They all knew that Jeremy was a reckless child. He was always running off and exploring. He never listened, discounting the dire warnings. The situation was becoming grave because Jeremy was putting the life of the whole community in danger. Truthfully the community was not very large – it consisted of eight individuals including Jeremy. They lived together in the safety of a cave on the edge of a mountain. Jeremy was twelve and very curious – he was the only one in the cave under the age of fifty. His parents, Esther and Kurt, smothered Jeremy with strict rules in order to protect him. They believed the leader of the group, Mr. Manta, who warned against going outside. They heeded the warning because everyone in the group witnessed the end of their world – everyone except Jeremy. Every evening stories about The End were recited as a way to educate Jeremy and also reinforce the group’s cohesion. The stories always ended with the description of the Beasts who roamed the earth. The members of the group were lucky when they found the cave. They learned to grow and harvest yeasts, molds, smuts, and mushrooms in order to survive. Cables were used to connect to a power-station that continued to supply some electricity. The cables were the only link to the outside world through a small hole in the wall that blocked the entrance to the cave. The cave was their home for the last thirteen years. As a baby, Jeremy was frightened by the stories of the Beasts that roamed the outside world. He was never certain if they were vampires, aliens, or demons from hell. As he grew older he wanted to learn more … and he wanted to go outside. No one was prepared for Jeremy’s curiosity and reckless talk. He was forced to pray with the group for understanding, but that only made the boy more rebellious. He would go on “walkabouts” exploring the dark passages leading deep into the mountain. Esther and Kurt were furious. They were told to take the boy in hand and force him to be more obedient. The boy was spanked and forced to work extra hours at mundane chores. At night he was tied to a post so he wouldn’t wander away.
Jeremy still managed to escape from time to time, crawling through the tunnels and discovering new places to hide and create his own world. On one excursion he discovered a small grotto that was littered with an assortment of unfamiliar objects. He found an old Life Magazine. Jeremy was fascinated by the photographs. The people in the pictures were dressed in lavish costumes that made them appear strange and alien. Jeremy was told that the world in the pictures no longer existed. His desire to see for himself grew stronger every day. He suffered under the strain and punishment the group placed on him. His parents were simply worried for the safety of their son and for the community. Jeremy returned to the grotto searching for an opening, a way out of the cave.
After six months of searching Jeremy found an exit. It was night when he left the cave. He wandered through a meadow of lush grass. He was stunned by the beauty of the world. He was drenched in new sensations. He noticed some damage, effects from a war that must have occurred many years in the past. Jeremy came to the edge of a city that seemed to shine like a million jewels. He slept on the hill overlooking the urban center. He was awoken by shouts, a chorus of angry voices. He was jostled and hit, knocked senseless. He was in pain and confused. His attackers were truly alien – as if they walked out of the photographs in the magazine he found in the cave. Jeremy looked nothing like them. The truth hit him like a bulldozer … his family was trying to protect him … he was the alien and the group in the cave were the last survivors. They foolishly came to Earth to wage war, but the humans were better at it. The humans were truly vicious and they exterminated the aliens like a pack of diseased rats. The humans would trace Jeremy’s steps back to the cave and kill the rest of them, the last remaining aliens.