It was late morning by the time Rebecca arrived at the Shelter, her hair still damp from a quick shower, and her mind focussing on things other than work. She paced her office for a while, unable to settle and wondering what Ed was doing. If he was alright. What should she say to him? What words might he say to her? He had drowned. Dear God. Continue reading
Miss Ealand watched him come into the Main reception area, a hesitant figure, looking incongruous in the ultra-modern surroundings. He stood there, casting around and worried and she went out to greet him.
‘Mr Atwood. Good to see you. You are here for the interview?’ Continue reading
Mr. Dale Atwood. The envelope looked important and official and he panicked for a moment as he wondered who could possibly have a reason to write to him. There was a temptation to throw it away without opening, and in the past he had done that with letters from the banks and building societies and credit companies, but he turned the envelope over with a trembling hand and read the return address. Continue reading
A strong hand gripped his shoulder, hard enough to get his attention.
‘Can you carry him? Paul?’ Sara Harper’s voice cut through his grief like a knife. ‘Are you strong enough?’
He didn’t reply, just tensed and held his breath, then stood up, groaning with the effort but with Straker in his arms. A sleeping child being carried to safety. Continue reading
The door was still closed and he began to feel that familiar tightening in his chest, the growing sense of panic, fear now starting to blur his composure. He pressed his hand on the panel. Harder. Nothing. No hiss of air, no vibrations. He reached into his pocket for the radio. He had left it behind. Continue reading
Straker flattened his hand against the tube, so close to the hand on the other side. His hand. I’m sorry. He looked into his own eyes. I’m so sorry. The words clogged in his throat, stifling him. Continue reading
He stood there, getting the measure of the room before making any move. A larger dome than the other one; he reckoned it to be at most seven meters across and lined with what appeared to be tall glass-like cylinders, each wide enough to hold a man standing upright. Tangles of cables and wires looped across the floor from the central cluster of assorted equipment and machines before snaking into the base of each tank. He noticed that the cylinders seemed to be in distinct groups, five of them close together, then a gap and then another five, lining the circumference of the room, with another space for the entrance. No aliens in sight. He let himself relax slightly. Continue reading
Sara tugged off her night goggles, and wiped sweat from her forehead. They had been waiting here in the small antechamber for what seemed like an eternity. There had been sounds of gunfire from behind the barrier and she had been aware of Straker flinching at every noise, but he had remained still and had not spoken once. Continue reading
Paul was waiting. It was all he could do. He was ready and almost excited in a perverse way. Something positive to do at last, instead of sitting there planning and thinking and talking. He shrugged his shoulders, settling his backpack into place and touching his helmet to check yet again that his goggles were still in position. His group were ready, standing at the entrance to the boarded-up rotunda that housed the steps leading down to the tunnel. He could feel his hands sweating inside his fine leather gloves. Continue reading
Straker finished his last check of the details and looked at his watch again. Paul was due back in less than an hour, and that gave Straker time to get to Sara’s house and talk to her, to explain what was going to happen and get her back here. He looked around the office. No charts, no maps, nothing left out that might give a clue to the operation that had been planned with such care. Time to go and he opened the door, before an irrational fear came into his mind. Continue reading