A/N: I'm disappointed there's not more stories on here covering the Silo Series! I read through them thinking up prompts as I was going along and was just enthralled at all the possibilities Howey left to the readers. I hope the few fans of the series on here will enjoy this story! Stay golden, unicorns.
Hugh Howey reserves all rights and genius to this series...I'm just implementing my own ideas. Enjoy!
A world of aspirations and wonder had been painfully stolen out from under Lukas.
As a dutiful and precious child of the silo, he was always cautioned on the dangers of outside wonder.
Don't think about it, don't dream about it, and for the love of God son, don't talk about it. There existed no forgiveness for the crimes of outside wonder, as the pivotal walk of every cleaner had demonstrated. You never heard silo rumors fly around about "that one guy who talked but wasn't serious." That was because most every cleaner Lukas could recall who had been sentenced had voluntarily resigned themselves to it. So what was there to joke about? There was no accident about outside wonder; it was deliberate and intended for results. The cleaner and their cleaning was the questionable, although desired, result. There also existed a supreme reigning element of desperation. It was the fuel for the cleanings. So even if a condemned cleaner hadn't been serious about going out, merely sputtering nonsensical ramblings, the desperation of the silo to uphold cleaning traditions dissolved any possibility of forgiveness. Thus, the silo never heard about "Crazy ass Joe rambling about checking out", because Joe was long past dead on the hillside cemetery. There was no chance at redemption for Joe or any other cleaner in the history of the silo besides through the actual act of the cleaning.
All of these untraceable silo traditions, behaviorisms, and taboos had ultimately reaped Lukas of his dreams. The woman he had grown to develop feelings for, the silo sheriff no less, had been sentenced to cleaning. And for what? Nobody knew. The whole situation had struck Lukas as profoundly unsettling with loose threads everywhere. The fact of Deputy Marnes' suicide was also strangely sad yet intriguing. Was it truly a suicide? How about the kid in his own house, in IT? Then there was the matter of the Mayor's unusual death. Jahns had looked fine when Lukas himself had signed off on her paperwork authorizing the installment of Sheriff Nichols, as Bernard had vehemently refused. A little wore out from her age and a long walk up from Mechanical, as any others would be, but certainly not on the brink of death. And it would be the last time anyone from IT would see the beloved Mayor alive, leaving another fresh and cold-cased corpse to feed the farms.
Nothing added up. Such frustrations caused him to question the validity of the entire silo structure and system; a dangerous line of thinking for a man in IT. Why the cleanings? Who gives a damn if they can't see outside? Internally, Lukas knew well he cared for the condition of the sensors. He didn't care to see the sad state of the decaying lovers, their bodies still delicately overlapping one another in a final show of defiance, but instead lamented for the skies.
His childhood had taught him the outside was a dangerous world. A danger so feared, it was forbidden to even think on. Few, however, could contend any danger with looking up. Lukas recalled as a child, speaking to his pastors when he was still intimately involved with the church, inquiring on the nature of the stars and skies. "It is the roof of sinners", Lukas recalled being the rattling response. Such a thought had not been convincing to Lukas as a child, and certainly not as an adult. He knew the pastor was referring to it being the thing resting above the dead cleaners, hence the sinners. Which then caused a reverse type of thinking in his mind. What's a sin? Talking about the outside world? Being plagued as a man charged with sending your wife out to slaughter, then spending years grieving about it? He didn't see how any of those people could be sinners. Not Sheriff Holston, not his wife, not even the guy before them.
And certainly not the holding cell's newest occupant, Sheriff Nichols. What then, was the point of it all? It was such a cruel, selfish system they were all prey of. The situation seemed entirely out of their hands, beyond their control. Predestined almost, Lukas liked to think. Like someone had written more than just the Pact on what they ought to do, and why irrelevant things like cleaning the sensors mattered.
Lukas' irritation forced him up from his reclined position on his cot, still hesitant in even leaving his familiar apartment. Bernard would no doubt wonder on his tardiness. He had an eye for Lukas, that Lukas had always assumed derived from the close bond between his father and Bernard. It wasn't a bad thing to be liked by the head of IT. But to fail the man who held the fate of the entire silo knowingly in his hands was a sure ticket to outside wonder.
Such grim dwelling forced Lukas up and about, as he gradually settled on a less than crisp pair of overalls. To his dismay, his mind kept drifting to the former sheriff. Or Juliette, as he had come to know her in the recent days. He wondered how he could possibly help her. Would appealing to Bernard on the forsaken sheriff's half be beneficial?
"No…" he frowned, then sat down once more on his cot. Bernard would see Lukas' affiliation to the second condemned sheriff as as toxic link, and would surely line Lukas up next for slaughter. Even sending a note up to her cell was dangerous at this point. Bernard was watching Lukas even closer than usual these days, almost as if the fat man was on the edge of preparing for something. Like a war or rebellion, Lukas thought.
'Or an uprising.'
"So, where are we at?"
