End of the Age: Final Deception HTML version

Chapter 4
Jesse didn’t understand how a walk would explain what was going on better
than words, but she kept silent and followed Gabriel toward the path leading into the
woods. She could hear water splashing over stones in the nearby creek and birds singing
in the distance. She watched a butterfly flutter over a tuft of daisies before landing to flex
its wings. What she was seeing now was in stark contrast to news clips of destruction and
long lines of people waiting for food and water. Which world was real—brooks and
butterflies or death and devastation?
“We need to go this way,” Gabriel said, turning onto an unfamiliar trail. Jesse’s
eyes traveled up the footpath covered with a thick layer of finely ground mulch that
disappeared into the trees.
They had walked along a slope for some distance before she stopped to look
around. She called to Gabriel, “How much further?”
“We’re almost there,” he called back.
At the top of the ridge, she stopped to look down into the hollow to see more of
the same, woods descending into a valley. She cast a curious glance at Gabriel. “Well?”
Without answering, he started down the trail. Before long, the ground began to
level and trees became less dense as they crossed an open grassy area scattered with trees,
shrubs and bushes. To her right, Jesse could see a gravel road winding its way between
two hills in the distance to stop at the steep rise they were nearing. Curious, she thought,
a road to nowhere. At the bluff, Gabriel disappeared behind a group of Hydrangea shrubs.
She quickened her pace to follow.
On the other side of the bushes, Gabriel stood in front of a large door built into
the hill itself. The door was different shades of green and brown that blended seamlessly
into its surroundings. Taking a small device from his pocket, he pushed buttons before
the heavy door began to move silently to the right as if on rollers. Cautiously, she
followed him through the doorway to hear a soft click that lit up a wide entryway. The
wall was smooth, cold, and felt like metal. She looked over to see Gabriel punching
numbers into a keypad mounted on the wall.
”Be careful,” he said, pulling the heavy door toward them. She followed him
inside to stand transfixed. Her attempt to form words resulted in stammered
monosyllables before her mouth snapped shut to fall open again. When she recovered
enough to move, she turned around slowly. “What is this?”
At her side, he said, “This is the project Florence and I have been working on.”