I opened the Doomsday vault with shaky hands. Newly promoted to manager, it was my responsibility now to open the vault everyday and check expiration dates, and other things that were located inside. Then to replace as necessary.
Standing inside the massive door, I looked around. A hundred and thirty-two years, this vault had been in existence. Books lined the shelves in front of me. How-to manuals mostly as the planners assumed that there wouldn’t be power available for computers. I sighed. Those wouldn’t ever need replacing. But, the food would have to be replaced on a regular basis. Those shelves were clearly marked and I stepped over to them to check the dates.
As I pulled the expired boxes from the shelves I thought about the current world situation. Everything seemed good. After the Korean situation had been resolved, most countries became peaceful. There was the middle east, of course, there were still a couple of groups that demanded everyone convert to Muslim, but they were on the fringe, even in their own countries. Our group monitored them, of course, but in my morning briefing, they weren’t even mentioned.
I stacked the expired material outside the door and brought in the new foodstuffs. I marked the expiration date on them and stacked them neatly on their shelves. I made note on the inventory what I brought in, then walked over to the weapons rack. Someone had decided a long time ago that there would be some weapons in the vault, just in case of trouble. I wondered for a moment who the designers thought would be around to cause trouble, then put it out of my mind. I knew that most every country had some sort of doomsday vault. I’d been to a meeting last year as I was being prepped to take on the roll. There I met the other managers. As conventions go, it was pretty small, there were only two hundred and three attendees. Not every country had a vault.
It was fun, and I’d made some acquaintances. The British manager was an Irish woman and she’d been manager of her vault for twenty-seven years. If there was a doo-dad that helped with survival, she knew of it and had an opinion on the usefulness of it as well. I took another look around the vault. Everything was in order and I was reaching up to turn off the light when my assistant ran up to the door.
“Karen. Come quick. Terrorists have bombed the capital! It’s on the news!”
I hesitated. There had been no warning this morning of any unrest anywhere on the planet. What had happened? “Call security. We’re going to get a lot of people here in a hurry.”
She nodded and ran off. I pulled the emergency checklist out and began the initiation phase. Three hundred and twenty-two people were going to start arriving any time now. If they’d escaped the bombing. I had a lot to do to get ready.
All in all, two hundred and sixty people arrived. Tales of government buildings destroyed or on fire circulated around the arrival hall. The din was deafening. We weren’t supposed to but since there were empty spaces, I allowed my assistant and her children in. Then we closed the door. There was no telling how long we’d have to stay. The noise died down as everyone moved to their assigned rooms. The monitor in the lounge was on. Newscasters were giving reactions to the attack and showing pictures of the capital in flames.
A commotion in the hall pulled me away from the monitor. Two security officers were facing a man yelling obscenities.
“What’s going on?” I came out into the hall.
“I demand to know why my wife couldn’t come in. I had to leave her home.” He shouted the question at me, all red in the face and sweating.
I recognized him. He was the chief of staff for the vice president. New to the job. “You didn’t have your wife listed, Mr. Fairchild.” If he’d had brought her, I would have let her in. Like I did for my assistant.
“I was going to list her, but there’s just so much.” He looked around at the security guards, then made his case to the people who were gathering around, watching the drama. A few nodded. “I was going to get to it.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Fairchild. I truly am.”
“Open the door and let me out. I’ll go and get her.”
I shook my head. “We can’t do that until we get the all clear or we know it’s safe out there. Why don’t you go to the clinic and get the doctor to give you something to help you relax?”
“I don’t want drugs.” He was beginning to look wild eyed. “I want my wife!” He charged the security officers and the bystanders hurried off.
“Take him to the clinic.”
They dragged him off, him still screaming obscenities. I took a breath. The procedures mentioned that some number of people would not handle the emergency well. I wondered how many more there’d be. That was when I saw Mr. Fairchild running toward me. He had a gun in his hand. Where’d he get that? The security officers were running after him.
Fairchild pointed the gun at me. “Let me out!”
I held up my hand as I shook my head. “I can’t do that, Mr. Fairchild.”
“Yes, you can!” He fired.
I fell backward, hitting my head on the tile floor. It was hard to breathe, then he was standing over me.
“I told you! I told you!” He shook the gun at me.
I could see the officers take him down, wrestling the gun away from him and zip tying his hands behind him. I didn’t feel anything and I wondered about that. Shouldn’t I hurt? I closed my eyes and relaxed into a warm feeling of well-being. Let someone else work it out.