2034 - The year when the sky fell down, and the human race was destroyed.
2029 - Chemical weapons of mass destruction were completed, and whisperings of war flowed in, relationships between countries growing thin.
Most people did not worry much about the bombs. They thought that it would be like the nuclear bombs in the early twentieth century, lots of threats, but either side too scared to act upon them. They were wrong.
But there were some who were prepared. Since the beginning of the chemical campaign, they had been digging underground fortresses–using scientific studies to determine what was deep enough so the chemicals could not reach them. About five hundred feet down. They brought in water filters and purifiers, large sun lamps, all sorts of live stock. This started five years before the first bomb hit. They were barely ready in time. And so, while civilization was destroyed on the surface, these people lived like Noah in his ark, waiting for the rain to stop.
2038 - She blinked as she took her first step out into the real sunlight. It had been four years since she had last seen the outside world, and now she could not recognize it. She stepped out further, to allow others access to this foreign realm. She scanned the area, and searched her memory for the picture of what it once was. It had been a thick forest, with trees so big it would take five grown men to reach around their trunks. As a little girl she would run through those woods, explore each path. She knew every inch of that forest.
At age twelve, her father and some of the men of their little town in the mountains began digging in a clearing of the woods. With their powerful sonic “shovels” and hovering cars to hold and transport dirt, they dug and dug, and they were joined by other men. Soon, everyone stopped going to their jobs in the big city about an hour away, and they relied first on food storage, then their own crops for their living. They started raising livestock too. In about one year’s time, the town was completely self sufficient, and the hole was large enough to fit four two story houses.
After the second year, there was enough room to fit all the townsfolk comfortably, each with enough room for their own house. The men now split into two groups–the first kept digging and enlarging their cave, the second began construction.
By the third year, huge sun lamps attached to powerful generators hung from the cave ceiling, and there was room enough for crops to grow. The people had officially moved in.
The fourth and fifth year were spent settling in and completely severing themselves from the outside world. Young children began to forget what the outside looked like. She and her family stayed outside the longest, living in both their underground and topside homes. They listened in fear as the news of the world became worse and worse.
Then the bombs fell. Her family completely moved into the underground cave, and the entrance was completely sealed off with tons of dirt piled into the tunnel that had run to the outside. There they stayed, for four years. She was now twenty one.
In that cavern, schooling had been kept steady. Those who had been college professors and school teachers worked with the younger generation, while the elders worked on the “farms”. It was like the nineteenth century all over again, despite the technology of the day. All the electricity had to be used to power the sun lamps that kept everyone alive. There was no television, no radio, no kitchen appliances. They were lucky to have plumbing.
Thus they lived. Everyone learned and grew, and they depended on each other for everything. There could be no disputes or feuds, or they all could die.
When the students were sixteen, they were allowed to pick their area of study. She was intelligent, and so she studied under a professor of science. Now, four years later, the chem-men people who tested the ground for chemicals–deemed the outside worthy for them to go back outside. And so there she stood, studying the place that she had once known like the back of her hand. Now, it was completely different.
The huge trees were now gargantuan–larger than any redwood she had ever seen–spanning about two hundred feet in diameter. The grass and brush between the trees had become technicolored, covered in a strange oily substance, giving them a shiny, plastic look. And a strange odor, almost like pepper, invaded her sinuses. The chem-men had gone out before and tested it, and they swore it was safe. But how could it be? Everything had changed. She felt her heart race as she viewed the site, unable to remember which way was home.
Everyone was outside, analyzing the area around them. Her father, who was the unappointed mayor of their strange city, formed a search party to find their lost town. She insisted upon going with them – for scientific purposes. She wanted to study these new developments, even though they scared her. They squeezed between the tightly packed trees and went in a single file line towards where their town had been, carefully marking the trees to prevent losing the way.
A few hours later, they came upon a clearing. A large clearing; large enough to contain their buildings and streets. Upon closer review, they found the foundations of buildings, and some basements, but the buildings themselves were completely gone. There were no roads or sidewalks. She quickly walked to where she knew her house must have been. There was nothing. She saw a small piece of rubber, nudged it with the toe of her homemade shoes, picked it up. She could barely make out some letters on the side: OD YE. Perhaps it was a piece of tire.
They made their way back to the rest of the people, to tell of their findings. 'Maybe we should stay underground', many said, as they fearfully watched the small, dark places between the trees. The sun was beginning to set. 'No, we should go, try to find others, others who may have survived', cried others as they fought to be heard.
