A heavy darkness draped over Amber’s shoulders, like a wet cold blanket. She sat like a lump on the edge of a bunk bed. She had no idea if it was not her own bunk, nor did she care. Her eyes were relentless, staring at a spot of rock near the chamber wall. It hadn’t moved for the three hours. She continued to stare anyway.
Her near lifeless exterior didn’t betray the storm of agony that she felt raging in her mind. She watched the scene stuck on repeat. A bloody spot swelled from her son’s chest, inflicted by her own trigger finger. The flash of light that stole him from the world burned into her mind. The last image that Riker saw was his own mother put a bullet through his heart. It was a mistake, but some mistakes were unforgivable.
“There you are, Miss Levy-Hope. I suppose you didn’t hear the loud speaker calling your name,” a voice said. It would have been an unwelcome intrusion. Yet, Amber didn’t even notice General Andrews and his four armed escorts. She continued to stare at the rock wall.
Andrews reached out and passed his hand in front of her face, trying to get her attention. It was no use, she was giving what little attention she had to the stone surface.
“Miss Levy-Hope, I’m talking to you.” Andrews said. When he got no response he stepped forward and leaned down low. He sat next to Amber on the bunk bed. Her eyes didn’t leave the spot as the bunk creaked and her weight shifted. Andrews spoke more gentleness this time. His speech was slow and full of a gruff type of kindness.
“I see that you are here alone.” He shifted himself on the bed, trying not to hit his head on the low hanging bunk above. “Losing someone is always difficult.”
Amber remained completely motionless. Her statue like features didn’t change in the slightest, but she was listening. She wondered if the armed guards would shoot her if she attacked the General. Wouldn’t that be convenient. Then she wouldn’t have to do it herself.
“For example, York lost an entire squad of good soldiers in Afghanistan. He was in a foul mood for days,” Andrews said as he gestured to one of the four men who stood by. Amber glanced in the direction of York. She recognized him. He was the soldier who had shot Senator Yates on the helicopter. Amber had no sympathy for the devilish creep.
“I don’t mean to say that losing soldiers is the same as losing a son. The fact is, the enemy abducted hundreds from this base alone. The numbers worldwide are tremendous. We can either sit around and mope, or we can do something about it. The only way to make this right is to strike back at the heart of evil itself.” Andrews leaned in closer to Amber. She could smell his breath now, an irritating addition to the unwanted company. She wished to wallow in her misery alone. Her anguish was metastasizing into a dense ball of rage. She clenched her jaw hard. Andrews noticed.
“That’s the spirit,” He stood to his feet, being careful not to knock his head on the upper bunk. He spoke, as if he had repaired the problem. “The point is, Miss Levy-Hope, we need you. We don’t know enough about this rogue star. You’re vital to this war. We have to find a way to knock that ball of fire out of the sky like a duck on the first day of hunting season. My gut tells me that you’re the only one that might have a chance at figuring out how.”
Finally she looked up at him. Tears spotted her eyes. Her face was red and puffy from crying. She regarded him without a sound, staring hard into his face. Andrews returned the look waiting for Amber’s compliance. She wasn’t going to be his perfect little soldier girl. In fact, she had already made her mind up. She would force his hand. She breathed deep, knowing that what she was about to do would cause them to shoot her down. She prepared to join Ryker and Lawrence in the endless nothingness of non-existence.
“Good-bye, General Andrews,” She said with a look as cold as the stone walls that surrounded. He tilted his head like a confused dog.
She leapt from the bunk bed toward the large man. Her heart was beating so fast it thumped three times before she reached him. Her greedy hands reached for his throat. The General didn’t have time to react. Her fists wrapped around his neck. She squeezed with all her strength. She didn’t think she could do any damage to the battle hardened warrior, but she knew she had to try. It was the only way to get them to react.
She lost her self in the wild rage. As she tightened her grip on his neck she bounded upward and wrapped her legs around his wast. The General tripped back with the momentum. She landed on top of him with a solid thump. She had lost her grip in the fall so she changed tactics. She began to scream and howl like a wild animal as she reigned down blows on Andrews.
The entire attack had only taken a second. Now it was time for the General to retaliate. As his guards rushed forward, Andrews brought one hand across Ambers face. Even from his position on his back, the hit slammed into her cheek like a dumpster full of bricks. The momentum twisted her over and sent her sprawling away. She crumpled across the metal bar of one of the nearest bunk beds.
Her head was spinning. Her brain turned to soup with the impact. She knew that she had to do better if she was going to get what she wanted. She popped up and went for the General a second time. Before she reached him, a hard mass plowed into her from the side. One of the guards had reached her. Creepy soldier York wrapped his sweaty body around her.
His entire weight penned her. The other three guards were there in short order. It wasn’t long before they were on her like a dog pile. She fought like a wild cat caught in a cage. Her fingernails tore into the flesh of a face. Her teeth sank into a hand over her mouth. Her knee found the fork of York’s legs. She fought with as much stamina as she had, but it wasn’t long before she had spent her reserves. Since the damage she inflicted was dispersed between five large men, it was negligible.
She was still screeching like a wild beast when they stood her up. She struggled against the iron grip of the men. They planted their feet and let her howl for a few seconds. When she realized it wasn’t doing any good she quieted. Andrews was back on his boots and rubbing his throat.
“Have you lost your mind. I could have you shot for treason,” Andrews raged. He stepped close and looked deep into her eyes. She was within reach of her goal. She spewed her words like acid.
“Shoot me, shoot me!” She screamed. Andrews watched her face trying to understand. After a moment of contemplation he softened.
“Is that what this is about? You lost your family and you want to die, but you’re too much of a coward to do it yourself. As if these gentlemen don’t have enough blood on their hands, you’d add yours to it. You’re disgusting,” Andrews shouted.
The general had undressed her soul with his words. He had seen right through her strategy. She tried to speak but no sound came. Instead tears began to spill over the dams of her eyelids. She deflated until it was the guards that held her on her feet. Andrews wasn’t done. He reached for his waste. Unclipped the holstered pistol at his side and pulled it out. Amber saw a glimmer of hope.
“If you’re so sure you want to die, then here’s your opportunity.” He spun the gun around and offered her the handle. Her eyes crossed trying to look at the gun centimeters from her face. She tried to force her arms upward, but they wouldn’t move. She couldn’t do it. They stood locked in a deadly staring contest for an eon.
“That’s what I thought,” he said as he replaced the gun in it’s holster.
“Please, you have to do it. I deserve—” She trailed off.
“I’m sorry that you lost your husband and your boy, I truly am, but I still have a operation to run. This military does not do execution by request. No matter how much the world falls apart outside these walls, you’ll have to do like the rest of us and deal with it. You will have your wish soon enough, because if we don’t figure out how to fight this thing, we are all going to die.
Andrews tugged at the bottom of his uniform jacket and smoothed out his hair. She watched him, wishing for a different outcome, but could see that she had lost.
“I can see that you are not fit for your assigned duties at this time. If you were anyone else I would have you escorted out of this facility. I’d let you take your chances with the nuclear fallout that has become the world outside. However, I’m still convinced that you have a vital role to play in all of this. It’s for that reason that these fine gentleman are going to find a place to lock you up for the time being.”
The General turned away from Amber and addressed York. He said, “see to it that Miss Levy-Hope is properly sedated, and locked up. We don’t want her to harm herself or any of our other guests.”
Now, as the guards dragged her down the corridor, the images rushed back into her mind like a spillway. Despite her best effor her son and husband were still dead.