Razor Mountain — Chapter 24.2

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

Speares led him down the stairwell, going slow for his benefit. His body was still stiff and sore, but he already felt far better than he had the previous day. It was amazing what having basic needs fulfilled could do for a person. He wondered if he was actually supposed to be let out like this, or if Speares was feeling sorry for him. She did seem to be genuinely chagrined about his situation, but she didn’t strike him as someone who would break the rules.

They left the apartment building, and Speares led him deeper into the stone-bound neighborhood, away from the central cavern. She held her notebook open in one hand as they walked. The questions today focused on the details of the bunker and the landmarks around it. Christopher suddenly wondered what the purpose of this questioning was.

“Are you trying to figure out where the bunker is?” he asked. “I assumed your people knew where all those buildings are.”

“I’m not trying to figure anything out,” she said. “If we’re being honest, I’m just told what to ask about.”

“I could probably point out the location on a map, if that would be helpful,” he said.

“It might be,” she replied. “I’d have to get hold of a map though. Let’s put a pin in that.”

“Do you think they actually lost a whole bunker?”

She smiled. “As ridiculous as it sounds, it wouldn’t completely surprise me. There are a number of out-buildings, and they’re all well-hidden, for obvious reasons. From what I know, they aren’t all continuously populated. And in my experience, the bookkeeping isn’t always stellar.”

The narrow street wrapped around in a wide loop, eventually turning back toward the center of the city. They came to a cross-street, and Speares took a left, leading him into another side neighborhood.

“How old is this place?” Christopher asked. “It seems like it would take ages to carve this all out of the rock, even if there were already some caves here. I can’t imagine any caverns this size would form naturally.”

“I’m afraid I don’t know much about the engineering behind it,” she said. “I know that there has always been somewhere in the city where they’re drilling or digging, as far back as I can remember. The excavations aren’t exactly fast, but they just keep at it, day in and day out.”

“Someone must have designated the money for all this though. The president or something? When did it start?”

She smiled. “That’s the kind of knowledge that’s way above my pay grade. The laws around Razor Mountain have changed over the years, but it’s been around in some form for well over a century. Nobody living here today was around when they first started digging holes. Or if they are, they aren’t talking about it.”

“That’s crazy. How much of this could they even do with early 1900s technology?”

Speares lowered her voice mock-conspiratorially. “Well, there are all sorts of rumors. And only ninety percent of them are insane conspiracy theories.”

“Is that even a fair thing to call it?” Christopher asked. “As an outsider, I think it’s safe to say you live inside a giant conspiracy theory.”

“Fair,” she said, “but I’ve heard everything from hollow earth, H.G. Wells kinds of theories to ancient aliens. A lot of people subscribe to the theory that big chunks of these caverns were already carved out perfectly, and nobody knows how. They were just found.”

“What do you think?”

“I think, like most things, it’s probably a lot more straightforward and less interesting than anyone believes. I think someone clever figured out how to dig out the caverns, maybe a long ways back, when people wouldn’t have thought it possible. And then they just kept digging, using whatever new technology they could. I certainly have a hard time believing some of the crazier rumors. I think this place has always been a government project, or at least became one very early in its history.”

Christopher thought in silence for a moment.

“That sounds reasonable, even if I have a hard time believing that anyone could make this place without spending insane amounts of money.”

“I don’t get to see the bills,” Speares said, “but who’s to say they don’t spend insane amounts of money?”

“Surely someone would notice that much secret spending.”

Speares shrugged. “There are a lot of government programs that are…less than transparent. All those three-letter spy agencies have big budgets, and we don’t know what they get spent on.”

“Someone, somewhere is keeping tabs on those programs though,” Christopher said, questioning the words as soon as they exited his mouth.

Speares gave him a look like he was a small child making proclamations about things he didn’t understand.

“Yeah, okay. I still think it’d be essentially impossible to keep something so big and expensive hidden for so long.”

“You didn’t know about it, right?” Speares said.

“Of course not.”

“And that’s why you’re in…this whole situation,” she said, gesturing vaguely at Christopher.

“Yeah,” Christopher said. “That whole ‘effectively imprisoned for life despite doing nothing wrong’ situation.”

“That’s the one.”


Author: Samuel Johnston

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

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