Beyond the Colony (Part One)

A short sci-fi story about deep earth dwellers moving out and up.

Cave City by richardhanuschek on deviant art 

The boys had just turned eighteen and part of the celebration was taking the walk. It was the first time the boys were allowed to walk around outside of the colony. Not that it was that special in a city of millions lots of kids turned eighteen every day. Walking out into the tunnels around the city was both an honor and a duty. It was part of guarding the colony from outside intruders. Wars were infrequent, started only when one colony drilled or tunneled into another. When this happened the colonies involved would negotiate with each other about how the space would be used. Wars would occur only when the colonies that were involved could not agree on how the space would be used. The boys were from the colony of Denver. They have had several wars with the Great Salt lake colony.  Denver colony usually gave in to the demands of the Great Salt Lake colony. But that was because the Salt Lake colony had vast amounts of resources such as Salt and other metals and minerals that the colony needed to survive. 

The Boys reported to the walk commander for assignment. 

The walk commander said "you're late. What are you're names?"

one of the boys responded "My name is Owl, his is Rat."

"You liar, my name is not rat it is Mike, Mike Boman." The second boy said.

The walk commander rolled his eyes. The commander was sick of dealing with these young boys playing around when the walk could be a serious business. The walk commander looked on his list most of which had already moved out on watch. The last two names on the list who hadn't been sent out.

"So, you're Mike bowman, I do have you on my list here and the other name is... hum you were telling the truth your name is Owl Ozman. Are your parents hippies or something? You have an odd name Owl." Said the walk commander

"No, my parents are old timers. They love the stories about the times that were before. One of the stories that they loved to hear was one about an owl so I was named Owl after the mythical bird of the story."

"It's still an odd name Owl. Here are your badges and assignments."

The walk commander handed the boys a couple of packets and walked back to the edge of the tunnel. There was a small hut next to the tunnel that was his post and raised up the the arm that was blocking the tunnel. 

Both boys opened their packets and groaned. 

"The far tunnel? What the hell man? Why do we have to go check the gate near the Kansas colony?"

"Next time be on time and I won't give you the left overs. You better get moving your going to be out there overnight." The walk commander said and waived them down the tunnel.

"Thanks man." Owl said.

They started walking out into the tunnels. The tunnel near the colony was still well lit by the artificial light and the path was well worn. As they moved further away the tunnel branched off into the different types of farms and ranches. Lots of homes were carved into the rock some of the homes were bigger than anything they had in the main part of the colony.  The boys joked around from time to time and did a little rough housing and chasing each other about. The boys even found a small cafe where they stopped for lunch. Soon, though, the artificial light ran out and they had to pull out the portable lights. The portables were very bright, lighting the whole tunnel before them. The lights would never run down as they charged just by walking and shaking them around. Soon, though, they were walking down tunnels that hadn't been used in years. The boys tried to follow the map they had been given but it was not the best and hadn't marked all the tunnels. So they tried to add and subtract to the map as they went but soon they were far from where they wanted to be. Moving further along the small narrow tunnel they now found themselves in something odd happened. They felt the air moving strangely across their skin. The air didn't move in rhythm like it did in the colony. It was moving wildly and the smell was clean. It was the best air the boys had ever breathed. The tunnel started to climb up steeply and the boys thought maybe they found the Kansas tunnel and they could go home. The tunnel up ahead got really bright and they didn't need their artificial lights anymore. The boys were soon looking out across the most colorful area they had ever encountered. The area had blue sky above and fields of green. The land was teeming with life. Birds crowded the sky. No red rock wall existed out there. The boys were hesitant to go out into such an open area. 

Owl had always been braver than Mike and started to walk out into the open air. Mike grabbed him and said "No Owl, the surface is poison."

Both of them recalled what they had been told their entire lives and looked at the black badges. "It's only dangerous if these change color and right now they are still black."

Owl walked out into the open air. The sun covered his skin and clothing in light and warmth. Owl held up his badge and said "look it's safe the badge is still black. Also, look at all these animals. If it were bad here they would all be dead and look at the plants so colorful. Come out here with me and have a look."

Mike looked at Owl's badge and then his own and moved out to stand with Owl.

"We need to tell the council about this. It is more important than checking to make sure the Kansas door is still sealed." Mike said.

"For once I agree with you Mike. But it is getting late we should sleep near here in the tunnel. We can take one last look when we wake up and then head back to report."

The boys went and set up camp in the tunnel cooked a meal on the hot plate that they carried with them even though they were excited to be near the surface they had walked all day and were soon asleep.

When the boys woke up they noticed it was darker. Getting out of the artificial light again the boys packed up the campsite and walked outside again. This time it was dark out but looking up they saw that stars covered the sky and the beauty of the scene was unmatched with anything the boys had seen in their entire lives. Cutting off the artificial lights again the boys experienced the full view of the moon as it rose up into the sky. The the noise the local fauna was making was loud. Chirps and croaks filled the air and was much different then they had experienced down in the colony. Most of the time down in the colony it was machines making noise and people yelling at each other. 

Both boys agreed then and there to move out of the colony out into the surface. After seeing this there was no going back into the tunnel walls or the monotone colors of the colony. The boys turned the lights back on and started back down into the tunnels. The boys' changes to the map were very beneficial as they were able to find their way back easily. Upon reaching the walk commander they checked their badges in again and gave him the new map. Then the boys relayed all that they had seen and told the commander they needed to see the council as soon as possible. The watch commander agreed and setup a meeting for the boys with the council.

The boys entered the council chambers and large crowds had enter to view the meeting. Rumors traveled fast and people came to hear what the boys had to say.

"What did you find on your walk young men?" the head councilman said.

"We found a way to the surface and that the surface once again is safe!" Owl said.

Adam McCaulley
Adam McCaulley

A writer who likes to write primarily sci-fi and fantasy.  Sometimes I'll do a horror like a zombie apocalypse.  The rest of the time I work in the IT helpdesk field.  I live and work in Colorado with my wife. 

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Beyond the Colony (Part One)