Desert City

I’m going to save her. Something was terribly wrong, and I had to save her. I’m only 17 and already was thinking I want to marry this girl. I stared at the desert sky as we rode down route 66. My best friend Jimmy and I in his black two door Mazda RDX. He always had my back when I needed him especially today. I was on a mission to save the girl I loved and from what I didn’t know. I glanced at the google maps on my phone 7.2 miles left until the exit. My heart started to race I didn’t know if it was fear or excitement. Both? I knew on things for sure is that I was scared. Scared that we wouldn’t like what we found.

I glanced over at Jimmy he was focused on the road, but I could tell he was tired. It was getting late and the Arizona desert sun had set.

“Almost there bro” I reminded him.

“Yeah” he replied with a yawn. “What do you think is bout to happen?”

“I don’t know man” I scratched my head. “All this time I know she would have at least called or something.”

It wasn’t like Brit to ignore me completely. We loved each other.

“You don’t think” Jimmy paused. “You think maybe she moved on from you? I mean come on Kevin she’s only 18 you guys been together a long time. Maybe she found someone else.

I looked at him. “Your serious right now? She hasn’t posted to social media in 4 months Facebook Instagram not even a fucking snap. So, it’s not that.”

“Ok ok JEEZ I’m just saying maybe you’re.. I mean we’re just overreacting that’s all. Despite all the shit we found.”

I put my window down. Sticking my head out to get some air. That’s what the fuck I’m trying to figure out I thought as I felt the cool breeze caress my face.

It has been 3 months since she had left. I couldn’t put my finger on why I haven’t heard from her and none of her family. She was an only child it’s not like I could hit up one of her siblings she had none.

It all started the last week of our junior year in high school. I waited for her after 4th period in front of her homeroom as I always did. Brit and I were together since middle school. I think we had been together so long because I knew I couldn’t do any better than her. She was perfect and I was nothing special. I was just a brown skin boy tall athletic looking but not athletic. Brit came storming up the hall in her frustrated fast walk. She was crying and she walked straight into my arms squeezing me tight. She was shorter than me. We fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.

“Babe what’s wrong?” I asked as I held her.

“Let’s leave I need to get out of here.” She pulled me towards the exit of the school I hesitated because it was finals week. But followed her anyways. As I walked behind her on the stairwell, I admired her long brunette hair going down her back to her behind. We got outside to her car.

“You drive” She tossed me her keys and got in the passenger seat. “I – Uh ok” I got in the driver seat.

“Where to?”

Brit sat there with her head in her arms muffled screams and crying continued. I decided to drive to my house my dad was out of town on business and my mom at work we would be alone. I pulled up to my house parked the car and turn towards her.

“Hey...” I picked her head up by her chin towards me. “What’s going on?” She looked at me with her hazel eyes watering and a little red from crying.

“Let’s run away Kev” Brit said. “Dave got a promotion and we have to move now. We leave this weekend. This isn’t fair I didn’t have any type of warning him and my mom just sprung this shit on me.”

“Let’s go” I said to her. We get out her car and walked to the side entrance of my house where the cellar doors were. My bedroom was in the finished basement of my house. We shared a lot of special nights there. When we got in we sat on my couch and held each other for a little while.

“I think we should run away too” I finally said to her. She looked at me.

“Really?”

“Yeah let’s do it we’ll take your car and just drive we could find jobs we’ll be fine.” I assured her. The look of assurance on her face disappeared after a second. I think she quickly realized how dumb that sounded. We hadn’t even finished High school yet. It would have been impossible to find a job. I followed up with how much I loved her and would try to take care of her. But she just couldn’t buy it.

“Fuck babe” She said, “I don’t know what I’ll do without you” she held me tighter.

“I mean there is only a year of school left. We applied to all the same colleges we are bound to be together again.”

“Yeah you’re right” She sighed. But even I didn’t believe that. Britney was smart and she was too nice to admit that she could get into any school she wanted to, and I on the other hand couldn’t. She most likely would end up going to an ivy league school while I would most likely go to a community college in Albuquerque, NM where we lived. She came from a well-off family as well. Dave her stepfather who married her mother 1 year after her father died worked for Global Tech a tech company that specialized in hearing restoration in human and animals developed some of the worlds most advanced hearing aids. Her mother worked as an engineer for global tech. Both had 6 figure incomes. The only reason she stayed in the public-school system is because she begged them to stay so we wouldn’t be apart.

