Author : Andrew Hawnt

Frozen in time behind the door to Vault Six is an explosion, and it talks to me.

How can an explosion talk to me? I don’t really know, but then again I’m just a guard. I sit next to the door to Vault Six and I read, or I clean the corridor, or I check and recheck the systems which keep the explosion imprisoned in a time bubble.

My name’s John Drake, but the explosion calls me Johnny Boy, or occasionally Drakey when it wants to wake me up. The explosion (or Bang, as I call it when we’re alone) even saved my skin last Friday when it woke me up just before Colonel Trent turned up unannounced.

Me and Bang are friends, even though it’s stuck in a cell and I’m guarding the door. We have an understanding. I don’t tell people it can talk to me, and Bang tells me stories to pass the time.

I thought I was going mad when Bang started talking to me, but hey, I have a mad job. This building is full of impossible things and a fair few staff have lost it over the years, but I can deal with Bang. It explains the monsters in other cells. The ghosts and the aliens and the sentient computer viruses and everything else.

But today, Bang told me a secret I didn’t want to hear. Where it came from. Where it began. I didn’t believe it at first, but then I remembered there’s a guy with horns claiming to be the devil in the next cell, so I figure there’s not all that much which is still impossible.

Bang is the end of this facility. This whole complex. Exploding. Bang told me the explosion was so powerful that it ruptured time and space and seeped through into the present. The department were able to imprison it using an experimental technique which bends time on itself into a loop, sealing whatever is inside it completely.

But the thing is, the thing that’s been making my head hurt all shift long, is that Bang says the explosion began when Bang gets released accidentally. But that means that Bang is both the cause and the result of the incident. An explosion from the future which detonates in the present, creating a paradox which can never end.

The thing that really freaked me out though was that Bang claimed to be me, John Drake, caught in the future explosion which created it and broke time. Bang’s voice in my head is me, my consciousness having become a part of the living explosion when the facility was, or will be, wiped out.

So that means I die here, I guess. Bang says that might not be the case. That I might get out. That it gets my voice because of all the time we spent talking in the past, or the present. That’s when my head hurts, thinking about that.

Get out, Bang tells me now. Get out quickly. It’s started.

Alarms start to chime, then the strip lights along the corridor go red and I hear commotion on the floor above and the floor below. An overlooked weakness in safety protocols. The corridor doors lock themselves. I could scream for help, but it wouldn’t do any good. Bang tells me it’s okay. Bang says it will look after me. Bang tells me in my own voice that this was always meant to be.

The protective bubble around Bang ruptures, and the building is consumed in blinding fire. I am taken away by the bubble’s broken science and the force of Bang’s unleashed energies swallows me whole. I am gone, but I am still here.

As quickly as it begins, it ends.

The bubble reverts to its previous state. Time realigns. I am Bang, and outside Vault Six there sits John Drake. He is a friend. Within the bubble which holds my fire imprisoned, I feel a sense of completion.

“Hello Drakey,” I say out loud, and the guard wakes up, staring at the door to Vault Six with eyes which are so very familiar.

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