Razor Mountain — Chapter 24.1

Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.

Christopher spent a day recovering. By the clock in the main room of his new apartment, he slept for nearly twelve hours. The bed was not particularly nice, but it felt like a luxury.

He noticed that the lights of the cavern dimmed and brightened—presumably with the cycle of the sun— and wondered if sunlight was somehow reflected in from above. There was certainly some artificial light as well, as even in the depths of the “night” there was enough to see the outlines of the buildings. The street lights stayed on at all hours.

He also noticed that all the lights, above and below, were a rich, warm yellow. The buttery light felt like it had come from a time foregone, as though he were living in a very strange Norman Rockwell painting. The little apartment too, was an odd jumble of modern, anachronistic, and outright ancient, as though there was a pileup on the highway of time and the years had all tumbled into one another here.

The appliances appeared relatively new, but the shape and style of them was  outdated. The cabinets were old wood, slightly warped but recently painted. The walls also had a fresh coat, although he discovered little spots behind the furniture where it was chipped or cracked, revealing older colors underneath, or even the base gray-black-flecked stone.

He first woke to the sound of someone just leaving. When he rose, he discovered that food had been delivered and placed in the fridge. Two sets of unmarked green fatigues had been left on the table, crisply folded. Christopher showered, dressed, and ate. As he took his late breakfast, he looked out the window, over the adjacent rooftops and down at the few people making their way up and down the narrow avenue.

He thought about the ridiculous sequence of events he had been put through, so fresh in his mind after the interrogations and interviews. Now, he realized that everything had become simple. Simple apartment, simple food, simple clothes. Simply waiting to find out what would be done with him. There was a part of him that thought he should be outraged, but he found that the simplicity of his surroundings and the peacefulness of breakfast at the window suited him.

Once he was done eating, there was little to do. The door to the apartment looked like an ordinary wooden door, but it was solidly locked. A black plastic plate had been fastened to the wall next to it, presumably to scan key-cards or some other form of ID for entry.

Christopher occupied himself exploring the apartment. He opened all the cabinets, slid the drawers out of the bedroom dresser. He moved the furniture to see if anything interesting had fallen behind it. There was nothing.

He wondered if the apartment was reserved for prisoners like him, or just an ordinary living space. Speares had made it sound like he was something of a rarity.

It didn’t take long to scour the small space. The only thing of interest that he found in his search was a place behind the bed where the paint had chipped away. The bare rock was exposed, and something had been crudely etched into it. Unfortunately, it was a language Christopher didn’t recognize. It had letters beyond the roman alphabet, perhaps Greek or something Cyrillic.

By early afternoon, Christopher had again taken up his spot in the chair by the window, and there was a knock on the door. The black square on the wall beeped, and the door unlocked with a click. It swung inward to reveal Specialist Speares standing in the hallway.

“May I come in?”

“Seems like a silly thing to ask when I’m the one locked in, and you’ve got the key,” Christopher said.

She sighed. “I understand if you still feel like a prisoner here…”

“I am,” he interjected.

She plowed through. “…but I’m trying to be as civil as possible.”

“I appreciate it,” Christopher said, “but that doesn’t make it any less silly.”

“I suppose not.”

She still waited at the door.

“Come in,” Christopher said.

She entered, closing the door carefully behind her and sitting opposite him at the table.

“Should I just keep this as formal as possible then?”

“Up to you,” Christopher replied. “I’m not very formal. You’re the soldier.”

She shrugged. “Honestly, I wear the uniform, but a lot of my day-to-day work is with civilians.”

“Is anyone really a civilian around here?” he asked.

“Sure. How many uniforms do you see down on the street?”

“Not many.”

“Do you want to take a walk?” she asked. “I have a few follow-up questions to ask, but we could walk and talk.”

“I was enjoying the view from the window,” Christopher said, “but I suppose I had better take any opportunity for an outing that I can get.”


Author: Samuel Johnston

Professional software developer, unprofessional writer, and generally interested in almost everything.

2 thoughts on “Razor Mountain — Chapter 24.1”

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