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Sunday, February 26th, 2017, 2:20 pm
After two months of preparing the colony, the day had finally come to seal the colony from the rest of the world. All the lists of plants, animals, food, and supplies were triple checked. All the colonists got their chance to review the lists to make sure nothing was missed.
The sealing was supposed to be earlier in the day, but Aaron and Samuel were delayed making sure everything above the colony was ready. All the trucks were removed with builders. Some of the tents were put into storage in the colony, while others were also removed with builders.
Everybody was inside, except Samuel and Aaron, when the temporary entrance was sealed. The entrance was a steep ramp that tunneled into the command center. From inside, Jared used a builder to create the ceiling with steel and concrete. Once the ceiling was seamlessly in place Aaron and Samuel filled the remaining hole with dirt and rocks. On the very top, they unrolled some grassy loam. When they were done, it was obvious the ground was different there, but they hoped by the time any curious people arrived it would look as natural as the rest of the ground.
When they were done, Aaron took out his satellite phone and called Ernst. It took a few minutes to get him on the phone. Ernst answered saying, “Hello?”
Aaron replied, “Hi Ernst, it’s me, Aaron Hunt.”
“Hi Aaron, is something wrong?”
“No, everything is great. Listen, I want to thank you for all your help ensuring our safety over the last two years. We have finished construction and have decided to leave.”
“Leave, where are you going?”
“Unfortunately, I can’t tell you. Just be assured you don’t have to worry about any more precious metal problems.”
“When are you leaving? We can escort you to wherever it is you are going.”
“Well, we actually already left.”
“How can you have already left? I saw you drive in today with what looked like a truckload of supplies.”
“Ernst, it’s hard to explain . . . so I won’t. But I want you to know we all wish the best for your country, and hope what we leave behind will be protected for all your future generations to see. Please use this land as a wildlife refuge.”
“You can’t just do that. There’s paperwork!”
Aaron tried to calm Ernst, “It’s OK. The paperwork is in the mail. If any of the Ts are uncrossed or Is are not dotted, I’m sorry. I’m sure the government can eventually overlook the mistakes, but this land must be protected. Not just for a few generations, but forever. That’s very important. We’ll be gone . . . but we’ll be watching.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry, I’m out of time. Good luck and goodbye.” After a pause, Aaron hung up the phone.
Aaron and Samuel ran from the entrance of the command center they had just sealed to the caves. They didn’t want Ernst’s men arriving before they were inside. They quickly climbed down the cliffside and into the cave. Once inside the cave they went slower but still hurried to the entrance to the launch bays.
Inside the launch bay, Samuel and Aaron pulled on the door to close it. It took both of them to get it moving. The giant door shut with a loud bang followed by a slow hiss. Samuel said what Aaron was thinking, “That might be a bit too tough to open and close.” Samuel continued by saying, “Not much we can do about it now. Maybe I can add some mechanical assistance to it later.”
Aaron shrugged, “Sounds good.”
They walked up the southern bay and then into the time machine hangar. Most of the colonists were there for the final sealing. Aaron and Samuel walked through.
Jared said from the back of the small crowd, “This is it!”
Samuel and Aaron pulled the door shut. Like the other door, it took lots of effort to get moving, but once it was going they got it to shut with a loud bang.
Aaron said, “OK, before we lock it, let’s do a head count.”
After a quick count, it turned out only Mike, Kara, Michelle and Spencer weren’t there to see the door close. Jared volunteered, “Spencer’s sleeping. I offered to watch him so Michelle could be here, but she insisted I shouldn’t miss it.”
Aaron said, “Just to be sure, could you check and meet back here?”
Jared said, “Sure,” and headed to his home.
Aaron turned to Samuel and said, “Wait here. I’ll find Kara and Mike.”
After only a minute or two Jared arrived and gave the thumbs up: Spencer and Michelle were both safe in their home. As the minutes went on the crowd dispersed and Sarah started getting anxious. “What is taking them so long,” she said aloud to herself.
At this point, the rest of the colony, including Zoe with Jada and Marvin, went to their homes. Samuel stayed to make sure the door stayed closed until Kara and Mike were found, if they were going to be found. Samuel did not seem that worried about Mike. Samuel probably figured Mike was old enough to make his own decisions; coming into the colony with them was not the most pleasant of choices.
