Aftermath

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


5....4.....3.....2.....1.....0 The Nuclear war has started. Inspired by the album 'Drones' by Muse.

Submitted: March 04, 2018

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Submitted: March 04, 2018

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Aftermath

There were one hundred of them, safely ensconced in what was promised to be a completely safe bunker, when the countdown began. They all gathered to listen to the numbers go down, to watch them flash digitally across the screen. Once the numbers got to five many found themselves joining in and whispering the numbers.

The screen darkened at zero to offer protection from the flash, but even so it lit up the room in hues of red and orange. There was no sound of the explosion but there was a juddering that reverberated all the way through the bunker.

At the touch of a button, the screen changed to a world-wide view which showed impact after impact, as different countries joined in to fire on their own chosen targets. The entire world was either hit, or would be impacted to a devastating degree by the fallout. In those last few seconds the whole world more-or-less ceased to exist.

Nobody said a word as they watched scene after scene of ruination flash up onto the screens. Buildings were no more than rubble, dust; and flames ignited from the gas, the electricity cables. Those people that had not been instantly turned to ash, writhed as they burned, screamed out as they were crushed. Nobody could fail to be shocked and sickened by the images. More than one felt guilty for surviving, for fleeing to safety; more than one felt complete and utter shame for having played a part in causing this apocalypse to happen.

Only one seemed to be totally unaffected by the horror, by the gravity of the events that were unfolding on the screen. “Well, Gentlemen, that would seem to be that.”

* * * *

Those words actually summed up a major flaw in the planning. Every single person inside the bunker was male. Not one woman, not one girl, was amongst them. One some level it had been a conscious decision. After all, it would not do to have one or two females in among all the men. That would be a certain recipe for squabbling and disharmony.

Nobody took in to account, though, that without females they, the men in the bunker, were destined to be the last human beings on the planet. Not one single baby would ever be born again. These were all educated men; men of high standing and power. Perhaps it was intentional, believing themselves to be the ultimate humans and, as such, irreplaceable.

They all had their assigned roles and tasks, but in such a small place the jobs did not take up much time. There was plenty of leisure time to be spent watching movies of a certain kind, that led some to feel the lack of female company was a serious oversight. They gambled on cards or anything else they could think of. Each of the men had so much money that was apparently useless now. They did not even have to consider keeping it safe for future generations, for those future generations would never come in to being.

Some, to be honest only a few, felt themselves drawn to the screens. They would spend hours watching and grieving for the few remaining survivors as they struggled to make a go of things against impossible odds. Not one of them would have considered going out to help though, even if they could.

The Boss did not approve of this activity. Not that he found it personally upsetting, but those that watched did seem to put a damper on the spirits of the other ‘residents’ and that was not good; no, not good at all. He quite simply ordered the computer to display no more images and, for a long time, the outside world ceased to exist, both in fact and in mind.

* * * *

There was only so much enjoyment to be got from the most explicit of films, and soon nobody wanted to watch. Even the more generally acceptable movies were watched so many times that they were known word for word. There was nobody left to produce anything new and boredom began to set in.

For a while the men began to talk, of memories, of times past. They had no future plans for thier lives were all there was going to be. Nothing was going to change, there was nothing to strive for. Talking became a bit of a morbid occupation. The Boss insisted that it was better to forget the past, it had been and gone and was no more. There would be, he said, not one further mention of memories.

With fewer and fewer ways to spend their time, the men became almost fanatical about gambling. They would plot and cheat their way to winning in ever more ingenious ways. Apart, that was, from when they were playing against the Boss. To say he did not like to lose was putting it mildly, so in games with him all effort was put in to losing while making it seem that they were trying to win.

Winning became an obsession. Fights began to break out and, maybe because of all the pent-up frustrations, these fights became nasty. The rest would gather on, cheer on one participant or another; money would change hands and the fight would continue until one of the men was dead.

Five men lost their lives in such a way. Five men had to be disposed of as garbage. They could not be buried as there was nowhere to bury them and they could not just be left to rot inside the bunker.

After the disposal of the fifth body there seemed to be an unvoiced agreement made that enough was enough. No more fighting! And if that meant no more gambling, then no more gambling there would be.

Apart from the small amount of duties they had there was nothing left for the men to do apart from to drink, to eat and to sleep. Life became simply a time to get through. There was nothing to achieve, no way of gaining satisfaction. Total despondency set in and the supplies began to disappear at a much quicker rate than anticipated.

The Boss summoned his top three advisors to a private meeting because there was simply no doubt that something would have to be done.

* * * *

There were ninety-five men in the bunker. It was decided that thirty-five of them would have to go. This sounds like a really callous decision for them to come to, but don’t forget, they had already made sure that the population of the world had been ‘deleted’.

