Taking refuge

Anxious moments passed before they saw, rather than heard, a stubby AEV – an all-electric-vehicle – pulling a baggage wagon, race bumpily towards them. George pulled up behind his truck and began to off-load the boxes, sacks and bags. Gertie went to help and soon the little cart was as full as it could be.
“Get on, Gertie,” George yelled, “there’s room for you an’ the lads at the back. Ma kin be on the front seat wi’ me, not so much climbing. OK?” Gertie nodded.
There was no time to waste; it was almost three in the afternoon and the furious tendrils of Cataclysm were reaching out to grab them. Gertie felt its demonic power pull on her very being and weaken her resolve to do anything. Her ears and mind were filled with the crashing mayhem unleashing around them, and the rumble and roar of Earth’s dissolution tore at her heart till she felt disassociated from her life. But knowing this, and as a wild cat defends her young, she fought to prevent herself from collapsing; dead or demented she’d be no help at all. George gave her strength, she greatly admired how he stuck with what he had to do, holding firm through thick and thin; but then that was what the valley folk had come to expect from a Tinkler.
The AEV lurched forward and they spun off as fast they could along a short tunnel and through the yawning gate into the Astar cave system. George drew up close to a door and urged Millie and the boys to go into a small delightfully warm and bright room, that had been carved out of the natural limestone cliff.
With the help of the vehicle headlamps, George and Gertie stowed most of their luggage in another heated storage area; then Gertie joined the others, leaving George to move the electric car and its wagon further along into the tunnel. He had dearly wanted to bring his old truck through the gateway, but it was too big, and with deep regret, he abandoned it where it was.
The entrance gateway gaped open, dark and toothless; barely visible from where they were, because the dense bloodied fog had arrived in earnest and was probing eagerly into the mouth of the tunnel, ready to mount a full invasion at any second.
Like the other two gates into the Astar complex, this one was electronically controlled, and when it was shut, it could withstand the kind of massive pressure that would exist between inside and outside in true space. Louis had insisted from the start that his Astar experiment should be valid; so that the final calculations were as accurate as they could be. He hadn’t wanted failure at such a basic level, and now that a really bad situation had come along to test it, the proper working of the gate was much more important than even Louis could have realised.

taken from Cataclysm’s Day, First Book of The Gatherers Trilogy.


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