Chapter 33: Rosalyn
Greenhaven Cove, Washington
Should I climb the stairs? No. Why? Because I might die up there if I do. Should I climb the stairs? Yes. Why? Because I might die down here if I don’t.
The last time the flimsy metal staircase that lead from the rocky beach to the residential houses above had been used was when Vincent had ventured up there in search of some food. A few minutes after he’d left, I’d decided to follow him, not wanting him to get hurt. I had instantly regretted that decision. I was able to locate Vincent due to his bloodcurdling screams. When I’d found him he was writhing on the floor, as if he were having some sort of seizure. I had called out his name, but blood began pouring out of his ears. Then, he just lay still, eyes glazed. But what disturbed me the most was the tall, dark figure I had seen just out of the corner of my eyes as Vincent died. The minute my friend’s heart stopped beating I turned around to face the figure, but they were gone. This occurrence had sent me running back to the cove and I hadn’t emerged since.
But now, as I leaned against the rocky wall of the cave’s entrance and looked up at the foggy sky, the thought of leaving the cave wouldn’t stop nagging at the back of my mind. Judging on the general light and darkness of the days (the sun was no longer visible) I had guessed that it had to have been at least a week, if not more, since Vincent’s death. Whatever or whoever had killed him was probably gone by now. I had been dragging by down here on long dead crabs and other animals I could find on the beach. The fish I’d found with Vincent was the only one I’d managed to catch. Turning away from the outside, I looked back into the darkness of the cave. Maybe I didn’t have to go above ground to escape the temporary home I’d made for myself here after all. Then again, if I chose to venture farther into the cave, my chances of dying might increase- no food, no water, no light. I looked back outside and craned my neck around to catch a glimpse of the houses above. I remembered Vincent’s final moments, got up, and started heading away from the fresh air.
It couldn’t have been more than a minute before I was forced to stop relying on my sense of vision. I walked slowly, trying not to trip over the rocky floor. As I walked, I thought I could faintly hear the sound of rushing water, but it quickly went away. The walls were getting increasingly damp and I was finding it hard to get a good grip on them. A sudden pounding in my head vied for my attention. I dared to take one of my hands away from the wall to grip onto the back of my head, trying to call my body down. Something slimy slithered around my ankle and I screamed, losing my balance as I took a sudden step forward. My foot connected with a shaky rock and my ankle was twisted to an odd angle.
I caught my breath and clenched my teeth in pain as I came tumbling down. The second I hit the ground the cave floor collapsed under me. I screamed as I plummeted down the dark hole. My arms flailed and I tried to grab onto something to slow me down, but to no avail. All of a sudden my ears were overcome with the overpowering sound of rushing water. It was absolutely deafening and it made me want to kill myself- although I was sure death wasn’t too far ahead. The fall abruptly stopped when I connected with the source of the rushing sound. I found myself caught in the raging rapids of an underground river. Sludge found its way into my eyes and every time I tried to scream for help more water got in my mouth. My heavy clothes were dragging me down and I struggled to get free. Despite everything that was happening, my subconscious mind deduced that I was quickly moving in a certain direction at a slight downward angle.
Suddenly, a wave came crashing from behind me, plunging my head below water. A new feeling of panic washed over me when I realized that due to the fact that there was no light, there was no sure way of telling where the surface was. I tossed and turned and soon found myself upside-down. Water rushed into my nose and I could feel my lungs burning. A sudden glimmer of light from the corner of my eye caught my attention. Without thinking, I instantly shot myself toward that light. My head broke the surface and I raised my eyes toward the light source. A hole in the ground above shone a small circle of light into the cave. I tried to call for help, but my voice was too hoarse. Squinting, I thought I saw the shadow of a figure looking down at me, but the current was moving too quickly and I was soon pushed away from the light.
My body was suddenly in a world of pain as it slammed against something hard. Guessing it was the edge of the river, I threw my hand out in the direction I had been hit and connected with solid ground. Taking a leap of faith, I swung my other arm around and gripped both hands into the earthy clay. With the last ounces of energy, I yanked myself forward in an attempt to get out of the river. I slowly managed to drag myself onto the dark shore, breathing heavily. As soon as the feeling of rushing water pushing against my skin left my atmosphere I collapsed on the ground, not daring to move. My eyes easily slid shut and the sound of own breathing, coupled with my exhaustion, was enough to put me to sleep.