The three advisors each got to select eight names, careful not to pick the same ones. The Boss, being the boss, got to select eleven. He almost let his finger fall wherever it fell. Apart from the four that were gathered they were all the same to him.

It was decided that it was best to do this without them, or the remainder of the men, knowing what was going on. A meeting of some kind that only involved those thirty-five would be set up to take place in the outer-most room, and it would then go in to lock-down. The screens would go up, leaving no sight, no sound, and the air supply would be turned off.

Of course it could not be kept secret, and the four men knew that there would be a lot of outrage aimed their way if the truth got out. Better to concoct a story. The meeting was taking place and there was an explosion, the Boss escaping from the room just in time to save the rest of the bunker.

He would be a hero instead of being reviled.

There was, of course, a suitable time set aside for grieving, but life had to go on. There was work to be done and discipline to kept up. The bunker could not be allowed to fall.

The atmosphere took a turn for the worse. It was not so much one of suspicion, more that the men did not want to form any kind of friendship with any of the others. Apart from the Boss, of course. Everyone wanted to be friends with him.

The four men kept their secret, none of them wanting the truth to come out, and, for a time at least, it did seem that they had solved a problem. There was one problem – it was a solution that was never going to last. Time went on and the supplies became fewer. Worse still was the fact that the air seemed to be getting low. How could it be happening? It had all been planned out with scientific precision but somehow something had gone wrong.

How long since the End of the World? How many days, months, years had they spent inside the bunker? Nobody had kept track, and it seemed that if the computer knew, it was keeping it to itself, no matter how much the Boss ranted and raged.

Again the four men met up in secret. They could get rid of another twenty and try to explain their disappearance to those that remained, or the alternative was to get rid of all but the four of them in one fell swoop.

* * * * *

It was not too hard to organize. The Boss even got some of the men to move the supplies to the control room after making up some story about maintenance tasks. The Boss and his three advisors shut themselves inside and turned off the life support systems for all but the control room.

This time it was not possible for them to completely shut themselves off from what was quite simply a mass culling. Men were banging on the windows, frantically trying to convey their suffocating predicament. It wasn’t instant either; two of the four were embarrassed to find tears in their eyes as their previous companions, crawled, clawed and cried out for mercy. The Boss, of course, remained completely indifferent and just turned away.

From that moment a kind of madness seemed to take hold. Guilt consumed the three advisors. How could they have taken part in a mass slaughter like that? That thought logically led to the guilt of the even bigger slaughter they had played a part in; that of the human race. All that remained of humanity were the four mass murders inside the control room.

One just laid down and died. He had no will to carry on, and he didn’t. Two fought each other viciously, clearly intent on murdering their foe. The Boss, unnoticed, picked up a mask, a gas cylinder and opened the door, turning off all remaining life supports inside the bunker.

It was finished. It had failed. Maybe it was kind of appropriate that he would be the last man on the planet, being that he had pressed the button first that had seen to the removal of all others. It had been so long since the screens had been shut down that he no longer had any idea of quite what to expect outside the bunker.

* * * *

The bunker had been situated, surprisingly, inside a city, not somewhere remote and isolated. When he walked outside he expected to see buildings, cars, deserted streets. Instead he was faced with total devastation. A few walls remained standing, well, a few feet of them. There was stone, rubble, brick and glass everywhere and the burnt out corpses of cars stood in a rusty accusation. The Boss breathed in deeply through his mask and carried on walking. He’d find something he recognized; he just needed to go a bit further.

He walked on and on, stumbling, almost falling, but all he could make out was further destruction. Until he heard it; music, he was sure. He began to hurry forward, his rushing making him clumsy. What did it matter that he cut his hand on a piece of glass? He was no longer alone! There were still people who would adore him.

Laughter! Music and laughter somewhere not far ahead. Maybe around the next corner or the next. And at last he found them. Men, women, girls and boys all gathered together; they were smiling and welcoming him, beckoning him forward.

Surrounded; he was encompassed by people, cheering, adoring him until something happened, something changed. Their skin began to melt in front of his eyes, their clothing erupted in flames. He found himself enveloped by skeletons, clawing at him to the discordant sounds that had replaced the music. Jarring, frightening.....he ran.

They were chasing him, he was sure of it. That cylinder on his back was slowing him down. It would have to go. He tore off the mask, threw down the cylinder and ran until he fell and could not get up. He could not breathe, his lungs were not equipped to cope with the toxic air.

He lay there and stared up at the strangely colored sky. The last man alive was dying alone. And there was nobody left to mourn his passing.


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