“Three more weeks,” I say to myself. “Three more weeks.” I continue to walk down the dimly lit tunnel pushing my cart. It’s just gray brick, gray walks, gray walkway, gray light holders, and gray everything. The only color is the soft yellow oozing out every ten feet or so. My cart is full of cleaning supplies.
I’m the janitor of this bunker after all it would make sense that everyone here is clean freaks. Massive plague broke out hundred years ago. Killed most of humanity. The survivors took to underground bunkers, cleaned like hell, and managed to create ecosystems for us down here. Shame they’re all dead and were used as compost.
As you guessed the survivors of the plague are dead. Every single one of them. They didn’t catch the plague or die in horrible ways, they all died due to old age. Grew some fantastic tomatoes with them.
I was wheeling my cart full of supplies back into the closet. A long hard day of cleaning something that is practically still clean from yesterday. I don’t even know why I am the janitor when everyone cleans after themselves guess it was to keep busy. Nothing much to do in a bunker.
I put it away and headed back to the dorms. Nice we each have our own rooms, toddlers and parents have to share...may their souls rest.
“Hey, Ada!” Roman said as he passed.
“Hello,” I replied. Roman stopped walking the way he was going and started to walk with me.
“Are you ready for the big day?” He asked.
“ Been dreaming of it. Can’t wait to see another color other than gray.”
“Me too. I’ll see you there.” Roman went back to walking his way.
I went to my room and slept something about doing nothing still exhausts you.
“Three more days,” I say again, walking down the same gray hallway and putting the same cart in the same closet. You know I could have always put it in a different closet you know to spice things up a bit, change my scenery to gray to a little lighter gray.
I begin to walk back to the dorms when I meet Roman down the hallway again.
“Hey, Ada!” Roman exclaims.
“Hey,” I say back but continue walking. I wasn’t in the mood for small talk.
“Ada wait! Can I ask you something?”
“Make it quick.”
“Would you like to come eat with me tomorrow?”
I raise my eyebrow..”We eat lunch every day together.”
“Right...I forgot about that. Well, then would you like to come to draw with me?”
“Draw what exactly? Gray walls?”
“We can draw what we think the outside world looks like!”
“You know what you see there,” I say and begin to walk off again. I turned my head around for a quick glance to look at Roman. I can tell he was smiling even from behind. That made me smile for some reason. I went back to my dorm and slept.
In tomorrow evening, I met Roman for our little “art date”. Would you even call it a date? I have no idea if it's been a while since Roman and I drew together. He probably just missed it.
I walk into the art room. A few middle-aged couples were drawing together. Few stray teenagers also sat in there. I saw Roman getting two essels ready and grabbing some paint for us. We might be in a bunker but the leaders put great efforts into making sure we have a way to express ourselves as a way to keep mental health up, hence the art room.
He saw me and smiled. He is unusually happy to see me. He threw me an apron and I put my hair up. We began painting and we talked about what we thought outside was like. In the end, we had a lush blue forest and wonderful colors. Colors we knew would never be out there but it was nice to dream. We cleaned up, took our paintings, and began to walk down to the dorms. Roman walked me to mine, which also was unusual, and he walked back to his.
“Three more hours,” I say to myself as I'm packing. We are finally able to step outside to the surface. Sunlight! I can’t wait to experience it. I’ve only heard rumors about it. I’m packing food and other supplies. We are not going for long, we are just staying there long enough to explore in the daylight. Then we are coming back but we can come out each day and explore and hopefully set out for the first new civilizations on the surface.
I walk out of my dorm. I set for the main room. The rest of the volunteers are waiting there and I’m so excited.
I see Roman again and he smiles. “Ready?” He asks me.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I say.
“Three more minutes!” I say to Roman.
“I know!” and we look at each other like kids getting more cookies.
“Now! Everyone be careful. 100 years can change a lot of things and we have no idea what is outside, please be careful we want you to come back alive.” Our instructor said.
She opened the hat and let people go before her. Roman and I climbed up. Sunlight! Oh, it felt so good. The sky was such a pretty blue what a wonderful thing to gaze at for the first time. The clouds, the few that were there, were so fluffy. I could imagine dancing on them. Trees! And they are a deep green with beautiful brown bark..a good color brown not the kind that looks like shit. The air smelled so good. Fresh air! How wonderful is that? I ran over to the trees. It seemed we were in the middle of a pine forest.
I looked by the trunks of the trees. Little patches of grass with three purple flowers were all over them. A little patch of grass each patch with three purple flowers. I wonder why that was.
Roman stood by me and he smiled.
“What are you smiling at me for?” I asked.
“The way you look at those flowers. It’s beautiful.”
“Oh shut up. Come on let's go deeper.” I say
We walked into the pine forest. I got scared because a bird flew from a tree and rattled the branches. Roman shared the fright with me and when we learned that it was a harmless bird we laughed. It was a beautiful bird, blue with black at the tips of its wings. Red on the top of its head but an awful-sounding caw.
“You think I can climb up that tree?” I asked Roman.
“You are weak as shit I don’t think you’ll make it.” He says challenging me.
“You don’t think I’ll make it?”
“You could try.” He says and he throws his hands by his chest.
