67. The Unnatural City, Part II   2 comments

Meanwhile in Space…

Episode 67: The Unnatural City, Part II: Ghost Town

Sundance drove through the city towards the gates that separated the city from the desert outside. Timmy sat in the passenger seat looking back at Colonel Graves and Astralyn. They were briefing Astralyn on the mission.

“So you lost contact about a week ago?” Astralyn asked, brushing her blonde hair out of her face. “That’s a long time not to check in.”

“What kind of research is happening at this base?” Timmy asked.

“They’re studying the underground of the desert. They discovered some caverns and they are gathering data,” the colonel replied. “There’s still so much about this planet that we don’t know. I’d like to get to know it a little better. Then I’d feel better about being stationed here.”

Sundance slowed the car down as they reached traffic at the gate. The border officers asked each car where they were headed and when they should be expected to return. When the response was given to their satisfaction, they waved the car onward and talked to the next car in line. When they reached Sundance’s car, they smiled and saluted him and the colonel.

“Good morning sirs, ma’am.” The border officer saluted them. “Where are you headed today?”

“Christopher City for a routine check in,” the colonel replied. He watched the officer scribble down some notes.

“Yes, sir. Have a safe journey,” the officer said. He saluted them again and waved them forward.

Sundance couldn’t help but salute him back before he drove away. “Man, I hate to have his job,” he said as he sped through the city gates.

“That could be arranged quite easily,” Graves said. “Just keep it up!” Timmy and Astralyn laughed as Sundance slightly lowered in his seat and gulped.

The two hour journey to Christopher City crept along slowly. Astralyn kept the conversation going by talking about all of the exhibits that were coming to the museum in the coming months. Her excitement kept Timmy and Colonel Graves from nodding off to sleep.

Sundance was all to happy to interrupt her when they had reached the desert facility of Christopher City. He pulled up to the city gates, but there was no one there to greet them. The gates were wide open so Sundance drove through. He thought that it was strange that no one was working the gate, but assumed that maybe the border officer was on lunch duty.

Christopher City was a small military outpost that was home to S.P.A.C.E. officers and scientists. They weren’t any shops or restaurants, just buildings where the officers and scientists worked. It was just a small patch of civilization in the desert.

Colonel Graves sat up as Sundance drove through the facility. It put him on edge to see that there were many cars outside of the buildings, but they didn’t look like they had moved in a while. The whole facility was quiet. There was something wrong.

“Is it normally this quiet, Grover?” Astralyn asked. She noticed the stillness as well. She looked around for signs of life inside of the buildings they drove past. There was no one inside them. “Where is everyone?”

“This isn’t creepy at all,” Sundance said as he pulled up to the main research building. He turned off the car’s engine and let the car settle comfortably on the ground. He and Timmy got out and looked around. Astralyn and Colonel Graves did the same. “Something is definitely not right here.”

“Let’s check the inside,” Timmy suggested. “Maybe they’re doing an exploration of the caves and everyone is watching.”

“It’s eerie sometimes how optimistic you are, Timmy.” Sundance led the way to the front doors. He tested the handles to see if they were locked, but they weren’t. He opened the door and escorted everyone inside. They collected in the study and looked around. All of the lights were turned off. The air smelled old and stale.

Colonel Graves walked over to the receptionist window and picked up the sign in clipboard. He looked at the sign in sheet and tapped it. “No one has checked in here since last Wednesday. This is definitely strange.”

“That’s the last time you heard from them, right?” Astralyn asked. “Last Wednesday?” Colonel Graves nodded his head.

“Let’s all search the building and see if we can find any clues,” Sundance said.

“Right, let’s split up,” the colonel said. “Timmy, you’re with me. We’ll search the top floor. Sundance, you and Astralyn search down here and outside.”

Sundance nodded his agreement and watched as Colonel Graves and Timmy went upstairs. He whistled and spun around to look at Astralyn. “So, it looks like we have the place to ourselves,” he joked.

“Where do you suggest we start looking?” Astralyn asked, walking to the receptionist’s window.

“The receptionist’s computer.” Sundance walked around the corner and entered the front office. The door was open, so he walked in and set up camp at the receptionist’s computer. He turned it on and waited for it to boot up. “This might take a while.”

“What are you hoping to find?” Astralyn asked.

“Maybe Timmy’s right, that maybe there was some kind of big event that happened that required everyone’s attention.” The computer finally booted up and immediately opened to the desktop. He navigated to the calendar application. When he opened it up, he saw that there wasn’t anything major scheduled for last week. “Well, there goes that idea.” He stood up and joined Astralyn in the lobby. “Let’s say we give ourselves a tour.” Astralyn nodded.

They walked along the hallways of the first floor and searched in every room. They didn’t find anyone they could talk to. Every office was empty. This frustrated Sundance to no end. With each empty room they found, the more visibly upset Sundance was.

“People don’t just get up and disappear,” Sundance growled.

“There have been many instances of entire colonies disappearing into the night without a trace,” Astralyn said. “I’m not saying that this is one of those instances, but it’s not completely unheard of.” She didn’t know what else to say.

Sundance walked back into the lobby and waited for Colonel Graves and Timmy to come back. Astralyn walked over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Why are you so upset?” Astralyn asked. “Ever since we got back from Deimos, you’ve been acting strange. You’re so distant. I mean, while we’re not as close as I’d like to be… I can tell the difference.”

Sundance touched Astralyn’s hand and turned to face her. For the first time since they met, he stared into her green eyes soulfully. “I’m sorry. You’re right. This isn’t like me. I don’t mean to alarm you, or push you away. It’s just that I’ve been…” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’ve…” The words failed to come to him.


“The whole thing with the Caretakers really freaked me out,” Sundance said. “And the stuff with Timmy… I’m just worried about him. He’s got things in his blood! I don’t know what that means, but it scares me!”

Astralyn looked concerned, but Sundance could also tell that she looked disappointed. There was something that she wanted him to say and he didn’t say it. She wasn’t going to press the issue and for that Sundance was glad.

“Timmy will be fine,” Astralyn said, taking Sundance’s hand into hers. “It’s you I’m worried about. I know you like to pretend that nothing bothers you, but I want you to know that you can always talk to me.”

Sundance was about to thank her when something rattled outside. He pulled away from Astralyn and headed outside, laser pistol drawn. Astralyn followed behind him.

“Did you hear that?” Sundance asked. He stood by his car and looked up and down the dusty street. “There was a noise; a thump or something up against the window.”

“I didn’t hear anything,” Astralyn replied. She slowly pulled out her laser pistol and waited for a sign.

“Hello?” Sundance shouted to the wind. He stepped into the street towards the building next door. “Is anyone out here? We’re here to help!” Sundance and Astralyn strained to hear anyone reply. “I think there’s someone in that building! Come on!”

Sundance started running to the next door building. Astralyn followed him, not knowing that something was following her as well.


Posted June 2, 2014 by Xanto P. Jones in Flash Fiction

2 responses to “67. The Unnatural City, Part II

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  1. I’m caught up! Nice wrap-up on the last chapter, BTW. I like this ending… something else is following. WHAT??? 🙂

  2. Ohhh something is following, look out your two!

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