Under the Mountain: A POST APOCALYPTIC NOVEL (Into the Outside Book 3), page 1
Praise for the Into the Outside series
A Thought Provoking Post-Apocalyptic Romance
“Although I don't read a lot of YA fiction, I loved the concept of this story so I was very excited to read it. It certainly did not disappoint.”
— Danielle Tara Evans
Into the Outside, Book 1
A well-earned 5 STARS!
“If you’re looking for your next post-apocalyptic story that hits home then I full heartedly suggest checking Into the Outside out!”
— Zora Marie
Into the Outside, Book 1
Humanity and inhumanity in the post apocalypse
“Lynda succeeds magnificently in having us question what it is to be human. We have empathy and sympathize with the so called mutants and are forced to question the savagery of those humans still holed up in their shelters who believe that the earth is theirs alone to inherit.”
— Lee Mathews
Into the Outside, Book 1
“Fascinating and professionally written, and the end was tied up nicely while still leaving it VERY open to a sequel.”
— Jenna Whittaker
Into the Yellow Zone, Book 2
“You rotter!! I hope you have part three written because I am now on tenterhooks wondering what is going to happen next.”
— Elizabeth Burns
Into the Yellow Zone, Book 2
“I was eagerly awaiting this book after reading the first one in the series, and I wasn't disappointed. The post-apocalyptic world that Isabella and Malcolm live in is so intriguing, and well detailed.”
— Jessica Burchett
Into the Yellow Zone, Book 2
Under the Mountain
This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Under the Mountain
Copyright 2017 Lynda Engler. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Cover art by Daniela Owergoor.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Under the Mountain
by Lynda Engler
Book Three: Into the Outside
August 14, 2101
Luke tapped out the rhythm to a song stuck in his head on the tray table in front of him. Outside the double-strength Plexiglas window, the clouds below were white puffs of cotton pasted to the sky by a giant. He drummed faster as the beat picked up. The final crescendo of his drum solo would be the air-cymbal on the seatback in front of him.
“Stop.” Dr. Rosario laid a withered hand on Luke’s right arm, abruptly interrupting his performance. “You’re driving me crazy, boy.”
“Sorry,” mumbled Luke, turning once more to jam his face into the window, hoping to glimpse through the clouds at the ground below.
“We’ll be landing at Mt. Weather soon enough. I’m sure you can find a drum set in the city somewhere,” said the old scientist. He leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes.
The propellers changed pitch as they began their descent through the sky over Virginia. The flight from West Point had not taken very long, or so Dr. Rosario had said before they left. Luke had never flown before; his frame of reference was limited to the slow, overland travel methods he had experienced Outside so far. He had walked, ridden a bike, and been transported in a military vehicle that was forced to work its way over and around the debris that still seemed to cover everything half a century after the war.
“Do you really think I’ll find a drum set down there, Doc?” asked Luke. His stomach fluttered as he looked out the plane’s window once again.
The timeworn scientist opened his eyes and glared at Luke for interrupting his nap yet again. However, he did answer the sixteen-year-old’s question, as he always did. “We’ll see. It is a sizable city with about 6,000 people. Although,” the scientist mumbled to himself, “that’s nothing compared to the larger cities before the war.” Shaking himself from his thoughts, Dr. Rosario continued, “I’m sure music – if you can call what you play music – must be a part of their society.”
Dr. Rosario remembered the world before the war like it was yesterday. After 50 years sheltering inside the research lab of a pharmaceutical company, the old man had some psychologically unstable moments. He was not actually crazy – just a bit odd. Luke did not want to irritate him, so he sat back and remained silent until the wheels of the plane touched the runway above the underground city.
“Smooth landing,” muttered the scientist as they taxied to a small structure that backed into the mountainside. A hermetically sealed tube extended from the building and suctioned itself to the outside of the plane, so that the occupants of the turbo-prop could disembark without safety suits.
“Compared to that jeep-thing that the soldiers from Picatinny picked me up in, I’d say so! Did you fly a lot before the war?” asked Luke as he disengaged his seat belt and followed the old man off the plane.
“A few times. I went to Europe for a vacation one summer with my parents when I was a bit younger than you are. It took six hours to cross the Atlantic, but that was a much larger jet plane. I’m sure they can’t land planes that big on this short runway,” said the scientist as they walked down the tube, deeper and deeper into the mountain.
There were no jets since the war knocked out all the advanced computerized equipment in the world, and manufacturing new computer chips in a cleanroom environment took more resources to set up again than the current population could handle. Now, only ancient propeller planes existed, and those few were in the hands of the government.
