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Cave at the End of the World - Episode 1

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284 years after a cataclysmic event forced the remnants of society underground, three 15-year-olds are graduating primary school and need to decide where they will fit within their ridgid, zoned society.

Drama / Scifi
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

At 6:15 Ava was awoken by her alarm clock sitting on the side table next to her bed. The bamboo frame creaked as she pushed herself up. Her window shades hadn’t closed all the way so some of the morning lights shined through. They are dimmed significantly at night but around 6 they are turned up to start waking the population for the day. Ava had worked out the latest she could wake up and still be on time for her scheduled breakfast slot. Being primary school age, she was assigned to eat her first meal at 6:30.

She could hear her parents in the adjoining room start to rustle from her alarm, but their breakfast wasn’t until 7 so they turned over and went back to sleep. Ava’s slippers were within easy access at the side of her bed where she had slid them off the night before. In the chest at the foot of the bed were her daily clothes. She pulled out her faint yellow long sleeve shirt and matching wrap skirt. She had stopped growing so she was allowed to start wearing clothes that didn’t need flexibility in their fit, but she always found them comfortable than pants. She added her green vest that she crocheted. It went well with the faint hazel in her brown eyes. After changing, she folded her sleep dress and placed it on the bamboo chest.

She drudged to the small washroom connected to the living room in their bamboo hut. She picked up her toothbrush and the small glass jar next to it. She poured a small amount of the paste on to her brush and while cleaning her teeth she inspected her braid. It hadn’t come undone during her sleep although there were a few brown wisps. The teacher wouldn’t give her trouble about them though so there was no need to fix it.

Now clean enough for school she slipped out the front door. Her family’s hut was number 82. The last time it was rebuilt (almost a century ago) the civil planners must have given one of the artists from the Cultural Zone way too much control over the design. Each hut in her block had different accents or murals that were added by different families over the house’s lifetime but even with that diversity Number 82 stuck out as an oddity.

The houses in her zone were laid out 20 deep on alleys that followed the curve of the cave floor. Being in number 82 meant that Ava was close to the main road at the end that led to the Agricultural Zone center. On the opposite side of this main road, right across from the houses, were the communal showers, laundry, and the cafeteria. Walking briskly, Ava arrived at the cafeteria with a minute or two to spare. The students were given priority in line if they arrived on time.

When she got to the door, she had to check in with the monitor whose job it was to ensure everyone followed their assigned schedule. It was easy for the monitor to ensure that Ava belonged at this breakfast time because of her age. She shifted her way to the front of the long line where her friend Marin had saved her a spot as usual. She wished Ava a happy birthday with a hug. The clock on the wall ticked 6:30 with a ting and the cooks started serving breakfast with the rapid efficiency that comes with a century or two of fine tuning.

While creeping forward in line the girls heard someone yell out, “Come on!” Jolt was standing at the front door looking frustrated. Ava and Marin snickered. At least once or twice a week he didn’t get to the cafeteria in time to get priority. The first few times the adults would let him sneak ahead, but this had been going on for years.

The two friends picked up metal trays with the standard issue breakfast and sat down at the stone tables and benches. They preferred the tables near the opposite wall from the food line because the crocheted cushions had star patterns. Both girls had been in love with the idea of the sky above ground since they took a class trip to the University in the Government Zone a few years ago and saw a planetarium presentation.

Breakfast went as normal and at 6:55 the clock signaled that it was time to leave so that the 7 o’clock crowd could come through. Ava found her parents in line and went to get a hug. They both wished her a happy birthday.

Marin and Ava walked together outside of the cafeteria. The road overlooked the tiered crop fields, bamboo grove, grazing pasture and water retention lake at the bottom of the cave system they lived in. The Agriculture Zone had the smallest population yet the largest open area in the Cave. The Industrial Zone was technically the largest zone because they had the Narrows (the series of caves that were used for mining, disposal, and burial.)