A tall but lanky mechanic, discerned by his coveralls, with a patchy gray beard hovered over a table. Goggles which laid fixed in place on top his head fanned out his cropped graying hair. There still sprinkles of black in there, though they were scarce.
Flanking the table were others with varying shades of overalls. It was everyone's fight then, with no time or care for division in the ranks. A drawn out effort of considerable debate and occasional scrapping. Clark remembered reading snippets from the massive tome of The Legacy, on the nature of men at war according to a man who had lived long before the Silos stood. The man, Thomas Hobbes, bordered more on the pessimist side of the house in Clark's opinion, but one piece of the man's writing on men in war remained with Clark: 'And the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'. And so would be us if we let it, he mused.
There was a short time when after severing all modes and means from the other Silos that an all out war was upon them. The different sections splintered into sub-factions, and destroyed not only the opposing colored coveralls, but also the numbers within their own ranks. When it became evident that the air was not cut off, but still continuously producing thanks to the efforts of the deep down, food still grew, and general resources still existed: the masses came to interpret there was no need for war. War lived off the desperation produced from scarcity. A situation Silo 37 was not suffering from. Heavy suspicions and murmurings still passed, but for the most part Silo 37 thrived. The pockets of resistance still existed, but they were all promptly snuffed out. Their argument was that the Silo needed the watchdogs, and it was impractical to act without after having gone so long with strict obedience.
"We're at Silo 37, if I'm not mistaken Mr. J." a voice from around the table piped up. Several chuckles emitted as a response.
Clark glowered in the general direction of the commentary.
"Sorry. Takes some getting used to that we're not at least in the top ten. I mean, really. 37 is pretty low on that list…" the meek sounding voice said, trailing off.
"That'll do, Grayson." Clark hesitated a moment, permitting the lingering cackles to pass. "Anyone?" he asked again. He evaluated the faces at the table, certain there was an answer within.
A woman dressed in Supply coveralls spoke up after the room had settled. "The bottom forty have more or less recovered from the last shit-fest." Clark knew he could always count on Stella to stick to business, though sometimes crude with her wording. "If we're referring to the assholes sabotaging the farms, that is." Stella concluded.
"The hell has gotten into them lately? Like they ramped up on the dumbass scale." Several nods and silent murmurs of assent could be heard around the table.
Clark nodded grimly. For the past two years, Silo 37 had operated with relative normalcy following its severance from the other Silos. Yet everyone knew, including Clark, that the withholding resistance was more organized these days. Clark didn't want to readily admit it, and certainly not to his table of Silo advisors, but these troublemakers were becoming lethal contenders: and they were just winding up.
"We have reason to believe they have some means of communicating with Silo 1." The confession from Clark was met with stunning silence. The chuckles and smirks from the previous comments were gone and sobered with the new information. Clark could also see some looks of doubt around the room.
"How do we know, or even suspect, this?" one disbelieving advisor asked.
There was no hesitation from Clark in this, as he himself had stumbled upon this intelligence. "I went snooping." he stopped to take a sip from his cup of coffee, still steaming from a recent pour. "I powered on the servers."
Several shouts of outcry went around in response. To power on the servers in the day and way they lived, was akin to speaking of the outside when Silo 1 still held them prisoner.
"Who the hell co-authorized that?" one voice spoke out to demand.
The policy with the Silo Advisory Board, which Clark himself headed, was that the servers were not to be touched under any circumstance. The protection of Silo 37 lay in the fact that the servers were offline, and to remain so permanently. Silo 37 could not ping out, nor could they be reached and controlled. To violate the servers was to condemn the entire Silo they all knew. For certain agendas, a senior member of the board could co-authorize Clark; if a convening of the board was not immediately available. Such a person to support Clark was typically Stella. Although for such a severe action of activating the servers, the section heads around the table knew there was no acceptable person that would please them. It was never an option, but a sin.
"Nobody." Clark casually admitted, as he shrugged. "It was for good reason."
One man in yellow coveralls slammed both palms on the table, jumping to his feet. "It damn well better have been, old man! That's the entire Silo's ass you just put in the fire!" The man aggressively shoved stacks of content filled pulp paper off the table into a heap on the floor.
"If it was only momentary, we're fine." A woman in IT colored overalls offered, attempting to diffuse the room tension and placate the fuming man in yellow.
Clark shook his head without looking up from the table, as if annoyed at her placation. "No, they're still online."
At this, the yellow coverall donned man lunged across the room towards Clark, with several others intervening to separate the two. In spite of the renewed hostility, Clark stood his ground at the head of the table, still squinting down at notes while only briefly acknowledging his would-be assailant. Two men from the security detail escorted the man to a nearby room. Being on IT, there were plenty of free rooms no longer in use. Since the severance, IT had substantially thinned it's numbers down, and consequently had fewer occupied offices.
Sensing the raging man had departed several rooms away from theirs, Clark looked up from his notes.
"The servers are not, nor have been, online." Clark looked across at Stella, seeing her reaction. She merely arched one eyebrow and returned his look.
