I finally woke up when I heard a female voice claim we had reached our destination, but was confused when I looked out the windows of the truck that was still moving at 80 miles per hour. I looked over at Jason and saw him smiling at me.
“Destination reached?” I asked. “We’re in the middle of the mountains going 80 miles an hour. And I’m pretty sure there aren’t any houses around here.”
Jason laughed as he started slowing down on the deserted road. “First off, it’s not a house. It’s a cabin. And second, the GPS doesn’t know where to go after this. I just use it to get me here. After that, there aren’t any actual roads it’ll recognize so it’s pointless.”
I was still confused, but it all became clear rather quickly when he slammed on the breaks and pulled the truck off the road. I was used to his driving so it didn’t bother me too much, but when he didn’t stop and instead pressed the accelerator, my knuckles were a pearly as I held onto anything I could.
“Jason, what the hell are you doing? You’re going to run into the damn fence! I swear to you if I die I’m coming back to haunt your ass!”
Unfazed by my pleas for him to slow down or stop, he continued driving towards the quickly approaching fence with a smile on his face. This was not how I saw myself dying. Before I could start in on round two of my frantic screaming, the fence flew open just quick enough for us to pass onto the hidden dirt road behind it.
My face was white as he pulled to a stop to watch the fence close behind us. I didn’t know if I wanted to hug him because I thought I was going to die, or kill him because he did that to me and was laughing uncontrollably. Eventually, I decided he didn’t deserve either and went with a punch in the arm instead.
“If you EVER pull a stunt like that again you’re not getting laid for a week!”
He stopped laughing immediately and noticed the serious look on my face. I held my glare as long as I could before we both busted out laughing.
“I’m sorry, Derek, but I’ve always wanted to do that to someone,” Jason said between laughs. “I’ve never brought anyone up here before and the temptation was too hard to resist!”
“A little warning would have been nice! And who the hell has a gate that looks like rotten wood fence to hide a little dirt road to a cabin in the middle of nowhere? Couldn’t you just have the dirt road extend all the way to the main road?”
“Well my dad is a bit… cautious about security.”
“Paranoid is more like it,” I mumbled as he shifted the truck into gear again.
“You have no idea…”
The ‘middle of nowhere’ we were currently in was actually in California somewhere in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Jason suggested a small getaway vacation two weeks ago when I quit my job. My boss and I had a difference of opinion on how to proceed on a project which ended with some unpleasant parting words from both sides.
When he first mentioned he wanted the two of us to go on vacation, I was thinking more along the lines of lying on a beach somewhere with an umbrella drink in hand. Apparently, his idea of a relaxing week of vacation differed from mine. I had nothing against camping. I enjoyed getting away from civilization every now and then, but we were staying for a week in some secluded cabin in the middle of the mountains where the closest town was at least 20 miles away. What’s worse was that we didn’t bring any food. Jason told me multiple times not to worry about bringing food, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to catch, clean, and eat fish for a week straight. I hate fish.
We drove deeper into the mountains for another 10 minutes as we talked about what we planned on doing during the week. He never mentioned fishing, but I wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not. The further we drove, the worse the dirt road became… if you could even call it that at this point. It was more like driving through a forest dodging trees and boulders.
The trees eventually gave way to a wide opening with two buildings in the center. One was a three car garage; the other was a small shed. I thought about asking where the aforementioned cabin was, but stopped when I saw Jason smiling at me again. Obviously he wasn’t out of surprises yet.
“Aw come on, you’re not even going to ask me?” Jason pouted.
“Nope. You had your fun. I’m not going to beg.”
“Yet.” Which drew huge smiles from both of us.
As we drove up to the garage, I half expected it to open automatically like the gate did, but watched as Jason hit one of the buttons on his garage door opener instead. Inside was what appeared to be a normal garage. Jason pulled into the empty space and turned off the engine.
“We’re home!” He said.
I rolled my eyes and got out of the truck. There was no way I was going to sleep in the garage. I’d rather take the shed. After stretching from the long drive, we gathered up our duffel bags and I followed him outside towards the shed.
“I really hope you’re not serious about staying in that thing. It’s five feet long!”
“It’s six actually. And we’re not. But you didn’t want to ask earlier so I’m not going to tell you anything now.” Asshole.
Jason opened a small door on the side and tossed his duffel bag in. Still confused, but not willing to give in and ask him, I tossed mine in next to his and smiled. He shrugged and hit a button before closing the door and retreating back to the garage. My irritation was growing just as fast as my confusion. Being kept in the dark was one of my biggest pet peeves, and Jason was really starting to push his luck.
I followed him back to the garage and jumped when he suddenly turned and pulled me close to him. He was more of the romantic type, so I knew what his aggressive actions meant and pushed him back against the truck. After dating for five months, we both knew what the other enjoyed, and while the sex was always great, it was by no means the highlight of our relationship. We just had an instant spark and emotional connection that neither one of us had ever felt before.
