Chapter Six: Resonant Hope

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"Hey!" I shove at the debris in my way. "I think I found something." Kicking at a sheet of plywood, I manage to jam the edge of a metal cart into my side. I groan, press the spot with my hands and breathe out slowly. The tender spot throbs.

"Are you all right?" My mother comes up behind me and touches my shoulder. I nod and straighten, hoping I didn't hit it too hard. I rub at it furiously and point toward the door I'd been uncovering.

"See that? A metal door. Looks like it could lead to the same place as that one we saw outside. What do you think?"

She helps me move the last of the debris—metal poles, boxes and a dresser—out of the way, seemingly random junk clearly arranged to hide the location of the door. It spikes my curiosity as I reach out to touch the cool, streaked metal. I hope it opens. The other door on the outside of the cabin had been locked, with no visible way to get it open. Trying the door latch, I find it locked, but a small green light turns on to my right where a keypad is hidden under a small metal cover. It's slightly opened, as though whoever used it last didn't bother to close it all the way.

From the looks of this place, it hasn't been used in a long while. Maybe it's a safe room, a panic room of some sort. Whatever is in there, no one has come to check on it in a very long time.

The cabin stands in a hidden alcove, just atop a small hill in the mountains of the Mt. Charleston area surrounding the west side of the Las Vegas valley. We used to come here during the winter to slide down the snow-covered hills and build snowmen as the flurries floated softly down onto us. We'd play until the cold became too much to bear and our fingers were downright frozen.

It was the one area there are no people, at least none that we've yet run into. It seems we're the lucky ones to make it out of the city alive. Those who make it to the highways, die off soon enough, infected or incinerated in the daylight, even chewed up by their family members. It's horrifying to pass by their wrecked cars, metal twisted and blood everywhere.

Fortunately, not a lot of people live in their Mt. Charleston cabins. These are for summer vacations or winter snowboarding trips. In the middle of fall, no one is around.

Lucky for us, I guess.

"Let's check upstairs. Maybe there's a code written down somewhere." My mother turns around and heads swiftly back upstairs to look. Jeremy is sitting at the top of the stairs, too scared to be in the cabin alone. He jumps up and joins her as I follow behind. I hope she's right. To find a reinforced room to live in during the night would be a godsend. Our chances for survival would jump a thousand fold from what we have now.

I find my mother pulling out drawers, shoving the contents around before closing them quietly. I'm pretty sure she would be slamming them if she wasn't afraid it could attract people, or worse. She's still upset about losing Randy. We'd had no choice but to leave when we started finding scratch marks on the outside of our house. I wish we had left sooner, but that's how it ended up. Mom waited for him. Then, at the break of dawn one morning, she'd herded us into the van, pulled out of our house and left it behind, probably forever.

"Here." She pulls out a notebook and a dangling key attached to its spiral wire. "The code is in here plus a checklist of supplies inside the bunker." She looks up at me, tears glistening in her eyes. "It's a bunker, April. A real life bunker we can use and be safe."

I nod, and we scramble back down the stairs to punch in the numbers. I guess whoever owned this place never thought they wouldn't make it back. They would be in there if they had.

This thought jerks me back into action, and I pull the gun from my holster as Mom reaches over toward the keypad to punch in the numbers.

"Mom, they could be in there, the owners."

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