– Aren’t you tired of driving, my dear? – Yes I am. But he doesn’t let me answer. – How about stopping over there? – I look where he’s pointing. It’s a a hill, with a solitary dark and naked tree over it. Definitely a good one to climb and mount some kind of watch, from there, we will see what’s coming. Convinced, I turn the wheel, slow the pressure over the pedal until we have almost walking speed and drive in its direction. Hakim jumps from the car when we’re around 50 meters away, and run beyond the hill, around the tree, grabbing it, caressing it.
– I know this place. – He shouts.- I did my training here. We called it “the Dead Tree Hill” back at the time of my training. So if you go here – he dances once more around the tree, until reaching the back of the trunk – there should be some…- I hear a loud crack, like the sound of broken wood, and then the flat side of the Hill, almost a wall, just in front… somehow… opens right under the tree – …e voila!
– Fantastic! – I look at the new cave that now opens. The hole is oddly square. A faint light is coming from the frame of the hole itself. I press the pedal, tentatively trying to go ahead. – Shall I come in?
– Wait for me, wait for me. – I press the pedal that I know is stopping the indjin. Hakim comes from behind, and leads walking the way in. – Sorry Kris, I’m afraid this place is too military for your taste, but how about you imagine you’re a general…and I will say we have the right to be treated like generals thanks to this baby! – He makes the invitation appears in front of the entrance, in front of us, showing it to an invisible bystander. Hell, maybe there are invisible guards. I don’t care, if they ignore me, I will ignore them.
– I think we’re OK now. You can come in with the auto, I will close the door when we’re in. – I do as asked. The room is oddly regular also. The car fits in, and there’s still space for people around. There are shinny buttons on the corner of the wall to my left. Hakim’s side. I can’t see what they are. But he presses one of them, and the hill closes. He presses another, and the whole room seems to move down. An elevator. I try to hear its sound, but it’s silent. A ghost indjin, probably. How much are we going down? I have the feeling we go fast, but I can’t tell. Then after like 30 breathes (does it matter?) we stop.
We are standing on a silver square a little bit bigger than the elevator itself. There are pillars on each square, but no walls anymore. The pillar to my left is still having the buttons embedded. Beyond the square there’s a big space, poorly illuminated but illuminated, by some kind of lilight. The lilight as far as I know can shine forever, provided you don’t break it on purpose, so this cave may be illuminated since the beginning. We had some lilighs on our caves, but nothing like these ones. In the Army, they had also, but nothing so extense, nothing so gorgeous.
I jump out of the car to follow my friend into the gloom ahead. We leave it to our right and take a corridor that opens up like 20 meters away from the square the car stands. The tunnel lights seems to get brighter as we walk ahead, and diminish them on our backs. I’m familiar with underground facilities (we manage one) but this one is specially preserved. After a hundred steps, more or less (I was not counting) we reach another room, that looks, as a first impression, like some kind of living quarters, half a living room, half a kitchen. Again, like nothing I have ever seen before. To my left there are four beds, equally separated, ready to be used. In front of me, a set of silver drawers of different sizes. To my right, the kitchen and a shinny white table with four equally white chairs. The whole space is illuminated by lilight.
– What is this place? How do you know about it?
– I told you. This is the Dead Tree Hill. It’s some kind of laboratory… it’s not clear what they were doing here. As far as I know, it was heavily scanned for a hundred years in search of information, unsuccessfully. But the place has everything we need, I’m sure. Look! – he opens a drawer close to the kitchen to pick up a green glass bottle. It has a funny shape and written letters. – Wine! Can you believe it? From before! And here – he opens another drawer – you have lembas and biyerki. – He throws me a shinny package. Yes I saw these ones. Military food. – So, are you hungry yet?