"Damned and damning Geiger counter!" Sarnia muttered. For three generations it has been their clicking warden in confines of the forgotten bomb shelter six levels down in an abandoned gold mine. The Center has no water and a culture of vicious, selfish isolation that has grown out of the fear and resentment the few survivors felt for each other.
The videos they'd all watched countless times tell the tale of, a time when the sky was blue, the wind drifted soft and sweet across fields of fragrant flowers, and water was fresh and plentiful. In sharp contrast to that the last newscasts the computers recorded show billowing clouds of burning destruction rolling across the scenes of beauty leaving death and devastation in their path.
After spending all of the nineteen years of her life in the confines of the Center Sarnia breaks with the tradition of the bigoted community. She risks prosecution and certain death at the hands of those who would stop at nothing to prevent her from putting an end to the lifestyle they prefer. She has to tax her body and her mind to the utmost in her quest for a way out of the mine, an escape away from the confinement of the Center, the restrictions of the community and the lack of water.
What will she find aboveground if she reaches her goal? The living beauty and running water of the videos or the desolate remains left in the wake of the worldwide holocaust in the computer memories? What will she accomplish if she achieves her objectives? The freedom of a new world and it's people given another chance to live and appreciate the wonder and beauty of the world or the death and charred leftovers after people destroyed everything when they vented their anger and frustration on the world?
Sarnia looks up the vertical shaft, along the rungs leading upward as far as the light of her headlamp can reach. Nothing and darkness reach down into the abyss below her for more than a mile to the bowels of the earth. She reaches upward and forward with her hands and her feet, and her mind. There is only one way she is going to find out what lies above and ahead, she has to make her escape up the shaft and get away from what lies behind and below her. There is nothing to go back to or down for.