To read from the beginning, please visit the Inhuman Page.
The feeling of weightlessness quickly abated as the cramped elevator descended through the earth. With her hands braced against Nathan’s chest, Amanda closed her eyes and held her breath until the motion stopped and the door opened into a lobby area. Here, the workers were boarding standard-sized elevators for further descent into the facility’s warren of laboratories and offices.
“This way,” Nathan directed, leading her down one of the corridors to the Human Resources Department. After a brief physical exam, neurological exam and eye test, she was retina scanned (at which she mentally rolled her eyes), and photographed for her ID badge. She was returned to Nathan at the front desk an hour later. He gestured for her to follow. After they had walked out into the hallway, Amanda put an arm out to stop him. “You haven’t even told me what my new job is.”
“Same as your old job at Jason Mechanical. Purchasing.”
“Yes,” he replied, resuming his pace. “You will be in charge of ordering material and products necessary for some of the agency’s programs. You’ll be working for Lydia Castle. You met her on your first visit.”
“How could I forget,” she muttered.
Nathan stoped and faced her. “Look, it only made sense that the agency make use of your job skills. You know how to do this. It’ll be just different vendors from the ones you’ve been dealing with.”
“So how does this…” she threw her hands up. “… big, secret, underground laboratory manage to purchase material from companies in the real world?”
They reached the elevators and Nathan paused. “Try scanning your retina and make sure it works.”
She stepped to the panel and opened her eyes wide. When the scan was complete, and they had stepped into the elevator, she said, “You didn’t answer my question.”
“All the purchases are made for a phony manufacturing company about ten miles away. The material is delivered to them and then transferred here using our own private trucks.”
“But how …?”
“How do we get it underground?”
“The trucks only run between midnight and three AM —not that there’s any traffic around here anyway. When they arrive at the old road leading to the main Centralia mine, the barricades are moved and they pass through. Beyond sight from the highway, the road is well-maintained. It’s just the first hundred yards or so that are rough going. Then, at the main mine tunnel, there’s a barn concealing the freight elevators that deliver goods and material to the subterranean warehouse. The trucks are garaged there during the daylight hours, too.”
“So I make orders on behalf of this fake manufacturing company?”
“Yes,” he said. “Don’t worry. Lydia will explain everything in exhaustive detail.”
“Great,” she said sarcastically.
They continued the rest of the journey in silence. The purchasing department looked as normal as any office space Amanda had ever worked in. Lydia Castle waved from inside the glass door. Nathan said, “Here’s where I leave you.” He hesitated, then leaned close. “Have dinner with me tonight?”
Amanda’s eyes widened. “Dinner?”
He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, maybe that was inappropriate. I just thought…”
“You could answer some more of my questions?” she finished for him. “I would like that.”
He gave her a smile of relief. “Great. I’ll call you later then.”
Amanda stepped through the door and was greeted by Lydia. After introductions were made to the men and women she’d be working with, she was shown a training video and given a desk near the woman who was to be her mentor. The day passed quickly as she became acquainted with her new job.
At five o’clock, she accompanied her coworkers to the elevators and waited for a car to carry her back to the main lobby and the surface above. While she waited, she looked around at the other people walking the hallway and froze at the sight of a familiar face. Brian. As he passed by, his eyes met hers without so much as a glimmer of recognition. He’s really gone, she thought as he turned the corner and was out of sight.