3. Air Lock (D2)

Jimmy waved his hand over the door console and waited. When nothing happened, he pulled his comm unit to his lips only to have the door open unexpectedly. The changing room inside was small, making the big door leading into it seem unnecessary. On each side were rows of lockers and a single suit hung in front of one of those lockers. At the opposite end of the door was another, more reinforced, door.

The escape from this nightmare.

Jimmy could tell it was reinforced due to the distortion it created on the other side. It appeared like stationary ripples that only danced when the spotlight was placed in another direction. He shone his light over it and tried to see on the other side only to be rejected by the light reflecting back in his eyes.

“I think someone may have tried already,” said Roberts.

Jimmy looked at Roberts who was holding one of the lockers open for him to come see. Inside there were clothes that appeared to be stuffed inside without order. Jimmy opened the next one and found the same thing.

“Could’ve been from before,” said Jimmy, not really believing it. He wanted to take the suit and leave the fat man behind, leave all of this behind. It was a cruel joke, being forced to stare at his salvation without being able to take it. 

He could tell Roberts wanted to question further but instead the fat man nodded. “Let’s go,” said Jimmy, exiting the room without waiting for the man to follow.

The route through the airlock led them in a straight route back to the information desk in Comm/Op that seemed faster but was due to them moving more comfortably. The map Nee had downloaded onto his unit added a layer of ease to their journey. The dead that littered every corner they turned, however, added a constant reminder that their own turn would come soon.

They entered the massive shopping hall, the one that that city had originally welcomed them with, and Jimmy had stared at those big doors that led to the elevator. Now is your moment to stay, he thought as he looked at the fat man, but luck seemed to be escaping him. Roberts gave him a firm nod that left Jimmy with yet another bad taste in his mouth.

They walked through the transport yard. It was like a smaller scale train station similar to the ones kept as history exhibits on the surface. The first time Jimmy had seen them on Galapagos 1, he had envisioned Lumis creating an entire network of underwater cities all connected by this system of transports. He had been left somewhat disappointed when he had discovered that Galapagos 2 would be built on the other side of the planet.

They entered Section H through the outer stores. All of the businesses that could not afford the rent in the main hall would land themselves a spot here, where the people would sometimes straggle through after they had already spent everything.

It didn’t matter where they spent their money, it was all going to Lumis.

Any product sold down here was somehow property of Lumis. It was either invented, manufactured, distributed, marketed, whatever. Lumis profited from it somehow. Hell, even the services were probably somehow attributed to the corporation as well. The people, however, never saw past the first sign. They wanted to believe they had variety so bad that they would stay blind to it all. Then, twice a year, Lumis would send out their tradespeople to introduce their new line-up of products and soon after ‘other’ companies would offer nearly identical products for cheaper or more luxurious at a higher price. They were all Lumis.

“Hey,” said Roberts, putting his hand over Jimmy’s shoulder to stop him. Jimmy glared at the sausage fingers on his shoulder. He had been enjoying the temporary silence as they had walked through the submerged tomb. “We’ve been here a few hours already.”

Jimmy narrowed his eyes at him, causing Roberts to become fidgety. “I just,” stammered Roberts. It was obvious he had been thinking about this for a while already. “Don’t you think it would be good to stock up on some food?”

“Do I think it would be good to stock up on food?” repeated Jimmy, his eyes never leaving the fat man’s. Roberts nodded, shrugging timidly. Jimmy spread a thin smile over his face and nodded back making Roberts uneasy. He told Nee to pull up the map.

“Alright Roberts, we’re right here,” said Jimmy, pointing at the blue lights on the holo map. “Where would you have us go?”

Roberts became surprised at how well Jimmy had taken the request and returned the smile. “I’m not sure. It doesn’t look like the restaurants have food ready to eat.”

“You’re completely right! They get it from somewhere, and if I had to guess, I’d say it would be right here,” said Jimmy, pointing a spot out through a separate corridor not far from them where they had already passed. “Would I be right on that Nee?” 

“You would James,” she said.

“Awesome! See that? I was right,” he said, getting Roberts to play along.

Jimmy’s expression darkened, his smile tearing from his face. “Now get the fuck out of here.”

