Schultz is screaming at Peters whilst Heche sits in the corner next to the dishwasher, his face pale and his hands shaking. Hatch wanders blearily into the kitchen unit wearing a dressing gown and slippers and asks if there’s any breakfast. Different attitudes to stress, but they all need an explanation. The gunfire, the blood spilled in the corridors, the smoke and ash in the air. None of this could be described as a typical wakeup call in the bunker.
I lay it all out for them. The infection protocol messages, the hidden gun, my loyalty test. Hatch sips his coffee and nods, Heche stares open mouthed and Schultz looks like he’s going to kill every NECRA employee he can, starting with me.
Moving Phillips’ body had been the hardest part, I explain. After all this time he’d frozen solid in the freezer unit and as I slid and dragged him across the floor I feared he would shatter. It took over 3 hours with both space heaters to thaw the body. I wondered what the others would have said if they’d discovered me in the middle of the night with the corpse. Yet another chance I took in a long line of risks.
After that it was simple. Gun and silencer, two shots to the head and a couple of quick photos, before sliding the corpse back into the frosty embrace of the freezer, slush, blood and skull leaving a gruesome trail.
Next was the gun. It took only a few minutes to strip it down to its constituent parts and take a hammer to the firing pin and other delicate pieces. The silencer resisted only a single blow before it became flattened and useless.
This left only the ammunition. Returning to the entrance hallway I filled a bin with shredded reports, petrol and old pieces of wood. I placed the bullets in the centre, threw in a lighted match and ran like hell.
It was the ammunition cooking off that finally woke the others. In the enclosed space the noise was like an artillery barrage. I have no idea what the others thought was going on. Did they hope it was a rescue team, or fear it was a clean-up squad? Which one did they expect?
Which one did they really want?
It was all very gruesome, but I had everything we needed.
-The pictures of my own hand I took last week, when it was still red and angry.
-The corpse of Phillips publicly executed.
-The records of the missing drugs, both morphine and amphetamines added more detail , showing exactly what an infected operative would use to manage his affliction.
The puzzle is complete.
We can stop falsifying the reports. We have a story. Phillips was infected and I dealt with it. NECRA has no reason to suspect us. There are no more secrets.
NECRA will never question our loyalty again.
An emergency radio call breaks the tension. This isn’t over, but it should be easier from now on. We have a job to do. Peters hurries to the control room to find out what’s happening. Schultz and Heche start making breakfast whilst Hatch helps me mop up the blood smears along the corridors. The air filtration system is already dispersing the smoke, by tomorrow there will be no sign this ever happened.
Finally the tiredness hits me, like a brick wall. I spend a few minutes checking that none of my squads are going to starve today before going to bed.
For the first time in months my sleep is nightmare free.