After we finish picking up our equipment, which is AWESOME to say the least, we all pile back into the bus. As I sit back in my passenger seat and put on my seatbelt, I tug at my leather suit which is chafing me in all the wrong places.
The guards at the gate each step aside then press buttons on each of their sides of a wall. The huge gate before us slowly creaks open and we crawl toward it in the bus.
In the distance, I can see the warm glow of sunlight at the end of a long tunnel. This is real sunlight I see and not just this imitation we have down there in the Underworld.
“This is it guys, what we have been hoping and dreaming about all these years,” Dr. Alfred says in almost an awed whisper as we move slowly toward the second gate in the distance that leads out of the Underworld.
The bus slowly manoeuvres through the tight upward facing tunnel and when we arrive before the second gate, Dr. Alice stops Alex from driving any further.
“What’s wrong Alice?” Dr. Alfred asks her.
“Sorry guys but I was just thinking that we should pray before we leave the Underworld,” she says with a hopeful voice.
“Fine,” Dr. Alfred says after he lets out a long sigh. “Okay people, let’s join hands and, pray.” I give a weird look before taking Alex’s hand as we all close our eyes. “Dr. Blay, please say a prayer on our behalf.”
“Huh, me?” I say in surprise and he doesn’t answer so I close my eyes again.
Now, it’s not that I haven’t prayed before but I never felt comfortable with the concept of speaking to someone I can’t see but since I’ve been chosen by force, I guess I better get this over with.
“Ummm, okay, let’s approach the Lord in prayer,” I say in a similar way to what I remember my preacher saying. “God, we come before you to ask that you to protect us as we go out on this dangerous mission to fix your beautiful creation the earth and I also ask that none of us dies on this mission...Amen.” They all say choruses of ‘Amen’ after I finish my brief prayer.
“Hmmm, that was...succinct,’ Dr. Alfred says.
“Suck what?” I say.
“Let’s get going,” he says while purposely ignoring my stupid question. “You should get a word calendar Dr. Blay.”
No sooner do the words leave his lips does a loud creaking noise sound from behind us draw our attention. We all immediately turn back and watch as the first gate closes behind us, effectively confirming our departure from the Underworld for God knows how long. Once it has fully done so, the one directly before us slowly opens, leaving us face to face with the planet earth. Serious goose bumps right now.
“You know what to do, Alex,” Dr. Alfred says. Alex smiles and responds by grabbing the wheel tighter with steely determination in her eyes. “Floor it!”
Once these words leave Dr. Alfred’s lips, Alex obliges by ramming her foot as hard as she can on the accelerator. We all are jerked back in our seats as the bus rises swiftly up and out of the tunnel and lands with a thud on the sandy terrain. I look back to all the people seated behind us as Alex navigates the sandy terrain and even though some of them may be on my death list (Dr. Whitford the bastard), I know that we are now very important to each other since our survival will depend on how well we work with each other.
This is going to be one heck of an adventure.
(Chapter 16: Part 2)
After driving at top speed for about twelve minutes and me biting my nails in nervousness as we swerve every sand dune, Alex eases her foot off the gas pedal as we arrive before what looks like an abandoned ghost town. Awesome!
“What is this place Alfie?” Alex asks with fear in her voice as we slowly make our way through the desolate town.
On the debilitated main road leading into town, there are rotting bodies strewn everywhere, some fresh and some...not so fresh. We all yelp a bit as we pass over one of them and the bus bumps a bit.
“I don’t like this place,” I say as we stare at a totally desecrated and burnt building to our right that isn’t too dissimilar to the others in this town.
“It’s sickening,” Alex says as she cautiously navigates a curve.
“Right now, we are the ruins of some place called Marshville County, just on the outskirts of Florida,” Dr. Alfred says as she looks into what looks like a phone in his hand.
“Hey, what’s that?” Dr. Randy says from between me and Alex and we follow his finger to where it’s pointing.
