Hole Down Under
Andrey stood on the ramp overlooking the gaping hole before him. It was mesmerizingly perfect. The hypnotic design of the detailed lines surrounding it held his gaze.
A noise behind him caused him to break his gaze and turn his head. He started to duck but realized that would just make him look suspicious. But the two people in the cart didn’t even look in his direction.
He breathed a sigh of relief as they drove on past. The orange suit and helmet he wore looked just like theirs. There was no reason they should suspect he didn’t belong here.
The guerilla soldier squared his shoulders and began the long walk down the ramp toward the hole drilled into the plain below.
A pink hue from the early morning sky gave everything an eerie look. Andrey paused again as the ground began to vibrate. A deep hum from the hole vibrated in his belly.
The rectangular shapes surrounding the deep hole began to move slowly like giant teeth on a cavernous flywheel.
Andrey flinched as a bolt of lightning streaked up from the hole toward the sky, and then snapped loudly as it got pulled back down to connect with the slowly turning flywheel.
Several more bolts of lightning snaked up out of the hole in the ground to connect with the teeth of the giant engine. The staccato pops and snaps of electricity sounded almost rhythmic against the consistent, low rumbling growl of the giant motor moving all of the parts in harmony.
The movement and sounds grew and intensified until a single giant bolt of electricity broke free from the wheel and shot up into the sky where it disappeared into the clouds.
A loud boom erupted from the ground and the entire flywheel ground to a halt with a terrible shrieking sound of metal grinding against metal that sounded like his sister shrieking at him when Andrey had teased her as a child.
A billow of black smoke rose up from the hole in the ground. Andrey could almost smell the scent of burning plastic even though he knew the oxygen pack on his back would filter it out.
Movement caught his eye, and he looked around to see several carts with uniformed people bustling about from one end of the compound to the other. Some seemed to be fleeing from the explosion, while others were headed in his direction.
They ignored Andrey though and buzzed right on past him toward the hole. He started down the ramp in their direction, but a low beeping sound caught his attention.
He looked down and realized that he was running low on oxygen. Andrey kicked himself for not having paid attention to it earlier when he had taken it from the guard he had knocked out.
Now, he would have to find another victim to ‘borrow’ oxygen from if he wanted to stick around.
A huge roar erupted from the hole in the ground and the men in carts took off in his direction. They slowed down as they neared him. Their faces expressed sheer terror.
He realized they were motioning for him to hop on. “Let’s go, bro!” One of them shouted and reached out a hand to pull him aboard.
Andrey hesitated for a split second, but then hopped into an empty seat. He pointed to his almost empty oxygen tank and the man in the front seat pulled out a spare from the dash.
He nodded and thanked the man as he took it. The man wasn’t even looking at Andrey. His eyes were fixed on the hole beyond Andrey’s head.
“What happened,” Andrey asked when he realized they weren’t driving back to the main entrance.
“They managed to get the portal open for a split second before we were attacked.”
“What was it?” Andrey asked innocently.
But he already knew. That was why he had come. His job had been to sabotage the engine and prevent them from opening the portal in the first place.
Undercover agents had been misdirecting the work for years and even sabotaging the project when necessary to keep the scientist from opening a portal. However, all of the undercover agents had been systematically discovered and removed.
Andrey had been tasked with blowing up their project but had arrived too late. Now, he needed to get back to his base and warn his superiors.
“I have no idea. We couldn’t see anything. The power went out and we lost the cameras.” the man beside him said.
“We heard people screaming down below.” the driver piped up from the front.
Andrey saw a convoy of soldiers driving toward them in the direction of the hole. But he knew they would be no match for what they would face there.
His intel from agents over the years let him know exactly what lay on the other side of the portal these scientists had been working on over the years.
The men on this cart were doing the right thing. The only thing they could do would be to get as far away from here as possible.
He had failed to prevent this, but there was nothing he could do now. Andrey just wanted to get as far away from here as possible and let others who were trained for this come deal with the aftermath.
Andrey finished connecting the new oxygen tank to his system and leaned back in his seat. His mission was over, and it was time to go home.
A sense of sadness filled his heart. It wasn’t the feeling he had expected to feel upon leaving. He had always hated it here in Vazyr.
But he had lived with the constant tension of getting caught far too long. The relief of getting out of here alive was overwhelming. He did feel a twinge of regret for not having enjoyed it here and living more fully.
He likened it to spending the entire summer liking a girl but never having the courage to tell her how you felt until the last time you saw her.
Then you found out that she liked you too, and spent the last few hours ‘in love’ only to experience the bittersweet loss of something you had only just discovered.
Andrey knew he would miss it here and almost hoped that he would get a chance to return again soon, which felt weird since he had spent so long hating every moment in Vazyr.
He shrugged the feeling off when they reached the city limits. Andrey packed his bags and took one final look around the city before leaving. A city that would most likely not even be standing by the end of the week.
“Goodbye, dear Vazyr. I hope you survive and that I get to see you again soon.”