Chapter no 63

Quantum Radio

Ty woke in a dark cell. His head swam as he tried to sit up. He collapsed back to the thin mattress and took in the space. He was lying on a bunk that was bolted to a concrete block wall.

The air was damp and smelled of mold. The room was empty. It had a single door, which was steel and rusted but not enough to see through. It had a twelve-inch square opening at eye level with vertical bars running across it. A slot no bigger than a mail flap was situated close to the floor. There were no lights in the small room, though a soft yellow glow shone through the bars.

It was a nightmarish place to wake up in. What scared Ty even more was what he had woken without. Gone was the quantum radio medallion that had been in his pocket. The bottle of pills his father had given him was also missing.

Without the pills, he feared his health would deteriorate a little each day. The missing radio was a bigger problem. What would happen if they dialed it? Would Ty, Nora, Kato, and Maria disappear from this world and arrive in another? And if so, what then? Would they be separated as they were now? And would the world even be habitable? Or more dangerous than this one?

He had to get both items back—and reunite with Nora and the others.

Ty rose on legs that felt like stilts, lifeless and unreliable and ready to collapse at any moment. With a hand bracing himself on the wall, he stumbled to the door and peered out through the bars. A dingy hallway with cinder block walls lay beyond. A row of glowing yellow light bulbs hung from the ceiling by black electrical cords.

“Hello?” he called, voice scratchy.

After a few seconds, he heard metal scraping on metal. But no one entered the hall.

Ty strained to see, finally realizing that a slot had been opened in the door at the end of the corridor.

A man’s gruff voice called to him: “What’s your name?”

Ty was fairly certain there was no version of him on this world. But he was absolutely certain that those sorts of assumptions could get him killed. As such, he evaded the question.

“Where am I?” “Weird name.”

“Why are you holding me?”

“Ground rules, dumb-dumb: when you’re in a basement prison cell, you don’t get to ask the questions. Mmmm-kay?”

Ty opened his mouth to ask another question but shut it. He sensed that every question was pressing his luck.

The man spoke again. “Let’s start with an easier one. How did you get here? A submarine? Have you all built tunnels?”

“Just let me go,” Ty said. “I have nothing to do with your war. I assure you.”

“Why are you here?” the man asked. “Were you sent to recover Matthews?”

“No. We helped him.” “Why?”

“It was the right thing to do.” “Who sent you?”

“No one.”

“You need to start answering my questions.” “I don’t have any answers.”

“You’re going to get hungry soon. We’ll talk then.”


Kato woke in handcuffs. The silver metal was cutting into his wrists. Another set of cuffs bound his ankles. Both sets were chained to a cinder block wall in a dark room, lit only by the dim light trickling in through the bars of a square opening in a steel door.

He was on the floor, and his body ached.

The door swung open, and a bulky, muscular man with a goatee and hateful eyes sauntered in.

“We took bets on when you’d come around.”

“Who is we?” Kato struggled to sit up, but it was no use—the chain was too short.

“You know who we are. We’re the people you animals are trying to wipe from the face of the Earth.”

“You have me confused with someone else.”

“We’re not confused. Incidentally, I lost the bet. I thought you Covenant Intel operatives were made of tougher stuff. Thought you would wake up sooner. But you slept like a baby.”

“I’m not a Covenant Intelligence operative.”

“Said like a true Covenant Intel spook.” The man smiled. “You are. We know you are. We’re poor as dirt, but we managed to scrape together enough to buy info on the top-ranking Covenant military officers. But we’ve never captured one. Until now. And we’re going to ask you a lot of questions. We don’t really care what we have to do to get answers. If we don’t, our kids are going to starve. That has a way of loosening your morals, you know? Watching every generation get thinner, a little shorter, shrinking out of existence while you cower and wait for the next bomb to explode.”

The man raised his eyebrows, eyes flashing. “But you’re going to give us some answers that might help us turn it all around.”

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