When the heavy, rusted metal door to the compound closed, Adam knew it would be closed for good, trapping him and a couple hundred people underground and away from the devastation on the other side.
The word trapped came to mind only because it perfectly described the claustrophobic feeling that overwhelmed him. He’d thought he’d gotten used to being in such close quarters with so many injured and frightened people. He was wrong. For nearly a month, it never really felt like the salvation he heard on so many people’s tongues.
He made his way through a crowd of people who stood crying, praying and staring at the thick latched door as if they were attending a funeral, mourning the loss of their previous lives. For many, that was exactly what was happening. For others—the women and men in fine clothing who looked as if they harbored every necessity they could ever need—Adam was sure it was the beginning of a new life. The glass half full concept.
The skin on Adam’s arm itched under its cast, but he distracted himself by touching the cold metal door with his good hand, a silent goodbye to the hellish world beyond the barrier, a world so familiar yet altered.
A warm hand on his shoulder stole Adam’s attention. He pivoted to stare into worried brown eyes with eyelashes that fluttered uncontrollability like a small winged insect. He smirked.
"What are you doing?" Elliot glanced over his shoulder repeatedly, paranoid. "These people are gonna go nuts any minute and try to knock that door down all at once. You’re asking to be trampled. Come on."
He allowed Elliot to grab his hand and pull him to the back of the crowd and down the hall which led to Pod 4. The long metal corridor echoed with the sound of their footsteps as they made their way to the large shell shaped area at the end.
"The speakers said we’ll have to get used to our own pods and—"
"I know what the speakers said." Out of the six rooms in the pod, Elliot pulled Adam to the first room on the left and pushed the metal door open. It creaked and whined on its hinges, and echoed back through the corridor. "I’d like to know who’s behind all of these stupid messages before I start obeying them."
"They’re just trying to help ease the panic by answering questions and keeping order." Adam walked into the small chamber and instinctively looked up at the lone rectangular sound speaker that hung from the corner of the cramped room. There were two twin beds in the room, each with a mattress and a box spring on squeaking metal frames with wheels. Just like his room. Adam sat on a bed, looking around at the boxes piled in a corner. "Are you ever going to go through your stuff, get organized?"
"Get organized?" Elliot glared. "Look at us. We’re wearing hospital scrubs in an underground bunker that’s just been sealed off from us ever leaving, and, and you’re thinking about being organized?"
"They’re not scrubs."
"We look like mental patients." Elliot stood and paced the narrow space between the two beds. "I don’t like this. Not at all."
"Who likes it?" Adam scoffed. "We’re not supposed to like it. We’re surviving and it’s not easy to do."
"It’ll be easier if they let us wear our own clothes at least." Elliot continued to pace.
He was right. Adam didn’t understand why they took their personal items and gave them boxes of necessities from Refuge Inc.'s own supplies. Toilet tissue, toothpastes, even on the left breast pocket of the scrubs they wore was all labeled with a blood red R and a shiny silver halo around it.
Static broke over the small speaker in the corner of the room, and then a monotone male voice broke the white noise.
"Thanks for your cooperation. The compound door has been closed and will remain as so until the dust clears out of the valley and all of the Phoenix area. This is for our protection and for a secure future. We ask that you all report to your assigned pods for proper organization of your duties. Thank you for your cooperation."
Elliot shook his head. "Who is that?"
"Whoever it is they’re trying to get us all organized." Adam stood. "Sounds like we all have duties assigned to us."
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