“Are you all right?” I asked after a few minutes. His response was to put his hands on mine and pull me closer. I tightened my grip, putting my head on his shoulder as we both contemplated what had just happened.
“What was that?” he whispered. I barely heard him if not for the fact my ear was right by his mouth.
“I think we have our answer for why we are in this bunker,” I responded, “As incredible as it seems… Aliens have invaded,”
“But that’s just in films, not in real life,” he protested.
“Well, they are not confined to movies anymore,” I told him dryly, “Come on, we’d better go tell the rest of the group,”
“OK,” he said quietly. Before I could release him, he had squirmed around in my arms and given me a big hug, “Thanks for being here Alex, you’re a great guy,”
“So are you, little bear,” I returned with feeling, surprised at how much he meant to me. I squeezed him one last time before we made our way back down the stairs to the admin offices. We had little to say as we descended the stairs, passing each of the levels until we reached Level Two. As we got closer to the admin room, Tobi and I could hear loud arguing. I strode into the office to find Larry and Mac laying into each other.
“The hell I will let that faggot be in charge,” Larry shouted.
“He’s got more brains in his pinkie than you do in your head, although most of the blood rushes to your dick and you cannot think straight,” Mac replied scathingly though I thought I heard a few sniggers from the girls.
“Don’t defend him just because you’ve been his fag hag for your life; it would not surprise me if you were a dyke, too,” he returned. Ben had his face in his hands, but Matty was stood behind Mac, wide-eyed and looking scared. I also noticed Kelly and Sarah had the under-10’s huddled in the corner, trying desperately to distract them from the shouting.
“What the hell is going on?” I shouted, “You’re scaring the children,”
“Sorry,” Mac muttered and had the decency to look ashamed when she glanced at the children.
“Oh, Mr High-and-Mighty is gonna step in,” Larry mocked me.
“Larry and Amanda decided it wasn’t worth exploring and came back down here,” Mac explained.
“For the love of….” I couldn’t complete my sentence, but I felt as exasperated as Mac looked so I decided on a different tack, “Well, that doesn’t matter now, Tobi and I discovered the reason we are down here,”
“Why?” Nate prompted.
“Earth has been invaded by Aliens,” I told them seriously, but Larry, Tom and Amanda all burst out laughing. I noticed that even Nate and Sarah were giving me little smiles, as though expecting me to tell them it was a joke.
“You’re funny, for a fairy,” Tom guffawed. Mac looked between Tobi and me with an open mouth, while Noah looked at me as though he was calculating something.
“Really?” Simon asked.
“On the top floor, Tobi and I found a lookout tower for observation. We watched as an RAF jet was destroyed by an alien craft,” I explained, then added, “Then we saw a giant explosion in the sky,”
“An EMP,” Tobi added.
“A what?” Izzy asked. I had heard of Electromagnetic Pulses (EMPs), but only ever in books or films.
“Basically a type of bomb was detonated in the atmosphere, it was probably something like a nuke,” Tobi explained to the rest of the group, “It would have sent out an electrical shockwave, which fries all electronics, which means no phone, cars or computers!”
“If it fried the electronics, genius, why are the lights still working?” Tom asked sarcastically. I stepped slightly in front of my friend as if to protect him, but I had not realised I had done it until I saw Mac watching me.
“I’m guessing this mountain is one big Faraday cage?” Talia asked, speaking up for the first time and got several blank looks, mine included.
“A Faraday cage is like a big bubble that protects electronics from being fried in situations like this… there must be one surrounding this facility.”
“Right, well Tobi and I found several rooms designed for VIPs and commanding officers on the top floor that should accommodate us all. However, I think a few people are going to have to share,” I reported, getting back to the subject at hand, getting a few outraged looks, “We also explored the Biodome, which has a large waterfall with what appears to be fresh water and fresh food to eat,”
“Fresh food?” Ben perked up, looking between Tobi and me.
“You’re going to love it,” Tobi grinned at him. I had not realised the two were friends but seen as Tobi was at my house as much as Matty, I’m not surprised he run into my brothers’ best friend.
