A late 300 word contest entry. Oh well. Maybe somebody will read this...
After seven years, four months, and nineteen days, they finally decided it was time to return to the surface. They had no idea what to expect.
Kyle was at the top of the steel rung ladder, followed by the other fourteen survivors. After turning the steering wheel lock several times and hearing the airtight seal decompress, he cautiously shouldered the round hatch open. The smell of fresh, cool air rushed into his nostrils, and an almost unrecognizable bright light filled the dim passage. One by one, they climbed out of their subterranean shelter and surveyed what was left of their planet.
"Oh my God," Sheila whispered to nobody in particular.
"What did you think you were going to see?" asked her husband.
"I don't know. I just...I had no idea it was this bad!" She looked up at the blood red clouds in the sky, and somewhere out on the ash covered landscape a high-pitched howl could be heard floating on the soft breeze.
"Well, this is what we get for having a bunch of oil thirsty lunatics with itchy trigger fingers running the world. It was bound to happen."
"Do you think it's safe to be out here?" an older voice asked.
"Who knows?" Kyle said. "We're all going to die sometime, anyway. Why not now? All I know is that if we would have stayed down there much longer, we'd have all killed each other off sooner or later."
"I think we'll be alright," said a little girl of about six as she stepped out of the crowd. There was a faint smile on her face. "Look."
In her hands was a small brown kitten. One of its heads looked at the strangers and opened its mouth.