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literature

Silo One

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The cooling towers hum less at night, as the temperature drops in the world above. ‘The World Above’. Oh, how our leaders love that title. They use it everywhere, usually presented in ways that used to be reserved for heaven and similar post-death nirvanas.

“Tea?” Susan nudges my arm.

I look down to see a cup of chestnut-coloured brew. I take it, forcing a smile. Susan has adapted better than I. It would be petty to spoil the moment in a fit of pique.

The world was going to hell with fanatics of every stripe hacking at each other while good people were left to shore up the burgeoning masses with steadily increasing taxes. Even corporations stepped in to help governments cope as the global population exceeded all resources.

In better times, the outbreak between North Korea and America would have been limited. However, when Chinese intervention forces rolled into Pyongyang, little Kim let rip with everything he had at every country he feared. He had a lot more than outside observers predicted.

Things quickly fell apart in the aftermath. My grandfather spoke of ‘infrastructural dependencies’. I never realised that meant if you deprive an urban population of basic needs for six days, it’ll turn feral.

Fortunately, father maintained a place in Silo One, a modest six-bedroom affair in the upper tiers. After settling in, it was good for a year. Rationing was tiresome, but proportionate share based upon your gold reserves had been agreed as a fair method. What father had failed to grasp was that his gold trove was, in real terms, trivial. We should have taken residence in Silo Five – where our reserve would have been roughly on par – but father always insisted that one started as high as one could. After his strategies to secure our station failed, he took to gambling to top up his dwindling reserves. When that tactic failed, we found settling debts down here was a merciless thing: mother simply failed to return home one night, as she belonged to someone else! I railed at father until he tried to beat me down, at which point I decamped to Susan’s parent’s place. I found her alone, nursing her mother, as her father had moved in with a billionairess up on Tier Six.

And so, our descent began. Everyone we asked for help denied us – seeing our plight as where they would be if they frittered their reserves on non-essentials like helping others.

I remember the Tiering meeting so well. Susan and I sat, dressed in our best, and not clutching at each other like some desperate couple from a black-and-white movie; which is how we felt.

Mister Grooms summed up: “Roderick, Susan, it saddens us to see members fall. However, there is still a place for you. Mister Tasker will explain your obligations when you arrive on Tier 209.”

Mister Tasker was forthright: “To remain, you will need to earn a token reserve. I recommend choosing cooling tower duty.”

We took the hint and became cooling tower cleaners. One of us worked while the other cared. A year later, both our charges died within a month of each other, cancer taking her mother and alcoholism ending my father. We wept tears of grieving, guilty joy, realising we could change our shifts so we would have time together.

Those below Tier 100 have never seen the upper tiers. They regard Susan and I as curiosities to be avoided. At least we have each other, and, up on these tower ledges, we can pretend for a while.
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© 2017 - 2019 Rafellin
My second for December on the mighty 365tomorrows.com

This one actually took a while to brew; starting from the fact of some wealthy people already have dedicated apocalypse survival bunkers and consortiums are converting old ICBM silos for that purpose.

Even after the end of this world, the rich will still want staff. Where would they find them if the silo entry requirements had filtered out the 'commoners'?
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"Mama?" A tiny voice slipped quietly through the room. Between her and the woman in the bed an impenetrable forest of metal stands, tubes and blinking machinery stood guard. "Come in sweetheart, it's alright." Her mother's voice warmed the space, shushing the noisy equipment. "Mama's alright baby, come see me." Clad in a pink dress and knee socks, the girl of no more than five years bravely stepped away from the safety of the door frame. Big blue eyes focused and fixed on her mother lying in the hospital bed, and her legs carried her along that line of focus until she could reach out and touch her hand. "There, there, Mama's all better now
D
Dressing Up
The Doctor watched as River smoothed the hose up her shapely calf, pulling it up her silky thigh and clipping it to her garter belt. "Getting an eyeful, Sweetie?" she asked, not taking her attention from her task, a small smirk on her lips. He jumped. He straightened up in the doorway and adjusted his black dress bow tie. "Sorry, I..." "Oh, honey, I don't mind," she turned and gave him one of those sultry eyed looks, that "come hither" smile that seemed to bypass his brain and go straight to his legs. He found himself walking into the bedroom, watching as she slipped on a pair of bright red stiletto heels. He sat down on the edge of the
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Captain Broahm hadn't been asleep nearly long enough when he was dumped unceremoniously from his bunk onto the floor. Cursing, he'd barely gotten his bearings before the ship righted itself, tossing him backwards into the bulkhead, sending a blinding flash of lightning through his already aching head. His left eye clouded, and he wiped at the blood that was pooling there from a fresh gash on his forehead. "Bugger," he grumbled, pulling himself upright with help from the cargo nets lining the sleeping quarters. Staggering out of the still swaying cabin into the hallway, he climbed the ladder onto the bridge and found the first officer white
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Comments (4)
IllusionsMadeReal's avatar
Someone has been inspired by current events. This is a pretty grim piece.
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Rafellin's avatar
Rafellin|Professional Writer
Oh, I've been bleak and cynical for years. :D

But, granted, the world hasn't pulled out of the dive and is showing no signs of doing so anytime soon.
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Lady-Pilot's avatar
This is...scary, but well written
Reply  ·  
Rafellin's avatar
Rafellin|Professional Writer
Thank you.
Reply  ·  
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