The Bunker
By: Michael A. Arnold

The bunker was cold, and when the lights were low it could be unnerving. Sarah had had another bad dream, and was hugging into her friend, Mr. Teddybear. It took her a little while to hit the panic button, but mummy would be here soon. She wanted to go to her parent's room herself, like the children in her books, and climb into bed with them but she couldn't. Those children always lived in big houses, they were different from her anyway, and her daddy always shouted at her whenever she walked around the bunker by herself. All she could do was sit up, looking around her room until mummy came.

She looked at the posters of unicorns carrying princesses through a magical kingdom, her big toy castle that mummy said was a replica of Walt Disney's magical castle. Beside that was the huge trunk full of her books, study materials and novels. A lot of them were books she was told she would grow into, but she wasn't supposed to read them yet. He tried, but they were hard – some of them had lots of symbols in them, and Sarah wondered if they were in English, but they had lots of pictures of the planets and the solar system, and she liked looking at them.

Then mummy came in squinting, eyes dark with sleep. "What's up sweetie? Another bad dream?"

"Yeah," Sarah said.

"You know that nothing can hurt you, you know that right?"

"I know."

"Thinking about what your daddy said?"


Mummy made a mental note to smack her husband. Daddy had told their daughter that the outside world was dangerous, the air was unbreathable, and if they walked around without masks on they would die.

"Nothing can hurt you in here. There's nothing to worry about?"

"Can you read me a story?"

"Ok," her mother picked out a Brother Bear book and started reading the story. There was a moment in the story when Brother Bear was having a picnic with the other animals, and Sarah pointed at the green in the picture "what is that? Looks funny, like a little v." Mummy paused. "That's grass. It grows outside, all over the ground."

"Is there grass outside?"

"No, not out there, not yet," mummy said, "it will one day though, like it does back on earth."

"And we are on Mars."

"Yes, we are on Mars."

"Will I ever go to Earth?"

"I don't know, maybe one day," Mummy said, while inside knowing Sarah probably would not. Mummy read to Sarah until the little one fell back to sleep. She knew that they would have to explain the terraforming process to their daughter eventually, that's all her husband had been doing, but she was clearly too young for any of that now. She had had enough of data for one day too. She looked over to the little Disney castle sitting in the corner and then got up and went back to bed.


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