continued from part two…
What happened next is still somewhat of a blur. But I remember the harsh, scraping metal sound the garage door made as it flew open, just before the smoke.
Then everything faded to black…
When I woke up I was alone, laying on a bed in what looked at first like a typical hotel room at a Super 8. The decor was bland, utilitarian; someone had put very little expense into a Southwestern motif. I glanced around the room a few times before I realized there were no windows. There was a television but no remote and no buttons. There was also no thermostat or telephone. A large mirror hung on one wall. A bad knock-off of some Native American artwork hung on the other wall. There was one metal door leading out of the room. There was no peephole and it couldn’t be locked from the inside.
I tried to stand and walk to the bathroom but quickly found that I was dizzy and trying to move sent pain shooting through my head. I heard a beep at the door and it opened. A woman walked in carrying a tray.
“Hello James, my name is Brandi. I have some food for you. The dizziness should pass soon. Here, drink some of this tea, it will help you.”
“Where am I? Where is my family?”
“They are safe, in other rooms down the hall outside. Once you’ve all recovered from the…ehm, medicine, you’ll be interviewed by one of the agents. Don’t worry, everything will be fine…”
I drifted in and out of consciousness, tried to eat some of the soup she brought. It wasn’t until several hours later that the dizziness passed and I felt fully aware of my surroundings & faculties.
Brandi came back carrying something under her arms. She really was quite pleasant looking. Probably in her mid-thirties, red hair with blonde highlights. About five feet seven in the heels she was wearing. She had on white scrubs but they were more form fitting than the ones nurses typically wear in a doctor’s office or hospital and definitely more revealing below the neckline.
“These are some clothes for you to change into. You should shower and get dressed. The agent will be seeing you soon. I’ll be back in about 30 minutes.” She turned to walk out of the room.
“Wait, why are we here? Who is this agent? What does he want? How did you know my name”
“The agent will explain everything thing to you. I just take care of the rooms and the needs of the…umm, guests.” She left quickly.
There didn’t seem to be anything to do but take a shower & get dressed. The shower was activated by a single button below the shower-head. There was no hot or cold, just one single temperature – the temperature I liked, actually. Shampoo, conditioner and body wash were dispensed by three nozzles inside the shower. It felt oddly refreshing. The clothes – white drawstring pants and a white button down shirt – fit me perfectly. I was beginning to feel like a patient in an expensive mental health spa.
I sat on the edge of the bed waiting for Brandi to return. I kept thinking that I should have been extremely scared and anxious but for some reason I felt totally calm. I tried to find a radio station on my Walkman but it was just static.
The door beeped and Brandi came in. “The agent will see you now.”
I got up and followed her out into the corridor. It was long and sterile looking. Fluorescent lights hung overhead, the floor was terrazzo. Doorways like mine dotted it every 20 feet or so.
We turned a corner at one point, went down a hallway containing several small conference rooms. She took me in the one that had a large #3 painted on it and asked me to sit down at the table. There was a cup of ice and a can of Coca-Cola next to it. “Make yourself comfortable, it will only be a minute or two.”
The conference room was minimal. A plasma TV hung on one wall, a rectangular conference table with eight chairs. Some abstract art hung on the wall.
The door opened again and a slender man in his late 50′s walked in carrying a folder and a mug of coffee. He was dressed like an engineer or scientist, but the way he carried himself & his demeanor reminded me of those investigators on Law & Order.
“Hi James, my name is Agent Owens. I need to ask you a few questions about what your family was doing at the weigh station. I’m sure you have questions and I’ll try to answer those for you, but first I need to know what happened yesterday.”
I explained how the minivan had broken down and that we were trying to walk to a rest area and stumbled across the weigh station, etc. He asked about the places we had stayed previously, the tourist attractions we had visited. He asked about my dad’s job.
“Okay, thank you for your cooperation. I’ve already spoken to your father & mother. I’ll be speaking to your sister next, just for the file, and then we’ll help you get back to your minivan & tow it to a service station. Your family inadvertently stumbled into a military installation. But your stories corroborate and it sounds like it was an accident. We apologize for the trouble and everything, but with Homeland Security the way it is we have to take every precaution.” There was something odd about the way he said ‘Homeland Security’ – perhaps a hint of sarcasm in his tone.
“Thank you sir. What time is it by the way?”
“Almost 9 PM…wait here and Brandi will show you back to your room.”
“Can I see my parents yet?”
“As soon as I finish with…uh,” he glanced in his file, “your sister Danielle, your family will be reunited.” Then he left.
Brandi returned me to my room. My clothes had been washed & were folded neatly on my bed. I changed back into them and waited.
15 minutes passed, then 30. After about an hour the door beeped and Agent Owens entered the room.
“James, your sister mentioned something in the interview that no one else had brought to our attention – about lights & sounds she says you and she saw at two other weigh stations along your way here. I need to know exactly what you saw & heard…”
I explained the high-pitched buzzing sound & the orange glow as best as I could recall it.
“And neither of your parents saw or heard anything?”
“No, just Dani saw that light at the first station outside Georgia, and I saw & heard the light & sound at the one near Albuquerque.”
He turned to open the door. “Hey, can I see my family now? When can we leave?”
He paused and turned back to me, “Brandi will take you to where the four of you will be staying. I’m afraid with these new developments we won’t be able to release you from custody at this time. The four of you, particularly you & your sister, will be guests of the United States Federal Government for the foreseeable future.” With that he left the room.
I sat on the bed for a few minutes, stunned. Why had Dani brought up the lights & sounds? And why was that important enough to warrant being detained here? My anxiety level was finally beginning to catch up with reality. I glanced my Walkman out of the corner of my eye. I picked it up and started fiddling with it. Then I remembered that mom had bought me the special model with the weather & emergency scanner. I flipped the switch and started to rotate the tuner. Static…kept rotating….more static…wait, there! Were those voices? I tried to fine-tune it. I couldn’t make it out clearly…
“sshwhhwgghh…of the girl’s…shshsghghh…. transporting…sshhshwghgh… impossible to hear….sshshsgghgh…we’ve been searching….shhrhgrhhrh… must be briefed on this development…sssggsghshgsrgg…indefinitely…” Then the batteries died.
There were at least two voices, maybe more. I couldn’t make too much of the conversation out, but the way the last one said “indefinitely” sent chills down my spine…
A few minutes later the door beeped and Brandi took me to a larger suite. Dad & mom were already there. A few minutes later she brought Dani in as well…
to be continued…