up to the door and rang the bell. I heard movement inside and then the door opened. Ben looked a bit older, but was still the same guy that I remembered. He recognized me immediately.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“That’s an interesting story. I can tell you quickly if you let me come in.”
“Sure. Come on in. Are you okay? You look like you’re being chased by a ghost.”
“You have no idea. I wish it was a ghost.”
I entered Ben’s house wondering how much to tell him about my situation. I needed his help, but I didn’t want to get him in trouble. It was going to be tricky.