Authors: Ann Christy
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Dystopian, #Post-Apocalyptic, #wool universe, #women science fiction, #wool fanction, #action and adventure, #silo saga, #Science Fiction, #post-apocalyptic science fiction, #silo fanfiction, #dystopian science fiction, #silo 49
Silo 49: Going Dark
Silo 49 - Book One
A WOOL Universe Series
by Ann Christy
© 2013 by Ann Christy.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, nor can it be stored in a database or private retrieval system without prior written permission of the author, except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.
This is a work of fiction. All resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and the product of a fevered imagination.
Other Works by Ann Christy
The Silo 49 Series
Silo 49: Going Dark
Silo 49: Deep Dark
Silo 49: Dark Till Dawn
Silo 49: Flying Season for the Mis-Recorded
Anthologies with stories by Ann Christy
Wool Gathering – A Charity Anthology
Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel
The Robot Chronicles
This series has been written for readers already familiar with the world of WOOL, that deliciously dystopian world created by author, Hugh Howey. The Silo 49 series is for those who still want more.
Silo 49 came about almost the very moment I finished the last line of the story in which we met Juliette. I began to wonder about human nature. What might have happened if ruthlessness, a desire for power and control, and a lack of kindness were replaced with goodness? What might happen if a desire to do right rather than follow the rules won the day at a crucial moment in a silo?
With many thanks to Hugh Howey for giving his generous permission to publish this series set in his world and with affection for my fellow WOOLians, Ann Christy
This volume is dedicated to the WOOLians of the world
and to Hugh Howey.
Lying Can Be A Good Thing
Graham Newton tossed down the note just delivered from IT. He gnawed at a lip already gnawed raw and watched the note float lazily down to join the other litter scattered on the floor of his compartment. The note didn’t say much, but it didn’t need to. ‘Flashing Red Lights’ were the only words on the slip of rough and bumpy paper. It shouldn’t mean much but for Graham, the head of IT, it meant he needed to get ready to lie his tail off.
The workers in IT—the ones that were left anyway—were under the impression that the flashing red lights signaled a specific malfunction within the servers that required the singular intervention of the Head. With his passcodes and card keys, he was the only one who could restore the delicate balance within the all-important servers.
It went without saying that was all so much crap. It meant that someone was calling him from another silo and most likely the call was from Silo One. He needed to get down there, a lengthy trip of 29 levels downward, and do it quickly. First, he would need to get ready.
His preparations for speaking with Silo One had graduated almost to the level of ritual. That didn’t surprise Graham at all. He understood ritual better than most of the residents of the Silo, perhaps better than any of them. His whole role in this world was to ensure things went the same way all the time, to ensure that the ritual of life was continuous, smooth and undisturbed. And when it was disturbed, it was his duty to disperse the ripples through another, much darker, set of rituals. Inside the silo, all that mattered was continuity because continuity meant survival. There was no room for error under the ground, no room for change.
He performed the same actions before every communication with Silo One. He had no idea if he was just a really good liar or if this little ritual worked, but he’d been lucky so far. Why skate the rails? He’d been lying more and more over the years and lately, his communications with them were hair-raisingly dishonest. It was necessary, though. Of that there was no question. It was only a matter of doing it skillfully and believably that presented the challenge.
During his very first communication with Silo One, so many decades in the past now, his uncle had given his teenaged self a final and imperative piece of advice before they’d opened the cabinet and gone down into the hidden spaces that changed his life forever. That advice had been to be sure to tell the absolute truth.
His uncle had looked straight into his eyes, a hand firmly set on each of Graham’s shoulders, and said, “Graham, I’m serious. They will know if you lie. Just tell the truth.”
Graham had agreed, more embarrassed about having to be reminded to be honest than afraid of consequences. It was only after that call, after he was accepted as official shadow to the head of IT, that his uncle had told him the reasons behind his serious warning. It was only then that he realized his uncle had been prepared to quietly kill him with a poisoned cup of tea if he had failed that all important interview. He would have done it regretfully, but he would have done it as was required by the Order and the rules set forth in its pages. It had given Graham a great deal to think about in terms of this new career when he had learned that painful truth.
Of course, the truthfulness issue was one that almost immediately had to be re-thought. His uncle, once he knew he had a confidant and partner, trained Graham on all the things that needed lying about and how to go about doing it. His predecessor had, apparently, done the same for his uncle in his turn. It was a tradition almost exactly as old as the silo itself, it seemed.
For his uncle, a big man with the rather odd name of Newt Newton, the tricks that worked were to wear boots that were much too tight, put a drop or two of the calming drugs used in the water supply for the silo into his tea or put small pads between his headset and his head. Sometimes a combination of all of those things was required when he knew he would be telling whoppers.
On one rather serious occasion, he had confessed with some shame, he actually dosed himself with the forgetting drug, the one rarely used in the silo and powerful in its effect. His wife had supervised the process. He told Graham how much he had used and how to make it work. Just a dose or two and then a constant repetition of the events he wanted to forget run through his mind or even recited aloud were all that was needed. It didn’t work completely but it did take all the stress out of it, made the events hazy and dreamlike. That made it very easy to lie about whatever it was.