“It looks like some kind of monument,” I say as I see a structure in really bad state at the end of the road. “Let’s check it out.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Dr. Whitford says from behind us.
“Nobody asked you,” I shoot back at him.
“Well I was just suggesting...”
“Enough,” Dr. Alfred chastises us. “Alex, try to get closer to it and see if you can read that plaque below it. We might get some useful information from it.”
“But,” Dr. Whitford is about to argue.
“I think it will be a good experience,” he stops him flat. “Besides, we are on track so why not?” Dr. Alfred says and I smile as the bastard crosses his arms and sulks. Thank you Dr. Alfred.
As we slowly approach the statue and Alex tries to avoid a sinkhole that has occurred in the middle of the street, I see Dr. Alfred and Dr. Whitford discussing something silently in the rear view mirror. I lean back in my seat to enable my super hearing to do the job of eavesdropping for me.
“What do you think...doing?” I hear Dr. Whitford whisper-shout to Dr. Alfred.
“Why what’s wrong?” he asks in reply.
“You are ruining...plan! We were supposed to get him to...the statue then le...for the...take care of him,” he says.
I didn’t really catch that last part but I think I know what is going on here. Those lying snakes have hatched a plan of some sort for something to ‘take care’ of me. Well, we’ll see about that.
As we pull up to the statue, I notice that it is almost completely destroyed barring the metal framework for the clay, half a head, parts of a torso and two legs. Alex tries to read the inscription on the bottom by leaning up close the windshield.
“The inscription says, ‘Here stands our great founder, To...’”
“This is our great founder to what?” I ask a bit jittery after being left in suspense.
“That’s it,” she says as she sits back down in the seat. “I can’t see the rest. It’s covered by moss, dust or something.”
“Dang,” I say in disappointment.
“So I guess that’s it. Let’s go,” Dr. Alice says. “This place is creeping me out.”
“No, we can’t just leave like that,” Dr. Alfred says. “We need someone to go out there and read what’s on that plaque.”
I sit there staring distantly out of the window but soon as I turn back inside, I see that they are all staring at me with creepy smiles on their faces.
“What?” I ask Alex and her eyes veer off to the statue and back to me as the smile remains plastered on her face. Initially I didn’t get what they were trying to say but soon it all clicks.
“Oh no, no way, I’m not doing that!”
“Please Dr. Blay,” she says. “The information on that plaque could be invaluable to us.”
“No,” I say as I cross my arms and turn my head away.
“Please Dr. Blay, we beg you,” I hear Dr. Alfred say from behind me.
“Why can’t anyone else do it?”
“It’s because we all can’t breathe out there but you can,” he says. “Please just do this for us. We’ll be right here when you get back.”
“No,” I say bluntly again but I start to curse myself as I accidently look into Alex’s deep green eyes and feel all my defences weakening.
“Please Dr. Blay,” she says with large puppy dog eyes.
“Hmmm, fine,” I say as I open the door and exit the car. “But you all owe me big time,” I say as I slam the door and start walking towards the statue.
As I walk cautiously toward the statue, I decide to take a deep breath, huge mistake. The air out here burns like some kind of cleaning detergent, only it smells like cabbage but at least I can breathe it in. After being hunched over and coughing for a few seconds, I look up into the sky and see that the sky is almost yellowish-orange in colour and there isn’t a single cloud in the sky.
The blast must have burnt up all the oxygen in the atmosphere, I think out loud to myself as I arrive before the statue.
The thing really is in bad shape and as I bend over to see what is covering the inscription, I notice that Alex was right; it is covered with some kind of moss or fungi.
I slowly move my hand in to poke the green, squishy growth but as I touch it, it immediately grows around my hand and entraps it. I try to pull my hand away but the thing is really tough and has got a real grip on my hand and won’t let go despite my hardest tugs. I have to call for help.
“Guys! I need your...” I was about calling the guys for help but as I turn around, I see the bus speeding away at top speed.
