Andy watched after the final bomb had dropped the world was quiet and still. A war that had started on the internet had ended with catastrophe. The two most powerful nations in the world, Russia and the United States, had been at odds for years. Their war was still going on but was now at a standstill. The surface was unsafe so to survive, mankind moved to the underground.
They live in underground cities made up of the bunkers they used to escape the dangers of the war. Each city was named after the place where the people used to live. The largest bunker city was in Chicago which is where Andy lived. He was just 17 and had lost everything including his family in the war. Andy’s father was a hacker during the war. Rumor had it that just before he was killed that he had stolen the data from Russia about the locations for the nuclear launch platforms. Someone with information like that was too dangerous to live though and he was quickly taken out in what was made to look like a car accident. Little to anyone’s knowledge though, before his death Andy’s father had passed the information to him with the instructions to keep it a secret until it was safe enough to get it out of the city and to the right people
Andy worked at a butcher shop with Leon where they would mostly just relax and talk until they had the occasional customer. Things recently had been strict as the Underground Government of Chicago had tightened stay at home orders after a protest against the oppression. The leaders of Chicago had grabbed all the power in the area while America was in chaos. They knew that if the people left if the war ended that they would lose control and be locked up for the terror they inflicted on their citizens.
“Bro, we gotta get out of here while we still can,” said Leon
“While we still can?” said Andy, “It’s already too late dude there’s no way out now.”
“Maybe we can escape,” said Katrina.
“No, too risky, if we get caught they are gonna turn us into martyrs.”
Andy didn’t really think that but he needed to follow his father’s instructions. It was too dangerous and risky to try to get out right now. If he was caught with the data his father passed along it would be destroyed and there would be no permanent end to the war.
“Better than staying here and having the same thing eventually happen, at least if we try we got a shot,” mocked Leon.
“Where we gonna go though?” asked Andy, “Next closest city is Detroit, no I say we stay here and we just stay low.”
At that moment a customer finally came in. It was a welcome break, the tension between Andy and Leon had been growing. Leon dreamed of being free in a smaller city like Detroit. Andy was tired of living in the crowded, dark, and filthy neighborhood that he had spent the last three years of his life in. Andy on the other hand did not want to be risking getting caught. He had seen what happened to other people and knew that his fate would be the same, either kill or be killed. Either way they both knew that this could not go on for much longer.
After work they returned to their little apartment with Katrina. She, like Leon, wanted to leave.
“Andy we got something to tell you,” Katrina hesitated, “we’re leaving.”
“I can’t believe you guys would do this and leave me here!” Andy protested.
“You don’t give us much of a choice, we are all gonna end up dead here if we don’t get out soon. We’ve got a shot to leave tomorrow and you can come with us, but there’s nothing for us here. You’re a fighter and with your help we should be able to escape to the surface and get a ride to Detroit,” said Leon.
“And how are you supposed to get out with everything on lockdown? You can’t just walk to the surface,” Andy questioned.
“The smugglers are going to get us there. They are taking us and a few others to get to the surface. They’ve been doing this for weeks now to free people,” said Leon.
“I won’t. go and I can’t help you anymore from here right now, you guys are on your own. After tomorrow I’ll see you guys if this ever ends but I can’t risk getting caught escaping.” Andy stated.
“I don’t understand, you hate it just as much as we do here, you can’t make a difference by staying here so just come with us!” Katrina exclaimed.
Andy looked at her and then back at Leon before turning around and going to his room. He did want to leave but he knew that if he left he would be putting others in danger. Staying here and trying to help was a cross that he knew he had to bear to give his friends their best chance to escape.
The next morning Katrina and Leon gathered their belongings quietly and snuck out the door while no one was in the usually crowded streets. Into a back alley they headed where they met with the smugglers who were tasked with getting them out. Together, them and other dreamers started the dangerous journey of escaping the underground. Few had done it and many had tried, but the price of freedom was great and some could not pay.
“Alright I’m here to take y’all to the surface. This is one of the only ways out so don’t blow it for all of us,” said the smuggler, “You can call me Jesse.”
“Do you think we’ll make it?” Katrina asked.
“Depends on what you are willing to do to get out. The climb isn’t the hard part is gettin there that’s the problem. The gate is heavily guarded and if someone see’s or suspects us then we’re toast.”
“Words of confidence,” Leon sarcastically whispered in Katrina’s ear.
They tiptoed across the empty streets and alleys to get to the front checkpoint. Just beyond that was their freedom. They could almost see the gate that would get them out of the hell hole that they had been living in for the last few years.
“No!” they heard Jesse scream.
Just then appeared a wave of Chicago Police. There was no escape, they were done for and no one could stop what was coming. Quickly they surrounded all of the potential escapees and put an end to their plot of escaping. The commanders came in and took in the smugglers while leaving the others still standing in the open. Then they went up to Katrina and looked her in the eyes.
“Now, what do you think you were doing? Trying to escape? No why would anyone ever want to do that?” the commander said boastfully, “Do you think that somewhere else will be better? You will stay here with the rest of us but now instead you are going to spend your time in a cell.”
They swept them away and into vans to go to prison. The commander was right and there was no possible way to escape from where they were at.
As they were sitting in the back of the van driving they felt a sudden jolt, shouting, and then heard a boom. The first one seemed far away. Then the second one which seemed closer and finally a third which flipped the van over. With their ears ringing they looked around the war zone that they had entered. Jesse got up first and opened the door.
“Come on this is our chance!” Jesse screamed.
Katrina slid open the door to the van to be hit by a wave of smoke. She felt someone take her hand and guide her through the chaos. Looking to see her saviors face all she would see is a mask on his face and a flare in his other hand.
The next thing she knew she had Leon guiding her to the checkpoint. The man in the mask was gone, but in her hand that he had grabbed she felt something there. With a worried look she opened her hand to see a flash drive with Andy’s name on it. On the back there were instructions.
“Later,” she told herself.
“Almost there!” Leon yelled triumphantly.
“Did you see who that was?” asked Katrina.
“Didn’t see anyone now keep going,” said Leon panting.
She passed the checkpoint with Leon and let go a sigh of relief. But her mind was still moving as fast as she had been running away. She drew all her thoughts toward the drive in her hand and the note taped to the side. She began to read it with a tear in her eye.
I can only hope that you made it. I did everything I could to help you get across that line. It was my Father’s dream that I would be able to go with you but I realized that you would need help to get there and that I would have to be the one to stay behind to give it to you. In your hand I put the flash drive that my father gave me. On it is all the locations that the Russians have their rockets at. Get this to the right people, if you can end the war we can go back to what the world used to be without the detailed control we live under right now. I trust you and Leon to do everything in your power to make things right which is why I trusted you with such an important task.
Do what needs to be done,
Katrina did not know whether to be filled with anger or rage. This was a sacrifice that her best friend had made without her approval. She pondered if there was another way to do it where they could have all made it out. But quickly deduced that even though it was the hard call to make, Andy had done the heroic thing to put himself at risk by saving them to give everyone the same opportunity to be saved. Now they needed to do the right thing so that they would be able to save everyone, including their friend.
She did not know what adventure was ahead of her, only that it would test her. For a split second she also thought about just ignoring it and just leaving it all behind, but quickly realized how selfish that would be of her. There was no escaping the challenges ahead, but the reward at the end of saving her friend would be worth it.