Waiting for the world to end...Maybe it will; maybe it won't.
|1. Trapped In|
The very last wave ended with a jolt.
“Don’t start moving about. Tremors may still continue.” Jonathan took two tiny pill bottles out of his vest pocket. “These maybe our only hope.”
“There is no hope. All the real estate is gone.” Gerald looked at me, “Do you still want a raise, Emmy?”
“At least, your days of pushing me around are over,” I said. I could never stand his sneering or his cynicism but this real estate broker was the only one who had given me a job. I had moved to this tiny town last year on my thirty-first birthday in order to be near Ronny who worked in NORAD.
The communications engineer dialed on his wrist pad again. “I can’t reach anyone. What are we going to do?”
“No use David,” said Al. “Thermo-nuclear beams did take care of most carbon matter and the fallout residue will last for decades. We shouldn’t go out. It will be the end of us.”
“Yes, yes. Let’s not cry over spilt milk. Well, no more milk again! Even so...” Jonathan was the top banana in NORAD, though not a warring man. “He is the smartest ever to be born,” Ronny had said about him. Ronny had to know for he worked right under Jonathan. But now Ronny wasn’t in the shelter with the rest of us. Poor Ronny!
It was Jonathan who had saved us. Ralph (Ronny's dog) and I were waiting outside the compound for Ronny in my Honda. Suddenly there were sirens, and hordes of people started running about. I couldn't figure where they had popped up from, since this place usually was quiet as a cemetery, no pun intended. While I was trying to make sense of everything, I saw Jonathan yank at my door. It was because of him that Ralph and I ended up here.
At first, everyone was in shock and people acted strange. None of us could believe what was happening. I noticed three long-faced men sitting huddled in a corner. They looked angry and answered tersely if spoken to. I hadn't seen them before. One of them kept eyeing Ralph and me with contempt.
“We should have passed the conversional thermo-energy allocation bill and stopped all this nonsense. This is unconstitutional,” Philip grunted as if he was in a sty.
“Too late!” Surprisingly that was the nurse from the infirmary of NORAD. Ever since we were thrown in together she hadn’t said a word. Her small face was a puffy red ball from crying nonstop.
“Forget that stuffy Senate. They’re all sausage now,” David said.
“The low tide of your Utopia, no more glamorous lawsuits for you, Phil!” It was Gerald again.
“Shut up! I should sue you Gerald.” Phil laughed at himself.
I poured some of my water into Ralph’s bowl.
“Emmy, don’t waste the water. That dog shouldn’t be here.”
“There are thirteen people here and not enough to go around. We should let him go.”
“He’s Ronny’s. If he goes, I go.” And I meant that.
“Good riddance! Two mouths at the same time.”
“Now, now...” Jonathan was playing with his palm pilot. “I’m telling you, there’s a way out and we need everyone including the dog. We’ll start over. We’ll need all the genome maps and materials.”
“How?” Al, from the nuclear chemistry staff was more curious than hopeful.
“Think back into the history of life. We have to change back into the most survivable form. Then, we could go where we can stay.”
David finally had managed to project a beam to the Landlubber satellite. He directed the receiver to the screen wall. We all gasped at the image. The oceans had re-integrated and a greenish yellow vapor was oozing into the atmosphere.
“Sulphur!” Al bit his upper lip. “I was afraid of that. That’s the end.”
Ralph growled and stood up, wagging his tail with agitation. A tiny form had crept near his bowl.
“I’ll kill it for you,” Phil volunteered.
“One of your kind, Phil,” Gerald sneered again.
“No, don’t!” Jonathan reached out and cuddled the insect in his hand. “He will be our temporary form until we settle.”
“Oh no,” Lori was terrified. Maybe she felt she couldn’t afford to lose her slender figure, although there were no catwalks left.
“Where can we settle?” Gerald asked. “There’s nowhere...”
“Fly me to the moon,” Dean crooned. “Then, maybe right inside here, isn’t that so, Prof.?”
“No, but you had the right idea with that oldie,” Jonathan said. “If one of you could go with me into the beam room, we could work something out. It is just upstairs and it was built strongly enough. Still, there could be some danger in the breathing space.”