“What the?” I say in shock as I continue my frantic tugging.
As I continue to try in vain to remove my hand, I look up and freeze as I see the reason why they started to flee approaching slowly from the rubble behind the statue.
A bunch of half-clothed figures step horror movie style out of the debris up the road and slink slowly toward me. I try even harder to remove my hand but the fungus refuses to let me go. I’m dead!
The creatures approaching from up the street have familiar red stains around their mouths coupled with blank, soulless looks in their eyes. Even though I haven’t dealt with them directly before, I’m pretty sure those are post-humanoids. I really am in trouble.
As I continue tugging to no avail, I see the post-humanoids stop about a hundred metres up the road and form an army line as they stare blankly at me. There are about ten or twelve of them and they look really hungry. As they stand there, looking at me, I start to think they are contemplating giving up but that is soon dispelled from my thoughts as they immediately graduate from their zombie-like walking to a full on sprint in my direction!
I begin to feel that I’m done for so I just give up and stop trying to pull my hand free; what’s the use? Just delaying the inevitable. As I lean on the monument, all the urge to even continue trying leaves me. I see a small paper on the street and bend over to pick it up; it’s a receipt. As I read it, the words ’Big Brad’s Home Depot” jumps out at me but why? Yes! I remember! That was the place Martina and I went to to buy the stuff for our first house when we first moved to Tennessee.
She’s the reason I’m even out here in the first place, well, saving the earth too but she’s never left my mind, not even once. How could she? I fold the small paper with one hand and stuff it into my pocket and feel a sense of determination return as I see my wife’s image in my mind’s eye. It cannot end like this. I must see her again, or at least know what happened to her and the kids.
I imagine Martina in my mind telling me that I can do it and I try not to disappoint her as I use both legs as leverage to stand on the monument and I pull with all my might. My arms twinges with a horrifying amount of pain as a few nerves come loose but I feel strong relief when my hand comes lose, be it with a big chunk of the monument on it as I come crashing to the ground. I get to my feet and jump around in celebration but my joy is cut short as I see the blood thirsty creatures racing toward me.
I take to my heels immediately and start up the road with the intention to catch up to those Judases who ditched me but that seems an impossible task but since I’m still high on love-fuelled adrenaline, I’m pretty sure I can do anything right now.
I continue to run at top speed toward the exit of the town with the pack of post-humanoids still on my tail. I break off the piece of the monument that is still attached to my hand, throw it behind me and take out one of the post-humanoids which it caught plum in the face. I feel myself moving faster now that that weight is off as I Ieap over the broken down barricade at the town’s exit and navigate a corner onto an abandoned road with many near dead trees lining each side of it.
I continue my tempo up the meandering road with the post-humanoids still hot on my trail but I don’t think I’m breaking stride anytime soon. The fuel in me only burns hotter when I see the back of the bus just up the road. I summon all the energy left in me and implement it into one final burst as I accelerate at an incredible speed and pull up behind the bus which must be doing at least 50 miles per hour. I catch up to the bus and knock on the back window as a means of alerting them of my presence and immediately, the passenger door pops open. There is no way I can turn around the side of bus without tripping considering the speed I’m running at so there is only one option: I’ll have to use the roof.
I purposely slow down and this isn’t a problem for me since I have created a considerable gap between me and the post-humanoids and after calculating the distance between me and the bus in my head, I take three tiny leaps forward before one giant leap in a bid to reach the bus. I already made known how bad my math is and in this case, it was clear as day because my mental calculation was so off that I missed the roof completely but still managed to grab the bumper of the bus to keep me from landing face first on the road. This is also bad because the bus is now dragging me with my back on the craggy asphalt road.
I was quite content to just lie on the ground and be dragged to our destination but I am spurred into action when I see the post-humanoids appear from around the bend in the road looking even more famished.