Roberts stared at him, shocked, hurt. He found it pathetic that the fat man could fall for that so easily. He was a tradesman after all, not random people or an eager consumer. He was supposed to be someone who knew how to guide people and their emotions. It was becoming irritatingly obvious the only emotion Roberts could guide was his lard ass to food.

“That was uncalled for,” said Roberts.

“Oh,” smirked Jimmy, “oh, you think I’m kidding? No, no, no, no, no. Go fill your belly up, and then do whatever else you want,” he waved his hand away toward Roberts.

“Listen, I know it’s hard-”

“The only hard thing is keeping from not killing you myself.”

“I’m dealing with what happened to Zoe too, you know?” said Roberts.

“Zoe?” said Jimmy. His face a mix of anger and mockery. “That’s what you think this is about?” Jimmy laughed. “Jesus, you’re more fucking dumb than I thought. Have you not looked around? We’re who knows how many miles deep in a city full of more dead people than I would have ever thought to see my entire life with no idea what the fuck really happened and no way to get help. That’s just the easy part! I have the shit luck to get stuck with TuTu the obese fucking dinosaur who instead of helping his mate through a shit situation decides that all he wants to do is stuff his cunt face!” Jimmy shoved Roberts.

“You don’t have to be an asshole,” said Roberts, his face hurt and once again casting a disillusioned judgement over Jimmy. “We’ll need food at one point or an-”

“One point!” spat Jimmy, raising his index finger in the man’s face, “Not every goddamn point.” Roberts tried to protest but Jimmy cut him off. “Tell you what, Roberts. I’ll make you a great fucking plan right now. You’re gonna turn your ass around and waddle over to food storage where you’ll stuff yourself happy. Then after that you’ll waddle over to Zoe’s dead body and you can fuck it as many times as you want until I found us a way ou-”

Jimmy had no time to react. He blinked and saw the fat man’s sausage fingers coming toward his face. He squeezed his eyes shut and felt the pressure of the blow, first as his face was pushed back, followed by a booming thunder in his head. It was as if he was floating. One second he had been standing firm, the next he was on the ground staring up at a giant. His eyes watered from the stinging in his nose but it was the unavoidable ringing in his ears that bothered him most.

He could taste metal plasma as the blood from his nose tried its damndest to force its way into his mouth through any means possible.

He pressed his hand to his ear and opened his jaw to make it go away. The giant took a step toward him, nostrils flared, intent on finishing the job. Jimmy cowered and scooted away as quickly as he could. The giant stopped and stared down at him with curled lips that told Jimmy all he needed to know about what the man thought of him.

“I can’t believe I looked up to you,” said Roberts, watching Jimmy trying to wipe his bloody nose. “That anyone did. Everyone wants to be just like you. Getting all the girls, having the guys idolize you, being good at everything you do. But it’s all just a fucking act, isn’t it?” Roberts snorted. “You’re just a cowardly piece of shit who’s too scared to show his true colors.”

Roberts knelt down in front of Jimmy, “Aren’t you?”

Jimmy glared at Roberts over his hand covering his tilted nose. He wanted to hit the man back, crush his fucking face, make him be in Jimmy’s position, but he couldn’t. Not that he wasn’t capable, Jimmy knew how to fight. He was just weak. Pathetic. Vulnerable. Fighting the giant would only cause him more pain.

Jimmy flinched as the man extended his hand out.

Was he mocking Jimmy?

Jimmy slapped the grip of sausages away, smearing blood over the man’s hand and sending some sprinkles to decorate his face. Jimmy swallowed and felt thick clusters of metal and mucus make their way down his throat.

The fat man wiped his hand over his suit and used the sleeve to wipe his face. He stared at Jimmy and shook his head before standing up and looking behind him. Jimmy thought about kicking his kneecap out from under him and letting the man’s weight do the rest. The satisfying crunch he would hear as his knee gave and the fat man came down.

“We’re sticking together, so get up,” said the giant as he turned back toward Jimmy. “We’re getting food first because we both will need it. We don’t know how long we’ll be down here. Then after, we can do whatever you want. Together.” Roberts started walking just to stop, “And don’t worry, I’m perfectly content not saying a fucking word to each other from here on.”

Jimmy watched the fat giant walk away. He turned his head and spat on the ground. He could feel the constant thumping of his heart all the way in his head. He wanted to scream and protest. To redeem himself somehow. He held his nose tightly and pushed himself up with his other hand.

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