What Lies Beneath?

By Gavin Sekel (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Jack blurted out. The entire room looked at him. Everyone was meeting in the cafeteria to discuss opening the door.

“Jack, it is broken,” Tom whispered to him. “We’re running out of supplies.” He had been good friends with Jack since they took cover there.

“We don’t know what will be out there,” Jack continued to say to the crowd.

“The books say it should be safe for human life out there now,” a voice came from the people. They had been left books to tell them how to live over the years. “It has been twenty-five years since the bombs dropped.” The crowd began to roar in argument.

“Come with me,” Jack said to Tom as he began to push through the crowd.

“Where are we going?” Tom asked.

“They’re going to open that door no matter what I say. We need to be ready,” Jack answered.

When they made their way back to Jack’s room, Tom waited as his friend flipped up his bed. Underneath was a safe.

“The door will be opened in exactly one hour,” the loudspeaker echoed along the metal walls of the hallway outside the room. “We advise everyone to stay calm and return to your rooms…”

“Take this,” Jack said, handing Tom a revolver. He had one for himself too. “We should find some better weapons once we get out. Tom, it’s going to be dangerous out there.”

“I believe you, Jack. I’ll stick by you,” Tom said. Jack gave him a head nod and the two headed for the vault door.

The hallways were chaotic. People were running to hide in their rooms or to get ready to see the outside world. Tom and Jack waited at the vault door as the hour went by. A large group of people slowly gathered to wait with them.

Jack noticed a young boy standing with his father. He thought about how that kid had never seen the outside world before so he walked over to him and knelt down.

“Here bud,” Jack said to him and handed him a pair of glasses.

“What are these?” the boy asked.

“They’re sun glasses. The outside is going to be brighter than anything you’ve ever seen,” Jack replied.

“Thank you,” the boy said with a smile. He put the glasses on and looked excitedly up at his father.

When the hour was up, three men arrived. Jack knew the one man quite well. His name was Jared. His hands shook as he approached the panel next to the door. He typed in a code and a box on the wall opened. Inside was a red lever that had WARNING written on it. Jared turned to look at all the people waiting and locked eyes with Jack who shook his head. With a deep breath, he pulled the lever down. There was a loud crackling noise in the wall and the door slowly swung open. The sunlight poured in and the whole crowd took a step back. They all held up their hands to cover their eyes.

Jack was the first to climb up through the door. He sniffed at the air and looked down at the soil. It was dry and cracked. The outside rang with noise. Tom stepped out next to him.

“Hello, old friend,” Tom said with a smile. He breathed in the fresh air.

Jack turned back to Jared. “This door needs to be kept shut at all times. We don’t know what’s out here and we don’t want anything getting in. I will knock three times when we get back. Be ready for us,” Jack announced. Jared nodded and closed the door.

“Well, let’s do this,” Tom said. The two men walked through the woods. It was different than they remembered. It held less life. They walked on through the dust and the trees. A feeling came slowly up from inside of both of them. They wondered what knew things would come into their lives.

Jack stopped and noticed something sticking out from the soil. The sun reflected off of it. He bent down and realized it was a sort of knife made from scrap metal and fabric. A shiver spread through his body.

“Jack,” Tom whispered. Jack looked up to see Tom staring off at something. Rising to his feet, he saw what it was. Multiple statues stood twenty feet tall in an opening in the woods. They were made from sticks and hay. A few of them represented humans and another looked like some type of four-legged animal.

“Something must have built those. Just like they made this,” Jack whispered showing Tom the knife. “They almost look like scarecrows. I think we’re the crows.”

At the same time they noticed a house made from scrap wood and metal built in a tree across the opening. It was small. The door was only a few feet tall. They began to notice other houses in the trees as well.

“The world has changed, Tom,” Jack said as they began to back away slowly. “We need to get back to the vault and tell them about this.”

“I agree. We need to figure out what to do about this,” Tom replied.

They began to run back to the vault but stopped after they thought they were a safe distance from the tree houses and statues. Along the way they noticed a few strange animals. One of them looked like a normal rabbit, but it had yellow spots throughout its fur.

“This world holds a lot for us to learn. There’s a lot of opportunity out there. We must be careful though,” Tom said. “We needed to open the door though. You know that don’t you?”

“I know we did. There are just so many things we are going to have to face now,” Jack answered. “We have no idea what’s out here. Maybe I’m wrong though. Maybe it’s safe.”

Arriving back at the vault, Jack knocked three times on the door. It remained shut though. He looked at Tom with concern. They couldn’t hear any movement inside.

Once more, he knocked three times.

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