Just minutes before the delegation of the United Nations, led by a South Korean authorized high official, together with Czech Minister of Defence and his cohort, should arrive to The Facility, as planned, to end its operation festively, but once and forever, to protect the mankind, creating only a heritage and publicly inaccessible site from once the world’s most admired place, changing the world history, another party arrived at the entry gate, the control station of The Facility’s perimeter, guarded by a squad of Military Police.
A black Maybach luxurious limousine stopped as ordered by soldiers, and to the surprise of the guards, a person got out of the vehicle: Rudolph, one of the top executives of The Corporation, still the most powerful business company of the world, as they invented and presented their technological miracle to the world, The Device, allegedly a time displacement machine with endless of options, how to change what seemed to be firmly set, including the past, fulfilling human dreams the way they never dreamed of.
Rudolph noticed a commanding officer, standing behind the men, who gathered to check the vehicle and identification of the passengers, and he spoke to him without hesitation, as there was no time to lose.
“Captain, I presume, that you know us,” Rudolph started carefully, not indicating his real intentions.
“Yes, sir, I do recognize you,” the captain confirmed proudly. “And I am honored to serve here just today, for the last time, to say goodbye to this place and to everything what it means, with honors… this site made us all proud again to be soldiers! On this special day, allow me tell you, that we all think, that this miracle was originally a military invention, only a cover tale was created, so the attention was redirected desirably, not to damage the Military interests.”
“I will gladly leave you to think that, who knows, where the truth lies in this complicated world, anyway,” Rudolph smiled, keeping his opinion rather for himself, when he remembered that secret meeting in the French Alps, close to Mont Blanc, several years ago, which started the project.
“We always had very good cooperation with the Army, both sides benefited from it, we were glad to help to improve our state defence interests, and I am glad that you appreciate that, captain. But listen,” Rudolph had to start pushing, the time was running out. “I need a favor from you, as there is some problem inside The Facility which we need to resolve. In approximately fifteen minutes, a delegation will occur here…”
“Yes, it’s reported,” the captain tried to stop any attempt to be persuaded to violate the service rules and military duties.
“I need you to hold it for another fifteen minutes, it’s very important, believe me, even critically important. Just if you would find some apparent discrepancy in the identity papers of one of the members of the support staff, and you would tell them, that the problem has to be checked at headquarters, so they have to wait… we would be very, very obliged to you,” Rudolph touched his jacket pocket instinctively, where he always carried a thick pack of money for ‘motivating’ purposes, but the captain held him with a strict gesture.
“That would be against the rules, sir, so don’t even try it,” the officer denied the tempting deal strictly, he was apparently a man of high military honor. “But there is something else you could do for me, if you would want to reward my, let’s say, service zeal. I am very grateful that you alerted me, to check the visitor’s papers closely this last time, you never know, what terrorist could try to infiltrate here, so I will do it, not for you, but for the protection of this sacred place, and the necessary control will take at least fifteen minutes, you know, how long it will take, to call all numbers to check the suspected person…
Anyway, I have this problem myself: the Army wants to give me a medical discharge, as I allegedly don’t meet the strict health requirements for the combat service anymore, so they offered me moving to the staff forever. But a desk job is nothing for me…
I want to see the action, you know. I feel great, and I won’t allow some dumb overeducated medic to take my life from me, I love it so much… so, please, sir, if there would be some opportunity to cooperate on some of your security or military projects in the future, I would be the most grateful, that you will give me a new chance,” the captain said completely openly, as both men were standing far enough from others, who were inspecting the luxurious vehicle, and of course its beautiful female driver, Lucy, by attempting to flirt with her, and she didn’t resist this time, as she knew, that Rudolph needs the space for necessary maneuvering.