After a few minutes of kissing, Jason pulled away and smiled at me. It was one of the few times I’ve seen that type of smile on him, and I knew what he was thinking. I was thinking the same, but neither one of us were ready to say it yet.
“Ready to get dirty?” he asked with a mischievous grin.
I could only nod in response as I leaned in for another kiss. Jason abruptly pushed me away and started to walk to the other side of the garage.
“Good!” he replied as he pulled off a tarp covering two very large, and most likely very expensive, ATVs. “I hope you don’t like the clothes you’re wearing then because they’re about to get covered in mud!”
This was not the way I had seen this going in my mind, but we had an entire week for that and this looked much more fun at the moment. As Jason was inspecting the ATVs, I went back to the truck to grab my phone from the passenger seat. I checked my voicemails and kept getting frustrated with the signal. It was bouncing between one bar and zero and wouldn’t let me listen to an entire message. I was about to turn it off and on again to see if that helped when a pair of arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me close.
“You need to stop teasing me like this. One of these times I’m going to get sick of it and just rape you!” I said as his hands roamed my body.
“Where’s the fun in that?” Jason asked as he let go and stepped back. “Oh, and you might as well leave your phone in the truck. You won’t get any cell signal at all where we’re going.”
Shit. “Are we going to a cave? Does it have electricity? A toilet at least?”
“Not quite. Yes. And yes.”
“Gee that helps. Thanks!”
I hit a few more buttons on my phone before shutting it down and leaving it in the glove box. When I turned around Jason was back by the ATVs holding two helmets that looked like they belonged to some high-end bike more than a muddy ATV. I gave him a questioning look when he tossed one of them to me and told me to put it on. Safety first I guess. I pulled the helmet down and jumped when I heard his voice through the hidden speakers on the inside.
“These are more or less so I know where to find you when you get lost.” I could hear the smile in his voice and gave him the finger. “Have you ever ridden on one of these before?”
“No,” I said. Not this exact one at least. But he didn’t need to know that just yet. He wasn’t the only one that could be sneaky. “I think I can figure it out though.”
“Alright, I’ll take it easy on you then. Just try and keep up!”
His engine roared to life and he pulled out of the garage. I quickly followed and we both waited for the garage doors to close behind us. The second the metal hit the concrete Jason took off down a path behind the garage leaving me struggling to catch up. I knew he was trying to show off his skills, but he was coming damn close to hitting some of the trees. We kept an easy pace at the beginning until he knew I could handle it.
“You’re good for a newbie! I think you can handle it. Just follow the main path and you should be fine. Let me know if you get lost!” With that, Jason took off onto one of the side paths that looked a lot more dangerous. I could hear him somewhere in front of me and kept catching glimpses of him, but knew he was gaining a lot of ground by taking the shortcuts. Cheater.
I saw a path ahead that was marked by a small wooden sign that said: Caution: 10 Foot Drop. I took my chances and gunned the engine up the small embankment. My heart was racing as all four tires left the ground and I hung in the air. I saw Jason turn and look as I hit the ground… hard. He immediately stopped and asked if I was alright, but instead of answering I kept going and flew around him.
“Perfect! Are you coming?” I asked.
Now it was Jason’s turn to try and catch up to me. I wasn’t quite sure where I was going, but as long as I kept the main path in sight it couldn’t be too bad. I hung back a little to allow Jason to catch up and think he was gaining ground, but took off around a sharp corner and laughed when I heard him swear after missing the turn.
I only beat him by 30 seconds, but it was long enough to kill the engine, take off my helmet, and walk a few feet away by the time he came into the clearing.
“I was wondering when you’d show up!”
“Oh shut up you liar! You said you had never ridden an ATV before. What the hell was all that? I thought you were going to kill yourself on some of those jumps!” he said as he walked over to me.
“No, I distinctly remember you asking if I had ridden one of those before. Which I haven’t. ATVs in general are a different story!” I replied and gave him a hug.
He kissed me and then grabbed my hand and started walking towards the small cabin ahead of us. I was still confused as to how all of this was going to work out. We left our clothes and everything else in the shed by the garage. We had no food, nothing to drink, and it didn’t look like it had any type of generator for electricity. Still not wanting to question him, I followed by his side and walked up to the front door. There was no lock on it, which was rather odd considering all of the other security measures there were just to get to this point. Maybe they thought that was enough to keep anyone out and didn’t need a lock?
As we walked in the cabin, it looked just as I expected an old cabin in the middle of the mountains to look… dirty. There was a main room with a fireplace and a couch, a small kitchen with a mini refrigerator and microwave, a bathroom, and what I assumed was a closet. Everything was covered in dust. There were cobwebs in just about every corner, and it looked like it hadn’t been used in years. Jason watched me look around with a neutral expression on his face.