“Is it safe to move about now?” Gerald asked.
“Maybe,” David said, “I could get an image. That means the earth is settling.”
Gerald stood up and motioned to Lori. They went behind the partition wall.
“Hey Gerry, be careful! We can’t afford babies for a while.”
“Mind your own end. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”
“How are we going to get oxygen?” Dean asked. “All life needs oxygen.” He was the grounds keeper in the compound and had a special feeling for plants. Ronny had once witnessed him conversing with a sand cactus.
“We could try hydrogen conversion. There’s plenty of it up there.” Al replied.
Jonathan stood up. “Time for action,” he said. “Okay who’s with me?”
Rusty, the security officer, jumped up in front of him. "No, Sir, you can't! The seal must not be broken."
I am glad about one thing. I have my journal with me. I had picked my large purse because Ronny, Ralph and I would be going away for the weekend. If I had taken a smaller purse this journal would have stayed in the overnight bag inside the car.
The shelter is large and is partitioned into many chambers because they have stored a lot of things. Some, I don’t even understand what they are for. The sleeping area is divided into quite a few sections.
We all have our own sleeping sections, not too much privacy but at least I can stay away from the others when they are at each other’s throats. We call the sleeping sections “rooms”, but closets would be a better word for them. Jonathan has picked his room next to mine. He is to my right and Al is to my left. The problem is, there are only three women here and this worries me.
2. Power Struggle
-journal continuing from yesterday-
Jonathan pushed Rusty aside. “Who gave you any authority to run things around here?” His voice had icicles in it.
“You, Sir! But if we open the latch, the seal might be broken. I’m still the one responsible for your well-being as well as everyone else’s.”
“Well-being? For how long? We have to get out of here!”
“ We don’t have suits, Sir.”
“What do you mean by that? We should have two hundred suits at the top junction of the East Wing. I ordered them. I know I did.”
“Sir, at the last day before everything happened, the suits were taken out for re-inspection. I found only six of them somehow forgotten at the platform bottom.”
“You acted irresponsibly. I alerted you days before. That was not the time for re-inspection.” Jonathan’s face was almost purple. “What about the provisions?”
“We’re okay with that. We have enough for at least two years.”
“And then what? I don’t care if you’re the security officer, I have to go up to the beam room and see what I can do.” Jonathan walked toward the latch.
Rusty hopped in front of him, pointing his Spyder 47 at him. “No, Sir!”
“Are you threatening me?”
“Like I said, Sir. The seal must not be broken.”
Al and David jumped in just in time to hold down Jonathan.
Right then, Gerald and Lori returned among us, cooing at each other. Jonathan flopped down next to me.
Al and David were now across from me, talking to each other in a low voice. I heard Al tell David about a formula going haywire but I couldn’t catch it all. For some reason they were talking in French. My French, when I try to use it, is at best laughable. Still I can understand most of it if I can concentrate. At that moment I couldn’t because I was more aware of Jonathan than anybody else.
Jonathan nestled closer to me. “You know what Emmy,” he said. “We’ll ride this out somehow. I’m really glad you’re here.” I felt the touch of his hand on my hair.
“Ronny always talked very highly of you,” I said calmly but I felt very uneasy.
3. The Jitters
Gerald is still picking on Phil. When he isn’t with Lori he sticks together with the three men -Leon, Ivan, Sean- and Rusty.
Rusty has stopped calling Jonathan, “Sir!” Even when Rusty was calling him that he was saying it as if he were spitting at Jonathan. I believe he has guarded quite a bit of rancor from his underling days. Jonathan is a mild man. That’s what Ronny used to say all the time. Still, a high commanding officer is a high commanding officer and a gun-toting man like Rusty might have resented him. Now that all the military caste system has crumbled, Rusty has broken loose. Jonathan tries to avoid him but he rarely succeeds.
I’m so amazed that they have stored tons of necessities like odd pieces of clothing, medicine etc. Though from the looks of things, food might become the only real problem here.
