The Last Days of City 23
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Within a mountain there is a city, and deep within the city, near the heart of the mountain, there lies a handwritten note. The note holds the following words.
By IPostAtMidnight https://www.reddit.com/r/...

The Last Days of City 23

by IPostAtMidnight

Within a mountain there is a city, and deep within the city, near the heart of the mountain, there lies a handwritten note.

The note holds the following words.

*****

History says the world ended decades ago, when the Earth’s surface turned lethal. But we carried on. Our great-grandparents dug into the ground.

Their holes became caves, the caves became warrens, and the warrens became cities. The surface world became the stuff of childhood stories.

Now I fear the stories have caught up with us.

As a clerk for City 23, I keep the minutes for our governing council. I hear their closed deliberations. I know their secrets.

So while it may be treasonous, perhaps only I can record a full account of recent events for historical preservation.

It began when guards reported hearing strange noises during their shifts at the Lid.

Guarding the tremendous steel door is an uneventful duty, therefore the Council assumed their reports were caused by boredom.

Still, the guards were returning to the residential caverns and spreading rumors, so the Council had them disciplined. This stopped the reports, but not the rumors.

A few weeks later, we lost contact with Cities 4 and 15. City 4 is prone to earthquakes, but 15 is carved into a mountain, like ourselves.

Routine equipment failures were blamed, but since City 4 produced the majority of entertainment broadcasts shared among the cities, new rumors sprang up.

The Council scheduled concerts in Hydroponics to distract us.

When Cities 12 and 18 also fell silent, an emergency conference call was initiated, but the other city governments were just as baffled. The Council’s response? Wait and see.

Then, one by one, every other city went dark. The final message we received was a long stream of static from City 41, from which our technicians isolated a single repeating whisper.

The Council listened to the message, and although they had no idea what it meant, they erased it to avoid wild speculations.

But they can’t suppress everything. Not anymore.

Now, everyone can hear those strange noises the guards first heard up at the Lid.

Knocks.

They started small, but over time one knock was joined by another, and another, becoming thousands.

Then they slowly synchronized into thunderous booms, as if a giant was outside, pounding on the Lid.

But the knocks themselves are random. Sometimes minutes pass in silence, sometimes only seconds. The randomness is maddening. No one sleeps. Nerves are frayed.

People are demanding to see what’s outside. And yet the Council, still fearing panic, refuses to disclose the final message from City 41.

So I will stop writing. I will go tell everyone, and pray they will listen.

It was a simple message, just a whisper repeating through the static.

*“Don’t answer the door. Don’t answer the door. Don’t answer the door.”*

*****

Within a mountain there is a city, and deep within the city, near the heart of the mountain, there lies a handwritten note.

The note has never been read.

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