When It Rains

The facility was enormous—fifteen miles to a side according to the odometer—and, after circling the entire complex in an old battery-converted Jeep, Dustin resigned to the fact that there’d be no easy way in. High steel-and-concrete walls left no gaps in the perimeter. The various and spread out gates all looked the same: impregnable.

He started a second lap around until he came upon the next gate, marked by high guard towers that dwarfed even the walls. The facility must have had some limited ability to generate power, because even after a decade of abandonment the powerful spotlights of the gate tower still functioned. As Dustin pulled up it began to rain.

He briefly got out and tried to shoulder his way through the gatehouse door to the control room, but it was sealed up like a bank vault. Discouraged, he got back into the Jeep. Where the hell else could he hope to find a shuttle on this dead, forsaken planet? He tried to back away from the gate but accidentally threw the transmission into drive. He slammed on the brakes just in time—the front bumper couldn’t have been more than an inch from the solid, explosion-proof door. Suddenly, there was a chirping sound, and the gate slid aside, its tracks groaning from years of disuse.

He couldn’t believe it. Must be an old RF card in the Jeep somewhere. “Fuck yes! Finally!”

He entered the facility, and the gate shut behind him. It was pouring now, and the various directional signs were difficult to make out behind the encroaching overgrowth. He drove slowly, and he jostled up and down from the chunking off of the severely dry-rotted tires. But with persistence he made his way to the landing field.

A variety of derelict cargo ships were clustered together, and he parked beneath the massive wing of an orbital dropship. Next to it was a slick-looking bomber with the fuel hose still attached—a good sign that it might be flight worthy. Plus, it was covered by a tarp, so the weather hadn’t gotten to it too bad. He stepped out of the Jeep, leaving it running and grabbing a flare from the back seat, and walked around the bomber in the downpour. Yeah, he thought, this might just be my ticket off this rock.

In the bright fuschia glow of the flare, a handful of tiny neon green dots appeared on the bomber’s hull and danced around, converging. “Don’t move!” called a brittle voice like broken glass from behind him. It sounded to be pretty far away, maybe 30 or 40 yards. “Drop the flare and lace your fingers behind your head.”

Dustin still had his pulse rifle slung over his back, but he was completely exposed. He didn’t like his odds. This place must not be as abandoned as he thought. He dropped the flare. It sputtered out in the puddle at his feet, and Dustin made a break for the Jeep. Electric cracks of pulse rounds burst around him, echoing of the giant walls of the buildings. He laughed crazily as he sped away, having no clue as to what to do next.

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page. Image by Connor Sheehan, used with permission.

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