“Control that dog, will you!” I suddenly heard Rusty’s voice while I was writing in my journal. Ralph was sitting beside me where he always sits. I share my food with him, so they won’t nag me about him. Still, I am afraid for the dog.
“He’s here by my side,” I yelled through the opening. Rusty barged into my room and stared at me. “Several rations are missing. It better not be him. Or better said, not be you,” he said, his eyes rummaging around for a clue.
“Why don’t you search my room?” I stuck my journal under the pillow and walked out. Ralph growled at him as he followed me. I really have no idea of what’s been happening to the food.
In the electronics quarter of the living area, Jonathan, Al, David and Phil were working on some idea with palm pilots. They had other small appliance-like machines on one of the larger tables. They listened intently as Jonathan explained something about fullerenes and xyporal waves.
I sat on a chair far away from them. My head was pounding inside. I didn’t want to hear; I didn’t want to know; I didn’t even care.
4. The Witch Hunt
This morning Rusty started screaming.
“You idiots! Imbeciles! You’ll find out what I can do! Whoever the heck opened the latch?”
“What’s it now, Rusty?” Gerald asked.
“The sealer has moved several inches. It only happens when the main door opens and closes.” He looked directly at Jonathan. “We are all in danger of suffocation. Thank you!”
“You half-wit Moron!” Jonathan was ablaze.
“Bloodsucker!” Rusty yelled back.
“Jonathan, Phil, Al, and I sit at the same place every day in view of all of you,” David said.
“Maybe it is she!” Ivan said, pointing at me. “She comes into the living area only for a little while. Where is she all day long?”
“I’m in my room because I can’t take you guys,” I said. “What about Leon? He sure isn’t around much, is he?”
“He’s probably out, stone-cold in his room! Boozy, you know!” Dean said. He was trying not to take sides in our underground gang-wars.
“I’ll check!” Rusty sniffed as he left.
Quite some time later, Rusty showed up again.
“He’s nowhere!” His eyes pierced through the room. “Not only that, much more of the food is missing.”
“Then, why don’t you ration it further?” I proposed.
“Look, who’s talking! Miss Lily-white, herself,” Rusty was incensed. “Look at you. You’re the same as you came. Besides, you got the dog. Around here everyone lost weight.”
“Not everyone,” Phil chuckled looking at Lori. Lori stood up in a rage and went behind the partition to her room. It is true that if she could model for anyone nowadays, Lori can model only for Lane Bryant, and only for very very large sizes. Maybe that’s why the world came to an end because they forced the models to go hungry.
Probably all this is getting to me. I’m feeling so lousy. That’s another reason I don’t stay outside of my room very much. I am constantly nauseous. I threw up several times last night. I’m afraid I made noise and woke Jonathan up because when I was returning to my room from the latrine, I thought I saw him -or rather I saw his shadow- standing up by the hallway.
Since Leon’s and Ralph’s lives were threatened and Leon is missing, I am suspicious. Maybe whoever wants to get rid of Ralph will want to wipe me out, too. Two birds with one stone. Why not? If I could only tell someone...but I can’t. He would be in danger, too.
6. The Chill Sets in
Three days ago toward the evening, I heard Rusty curse out loud from around the latrine area. I thought that the plumbing line was stuck. Had it been so, that would have been a real circus, but it was something else.
Rusty found Leon’s body dumped behind the latrines, in a crouched position and rigor had set in. Mattie examined it and all the while she kept shrieking and crying. “I can’t do that! I am not qualified in forensic medicine.”
Yet, she did. Who else was there to handle this?
Mattie says there was a thin red trace around his neck and to her it looked like Leon died of asphyxiation. Nobody knew what to do with his corpse. So Rusty stuffed it into an empty freezer.
One thing has been working. Rusty and Jonathan have called it quits. Well, maybe not exactly. Their war is still on but it is more like a cold war. Now, Rusty goes around mumbling to himself instead of pointing fingers at people and starting brawls. Jonathan, too, avoids all kinds of altercations. Yesterday Jonathan spilled something on the floor. Rusty just turned his back and left. Jonathan cleaned it up immediately.
