Chapter 1 – THE BUNKER
It is the year 2171. Centuries ago, men ruled the Earth, but over the years, nuclear explosions, radiation, viruses, and wars for survival caused their extinction. Of all the primates on Earth, only the gorillas resisted the cataclysms. Still, such radiation played as the catalyst for their evolution by ensuring that the bipeds acquired language skills and intelligence.
Finally, the light!
After two weeks of hard work, I found a way to fix and turn on our power generator. The light is dim but like a beacon in this dark world. A radioactive cloud has been obscuring the sun for too long now. Harry Kongher and I are working hard to make this bunker livable, to bring together and welcome all the survivors. Reese has been very busy these days. Since Swan disappeared, he has not stopped for a second. I tried to ask him, but it seemed he had no intention of talking about it. Looking through the various rooms and debris, I found an old radio on top of a locker. I should ask Harry to fix it. Hearing someone’s voice would cheer us up.
A flash of light illuminates the old research room. Harry worked all night trying to fix the radio and did a great job. Plugging it into the socket and turning the frequency knob, magically, we hear strange music coming from it.
How is it possible? Who is broadcasting this music? In the meantime, I hope survivors will like it. There are too many survivors out there looking for shelter. We need to do something to help them. Fortunately, the newcomer Luke SkyKongher, a former military as well as a telecommunications expert, was able in a short time to transmit a message to the outside: “Our bunker is safe. Join us at these coordinates 38.43868530859313 -80.25346474546048”. Hopefully, someone will be able to pick up this signal.
Two nights later, Reese hears movement on the surface: “Did someone get our message?”. Quickly approaching the bunker door, he can identify about ten nomads. What are their intentions?
Chapter 2 – THE DIARY
There were only three of us when we found this bunker, and now there are over 50 survivors in our family. We decided to accommodate our new fellows in the west area. It is an enormous zone, but we have not had time to arrange it. While we prepare the cots for the new arrivals, we find under a mattress a strange diary dated 2129. I am so intrigued that I start browsing through the first few pages. It seems to belong to someone named Joshua.
2129 – Diary: My New Home
I found this notebook. I want to write something that someone in the future could read and understand what is going on now in this world.
I wandered for a long time to search for a haven and provisions. I don’t know how much longer my gas mask can protect me. I have to find some food. Nearby there is a burnt forest. I catch a glimpse of a strange door behind a small hillock. I approach it and open it with difficulty. A long staircase leads down, I turn on the flashlight, and I take courage. I start to descend. I find myself in a dark room that looks like a long-abandoned place. There is a power generator. Fortunately, it works, and I turn it on. What looked like underground storage is a bunker, probably used by humans years ago! In the next room, there is a warehouse full of food supplies! I think I’ll stay here for a while.
2129 – Diary: My life before the bunker
I spent two weeks bringing this place back to life. A long time ago, humans were well-equipped and prepared for what would happen, but all this was not enough to save them. I found many gas masks and protective suits which will be very useful out there; radiation did not kill us, but viruses born after the explosions have spread in the air over the years, creating a real toxic cloud that makes us sick and kills us slowly. The cloud seems to have taken on a life of its own over the years; it moves with the wind, and some days it is thicker than others. When you are lucky, you can even see the sunrise. Today, we are forced to wander around the Region looking for safe areas away from gas.
That toxic cloud killed my whole family. The first to die was dad, then mom. After some time, it was the turn of Emily, my little sister; I tried to protect her with all my might, but I couldn’t. After our parents died, we were left alone, and I took care of her until that fucking day. I used to go alone in the contaminated area to look for food, and I did not want to expose her to the risk of contagion or other pitfalls. But that day, that damn day, I let myself be convinced by her. Maybe because I was tired because I knew that, sooner or later, she would have to learn to take care of herself. I decided to take her with me. There was still an old abandoned supermarket to explore, and I was sure there was still something to find there. Emily was very excited, and she wanted to help! Finding food would make her happy. We entered an abandoned building. The shelves were empty, but I wasn’t demoralized, and I continued to explore. A room was locked. I had a crowbar with me, so I forced the lock and managed to open it. The light from the flashlight illuminated a series of lockers. I opened those with my crowbar, and they were full of canned food and still in good condition. We screamed with joy! Something or someone in that room ran away and crashed with Emily, who fell violently to the ground. The impact broke the gas mask glass, making her breathe that damn air. I rushed her to our shelter, hoping that the toxic air she had just breathed was not enough to make her sick. She died after a week. She was only 14 years old.
