Chapter 1: Chaos in a Nutshell
Sirens blare, and lights flash. They weren’t your typical sirens for fires, or tornados, no these were lockdown sirens. The lights were a blood red and bathed every room and hallway in its crimson color. Lockdown huh? I wonder what caused it this time. A fight in the cafeteria perhaps? Or someone tried to escape. They should know by now that trying to escape is useless. Those who try, either die to the elements outside, or they get killed by a firing squad.
It’s a difficult decision, live forever under the thumb of the government or die from an unbearable acid rain outside. Either way, you’re dead. Most people who live here, on this forsaken planet, that has been stripped bare from the ungodly amounts of nuclear warfare from the past government officials. Leaving the descendants to have a life of being stuck indoors, underground, but many would argue that this isn’t living. This is hardly surviving.
Those that are old enough to remember what they call the “good old days” are too old to be taken seriously. All the adults that hear their stories call them “crazy old coots”. Some talk about being able to go see sandy beaches, where they breathe in the salty air from the ocean. But many who are here don’t know what the ocean is, let alone how sand feels under their bare feet. Sure we know what salt smells like, but it’s just salt, right? Wrong, oh you’re so wrong. Salt is used for everything. Without it in a balanced diet, animals will get diseases. That’s why there are so many sick people.
Everyone is too scared to go mining for salt. They think it would be a lost cause because they can’t come into any contact with the outside. As long as you stay indoors you’re safe. Safe from what though? Safe from the nuclear wasteland outside? I’d rather face that than the corrupted government in here. So maybe we aren’t truly safe.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m Evan Tindol. I’ve been here for almost 17 years now, my baby bro, Braxton. He’s only 6. He doesn’t quite understand the nature of the inside yet. He doesn’t understand why we can’t go outside, why we have to follow the rules. “Obey the command at all costs.” they say. Our parents died shortly after Braxton was born. Many say it was an accident and pity us, but I say otherwise. A lot of the elderly here say I’m “Too big for my britches.” whatever that means. I just know that their death wasn’t an accident. I found a journal that was my dad’s not long after their passing, it was under the floorboards. As strange as that sounds. I discovered the more that I read, that the government is corrupt. It even says that they might be figuring out something that the government is hiding. Something that can’t be known.
I would lie awake at night a lot after I found the journal and ponder all the possibilities of what they could be hiding. Supplies maybe? The last sentence is right before the “accident”. My dad was writing his last thought but was interrupted mid-sentence. I guess he had to hide the journal, he probably hoped that I would find it. I remember the last sentence clearly.
“The government is hiding that we can go...”
Go? Go where? Those are often questions I ask myself. My parents knew something, but for our safety they never shared. They kept it to themselves. For a long while, I thought it was selfish of them, that they were cowards. But what if they told someone else? A close friend? But even so, that could have been what got them killed in the first place. I was snapped back into reality as someone bumped into me, pushing me into the wall. I moved my gaze to Braxton who was at my right holding onto my faded long sleeve shirt for dear life.
I ruffled his hair a little and made him smile. He looked up at me and I grabbed his hand as we walked back to the small dorm we occupied. I put my hand on the palm scanner, allowing the door to slide open with a mechanical hiss. Braxton ran in and jumped on his bed. I smiled and followed him in as the door closed again.
“Read me a bedtime story, sis.” he said as he grabbed his favorite book.
I smiled gently, and took it from his tiny hands.
“Do you want the beginning or from where we left off yesterday?” I asked.
He thought for a moment. “The beginning, please.”
I smiled and opened the book starting at the first page. I read to him most nights we had a lockdown, it kept both of our minds off of what was going on outside of the dorm. Soon enough I noticed he had fallen asleep almost in a perfect ball on the bed.
I closed the book and picked him up, straightened him out and tucked him in as I hummed the same tune our mother used to hum for me when I was little. I grabbed the book and put it on the nightstand next to the bed, before going to my own bed. I laid there for what seemed like hours and stared at the ceiling. How would life be different if mom and dad were still alive? If the nuclear war never happened? Maybe the world wouldn’t be so chaotic now, but what would the world be like if it never did?