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Chapter 15

“Viktor, what do you see?” Sergey asks. “Uh, a stone floor, sir?” he replies, unsure. “Yes, but what it hides is what I want to know,” he continues. They examine the flooring, the creases and the feel of the stone tiles. He knocks on it to hear for hollow spots. Unfortunately the stone makes it hard for that. He looks back and sees Olivia comforting Takashi. “Hey, guys. Not to bother, but we do need help,” he says to them. She nods at him and says to Takashi, “Let’s go.” He wipes away the tears from his face and regains his composure…somewhat. “It is here, I know it is. This is the entrance,” he explains. She puts her hand on the floor, “Yeah, this is it. I can feel the hollow.” Hovering her hand over the area, she finds the switch to open it. The door opens with a loud, sorta swooshing or breaking sound. “Clever,” she remarks, “let’s go.” She goes in first, jumping in and floating down. Takashi gives Sergey a tap on the shoulder and says, “See you down there, guys.” He jumps in after her, “Whoooooo!!!!” He shakes his head, smiling, “Young people. Let’s go, Viktor.” He starts climbing down the creaky, wooden ladder downwards, followed by Viktor.

It’s quite a long way down, leading to deep beneath the town. Takashi and Olivia, having already reached the bottom, stare in amazement. The ladder leads to a huge tunnel leading only one way. Quite decrepit and obviously old, it was built a long time ago during a time of chaos and disorder, possibly during the World War. Sergey and Viktor finally reach the end of their descent and breathe a sigh of relief. And then they see what lies before them. They join them both in staring. “There’s a whole tunnel under this town?” Takashi asks. “This is incredible.” “I did not know about this,” Sergey tells them. “Well, there’s nowhere left to go but forward,” Takashi continues. They all take a deep breath and march onwards in the hopes of finding Sergey’s friend. Dust can be seen everywhere as they continue through the decrepit path. They begin to wonder if he’s actually down here or if they just stumbled upon an old, long-forgotten tunnel or base. The tunnel seems to go on for miles without an end, with only a few lights to light the way. Eventually they hear and see two men walking and talking, doing their patrol. They’re bickering about something in Russian and laughing, not really doing their job right. Takashi suddenly levitates them to the air and walks out of the shadows. They scream and jerk around as they try to escape, their guns drop to the floor. Sergey also steps out of the shadows with the others. “Who are you?!” one of them asks. “My name is Sergey. Your leader is expecting me,” he says. “Sergey? Ah, da. He has been waiting for you,” he replies, “put us down and we will take you, yes?” Sergey laughs and asks Takashi to put them down, gently. “So where is Andrei?” Sergey asks. “Da. Follow us.”