The tube ended at an airlock. “Extra precaution?” asked Luke, examining the mechanism from a few feet away. It was similar to the airlock at his family’s underground shelter, only much larger.
“Wouldn’t have it any other way, kid. It’s a dangerous place out there,” said one of the plane’s crew from behind them. The man pushed past Luke and Dr. Rosario, and then quickly punched in a sequence on the keypad beside the door. The airlock slid open with a hiss, and at the pilot’s beckoning, they all stepped inside. The crew of six, plus the two soldiers from West Point who were going home on leave, along with Luke and Dr. Rosario, all fit comfortably in the spacious room.
“We are well aware of the dangers Outside, young man,” said Dr. Rosario to the crewmember, and a certain glitter in his eyes reminded Luke of the occasional madness that hid within the scientist.
Before it escalated, Luke turned to the man who had made the comment. “Thanks for the advice, sir, but we’ve been Outside a long time. We know the dangers. A tiger would have eaten me if the good doctor hadn’t saved my sorry ass. We know how to take care of ourselves.”
“As you wish,” said the crewmember as the lock completed its cycle. A whoosh of air accompanied a mechanical wheezing sound as the door of the chamber opened.
Luke’s heart skipped a beat and he snapped his jaw shut. An underground city – a real city – stood before him.
He barely caught the man’s murmur as he turned and left. “I hope you can take care of yourselves in there.”
The over-crowded HSPC was silent as most of the occupants slept through the night. The military vehicle trundled down the rarely traveled highway, heading south to Virginia. It would take three days to get there from West Point, along the Hudson in New York State. The winding road overlooked the river, sometimes edging precariously close to the cliff.
Malcolm could not sleep. He was not the least bit tired. How could he be? All he had done all day was sit in the bumpy vehicle. The young soldier across from Isabella, Corporal Daphne Noble, told them earlier that the vehicle was called an “HSPC,” which stood for Hermetically Sealed Personnel Carrier, but they just called it a “Spec.”
Besides not being the least bit tired, Malcolm also couldn’t sleep because he had never been in a motorized vehicle before and it amazed him. He knew they were going to their certain deaths at Mt. Weather, but could not help being astounded at the technology that carried them there. The vehicle was unbelievable! After eight hours, he still looked around as if seeing the interior for the first time.
The Spec was 30 feet long and Daphne said it had a troop capacity of 24. At the moment, they were overloaded by four, but it still seemed roomy to Malcolm. Two rows of six seats faced each other with a duplicate arrangement behind them. The bathroom at the tail end of the vehicle was a single stall with a sink, and was cleaner than any Malcolm had used in his life. With no plumbing Outside, bathroom use was best done in the woods, unless you were lucky enough to be in a community like Telemark village.
Down the left wall sat a kitchen of sorts with a sink, refrigeration chamber and three good-sized microwave cooking units. Each seat’s armrest concealed a small tabletop, which occupants could pull up and lay across their laps. Each of the four corners near the ceiling had a blank screen like the televisions Malcolm had seen in Ewr, the devastated city where he had grown up. However, these screens probably worked. He was impressed with the vehicle, which seemed more a house on wheels than a thing to move people around.
A driver and another soldier occupied the cab, totally separated from the troop carrier section, which Malcolm guessed was probably for security. There was a solitary window in the wall to the cab but it did not open. Occasionally, Corporal Noble looked through that window and gave the soldiers up front the thumbs up signal. All was well with her prisoners.
Malcolm placed one dark hand on Isabella’s and closed his eyes. The rocking of the vehicle lulled him and he found exhaustion overtaking his thoughts. Finally, he slept.
Mt. Weather, the administrative complex of the US government, was a truly astonishing habitat. Just 46 miles from their previous capital, Washington DC, the secretive and mysterious underground military base during the Cold War had been turned into a government center before the real war, or the Terror War, as Luke and his siblings had learned to call it.
Located deep inside a mountain in rural Virginia, the doomsday hideaway for government officials was a completely self-contained city. Mt. Weather housed 250 support staff and the “shadow” government, a duplicate US Congress, President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and other important officials. In the event of a nuclear war, or other event that could devastate the city of Washington DC, the shadow government would take its place. On that fateful day back in 2050 when the maniacs unleashed the nuclear bomb on his country’s capital, Mt. Weather performed its ultimate function.
Today the city was home to thousands of people. Some were descendants of those original 400 people, and some were the lucky few evacuated from smaller cities that were hit with conventional barrage during the war. Anyone who had clean DNA was welcomed inside. Luke wondered if that testing were still going on today, would he still be welcome.
