The place was deserted, except for the small team of scientists that roamed the debris and walked tightly together, as if they were a single entity. They approached a square, where two members of the team that had guns stepped forward and escorted the others inside a big hole on the floor. There was glass everywhere and the stairs to go down where missing some of the steps. Everyone was very careful not to fall. When they reached the bottom, they reunited again. One of them, a woman, lit up a screen where she had a map of the place.
She pointed at a hallway and they all began to walk a little bit more relaxed, although some of their breathing equipment started making wheezing sounds. Yes, they had masks and tanks on their backs because the air had been deemed unbreathable. This was the consequence of the bombardment the city had gone through many years ago, during the Dark Wars. These battles and skirmishes had attempted to destroy every single trace of civilization in the world but it had been stopped just in time for that not to happen. Unfortunately, not every place in the world had been spared and cities such as this one lay empty and in ruin.
The team followed Calista, the woman with the map, through the hallway. They did steadily but not in a run, but fast anyway. They saw rooms in darkness but didn’t enter any of them. After many other dark hallways and a few stairs, they reached a long corridor, lit by the sunlit coming from the outside.
- This is it. The rooms by this corridor.
They entered a door to the left and they all did the same expression of amazement. The room seemed to be stuck in time as all the pieces where still exactly where they had always been. Their state, besides some dust, was just perfect so Calista and her time started unpacking everything they had brought with them. There were bags and plastic and some boxes. There was also a rod that could be extended and had wheels, to help with the transportation of the objects. In a little while, they had all the small objects wrapped in plastic and into small boxes. They did the same thing with two other rooms until the two armed men told them they should here if they wanted to leave the city before dark.
The team was too amazed with everything to worry about time. Shiny little objects, aged thousands of years, where now in their hands. They had been ordered only to grab the smaller things, the ones that came from far away countries now to far to reach. The Hive needed every single thing to be rescued in order to preserve it forever in the fortress in the mountains. Cities like this one were toxic and people would not be able to live there for many decades or more if they weather kept being as unpredictable as always. They had actually decided to go for the objects during summer, as the other seasons were very unpredictable. In summer the only danger was the heat but the city was now covered in clouds so that wasn’t much a thing to worry.
The rooms they were going through had objects brought fro m the Middle East, some parts of Africa and Asia. They had been taken away from tribes and other cultures so many years ago. Violence had made many museums great at some point in their history. And now, many of the cultures that had done those pieces of art had been dead for some time. One of the helpers was not only amazed by the small sculptures but by the paintings. Some were European and others where from across the Atlantic. Walking away from the others, he stared at an especially vivid portrait of a young woman, who seemed to be looking straight at him. Then, the eye moved and a whistle was heard.
Calista’s assistant fell dead to the floor, bleeding heavily on the marble floor. The armed men told everyone to stay down but there was no use as they now so what the dead man had seen before dying: the eyes of the young woman where not there anymore and there was a hole in her mouth. Someone behind the wall had shot the assistant. But who was it? Then, more whistles were heard. The person that was shooting was using silencer. The armed men made everyone crawl out of the room and stay down as they stayed by the door and shot down some of the paintings with their guns. The whistles stopped but then, they heard steps moving away. Whoever it was, he or she was escaping.
They all ran towards the sound and Calista took out her map and checked the corridors. There were no secrete passageways on the map but there was a service door by the next couple of stairs. She yelled this to the armed men and they ran for the door. They did so just in time, as a shadow stepped out of it and they shot it down. Calista screamed. She realized it was a bad idea to kill someone who had probably survived the nuclear holocaust. Although, the person might not be right of the head. A medic they had brought with them came fast and checked to body. The person was dead. The men pulled the body towards the corridor and then, not only Calista but everyone screamed in horror.
The creature had been a human. That was obvious because of his body but his face… He was gravely disfigured. Everyone’s breathing machines were working at full, as terror had required much more oxygen for them to breath. Calista and the doctor grew closer to the creature to check on the details of their attacker. He had a gun with a silencer on his belt and some other gadgets that they didn’t know what they were for. He also had a handful of keys in a chain. He was wearing normal clothes, although he was visible bleeding from open wounds on his legs and arms.
His face was striking because there were no eyes there anymore. He had a mouth but the body seemed to have grown over it, making it small and disgusting, oozing some foul odor now he was dead. Then, they all pulled back. His hand had moved. In a second, one of the armed men show the creature several times on the chest. When he was finished, everyone looked at him, as if he was mad but he said he had seen some of the movies in the archive and dead always return before they really die. Calista smiled and stood up. She asked the doctor to do every analysis he could in a short time as they were leaving soon.
An hour later, they had put several small boxes in three large boxes that they carried on the wheeled rod. When they reached the pint where they had entered the museum, the armed guys grabbed one end of the rod and three of the assistants grabbed the other end. They were careful not to fall down with it but that plan failed when several creatures appeared on top of them, looking down through the hole on the ground. The doctor and Calista replaced the armed men on the rod as these started shooting at every single creature they saw. They were all like the one they had gunned down inside: no eyes, some extra limbs, no mouth, … All mutated from the nuclear blast. These people had survived only to be transformed into something less than the most despised animal.
The team finally reached the top and was able to create a circle. The men gave everyone a gun so they had even more chances to get out alive. The hovercraft that had left them there could not land so near the museum so they had to make a run for the nearest bridge. After passing it, they could as the pilot to bomb the bridge to prevent the mutants from crossing. One of the armed men called the craft as they ran with difficulty, both carrying the boxes and running and shooting at every disfigured face they saw. Then, they saw the hovercraft above them but this distraction cost the arm of one man, as one of the creatures grabbed him and broke it with ease. The wheeled rod fell on the ground and they had to put it up fast, kicking and shooting like crazy.
No one knew how they really did it, but they ran across the bridge followed closely by the mutants, that moved incredibly fast. Of the armed men asked the pilots to shoot a missile at the bridge to blow it up. He did exactly that rocks flew all over, making everyone fall to the ground. The hovercraft landed in front of them and opened the ramp. Shooting some mutants that had been on their side when the bridge exploded, they almost dragged the boxes into the craft and left fast. The machine went fast into the clouds and far from the city. Inside, they realized the assistant whose arm had been broken, was bleeding too much. The doctor tried to stabilize him went they realized his breathing apparatus had been broken in the run. They were both put in quarantine in a small room as they flew back to the Hive.
Calista fell onto a seat and took off her mask. She was able to breath in calm, at last. She saw the clouds through the windows and asked herself if the mission had been worth it, if they the dead assistant had died for nothing and if both quarantined men were going to be ok. And then she fell asleep, never answering these questions.