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Science Fiction Suspense Fiction

“Are you sure about this?”

Kyra fiddled with the drone. “Of course I am. Don’t you want to see the sun? To see blue skies and green trees? To see life?”

Bryn gently touched Kyra’s chin and tilted her face up, staring deep into her eyes. “What if the histories are true? What if there’s nothing to see but scorched earth and barrenness? Or worse yet, darkness?”

She smiled. “There’s only one way to find out.”

Bryn turned to the large, iron door splotched with rust. As he suspected, it was sealed shut. He would have thought it was from four generations of misuse until a year ago when Kyra found the capsule her father left her in the family vault. Now, he wondered if the stuck door was by design instead of malfunctioning. “I thought caves and underground structures had to have secondary access to the surface, in case of a cave-in or emergency.”

Kyra shrugged.  “Dad wouldn’t have left this if there wasn’t a way to get it out there.”

Bryn looked around the empty, grey hallway. Of course, nobody was there. Nobody came this far out. Why would they? There was nothing on the other side but death. Or so they had been told, but thanks to his late father-in-law, they were about to find out if the stories of a nuclear apocalypse wiping out the surface were true.

Kyra laid the drone on the floor and stepped to Bryn, wrapping her arms around him. “Don’t you want to see something besides grey walls and darkness? To see the sun, and hear the flow of air that isn’t recycled? Pure water that hasn’t been recycled and animals? Clouds and rain and the world as our ancestors knew it?”

“You mean the world our ancestors burned?”

Kyra pulled back and looked at the drone on the floor again. “Don’t you wonder what’s out there?”

He took her shoulders. “I wonder all the time, mostly why they did it. How could humanity annihilate themselves and the world they live in, forcing their children to live in underground bunkers for nearly a hundred and fifty years? To leave behind all technology, all knowledge, all of history, all of evolution, to go back to the ground?”

“The truth is out there,” Kyra pulled a small, rectangular device from her pocket and tapped at the screen with her finger. “I got the connection between the drone and this device set to a range of two miles. It isn’t much, but it’s better than we’ve ever seen.”

“What is that?” Bryn asked, staring at the device glowing in her hand.

She smiled. “Another gift from Dad. This is something that my great-grandfather had called a mobile device. It was harder to get this working than to build the drone. I had to harvest parts from salvage to repair and power it. It’s been a treasure trove of information. Look at these pictures!” She tapped a grey square that opened to show a picture of a young woman with flowing hair standing on sand, with a wide expanse of blue behind her. “I think that’s my great-grandmother on her honeymoon at a place called ‘the beach.’” She swiped her finger, showing more pictures. The images were surreal: people gone for so long. And the backgrounds! Golden sunlight, blue sky, water, green trees, grass, beautiful flowers, and plants actually growing from the ground. Creatures with fur and four legs, jewels with bright feathers and wings, and even a curious white thing with floppy pink ears, and large eyes. There was one picture of a large expanse of pink crevices with an unbelievable blue sky over it.

Bryn gently took the phone in his hands. “I want to see this.”

Kyra smiled. “I want to see it too. All of it.” She turned to the door. “But we have to get the drone on the other side of the door.”

Bryn held up the phone. “Maybe this can help. Didn’t they use these devices to access things, like our keypads open doors and run appliances?”

Kyra nodded. “My great-grandfather was on the design team for this bunker. If they used technology to set it up, then there might be something here that will open the door.”  

They huddled together, poking at various squares. All of them made the screen go black until she accidentally swiped her finger across the screen and found one more square on another blank page. A screen opened with various toggles and buttons on it. She tapped the one at the top and a beep sounded from the wall next to the door. They looked up to see a panel glowing on the wall. The screen on the panel mirrored the screen on the phone.

“You did it!” Bryn hugged Kyra.

“Now to figure out these strange systems,” Kyra said. “This looks like it requires a code to open the door, like our machine functions.”

