Thursday, March 31, 2022

Microstory 1854: Life Underground

I grew up in madness. My parents were both doomsday preppers who—I don’t really want to say that they took it too far—but I eventually came to decide that they weren’t looking at the threat the right way. Is it possible that the world is going to end? Yes, of course. Is it rational to prepare for this eventuality? Assuming it doesn’t interfere with your day to day life, I would say so. That’s where mom and dad got lost. They were so obsessed with the life they would lead if the proverbial esh ever hit the fan that they stopped caring about what life should be like before, or instead of. It wasn’t this sudden thing that they did. It’s not like they read a bad news story, and decided to stuff the family into the bunker, and shut the door behind us. They just gradually spent more and more time focused on it until it was all they thought about, and it was just the way we lived. The farmhouse above ground was only there for show. They actually damaged parts of it to make it look abandoned, so any would-be looters or opportunists wouldn’t think it was worth ransacking. Where once I had my own bedroom, I now shared a corner of two triple bunk beds. My two younger brothers and sister had one set, and I slept above my aunt, who was above my parents. They shared a twin bunk, they were that committed to the lifestyle. The house was fine, and the world outside was too, but no, we were sardines. Because if that bomb ever went off, or a pandemic killed everyone, the best way to be ready was to simply already be doing things how we would when the day came. They still let us go to school for a while, but eventually decided it was too risky to have us wandering the surface. They didn’t even apply to homeschool us, or anything. We just stopped leaving the house. That’s when the authorities stepped in.

Truancy laws are taken very seriously in my country. If you didn’t go to school, you better have a damn good reason. Legislatures even stopped accepting the excuse of needing the kids to work on the farm. Being accepted as a homeschool was tough, because you had to prove you were a competent substitute for a licensed professional teacher. So you can imagine that they were pissed about our situation. It almost got us taken out of the house, but my parents reluctantly agreed to let us go back. But no extracurricular activities, no parties, and no trips. We mostly only went to school. Once a week, father would go out to check the post office box, and it was a real treat if one of us got to accompany him. Once a month, he would restock us—or overstock—on supplies, and he usually needed two of us to help. I honestly don’t know where they were getting their money. This was before working from home was a thing, and since we stopped planting crops, that surely wasn’t it. Maybe one of them came from a rich family, and we lived in squalor because they were clinically insane. I’ll tell you one thing, as terrible as it was, I can’t say I regret any of it. I was designated the family medic, because someone had to do it, and none of the adults was smart enough to pursue the field. I learned some skills on my own, picked up more when they let me out for classes, and got even better when I finally went to get certified as an EMT, and later a paramedic. Of course, I left to live my life, and my siblings followed suit with their own dreams. The youngest had the hardest time, because the parents didn’t want to let her go, but they had no choice. We didn’t want to survive if it meant not living. They both died in that bunker, and I’m in my five bedroom split level, surrounded by loved ones.

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