The next week passed uneventfully, as uneventful as life could be in those days, the war continued, men lost their lives, wives mourned and more young men continued to pick up their weapons and march to the front lines.
Marge had taken a job mending uniforms for soldiers and Raymond carried on getting dreams, each more terrifying than the last, he was starting to lose sleep over it, it was affecting his temperament and his concentration. He dreaded the coming darkness for the horrors they would bring. Determined as ever, Raymond continued his studies and research, and worked towards his PHD, spending long hours either in the university lab or library, longer than he did before in fact, trying to fight off the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach like he was heading towards a cataclysm and could do nothing to stop it. Powelessly driving towards a precipice, just waiting for the ground to fall out from under him.
He was currently working on what the effects of inherited traits had on siblings, he was trying to map particular genes to personality and behaviours. Of course this was way before we were able to map the entire human genome and was very radical and somewhat new age work for the time. Still Raymond saw something there, saw that perhaps if he was able to figure out the relationship between genes and behaviours it may indeed be possible in the future to make sure another Hitler, another Stalin never got into power again. Many of his fellow students scoffed and turned up their noses at his theories but there were one or two professors, eager enough to see what he would be able to do that kept him pushing on in the direction he was going in.
It was slow and frustrating work, he didn’t really have the tools or enough eager participants to break new ground, most of his work was still theoretical. Which is why he was so excited about the prospect of working with Dr Foster, despite the bad feelings and impressions he had been given so far. The doctor had promised to flood more money into his work, he would have the best labs, the best technicians and plenty of volunteers. Raymond also hoped this would help keep his nightmares at bay, he was under so much pressure to produce results without the capabilities to do so, he was bound to be cracking a little.
One late evening, after the forced blackout had begun when Marge was reclined in their one armchair by the fire, candles lit all around her as she squinted through the flickering light at the socks on her lap and the needle in her hand and Raymond was sat at their small, chipped dining table, squinting equally as much at the mess of papers in front of him. There came a polite knock at the door, that disrupted their concentration but was eagerly anticipated and greatly welcomed. The telegram told them to pack their belongings, transport would be arranged for the morning to take them to their new house on the secret base called, Eclipse Gardens. Their possessions would be taken care of, as would their notice to the landlord and a forwarding address they’d be able to give people. Mr Raymond Henson was now employed by the genetic research team within the science division of the british military.
Raymond woke that morning, brimming with excitement, despite the nightmares that continued to plague him. They only had a suitcase between them, a few changes of clothes, some pictures of family, the love letters written to Marge from Raymond when they were courting and the few pieces of jewellery left to Marge by her mother. The furniture in the house was owned by the landlord, the sagging mattress on the hard wooden base, itchy sheets and flat pillows, the threadbare armchair, patched so many times you couldn’t tell what the original colour was, the chipped plates in the crooked cupboards, the stained cutlery in the sticky drawers were all being left behind. The only other thing they were bringing would be sent on up after them, boxes and boxes of Raymonds work. They said a hasty goodbye to their neighbours and a few friends, Raymond popped to his university in the morning to thank his professors and give his best wishes to his fellow students and at 10:30 on the dot, they were packed up in the same town car that had taken to him to his interview and were off on the journey to their new lives.
They drove for hours, further and further north, through empty fields and ancient forests until they reached Eclipse Gardens. Up a winding road through a mountain pass, the car steadily climbed. On the other side of the rise, laid out before them an entire city sprawled, surrounded in steep hills with trees clinging to the rocky sides. From this perspective they could see the faces of the buildings and the bustling streets in between but they could tell from the air, it would seem nothing more than a rocky plain, suspended high between the mountains. The roofs of the buildings were rocky, grey, mottled with dark green moss, the small paths between buildings were covered by the overhanging roofs. A large hanger full of vehicles was built into the side of the mountain opposite the road they arrived on, you could just about see the dull shine of sun on steel within the depths of the gloom.
Driving down the hill towards the hidden city, Raymond noticed several camoed guards behind boulders along either side of the road- for some reason, this made him very uncomfortable. He could see why the secret research facility would need to make sure no one untoward was sneaking in, but their positions, the way they glanced around, it was almost as if they were there to keep people in rather than out. He glanced over to Marge in the seat beside him to see if she had noticed as well but she was still staring in awe through the windscreen. Not wanting to worry her, or appear foolish he kept his mouth shut and tried to ignore the nagging warning sirens going off in his mind.
