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Justin - Chapter Thirteen

by Machelli

Justin recoiled in his seat. This was not what he had been expecting.

"I didn't come up with the idea for this business," Mr. Evarb explained, harshly. "The Government did, and they wanted me of all people to run it. If I knew then what I know now, I would have refused but your mother and I were still married, she was pregnant, and the income would financially free us for the rest of our lives. I couldn't say no.

"And at first it wasn't so bad. Instead of Lunars there were just regular people working at the Plants. But then they started bringing the Lunars down from the prison colony and it's not like I could veto the process. After all, it was more the Government's business than mine.

"That's about when your mother divorced me. She told me that what I was doing was wrong and I shouldn't allow the Lunars to be taken advantage of. But I couldn't do anything about it so she moved to East America and had you.

"After a while, the Lunars became a big issue. Some people thought that what I was doing was great and some people didn't. But everyone thought that the Lunars were poor, inexperienced, and defenseless, completely ignorant of the World as it exists today. Which is why the Government started presenting this place as a half-way house for Lunars.

"Over the years the West American Government transformed what appeared to be an innocent string of factories into quite a grand scheme."

Justin was actually beginning to feel somewhat sorry for his father. His anger was (regretfully) ebbing. He had wanted to say more but it was hard to stay angry at him now.

"They even made me employ Drake as a representative to them," David continued. "Then they made him Chief of the Guards and now Drake is more my superior than I am his."

Justin's father looked down at his desk – regret plainly showing on his face. For the longest time he said nothing. Both Justin and his father sat in silence until David Evarb finally raised his head. He opened a drawer in his desk and removed an extremely old-looking key.

"Here," he said to Justin. "There's a room in my study that has a computer. You may want to finish using those disks."

Justin slowly took the key. His shock that his father knew about the disks was immediately replaced by the amazement of what his father was doing.

"It's time for you to leave, anyway," his father said with a hint of an emotion.

Was it bitterness? Or maybe it was sorrow.

Justin slowly walked backwards toward the door.

"Thanks," he said, unsure of the appropriateness of the expression.

"Goodbye, Justin," his father almost whispered.

Justin shuffled out of the office, leaving his father at his desk, staring off into space.

After a few minutes, Luther Drake walked back through the doorway. Something on his belt was beeping. He looked down at the answering machine-like object that David had hit while talking to Justin. A small, red light was flashing on its side.

"You turned the recorder off," Drake observed.

"I know," admitted Mr. Evarb.

Chief Drake looked from David to the recorder and then back to David again. His gray eyes narrowed slightly.

"What did you tell him?"

As soon as Justin got home he grabbed the disks and ran to his father's study. Unlocking the side-door, Justin entered a room that did, in fact, contain a computer. After loading the "Walk-through" program, he continued his exploration of the Plant.

Justin soon realized that he had seen just about everything. So, after about ten minutes he guided his camera back to his father's office. Perhaps there was something in it that he hadn't noticed before.

Justin walked through the office door and began to look around, eventually taking out the X-light. He swept the tool over the room and quickly found something very interesting.

The wall on the left side of his father's desk opened up into a passageway.

Justin walked toward the spot where the "door" supposedly was and proceeded to walk right through the wall.

He was now in a hallway that bore a great resemblance to those outside the office. It was bright white and extended for an indeterminable length. After traveling down it for a while, Justin entered a large room, about the size of the garage. Except this room was not barren like the garage. On the contrary, this room was packed full of rows and rows of what looked like man-sized, rounded cones.

As Justin navigated between them, he began to notice that names were stenciled on the sides underneath small, port-hole-like windows. Upon reaching the center of the room, he noticed that the cone in front of him bore the name "David J. Evarb."

With the basic rationale of "why not?" Justin walked to the other side and passed through a small door.

He was now inside the cone, which, as far as Justin could tell, was very cramped and contained virtually nothing of great interest. A small control panel was directly in front of him. The window was to his right and the door was to his left. He was "sitting" in a narrow, padded chair.

Justin zoomed in on the control panel. Of the limited selection of buttons to press, only one stood out among the others. It was translucent-green and was located over the words "start manual countdown."

Justin couldn't resist.

He pressed the button.

Suddenly, the cone began to shake. The number ten, followed shortly by the number nine, appeared on a compact display in the middle of the control panel. Justin looked out the small, circular window and saw that all the other cones were shaking as well. A warm glow was building up underneath them. Then, when the countdown had reached one, Justin's cone took off.

