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Blind Fish: Locked in the Park ~ Day One: The Closed Door

When Marc's murky consciousness swam up from the depths, he checked his watch. That's when he realized, and he could feel it in the pit of his stomach, that he'd stayed in the amusement park too late. He brushed aside the thin blankets that had apparently been placed over him when he'd passed out, and stumbled, and then ran the mile to the Park's single entrance.

Marc knew, even as he panted and his side ached, that he was too late. The doors would be closed against him. He felt automatically in his pockets. He still had his car keys. Wouldn't they wonder who had left their car?

Although he never would have admitted it, especially in light of how he dealt with such matters later, Marc prayed on the way. Please God, just let them be delayed. A strike. Equipment failure. Anything. Marc was fully aware that prayer was a last minute desperate act, and that it likely meant there would be no rescue, but under stress he stumbled into old habits. As Marc neared the huge valves that were the Park's doors, he knew the worst had happened. He hardened his mind as he ran, and arrived breathless, watching as he panted, several others who milled around near what should have been open doors.

"Watch out," a voice yelled from beside him, and even in his befuddled state, Marc leapt out of the way and watched, with the others, a long haired teenager drive one of the Park's electric carts into the gates. They all waited, in desperate anticipation, for the doors to crumble, as though their need was stronger than reality. As though physics, this one time, would bend to human wishes. Perfectly balanced, the doors were twelve feet thick and thirty feet tall. Once closed, they could only be opened by a nuclear weapon. Marc had learned that when he had studied the Park for an article he was going to write on deliberate communities.

"We have no way to open those doors," Marc said as authoritatively as he could considering he was still catching his breath. "You saw them on the way in, they're yards thick and the latches were made to last for centuries."

"What kind of sicko makes doors like that?" demanded a man in a rumpled suit. "Small wonder they went bankrupt. Overbuilding."

"Yeah," another thin man in his thirties turned to Marc. "Who does that, and then closes them on people?"

Somehow Marc had become a spokesperson for reason, and nearly everyone began to turn to him. "It sucks. But we have apparently been left behind when they did the clear out. And I guess we were too passed out or," Marc glanced at the grey haired woman on her knees praying near where they'd pulled the teenager from the wreckage of the electric cart, "busy with other things to notice the alarms."

"There weren't any alarms," demanded the suit man. He brushed his palms down his jacket as though the removal of wrinkles might allow him to escape.

"I heard them," Marc sought out the face the soft voice belonged to. The grey eyes of a young blond woman, seemingly in her late twenties, met his with determination. Her declaration done, she went back to stand beside the group of other young people, who were, by their appearance, Japanese. By the way the man was translating for the other two women, Marc guessed their knowledge of English was fairly minimal.

"Okay," Marc said, reluctantly thrust into the role of crowd control. "I've studied this place. Once the doors are closed, there's no way out." Marc tried to ignore the implications of what he was saying even as he spoke.

"What the hell are you talking about?" the second man pushed closer to him, rubbing the side of his face with his right hand.

"What do you do for a living?" Marc spoke deliberately.

"Programmer," he looked around defiantly, as though his profession were in question.

"You might be of use. So try to keep your head on your shoulders and not cause a mess," Marc gestured to the teenager who was now pounding on the door with his fists. "Can everyone hear me?" Marc asked, once the programmer had gone from an angry boil back to a simmer. "We need to talk about our options."

"We need only talk to our saviour, and then he will open the door," the grey haired woman said triumphantly.

"Why don't you keep praying," Marc tried to seem more charitable than he felt, "and the rest of us will just talk." When she dropped to her knees, the crack of stretched tendons loud in the sudden silence, Marc turned to the others. "I've studied this complex. So I know some things about how it is built. One of the things I know," Marc was trying to be deliberately clear, "is that there is only one set of doors. That was a huge problem at the time, and laws had to be expanded to allow it." Marc remembered how the most intriguing aspect of the construction, legally at least, was how easily safety regulations had been shuffled aside. "But the fact of the matter is, we can't just batter these doors down. They are way too strongly built for that. We'd be just as likely to open them by other means," Marc gestured to the woman praying and the tall thin man laughed nervously.

"There is a control room, so we can go there and check the external cameras. And we can try to contact the surface. There is some kind of public address system." Marc wanted to tell them not to be too hopeful, for he remembered reading a description of how the Park would be sealed and exactly what backup systems would be employed. Jesus Christ. Couldn't they have at least checked to see if anyone was still here before they slammed the doors? The question clattered so heavily in Marc's mind that he looked around as if someone else had said it, and then realized his internal dialogue had momentarily slipped its controls.

"Okay. You," Marc pointed to the argumentative programmer, "come with me and let's find the control room. You will know the computer systems better than me."

Much of his anger dissipated by a goal, the man came to stand beside Marc, his hands twitching by his side. "We shouldn't be long. The room is near the entrance. We'll be back in less than a hour." Marc turned away, rifling his pockets for something to use to break into the main office.

As Marc and the programmer left, the Japanese tourists talked excitedly amongst themselves, the teenager began to try to right the smashed cart, the praying woman grew slightly louder, and the man in the business suit slumped onto the ground to rest.

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