Aaron finally came back, but he came back alone. Sarah said, “Where are they?”
Aaron had no idea and did not bother responding. He knew no matter what he said she would be more upset. While she could keep her wits about her in crises, she was a mother. Worrying about your own life or your co-workers is nothing in comparison to a parent’s worry for a child.
They had both been worried something like this would happen, but they had denied to themselves that it would be one of their children, one of the other families, sure, but not one of theirs. Weren’t their kids trained better than this? Had this happened before Carmen and Keith were together they would have expected Keith to do something like this, but Kara? She was always the overachiever. It was Keith who wanted to be her opposite, as if he could not stand being in her shadow. All that had changed, changed so slowly it was hard to remember how it happened. Their roles reversed as Keith found purpose and fell in love. At the same time, Kara had lost her direction, had lost her goals and replaced them with jealousy of her brother, who had so quickly taken her place.
“What is she thinking? I can’t believe this,” Sarah said angrily, as if it had been her own fault.
Aaron said, “We should check the cameras. They cover most of the colony. Samuel, are you OK staying here for a while longer?”
Samuel said, “No problem. You give Mike hell for me when you find them.” Samuel said it half-heartedly though. If Mike was gone, so be it. Life would go on. At least he still had Marvin and Jada, who were still too young to get into their rebelling years.
While Aaron and Sarah were searching for Mike and Kara, Ernst’s men moved in to find out what had happened. Of the group that went with him, a handful had gone in when the Chinese had attacked. They were shocked that everything, including that odd golden igloo, was gone. Ernst kept muttering to himself, “Ich verstehe nicht.”
Then one of the men found the tower. Soon they were all exploring it. It was like they were kids again and they had found a giant pile of leaves to jump in or a huge hill of snow to sled on.
Ernst eventually stopped the tour of the tower; there was no way they were getting inside of it. He split his men into groups and formed search parties. After hours of searching, they went through satellite imagery to see if anything interesting was recorded. Unfortunately, the magnification was too poor to see anything but the tower. He could actively zoom in much closer, but the recorded zoom ratio was not enough.
Through the following years more investigations would occur. Each would come back unsuccessful. They even found where Aaron’s call had been made. In time, they followed Aaron’s wishes and made it a preserved land. They opened the tower up for tourists. For years, it was one of the most popular man-made tourist attractions in the world. The Swiss all agreed that it was a monument to them and their society, because their tunnel went the highest.
Aaron and Sarah went to the command center. While there were cameras in all the sections but the homes, there were not many in each section, and there were areas that were out of view. They looked through each area panning and zooming to try to get to areas that were poorly covered. After covering as much as they could, Aaron said, “Maybe they’re in one of the empty homes.”
They walked to the housing section and went through the empty homes one by one. After going through all the homes, they split up to go through the sections. Sarah checked the northern sections and Aaron checked the southern sections.
After having gone through most of the southern sections, Aaron went to the ocean section. There, lying on the beach together, were Mike and Kara. “Where have you been? We’ve been looking for you!”
Kara looked up and said, “Chill, Dad, we were just hanging out here.”
“This might be one of the most important days in our lives, and you’re hiding!”
Mike said, “Hey, Man, we were just chillin’ here, ain’t no thing.”
“Yeah, well your father said when I found you to give you hell!”
“Well, consider it done.”
Aaron walked back to find Sarah. When he found her coming back from the lung, he said, “Found them.”
She let out a little laugh, “All this and they were at the beach, Kids!”
They walked to where Samuel was still waiting. Samuel said, “Well?”
“The beach,” Aaron said.
“Ah,” replied Samuel. “Well, lets get this done.”
They sealed the door. Now it could only be unlocked from the command center. When they were done, Samuel said, “I’m going to check on the lung. We should try to start with it halfway raised.”
With that, their new life began.
Mike said to Kara, “He was really ticked. It’s a wonder he didn’t come in and give you a spanking!”
Kara said, “Ha, I bet he wanted to. Dad’s never laid a finger on us though. He’s more into the psychological punishments. Besides, I’m not daddy’s little girl anymore.”
“If anybody’s gonna give me spankings now when I’m naughty, it’ll be you.”
