- Hey, Barney!
The voice seemed very familiar, but it sounded muffled and seemed to come from afar. Barney turned his head to the right, from where, it seemed to him, a voice could be heard. To his surprise, Barney found that its owner was very close, almost in the next chair.
Barney immediately recognized that face. The hunchy nose, probably broken several times, was very well suited to maintain glasses, depriving its holder of the need to constantly lift them up the bridge of the nose. Behind the handles and lenses stuffed with various electronics, there were big blue eyes, just like in Japanese cartoons. Thin barely pink lips portrayed a faint smile and exposed uneven, but strikingly white teeth. The hairstyle, as usual, was more like a small haystack.
Colin's face can not be confused with anyone else, even in complete darkness.
Barney adjusted his glasses. Gosh, for sure, having a hunchbacked nose is extremely comfortable, especially in the age of high technology, when glasses don't breathe for you.
- Are you asleep? - Colin smiled slightly wider.
They sat at their workstations at the command post, and Barney unsuccessfully tried to remember how he got here.
“Just thinking,” he heard his own voice. His presence here began abruptly to seem extremely logical to him, and he completely forgot about his doubts. - How many before the end of the shift?
- Ten minutes. Can not wait to see them live.
Barney nodded his head. The shift ends at 20:00, which means that it is just over two hours from the base until dark and evening sortie from the base.
“Have you ever seen the living titans?” - Colin rubbed his hands from excitement.
- Like you. Today we will see.
Colin got up to stretch his stiff joints. For some reason, an automatic machine hung on his shoulder, and a protective helmet was placed on his head. Points gave way to the electronic target designation system of the helmet.
- Well, ready? Asked Colin.
Barney looked at his watch - it was exactly 10:00. Where are the damned two hours?
“Wait a second,” he answered, and turned to his workstation, which for some reason was turned off.
“Please enter your password or put your finger on the scanner.”
Barney reached for the keyboard. His fingers quickly dialed the "7642" combination, and a welcome message appeared on the display. Barney went to the control panel and chose the "Protective dome".
“Please enter the master code and then attach the finger of your right hand to the scanner,” was displayed on the screen.
Barney reached for the keyboard again and dialed "2467," and then put his thumb to the indicated area. The combination came up. “It's convenient when you use the same password, only backwards,” Barney flashed through her head. The display shows the dome control panel. For some reason he was inactive, which Barney immediately corrected.
“Now we are protected,” he said, getting up. Suddenly, he realized that an automatic machine was also hanging on his shoulder, and he was wearing a helmet. Barney was ready to swear that he had just sat in a standard working form, and not in external ammunition.
And the next moment he was already in front of the code lock in charge of the door leading to the hangar. Barney raised his hand and entered the code "7642", but the lock only blinked red negatively and warned about the final number of unsuccessful attempts.
Damn, Barney thought. “Wrong code.”
And then he introduced another one, with which the castle remained completely satisfied: "1840". This combination was easy to remember - because the unit is above the four, as well as the eight - above zero. You just double finger diagonally. The hangar doors began to open ... and Barney's gaze was given a beautiful view from the roof of a skyscraper of some large metropolis.
Barney turned around in bewilderment - behind him, as before, the corridor of the military base was stretching. But what was behind the doors of the hangar ...
Suddenly, Colin threw up his weapon and a loud shot rang out. For some reason, the weapon was a gunshot. Barney turned back to the exit to the roof - a man in a cheap military uniform was lying in a pool of blood about ten meters from him. Nearby lay the machine of some old model, which have not been produced for a long time.
Barney took an uncertain step forward and found himself on the roof. To his right in the corner were two more people — quite alive and very scared. They were a man and a woman, both about thirty in appearance. They were dressed in strict black business suits - most likely they worked in one of the local offices. But how did they get on this roof, and who is this man lying in a pool of blood?
Colin stood nearby and also looked at the office staff shaking like leaves in the wind. The girl was trembling so much that she seemed to be able to drill a hole under herself and go down to the floor below. Her short blonde hair was wet and stuck to her forehead. The man had to pay tribute - despite the fear, he covered her hands and tried to protect.
“Damn,” Colin said.
Barney looked at him in silence. With peripheral vision, he noticed that the door through which they hit the roof was no longer there - now there was a bare brick wall, but Barney didn’t pay attention to it.
“They are witnesses, man,” Colin himself began to tremble with panic. - Man, do you understand? Witnesses!
