Chapter 1 – THE BUNKER

Preface
It is the year 2171. Centuries ago man 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 similar to that of humans.

 

Finally, the light!

After 2 weeks of hard work, I was able to fix and turn on our power generator. The light is dim, but it is 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 what happened, but it seemed that he has no intention of talking about it at all.

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 still 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 door of the bunker, at first glance, he is able to identify about ten nomads. What are their intentions?

Chapter 2 – THE DIARY

There were only three of us when we found this bunker, now there are over 50 survivors in our family.
We decided to accommodate our new fellows in the west area, a very large zone, but one that we haven’t had time to arrange yet. While we prepare the cots for the new arrivals we find under a mattress a strange diary dated 2129…
I’m so intrigued that I begin to browse through the first few pages. It seems to belong to a certain Joshua.

2129 – Diary: My New Home

I found this notebook. I want to write something so that someone in the future can read and understand what’s going on now in this world.
I wandered for a long time in search of a safe 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 as 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, I turn it on… What looked like underground storage is actually 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 2 weeks bringing this place back to life. Here, 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, some days it is thicker than others when you are lucky you can even see the sunrise.
This is the reason why 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 were dad and 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, I took care of her until that fucking day.

I used to go alone in the contaminated area to look for food, 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, maybe because 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, she wanted to help! Finding food would make her happy. We entered that desolate building, the shelves were empty but I wasn’t demoralized, and I continued to explore. A room was locked, I had with me the crowbar, 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 as well and they were full of canned food and still in good condition. We screamed with joy!
Something or someone who was in that room, perhaps out of fear, ran away bumping into Emily who fell violently to the ground. The impact broke the glass of the gas mask 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

It’s like I am 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? Where do we come from? We have no evidence about our origins, just some legends!”
Harry and Reese who are with me in the room, seeing me in 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 very tired, I need to sleep!

I am in a kind of research center. There is no one here! A red light! An incessant alarm sounds! I follow a long white corridor, a door opens, and I go through it. There is a huge room full of machinery and strange incubators full of liquid.

I can’t see what is inside, so I move closer!
What the hell? There’s someone inside! He’s intubated!! It’s the same in the other incubators too! The being inside the first incubator opens its eyes wide and stares at me! It emits a deafening sound!! All the incubators are about to break…

I wake up suddenly and sit up in bed to catch my breath. It’s not the first time that I’ve had this kind of nightmare, but this one seemed more vivid, almost real! Good thing I didn’t 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 to come. Yeah, the others…fuck! It’s been many months now and I’m still completely alone! 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 someone on the ground!
He wore a protective suit and a large backpack on his back. He seemed to be in trouble; a strange being with no protective suit at all was standing in front of him. That strange being looked like a Gorilla, but it was different, it was scary, and it had purple tentacles coming out of its entire body. The being, after realizing my presence, ran away at full speed.

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 couldn’t move.

As usual, I had with me an old trolley that I use to bring to the bunker everything I find, it is large enough to carry someone. So I returned quickly to the shelter carrying him 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 him 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 will be able to 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 in order 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 just slowed down the disease 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 doesn’t know anything about it and that he never has seen it before; it suddenly came up and attacked him by grabbing his leg with its large 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 that some time ago in the middle of a burnt forest I found by chance this bunker.
Considering the many rooms similar to laboratories and full of strange scientific equipment, the bunker seemed to me to be a place related to some kind of scientific research from the first moment I saw it. His backpack now is stored in one of the lockers! I’ve already inspected it. It contains: further doses of the antidote, food supplies, an old radio and a kind of handheld password protected device. He silently keeps looking around as if searching for something, then asks me if it’s possible to see the rest of the bunker.
I answer him: “You’re still too weak to walk around, take a rest tonight and tomorrow I’ll show you the whole shelter.”

Adam doesn’t 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. “So 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 here.
We’ve never gone too far from the bunker. We’ve explored all the places around here 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, 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 around. We decide to stop at an old abandoned city for a break. We meet some wayfarers but no one seems to be 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! This is crazy! We stand dumbfounded, in silence!

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 steps back. He puts his gas mask back on and slowly disappears into thin air.

Chapter 7 – AKP?

2171 – Present day

What’s real about what the fool elder said?

I order the group to take the stuff and return to the bunker, I don’t want to risk the safety of my fellows. Today we’ve done enough and luckily we have recovered some food supplies.
We are so confused about what happened that along the way no one says a word. 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 “AKP” engraved on it. I approached it and… IT’S A TRAP!
About 15 individuals in black suits and armed with tasers come out of the woods. They attack us and hit Harry and his other two mates who fall to the ground. Me and one of the mates try to run away to the woods, some individuals chase us but we are able to take refuge in a hollow tree. Fortunately, they lose track of us. One of them orders the group to turn back.
During the clash my mate has been injured and now has a bad 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. Not receiving any response the boss orders his acolyte to hit them with the taser! They faint! In the meantime, a van arrives, and my mates are loaded onto it! The blokes get on top also! The boss finds my diary on the ground (I must have dropped it during the struggle). He takes a look at the first pages and then throws the diary away. He looks toward the woods in my direction, as if he can see me, then looks away and gets into the van.
As soon as the van pulls away I run to get the diary. Only now that I pick it up from the ground, I realize that there is a kind of magnetic card hidden inside it. I wonder what it’s for. Does it open something? Has Joshua left it in the diary for some reason?
It’s 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 Elder’s hands comes out a beam of light that completely is enveloping the wounded mate. 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 the wounds”, he says. Then adds, “I am not the only one! Other mutants with several powers and abilities exist. We have long been persecuted by the black suits and now they are also looking for your group. You really should find a safe place and hide!”. The Elder steps back and slowly disappears into the woods.

Who really are the black suits? What do they want from us? What about Harry and the others?
It’s starting to rain! The fatigue doesn’t worry us and we return to the bunker as fast as possible where we are welcomed by Reese. He immediately asks us where the other mates are. I decide to 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 of the diary that I’ve already read…

Chapter 8 – THE CODE

2129 – Diary: The laboratory

I wake up suddenly and turn my gaze towards 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, 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 really 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 really tiring for you”. After breakfast, as I promised, we 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 of the bunker 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 which 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 be working. I never understood what it was for.

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”. From the pocket of his shirt, he extracts a magnetic card that inserts in the slot and then presses the strange buttons.

I remember exactly the sequence: first the “GORILLA”, second the “OCTOPUS” on the middle button, then the “VOLATILE” and finally the “LIZARD” on the middle button again. After a few moments, a kind of 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 here in the bunker. There are 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 in order 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 and see he has a piece of paper between his fingers. Something is written on it!

2129 – Diary: last page

I have very little time to live, I’ve been trapped in here for days without food, without water and the air is running out. If you have made it this far it is because 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, I received an electric shock and passed out.

Woke up a little bit later with a gas mask on my face. I pretended to still be 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, I stole the map and I escaped back 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 much longer 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, at least 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 the existence of some individuals holding the key to our survival. Behind his letter, there is a map indicating the location of our bunker. The map is surely 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 little 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 the journey ends without any problems.

The following day we are now more than halfway and there is 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. In order to approach undetected, we decide to stop and wait for the night.

It’s time! 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 in which is placed an immense building enclosed and protected by four very high towers. Huge headlights illuminate and monitor the entire surrounding area. All the walls are guarded! The building really 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 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?