It's been exactly fifteen years and six months since the ‘great catastrophe.' That's what his parents and the others referred to the event which had destroyed every living organism on the surface of the earth.
Zack and his twin sister Zoe were born here in the compound like so many other kids their age. They were the few lucky ones. The others were not so lucky. At least that's what they have been told, especially by their parents.
They had just celebrated their fourteenth birthday, a week ago. Today they are given a rare opportunity. A tour to Sector C, accompanied by one of the guards.
They waited, along with the other kids, near the entrance to SECTOR A. Any moment now the guard on duty would punch in the security code and let them all out, so that they could begin the tour.
They had built this underground compound a long time ago, way before the count down even began, when the warnings were first broadcasted through the media. A lot of planning and thinking had gone into it, as some of the great minds of the country got involved in the project aptly named ‘Apocalypto.’
By now everyone was familiar with SECTOR A, of the compound as that was where their cabins were located. Each cabin had a round door, very much like the ones in the shire in the movie “The Hobbit” only these were made of steel, not wood. Each cabin was evenly spaced, with small bedrooms and bathrooms with running water to accommodate the number of members in each family. They all had air-conditioning and was properly oxygenized.
SECTOR G was the garden where they grew most of the fruits, vegetables and grains. One section of the garden contained flowers of every kind and trees. Once a week they were given the opportunity to walk about in it. Some of the elders and the children even helped with the cultivation. Other food items and supplies were being rationed as there was only a limited stock. The stock room was in SECTOR B where they housed all sorts of supplies from canned food to toiletries to stationary along with various other necessities.
SECTOR E was the school and administration section of the compound. SECTOR F was where the recreational center and the wellness center was, complete with a pool and gymnasium and a movie theatre.
SECTOR D was the morgue and crematorium which was situated right alongside SECTOR C, with access only to those who worked there.
Today they will be visiting SECTOR C, the hospital, where they cared for the sick and the badly wounded. There was a section called ‘Isolation’ where they quarantined anyone who was suspected of ‘being exposed to the outside elements.' His parents had spent two weeks in ‘Isolation’ when they first got here, Zack remembered his farther telling him with a somewhat somber expression on his face.
A few minutes later they were being escorted through the hallways of the hospital. This was nothing new to Zack as he and Zoe had been on annual tours like this before, but to some of the little kids, it was a big deal, as it is their first time outside Sector A.
Residents here were required to obtain special passes whenever they wanted to venture outside of sector A. They were forbidden to walk on their own without a valid day pass. Even the administrators were required to acquire one.
As the security guard and one of the resident doctors were explaining the day to day procedures to some of the younger kids, Zack hung back with Zoe as he signaled to his friend Sam to come over.
“Hey, Sam, did you manage to get the codes?” Zack whispered as Sam approached him.
“You bet ya, I did! Snuck into the old man's study two days ago and copied them from his computer.” Sam replied with a wink.
“Did you hack into his computer?” Zack whispered.
“Heck no, I didn't have to, I simply told him that my laptop isn't working, that I had no way to finish my report for school, so he allowed me to use his computer. I started snooping around and lo and behold found the blessed codes!” Sam replied lowering his voice this time lest anyone was eavesdropping.
“Great! That is excellent, well done old boy!” replied Zack patting Sam on the shoulder, still whispering.
“What are you guys whispering about?” inquired Zoe, as she walked over to them.
“Oh, nothing, important, Sam was just telling me about a corpse he had seen down in the morgue one time,”
answered Zack, winking at Sam.
“Yeah, it was real juicy!” Sam replied looking at Zoe wide eyed.
“Geez, you guys, morbid much?” Zoe exclaimed as she walked away repulsed, shaking her head in disgust as she heard her brother and Sam cackle with laughter behind her.
“So is everything set for next week? Are we really going ahead with our plan?” Zack asked eagerly once Zoe was out of earshot.
“Yes sir, we are! During movie night, while everyone has their eyes glued to the screen, we'll make our move. If we succeed we'd get to break Toby's record” Sam replied with a wry smile.
“Who's Toby?” Zack asked narrowing his eyes at Sam.
Don't you know the story?” Sam asked with a surprised look on his face.
“No, I don't know the story, so why don't you enlighten me?” Zack replied somewhat irritated.
“He was the first to try and escape, he made it as far as the emergency exit on the north side which is just passing the morgue and the crematorium as it is not heavily guarded because no one dares to go that way. They say that the crematorium is haunted. But I think it's just another ploy to keep anyone from snooping around. There is something really off about this place, I can feel it in my bones, concluded Sam with a faraway look in his eye.