I manage to turn myself around and even though I eat a mouthful of the dead leaves which are strewn on the road, this helps me get to my feet and climb onto the roof. I manage to keep my balance when we go over a speed bump but I almost fall off when the bus swerves suddenly but manage to grab the sides of the windows and lie flat on the roof as my heart beats out of my chest. I take a moment to compose myself as we keep navigating the forest road.
When my mind has stopped racing enough for me to think straight, I start to crawl across the roof to reach the door. As I get close to the open door, the bus starts to swerve wildly for no reason and it’s a real struggle to keep my grip up here on the roof.
Are they trying to shake me off? What the heck is going on here?
Despite their shaking, I manage to get my grip on the door frame and with one acrobatic flip I manage to land on the passenger seat with a thud as they all yelp in fear and then let out relieved sighs.
“Ah Dr. Blay it’s you!” Alex says as I close the door beside me and lock it.
“What...the...heck!” I yell in bursts as I recover my breath while on the verge of exhaustion. “You guys ditched me!”
“So sorry Dr. Blay but Alfie said we needed to go and that you could take care of yourself,” she says.
“Now that explains it,” I say as I pop off my seat and turn to face the bastard. “So this was your ‘plan’ huh?”
“What are you talking about?” he says after taking a sip of a drink.
I don’t answer but with superb agility, I manage to leap over the seat with one fluid movement and swing a fist at his jaw with another movement as his drink falls out of his hand and he shields his face in pain. I jump on him and grab his neck as I squeeze harder and harder as he pleads me with his eyes but I don’t stop as I feel his life ebbing away in my palms as I keep wringing his neck.
His eyes begin to water and turn red and his face turns blue as he starts to suffocate and I feel my job is just about done until I feel about three people grab me by the arms and drag me away. He breathes heavily and coughs as he looks at me with tears in his eyes. Dr. Alice rushes over to him and gives him a drink of water as she picks up the bottle of spilt juice.
“Why did you just do that man?” Dr. Randy asks me as they pin me to the floor of the bus.
“Let me up!” I yell as I struggle but they are very strong. “Let me up so that I can kill that fool!”
“What did he do?” Dr. randy asks me with his usual calm voice that calms my rage a bit.
“I know of his plan to leave me for the post-humanoids to deal with me! Let me at him!” I say with rage and manage to raise my hands a bit off the floor but they use gravity to pin me down again.
“What are you talking about?” Dr. Whitford asks hoarsely from the seat he’s sitting on as he places a frozen drink to his steadily blackening eye. “I never had any plan like that!”
“Don’t play dumb with me!” I say. “I overheard you and him talking about a plan to ditch me and let something take care of me!” I say as I signal to Dr. Alfred with my head since my arms are currently incapacitated.
“That’s not true!” he says with a bit of hurt in his voice.
“Do I look stupid to you? Do I?” I ask and he just looks at me blankly. “I’ll kill you!”
I manage with another burst of energy to get my hand free from Dr. Randy and shove Dr. Alfred away as I leap at Dr. Whitford again but just as my arms are a few centimetres away from his recoiling body, I feel myself being tugged back as the two men manage to pin me down again.
“You’re lucky!” I say as they both sit on my arms. I don’t think I can escape from this one so I just relax and stare at the floor of the bus.
“I never had any plan like that,” he says from beside my head in a bid to annoy me more which I didn’t think was even possible. “It isn’t what you think.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that the plan you heard was actually an idea I had to make you look good by going out and finding a receipt I spotted as we pulled up so that, you know, you will be the hero but unfortunately, it backfired. I’m so sorry,” he says.
“If that is true and I’m not saying it is but, why did you guys ditch me?”
“That one is all me,” Dr. Alfred says while he sits on me.
“Yeah sorry but you were taking a while and the post-humanoids were coming so we decided to leave you behind,” he says.
“Are you out of your mind?” I yell. “I could have died!”
“Oh pish posh Dr. Blay, you’re half mutant.”