“The fifth floor is normal accommodation for civilians and military personnel. There are four dorms, two large shower rooms with some overflow showers and a further two small washrooms,” Mac reported, “There are a further eight bedrooms and a large laundry area,”
“What about the fourth floor?” I looked to Nate, Luca and Simon.
“Well, there’s a large kitchen and canteen, so it’ll be enough if ever get more people,” Simon described the Arcade.
“There are also a games room, barber, gym and a library,” Nate grinned, rolling his eyes at Simon ignoring the obvious for a kitchen.
“It’s got a river running through it,” Luca said wide-eyed.
“A river?” I asked incredulously.
“A stream, more like, but it looks like a mall somewhere in America,” Simon told us.
“OK, so no one explored Level Three,” I looked at Amanda and Larry, “So what about Level Two?”
“Well, you need a key card entry to get into several places such as the Base Commander’s Office, but we found more offices, an education centre full of classrooms, a conference room, and an operations room, though that was locked as well,” Noah informed us.
“Did you found out more about Level One?” I looked at Tom and Talia.
“It’s fascinating; they have a Water Treatment Plant, and the engineering is light years beyond anything I’ve seen. It’s very top secret and a bit too technical,” Tom seemed to come alive in a way that I’ve never seen before.
“Tobi probably knows about the computer.”
“Like a kid in a candy store,” I laughed, remembering him as he entered engineering.
“But there are also several data banks and computers down there; you could probably run the internet from this place,” Talia suggested.
“We also found a large armoury, and two storerooms with a refrigerator and a freezer,” Tom added but was not as enthusiastic about these additions.
“Thanks, everyone. It seems that food and accommodation are organised. We’ll go sort out the rooms then we can explore later on,” I told them, “I’ve chosen an apartment and so has Tobi,”
“That’s fine,” Mac said, I expected some arguments from Larry or Tom, but only Larry glared at me.
“Right, so all the apartments are card operated, so I shall open them. However, when I find out how to make more cards, you’ll receive one,” I conveniently forgot the four cards in my pocket. I also didn’t think anyone would steal anything while here.
After several trips up in the lift, we had all the rooms sorted. I had to use my key card to gain entry to Level Six every time, so I was always up and down. Ben joined Matty and I in our apartment while Noah asked if he could go in with Mac and Tobi. Kelly took an apartment with the three youngest, so Noah and I hauled a spare bed up from the fifth level into one of the small rooms. Larry and Tom shared an apartment, but they also took eight-year-old George with them. I was beginning to unpack my clothes into the wardrobe when there was a knock on the front door. I opened the main door to find Izzy wringing her hands.
“Come in. Are you all right?” I asked, taking her through to the living area. I offered her a seat and sat on the other side of the couch to her.
“I dunno,” she answered a little unsure.
“Is it about sharing a bed with Sarah?” I asked. Some kids can be weirded out about sharing a bed.
“Oh no, Sarah and I have been best friends forever,” she gushed so I looked at her confused.
“What’s wrong, then?”
“It’s Amanda, she’s an absolute witch,” Izzy suddenly blurted out.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” I settled back into the chair, “You’re sharing an apartment?”
“Yeah, and I’m not sure if I can. I know her from school; she’s one of the nastiest girls I know,” Izzy explained, “She manipulates people, weasels into their mind and turns people against each other. I noticed earlier she was cosying up to Tom and Larry,”
“Can you at least try to get along? We do have other rooms, but you’d be on your own,” I told her, not sure she should be on a level on her own. I also thought that I might need to keep an eye on Amanda.
“I-I’ll try, but if she annoys me I’m not liable for my actions,” Izzy sighed, but I laughed at her words. She had picked that up from some soap.
“Thank you,” I led her back to the main door, opening up just as Mac was about to begin knocking, “Are you OK?”
“There’s a bit of a problem,” she admitted.
“What?” I wondered what Tom and Larry had done now.
