“Holy shit!” Charley said. “What in the hell just happened to them? Drake, that’s not normal, right?”
Charley’s eyes scanned Drake’s face as if searching for answers, but he knew that she wouldn’t find what she wanted. Even in the dim light, the red veins in Charley’s sclera danced like rivers or irritation. The artificial light had started to bother Drake as well, but it seemed to affect Charley’s mind more than her eyes. The initial phase in darkness offered Drake some prolonged silence from questions. An abnormality since the day that everything went crazy in his world. He’d been able to get his radio signals out, though, and received one transmission from his son. Or at least, the voice at the other end of the line sounded like his son. Xal couldn’t seem to hear his radio transmissions. The last message promised safety for those who communicated with Dark Specter One and no repercussions to any who shared information on the attack that killed many of the ship’s staff.
“I don’t know,” Drake replied, “I thought it was an illness at first, but it how they sparked at the end made me think otherwise.”
The artificial lights flickered off.
“Didn’t the military give you some kind of medical training?” Charley said. “You always go on about how you knew enough to save someone’s life.”
Drake balled his fists and appreciated for the moment that deep night had fallen upon them. The rest of the energy reverted to the essentials of oxygen replenishment and toxin filtering. Once the sun rose, he would have to face those glaring red eyes again.
“I know enough to keep someone alive for a bit,” Drake said, “I never claimed to be a savior. What happened to those people was far beyond my medical knowledge.”
“So you admit that you couldn’t have kept them alive?” Charley asked.
“No,” Drake said, knuckles beginning to ache. “I don’t think anyone could have saved them.”
The darkness only added to the awkward silence, and Drake was tired of always feeling defensive in the conversations with his wife.
“I heard Xal again last night,” Drake said. “His time of transmission confirms that he is still alive, and our day tracking is on pace with the proper cycles.”
“You talk so strangely sometimes,” Charley said.
The sound of the metal chair legs scraped across the floor. Drake bent over the table and pressed the palms of his hands into his eyelids. No outside sounds entered the bunker, but the motors that controlled the oxygen flow emitted a soft hum in the background.
“I talk weird because I don’t know how else to explain it,” Drake said. “And no, I couldn’t have saved those people. Whatever happened to them was unnatural and almost looked like a lightning bolt shot through them at the end.”
The chair squeaked before it rattled against the table. Drake heard the soft slap of slippers fading into the bunker.