Chapter 002: Countdown


“W-what of my son? Did you find him?” Dr. Lambert’s face suddenly paled as his heart was seized with anxiety at the mere mention of his son.


“It’s…” the chairman hesitated for a moment, uncertain of how to explain what happened. “It’s better explained if I showed you.” The chairman then tapped a few buttons on his desk to bring up the hologram of the Earth which then zoomed in to show Australia. It replayed a series of events which caused Dr. Lambert’s face to pale even further; he seemed to have aged ten years in an instant.


After the recording finished, it took Dr. Lambert a moment to regain his faculties. With a ghastly expression on his face, he looked at the chairman and asked “This...what was just… what the hell just happened!?”


Dr. Lambert was so shocked that his words became incoherent. Not once in his entire life had he ever seen anything so terrifying that could cause him to feel fear in the deepest reaches of his soul. As a result of the war, Dr. Lambert’s temperament underwent an extreme change. It was refined to the point where even the sight of thousands of dead bodies would not faze him in the slightest. Today – however, what he saw on the hologram for those few short minutes thoroughly changed his perspective on life and his view of the world. He thought to himself, if he put all of the most horrifying moments that he had seen or experienced in his life up to this moment together they would not be able to compare to the few minutes that he had just seen.


With a self-deprecating smile on his face, the chairman laid back in his chair and shook his head then replied “My guess is as good as yours. For thousands of years’ mankind has roamed this world, and for each era, we have made incredible discoveries. But this discovery is unprecedented! In all of mankind’s history, we have never seen anything like this. It’s just, simply inconceivable.”


After speaking, the chairman looked towards Dr. Lambert and his facial expression became extremely serious. Dr. Lambert noticed this change and a heavy feeling as though a boulder was weighing down on his heart appeared.


“Your son was last seen in this area, not too far from that ‘anomaly’.” The chairman shifted the scene to another location and replayed the recording at a slower speed. “It seems your son was being pursued by a squad of heavily armed men and was trapped in that encirclement. Based on what we’re seeing; he appears to have suffered some serious injuries earlier. But somehow, fortunately, he has managed to slip away and escape from the encirclement. The strange thing is, not even our satellite’s infrared was able to pick up any traces of him. He just completely disappeared. To be able to vanish without a trace under O.D.I.N’s eye is something that I would’ve never believed had I not seen it with my own two eyes. His pursuers were even more baffled; because they saw him literally disappear while they had all their attention locked on him. As to how and where he escaped to, no one has a single clue. Unfortunately, his pursuers met with lady misfortune at the hands of that ‘anomaly’ so we won’t be able to interrogate them. So, whether or not your son is still alive is uncertain. But knowing him, with his tenacity, I doubt he would fall just like that after making such an escape.”


The chairman paused for a moment as his gaze locked onto a silhouette in the hologram before continuing. “But at the very least, we now have a clear idea of where to start looking. Regarding that ‘anomaly’; it’s something that we’re going to have to handle discreetly until we figure out what exactly happened. In the meantime, I’ll send a team out to clean up the mess and try to locate your son as soon as possible. Hopefully, we’ll get this figured before anyone else gets wind of it and get your son back.”


The chairman dismissed the hologram then removed a spherical device from his desk and placed it in front of Dr. Lambert. “Now, regarding the G.E.N.E.S.I.S programme, this should help speed things up a bit.”


When Dr. Lambert saw the spherical device, he couldn’t help but look at the chairman in shock. “This…” He was about to decline but before he could even finish his sentence the chairman raised his hand to interrupt him.


“I understand that you’re working closely with these candidates. They’re all youngsters and as a result, you have grown attached. You need to remember that in today’s world, one’s survival is based on their ability to overcome obstacles, be it external or internal. Your son is a prime example of that. As the chairman, I have to oversee all things and ensure they all progress smoothly. For what you are about to do, don’t let it weigh on your heart too much. If it makes you feel any better, I can make an announcement to everyone that the changes you are about to make are being executed under my instructions.”


After the chairman finished speaking, Dr. Lambert sat there in a daze for a moment. His face wore a complicated expression. He was uncertain as to what emotion he should show or what reaction he should have at a moment like this. After the chairman summoned him today, it was one earth-shattering news after another. There was not a moment of respite to digest everything.


Seeing Dr. Lambert’s expression, it was quite clear to the chairman what he was thinking, and how he felt. Everything discussed up to this point was a tough bone to chew, even for him. The current state of the world was already teetering on the verge of annihilation. No one could’ve imagined that a war of such magnitude would actually happen which literally involved the entire world.


