Avis opened her eyes. The world was burning.
Her room vibrated with heatwaves, filling the air with waving lines. She hopped out of bed and wrenched the latch open, pushing the window with a violent creak. She could see the people from next block doing the same. Avis waved a hasty hello, then ducked back in and flopped onto her cot. Within seconds, her back grew hot. She sighed. A sunburn was coming.
If there was one thing the people of the Labyrinth feared, it was sunburns. Streaks of light that shot down from the sun and destroyed everything they touched. Avis could not remember a time when the Solar System was stable, when all the planets were perfectly aligned, when the Sun was still a life-giving star instead of the volatile fireball in its place today. The history books they had been taught with depicted a story that Avis - and all Labyrinthians - knew all too well. After the breakdown of the Solar System, the earth had cracked and fissured, and formed giant plateaus on the outermost surface; plateaus that were miles in height. As the Sun continued to ravish earth and all that the human race had built, the latter had no choice but to flee - to the one place they could think of. Soon, the plateaus became their savior. What was left of humanity fled down, down, down, making the towering blocks of land their home. Buildings were carved into the orange granite. Roads were paved from fallen chunks. Soon, trees were planted. The early settlers called it the Labyrinth - for it was like a twisted maze, connecting the fractured world together. They soon discovered, however, that living miles underground was not as peaceful as they might have hoped. The first of the burns struck. Flares of heat ravaged the earth’s surface. Continents were burnt down. Avis recalled a memory of a book she had read a lifetime ago - about a group of teenagers trapped in a maze to protect them from a world that sounded horribly like the one she currently lived in. She still wondered who its author was - and if he knew more than he was letting on at the time. As the flares rained down, the ground under their feet became unbearably hot. The early settlers realized that they had been pushed far down beneath the Earth’s outermost surface - close enough to feel the heat emanating from the core. So precautions were taken. They moved higher up into the buildings. Ventures outside were brief and hurried, paranoia haunting every step. In a few decades, they had all but abandoned setting foot on the ground.
Avis kept still on the bed, knowing that any movement would intensify the already smothering heat. She lay on her back, watching the heatwaves meander lazily around her. After a minute, she began to realize something was wrong. The room was getting hotter.
She sat up. Sunburns never lasted this long - the longest burn they’d ever experienced was only a minute long, and she was quite certain it was the worst minute of her life. Padding over to the window, she peered out. Her jaw dropped.
It was raining sun flares.
Apparently, she had been wrong.