Monday 4 February 2013
Sheri Kent had made it to the designated safe house that her husband, Nicholas, had set up not long after gaining employment with Blackwood Research and Development. The house had no links to the Kent family, none of the bills arrived in the Kent name, the deed of title was not in their name, nothing. The Blackwood corporation would be hard pressed to find the property, as would anyone else looking for Sheri and Nicholas.
She’d removed the cell phone from the emergency bag, and now that she was safely ensconced in the house, she switched the device on and set up the charger. Once that was on, she allowed herself a few seconds to relax and absorb the gravity of what was happening. Nicholas had impressed upon her that should something catastrophic ever occur at Blackwood Research Facility Five, then the best thing that they could do was to disappear as quickly as possible.
Now would come the hardest part of the plan: Sheri had to wait for Nicholas to arrive, and she didn’t have any idea when that would be. She looked around for something to take her mind off of the wait. Her eyes fell on the television, but she hesitated. Did she really need to know exactly what was going on at Facility Five? Considering her options for a minute or two, Sheri decided that it couldn’t hurt knowing what they were up against and walked over to the TV on the blonde pine cabinet. She found the power button easily and pressed it, then pressed the standby button on the remote control. The television flickered to life on an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. She smiled as she thought about her childhood and the countless hours she sat in front of her family’s television watching the very same cartoons.
Wandering to an easy chair a little distance away from the flat screen TV, she plopped down into the comfort that it offered, and flicked through the channels. It wasn’t long before she hit the first of the news broadcasts regarding Blackwood. The devastation being shown on the screen was horrific, and she thanked God that Nicholas had the presence of mind to call and let her know that he was okay.
‘God, what happened?’
‘Shit exploded everywhere.’
Startled, Sheri screamed, leapt out of the chair, and looked around the room for the source of the voice. Nicholas stepped through the open sliding glass door and into the room. He was out of breath and doubling over in pain.
‘You asshole! You couldn’t let me know you were there without scaring the shit out of me?’ Sheri walked to her husband and slapped him hard on the shoulder, still shaking from his covert entrance.
‘Sorry, I thought you heard me open it,’ he shuffled further into the room as he spoke and motioned for Sheri to close the door behind him.
He slumped down in the chair that his wife had occupied seconds before and attempted to regain his breath. He pointed at the vision on the TV.
‘That’s not even the worst of it,’ his voice was raspy and his breathing laboured.
‘What happened, Nick?’
‘I’m not entirely sure. I was in my office, everything was fine, and then the category four alarm went off. Um, we started the evac and the next thing I know there’s an explosion and we’re flying through the air. We just got out as fast as we could. I think one of the labs exploded, and that set off the first lot of blasts. I don’t know where the secondary explosions happened . . . maybe the gas lines in the basement.’
Perched on the arm of the easy chair, Sheri listened intently to Nick’s explanation of the disaster.
‘Not sure how many we lost today, but I counted only about twenty five, maybe thirty people who got out. Upper management were on the scene pretty quickly. I’d imagine that they’re going to jump on top of any information leaking out. And for them to arrive so fast, I can’t help but think there’s something going on at Facility Five that most of us weren’t aware of. And for our safety, I don’t want to know what else was being done there.’ He paused and looked down at his hands, which were red and raw and blistered with some layers of skin peeling away. He assumed it had happened during his escape from the facility after the initial explosion. They would hurt like all hell when he showered tonight.
‘I’ll make us some dinner,’ she said.
‘That’d be great, honey. I’m starving.’
‘The bags are in the bedroom like you told me. Everything’s in there – passports, money, IDs. You should put your new cell on charge too. I didn’t worry about it because I didn’t know when you would get here.’ Sheri worked hard to maintain the level of calmness that she had managed to foster since Nick startled her.
‘Good, good . . . We’ll stay here tonight and possibly tomorrow night,’ he said, ‘depending on whether or not they seem to make any headway on finding us. Otherwise, we’re out of here tomorrow afternoon at the latest. We’ll head up to the cabin, and then work on crossing the border into Canada. Right now though, I need a shower,’ he said. Sheri got up off of the arm of the chair and headed towards the kitchen to prepare dinner. She called back to Nick before he’d made it to the bedroom.
‘How much trouble are we in with this, Nick?’
He stopped dead in his tracks and scratched his head.
‘More than you can imagine, Sheri.’
. . . To be continued . . .