I kissed her on the cheek and told her everything would be alright. She turned towards me and kissed me. Her lips were soft and tasted like vanilla sugar. We began kissing more intensely. We grabbed and tugged at each other’s clothes until we eventually got undressed. Art is the best way I could describe her body. It was like poetry when we had sex. We got through and laid there on the couch we had been sitting on. Staring at the ceiling in silence.

BANG BANG.

Someone was at the door. They banged on the door as if they were trying to break it down. I quickly shuffled around for my pants and shirt and put them on.

“Britney, I know you’re in there come out right fucking now!” I knew that voice. It was her mother. Britney quickly put her clothes on. Grabbed her purse and answered the door.

“Hello mother” She said sternly.

“Really? that’s all you have to say right now.” She was upset. Her usually pale face was as a red as an apple.

“Mrs...”

“Don’t you fucking start Kevin” She said interrupting me and pointing in my direction but looking at Britney the whole time.

“I get a call from the principal of your school and much to my dismay my daughter was nowhere to be found.! You’re lucky Dave isn’t home he’d be so upset.”

“Fuck him” Britney said under her breath looking away.

“What you say?!?” Her mother said. She stood in my doorway for a good while yelling and cursing out Brit. It got kind of awkward because it was getting close to the time my mother got home. Brits mother had on a pants suit looking like she was Hilary Clinton or some shit.

Her mother finally calmed down and moved aside to let Britney out of my house. She gave me a dirty look.

“Goodbye Kevin”

“Bye Mrs Engle” I said fake smiling.

Britney walked to her car ignoring her mother.

“Straight home girl” she said to her while being ignored walking close behind her. Britney got in her car. I stood on the porch as they left. I felt the vibration of my phone in my pocket. It was a text from Brit saying come see her later with an eggplant emoji. I smiled at her as I waved from the porch. They both pulled off and I didn’t realize this would be the last time I saw Britney. I walked back in my house. A sudden rush of sadness came over me. This fucking sucks. Just when I thought I had love figured out. It was being ripped away from me. I called her later that night. We talked about how we would facetime at least every other day and text every day. She told me not to sneak over to her house that night since she skipped school her stepdad was being over protective of her. The next day at school I waited for her in our usual spot after 4th period but she never came. I wondered all day where she could have been it was only Wednesday, and she wasn’t supposed to be leaving until Friday. She wasn’t answering my texts and calls all day. After school I hit up Jimmy to drive by her place. We drove by the mini mansion and nothing no cars in the driveway windows dark her usual porch furniture was even gone.

I sat in the passenger seat of Jimmy’s car confused.

RING RING.

It was Britney calling me. I answered.

“Brit!”

“Hey” She replied.

“Where are you? I’ve been hitting you up all day girl.”

“We are on the way to desert city Arizona” she said her voice breaking. “When I woke up this morning my stuff was already packed we’re moving into the house early. Since I finished my finals early we decided to leave” She cried softly over the phone. “I love you Kev.” She hung up.

I looked at my phone in heartbreak thinking what I did to deserve having my love taken away from me.

“You ok?” Jimmy said putting his hand on my shoulder.

“Yeah I’m cool” I said sniffling. As a man I refused to let myself cry in front of my friend. But I was deeply hurt. I missed her so much already. Jimmy took me home and I spent the rest of the day listening to sad drake songs. The summer break began, and it was going quick.

July 2, 2019.

It had been a month and she hasn’t even texted me called or face time. I got home from work and walked in to my mother on the couch watching TV. My dad worked a lot he was never home.

“Hey kiddo” She said smiling. “You got something in the mail from Brit and her family on the coffee table.”

“Really?” I said excitedly. I walked over to the dining room where the coffee tables were, and my eyes scanned the table eagerly looking for something that had her name on it. I found the post card she sent. It said HAPPY HOLIDAYS in big red letters. On the back was a picture of her, her mom and Dave all in aprons standing by a grill in what looked like a backyard each of them holding spatulas. I scratched my head. OK? Kind of corny but ok? There she was still beautiful as the day she left. She was smiling from ear to ear, so I supposed she was good. Still a text message or call would have been better than this shit. Maybe it was hard for her and she couldn’t bear talking to me and not being around me. Still was strange to me. I tried calling her phone a few times nothing. I wrote her on snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. NOTHING. She hadn’t posted anything in a while. I asked all her friends if they heard from her. NOTHING. No one had heard from her since she left. I decided to do some research on the city she moved to Desert City AZ.

