“Dad, what are you doing here and stuff?” I said.
“Dude,” he said, “you wouldn’t believe it. Shit has been crazy this past little bit. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to get in touch.”
“It’s okay,” I said. “Have you been here this whole time?”
“Come, come inside,” he said. We stood by the open doorway of like a giant empty warehouse or something. I noticed there were still security cameras everywhere.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve been mostly here and stuff. And there,” he said, “before, you know. Coming here.”
“I think I know what you mean,” I said.
“Dad,” I asked, looking around at the cameras, and lowering my voice so only he could hear me. “Did they slip you nanites too?”
“That was, uh, after my time and stuff,” he said.
“So, uh, what is this place, anyway?” I said.
“Maintanence & Storage Space 25-Alpha,” he said, very officially, and stuff. “Of the Conspiratopia Project, of the Northern Gestalt.”
“Uh… right,” I said. “Right. And, uh, what happens now?”
“I’m not really sure, bro” he told me. “I got a notification to come up here to open the door, with no other instructions or anything.”
“Weird,” I said. “Well, uh, what were you doing before you came up here?”
“Come on,” he said, walking toward the far side of the warehouse. “I’ll show you.”
I hadn’t seen it before, but there was a door on the far wall that was camouflaged almost, like the same color and texture as the wall. If you didn’t know what to look for, you might not even see it. My dad punched in a code on a keypad next to it that was also kinda disguised. The door unlocked, and we went in. It turned out to be a smallish elevator. There was just one button inside, and he pressed it, and I could tell we were descending.
“Wtf,” I said. “It’s underground?”
It actually took kind of a while of going down before we stopped and stuff.
“Wow, we must be pretty deep,” I said.
“Yep,” was all he said.
The door opened, and he motioned for me to follow him. We went out into this long hallway tunnel thing that kinda sloped downward just a little bit.
At the end of it, there was another doorway, this one not hidden or whatever. My dad punched in another set of numbers onto the keypad, and it opened.
When we stepped through, my mind was pretty much blown. We were in like a fancy shopping mall type thing, but I guess it was totally underground? Except, you couldn’t really tell that it was underground because there were tropical plants like inside and also outside the windows and stuff. And like there was sunlight coming in through the windows, and you could see a sort of hazy blue sky and clouds and everything.
My dad saw me looking up at the sky and stuff, and was like, “Dude, holograms.”
“Omfg,” I said. “But what about inside, like the shops and the building and stuff? Holograms too?”
“Nope,” he said. “All real.”
“Goddamn, this is nuts,” I said. It really was nuts. I couldn’t believe how nuts it was.
A few people walked by, carrying shopping bags and stuff. They were dressed like rich people you see at vacation towns near the beach. They didn’t seem to notice us.
After that, a couple of those telepresence robot things drove by, like I’d seen earlier. The iPads on a stick with wheels, basically. With a person’s face on the screen. Controlling them from who knows where.
“So, this is it, then,” I said. “The City, or whatever. I made it…”
He smiled at me, and said, “You made it, Matty. I’m so glad to see you.”
“Me too, dad.”
“I’m sorry things got so fucked up.”
“I know,” I said. “Me too.”
“It’s my fault. I acted like a douche, and stuff.”
I didn’t say anything, but smiled, kind of agreeing.
“But I’ve got a new life or something now. And you’re here. We got another chance. We’re pretty lucky, cause most people don’t get that.”
“We’re super lucky, dad,” I agreed.
“Hey, uh, is there a food court around here or anything? I’m frickin’ starving,” I said.
“Yeah, man. Me too. Let’s go, and I can show you our place later.”
“Our place?” I said.
“Yeah, well, my place. But like, obvs you can stay with me,” he said, pointing me toward the food court. “You know, if you want to, or whatever. I don’t know how long you’re staying and stuff, or really even like if you’re staying. Or how you got here or, well, frickin’ anything. I’m just so happy to see you, Matty. Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, dad. I’m happy to. I’ll tell you everything after I get like a frickin’ burger in me and stuff. All I had was like Cheetos and a couple Slim Jims and stuff. And like Powerade and a Rockstar…”
“Totes,” he said. “I know just the place.”