“You seem to be a man of high honor and respect to the service,” Rudolph looked directly into soldier’s eyes. “And I am absolutely sure that you will be a great asset for our future operations. But something crucial is happening right now, and it’s possible that I will have to leave the business scene, together with my female colleague from the car, you know whom I mean, at least temporarily, so I can’t promise you, when such opportunity will be possible. In any case, when I will be back, find me, and remind me our meeting and my promise. I am sure that we can make a good deal together, and I don’t offer you this only to appease you, or to bribe you. I can recognize an asset when I see it, mister…” Rudolph had a nervous look at the wrist watch, and then at the soldier’s name tag on his chest.
“The name is captain Vladimir Stefan. You see, I was deployed in Iraq few years ago, and let me assure you, that I served my country and allies from NATO well. Such pity that we lost that war in the end… we just had to learn the hard way, how to fight with terrorism, how to prevail in this new assymetric warfare with covert treacherous enemy, who has no honor, who uses women and children as shields, who sets explosive traps everywhere, so I returned home with shiny medals on my chest, but also with my nerves a little bit tangled… maybe it’s really a good time for me to start a new life somewhere else. Anyway, your papers are in order, you may proceed, we are expecting another visit, so don’t block the gate. Good luck, and see you later,” the captain ended the conversation, and he ordered the soldiers to let Rudolph and Caroline in, except Lucy, who had to stay with the car, to park it, and to guard it.
Although she offered, that she will accompany both executives to the bunker, they rejected with thanks: the secrets to find there won’t be good to know for anybody.
Caroline was almost running on the grass, following the only road to the bunker entrance, she took her heel shoes down to move faster, and Rudolph could barely keep her tempo. Her face was red and sweaty, but not only from the fast movement and strain: she was simply scared, what will be found inside The Facility, if they lost contact with it thirty minutes ago.
They were notified after eight minutes… then fifteen minutes to arrive to the gate, and seven minutes to persuade the captain. But in the same time, she was so curious… rather not thinking, that there is yet one most serious problem: a person in poor disguise, who knew a critical information, remained stuck in the past, unable to be returned, as The Device was offline.
It was several hundred meters from the perimeter gate to reach the bunker’s entrance, but with this Caroline’s terrible speed, they almost flew over the green meadows around the bunker. On their way, they missed the burned wreckage of a BMP-2 armored personnel carrier, standing there as a monument of heroism of the original defenders of the site, but the executives paid no attention to it: they were not some tourists, after all, and no emotions belonged to their demanding executive job, where you have to decide correctly, to win.
Just before reaching the entrance, when they could see two standing and waiting persons clearly, Caroline, out of breath, turned to Rudolph. “I will go there alone,” she stopped him softly. “I need you to stay there, and to retard the delegation, to give them some explanation, some good lie, until I will sort everything out. Help me, you have a very important job to do, while I will be inside. Please.”
“No way!” he wanted to continue further, but she held him firmly, with her hand on his chest.
“You know, that it’s me who needs to go,” she was catching her breath with difficulty. “I am the one who created all this, you know that. So let me finish this… and let me to know the whole tale, until the end. Please.”
“You will die there… and I can’t allow it! You are too important…” Rudolph pushed her away.
“Sorry, Rudolph,” she kicked him swiftly into the right thigh, few inches above the knee, incapacitating the muscle instantly, and the man fell down as a chopped tree, with his leg in pain.
“Thank you for everything, and see you soon, my beloved,” she said instead goodbye. “Hold them here, please, and until they will arrive, think of a very good explanation for the Minister of Defence. When he will find out, what happened… he won’t be just angry, he will be mad, and if I won’t ever return, of course that you put all blame and sins on me, I think that I won’t mind anymore, so you can continue on our path, with Lucy maybe, she is very talented, and trustworthy. Peace upon you, my dear!”
“Caroline!” he yelled, but she was gone already, saying something to the schoolboy and young mother of two kids, the original visitors of the site, who were standing by the armored door, and then Caroline disappeared inside the bunker.
Now she was gone, and he felt so deep emptiness. She was a bitch, but what will he do without her? Who on the whole Earth can be at least similar to her? Now he realized, what a great woman it was. Funny… ingenious… active… always fighting, always running forward, inspiring and motivating others. Where would he be without her? Until they started doing business together, he was just another business loser, with his proud chest full only of empty air. Only she gave him the strength, reason and the will to become a man he always wanted to be, or at least, to be closer to this sweet imagination.
