Note: If you’re new to the story please read the Prologue here!
Officer Jennifer Finley
Finley stared into the darkness of the van, trying to concentrate on the noises she could hear. She listened to the hum of the engine, the tires rolling along the tarmac, the occasional squeak from the van’s suspension, the traffic noise outside which she unfortunately couldn’t see and the sound of the pedestrian crossings after the van had come to a stop at a set of lights. It was an attempt to ground herself, to overcome her fears and to slow her beating heart, but it wasn’t really working. There might have been noises outside, even the occasional noise inside from one of her colleagues giving a cough, but they were unsettling her even more. The silence inside the van was eating away at the inside of her head, the world outside was going about its daily business not knowing the potential storm that may eventually hit them.
She had started to consider the option of bolting for the van door to her right, deciding that she wasn’t cut out for the job after all. But she had a feeling Director General Ryan wouldn’t even let her get that far. She wouldn’t put it past him shooting her right in the face to contain her.
“As you may already be aware by now,” started Captain Stroud, his accent a deep Scottish from within the dark confined space of the van. “This is not a drill.”
Finley could feel the ripple of silent panic within the metal cage. The van had come to a stop, possibly at a set of traffic lights, she wasn’t sure. She was glad for Captain Stroud to break the silence but was also dreading what would come.
“This is a Code 139,” he continued. Someone let out a small gasp somewhere in the van, she wasn’t sure who it was, and neither would Captain Stroud and the Director General, but she knew they wouldn’t be happy.
“This is indeed the real thing!” beamed a voice next to her; the Director General had started to take over, a hint of annoyance in his voice. “This is…” he paused as the van lurched forwards again, a rather unfortunate time to move. “This is what you are trained to do!” If it was even humanly possible for it get even more nervously silent in the van, it had. “We are headed to a site of a possible Code 139. We do not know how many we may face or what type. But this is why we have drills! Remember the Rules!”
There was silence in the van again, the silence that Finley now welcomed more than the Director General speaking.
“Is that clear!?” The Director General made Finley and the man sat next to her jump.
“Yes, sir!” everyone spoke in unison.
“Just like every Code 139 drill, the mission is to secure the site,” continued Director General Ryan. “The road has been cordoned off by police, both civilians and the police have been told it’s a gas leak. No one except us are allowed in or out. The shops and flats above have been evacuated. It is my responsibility and my responsibility alone to close it, you all will sweep the area. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir!” everyone said with a little more confidence.
Finley wasn’t sure what she was expecting after that little speech, words of encouragement maybe, but the sudden silence afterwards felt even worse than before. She resisted the urge to speak out or hum to fill the silence. She instead went over the Rules in her head and mentally recalling every item that was on her person.
A black unmarked van stopped outside an old building. A building that appeared to have been boarded up and unused for years. The sign that ran the length of the front door read ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’.
The group hidden inside filed out of the back of the van one by one. Director General Duncan Ryan was first out of the van, who looked up at the building while waiting for his team, followed by his Captain. Each of them dug into their utility pouches to dig out a small air-tight plastic box, took out a pair of two specially designed ear-plugs and put them in their ears.
The front of the Sanatorium sported a very Victorian style front; with its large front arched door and large arched windows boarded up, the exterior mainly a red mason brick, the window frames painted white, parts of them were falling apart due to the years of neglect, ivy climbed up the side of the building, right next to where there was a black mesh fence that hid the back garden from the street and snaked its way up until it hit the moss covered slate tiled roof.
Officer Finley had read about this Sanatorium in old secret government files. It was a typical Sanatorium really, but with a bit of a dark history. A dark history that resulted in its early demise. Most derelict buildings gave her the creeps, but this one in particular raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Standing in front of the Rose Garden Sanatorium now, seeing it in person, she felt an unusual disgust for the old abandoned building. It might just look like an ordinary building, with an unfortunate history, but it was the current situation that made her nervous.
She looked back at her superior and noticed he was just standing outside looking like he was composing and preparing himself for what may lie on the other side.
Or did he know something they didn’t?
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