It’s been nine years.
Nine years since the shit hit the fan.
Nine years since the comfortable, American way of life most people knew came to an abrupt and terrifying end.
Nine years since you, one of the so-called “lucky few”, entered a remote bunker on the northern edge of the Ute Mountain Tribe Reservation in southern Colorado called The Citadel.
Nine years since a viral outbreak swept across the southern United States of America in an unprecedented epidemic.
Nine years since you were shut in and the world was shut out.
Saying life is different now would be a gross oversimplification of the situation. You left your life behind. Loved ones. Places. Things. You left behind a part of yourself. For most they have lived two lives; life above ground before lockdown and life underground after.
There is little comfort now. You have shelter and you have air to breathe and occasionally a bite to eat and stinking water to drink but things have reached a point of miserable desperation and everyone knows it.
It’s different than it was when you first came to this place. You bought into the dream of survival. Bought into a survivalist time-share scheme so you could secure a place in a private bunker facility. A place for those with the wherewithal to know something terrible was about to happen to the world. How could you have known though that by some twist of fate or divine intervention or something else, you would actually be one of the lucky few at The Citadel during their time-share period when the epidemic occurred?
Nine years ago there had been enough food and clean water, fresh air, electricity and other luxuries to keep you and yours alive for a long, long time here. Forty years Jack Lakota, the owner and developer had said dourly. The Citadel is setup so twenty-five people could live in there for forty years. That’s what he’d said.
But it had only been nine years and you are starving. Everyone is starving. The air in the bunker is stale and the purification system needs constant maintenance. The wastewater pumps have all failed. Electricity is rationed, with the generators running as much as three hours every third day, and one hour a day otherwise. The water is salty and tastes of chlorine and people are starting to weaken and get sick, and die.
As a matter of fact in the nine years since you’ve been locked down, eleven of the original twenty-three people in The Citadel have died.
All you know about the reasons you were locked in is there was a viral outbreak of some kind, possibly ebola though that’s only conjecture. Whatever it was struck hard and there was a frenzy of rioting and violence in the days preceding the decision to lock-down.
The Citadel has been under military control under the leadership of Virginia Sterret, a United States Marine Corp. Captain ever since the decision was made to lock it down. A few days after that call was made the communication center at the bunker went down. The surface level compound had been attacked by desperate looters who had destroyed defences there including killing several soldiers and damaging the communication tower. The hatch remained sound and Sterret has kept it that way ever since.
As no cellular or other communication devices were allowed in The Citadel contact with the outside world was lost. As were the rules, the civilians left their devices with the warrant officer in the primary storage lock-up on entry. They could pick them up on leaving but how could anyone have known that day would never come? How could they have known that when the wastewater pumps failed it would cause the sewage lines to fill and eventually the weight of those lines caused the pipes to rupture? How could they foresee that release of filthy water would collapse the ceiling of the corridor that connected the rest of the facility with primary storage?
And now, though the fences have all been fixed and reinforced and there has been a vigorous effort by the survivors to build greenhouses and plant and grow fruit and vegetables in the compound, the harvest has been small. Everyone works and helps out; does their part. That’s the rules. Though the civilians have been up to the surface they have not been outside the fence and can only see treetops and the sky above the riot barricades and concertina-wire wrapped, ten foot tall chain-link fence.
Military patrols outside the fences have brought back some food and supplies they managed to scavenge but they don’t talk about the state of the world outside. Whatever the state of things there’s not enough to go round. Too many mouths to feed.
It’s no secret the military have been meeting and discussing things in secret and casting sidelong looks at the civilians. They don’t speak openly about their patrols, only saying things like “it’s not safe outside the fence” or “you’d never make it down Ute Mountain” when asked. Its also no secret that relations between the two parts of the same group have been fractious. Though Capt. Sterret is a taciturn leader she has thus far proven firm but fair in most dealings. The rationing of food, water and medical supplies has been difficult but she’s developed a system that works.
All in all its a fucking miracle you’ve survived this long but you know things are reaching a point where survival at The Citadel will be impossible for everyone and know that something must be done, and soon. But What?
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