“So they wouldn’t have hurt you,” he says. “They would have simply gnawed on you for a while before realising that you’re one of them and then stopped.”
“You are one sick, twisted man Dr. Alfred,” I say.
“Ummm, guys, if you are about done...we have company!” Alex says from the driver’s seat.
“What’s wrong?” Dr. Alfred asks her.
“Look behind us!” she says almost in panic.
We all get to our feet and low and behold, the post-humanoids who were all previously after me have now risen in number to about fifteen and they are gaining, fast.
“Everybody back into place, buckle up!” Dr. Alfred says and we all retake our seats and buckle up. “Floor it Alex!”
She needs no second invitation to do this as she, with a tense expression on her face, rams her foot on the gas pedal and we burst forward. This creates a welcome gap between us and the post-humanoids.
After a while of giving the post-humanoids a bit of a gap, we all start to calm down and relax a bit except Alex who still has her foot firmly planted on the accelerator.
“Relax Alex, I think we’ve lost them,” I say.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah I think so,” I say as I look into the rear view mirror and see no approaching threat. “There’s nothing behind us.”
“If you say so,” she says as she sits back in her seat and eases her foot off the gas pedal a bit. “That was traumatising.”
“You can say that again,” I say as I sit up in my seat and adjust the AC toward my face.
Alexandria leans in very close to me and whispers, “Look Dr. Blay, you know what happened back there wasn’t a fluke right? As we were parked waiting for you, Dr. Whitford basically grabbed the wheel and ordered me to leave you, which I tried to refuse. I think it was a set up. We need to keep an eye on that guy; I don’t trust him.”
I am literally incapable of saying anything right now and only stare blankly into her face as this shocking news sinks in. I am snapped back to reality when I feel something cold on my shoulder and look up to see Dr. Whitford handing me a drink.
“Here,” he says while handing me the beverage. I thought you might be thirsty after having to run for so long.” I grab the drink from his hand as Alexandria gives him a look of disgust which he cannot see. “Sorry again.”
I nod to him and open the drink. I gladly slurp down the cold beverage to take my mind off things.
“Alex look out!” I says suddenly.
“Huh?” she says as she turns from looking at us.
We all look right ahead of us and there seem to be two figures standing in the road up ahead and they are undoubtedly post-humanoids since they don’t move but just stare at us as we approach them.
“What do I do Alfie?” Alex asks as her grip on the wheel tightens.
“Ummm, okay, I think we have to turn,” he says but we all look backwards as the group of post-humanoids who were on our tail at first re-emerge from behind the bend in the road.
“I don’t think that’s an option Alfie!” she says almost in panic.
“Then ram them!” he says with a bit of panic in his voice.
“Yeah smash them to bits!”
“They used to be humans!” she says. “That would be like murder!”
“They aren’t human anymore Alex! Ram them!” he says with clear desperation in his voice as the post-humanoids get so close that one of them grabs our bumper but slides off.
“I can’t do it!”
“You have to!”
“Guys, sorry to interrupt but please make up your minds fast because they’re charging on us!”
True to my words the two creatures seem to have spotted our indecisiveness and are now running at top speed toward us ready to capitalise on any mistakes we make.
“It’s now or never Alex! RAM THEM NOW!” Dr. Alfred says almost in full panic mode.
With a picture of inner conflict on her face, Alex belatedly steps on the gas pedal as hard as she can as we move in toward the creatures and them toward us.
As we are just a couple of metres from hitting them, Alex does the unthinkable and swerves in order to avoid hitting them but at the speed we are travelling, that almost sends the bus tumbling to the ground but we do a two-wheeler (that is if we had wheels) and almost miss them but the underside of the bus smashes one of them as its head flies off its body and hits our windshield with a plop. Alex turns her head away in disgust but I turn back and see the other one crash into his own kind and he takes out a few of them. They stop in confusion as we start to gap them a bit more. I sit back in my chair and let out a sigh of relief as it seems that the threat has finally passed.