"…so what are they?" Grayson asked from the hanging silence. The young man had black buzzed hair, with cobalt colored eyes and years of wisdom beyond his age underneath his handsome looks. Clark liked Grayson, and had Clark ever had kids, he'd have wanted a son in the young man's image. He was bound by a similar set of values as Clark, lending to the recommendation to enlist Grayson as an advisor for the Silo. A controversial decision assuredly, as Grayson's father had been the previous head of IT. A non-issue in Clark's unrelenting eyes.
If there was a section to be scrutinized with suspicion, it was IT. Clark suspected the same could be said across the board with every Silo. They would never find out, as the Silo Advisors had established a set of articles for the new age Silo occupants to adhere by. Topping that list of revered orders was the absolute necessity for isolation from the other Silos. 'Communications silence, save but internal, shall be upheld and enforced.'
"Same as they've been since we deactivated them two years ago: dead." Clark walked from the table to a logbook behind him. As he walked he could hear the room collectively sigh with relief. How dumb did they think he was anyways? Retrieving his book, he returned and let it fall lightly on the table on his mountain of pulp paper notes. "However, our fuming peer is going to shed a bit of light about the resistance's new gear and capabilities."
Stella stood slowly from her own chair across the table, calmly placing her hands on the table surface. "Why would he have access to that, Clark?"
Reaching under the table, Clark grabbed a small sack that a porter would carry messages in. He dropped this too on the table, unfolding it for all to see. Curious eyes peeked to see the contents as well as context of the sack, looking between Clark and the sack for clarity.
"Because he's one of the assholes."
Clark abruptly broke his eye contact from Stella, sheepishly looking down at the mountain of notes in the center of the table. "Sorry Stella. Didn't really seem right to bring it up…"
"It's fine, Clark." the exhausted mother heavily sighed, depositing herself back into her chair. She blew wandering gray hairs from her face, casually sticking them back in her bun. "We can't raise them all to be Clark Jones. It's his turn to clean."
Grayson recognized the necessity to retain some form of tradition in their new age silo. The board had all agreed it was the best way to keep and recruit people on board to the cause. People were comfortable with familiarity. What he didn't understand, is why this specific ritual needed to still be practiced. A form of population control, Grayson had always theorized. It wasn't enough to permit the old to die and the young to breed. Even in Thanatos' realm mortals sought to control fate's hands.
"Reach up and place your hands on the bar, Cal."
"Eat me, Grayson." The two men stood toe to toe with one another. Cal being an inch shorter than Grayson, the former dejectedly smoothing a hand through his dirty blonde hair. He crossed his arms, making a show of his muscled forearms, meaning to demonstrate a false bravado to the opposing man, as if to say 'I can still whoop your ass.'
Grayson mentally shook his head in disbelief. 'The balls on this guy. On death row and he's still an asshole.' Realistically, Grayson recognized every mean-spirited asshole who had ever been sent to clean had not been deterred from their less endearing qualities. Their asshole tendencies only became further enraged and exacerbated.
"Make it easy on the both of us Cal. Please." Grayson appealed to the condemned man. The man he knew as a friend, to be considered a brother. The man who's cleaning Grayson had volunteered to help with, to send off his best and most loyal friend to his death.
The half suited man grudgingly submitted, raising his arms above to grasp a bar and slip on more of the bulky suit.
As Grayson continued through the motions and robotically lectured on the expected procedure, he considered the history of his friendship with the cleaner.
From their births, they were destined to be blood brothers. Their parents were childhood friends as well, so it was expected so too would their children be. Grayson was the only child to his parents, but still celebrated as if he were the only child in his silo. It was a blissful childhood, Grayson recalled. He could never remember his friend indicating the same. Cal's heart had a dark tainted stain painted on it, poisoned by his own fury.
Cal's parents had been incredibly fortunate, having been successful in another lottery only a few short years after Cal's own birth. A daughter to the proud parents was born when Grayson and Cal were seven. Big brother fawned over his little sister, always trying to find new ways to reinvent old games suitable to the teetering toddler. Years passed quietly with relative happiness for the children, until tragedy struck and Death took the precocious girl from her doting family. Grayson remembered standing next to his best friend, long after all the mourning friends and family had departed, eyes cast down at the farm's freshest and smallest mound. An inferno boiled in Cal from that day, one that had spelled his imminent downfall to where the two men stood in the suiting chamber. He could see it still in his friend's eyes; the consuming rage that characterized and defined the young man.
Concluding with the final seal and pressurization check on the readied cleaner, Grayson simply stood there with nothing more to say.
Grayson then rounded around a corner, briefly locking his friend in the cell, rummaging for something.
"Not gonna even say bye, huh?" Cal called out, a tinge of disappointment shadowing his words. He swallowed hard, seeming to be hit with the reality of his predicament. He leaned against the cell wall, fully suited and physically prepared for his task. "I'd be too much of a chickenshit too if I were you."
Grayson said nothing, merely setting to his task. Cal almost called out again to apologize, but thought better of it. 'Why start now', he thought miserably to himself.
It was then Grayson returned into the suiting chamber with a secondary suit, specified to his own measurements.
The donning procedures began again.