Part 1: Post Doom

41 2 0
                                              

Superstition always directs action in the absence of knowledge.

—Isaac Asimov, Foundation and Earth

The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the Living Infinite.

—Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Excerpt from

THE JOURNAL OF PRESIDENT ELIJAH WADE

(First President of the Thirteenth Continuum, Milwaukee Deep, Puerto Rico Trench)

[1 P.D.] . . . Still no communication from the Surface, though against all odds, we are thriving down here in the blackest depths of the ocean. As a first order of business, my fellow colonists held an election. There was no campaigning this time. No speeches. I didn't even toss my hat into the ring. But my fellow colonists—the Founders of the Thirteenth Con- tinuum—elected me as their first President. It is an honor that both thrills and humbles me. I feel the weight of their survival squarely on my narrow shoulders . . .

[4 P.D.] . . . Though countless attempts have been made to contact the other Continuums—radio messages, electronic communications, even an unmanned probe—all have ended in abject failure. Our messages were met with silence, and the probe lost contact with us the instant that it left the trench. It was most likely destroyed by whatever hell rages beyond our safe harbor under the sea. For all intents and purposes, we are on our own . . .

[7 P.D.] . . . It saddens me to report that one of our colonists, Clyde Donovan, went stir crazy (cabin fever is a common ailment down here). He stole a sub and made for the Sur- face. The last transmission that we received from him was the sound of screaming, followed by static, and then silence. The noises that he made—more animal than human, tormented, and amplified by the receiver—have haunted my dreams for weeks. Whether anything still survives up there is a mystery that only God knows the answer to . . .

[15 P.D.] . . . Every day I see what mankind is capable of: our resilience, our innovative spirit, our capacity for adaptation under exigent circumstances. Our citizens work tirelessly to produce the food, water, and power that keep us alive. But every day, I am also reminded of the Doom that we unleashed upon the world. The two sides of our psyche: creation and destruction. Which will win out? I can only hope the former . . .

[23 P.D.] . . . A viral epidemic has spread through the colony. It has already halved our numbers. I lost my wife of thirty-eight years, Veda, to the scourge. Thank God my daughters still survive, even if they are having difficulty coping with the loss of their mother. Hell, we all are. The Pox-like ailment begins with a fever and rash and ends with massive internal hemorrhag- ing. Our doctors have never encountered its like. A mutation, they say. I've instituted emergency quarantines, but I do not know if they are enough. Meanwhile, a new religious fervor is also sweeping through the colony, perhaps due to the virus, or the extreme isolation of the deep, or both. The followers have donned red cloaks and call themselves The Church of the Oracle of the Sea . . .

[36 P.D.] . . . Sometimes I still dream of the world as it was. In my dreams, I am always a child back on my family's farm in Tulsa. The images are scorched into my mind. The tall grass, so verdant that it burns my eyes. The landscape crawling with living, breathing things—groves of trees, flocks of birds, mam- mals of every ilk and temperament, swarms of insects. The feel of the spring breeze kissing my face. The stars at night, bright pinpricks as endless as the universe. Even the withering heat of the Oklahoma summer. Down here, there is no weather, and it is always dark and cold. Always. But by the time I wake, the dreams are gone, and with them, any memory of the Surface . . .

The 13th Continuum (Book 1: The Continuum Trilogy)Where stories live. Discover now