A twenty-something woman with silky blond hair, aquiline features, and a welcoming smile met them inside the airlock. Her blue suit showed every curve of her hips and revealed her slender legs, and he had a difficult time dragging his eyes up to meet hers.
She extended her right hand to the captain of their small plane and shook it firmly. “I’ll take it from here, Captain.”
“Thank you, Ms. Meisner.” The rest of crew followed him down a hallway to the left and was quickly lost from sight. The two young soldiers on leave smiled at her, and then strode off in the same direction.
“Welcome to Mt. Weather. My name is Claudia Meisner and I will be your guide.” Though addressing both of them, she looked directly at Dr. Rosario, her loose curls partially obscuring a delicate face.
Dr. Rosario introduced himself, although Luke was fairly certain she already knew everything there was to know about both of them. “A pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” he said, and it looked like he meant it. Besides Luke, the only people Dr. Rosario had conversed with recently had been the scientific team at the West Point military base. The conversations Luke had sat through with them were almost incomprehensible medical jargon. It would be good for the old scientist to speak with a normal human being. Moreover, she was gorgeous.
“Gentlemen, if you will come with me, I’ll show you to your quarters and give you the nickel tour along the way.” Her charming smile kept Luke enthralled. He would follow her to the gates of Dante’s Hades if necessary. He found himself staring at her legs again and had to physically push his lower jaw back up into the closed position. He was already in love with Mt. Weather.
“You have entered the complex at the north entryway,” she began. “There are two other entrances, one at the south end of the city and the original central entry, or Portal. We added the north and south entrances ten years ago, since we have grown and felt it was more necessary to have egress than to conceal our presence from enemies. As you are no doubt aware, the US government has owned this facility since 1903, but the secret underground section of Mt. Weather was not built until 1936. Buried deep inside the earth, today we are a completely self-contained complex. Mt. Weather contains underground ponds that provide safe drinking water, an on-site sewage treatment plant, a small lake at the heart of the city for recreational use, our own mass-transit system, and communication and media systems.
“While the government offices were the original reason for the construction, today Mt. Weather also houses private apartments and dormitories, cafeterias, a library, schools, a university, retail shopping, a hospital, general office buildings, three physical fitness centers, theaters, restaurants, and nightclubs.”
Luke stared open-mouthed at the wonders inside the earth. Like the underground shelter where he grew up, the continuous sound of air circulation – a sound that went unnoticed until he stepped outside the shelter – was somehow comforting. Apartments reminded him of bedrooms, and libraries, however large, were not magical wonders either, but the underground park was startling! The lake, trees, and a ceiling that emulated the blue sky – these things he had never imagined. He almost fell over his feet when Claudia stopped in front of him.
Here turned out to be a monorail station. A sleek white vehicle, like a pastry tube on steroids, glided to a stop in front of them. A single metal rail stretched into the distance, a length of space so large Luke could barely see the other side.
“How big is this place?” asked Luke as the set of double doors in the monorail car opened and they followed their guide into the vehicle. She took a seat on one of the comfortable cloth-covered benches and the doctor sat down beside her. Luke stumbled as he tried to sit on the empty seat facing them because he was so intent on looking out the window.
“The cavern is only two miles long, but there are ten sub-levels beneath it, accessed by elevators. They do not have the outdoorsy feel the concourse level has. Each section of Mt. Weather has a different design, because they were excavated during different periods. There is also a horizontal offshoot to the north beyond the entrance that houses manufacturing facilities, and another major tunnel to the southeast where all the greenhouses and animal husbandry are located
“Perfectly acceptable, young lady,” replied Dr. Rosario. He too, seemed to be content to absorb the scenery rather than ask questions.
When the vehicle stopped its silent transit of the city, they got out, along with three other people in the car who headed for the beach. They carried wicker baskets with towels and rolled up beach mats, a family obviously setting off to enjoy the water and sand.
From the monorail station, they walked down a wood-paneled hall and entered what looked like a Victorian era train station. The large room in the center of the building had café tables where small groups of people lounged, ate, and drank. A sign indicated locker rooms for bathers down the left hallway and the entrance to the monorail to the right, where they had come from.
They followed Ms. Meisner through glass doors into the massive underground cavern. Luke looked toward the lake, his gaze following the family from the monorail. Luke stared, transfixed by the view of the sandy beach and what looked like a clean, but small lake in the center. It was much smaller than the lake at the Picatinny military base he had escaped, and even more modest than the pond at the Telemark mutant village. Nevertheless, this lake at the center of a massive cavern was manufactured and it boggled Luke’s mind that such a marvelous structure could exist. Even more, that such a place as Mt. Weather existed at all.
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