Subterranean Level 4/Detention Cell 5
Restricted Area 51
August 20, 1978
0203 PDT/0903 GMT
Gabe was convinced he'd died and gone to hell. His head throbbed and nausea reigned, the pervasive earthy, metallic odor crawling through his gut like an invading army. They returned to the "T", continued past their original entry point, then proceeded straight another ten yards until the passage dead-ended at another imposing door. Watkins released the lock and kicked it open, shoving him inside the darkened room without so much as a word.
As the colonel secured the door, Gabe managed to grab the chain that dangled from the sole light bulb, barely avoiding being encompassed by total darkness. As he took in his surroundings, a groan escaped from the depths of his soul. Roughly eight feet square, the cell contained a sagging metal cot, dingy metal sink, and seatless toilet that leaned to one side. The cement floor was marred with dark stains, ceiling lost in shadow, its accommodation rating somewhere below a medieval dungeon.
It reminded him so much of a tornado cellar that, out of habit, he checked for black widows, tarantulas, and scorpions, all of which loved such places. None he could see, his relief short-lived—was the cell too toxic for them as well, perhaps originally carved out by an atomic bomb?
He shuddered with the renewed realization that he really was under arrest. Or was it a dream? No, nightmare. An extremely vivid nightmare. Too exhausted to deal any further with that sorry revelation, he extinguished the light and felt his way over to the cot where he collapsed into a state of restless, fitful slumber, hoping to wake up in a better place.
What seemed a short time later, he woke up, wondering for a fractured moment why it was cold, damp, and pitch black before the previous day's events flooded back. He got up slowly, waving his arms to find the chain pull to the overhead bulb. He cringed when light blasted his retinas, realizing how stiff he was from the thin, lumpy mattress. He stretched, then started to pace, mind racing, panic picking up where it had left off.
What was going to happen? If Watkins could read his thoughts, he'd better go back to meditating on the Star Spangled Banner rather than risk revealing their plans. Though based on the colonel's accusations, the man probably already knew.
An electric jolt of horror shot through him. So that was what this was all about. Not only the fact Thyron was sentient—aiding and abetting the escape of an EBE.
Holy Mother of God...
He returned to the cot and sat down, noticing a funky, moldy odor that failed to register the night before; no telling who or what the previous occupant may have been. He lay back down, regardless, staring at the miasma of pipes, conduit, wires, and who-knows-what snaking across the dark, stone ceiling.
An unbidden and ominous bloody flash of déjà-vu struck, confirmed by hackles on his neck and goosebumps on his arms unrelated to the room's chill. He'd had premonitions before; all had come true—his grandfather's heart attack; his mother's stroke; his black lab, Jake, getting killed by a car....
No. Impossible. No way I'm going to die in this place.
Then he remembered that strong impression he'd had, months before, before he even knew he'd be leaving Houston—to put Francesca's name on the car and his townhome, just in case...
In case of what? This?
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