Day 1 of Elvira Smith’s Doomsday Diary, mid-October, 2053…
No one can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. I wouldn't know, but I imagine the one screaming feels much as I do now. Does it count if you're the only one who can hear yourself scream?
It’s hard to mark the passage of time in a Doomsday survival bunker.
It’s underground; no way to see the sun rise and set, and with everything that happened… well, keeping accurate time is the last thing on anyone’s mind, especially the people desperately trying to keep contact via radio, and there are more important things to communicate. There’s a digital clock, running on batteries, but if Dad bothered with Daylight Savings since he put it here, I’ve no idea, and there’s no am or pm. Doesn’t help that it syncs or resets every time there’s a surge, either.
The global wi-fi was going haywire before the Cataclysm that drove me into the bunker, of course. Something to do with a magnetic storm from space debris and an ozone layer with more holes than swiss cheese. Science was never my forte, and the news guest scientists didn’t speak layman.
This isn’t day one of me being in the shelter – time starts to blur a bit when you’re alone and isolated, but it’s the first day I’ve kept a journal since primary school, so it’ll have to do.
Got to leave something behind for whatever species evolves to replace us in a million years or so, and a diary has to be better than wildly misconstruing the contents of a rubbish pit.
Day 8 of Elvira Smith’s Doomsday Diary, still October, 2053…
I’ve decided to update this once per week.
Partly to save on paper, but also because there is jack-all to do in here, and thus very little to report. Perhaps it would be different if any of my family were here, but they were all out when the sirens sounded. Shopping for supplies, of all things.
I’m not sure whether to bless or curse my tendency to be an aggressive introvert.
Day 15 of Elvira Smith’s Doomsday Diary, late October or early November, who even knows right now, 2053…
I’ve been doing inventory, more for the sake of moving around than for any real need. The bunker is stocked well enough to feed a family for two years, if properly rationed. A single person… I don’t want to think about being alone for that long. I may have to start on the emergency supply of chocolate for to keep my endorphin levels up. Three daughters convinced our parents that chocolate and sanitary items really were a necessity.
We never did manage to convince then that a Nintendo Switch or exercise bike counted as essential, or even a worthwhile investment. Perhaps it’s for the best that I’m alone; we’d have been at each other’s throats by day 3 if my sisters were here.
I did find a few family heirlooms; Grandfather’s fiddle and the golden locket that we gave Grandmother for her 90th birthday, only last year. It’s heart-shaped, and folds out to show pictures of all the family. Even if I never see them again, at least I have that.
Perhaps they were the lucky ones; they’ll never have to endure the end of the world. Grandmother always complained when Grandfather tried to teach us to play the fiddle; said it sounded like cats being murdered. Of course, there’s no-one around to hear me practice, now, so who cares if I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. At least it’s something to do.
Definitely time for chocolate. As they say, if you can’t make your own happiness, store-bought is fine.
Day 22 of Elvira Smith’s Doomsday Diary, probably, days are starting to blur, November 2053…
I spent all of yesterday staring at Grandmother’s locket.
I’m scared that I’m starting to forget the sound of my family’s voices, but I’m determined to remember their faces, and that we were happy together, once.
I’ve had to cut back on the chocolate, too, or risk running out before the New Year. I’ve been playing around with the radio, but there’s only one station still running. I’m pretty sure that it’s just the last recorded segment on repeat, but given that it’s Faux “Hot Air” News, it can be hard to tell. Would you believe that they’re even trying to make the End of Days the fault of the ‘socialist losers’ on the other end of the political spectrum?
Yes, the name is a pseudonym. I’m not risking a lawsuit in case the immortal cockroach that owns it manages to survive the apocalypse! Wouldn’t that be the luck?
I’ve managed to figure out how the periscope and alarm system works, but given that all I can see through it is churning water and the occasional sea-life, I’m not sure how much good it does me.
See also: Gods on pogo sticks, documentaries do not adequately convey how big deep sea creatures get!
Day 29 of Elvira Smith’s Doomsday Diary, definitely November, but probably closer to December by now, 2053…
It’s said that humans will pack-bond with anything that holds still long enough, and it’s hard to disprove. We sang ‘happy birthday’ to a robot, and went into global mourning when the Curiosity Rover failed and ‘died’, for heaven’s sake!
I’d give just about anything for a semi-sentient companion. A robot, an animal, a Roomba, even a pet rock, at this point!
