TWO HOURS LATER
November 7th, 2040 - 12:18
Doug walked down the darkened corridor as stealthily as he could. He’d been exploring the compound all morning for all the secrets that they hadn’t told them. If this was the future, then there had to be some cool gadgets lying around somewhere.
On the south side of the compound, Doug came across a locked door. He used a hammer he had found to break the padlock. He then sneaked in and switched on the flashlight. His light beam immediately landed on a machine that Doug didn’t at first recognise. But when he did, all he could say was one word.
“Whoa. Now, this is cool.” Before Doug, was what he could only describe as a weapon. He realised that he was in the armoury. Before Doug could say anything else, two men appeared out of nowhere and grabbed him.
For a long while, Doug thought that he might be being kidnapped by the pscybotics. It was only when the hood over his head was removed and he saw that he was in front of the Captain that he knew that it wasn’t pscybotics that had grabbed him... they were soldiers.
The Captain was behind his desk and chair, staring out the window. Doug looked at his paper-ridden desk and saw that the name tag on his desk read:
CAPTAIN NOAH BIGGS
“Do you know what insubordination is, son?” said the silver-headed Captain. “Because I know you’re a high school student.” He turned to face him.
“Yeah, I know what it is Sir—”
“Good!” The Captain had raised his voice. “Because what you did today was purely unacceptable!”
“Well, with all-do-respect Captain—”
“Respect!? What exactly do you know about respect!? This is a military compound, not your own personal playground. You DO NOT sneak around into places you don’t belong.”
“But I didn’t know—”
“I don’t give a damn ‘what you know’. What we have behind closed doors remains behind closed doors. You got that?”
Doug sighed. He knew he didn’t have a choice. He nodded. “So, what happens now?”
“Yes, Captain. I’ve watched many military movies. I know how this works.”
“Oh do you? Because I can promise you, son... this isn’t a movie.”
“Yet the next thing that’s going to happen is that you’re going to punish me for disobeying the rules – albeit the ones I didn’t know.”
The Captain smiled an amused smile. Something that Doug didn’t expect at all.
“So what’s it going to be?” said Doug continuing. “Solitary confinement?”
The Captain didn’t speak for a moment. “I’m not going to punish you, Doug. In fact, you may find it weird but I’m actually not that much different than you.”
Doug’s eyebrow went up. “I don’t believe that. I mean, after all... you are a captain and I’m on – or at least was – on my way to failing high school.”
“I was exactly the same. In fact, the only reason you see me before you today as a Captain is solely because of the war.”
“Oh great. So are you telling me that if I want to be a decorated soldier, that I have to wait for a war on humanity to happen.”
He smiled. “Doug, it’s already happened. Now I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t believe in all this ‘you’re from the past’ business. However, I do believe in what I can see and you’re clearly not from this time.”
Doug nodded, finally seeing that the Captain was a reasonable man. “Captain, can I ask you something?”
“What happened? When the war started, I mean. What was it like?”
The Captain sighed. “I can’t speak for everyone else, but for me, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
TWENTY-ONE YEARS EARLIER
July 18th, 2019 - 11:14
The thirty-year-old Noah Biggs was in his Alabama City office when he suddenly heard a huge explosion. When he looked outside his window, he was shocked to see hundreds of buildings fall. He realised that it was a nuclear explosion that had gone off somewhere downtown.
He went outside and saw the panic all over the streets. One thing that stuck out to him was part of a plane, the fuselage section, balancing awkwardly on the roof of a two-storey building. He heard screams coming from inside. He realised to his horror that people were still alive inside.
Not wasting any more time, Noah sprang into action. With the front door blocked, he smashed through a window and made his way up the stairs. As soon as he was on the final landing, just before the roof access, the staircase began to buckle. He just made it to the roof before the entire staircase fell to the ground.
When he got to the fuselage section, he tested how steady the thing was – which wasn’t steady at all – and he started helping people out as quickly as possible. The last person inside was the hardest to help because she was too scared to move.
“Hey,” said Noah, “I need you to grab my hand.”
She shook her head. The fuselage was balanced more awkwardly than ever now that there was only one person left inside.
“Listen to me.” She was shaking her head again. “LISTEN TO ME!!! I need you to step forward; reach up; and take my hand!”
“I can’t!” she said for the first time.
“You don’t have a choice. Now step forward and reach up.”
She obliged with the stepping forward.
“Good. Now reach up! REACH UP!”
She hesitated, but after a while, she nodded and at the last second, she reached up and Noah grabbed his hand. The fuselage dropped to the ground and the woman was left hanging on for her life. She was dangling off the roof peculiarly and the only thing stopping her from falling to her death was Noah’s grip.
“Hang on. HANG ON!”
“I can’t,” she said feeling helpless. “I can’t.”
“Listen to me. It’s going to be okay. All you have to do is hang on. I’ll pull you up and you’ll be alright, do you hear me?”
She nodded frantically as she tightened her grip. “Just please don’t let me die. Please! Please!!”
Noah then sucked up as much strength as he could muster and then pulled. A minute later, she was on the roof, safe. The woman was still in shock but Noah was able to calm her down. “You’re alright, okay. You’re alright.”
She nodded. “Thank you. Thank you.”
“It’s okay. It’s okay.” As Noah held her in his arms, he looked out into the city with horror and instantly regretted his words. He knew now that they were a lie. As he looked on, he didn’t see how the city would ever recover. This was bigger than just some terrorist attack. Deep down, Noah knew that this would change the lives of everyone on this planet forever.
“Sounds traumatising,” said Doug.
