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 B-8, dialogue between B.N. and Jay 59A, recorded by Mary 80C
Sorry, it’s taking me a while to get started. I know I’m not alone, I know he’ll help me, but it’s still hard.
We met in the sub-tunnels under 18 usually. A few times we had to move, other tunnels, side tunnels, in the secret one between 9 and 21. Once we met right out on the old tracks in Sec 13 after the stores had closed, after the bots were done with their patrol and got put away for the night. We had a lot of different preachers trade in and out and some of them were nuts, and the one who had us meet on the train tracks wanted to get caught as much as he wanted to lead us. But he has his ways and I’m sure there’s a reason he picked that preacher.
Then… Oh, it’s hard.
Is this really the one? The Empath who found us? The one who pretended to be a customer when he started asking me questions in my store? I sold women’s clothes, and I never did believe him when he said he was shopping for his wife, to buy her a present, and he didn’t even know what size she was. I said he should bring her in and I’d measure her, make her something that fit, but he didn’t want to. He said he’d be busy all night, and I’d probably be gone long before curfew. He said that to make me think about curfew, to see if I’d get nervous, and of course I did. Then he could start asking me more questions to figure out why I was so nervous.
I got so mad, knowing I’d given us away like that. I kept asking him, over and over, why he’d let me do that, why he made me so weak. But there has to be a reason. Even what happened next, when the bots came in and found us under Sec 18, knocked us around and hurt our new preacher so badly he went to Medical and never came back, tied up the rest of us and left us there for hours until Civil came to take us to Confinement. My leg doesn’t work anymore because of that – the bot tied me up too tight, with my leg bent all wrong, and there was nerve damage from being stuck like that all night. There had to be a reason for that. There had to be. Something for me to learn. I’m not sure what it was yet, but I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.
I’m sure he’ll forgive this man, too. That’s what he does. But he’s bigger than us, you know? He can do what we can’t.
[Recorder’s note: I should have asked who “he” was. No one else did, though. Empath Jay seemed to know already, but I don’t think he’s “he.”]
We had orders to break up the churches. A public safety risk, they told us, these big unauthorized gatherings. There could be up to a hundred people meeting, after curfew, sometimes going around the barriers to meet right on the old train tracks. People could get hurt. There could be communicable diseases spread and we wouldn’t be able to stop it. There could be criminal elements hiding out in the groups and we wouldn’t be able to find them.
I believed it. Well, maybe I didn’t really believe it, but I didn’t bother asking questions. If I started asking questions about these orders, I’d have to start asking questions about everything, my whole life since they took me, and then everything would fall apart.
It’s funny, though. Back in 22h, when I was a kid, we had a church. Not a real one, I guess, and it was just for my family, a little room at the back of the tunnel with a chair and a table with a candle and a little cross on it. I had to go in sometimes and make sure the candle stayed lit, and my mother always told me I’d better not let it go out. She used to sit there and say a lot of prayers but I never learned any of them. So that’s how I knew that B.N. was part of the church we were investigating. I saw her wearing that cross, trying to hide it under her collar. I had to ask her questions, figure out where and when they were meeting, but what I really wanted to ask her was whether she knew the words to any of those prayers.
©2016 Michelle M. Welch