Sleeping Through The Apocalypse
"Its not for redemption… its a sense of… of having shirked my destiny for far to long"
"And you think packing your bags and throwing a knapsack over your shoulder like a hobo, is going to do anything?" said Prof Vudloom, as she uttered a short disbelieving laugh. She stared at Thomas in shock, as he stood by a newly filled suitcase stuffed with cloths, rations, and toiletries . He was wearing traveling cloths, and had some kind of sleeping bag slung over his shoulder, which he now looked at out of the corner of his eye sheepishly, trying to shrug it off onto the ground and kick it away, but not wanting to draw any more attention to it.
"I know its silly… i just panicked and threw everything together in a rush… I wasn't thinking at all, but i have to get out of here. So, deep down, i was preparing for some kind of journey, even though its completely absurd to prepare for a trip into a place that cannot be reached.
"Thats right, Tom! The Complex resides in the future, so you do look ridiculous. Now put all this stuff away, and lets sit down and talk. This is some idiotic-" her fury almost carrying her over his interruption, her red face almost continuing on in its tirade. But Thomas' interjection was like water over fire, his tears opposing the element she was in perfectly.
"I don't know what" tears in his eyes ,"I don't know what I'll do Claire… if I can't go. I'm on the edge… of some terrible precipice …" he trailed off.
Claire gazed at him for a moment, before making up her mind. "We'll have to go to Doctor Furkis then"
The Overseer in charge of the Temporal Department steeped his fingers and looked at them behind his desk.
"You know it's moments like these I wish I was a little more creative and had decorated my office more thematically. A little more fitting to my job, like clicking clocks everywhere. pieces of clockwork and full time pieces, on shelves and tables. That be amusing wouldn't it… cuckoos, water, grandfathers, covering every wall." said the physics expert, Doctor Furkis
"And why is that?"
"Well, so in awkward moments, there would at least be the sounds of the clocks to break the silence."
"I mean, what am i to say to this? You ask me to commit treason, and by just coming to me you insinuate them i am untrustworthy, ruthless, manipulative, and dishonest" he said in mock hurt.
"We all know you are an old spy who never got caught, Wallace" she replied, slightly contempous.
The elderly man ignored her for a moment, and extended a gnarled finger to spin an globe near his ink blotter. "Well, that should have to do. Its slightly squeaky. Something to focus on in the space between insults. Good enough." he said quietly, more to himself, and then grinned wolfishly at Claire.
"No, Ms. Vudbloom, I am a old spy who's influence and power simply faded to the point that I was no longer considered a problem. Giving me this position was just because I was useful in my field… and to keep me busy."
"so you cannot help us" said Claire, asking all the questions, as Tom leaned back in his chair, his eyes flicking back and forth, his face sharpened by interest and fresh alertness.
"Like i said, I can not do much anymore. All the objects have their guards increased of late. The clock, the door, the rip, the room, anything with the power of forwards or backwards is now under increased protection. This was an decision made by an overruling council. They're on to something."
"Well it's hopeless then-
"However… there are more physical ways to travel, Mrs Vudblom…" he said, raising a busy eyebrow significantly.
She looked at him appraisingly. "We'll need at least three of SCP-500 then"
"That can be arranged."
"And what lab are we going to break into. We can't just wait it out somewhere on a Foundation site. They'll find us in an instant. Its not safe."
"Wait, what are you guys talking about?"
"Cryogenics is a flawed art." Furkis said "One that is not fully perfected yet. When coming out of it, people manifest symptoms resembling "freezer burn" to be blunt. Luckily, we have SCPs at this very site that can cure such an aliment. Oh and Claire, don't worry about were we'll be staying. There is a small building upstate north. Its abandoned and its location deleted from the data files. One of the benefits of being an Overseer. we have a certain number of little secrets we're allowed to hide from each other."
Claire appeared very suspicious and thoughtful, her brow furrowed.
"Hang on" said Tom, "i just realized something. How are we going to get back? I mean, I like this life" he glanced at Claire accidentally, and they shared a gaze before blushing, "its just that i feel incomplete now. So when I find what I'm looking for, I don't want to be stuck there"
"And that is exactly why you need me. Right now I am useless, every time traveling SCP is guarded and has been relocated. But when we're there, according to your visions, they should be free and scattered about the place. Its a big building… you'll need someone to help you find them. And have the tools and devices you need. I can get the readings. I can pick up on the radio waves, so when "you find what you're looking for" he said snidely, sneering slightly, "you can get whisked back to our existence just like that." He patted a thick bulky business case with a keypad on it. "That's filled with all the sensors we'll need"
"Ok" after a pause, "what now?"