Both original visitors went to Rudolph, to help him back on the feet.
“He let us go, sir,” the boy reported zealously, maybe not realizing, that he could lie inside the bunker as well, together with the eliminated squad of Military Police. “He said, that he just needed to remove obstacles from his way, and he asked us to forgive him, what we had to see. He said that we should wait here for you, and to obey your instructions.”
“He?” Rudolph returned to the reality.
“Yes, he,” the young woman responded. “He said, that he will wait inside, to meet her.”
Now, Caroline was as alone and scared, as never in her life.
She went through the dark, long corridor, only dimly illuminated, as the power of The Facility was down, and only emergency lights were on. The bunker was a very sinister place even normally, but now… it was like a tomb, dark, deserted and terrifying. But the worst was terrible silence, which tore ears, used to the world noise, apart.
She could hear only her own steps, how the rubble from the past explosion jabbed her into the bare feet. She was even grateful for it, that she hears at least something, and she knows, that she is still alive, not in some dream.
She passed the ECS1, or Entrance Control Station One, she had to go through the mantrap, but the machine let her in: her biometric data was still stored inside the memory, and attached emergency generator still powered the basic security systems, unlike the elevator, too hungry for power supply, so Caroline had to take the stairs down.
Behind any corner, a danger or even death could be waiting, the culprit was probably still inside… but the woman was almost sure, that this is not her time yet. At first, she needs to find what happened, and then… well, she will be ready to demise in peace, if necessary. Something will remain here in the world after her… not a child, but present women were different, and many of them didn’t consider having children as the only mission in life.
No, she was not the type, she had to admit. She was too selfish, yes… still, she cared for others, yes, but it was not enough to take care of a child, so… she applied her abilities somewhere else, and in large. But she couldn’t defend the thought, how would the kid look like? What nose, or eyes would it have? She was simply curious to find it… but much more curious to find something else.
Before she reached the fourth underground floor, and before she entered the large hall, where The Device was built, she had last deep breath.
So, be it, she opened the last door…
A room was full of rubble. A massive explosion had to happen here in the past. But in utmost contrast with all the damage around, dirty crackled walls and ceiling, severed cables everywhere, the object in the middle of the hall was like from another world.
It was a black triangle, pervious inside, created from six perfectly regular blocks, manufactured using a special alloy, the most conductive material ever developed. They spent many days and nights designing the shape of The Device, their ultimate scientific creation, Caroline remembered. But as a triangle was in their corporate logo already, and it was a triangle symbolizing the impossible… the choice was very easy. The Device actually symbolized a moment, when impossible became possible, and all your dreams could be fulfilled…
Caroline’s eyes knew the impressive Device well, so she rather paid attention to other interesting phenomena in the hall, like several bodies, dressed in green battledresses, lying dead, pierced with gun wounds, and the pistols were lying around as well, one of them with the breech opened, and the magazine slightly out of the handle.
It means, that the original owner had to reload, Caroline thought, when she expected the weapon. So the firefight had to last at least several seconds. The soldier had enought time to draw the weapon and to fire the whole clip… against whom? Only six bodies were here, five in uniforms, the last a civilian, but with clearly visible chest tag, identifying the woman as The Corporation’s employee, serving here as a guide for the tourists.
Caroline counted at least six hits on this particular body, five on another, and nine on another. She was not a doctor, but it seemed to her, that all bullet holes have approximately the same size, corresponding to 9mm ammunition of the Military Police’s Beretta service pistols.
I am a complete idiot, she thought, when she realized, that she forgot to ask the boy or that woman, what happened here exactly? Who shot the soldiers? And how did the person got the weapon inside, through the security system?
And, actually… where is the person? He could be still hidden in The Facility somewhere, but why? The emergency exit was at Corridor Seven, but they deactivated it and even welded the hatch firmly, when The Facility was abandoned as a military installation with high number of guards, so only one entrance to be guarded remained, saving limited manpower available.