Chapter 3 – THE DREAM
2171 – Present day
I feel frozen. These pages have shocked me so much that my knees are trembling. I sit on the ground, and I wonder: “Humans? Nuclear war? Surviving Gorillas? Is this the reality? Who are we? Are we monsters? We have no evidence about where we come from and our origins, just some legends!”. Harry and Reese, who are with me in the room, seeing me this way, ask me what happened. “Nothing” I say, “I don’t feel well. I’m going to rest!”. I don’t want to talk about this story with anyone just yet. I need to look into it! I am tired, and I need to sleep!
I am in a kind of research center. There is no one here! A red light! Incessant alarm sounds! I follow a long white corridor, a door opens, and I go through it. There is an enormous room full of machinery and strange incubators full of liquid.
I cannot see what is inside, so I move closer! What the hell? There is someone intubated inside!! It is the same scene in the other incubators too! The being inside the first incubator opens its eyes wide and stares at me! It emits a terrifying sound!! All the incubators are about to break.
I wake up suddenly and sit up in bed to catch my breath. Not the first time I had this kind of nightmare, but this one seemed more vivid. This time it felt almost real! Good thing I did not wake anyone! I go to freshen up and go back to bed. It’s still too early to get up, but I can’t get back to sleep. I think I’ll keep reading the diary.
Chapter 4 – TENTACLES
2129 – Diary: A strange being
It’s been a few months since I discovered this place. I don’t even need light to move around now. I know it by heart. I have food supplies that would be enough for many other individuals and for a long time. Yeah, the others, fuck! I am still alone, and I miss Emily! I miss my family! During this time in the bunker, I often went out looking for surviving Gorillas. But there is nothing but death and desolation out there. I often wonder if there are other places like this one, scattered around the country, with other survivors inside.
Today I went out again to return to a place about 10 km west of the bunker, where an ancient building related to some religious worship once stood. On the road adjacent to the building, I heard screaming. Then, I saw someone on the ground! He wore a protective suit and a large backpack on his back, and he seemed in trouble. A strange being with no protective gear was standing in front of him. That strange being looked like a Gorilla, but it was different. It was scary. It had purple tentacles coming out of its entire body. That strange being ran away at full speed immediately after realizing my presence. After a few seconds of shock, I approached the victim. I immediately noticed that his left leg was seriously injured. He was doomed. The toxic air had entered the suit. I tried to rescue him in every way I could. He needed help. He could not move.
I always had an old trolley to bring everything to the bunker. It is big enough to carry someone. So I returned quickly to the shelter, carrying the survivor on the trolley. Along the way, he was suffering greatly, so he asked me to take something from his backpack: “The antidote,” he said. “I need to take it before it’s too late.” Without question, I took the syringe and gave it to him. He injected himself and passed out soon after.
When we finally arrived at the bunker, he was still unconscious and had a high fever. I undressed and laid him on a cot, treated his wound with antibiotics, and sutured it as best I could. All we can do now is wait.
Chapter 5 – THE SCIENTIST
2129 – Diary: The cure
What was that being? Why did it attack this stranger? I am writing these pages a week after the incident. I assisted the victim night and day, now the fever is gone, and the wound is clean. Usually, the virus kills in a few days, but he still lives! How is it possible? Does it have something to do with that injection?
He finally regained consciousness and perhaps now can answer my many questions. He starts to speak about himself: “My name is Adam. I am a scientist, a doctor. The day you saved me, I was collecting samples for my research to find a definitive cure for the disease caused by the gas. Unfortunately, many viruses exist, and the one I injected myself with didn’t save me permanently, but it slowed down the disease’s progress”.
I am stunned by the news of the antidote, maybe a cure is possible, but I still have no answer about what that being was and why it had attacked the Doctor.
Adam tells me that he does not know anything about it and has never seen it before; it suddenly came up and attacked him by grabbing his leg with its claws, then he saw it running away. I suspect he is hiding something, but I won’t press him for now. He has recently recovered and is still very weak. Adam looks around, then asks me where we are and where his backpack is. I tell him I found this bunker long ago, in the middle of a burnt forest.