Dr. Lambert was in charge of the proceedings for the G.E.N.E.S.I.S programme. One could say that he almost literally had the future of the world’s next generation resting on his shoulders. The sudden news of the incoming cluster of meteoroids approaching the planet was enough to cause one to plummet into the depths of despair, and when the news of his only son being in dire straits came into the picture it was if a bomb had exploded near his heart. The appearance of that ‘anomaly’ did not give him the slightest bit of closure but instead, more reason to worry about his safety. The sight of the chairman taking out that spherical device was the straw that broke the camel’s back! If it were not for the chairman’s words just now he would be hesitant to not use it at all! Its original purpose for use was meant for something else entirely! He was already not willing to use this device to ‘expedite’ the screening evaluations long before because there was no need to take unnecessary risks. However, now that the situation has changed greatly and humanity’s survival was being pressed between a rock and a hard place – tough decisions would now need to be made.


After a moment of thought, Dr. Lambert came to his decision. “Very well then. I’ll do it. Unfortunately, there’s no other alternative at the moment.”


The chairman smiled in satisfaction as he heard Dr. Lambert’s response. He could see no hesitation or conflicting emotions in his eyes. Just determination and resolve. To the chairman, Dr. Lambert’s skills and disposition was a crucial aspect of his plans. As such, he needed him to be decisive and have a heart of stone when necessary. But unbeknownst to him, at times it conflicted with his true nature, which was filled with compassion. But today, in this world, there was little to no room left for weakness to say nothing of compassion.


“Excellent! Now regarding your son. As a friend, I couldn’t stand by idly and do nothing for so long, so I’ve already taken this matter up personally, and besides…” At this, the chairman glanced at his wedding ring with a reminiscent look in his eyes of days long past. “We’re family after all, and we need to look after each other.”


When Dr. Lambert heard the word family, his heart trembled and his fists suddenly clenched. He closed his eyes as to suppress the sudden burst of rage in his heart. These days, the word family had a much stronger meaning to people than it had in the past. He was one of four children that his mother bore. His brother, two sisters, and himself. One of his sisters; Michelle, married the chairman and were happily married for years until the war descended. She was caught up in the heart of a huge bombing at Times Square in New York City. After the chaos cleared, a search was carried out and after much effort, they located her blood smeared bag from the GPS signal on her phone which was inside, but her body was never found. After months of searching and waiting there was still no response, no calls. The chairman was awash with despair. His heart was filled with more sorrow and pain than hatred because Michelle told him a few days prior that she was pregnant. It wasn’t until almost a year later that Dr. Lambert and his wife found out about the tragic details of her passing from him. Her death is the event that marked the start of the world war in his memory, a sad way to remember history.


The chairman then rose to his feet and went back to look out the window, having just gone down memory lane he wished to be by himself for a time.


“Dr. Lambert, I’ll not delay you from your work any further. Time is of the essence. I expect a status report every 24 hours.”


Dr. Lambert rose to his feet as well and assented. “Of course.” With a slight bow, he turned and exited the room leaving the chairman’s solitary figure standing in front of the window. The scene of the chairman standing there looked rather picturesque; it seemed as if he was looking into another world through the window, searching for something… or someone.


At the sound of the door to the chairman’s office sliding open; Veronica, who sat a few feet away at her desk, paused for a moment and raised her head and met Dr. Lambert’s gaze. Outwardly, he appeared the same as before with the same cold expression, but deep within his eyes, she could see the melancholy he was trying to hide.


“Dr. Lambert, have a nice day,” she said with a gentle smile on her face.


“You as well.” He replied in a nonchalant manner as he walked towards the elevator.


Veronica sighed in her heart at his reply as he walked by: “You still haven’t changed.” She watched his departing figure until he left the floor. Her gaze lingered on the space where he stood for a moment until she sighed once more then turned her gaze away and continued her work.


Upon entering the elevator Dr. Lambert took the spherical device from his jacket pocket and raised it slightly to his face as he muttered to himself.


“This world is filled with too much death! Even when I try to save lives I still have to take them, sigh! To seek life from the jaws of death… what irony.”


Feeling bitter anguish in his heart, Dr. Lambert felt that he was wronged the entire time. His mind was thrown into constant turmoil after he listened to the chairman’s discourse. Everything that he said was a non-disputable fact that could only be accepted and acted upon. The only thing he himself had any control over was; how smoothly the G.E.N.E.S.I.S programme progressed. But now, even that was being affected by the chairman’s order. He was even given such a damnable object that would no doubt cause even more deaths.


After a moment, Dr. Lambert raised his head towards the elevator ceiling. It was as though his gaze was piercing through all matter and was looking directly at the incoming meteoroids. “Heaven must be truly furious for it to be, not one meteoroid but a damn cluster! Still, Heaven is not unreasonable. Seven weeks, a month and a half. That should be enough time.”


About the author


  • Jamaica

Bio: The light is for the blind. The darkness is for those who can see.

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