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-50, dialogue between R.A. and Luke Baron, recorded by Mary 80C
I got hurt by the bots, you see that’s why I can’t move my arm very well, and then I was locked up for five years, and it was for something I didn’t do. I had lots of time to be angry about that, there in Confinement, it took my mind off my arm, but it just made me angrier. That was the whole problem, I guess, when I got hurt in the first place. I saw the bots coming and I should’ve just kept quiet, not given them anything to do, just waited until the Commander showed up to arrest me and drag me back to Civil and I could’ve explained everything there, but I fought back instead. I got my hands on anything I could swing and tried to knock heads off those metal bastards, and they got rough. So that’s what happened.
Thing is, why I was so angry, is I knew why they were after me. Well, I wasn’t sure until I was arrested and I woke up to hear my sentencing and they actually told me that an eyewitness said she saw me building a jammer to interfere with the bots. That was a lie, and there’s only one person who could have told it. And I was so angry at her I just had to fight back.
I never could remember just what happened. We used to be friends, and then something went wrong, and after that we hated each other. Did everything we could to mess with each other, get each other in trouble, turn other people against each other. I convinced her boyfriend to leave her. She told a lie and got me arrested. I never built a jammer, I just knew a guy who did, but I told her about it and gave her something to use against me.
I spent a lot of time thinking about it when I was in Confinement, what I’d do to get back at her when I got out. I was sure I could come up with something really good, an even bigger lie to get her in trouble even worse than I did. Then there was the Revolution, of course, and the bots got put away and the Commanders got sent Aboveground and there’s not as much to get in trouble for anymore. I got angry about that for a while, like it wasn’t fair that I couldn’t get back at her. Then I got out, my sentence ended and they released me, and it’s hard as hell to find a job with this arm and somewhere to live, and I keep telling myself I’m too busy worry about that to worry about my friend anymore, and that’s why I haven’t come up with a good lie to tell about her.
But it’s not really that and it’s not really that I can’t get the bots sent after her anymore. It’s the lie, right? All the time I was in Confinement, I was that woman who built the jammer, and it didn’t do me any good to say it was a lie, everyone believed it anyway. Pretty soon I almost believed it, too, actually had these thoughts in my head of how I might have done it, looking at my hands and imagining them building this machine, until they looked like real memories. That’s what happens with lies, isn’t it, you start to believe them, you can really fool yourself, until you can’t remember what really happened anymore or tell it apart from what didn’t. And I didn’t have much left of my friend so I didn’t want to lose it by writing a lie over it.
[Recorder’s note: Baron responds after a delay.]
She’s right, you know. You tell lies enough, you start to believe them. I worked on those bots, put them together in the factory. Fixed them when they got damaged. Kept telling myself it was important work. Had to do it. Had to keep the peace. Even when neighbors didn’t come home. Even when my nephew and my cousin got hurt. Cousin got his leg hurt so bad he couldn’t walk. But I just told myself it had to be done. Had to keep working on those bots. Everything would be worse if I didn’t. Really started to believe it.
©2017 Michelle M. Welch