Caroline stood up from the crime scene and looked around. Maybe she should check the Third Floor, where the hydrogen fuse generators were located, and to find out, what happened there, why is the whole bunker offline? This was an answer that interested Caroline the most, how was it done? The seal there was impenetrable, both in physical and cyber means. And no EMP attack was reported, their very sensitive sensors around would know it…
While she was thinking, she completely forgot, that the culprit and murderer is still around her somewhere… but she was too obsessed to get the answers, to solve all riddles.
However, her visiting the Third Floor explained nothing. The seal was undamaged, and even Caroline had no access inside, not speaking that the massive door were offline. At least she checked the computer terminal by the door, which used backup power: nothing, the screen was black. But why the emergency lights worked here and everywhere, then? And the entrance security system, working as well?
She was no engineer or technical specialist, but she felt, that it’s somehow connected with different sources of emergency power for the lights, security, and for this particular terminal. The backup generators for the lights were on the first and the third floors simultaneously, but to keep the strict security, the terminal on the Third Floor, controlling the seal of primary power source, had a backup on the same floor only. It couldn’t be powered from Floor One, to avoid security breach.
So, the attacker discarded the Third Floor completely, and that was very strange. If he wanted to disable The Device, to damage The Corporation and to leave that journalist in the past, if it was his intention… how could he disable both power systems? The technicians assured Caroline, that to keep The Device operational under all conditions, the emergency power system will be working, as it uses deliberately another hardware, software and power source, some nanites or something, she forgot the exact definiton.
They also informed her, and they were very proud about this fact, that if disabling the primary circuit is hard, disabling the secondary is practically impossible, as the real system is hidden very carefully, and a perfect decoy is used to attract any potential intruder…
When Caroline found, that the culprit is that Grandpa, she thought, that he simply had to steal the plans of the power systems of The Facility, or someone else supplied them for him, some traitor, and thus the Grandpa was able to disable them effectively, using some computer virus, or similar cyber measure. But the secondary power for The Device was never on any technical drawing… and the culprit hadn’t used an EMP attack… how could he disable the system which was known only to several people, plus Caroline, but only generally, and there were no blueprints?
Maybe it was one of that five particular technicians, who betrayed? But isn’t it too much of coincidences? All technicians worked only on some part of the overall powering system, to keep highest security… and this seemed, that Grandpa knows too much.
Or he could use a special weapon that we don’t know, Caroline thought, and thus we didn’t prepare any defence against it, and our sensors didn’t signalize its use, as they simply don’t know it, and its effects.
Weapon… yes, it was another matter that was strange. Of course, that Grandpa could smuggle some weapon inside, but the MPs were pierced with bullet holes too generously… if he would need to eliminate them, one shot would be enough, he had no time to make a target practice from their bodies, as they were shooting too, and moreover, some shots were into legs, like if there would be more attackers, or the MPs shot each other in a vicious gunfight.
And Grandpa’s body was not there, there was no blood trail, leading away, so the shootout didn’t hurt him, although bullets flew there like during a judgement day. And the two survivors, that schoolboy and that woman, they were not hurt too… they even didn’t seem so shocked. Were they here at all? But how could they miss there, if the MPs were ordered to keep very close to them at all times?
Strange… Caroline’s head was boiling, and still no answers. She lost control of time. How long was she here already, anyway? She checked her watch: it was more than twenty minutes. On the surface, there is certainly a hell already, and poor Rudolph is maybe detained, or even executed, to get rid of a witness… she hoped that she used the time to create some very, very good tale, and excuse.
Caroline returned back to the hall with The Device, but she saw nothing new, nothing interesting. She had an idea, to look for the cartridges, to count them, to check their type, but the light was too weak for searching, between all that rubble on the ground.
Grandpa, Grandpa, where are you? Caroline started to be impatient. Did he disappear? Or does he watch her closely right now, waiting to strike, as an eagle? Caroline hated all surveillance!
