The Cost of Survival, Part I

A knock at the door. Jeffery knew his son would have been the first to grab his bag and run out of the school when the bell went. He would have run down Thoroughfare Tunnel 204, bouncing on the broken travelator. He would have pressed his nose against the window of the mushroom farm in the central cavern, then turned into the Side Tunnel 73 where their apartment was. Not once would he have considered the kilometres of rock above him, because he had never known anything else.

Jeffery opened the door to reveal his son, excited and out of breath. Adam ran inside and jumped on the sofa.

“Dad! Today we learnt about stars!” said Adam. “They are big balls of fire and beautiful and they twinkle and they’re really far away! Have you seen them?”

“Yes,” said Jeffery. “When I was your age. I’d lie in a field and gaze up at them.”

“What do they look like? Did you take pictures?”

Jeffery shook his head. “A picture couldn’t capture what it was like,” he said. He thought for a minute, then took out a dark blue towel from the cupboard. “I’m going to put this towel over your head.”

“Okay,” laughed Adam. “Woo! I’m a ghost! Are you scared?”

“Yes,” agreed Jeffery. “Terrified. Can you see anything?”

“No,” said Adam. “It’s dark.”

Jeffrey turned the boy to face the light coming from the kitchen.

“Now bring your hands up under the towel and push the towel away from your nose. What can you see now?”

To be continued…

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