They still have to journey quite a ways through the tunnel, but eventually reach a big set of metal doors on the left side. The soldiers open the door and it reveals the base of operations for Sergey’s friend, Andrei. As they enter, they are amazed by the equipment that they have down here. For what seems to be a really old bunker contains a lot of pretty advance stuff—not going into details. Advanced as in present-era technology, not those bullshit future techs that you keep seeing in shows. Andrei is standing in the middle area, coordinating the whole thing. He still has a few men here and there, but not much; it’s enough. He’s monitoring the surface through the big monitor they have that would dwarf any TV. The resolution alone…is not that good compared to high-definition TVs, but it’s enough for this. Who needs good graphics anyway when there’s an alien war going on??? As long as it works and provides sufficient information and visuals, it doesn’t really matter. “So, I guess it is too much to expect something more!” Sergey yells. Recognizing the voice of his old friend, he turns around to see him standing there, wounded and disheveled from his encounters with the aliens. His tough demeanor doesn’t break as he walks up to them. “Ah, my old friend…” he says before hugging him. “It is good to finally see you again. And you too, Viktor. I am glad both of you have arrived here safely. Well, somewhat safely, hahahahaha.” The two strangers that tagged along with them seem very out of place, and very young. He looks at them and says, “So, you two must be the ones that my friend here talked about,” he explains, “the ones who can help save us from the invaders.” “Well, we hope so…sir,” Olivia replies. “We’re here to help in anyway we can,” Takashi adds. “Yes, wonderful,” he nods in approval before taking Sergey and Viktor aside to catch up. Seeing them reconnect and talk about old times reminds them of the moments that they still haven’t remembered yet, the gaps that have yet to be filled. But mostly it reminds him of some bad memories that he probably doesn’t wanna remember, but has to. It’s important. He knows it is, but still has much trouble accepting it. Of course, it involves a girl. Doesn’t it always? Her name was Joanna, and she was…beautiful. This was a time before he hung-out with Olivia. He had already knew her, or rather, seen her around, but never really talked with her—maybe they would exchange the occasional “Hi” or “Hey” or “Hello”. Of course, she was already sorta attracted to him, but was still with her then “boyfriend”, Luke. But I digress. Joanna was someone who was, of course, way out of his league. He first met her during a trip that they took together as part of a group. Well, not really met so much as saw. He was quickly stricken by her beauty, but he knew it was just one of those infatuation things that he’s heard about around. Since then he couldn’t get her out of her mind for a long time. The fact that he always sees her around the accommodation that they live in didn’t help. They talk sometimes if they should meet, talk about anything, small talk. And then she would go and say, “See ya” or “Bye”. And he would just stand there thinking about how stupid he was or how he should’ve said something else and how beautiful and amazing that girl, that woman, he just talked to was. But he knew it wasn’t meant to be—after all, she does have a boyfriend. All he could do is try to not think about her. Yeah, way easier said than done, there’s no doubt about that. As he went about his life, that was what he would try to do. And he didn’t really have many friends, and the ones he did have were almost always busy and didn’t have time to talk or much. So he felt alone…really alone. He tried to shake those feelings off, but usually it only lead to more contemplation and bad thoughts. Unaware of all the things happening around him, letting life pass him by. “Don’t you know what’s going on??” his mind would yell at him. Of course, he does distract himself sometimes from those thoughts by playing his video games/computer games or watching a movie. But even then, somehow it would remind him of her. Whether it was the environment, the music, the themes, or even dialogue—they always found a way to bring her back into his mind. And one day, he found out that she was just gone. She had already left for home. He knew about this, that she wasn’t staying there long, but the surprise, the shock, really got to him. He didn’t get to say goodbye or anything. He didn’t even spend much time talking with her. And just like that, poof, she’s gone, never to return. And of course, this made everything a living hell. Well, uni was already hell, so I guess it wasn’t really a step down. Everything seemed to overwhelm him at that point; everything seemed unbearable. At one point he even considered just ending it all. What’s the point anyway? There is no point. Everything is pointless…meaningless.

As he remembers that moment, everything seems to crash and crumble around him. All those feelings come flooding back, hitting him with the force of a tsunami, or a tidal wave, as we sometimes like to call it. He can feel his heart dropping from his chest as he grips the railing surrounding the middle, slightly raised platform tightly. Olivia looks at him confused and asks what’s wrong with him. Hearing her voice and seeing her face brings back a slightly better memory to the surface. How she noticed that he was acting different and always came and talked to him, inviting him to events and all that. He remembers how he made it through all that, that he’s still here, right now, at this very moment to remember all that. He survived. “You made it,” his mind says to him. A friend once told him that all these experiences is what makes us a better person in the future. It makes us stronger. Those words echo in his mind like a scream. He’s known it for quite some time now, and when his friend told him about this, it wasn’t anything new. But hearing those words from someone else, another human being, felt so different. It felt like it was true. “It probably is,” he thinks to himself. “Hey!” she yells, “are you okay??” He stares blankly at her, can’t think or say anything. “Baby, you’re scaring me,” she says. He shakes his head slowly, still staring, and says, “I…uhhh, I’m fine.” “Are you sure? You’ve been acting weird lately. Well weirder than usual.” He smiles and reassures her, “I’m fine. I have you here, with me.” She smiles. “Okay, yes. I’ve been remembering some bad stuff recently. The memories came back to me. I’m a little…uhh, stressed or distraught, I guess. But it’s okay, because I have you.” He hugs her. “I love you, very much.” She smiles, half-confused, but happy. “I love you too,” she says. “I’m sorry that I’m broken,” he apologizes. She laughs and says, “Oh, I don’t mind. You know, they say a broken person can be the most emotional and caring person.” “Are you listening to yourself? Who told you that?” “No one. It’s what I feel,” she explains, putting her arms around his neck. He chuckles. “Of course. Thank you,” he says. “For what?” she inquires. “Just…for everything. For being there.” She rests her head on his, “You’re welcome.” He needs to stop thinking too much; he knows that all of those thoughts and feelings will always be a part of him; he knows that he’s bringing himself down. “Ahhhrrghgh, nevermind all that,” he thinks. “I’m here now.” Time heals all wounds after all. Well, almost all wounds. The past is the past and we have to move on. We have to live in the present.
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