Left with no other options, they closed the large stone door. Leaving the world of sunlight and blue skies indefinitely behind them. Had they had the
ability, they would've cured the sickness a long time ago. But they were just a primitive race, no way they had the science to cure such a thing. The
only other option was isolation. And as they had been building a site underground for some time, to keep them safe from their enemies, they decided
that was where they would live to ride this thing out.
It was perfect, actually. Multiple levels, if the sickness made its way into the first level, they could retreat into one of the lower ones and close
off the first. Made to house twenty thousand, they could easily fit the remaining healthy people into it and hopefully ride out the storm.
Johnna was the only one immune to the disease. She had been around many people with the sickness and never got it herself. She was in charge of the
screening process. It was a painful process, one by one the people would approach the door. Johnna would proceed with screening them. Those that were
found pure were let into the underground city, those with the sickness were immediately killed and burned. It was a mercy killing really, dying of
the sickness was much worse than the swift death they were providing them.
It was the children that bothered Johnna the most. So many times she thought about just letting them through, even though the sickness in them was
evident. It took all her will power to point in the direction of the huge bon fire of flesh when one came through the line. But she knew that it was
the only way to keep the rest of them safe.
After hours of this, her work was done. The last of the city had made their way through the line. Less than ten thousand had been allowed through.
Her heart full of sadness, she steps aside to let the final healthy people pass through the door. The young child looks up at her as she sees her best
friend being directed to the bon fire. Tears flowing freely, she picks the child up and walks through the door. Looking as long as she could at the
sun and blue skies as the door slowly covers them from view.
Johnna was sick of it all. She hadn't seen the sun in months, except for the little glimpses of light she got through the air vents. But they had had
to retreat a few times to the lower levels, so, she didn't even see that anymore. A few people had become sick within the underground city. It was
painful to watch as their lives were taken. Children and loved ones crying out in anger and despair, watching as the level was closed off and the
bodies of their loved ones were forever entombed in the level above. Some of them had to be forcibly removed, dragged away from the closing stone
door. And Johnna was starting to get blamed for letting them pass through the initial screening process. Many evil eyes and odd looks directed her
way, she was becoming fearful for her life. The people were wanting someone to blame, and she was the most viable person.
Tempers were flaring, people were committing suicide, not being able to handle the isolation. Johnna couldn't blame them. It was almost like they had
been buried alive. Even though they had everything that they had had above, something was missing, and it was starting to take its toll. Fights and
death and people going crazy...it was becoming worse than the sickness. At least above you had somewhere to go, down here there was only the next
level, the next dirt floor, the next room filled with darkness.
The only way she held on to her own personal sanity was her memories. She would sit back, close her eyes, and remember what the sun felt like on her
face, what the sky looked like, how the flowers smelled. She would do this every day, to make sure she didn't forget . Some of the kids had started
to draw pictures on the walls with a sharp rock. Not really knowing what the scenes were about, Johnna was just grateful to see someone else
remembered things from the outside world too. A couple of times, she joined them, drawing the sun, the stars, Billy goats and horses...everything she
could remember from above.
So, they bided their time in the underground city, wanting so very much to leave, but too fearful of the sickness to do so. No one really knew how
long they needed to stay down there, everyone was just hoping that they would somehow be given a sign. Some evidence that the world was ready for them
It had been years since they had first entered the city they now called Derinkuyu, in their language, it meant Deep Well. It was the closest thing
that they could use to describe how it felt to be there. Having lived there for a few years now, they felt it was time to leave. Johnna was excited
about this. They slowly made their way back up through the levels they had previously closed off. They would open a stone door and enter the level,
staying within it for a few weeks before carrying on to the next one. Making sure that the sickness had dissipated from the area before moving on. It
was a long and painful process, but one they felt necessary.
The irony of the whole ordeal is that being enclosed way below the earth, had caused just about as many deaths as the sickness itself. They had
started out with about ten thousand people and by the time they had decided to leave , they had lost about half of them. At each level, they
performed funeral ceremonies for the dead, making sure that they found their rightful place in the afterlife. Picking up the bones of the ones who
fell sick years ago and placing them on the ceremonial alter, performing the funeral ceremony for each one separately.
Today, though, was a glorious day for the survivors. They had reached the final level and were ready to open the door. Johnna couldn't wait to feel
the sun on her face, feel it envelop her in its warmth. One of the first to reach the stone door, she waited impatiently for the elders to arrive.
Once everyone was present, they took the lever and proceeded to roll the stone door away from the entrance. As the door gave way, Johnna saw the rays
of sunshine start to enter the room. Slow at first, then eventually filling the room with light. Placing her hand within the rays, she let out a cry
of joy and ran out into the day, tears of joy running down her cheeks.