Global tech was the first link to come up in my google search. The website was easy to find. I clicked on the desert city initiative link. It brought me to a webpage which stated:

THE DESERT CITY INITIATIVE HAS BEEN IN DEVELOPMENT FOR YEARS NOW FINALLY BECOMING A REALITY. GLOBAL TECH HAS MOVED 100,000 OF ITS MOST LOYAL AND HARDWORKING EMPLOYEES TO A CITY IN REMOTE ARIZONA TO CREATE A COMMUNITY OF INNOVATORS, TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT WHILE INCREASING WORK EFFIENCY AND PRODUCTIVITY. THE CITY WILL BE OPEN TO THE WORLD AT A LATER TIME FOR NOW WE ARE JUST FOCUSED ON MAINTAINING AN IMPACTFUL ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR WELL DESERVING EMPLOYEES. A MESSAGE FROM GLOBAL TECHS PRESIDENT.

WILLIAM ANDERSON.

The website had pictures of the city. The homes were nice enough. Cul-de-sacs and communities all around the city. The streets had palm trees and were filled with botanical gardens. It was a budding city with only four tall buildings which all were adorned by Global techs. “GT” insignia. A few other office buildings a super market a mall. Seemed normal. I still couldn’t help but thinking something sketchy was going on. I grabbed my phone and called Jimmy.

“Ay man you need to come look at this.” I told him.

“Do you know what time it is bro?” He said. I looked at the clock. 3:32am.

“Shit J I didn’t realize it was this late my bad.” I had been obsessing over this since I got home where had the time gone?

“I’ll call you tomorrow man.” I said then hung up the phone.

I finally put my laptop down and got in bed. Something was up what happened to Britney?

The rest of the summer I’ve spent looking into Global tech. I tried to find desert city on the map and nothing. After a while my feelings got the best of me and I’ve begun to think Britney was ignoring me and didn’t want to have anything to do with me. My senior year started, and it was different without her there. I walked through the hallways like a lost puppy. Barely taking to friends. Jimmy was the only there for me but not at school since he graduated two years ago. I’ve known him since I was a kid. Brit and I always talked about our senior year and how great it would be. I looked through my locker for my calculus book. Where the fuck was it? I slid all the papers off the top shelf spilling it out onto the floor. Down with it came a post card I received from Brit. I started to get one from her every thirty days exactly. So much that I stopped paying attention to them. I picked up the post card I hadn’t care to pay attention to until now. I realized the expressions on all their faces hadn’t changed. It was the same creepy ear to ear smile. What the fuck? I thought to myself as I examined the pic more. I stuffed the post card in my book bag shut my locker and headed for the exit. Dug my phone out my pocket and called jimmy.

“Yo bro meet me at my crib I got something to show you.”

“Aw man here we go” he said as if he one day was expecting this call.

“Man just come to my house” I hung up and grabbed my bike off the bike rack and high tailed it home. When I got home jimmy’s car was parked outside. I met him around back.

His face looked concerned and annoyed at the same time.

“What is this about man?” I ran in through the cellar door to my bedroom. I grabbed a box from under my bed. Jimmy followed me in shutting the door behind him.

“Ok hear me out... I’ve been looking into this fuckin company and it makes no sense desert city doesn’t seem to exist I can’t find it on the map I google mapped it and I can’t find it.”

“You do know this city was literally just built right?” Jimmy said.

“Ok but explain this shit man” I pulled out all four post cards I received from Brit since she left.

“Look” I said pointing at the postcards. “What do you see?” J grabbed the photos. His facial expression changed.

“This some say cheese and die looking shit” He said.

“Exactly they all look the fuckin same am I trippin?” I grabbed the box and dumped out the articles I found on desert city. There has gotta be something in here that gives the location of this place. All I know is that it’s in Arizona.

“You gotta help me man I think Brit is in trouble some cult shit going on man” I sat on the couch clutching my head. Jimmy sat down next to me.

“What you need me to do man?”

I racked my brain repeatedly. “First we gotta find out where this city is at” I said.

“Well how the hell we gonna do that?”

I grabbed my laptop and I went to the global tech website. There was a customer service number. After some perusing I found that they have a small tech support office here in Albuquerque. Wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Jimmy and I decided to check the place out. It was 8 pm on a Thursday night they were surely closed.

