Category Archives: flash fiction

Stories from Refuge – 117 – “He died dreaming of Aboveground.”

(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-94, dialogue between H.G. and Jill White, recorded by Beatrice 75C
RY 100.12.29

18C is haunted, did you know that? Those tunnels down in the south end of Refuge, there’s a lot of bad news coming out of them, but it’s mostly Section 16 and 17 where you hear all the stories, especially the sub-tunnels. All the crime and the drug runners and the people getting locked in when the air scrubbers go down. Sec 18 isn’t nearly as much trouble. It’s still poor compared to 21 and 22 where the people who work for Government live, but mostly things are quiet and there isn’t that much trouble.

Except side tunnel C. There’s trouble there, but you have to live there to hear about it.

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Stories from Refuge – 116 – “Everyone stopped to listen to him and I got away.”

(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-93, dialogue between N.R. and Jill White, recorded by James 72A
RY 100.12.27

I know you. You’re the one who arrested my brother. Not the mind-reader, that was someone else, and when that guy was done messing my brother up he said this short little woman came along and actually slapped the cuffs on him, grabbed him like her hands were made of metal and marched him down to Confinement. He swore it was a bot that grabbed him and started talking to him and he wouldn’t listen to me when I tried to tell him bots can’t talk.

You never got me, though. You got my brother but you never got me. You want to know why?

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Stories from Refuge – 115 – “The next time I sang I didn’t get caught at all.”

(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-92, interview with I.A., recorded by Beatrice 75C
RY 100.12.26

Here’s what happened the first time I was arrested. I was on the train car and we’d gotten stuck in Section 24, something going on in the junction with Sec 8 that we couldn’t see. People were getting restless, the car was actually starting to rock back and forth, and there was muttering going around. What is it this time, another riot, or just the bots breaking some heads up ahead of us, someone saying they knew someone who could shut the bots down for good, that kind of thing. It wasn’t long before a gray suit came by, of course, looking for anyone who was going to start trouble. I saw him walking along outside the car, peering in the windows, and someone in the car starting crying, this thin little high-pitched wail. I’m not sure the Empath was actually throwing anything out there, I didn’t really feel anything, but I knew things were about to go sideways.

I wasn’t really planning what I did next. I could have broken a window or thrown a punch or any number of things. What I did was start singing. I don’t remember what song. I just belted it out at the top of my lungs.

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Stories from Refuge – 114 – “I always just did my job, tried not to think about it too hard.”

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 C-28, interview with Nate Smith, recorded by Mary 80C
RY 100.12.23

She apologized when she came back. Min did. I’m a medical tech in 5 North, I give the paramaniacs their sedatives, and I’m the one who took over from Fred Browne when Min came in and he couldn’t sedate her. He got bothered, I don’t really understand why, but then we never really talked to each other. They don’t hire med techs who like to chat. Put the needles in the arms and don’t listen to them when they try to scare you, that’s what we get told to do.

I did it for years. I shot sedatives into Min’s arm and she went to sleep, and I listened to her mumble something about not dreaming. Then one day they came in and told me to wake Min up, take her off the sedatives. I thought she’d start dreaming again and that would be bad, but I didn’t think about it too hard.

Don’t think about any of them too hard, I’d tell myself. Just do the job.

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Stories from Refuge – 113 – “If I were a better person maybe I could forgive you.”

(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-91, dialogue between S.J. and Min 62B, recorded by James 72A
RY 100.12.22

So I’m supposed to sit here and talk about what you did to me and let you say whatever you can think of to justify yourself and then I’m supposed to forgive you. Is that it? That’s the idea people have here? How often do they really think that works? Sure, you didn’t mess me up as much as you could have. I have a friend who got interrogated once, ended up with nightmares so bad she drank herself to death trying to drown them out. My cousin, he had a run-in with the Empath they call Richard – he made a point of telling my cousin his name, and making him remember it, as if he wasn’t sadistic enough. He made my cousin break his own fingers.

No, then, you weren’t as bad as you could have been. Is that how you’re going to justify yourself? No nightmares, no compulsions, you just asked me questions and read me to see if I was telling the truth. Real nice of you. I should congratulate you or something. But you were still part of that system, you kept it going, you made sure that machine kept running and mowed all of us down with it. If I were a better person, maybe I could forgive you, but I don’t want to.

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Stories from Refuge – 112 – “That was the minute I changed 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-90, dialogue between W.A. and Min 62B, recorded by Beatrice 75C
RY 100.12.21

I was going in the wrong direction, I knew I was. Back when I was a kid, and the guys I knew in school were always talking about starting riots, how they were going to rush the Military section and break into bot storage and send those hunks of metal to kill the people in charge for a change. Maybe a lot of it was just talk, I don’t know, but it stuck in my head. When my mom was killed that was the only thing I could think of – rushing Military and letting the bots out.

So I got caught and I got interrogated. They tell me it was this woman who did it, and maybe it was, I don’t remember anymore. I started imagining her differently over the years. But I should have remembered her better, since that was the minute I changed my life. It was like I was just waiting until then, waiting until a riot broke out, waiting until bots killed someone close to me, maybe even me, waiting until something swept me up because it never occurred to me to decide what I wanted to do. That was when I decided what I did want to do – when this Empath caught me and she leaned in close and I was freaking out and waiting for the nightmares to start and then they didn’t. They put me in a cell by myself and I sat there thinking about everything I ever did and everything I never did, all the choices I refused to actually make, all the times I shrugged my shoulders and pretended like there was nothing I could do. Then they opened the door and let me out.

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Stories from Refuge – 111 – “Every person I saw I thought it was him.”

(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 C-27, interview with Min 62B, recorded by Mary 80C
RY 100.12.20

I think I really do have paramania. Someone came in and woke me up and told me I didn’t, told me they would take me off the sedatives and I had to go talk to some people, told me… told me… told me I didn’t have paramania but I think I do. I think I… What was I saying?

It’s not losing words, that’s not the paramania. That’s the sedatives. I lose words all the time. I’ll try to ask for something, I’m thirsty or something and I’ll try to ask the techs in… in… where I’m at, see, I’ve lost the words… 5 North, Confinement. The techs try not to talk to us or let us talk to them, they get scared when we start babbling and can’t think of the words so we just say Get me Get me Get me. They get scared, I can still… I can still read that even with the sedatives.

Losing words… losing words, that’s not the paramania. That’s when I start seeing my brother and it’s like I’m running to him and my… my heart starts pounding like I’m really running and I try to catch him before he… before he jumps… before he…

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