The primary schoolhouse in the Ag Zone was a four roomed bamboo building surrounded by a stone wall enclosing a play area. There was one room per each grade. Grade A was for ages 4-6, Grade B for ages 7-9, Grade C ages 10-12, and lastly Grade D was for ages 13-15. Today Ava turned 15 and her birthday came just in time for her to be eligible to graduate primary school. Her birthday falls on the Tuesday of finals week, the day after Grade D took their test. The rest of the Grades take their tests on the following days with Grade A falling on Thursday. Friday is for makeup tests for those trying to graduate from their grade.

With the stress of test taking over, the rest of the week will be easy for Grade D while the teachers grade and proctor the exams. Today was Grade B’s turn and so they were in the Zone’s library next door. The school day is broken into three time periods. At the start of the day Grade D took lessons on cave/pre-cave history, language, art, music, and the like. Second period is for health lectures, lunch, and outdoor activity (arranged to not overlap with the other grades). Afternoon period was for math, geology, biology, chemistry, engineering, and other STEM topics.

Each grade had at least 3 teachers and, due to parents having to apply for permission to have kids, the class sizes per grade were consistently 8-12 students. First period was led by Mr. Vartan. Today’s class was to go over the results for the final exams for first period topics. They were going to be averaged with the score for the second period topics. The third years in each grade (which were only Ava, Jolt, and Marin for Grade D this year) didn’t have to pass each exam, they just had to average above 85 between the two.

Mr. Vartan started class by listing off each student’s grades from youngest to oldest. The three students in their first year of Grade D did not get a passing score of 85 but they had two more years of the information being retaught and reinforced. The two brothers in the second year didn’t do much better than the first. However, they were Jolt’s little posse so studying and paying attention weren’t their strong points. Thankfully they would have another year to relearn before the last final exams and hopefully Jolt wouldn’t be there “leading them astray” as Mrs. Goldie in second period kept repeating. There were just the three students in third year still left to read the scores for and Mr. Vartan started with Ava. She got a 92 which she was hoping because she was stronger in Period 1 subjects. Jolt was next and you could tell he was sweating. The teacher raised an eyebrow.

“Jolt, 85.”

Jolt whooped, obviously forgetting that this was his better subject. Marin had an 82 but she wasn’t worried because she knew she would do well in Period 2.

First period continued with Mr. Ignan taking over and explaining the questions and why certain answers were considered the wrong answer. Needless to say, it dragged a little so he kept calling students up to work the answers on the board. They finished explaining the last question when the wall clock chimed the end of first period.

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Further Recommendations

Janice: Great read keeps you reading to see what’s next

Francoise: Comme tout vos livres précédents j’ai adoré. Hâte de lire la suite.Ps: j’ai lu les derniers tomes avant ceux-ci mais je m’y retrouve quand même

Tracey: Thank you for really sweet loving story everyone don’t matter what size you are all deserve loving can’t wait to read more of your stories

Charlie : I love how captivating this story is I can't wait to see what happens next

Carmen Mita: Súper intrigante, esperando la segunda parte

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Christina: This is a great start to a larger story.I hope the author decides to continue it further.

Amy Grindle: This book is hot from the beginning. Teacher with student is an amazing story line that never gets old.

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Clovene: L'histoire est génial mais je reste perplexe sur l'orthographe de certains mots comme s'ils étaient écrit à ma phonétique. Et le Chris qui apparaît pendant 2 chapitres, on est d'accord que c'est Bryan ?

annemirl56: Ich bin begeistert 🤩 Aber sowas von… endlich mal wieder ein guter Autor, der weiß, wie man gute Bücher schreibt 😍😍😍🫶🫶🫶🫶

Karin: Eine süße Geschichte mit nur leichtem Drama und Intrigen

JILL: Enjoyed the book, Devon and Cara’s story, after an awful and sad upbringing and suffering for years Cara met Devon, he was an Alpha of a different pack visiting her pack. He was sweet, kind and caring, I’m glad she got her HAE

eotero945: Enamorada. Una pena haya sido corta pero suficientemente caliente🥵🥵🥵🥵🥵🥵

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