When I woke up my body was completely stiff, but relatively dry. At least, it was dry on one side. The other side had been residing in the pool of water that had dripped off of me and, therefore, was still quite wet. Not wanting to, but knowing that I had to, I used my right hand to push my torso off the ground so that I could sit up. Now that I was calm and no long struggling in a rapidly flowing current, my eyes began to adjust to the dark. I was shivering violently and I soon found out why- while I was in the water, the large wool sweater I’d been wearing had come off, leaving me with only a bra on top. The sweat pants (also wool) that’d been keeping me warm were now soaked and half way off my legs.
My body trembled all over as I stood up and attempted to pull up my pants. As I rubbed my bear arms with my hands, I looked around, trying to get an idea of what my surroundings were like. While I was trying to recuperate, I hadn’t noticed until now that I couldn’t hear anything. Turning around to look back at the river, I was relieved to discover that it wasn’t my sense of hearing that had stopped, but the current. The water looked completely still and undisturbed. If I squinted, I could almost see to the bottom. That’s odd, I thought to myself as I stared down at the now dormant river. Looking back and forth, my curiosity grew bigger when I saw that the river seemed to be coming in and out of two underground tunnels. Looking behind me, I could faintly make out a wall a few yards away. I went over to the wall and leaned against it, trying not to be bothered by the thought of sharp rocks poking into my back.
But when I aligned my spine with the hard surface, I wasn’t met by sharp rocks but by a flat, metal panel. Turning around in confusion, I found myself face to face with a tall metal door that I hadn’t noticed before. Looking closer, I saw there was a slot near the top of the door, about eye height. It was closed at the moment, but I guessed that it was used for peeking through to see who was on the other side. I felt along the edge of the door frame in search of a handle and soon found one. Praying that it wasn’t locked, I brought down all my weight on it and was relieved when it gave way. As I slowly pushed the door open, I couldn’t help but cringe at the seemingly deafening sound it was making.
I silently slithered in and felt my hand along the wall, looking for a light switch. I soon came across a large bar jutting out next to the door. Assuming no one else was in the room, I reached both hands around the bar and pulled down. Rather dim lights from throughout the ceiling flickered on one by one until finally the whole room was illuminated. I turned around and nearly screamed at what I saw; what I was facing was rows upon rows of soldiers. All of them were men and their physical appearance didn’t differ that much- the majority were brown haired and Caucasian, with what looked like dull green eyes. They all wore dark green uniforms, a bit similar to the designs of the soldiers from Nazi Germany. There must’ve been thousands upon thousands of them, all standing completely still. The only thing that ever differentiated from them was their weapon- the majority held guns, but some held tasers, whips, daggers, and even swords and maces. As for the men with guns, even the types of guns ranged from the very largest and oldest to the newest and deadliest.
But the one thing that was the most intriguing about them was this: none of them were moving. They didn’t even blink, they just stood there. After a minute of silence, I dared to take a step closer. Then another step, and then a few more. I cautiously approached the soldier closest to me- a man holding an old musket from the Civil War- and brought my face as close to his as I possibly could without actually touching him. He didn’t even flinch, not even when I clapped and snapped and waved near his eyes. I slowly raised my hand and touched his shoulder. Nothing. I touched it again, a bit harder this time. Still, no reaction. I grabbed both of his shoulders, shook him a little, and then stopped as it occurred to me why he wasn’t moving; he wasn’t real.
I mean, yes, physically he was real- the proof was right in front of me. But he wasn’t alive, nor had he ever been. He was a robot, made out of synthetic materials with the most realistic appearance I had ever seen. I was more than willing to bet that the rest of the “soldiers” were robots too, although what their purpose was and what they were doing down here was a mystery. Where had they come from? Who had built them? Why did they have all these weapons? Where did all these weapons even come from?