“Fuck it let’s go tonight look through their files see if we can find and address or something” Jimmy said.

We left my house and headed for their office in downtown Albuquerque. It was a tall dark building at the end of main st. We parked behind the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street. Came up the side of the building. “Look.” Jimmy said pointing to an open window on the first floor.

“I’ll give you a boost” he motioned for me to come the window. Shit we’re really breaking in here. Jimmy gave me a boost and I jump in a computer chair breaks my fall.

“Shit” I said stumbling over the furniture.

“You good man?!” Jimmy whisper screamed to me.

“I’m good” I got up brushing myself off. Looked around there was computer desk and a few file cabinets. The door had small black letters on it. I squinted to see what it said “sdrocer” huh? I gently pulled the door open RECORDS it read. I frantically looked around there must be important shit in here. I walked over to the file cabinet.

“Hurry up man I think someone is coming” Jimmy whisper screamed from the window again. I didn’t find anything in the file cabinet. I came across a stack of papers on the desk the first page said desert city initiative. Shit this was it I shuffled through the stack hoping to find what I was looking for and came across a map of the city! I took a picture of it. I figured if I took they’d know something was up. At the top of the page was coordinates. I put the stack of papers back on the desk where I found it and silently climbed back out the window. This was some crazy shit. We ran back to the car.

“Now what?” Jimmy said catching his breath. “What did you find back there?”

I showed him the picture of the map on my phone. He looked “oh shit is that desert city?”

I nodded. “Let’s go” he drove off. Over the next few days we formulated a plan to visit this secret city. I told my mom Jimmy and I were visiting some of his family in Phoenix. He didn’t have to tell his parents anything they trusted him.

September 28th 2019.

We left early in the morning.

“Good morning sunshine” Jimmy said from his car as he watched me walk towards it. Awfully chipper for someone who was about drive into a potentially dangerous situation. I got in the car and pulled up the coordinates on my phone. The drive was 10 hours.

“Look man I just want to let you know whatever goes down. I got you. He pointed to the gap between the driver seat and center console. There was a black 9mm pistol. I recognized it because it was a gun his dad showed us regularly in the past. I sure hoped we wouldn’t have to resort to violence, but I’d do anything to protect my friend and save Britney. So, we drove for hours headed for desert city.

We finally got to our exit it read “GT secured area”

We took the exit and jimmy slowed down as we neared a sign. “Tune into 65.6 AM for further instructions to get through the secured gate.”

We both turned to each other. And both had the same suspicious look on our faces.

Jimmy turned off his Bluetooth. “Fuck it” He tuned in to the station.

The station had this loud static sound. And then everything went black. I couldn’t see. No noise No sight. Just nothing.

Hours later I woke up dazed and confused. We were in a ditch smoke spilled out the hood of the car. I looked over at Jimmy there was glass in his face and blood everywhere he wasn’t conscious. I couldn’t feel my right arm. The rest of my body felt like I’d been beat. I try to pull my seatbelt out its jammed. FUCK. I can smell gas and the smoke only got thicker. My heart raced as I tugged and pulled on my seat belt. I notice my phone on Jimmy’s side of the car I lean over but can’t quite reach it. SHIT. I stretched as far as I can but couldn’t reach it. Smoke starts to fill the car. I got dizzier and more nauseous. Jimmy’s body disappeared in the smoke. We were going to die, and I didn’t know how or why. I let the smoke overcome me. I closed my eyes and waited to die.

“Can you hear me?” A voice says, “Sir can you hear me”. I gasped for air. I woke up in the back of an ambulance. I was hooked up to an oxygen tank while a female EMT is poking me in the chest.

“Yup he’s conscious now” she said looking at the driver. I looked around me to see if I saw Jimmy. Nothing.

“Wait... What happened to my friend?!?”

“Sir I need you to calm down.” She said swiftly. I looked at her name patch. A. Anderson.

“What do you mean calm down?” Saying that would do the exact opposite of calming me down.

“I’m sorry but the driver... your friend didn’t make it.”

“Aw fuck No!” I tried to sit up in the gurney, but I was tied by my arms. “what the fuck let me go!” I fought as hard as I could. Fighting the tears that were trying to make their way out my eyes. My best friend was dead, and it was my fault.

“Wait no you don’t understand we were literally just going in the opposite direction to desert city and then suddenly we were in this wreck.”

