A short preview of my new novel REBOUNCE… stay tuned for more!
Meanwhile, our convoy, consisting of hundreds of vehicles, continued to move forward. We drove south for some time, but then we veered east in the direction of Luzern and the Vierwaldstättersee, a large irregularly shaped lake, enclosed by high mountains. From there we moved south again. It started to rain; a heavy precipitation typical for mountainous regions, with low hanging grey clouds that looked as if they would stay forever. It was slow travel, and the convoy came to a stop regularly, which made every single man, woman, and child in the convoy dreadfully nervous. We knew that Urs was behind us and that he had outmaneuvered Antonioni and his clan. What was he up to? With every forced rest, we feared an attack of some kind, either in front of us or at the tail of the party.
When the convoy would start up again, we would soon pass by some car wrecks or other types of blockage that had been pulled from the road. Engineers in front of us used a heavy caterpillar to clear the road.
I continued to wonder where we were heading… northern Italy? Reto had indicated that our goal was a safe place…
Soon our convoy started to crawl up into the mountains. The massif around us grew in height, the rocks turning mean and irregular, and the road started to move up too. I had been on this exact road several times, either on my way to Milano in Northern Italy or to go hiking in the surrounding mountains.
“Where are we?” asked Francois. I explained. We were about to enter the Saint-Gotthard Massif, a mountain range in the south of the Swiss Alps, just north of Italy. This was the road that led to the Gotthard Pass, in ancient and modern times the main route from northern to southern Europe. The highest peak was the Pizzo Rotondo, which, like many other peaks in this mountainous region, exceeded 10,000 feet. The Alps are, from a geological viewpoint, relatively young, and thus the rocks and the peaks are rugged and irregular.
Not much later, our convoy left the highway and turned onto a small road that took us deeper into the mountains. Obviously, we weren’t taking the Gotthard tunnel to Italy and neither were we heading up the pass that would have taken us, in innumerable serpentines, over the mountains. Our goal was closer. The rain intensified and visibility dropped further. Imani was behind the wheel and had to slow down. We could barely see the red lights of the truck in front of us.
After about an hour, the sky brightened a little. The rain diminished to a few irregular drops. We came to an airfield. Many of the cars and trucks that had been in front of us now stood parked in long, orderly rows. People were getting out of the vehicles and had started walking towards a gate in the side of the mountain. We joined them, and soon entered a gaping tunnel, that led into the belly of the Massif.
Soon, the metal doors closed behind us with a loud clang and blocked out the light of the sun. We had entered a stronghold of epic proportions, a complex system of army bunkers dug deep into the Gotthard. Probably the safest place within a radius of a thousand miles.
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