Looking closer at the soldier I’d been looking at originally, I thought I saw something inscribed on the back of his neck. I pulled back his collar a little to get a better look, but I couldn’t understand the writing. Whatever was on there was written in a foreign language I’d come across before, followed by a sign that resembled a scraggly backwards “y” in a circle. I returned to the front of the army of underground soldiers and decided I’d seen enough. But I wasn’t forgetting about seeing this. This could possibly be evidence of a secret operation that has the potential of being malicious going on under my town. Just to make sure I wouldn’t forget, I ran along the rows until I stopped in front of a solider holding a bundle of chains. Moving quickly, I carefully removed the leather strap that had been slung across his shoulders and slid his shirt over his neck to the best of my abilities. The trickiest part was getting the sleeves off of his arms. I had had to take the chains away, which proved to be difficult. It wouldn’t surprise me if their grips actually were as strong as steel.
The chains clanked to the ground and I was soon able to slide the dark green cloth over my own head. Throughout this mystery, I had almost forgotten about my soaking pants. I took them off and, after a long debate, decided not to try to remove the pants from the soldier as well. I figured the chances of running into someone I knew down here were pretty slim, anyway.
After a moment’s hesitation, I picked up the chains as well and ran back to the front of the room. Before I exited through the way I had come, I decided to look for another way out. I wasn’t in the mood to try to swim upstream, or see where the river was actually supposed to go- I had given up on the idea that everything in this cave was natural a long time ago. Walking briskly, I started to make my way around the perimeter of the room, keeping my eyes trained along the wall. Despite the 99.9% chance that they weren’t alive, the multitudes of blank soldiers still made me uneasy. There was always the possibility that I was being watched right now and that at the push of a button all of these robots could come to life and attack me. Plus, there was always that .1% chance.
When I finally did come across a door, I was pleasantly surprised to find it unlocked. The hallway I opened up to was already lit and a quick look both ways told me I was alone. I decided to walk to my left, seeing as there was a door at the end of the hall that I guessed led to a stairwell. Doors were peppered here and there on the walls, so I still had to be extremely careful not to make any noise in case anyone was on the other side. Although I was terrified, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at this underground operation- who would’ve guessed all of this was here?
I stopped suddenly when the sound of voices reached my ears. The sound was coming from the closest door, it seemed, and, with chain in hand, I pressed my ear against it. “This is pointless,” A man said after a sigh. “We have the technology, why don’t we just execute it now?”
A pause, and then, “I don’t really understand why we’re here,” a second male voice replied, “Of course I do not like the idea of giving the power to the people, but is there really such a need for violence?” I flinched at the sound of something hard connecting with a human head and a small groan.
“There’s always a need for violence,” A third, deeper male voice said, “Why do you think the two of you are stuck down here, guarding the Army?” A pause, and then, “Because you’re worthless!” Another sound similar to the one before, followed by another groan, “Worthless for not wanting to fight! And I’m the one stuck down here taking care of you two!” I didn’t want to hear any more, so I quickly turned away from the door. My eyes nearly popped out of my head as I heard a dreaded sound; moving away so suddenly from the door had resulted in my chain-bound hand swinging around and accidently rubbing the chains against the door. I held my breath, not daring to make a sound. “What was that?” the third voice came again and I ran.
The second I reached the door at the end of the hall, got through it, and closed it, the door of the conversing men opened. I dropped to the floor to look through the slit between the door and the ground and could barely make out a pair of boots, half covered by dark gray pants. The owner of the boots seemed to be looking up and down the hallway, just as I had done when I’d first entered it. Not detecting me, they slowly retreated back into their original door. I breathed a sigh of relief and got up off the floor.
Turning around, I realized I’d been partially right about the stairwell. There was one here, yes, but at the back of the room was a small hatch, just big enough for an average sized adult to crawl through. My adventurous instinct told me to open it and see where it lead, but my conscience and voice of reason soon became overpowering. Still holding the chains, I silently bounded up the stairs to the best of my abilities. Other than the occasional landings, I was sad to say that they didn’t really stop until I came to what I guessed was the top floor. Once the stairs ended, there was no door- just a hatch in the ceiling above a series of ladder rings implanted in the wall. I climbed them, wincing each time the chain ran against the metal bars. I got to the hatch and placed my left hand against it, trying to hoist it up. After a few tries, I managed to swing it open entirely. Putting one hand out after the other and using my feet to push against the ladder, I was able to bring my head above the hatch and finally see what was above.
Surprisingly enough, I was face to face with mahogany. I lifted the rest of my body up and closed the hatch behind me. I tried to get up, but I seemed to bump my head against something. I scooted out until I could stand and looked down quizzically at the City Hall office desk I had just crawled out from under.