Half-Life: Resonance

Monday September 16, 2002:

Just as well I set my alarm. I rose at some god-awful time, slouched into the shower, and crawled into my pants and boots, feeling like crap. When I got to Security Headquarters I could still taste the toothpaste. Yeesh.

I was greeted at the security desk by a chubby guy with a Minnesotan accent, who introduced himself as Otis Laurey. He had a sticky grip when he shook my hand, which freaked me out at first, until I saw that he’d been breakfasting on a large danish.

“Nice to meet ya Calhoun,” he said. “I’ll be showin’ ya the ropes today, all righty?”

He took me to the locker room first and showed me mine. My nostrils flared, and I got a hard reminder of high school gym class thanks to the cloud of Axe that hung over the room like swamp gas. I was handed my uniform: back boots, navy pants, blue shirt, navy tie, and then the helmet, the body armour, and holster.

“Now we gotta get ya fixed up with a weapon, okay partner?” said Otis. I followed him as he waddled out the room. I was struck (not for the first time) by what a maze this place was. We went down a corridor, up a lift, down another corridor, took a right, a right, a left, went down some stairs, and then came to a locked door. I just know I’m gonna get lost on my own.

We entered an armoury, where a surly-looking guy with a five-‘o’-clock shadow was reading Hustler from behind a perspex screen.

“Otis buddy, if you’ve lost another gun I’m going recommend you turn the next one on yourself-“

“Not today Miller,” said Otis cheerfully, “We need a sidearm for the newbie.”

“Newbie huh? Okay kid,” said Miller, who didn’t look up from his girlie mag. “You’re level one security so you’ve got a choice between the Beretta or the Glock. Which is it?”

I took the Beretta, and Otis took me down to the range. The M9 was heavier than I remembered, what with a 15-round mag, but the grip was comfortable. Otis pushed some buttons on a computer panel and set up the targets.

“Now let me tell ya Calhoun,” he said, putting on earmuffs, “The odds of ya ever dischargin’ your weapon there are slim to none, so let’s just go over some basic trigger discipline-“

I pulled on my earphones to drown him out. The first target popped up, faster than I expected … but not faster than a bullet. Safety was off before I knew it. I drew the gun and squeezed off three: ‘PAP PAP PAP!’ The first shot was sloppy but the second pair were dead centre. Two more targets dropped down from the ceiling, moving back and forth. I took my time, squared my shoulders, and fired again; one hit, one missed. Then another strike, and another, and another, and another-

A bell sounded and the targets all dropped out of my line of sight. I ejected the mag, thumbed back the safety, and holstered the pistol carefully. Otis was staring at me.

“Where did ya learn to shoot like that pal?” he asked.

I shrugged. You can’t work at Maroni’s Home Defence without sampling the merchandise from time to time.

“Ah… Okay, yeah … pretty good there,” he mumbled. “Um, let’s do your retinal scan and log it in the system.”

I pocketed the Glock he’d forgotten to take with him, and handed it to Miller, who rolled his eyes at me and said: “Nice shootin’ slick,” on my way out.

We went over some more basics. Usual stuff really: where the crapper and fire exits are, how to log an incident report. Eventually, he escorted me to my post. I was excited. Ever since Friday I’d been itching to see what kind of toys these lab monkeys were playing with.

The form I’d been given said that I was supposed to guard the ‘Hazard Course’. That sounded pretty cool. Must need a real badass to look after that.

“Here we are!” said Otis, as we arrived at Sector A. “You’ll be keeping this safe for us.”

The Hazard Course turned out to be a boring-ass obstacle course, built over old, disused industrial maintenance sectors of the facility. Otis told me that I’d be sitting in a tiny room full of CCTV cameras, making sure the dweebs didn’t get nosebleeds or fall flat on their asses.

“Well, have a good shift Calhoun,” Otis said. “I’ll be in level 7 till lunchtime, so just hit me up on your walkie if you need anything.”

I nodded at him. He gave me the thumbs up, and left. The steel door hissed shut behind him, and I was alone.

I sighed. Level 7 was the Recreational Facilities. Trust Otis to land himself a job guarding all the food.

Published by itshendo

Callum Henderson is a carbon-based life form who graduated with a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing from the University of Strathclyde in 2016.

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