Phil, David and Al are on to something. I don’t know what. They lower their voices when anyone else is around the living section. They usually scribble things on pieces of paper and hide them. Sometimes they resort to speaking French. Jonathan just looks them over and says nothing.
My throwing up and nausea have gone away but I still feel dizzy walking around. I feel a chill taking over me every so often. Jonathan found me a wrap, which keeps me warm when the chills come. Even Ralph stays in one place, not wanting to move. He has become the shadow of the dog that he was, but then, so are we. We are the shadow people walking through the underground of what is left of life, waiting to die, if not now, then later...very soon.
Rusty says food is intact now. I wonder if Leon was stealing the food. No, no, Leon only cared for the booze. If it wasn’t him, who then? I know it wasn’t me, though probably they all were thinking so, because of Ralph.
7. Another Victim
Two days in a row, Dean didn’t show up anywhere. Jonathan says, he told him that he had some kind of an intestinal problem. Mattie went to check on him and came out of his room screaming. Some nurse she is!
Poor Dean. Nobody knows what took him. I wonder if mine was the same illness. This whole thing is an enigma. I keep wondering if it happened the night when he changed seats with me while the rations were being passed on. No, I mustn’t allow myself to think such things. Loss of nerve is much worse than loss of life.
This morning David and Al were at the electronics quarter. Al was mentioning something about a cartoon cross section of nano-carbon particles, whatever that meant. While I was watching them standing at the entrance, I heard Phil behind me.
“There’s a lady inside. Say hello, Boys!”
Since when anybody says hello to anybody around here! He was definitely telling them to watch it near an “alien.”
After I had left the room I realized that I had left my wrap in the living area. When I returned to pick it up all three of them had bent over some sketches on the table. David was saying, “We have to risk it at the next turn....” I’m not so sure what he said next. I think I heard, “at the next turn of the moon,” but I couldn’t hear it well enough. He stopped in mid-sentence when he saw me.
“I came back for my wrap,” I said coldly.
Since the deaths, a heavy gloom has set in. No, it is more than that. What is among us is mistrust and that’s putting it mildly. Paranoia would be a better word.
The other day I ran after Ralph who had wandered off into the food storage area. I’m so afraid for him. What I’ve been giving him is not enough, I know. If I were to give him anymore, then I’d starve to death and that would be the end of him as well.
Just when I caught up with Ralph and I convinced him to return with me, Ivan spotted us. Then the finger pointing started.
“I knew it was her who stole the food before, “ Rusty claimed. “She shouldn’t be inside this shelter.”
Gerald joined in, “She’s always asking for more, the same way when she worked for me.”
Lori echoed him, wiggling her fat hips, “I have seen her ask Gerald for a raise over and over.”
“Everyone has to respect the others’ right to life. Food is our right to life. I suspect that Emmy has broken this respect.” David said. Al nodded in agreement.
Even Jonathan kept gazing at me with a serious expression on his face like a schoolteacher about to hand out discipline. It was just too much for me to handle.
“I’ll find out who the real culprit is,” I said. “Then, you’ll all be sorry for having mistreated me.”
I meant it. I have to save my own skin. If not for that, for curiosity's sake and also for someone else I have grown to like a lot.
9. Piecing Together
At first, I started to ask questions at random to anyone whom I happened to run into. Then, I figured I’d better do it in a scientific organized way. So, I began to take notes into the back pages of my journal. I asked Lori, Mattie, Rusty, Ivan, Sean and Al some questions. I came up with some very interesting conclusions that point to a lot more than the missing food. These last few days have been extremely thought provoking. Everyone has a different pattern. The last time I looked into my journal when it was still intact, I gasped.
One weird thing though, Jonathan stands at one place hours at a time like a statue. This has been happening since Dean’s death. I can almost swear, he is not the same man who acted so lovingly to me in the beginning. Could he be depressed or sick? I hope not.
Then, something unusual happened. Last night through my sleep, I thought I heard Ralph growl. When I opened my eyes I saw a figure dash past me from my room into the hallway. By the time I reached out to the light, he was gone. I’m sure I didn’t dream it because Ralph was standing up, wagging his tail nervously, his ears on alert.
