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Tam's Story

The events in this story take place immediately before "First Step"

By River JoyPublished 2 months ago 7 min read

I have been here for four years, three hundred forty five days, four hours, fifty six minutes: three, four, five, six seconds.

I'm about eighty percent sure on those numbers, down here you can really only top out at eighty percent sure of anything. There is no black and white like my old life, there are only shades of grey. Time passes in chunks and waves, it eats you alive because it is the biggest thing here. There were real worries on the surface, life and death worries. The only life and death down here is time, it takes up every inch of space the light touches, I even know the exact lengths of the twenty movies I rotate through. I have more, but I only let myself watch a new movie once a month. I have to keep some adventure.

My days are exactly the same, I learned that early on, if novelty is not ever offered to you monotony is the only answer. There is a problem with sleep down here, while it passes the time it also brings me nightmares of the surface. I would wake up terrified or lonely or sad, so I go to sleep at midnight, I wake up at six am, and every other second of my day is scheduled. It's not like they left me down here with nothing to do, I was no traitor, and no one would have dared put me in any danger. Not after the sacrifices my family, well, my mother made, for The Rebels. It's just the things I do have, seem, well pretty fucking boring, at this point.

Most of what I do is work out, I don't even enjoy it, it's just that's the closest I get to the outside. The bunker is tiny, but there is a small gym opposite my bedroom. It has a treadmill, weights, various rubber bands at different tensions, and like forty terrible workout videos. The gym also has a VR set that only works if the machines are going. I think they were trying to entice me to move since there aren't exactly antidepressants down here to make the overwhelming sadness go away. They may also have even been enticing me to move to keep the electricity going. I can't be sure, but most of the brown-outs that happen down here tend to line up with the weeks I don't move as much.

I farm, because I don't have a choice, no food no me. The plant room is relaxing to me, my cousin even slipped me a few pot seeds "just in case" before The Rebels took me, so for birthdays and holidays I can have a bit of fun. I do that too, but mostly I grow soy, some nuts, greens, I'm even able to coax fruit out of the hydro farm if I can get the genetically altered trees to grow. They only get as big as a tomato bush and they spit out full size apples and pears.

I used to have art supplies but those were gone in the first year. Theres a whole room of things I made in that first year, maybe if they don't come get me at the five year mark I'll destroy it all and make new things. It's certainly an urge, destruction, mostly to restart. My mother used to tell me that sometimes it gets to a point where complete destruction is the only way to rebuild.

There's a pile of books in all genres, many of them Rebel literature, wouldn't want me to get rusty on the rules while trapped in this hellhole. Mostly I enjoy fiction written long ago, in the time before, when Earth was extraordinary. I especially enjoy something scary, you'd think growing up in the nightmare I did I'd avoid the scary stuff, the freakier the better.

I don't hate it all the time, in fact the thought of seeing and hearing another person after all this time is horrifying. There's enough food and water between the hydro farm and the MREs they left me. It's a pretty big bunker so at least it's not one of those tube like things that most families could afford. I think I've forgotten how to socialize, I may only be able to talk in the movie quotes from the films they left me. Only time will tell.

I still have paper to write, I try to record my thoughts, mostly so they are out of my head on to the paper. There was a teacher in the first Rebel camp my mother brought me to, Ms. Tara. She taught me about using writing to deal with what was happening around us. I was ten. I think she may have been the only one to ever notice that I wasn't always thrilled at how much "the work" took my mother away from me.

With VR I can walk and run in places that don't even exist anymore. Along a path in the woods, through monuments and great cities, amongst famous crowds, I have seen the world, though I have not left this place in almost five years. I'm lucky, it's been decades since anyone can travel outside of their immediate one hundred mile zone. That's how I grew up, my world was so small, now at least I get to see it as it was. Before.

I was told when I came down here, blindfolded and still a little drugged that this would be the second to last stop on my journey before crossing, that I'd be meeting some man before the border crossing and staying at a house for a little while. A house. I wonder if there will be windows. I wonder what kind of view is even left after all those storms and all those bombs.

I am not important, at least not in the way anyone would assume. My mother Lenore Perez on the other hand was a revolutionary, she was safety for people who had never felt safe in their lives. She risked everything to stop a war that was decimating what remaining population still existed. She was a geneticist and a genius, and her sacrifice is the reason I'm alive. It's also the reason that almost five years alone in a hole hasn't driven me insane yet. It's also the reason I'm stuck in this hole.

It's complicated.

I know that they will come for me soon, I'm familiar with the procedure, an "asset" is disappeared for about five years before relocation. I'm locked down here, with no chance of outside communication, just enough food and entertainment to keep my sanity and life, and I wait. Lenore knew what she was doing, she kept me safe even if it meant putting me in a literal hole.

My obsession with the outside world has become almost unbearable lately. My mother would always say that I was too impatient to be a successful revolutionary. I agree with her. I want to live a quiet life outside, I want to plant food and meet other people. I want to get out of this hole.

I think a lot about the things I see on VR that do not exist anymore, most people think it's horrible, but I think it's a chance to rebuild. I am sad for the loss of art and history, but I am a grateful for the potential for the human race to start over. Maybe if we give ourselves another chance we'll do better.

Today just happens to be one of those days I feel the weight of the dirt above my head. I am good at being alone but I miss the touch of another human. I haven't gotten up from the couch yet to start my routine.

Then, out is of nowhere there is a creak at the entrance. My heart starts pounding, almost as loud as the knock on the door. I barely see the masked men when my bunker fills with gas. I smile as I feel the strangers hands pull me up and out to the surface.

"Welcome back Ms. Tam" a gruff voice fades as I fall into the familiar sleep that meant I was being moved. I force my eyes to stay open until they pull the bag over my eyes.

It was time to go

Young AdultSeriesExcerpt

About the Creator

River Joy

I make things with paint and words and light. I was once described as an asshole with Mr. Rodgers vibes.

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  • Shane Dobbie10 days ago

    So, I turned to the next chapter and it was really good too. You have a nice, natural storytelling voice and don’t indulge in “writing” which I appreciate. Keep going

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