There were many rooms similar to laboratories and full of strange scientific equipment. So, the bunker seemed to me to be a place related to scientific research from the first moment I saw it. The backpack is now in one of the lockers! I’ve already inspected it. It contains further doses of the antidote, food supplies, an old radio, and a handheld password-protected device. He silently keeps looking around as if searching for something, then asks me if it is possible to see the rest of the bunker. I answer him: “You are still too weak to walk around. Take a rest tonight, and I will show you the whole shelter tomorrow”. Adam does not reply, gets back in bed, and soon after falls asleep.
I still have so many doubts! What is Adam hiding? It seems like he already knows this place, or at least he knows what it was used for. I think I’ll have a bite to eat and go to sleep.
Chapter 6 – THE ELDER
2171 – Present day
It’s not dawn yet, but it’s already a new day here at the bunker. I woke up with those pages still on my mind. Is there a cure? Why don’t any of us know this story? Is it to do with this bunker?
Later I’ll keep reading the diary, maybe I’ll be able to find out more, but for now, I have to carry out my daily activities. Harry, a few other survivors, and I will move further north to find supplies while Reese and Luke remain on guard. We’ve never gone too far from the bunker. We’ve explored all the places, but the food is starting to run out. Now we must look elsewhere for the goods necessary for our survival. We wear our protective suits and backpacks, and we also bring some tools to use as a defense. We have no idea about what awaits us in those still unexplored places.
Five hours have passed, and we have covered about 25 km. Our journey proceeds quietly, but we still haven’t found anything useful. We decided to stop at an old abandoned city for a break. We meet some wayfarers, but no one seems interested in socializing. Seeking rest, we sit inside what could have been an old school when an individual wearing a gas mask approaches us trying to get our attention. From his posture and his voice, he seems to be old and hungry. He probably hasn’t eaten in a long time. He begs us to feed him.
Harry gives him a can of meat and beans without hesitation. The elder immediately opens it, takes off his gas mask, and starts eating. We are impressed! How could he take off his gas mask without any problem? We cannot believe it, and we are amazed. That is crazy!
The elder doesn’t seem to be surprised by our reaction. He smiles, then finishes his last bite and exclaims: “Don’t worry about me! My time has already passed! Thanks for the meal! I’m guessing you aren’t from around here. You had better get back! It’s not safe here! This is the black suits territory”. We are all still speechless! The elder takes a step back. He puts his gas mask back on and slowly disappears into thin air.
Chapter 7 – AKP?
2171 – Present day
What is true about what the fool elder said? I order the group to take the stuff and return to the bunker. I do not want to risk the safety of my fellows. Today we have done enough, and luckily we have recovered some food supplies. We are so confused about what happened. No one says a word along the way. Who is that elder? Once we arrived halfway, a weird feeling pervades me, as if someone was watching us from the bushes. I act like nothing is happening. I don’t want to worry anyone. Along the way, we come to a fork. There is an object on the ground. It wasn’t here when we first passed. It is a large, cylinder-shaped object with an “AKP” lettering engraved. I approached it and… IT’S A TRAP!
About 15 individuals in black suits, armed with tasers, come out of the woods. They attack us and hit Harry and his other two mates, who fall to the ground. One of my mates and I try to run away to the woods, some individuals chase us, but we can take refuge in a hollow tree. Fortunately, they lose track of us. One of them orders the group to turn back. During the clash, they injured my mate. Now has a wound on his head. He bleeds heavily, but at least his gas mask is not broken.
Silently I try to get close to the scene of the assault to understand what happened to the other fellows. I can see my mutant mates from here. They are still alive but are handcuffed and surrounded by these blokes wearing black suits with a strange yellow symbol on the back. One of them, maybe the boss, rips the gas mask off my mates and shouts to them: “Where is your leader? Where is he hiding?”
The mates resist and try to save themselves by avoiding breathing the toxic air. By not receiving any response, the boss orders his acolyte to hit them with the taser! They faint! In the meantime, a van arrives, and they load my mates onto it! Also, the blokes get on top! The boss finds my diary on the ground (I must have dropped it during the struggle). He takes a look at the first pages. Then throws the diary away. He looks toward the woods in my direction, as if he can see me, then, fortunately, looks away and gets into the van. As soon as the van pulls away, I run to get the diary. I pick it up from the ground. Inside it, there is a magnetic card. I wonder what it is. Does it open something? Has Joshua left it in the diary for some reason?
