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-48, dialogue between H.B. and Cleo 59D, recorded by James 72A
I want to know how she did it. How did she get in there and find it? I never thought about it. I tried to never…
I’m not gonna talk about it. You don’t get to hear that. It’s none of your business and it wasn’t hers, either. The people who did that to me… No. I’m not talking about it. Bad enough I’m having nightmares about it all the time again. I’d just gotten those under control, I was just where I could go one damn day without wanting to crawl out of my skin, and then she comes along and interrogates me and it starts all over again. So how did she do it? How the hell did she know?
[Recorder’s note: Cleo waits to respond until prompted by Councilor Booth.]
You know that’s not how it works, right? Everyone knows that’s not how it works. I didn’t read your mind. No one can read minds. I projected fear at you, and your brain came up with the thing it was afraid of. That’s not my fault.
[Cleo stops herself abruptly. The hostility in her output clears like a burst of wind from a fan blew it away. She chews her nails.]
Alright. That’s not what I’m here for. I was sedated last month, you know. I don’t even know why, I didn’t have paramania symptoms, but the med techs showed up and told me I had to start taking these pills and I read them really hard but even they didn’t know where their orders had come from. I spent weeks in a fog. Everything was sluggish and off balance, and when it was time for the next dose and the last one started wearing off, I would get panicky. I didn’t even know what I was scared of. The walls? My skin? I was either too paranoid or too dizzy to think about how this was my payback, that I’d earned all this. I started thinking I really had paramania, I was really losing my mind, and I’d never get it back. So I know. I know what it’s like for your brain to be the enemy. I know it’s hell.
[She doesn’t continue. There’s a hint of yearning in her output, like something she wants to do but doesn’t. She doesn’t say she’s sorry.]
©2017 Michelle M. Welch