Forbidden Dream: Chapter Three

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Author: W. K. Hayes

Forbidden Dream: Chapter Three

Our research and endeavor to fix the problem of the Nanytes kept them running ourselves ragged. Constantly, they bounced ideas off of each other and all the while he couldn’t stop noticing her. Thoughts like, “She is pretty…darn it”, kept crossing his mind. Then, Jake would worry about becoming distracted and try to hurry his mind back to where it belonged.

“Times up folks”, Mike said as he burst into the lab with General Graham.

“Give me something good”, the general demanded.

Apparently Linda, or one of them, spotted Mike as their team came rushing into the room. Bernie looked exhausted, Linda looked grumpy and ready to go home and both seemed overly eager about what they had accomplished.

“We found a way to beat the little devils”, Bernie proclaimed and asked, “Anything new we should know”?

The general looked at Mike and answered, “Our recon group hasn’t reported anything out of the ordinary”.

“Is there a chance they might have been over taken by the Nanytes”, Rowan asked.

“None”, Mike replied. “The Nanytes can assimilate the human form but they don’t get the knowledge and memories that go with it hence, they don’t know any of the passwords we use with the team that’s there”.

“Cool beans”, Jake stated with a smile. “Have they made any more attempts to communicate”?

“Yes”, the general replied. “They’ve asked that we give them back the internet and access to certain research facilities”.

“What are they looking for”, Rowan asked as she ran her hands through her silky hair as though she were pressing her brain to think and absorb it all. Jake simply watched her and tried figure out what she was thinking.

“They seem extremely interested in medical and biological research”, Mike answered and added, “Although we’re not exactly sure why”.

Bernie piped in, “Maybe they’re trying to understand the human mind like we were discussing a minute ago. After all, thoughts are nothing more than electrical impulses, right”?

“Pretty much”, Boonie replied as he shot into the room. “But, that’s the worst thing we could allow to happen. If they get to the point where they can take our memories and thoughts, we could very well be assimilated and not even know it”.

Rowan leaned back against a table and almost lost her balance. Jake saw her and wanted to dive in but he knew he needed to play it cool so long as she was alright. “I don’t think they want to take us over so much as they want to become a part of us, I believe”, she argued thoughtfully.

“Perhaps, but it’s a risk none of us are willing to take”, the general retorted. “So, are you guys ready or what”?

“Yea, we’re ready”, Linda replied with such a dry tone that even Jacob was glad she was married to someone else. “So, did you give them access”?

“No”, the general replied flatly. “But, we do have a new reason for wanting you guys to go in. We need all of you to learn as much as you can while you’re there. While en route, all of you will be given the schematics of the facility. Be sure to memorize them and keep them handy”.

Mike added to what the general had told them as Jake did all he could do to keep himself awake. His mind was so tired that no amount of coffee was going to help him shake the dead numbness he felt. “Jake, wake up”, Mike barked. Jake jumped a little and stretched his eyes open as wide as he could while Linda and Rowan snickered at him. Sharon simply smiled and found a chair to plop down in. “We need to know exactly how mobile they are, are they working as a group and if so, where’s the center? We also need to know what happened to the staff at the facility. Above all else, we need to see if we can contain and control the Nanytes and regain control of the facility”.

Jake began rubbing his tired faced and asked through his hands, “So, what kind of research did they do at the facility in Alaska”?

“Biological, mostly”, Boonie replied. Jake was actually surprised that Boonie knew about anything outside of his own bubble.

“So, they have all of our biological research and are now asking for access to the internet to do more studies in a biologically related field”, Rowan asked in between yawns. “Boonie, what kind of research in particular”?

“We’re not at liberty to discuss that”, the general interrupted. “Get in, get the job done and get out. The president is giving you guys one shot at this. If you fail to report in within a seventy-hour window of time he will level the place”.

“This should prove interesting”, Jake mumbled to himself even though he was really thinking, ‘Screw this’. Still, he knew the team was the only hope any survivors, if there were any, had of surviving.

“So, what did you guys cook up”, Mike asked in his usual gruff tone. Truth was he didn’t look like he had had any sleep either.

Linda piped up and told them, “We went back to a molecular scale and created Nanyte Hunters. The hunters are impervious to Nanyte invasion and are capable of destroying them at an alarming rate. However, we were only able to produce a few hundred in a short period of time. With more time, we could actually fabricate suits for ourselves to protect us from being taken over”.

