Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
I’m running down a corridor lined with tall computers. There’s a government goon hot on my tail. What scares me most is his non-stop shouting about “can’t fire on the slippery bastard because hitting a system will ruin my shot at promotion”.
The phone chirps. It’s a strange sound, like no ringtone I’ve ever heard. Certainly nothing I chose. I tap my earpiece and wait for the hissing to subside. Her voice is calm.
“How are you doing?”
“Coming to the end of a hall lined with computers. I’m being chased.”
“Go through the door, then smash the security panel.”
“Speaking of that security panel…”
I punch the code. The door opens. A bullet from behind spins me through it. Screaming in pain, I bounce off the wall opposite and stagger back to slam my elbow into the panel on this side. The door slides shut, cutting off the view of the goon sprinting my way from the crouch he took to shoot me. I hear him hit the door. Hear him shoot the door.
“Can you continue?”
“Yes. He only shot me in the bulletproof vest.”
Listen to me, all fired up on near-hysteria and CCE.
“Sounds like that Chemical Combat Enhancement is working.”
“So let’s get going before it runs out.”
She told me where to find it, how to use it, even warned me about taking too much.
“Don’t worry. It’s only a short way now.”
I run down the corridor, then go through a blast door and hurry down a long staircase.
“There’s a guard at the bottom. They’ll be wary. Have the amber card in your hand ready to show them.”
“Halt! Identify yourself.”
The guard is partway up the stairs.
I raise a hand.
“I’m getting ID from my back pocket.”
It seems to take ages to get the card out. The guard visibly relaxes, then salutes and steps to one side so I can pass. I nod as I rush past. Very soon now, he’s going to be told the truth, and his gun is a lot bigger than the one the goon in the corridor has.
“The amber card goes in the slot on the door.”
It opens to reveal another corridor, then closes behind me. I pass several doors on my way to the one at the end, a faded green door that leads into a place that looks like a dirty workshop. Over in a corner is a cage containing a woman in a stained lab coat.
“Say nothing. I’m here to get you out.”
She looks puzzled, and relieved. I use a club hammer to smash the padlock off the door.
Time to get more guidance.
“Lever up the manhole cover in the centre of the room, then the one under the big tool trolley. Help her into that one, close it, then put the trolley back. You take the other one. Leave the lid off.”
“I’m a decoy?”
“Yes. You’ll be safe. They’ll fixate on finding her.”
The voice hasn’t let me down for a year. Helped me make a new identity, and enough to live comfortably forever.
After exiting the maze of sewers, I yield to curiosity.
“Before I throw this phone into the incinerator across the road as instructed, please satisfy my curiosity.”
“She’ll be my mother. She told me about the mystery man who helped her escape certain death. Then one of the prototypes she built connected me to a phone destroyed years before I was born.”
“After you told me when you were, I realised what I had to do.”