The EMT looked at me then grabbed her flashlight examining my eyes holding my eyelids open.

“Hmm he’s seemed to have suffered a concussion as well” She grabbed a clipboard and wrote on it. I looked at her uniform BU medical center. Oh, shit I was in Phoenix couldn’t have been too far to desert city. Was I crazy to think I could still get there? After all, if I just gave up now then Jimmy would have died in vein. There is clearly something going on there that they didn’t want the public to see they tried to kill me and killed my best friend for it.

We started to slow down and came to a stop. We were at the emergency room dock. “You have to help me” I said to the EMT. Who seemingly ignored me. “People are in danger we have to send cops to desert city!” She looked at me and banged on the back door. It opened and two other men were there to take me in on the stretcher. They took me out the ambulance and into the hospital. The hall lights were too much for my eyes to bear. They stuck me in a room where a doctor came in to examine my injuries. Sprained ribs. Light concussion and broken wrist. He told me I’d have to stay for a couple days of observation.

“We called your parents and they are on the way here” the doctor said. “The nurse will be in to give you pain medicine and splint your wrist” The doctor walked out. A few minutes had gone by and I couldn’t help but think of Jimmy. I started to cry and didn’t hold back my tears. Somebody killed my friend I know it. A few minutes later the EMT from the ambulance walked in. A. Anderson. She looked in the hall both ways before shutting and locking the door behind her. Fuck has she been hired to kill me? She inched closer to my bed. I scanned the room for anything I could use as a weapon.

“What do you know about desert city?” She asked.

I cleared my throat. “I--I know my girlfriend is there and that she might be in trouble.” I said stammering. She looked at me with a scared look in her face.

“Listen kid… this is some dangerous shit your walking in to” She said pacing back and forth she was nervous. I sat up in my bed clenching my right wrist in pain.

“I won’t quit until I find out what’s really going on there they killed my best friend and possibly my girlfriend. So dangerous or not I don’t care someone is going to pay.” This wasn’t the first time I tried the tough guy act out. However, this was the first time it worked. She sighed and pulled a chair and sat down next to me rubbed her face then pulled her black hair back into a ponytail.

“Ok ok ok I never wanted to see anyone get hurt but what my father is doing is crazy.”

“What your dad is behind this?” I knew her name looked familiar.

“It all started a few years back… My father had me working at Global tech as an intern I was only 18 there was nothing I could do then. He is the president of the company William Anderson. One day I overheard him and some other execs of the company in a meeting with two other men. One of those guys was MIT graduate Dr. Richard James apparently, he has mastered encryption and control of all types of radio frequencies. They also met with a Dr. Brian Nicholson. A surgeon who studied the human brain all his life he’s the author of the book Suggestion. He studied parts of the brain that were most vulnerable to manipulation. Together they developed a program that was used for mind control through radio waves so that it would be undetectable. Tv’s cellphones radios emitted these frequencies so it was unavoidable.”

I sat there in terror as I took in this information. “So, what’s the point of all this?”

She looked away and stood up “I-I’ve already said to much.”

I stood up out of the bed “Please I can help let me help” She looked too scared to say anything further.

“They’ve partnered with them to create a city where the workers would have no free will. They could boost profits while minimizing costs. They would minimize cost by not paying workers no healthcare no nothing. Eventually they would try to make every big city in the world like this. To them this will make a more productive work environment. Tech development will be perfected etc.”

“What about the families?” I asked. “Were they slaves too?”

She nodded and turned away. “He took me there once... he made me swear not to tell a soul because it would make us very rich.” She reached in the utility bag that hung on her arm and pulled out some noise cancelling headphones. “He made me wear this and he wore headphones like them. This is the only way you can make it pass the field of radio waves and not be effected.”

“Fuck so that’s how they got to me and Jimmy the sign tells you to tune in to that station”

“Yes, but that’s not the only way the program is in the cell towers and tv satellites as well.” She pulled out her car keys and a plastic bag. It looked like it had my belongings in it. “You have to put a stop to it here are my car keys and your stuff take it get your girl back. It’s the red subaru” I stood up without hesitation grabbed my stuff and keys.

“Here you’ll need this” She said as she handed me the headphones and left out the door. I snuck out to the parking lot and hit the alarm button on the fob until I spotted her car. I hopped in the driver seat and threw my shit in the passenger seat. Grabbed my phone and set the coordinates to DESERT CITY…

TO BE CONTINUED…