The Burden Through the Breach - @5thBeastieBoy - Alternative History

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The Burden Through the Breach

An Alternative History Story by 5thBeastieBoy


The room was dimly lit and sparse - industrial. Two black metal sconces on adjacent walls gave off a soft-white light, drowned out by the red emergency lights that ran the length of the room in the upper corner between the four walls and the ceiling. The space was just large enough to not be deemed cramped. One half of the room was furnished with four metal benches arranged symmetrically and bolted to the floor, providing no sense of comfort. Centered on the floor of the other half was a small circular dais, haloed by a faint blue ring of light along its circumference.

The main wall was lined with a one-way mirror. The drab milieu of the room reflected back onto itself in a perceived mocking gesture. Above rested a digital clock. It's large red numbers counting down.

00:08...00:07...00:06...

A man is seated on one of the benches, the only occupant in the room. His appearance fit the setting of his environment. Gray coveralls void of any color. A patch on his left shoulder tells others he's military. A name patch above his right chest tells others he's nobody. Just a number. Thirteen.

00:05...00:04...00:03...

The man sat hunched forward, his elbows resting on his knees. Nervousness. Anticipation. These emotions engulfed him while his right leg twitched, making it harder to bite off what was left of his thumb nail. Beads of sweat formed on his brow and began to trickle down the side of his face. He looked up at the clock.

00:02...00:01...00:00...

A pause rushed over him, as if the air in the room was sucked out. For only a moment.

00:01...00:02...00:03...

He let out a gasp of breath.

Nothing.

Nothing had changed. Nothing felt different. He waited. Just as he had so many times before now. A static buzz from the intercom broke the silent tension in the room just before a voice spoke:

"Mission Number Twelve has been recorded as a failure. Mission Number Thirteen is set to commence tomorrow. Be at the ready room prepared to launch at 21:00 hours. That is all."

Spacetime Directive No. 1: Complete the mission.

Outside is dangerous. A hellscape not to be trifled with. He always took the necessary precautions before he headed out into the wastes. The trek to the transportation tube was long enough that anyone not properly prepared could suffer the same consequences of so many before.

He is hesitant in taking his first step out. Alone now, he has no one to double check his gear. He used the one-way mirror to ensure the best he could that all the seals were fastened on his full-face respiratory unit.

He wished Twelve was still around to make sure.

He flipped the hood of his hazmat tunic over his head and began to walk. The air around him was a haze. Some of it wafting specks of radiation. The rest a combination of floating waste particles that would prove deadly if the radiation didn't finish off his health.

It was dark out, the only illumination was from the facility he was leaving and a small beacon lamp marking the entrance to the tube nearly three hundred yards away. It didn't matter. The daytime was no longer marked by the sun. It hadn't been seen in decades. Instead they were left with only a sky full of red-lit smog choking out the star.

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