“I wish we had the time, Linda but the Nanytes are almost becoming too intelligent to handle. We must act quickly and speaking of which, everyone head up to the roof. A helicopter is on the pad to take you guys to the airfield”, Mike told them.

Linda shot back into the lab she had been using and returned with a metal brief case. “Like I said, there are not a lot of these things but if we can find some central control for the Nanytes, they’ll do the rest”.

“Let’s hope so”, Jake replied. “If not, we’re going to have a lot of pissed off Nanytes”.

Bernie jokingly replied, “What’s an atom going to do”?

“Turn you into a mindless zombie”, Sharon joked back.

“Seriously, they might”, the general replied.

Everyone grew as pale as the room they were standing in. “Uh, don’t you have some special group that can do this”, Rowan asked.

The general sighed and answered her the only way he knew how, “Every general knows that the best way to defeat the enemy is to know your enemy. My soldiers aren’t equipped with fighting Nanytes; only you guys know them”.

“Can’t say I’ve met one personally”, Bernie jested.

“You will when you get there”, Mike said in short. “Do we have handheld scanners for locating those things”?

“No sir”, Boonie replied and added, “Chances are, they’ll be everywhere so there’s not really much point”.

“Except for finding the central core of them”, Jacob pointed out. Maybe it was because he was tired or maybe it was just the truth that needed to be said. Either way, he looked right at Rowan and told her, “I’m sorry your husband is sending you on this mission”.

Rowan knew what he meant and knew he had meant it with the best of intentions. Still, something about the comment really rattled her. “My personal life is no concern of yours”, she said making it clear that whether or not her husband was right or wrong was irrelevant.

“Skip the bull”, the general growled and added, “Move your butts up to the pad, now”.

“Hold on”, Bernie argued bitterly. “We don’t work for Uncle Sam and we do have a choice on whether or not we even want to attempt this doomed mission”.

“No you don’t”, the general replied in a flat even tone. “All of you are under Presidential Order. Failure to comply is twenty years in prison…take your pick”.

“And, if we do…what do we get out of it”, Bernie maintained.

“Knowing you did the right thing”, Mike replied.

“Not good enough”, Bernie argued. “You want me to risk my neck because Boonie screwed up…there better be a better incentive than threats to get me to go. I’d rather spend twenty years in prison and still be alive than go there and get killed. I want a one month paid vacation a year, a substantial raise and…”

“Write it down”, the general barked.

“Sure thing”, Bernie said with a heavy sigh and turned to Jake. “You ready, buddy”.

“Nope”, Jake replied while making a face. “So, do we get weapons of any kind”?

“The Nanytes have shown a history of turning violent on anyone carrying a weapon”, the general replied as they began filing out into the laboratory hallway. Fact is you’ll have a better chance at accomplishing this if you go in unarmed”.

“Who says they’ll even let us in”, Sharon asked.

“Good question”, the general replied and added a sarcastic remark, “It’s about time we got a thinking question. The Nanytes don’t seem to care too much for the extreme cold of Alaska so they seem to be avoiding the upper levels. However, they have patched into the facility security control. Earlier today I asked them if we could send in a team to assess the possibility of any human survivors and they agreed”.

“That’s a trap waiting to happen”, Jake pointed out. “They would know if they allowed anyone to live”.

“Agreed”, Mike said. “But, this is our only shot at finding out what they are up to. Also, we were hoping they would have let us know one way or the other”.

Rowan yawned and put in her two cents worth, “This is definitely a trap for us. However, I am a bit concerned that they have learned to be…sneaky. It means that they are studying principal human behaviors which, is a good sign that there are survivors who might be trying to find a means to escape or have made a few failed attempts, at least”.

“Very good, Doctor Sloan”, the general replied. “That was our assessment as well”.

“So, we’re doing a search and rescue as well as playing delivery boy”, Bernie asked gingerly.

“Yea, pretty much”, Boonie replied.

“I still don’t get why we have to go in”, Rowan questioned. “If anyone can get in unarmed…why us”, she questioned.

“Because they want their precious toys back”, Jake whispered to her.

“Very precious”, Boonie replied. “Your husband has millions tied up in the Nanytes”.

“Guess money is worth more things than others”, Jake replied sarcastically as he look at Rowan.

“Drop it, Jacob”, she snarled.

“Whatever”, was his simple reply as he thought to himself, ‘If you were mine your butt would be headed straight home and as far from Alaska as possible’.

“Give it up…she’s got it in her mind her husband knows what he’s doing”, Linda told him pointedly.