“The showers are not working in the apartment; I’ve tried both ours and Nate’s apartment too,” I stared at her; this would cause trouble if we could not have baths or showers. We would have to use the lagoon, which I’m not sure has a filter or anything. I left the door open as I went to check on our showers. I heard a loud groaning as I switched them on, but the water was still not forthcoming after several minutes. It was same in the other bathroom, so I went around testing everyone else’s. Once I had finished and discovered no one’s shower’s worked, we were all stood in the common area. Everyone seemed to want to be heard and was talking louder than the other person.
“What are we going to do?” Kelly looked at me, then the younger children.
“We need somewhere to clean up,” Tom added. As they continued to whine and moan, I tried thinking fast to come up with a solution when I remembered something Mac had told us earlier.
“Quiet!” I shouted, “Mac, Matty, did you say there were changing rooms down in the normal accommodation?”
“There was a large male and female locker room, two overflow shower rooms and two smaller male and female locker rooms,” Mac replied.
“None of the single rooms had showers,” Matty added helpfully.
“There were also several single showers in the gym in the Arcade,” Simon suggested.
“All right, while everyone else finishes unpacking I’ll check them out,” I told them as I looked at my watch, no wonder my stomach had been rumbling, “But we need some food for dinner,”
“No problems there,” Simon replied, standing by the canteen, next to his little brother, “The kitchen up here have food and so does the kitchen in the Arcade, but Tom and Talia tell me there are a large number of supplies on Level One. However, I’m not sure all of it will last six months,”
“We can also grow our own,” I suggested.
“I’d like to check out the Biodome,” Ben spoke up.
“We can have a look together and see what we’ll need for the kitchen,”
“So can you organise a meal for tonight?” I looked at Simon.
“Sure, if you check out the showers I’ll get a meal put together,” Simon grinned and clapped his brother’s shoulder.
“OK then, tomorrow we’ll check out the Operations Room and see if we can get the place up and running, we also need to get the stores inventoried,” I was thinking out loud, “Matty, would you be up for the job?”
“I reckon I could do that,” he enthused.
“Matty will be our quartermaster then, however, I don’t want people running around alone until we check the base out entirely; would anyone else be willing to help him?”
“My mum runs a shop, so I often help her out with the inventory,” Izzy offered.
“Would you be OK helping out Matty?” she looked at the younger boy and smiled.
“I’m sure we’ll get along great.”
“We’ll give you a radio in case you have any issues,” I told the pair, “Right, go and finish your unpacking and I’ll go check out the showers,”
“Alex, for the main locker rooms, you need to come out on the other side, they’ve got double doors on either side,” Mac told me.
“Thanks,” I gave her a nod beginning to make my way towards the lower floors.
“Can I come with you?” I heard someone ask, just as I reached the door to the stairs. I looked back to see Tobi jogging up behind me.
“Is Mac OK with that?” I questioned but knew it was the wrong question as he frowned angrily.
“When have I ever done anything Mac asked?” he growled back, he sounded so much like that little bear from the old Disney movie.
“Come on then, Little Bear, let’s go,”
“You’re seriously not going to stop calling me that, are you?”
“Nope, I’ve told you many times you sound like the bear from Brother Bear,” I replied, “Besides you’ve always liked me calling you that,”
“Fine, I’ll admit I like it, but only you can call me that,” he growled cutely, “Please don’t do it in front of my sister,”
“Come on,” I laughed at him, pushing him through the door ahead of me. We followed the stairs down to the fifth floor, where the doors were not locked, “Now, Mac said the locker rooms were on the other side of the stairs,”
“So that way,” Tobi suggested walking around to the left. I opened the door onto the corridor where we saw a sign for ‘Military Dorms’ pointing right and ‘Civilian dorms’ pointing left. Tobi went right, so I followed him.
At the T-junction, two sets of double doors led into the military dorms and to our left was another two sets of double doors with plaques that read ‘Male locker room’ and ‘Female locker room’. I went to the end pushing through into the male locker room first. Immediately on my right were several toilet stalls, and opposite them were the sinks. On my left, there were two open doors. I looked in and saw two open-plan shower rooms with a dozen or so shower heads in each. Near the end and the other side of the room were the second set of double doors, which led to partitioned urinals and three singular showers.
