The Deeps, Part 1

I’m finally at the point where I can begin the next short story. As you read this opening piece, place yourself in this person’s position (not that we don’t as readers) and think about how’d you react. This short story works out to be roughly 40 pages in length so it is a bit longer than the last one titled, And the Sun Will Rise. Whereas the last covered 7 weeks this one will be 8 weeks long. This story qualifies as a Post Apocalyptic story, as many of my stories do. So with this brief introduction, here is – The Deeps.

He looked around with depression lying heavily upon him. As far as he knew he was the last person, the last human, the last of his kind on earth. Ed had just finished the ceremony, and the placing of his father’s body into the crematorium. His father had died of old age, which meant that he wasn’t young either. He was now returning to his room so that he could grieve, and come to terms with the conclusions that lay heavily upon him. “Well Ed, it’s been a good run. We’ve ruled this planet for a long time.” He laughed a bitter laugh before continuing. “Yeah, but the dinosaurs lasted longer.”

This place he was living was simply known as “The Deeps” to all who lived here. It was known by that name because it was deep underground. Supposedly it was a last refuge for mankind. Instead it would become the final resting place, the final ending, and unlike the imagined glory at the end, they would die in a whimper. With his passing – there hadn’t been a female, a girl, a woman, to carry on their species – the candle’s flame would extinguish, marking the end. Would the world outside care? “Did it care when we replaced the dinosaurs?” He asked. He snorted by answering his own question, “Of course not.”

He wondered what if anything would replace them as the next in what would have been a long line of “top dogs”. Again it was all idle curiosity since he wouldn’t be around to find out. He walked the long empty hallways, past open doors that led to empty dormitories, past the family units, and on into the section where the elected leaders lived. It was a trek that took time. This facility, when built, had been meant to hold thousands of people, both single and married. It was to be the place from which mankind would start over. Again this brought a bitter smile to his face. Such thoughts, such plans, such hopes, such gall, and here I am the only one left, and from what I or we know or knew, nothing survived when the worst happened.

Yes, he hadn’t been around then, but it was written in the records, shown in the vids. All that took place, the passing of the act, the blueprints created, the location chosen, and the place constructed. It all happened in record time. It had too because all the earth, all of mankind knew what was coming, and the odds of being missed was too small to contemplate. He knew, again from the history, the records all that lived here were required to learn, they were just finishing up the storage of supplies, and beginning the preparation to bring in the first who had been selected to begin the overall functioning of the facility.

He, as a descendent, as well as the ones before him, had been part of the original crew, the team that was placing all the supplies into the storage areas, testing all the electronics, making sure the radios, computers, the communication systems functioned. They were supplying the libraries, the electronic sides of this. Almost all the books, entertainment – movies, and such – were in digital form. If hard copies were needed then the massive banks of printers would produce what was required. And then once used be recycled so that the materials could be used again.

Because no one had any idea to the severity of the damage to the planet this place had to be completely enclosed, completely self-sufficient – self-contained. The facility had great greenhouses, hydroponic gardens, and actual artificial parks that had much greenery to help with the recycling of the air. Again, because no one knew how much damage would be sustained, they had to plan for the worse, including the loss of atmosphere for an unknown time period. So, if necessary, this facility could be, would be sealed, with equipment located and protected on the surface so the conditions could be monitored.

And once the event had happened, then periodically, people in environmental suits would go through airlocks to sample the outside air, and see how this old world fared. Yes, things had come to fruition quickly, but in the end, yes in the end, it hadn’t mattered. It wasn’t soon enough.

Something had happened out in one of the belts where the asteroids lie. What the event was would probably have been eventually discovered, but whatever it was caused a chain reaction, caused chaos in one of the astroid belts, and like a shotgun blast sent hundreds, maybe thousands in towards the sun. In that chaos it had been nearly impossible for even the supercomputers to track. As the debris came towards the sun, and thusly the earth, there were collisions, changes of direction, influences from other planets and moons, and too many other things to be able to make even rough predictions. If luck held earth might be spared, but the data spoke of a more likely outcome. And it wasn’t pretty. The worst case scenario destroyed the earth, making it a barren rock circling the sun. Other predictions were from complete misses to everything in-between. Yes, it was obvious the gas giants of the solar system would absorb much of what was flying inward, but not near enough.

Unfortunately, with the delay that light added to the equations even an accurate timeline couldn’t be developed. Only the fact that was truly known was the event would happen . . .

While the crews and teams were running the supplies into the storage areas, there were technicians on site testing all that was installed. With the pressures of limited time chaos reigned supreme inside. With tempers flaring, and people in each other’s way all the time, adding to the friction, somehow they pressed on. But there was little that could be done about it. There was no time to run separate shifts, to allow separate areas to be free of workers. And as these many workers pushed to get what they were trying to complete, flaws were found, and work-a-rounds had to be created. It made sense, since nothing of this scale had ever been attempted, let alone built. So what appeared to work on paper, didn’t necessarily work in the real world.

Yet, even with all the pressure, the time limits, it really appeared that they were going to make it, to succeed, and soon the now empty facility would be teeming with life and the hope of humanity for a real future . . . A real future, right. Ed thought. I’m it, and that’s no future at all.

Yet, as the history continued to flow through his mind Ed was unable to stop it. He didn’t know why this was happening. Maybe it was because he had just placed his deceased father in the final place, but knew there would be no one to do the same for him. How many generations had lived here, ending with me? He had to admit that he really didn’t know. The only thing he did know was in the end, as it had been stated too many times back at the beginning, as well as in the lessons, the gene pool was too small, and somewhere along the line they would be doomed because of this. Nobody knew when it would happen, only that it would. Well, he was the end of the line, period. There would be no one to grieve for one Edward Carson.

Before he realized it he was back to his space. As a kid, and unfortunately there were no others, he had free reign of this place – this facility. But in the end, he felt that he had been everywhere, had discovered all the hidden areas, and was left with no mystery, and no adventures. He had read much of the stories that were available, and laughed inwardly are the sheer audacity of what was called Science Fiction, writers talking about what the human race would be doing in the future. Well, he was the future and it wasn’t anything like those stories.

Of course he fell into the world of movies for a while. It was a place to escape from what was the real world. And, he suspected, like all kids, he really liked the world of Star Wars. Still, according to what his age was at the time, he found others more to his liking. He knew that at the time of the building of this place there had been advances in 3D, but unlike the Holodeck in the Star Trek series, there had been no true immersion. It still required those ridiculous glasses to make it work, although he had to admit it was fun dealing with the illusions these early attempts created. And those rides that combined the 2 effects with motion made it feel even more real. Still by spending his life here in the deeps, he could only guess if that was how it truly felt. Then, of course, there were those recreation times where he was allowed to play video games. Still, even with the depth and amount that were available, he eventually ran out of the type he enjoyed playing – but all of this was part of the past. What the future held, other than death, he had to admit he hadn’t a clue.

* * *

Richard Matheson wrote a story, as other writers of science fiction, dealing with the last person on earth. Each write from their own perspective with Matheson’s becoming at least 3 different movies. One produced in the 50’s titled, The Last Man on Earth, with the Omega Man in 1971, and most recently I am Legend, which is the original title of the book, and this is my take on the subject. As this story is revealed we learn much about Ed’s world, and why it has all come down to only him. Normally next week I would continue the story, but I have a surgery during this upcoming week, and as such there is a great chance for posts to be delayed a couple of weeks. So have a great week – two weeks possibly, and please return with the next episode of “The Deeps”. God Bless. (fdbrant.com)

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