Ralph is such a wonderful dog...He follows me everywhere now and tries to protect me. I must be in some kind of a danger and he is sensing it. He even stands by the door of the bathing area and doesn’t move.
This morning I heard Ralph whine while I was taking my shower so I hurried up. I didn’t see anything unusual until much later when I reached to my journal. Someone had gone through the back pages where I had my notes and crossed the most important data with a black marker. I don’t know if he or she did that last night or this morning when I was in the shower. My guess is, he or she took the journal last night and returned it this morning when I was in the bathing area.
The problem is, now I have to reconstitute everything by memory. Even if I am able to succeed with that, who is going to believe me? My notes were like a ship’s log with who went where, when, how, by what reason. Well, so be it! At least I am doing it for me.
I am truly suspicious of Ivan and Sean. What they said about many things doesn’t add up. One of the things I ask everyone is how they ended up here. They told me different but close versions of the same parroted story but the devil is in the details. Anyhow, what they have said points to one other person. I don’t know who he is and they wouldn’t mention his name.
I’m wondering if... No, it can’t be. He has been so loyal to the USA all his life. Ronny always said so.
What amazes me is that all my observations, interviews and investigations clear Rusty. True, he is the one to take care of the provisions but they have an overseeing committee of three people. The committee members will change every four months. At the moment they are Mattie, Ivan and Al.
As nasty as Rusty has been to me, he seems to have acted above board in every way as far as the supplies go. In that case, who is the man who brought Ivan, Sean and Leon into the shelter? What is it that they are hiding? What did they have to do with the other side?
Most of the group is trying to avoid me like I am a leper, and when they can’t, they act extremely nasty. Even Mattie. Yesterday, she made a wise crack about my eating. “If you weren’t so fond of the food, you’d appreciate your friends better.”
“Well, Thank You Ma’am,” I felt like answering her back, “If you weren’t so squeamish yourself, you’d make a better nurse.” But I didn’t.
10. Mysteries Unravel
Nobody ate the food down here. I know that now because behind everyone’s back Gerald was making Lori check the bedrooms. Lori blurted it out.
I think and think but I can’t believe it myself. It blows my head.
Gerald? Gerald with his cheap laughter? Gerald who smiles like the mask on a drama school emblem? Gerald who kept making me do all the work while he kept gallivanting at God-knows-where? What is in it to Gerald in this business? Certainly no real estate deals.
Anyhow Lori told me that she found no crumbs and no traces of food anywhere but the eating area. I know that now. I wonder if it was Lori who kidnapped my journal some time ago and black-marked my findings. No, it can’t be because Lori has the brain of an amoeba.
I found out from Rusty that not only the food but also some of the trays and containers are missing. Someone had to be taking them upstairs. But, upstairs to where? I still can’t put my finger on it. Who is behind all this? Is it one person or two different people? The latter seems more likely. The person who stole the food is probably different than the one who is really guilty for all this mess.
11. The Real Thief-- What really Hurts-
Since the last entry, I had thought that it was Jonathan stealing the food and taking it upstairs. I had felt so disappointed in him. Wasn’t he the one who wanted to go up to the beam room and kept insisting on it? I also felt bad because he stood by and let them mistreat me, but Jonathan isn’t quite himself. I don’t know what is wrong with him. He is like a shadow.
Thank God, finally I found out who the real thief was, even if it didn’t turn out quite as well as I had expected. At least, inside my head, I stopped blaming Jonathan.
It was Ralph who solved the puzzle. Yesterday, for whatever reason he just ran into Al’s room and barked at his bed. At the time Mattie was with me. We ran in after Ralph and looked under the bed. Sure enough some trays of food were stacked under there to the back, though at first glance they were not seen because Al had some books in front of them. Because Ralph kept barking, I pulled a couple of books to the side and found the trays staring back at us. No wonder Rusty or Lori hadn’t seen them!
