She lied. It stung a LOT.
As I regained my senses, the first thing I noticed was that it was very hot. And very bright. And windy. After several moments, I opened my eyes to look around, and realized that I was in a desert. Well, in some sort of base in the desert. And they apparently weren’t very happy to have uninvited visitors.
There were several soldiers in BDUs standing around me, guns trained on my head and torso. As I dropped Cooper’s bag and raised my hands over my head, a dark-skinned man in a blue officer’s uniform stepped forward, with a silver eagle.
“Hello there, Colonel,” I said, looking around nervously. “I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”
He looked me up and down, apparently deemed that I wasn’t a threat, and gestured for the other soldiers to lower their weapons. “Mister, I think we’re all in trouble,” he said with a smooth southern drawl, as he pointed behind me.
I turned to see, out across the desert, a funnel of smoke and fire stretching from the earth to the clouds. It almost looked like it was drilling into the ground underneath it. That’s not good, I thought.
“How long has that been going on?”
“Since ’bout 6am local time. When we reported it, we were told to expect help… I just wasn’t expecting it to just suddenly appear in a flash of light. But we’re used to the unexpected ’round these parts. Anyways, I’m glad you’re here.”
Well, at least ONE of us was. “And where’s here?”
The Colonel gave me a half-smile. “Welcome to Area 23, sir. Hope you can stays awhile.”