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Dr. Alan Earhart was still breathing, but his breaths were short and raspy and his eyes stared at the distant ceiling without seeing anything. Wally could hear bootsteps from the direction of the blown doorway, but his eyes remained on his mentor’s, orbs that soon turned on the face looking down upon him and hardened with recognition. “Say hello to Katya for me,” he rasped.

“Who?” Wally leaned further down.

“Katya Varekova. Born Grenoble, Nineteen Fifty—”

Wally did not hear the rest of Earhart’s whisper, as a bootkick to the right side of his head sent him onto his back and sliding across the floor. Now it was Wally’s turn to stare at the ceiling in shock, at least until the flaccid face of a stranger in a camouflaged parka blocked his view.

“Get up, cockfuck!” The muzzle of an M-16, its round circle of steel warm from firing, tapped his brow before being pulled back a foot.

Wally twisted around onto his knees and pushed himself up to a standing position with his hands held high in the air. He now looked through blood-stained glass into the room he had exited only moments before, and witnessed the other doctoral candidates being shoved out into the open space that housed the Box.

Wally looked down and to his side when he heard a long, loud gasp from Earhart, who lay on his back with eyes that were now unseeing in their final stare. One of several camouflaged figures with rucksacks on their backs stood up from a kneeling position beside the corpse and looked grimly at Wally.

“‘Tell her that I love her.’ Those were his final words,” Halstead explained to a wide-eyed Wally, with a matter-of-fact tone.

“You,” Wally choked on the words, “fucking killed him.”

Alternity, Chapter I:

1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9/ 10/ 11/ 12/ 13/ 14/ 15/ 16/ 17/ 18/ 19/ 20/ 21/ 22/ 23

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