“Daddy!”she screamed as Silvia jolted awake.
“No.I told you to call me Uncle.” Said a masculine voice outside of the SUV and a bit behind her. “By the way, I have a much better place for you to rest if you would like to continue your nap.”Looking around, Silvia realized that the SUV was parked in some form of garage. No natural light penetrated the space as the low hum of florescent light filled the area that was permeated by the slightly greenish light.
“Where is Martin?” she demanded after seeing that Martin was no longer in the back of the vehicle.
“If that’s the boy you brought with, he’s resting in one of the spare rooms. He should be fine once he sleeps a while. They seem to have been injecting him with something. There were needle tracks on his arms.”
“What are you going to do with us?” she responded.
“The boy will have to be sent back to where he came from. You, on the other hand, will begin training.”
“What do you mean ‘training’?”
“Training to defend yourself. You have some scary and determined people after you. They hunted you down and imprisoned you and a bunch of other kids for their own reasons. If I don’t train you to defend yourself, there may be no way to rescue you next time.”
Silvia’s face darkened with anger. “You can’t send Martin back! He was homeless. They will just grab him again and do even worse stuff to him!”
“He is not my responsibility. You are. Once he is gone, we can focus on training you to protect yourself.” he stated coldly.
“I don’t even know you crazy old man! Maybe we should both leave. Thanks for the rescue though.”
“I told you. I am your uncle. I did not raid that safe house and risk my life just to send you off to get caught again!”
“My Dad never told us about any brothers. How do I know you are not just some nut who wants something from me. If you want me to stay, then Martin stays!” this last was delivered with a glare that would have cowed a lesser man.
“Fine.The boy stays as long as he is not a burden.” What will I do with this willful child? He asked himself. ” And for the record what sort of nut would risk his life tracking and rescuing you from a building full of armed,violent, degenerates, unless it was for family?”
Ignoring the last statement, she spat back, “Deal!”
“In that case, I will be waking you at six in the morning to begin your new training schedule. Martin will join us if he wishes to stay. He will train to be your bodyguard. Come with me and we will have dinner.”
Dinner was a tense affair. Martin was rubbing his eyes and staring around in shock as they stepped into the brightly lit dining room. It’s walls were of a pleasant off white and the table was a solid black walnut surface finished to a beautiful flawless gloss. A modest chandelier provided soft, but abundant light.
Silvia sat opposite Martin and carefully examined him as discreetly as she could. He was wearing a button down oxford shirt and black dress pants. She had to stifle a giggle when she glanced under the table and saw that he had penny loafers and white socks on. He looked so different from the ragged runaway she had known on the street. “Uh, thanks for helping me.” he mumbled into his chest as he failed to meet her eyes.
“You can thank uncle Joshua. He did the hard part.”
“Thank you Sir!” Martin blurted just as uncle Joshua sat at the head of the table.
“No problem young man. I was already there to get Silvia out and she would not leave without you. I am glad you changed out of those bloody clothes before you came out to eat though.”
At this, Silvia remembered to scene of the headless corpse fountaining blood over her little friend. He had looked even smaller than his five foot height when crumpled in the grips of that horrific figure. Now he looked every bit the cute little brother he was in her heart.
Aloud “ding” was heard and uncle Joshua hurried out of the room.He returned in a bit with a casserole dish in his potholder covered hands. Silvia and Martin both could barely restrain themselves from attacking the mouthwatering contents of the dish as uncle Joshua setit on a protective tile in the middle of the table.
Uncle Joshua brought out three plates. Two of them he filled as full as possible from the steaming dish. Each heaping plate was placed in front of one of the hungry children. “Tomorrow you both begin training. So you had best eat up. Martin, you know where your room is. Silvia, I will show you to your room as soon as you finish eating.”
Once the meal was finished, uncle Joshua lead Silvia to a medium sized room furnished in warm colors and soft fabrics in shades of blue. “I will wake you in the morning. The bathroom is down the hall to the left, at the end.”
“Why don’t I have a window?”
