The Deeps, Part 2

I must admit that the last 2 weeks haven’t been fun, and in reality I didn’t know if I would be healing enough to go ahead and be able to post this week. Unfortunately it takes time to heal after a surgery, and one must bear with it. I’m fortunate that there are no plans for additional surgeries at this time. It makes me really feel for the ones who must go through multiple surgeries, and still have no guarantee of success.

This week we continue to follow Ed as he contemplates all that lies before him. He sees his future – dismal, and looks back at the past. There are decisions ahead of him, but maybe they should wait, wait until a later time. Again, with all this emptiness that would be surrounding you what would be your thoughts, your feelings? And with this brief introduction is: The Deeps, Part 2. (If you missed part one I suggest you go to February 2015 in the sidebar on the right and read it first.)

He sat staring out at nothing, and probably, if he wanted to admit it, thought about nothing. It was hunger that finally brought his mind and musings back to reality. Sighing he got up and headed for the kitchens, the places to get a meal. There were a number of them located throughout the facility so that anybody from any section wouldn’t have far to go to get fed. And the decision had been made, when the facility had been built, to keep the eating areas communal. To keep everyone in contact with each other hoping that it would prevent any member from becoming self-important to the point of believing they were better than the rest. Whether it would have worked he had no idea. There never were enough survivors to find out.

He knew that through the time they had been here originally, and for a short period, their small population grew, giving hope that maybe they could beat the odds and the gene pool wasn’t too small. But that was short-lived, and he was the proof. With that brief population explosion it marked the end of expansion, and from that point on until now, it slowly became less and less until the whole facility had a total population of 1.

After finishing his meal he headed over to the library – one of the many. He was in the mood to watch the vids of the final days of any who were on the surface of the planet as suddenly the skies lit up with streaks of fiery light as the first of too many entered the earth’s atmosphere. Much of that early bombardment burned up, but there was too much, and before any, other than the crews and teams already at the deeps, could arrive, the earth shook with the violence of too many strikes. It had happened during a shift change and with only a skeleton crew due to a brief holiday break, with this further reducing the ones inside the facility. Fear reigned supreme as the strikes, which could be felt as earthquakes, even here in the deeps, sent worry and shock through those few. And before the communications ended, and the vids being sent were cut off forever, much of the earth could be seen in flames as the atmosphere heated, the forests and cities burned, and the carbon dioxide rose. It truly appeared to be the end. Who or what could survive such an onslaught?

The fear within the deeps was overwhelming because any who witnessed the event felt there was no way for the earth to survive, and thusly any attempt to save at least a few would come to failure. And as the days moved into months, with the strikes continuing, all felt that it would only be a matter of time before even they, deep in the bowels of the earth, would be destroyed. Yet, as time continued to move, the strikes became fewer and fewer until one day they realized there hadn’t been either a sighting or an earthquake generated by a strike in a while.

With the limited views they had back then nothing they saw gave them much encouragement. There lay a heavy layer of smoke blocking out the sun’s light (much of the sensors and cameras close to their refuge survived), putting the earth into something that was called a nuclear winter. And it was obvious to them whatever or whoever might have survived the devastation would lose to this created winter. Killing whatever or whoever still lived out in the real world.

There were a number of security offices throughout the facility. There had to be because this much humanity in such a confined – here he laughed as he thought, yeah confined – area there would be conflicts. And if the place was ever discovered by the ones who were on the outside, then they who lived here would have to protect what they had. Most security stations monitored the interior, and only a few watched the outside. In the early days the security offices that monitored the outside were manned fully. The fear was that eventually they would be found (again if any had survived), and there could be an overwhelming force which would lay siege to “the deeps” if they could find it.

Some of the other security offices were used to ensure the ones who were lucky enough to be here remained honest and part of the group. And eventually, as the years moved on and no one ever showed up, even these outward viewing security offices were rarely visited. And now for Ed they were just another set of doors and smoked glass, doors which reminded him of his isolation and the fact that he was the last man on the earth. King and servant – yeah right! He thought sarcastically. So now what? Would it be better if I returned to the surface? Allowed the desert to take me? Or should I live out what few years I have left here where I know everything? Good questions all of them, but today wouldn’t be a day to answer them.

The death of his father was too fresh on his mind, and he knew that it would be easy to allow these emotions to cloud his judgment. Besides, whether he remained here or returned to the surface the results would be the same, only when would be different.  So he continued his walk down the empty corridors, of both time and of distance to finally reach his destination. Once at the library door (again, one of many) he paused, took a deep breath, let it out slowly, entered, but stopped just beyond the threshold. Now that he was here, he wasn’t sure if he really wanted to be. After all, what he had wanted to do would have only reinforced his loss.

He stood there for what seemed like forever before turning around and heading back out. Now with no specific destination in mind he began wandering the halls, again depressed, and letting his mind and his feet take him wherever they might want to go.

He passed by the rooms where the ones who were selected could put on the environmental suits and check out the conditions above. Early on there were some who had volunteered to do this, many never returned, and it was assumed they were killed, and any who did return found nothing promising. And later expeditions seemed to confirm this as some of the ones who had been on earlier teams and had not returned were found. Again, after much time, and no success, even these forays outside were abandoned as too costly in lives. After that the security cameras were only used to observe the outside. And the images they presented gave no hope.

Eventually the skies cleared, and the sun’s light once again penetrated all the way to the surface of the planet. And it appeared that somehow the atmosphere had also survived the onslaught. Then, after much discussion and arguments, a final team exited the facility using what was now ancient environmental suits – the population had been dropping drastically at this point – and returned days later. What they reported wasn’t promising. The desert around the facility was huge, and had grown. Mountains could be seen in the distance, but if there was any vegetation at all, it couldn’t be discerned. It gave the appearance it would take thousands of years for the recovery to happen, if it ever did.

When the volunteers had gone to the surface, they were expecting the solar vehicles to be usable but instead found they had deteriorated from lack of maintenance and were worthless. This meant the only real exploring they could do was on foot, limiting what they could actually see and confirm. And with limited distances and time everything discovered pointed to death and destruction and a very little recovery. There also was no sign of any having survived. As far as the evidence found and presented, they were it. They would have to remain where they were.

With this discovery and discouragement no one ever asked again to go topside and see. It brought a depression upon the ones remaining and soon after there were a number of suicides as many felt there were wasn’t any reason to go on with a world that could no longer support life of any kind. It had been a dark time in the history of this facility, and there had been some actual fighting as the ones who were left took up sides, became factions, and began to attack one another, furthering the shrinking of the population. Again something they couldn’t afford to do. But it truly had been too late all the way back at the beginning, and slowly, very slowly they could see the proof happening right before them.

And again the predicted day had finally arrived – there was only he. Ed found he was down in one of the maintenance areas and didn’t even know how he got here. Then he shrugged, the area needed to be inspected anyway. Fortunately most of the equipment had been mothballed since there was no need. It meant if something broke there would be plenty of spare parts available. And if necessary a different plant or steam works could be initiated and the old one shut down for repairs.

 

Hours later, and quite dirty from having to crawl around and look into tight corners, he showered, and headed down the hallways to catch his evening meal. Once finished he’d head back and catch something on the tube, not that he hadn’t seen everything that interested him a number of times, but it was a way to finish out this day when the human population of the earth had shrunk to only him.

* * *

It’s crazy, but there’s only one more week in February. Another month almost gone, and it was only yesterday, or so it seemed we were watching 2015 arriving. Next week I continue the short story, The Deeps, with part 3, and will be presenting parts throughout March. May this year have been good to you so far, and once again, tax season is upon us here in the USA. Have a great week, and I pray you can return next week. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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