“You reckon anyone left anything behind?” Tobi asked as he looked in one of the three open cupboards, each had cubbyholes for clothes. I looked at the two benches then looked at him.
“Probably not. Do you think the showers are going to work?”
“Well, there’s no reason the VIP ones should not be working, but there is a piping issue,” Tobi returned in his adult fashion, then grinned at me, “if it’s doesn’t work then the lagoon is going to get very dirty,”
“Yeah, all from you,” I returned, giving him a playful shove, almost tripping him over one of the benches.
“Nah-ah, you’re the smelly one,” he answered; now sounding like the kid he was. We both laughed, making our way into one of the general shower areas.
“Here goes nothing,” I crossed my fingers then turned one of the showers on. A groaning noise could be heard immediately; then water spluttered; weakly at first, it gathered strength and came out like a standard shower.
“Woohoo!” Tobi cried, jumping up and down. I smiled at his childishness as I went to check on the private showers. Each had a small bench and changing area before you got in the shower for those that liked their privacy. I followed up by checking the showers in the female locker rooms, overflow showers and the smaller locker rooms. Each worked nicely, which would make life somewhat more comfortable. It would still be a trek to come down here for a toilet as none of the bathroom taps worked on the sixth floor, but we would have to make do somehow.
Dinner had been a pleasant affair, but the group seemed subdued, whether the reality of the situation was beginning to set in or their thoughts were of their families, I don’t know. When I had returned, I found Simon and Luca in the VIP kitchen: they had tested all the equipment finding it in working order. For some reason, the water was working in the kitchen but nowhere else on the level. I suspected the kitchen had a different supply pipe to the other water.
With dinner now over and the plates cleared away, I looked over the group of teens and children. I stood up and got their attention.
“As you well know, we have a bit of an issue. None of the shower or toilet facilities works on the sixth floor,”
“So how are we supposed to have showers or go to the toilet?” Amanda whined.
“The level below has showering and toilet facilities, that do work,” I explained patiently, “However, that does mean that while in the VIP area, you will have to go downstairs for a toilet,”
“What if we have to go in the middle of the night?” one of the little ones asked. I think their name was Ali.
“Unfortunately, you will have to wake up one of the older teens and get them to take you,” I replied, “However, I want everyone to go in pairs until we’ve checked over the facility,”
“I’m not scared to go alone,” Larry puffed out his chest.
“Another thing I would like to suggest is a curfew: at 8 pm we all have showers then remain on the sixth floor, unless someone needs a toilet,” I suggested, ignoring Larry completely.
“Bullshit!” Tom called out.
“Watch your language,” Sarah cried fiercely, looking over the younger kids like a lioness protects her cubs.
“Sorry,” he murmured.
“But Tom is right, why should we have a curfew?” Larry continued, “Also I don’t want to be showering with little kids and a fa-“
“I dare you to finish that sentence,” Mac stood up, her eyes blazing, but Larry’s mouth clamped shut, and he looked down at the table.
“Until we know for sure we are alone, we don’t want people wandering off alone or late at night,” I voiced my reasoning, “Larry, we found private showers down there, so you can have your privacy if that’s what you wish,”
“I agree, the curfew is a good idea. Why don’t we vote?” Mac suggested and the rest of the group minus Amanda, Tom and Larry voted for the idea.
“Good, that’s settled. Why doesn’t everyone go grab their washing gear, and we’ll head down to the showers.” Everyone rushed off to their separate apartments. I had noticed earlier in the bathrooms; there were shampoo, body wash etc. There were also robes and towels in the cupboards.
“Should I take my PJs?” Matty asked, leaning on my doorframe.
“Yep, you can change into them and be more comfortable before bed,” I told him, grabbing my sleeping shorts and tee. I found a non-descript washing bag to throw a load of the washing stuff in there before grabbing a towel and one of the robes. Matty and Ben were already waiting at the door, so we left our apartment meeting up with Mac and Tobi, who was waiting with Kelly and the three youngest of our group.