Rowan stopped dead in her tracks to face them both and replied vehemently, “No, I don’t believe he has my best interest at heart but there’s really not a lot I can do about, now can I”?

“Hey, sorry for caring”, Jake shot back. “Guess he doesn’t know how lucky he is, does he”? ‘Fixed her wagon good’, he thought to himself.

“You don’t know me well enough to care”, she replied, spun around and walked over to the elevator main.

Bernie slid up next to Jake and told him, “Bet you didn’t see that coming…you okay”?

“This is going to be the trip from hell”, Jacob replied.

“Bite your tongue, buddy, bite your tongue”.

All of them stuffed themselves into the elevator only to realize what two days of non-stop work can do to a person’s smell. “Will we have time to shower”, Linda asked.

“Once you’re aboard the plane, you can wash up”, the general replied.

“Wash up”, Linda scoffed. “Hello…we’re girls with girly things we need”.

“That would explain the grumpy attitude”, Bernie replied jokingly only to feel her elbow come back and hit him.

“Ten minutes”, Mike replied. As soon as we hit Eight Row, you guys can hit the showers, grab any personal needs and get on the landing pad.

The general sighed heavily and added, “Failure to appear on time will win you a one-way ticket to prison”.

Jake simply stood quietly holding his arms down and hoping that stench wasn’t coming from him. He was still pretty upset with Rowan for one upping him, especially since he meant everything with the best of intentions. Still, he looked over at her as they rode up, only to see a mixture of bitter anger and sorrow. It was obvious he had upset her by bringing up the obvious.

“Rowan, I’m sorry about before”, he said trying to apologize to her.

“Hush”, was all she said in reply.

‘Man, she’s really burned up about this’, he thought to himself. “Look, get your mind off of it, okay. We have a lot ahead of us and I need to know if you’ll have your mind on your job”, he told her more so than asked of her.

“If you don’t shut up and leave me alone. I am totally not in the mood to be all buddy, buddy with you”, she replied.

“Drop it Jake…you struck a nerve and she’s pissed so let it go”, Linda pointed out.

“Fine”, Jake replied with a stifled sigh.

When the doors finally opened, everyone bailed out with Bernie being the last. “Thank God for the fresh air…now we know how sardines get their smell”, he jested.

“Isn’t that the truth”, Sharon agreed.

“Speaking of which…what about our last meal”, Bernie asked. Everyone shot him the evil eye. “What? Don’t you guys want a decent meal”?

“Ten minutes folks”, Mike barked out over his shoulder as he headed straight for the break room with everyone following like little lost puppies. When he became aware of them he spun around and barked, “What”?

“Mike, we don’t know this area…where is everything”, Jake asked.

“Shit”, Mike grumbled. “Follow me, quickly”, he told them as he spun around and headed on into the break room. Without any fluff, he simply pointed right and said, “Girls”, followed by a quick point to the left, “Guys”.

Everyone divided off according to their sex. Jake, Boonie and Bernie all headed to what they thought were regular bathrooms. When they got inside, they discovered that it was a complete spa for men on their side.

A nervous younger man, undoubtedly the spa steward, came rushing towards them with towels draped across his arm. His round glasses still showed signs of steam build-up. “How may I help you gentlemen”, he asked in an unnervingly gay voice. Apparently, he could read their reaction and quickly added, “I get all I want to see at home”.

Jake tried to cover his laugh up with a cough and told the steward, “We’re super pressed for time. We need showers, shaving stuff and out of here in ten minutes”.

“Mike had me prep things for you guys”, the steward informed them.

“When did he do that”, Bernie questioned.

“Earlier”, the steward replied. “Follow me”, he told them as he started to head towards the shower area before he finished explaining. “He said something about he knew the girls would want a shower although he wasn’t sure about you guys”.

In a matter of minutes, the guys were in and out only to find their clothes were gone. “Ah, shit…we don’t have time for this”, Bernie complained.

The steward came shooting around the corner with clothes folded over his arms. “Sorry…but dry cleaning is an art”, he said apologizing for being a pinch late.

Quickly, the steward handed them back their clothes all nice and clean. Jake thanked him and hurriedly got dressed. Bernie simply grabbed his and started throwing them on haphazardly. Afterwards, they rushed back into the break room, and found Mike munching on a snack cake.

“Where’s the girls”, Jake asked rhetorically.

Mike didn’t say a word; he simply crammed the cake in his mouth, washed it down with milk and walked over to the girl’s locker room and yelled in, “You don’t have time to be girls today…get out here”.