I head for the tree. I shove my pack down by the tree’s trunk and hoisted myself onto the first branch. I begin to climb my way up to the trunk of the tree. I don’t think about anything else but climbing the tree. I stop to catch my breath. I look up and see the top of the tree. Three more branches are all I need to get there. With one last surge of strength, I made it to the top.
“Ha! I did it!” I scream down to Roman.
Roman gives me the thumbs up. “Great, can you come down now? You’re freaking me out!”
“Party pooper,” I yelled back to him. I slowly begin to climb down the tree. It was so exciting to climb it and the view was absolutely wonderful. The horizon was so far. Trees were for miles around. I saw some mountains in the distance. It was breathtaking. Once we learn where to put the foundation for civilization I will never take that view for granted.
I made my way to Roman. He was smiling like a little kid.
“You're such a kid,” Roman tells me.
“You should have seen the view, it was wonderful,” I say.
Roman rolls his eyes. “Alright, you ready to get a move on now?”
We head deeper into the forest. We are keeping our way so we know how to get back to the bunker. We need to head back before the sunsets. The instructor tells us to begin out here in the dark. It was never pretty.
Soon the sun was going to set so Roman and I began our journey back to the bunker. The sky erupted in a dark blue with orange, red, and pink streaks. The clouds even changed color. A sight was much better than the gray walls and one I will never take for granted.
Then out of nowhere, we heard a noise. It was a loud shuffling noise. No bird could make it. I was sure of it. We picked up the pace now scared for our lives. The sun was betraying us by disappearing.
Stars started to appear as the horizon grew into a deeper red and orange and the blue surrounding us was getting darker. I stopped for a moment and took in the view of the stars. Roman tried to hurry me again and after a movement, I listened to him.
The noises that were following us seemed to be getting closer. Roman and I began to run. The more we ran the more I wondered how far did we go? The bunker seemed so far away. I started wondering if we were going in the right way. My heart was pumping so fast and I had no idea why or how I was still even going. All I knew was that the noises were only getting closer.
Then out of nowhere the noises stopped but something appeared in front of us. Roman and I stopped running. We stop in our tracks. The thing ahead of us was tall inhumanly tall. It was slowly getting closer. I look behind us and there was two more of the things
The one in front of us began to walk in front of us. Roman and I stood still not daring to move.
“If we don’t make it out of here I want to tell you that I love you,” Roman says to me.
“Great time to tell me now? I love you too.” I say back to him. He smiles like a little kid. This was not a time to be smiling.
The figure stopped in front of us. In the fading light, I could see the details very clearly. The figure was a head taller than us. The back of their head peaked out, it was a light color purple fading into the pure white, making it look like they had cracks all over their face. Their eyes were pure white. No iris or pupil was staring at me. They wore no clothes but they looked human. The purple had also started from their hands and faded up their arms leaving the same cracked looked. Their legs were the same way but their torso born the look of bone marks.
“What do we have here?” The one in front of us spoke. Its voice eerie and hard sounding.
“People,” Roman said. I stared at him.
“People?.... You must be the early humans that escaped the plague...lucky bastards.”
“Look we mean no harm. We just want to make it back to base.” Roman replied.
“We mean harm.” The creature said. It began to walk back and forth.
“What are you?” I didn’t mean to ask it just slipped out.
“We are humans. Mutated thanks to that virus. People were killed and those who survived grew. We get new surprises every day never know what is going to pop out of you.”
“That’s Impossible Humans don’t evolve that fast!” I say.
“The virus mutated. In the process changed the DNA of the entire human race. We began to mutate faster along with the virus. Or so we think we don’t actually care but what joy it is going to be to kill you.”
“Run!” Roman yells and he tries to take off. The human creature shoots him. In my panic I didn’t see the gun they held in their hand. I stood in my place careful not to piss them off.
“How cute.” The creature says. “But no fun.” The two behind me began to laugh. “Run little girl. Make it fun for us! See how far you can get to that precious bunker!”
I ran. Regretting that I had to leave Roman there. Bleeding out on the ground. Let his body become compost and grow a wonderful tree. I ran I made sure I was going in the direction where the bunker was. Soon I saw the clearing, the little spot of grass with the circle of trees around it.
It was dark by now but I saw the shape of the hatch so close. I was almost to the line of the trees. Three more steps I thought to myself. Just three more to get to those trees. I made it past the tree line. Then I fell over not because I tripped over a stick or a branch. A great pain erupted from my back. I fell and lay on the ground. Not wanting to move. I waited until the noises of the creatures stopped and I thought that they were gone.
With great pain, I pull myself forward. Just a few feet. If I was going to die here then I wanted to look at the stars. I roll myself over. Pain erupting from my back. Out of breath, I look at the stars. The sky was pitch black but it was comforting. The stars were so bright and so beautiful. Kinda a shame I’m never able to see them again. My brain trying to connect them into constellations that would never exist. I tried to find the great dipper. I look at the stars another view I knew I would not take for granted. I smell the pine air once again. I hope that I would be a tree just like Roman wherever he was. He loved me and I loved him. I just wish we were under the stars together.
I turn my head to look at the trees, although I couldn’t see the detail they held, I just wanted one last look. Then I realized I was so close to the bunker hatch. I pulled myself forward. It took so much effort. I look up. Three more pushes were all I had to go.
Just three more...three more....three