“Are you OK taking Tommy? He might be a tad embarrassed coming into the girls’ locker room,” Kelly asked me. I looked the seven-year-old over, who had a massive grin on his face.
“Sure, I’m used to bathing him,” I told her getting a strange look back, “I babysit for him and his sister, our folks are quite good friends,”
“That’s nice, do you know everyone?” Kelly asked as we passed down the stairs.
“Mac and Tobi live just up the street from me, so I’ve known them practically my whole life. Some like Larry, his brothers and Tom, I’ve known since we were younger,”
“I only moved to town eighteen months ago,” Kelly told me shyly, “My Dad is the Headmaster of the high school,”
“You’re Mr Parker’s daughter?” I got a nod from her, “He’s cool,”
“You wouldn’t be saying that if you were his son, especially when your mum is a teacher too,” she shook her head.
“I’d hate to have parents as teachers,” I sympathised with her.
“I don’t think anyone would,” Mac added. We parted with the girls at the locker room and entered the male one. Two of the showers were already going while Noah and George were already getting undressed. I settled my stuff on one of the benches after greeting the pair then began to get changed, stripping off my shirt and jacket. I was pulling down my jeans when Nate, Simon and Luca joined us.
“This is going to be like one big sleepover,” Matty said to Ben, I begun to realise that our situation might not have sunk in with the younger ones.
“Pity we haven’t got any video games,” Ben returned.
“We can play truth or dare,” Simon suggested.
“But we’d have to play with girls,” Tobi replied. I turned to look the other way and found myself settled on the lanky Noah, he was down to his boxer shorts. His frame was slim with a muscular tone. I closed my eyes and tried to think of something else, like disgusting mayonnaise sandwiches.
“Come on then, Tommy,” Matty said. I opened my eyes to find the two naked boys entering the larger shower room. Noah was observing everyone, Ben and Luca were joking with each other.
“Just don’t bend over in there,” Ben told the other boy making me have to stifle a laugh.
“Make sure you wash properly,” I vaguely heard Matty say as the others’ passed me.
“Snap out of it, Lexi, you’re daydreaming,” Tobi called out.
“Since when have you called me Lexi?” I spluttered.
“Since forever, Lexi,” he returned bravely, but he hunched over looking nervous.
“My brother only calls me that to wind me up,” I told him launching myself at the younger boy. With a giggle, Tobi darted out my way and into the shower room, all the other boys were laughing as I caught him. I tickled him, making him laugh even harder. I pushed him away from me with a laugh grabbing my showering stuff, claiming a showerhead.
“Are we going to do this every night?” little Tommy asked.
“Yeah, little man, remember what I told you about always being clean,”
“Pirates who wash don’t get scurvy,” he said in his best adult voice as the older teens laughed. I turned to look at him to find him staring at me, “Wow,”
“What?” I asked him, confused.
“You’re really hairy!” Tommy blurted out, which made Nate, Simon and Noah laugh hard, confusing the smaller boy.
“Surely you have seen your dad naked?” I asked, hearing the amusement in my voice.
“Once or twice, but that was for a few seconds,” Tommy replied, “Daddy didn’t like me seeing him nakie,”
“We all get hairy,” I replied, but the rest of that conversation would wait for another time, “Have you done under your armpits and behind your ears?”
“Uh-huh,” he nodded, so I inspected him and then had a line of young ones waiting to be inspected. We all did our teeth then trooped back upstairs.
A half-hour later, I sat on a lounger in front of the great glass window looking at the night sky. Everyone else had gone to their apartments, but I had found a stash of hot chocolate and made two, putting a table between a pair of loungers. Not five minutes after I had first sat down, Mac took a seat beside me.
“Thanks, how did you know I would come out here?” she asked, surprised and picked up her hot chocolate, sipping it gently.
“Known you too long,” I responded, “Plus after a day like today, I had a hunch you’d want to talk,”
“What’s going on?” she asked, indicating several small explosions that appeared on the horizon.
“We’re being invaded,” I deadpanned.
