03 April 2014
If you want to read the rest of the series, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, and Part 12.
"That sky's looking awfully pale," said Cinnamon. She was the only one facing east as Pepper and Geoffrey paddled the canoe to Lake Ontario's western shore.
"Can't do anything about it," said Geoffrey. He pointed at a spot slightly north of the canoe's course. "We need to head a little more that way. Damn condo developments have obliterated all the landmarks, not to mention half the shoreline shape."
"We could risk a quick geo check," said Pepper.
"It's okay," said Geoffrey. "I can see the Humber College campus from here, and that's all I really need to go by. At least they haven't moved that yet."
Any natural beach had been removed or covered with football-sized chunks of cement, which served the double purpose of both using up construction leftovers and making the shore too awkward to swim or dive from. Geoffrey instructed Pepper to navigate to a lonely dock that looked like it should have ripped up and carted off decades ago.
"We can tuck the canoe under this," he said, as Pepper helped Cinnamon disembark. "Just put the paddles inside and then push down and towards the dock, like so..." The canoe squeezed under the short end of the dock and disappeared underneath.
Cinnamon and Pepper followed Geoffrey off the dock and onto the adjoining parkland. Geoffrey walked into a close-cropped lawn surrounded by bicycle paths, checking the grass as he made a show of turning out his pockets, as if he'd just dropped his keys. Some joggers were making their way along the path from about a quarter-kilometre away.
"Here," said Geoffrey, stomping on what looked like a lawn sprinkler. The edge of a rusty utility tunnel cover popped up. Cinnamon and Pepper pretended to be helping him look for the imaginary keys as the joggers went past them.
All three of them did a visibility check. When they nodded to each other in agreement that they weren't being watched, Geoffrey prised up the tunnel cover and Pepper and Cinnamon slipped in. Geoffrey followed them, hitting a button on the tunnel wall that triggered the cover to fall back into place.
Geoffrey tapped both the women on the shoulder, and they leaned towards him. "This way," he whispered. Holding hands and walking in total darkness, they formed an awkward human chain as they made their way down the tunnel, Geoffrey in front with his free hand reaching before him. The tunnel was dry at least.
At the last they came to a door. Pepper listened to Geoffrey adjusting something in the dark. It reminded her of a job she'd been on once which had involved some safe-cracking. The sucking sound of water-tight seals giving way announced that Geoffrey had remembered how to unlock the door.
"It's like the door on a ship," he said quietly. "You'll have to step over."
Pepper waved her arm in front of her until she found Geoffrey's waiting hand, then let him guide her through the doorway. Cinnamon did the same, and they stood in the dark while Geoffrey sealed the door behind him.
"The good thing about that hatch is it's not just water-tight, but pretty soundproof," said Geoffrey in a more normal tone of voice. "Hang on..." Pepper and Cinnamon listened to him running his hands over the walls. There was the sharp sound of an industrial switch being thrown, and they stood blinking in the blue-white light of a series of fluorescent tubes.
The lighting showed that the tunnel they now stood in ran down a series of ramps, back out into the lake. Cinnamon wondered if the faint, intermittent sound she heard was a fluorescent tube on the blink or dripping lake water.
It was a long walk to the bunker itself. Geoffrey apologetically explained that there used to be some golf carts in the tunnel once it reached maximum depth and ran level, but they had been removed when the bunker was mothballed.
"It still gets a maintenance check on the last day of every month, so we don't have to worry too much about it being dangerous," he said. "But it's a bloody long walk. Sorry about that."
The bunker proper was sealed off from the end of the tunnel by a double set of sealed hatches. Geoffrey explained they were intended as an airlock in case the tunnel was breached but not the bunker.
Inside Geoffrey had to turn on another circuit's worth of fluorescent lights.
Cinnamon stared up at the interlocking triangles forming the inside of the domed main room. "This reminds me of something," she said.
"Ontario Place, the IMAX theatre," said Geoffrey. "The bunker's a series of Buckminster Fuller geodesic domes."
"Funny these don't get more notice from passing boats," said Pepper.
"Oh, we're well under the lake bed now," said Geoffrey. "Nothing to see but a couple of cameras, and even for 1980s tech they're pretty well camouflaged."
He led them to the sleeping quarters — several rows of military-style cots. "Bedding's in there," he said, pointing to some lockers. "I guess we ought to keep a watch. I can go first."
"I'll do it," said Cinnamon. "I didn't do any of the paddling, and I bet I woke up last out of the three of us."
Geoffrey hesitated, then nodded.
Cinnamon left Pepper and Geoffrey to sort out the cots and returned to the working/living space. She checked the camera feed, but it was still too dark to see anything outside, and she didn't want to risk the floodlights. She checked one of the steel desks near the camera station and found a pad of ruled paper and a fistful of pencils. Some more searching yielded a pencil sharpener.
Cinnamon thought for a moment, then headed for the mess area. She picked up a plastic cutting board. One side was scarred with knife-cuts, but the other side was unused and smooth. She brought it back to the camera area, tore a sheet of paper off the pad, put it against the smooth side of the cutting board, and began to write.