Strangely, all the other ones did not. They simply stayed on the ground as Justin watched them slowly drop away from him.

What on Earth is this for? Justin wondered. Are they escape pods in case the Plant gets bombed?

That last thought, however, soon became very hard to believe.

All the other cones exploded.

As Justin rose up toward the sky, he watched the field of pods below him erupt in a billowing, bright orange cloud of fire. Large chunks were thrown up into the air, only to be quickly engulfed by the seemingly hungry mass of flames.

Suddenly, the screen went blank and the words "Walk-through limits met" appeared in the center. Then, Justin's camera was placed right back outside the lobby where he had begun.

But the explosion had not stopped.

Justin swung his camera over and upward. The sight that met his eyes was almost surreal.

An expanding ball of flames and black, sooty smoke was rolling skyward, contrasting strangely with the serene, blue sky. Above this was the pod that Justin had been in. It was gaining speed, leaving behind it a thin trail of gray exhaust.

Then, with a barely audible pop, the pod exploded. Parts of it fanned out into the sky like some sort of firework.

If those were escape pods then they weren't designed very well, Justin concluded.

After discovering every single new room in the Plant (this didn't take long. There were no new rooms left) Justin ate dinner and went to bed.

Back at the Production Plant, Luther Drake and Mr. Evarb had just finished their lengthy discussion.

"That was a big mistake on your part, David," said Drake in his raspy voice.

"But he already knew half of it," David argued, half-heartedly. "I had to tell him the truth."

"I'm afraid I have no choice, then," stated Drake. "According to our insider, Justin found a way out of the plant and, after all, your son did resist the M.A."

"You can't!" Mr. Evarb protested. "You wouldn't!"

Drake fixed David with a particularly cold stare and lowered his voice to a whisper.

"Watch me."

Justin awoke the next day feeling extremely rested. After breakfast, Miss Carten once again reviewed the Twenty-four-hour War with him before moving on to other subjects.

Justin couldn't really understand why Miss Carten was spending so much time on such a seemingly insignificant event. The Twenty-four-hour War had happened eighty years ago in two countries that Justin couldn't even pronounce, let alone spell. What had happened was that one country had bombed a suspected military base in the other country. Unfortunately, the building turned out to be a children's hospital, one that had received praise from various European nations. After the bombing, all the support for the hostile country simply disappeared and the other guys won the war with their only casualties being the children in the hospital. It was, to say the least, short.

Soon it became time for him to fly over to the Evarb Plant. Justin was looking forward to this particular meeting because he wanted to talk to his father about the "escape pods" he had seen on the walk-through. He was curious as to what they were supposed to do, if anything at all. Justin climbed into the helicopter and it took off, heading toward the Plant.

After a half an hour had gone by and the Plant was relatively close, Justin was still thinking of the things he wanted to do that day. He needed to finish telling Sam how to get out of the Production Plant and he needed to ask his father about the cones. Justin was also hoping that now, since the truth had been told, things would improve between him and his father.

Suddenly a violent jolt shook him from his mental checklist. The helicopter had dropped several feet downward and was slowly descending toward the ground while racing forward. The truly unnerving part of this was that they were not nearly close enough to the Plant to land. In fact, if they continued on the downward path that they were on, they would impact squarely with the wall!

Justin nervously looked over at the pilot. What he saw did not improve his mood in the slightest.

The pilot appeared to be wrestling with the controls of the helicopter, pulling the joystick every which way and pumping the pedals on the ground with his feet. He seemed to be attempting to make the helicopter do something, anything but continue on its current course.

Justin swung his head back toward the windshield. The thick, metal wall around the Evarb Plant was quickly growing larger and larger every second.

Am I going to die?Justin thought, strangely calm. Shouldn't I be panicking?

But Justin seemed to find no need to panic. Everything had been slowed down to a lethargic pace. The pilot's exaggerated strangling of the controls took on an almost comical appearance.

Justin slowly turned his gaze toward the side window. The bright red interior of the cabin crept past him. Green blades of grass quaked in the wind as they normally did. But the blades were being magnified. The pulsating emerald ocean was slowly rising to meet them.

This is what it must have felt like on my mother's plane, Justin realized as he looked out the window. This is the feeling you get when you know you're going to die and you have enough time to think about it.

Justin looked back out the windshield of the sinking helicopter. The wall was surprisingly close now, threatening to fill his view entirely.

Well, thought Justin. Isn't this ironic.

And then the helicopter slammed into the wall and Justin's world went black.

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