“Not to leave no witnesses,” thundered a powerful voice in Barney’s head that belonged to someone who was not clear.
“Witnesses,” Colin said.
Barney looked at the weapon in his hands. Then smoothly looked at the two in the corner and met the eyes of the girl. They were brown and very large. They seemed to occupy the entire viewing angle, and Barney could not see anything except those appealing eyes.
“Please,” she whispered.
Barney woke abruptly and sat up in bed. Not understanding what was happening, he began to wave his hands in front of him, as if defending himself from something. Drops of cold sweat ran down his back in thin streams.
Consciousness slowly returned, bringing with it the memories of yesterday. It was just a dream, a bad dream.
Slowly, Barney turned his head to the right, stretched out his hand and felt for the switch. A light yellowish light came on in the room, which was not at all irritating to the eyes that were accustomed to darkness. Barney swung his legs out of bed, sat for a while, digesting what he saw in his sleep, and then got up and headed for the sink to wash with cold water.
“What was that girl?” - a thought flashed through her mind.
And then his cold sweat broke out again, because Colin was in that dream too. Barney was ready to swear that it was him - a hunchback nose, big blue eyes, a bird's nest on his head. Damn familiar face. Barney read somewhere that the human brain is not capable of randomly generating faces - all the features that we see in our dreams were seen somewhere earlier. And the brain just throws them to us when you need to put a face on some person. And that was Colin’s face for sure. Barney remembered him, but could not remember where they came from.
He slowly turned around and found his tablet on the bedside table. The next moment, he was already holding it in his hands and frantically trying to remember the codes.
“One or two ...” he dictated, and the tablet obediently brought out in front of him a projection in which the numbers were displayed. Barney thought for a moment and shut his eyes. “Four ... seven. Point. Two-four-six-seven. Point. One ... three ... four-zero.
He opened his eyes and looked at the projection. The numbers were better absorbed when they were visible. The tablet listened carefully and did not miss a single digit, and all three spoken combinations were displayed on the projection: “1247. 2467. 1340 "
Somehow, it was these combinations that came to mind, but Barney was not at all sure that at least one of them figured in a dream. Barney didn’t think of anything better:
- Send to Gordon.
"Message sent", - the inscription was displayed, and then the projection disappeared. Barney put the tablet back on the cabinet and began pacing his room thoughtfully. He twice reached the opposite wall and back, when a projection appeared over the tablet again, this time reporting an incoming call, which Barney immediately accepted.
- What kind of rebus is this? - Gordon's voice was sleepy, but interest sounded in him. - It looks like some codes.
- So it is, Gordon. I know it sounds silly, but I dreamed about one of them coming to the code lock of the hangar ... And I remembered who this Colin was.
Gordon did not answer. There was silence, and Barney thought the phrase sounded even more stupid than he had imagined. This silence pressed more and more, and even the phrase “better go to bed” would be preferable to her.
“In a minute at your door,” Gordon finally answered and ended the call. Only now Barney paid attention to the time - it was 3:15 at night.
As always, Gordon was extremely punctual, and when Barney opened the door, he was already standing opposite. In the corridor, the same warm yellowish light was burning as in the room — it turned on automatically when Gordon took a step outside his room.
“I thought you might say it was nonsense,” Barney admitted.
- Yes, everything that happens here is complete nonsense. So do not be surprised if you had real memories in your dreams, ”Gordon replied. - What exactly was in your dream?
Barney briefly retold the content. It turned out unintelligibly and abruptly, but the dream itself was not a classic of cinema. The main thing is that Barney was able to accurately describe the appearance of Colin, the situation on the roof and even seem to recall a couple of code combinations.
“A nest on the head and a hunchy nose ...” said Gordon thoughtfully. - No, I don’t remember those exactly.
“To hell with it,” Barney waved his hand. - I'm more excited about the case on the roof. This woman, she seems familiar to me too, you know? Like I saw her somewhere.
- And you know what? - said Barney, looking somewhere in the ceiling. - I think it was really. Do you remember, Doc said that they sent me to the tribunal for failing to comply with the order? I think the order was to kill these people. They happened to witness the liquidation of some criminal, or something like that. I dont know.
Barney again began to pace the floor, as he usually did in moments of reverie or excitement.
“Maybe you still remember something,” said Gordon thoughtfully. - I would also like to remember my past life. Whatever it is.
Barney stopped and looked at him.
