The Folly of Our Fears

                It's amazing what humanity forgets when we're afraid. Forced underground by necrotic air, by blooming clouds of radiation, we huddle together as within us die memories of the sun. We fear leaving our hovels and the scent of flowers drops away. We weep over our misfortune and lose our sense of innovation and adventure, receding into the primitive night. We return spiritually to the time of our more simian ancestors, and in the dark, civilization dies again.

                One day, a child, who every time she sleeps dreams of flying through air she's never seen, wanders by the exit to our caves. Even those have been forgotten as we hunch over and wait to die of malnutrition, of the brutal violence we work against one another in the tunnels. She feels the wind in her hair for the first time and… remembers. Just flashes of what we lost generations ago. She climbs toward the scent, ascending over rubble and bone, back to the surface of the world we abandoned. Closer, closer, to the light, warmth on her face stirs more memories.

                We were… we were…  A voice within her bubbles to the fore. Joyful but full of caution. Centuries of fear are not easily forgotten.

                Upwards she scrabbles, scraping and bruising her knees and shins. The cavern's dims walls and floor seem to reach out for her, from the shadows. They try hinder and harm her passing as if to say 'there is no going back'.

                And yet, she persists. Rising like hot air rises, like steam towards the easiest point of egress.

                The pinprick of light expands into an opening atop a jagged mountain of debris, an opening just small enough for a child. Re-awakening man is the destiny of the young it seems. She scrambles up it, squeezes through the hole and…

                …breaks free into the dawn.

                It's even more beautiful than she could have possibly imagined. She smiles.

                We were fools to ever abuse this splendor.