"Samples of SCP-500 are currently kept in the medical lab, correct?"
"And you've been experimenting on them. So they can be put into the bloodstream and then activated later."
"All the work is done too. Just a couple modifications and some new equipment that needs to be put together. But it should work"
"Fantastic. So, use you clearance to enter in, and put the syringes, I do believe that's how they are kept in their new form, put the syringes in some kind of metal case. sturdy. thick. lock it and then walk out. do this quickly. We can't just barge in and take some, they are far to valuable for that, so its going to require a little cunning"
"What are you planning on doing?"
"leave that to me"
"Tom" he said authoritatively "go to your room and then pack your bags. Go to Claire's and do the same for her-"
"My bags are already packed" Tom said, strange deep emotions thick in his voice. It was a quiet moment, and the two men stared into each others eyes. There was some connection happening, some vast feeling passing through the bond and filling the room as well. "So are mine" said Wallace softly, looking down and almost whispering. Thoughtfully," "I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time"
Vudbloom said loudly and suspiciously. "You knew we were coming! What exactly is going on here? Now that i think of it, it all seems a little to perfect. The person who accompanies Tom is a medical professor, working on 500, and the method we're using is cryogenics!'
"Yes, all the pieces are fitting together."
"So, it is true! You knew we were coming!
"Yes… Yes… just like I know they are coming." he said and flicked open the screen on the surface of his desk and flipped it over to their view. It showed a group of commandos, dressed in SWAT like uniforms, rifles out, rushing down a hallway. "A little piece of advice, Thomas… When you notice everyone else has stopped talking about their dreams, you should do the same. You are the only one having them anymore…
They are coming for you."
He stood up, panicking. "Jesus!"
"There is not much time. We have appropriately ten minutes before they find us and take us in for questioning." He stood up and grabbed the case ,swinging it off with one hand, then headed briskly for the door. He held it open for them,and then they walked out, down the hall, their arms and legs pumping, their eyes staring straight ahead nervously. If they talked, it was in short bursts out of the corner of their mouths. Their movement were exact and jerking; Thomas' heart beat and thumped against his chest, and he felt dizzy and sweaty. Claire looked about ready to faint. Wallace's only sign was that his words were more clipped then usual, sentences almost cleaved in two."
"Tom you know what to do. Go to your room and Claire's after you get your bags. Claire, go to Lab 32-43. Get all the equipment. We need at least east six pills.
"Six pills!" she shrieked, her voice cracking, talking higher and louder then she planned. "Ahem… six pills. There are only three of us."
"And taking more would depreive someone else of a chance to live. We'd could be responsible for someone's death. We can't be that greedy."
He chuckled and said smoothly "They always put the idealists in the medical department. Especially working on 500 now thats its been made the focus of research. They how you can tell, if they're assigned to 500. They keep them in that little room, working on the same SCP. Trying to derive a wonder drug. A cure all. Trying to save lives- how quaint.- especially since next door someone's making a bio weapon, designing AIDS,, weaponizeing and virulizing cancer."
"Oh" she said defensively, flushing, "and you? You should be the most idealistic of all of us. A Serpent's Hand member. Huh? The sanctity of all human life. Every sentient being deserves freedom."
He looked at her coldly, warmth suddenly fading from his brown wrinkled face. "One of these days I will have to educate you of the difference between the lower rung human rights activists and the inner circle. "
They stopped at an intersection. "Ok lets go. Remember, we meet at the room under SCP-500s lab"
They where in the room underneath the lab, a smaller area with heavy steal walls, and dull gray paint. It was some kind of storage facility, and the lights had been broken or flickering for a while.
"You will learn that sometimes" said Doctor Furkis, "sometime in life it is not our expertises, or specialties, or masteries that we use the most and receive the most benefits from, but those little obscure hobbies that we pick up on the way, and do primarily for enjoyment…
In my case…" he said, pulling out a detonator, "that would be explosives" He pushed the button, and there was a large bang, a lick of flame, and rubble and debris fell all around them. A large metal case smoked in the center of the mess. He picked it up with a leather glove and hoisted it to his side.
"Shall we be off then?
The doctors moved calmly, although all seemed to want to burst out running, and they were right on the edge of automatically sprinting away if they heard a loud noise or someone looked at them in a curious manner.