It is time to return to my wounded mate. He is not alone now. The Elder is with him and is laying his hands on his head. From the Elder’s hands comes out a beam of light that envelops the wounded mate completely. I can’t understand what is happening. I stand motionless and paralyzed by the scene. After a few seconds, the beam disappears, my mutant mate regains consciousness and vigor and his wound heals. We are both stunned and ask the Elder how this is all possible. “Ever since I can remember, I have always possessed the gift to heal wounds”, he says. Then adds, “I am not the only one! Other mutants with several powers and abilities exist. The black suits persecuted us, and now they are also looking for your group. You really should find a safe place and hide!”. The Elder steps back and slowly disappear into the woods.
Who are the black suits? What do they want from us? What about Harry and the others? It’s starting to rain! The fatigue does not worry us. We return to the bunker as fast as possible. We are welcomed by Reese. He immediately asks us where the other mates are. I gather all the mutants in the main hall and tell them what happened. “We don’t know who black suits are or what they want from us! Our enemies are many. They are armed and dangerous! We must be careful out there!”
It’s almost night, I’m exhausted but I have to tell Reese and Luke the truth about the diary. I let them read the same pages I read.
Chapter 8 – THE CODE
2129 – Diary: The laboratory
I wake up suddenly and turn my gaze toward Adam’s cot. It’s empty! Where could he have gone? I hear strange noises coming from the locker room. I get up and silently walk towards it. The door is ajar, and I hear Adam talking to someone. I look and see him handling his old radio. As he realizes my presence immediately turns off the radio, and when I ask him what he is doing, he says: “Oh, sorry if I woke you! I’m trying to get in touch with someone outside! Maybe there’s some other survivor who needs help. But now it’s very late. I better go back to sleep!”. We return to the cots, and he falls asleep. I don’t trust him. What is he hiding? I can’t sleep tonight.
Another sunrise! Adam looks fine now. He’s very kind. This morning, he woke up early and prepared breakfast. “I can’t thank you enough”, he says. “These days must have been tiring for you”. After breakfast, as I promised, we will start the bunker tour. As we walk together through the various areas of the shelter, I tell him about how I’ve arranged this place to make it cozy and comfortable. He follows me silently. I decide to show him a room in which I had found many documents containing formulas that were indecipherable to me. I believe that he can read and understand these formulas without any problem.
I ask for an explanation, and he tells me that documents are about research on animal genetics but breaks off mid-explanation and asks me if, inside the bunker, there is some kind of laboratory different from the others, then speaks about a cylindrical box and strange symbols. Now that I think about it, under the stairs there is a room full of old shelves. On a wall of the room, there is a door leading to a long blind corridor. At the end of it, there is a metal cylindrical box fixed on the ground. The box has a slot and some buttons representing strange animal figures. I tried to use it, but it doesn’t seem to work. I never understood what it was. My doubts are getting stronger and stronger, especially now that I’m realizing that Adam may already know this place. I want to investigate this story further! I will show him the box.
When we arrive at the end of the corridor, Adam approaches the box, his gaze locked to the box, touches the surface of the buttons, and exclaims: “l finally found you”. He extracts a magnetic card from the pocket of his shirt, inserts it in the slot, and then presses the strange buttons. I remember the sequence exactly: first the “GORILLA”, second the “OCTOPUS” on the middle button, then the “VOLATILE” and finally the “LIZARD” on the button in the middle again. A few moments later, a mechanism is activated, the wall at the end of the corridor opens, and as if by magic a new room appears. A bright light pierces my eyes! Slowly, I begin to see the inside of the room; it is a laboratory, larger and more technological than those already seen in the bunker. There are also some large empty incubators connected to other machines. Adam is focused on looking for something in particular. I take the opportunity to write in my diary everything that happened today and is happening right now, then I tell him: “I want answers, right here and right now!”.
Adam begins to explain: “It all started here; many years ago in this laboratory were carried out experiments that aimed at our genetic modification to make us stronger and to improve our immunity to this cursed gas. Experiments combined our DNA with other animal ones, but something went wrong! I’m here to find the solution to this problem”.
I hear movement and voices coming from the entrance of the bunker. I’m going to take a look!