- Probably, it is sometimes better not to know too much. You just work with the original data and do not think about the past. You do not have it, as well as the future. There is only the present.
- Maybe so. Do you want to check these codes?
- And if they do not fit?
- That will not change anything, we still have no other options. You can at least play around with the codes of your workstation, it is unlikely that it will be tightly blocked in case of unsuccessful input. In addition, your finger to unlock is always with you.
Barney scratched his head.
“Yes, you are right,” he said. - There are no other options anyway. Will we wake up Alex?
Now Gordon thoughtfully raised his fist to his chin. On the one hand, we wanted to solve all the important issues together, but is it possible to check the codes seen in a dream as a solution to an important issue?
- Let's just check the codes on your station, there is no need to call someone else for the sake of it. If you fit - is another matter.
They went down to the first floor, walked past the entrance to the dining room and headed down the corridor towards the command post. After a few meters, the corridor gave way to a staircase that led underground to a passage to another building. Without saying a word, Gordon and Barney stopped in front of the stairs and looked at each other - there was no light in the transition. The staircase, on the upper steps of which the soft light was still falling from the corridor, seemed to go into emptiness. Or down the throat of a monster.
“Afraid of the dark?” - Barney made fun of his friend.
Gordon smiled slightly and took a step forward. As soon as his foot touched the step, the light came on in the transition, destroying the illusion of emptiness - the base sensors worked correctly and turned on the light only where it was needed. Moreover, even in the daytime.
However, when they went down the stairs, the illusion reappeared, because the corridor was not completely lit, but only until the nearest branch, that is, before going to the command post. The entrance to the medical building was immersed in darkness.
Barney went first to the door of the crossing, and she with a soft hiss went into the wall. The light was already burning in the corridor, however, at its end, closer to the command post door, one of the lamps still flickered, creating an unpleasant feeling of tension.
“Maybe we’ll call Alex?” Barney suggested uncertainly. - It will not be so scary.
He met his eyes with a friend, and the latter’s gaze expressed absolute seriousness. Then Gordon nodded affirmatively and they both laughed.
When they approached the door almost closely, the scanner, as usual, moved out of the ceiling and set to work. Making sure that before him his, he disappeared into his nest and opened the door. The light in the room came on.
A hologram of the base was still projected in the center of the room. The protective dome was still in place, but the titans disappeared somewhere. Surely, they realized that they could not get to the base - nevertheless, these creatures were quite clever. Or maybe they even conceived something else and are now preparing to implement their insidious plan.
Barney took a seat across from his workstation and turned it on. Gordon sat down beside him. When the system offered to choose between two methods of identification, Barney chose the option with a password.
“Please enter 4-digit code” - displayed on the display.
Barney sat back in his chair, clasped his hands and brought them to his chin. Sometimes people do not rush to check any important guess, because somewhere deep down they understand that, most likely, nothing will come of it - in this case, you can postpone the moment of fiasco and continue to feed the illusions for some time.
Finally, he took out the tablet and looked at the three combinations that he sent to Gordon: “1247. 2467. 1340 "
Taking a quick glance at Gordon and waiting for him to nod, Barney began to enter the codes one by one, and, as expected, the workstation did not accept any of them.
“Bad,” said Barney. - For some reason I thought that one of them would do. In a dream, I so confidently gathered them.
- Maybe you scored other combinations? - Gordon asked.
- Maybe others, so what's the difference? I do not understand why I decided that it would work.
Gordon rested his elbows on his knees, continuing to stare at the screen.
- I mean, it’s not for nothing that you remember exactly these numbers. Maybe they went in a slightly different order, you know? Maybe the other way around or how?
Barney felt a slight chill coming down his back and spreading over his lower back. “Conveniently, when you use the same password, only backwards,” the thought from nowhere flashed through his head again. Gordon was absolutely right!
Fingers again hung over the numeric keypad and typed "7421". Access was again denied, and now the system discontentedly warned that there were only three attempts left. Not paying attention to the message, Barney entered the following code: "7642".
For a second, the system thought, and then the input field disappeared from the screen, and a greeting message appeared instead.
Barney slapped his palms on the table and stood abruptly, feeling the rapid heartbeat. Thousands of thoughts were worn in his head, bursting the skull from the inside, but the main thought was: “It worked! Gosh, it really worked! Who would have thought that to solve an important problem it was necessary to just sleep. ”
For a moment, Barney froze and felt an unpleasant tingling in his temples. “And what if I still sleep?”, - a new important thought occupied all his consciousness, - “What if this is just a continuation of a dream, and no code came up at all?”.