Mattie wiggled her hips as she faced me. “You should be ashamed of yourself. Do you think I’ll believe this charade? You have stolen the food and hid it in Al’s room. Now you’re framing him with the help of your dog. Everyone should hear about this.”
“He has his books in front of them,” I tried to defend myself. “How could I have gotten into someone else’s room and do such an intricate job of hiding anything with everybody else around?”
“That’s just it!” Matty shrieked. “Weren’t you the one staying around the sleeping section alone all the time?”
Soon enough all ten of them were trying to fit inside Al’s room to admire my work, as they put it.
“She doesn’t deserve to stay among us.”
“Let her go and take her darn dog along.”
“How pitiful! We shouldn’t’ t have to live with such a person.”
“Let’s put it to vote,” David suggested.
I called Ralph to my room, closed the door, stretched on the bed and fell asleep.
I don’t know how much time passed but I woke up with someone knocking at the door.
“Come out now,” Lori stuck her head inside. "We have to tell you something.”
I followed her to the living area. Everyone was standing up. They all looked at me menacingly.
“You have to leave,” David said. “The vote was unanimous.”
I looked at Jonathan. His face was empty. It had no trace of emotion whatsoever.
“Since it is probably already night out there, we are allowing you to stay the night. You may take your personal belongings with you. When you leave Rusty will give you a bottle of water and that will be it. You are on your own.”
They led me back to my room with Rusty and Lori keeping guard at the door. When I had to go to the latrine, Lori accompanied me. “I wish you the best, you know,” she whispered when we were where Rusty wouldn’t hear us. “If anyone can handle it up there, it is you.”
“Thank you, Lori, “I said. “I wish you the best too.”
What hurts me the most is not the loneliness or the danger that’s lurking outside. What hurts me is the loneliness I feel inside, but even more than anything, what hurts me the most is the betrayal of the man I secretly cherished in my heart. In this pithole, believing in him was flying up high, but now ,I have crashed into the ground and I am shattered to pieces.
12. Discovery -- The phoenix has risen...
I took a deep breath after the gate sealed back into place behind me. I thought that it felt good to breathe the fresh air again. Then, I laughed at my own thinking. “Which fresh air?” I asked myself. “The non-poisonous air in the shelter or the free and the poisonous one up here?”
Definitely this one up here was better. The shelter was more poisonous even if its air and its food contained no poison. The poison was inside its inhabitants and I was glad to be away from them, especially away from that one certain person who had torn my heart apart.
One day of paradise is more precious than a zillion days in hell. I had expected to find leafless trees, dead birds, and barren landscape but around me life was continuing in its full intensity. There were fruits on the trees and the cacti were in full bloom. Ralph immediately had sprung to life and started to chase a tiny rabbit.
I saw a dirt path freshly cut among the vegetation. I called Ralph and followed that path, which took us through the trees. A very short distance later, it curved right into a parking lot; the parking lot in front of the compound from where Jonathan had taken me.
A few cars still were parked on the parking lot as if nothing had happened. Then, I saw my own little Honda sitting there just the way I had left it. I ran to it and looked inside. My duffel bag was sleeping in the back seat. I tried to open the door but it was locked. I knew I hadn’t locked it in that haste when Jonathan had rushed us to the shelter.
“You must be looking for these.”
Jonathan stood behind me dangling my keys from his hand with a strange giggle. “That wasn’t really me in the shelter,” he said. “At least, not after I gave you the wrap to keep you warm.”
I was too dumbfounded to speak.
He took me by the arm. “Come inside the compound and we’ll talk.”
In the cafeteria, while I was enjoying a decent breakfast with fresh juice, eggs, milk, butter and the whole works, he explained.
“As soon as the first missile hit, we tried to activate the protective shield. I had put Ronny at the controls but someone shot him from the back and killed him. Before he died, he told me that you were at the parking lot and asked me to take care of you.
For a long time, we knew that the other side had spies in town and we had taken care of that situation the best we could.
