Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.
It didn’t take long before Christopher began to feel like a zoo animal. He was allowed some freedom, and once he had rested, Amaranth showed him a hallway full of rooms where these people rested, some normal-looking office bathrooms, the room that served as a makeshift mess hall, and an area where the floors above had partially collapsed down to their level. The ceiling in that area was at Christopher’s shoulder height, and it looked as though there might be ways through the rubble, but it certainly didn’t look safe.
Although he had supposedly been vetted, and he no longer had guns trained on him wherever he went, he was never alone. It was hard to tell if people were just curious or keeping an eye on him. Despite their interest in him, none of them immediately tried to make conversation.
The makeshift mess hall was really just more office space that had been filled with tables and chairs. Christopher ate rice, beans, and some tasteless canned chicken. It was like being back home in the bunker. He tried to get information out of Amaranth, but it was slow going.
“What is this place?”
She set her fork down to write a note.
“What does that mean? Are there buildings “A” through “E” around here? Letters beyond that?”
She nodded. After another bite she wrote.
There are others. Not sure how many.
“Why is all this out here?”
It’s all part of Razor Mountain.
“What’s Razor Mountain?”
It’s a mountain. But also a city.
“So it’s all connected?”
She shook her head and wrote, It’s all over the mountain.
While they went through this slow process of question and answer, Christopher became aware that several of the others were watching and listening from nearby tables. They all wore the same camouflage fatigues.
“Is everyone here in the military then? Is that why there’s all this secrecy?
Something like that.
One of the men in the watching group said, “You’d better be careful what you tell him, Amaranth.”
Christopher saw a clear look of irritation flicker over Amaranth’s face before she suppressed it. She wrote quickly on the paper and flashed it at him. Christopher couldn’t make out what it said.
“Hmph,” was his only reply.
As though this small interaction had opened the floodgates, several others moved over to Christopher’s table as a group. They congregated on the other side, with Amaranth, and left a gap on either side of him.
“Where are you from?” one woman asked. “Why are you here?”
Christopher sighed. “I’m from Minneapolis. I was on a trip and my plane crashed.”
“You survived a plane crash?”
“Well, I jumped, and I landed in water. I guess I was just incredibly lucky.”
“Incredibly lucky,” said the man who had warned Amaranth. He was still sitting back at the other table.
“I found a bunker. It must be one of these Razor Mountain buildings, but I didn’t know that. It’s the only reason I survived. Gave me a warm place to stay, food and supplies.”
“What are things like out there, these days?” the woman asked.
“What do you mean, ‘out there?’” Christopher asked.
“Out in the world. In Minnesota.”
“Fine, I guess. The weather isn’t that different from up here, honestly.”
“But what about the war?”
“What war? Afghanistan? Iraq?”
Christopher looked around. The faces were oddly expressionless, like they weren’t sure how to react.
“I’m honestly not entirely sure which of those was an official war,” Christopher continued. “I’m sorry, I don’t know. You all must know more about it than I do.”
“What about Russia?” one of the men asked.
“What about it?”
“People aren’t worried about war with Russia?”
Christopher shrugged. “I don’t think so. I guess there are always some people who think the Cold War never ended.”
There was another moment of awkward silence around the table.
“Why is everyone asking me about geopolitics? Why Russia?” Christopher asked. “I feel like there’s something you’re trying to get at, and nobody wants to say it.”
The man sitting at the other table stood up and walked over.
“They’re having a hard time believing that things are going well out there,” he said.
Christopher laughed. “I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘going well.’ Better than the Cold War?”
Again, silence stretched.
“Do you not get the news up here?”
“What’s your name?” The man asked.
“What if I told you that I don’t think you’re who you say you are.”
“I’ve been getting a lot of that lately,” Christopher said.
The man nodded. “It’s probably because your story sounds made up. And you somehow got here, into this highly secure area, just by chance.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Christopher asked. “I don’t have anything to prove who I am. I lost my luggage, I lost my wallet, hell, I lost my shoes. I’ve just been trying to stay alive and get back home.”
“And what do you think someone would say, if they came here with other intentions?” the man asked.
“They’d probably have a more believable story than jumping out of an airplane. What intentions are they going to have?” Christopher countered. “To find your secret base here, which kind of looks like it should have been condemned fifty years ago?”
Amaranth wrote furiously on her paper again and held it up to the man. He glanced at it and then casually slapped it aside, out of her hand.
“I don’t care how long you were spying on him,” the man said. “I know you think you’re a real commando, and for some reason Ema thinks so too, but you’re just a fucking kid. You’ve got a lot to learn.”
Amaranth scooped up her notebook and stood facing the man, jaw and hands clenched. Christopher saw several of the others glaring at him. One of the women said, “Garrett…”
“What? You all get excited over a stranger who just shows up out of the blue, and take him at his word that he’s here entirely by accident? Besides, even if he is exactly what he says, how does that help us? We have bigger problems to deal with.”
“Maybe he knows something that can help,” the woman said.
“What could he possibly know?” Garrett countered. “Either he’s telling the truth and he doesn’t know shit, or he’s lying and he’s not going to tell you anything useful anyway.”
The eyes of the group turned back to Christopher.
“He’s probably right,” Christopher said. “I don’t even know what the problem is. I could point you to that bunker I found, but that’s about it.”
“You said your plane crashed,” one of the men said. “How bad was the crash?”
“Fireball bad?” Christopher said. “I never found the crash site, I think it was pretty high up the slope from the bunker, but I doubt there would be much left to salvage.”
“See?” Garrett said. “He’s stuck. He’s either hoping that we can help him, or trying to get whatever info he can out of you.”
Amaranth wrote in her notebook.
He’s not a spy!
“It doesn’t matter,” Garrett said. “We can’t help him, and he can’t help us.”