“The last of Team Sigma has fallen,” he said.
The map of our utopia—a holographic projection of our glorious sky-scraping city, built within the embrace of Mother Nature’s lush topography—had dimmed. The last of our soldiers, who once lit the hologram with her beacon, had vanished from the grid. And, as any wise and learned individual would say, all hope was lost.
“What do we do?” he asked.
Alas, the other four remained silent. Despite inheriting the weight of our survival—a hefty responsibility placed upon their shoulders, after our original leaders had died in battle—they stood mummed. A concoction of apprehension and defeat now governed their collective mien. And I knew—it was now up to me. The uninvited guest, peeping from the vent above the room, was the only one left with a solution. If only they had listened—if only they didn’t wave me out of their meetings. Unfortunately, no one heeded the words of a child.
Retreating from the grave reality of our survival, I returned to my bunker—one I shared with a few other children. The leaders had sent all able-bodied men and women to fight the creatures, leaving all those below the age of twelve as orphans. With the war persisting, there were barely any adults left—the last I saw my parents was eight months ago, and my brother was in Team Delta. But as much as my heart ached in grief, I was humanity’s remaining hope. My only regret was not acting sooner, even if it meant breaking the rules.
“Are you really going to do it?” she asked me.
“I have to,” I said. “If I don’t, more of us will die.”
“But… you’ll die,” he chimed.
“I won’t be the first, but I’ll be the last.”
The adults insisted on protecting our utopia—preserving the toil of our ancestors that went into the living paradise. They believed that our world would be an everlasting home—one that thrived on renewable energy, powering our advancing technology without sacrificing the original inhabitants of the land. It was, indeed, Arcadia. Alas, their quest to defend our future costed many lives—more than we could have afforded. Thus, it was high time someone did the opposite.
“Can we come along?” she asked.
“No, you have to stay,” I said. “You’ll have to start over once the creatures are gone.”
“But it wouldn’t be the same without you,” he stated with a frown.
“It isn’t meant to be the same,” I replied. “It already isn’t the same, and you know it.”
My friends nodded. Then handing me my backpack—nestling the only weapon I needed—they each gave me one last hug before ushering me to the door.
“You guys remember what to do?” I prompted.
“Yes,” they replied in unison.
“Good. I’ll see you guys… soon.”
I turned on my heel, refusing to show the final tears I were to shed—there was no going back now. The only step back, that I permitted myself to take, was into history—a time before the invasion, where every morning presented a new hope. But despite what one would think, hope would arrive at dawn once more—after I was done with my mission.
The plan was simple—with the adults scurrying for another strategy, my friends would trigger the intrusion alarm. The alarm would initiate an evacuation procedure, unlocking the north exit that led to the surface. I would be close by—as the banshee-like shrieks echoed down the hallways—ready to slip out into the world above. And from there, my final journey commenced.
Was I afraid? I was. I had never met a single person who wasn’t afraid to die—I saw the fear in my parents’ eyes when they said goodbye, and I heard it in my brother’s voice when he promised to return. Still, they were brave—every person that left our subterranean haven was courageous in disposition. And more so was I.
With the map to the abandoned power plant in hand, and the explosives slung over my shoulders, I was headed toward destruction. The notion itself sounded preposterous—why would anyone destroy the only place we called home? But it was only absurd to those who couldn’t let go of what we had already lost. Starting over wasn’t the end of our perfect world, refusing to try again was. And if it took a child to help them see, so be it.
Music Meets Story © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)