Sad Fiction

Write about someone who grew up in a bunker, and lockdown life is all they’ve ever known.

Sometimes I wonder. Wonder what it’s like outside. What it’s like in the real world. With real people. In a place where my actions matter, and I could feel useful. In a place where every day was different from the last.

But the room around me was small. Light grey walls with white furniture and back accents. The curtains over the windows. The lights off. The floor musty with the weight of not giving a crap. I was sick. I was weak. I was laying on the floor, utterly alone.

Where was I? The room didn’t feel like mine, the house seemed… foreign. It smelled like me. Like I lived there. Like I had lived there for the past two years. But everything felt wrong these days.

I slammed my head against the wall. The thud echoed through the room, the pain reverberating in my skull. My hands were shaking. I threw myself to the solid wall. The sound that came from it was loud, or was it just the ringing in my ears? I slammed into the blankness of the room. Was it darker? I felt something dripping on my palms. I looked up, to see if the ceiling was dripping, but it wasn’t. My face was wet too. I pounded into the wall. The water was sticky red. The wall was cold. I slumped against it, falling to the ground. I was sleepy. So very sleepy.

I was disappointed when I woke up. Why did I have to be awake? I wished I had fallen asleep next to the wall and stayed that way. Waiting for someone to find me. To carry me out, and into a better life. But who would find me? No one. No one cared enough to come looking for me. If nobody heard from me in days, they wouldn’t be concerned. A lot of people would be concerned if I did reach out to them. They’d be worried.

“Oh no, Alissa’s calling, something must be wrong!”

I cranked the tap water as cold as it could go. I let it shock me as I wiped away the blood from my palms, my head, my clothes.

Carla would find me.

She would come in to check on me, eventually. She would knock twice, quick and friendly, before letting herself in. She would find me, slumped against the wall, alone and still. She would cry. She might be the only one who would.

I looked out the window. Bright lights illuminated the streets. People walked down them. They were happy. They talked to one another. They smiled. They made me sick.

And I waited. By the door, on the sofa, under sheets. I waited for those two swift knocks. I was hungry, but I didn’t eat. I was thirsty, but I didn’t drink. I was dirty, but I didn’t bathe. It didn’t feel right, to care for myself until Carla came knocking. So I waited.

I watched the happy people outside. I sat by the door. I stared at the drain in the sink as water spilled down it.

Brapp brrap.

I darted out of the bathroom, slamming my shoulder against the wall. I sped down the hallway until I was face to face with Carla. She stepped inside calmly, closing the door behind her. She set down a paper bag on the floor.

“Hello, Niya.” She said as she began unpacking the contents of the bag onto the table. “You should get outside today. I hear there’ll be a showing.” Her voice was calm. I opened my mouth to reply, but it took a moment for the words to come out.

“I-I-I don’t n-know,” I muttered. “It’s not safe.”

“Niya, I know you’re worried, but you’ll be ok. I know you will. I promise you it’s safe.”

“How do you know?” My voice was rising. But Carla’s stayed smooth the whole time she spoke to me.

“I guess I just do.” She said. She had finished unloading the items from her bag. Her blond hair rolled off her back in smooth waves. Her eyes were focused on mine, piercing green. It was such a rare color. Everything was always shades of grey. She was so different than me, with my black hair and eyes. She was so different from everyone else. She claims she doesn’t know why, but it’s obvious. She was born outside. On the surface. Her skin has touched the sun. Her eyes weren’t wide and black, her hair was full, her skin was tan. She claims she doesn’t remember it, the surface, but she’s lying. She must know. She has to.

“Are you going?” I asked her. She was stunned.

“Of course,” she began, but even as she said it I knew she was lying. She hadn’t known it then, but she was lying. She was just as scared of it as I was. She was there when the attacks began. When the flooding wiped coastal states away. When the bombs dropped. When the sky cried tears of fire. She had seen it. No matter how young she was, she must have remembered. You could see it in her eyes. Her green, green eyes. She was haunted by those memories.

I had trailed off in my own thoughts. “I can’t go, Carla. I can’t.”

“Niya..” she began, but I cut her off.

“I can’t go through that again!” I screamed. “Their faces, Carla, their faces! I see them every night! The skin, their skin,” I was sobbing. “The way it bubbled, Carla, I can’t go through it again!”

“It won’t happen, Niya, I promise.” She whispered, holding me against her.

The images were flooding into my head. The long wait lines in the crowded hall. My parents, holding my hand. The blood pouring from their eyes, trailing down their faces. Their skin bubbling in the toxic air. It dripped off of them, landing in puddles on the ground. The smell. The stench of the bodies, thousands of strangers around me, melting onto the floor. My mother wrapped herself around me. She was dripping with skin and blood. It sizzled when it landed on my arms. The bloodcurdling screams. I could still hear them.

Carla was holding me as I sobbed. The screaming stayed with me. Carla was whispering to me, telling me I was safe, it was over, it had all happened years ago. I realized I was screaming. I stopped. My tears slowed to a trickle, and my body grew tired and limp. I held onto her arm. It was hours before she had gone, left me alone in my tears, in the room, in the house.

The TV blared live news. It was covering the showing. Families, with kids, stepping into the sunlight. Breathing the air. Smiling, laughing, jumping for joy. They were happy. They were alive.

But one by one, people began to fall. They were ushered inside. The project was a bust. They began to work on something new. And next year, they would try again. They would send more people out. They would finally feel good. Before they would collapse. Before they would fall asleep, never to wake up again. I turned off the TV. The silence of the room consumed me. I found myself hitting my head on the wall. Slamming myself against it. Waiting for the next day to pass. Waiting for my days to finally run out.

March 05, 2021 20:31

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Eddie Thawne
00:41 Mar 19, 2021

Absolutely fantastic! Loved your story especially the title...well done!


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Matt Keating
14:22 Mar 18, 2021

This one grabbed me right away. The sudden self destructive violence was a great opening. Like entering a room seconds before an argument starts. Was it me or is there room for some clarity around the people on the street and the surface/outside Vs. the place where Niya is? That was the only place where I fell out of the story. Is her world a city-sized bunker? What timeline are we dealing with? Thirty years since the skin melting, was the bunker constructed in preparation? Sorry, I love the post apocalyptic genre, I just like knowing where ...


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