AtoZ2014: Playground


Staring straight down the barrels of a number of guns, Carmen and Doug knew they had nothing to hide. Knowing it was in their best interest, they submitted to the bodily search. They’d been through searches before, but nothing this organized or thorough.

Somewhat surprised, they watched as Sister Mary Francis was searched as well. Better safe than sorry…

Passing through the first checkpoint with ease, they were allowed into the nave. The interior of the church had undergone a radical transformation. Gone were the pews, replaced by a neat shanty town of cubicles that spanned all the way to the altar. Faces peeked out of the cubicles, the arrival of new survivors always of interest. One never knew when they’d be reunited with someone they knew or a family member who’d escaped a worse fate.

Some of the faces disappeared as no recognition was forthcoming, but others remained, curiosity winning over subtlety.

“This is where we house most of the people who live here. There are other temporary homes in the different offices and meeting rooms on the first and second floors,” the nun spoke with an efficiency that calmed the pair. Nothing seemed to be amiss here. People lived and all was good. “The basement contains the kitchens and areas where the community can meet, talk, and fellowship with one another. Would you like a tour?”

“Yes please, we’d love one!” Even though they could see much of what was around them, it was still good for them to know where other exits could be found—just in case.

“Follow me please.” With the words spoken, Sister Mary Francis started off across the nave toward the front of the church. Exiting through a door to the left, she walked down a hall with rooms off its left side. “As you can see we have quite a few people living here and everyone helps out with their share of the work.”

Stopping before another door she continued, “Should you stay, you’ll be placed on work rotations as well befitting any talents you have. If you have any problems with that, please let me know now.”

“No problems with that at all,” Doug answered, smiling to reinforce his answer.

“Let’s continue then.” The nun led them down a flight of stairs into the basement, the trio coming out into a large room set with tables and chairs. “This is the dining room where everyone eats. There are three shifts for each meal and they rotate weekly.”

“It sounds like you have a very good system here.”

“We like to think so. Besides, why fix what isn’t broken?”

Neither Carmen nor Doug could argue with her logic and waited for her to continue with the tour.

Sister Mary Francis continued into an adjoining room, this one set up with desks and tables. “This is where we school the children. It’s not much and some might think education is unimportant now, but we feel it’s a necessity. Did either of you teach before it happened?”

Both Carmen and Doug shook their heads.

The nun continued walking, passing through another door, “And this is where the children are allowed to play.”

Both Carmen and Doug were surprised to see a large playground set dwarfing the sizable room. Their gaze spun toward the nun, taking in her smile of pleasure.

“Grand isn’t it? It took us 3 weeks to get it disassembled and all of the pieces down here.”

“But why?”

“Children are children. They could see the playground from the windows in the nave and we wanted to ensure they’d have no desire to go out and play. It just isn’t safe for them out there. So would you like to see where you’ll be staying?”

The pair nodded before turning to follow the nun out of the room, happy beyond their wildest dreams. Could this be the place they’d been looking for?

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

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