His wife, according to Uncle Newt, wasn’t supposed to know anything but she was a sharp woman with observant eyes and she knew far more than she should have. That same uncle—the one who couldn’t keep secrets from his own wife—had cautioned Graham to be a better head of IT and keep his secrets. Better yet, just don’t get married, he had told him with a laugh.
It turned out, in the course of time, that Graham didn’t need most of the tricks his uncle had relied upon. Instead, it turned out that he was a natural. His trick was simply to rationalize a way that what he said could be construed as the truth. It was shockingly easy, but it did require preparation.
He paced his room on Level 5, kicking the debris littering his messy space out of the way on each circuit until he had made an inadvertent path of dirty, but clear, floor for his pacing. The problem he had was that he couldn’t prepare for what he didn’t know was coming. Most certainly they would want the results of the water tests. He had those and he figured that the answers were bad news but he would be truthful about them. They might have the solution he needed for getting rid of whatever compounds were tainting their water. So, no lies were needed there.
As far as the rest, well, he didn’t know what he should and shouldn’t lie about for best effect. Over the last couple of years they had been far too interested in the rate of the silo’s population decline. The way they wanted details was almost salacious, like gossiping busybodies in the Fabric District or on a landing, trading secrets like chits. It appeared to Graham to be more of a clinical interest than one that bespoke of caretaking, like they were more interested in what was happening and what it was like rather than interested so that they might help them correct the problem. Caretaker was the role that Graham had mentally assigned to Silo One all those decades ago and one that had been withering away ever since.
Should he be truthful about the strange effects of the forgetting drugs he had been directed to start dosing the silo with? Should he tell lies about the cancers still sweeping the silo population? It was a fine line to walk. But since Silo 12 had been terminated by Silo One, he had a growing fear that his problems here might result in the same final treatment. Listening to that over the comms—as he assumed every other silo had—had been eye opening. They had destroyed a silo, bringing it down and killing everyone inside simply because they could no longer control them. Because that silo had done something not in line with the Order or Silo One’s enigmatic interpretation of that book, they were all dead.
He paced a few minutes longer, running the mantra through his head that helped to calm him, helped him to get into the mood to rationalize and helped him to keep on being that unflappable bit of bedrock it was safe to rest a silo on.
It turned out to be completely useless.
Eavesdropping on Death
Graham bustled through the mess that was IT but stopped short when he met Tony the Toady coming out of one of the workrooms. Tony’s eyes—the greedy eyes of a man with more ambition than was healthy—lit up when he saw Graham.
“Boss!” he exclaimed, his slick smile settling into place. “So glad you could make it in today. That error has been blinking all day.” He jerked a thumb down the hallway toward the server room doors. He lifted his ubiquitous clipboard and ran a perfectly groomed fingernail down the page.
Before Tony could get started, Graham needed to nip this in the bud. Tony had become almost nauseatingly efficient and in-his-face obsequious in the years since Graham’s shadow had died. The man had a nose for advancement and while he didn’t know the details of what the Head of IT did, he knew it was more than it seemed. And it was clear that he wanted it for himself and was angling for the shadow position, knowing that eventually it would have to be filled. Graham was old and couldn’t live forever, after all. To Graham’s way of thinking, anyone who wanted this job was exactly the sort of person who shouldn’t have it.
“Tony, we’re going to need to meet later. I’ve got to get that error fixed soon or we’ll have a server backup.” There was no such thing but that was enough to strike alarm into Tony, who believed—like everyone else—that the servers kept them alive. It worked again.
“Of course, boss, of course! I should have realized that. Shall I meet you afterward?” he asked, all politeness and conciliation, his finger poised over his clipboard. “We have quite a list,” he added.
Graham nodded even as he began walking, brushing past Tony without another word. The few workers on shift were all busy and overworked. He had no intention of disturbing whatever they were engaged in, so he merely waved as he passed the open doors where they toiled. At the outer server room door, he saw blinking red lights casting a lurid red glow into the hallway through the small pane of thick glass. At least whoever it was still waited on the line.
He used his card and key code to unlock the thick door and let it swing open just enough to slip inside. Stopping the momentum of the door once it got moving in a direction was impossible so he left that to the machines, slapping the red button that would close it again. He waited for the slow process to complete, tapping a foot impatiently as he did so. It was a major rule that one didn’t leave the door untended while opened even the barest sliver. He was half convinced that the red lights would stop blinking just before he got there.
He looked up at the camera, certain that Silo One would be watching if that was, in fact, who was calling him. He gave a little wave toward the dark eye of glass. He held up a finger to indicate it would be just a moment longer and pointed at the closing door. He took a deep breath and tried to recapture a feeling of calm while the door creaked closed. The final soft thud of closure closed Graham off from the last sounds of IT except the servers behind him and set his feet into motion.
Once he scrambled down into the lair under IT, making a great show of hurrying for the cameras in the server room, he grabbed the headset and slipped the jack into the slot for Silo One. He checked his nerves again, decided he wasn’t quite where he liked to be in terms of calm and then adjusted the headset so the pads were pushed back a bit, barely resting on the outer curves of his ears.