Promise Me

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Lee ran, arms pumping, aiming to beat the security doors before they fell and trapped both her and her mother in the chamber. They outran a squad of mercenaries and lost them further back, but it wouldn't mean a damn thing if they wound up sealing themselves in at a dead end. Taking a sharp turn, Lee felt her already wobbly balance waver like jello, feet tangling and sending her into the opposite wall. The concussion sent a burst of white across her wounded left side, stars filling her vision. She was falling before registering the sensation.

"Come on, Leanna!" Rebecca said, catching her daughter before she hit the ground.


"I know. I know it does, sweetheart, but we're almost there. Just a little further. I'm so proud of you for getting this far. Just a little more."

Teeth gritted and spine watery, Lee forced herself to stand and used the benefits of her forward momentum to careen onward, Rebecca there to steady her trajectory. The tunnel strobed black then white. Or were those the lights flickering? Were they losing power? Up ahead, they could see a descending security door. It wasn't falling that fast, kept on a timer of Lee's own design back in the Fall Station. They could make it.

All at once, Lee was launched forward like a rocket had been strapped to her back. One second, she was running, and the next, she was sailing through the tunnel and hitting the ground with an ugly thud. It took several heartbeats to realize someone pushed her across the threshold beyond the security door. The relief of safety, however, never came. With a groaning shudder, the heavy steel door lost power and slammed down behind her with enough force to shake the earth. Flipping onto her stomach, Lee realized with a sick twist of dread her mother wasn't with her.

No! Pain forgotten in the wake of pure terror, Lee threw her shoulder into the door and cried out when met with unyielding steel.

"It's alright, Leanna," Rebecca called from the other side, a slight tremble in her voice. "I'll find another way."

No! Don't move. There's a CCTV camera over your left shoulder. Lee watched her mother through the grainy monitor overhead turn a tight circle until she spotted the camera lens and stared directly into it. I'm going to help walk you through a manual override.

"We didn't install a manual override."

Of course, we did, Lee argued. Everything has an override. There's a control box exactly like mine next to the door. Take off the housing.

Yanking off the housing on her side of the door next to the TV screen, Lee stared at the nest of wires, brain slow to compute what needed doing. Rewiring the door wouldn't be difficult. At least in theory. She built the system, after all. Only it wasn't simple for one dreadfully awful reason. There was no power running to the door. Try as she might, Lee couldn't find a circuit that didn't seem to be fried. The door was down and down for good.

I can fix it! she called through the thick metal. I know where the circuit panel is. I can reroute power. Just hang on!

"We don't have time. Keep going. You know where to go. I'll find another way."

I'm not going without you! Just give me five minutes. I'll get the door up.

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