This is a multiple part Novella. It will be posted in multiple parts. It is still a work in progress. Updates will be sporadic as I work on revisions and continue to write the story. This part contains no graphic content, but will eventually contain adult themes including: Graphic depictions, insinuated sexual themes, and gore. Future discretion is advised. This is my first attempt at writing a novella. It will in no way be perfect, but I am excited to share my first original story. Thank you.

“We should probably find somewhere to stay before the wind kicks up. Looks like it’s gonna be a strong storm, plus it’s getting dark” Said a young man slinging a backpack onto his shoulders

The other man peered through binoculars. A series of numbers and information aided the instrument. He lowered them with a sigh.

“You’re right. It’s just, we’ve been out here for 2 months and we haven’t found any signs of native grass or wheat. We should have found something by now. We can walk a few more miles before sundown.”

The wind suddenly billowed and kicked up the barren dusty earth.

The first man pulled a visor down from his helmet and jesters for him to follow.

“You’re not going to find what you’re looking for whether you’re dead, Sif.”

Sif sighed and pulled his visor down as well. “The binoculars picked up some buildings just east of here. Should be good enough to shelter in for the night.”

The men fought against the wind for approximately 20 minutes. They could only see approximately 100 feet ahead of them.

Sif spoke above the howls of wind.

“We should be able to see some buildings any second now. We’ll just pick one that hopefully has windo—

Sif suddenly walked right into Rune’s back. He was frozen in place.

“What’s wrong?” Sif said assuming he’d seen something through the dust.

“Does—does that house have lights on or am seeing shit.” he says in a playful, yet worried tone.

“There’s no way someone is out here right? We’re the only Still deployed right now.”

Sif shifts from behind Rune’s back and sees a 2 story domestic with what seems to be lit windows. Even a porch light lighting up the front door.

They both look at each other and weld their guns; which they had never had to use, ready to face whatever might be in the domestic. No sentient life was supposed to be out here. Particularly not humans.

As they approach, they see the door open. A middle aged women stands in the door way wielding an ancient shotgun. She cocks it.

“Identity yourselves or fuck off!” She screams.

Sif lowers his weapon, Much to Runes displeasure.

“We are Still agents!” He yells back, hoping she knows what that means.

The wind is now billowing so tough they can barely see the women.

“Come this way! I will shelter you for now!”

The men quickly sprint towards the door and into the domestic. The women quickly slammed the door. Everything became quiet.

The home was unlike anything they had ever seen. It lacked the sterile like silver walls of the city they were born in. There was no signal of high tech equipment or automation. The interior was small. The walls were adorned with what seemed to be an unfamiliar floral pattern. Directly in front of them was a small set of stairs leading to the second floor. To the left was a room for what appeared to be seating. It all felt so, soft.

The women glanced at both men with a unamused face. The gun still in her hands. It looked to be throughout 100 years old.

“You said you’re from the Still? She said sternly.

Rune glanced to Sif. He obviously felt uneasy of the situation.

“Yes, we are on an Outing. Looking for native grass and wheat.” Sif rose his visor, revealing a pale face and his uneasy blue eyes. “That’s our only objective”

The women lowered her weapon and scoffed with a laugh.

“How’s that going for y’all ? All that’s left here is dirt.”

Rune removed his helmet, revealing a short head of curly black hair and a good-looking dark complexion.

“We’ve noticed”

The women seemed to ease her initial intimating stance.

“Weapons stay at the door. As do the shoes. Clean up. Then we can talk.” She motioned to a bench and a chest of drawers to the left of the stairs.

Sif and Rune exchanged looks. They ultimately decided that the situation they were in, confusing as it was, was the only selection they had.

After dressing down and dusting themselves off, they met the women in the seating room they had seen earlier. She was sitting in a soft burgundy colored seat.

“Go on, sit.” she motioned with her head. The couch don’t bite I promise.”

They both awkwardly sat on the sofa, it matched the style of her seat, just wider. The feeling of sinking into the soft was odd, but wonderfully comfortable.

“I’m Maggie.” She said.

She was a slender middle aged woman. Her hair was a deep brown and pulled into a long, lazy pony tail that draped down her chest. She was wearing a thick sweatshirt that read “Class of 2041”

“I’m Sif, and this in Rune. He said gesturing to Rune” We come from The Continuity.

The Continuity was a vast and advanced underground city built to house people from the unavoidable and unstoppable nuclear war that had doomed the earth’s surface. It was home to about 6,000 people.

“I haven’t seen a Still agent in throughout 5 years. I assumed everyone in that place finally died out.” She said.

Still agents are a team of young men and women who are deemed reliable enough to learn information about post war history. The people in the city had been there for 104 years. Knowledge of above ground is something no normal citizen remembers, and wasn’t allowed to know. This was to avoid curiosity of another way of life; to leave the city. The seal was not to be broken.

