In the vast, underground complex, surrounded by millions of tons of cement and steel, the last of Earth’s civilized inhabitants carried out a quiet, peaceful life. The Complex, built over the waning decades of the Cold War, sprawled outward and downward. At it’s topmost level, an entrance from a WWII-era bomb-shelter offered easy surface-access. The second level of apartments and schoolhouses, sheltered and educated growing numbers of thousands from all countries and walks of life.
The inhabitants did their working, shopping, and fraternizing on level three. This level, larger than the others, consisted of separate sections: an agricultural zone; an industrial zone, and finally a commerce district; where the populous could take in movies, drinks, and if need be, shop others’ handmade wares.
A booming epoch had begun within a planet whose surface had been nearly eradicated. Generations ago, when the Complex’s builders had finished construction, they let loose weapons of unimaginable destruction. They had recruited as many like-minded people as possible to share a new vision for the future. Some declined. The rest moved began their lives anew with a prosperous future.
These foresighted individuals would never again see the beauty of the natural world, but knew their descendants would live a life of peace. In the meantime, they were allowed to bring what they pleased, but tell no-one of the mass exodus. Surprisingly, the plans had succeeded. So far there had been little complication; the greatest mechanics and scientists worked on the fifth and final level, monitoring the systems and when warranted, repairing them.
The original occupants had quickly outgrown remorse and sorrow of the passing of the world above. Many chose to start new families. These children became the first born of a
subterranean utopia. And so it went for a dozen generations, the inhabitants waiting patiently for the time when they might re-emerge upon the face of a once-more mysterious planet. Were others left, their generations passed in hiding from radioactivity? It was plausible, but no such observations had been made from the systems-level via their surface instruments. These instruments, designed to withstand the decimation of the nuclear attacks, measured the atmospheric radioactivity, and sensed when living beings were near. In all of the Complex’s history thus far though, there had been no confirmation of life beyond. With their sporadic placement, it seemed unlikely anyone had survived. So they left the hope and uncertainty of Terran lifeforms long behind them, focusing their efforts instead on living to one day reclaim the world.
Within the systems level, science laboratories were established that, even in the time of man’s reign would have put the best to shame. The builders spared no expense in creating meccas of research and development. Of course with all greatness comes minor disruption. The Complex was not with out its disgruntled parties. Those few whom wished to return to the surface, or hungered for more, when offered provision to leave, hastily turned tail. The others, having been given what they wanted, soon wished not to have been. In seeing that each man, woman, and child had their fair share, their own guilt would overwhelm them. With sorrow they apologized, divided the extra share amongst those closest to them.
It was, in essence, a communist state with-in utopian walls. Everyone was given their fair share, accepted it. There were times of stringent rationing of food, imposed near harvest, but all obliged. In the spirit of things, harvest became a new period of sharing, giving. Families would band with one another to make feasts of their rations, eat their fill, then dividing the leftovers. When harvest was calculated again, the new rationing limits put forth, the sharing period ended with no-one left out. Even among growing thousands, a sense of community was pervasive. Their togetherness as one only served to strengthen hopes for the future and the thoughts of a world ruled by their way of life: It would become the utopia every philosopher and common-man had dreamed of.
So, as more and more decades passed, and the sensors read the steady decline of radioactivity. A meeting of the people was called. The recreation area was re-situated to accommodate the mass. A team of scientists posed the question; Who might be the first to step forward into the new world?
At once everyone spoke, all wanted to go. The head scientist, determined so by his education and experience, reminded them of the dangers they may face. One by one, the voices went silent. In the end, a team of five was chosen, their names picked randomly for their varying positions and experience. Those of the appropriate skill submitted their names to a drawing for their
respective positions. The need for an agriculturalist, a businessman, a strategist, a scientist, and a ‘common-man’ was decided. Each, in their own way, would help to determine the viability of the area chosen for settlement. They would have to reach an agreement on a location, otherwise a better one must be found. Meanwhile, the remaining scientists would hurry their research in developing radiation-devouring bacterium that would cleanse the radiation from the land by eating and excreting the soil, removing its detritus in the process.
With the team assembled, a second mass was held for speeches to thank those they felt grateful for, and take the oath to retain the values of their utopia in their search. They would think only of the others, not of themselves, and at the end of their journey, they would return with a new home.
When the five stood before the ladder to the surface, they began upward without hesitation. They emerged into dim light, looking excitedly among each other. Each one, clad in an oddity of white, plastic-like material, designed to eliminate radioactive penetration. The scientists below clicked through on radios, wished them luck. The hatch to the lower level closed with mechanized movements, and its seals locked in place. The radios clicked through again; the seal on the bomb-shelter’s door had been broken.
With a hiss, click, and the exhaled of gleaming dust upon the air, the door swung wide. The five stepped forward daringly into light that shined from the sky, eager to find a new home upon a long forgotten rock.