“Mister, I need to talk to you,” she said loudly into the empty hall, in the last attempt, and in all that deafening silence around, her voice resonated in the large room with immense, creepy power. “Or I will leave, as there is nothing to see here.”
She waited several seconds, and then she made her favorite upset face, like always, when a business negotiation wasn’t going according to her interests, and she started to walk towards the stairs to the surface.
And suddenly she felt, that somebody is standing there, behind The Device. Maybe the person was there for the whole time, as Caroline paid attention only to bodies, piled up quite close to each other, and black arms of The Device were large enough, to hide a man.
She turned towards him, she saw his face for the first time in reality, although she knew his appearance, from the photos. He was really just a Grandpa, unarmed, he looked innocent, not able to kill anybody, with grey hair. So, was it someone else, who cause all this? There was too many questions, and he was the one who could reply.
“Good afternoon, mister,” Caroline had no fear, when she was so close to the truth now.
“Caroline, nice to meet you, finally,” the Grandpa slowly walked to the woman, still barehanded, nothing indicated, that he wants to eliminate her as others. “They told me, that you will come, so I should wait for you, if I will be able to.”
Caroline was attentive to the last sentence. There was some warning, like, that the Grandpa can’t leave this place. It makes no sense to run, he could try, but it seems that he knows, that such attempt would be futile. But why? What does it mean?
“I would like to know, what happened there. I am sure, that you saw something, sir,” Caroline started the interrogation softly.
“What is there to say,” the old man sat down on a large piece of concrete, he seemed tired, he was around 65 years old, and this was a long day. “I was sent here, to execute a special task. To disable The Device, and to disable you.”
He must have a grenade or something in his pocket, she thought. He will kill them both, it’s his plan. Phase one: to disable The Device. Phase two: to kill her. She knew of course, that many people and organizations will want to get rid of her. The Corporation had extremely powerful enemies, including their competitors, plus, many other entities didn’t like, that Caroline has too many sensitive secrets saved in her memory. So, no wonder, that they chose an executive action, in the end.
“How did you disable the generators?” Caroline decided to use her remaining time, not going into paradise, or hell, without answers she wanted.
“The same way, as I disabled the security escort: very easily,” the Grandpa replied with modest smile. “Or to be exact, it was not me, actually.”
Jackpot, she thought. It must be some very unique weapon. Caroline was dying to get a working sample! Can you imagine the possibilities? The money from the defence industry, NATO, all national armies around the world, with almost unlimited budgets? She was thinking like a business woman again, and according to the tense current situation, it was really preposterous.
Still, The Device was rather a tactical weapon. But this technology… it had to be something really, really advanced, and she was eager to know more.
“By chance,” the old railwayman disrupted her scheming thoughts, “wouldn’t you have some water, woman? I am so thirsty, you know. It will all end soon, but to drink something before departing would be good.”
“Sorry, mister. No liquids are allowed on this floor, security precautions, you know. I would have to go to the first or second floor to fetch it… and I presume, that there is no time for it.”
“You are right. There is only a very short part of my life remaining, several minutes. But I still have something to do,” the Grandpa was decisive again, indicating, that he is not afraid to die, like some devoted terrorist, and in fact, doing what he executed here, he became one.
“Only to die thirsty… it’s a shame. How much this toy around costed? Hundred of million dollars? And still, you don’t have even a glass of water for a thirsty Grandpa, who deserves some respect, as an elder person,” the man smiled in bitterness and irony. “I really like this proverb: so close, and still so far away,” he looked at the black obelisk arms above his head. Every inch of them costed a fortune, but water was yet more expensive material here, it seemed.
Caroline watched the man, and she noticed, that he has something in his right hand. A very small object, but she couldn’t recognize it exactly, so she sat closer to him, watching his hand.
“Yes, woman, this is it,” he confirmed her suspicion. “The small object I am holding, that is the most valuable thing in this bunker, believe me,” he opened his palm, and there was… only a small, completely common button, missing from his jacket. “Now you understand, how easily could I smuggle it inside. The object is completely inconspicuous, made from an artificial material, similar to a common button even on molecular level, so your advanced security system and sensors couldn’t notice it.”
