The midnight sky erupted in a rainbow swath of muted colors as the first of the silent missiles hit the ground. Another hit. And then another. For a few seconds the whole city slumbered, unaware of what was happening above them. And then the overpowering shock of the missiles, not just the physical shock, took hold. Thousands of voices rose up, and the dark torch-lit tunnels of Talbot City became awash with people.
“Attack in sector six, zone five,” the PA system blared. “Zone five is not done. All highs to sector six, zone five. Repeat. Attack in sector six, zone five. All highs to appraise.”
Dixon and Monty coughed and spluttered in their own compartments, holding onto heavy items of furniture until the vibrations died away to a manageable level. They rushed out into corridors nearby and collided roughly, staring at each other for an instant before brushing themselves off and heading upward. Dixon took the lead, his brown hat pulled down over his head to cover his long dark hair. He wiped sweat and dust from his face and grimaced.
“Attack in sector six, zone five,” the PA system repeated.
“We’re coming,” Dixon answered under his breath.
Monty caught up with Dixon and the two of them rushed along a corridor that headed skyward. “No sleep tonight,” he said, half-turning to face Dixon.
Another explosion shook the ground above their heads and for a moment the whole world seemed to shake. Dixon was thrown to the floor and Monty collapsed on top of him.
“Get off of me,” Dixon snarled, pushing upward at Monty. Monty rolled over, pulled himself to his feet, and offered Dixon his hand. “I can pull myself up,” Dixon continued, reaching out a hand to steady himself against a wall while leveraging himself upward.
The two men continued along the dark winding tunnel and after a few minutes reached a dim opening. Concrete and rocks half-buried the entranceway but they managed to squeeze themselves through a gap and they half-fell into the large room. Only one light remained lit at the far end of the room, some thirty feet away, and both men squinted, trying to adjust their eyes to the darkness.
“There,” Monty screamed, running, almost falling to his left. Dixon turned his eyes toward where Monty was moving and saw an arm waving frantically around, pinned under a large rock. “Quickly,” Monty shouted out again.
Dixon arrived a second behind Monty and threw his complete weight at the large rock. It moved slightly, but not enough to dislodge it. The arm protruding from the base of the rock stiffened and then went limp.
“Hurry.” Monty and Dixon both put their backs to the rock and tried to leverage it free of the body underneath. It finally gave way and rolled a short distance, uncovering the lifeless form of a small boy, maybe ten years of age.
“What was he doing here?” asked Dixon, bending over to examine the boy. “It is not done to be near the surface at night.”
Monty knelt down beside Dixon and put a hand to the boy’s face. “Not done. For once I agree with you, Dixon.”
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