My bunker is safe, I know that. I built it myself, buried it deep in my backyard, stocked it with food and water and guns and ammo, everything a grown man needs to ride out the end of the world in comfort. I had hoped for my wife to join me, naturally, but she walked out just weeks before it all hit the fan. She called me crazy, didn’t believe me when I warned her that the end was near.
I bet she believed the sirens.
Even alone down here, I knew I was safe. I had fresh air, clean water, the radio said the detonations were in Maryland and Georgia (before it cut out, anyways), so I’d only have to wait a year or so for the fallout to clear away enough that the surface would be safe again. Everything up there is gone. I heard the trees being ripped up, I heard the houses blowing by in pieces, I heard cars and trucks being thrown hundreds of yards, but I was safe down here in my bunker. I never told anyone about my hideaway, except my wife, but she’d left the state to move back in with her parents. I hid it well, deep in the woods, dug it out myself and rented the tools in cash. I made every precaution to be sure absolutely nobody would go finding out that I was prepping, lest they try and take my bunker from me.
And yet, someone’s started banging on the door. At first it was just for a minute or two, every few days, but now, it’s gotten more and more constant. It’s been weeks since the nukes dropped, there’s no way anyone’s living out there, and if they are, there’s no way I’d let their irradiated asses into my vault! That’s their own fault for not being ready; politicians had been organizing furniture in a burning building for years. I could see it, but nobody believed me. Looks like I got the last laugh after all. Take that, Rodger.
For a week now, it’s been nothing but constant banging on the metal door, a nonstop whack, whack, whack, I shout at them to go away and they don’t listen. I threaten to grab my shotgun and make ‘em leave, they don’t listen. One day, I’d had enough, I threw open the door and swung my twelve-gauge towards the ladder, but there was nothing there but the tunnel. I closed the door, sealed it up all tight, sat down and the thumping started right back up like nothing happened.
Now, I ain’t the superstitious type, never believed in ghosts or god or nothing, but whatever’s out there ain’t natural. I’ve tried all sorts of things to get it to leave, even sat in the tunnel for a few hours one day, but it just started banging from the inside of the door. I tried one of those rituals from TV, drawing the star on the ground and whatnot, but it just kept on smacking on my door.
Lately, I think it’s been coming closer to me, like it’s playing some game. Saw something in the corner one night—looked like a person, just standing there—but soon as I turned the lights on, it was gone. Sometimes I see it out of the corner of my eye while I’m eating or checking the radio, I thought to start keeping the shotgun with me just in case it gets any ideas.
Sometimes I talk to it. Folks might think I’m crazy, talking to a ghost, but it’s hard being alone in the bunker, and this ain’t no ghost. It’s real, even if it don’t talk back too much. It still bangs on the door all the time, never does want to shut up. I’ve put a few more shells into the door than I’m proud to admit, trying to get it to stop. The knocking’s driving me mad, it never stops unless I open the door, but I can’t open the door too much or the radiation gets in. Between the knocking and the rads, though, there are some days I choose rads. Is radiation even real? The government makes up all sorts of things, radiation’s probably a lie to keep us away from the stuff they’re trying to cover up. Leaving the door open hasn’t hurt me yet, and it makes the knocking stop. It makes the knocking stop.
A wanderer pushes back vines covering a manhole in the middle of the woods. Plants had flourished in the years following the nuclear Armageddon; radiation did wonders to help plants grow bigger than ever. The masked figure pulled out a machete and wedged it beneath the heavy manhole, prying it open with great effort, before carefully slipping down the ladder presented. This was how they survived; looting the remains of old bunkers for food and water, since just about everything left was either poison or rad-filled.
Ever so cautiously, they descended. Despite several years having passed, sometimes there’d be a living person still hiding out in some homemade bunker, and they typically weren’t too keen on visitors. This one seemed quiet enough; the overgrowth covering the entrance was a good sign that whoever once occupied this hideout hadn’t left in quite some time.
Reaching the bottom of the ladder, the survivor pulled a flashlight from between their teeth and shone it ahead, revealing a heavy metal door resting slightly ajar. Had some other scavenger beat this one to the stash? Undeterred, the looter slowly pulled the door open, wincing at the screech the rusted metal produced. Taking a small breath, they shone light into the room, and were greeted by a scene unlike any they’d faced before.
A corpse rested facedown in the middle of the room. That much was common. There was a worn and rusted shotgun sitting atop the decayed body, and as the wandered inched closer, they began to make out a faded pentagram beneath the cadaver. The walls were covered in drawings; some of them were identifiable as various satanic images and glyphs, while the vast majority were a complete mystery. The shelves in the back hadn’t been picked clean, so a careful trek to the other side of the concrete space revealed a trove of cans of non-perishables and cases of bottled water. This place would almost make for a good temporary shelter, if not for the fact that it looked like someone had been sacrificed in the middle of it.
As the masked traveler began carefully collecting cans and depositing them into a bag, a small sound echoed from the opposite end of the room—a faint pat, like a tiny foot against some floor. The survivor paused, shining light across the room, yet there was nothing in the empty doorway, only the sun shining through the manhole entrance above. After a moment, they passed it off as the wind, and resumed looting, albeit with a little more haste. This place was putting them on edge.
Not a moment later, the door slammed shut with a terrible echo. Darkness enveloped the room, leaving the vagabond with nothing but a flashlight. They quickly rose, aiming the light towards the door with one hand while the other reached for a handgun. The beam searched for the culprit, scanning across the painted walls of the bunker in frantic streaks, arms quivering as they backed towards the back wall of the small one-room holdout. The tin cans in their duffle bag rattled against each other as their back pressed into the concrete.
In the tense and fearful silence, a faint knocking could be heard from the other side of the bunker door.
Ricky Martin is a senior with a side passion for creative writing, especially flash stories and poetry. Fascinated by fantasy and science fiction alike, he does his best to find inspiration in every aspect of life, and aims to one day go on to be a professional author.