Part 1 - Chapter 1

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Beyond the airlock, outside the silo, Alex Dash monitored the storm

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Beyond the airlock, outside the silo, Alex Dash monitored the storm. It was 1:42 a.m. Wearing his helmet with full-cover visor and his rifle at the ready, he stepped away from the protection of the roofed entrance to the bunker and witnessed the gale for himself. It was powerful, nudging him slightly off-balance. The wind thrashed the tall grasses surrounding the airfield, once an active military base. That was long ago, before the world turned to shit.

Nearby trees swayed and yielded to the storm, threatening to snap in two. Debris was tossed into the air and scattered about the abandoned, weed-strewn runways. Alex held his gloved hand out and allowed the storm to pelt him with tiny seeds. They bounced off his visor like grains of sand. The air was inundated with them.

He wouldn't be out here if not for the antennae coming loose. Without it, he'd be unable to properly identify possible air pollutants. After reattaching and reinforcing the antennae to the outside of the bunker, he retreated to the airlock, keeping his eyes on the swirling landscape beyond. Alex punched in the correct numeric passcode and the door unlocked. He stepped inside and removed the helmet, and scrubbed his close-cropped chestnut hair, making sure none of the seeds had gotten past his protective gear. The seeds in the air had been immature and therefore soft. Had they been mature - hard thorn-like objects – they might've penetrated his clothing.

When he had removed the outdoor suit and was confident he wouldn't track anything inside the bunker, he exited the airlock and stepped through the inner door, into the silo and locked it behind him. The monitor beside the door read AIR QUALITY: 17%

                                                                                         *********

Alex sat in pitch blackness. He couldn't see the twins, but he could hear them breathing, still in a deep sleep. After draping his blanket across the two of them, he felt his way along the wall and stepped out into the wide, circular hallway – the shaft of the refitted missile silo. It had housed nuclear weapons during the cold war. Decommissioned during the eighties, it now served as their home.

Two landings above, he could make out the square window in the interior door. It was a shade lighter than the darkness he stood in and from his perspective seemed ethereal, as if it were a window to another world floating in the gloom.

His footfalls made dull clanks as he climbed the metal stairs. When he reached the top landing, he peeked out from the shade. The interior door was made of thick steel and attached to the silo's shaft. It opened to a ten-foot air lock, which, when needed, could purify contaminated air. At the end of the air lock was another heavy door. It was their buffer to the outside world and the strange things that now roamed.

Their view was due east and as such, Alex could see that it was dawn, but that the sun hadn't yet broken the horizon. Sparse, cottony clouds, a deep violet against the paling sky, drifting lazily from the west. The air appeared clean. Maybe they could leave the silo today.

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