“You mean, that this button is the weapon that killed all Military Police escort and disabled the Third Floor?” Caroline couldn’t believe her own ears.
“Exactly. I am just an old railwayman, I have no military training, I am no ninja. They gave me this thing, and they told me, that it will take care of the matter, but there will be a price to pay: as soon as the object will lose contact with my body tissue, I will be… deactivated, as I will be used up as an asset, and definitely a very inconvenient witness. But I agreed with this deal,” the Grandpa watched the button with sentiment.
“But why?” Caroline wanted to know.
“What would you expect? Money, what else! A family matter. You see, I have a son, and I love him so much. He is not a bad person, only he seems to be unable to live correctly and responsibly, so his family suffers, as he is weak, incompetent, he made some mistakes, now he has large financial problems, and it was not in my might to support him more, and his family. I have no savings, I am old… where could an old man like me, without any property or a collateral, get all the money they need? To pay the debts, to pay the mortgage? And tomorrow? What would be tomorrow? And next month? He promises to change all the time, but nothing happens, and I watch him with fear, imagining, how their life will look like, when I will pass away, and I won’t be here for them.
So, when ‘they’ approached me, saying, that there could a very good deal, solving this big problem of mine, I told them: I am in, this is what I have to do, to support the people I love!
So I am here, as you can see. I fulfilled my mission in all senses, so they will pay the money they promised, and I believe them that they will. Now, the last part of my task remains, and I will leave the world satisfied, that I executed everything what had to be done,” the Grandpa said with relief, and satisfaction, feeling as a man, for the last time.
“Who are ‘they’… and what is this weapon? Who manufactured it?” Caroline still needed answers.
“I don’t know all details, I am just a tool,” he replied with apology in advance, that he won’t be able to satisfy her endless hunger for answers. “I could see only a small top of the iceberg of this conspiracy. Anyway, the weapon, and now prepare for a big surprise, Caroline… it was manufactured by your own corporation!
No, it’s not some secret weapon from the future! Your factories made it, only you don’t know about it! You are just a puppet, for very long time already, and you don’t know how much the research advanced: miniaturization, nanotechnology, military interests, sustainable arsenal… they call it ‘Assault Device’, and as you can see, the way it influences warfare is limitless!
It allegedly works on several levels. When it’s activated, just by touching it and removing it from the dress, like in my case, the integrated combat computer uses my senses, my eyes, and it’s own measuring capabilities, to construct a complex battle plan, to identify and to mark the enemies. Then, the Assault Device actually launches: firstly, it eliminated the guards, using PSY offensive means, simply by forcing them to shoot each other, but before that, I sent those two survivors away, so they wouldn’t get shot.
You may think, that use of pistols so close to me could be risky for me as the operator, but the masters wanted this to happen this way, to create a natural explanation of the incident, raising no suspicion that a special technology was used, it should look like simple terrorism.
I had to stay alive, because after this primary part, I had to change the position one floor up, and The Assault Device made the rest. Don’t ask me, how: simply your hardware behind the seal was offline suddenly. There was no explosion, or light, even warmth, nothing I would have noticed. Unbelievable miracle, I am telling you that, and I am sure, that you are the person who can appreciate it the most,” the Grandpa smiled ruthlessly.
Caroline was listening to the old man, unable to reply. How could that be? Is he lying, or what? But why would he do that? What if there was simply a sabotage, he killed them all, and now he makes this silly tale about a weapon in a button?
Only one fact disturbed her. They really planned to introduce a new product line, aimed at the defence industry and its tempting financial resources, with similar features. But the project was never finished factually, never leaving the preproduction phase. The smallest version they were able to manufacture was of a size of a beer can, nothing smaller, because of necessity to integrate the power cells into the alloy, and definitely not with such wide and devastating combat capabilities as Grandpa presented, only with some basic psychological influencing, raising fear in enemies, so they will be more likely to run away from the battle. But this other thing was able to do thousand times more of damage.
