“Noah!” Violette screeched.
Noah jogged through the small, concrete space housing his friend’s array of plants. They’d lived and thrived for over a month since Violette convinced him to travel underground. As a self-taught botanist, he wasn’t confident in his skill at all, but he refused to admit it. He guessed he was worth something if Violette wanted him on her crew to ‘revive the world.’
“Noah!” she howled a second time. “I think I did it!”
“What?” he heaved. “What did you do?”
“I’ve finally got a powerful enough ray, and it won’t melt your hand off!”
“I’d tell you to touch my masterpiece, but it might poison you. Haven’t quite worked that part out yet.”
“Vi, why did your simulated sun need to be improved?” Noah asked with a slight groan.
Violette was as brilliant as she was charming. Sometimes, Noah thought, to a fault. She’d spent years developing mock civilization the moment news hit the tabloids and streets. Digging tunnels, procuring supplies quietly, lining planters with anything essential she could think of, and ample rations stocked ornately built shelves. Describing the underground maze as a ‘bunker’ was an insult. Noah gave the place much more credit as calling it an underground city.
“It needed improved,” Violette thrusted her hands in the planter’s direction, “because nothing can stay as is. Now, I must continue my experiments.”
“It must be done!” she declared harshly. “Like our sun, this simulation must evolve. It can’t stay the same ray for long periods. All your work will die. You don’t want that. If your work dies, we die.”
“Violette, it doesn’t need constant changes. I won’t be able to keep up with you. That could also kill us. You understand that, don’t you?”
“I can’t keep up on my plants if you keep changing your sun’s formula,” he added.
Suddenly, Violette’s eyebrows rose, and a spark overtook the frustration behind her eye.
“Oh no…” Noah moaned at her familiar face. “What is it now?”
“The sun cannot evolve if it doesn’t revolve!” Her jaw dropped a smile, and the excitement beamed.
“Violette,” Noah tried, “I really don’t think it’s necessary. We have to modify the suits, so no one meant to harvest my plants gets sick. Radiation is still a factor.”
“Pffft! Oh, Noah! Those suits will work just fine. I have to fix the sun itself before I worry about radiation and poisoning.”
“What about cancer? You want our harvesters to rapidly develop cancer because you’re more concerned with making your little ray spin around the room?”
At that, Noah stiffened. His words were a mistake. Violette knew ridicule and went her whole life hearing jokes being made at her expense but minimizing her accomplishments did not go unchecked. Truthfully, the infraction hadn’t been his intent. He wanted his friend to imagine a bigger picture—to weigh all her consequences to constant, unnecessary improvements.
“Is that all you think this is?” she gasped.
“No, Violette, I didn’t mean—”
“This ‘little ray’ can save what of humanity I have holed up down here!”
“I wasn’t discounting the importance of what you’ve done,” he admitted. “I was only trying to let you see all your possibilities…even the negatives.”
Violette’s heated gazed deepened. Her ray saved hundreds of lives and even held potential to recreate humanity. The ray had its quirks, she knew, but all first inventions did. However, she clung to the idea that her quirks had to be smoothed out as quickly as possible. One wrong move, and her discoveries would easily end humanity. She worked well under the pressure, but she couldn’t have her best friend pestering her into a corner.
“Violette,” Noah sighed.
“It must be fixed,” she muttered with finality before shouldering her way by him.
Noah shook his head but chose not to follow her. If her plans changed, so would his. If her formulas changed, so would his. Even a change in schedule had to be worked out for the two not to fail. Yet, as Violette stalked off, Noah knew she considered everything to be on her; success, failure, thriving, dying all sat on her shoulders.
With another sigh, Noah turned himself away completely and began trimming at the dead edges of a medicinal herb one recruited doctor once swore by. He felt the urge to snatch fresh areas from the lively plant and study it further—ensure it was properly labelled should a time come a medicinal herb be necessary for someone among them. In that moment, he understood Violette.
Who was he to criticize her overthinking and mind-spiraling concern when he was beginning to do the same? He stared at the plant for a few moments until his attention was snatched away by the sound of her voice.
“Noah,” she breathed, “I’m sorry. I have a lot riding on this. The sun already died once, and I don’t really want to be the one who kills it a second time.”
Noah stayed silent.
“You can be mad at me,” she added. “I’ll accept it. Hell, I deserve it. My ray is important, but your plants sit on the same pedestal. What good is my sun without your plants? Secondly, you have a point about people getting sick. I have to improve the system.”
Noah nodded without a word while keeping his back to her.
“We need to work together. I’m learning that sooner than later. I just hope you understand that I did all this on my own for years.”
“I understand,” Noah said simply.
“So, I have to adjust the ray. Once I adjust the ray—get it to orbit with minimal consequences—we can work out the rest of the quirks together.”
Noah allowed Violette’s words to sink into his bones. The plea in her voice certified her sincerity. Her perseverance to keep humanity from dying off was no small feat, and there was chance he’d been the only one to understand such a gravity. She’d been pushing herself—obsessing—over making her discoveries even better. It wasn’t unsafe to travel above ground, but it was becoming the only place for suitable resources. Violette worked on a clock unlike any other, and she did it all with a level head.
“We have to work together,” she said when no response came.
“Correction!” he exclaimed with a sudden energy boost.
Violette blinked rapidly. “What?”
“We will work together! Teamwork is the best work!”
Violette groaned, “I change my mind. I can find another guy that plays with plants for a living.”
“Hey!” Noah whined. “I know about flowers, too!”
“Ah, yes,” Violette giggled, “can’t forget the flowers!”
Noah scrunched his face as she approached.
Violette laughed louder as she wrapped her arms around Noah’s midsection. “We’ll be fine.”
“Mhm,” he grumbled.
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Trying to re-create the sun is a super cool concept! Interestingly it feels quite light-hearted for a post-apocalyptic tale, which is refreshing. Think it has a lot of potential and would be interesting to discover more of this world.
Thank you! I plan on having more installments!