This is part 2 of my ‘Underground’ series. If you need to catch up first, click here.
I spent the next two hours solidly dialling and redialling my husband’s number, with no more result that I got the first time. I spent a while crying after that, though if you tell anybody I’ll kill you myself. At some point I got thirsty and went to our pantry to grab a bottle of water, changed my mind and poured a glass of wine. The den we’d built was a pretty impressive size, if you ignored the lack of windows or company it was a decent place to live. The biggest pantry I’d ever seen was at the back of the bunker, shelves stacked with non perishables – tetris style. Beside that was a small kitchen with a little stove and toaster which surprisingly, worked the entire time.I’d picked out the tiles for in here: a turquoise design with miniature birds perching on painted branches.
Once I’d got the wine I headed to the lounge area, dropping onto the soft brown sofa and pulling a blanket over myself. It was a nice lounge, all things considered, walls painted a pale sage green, to make the room look bigger. My husband had insisted we put a couple of mirrors on the wall to reflect the light and brighten it up a bit. There were a few photographs and paintings too: a picture of our wedding day, one of us with our parents, and for some reason, a painting of a ballerina in a white tutu standing on one leg. Book shelves lent against one wall, all of our favourite titles lined up neatly in alphabetical order. A stack of DVD’s sat by the television, a stack of CD’s by the radio.
I dialled my husband’s number again. Nothing.
I poured another glass of wine and switched the radio on. No signal, just that fuzzy sound you get when you’re out of reach of any stations. I slipped a DVD into the player and watched The Notebook and cried. I’d finished the bottle of wine by the end of the movie, and had dialled my husband around thirty-six times. I played around with the radio for a bit to see if I could find any signals, hoping to hear some news. Nothing. So instead I climbed the stairs to the outside door.
The door at the top of the stairs was a homely one, painted green with a little circle window in the top. I unlocked it.
I walked down the short passage behind it to the second door. This one was steel with a little panel which I slid up to reveal a tiny window. I unlocked it.
The third door was one of those huge sliding things you only ever saw in closed shops before. It was locked and bolted. Military grade apparently. Bullet proof. I’d pulled two metal beams down to hold it in place when I’d come in. I knew that behind it there was only a small gap not covered by earth, most of the door was beneath the ground.
My husband had said never to open that door unless the little green light was on. Right now, three red lights flashed in a circle. That meant it wasn’t safe. I walked away. Locked and bolted the other two doors and plodded, almost sleepwalking, down the stairs.
I dialled my husband’s number again but my phone blacked out before I’d finished punching the numbers in.I put it on charge and raided the pantry for chocolate, and just a little more wine. I picked up a book and stared at the words swirling on the page without recognising a letter. I put another movie on and cried into the blanket.
This night was the first. Eventually I stopped dialling my husband’s number. Stopped climbing the stairs. Stopped crying. Eventually it became a kind of normal. I’d read every book on that bookcase by the time that light went green.
Part 3 next Monday!