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-4, interview with Van 48C, recorded by James 72A
They told us you wanted to hear what happened to the other Empaths. I don’t know what you expected, when you took everyone who was under the orders of the Psychological Council before the Revolution and put them in Confinement together. I don’t know if you thought we’d build a little society just like the one we’d been pulled out of. I can’t imagine you’d have thought anything else.
There wasn’t enough room, first of all. No one wanted to be locked up in the wards with the paramania patients. Cleo was the one who proposed digging new side tunnels so we could have our own space. Richard, of course, compelled the paramaniacs to start the digging, until they broke all their fingers and med techs had to be sent in to patch them up. You’re glad you put him on sedatives when you did, before he worked any of them to death.
Although… And we never reported this, but something stopped Richard just before the med techs did. We all questioned each other but we never could figure out who managed to project at him like that. He knew us all and he knew what our output was like, so he was good at dodging an attack by any one of us. It must have been someone in the ward, one of the paramania patients. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
But we got our tunnels built and we named them, just like good Refuge inhabitants: 5a, b, and c. We moved in and we set up our own corners and we started fighting each other, since there was no one else to fight. Jay didn’t want any part of it, and neither did Cleo, really, so they holed up in the back of 5b and covered the entrance with inertia – they didn’t output anything frightening or we’d have fought against it, but anytime we got near them we just got too tired and too discouraged to go any further. I don’t know why we even wanted to be in there. Some of us got the idea that they must have rations we didn’t, or they must have dug up to Aboveground and brought in goods, maybe weapons they were going to use against the rest of us. It was ridiculous and I knew it was ridiculous, but when the others started up on these rants I couldn’t do anything to stop myself going along with them.
Is that the time? There’s something I should do in a few minutes. And when you take me back, I’d like to ask you to put me somewhere else. Even if you have to put me in 5 South with the criminals, and attach one of those headsets so they know I won’t mess with their minds. It’s probably time I faced them, anyway. I see you didn’t bring in anyone to talk to me. You didn’t bring in Jennifer, either. I was her SO. I was sure she was going to wash right out, fold the minute she had to encounter a perpetrator. I’m glad the Revolution happened when it did, so she didn’t get any further in her training. So I didn’t have to break her.
It’s time. If you’ll let me, but religious observances aren’t really illegal anymore, are they? It’s been a long time and I don’t remember the original words, and I can’t do the kneeling anyway since Richard made me break my knees a while back. But I can do the first part, if you’ll let me stand up.
God is great.
In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful…
©2016 Michelle M. Welch