We’re sitting in the dark basement and I’m sick of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice basement, but I’ve been in here for a solid two months and I’d really really like to leave. But I can’t. There’s a war on and currently we are safe, because no one knows that we are alive and here, down in Matty’s basement. Everyone thinks that we are dead along with my parents, Matty’s parents, his older sister Chrissie and just about everyone else we knew. Instead, we are hidden down here in the basement no one knows about, along with Matty’s sisters Gracie who’s 8, Faith who is 6 and the baby Holly who is only 2.
Matty and I are trying to keep his sisters quiet, clean and fed which is no easy task with all the noise. Even now we can hear planes and bombs, although they are in the distance. It’s lucky that they’re not closer because the noise petrifies Gracie and Faith. Holly’s fine with it because she is too young to understand what the noises mean and why we are in the basement. All Holly wants is food and warmth and as long as she has that she’ll be quiet. I’m thankful for that. But sometimes the bombs are closer and it’s all we can do to stop Gracie and Faith from screaming in terror. We can’t let them scream or we’ll be found and if we’re found then we’ll be taken and...I can’t even bear to think of what would happen to the innocent little girls as the soldiers tried to get information that they don’t have out of them. See Matty’s parents were part of the resistance. They were working along with my parents and Chrissie to oppose the United Nations controlling reign. They knew that if they were found out we’d all be in danger so under the cover of World War III breaking out they built this basement for us. They told us that if we thought they were dead we should take anything we wanted from the houses and hide down here.
It was 14 months later when we came home and found them all dead, Matty’s parents, my parents and Chrissie, from a gas attack in my living room covered in vomit and innards. We hid and that night was the first wave of bombs. That night was one of the longest nights of my life. We huddled together as time became meaningless until it was silent and only then did we fall into troubled sleep. The next morning we peeked outside but all we could see was smoke and rubble with soldiers picking through the mess. None of us have been outside since.
When the basement was built our families had the foresight to put in lots of board games, card games, skipping ropes and other fun things. This made the first few weeks okay but after a while it became boring and monotonous. I’m also at the point where I want nothing more than a hot shower (we can only have cold baths) and some time to myself. I love Matty and the girls but I’d be happy to punch them right now. For the first 15 years of my life I lived in a big house that just had me and my parents who both worked long hours so I had a lot of time and space to myself but now the most space I can put between myself and others is 15 meters. But I love them and I won’t leave because the cost may be their lives.
“Bingo!” Faith yells.
“Sorry Kat.” We’re playing our evening game which tonight is snap but Faith doesn’t really understand the game and generally just yells randomly every 4 or 5 cards. But she needs to keep quiet, it happens every now and again that she forgets to keep quiet in a fun game, that she forgets the danger and becomes a child again. As much as I wish she could hoot and holler she does need to be quiet.
“Okay girls, bedtime,” Matty calls. It was his turn to lay out the bed’s tonight and to get Holly ready for bed. Gracie and Faith know the drill and so they jump up and climb onto their beds. I join Faith and after Matty puts Holly into her crib he joins Gracie and in that way we fall asleep like every other night.
“Kat...Kat.” He’s shaking me now but I don’t want to wake. “Kat.”
“What,” I hiss.
“Listen,” I focus on any noise and I hear it. The creaks of the boards above us. The shuffling of footsteps. Human footsteps. Crap. I’m wide awake now.
“Get the girls,” I roll off the bed and pick up the still sleeping Faith and carry her to the hollowed-out couch designed for these occasions. I put Faith inside and climb in. Matty passes down Gracie and Holly, both still asleep, and then climbs in. We crouch down and pull down the pillows leaving only a small crack to see out of. We do all this in virtual silence as the creaks continue above us. The noises continue until whoever comes to where the trapdoor is. We hear rattling. My mouth is completely dry while my palms sweat. Holly squirms against me. The door opens and we can just make out a crouching figure. They fumble for the light and step into our basement.