Finding nothing more sensible, Barney pinched himself for the tip of his nose. Eyes immediately filled with tears from severe pain and discomfort. In the end, the tip of the nose is usually not physically affected and is very sensitive. Barney wiped away a tear from his right eye and laughed. The tip of his nose began to acquire a burgundy hue.
Gordon was standing nearby and also could not believe his eyes.
- I understand correctly that it worked? He finally asked.
Barney just nodded. It really worked. The station’s desktop was displayed on the display, just as if Barney had chosen the fingerprint identification method. The Protective Dome item immediately caught Barney’s eye.
“Please enter the master code” - the inscription appears when Barney selected it.
- You say the opposite? He asked Gordon. - How did you even guess before? That I saw a dream, not you.
Without waiting for an answer, he entered the same code as a minute earlier, but backwards: "2467". In the next instant, the control panel of the protective dome appeared on the screen - the same as on the display next to it. Present all debug data and controls.
A smile never left Barney's face. Now his head was occupied only by the question: would he remember the rest of his forgotten past? How many events happened during his oblivion? Who was he before?
He shook his head vigorously to put aside unnecessary thoughts. Now it was necessary to check another code. From the same castle that blocks the door to the coveted room under the unambiguous name "Hangar / Armory."
Gordon, apparently, thought the same thing.
“You think it's worth trying it now?” - he asked. - The code is written, maybe it makes sense to try in the morning?
- kidding me? - responded Barney. “Now you can just go and sleep, knowing that you have a code that might open the way for arms and rovers?”
- Here I am - no. But if we open this door, then I will calm down and sleep until dinner.
Gordon grinned. It remains to solve just one more question.
- Will we call Alex?
Barney thought for a moment, then nodded affirmatively. They agreed to make all important decisions together.
Raytnov did not answer the call immediately. His voice, as befits the voice of a man awakened in the middle of the night, was sleepy and tired, but he became more alive with each word he heard.
“I'll be right there,” at the end Alex didn’t hear a hint of sleepiness either. - Don't open it without me, ok?
While he was going and going to the command post, Barney and Gordon continued to study those functions of the workstation that were hidden behind the master code, but they could not find anything about the code lock of the hangar. But they managed to find the control panel of the same rover tracking system that Angus spoke about the day before.
- Look, - Gordon pointed his finger at one of the menu items under the uncomplicated name "Base Plan".
Barney chose this item, and a detailed map showing the description of each passage and room was displayed. Barney hovers over a hangar hidden behind a combination lock, and a hint appears on the screen: “To find out the number of vehicles and weapons, click here.”
Feeling the rapid heartbeat, Barney obediently clicked in the indicated place, but an error message appeared on the screen stating that the requested data could not be loaded.
“Damn,” Barney swore, then raised his hand to his chin and began massaging it. - Although what else should be expected? Of course, they cleaned up the database and deleted all the data that could even tell us something. I hope that in the hangar itself is still not empty, should we be given a chance to get out of here?
Gordon rose from his chair and began to pace the room.
- You know what it reminds me of? - he thoughtfully spoke. - Any psychological thriller in which the main character is put in an “awkward” situation and watched as he gets out of it. And sometimes, as if by chance, give him clues to make it more interesting to watch.
- What do you mean?
- I do not drive, just talk. What happens if there really is something worthwhile in the hangar? What if this is just another clue? And is it given to us so that we have a chance to get to the main base of the planet and fly away? And there is something else waiting for us.
“Well, what if we just stay here?” In both cases, we do not win and do not lose. We must use the opportunity.
Gordon crossed his arms over his chest and looked at his friend.
- If we pass all the tests, we will not return to normal life. We will either be removed or saved for further experiments.
“So be it,” Barney was completely calm. - This is not a reason to give up. Personally, I intend to "remove" someone else before they remove me. Are you with me?
- By itself. No one thought to give up.
The door hissed, and Raytnov entered the room. He looked very agitated, and there was no trace of the sleepiness that was present in his voice during the call.
- Did you find anything? He asked from the doorway. “Barney, what's up with your nose?” Gordon hit you?
Barney felt the tip of his nose and slightly winced at the unpleasant sensations - he had already become completely burgundy.