There were no other survivors, she knew there could not be. Their town had been completely leveled–and no bombs had even landed there.
They all went back into their cavern to sleep. She, like many others, could not. Her mind raced with memories and pictures of her old home, where she had grown up, gone to school, played with her little friends. That seemed so long ago.
She must’ve fallen asleep, because she woke up screaming. The nightmare fading into her subconscious. It was a good thing she didn’t live with her father and family. They would’ve been awakened by the screams, and then her father would not allow her to attend any more explorations.
She walked into her kitchen and turned on the faucet. Clean, cool water splashed out and into her glass. He water rose to the top, and she unconsciously reached out to turn off the faucet. She brought the cup to her lips and took a sip, only to spit the vile fluid out, quickly. She examined her water. Instead of the clear liquid she had expected, it was heavily tinted green. She turned on the faucet and watched as the emerald liquid sprayed out into her sink. She stared at it for a moment, then turned it off. She went into her room and grabbed a robe. After putting it on, she snatched up her cup of tainted fluid and went outside, making her way directly to the science lab, which had been built in the second year underground. She conducted several tests on it. In it she found chemicals beyond number – all of which were harmful to humans. She ran to the nearest chem-man’s house and pounded on the door. This was serious.
A groggy man, in his late thirties, opened the door and found the young scientist, her face a look of desperation. He followed her back to the lab, and stopped as he saw the green liquid. He slowly walked up to it, reviewed her notes. She saw his shoulders slump. He didn’t know what to make of it. Together they gathered the rest of the chem-men, and none knew what had happened. They went to the reservoir, where ground water was stored before undergoing severe purification. The water in it was as clean as it had always been, with no hint of green. They checked through the whole water system, and still found nothing. The water was as clear as ever all throughout. They finally got to the last pipe. One of the men closed the valve to prevent the water from flowing through it. They then took it off the system and looked inside. They found a small green pod-like thing, plastered somehow to the pipe. The chemicals were flowing from it in a thick paste, very slowly. When mixed with water, the paste could be distributed throughout the plumbing of the whole town. They replaced the pipe with a very clean one, and everyone had to leave all their faucets on until the poison had been completely washed out. It took a few days, and they had to survive on their big drums of stored water.
It wasn’t for another few weeks that they went back outside. The chem-men could not discover where the strange pod had come from, and none seemed to be replacing it, so another expedition was planned to explore the outside. She was again part of the group, along with her father and the chem-men. They went back to their town’s previous location, and from there on to the road which led to the big city where most of the villagers used to work. They followed it until they reached an
outcropping that used to have a perfect view of the city. The view was now that of a jungle. Trees were everywhere – the same monstrous trees that filled the mountain. She could make out thick vines hanging on the tops of the trees. Nothing remained of the city. Starting from where the center of the city had once been, a huge crater, around three miles across, lay like a giant black hole. Nothing grew in it – it seemed that nothing could. The blackness of the burnt area looked completely solid. It reminded her of some shadowy vortex of death, like one she had seen in her nightmare.
The sun had already set by the time they got back to the tunnel. Light came from the hole, like a beacon to guide the helpless and hopeless. She viewed this site with gladness and her step quickened. They went inside, and found destruction in their midst. The buildings were completely torn down, the water system had been taken apart. Articles of clothing, toys, furniture, everything was strewn about haphazardly, torn apart and ripped to shreds. And in all that mess, people lay dead.
She raced over to the bodies of her community, her family. In all the bodies she examined she found one similarity: they had been punctured with round, pole-like weapons. That was all she could find. There was nothing there that she could see that could have done this. All the people she saw were dead. The others in her party searched as well, to no avail. Finally, they heard tiny sobs. She found the little boy, hiding in an upturned dresser. When she reached for him he screamed, so she pulled back, and started speaking to him soothingly. The sound of her voice brought him out of his panic, and he was soon in her arms, holding on for dear life. She soothed him and whispered to him, rocking him in her arms, until he had stopped crying and had lessened the pressure on her arms.
She looked him straight in the eyes then, and asked him, what had happened? He would not answer. His eyes were wide, and he seemed to be looking over her shoulder at something. Then his scream filled the air, along with the screams of the dozen other men and women who had been standing by. She swiveled around–and screamed.
Their screams were cut short as, one by one, the roots from the plants above speared them each with fatal wounds. As her vision faded and her heart stopped, she thought she could hear faint whisperings of satisfaction coming from the roof of the cavern, where the roots slithered back into place.