The infection is a hidden secret to the newer generation. It's been forty years since the outbreak and life has been rough; but not unbearable. The children were never to be told of the outside world; what lies there and why they live in a rusted metal haven. The stories children grew up with were as ridiculous as the fantasy stories told long ago; but they were to be perceived as truth. For forty years, peace has been the only thing on their minds and soon the outside world would be completely lost to them when the first generation dies off. It was for the better, they supposed. To the people of the underground haven, weapons didn't even exist anymore. They were simply memories best left forgotten. Anyone found wandering off the boundaries was to be put to death, no matter their age, intentions, or position in the government. One mistake like that could endanger the entire human population. Or perhaps save it.
Sweating profusely, Matt pressed his back against cold steel, listening intently to the sound of leather boots on metal. This wasn't the first time he'd crossed the boundary; just the first time someone had caught him doing it. He stole across the hallway barefooted, his eyes set on the hatch only yards away. He stopped at the circular door, the number pad blinking periodically. What had it been? Was it 22396616 or 22936166? He rubbed his temples, trying to remember what the number had been. His head snapped up as he heard the footsteps approaching again. He quickly punched in the first set of numbers.
"Two-two-three-nine-six-six-one-dammit!" His finger slipped on the last number and accidentally pressed seven. He stepped back as an automated door from the hatch spoke, "Incorrect code - permanent lockdown initiated: Please refrain from movement as the authorities will arrive shortly to remove you." He was so close! This close from freedom! There had to be another way - he took off his backpack and removed a ceramic cup. He hesitated and then decided to smash the number pad. The voice from the machine started to slur as he turned back to see the guards coming towards him, batons in hand. He knew what they were. They were weapons. They'd never been told about those; only his father had told him about them. They were used to hurt people. Real bad.
Matt kicked at the door in a futile attempt to open it as the guards drew. He stepped backwards slowly as they approached, feeling the handle on his spine. One grabbed his wrist and tried to pull him in. He resisted, pulling in the opposite direction. "Get off me!" A guard landed a blow with a baton on his shoulder, bruising it severely. He drew back instantly, slamming heavily into the door.
The hatch sprung wide open and something - he wasn't sure what - entered. It knocked down all the guards as it made its way in, tearing at arms, faces, and legs alike. Matt hurriedly slammed the door shut turned his back on it the moment he heard that satisfying click. The world around him was nothing like haven. He couldn't even begin to describe the differences between the two.
For one thing, this world was unbelievably dark; he couldn't see a thing. He walked forward as if dazed and confused, stumbling as he nearly tripped over something. Gradually, his vision adjusted to the darkness and he could see clearly. He could still hear the screams of the people inside. He couldn't have cared less, trudging forward. The place was entirely empty. Not a single flicker of light anywhere in the vast horizon. The earth was nothing like he imagined. It was far different from the wonderful stories his father had told him about it. He spoke of a bustling community of nice people in a world even brighter than haven. He rubbed his eyes, suddenly feeling a longing for his home. But he couldn't go back. It was too late now.
Sylvia pulled on the sleeve of Matt's father. "Where'd Matt go? He was supposed to come back six hours ago. I'm worried sick." Bernard stood there facing the metal walls that confined him. "He told me he'd be late," he said, his voice flat and emotionless. There were only two possibilities. Neither of them being very good. He placed his hand on Sylvia's back, "Time for bed, kid. He's not coming today." She shot him a worried glance but obliged, skulking back to her room.
Matt ventured further into the world unbeknownst to him, sprinting through the world in a blind fury he couldn't explain. Everything around him, the organisms, the artificial constructions were all foreign to him, shadows lurking where the light should be. He knew fear, he'd experience it many times, but never on an occasion pertaining to one where he is lost and devoid of any hope he might've had. It was a feeling of despair that he couldn't shake off or forget about. He found himself facing a large wooden construct; it was rectangular in shape and twice as high as the haven's ceiling. It looked much like what his father described as a "house" but he couldn't be sure. It still looked a bit different. It had a glass door, and whatever he tried to do, he could not open it. He set his hands on his hips, wondering if he should just break the glass. There had to be a hint somewhere. The only thing he could see was jumbles of pictures pasted on the door and the glass wall beside it, pictures in plain white that looked like a single-bladed ax, a horseshoe, and two brooms without the straw at the end. He squatted and selected a hefty stone from the ground. He tossed it without even bothering to take aim and the glass shattered like the Fourth of July.