Controller (Part II)

Continued from Part I.

“This is an emergency,” said a calm electronic voice that emanated from the ceiling. “Please evacuate immediately.”

Jack and the Controller reached the bottom of the spiral staircase. They found themselves at the end of a small tunnel that stretched out a few metres and then turned a corner. There were bright lights and tiled walls. Over the noise of the alarm, the sound of rushing water and screams echoed from beyond the bend in the tunnel.

They ran on, weaving through the passages, until they came to a gate. On the other side was a much larger tunnel, packed with a crowd of people filing slowly past. Professional men and women in suits, mothers with young children, teenagers, the elderly. Yet the clothes and colours and tribal differences had melted away, leaving a group of human beings to press together against their fear on common terms. Their faces showed not panic but grim determination.

Jack hastily unlocked the gate, and ushered people along the tunnel to the spiral stairs. The new exit eased the crush and the crowd began to flow faster. Over the heads of the escapees he saw the Controller pushing back through the crowd, heading away down the larger tunnel.

A young woman stood to one side, calling out encouragement and calming words. Jack squeezed up to her.

“Tunnel collapsed!” she said. “Water’s coming in, flooding the tracks.”

With thanks, Jack sent her on up with last of the crowd, and headed down after his boss.

To be continued…

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