Author Archives: mmwelch

About mmwelch

Speculative fiction author, musician, librarian, fan of dessert

Stories from Refuge – 70 – “So we tried to help out.”

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-61, interview with R.N., recorded by Beatrice 75C
Refuge Year 100.10.20

We used to help out, both of us. We were down there in sub-18, and you know how it got. Not enough food, not enough work, too many people crammed in too small a space, and never mind what it does to people to be locked underground. It doesn’t even matter that they’ve never seen the sun before – they still miss it. They know that they’re even farther from it in the sub-tunnels, and they can feel that extra weight on their heads.

So we tried to help out, Nod and I. Both of us had a little medical training, even though we couldn’t get any work other than transport, moving bodies on gurneys. Nod used to tell some nasty jokes about what happened to cadavers in Refuge but when he actually handled them he was always respectful. We both got home really late, just before curfew by the time we got back to sub-18, but there would always be someone who needed our help. Kids with scrapes and broken bones, women who’d burned themselves trying to jerry-rig their broken cooktops so they’d work, people with black eyes from all kinds of fights. They knew to look out for us, the two guys who worked upstairs, and usually they didn’t even laugh at us. We tried to bring down food, too. Any time we got off work early we’d take a detour through Waste Management and collect any food that was being thrown out before they sent it Aboveground. Not that we have too much of that, but every little bit helps.

Then they shut down half of the air scrubbers.

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Stories from Refuge – 69 – “I could have put up a resistance and stopped the whole thing.”

(c) Serjio74 | Dreamstime.com

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-60, interview with W.F., recorded by James 72A
Refuge Year 100.10.18

You called me the subject. You’re giving me initials like I’m a victim who needs my identity to be protected. What’s going on? Are you confusing me with someone else? Are you bringing in one of my victims later?

Or do you really think I’m the victim? I could almost laugh at that.

So yes, I was arrested. The Government threw me in jail, and your Council, I suppose, is interviewing anyone who ever went to jail. You’ve decided the old Government was all bad, so the people who got persecuted must be all good. I guess every new Government probably does that to the one they replaced, never mind how much of an oversimplification that is.

Alright, then. I went to jail. I was identified by PsyOp as someone who was potentially hiding something, and they searched my living unit. They found drugs, narcotics I bought under the table from someone who’d smuggled them out of Medical. I was arrested for possession and purchasing contraband. Does that make me some kind of victim? Maybe the part about PsyOp invading my brain, hunting for people to accuse of something?

But that’s not really how it works, right? Empaths can’t read your mind; they can only read what you’re throwing out. And I was throwing out a whole lot of guilt.

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Stories from Refuge – 68 – “That was the scariest moment of my life.”

(c) Radist | Dreamstime.com

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-59, interview with K.M., recorded by Mary 80C
Refuge Year 100.10.16

I used to be a chemist. I worked in hydroponics, but when my son ran away I just couldn’t focus on the work anymore and I got fired. They gave me a job going Aboveground and scouting for new lithium fields, the kind of job you don’t talk about because if people find out you’re going up there, they don’t really want you living near them anymore. If people find out you’ve been working with Commanders leading collection teams of bots, even if they’re carrying barrels instead of a lot of weapons and they haven’t been programmed to hurt anyone, they think you’re one of them and they start spreading rumors about you.

For a while the irony really got to me. The only job I could get was working with machine-heads, the people I hated more than anything because I was convinced they’d killed my boy. It was about ten years ago that I got the job, right after that incident in the secret tunnel where the kids were killed. Never mind that my wife went to Medical to help identify bodies and said he wasn’t there. Never mind that she was called a few years later to I.D. a drug overdose and she was pretty sure that was actually him. I was sure he was killed by bots in that tunnel and I was ready to spend the rest of my life despising the job I was doing and who I was doing it with.

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Poetry Corner: High desert wash

Summer –
day after day of heat, parched,
thick air hinting at coming storms
and then –
skies opening wide, just for a flash,
leaving only a trace of water on the thirsty earth
until next time

(c)2017 Michelle M. Welch

Sedona is always great for photography and poetry inspiration. I’ve got a few weeks worth from my most recent trip.

Stories from Refuge – 67 – “Something about how she was crying over those dead kids.”

(c) Svedoliver | Dreamstime.com

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-58, interview with B.C., recorded by Beatrice 75C
Refuge Year 100.10.14

What, I don’t get anyone to talk to? No one to sit here and listen to me accuse them of all the things we had to live with? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Didn’t think anyone wanted to hear my story.

It’s not really mine, that’s what people are telling me. Why the hell should I go do one of these interview things when I never even got hurt by bots, when I was never in a riot, when I never put my ass on the line trying to fight back? No one in my family was even killed. It’s someone else’s story I’m telling and I’m trying to get sympathy for that, acting like I did something. That’s what people keep saying to me. Well, they never had to clean up the bodies after those riots, did they?

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