"Don't worry. The halls and rooms are soundproofed. No one was even bothered by it. I bet we'll be able to walk out with out anyone even noticing us. Explosions like that happen every day"
There was a loud blast and part of the wall blew away, leaving a ragged melted hole.
"Not explosions like that" Tom said in an deadpan voice.
"What the fuck?!" cried Claire, whirling on Furkis.
"Ah… well that would be the distraction"
"Well yes… when I ah… said walk out of the door I meant because they'd be to busy during something else. Not because we'd be unsuspected and look all innocent. There needs to be something to bring their attention away from this" he said, pointing his finger straight up at air. He cocked his ear, waited, and then it came; a loud message over the intercom, ordering the capture of Claire, Tom and Wallace, any force necessary.
"Now of course if they continued on unimpeded… Well we'd be in a lot of trouble. But luckily…" there was another explosion someone else in the facility, and a blaring alarm cut off the rest of the warning. They reached a hallway, and Doctor Furkis put his hand out in front of them, stopping them like a crossing guard. A regiment of guards and agents ran by, straight into gun fire and the sound of battle. "See. If not for this we would of been captured."
"So you ordered an attack on the base just to distract the guards?!"
"Well, I hardly call an one women blowing up some key areas and firing her pistols an attack…."
'So who is it? What organization did you sell Site 19 out to?"
"No one to important. Just a close friend… We're like a family, almost. You could say she's like a little ,ah, a little sister to me…"
Thomas beeped his car open, and they jumped in; Furkis barely sitting down with his feet pulled through the door, before Thomas floored it and pulled back, spun around, and speed up through the dark parking tunnel. He reached the light, and exploded onto a dusty road, leaving the main building of 19 behind in a few seconds. Now he was in the middle of a grassy plain, forests all around. A bullet whizzed off the metal near his back right wheel. He continued, heading towards the gate, which still had its wooden pole down. The guard inside fumbled with a radio on a cord.
"When we drive through this one without anyone noticing, is it going to be because no one cares or because of one of your patented distractions?"
"We're going to have to wait and see, aren't we"
A half a mile away from the post, a plane suddenly dived at it, and a missile slid from its belly, striking the gate and bursting into flame, sending the pieces everything. The Mercedes launched over a hunk of twisted metal.
"Well, now you know." Furkis said blandly. There was quiet for a moment and both Furkis and Vudbloom thought Thomas was struggling not to laugh. Wallace responded to this with a smile and a hand over it, as he was choking down a chuckle as well, and Vudloom simply glared out of the window. Despite his mirth, Furkis was the first to realize that the energy in the air and the set of the drivers shoulder wasn't because he was holding a laugh in, but because he was intensely, single mindedly focused, his thick eyebrows noticed together over burning eyes.
Furkis fell silent inside, and said, "We'll need to make it to upstate New York. Stay off the main roads. Stick to the back ones.
"We suppose to trust a scientific advancement with our lives in a place like this?" exclaimed Claire.
"Unfortunately, Madam, the Hilton hotel's cryogenic facilities are a little to conspicuous… so yes… this is our only option."
Every word was punctuated with the brushing aside of foliage, as they pushed through a jungle of mundane plants and trees, not a place of colorful leaves and flowers, but simple grungy vines mixed with an undergrowth of trash. They continued, breaking through one final thorny bush, and grasped at a door.
"This place has been abandoned for a very long time, Furkis" said Tom reproachingly,
"That is irreverent It was abandoned because people died when coming out of stasis, not because the process itself was unsafe. We have the solution to that."
"Thats not my point. The building itself… it looks in need of repair"
Furkis whirled on them. "You really don't understand do you?! The Complex was created out of a time of desperation! Out of war! We cannot wait out the holocaust in some central location! It has to be hidden, out in the boondocks! This is the best that can be done. Would you rather entrust your life to a generator that grumbles once in a while, and some frayed cords, or in a perfectly fine place that was bound to get nuked!"
With that he jabbed angrily at the keypad on the thick metal walls, and the blast door slide open. They entered into a long rectangular room, lights flicked on one by one as Furkis flung the switches up. Tom couldn't decide if he was still frustrated and taking it out on the switches, or if it was for dramas sake that he banged at bottoms, and turned knobs in such a manner. The man hit a computer, it started up. Tom still hadn't come to a conclusion. It was when Furkis twirled over to a gigantic metal lever mounted on the wall and flung it up, blowing out a couple of bulbs when electricity surged into the room that Tom picked on latter.
