Tuesday, March 6, 2012

February 2012 Challenge Entry #1

From Michael Fairchild (member, Westside Writers)


It was a dark and stormy night, as the last blast of winter pushed its way through the Cumberland mountains. The single remaining exterior monitor showed bright sun on the blackened remains of a forest, gaunt stumps where no life existed. Exterior data scrolled across the bottom of the screen: Date = 03-23-2153, temperature = 43f, RADIATION LEVEL = LETHAL + 500.

The old man acknowledged the number with a nod of his head, 500 times survivable level. It had been 557 when he was born, and would never drop to safe levels in the time he, or the other six, had left.

A chime sounded, and a synthesized female voice announced time for a shift change. He ignored it. The Deserving had ceased standing command center watches sometime in his grandfather's day once it became obvious that nothing had survived the event. He came for the solitude, and to query A-eye, the remarkable computer that, like their power source, had never failed in the five generations since the event.

A-eye's memory contained a vast library which the old man had taught himself to access. Though he often wished he'd not; for what he found challenged a lifetime of belief. The history, taught to him and every child born in the facility, told of the wise leader who foresaw the collapse of civilization, brought on by the loss of morals and proper respect among the common people, and how she prepared the facility, and led the 5000 deserving to safety before the event.

The pre-event writings he'd found told a different story. Of grinding poverty, starvation and riots. Those unofficial documents appeared to place blame upon the Deserving rather than the masses. More disturbing, to the old man, even than the doubts engendered by the unofficial histories, was his discovery of forbidden information buried deep inside A-eye's library. An entire unknown field of study, know as the social sciences, were locked away. Forbidden information that had taken him almost a year to access. Surely the founder must have known, or had access to, this information. A scientist, a sociologist, had predicted precisely what had happened. In a mere five generations, the last humans were down to seven individuals, all too old to breed.

The old man glanced at the time, and closed the document he'd been reading. The others did not approve of his research, and he would not discuss it with them. He had a party to attend; the anniversary of a queen's coronation if he wasn't mistaken. He picked up the cane he had found in a long abandoned suite and walked slowly toward the living quarters, passing under the sign etched above the door. "The meek shall not inherit the earth for it belongs to the Deserving, and shall be inherited by their sons."


The newly elected president watched on the monitor as the old man move out of sight. "You're sure they have no idea we are here?" he asked.

"No sir," an officer replied, "they believe they are the last of the human race."

"The old legends had the 5000 being taken up to heaven," the president said, "or entering a space ship for the mother planet, or going underground to re-emerge some day to lead a new world. It looks like that's exactly what they had in mind. Tell me how this happened."

"By combined their wealth and power, they stole the elections of 2024," the officer said. "Within days of taking office, they implemented their agenda of rolling back virtually all civil rights, jailing opponents, and creating wide spread economic hardship. When it became obvious that they couldn't put down the opposition, the president conceived the idea of taking herself and her peers underground, initiating a nuclear war, then emerge in a few years to rule over a depleted, and docile population."

The president chuckled. "Let me guess. That size of conspiracy could not have avoided leaks. The Joint Chiefs, or some other high military types, got wind of it and countermanded the order to start the atomic Armageddon, let all of the so called deserving scurry into their hole, and set about making them think they were the last people left alive."

"Their entire project was riddled with lack of forethought, Mr President. The members of the upper classes were a remarkably incompetent group even with their inherited wealth and position. It is no wonder they governed so badly. Their arrangements in this old military bunker would have killed them all in the first few years if we hadn't taken over their computer and other systems."

"Yes, incompetent and venal," the president said. "And yet even today there is a substantial part of the population that would want them back in power if they showed up."

"Yes sir, the idea of a divine right to rule has yet to die out. That is why this place has been kept secret by your predecessors. The last of them will probably pass away during your administration. Have you been briefed on the plans following their deaths?"

"Yes, you will fill the entire bunker with a highly radioactive slurry that should, once it hardens, keep curious archaeologists away for at least the next 25,000 years. Now lead me to your conference room where I can thank your staff on behalf of the nation, or rather the world."

1 comment:

  1. Methinks someone is following political coverage! Good show, Mike! Enjoyed all the twists of what is maybe isn't and it provides an interesting look at assumptions about our own age. Very thought provoking!