It seemed like we were in the air for days, but it was only just over 2 hours. Bunker 9 was isolated, even more isolated than the mine had been. Huge pine trees surrounded us, rocks reaching into the sky. I guessed we were somewhere in Colorado, by the scenery. I looked around the cabin, taking in the faces around me. Sally didn’t lift her head, I didn’t know whether she was asleep or not, it was possible, nervous exhaustion could do that to a person. My Father sat beside me, barking orders dripping with forces jargon and barely disguised anger, into the mouthpiece on his headset. I tuned him out, listening instead to the rumble and throb of the helicopters rotors. It was oddly calming.
The helicopter began to descend into a clearing, moving lower through a tightly packed canopy of pine trees. This was it, Bunker 9. Well, I thought bitterly, the dead wouldn’t be able to find this place in a hurry.
Two soldiers stepped out from a rocky outcrop, towards the helicopter, bending their heads as they passed under the rotor blades. They slid the door open on the cabin, one of them reaching up his hand to help me climb out. My Father jumped out, smoothing his white hair back with his hand.
“Where’s General Montenegro?” He barked at the soldiers.
“He’s inside Sir, waiting for you in the ready room. I’ll show you the way.” I fell into step beside my Father, following the soldier through an almost invisible crack in the side of the rock. The soldier stopped as we passed inside the bunker, gesturing to me with his eyes.
“Sir, the ready room is classified.” The soldier said reluctantly. My Father fixed him with a steely gaze.
“My Daughter has been given the highest clearance, she is coming with me. Is that understood?” The soldier saluted and continued to lead us through the metal lined tunnels. Lights flickered overhead, their low hum the only sound apart from the slapping of our boots on the stone floor.
This base looked smaller than the mine not so well finished, as though it was a throwback to another time. A relic taken out of mothballs; ready for the end of the world. Still, I thought as I was led into the ready room, it was safe enough and isolated enough to keep us from harms way.
I sat down at a long table, the room very similar to the ready room back at the mine. A uniformed female proffered me a cup of black coffee, which I took gratefully. My Father walked up the man at the head of the table and shook his hand.
“Terrible business Marshall, what’s the sitrep on Kirby and the facility?” My Dad shook his head sadly, it was the first time I’d seen real emotion on his face in a very long time.
“Doesn’t look good Monty. Kirby wouldn’t leave the facility. He said he would buy us some time so we could escape. The helicopter is heading back now to look for any survivors.” The stars on the man’s uniform glittered in the overhead lights. 4 of them; a 4 star General. I shook my head sadly; it stood to reason that the top brass would be spared at the end of the world.
“Understood. A Sorry business though isn’t it Jack!” The General said sitting down and reaching for his cup of coffee. My Father took it as his cue and sat down next to him.
“What is the projected growth of the contagion?” My Father asked the General. The General gestured to a woman, dressed in a lab coat who got to her feet nervously.
“Early projections indicate that the contagion will have consumed the general population of the mainland United States within the next 36 hours. Fatality rate is 100%.” I let out a long sigh. We were fucked. There was no cure; the survivors were forced to hide in isolated places. Soon we would run out of food, out of ammunition, out of hope. I felt a tear roll down my cheek, where it splashed onto the tabletop with a tap. My Father flicked his eyes over me with disgust and turned back to the General.
“How are the trials going on the cure?” General Montenegro gestured again to the female scientist who was still standing, her slight frame swaying with her nervousness.
“Results have been disappointing. But we will just keep plugging away until we get there.” She said injecting some animation into her voice.
“Has there been any progress in locating Lt Col Demilio?” My ears pricked up, I’d heard that name before.
“As of yet, she is still missing. I realise her importance in your work Dr Dresden, but we cannot rely on her. For all we know she is already one of them.” I felt deflated; her name had been the first piece of hope that I’d clung to in what seemed like days.
“Dr Matterson has had some promising results in his own clinical trials. Perhaps he can be of assistance to you Dr Dresden?” I rolled my eyes. News to me, I thought as I looked across at Billy, standing close to the door. My Father gestured him forward.
“I had some excellent results, I believe I have isolated at least three of the gene sequences within the Morningstar Virus.” Dr Dresden looked across at Billy with distain.
“Well I look forward to reading your findings.” General Montenegro got to his feet.
“I suggest you shower and grab some rations. We meet back here in four hours. Hopefully then we will know the extent of the losses from the Mine facility, and will have evaced the remaining survivors. Major Stellengard, please show Ms Marshall to her quarters. Jack I need to talk to you in private.” My Father looked over at me steely faced. I had a feeling he was going to get the carpeting of a lifetime. The thought was not unpleasant to me.
Major Stellengard, the woman who had served my coffee, led me out into the corridor. She was a blond woman, with a hard yet pretty face and the stance of a career soldier.
“Do you know what happened to the woman who was in the helicopter with me?” I asked her as she led me down the narrow corridors.
“No Maam, but I believe the remaining members of your party were taken to the infirmary for tests. I’m taking you there first before we go to your quarters. We can’t be too careful, we don’t want another incident like what happened at the facility to happen here.” I frowned at her tone. Even female soldiers were assholes. Just my luck! To be surrounded at the end of the world by Assholes and Science Geeks. I allowed a little smile to crease my lips at that thought.