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1. Attack on Reactor 73
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access grantedIt was such a simple transition I often wondered if it even really happened at all. The distance between here and there had been so easily breached it seemed entirely too probable that there had never really existed to begin with.
It all feels so far away, but then things in the past often do.
I still don't remember what day it had been when I'd shuffled myself out the door I hated only to go to a place I hated even more. It feels like it should have been mid-week, but then again I'm fairly certain everything was mid-week back then. Life was caught in the middle of its own existence, tiredly working towards a hypothetical something that probably wasn't even real anyway.
I think it was supposed to have been happiness, but I can't really remember that well.
I remember the color grey a lot. I think because it's familiar-the look of rain without rain, the indescribable cold you don't have to feel to know. I'd thrown myself out into it with a sense of regularity that haunts me now, trudged through slush to a piece of scrap metal I didn't even expect to make another trip and turned the key.
It almost didn't start, but after the eternity of seven seconds the vehicle shuddered itself into awareness. I backed out without looking. I didn't put the seat-belt on. I hadn't even turned the defrosters on.
In retrospect, I was begging for it.
But I made it quite a distance out of that village of junk and tin. Trailer park. Home.
I can't remember why I took the highway to work. I usually didn't; gas was too expensive. It must've been something about the traffic, or the time of day, but I floored it through the yellow light to spin too fast onto the entrance ramp. I was upset about something, had to have been. It wasn't often I went out of my way to drive like an asshole.
One, two, three, four.
It was about four miles from my shithole house before I realized I hadn't moved. Some semi-truck was trying to get in front of me. Wanted to. I was already midway up his trailer. The blinker was flashing, ticking seconds off of my life.
I thought it was fairly obvious where I was.
But then he was moving.
Just edging right. My fingers were scrambling on the wheel, bound together in a ridiculous mitten-shaped prison. Horn. HORN.
The button was popped out. I pushed, but nothing happened.
I was turning the wheel, trying to swerve out of the way by time we finally made contact, and that little bump that felt so light pushed so hard, and I was slamming into the guard rail.
There it was.
The airbag deployed so fast I wasn't sure what exactly had hit me and by time it dissolved away I was hurtling backwards. I stomped blindly, but didn't hit the brake in time.
Something had hit the back end and I was skidding in a whole new direction with no more safety features to obscure my vision. Glass exploded out of the right side of the car, but I couldn't hear it break, only the sickening crunch of crushed metal. I was still rolling with the force of the hit, now dragging this new addition of metal hooked to my car.
Chemicals and melted plastic. The dashboard was completely detached, sitting in my lap. My hand was tingling unpleasantly, probably a chemical burn from the airbag, peppered with broken glass. I couldn't fish out my arm from under the plastic to be certain.
Reaching across my body with my right arm, I struggled to unlatch the door, but found it jammed closed.
That was why they made two.
My elbow wrapped behind the headrest of the passenger seat, and I pulled, but nothing happened. I heaved again, this time managing to re-acquire my left arm, but for some reason was still stuck.
It occurred to me briefly that my legs didn't hurt. They didn't anything.
And my heart stopped in my chest as my mouth opened in horror, allowing the blood spewing from my most likely broken nose in for me to choke on. The hood was slammed up into what was left of the windshield. I couldn't see what was left of the front end of the car, but it couldn't have been much.
All of that metal had to have gone somewhere.
Under that dashboard I couldn't see somewhere.
There was nothing to be done.
I had the decency not to laugh, pinned to my own ridiculous destruction, choking on blood and fumes, hopelessly picking glass shards out of my bad arm. It seemed inexplicably darker, unrealistically quiet, infinitely long.
How long would I have to stew in this mess?
And then came that horrible screeching. Metal on metal in long, terrible notes, each punctuated with a loud snap. I had to look out the window.
It seemed so much smaller.
A mass of black, moving behind a spiderweb of cracked glass. Deep voices. Dark uniforms.
It stopped after a while. The screech-snap, screech-snap, screech-snap. Whatever they were trying wasn't working. And then there were just shadows moving and shouting outside my prison.
I ducked before I was sure what was happening.
But then it came. The crystal clear sound of glass shattering, the singular feel of it raining across my skin, leather wrapping around my bicep.
I had to look.
"Fair, you fucking idiot!"
It was a glove.
With a hand in it.
I followed it up a pale arm to a uniform I'd never seen before, worn by a face far too young. My age, at least. He had unnervingly bright blue eyes and ridiculous styled black hair and the serious tone in his voice sounded so foreign, yet so genuine when he promised, "It's okay. I'm gonna get you out of there."
It was terribly rude, but I couldn't think of anything better to do than stare at him.
He gave a tug. "Do you think you can crawl through the window?"
I shook my head dumbly before I'd had a chance to properly think about the question. Then it occurred to me. "My leg's stuck."
He nodded once, and I could hear the rest of them muttering behind him. He never even pulled his head back out, just crawled right through, tumbled right over the dash and I had to pretend I didn't wince at the pressure.
Everything suddenly felt ten times heavier, awkward, different as he righted himself.
"How the hell did you squeeze yourself in here?" he asked.
I opened my mouth to ask just what the fuck he was talking about, but another head had popped through the window.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he had the same eerie eyes, but his hair looked more practical and was a soft shade of brown.
"Nevermind," the first man ordered, just help me get this plating off of her. I thought they meant what was left of the dashboard, but it was getting even darker, too hard to see. Either way, something large and vaguely rectangular went up and out the window.
Leather hands were pulling at my legs before I knew what had happened and suddenly I felt, and they hurt. I could scream pretty loud.
"The fuck, Zack?" the man in the window was yelling.
His head popped up for three seconds. "If the main core's crushed what's going to happen to the rest of the reactor?" The man in the window didn't answer. "We have ten minutes tops before this thing blows."
And he was down again, and I was screaming, and I'd grabbed the man in the window's arm at some point.
"Okay, Kunsel, pull her out."
And then I was being dragged over the glass left in the corners of the window, and leather hands, soaked in my blood were pushing me out. Out into a world of metal grating and electric-tainted steam. A world that wasn't I-91. A world that didn't include a shitty Buick.
Zack had hopped out behind me and was pulling me off of Kunsel and up onto his shoulder, like I was his prize, or his responsibility. I don't know.
It was so dark.
And we were running.
And there was so much screaming.
I've never been sure when the spinning all stopped, if it ever did.