Every clang on the vault door wracked her conscience. She leaned against the door observing the pale walls of the vault, recalling the last four days of pleading to the wardens through tears and snot and spit, “Open the door you damn cowards, he’s going to die!”
But it was forbidden.
With a start, she realized the clanging had stopped, and began to panic. Springing up, her balled fists rang out against the door… he clanged in response, the same exact pattern he had all those four days. She experienced the brief relief of his response, only to be stabbed by guilt again. The lump in her throat grew with her loneliness- “I should be with him. I’m the coward,” she thought. So many generations had passed in the vault that the count was forgotten, but never forgotten was the myth of the world before radiation. He had faith that enough time had passed for the green in the world to return. When she refused to go, she never expected him to leave without her – to leave her all alone in this pale, lifeless box. Was he calling her, or was he wrong about everything? Did the vault keep her safe, or imprisoned? Her head swimming, she slid to the floor and warm tears stained her cheeks long before sleep grasped her.
Her dreams echoed with the odd rhythms of bone on metal, always the same… Always the same?
She jolted awake into the new morning. Dashing to the library, she scattered books whose grey pages blended with the floor. At last, her search yielded: Morse Alphabet. *clang* C *clang* O *clang* M *clang* E. “Come,” she gasped.
“What are you doing!” roared the head warden, bursting into the room. Grabbing the desk clock, and turning in a swift motion, she struck the warden, who crumpled. A quick frisk of the person produced the vault key. As she ran, she heard the cries of other residents, dull in her ears. Key inserted, the door creaked and moaned open while air rushed between the small opening. Straining, she tore away from grabbing hands and burst through the light-filled opening.
Collapsing momentarily, she first noticed her heavy breathing. Closing her mouth and inhaling through her nose, she caught the heavy aroma of dense vegetation. She was surrounded by it. Smells, and color too – so much color between the green ground and blue of the sky, dotted with white cotton shapes. Shades of violets, reds, and yellows dotted the valley before her, and the orange morning sun streaked scattered shadows across the landscape and made the dew sprinkled valley shimmer through the crisp air. Her breast heaved rapidly with emotion in lieu of the sight before her – birdsong rang out, and she joined them in her weeping…
Jarred, she turned abruptly at the noise. The vault door had closed.
Her eyes shifted, and next to it there he was, only feet away. He gazed at her sorrowfully from where he had lingered all those days, his knuckles raw to the bone, the dew clinging under his pale eyes, and fungi already sprouting around his fresh corpse.
Tell It/Tweet It
After four days of his knocking, the fifth day she escaped the vault and joined him. He gazed at her sorrowfully from where he had lingered, his knuckles raw to the bone, the dew clinging under his pale eyes, and fungi already sprouting around his fresh corpse.#ds106 #theend106 pic.twitter.com/18m4bdWuBc
— Christopher Ringham (@Chris_tastrophe) January 28, 2018