Linda yelled back, “Hold your horses”.

“Get out here”, Mike barked.

The general came marching into the room and announced pointedly, “We leave and we leave now”.

“Girls”, Mike replied and swung the girl’s locker room door wide open, “Move it”.

The girls came bustling out of the locker room still snapping buttons or what have you. Rowan was hopping towards them fighting to get her sandal straps around her ankles. As she hobbled up to the door she cut Mike a harsh eye that said more cuss words than any mouth would hope to dare.

Everyone grabbed whatever they could snatch up when Jake realized something, “Where’s Boonie”?

“Boonie went ahead of you guys to the airfield to help load the equipment”, Mike replied.

“Oh”, Jake replied as he threw quarters into a snack machine and picked out a selection.

“Enough”, the general barked. “Move out”.

Everyone looked at him and started migrating towards the door. Bernie had grabbed every stitch of food that was, not nailed down but as soon as he got to the general, the general knocked the snacks out of his hands and told him, point-blank, “This ain’t a picnic.”

“Screw you, buddy”, Bernie barked back. “Touch me again”.

“Can it Bernie…we don’t have time”, Mike told him in an unusually calm voice.

“Yea, sure Mike”, Bernie replied as he headed on out the door.

“Don’t even think it”, Jake told the general as he walked by with his own stash.

The ride up on the elevator was a lot more pleasing than the first time now that everyone had showered and cleaned off two days of nonstop work. Of course, the girls had to ruin it by spraying on perfume that about choked the guys out as they rode straight to the roof. Jake wondered why they hadn’t stopped when he noticed Mike using a Fireman’s Key for the elevator which answered his question. Then, he mused to himself, ‘I need one those, especially on the mornings I’m late’.

“What are you smiling about”, Sharon asked him with a smile of her own.

“I was actually just thinking about getting a copy of the key Mike is using”, he replied with a grin.

Sharon looked at Mike who turned to look back at them and agreed, “Yea that would be nice”.

“I’ll add it to my list”, Bernie chimed in.

“That, I can’t do”, Mike replied. “This key is for emergencies…not employees that running late”.

“Oh, so that’s how come you’re always on time”, Bernie retorted.

“Never”, Mike replied as he looked right at the general which meant, ‘Yes, I have and no I won’t admit it in front of him’.

“One thing is certain…the key doesn’t help make this thing any faster”, Linda whined.

Jake leaned up against the wall of the elevator and closed his eyes for a moment only to feel them burning from exhaustive use. Of course, everything about him hurt. Being that tired leaves a person feeling like they have the flu: achy, tired and unfocused.

“Come alive”, Bernie told Jake as the elevator doors slid open. Just that quick, Jake had drifted off to sleep. “Time to go”, he said as he followed the group out the door.

Jake shook his eyes open and staggered out of the elevator and onto the roof. A small metal staircase led up to the actual landing pad where a small, army transport copter sat waiting with its blade slowly rotating.

Everyone climbed in as best they could and buckled up. Boonie quickly opened up his laptop and started reading something he must have been studying earlier. Jake looked at Boonie which, reminded him of a pet peeve. He always hated how, in the movies, someone sitting behind a computer managed to get five or six windows up and running just by clicking random buttons. The problem with that are two things: A) Even using shortcuts in the main popup menu, the computer and the eyes need time to process and B) how can you select something without using a mouse such as links on a website?

The sound of the helicopter became thunderous as the blades began spinning faster. When the copter had reached the right spin speed, Jake and the gang felt a jolt followed by a quick sensation of weightlessness. Jacob sat there looking out the side as the building seemed to drop from beneath them when he spotted Mike heading back inside.

The general sat up front with the pilot. Jake sat on the right hand side with Linda in the middle and Bernie next to her. Across from Jake was Rowan who seemingly stared out as though she were looking at nothing and yet everything. Boonie sat in the middle still staring at his laptop and occasionally clicking a button to scroll down, Jake assumed. Sharon sat on the outside still holding her seatbelt tightly.

Jake leaned forward and yelled to her, “It’ll be okay. The plane will be a lot better than this short flight”. Of course this drew everyone’s attention and they promptly started asking if she were ok.

“Thanks”, she replied and yelled back, “Never flown in a copter before”.

Jake simply smiled at her and went back to staring out the copter as it set out across the city towards the airport. Who knew what lay ahead or where the journey would go but it would be a journey to test their very souls and prove their hearts.

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