When I took you into the shelter, we didn’t know if the shield was working. After I left you there, I came back up and monitored the missile defense systems. True enough, we were hit and we were in war, but the damage and the loss of life was less than in any other war. Also, we didn’t fire a single bullet at the other side. Our missile defense system boomeranged their missiles back. Now, they are the ones in ruin hit by their own missiles; however, they may still have a few tricks left up their sleeves. That is why we still have to be careful.”
“You mean they shot themselves?” I asked.
“Exactly. That’s why they killed Ronny so he wouldn’t be able to activate our defenses. He’s a martyr and a hero, Emmy,” Jonathan’s eyes clouded up.
“Why didn’t you tell us these in the shelter? It was Gerald, wasn’t it?”
“Smart Girl! I knew you’d figure that out sooner or later. He was their chief spy and head of operations, though he was one of us. His business, the real estate, was a perfect cover. Who would suspect a real estate broker to be a spy? On the other hand, he had the run of the town. He went in and out of any building or home and sold, rented or whatever while placing and hiding their men in strategic spots. By the time we were onto him, they already had their web around us. “
“Is that why he hired me?”
“Probably. He might have thought that through you he’d get to Ronny and penetrate inside the compound. Besides, you were a good little worker. You handled all his business. I mean the business that he used as a front.”
“Were you suspicious of me, too?”
“Not for a minute...If anything, through you we found out a lot about the web. Remember when you had a lot of work to do and Ronny would come for you? Remember he would wait patiently while looking through the real estate files? He unearthed a lot of info, info that seemed like simple real estate deals to you.”
“Still you didn’t answer my question. Why didn’t you tell them down there after the war was over?”
“We don’t want the other side to find out that our defense systems need refurbishing. While we work on it, the shelter is keeping Gerald and his men under lock and key, safe for us for a later trial. Some of the web is still on the loose and we are tagging after them, but they are scattered and may still not be aware of the whole scope of the operations. Gerald was their chief organizer. If he were to come up here, even in jail, he would be a problem for us.”
“What about all that talk about scientific stuff, cockroaches, genomes, settling on the moon, whatever?”
Jonathan laughed, “That was all a show. The fight between Rusty and me was a show. Like you, Gerald was also keeping a journal. But it wasn’t a diary type of journal like you kept. He was writing down all the scientific mumbo jumbo and whatever, thinking that it was all for real and it would come in handy some day. So Al and David wanted to make it seem real. They are down there to keep an eye on them. Rusty and Mattie too are on our side. They are staying down to help Al and David. While you were trying to show that you were clean, you hit a few nails on the head concerning Gerald. Al had to steal your journal and cross out some lines.”
“Phil and Lori?”
“They’re with Gerald. Gerald picks on Phil but don’t believe it. It is their cover.”
“Dean was innocent. Just like you he happened to be there.”
“Were they trying to kill me?”
“Probably. Instead they got Dean. I am truly sorry for Dean.” Jonathan reached for my hand and smiled, “But I am so glad it wasn’t you.”
“Jonathan, if you are here with me, who is the other Jonathan down there?”
“That other one is my clone; he is more like my shadow. A clone looks like the original but acts more like a statue and he doesn’t have a very long life. The other Jonathan will expire within a few weeks. We found out long ago that a real person cannot be cloned.”
After pouring me some more coffee, Jonathan continued. “We tried to get you out of there before, but you kept resisting. How else could we make you come up unless they threw you out of there?”
“Did David steal the food on purpose, so they’d blame me?”
“Sorry, Emmy, for everything down there. As much as I wanted to...” He looked into my eyes, “As much as I love you...Some things in life have a higher priority.”
I am back in my apartment now as I am writing this last entry. My apartment, my home! Finally I’m in it. They had it cleaned and ready for me to come back to.
Ronny, my hero of heroes, will always live in my heart, but now, I have all this wonderful brand new life to look forward to, and I promise myself, I’ll cherish every breath I take.
In a few minutes, Jonathan will be ringing the door, and I feel like a schoolgirl as I wait for him, because the thing between us has now gained its eloquence.
Through this ordeal, inside me, I died and came back to life repeatedly. Yet, I also found out that the more times a person’s life gets shattered, the more she grows inside. We are here to learn and it may hurt. I must never forget this.