“I pinched myself to make sure that I wasn’t sleeping,” Barney was embarrassed, and then he brought Rytnov up to date without losing a single detail of his unusual dream. Raytnov kept nodding his head all the time, and his eyes widened most of all on the phrase: “Then Gordon offered to enter the code backwards - and you won’t believe it, but it worked.”
- So, you dreamed two moments from the past at once - your work here and the incident because of which you got here?
“I'm sure of it,” said Barney. - Although that there really was, most likely, I never know.
Raytnov buried his chin in his fist and frowned.
“Dome control, floor plan and empty database ...” he finally muttered. - Not much.
“It seems to me that everything was cleaned up on purpose,” Gordon said. - And I'm not surprised by this.
He again shared his suspicions about the fact that they can be monitored in real time and give hints if necessary. Raytnov listened with interest to his theory and agreed that Barney’s dream might well have been no dream at all, but an inspired thought from somewhere outside. However, Barney himself denied this theory with all his might.
“We’ve already been in so much trouble, guys,” he said. “We could have died on the way here when a fallen tree blocked our way.” I almost died when a wolf grabbed me. Alex almost died during the attack on Alpha. And now you are saying that someone inspired this thought to me, although at this particular moment our lives are not in danger?
- Well, maybe they just got bored? “Gordon didn't back down either.” Raytnov smiled slightly and said nothing.
Barney ignored the speculation and continued:
- Besides, the doctor said that the memories were not erased from our brains at all, they were only blocked from access. And the brain is able to get around this block if it can figure out how to do it. Personally, I believe that I dreamed of my past. Everything in this dream seemed to me so familiar, and not abstract and incomprehensible, as in other dreams.
He looked at his opponents, waiting for retaliatory attacks.
“The doctor said that the memories are not erased ...” said Raytnov thoughtfully.
- Do you believe him?
Barney wanted to say something, but stopped. The question was unexpected for him.
- And you? - he asked.
“I asked first,” Alex smiled.
There was a rather long pause, and only the included Barney workstation broke the silence with a light, barely discernible roar of fans. The room sank into such calm silence that everyone could hear the breath of others. Finally, Gordon interrupted her:
- Personally, I believe him. I can not say that I respect his conscious decision to participate in the experiment, where people's lives cost no more than the dinner I swallowed the day before, but we are not without sin, are we? Otherwise we would not be here.
As it turned out, he expressed a general opinion, which for some reason everyone was embarrassed to express.
“At first I admitted that his words about implanted memories can be fiction,” continued Gordon. “But then there are some inconsistencies.” First, if we are really simple colonists and accidentally got into trouble, how does Angus know all about the titans and protective domes that work against them? And second: did you think about what you really remember? I now remember that all my life I worked in the military branch, and I was sent here for several months in order to maintain order and ensure security. If you do not dig deeper, it seems that this knowledge is enough, but if you dig ... I do not remember my parents, my wife. Am I married at all? Do I have children? I don’t have answers to these questions, and from here I conclude that I have been digging into my head well. And partly to this conclusion, I came thanks to the doctor, who shed some light on the experiment and made me try and try to remember what happened to me before the expedition.
The room again fell into silence. Barney leaned back in his chair, clasped his hands behind the back of his head, and looked thoughtfully at the ceiling, while Raytnov crossed his arms over his chest and leaned on the next table. Both were thinking hard about the words of Gordon. Surprisingly, they never even thought of thinking about their past. And how often do we generally think about this? It seems to us that it is an integral part of us, we take it for granted. Similarly, we do not think that we have eyes or a nose — we just use them. This is all as natural as the fact that twice two is four. Raytnov chased away these thoughts in his head and once again was surprised at how deeply the corporation climbed into his mind. , – , . , - . , , , , .
– , , , – , . – , ?
– , , – . – ?
– , – . – , , , . , , . , , .
– ? – . , , .
– , , , – . – . Do you understand?
– ---, – . – , .
– , – . – , , ?
- Yes sir.I sent them all to you.
- So that's great. Then let's go to the beds. Meet me at breakfast at the usual time.
Once in his room, Barney lay down on the bed without even undressing. Ten minutes later, he got up and began pacing the room - he could not sleep at all. After going back and forth several times, he finally took off his jumpsuit and lay down again. He could not stop thinking about what would be behind that door with a lock. And is the code appropriate?
“Of course, Alex is right that you should not go there in the middle of the night, but how you feel like it,” he thought, and his eyelids grew heavier. - “I’m definitely not going to sleep until morning.”
With this thought, he plunged into a deep, restorative sleep.