“Because,we are deep underground. The only light here is artificial. There will be small lights lit all night around the baseboards. The hall will have dim lighting, but it should be enough. When I wake you, I want you to get a shower and get dressed. There are sweats and underwear in the drawers.” As he said this he reached to the wall switch and turned out he lights. Old fashioned incandescent bulbs lit up at the center of the baseboard of each wall. “Martin is just down the hall a couple of doors to the right. I’ll check on him on my way to my room.”
Looking into the room he had given the boy, Joshua could not help wondering if he had been foolish. This boy could be so much safer if he were sent away. Maybe if he had argued more strongly, he could have convinced Silvia to send him to safety. As these ideas passed through his mind, the lump under the covers of the bed stirred.
“Sir,can I talk to you a moment?”
“Sure Martin, but I am getting tired of being called ‘sir’. Call me Joshua or Uncle. What’s on your mind?”
“S-Uncle,”the boy corrected himself.” I know you took extra risks to save me.I also know that Silvia made you take me in. I don’t want to be a burden. I will leave if you want me to.”
“You know I can’t let you do that. She would go right after you and put us all in more danger. Just do your best to deserve the help she is giving you.”
“I promise to earn the chance both of you gave me. Can you teach me to protect her?”
“I can teach you some things, but do you have any talents?”
A small grin lit up the boy’s face. “If you have a computer, I can do a few things for you. I have some skills you might find useful.”
“I have a computer, but what can you do with one of those to help us?”
“Tomorrow,I will show you a few things. I used to do a bit of hacking before my family disappeared.”
“Then you need to rest up so you can show me your best tomorrow.” Uncle Joshua turned the lights out. “Good night Martin.”
The next morning, Silvia and Martin were awakened by Uncle with a shout and a set of sweats was tossed at each of them as they started awake.”The gym is one floor down. just use the stairs at the other end of the hall. Meet me there as fast as you can!”
A few minutes later, they came down the stairs and found that the next floor down after passing three landings. The stairs continued down into darkness. The door at that landing lead to a hall. one side had doors marked ‘Girls Lockers’ and ‘Boys Lockers’. The other side had three sets of double doors spaced twenty feet apart. Each had a sign that read ‘Gym South Entrance’. Stepping through the first set of gym doors, the two teens saw Uncle seated at the bench press with his feet hooked under a bar at the base doing roman chair exercises. From his count, he had already done over ninety and would soon hit one hundred. He looked over as he finished counting the hundredth and smiled.
“Ready to get warmed up? ” he inquired.
Uncle’s idea of a warm up was grueling. Silvia even appreciated the break they took to have some protein bars. Her martial arts training had conditioned her to physical activity since she started at the age of five. Martin was much worse for the wear though. He had never been very into physical activity.
Sprawled out on the soft rubber mat that covered the floor near the weight machines, Martin panted between bites of his bar. It had a texture almost as pleasant as sawdust, but his hunger made it seem as life giving as the air he breathed.
“Here,you need this as much as the food.” said Uncle as he handed each of them a bottle of liquid. ” It’s my own special blend of nutrients.” If anything, it was worse than the protein bars.
Martin made a face, but swallowed stoically and kept drinking. his body was screaming for liquids in spite of the cool air flowing through regularly spaced vents. “When do I get to see your computer Uncle?” he panted.
“Now is good. It’s not that new, but it’s a great little machine. I haven’t even had any virus issues!”
The two quietly walked out to the stairwell and Uncle flipped a switch atone side of the landing. Lights came on, illuminating the stairs bellow and showing another landing not much further down where the stairwell terminated. The office Uncle lead him into after unlocking the door was well ventilated. It’s cool, dry air was free of dust as Martin gazed in horror at the neat beige box on the desk. It and the monochrome monitor ensconced on top of it were as pristine as they were huge and out of date.
“I have good news and bad news Uncle.” the boy said with a wince.”The good news is that I doubt this computer will ever get a virus.”
“That’s great! What is the bad news?”
“It’s also not able to do much more than function as a paperweight.”