Tubes lined the walls, and vats were placed at random places int the center. Each module seemed unique, and slightly different, some longer, some stubby, some filled with cords and IVs, others with one single metal claw that floated in the bubbling serum menacingly. There were metal blocks that smoked ominously with blue fog attached to some, and yet others spun and rotated slightly. The vats either resembled coffins or giant glass tanks, some had steps that lead up, while others had thin metal tables/beds that moved over and then dropped in.
Furkis remained busy, and Vudbloom drifted around, occasionally helping him. The man seemed to make a lot of mistakes, and soon it was Claire who was doing most of the work, fixing everything up and bringing it up to speed. Tom sat a desk, and read through files and looked at code on one of the giant monikers. After a while of reading reports and scanning blue prints, Furkis came up behind him silently, and said,
"It is time."
Tom got up and stared at him nervously. "You will go over to that box shaped one, titled up against the wall. Pull the lid over you. This was cause the hyper cool gelatin that's inside to flash freeze. Claire will go into that pool. She will float down to the bottom, and breath for a couple hours while it gradually solidifies. See that hatch on the ground over there. That leads into a tiny room underneath. I will go in there, and attach those tubes to my body. The room will be filled with gas and my heart rate and metabolism will slow."
Tom nodded, not listening as much as he should. He was staring at Claire, standing on the edge of the pool like a diver, her long black hair splayed across her shoulders. She had a faraway dreamy looked on her. He walked over to her and was instantly hit with a bolt of the strongest guilt he had ever felt. "Claire… you don't have to do this. Ok. This is your last chance."
"No" she said" no my last chance was a long time ago. The final choice was hours back. This is simply the most obvious moment. The most dangerous. The one that will have the most of effect. But it is not the point of divergence."
"Why… why do you come with me?" he said, averting his eyes, glancing at the water as it began to bubble.
"I came because I think you are a great man… and I knew if you didn't go to The Complex you wold kill yourself."
He looked up and leaned in, kissing her briefly, on the lips. Sadly smiling, she said, "It's going to take more then one kiss to keep me warm.." She turned her back to him, and entered into the pool slowly, beginning with the end of a pale dainty foot. She glanced over her shoulder and looked at him with a brave set expression on her face as she shivered. He watched as she descended deeper and deeper, teeth chattering and moaning slightly. Then he walked away, sick to the stomach, mumbling.
"Jesus Christ…what have i done?"
After a few more hours, Furkis beckoned. He began unbuttoning his shirt, revealing a scarred chest covered in curling gray hairs as he talked. "Tom, I have set the date of thawing at 2050."
"Hopefully by then anyone inside will be dead."
"Huh? Maybe the remnants of The Foundation can help us if they're in there. Why wait until they're all killed off? With their skill, they'd be useful in helping us navigate and search-"
"you know that is not true. They'd only get in out way. They could not but hinder us."
"Tom, we can not allow anyone to stop you. What you're doing is far too important. " He tied his shirt around his arm and pulled on the sleeve with his teeth, as he injected the 500 serum. "One man's enlightenment is worth condemning 1,000 people to misery. One evolving beyond the standards, is justification enough to allow the murder of lesser beings.
"In your heart, you know this to be true."
'I don't think i can trust you Furkis."
"Like Claire said, its far to late to stop what has begun."
Furkis stood up suddenly , but as he turned he was stopped by Tom, refusing to move,standing directly in front of him. They sized each other up for a moment, before Furkis smiled, and slung a heavy hand on Tom's shoulder in an avuncular manner. "When you are ready, inject yourself, and pull the lid down. I will wake you.
When you feel the time is right; do this."
Something new happened. Something that hadn't happened before in this strange sleeping life. He dreamt. In the prison of ice, he dreamt of bursts of flame, and clouds of fire, so bright that their image pieced the crystal surface itself, went through it, and hit his eyes. A man waved his hands in front of him, mouthing silent words. Tom struggled to move, but the man shook his head violently, and turned a couple switches near him so substance surrounding him seemed to harden even more. The room shook, and even the frozen felt the vibration. The man was knocked off his feet. As Tom slowed down once again, he had only enough energy to turn his head towards Claire's pool, crunching sounds as he turned his neck, to see if she to was effected by what had to be a nightmare. But no, no graceful hand as white as death from the cold hung out of the tub, and she did no explode thrashing and sputtering from the vat.
She didn't move at all.
Claire Vudbloom slept through the Apocalypse.