They pulled up outside a long low building, Dr Foster eagerly awaiting their arrival stood outside with a hand rolled cigarette in hand. “Welcome, welcome!” he enthused, opening the door for Marge and giving her hand out of the car. “You look lovely my dear, how was your journey? Oh it’s a terrible drive, I know, I can’t stand to do it myself” He waffled on while leading the pair into the building.
“Now there is a little bit of housekeeping to do so to speak, a few little rules you need to be made aware of and some general information about The Gardens, then we’ll get you all settled in, By the way, call me Al, all my dearest friends do, short for Albert you see but there’s no need for such formalities between us and oh don’t worry about your belongings my dear, I’ve sent Billy round to your new house to drop them off”.
“Now where was I? Oh yes the rules but first let’s get you two something cool to drink, how about a nice glass of lemonade? Or we have ginger beer, whatever tickles your fancy…?” he looked at Marge expectantly.
“Oh, um, I suppose a glass of lemonade would be fine” she finally answered, a little flustered by his barrage.
“And for you sonny boy? A drop of whiskey?”
“Lemonade will be just fine for me too thanks” Raymond answered.
“As you both wish, Sheila my dear” He asked of the secretary still standing at the open door, “would you go to the trouble of bringing in three glasses of lemonade please? I think we’ll have them on the back porch since it’s such a lovely day, follow on, this way”
Raymond was somewhat confused by the doctors rambling, he had seemed quite introverted during the interview, a polite enough fellow but all this rambling seemed… Sinister in a way. Like he was concealing something, hiding his true nature. To be honest, everything he had seen so far gave him the heebie jeebies, they were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by who knows what sort of people, trapped. No one knew where they were except the people trapped with them.
Following on from these thoughts, he had the sudden urge to slap the doctor, grab him by the lapels of his suit jacket and shake him until his teeth rattled and his eyes rolled back in his head. He couldn’t for the life of him think of why he would be thinking these things, having these impulses, the doctor had never been anything but polite to him but at that moment in time, he hated him, more than he had ever hated anyone before in his life. Raymond was confused, his fear, his pure, black hatred and near uncontrollable fury swirled around and around in his mind, it took every ounce of self control he had to not act upon his urges, lash out and hurt the good man before him. He wanted to scream as loud as he could in terror and rage, use his muscles to rip, tear, break and smash. This animalistic side of him had never raised its head before and reigning it in proved difficult.
Raymond tried to push these thoughts to the side, tried to concentrate on what Albert Foster was telling him. Marge seemed to be genuinely enjoying herself, soaking in the atmosphere, why couldn’t he? He wasn’t a violent man, he had never in his life laid a hand on someone in anger.
“Excuse me please, I’m feeling a little out of sorts, could you point me to the washroom?” Raymond asked politely, denying himself the pleasure of snarling like a rabid dog.
“Oh yes of course, I should have thought after such a long journey you’d be in need of refreshments, I am so careless sometimes, please forgive me” Al waffled on while Raymond’s vision grew red and blackened around the edges.
“It’s somewhat urgent” Raymond interrupted rudely, turning his back on the Doctor and his wife before he snapped and did something he regretted. He stumbled out of the sunshine into the darkened building, he accidentally crashed into Sheila on the way, sending the glasses of lemonade tumbling to the floor. At the sound of the glass shattering on the wooden floor, Raymond was once again assaulted by a formidable vision.
Screaming, there was screaming, it was dark, raining, he was running. Blood. Blood, running down him, soaking into the already saturated grass. He slips, panics. “What’s happening?!” he screams. Footsteps thudding behind him, he’s coming. ‘I have to do something, but what?’ he thinks, searching his brain for what was there a moment ago… ‘the papers!’ he thinks noticing for the first time the bundle of pages scrunched in his arms, dar ink running down the pages, glistening in the gloom like rivers of blood seeping from so many wounds. ‘I need to destroy them’ he thinks, pushing himself onwards. A struggle up a wet hill, feet slipping, sliding back and scrambling back up. The edge approaches, a deep drop with the ocean beneath him, crashing against rocks and the deadly cliff. ‘Get rid of it at all costs’ he thinks as a spotlight lands of him, being wielded by his unknown purserer. He jumps into the empty air and feels his life draining, air rushing past, stealing his breath. A face pale, indistinct against the blackness of the night above shouts something indecipherable. The deadly plummet is about to end, relief flows through him before the world goes black.
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