After we have move on for about two hundred metres, I notice a tear escape from Alexandria’s eye as she uses the windshield wiper to wipe the blood stain from the post-humanoid we hit off the windshield. Even though those things technically aren’t human, I can imagine how that hurt such a sensitive, caring soul, especially one who still views those things as human.
“Hey Alex,” I say as I lay my hand softly on her shoulder and wipe away the tear from her eye. “How are you doing?”
“I really think there was a way to help them. There could have been a cure. We didn’t need to kill them,” she says as another tear runs down her cheek.
“You did what you had to do,” I say as I wipe the fresh tear off her face. “It was either them or us.”
She doesn’t reply but I don’t mind because the tears have stopped and she just looks reflectively out onto the road. I just stroke her hair as we move to keep her mind off what just happened and firmly on the future.
After we have cruised on for a couple of minutes, everybody is put on the alert when something smashes us violently on the right side.
“What the heck was that?” Alex asks.
“Ummm, nothing,” I say not wanting to freak her out but I look to both of our sides as post-humanoids start coming out of the dead forest in droves. “You might want to floor it.”
“Why, what’s going on?” No sooner do the words leave her lips does another hit come to our left side almost knocking us over.
“What in the world?”
“Floor it Alex; we’re under attack!” I say with obvious desperation in my voice.
She rams her foot on the accelerator and the bus moves a bit faster and we are now starting to make them run to get to us, which is good I guess. There are about fifty, if not a hundred of them chasing us now and more keep coming from the dead forest which lines both sides of the road.
“Where did they come from?” she says frantically as her foot rams the pedal below it.
“They’re coming from the trees!” I say as one of them leaps from the forest, hits my window and falls away. “They must smell the blood on the bus!”
“Alfie do something! Tell me something, anything! They are gaining on us!”
She is ramming her foot so hard on the pedal that I’m a bit worried that her foot will go right through and come out under the bus but I’m also panicking a bit right now.
“Okay, I have a plan,” Dr. Alfred says calmly.
“Spill it,” she says impatiently.
Even though we are at our maximum speed which is 120km/hr, the post-humanoid armada are pursuing us with real superhuman speed as they steadily pursue us, thirsty for human blood which I’m sure they have been deprived off for quite a while now. I just realised that they might have gone easy on me just to get to the bus which is full of us tasty humans. Those sneaky bastards!
“Make a hard left at the next interchange,” he says.
“What interchange?” she asks with full on panic in her voice. “We are in the middle of nowhere not a highway!” she says while almost yelling.
“There is a turn coming up in about two hundred metres,” he says. “You have to make a sharp turn at it.”
“I can’t do it Alfie! My hands are shaking too much!” she says and true to her statement, her hands are shuddering like someone with Parkinson’s disease.
“You do it Dr. Alfred,” I suggest.
“I can’t. The risk is too high,” he replies. There is a brief moment of silent reflection before they remember the next best option.
“Dr. Blay, you’ll have to do it,” she says
“Me? Oh no I can’t,” I say bashfully. “Come on Alex, you’ve got this.”
“No I haven’t!” she says as the post-humanoids come into view on the rear view mirror again. “My hands are trembling like crazy! Please Dr. Blay!”
I think for a minute before saying, “Okay, unbuckle your seatbelt.” I also do the same to mine. “Keep your foot on the gas pedal and lift your butt off the chair.”
She does as I say so I grab the steering wheel from my seat and steer us. “Now let me put my foot on the gas pedal so that we can switch.”
I place my left foot next to her right foot and we switch with a slight jerky movement. The car swerved a bit but I managed to keep it steady despite the unnatural position we are in now as she sits on my left shoulder.
“Slide yourself behind me and I’ll move over,” I say as we enter a bit of a curve and I try to navigate it but this is done with many errant swerves.