If she could just inspect the button, to have a look under a microscope, to disassemble it, to study and analyze it…
“I can’t tell you, who are ‘they’, I am afraid,” the man resumed his tale slowly. “They really didn’t give me their official introduction cards. They were behaving nicely to me, no butchers, rather businessmen, with good manners. Do you want me to describe their appearance, so you can find them in the world? Normal men, just common, smiling all the time, positive… one of them put his hand on my shoulder, like this, and he said: ‘Do something good for the people, old man, and you will be paid generously, so your family will prevail, your grandchildren will get everything they need, if your son failed!’
He also told me: ‘You know, that she went too far already, you read the news. We need to show her, that we are stronger than them, that she is just a pawn, serving to higher interests. Everybody has his or her place in the society, including her, and including you. It’s only necessary to explain and show them, what they have to do, where to be: only where we want them.’
They instructed me to apply to visit The Facility, maybe they helped to arrange my visit somehow, they could bribe somebody from your company, who knows… once inside, then only to activate the button… and it was all! ‘Nothing difficult, old man,’ they said… and they were right! It was just a breeze… but the people had to die, I know that. But was it really me who killed them?” the old railwayman looked at the corpses around.
“And she?” Caroline changed the topic of the conversation.
“She will stay, where she is now! They wanted it, and for two purposes: first, to keep you on the chain, as this matter will be floating above your head always, you can never get rid of this mess, and thus, they will be able to control you easily. You can’t go out public and confess what happened, nobody would believe you anyway, you would only sign your court sentence, as the government is no more favorable to you, as you can imagine, that after the events of today, you will be ‘persona non grata’, and you will be very glad to leave the country in one piece and still breathing.
What would they think about you, if you would say, that because of your mistake, a person was lost, and now, she is in the hands of the enemy? Will she talk? Of course she will, that’s inevitable! And she knows. Again, they want it this way, reason number two. Why? Ask them, not me.
Now it really doesn’t matter, whether your Device is really a time displacement equipment, or a dream machine, a fake magic. The journalist is gone, nowhere to be found… and you are cornered forever. You played with fire too long, Caroline… and someone will use it now against you. But stay calm, you will live, unlike me! My path ends here, as I told you.”
“I can help you, sir… just hold it, we can save you somehow, I am sure,” Caroline offered him. He could know yet more…
“No, no,” the elder rejected her offer firmly, she didn’t care for him anyway, she just wanted to get valuable information. “It’s not in my own interest, as I need to keep my part of the deal, to be paid, remember. When the message I was told to give you will be transferred, I will lie here, on the ground, I will make myself convenient, and I will drop it. It has to be this way, and I am a man who keeps his word. Furthermore, there is definitely a timer inside this thing, or something like that… I couldn’t run away from my fate, even if I wanted to.
But I don’t want to run, I enjoyed a long life, I experienced almost everything what the gift of life could offer me, so why to be hungry, and ask for yet more? No, modesty is what gets you far enough, so I came to this place, and here I will remain.
Now, listen, Caroline. You will now go back upstairs, you will tell them about the incident, but you will omit certain details, in your own interest. You will persuade them to cover everything what happened here, no one will get here inside for an inspection anyway, the site is effectively closed, so you will arrange everything as an accident, some crazy terrorist attacked the peaceful tourists, or some forgotten explosive charge initiated itself, and people died unfortunately, including the journalist, with their bodies mutilated in the process. She is dead, you know? So obtain one more corpse.
Then, you will move away, somewhere very far. You can take your friend Rudolph with you. You will keep low profile, until you will be called back, but that time, you will work on something very different: the health care business. They want you to help people, to stop being selfish. You will participate on very special health care project, but only as an advisor, your executive days are over, remember that,” the old man said, feeling very exhausted after the long speech.
Caroline was just thinking, what it all means, remaining silent.
“And please, leave my family alone,” he asked her yet. “They are not involved anyhow, they have no information, and it would make no sense to revenge on them. I told you everything I knew, so please, woman, repay me this favor.”