“How do you know approximately Still missions? or the Still in general?” Sif said glancing to Rune confused. “You can’t be from The Continuity; no one but agent groups have left it since the war.”

“I never set foot in that place.” She said with a laugh. “I’ve been up here since 2071, the year the bunker closed. Still agents have passed through here over the years. They always give me the scoop on what’s going on down there.”

Rune was now intrigued.

“Its 2175. Whether you were here when the city was sealed you’d be like, 170 years old.” He said in a condescending tone.

“155” she rebuttal, annoyed. “Do I look 170 years old?

Rune looked to Sif for back up.

“There is no way this lady is 155. No way.” He gestured to her with a stiff hand. “People don’t live that long. You’re loopy, lady. This situation is fucking loopy.” Rune got up quickly, as whether he were trying to leave.

“How’s Ferris doing down there.” Maggie said nonchalantly.

Ferris was a prominent citizen of The Continuity. He too had been living a prolonged life.

Rune whipped his focus to Maggie. She was unwavering.

Sif finally piped up quietly.

“Ferris did mention there were others like him, Rune.”

Maggie shifted in her seat.

“I don’t know the extent of what Ferris told you” she said in a way that made it seem like she was saying more than she should.

“Back when whispers of war started to become screams, Doctors like myself were asked to be volunteers for a trial that would extend human life. It was a ultimate ditch effort to keep smart people alive long enough to fix matters.” she frowned as she spoke. “A lot of good people died. Their bodies couldn’t handle the implant”

Her demeanor changed

“It involved me getting a chip implanted on my sternum.” She pulled down her sweatshirt to reveal a long raised bump running down her sternum, between her breasts. Every few seconds a blue light pulsed from under her skin.

“So here I am! 155 and as healthy as one can be” she laughed. “Too poor all I’ve lived to see is chaos and a dying planet.” She stretched her arms above her head and yawned.

“Y’all must be tired. Wanna hit the hay?”

“Hay?” Sif whispered to himself while Rune spoke up.

“Na-na don’t change the subject. How do you know Ferris? Rune said aggressively.

“He was there. At the trial. There was only a few of us that lived. We all knew each other fairly well.” She said.

“He begged me to join him down there when everything went to shit up here. But I refused to live a prolonged life in a glorified tin can. He wanted to go so he could be a living history book; and be the keeper of the memories of post war peace.”

Sif smiled at Maggie.

“He taught us everything we know. He created the Still. The people who still remember, he calls us . he’s doing great. And looks about as old as you.”

Sif felt at ease with Maggie now. She nearly felt like a family friend, seeing as she knew Ferris.

Rune turned his head to the side to avoid eye contact with Maggie.

“I apologize for for my rudeness. This is just a lot of information at once.”

Maggie stood up with an other stretch and a grunt

“Yeah I know” she laughed. “But I gotta give the whole story so y’all don’t run off when it’s dangerous. You never know what you’ll run into around these parts. Why don’t you boys eat and I’ll show you to a room. You can rest up and we can figure out what you guys wanna do next.”

“Thank you for your hospitality” Sif said standing up. We haven’t slept in comfort in a while.”

Maggie smiled and motioned for them to follow her up stairs.

“Just be quiet. Two other people are currently staying here.”

Sif and Rune looked at each other with questioning eyes; but decided it was best to wait until tomorrow to ask about it.

Maggie showed them into a humble room with 2 beds. They looked heavenly, unlike the cots they had underground.

“Eat up and sleep well boys. Feel at ease. You’re safe here.” She closed the door softly with a click.

Rune pulled 2 sub packs from his pocket, tossing one to Sif.

The Subs were in an air tight silver pouch, when opened, they let off a small hiss. They were mossy green bars with a damp sponge like texture. The bar also aided them with water intake. They tasted nutty and slightly candy. It mainly consisted of grasshoppers and lab created especial vitamins and nutrients. That’s all they really knew about them. They had never eaten anything else their whole lives.

“This is weird, dude” Rune said scarfing down the bar. “But these beds are hella soft so I’m gonna accept this situation and knock the fuck out.”

Sif laughed “agreed”

His face suddenly turned worried.

“Rune? What do you think she meant when she said you never know what you’ll run into out there. I thought intelligent life was wiped out up here.”

Rune turned over in the bed facing absent from Sif.

“Can I just have one night in a soft ass comfy bed without worrying about shit? he moaned “we’ll talk approximately it later.”

Sif said nothing and curled up into the bed. The pillow smelled unfamiliar, but pleasant. The blanket was thick and warm. Even with the howls of the wind and the sound of sand hitting the window, He fell asleep almost instantly.

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