Chapter 9 – JOSHUA
2171 – Present day
It’s the last page of the diary. There is nothing else written! Something must have happened in the bunker! The only clue to follow is that of the secret lab. I have this magnetic card. Will it be the same one used to access the secret area? I need to find the corridor described in the diary. Joshua mentioned the stairs of the bunker, and then he referred to “the room of the old shelves”! I’m sure it is our current kitchen. I quickly reach the kitchen and start knocking down shelf after shelf. Reese and some mates rush to the room, alerted by the commotion. One of the shelves hides a door.
I take a flashlight and enter without hesitation. I follow the long corridor down which there is a wall. On the ground, I can see the metal cylindrical box, it is the same one described in the diary. I remove the dust and see the strange buttons with the animal figures! I insert the magnetic card into the slot and type in the sequence that I remember by heart. A loud noise indicates that a mechanism is activated!
A large bright room appears. It’s exactly as Joshua described it. Machines, scientific equipment, and capsules are all still intact. Reese and the others reach me inside the lab. We are confused and astonished! Suddenly my eyes fall upon the desk; a dead body lies on the chair. I get close. I see he has a piece of paper between his fingers. There is something written on it!
2129 – Diary: last page
I have very little time to live. I have been trapped here for days without food and water. The air is running out. If you have made it this far, it means you found and read my diary.
Everyone has the right to know the truth. It seems that Adam, the Doctor, has found a solution for the disease. The key to the cure. Some individuals wearing black joined us in the bunker. From the way, Adam imposed orders. He seemed to be a big shot. They carried away from the laboratory a large sealed crate. One of them hit me with something sharp, and I received an electric shock and passed out.
I woke up a little bit later with a gas mask on my face. I pretended to be still unconscious as they dragged me out of the bunker and loaded me into a van. One of them was consulting coordinates on a map. In a moment of distraction, I reacted. I hit two of them, stole the map, and escaped into the bunker. The Doctor ordered them not to waste time looking for me. Soon after, I heard something fall inside the bunker; containers filled with toxic gas. I tried to escape, but those bastards locked me inside. I was desperate, not knowing how long the gas mask filter would last! The only way to avoid poisoning would have been to lock me in this laboratory from the inside. So I retrieved the magnetic card from the box and hid it inside the diary. Then I hid the diary under a mattress so it wouldn’t end up in their hands if they came back in the future. After gathering some supplies, I locked myself in what I feared would be my grave.
If I die here, someone could read my testimony and know the truth.
Chapter 10 – FAR FROM HOME
2171 – Present day
Joshua died inside the lab! He left evidence about some individuals holding the key to our survival. Behind his letter, there is a map indicating the location of our bunker. The map is undoubtedly the one Joshua stole from the black suits. There are other coordinates as well. What do they indicate? Is that where Harry and the others have been taken? Luke easily locates the area delimited by the coordinates. It’s about 30 miles north of here. I’ll go there.
After giving Joshua a proper burial, I assembled a small team, including Reese and Luke. I need their help on this long journey. We leave the next dawn. To avoid unpleasant encounters, we remain hidden in the woods the whole way. The first day of our trip ends without any problems. The following day we are now more than halfway, and there’s no one around. It’s one of those few moments when the gas is less dense, and we can admire a view that we are not used to seeing; infinite green stretches overlook the borders of the mountains, and the sun’s rays stream through the trees creating a play of light and shadow on the ground. It’s almost evening, and we are not far from our target. To approach undetected, we decide to stop and wait for the night.
It’s time to go! Now the moon is hidden by the clouds and the gas. In a single file, we silently walk through the only road that seems to lead to our target. “Just a second, stop everybody! Let’s hide!”. Two blokes are surveying the area. “Are we there yet?”, “Is this their home base?”, “How do we get further?”. We wait hidden behind a large boulder when suddenly the two blokes get away from their guard, distracted by a noise coming from a bush. We hear screaming, and then they disappear into thin air. We continue our way. The road leads to the top of a hill. Will we finally find something up there?
With a little effort, we reach the top. In front of us appears a valley with an immense building enclosed and protected by four very high towers. There are huge headlights that illuminate and monitor the surrounding area. All the walls are guarded and the building looks like an impenetrable fortress.
“We’ve come this far! We’ve done it! Here we will surely find our mates and all the answers we’re looking for!”
Suddenly we hear steps coming up behind us… a large shadow is approaching and is getting bigger and bigger. An awesome and scary creature appears; it looks like us, but it’s bigger! It wears no protective suit and no gas mask. Large bull horns are coming out of its head, and a big eye protrudes from the middle of its forehead.
Will it hurt us?