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-21, dialogue between P.A. and Kay 48C, recorded by James 72A
I don’t think I need to do this after all. I think I should go.
[Recorder’s note: Councilor Booth asks subject to stay and tell her story.]
Alright. My sister worked in maintenance, Sec 12, lithium receiving and processing. I guess I don’t have to tell anyone that there was contraband going out that port, messages to people Aboveground and maybe some kind of money changing hands or weapons, I don’t know and I never wanted to know. She sure didn’t tell me. But she got involved in it and this Empath Kay came to question her. Gave her such bad nightmares she couldn’t sleep, couldn’t shake them even when she was awake, and eventually it got so bad she killed herself.
I wasn’t there when she was questioned. I never saw this woman then or since then. I saw her in my head, though. I spent years imagining her, made up all kinds of evil faces for her, imagined all kinds of awful things she was doing. I even gave myself nightmares. But here she is now. They told me she had paramania and she was under sedation and it would be hard to communicate with her, but I insisted on having her here anyway. It took months to get approved. I was one of the first ones to apply and here we are, finally getting to it. I lived for the last five months thinking of nothing but this moment, day after day, playing it out in my head, how I was going to stand over this woman and tell her everything she did to my sister and make her hear me, even if I had to shake her to get her to wake up.
And here she is now, and she’s not what I thought. She’s just human, old and frail and sick, broken down like everyone is. Something gets all of us in the end, whether it’s cancer or nightmares or this paramania, I guess. And I just figured it out, right now in this room, what I was really angry about all those years. Not her, but me. I didn’t save my little sister, I didn’t protect her. That’s what it really was. All this time.
[Recorder’s note: Kay 48C responded slowly. Transcript is not verbatim, as I had to work to link her thoughts together.]
Lithium. I remember, I was scared of the lithium port. I had to open the inner air lock once… terrifying. I thought I caught lung cancer. But that doesn’t make sense, does it? We send people out there all the time, and even the Commanders only have masks for the dust.
I heard some Empaths went out, left Refuge. Rumors that scientists are still working on a cure. Paramania. They went out looking for it. I wish I’d done that, gone Aboveground, then I wouldn’t have done any of these other things. If wishes were… if wishes were…
Sorry, I don’t remember this woman’s sister. I don’t remember many things.
If wishes were horses. What was the rest?
©2016 Michelle M. Welch