“It has spaces for eight digits,” Bryn said. “Maybe it’s a date. Two month, two day, four year.”

Kyra tried multiple combinations. Her great-grandmother’s birthday, their wedding anniversary, her grandfather’s birthday, her father’s birthday, even the supposed date that they moved into the bunker. All blinked red.”

She sighed. “This is hopeless!”

“Don’t give up,” Bryn said. “Maybe there’s something else on that device. What about the pictures? Do you think there’s something there?”

She tapped the icon for the pictures again, which opened to her great-grandmother smiling in the golden sun. What wasn’t she seeing? She touched a small icon in the top corner. Another screen opened with the file properties.

The date was eight digits.

She swiped the screen and went back to the other box, typing in the numbers. The light blinked green and the large door creaked as it cracked open.

She smiled. “Success!”

Bryn picked up the drone as she poked at the device to open the connection to the drone. They were going to see the sun!

They coughed as dust blew in the door. A wave of heat blasted through the crack. The drone rose in the air, and they walked to the door shielding their eyes from blinding light as Kyra squinted at the phone to fly it out of the door.

“Close the door!” Bryn coughed in the dust pouring in the door.

Kyra poked at the screen and entered the code again. The wall panel beeped, and the door creaked closed. They inhaled deeply and wiped the sweat off their brows as the door sealed shut.

“What a mess,” Bryn said, looking at the dust on the walls and floor around the door.

“That’s the least of my concerns,” Kyra opened her app. “Let’s see what there is to see!”

They stared at the screen, which was grainy at first. Kyra tapped at the device to change some settings, and soon the images sharpened and adjusted to the harsh light. She gasped.

Bryn stepped beside her and stared at the large, orange disk pulsating in the red sky. The ground was brown and dusty, like the fine grains scattered across the metal floor. “What happened to the sun?”

“It’s dying,” a female voice said at the end of the hallway.

They looked up to see the motion lights flickering to live over Astra and Slade.

“What do you mean? Is this the apocalypse you were talking about, or something else?”

Slade grabbed the device, dropped it on the floor, and stomped on it. “It’s exactly what we told you. It’s death.”

“What’s wrong with the sun?” Bryn asked. “It doesn’t look like the pictures from before. It’s bigger, and orange.”

“The sun is a red giant,” Astra said. “The atmosphere is burning off.”

“There was no nuclear war,” Kyra said. “You lied.”

Astra shrugged. “We didn’t lie. The world is dying. We just rewrote reality to give people hope.”

“Hope for what?” Bryn asked. “What benefit is there in telling people that the radiation is from a dying sun that we can’t escape, instead of a war that might dissipate one day?”

“Hope creates order,” Slade said. “It’s why technology and relics from the outside are banned. If people find out that we have no chance of long-term survival, then life has no meaning. It’s anarchy. We’ll go extinct before we have a chance to figure out how to live.”

“How’s that going?” Kyra asked. “We’ve been down here for a hundred and twenty-five years. Why didn’t we leave before? Did we have spacefaring technology? Are there colonies on other planets?”

“There’s nothing!” Slade pulled a small gun from his pocket. “They died! Humanity can’t survive away from Earth, and Earth can’t survive without the sun.”

Bryn raised his hands. “Slade, let’s talk about this.”

Slade raised the gun and pulled the trigger. A blast of energy pierced Kyra’s chest. Astra pulled a small gun from her pocket and shot an energy beam through Bryn’s head.

Slade stuck his gun in his pocket and walked to the bodies on the floor. “They used contraband to open the door and took a lethal dose of radiation. That will keep the community in check for a while.”

Astra sighed. “How much longer do we have to do this?”

Slade bent down and stuck his finger in the dust. “As long as it takes to protect them from the truth.” 

January 07, 2024 18:06

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1 comment

Rabab Zaidi
11:13 Jan 14, 2024

Well written but depressing.


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