Mad Crab Mojave: Chapter 66

In which Jones visits a wonder of a world

The Hoover Dam was much quieter than Jones expected it to be. Although the entrance was littered with orange construction cones, the gates were up. They drove straight through the security checkpoints. Jones scanned the guard stations for cameras - they were there, but they weren’t moving.

“Bad sign,” said Jones. “This is Federal property. Where are the guards?”

“Maybe they didn’t want to work for no money,” suggested Bugs. They drove on. Jones kept the truck at the posted speed limit, just in case. The road twisted sharply as they descended down the mountain slope. Jones followed the signs towards the memorial bridge.

“We should be able to get a good view of things from there,” he said.

They abandoned the truck in a parking lot and headed towards the bridge on foot. Except for the whistling of the wind, the dam was almost silent. Jones and Bugs made their way onto the footbridge without incident. The wind was stronger, tugging at their jackets and stinging Jones’ eyes. He kept his head down as they shouldered their way to the observation platform. Gripping the rail, Jones wiped his tears away, trying to get a better look at the situation below him.

“It truly is a wonder of the world,” said Bugs. He was crying too. 

It really was magnificent. The structure was enormous; it rose high above the gorge, spreading out in all directions like a massive glacier made of concrete and steel and rebar: almost half a mile wide at its widest point, three times that at its narrowest. And from where he stood, Jones could see only one side of it; there were other walls stretching into the distance in every direction like an ocean liner that had run aground on shore – rising up into an impossibly steep wall of concrete punctuated by windows thousands of feet above him like portholes on an ocean liner – tiny slivers of light visible through their panes – surrounded by a raised walkway built directly into the face of the dam itself – about twenty-five feet below where he stood – making for easy access to all parts of its surface for maintenance workers or tourists. Wires crossed each other in dazzling tessellations as they spread outwards from the concrete walls.

“We need to find the electric plant,” said Jones. “That’s how they plan to power the military grade quantum supercomputer.”

“Did you hear that?” Bugs interrupted. “It sounded like a voice.”

Jones froze, and pressed himself closer to the rail. Head low, he scanned the hills framing the concrete abyss. Then, near a collection of statues, he saw movement. He tugged Bugs’ sleeve. 

“Do you think that’s them?”

Bugs and Jones squinted at the blurry shapes circling one of the two towers that flanked the dam. At the other tower, a man stood with his metal legs planted wide, holding a semiautomatic machine gun. A small group clustered around a truck on the access bridge. A grey block was perched on the edge of the truck bed. 

“That has to be them,” Jones said. “With the quantum supercomputer.”

“All the way up there?” Bugs asked. “I thought this was about power. How are they going to get it down to the electric plant?”

“Let’s go,” said Jones. “They haven’t seen us. We might still be in time.”