One of the joys of this global lock-down is I am finding myself with time to write again! It's not much to begin with, but it's a start. I'm not set on the title just yet, but I kinda like it. It works for now lol.
The facility doors groaned loudly as they retracted into the mountain. The wind howled through the growing gap, forcing everyone inside to pull their jackets tighter around them against the biting cold. The gathered crowd waited until the thunderous echoes of the grinding mechanism faded into the stillness of the night. One by one, they stepped forward out beyond the pale pools of light that glinted off the fresh snow, the silence broken by the quiet crunching beneath their feet. They followed the lead of one man to the precipice overlooking the western slopes.
“Beautiful night,” whispered Richard as he stopped at the shoulder of the tall, slender man who led them. Joshua glanced over his shoulder and nodded, the smile on his lips failing to mask the sadness behind his haunted eyes.
“Yes,” he replied, “Beautiful.”
Joshua stared into the night, his eyes following the contours of the mountain, the path of the river snaking through the forest as it led to the coast. All of it lost to the darkness and being retraced by memory. Continuing to the south, he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly as his gaze was drawn to the twinkling lights of the city sleeping at the foot of the mountain. Two and a half million people living in the city, and not a single one knew of his work in the mountains. If they had known about his work... well... they probably would have laughed at him. His family laughed at the idea when he first mentioned that he wanted to make it into a reality 15 years ago. The media laughed when he published his first paper on it 10 years ago. The government laughed him out of the building when he asked for funding. Everyone laughed, except for one.
Ten years ago...
Walking across the tarmac was a new experience for Joshua. The rare times he had to fly anywhere, he was always stuck in coach, crammed in the tiny seats with his knees up to his chin for hours on end. Getting off those flights, you had to fight your way through dozens of people all trying to get off the plane at the same time; before staggering down the ramp, trying to remind your legs how to work properly. This flight was a completely different experience.
Instead of having his knees against his chin, he had leg room. Instead of being crammed into a tiny space with dozens of people, he was the only one on the flight. Instead of having crummy airplane food, they apparently had a gourmet chef cook him breakfast. And instead of staggering down a ramp, he walked across the tarmac from the private jet to a waiting limousine. The chauffeur greeted him, called him sir, and asked how his flight was as he took Joshua's luggage from numb, relenting hands. Opening the door for Joshua, the chauffeur bowed hurriedly.
"I must apologize, sir. I know you'd probably like to freshen up after your long flight, but Mr. Bauer wanted you brought to him as soon as your flight landed."
Just hearing the name spoken aloud made the whole experience more surreal than it already was. Everything happened so quickly, Joshua still wasn't sure if this was a dream or not. Six months ago, he published his paper. Yesterday was his meeting with the Ministry of Scientific Development where he was laughed at. By the time he got home and walked through his door, his phone was ringing. When he answered the phone, he didn't even get a chance to say hello before the voice on the other end said, "They laughed at you, didn't they?"
After a ten minute conversation, Joshua was surprised to find himself agreeing to flying across the country to meet Mr. Bauer in person.