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-33, submitted anonymously
My grandmother used to tell this story about getting caught in the rain. She was chasing her brothers around or they were chasing her, or maybe they were playing some game about finding a hidden treasure. Grandma told it a little different each time, like she was forgetting the details. She was almost a hundred years old when she died, almost as old as Refuge itself. But she was out playing with her brothers when she was a kid and they got caught in the rain, a storm so bad it filled up the dry river bed and almost washed them away. One time her youngest brother had to reach out and catch a tree branch so he didn’t drown, and another time her oldest brother had to jump in and save her from drowning. But sometimes the way she told the story was different, and no one was caught in the river, they just danced in the rain and jumped in the puddles and laughed like it was the end of the world.
I’ve tried asking my parents just when grandma was born, and how old she was when this happened. They don’t think the numbers add up right. They think she was just a baby when everyone came down to Refuge, and the story is made up. She couldn’t have been caught in the rain at all.
That’s what I wonder, when I think about the family that went Aboveground. I don’t want to say who they were, I don’t want to say their names, and I don’t want them to get in trouble. Not that you could catch them and punish them now, but maybe PsyOp would interrogate their neighbors and try to find out where they went. Is there still a PsyOp? Are Empaths still interrogating people? I don’t really want to find out. That’s why I never came in, even to talk about the time that bots broke down my door looking for contraband, even though they had the wrong address. I didn’t want to talk about how my boyfriend was interrogated about a riot his dad was involved in and the Empath left him with such bad nightmares he’d wake up and punch anything in sight, and when he punched me one night I had to leave him. I didn’t even go to Medical to get the cut in my lip stitched up because I was afraid someone there would start questioning me and it might come out that I knew the family that escaped Aboveground, and I kept a lookout for them the night they left, watching down the empty tunnel in Section 7 to make sure all was clear.
But I think about them and I wonder if it’s raining up there. I wonder if they’re dancing and jumping in puddles. I hope they are.
©2016 Michelle M. Welch