“Welcome to Diamond City,” Asher said, standing aside to let us through. I could tell by the smile on his face he knew what our reactions were going to be, and it was justified. This wasn’t a city, it was a whole new world. Buildings, houses, trees, gardens, kids playing ball, pets, you name it. It was here. Looking up, I could swear there was even a sky with its own sun, but I knew that was impossible.
“Do all the bases look like this one?” I asked Asher, “This is incredible. This has been under our feet all this time?”
“Yes, for about seventy-five years, actually,” he told us, “We have a simulated sun and hologrammed sky. The lighting is actually better than the sun as it stimulates growth at a faster rate. The water is from an underground lake left over from the ice age. It’s approximately two hundred miles long and as deep as an ocean. It would take thousands of years before it went dry. We have five working farms down here, complete with bovine and equine stock. Three beef farms and two dairy. No GMO’s. All stock is grass fed.”
“This is absolutely astounding!” Chris said, “Who lives here? Where did they all come from?”
“This base is a takeover,” Asher said, “Now here’s the part you probably don’t want to hear. We killed many of the government official and their families. They wouldn’t let us in until we figured out how to tamper with their air supply. They had no choice, and even then they were resistant. Just the way they looked at us, like we were peasants, caused many of us survivors to lose it. But, we gave them an option. Either you live and work with us, or you die. Most chose to live, but many were arrogant and irrational right up till the end.”
“What about the Seth?” Josh asked, “Don’t they know where you are? Where this place is?”
“No, actually,” Asher said, walking toward a large, one-story building, “They’ve tried to follow, but we’ve always managed to outmaneuver and trick them.”
Leading us inside to a large, conference type room, he invited to sit and get comfortable.
“What is this place?” Josh asked.
“This is the intake building,” Asher told us, “this is where we decide whether you stay or go.”
“Well,” Chris said, taking offense, “Doesn’t matter. It’s all of us or we all go. This is a great set up and stuff, but we stay together. Even if it means dealing with the Seth.”
“It’s just a formality,” Asher told us, “I know you’re good people, so no worries. We’ve gotten a few that were just scum of the Earth. No compassion for anything except themselves. Would just assume kill a person holding him back than try and help.”
I quickly thought of Josh, and glancing at Chris, I knew he did too. Was that Josh? Did Asher see what Josh did? It almost sounded like it.
The door opened and a stocky man in a blue uniform collected the weapons we set on the table and left.
“There are some rules, of course, like any place that is trying to at least be somewhat civilized,”Asher said as he motioned for us to sit down, “The first rule is, if you stay here, you contribute. That means working to keep this place self sustainable. Rule two, hand over weapons. This is a peaceful community, you won’t need them. If and when the time comes when we are under attack by Seth or undesirables, you will get your weapon back to defend Diamond City.”
“I’m not sure I’m ready to just hand over my weapon just yet,” Chris told him, “We’re not alive and sitting in front of you because we gave up our weapons.”
“Understandable,” Asher agreed, “That’s why we’re giving you three days to look around, mingle, and make up your minds whether or not this is where you want to be. But please be warned, you will also be under heavy surveillance during that time. We don’t take any chances.”
Chris nodded in agreement. “Understandable. Can I ask you a question? The other bases, you said there were at least two in every state, right? Are they like this one? Do regular citizens run those too?”
“No, well, maybe a couple,” Asher answered, “The rest harbor the ‘elites’, or so they like to call themselves. I often wonder, though, where all that money got them. With the dollar obsolete now, how do they estimate their worth now? It can’t be gold, because gold is only worth something if there is a money system. Without that, gold and silver become worthless. Oil and petrol are the main things to die for, now, and it just happens that this base harbored an excess of both.”
“How big is Diamond City?” Josh asked.
“You ready for this? It’s five million underground acres. Just a little smaller than Adirondack Park,” Asher informed us, “We even have our own mall, hospital and a few grocery stores. There’s people that do child care, people who are electricians and contractors. That’s why we like to get a little background info on new citizens, to kind of see what they have to offer.”
“But we were students when everything went down,” I told him, “We really don’t have anything to offer except menial labor.”
