TheNeverPages Serialisation
Series 5, Episode 15

TheNeverPress - Series 5, Episode 15

I held fast my grip against the dome and pressed against the vibrating concrete. Eyes closed, almost frozen and still MGV2’s vision projected straight into my mind. He was stranded on the gantry, swinging wildly and crashing into the Reactor columns. On the other section, Tesla remained statue-like by his terminal. MGV2 was calling out to him, but now his voice carried panic. He was clearly fearful for his safety for the first time and my stomach turned with guilt at the realisation of my abandonment.

MGV2 was braced against the handrails, the section of the gantry bending and twisting towards the floor and as it swung back against the reactor column it lodged against it for a few moments. MGV2 slid downwards, hitting the column with the full force impacting upon his back. His jacket, shirt and first few layers of skin were instantly flayed off. He screamed in agony as he began to melt against the heat of the column. His section of walkway was now in decline whilst up ahead, Tesla’s section still held onto the wall on the other side of the reactor room. MGV2 looked up, his eyes wild, the pain numbing his senses and above him, we (for my eyes were still his) saw a fracture running up the concrete blade of Mother Motherland’s sword, splintering and cracking upwards like a stubborn river carving its way through a mountain. We knew instantly that once the crack reached the great crossguard the stress fracture would be fatal and the entire hilt would come crashing down and, given its position, would smash straight through the walkway sending MGV2 to his death and leaving Tesla stuck on his side. The fracture continued to climb and so MGV2 gripped onto the handrails and clenched his jaw, slowly pulling himself forward. His flesh began to peel away from the reactor tube exposing his musculature and his spine. He pulled harder, gripped tighter and eventually the glue that used to be his skin and flesh gave way. The fracture reached the hilt. The whole crossguard, handle and pommel dislodged, wavering precariously on the blade, coolly teetering like God’s finger choosing which path of destruction to plump for. MGV2 looked over at Tesla who did not look back. A moment of clarity swept through our conjoined consciousness: an idea.

MGV2 pulled himself to his feet and began to run up the inclined walkway. He was halfway up and gaining speed when the great hilt chose to topple towards the gantry. It broke free, careening down and bringing with it a meteor shower of concrete debris. MGV2 and the hilt were destined to collide, the shadow of the falling hilt casting itself over him and with a groan it stuck the gantry. MGV2 dived into the air as his section shattered into a falling heap of twisted metal. He was in mid-air, diving straight towards the hilt and, on the other side, Tesla’s section of walkway when the hilt leaned over, the gravity below pulling it so. The collision had all but shattered the hilt and it broke apart as it toppled away from Tesla and towards the diving MGV2 and the ground below. MGV2, twisting in the air in an impossible dive, turned himself into sand just as the hilt fell upon him. Magnificently, he was able to command all his grains to fly through the cracks and out the other side of the falling hilt as it tumbled down, thundering into the reactor column in its descent. Still as sand now, MGV2 with his vision projected into my mind by willpower alone, brought all his grains together to form a long spear and towards Tesla they headed.

The MGV2 Sand-Spear poured into Tesla’s ear, filling him like an hourglass and suddenly the broken scientist was active and possessed by the sand and spirit of my other self. My vision was his, my mind now a shared third. Tesla, though comatose in appearance, still had an active mind and as our minds melded, Tesla’s voice came into the back of our thoughts. He kept repeating, “What is happening? Why am I here? Where is Evelyn?” But his confusion didn’t last long. With our minds fully integrated a fire was ignited under his feet and he began to run with the speed of three, off the gantry and into the observation room. Through corridors, leaping over desks, ducking under fallen masonry, he ran. And that is not all! As he passed through field upon field of realities, he pulled with him survivors! As if he had some magnetism, they were wrenched from their panic and from their distressed world, and they followed him all the way towards a ground level service entrance. He must have taken with him at least fifty workers, technicians and scientists.

Outside on the reactor dome, the well of hope sprung once more inside me. I scrambled down until I found myself on the roof of a lower building. Paisley was waiting for me, barking and running around in circles, trying to hurry me along. With our overlaid vision, I tracked Tesla’s escape route from the roof. Paisley and I began to run at full pelt over exposed pipes, exhaust vents and leaping great extractor fans. Below us, inside the complex, Tesla ran with his group of survivors. We were almost there!

I could see the edge of the complex approaching fast and I prayed that the gravity would still be attracted to the LHC pipeline. Paisley and I leapt into the air and sailed unnaturally far, perhaps kilometres as the gravity of the LHC pipeline pulled us towards it. And, as before, we gently landed upon the top of the pipe. We turned to see if the others had exited. We looked down at the hatch below the roof we had leapt from. I concentrated my vision on Tesla’s. He could see the hatch ahead! He was almost there!

It was in that moment that I looked to see the heart breaking sight of Mother Motherland, her great sword-arm broken and her other arm drooping like a candle over flame. She was melting into the Reactor Dome. The great statue was falling.

Her melting, outstretched arm gave way and fell into the reactor core. There was a flash of pink light and an eruption of liquid! The reactor columns had finally shattered. In my mind I heard manic screams. I looked inside to Tesla’s vision. They were at the hatch, but the corridor was pulsing and breaking apart. The complex itself was melting. The survivors were screaming as electricity and fire began to rise from the depths of the tunnel. Tesla, under the control of MGV2 grabbed hold of the hatch, his hands fusing irretrievably from it and he yanked it open, pinning himself twixt hatch and wall. He shouted to the survivors to run out but they barely needed speaking to. They piled through the hatchway onto the ashen ground of the crater and fled in all directions. I screamed in anguish and scratched at my head, trying to pull the horrific image from my mind and from my reality.

The LHC complex was liquefying, with Mother Motherland melting into it as if sinking into a pit of purple lava. The corridor collapsed slowly, almost organically and Tesla dissolved first into the wall and hatch then, like the statue above us all, he joined the great lake. The image in my mind faded out and a part of my soul followed. He was gone. They were both gone. No longer, no more.

Distraught and almost numb I sat on the pipeline as it too began to sink into the rising lake. The survivors of the Final Stage Firing did not become survivors of the lake. I sat and wept as each became as one with the liquid. Some waded forward, desperate to live, some embraced others and stood still, some even fell on their backs and floated along, consigned to their doom until they were no more.

Tesla and MGV2 had saved not one: they had died in vain.

If it weren’t for Paisley I would have joined them also. Not wanting to die, the animal had been barking at me since the final destruction of the complex. He did not sit next to me. He did not give up. Despite losing teeth and dislocating his jaw, he still found it in himself to bite my arm hard enough to snap me out of my despondency. It worked.

Had I sat a minute longer, I would have dissolved with the last of the pipeline. I grabbed my great dog and slung him over my shoulders and around the back of my neck, like a hunter carrying a dead stag. He gripped me tight enough to maintain purchase and I leapt off the pipeline, grabbed hold of the hard ridge wall and began to climb.

My pain and sadness were put to the back of my mind as the climb was hard. The heat from the rising lake below was intense and made my grip sweaty and loose but still we climbed and, eventually, we reached the safety of the crater’s ridge.

As we climbed over it, we were greeted by an orange glow in the distance. But this glow did not carry the intensity and wonder of the Borealis. This glow was fierce and dreadful. We knew what it signified.

Ahead of us, Pripyat burned.

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