Author : Ian Hill
“Fifteen minutes until departure.” came the monotone voice across the Metastation’s many speakers. Four figures walked along the dark main tunnel that stretched for miles in either direction, their phosphor flares illuminating only a small portion of the vast cylinder.
“Departure from what?” wondered one of the figures aloud. “We’re already in space…”
“Probably just a glitch in the programming. Nothing to worry about, Mills.” came the voice of a female.
“This place is amazing. What do you think, Davis?” said the apparent youngest of the group, Private Coulter.
The final figure, Lieutenant Davis, spoke up. “It’s nice, I guess.”
It was more than nice, in fact. The circular tunnel was impossibly large and bore many monorail tracks along its sides which were multi-tiered and housed scores of buildings. A wonder of modern engineering.
“The Keitl always go a bit… overboard.” said Corporal Mills, motioning at the immensity of it all with a gloved hand.
“Hey, Coulter, why do you thi-” began the female, but was cut off abruptly by the sharp report of a piece of metal falling to the floor.
The four soldiers dropped their flares and crouched with their backs to each other in a defensive posture, poising their rifles at the darkness.
“I thought you said no one else was here, Captain.” said Davis.
“I did.” replied the female Captain simply, lighting a new flare. Another blindingly white light erupted from her left hand and she tossed it with all her might to where the sound had come from. The beacon sailed in an arch and landed with a clatter dozens of yards from the group of soldiers, revealing nothing of interest.
“Ten minutes until departure.” came the voice again, making them all jump.
“Alright, we have to keep on moving. This place is decades old, some odd sounds are to be expected.” said the Captain, standing up from the formation shakily.
The four began to move again at a slightly faster pace towards their ultimate destination, the control room set into the side of the tunnel a few miles in front of them. After walking a few hundred more yards down the metal tube the metallic intercom came again.
“Five minutes until departure.”
“Okay, that’s really strange.” said Private Coulter, sweating visibly. “Why would someone set a looping audio clip of a count down on an abandoned Metastation?”
“Don’t ask me.” replied Mills in a bored tone.
Another sound came from behind the group, a metallic pounding.
“Yeah, there’s something in here.” said Davis calmly.
After a brief hesitation the Captain gave the order to light all the flares and set up a defensive line. The noise grew louder and was now intermingled with some electronic screeching.
“Three minutes until departure.”
The soldiers crouched again and clicked the safeties off of their rifles. “Are we cleared to fire, Captain?” asked Coulter.
“Whenever you see something, shoot it.” she replied with a nod.
The flares simmered and popped while the noises grew closer to the squad. A brief flash of metal caught the Captain’s attention and she fired a short burst from her weapon to ward off the creature.
“More over here!” shouted Davis, who was firing his weapon without pause.
Eventually all four of the soldiers were emptying magazine after magazine into the unseen crowd of beings pursuing them.
“One minute until departure.” came the intercom again, but no one heard it said over the sounds of weapons fire.
One after another the flares burned themselves out, leaving the four in complete darkness with the unidentified attackers.
The Captain was sure that her squad was gone now, afraid and cold she attempted to control her breathing. Directly to her left a queer synthesized voice spoke quite clearly. “Thank you for flying with the Keitl. Have a nice day.”
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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