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What Hasn't Been - Chapter 3
The adventure continues
This is the third chapter from my upcoming FINAL installment of the Department for Mutated Persons trilogy - “What Hasn’t Been”
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The car's windows were rolled down, the wind whipping through the interior. They were flying down the scorched highway with their headlights off, a shadow passing in the night. The man drove while the woman looked out the passenger side, her arm hanging out the window, letting the wind wave it up and down.
Alan’s mind was still foggy from the In Between. All he could recall now was that he needed to find Marshall’s sister, Mary – she could help heal whatever was burning up his brain.
“You’re pretty quiet!” the young man finally broke the silence, shouting over the wind blowing through the interior. He didn’t look away from the road, his eyes keenly piercing through the darkness. “No thank you for your rescuers?”
Alan chuckled, and the woman pulled her arm back into the car, her eyes locking on Alan in the backseat.
“Is this a rescue?” Alan joked, holding his cuffed hands up in their line of sight. “It feels more like a kidnapping.”
“I have a hard time believing anyone could kidnap Alan Mitchell,” the woman replied with a raised eyebrow.
“Isn’t he dead?” Alan questioned. “Thought I saw that on the news today.”
“There’s a movement that thinks the government lost him and covered it up,” the man explained.
“Why would they do that?” Alan asked.
“Much better to say you killed a high-valued terrorist target than to admit you lost him in one of the most secure facilities in the country, no?” the woman replied.
Alan nodded. “I guess that makes sense.”
“You do realize we know that you’re Alan Mitchell, right? We saw your mugshot on TV at the diner this afternoon,” the man pulled the car to the exit. The car bumped and jostled as they turned onto an unkempt rural farm road, dust kicking up from the gravel beneath.
Alan looked back behind them, the imperceptible murky night bumping along. He detected a soft whirring noise rush closer to them, then a floodlight blinded his vision. When Alan’s vision returned to normal, he saw that the light was several car lengths behind them and traveling closer.
“Shit,” the woman grunted, as the man struggled to keep the car on the gravel road.
The man mumbled a string of expletives and wrenched the car onto yet another gravel path.
“You want to lead them back to our hideout?” the woman complained nervously over the wind and the clanking rocks against the car’s undercarriage.
“Can you shut up and just throw them off our trail?” the man yelled back, his arms shaking trying to keep the steering wheel straight.
She turned and looked past Alan at the floodlight chasing them, extending her arm. She began twisting her hand, manipulating a wave of energy invisible to the others. The energy began to fluctuate into cresting waves that changed from blue to a light shade of green in her mind’s eye.
The floodlight veered off their path to the left and carried on that way for several minutes. The woman put her arm back down and turned back to the front of the car.
“That won’t last long. Eventually, their drones will re-uplink with the satellites to track us again,” she explained.
“It’s enough,” the driver sighed. He turned the car again, this time to the left and under a highway overpass. He slowed under the overpass and stopped the car. He turned back toward Alan in one deft movement.
“We put ourselves through a lot of shit to find you, Alan. So don’t play coy with us. We need your help.”
“What help could I possibly be to you?” Alan waved his cuffed hands at them. “Besides, you seem pretty capable all on your own.”
The man sighed, and looked at the woman from the corner of his eyes. The woman bunched up her lips, and looked at Alan.
“I’m Henry and this is Hannah. We need to find our sister, Mary, and we think you might know how to find her,” Henry explained.
“You’re Marshall’s siblings?”
The two nodded back.
“Come inside, and we’ll talk,” Hannah said.
The two siblings stepped out of the vehicle and led Alan to a maintenance door under the overpass. Hannah waved her hand over the door’s numerical padlock and the lock turned green, chimed, and unlocked.
Henry pushed the door open, and they entered a small maintenance room, modified into a bunkhouse. There were two cots pressed up against opposing walls, and small provisions lining a small shelving unit that used to house equipment for highway maintenance. There was a small HAM radio stationed on a small metal desk next to the entrance.
“Cozy,” Alan joked.
Hannah lowered her eyes and sat down on her cot.
“I wasn’t--” Alan tried to explain, after Hannah was clearly thrown off by his response. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s a lot easier to make it through torture if you can crack a joke, right?”
“I know it ain’t the Hilton, but we don’t have a lot of options. Things have gotten worse since you disappeared,” Henry replied, as he rifled through a box of loose tools.
There was a moment of awkward silence. Hannah compulsively picked at her nails. Alan stared at his feet. Henry leaned against the tool box.
“This is just a pitstop we found until we reached you,” Henry explained, staring at the ceiling of the cramped shed.
“How did you know I’d be there?” Alan asked.
Henry looked up from the toolbox at Hannah, and she shook her head. He leaned his head toward her, his eyes as big as saucers. Hannah pursed her lips, and folded her arms over her chest.
“It’s stupid...” Hannah finally answered, shaking her head as if to push off the thought that drove the two of them to drive hundreds of miles. She picked at her nails amid shaking hands. Hannah looked at Alan through a side glance, “Just suffice it to say, we had a feeling you’d be somewhere around here.”
Alan could hear her scattered thoughts, muddled and anxious. Whatever the reason for finding him, it was clear they were at least who they said they were. That was enough for him. He released a sigh.
“Fair enough. So what do we do now?” Alan asked.
“Find Mary,” Henry replied, and he pulled bolt cutters out of the toolbox. He eyed them, keenly gauging their weight and strength for the task at hand.
“Sounds like a good idea. How do we do that?” Alan questioned.
“We thought you’d know,” Hannah replied shakily, her eyes darting to Henry. Henry reached out with the bolt cutters and snapped the handcuffs’ chain, then he tossed the cutters onto his bed and grabbed Alan’s wrists.
Henry eyed the locks on the handcuffs. “Yeah, that should be simple to pick.” He pulled a small screwdriver from the toolbox, and stuck the head of it into the lock, while pressing another small drill bit below it. A few random movements, and the cuffs were on the floor.
“So you are just good at whatever,” Alan said.
“Pretty much. I was blessed with agility,” Henry said, his hands tapping his chest, and then he pointed at Hannah, “And my twin sister is a walking smartphone.”
Hannah nodded. “Yes, of course. As per usual, my brother severely misrepresents what we can do.”
“So, Hannah, and - Henry was it?” Alan asked.
“Henry,” he affirmed. “Yes, I know. Henry and Hannah: the twins. I guess our folks liked the alliteration of it.”
“We need to go west,” Alan said.
“West? We just came from there, Alan. That’s not a good idea. Trust me,” Henry replied.
“We need to break into a Department facility. The Director told me he knows where Mary is, and if he gets to her first, it--”
“We’ve spent years trying to fly under the radar, and you want us to break into a Department facility?” Hannah rebutted, her voice becoming raw. She pressed her hands into her cot’s flimsy mattress.
“It’s the only way we save them,” Alan countered, his tone grave and his eyes unblinking.