“I thought you said you come up here a few times a year?” I asked as I opened drawers in the kitchen.
“I do. My dad’s up here even more than I am. Are you done snooping now?”
I stopped rummaging through his cabinets and felt myself blush. He just smiled and told me to follow him. He walked over to the door I assumed was the closet, but noticed it didn’t have a doorknob on it. Instead, it had a small circle about the size of a quarter next to it. Jason put his eye in front of the hole and the door clicked open. Definitely not a closet.
As the door slid open silently it revealed a small concrete staircase that wound its way down into darkness. The first ten steps were visible only due to the ambient light from behind us while the rest were engulfed in pitch black obscurity. When I looked over at Jason he smiled at me and asked if I was ready.
“Ready for what? My death? I’ll pass on that, but thanks for the offer.”
Jason pulled me into a hug and whispered in my ear, “Trust me, babe.”
“I do trust you. I don’t trust myself walking down concrete stairs of death!"
I looked down the stairs again into the unknown and gestured for him to lead the way. Jason grabbed my hand as we headed down the stairs. When we hit the second step a bank of lights kicked on and flooded the stairwell with an eerie blue glow. I looked at Jason and he squeezed my hand and continued to lead me deeper.
After a few minutes of walking in silence, I felt the atmosphere begin to change and I knew we were close to the bottom. When the stairs ended and we turned one final corner, we were greeted with a 200 foot tunnel and what looked like massive steel doors at the end of it.
"Is this some sort of fallout shelter left over from the cold war?" I asked.
Jason smiled and said, "Something like that. It has a few modifications and improvements, but it was used as a shelter at one point."
I took a step towards the doors but Jason grabbed my arm to stop me. Rather than explain right away, he punched in an 8 digit code in a keypad recessed in the surrounding rock walls.
"Now you can go," Jason said.
"Was that an alarm system?" I asked.
"More or less. If you don't put in the right code then when you reach the half-way point a silent alarm will trigger and the chamber will fill with sleeping gas."
I stood there staring at Jason with an open mouth. He just shrugged, grabbed my hand and started walking towards the blast doors. Three-quarters of the way down the tunnel a hidden door opened up on the right and Jason turned to make his way in. I stopped and looked at him, and then back at the blast doors.
"Decoration," he said. "If someone were to make it this far and still try and get in, all they would hit is solid rock behind those doors."
I shook my head in disbelief. It was obvious a lot of thought had gone into the security of this 'shelter'. Jason motioned for me to follow him through the door into what I assumed would be a small concrete room with emergency supplies. When I stepped through the door it was like walking into a completely different universe. The inside of the so-called shelter looked more like a penthouse.
Jason stood there grinning at me as I took in the surroundings. The door opened up into what appeared to be the living room furnished with warm leather couches, a flat screen TV, and a bear-skin rug. Beyond the living room was a state-of-the-art kitchen filled with stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops which had a bowl of fresh fruit sitting on the island.
"I don't understand," I said. "I thought you said this used to be an old shelter."
Jason smiled again. "It was. And it still is in a sense. It's just a little more classy than your typical shelter. My dad bought the land for investment purposes without realizing this was here. When they discovered it, he had it all expanded and turned into a little retreat to escape from the real world every now and then."
This was one of the rare times Jason even mentioned his father. It's not that he didn't love him or get along with his dad, he just liked to keep his family life private. Even from me.
"Come on. Let me show you the rest of the place!" Jason said as he grabbed my hand and led me through the kitchen.
After walking through the kitchen we were met with a series of hallways. One contained four bedrooms, the second - a security room, laundry room, media room, and office, and the third just had one door. When he opened it my mouth dropped open and I stood there in awe. It was a massive green-room filled with plants. From an herb garden to fresh tomatoes and lettuce to a fully grown apple tree. I looked to Jason for an explanation.
"This entire place is basically self-sustaining. The plants serve as both food and an extra supply of oxygen. The electricity isn't from a grid, but a small hydroelectric generator in a river about a quarter mile away. We have enough meat in the freezer to last 4 people about 6 months, but there's also fishing and hunting to restock it if need be."
"You didn't tell me you hunted," was all I could say.
"Well I can, I just don't like to. I know how to shoot fairly well though. I usually come out here for target practice rather than going to a range in the city." Jason looked around one last time and then walked back to the hallway. "Come on! There's one more thing I want to show you."
I followed him back to the living room and watched as he picked up a remote and hit a button. What looked like a frosted glass wall turned clear and the rocks beyond the glass started sliding away to reveal a small canyon below. The water that ran through the canyon was shallow and looked more like a creek than anything. As I stepped up to the windows and looked down, it appeared as though there was no ground beneath us. The windows were about half-way down in the canyon and stuck out more from the cliff to give a floating appearance.
