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It was the pristine nature of the data center that probably saved them. No broken glass or flying debris. The computers were securely anchored and heavy. Ironically, their guide was the only one who wasn't quick witted enough to grab on, and Freedy watched him fly out the building like a rocket, his wide eyes and open mouth were the last thing Freedy saw of him.
The eye of the storm passed over, and in the brief respite, they desperately tied themselves more securely to the computers with belts and suspenders and torn pieces of cloth before the back end of the tornado passed over. The building groaned and popped, but didn't fall apart further. The tornado passed on, still sounding like a freight train, but one which was receding not one that was coming down on top of them.
One by one, they unhooked themselves from their tethers. Freedy found himself hugging Sheila, who was crying. For the first time since he met her, she seemed vulnerable.
"This is our chance, boys," Garland was excited. "I can't believe it."
"Chance for what?" Freedy said.
"To look for the right station, Freedy," Garland said, annoyed. "Spread out -- it's got to be here. Remember, use your flashdrive to download the information before destroying the computer. If you don't have time to download, be sure and destroy the computer anyway..."
Freedy noticed that Bobby was digging around in his pockets, pulling out a small flashdrive and studying a piece of paper.
Suddenly, Freedy vaguely remembered being handed a piece of paper last night in the library, with something wrapped inside it, and Garland saying, "Study this carefully, Freedy. Memorize it."
Unfortunately, that had been about a mere minute before Sheila had taken his hand, changing his life and his brain and his memories forever. He hadn't given Garland's instructions another moment's thought.
He pulled out his own note and stared at it. "FXG334NTZ882"
Out of curiosity, he examined the nearest station, the one that had saved him from being blown away by the tornado. It also started with three letters, then three numbers, followed by three letters and three numbers. Only this one started with a PSG. The next one over started with a PSH. To the right of him, a station had RST.
Freedy started to back up, thinking the F's were behind him.
"I don't think I can let you do that, fellows!" Sheila spoke in a tone he'd never heard. Guttural, harsh. From somewhere under her Levi jacket and tight leather pants, she had pulled out a gun.
Freedy could have thought about a lot of things at that moment, but for some reason what he thought was, "Where did that come from?" He could've sworn he'd felt every inch of her on this trip!
"FBI! You're under arrest!" she shouted. She adopted a broad stance, all business, both of her hands on her gun.
The others froze.
Freedy was behind her, and he immediately looked for an escape. By backing away, he'd put her between him and the others, and she had her gun trained on them, not him. Part of him was amazed he didn't fall to ground and start gibbering. The danger and the surprise made him want to run instead.
A big hole had opened inside him, but he refused to look in it. He knew if he thought about Sheila's betrayal for even a moment, he'd give up.
There was a small door to his left, and it had been pulled slightly ajar by the storm.
"Freedy....!" he heard the warning tone in Sheila's voice. "I'll shoot you, if you try..."
Freedy kept moving. Little did she know that her warning was no threat. Go ahead, he thought. Shoot me! Put me out of my misery! If their romance was all a pretense to get close to the expedition, then he'd just as soon she shot him.
She didn't shoot. He was through the door and running into the darkness, with her shouts following.
"Come back, Freedy!"
He kept running, and as he ran he realized he was crying, and cursing. Mostly cursing, he tried to tell himself.
4 days ago