Our years here had been dark and dismal, but great grandpa’s caution had ultimately saved our lives.
I could barely remember the world before the end. I’d only been eight when they told us about the asteroid. They’d tried to divert it, but failed. A large part would still plummet to Earth. We’d mere hours to act.
I remembered Da, hurrying me through the evergreen bushes with fragrant pale pink blooms and the narrow crack into the cave. We’d huddled together, waiting for the end. The expected impact would be very far away, in Africa or Asia, but the ground still trembled, loose rocks skittered over the floor. One of the stalactites cracked and crumbled to the ground. I cried in Ma’s arms, sure we were all going to die.
There began the longest, coldest winter known in modern history as a massive dust cloud obliterated the sun.
We were the lucky ones. Great Grandpa had been one of the first survivalists. He’d predicted the end of the world, whether it be from nuclear warfare, the collapse of the economy or, as we’d experienced, a natural disaster. He’d passed what he’d known to his son, who’d passed the knowledge to Da. They’d all prepared. The cave had its own natural water source, filtered through the limestone. We had a generator, batteries, medical supplies and enough MREs to feed an army for a year. Bunks were set up in tiny cabins so we would stay dry when rainwater dripped through the rocky ceiling.
There we stayed for nearly eight years. Da and Uncle Jeff went out sometimes to check on the conditions. But now we needed to leave.
Fear shivered over my skin and down my spine as we stepped towards the entrance. Da pushed aside the barrier and I squeezed through the crack into the outside world, to be bathed in a pale winter sunlight, welcomed by a riot of pale pink and deepest green. The heady fragrance of the camellias was overlaid by the scent of fallen leaves.
The world as I knew it was starting anew.