His communications and power generator ran out a few weeks earlier. He had some batteries left but he used those for lights. Without them, the cave, even as spacious as it was, would be pitch black. There was so much crammed inside that he was constantly tripping over things. He needed light. His only form of entertainment since losing internet connection was books and magazines that he brought with him. He still had plenty of food but after several months of no communication with the outside world he was beginning to go stir crazy.
He knew that he would have to leave the cave one day, but when he got close to making the move he always backed out. There were occasional rumblings in the distance that would sometimes make the cave floor shake. But for the most part, those stopped a couple months back. Now all he heard was silence. His emergency radio brought nothing but static and his imagination was running wild at what could be going on outside. He had to know.
He started putting on his hazmat suit before he could talk himself out of it. Pete didn’t want to leave but he knew he couldn’t stay here forever. After he filled his thermos with water and grabbed a few snacks, he grabbed the large pill bottle that he kept hidden in normal circumstances. It was a project that only two people on earth knew about. It was something that he and Julie worked on together. She was a biology major and was drawn to Pete and his ambitious nature while in school. He was still skeptical if it would actually work, but since he started taking it two months before the war started, he had to admit that he felt phenomenal. If it actually prolonged life by continuously regenerating organs as you age was still too soon to tell. He somehow always agreed to be her guinea pig in these situations. But as she jokingly told him, if you’re so sure that the world is about to end, the what’s the worst that can happen?
He rubbed dirt from the bottle that still had the initials F.O.Y on it and smiled.
“Fountain of Youth? I guess we’ll see about that.” He swallowed it and took a swig from the thermos. “Probably doesn’t even work.”
The last thing he picked up was his sidearm, which he hoped he didn’t have to use, but knew better than to leave without it.
He took one last look around to make sure there was nothing else he needed to bring, not knowing if or when he would return. He walked over to the entrance and began the process of opening the hatch. The tight seal design that he built himself began to open.
Pete Carmichael took a deep breath as natural light made its way inside the cave for the first time in several months. After it was opened completely, he closed it behind him.
He made sure the hatch was secure behind him and he turned around. All he could see was smoke and fire in the distance. The few trees and vegetation that he remembered being outside the cave were all gone. He didn’t know what was waiting for him as he made his way towards town or whatever was left of it. The only thing he was certain of was this.
The world and the life that he knew was gone. He knew that it was up to him to bring it back.
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