“And that’s okay, um, I forgot names,” Asher apologized, “I know you’re Chris.”
He pointed at Chris, “But I forgot your names.” He looked at Josh and I.
“I’m Piper, and this is Josh,” I told him placing my arm around the boys’s thin shoulders, “Josh is only ten, what can he do?”
“Josh, how are with animals?” Asher asked, “We have a stable with about fifty horses and we always need help with cleaning and feeding.”
“I don’t much care for animals, sir,” Josh said, “I’d rather do something else, if you don’t mind.”
For some reason that bothered me. I never trusted anyone who didn’t like animals, or, when animals didn’t like a particular person. Added to the way he shot Angel in cold blood, Josh was starting to be someone I wasn’t sure I wanted to be around anymore.
“We’ll find something for you, Josh,” Asher assured him, “I’ll ask David Wilson if he has anything over at the garage.”
“What did your parents do for a living, Chris?” Asher asked, “Are they still living?”
“No, they saved my sister, Brianna and I before the Seth got them,” he said sadly, “My dad was a photographer for the Evening Tribune, and my mom was an RN at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam.”
“And you?” he asked me.
“I don’t know where my dad is, or what he did,” I told him, “he left when I was five. My mother worked for a law firm as a secretary. I had a older brother, but he died in an automobile accident.”
“Sorry for your loss, Piper,” Asher said sincerely, “We’ve all lost to the Seth, no doubt. I lost my wife and child two months ago. My son was only three years old and they tore him to pieces in front of my eyes.”
“Oh, my god, Asher,” I cried, “How awful for you and and your family! Why was this ever allowed to happen? Why do mad men always get their way?”
Just then, the door to the room we were in slammed open revealing a rough looking man in his thirties. His eyes were wild as they focused on Asher.
“Asher!” he cried out, “They’ve found us! There’s about a hundred of the bastards trying to get in through the steel doors. Go sound the alarm, now!”
Asher blanched and stood up quickly almost knocking over the table. Running to another room, it wasn’t long before we heard the long drawn out sound of a warning siren. We all stood up as well, feeling scared and helpless.
“What do we do, Asher?” Chris asked, “This is exactly why we don’t like to be without our weapons! Where are they?”
“Follow me!” Asher said, ‘The armory is this way!”
We ran, following him out of the building, down a street lined with dogwood trees in all of their pink, blooming splendor. We saw mother’s grabbing their children by the hand with husbands or partners ushering them forward to a large oblong hangar.
“Asher!” I called out, “where are they all going?”
“To safety,” he yelled back, “Inside is a deeper sub-level intended for moments like these.”
The armory was near the safety building, so we were able to grab our weapons, plus many more, and join the rest of the community beneath Diamond City. Inside of the oblong building, we followed Asher to a three foot thick hatch and down a set of spiral stairs. The hatch automatically closed, sealing us in. From the outside it was impossible to detect as it blended in to the tiled floor.
Looking at our surroundings, again we were astonished at the complexity of the safe area. As big as a small city, it held pods big enough for entire families. Each pod was equipped with a months worth of food, water and other living supplies. Asher introduced us to two other men; a Mr. Benjamin Wickman and Jeremiah Becker.
“Come on, kids, we want to show you something,” Asher said.
We followed them to area with giant computer and monitoring systems showing us how Diamond City was now under complete surveillance by hidden cameras. Literally thousands of them. We watched as they converged on the city searching for life to destroy. I noticed as we watched from the hundreds of monitors, the Seth totally ignored the livestock but yet killed pets. Asher saw my confusion and explained.
“They kill our pets because they know we love them,” he told me, “what you need to understand is, they hate us. They hate that we are human, and they are not. They know what they are and they hate us for it.”
I thought about that and it made sense. When human beings try and play God, this is what happens. Everything in the universe is perfect. When man tries to duplicate what is already perfect, monsters happen.
We watched as they frantically and viciously tore through Diamond City looking for us. All three hundred of us. Because the safe place was air tight and sound proof, we didn’t have to worry about them smelling or hearing us. But how to get rid of them? I soon found out.
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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