"Why do you have massive windows in your super-secret high-security hidden penthouse?" I asked Jason.
"You can't see it when the windows are closed. The rock wall slides back on the other side and it's completely hidden. Even when they're open I've never seen anyone hiking in this area. There are private property signs posted everywhere." Jason sat on a couch and motioned for me to join him. "So what do you want to do today?"
"Well I assumed we were actually camping and figured we could spend the day setting up the tent and campsite, but that's out the window now."
Jason laughed and pulled me close to him. "We can still do the whole tend thing if you want. Or we can go stay in the cabin with the spiderwebs too. It's up to you." I shuddered at the thought of all those spiderwebs.
"Nah, we can stay here. I'll just have to make the best of such harsh living conditions," I sighed.
Jason immediately started tickling me until we both fell on the floor with him on top of me. When he finally stopped I looked into his deep blue eyes and knew what was coming. I was hoping it wouldn't happen, at least not this quickly, but the time had come.
"I love you, Derek." Jason said.
Before I could even comprehend what just happened I responded, "I love you too, babe."
We both smiled, his a genuine affectionate smile, mine more of a what the hell did I just do smile. Jason made no move to get off me or let me up so we stayed there hugging for a while with an occasional light kiss thrown in. We must have both fallen asleep because I woke with a start. There was a noise coming form somewhere in the house that sounded like it was made by a human. I nudged Jason until he woke up.
"What?" he asked sensing my panic.
"There's someone in the house!" I whispered.
Jason gave me a blank stare for a few seconds while the information processed. A few seconds later he heard the same noise and his face dropped. He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the kitchen. When I tried to ask him what was going on, he shushed me and mouthed for me to be quiet.
As he pulled me towards the security room down the second hallway, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that something terrible was about to happen. Anything moving around in a place with this much security couldn't be good. After we entered the security room, Jason hit a button near the door and I heard mechanical locks clicking into place sealing the only entry.
On the far wall was a bank of monitors with a keyboard in front that Jason immediately started typing on. A minute later there was a floor plan on one of the screens highlighting one of the bedrooms in red with a warning that read: Motion Sensors Triggered.
“Is that normal?” I asked.
Jason didn't immediately respond and I could tell from the look on his face that it wasn't. I rested my hand on his shoulder and he jumped slightly as he turned to face me.
“I'm sure it's nothing. It might just be a faulty sensor,” Jason said. I could tell he was saying that for my benefit, but it did nothing to help calm that feeling in my stomach.
“You're a horrible liar. What do we do now? Just sit in here and hope whatever it is goes away?”
Rather than reply, Jason typed in a 6 digit number on a keypad next to the computer screens. I watched as a panel next to us slid open to reveal a rather large collection of weapons and ammunition. I remembered him telling me that his father liked to hunt, but some of the rifles and handguns inside were used for anything but hunting.
Jason grabbed what I recognized as a semi-automatic Beretta 92FS handgun. I watched as he hit the magazine release, checked to make sure that it was loaded, and then chambered a round. His movements were so fluid that I knew he was more experienced around guns than just the occasional hunting or target practice. Satisfied the gun was ready to go he closed the panel and made his way towards the door.
“Stay here,” he said as he hit the button next to the door and the locks released.
“Hell no. I'm not letting you go alone.”
“Please, Derek! I seriously don't think it's anything, I just want to be sure.”
“If it's nothing, then you have nothing to worry about,” I said.
“But if it is something...” he trailed off.
“Then we'll handle it together.”
Jason was about to argue back, but appeared to think better of it knowing how stubborn I was. He sighed and pulled me in for a kiss.
“Will you at least stay behind me then?” He pleaded.
I couldn't help but smirk. “I always knew you liked it from behind.”
Jason gave a small laugh and pulled me in again. If there was one thing I was good at, it was being a smartass when a situation called for seriousness. I pulled out of the embrace, grabbed his ass for good measure, and smiled to let him know that I would listen to him.
As we left the security room, Jason made a right towards the hallway with the four bedrooms in it. He kept the gun down and his finger off the trigger until we reached the bedroom that was causing the motion sensors to trip. We waited outside the door for a few moments listening for any signs of movement when there was a clear sound that came from inside. Someone was definitely in there.
I watched as Jason flipped the safety off the Beretta and rested his hand on the doorknob. He took a deep breath before slowly turning the handle and cracking the door. After one last look to make sure I was behind him, he drew his weapon up, thrust the door open, and made his way inside. Not knowing how well his gun control was and not wanting to get shot, I hovered outside until he had a chance to clear the room.
After what felt like an eternity, but in reality was only a minute, I heard Jason start cracking up with laughter. What the fuck?