She does just as I say despite a few tight squeezes and her foot hits me in the face which causes the vehicle to swerve almost off the road but we are saved by the fact that less trees line this road as they used to just a few miles back. The noises of panic that occurred as that happened were almost rhythmic. When she gets her left foot from behind my right foot, I adjust myself in the seat to ensure that I’m well seated and put on my safety belt. I am now firmly in control of the vehicle with my foot ramming the pedal as hard as possible as we navigate the bend.
“Won’t these things just get tired and give up already?” Alex asks as she looks in the rear-view mirror. The post-humanoids have steadily kept up their pace for well over a mile now which is an incredible level of commitment to the fact that they want to kill us.
“I don’t think they’ll give up the chase for a bunch of delicious humans like us, which probably haven’t been seen around these parts for a long time.”
She sits freely in her seat now that she isn’t the one behind the wheel of a vehicle with the lives of six people in her hands. Nope, that’s me.
“Where exactly am I supposed to make this sharp left turn?” I say to Dr. Alfred.
“You’ll see a really sharp bend come up and when you’re in it make as sharp a left turn as you can quite possibly make and keep turning until we make a 360 degree turn,” he says.
“Wait, you want me to drift a bus?”
“Yes,” he says. “That will take us around them and they will come and pass by without knowing that we aren’t in front of them again due to the sharpness of the bend, that is if you do it right.”
“Wow,” I say. “Great idea.” The only time I tried drifting was when I first bought my BMW and I crashed it into a mailbox. Let’s hope it goes differently this time.
“Okay, here goes,” I say as I see the road bend a bit into a curve.
I look in my rear-view mirror waiting to see the post-humanoids come into view a bit so that this drift swerve will work as desired. When I see a faint shadow of them, I know it’s time so I take a deep breath, slam my foot on the break and turn the wheel as far as it will go to the left and thank God this is a hoverbus so no dust flies as we execute the drift and they all scream their heads off. In the middle of the drift, as if we are going in slow motion, I see the band off post-humanoids come zooming past so I let out a sigh of relief as the bus hovers slowly back onto the main road. A large cheer erupts from the people behind me as the nightmare seems finally to be over, for the time being at least.
“That was exhilarating!” I say as we continue up the road. I relax my foot on the pedal at last.
“Yes,” he says. “But I have a sneaky feeling we haven’t seen the last of them.”
“Ditto,” I say and rub my sore palms. “Hey Alex, are you ready to take the wheel again?”
“Nah, you’re doing great besides, my arms are still a bit wobbly.” I stare at her with an accusing face but she gives me one of them cutesy faces that makes it really difficult for me to be annoyed with her. Darn her womanly charm.
We decided to veer off the main road and use the forest since it’s closer to our destination and soon we come out on plain desert land which is a welcome change from the creepy dead forest.
I have been driving for two hours now and my feet are throbbing, not to mention my hands and my head. It also doesn’t help that the sun is at its peak at the moment. We have barely seen any post-humanoids except for a group of about five or so who were gathered around a carcass and thankfully didn’t notice us as we silently zoomed by.
“Hey Dr. Alfred?” I say. I just remembered a question I had wanted to ask him but got a little bit...distracted.
“How come the post-humanoids can now come out in broad daylight?” I say. “I thought they had a weakness to sunlight.”
“I thought so too but,” he says as he sits back in his seat. “It appears they have managed to adapt to it, somehow.”
“Well, that is something I can’t really explain at the moment. More research is needed to really get the facts.”
“Yeah,” I say as I look to my right at Alex who fell asleep about half an hour ago.
Two kilometres to your destination, the GPS says in a mechanical computerised voice that wakes Alexandria up.
“Huh, what’s going on?” she asks while a bit disoriented.
“You have a little...something, right there,” I say and point with one hand to the exact place where some drool is around her lip.
“Thanks,” she says as she wipes it off with her sleeve.
