Fine Pottery

Based off this Reddit writing prompt:

There is an entire society of people who locked themselves underground for hundreds of years, expecting a nuclear war. After centuries, they come out to discover the society has thrived without them.


They traveled hundreds — at times thousands of miles — to a compound secretly build in Kazakhstan. They ascended the rough terrain and approached the door, entering the mountain like animals being herded into a giant earthen barn.

Giliab and Ray stood at the entrance. Ray sighed. “I’ll miss the fresh air.” He looked at Giliab. “If only the world didn’t turn to nuclear weapons.”

Giliab offered a simple grunt. After a moment: “Yes… well at least I won’t have to deal with the children running off.”

Ray looked sideways at Giliab. “Huh?”

Giliab shrugged. “I mean, just won’t have to put them on one of those ridiculous leashes. Do you know how embarrassing that is?”

“Well. What color was it?”

Gilab’s brows furrowed. “Well, I think it was salmon.”

“Who was it for?”

“James.”

Ray blinked. “You needed to choose something he likes, Ray. That’s your first problem here.”

“I thought he liked Salmon. He really picked up on that color.”

“That’s your girl, Mary.”

“How do you know my children better than I?”

“You’re good with a lot of other things. Such as…”

Ray thought. Giliab frowned. “Such as?”

“Oh! Right. Helping save human kind.”

“I would think that being a good father had something to do with that, too. Right?”

Ray shrugged, grinninng. “Lets see if they survive.”

“Oh stop! That’s not funny.”

“Its OK, they don’t have leashes.” He waved his hands. “No rocky terrain to wander off to.”

A few moments passed. They stood, looking wistful-like.

“Well, come along now, Ray. We must be going. It’s only a matter of time.”

With that, the mechanical door sealed shut and their underground environment became their new world.

A few centuries later, the door shifted.

Some archaeologists were busy dusting away at a site. The door opened, and a few heads popped out of the entryway.

The archeologist near — his jaw dropped and duster followed suit shortly after.

The two men looked at one another and back to the kneeling man.

A woman’s voice sounded. “Timothy? I asked you a question —”

A woman mounted a hill. Her eyes traced from Timothy’s to where he was gazing. One man waved and smiled. “What on earth?”

“I’m terribly sorry to interrupt — whatever it is you are doing, here.” He looked up and the smile returned. “So, the earth didn’t blow up in massive nuclear war?”

The woman rubbed her forehead. “Wha?” Pause. “No. Wait, what?”

The other man piped up. “No bombs got dropped.” He made a shape, like a bomb. “A-bombs. Nuclear. Big boomers.”

The archaeologist shook his head. His mouth was half-open.”No.”

Silence. The other man shifted and sniffed. “Smells surprisingly fresh out here.”

“Lunch is cooking.” She gestured. “Well. You’re welcome to join us.”

He nodded. “Ah — right. A feast.”

Timothy sat back and blinked. “What is going on here?” He gestured. “That door — I thought that was a tomb.”

“We are from a group who gathered here to escape certain doom at the hands of nuclear-armed nations. Nuclear technology was developed. World War Two happened, you had the cold war, you had decades go by, nations rose up in arms and it seemed most likely that everyone was going to die.”

The other man piped up. “Did anyone die from nuclear war?”

Timothy shook his head. Shock and confusion plastered itself onto his face. “Not from nuclear war.”

The one man shrugged. “Ah. Good. Well.” He cleared his throat. “Hrm. At least we can come safely out now.”

His voice trailed off and his face fell. The other man explained. “We’ve been down here for quite some time. The Big Clock told us it had been three hundred years. It struck three hundred and now we are up here and nothing was obliterated.”

Timothy looked down. The two men, now stepped forward, were stepping on some recently unearthed relics. “Don’t say that too soon.”

One man looked puzzled. “I beg your pardon?”

Both stumbled through the quartered-off dig site. One closed the large door.

The woman turned. “Lunch is ready.”

The one man grinned and rubbed his hands together. “Well. Hope we are not intruding. We do love a good feast!”

“Our diet of vegetables and grains seems lacking sometimes. But that’s when you reach for the spices, yes!”

Hamburgers and hot dogs were the menu. The archeology team of about a dozen just kind of ate and chatted while Timothy and the woman stared at the two.

A man called out — at the end of the table. “Where did you find these guys, underneath a rock?”

Timothy and the woman answered at the same time. “Yes!”

The woman — Mary — spread word about what happened. Actually, she just said, “Guys, come over here. You will not believe this.”

Timothy chortled. “They broke my fine vases.” He shook his head. “Twelve hours!”

They explained what happened. They mentioned the door — which was simply a door-shaped rock. It was clearly a door of some kind but the team decided to examine the grounds before the door before attempting to open it. Excavating the door could harm what was in the ground.

The head of the dig, Morgan,  stood before the two, behind Mary and Timothy. He had both hands on either chair. “So — let me get this straight. You go into the ground and underneath these sands you have been living.”

They nodded. One chided, “Yes, yes. That is right.”

“Why?”

“Must we repeat ourselves ad nauseum?”

Morgan shook his head. “What?”

“Ad nauseum. Until I vomit.”

He made a face. “Nah, don’t please. Anyhow, can we come down and visit you guys?”

“I must warn you. We — down there — haven’t seen anyone else for a very long time.” He became excited. “You must try our root vegetables. So delightful!”

Mary shrugged. She looked up. “I think it’s a good idea. Three hundred years? I’m sure they got some exotic and old things to examine.”

Morgan’s mouth twisted. The idea hooked him. “Let’s talk about it more later. Might be good to finish up the old dinner ware Timothy is examining, yes?”

Timothy waved a hand. “Fine! Sure thing!”

Morgan, confused: “If you say so. Now, anyhow, perhaps tomorrow we’ll venture in.”

The team cleaned up and went back to work. The two from the underground dwelling walked over now broken pottery shards. One stooped down, picked up a mostly intact, small vessel, and nodded in approval. “Ah! Looks good still. Heh!”

With that, they entered from whence they came.