Stories from Refuge – 96 – “Still people find things to write on and get them to Government.”

(c) Radist | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report C-22, interview with Shantal Simms, recorded by Beatrice 75C
RY 100.11.28

I know what’s been happening. I know you’ve been getting anonymous submissions from people who worked for the old Government. I know it because I still work here, carrying messages to the Civil Council. It’s the same job I did before the Revolution. Other people are in charge of monitoring electronic communication, contact that comes in through the box you set up to take in requests to do these interviews. You say they’re anonymous but the techs can still track where they came from. If people really want to hide their identities, they write down what they have to say.

It’s kind of unbelievable, when you think about it. My having this job in the first place. Even back then, when people wanted to make a statement they would break into Media Production, or they would build a transmitter and interfere with the official feed. If they really wanted to write, they’d paint on the walls of the tunnels. Who uses paper anymore? It’s not like we’re still manufacturing it. The paper in the school books, the medical records, that’s all been written on the back and written in the margins and turned ninety degrees and written over, until you can hardly make sense of any of it anymore. But still people find things to write on, and they try to get them to Government. I used to walk up and down the tunnels looking for messages stuck in the corners of air vents, tucked in tight so they didn’t get blown out. People would start to recognize me and stuff them under the door of my office. Once in a while someone would get really bold and walk up to me and put a message into my hand – always written by someone else, of course, not them.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Poetry Corner: Contentment

Contemplate the experience of contentment,
the teaching says,
of pleasure, of joy,
not the object of the experience
but the experience itself:
Where does it reside in the body,
What is its texture in the mind?
How difficult this is –
how quickly the noise starts up again,
describing the cup of coffee,
finding words to document the meal,
telling a story about how the cat
came to be curled up at my feet,
Herself content, not asking why,
feeling none of the disconnect between body and mind
that so plagues her two-legged companions:
Wondering where these things went a moment later
and how we missed them going

Poetry & photography (c)2018 Michelle M. Welch

In response to a teaching on positive emotions, “The Real Source of Happiness,” which appeared in Lion’s Roar magazine but is not linked online.

Stories from Refuge – 95 – “But I’m not sorry. Here’s what I’m sorry about.”

(c) Svedoliver | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report C-21, submitted anonymously
RY 100.11.25

When I worked in Medical I altered records. Empaths who were injured in riots or while they were torturing people, I made it look like they were unfit to return to duty. I quit when it started looking suspicious, when too many Empaths complained.

When I worked in Factory and Production I sabotaged equipment. They had to shut down completely for almost a week once. There were a few riots when the shutdown started affecting Commerce, when there was a shortage of goods they could sell, but I’m not really sorry.

When I worked in Lithium Processing I shorted the supply. Sent some of it back Aboveground so it would be more work for Government to send their bots back up to get it again. Try to get more of those metal bastards broken in the sun. The LiOH came up too short once and I had to hack into the air management system, reroute cleaner air away from Sections 1 and 2. It took me a while and there were reports about people suffocating in the more populated sections. But I’m not sorry I stole the lithium.

Continue reading

Stories from Refuge – 94 – “My grandfather had a picture of the sunset, too.”

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report C-20, submitted anonymously
RY 100.11.24

I always thought about doing it but I never did. I had access. I was one of the few who could get into Section 1. Distant, quiet tunnel, carpet on the floor, calm amber lights. Made like a hotel or an upscale apartment building, one of the big men used to say. I had no idea what they were talking about. It’s been a hundred years since anyone lived in any kind of building.

The one they actually called the Big Man, that was the head of PsyOp, of course. But they were all big men. All control and arrogance, living in their quiet tunnel, letting other people fight their fights outside that keypad door. None of them looked me in the eye. I brought them food and cleaned their toilets and washed their laundry, and they walked around pretending they never made any of those messes, they’d never do anything so ordinary and small.

How can you work for them, my family would ask me. Not that I saw them often, not that I had much time off duty. You should quit, my mother would say. You should put poison in their food, my sister would say. You should smuggle in a bomb, one of my cousins told me once, in a furious and shaky whisper. They’ve got a bomb-safe door, right, closing off Sec 1? They’d have to. So once you get the bomb in you can set it off and the rest of us will be safe. The rest of us will be safe forever. He told me he could set me up, that he knew just the guy to make the bomb. I’m not sure whether he thought about how I’d get out of Sec 1 before setting the thing off.

Continue reading

Poetry Corner: Ten Shots

Take ten shots,
the instructions say:
of the same object
but different points of focus.
So we choose something interesting
of course –
why wouldn’t we?
something with many points
to focus on,
But is that the point –
to make it easy on ourselves?
Is that cheating?
Is that the way we go through life
entirely?
missing
what might really be interesting?

Poetry & photography (c)2018 Michelle M. Welch

Another exercise from the contemplative photography (miksang) book I’m working through. Can you see what the object is?

Stories from Refuge – 93 – “I kept finding things to sabotage, locks to break.”

(c) Serjio74 | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report C-19, submitted anonymously
RY 100.11.23

I have a friend who used to work for Government. She used to fight back, like I did. She used to say she was helping people, trying to help them, and got me to work with her. We created fake identities for Commanders who went out of service. We saved their lives. It was her idea, my friend. She used to say we were in it together, doing what we could to resist tyranny.

I never threw around words like that. I never did it for the big ideas. I think I did it because I was angry. I didn’t stop, either. Not when I lost my job or when they took my kids away or when my wife left me. I kept finding things to hack into, systems to sabotage, locks to break. It didn’t matter what they were, really. I shut down the air scrubbers in Section 22 once, just a few weeks after they shut down the scrubbers to the sub-tunnels in 16 and 17. That was clearly wrong, what they did, right? But it was okay for me to suffocate a few hundred people in Sec 22 because that’s where the higher-paid Government workers lived. It made sense at the time. I told myself it did. I told myself my friend would have agreed with me.

So what do I do now? I’ve thought about locking down the doors to Section 6, the old interrogation rooms, where they built the gallery for those reconciliation interviews. Sealing off the section while the Councilors are in there. We can’t be too careful, right? Give the new Civil Council too much power and they’ll turn as corrupt as the old Government. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Or is it just because I don’t know how to stop?

©2018 Michelle M. Welch

<- Previous story: “So I took them out of the system when I could.”

Next story: “My grandfather had a picture of the sunset, too.” ->

All stories

Support the stories