The Prometheus Project

The Prometheus Project by Douglas E. Richards





Chapter 1








Ryan Resnick sat on the floor of the attic and examined the contents of yet another cardboard storage box in the dim attic light—a magnifying glass, a pair of high-powered binoculars, an old phone, and various picnic supplies. He shook his head and frowned.


Beside him his sister, Regan, two years younger, was also searching through boxes without success. She had shoulder-length strawberry blond hair, a freckled face, and green eyes that almost always sparkled happily—or at least they had until six weeks before. “Are you sure it’s up here?” she asked her brother for the second time.


“Yes. Mom had the movers put the boxes with sporting equipment up here until she and Dad could sort it out. Keep looking.”


Frisbee Golf was a good idea, he thought, but it was a lot harder to play without the Frisbee. He had used it last in San Diego. Back when he had a life. Back when he relished every new day instead of dreading it. Back six weeks before—an eternity ago.


It was still hard to believe that their lives had been ruined so quickly. And without any warning. Just six weeks earlier school was out, the summer was just beginning, and everything was great. Great, that is, until the day they were told they would be moving three thousand miles away from California to a nowhere place in the middle of the woods called Brewster, Pennsylvania. More like Snooze-ter, Pennsylvania.


Their parents, both scientists, had decided to leave the university to work at a company named Proact. One minute the Resnick kids were excitedly awaiting a summer filled with friends and fun and the next they were in the middle of a little town with no friends—or even other kids for that matter—and nothing to do all day except climb trees and watch grass grow. And perhaps play Frisbee Golf—if they could ever find the blasted Frisbee.


How could their parents do this to them! Was it possible to die of boredom? It was clear that they were going to find out.


A faint voice from below Ryan startled him from his thoughts.


“Where are the kids?”


It was their father. He must have just entered his upstairs office, just below where they were sitting in the attic.


“I called before we left Prometheus Alpha,” answered the equally faint voice of their mother. “They said they were going to find a good spot to create a Frisbee golf course and play. They said they’d be back in an hour or so.” Their mom sighed so heavily they could hear it even through the floor of the attic. “They didn’t sound good. They’re still mad at us. I can’t say I blame them.”


“I know this move has been rough on them. But they’ll adjust. Really. They just need a little time. And you know we didn’t have a choice.”


“But they don’t know that. I can’t stand lying to them. If only we could tell them the truth about why we’re here, I’m sure they’d understand.” There was a long pause. “At least my mother will be back in a few days so they won’t have to be home alone anymore.”


In the attic, the kids hadn’t missed a word of the conversation, staying still as statues and barely breathing. Their grandmother had been staying with them for most of the summer but had left that morning for a three-day trip. Ryan had convinced his mother—barely—that he and his sister could look out for themselves during the day while their grandmother was away. Their parents could go to work as usual. He and Regan were very responsible, he argued. Besides, what kind of trouble could they get into here in Snooze-ter, Pennsylvania anyway—forget to look both ways while crossing the woods and get hit by a speeding tree?


But the part about being home alone wasn’t the part of their parents’ conversation they were thinking about at the moment. Their mom and dad were lying to them! Why? What were their parents really doing here? What was Prometheus Alpha? Why didn’t they have a choice about moving here? What in the world was going on?


They were still digesting these startling revelations as their father continued. “We can’t tell them the truth. You know that. If we did, we could all find ourselves in a prison somewhere. And if they told others, the consequences could be far worse even than that—far worse.” He paused and then added gently, “You know I don’t like it any more than you do.”


There was a long silence in the room. Finally, their father made an obvious attempt to change the subject. “Have you checked the monitors yet?”


Their mother sighed loudly once again. “Yes,” she said. “No indication of electronic bugs or directional listening devices of any kind. We’re secure.”


Regan’s eyes grew wide. Was she dreaming all of this? Was she in a bad spy movie? She glanced at Ryan and raised her eyebrows questioningly.


Ryan put a finger to his lips. When he first heard his parents he had planned on descending from the attic to reveal they were home, but not now. He felt guilty spying on them like this, but something weird was going on and he needed to learn more about it. They could all end up in a prison somewhere? What were his parents involved with?


“Good,” said their father. “We can head back to Prometheus in a few minutes.”


“Why did they kick us out now of all times?” said their mother in obvious frustration. “On the day that we finally broke in.”


“Exactly because it is the day we finally broke in. Months ahead of schedule. Security was caught off-guard. Instead of months to implement massive upgrades they now have days. We won’t be the only ones working around the clock from now on.”


“Don’t you think we’re covered already? They put in an invisible state-of-the-art laser alarm system, and the only entrance to Prometheus is protected by a building that could withstand a nuclear strike. How much more do we need?”


“Apparently a lot more. Now that we’ve broken in the security chief thinks the current setup is an embarrassment. It won’t be long before they install fingerprint scans, retina scans, voice-print scans—you name it, they’ll be scanning it. Right now security is beginning the installation of video cameras that will monitor the entire perimeter as a supplement to the lasers. Even though it won’t be completed for a few days they had to shut off the laser alarm system for a few minutes to install some cable. Even during this short shutdown policy dictates that all non-security personnel be evacuated. The good news is that they’ve decided to take care of another security matter while everyone is gone. So at least they won’t have to ask us to leave again.”


“What security matter is that?”


“A software upgrade. They’ll also do a comprehensive scan of all computer systems and a full reset of all passwords.”


“So I suppose that means we need to decide on new passwords before we return. Any ideas?” asked Mrs. Resnick.


“As a matter of fact, yes,” answered their father. “I think you’ll like these. Here, let me write them out for you.”


There was silence for several long moments before Mrs. Resnick spoke again. “I like the elevator password. We are in the middle of nowhere. Very cleverly done. But why did you choose this particular number as the door password?”


“It’s in alphabetical order.”


There was a long pause. “I see what you did. Very clever.”


“You didn’t know you married such a clever guy, huh.”


“Well, I guess your success at pulling off the most difficult break-in in history to get to the greatest treasure of all time might just qualify as clever,” she teased. “And,” she added wryly, “you even managed to do it without getting us all killed.”


“Very true,” he responded playfully. And then, after a long pause and a heavy sigh, he added grimly, “At least not yet.”






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