“Do you think we are safe here?”
“As far as I can tell, the facility is secure. We are the only living people on the base,” I took a sip of the chocolate and nearly burnt my mouth.
“So we are really stuck in here for six months?”
“Unfortunately… I think so,” I returned, “However, I think we can tough it out. We’ll have to explore the whole facility and check the inventory, but I think we’ll be fine,”
“Do you think our parents will be OK?” she asked, almost too quiet for me to hear.
“Our parents put us down here for a reason, they must have thought we’d be safer,” I suggested, wondering myself if I would ever see my parent’s again.
“Little Kelly was asking some awkward questions today,” Mac commented with a grin, changing the subject. I was quite glad at the change as I laughed out loud.
“Yeah, Tommy was the same. I’ve bathed him hundreds of times, but he’s never seen me naked,”
“Does it bother you showering with other boys?” She asked. I gave her a shrug and looked up into the starlit sky, which appeared clearer than I had seen it before.
“I’m used to showering with other boys’ for PE, but not with ones a lot younger than me,” I told her, “Though Tom and Larry chose to have private showers,”
“So did Amanda,” was the reply.
“They’ll have to get used to the fact we’re all in this together,” I responded carefully, “Our world has changed, it’s never going to go back to the way it was before,”
“Laurence is going to continue to challenge you,”
“It’s not like I wanted to be a leader. Dad thrust that upon me,” I whined, sounding like a younger kid.
“You’re doing great so far,” she assured me, then with a glint in her eye she turned to me, “I think Tobi really likes you,”
“He’s a good kid, very brainy,” I said. She was trying to allude to something, but I didn’t understand her. We’d been friends for a long time. Both Mac and I had practically been womb mates, but this was Tobi’s sister, and she was very protective.
“Boys, you’re so dumb sometimes,” I gave her an offended look, “He’s had a crush on you for ages, did you not notice the way he watched you all the time,”
“It’s probably hero-worship because I’m older than him,” I tried and failed to say confidently.
“How old were you, when you knew?” she suddenly asked.
“What do you mean?” I squeaked, sounding like a small boy.
“Kobe told me ages ago, I couldn’t believe that you would not tell me and it hurt,” she sounded wounded, “Besides, Larry and Tom calling you those names are not a coincidence,”
“All right, I’m gay,” I blew out exasperated, “I just didn’t want to tell you, I just had some sort of fear,”
“How did Kobe find out?”
“Same way Tom and Larry did, caught me kissing another guy,”
“Harsh, but I won’t tell anyone about it,” she reassured me, “Now about Tobi,”
“If he is, he is there is nothing you and I can do about it,” I responded.
“Please just don’t break his heart,” she said, almost under her breath but I heard her.
“Look he’s a little too young for me,” I responded, “But I’ll let him down gently,”
“So is there anyone you do like?” she looked at me with a familiar glint in her eye.
“The world’s gone to shit, but you’re wondering if I have a crush?” I asked, trying to deflect her question away from me.
“Oh, you’re definitely telling me now. Someone doth protest too much,” I knew she wouldn’t let go until I told her something.
“All right, there may be someone I like but A) I’m not sure he’s gay and B) it’s the end of the world, so I doubt anything is going to happen,”
“Kobe told me you were interested in someone,” she smirked.
“When did you get to speak to him?” I spluttered.
“Yesterday, at school, while you were showing Noah around,” she told me reminding me we had been in the bunker less than 24 hours. I feel like I’ve been down here years.
“I’m gonna kill him when I see him,” I growled.
“So did you speak to your dad?” she abruptly changed the subject.
“Yeah, early this morning, he had me tell him exactly what happened,” I explained.
“So do you think this,” she waved her hands around indicating the bunker, “was connected to that incident?”
“I’m not sure, but I overheard my dad saying something about the brass thinking an infection was connected to the attack,”
“That’s strange,” she said frowning.
“I know. We’ll find out in six months,”
“Thanks for the hot chocolate and the talk. I’m going to bed,” she waved goodbye and left me to my thoughts.