But my parents worked in IT and Crypto, and had placed their bets on the end of the world coming about at the hands of sentient technology, or a rogue Artificial Intelligence, or some such, and refused any Smart Tech. If the bunker contained technology more advanced than the 1970s, I haven’t found it yet. The filtration and oxygen recycling systems were top of the line, backed up by a side chamber of plants growing under UV light, but they couldn’t talk back, and had to be programmed by hand every week.
If any organised Faith survives the Cataclysm, the person who invented and mandated instruction manuals is getting deified, even if I have to invent a whole new religion to do it.
I miss people, even school bullies and the trolls that plague social media. I’d give anything to be pounding away at my keyboard, refuting a bad-faith argument or defending someone from cyberbullying. Humans are inherently social creatures, our survival linked to community and co-operation. I’m starting to really understand that now.
The end of the world as we knew it is utter crap, but I can’t help thinking that it wouldn’t be so bad if I had someone to share it with.
Day 36 of Elvira Smith’s Doomsday Diary, late November 2053
I looked up the periscope again today, and the waters have started to recede.
It’s becoming harder to tell the things that are real from the things my imagination comes up with in a last-ditch effort to keep me sane. It’s taking longer and longer to switch from dreams to reality when I wake up, and I can’t even do that without crying for everything I miss.
Everything I’ve lost, and may never find again.
I dug up a recipe book yesterday, though what it was doing packed in with the sanitary supplies, I couldn’t tell you.
I thought it might have been one of Grandmother’s cookbooks from the Great Depression, or one of Mum’s from the 50s. It wasn’t, just a folder Dad had put it together from recipes my sisters and I looked up together as kids, things he promised we’d make together one day.
I spent the rest of yesterday clutching Grandmother’s heart-shaped locket and crying.
Today, I’ve dug up the powdered eggs and long-life milk and started crushing nuts into a rough flour. I’ve even dug up some freeze-dried blueberries. Pancakes always made me feel better as a kid when something bad happened; maybe it will help now.
Either way, it’s better than curling up into a ball with nothing but dark thoughts to occupy me.
Day 43 of Elvira Smith’s Doomsday Diary, early December, 2053…
The water is definitely receding, but you’d still have to be Hagrid’s size to stand on the ground with your head above water.
Sorry, future Historians, that’s a literary reference. It means someone very large, well above Human average.
I missed a chunk of time in a brain fog, so I’m not sure if it’s actually day 43, or longer. Before the Cataclysm, I’d be fishing for clues for Christmas presents about now, and frantically pretending that yes, of course I hadn’t forgotten to shop for gifts… I don’t think that I’ve ever fooled anyone on that count, but at least they pretended to believe me.
Funny, to think that this Christmas, Peace on Earth will be the last thing on anyone’s mind. If there are still other people to think of it at all.
My supply status is good, but my mental state is not. I am not OK, and it doesn’t help that there is no-one around for me to tell that to. I might be an introvert, but even introverts can’t remain alone and unconnected all the time.
There is a thought in my mind, that might become a plan, but I don’t dare dwell on it too much yet.
Last day of Elvira Smith’s Doomsday Diary, one way or another, 2053…
The water has finally gone down, though I don’t doubt that everything is muddy as all get-out.
Is this how Humanity’s survivors felt, after the last Great Flood? Finally daring to hope, but terrified that it might be a cruel trick, and even more scared of the unknown, of the changed world that awaited them? If it is, kudos to those unknown ancestors; they had more guts than I do.
I’ve made a decision; I can’t stay in the bunker by myself any more. I’ll wind up doing something drastic and irreversible if I’m alone for much longer. It’s the metaphorical rock and hard place, or the more literal unknown risk vs loss of sanity.
I don’t know what dangers wait beyond the bunker door, but I’ll risk them. They’re more distant and easier to deal with than the danger lurking in my own head. At least I can count the normal summer bushfires out, at least for a few weeks; I don’t think there’s anything dry enough to burn.
Maybe I’ll find others who survived, and maybe I’ll come back to the bunker with them. Maybe I won’t. Maybe no-one ever will.
I lived through the end of the world, and there’s a new world waiting on the other side of the bunker door.
It’s time for me to go meet it.
Elvira Smith, signing off.
Read Part 2 here...
I've also entered the story in Elegant Literature's March 2022 contest, if you want to head over and vote.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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