Journals That Kept My Mum Alive
The fan moved the still air around the bunker.
Since the crash of 2025, air had become a precious commodity. The irony that the poisoned air drove the turbine that cleaned the air.
The air outside wasn’t worth breathing. Since the world had destroyed itself, the atmosphere contained chemicals. Chemicals that even the most robust living organism couldn’t survive. The filtration machine cleaned the air and the fan circulated it throughout. The air smelt stale and it was always hot, but breathing it couldn’t kill you.
Harper was the only one left. She wasn’t even sure anymore how long she had been there. She knew she came in as a teenager and now her hair was greying. Her Mumma had gone grey in her 40s, which put the year at about 2050.
One year ago, her last mum died. She had been putting a mark for every morning she woke up alone, 364 little marks. That was also the day she found the journals. Hidden at the back of the bunker in the storage hut. Twenty separate books detailing the end of the earth. Showing where humanity had gone so wrong. Her mum, an avid writer, had kept meticulous notes. The journals had become her company in the absence of her parents.
Harper had trouble remembering the lead up to the great crash. She was a teenager, too busy with the latest make up craze, than what was happening in the world. Her mums had told her some of it, the journals filled in the gaps.
It was unclear when exactly the destruction of humanity started. First, the earth and its creatures suffered. Rubbish piled up everywhere, even in the oceans, marine life died. Territory battles started over the seas and the last remaining fish.
Civilians took to the streets to protest their governments’ inadequacies. Governments voted for by the people, were doing exactly what they wanted.
The military was stretched in two directions. Fighting the people they were born to protect, whilst fighting the rest of the world, over the ocean occupation. Neither battle was won and millions perished. Shot with the bullets their taxes paid for, or starved to death.
The final crash came when a mad businessman, put in charge of the USA, pushed the red button on his final day in office. His last ‘fuck you’ to everyone that opposed him.
The three of them only just made it to the bunker in time before the bombs landed. Then the wind that powered the turbines destroyed the rest of humanity and planet earth. A small proportion survived in bunkers, Harper had no idea how many and where they were.
Life had been good, her parents had told her stories. Re-enacted films for her, made her laugh. Harper’s life had been filled with laughter and love.
Sunday’s before the crash had always been her favourite day. The three of them shut up indoors having fun. Harper’s life had been one long Sunday, no work, just her and her parents.
The journals detailed how her parents had met. How against all odds they had fallen in love and had a baby. One journal titled the seed guy, detailed the other half of her genetics. She had burnt it without even reading it. She had two amazing parents, she didn’t need to know anything else.
The last journal her Mumma had written. This detailing parts of the story from her perspective. How she missed her partner and how much she loved her. Not being able to deal with the death of her soul mate, she succumbed five years later to a broken heart.
Harper was brought out of her memories by the silence.
Silence, what did that mean?
The fan had stopped.
The background music of her life had ceased.
She stumbled down the corridor to the control room to see what had happened. At that point, the lights went out.
Mumma had taught her how to fix things. Always the practical parent. Her mum had preferred to hit things with a hammer, so was always banished to the kitchen when anything broke.
Together the two of them had fixed most things. ‘Learning on the job,’ Mumma had said.
Stumbling through the door she went to the dresser in the corner. Rooting in the drawer she found the candle and lit it. Looking at the range of dials on the panel, her heart stopped.
There was no power. The turbine outside had stopped.
Mumma had checked the turbine every day. Harper had found her against the dials when she died. Not being able to face the room again, Harper hadn’t checked it for months. Everything was shutting down as the reserve power was gone.
The realisation hit her immediately, she would need to open the hatch and go outside. After all this time she needed to enter the world. She couldn’t stay down below ground and suffocate. But what about the air, she thought. What is the worse that can happen, least I would be with my mums again?
An hour later with a few belongings and her favourite diary in an old rucksack she had found, she made for the hatch. Releasing the locks she pushed. Taking what could have been her last breath, she stepped out.
I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, she thought to herself. My nose tingles and my eyes.
Right get a grip, go to the turbine see if you can get it working and go back in.
Dropping the bag she turned towards the big paddles, realising almost immediately that they weren’t turning because there was no wind. The smell of flowers and grass were the first thing she noticed, not that she knew what the smells were. Then the trees came into focus, so bright and green, like nothing she had seen before. That was when she realised she was breathing the air and still alive. Everywhere she looked sparks of life were beginning.
Seedlings were sprouting, as they had in the bunkers, Polly tunnel. As she began to walk, the last lines in Mumma’s journal came to mind.
One day sweet girl you will need to leave here and go out into the world. Don’t be sad, you will take us with you in your heart wherever you go. Then, sweet girl, it will be your turn to find your soul mate. We love you.