"So, what happened to Toby?" Zack inquired further.
"Well, they had kept him in isolation for a while. His parents were not even allowed to see him." replied Sam.
"And?... Probed Zack.
"And, nothing. He was never seen or spoken of again. No one really knows what happened. But I beg to differ. I think he was 'eliminated.'" concluded Sam.
"Um...eliminated?" inquired Zack puzzled.
"Killed, murdered, destroyed, done away with, put an end to...take your pick." said Sam.
“Man, I can’t wait to get out of here!” Zack whispered. Glancing towards the security guard and the doctor he continued, “do you think they are telling us the truth about what really happened up there?”
“Not for a second, I think it's all a big, gigantic cover up, to keep us locked away in here forever.” replied Sam.
“Have you told Zoe yet?” Sam continued glancing towards her.
“Not yet, but I will, at the right time. I don't want to jeopardize our plan by telling her now. She's such a blabber mouth, that twin of mine.” replied Zack, as the security guard called everyone to line up to go view the operating rooms.
Half an hour later, their tour concluded they were all back in Sector A.
Zack stealthily made his way down the darkened corridor, wearing his protective helmet with a flashlight affixed to the front of it. “I am almost there!” he whispered to himself, smiling triumphantly as he reached the main steel hatch which led him to the outside world. “Behind this hatch lies a forbidden place, a place I have longed to see, ever since I was a little boy, this time I will make it, this time I will not fail!” he whispered to himself again as he punched in the security code that would unlock it. The hatch opened with a loud groan like noise.
He stood there a moment debating with himself, whether or not to walk through. He took a deep breath, inhaling and exhaling sharply. “It’s do or die time Zack, you have made it this far, don't chicken out now!” he said to himself as he stepped out.
He found himself in another darkened area, cylindrical in shape with a ladder made of iron, going up along one side. He exhaled sharply again as he looked up, gulping, when he realized how far upwards it extended.
Zack uttered a small prayer and started up the ladder, trying very hard not to look down as he made his way up.
About five minutes later, he reached the top. Another steal hatch. Again he punched in the secret code which made the hatch open outwardly. He could see a bright light filtering in illuminating the darkened confines. As he climbed up the remaining two steps of the ladder, he was blinded by a bright light. He felt it engulfing him. He screamed in agony, as it scorched his entire body.
“Zack…Zack, Wake up! You are having a nightmare!” said his mom shaking him by the shoulders. He opened his eyes, and sat up in bed startled, yet relieved to see that he was alive and safe, being stared at by his father, mother and Zoe.
“What happened? Why are you all staring at me?” he asked slightly embarrassed?
“We should be asking you that question, sweetheart!” answered her mother somewhat concerned.
“You were screaming in your sleep!” she continued as she dabbed at her son's sweat covered forehead with a cloth.
“What was the nightmare about?” His father asked quizzically.
“Never mind about the nightmare, it's okay, I am alright now, I guess I was just nervous about tomorrow, that's all. All of you go back to sleep!” Zack said as he lay back down on the bed covering himself with the duvet.
As his parents and sister filed out of his room switching off the light and closing the door behind them he sat up again.
“Tomorrow, I am going to make it out of here. I am going up there, forbidden or not. I need to find out for myself, I need to see this once forgotten world they reminisce about so much.” he said to himself.
“Maybe Sam is right, he continued, I don't think things are as bad as they paint them out to be. I think they are trying to keep us locked up down here for life!” he whispered as if he's conversing with some invisible being.
“Tomorrow night Sam and I will put our carefully thought out plan into action!” he said to himself smiling triumphantly.
Outside in the hallway the parents were having a conversation with regard to Zack's sudden change in behaviour.
“Do you think he suspects us?” the woman asked concerned.
“I don't know, I mean, I don't think he is aware.” answered the man.
“Aware of what?” asked the woman.
“That we are not really their parents. That we took pity on them and rescued them from perishing, with the rest of the others all those years ago when we invaded their precious planet, answered the man.
“Do you think he is planning to do something, like try to escape maybe? Do you think the girl is in on it too?” asked the woman.
“I am not sure, maybe, they have been seen talking to the Porter boy, what's his name? Ah...yes! Samuel. I don't trust that boy one bit.” said the man getting slightly agitated.
“We need to inform the high commander about these two, we don't want him stirring up trouble like the last one we had in our custody!” continued the man as his blue eyes turned black and his skin changed colour from rosy pink to deathly grey.