“Well, that’s when it all started... the war.” He was back behind his chair, staring out the window. “I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”
Doug realised something in the Captain’s tone. “You lost someone, didn’t you? When the war began, you lost someone.”
The Captain sighed. “Yes, I did. She was the love of my life.” In trying to change the subject, the Captain flipped the interrogation. “What about you, son? Do you know anything in your life about love?”
Doug laughed. “Naah. I’m... I’m what you might call a player.”
“Hmm... well that’s too bad.”
“You’re not going to give me a life lesson about having something in your life worth living for, are you?”
The Captain smiled. “Something like that. I just wonder with those pscybotics out there somewhere,” he nodded outside his window, “wanting to kill us. If we don’t have people that we care about; people that we love... if we don’t have something worth fighting for then what separates us from them?”
Doug nodded, understanding. “So what are you suggesting? That I get myself a girlfriend?”
“No, Doug. What I’m suggesting is that you evaluate your life and find out if there’s anything in your life worth fighting for, because if there isn’t...” He didn’t bother finishing his sentence. He just stared out of the window silently.
Realising that the Captain’s mind was somewhere else... “Look, Captain, I appreciate you not punishing me, but can I go now?”
The Captain looked to the floor, then to him and nodded.
TEN HOURS LATER
November 7th, 2040 - 22:28
“So what is this about, Doug?” Sam was following Doug down a series of corridors. “You dragged me out of bed in the middle of the night and say that you want to show me something.”
“Yeah. Come on, Sam. Don’t be such a killjoy. I mean, when was the last time we hanged out together?”
“Oh, and you figured eleven o’clock in the dead of night was the time to do this hanging out?”
“Huh. I’m pretty sure it’s just after ten.”
Sam looked at his watch, but it didn’t work. “Not like I would know. Look just tell me where we’re going, okay?”
“You’ll see in a minute. So tell me something, Sam. Are you enjoying it?”
“Am I enjoying what?”
“You know, the future.”
Sam shrugged. “I don’t know, hey. Living in a post-apocalyptic future wasn’t exactly a part of my vacation list.”
“Yeah, I know but being this close to Sarah indefinitely must be nice though. Lord knows that it wasn’t like that back home.”
Sam smirked at the idea. “I’m not taking advantage of the situation to romance her if that’s what you mean.”
Doug nodded. “Yeah, but you want to, don’t you?”
“I know where this is going. Look, I’m not like you Doug. I can’t just pick up a girl as easy as this.” Sam clicked his fingers.
“Yeah well, just don’t let something good slip away from you.” Doug was now speaking in a hushed voice.
This was new of Doug, thought Sam. “Why would you say that?” Sam followed suit and also spoke in a hushed voice.
“I was just thinking, if you think you love her, then don’t let her get away from you.”
Sam laughed as quietly as he could. “Are you for real? What has gotten into you?”
“Oh don’t be like that. I was just thinking: you know there’s a war going on here.”
“So, well everybody is fighting but while the pscybotics fight for nothing, the humans, we, fight for the people that we care about. I guess that’s what supposed to separate us from them.”
“I guess.” It was weird for Sam to hear Doug speaking deep. “Look, Doug, can you at least tell me what we’re doing, or where we’re going?”
“Don’t worry. We’re here.”
Sam saw that Doug was staring at a steel panel in a wall. It had lots of nuts and bolts keeping it in place. Sam looked at him, then the wall, then back to Doug. “And where is here?”
“Behind this wall... is the armoury.”
“What? How do you know that?”
Doug took out a folded map from his pocket along with a socket wrench. “I got these from Ripley. It’s a map of the whole compound, specifically showing all the weak points of the place.”
“She gave that to you?”
“No, not exactly.”
“You stole it?” Sam sounded appalled, especially since he knew that Ripley only made the map to help him escape.
“I acquired it. Look, I’ll give it back. I just borrowed it so that I could get back inside.”
“You’ve been inside the armoury?”
“Yeah, once briefly. But it was a bad idea going through the front door. They’ve got guards watching it.”
“So what’s your big plan going through the wall?”
He gave Sam a smile. Without another word, he started undoing the nuts and bolts on the wall. It took him all of fifteen minutes, but when he was done, Sam helped him move the heavy panel aside. Sam was surprised that there was no alarm sounding.
“So why are we here anyway, Doug?”
“There’s something I want you to see.” Doug stepped through the opened wall and Sam followed through. “Now before they threw me out, or more like dragged me out, I saw something I’d never seen before.”
Doug’s flashlight beamed over a big machine. As Doug’s light beam shined over the machine they saw that it was similar to the one Ripley had driven when she had rescued them.
“This? Come on Doug. This is the same Hummer Ripley came to save us in.”
“No, not this.” Doug continued alongside the Hummer, his flashlight leading the way. When they passed what seemed like seven similar Hummers, they finally stopped. “This.”
Sam followed the light beam and saw what Doug was looking at. In front of them, was a beautiful machine. By what they could see... it was a supercar!
“No way,” said Sam. “No way. This is incredible.”
“I know, right?”
Before Sam and Doug was a beautiful silver-gloss-painted car. It was slick, with smooth curves and tinted windows. It had side skirts and a hood with a vent on it. The tires were thin and the rims, shiny with a metallic blue glow coming from them. The car looked like a combination of a 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang; a Chevrolet Camaro; and a Dodge Charger. It looked like it was designed to be the best muscle car on the planet while at the same time look as slick as a supercar.
“How do they even have this?” said Sam.
“I know, right,” said Doug
“This shouldn’t even exist.”
Then somebody appeared through the hole in the wall they’d made. “You’re absolutely right. But then again, neither should you.” The person stepped out of the shadows. It was Ripley... and she looked angry.