Photo by Christian Bardenhorst.
The man sat down on his chair and snapped open his magazine. The dim light from the lamp behind him lit up the page. It didnâ€™t really matter all that much if he even had enough light to read the articles, he had been reading the same 47 magazines for the last 30 years. At this point, he was just reading them to stave off boredom.
The slow whoosh, whoosh, whoosh from his air filtration systemâ€™s fan comforted the man. There was something about it that reassured him that things were going to be okay. He took a sip of his home-brewed beer. Before the collapse, he had stored away everything he might need to survive in his bunker. This included his brewing supplies, and plenty of ingredients, including seeds to grow said ingredients.
It was gross. Not like the stuff he used to drink back up top, but he had grown used to the taste. Not to mention, he was the only person he need worry about liking it.
The lights flickered as he turned the page.
The man looked up from his magazine. Thinking there must be something wrong with the generator, he put it on the table next to his chair, and stood up, slowly. He was getting older and couldnâ€™t move as well as he used to. He started to move towards his back room, the room where he kept all his supplies, including his generator. It was a very basic steam generator, using anything he could burn to fuel it. In the beginning he used charcoal and gasoline, but as of late, he was using things chopped wood from outside.
When he entered the doorway to his back room he heard a pounding on the hatch to his bunker. His head whipped around faster than he thought possible, and he almost fell down. He hadnâ€™t moved that fast in ages.
More banging; it definitely wasnâ€™t an animal. He started to move towards the hatch. Whatever â€“ whoever â€“ it was wasnâ€™t getting into his bunker that easily. He had built it himself, the door alone could survive a direct blast from about two tons of TNT. If they planned to get in, they werenâ€™t getting in that way. He chuckled.
He moved back to his generator room. More banging on the hatch. Opening the door to the generator, he noticed he was just low on fuel. He threw in a log. That should last about 30 minutes before he needed to add another.
He moved back to his chair, passing the air vent, hearing the reassuring whoosh, whoosh as he walked by, butâ€¦ he heard something else. Muffled voices, it was hard to make out what they were saying, but they were voices for sure. His air vent was directly above him, so they knew it was for his bunker.
A yell. More banging on the hatch. A gunshot. One audible word, yelled loud enough for it to be clear.
There was a loud bang, diluted by the dirt and steel encasing the man. Nonetheless, it was strong enough to shake the ground and cause his ears to ring. He opened his eyes. The fan was broken and the vent casing was laying on the floor, smoke pouring from the hole in the wall.
Through the ringing in his ears he could hear nothing. Soon, the ringing subsided and he could hear once again. Still, there was nothing.
They couldnâ€™t have possibly left after that, could they? He was confused. He didnâ€™t know what was going to happen next, and for the first time in his life after the collapse, he was truly scared.
A cloud of pale green started to leak from the vent and trickle onto the floor.
Quickly, the man rushed to get his gas mask and his gun. He was going to have to fight. That was when there was another explosion, and this time, it was at the door.
The door slammed into the concrete floor, some twenty feet beneath it. It wasnâ€™t as strong as the man thought it was. The man didnâ€™t even have enough time to get on his mask. He waited in the corner at the end of the hallway, his gun trained on the entrance shaft.
His breaths were strained and the gas pouring in from the air vent burned his lungs and skin. Whoever it was that was breaking in, they had done this before.
After the door fell to the ground, there was more silence. The gas slowly started to cover the floor and the man started to cough, his heart playing its rhythm loud in his ears.
Something clattered to the floor in the entrance shaft in front of him.
More silence. The man gripped his gun tighter and rested his cheek on the stock.
A searing white and a loud bang filled his small bunker. The man instinctively pulled the trigger, releasing a spray of hot metal towards the entrance. He could no longer hear even his own heartbeat. Just ringing.
25 feet in front of him, a rope fell down into the bunker, a person soon followed, sliding down the rope, landing with a loud thud.
The manâ€™s vision clears enough just in time to see the figure aim his gun and pull the trigger.
Then, there was silence.