The leather suit doesn’t really absorb the saliva at all so it leaves a sticky stain on her suit which she decides the best place to wipe it off is the dashboard.
“Do you need a tissue?”
“Yeah that would be good.”
“Right pocket,” I say as I shift in my seat to enable her to get the pack of tissues out. I’ve always carried tissues on me for as long as I can remember. At least it’s one good habit that I have.
“Thanks,” she says as she wipes the stain off the dashboard and throws the used tissue behind her.
Someone behind her screams in disgust indicating that the tissue landed on them. I chuckle mostly because that was funny but also because I’m glad that that it wasn’t me that it landed on.
“Are we almost there?” Alex asks.
“Yeah, only about a kilometre and a half to go.”
“Nice,” she says. “I really need to stretch my legs.”
“Look who’s talking,” I say. “While you’ve been sleeping for the past hour while I’ve been driving.” She just dismisses me with a wave.
Five hundred metres to your destination, the GPS says.
“Okay people,” Dr. Alfred says, “we are only half a kilometre away from the first location so look sharp.” He claps to wake all those up who were dozing off. “It’s time to brief you on the equipment.”
I adjust my rear-view mirror downwards so that I can also see this demonstration. He pulls out the first item from our equipment bags which kind of looks like a hi-tech, white hockey puck.
“This little device you see in my hands is a wireless communicator,” he says. “If you all would please pull yours’ out, I will demonstrate how it’s used.” Everyone but me takes theirs out of the gear bag. “This handy little device is to be used for emergencies like if someone gets missing and needs to contact the others. It has a locator beacon for the other five communicators so you can find the other communicators if need be. It also has a GPS system built into it which will definitely come in handy.”
He puts it back in the bag and pulls out another item. This one basically looks like a white stick.
“These are the electric prongs,” he says as he extends it to full length. I remember being hit with one of those when I first woke up in the Underworld. I also remember how much it hurt. “It is a very, very potent weapon. Be careful of the tips because they deliver a charge of up to thirty kilovolts which would be enough to kill a human and hopefully a post-humanoid. If you look on the under of the handle, there is a switch with the inscriptions stun and kill which are pretty self-explanatory.”
He minimises the prongs and puts it back in the gear bag. He then pulls out a little black case that looks a bit like a case for spectacles. He opens the case up and pulls out a tiny, metallic ball that he holds up and rolls between his indexes and thumb.
“This little thing you see between my fingers is an ultraviolet grenade. When thrown with enough force, they emit a blinding ultraviolet light that would be good for taking out quite a number of post-humanoids, or will it?”
“Why do you say will it?” Dr. Whitford asks.
“I say ‘will it’ because now that the post-humanoids seem to have adapted to sunlight, what is the guarantee that these will work at all?”
“Actually the possibility is quite high,” I say.
“Why do you say so?”
“Well, if these post-humanoids we are inevitably going to meet have been in a cave for so long, there is a large possibility that they haven’t yet adapted to the sun like the others we saw.”
“Actually that isn’t a bad point,” he says, “Then let me show you how these work.” Some of them start to shield their eyes. “Oh don’t worry, it’s not that bright.”
He throws the ball hard onto the floor and the moment it hits, it emits a blinding white light that reflects straight off the driving mirror and into my eyes and I yell in pain as my vision disappears.
I rub my eyes frantically until my vision slowly returns. Everything still looks a bit hazy. Once my eyes start working properly again a huge structure of sorts faintly comes into view and is getting closer steadily.
I glance to my right at Alex and see her shouting something that I can’t quite make out. “Dr. Blay! We’re here! Stop the bus!” she screams.
Before I have a chance to react to what I now realise is the side of the cave approaching, we are sent crash into with 85 km/hr speeds. I manage to grab Alex before we hit and try to use my body to shield her from harm. My head bumps hard into the steering wheel as the bus rolls around and finally comes to a stop.
I immediately let her go and lose consciousness.