“Dang, wish I had a recorder with me to make sure you don’t forget saying that.”
“Oh, Silly, I don’t forget anything. I’ve practically got a photographic memory. After two or three readings of a script, I would have it memorized. All the other actresses and actors were always jealous.”
Mike said, “If the actresses were jealous, it was because of your beauty.”
“Ah, aren’t you the charmer!”
“That really was good. Making them sweat like that. Worried we would throw off their perfect little gene pool. I can just imagine your parents having to have another kid because of it!”
“I don’t think they can.”
“What do you mean?”
“They never really told us, but I heard part of a conversation once. I think they physically can’t have another child.” She tried to remember the conversation, but she had missed part of it. The more she concentrated on it the harder it became to remember. Finally she gave up and said, “You know what we could do to really tick them all off?”
He perked up and rolled over to listen. He formed a pedestal by sticking his elbows in the sand and bringing his hands together to lean his chin on.
“We could get married.”
“Sure, we’re going to have to sooner or later. Who else can we marry? The only other options would involve waiting years. Well, of course, you could marry Carmen.” She stuck her finger in her mouth pretending to gag herself. “Then you could be Mr. and Mrs. Goody-two-shoes.”
“I think Miss White Bread’s already got herself your brother.”
“Good point. Guess you’re just going to have to marry me. Come on, it’ll be fun. It’s not like we have to change or anything, but think about it, they’ll have to give us our own home! Moreover, we could stick it in super couple’s face by getting married first. Wouldn’t that make it worth it, I mean having to have the second wedding in this god forsaken place!”
“Well, I guess you’re right. I never imagined I’d be getting married. Let me think about it, OK?”
She smiled, “Sure. No pressure, like I said, it would be fun to mess with everybody.”
After dinner, Mike went to see Jared at the Millers’ home. Mike knocked on their door, which, like the other doors, was made of wood. They were designed like that to give the feeling of an above ground home.
Carmen answered the door and said, in what he considered a bubbly voice, “Hi Mike, what’s up?”
Mike looked down and said, “Can I speak to your . . . father.”
“Sure, one sec, OK? You want to come in?”
“No, thanks,” He said, still looking down.
A minute later Jared came to the door and said, “Hi, Mike, what’s up?”
“Mr. Miller, can I speak with you for a minute . . . alone.”
“Sure,” Jared said as he stepped out and shut the door. “You know me well enough by now to call me Jared.” When Mike had no reply he said, “Is something wrong? What’s going on? Here, sit down,” Jared motioned to the cement steps. The steps were there not so much to be like above ground houses, but because the colony’s floor was usually cool. Samuel had designed the homes to have a space between the homes and the floor to buffer the cold.
They sat down and Mike said, “Well, I want to propose to Kara and I want to do it right. I was hoping you could help me get a ring. Were any rings scanned?”
Jared said sarcastically, “No sorry. No marriages down here!”
Mike looked up, finally meeting Jared’s eyes.
“Wow, calm down, I was kidding.”
Mike faked a smile, “Oh. So you do have some?”
Jared nodded, “Here, come inside. I can show you what they look like.”
“Um, I’d rather not. I want to keep this secret.”
Jared said, “Well, you can trust the four of us, well, maybe not Spencer. We’ll hide it from Spencer.” Mike knew Jared was kidding. Spencer was talking, but not much. Certainly not enough to tell people that Mike was going to propose to Kara.
Mike gave in and followed Jared inside. Jared led him to a room he was using as a makeshift lab. When they arrived, Jared brought up a set of rings on his computer screen. “Here they are,” Jared said.
Mike looked through and found the one he wanted. Mike found a platinum ring that had a 2-carat diamond and a sapphire on each side. “That’s the one,” Mike said. “Do you have it in size eight?”
Jared said, “Yes, how do you know her size?”
“It’s the size of her class ring. I’ve seen her wear it on her ring finger.”
“So when can you make it? Do you have the size?” Mike asked.
“Yep, I have it. I’ll make it for you now and a box too. You want a box, right?”
Jared got out a builder. He sent the file through the wireless network from the computer to the builder. He then made the ring. Once Jared made the ring, he found the file for a box and made a box. He put the ring into the box and said, “There you go. Another happy customer I hope?”
Mike said, “Thank you,” then left.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford