Stories from Refuge – 19 – “I’ve been scared my whole life, so this doesn’t scare me much more.”

(c) Svedoliver |

(c) Svedoliver |

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-19, interview with D.C., recorded by James 72A
RY 100.7.3

They say people are too scared to do this now, that there have been too many problems, people getting attacked. I heard someone was killed but that’s probably just a rumor. But you see, I’ve been scared my whole life, so this doesn’t really scare me much more.

I was a third child. My parents were both in maintenance, working in lithium processing, I think. I don’t remember a lot from back then. I sort of remember my brother and my sister, teasing me, calling me things, saying I was going to get sent Aboveground or smashed under the trains. But when the Commanders and the bots went marching down the tunnels, searching or enforcing curfew, my family always hid me. My sister would have just taken away all my toys and told me I was never supposed to have been born but as soon as she heard that noise, those thumping robot feet, she would wrap me up in her blanket and hide me in her closet and hold me and shake.

I think a neighbor must have turned us in, but I was only five or six so I’m not sure. I remember watching everyone in the doorway, everyone crying, and my dad was waving a tool of some kind around and my mom screaming at him to stop. I was put in a train car with some other kids and we all went to some part of the tunnels I’d never seen before. One of the kids said they were going to kill us and use our blood to turn people into Grays. Another kid said that didn’t make any sense, but they were definitely going to experiment on us. Someone else just said we were getting sent Aboveground to see how long we could survive in the poisoned air. Someone else said she didn’t think the air was poisoned anymore but that all the people up there had turned into zombies or werewolves or something. Then everyone started telling stories about people who turned into wolves and dead people who ate living people, until something went wrong with the train and it tipped over. There was some kind of riot but I don’t think any of us kids were involved, I think there were some grownups we didn’t know fighting the drivers, but we all escaped while they were fighting.

We split up into smaller groups and found places to hide, although we had to keep moving. The sub-tunnels were good, lots of smugglers and drug runners down there, so they’re not the type to ask questions about who you are and where you’re from. They’re pretty dangerous, though. One of the girls I hid out with in sub-16 got killed in a fight and the other one got on drugs, had to start hooking for the money. I left pretty soon after that. I must have been ten, so about seven years ago. I’ve been mostly on my own since then.

I didn’t believe it when they said the Councils were gone. I wasn’t sure that meant we could come out, the third kids. I ran into a few others who didn’t think so, who just went deeper into hiding. But I wanted to see if my family was still alive. I had to turn myself in here, give them my name, hope this wouldn’t get my parents in trouble. Turns out my mother’s dead, and my father sabotaged the air scrubbers after they took me away, got locked up. My brother refused to admit he had a younger brother. My sister, though, she works in Medical now, and I got to go see her there. White coat and everything. She went to her locker and pulled out that old blanket – she kept it since we were kids – and wrapped it around me. Not much that can scare me now, not with that.

©2016 Michelle M. Welch

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