“Of course, sir. But I need to know…”
“Enough talk for today! Good night… and see you on the other side,” he said, lying down, as he promised, and as soon the button fell from his hand, he was dead.
Caroline checked his pulse. No sign of life.
She picked up the button: it seemed as a completely normal button.
“Wait, Caroline,” Rudolph stopped her narration, when they were sitting in a Caribbean beach bar many months later. “You took it? Do you have it?”
She just smiled. “Of course, that I took with me! Do you think that I would be so crazy to leave it there, you fool?”
She opened her palm: a small shiny button was there.
Rudolph was watching the thing in tension. “So we are… still in the game?”
“We are, you old fool,” she kissed him. “Where should you meet that man, who asked for a mission?”
“Very far from here,” Rudolph replied evasively. “But I wonder… should I believe you? Your tale is so complex, centered around a tiny button, allegedly an ultimate weapon… how can I know, that it’s real, that you don’t play with me again? Did you try to disassemble it? How can you prove to me, that it’s not just another fake tale of an experienced liar?”
“No, no such attempt was made yet, as we would need a very advanced equipment for that, a top-tier science lab, hard to be found on this island, plus I wanted to keep low profile, not to be suspected, that something like that even exists, and that I possess it… can you imagine, what fortune can this small thing mean for us? Even if we have no guarantee that we will be able to reverse engineer it? Maybe it’s good that no one would believe us. We can’t sell it… but we can use it for our own advance!
So you have to decide now, Rudolph: to believe my tale, to go visit the man together, to be back in business, as you wanted, or… I don’t know, to go away, alone, finding a lousy corporate job somewhere in America, and then, one day, they will find you in a dark alley, behind a dirty bar in San Jose, killed by an assailant.
The police from local district will find no culprit, or just some drunk asshole with a bloody knife in his hand, who will say, that you two quarelled for a transient favor of a cheap prostitute, and there was a brawl, you attacked him, so he had to kill you in self defence. You will be buried somewhere, into an anonymous grave, and maybe a small notice about your unfortunate demise will be published in local newspaper. What more can be there?
The world will run further, all luxurious shops will lift their curtains tomorrow, like nothing happened, people will meet on the streets, lovers will make love, businessmen in white shirts will earn money and ride in their limousines, sleeping with women with white noses from coke, like you once did, but all this fun will run without you. Do you remember that novel, ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’? I saw it in the local library, in the village. Maybe you could read it again. It’s a nice book with deep guidance at the end,” Caroline finished her drink gourmetly, and she left the bar, to welcome the first evening visitors, several tourists from Germany, with their bodies burned from strong Caribbean sun.
When Rudolf was alone, hearing Caroline’s voice just from the distance, he turned his head to the sea, where a beatiful sunset could be seen.
He almost lost her once, he never expected her to return from the bunker alive. But she survived. Or was she a part of the conspiracy, talking about imaginary unknown powers, who now allegedly ruled them?
Wasn’t it the right time to get rid of her eternal lies, to be a man again, a free man? Wasn’t it a mistake to stick with her for too long already? He had no control, and the bitch was able to supply him with new and new tales.
And the entity, manufacturing that innocent button toy and orchestrating such advanced executive action in the bunker… will they like the fact, that Caroline took it? And that she even plans openly to misuse it?
Their power must be immense… with this offensive hardware, they could eliminate anybody, anybody around the world, including presidents, as such inconspicuous Grandpas were available everywhere… the carrier could be absolutely anything or anybody, so those unknown people would be factually rulers of the world… such nonsense!
Another reason, why not to believe this Caroline’s absurd tale, and to leave! All control was lost in this matter. Money are gone, power and influence are gone, options are gone… everything disappeared into ashes, only they two remained, and what do they mean now? Only Caroline’s crazy dreams and self-confidence holds all this pile of lies together yet, and he is so foolish to eat the poison, as the last faithful, or totally naive and dumb dog!
He will yet think about it, during the night, when he will lie in his beach shack without door and windows, with some local slut on his chest.
He also decided, to find San Jose on the map… just in case.
Continuation: Caroline’s Decision