To Live Another Day

The thief and the hole

One night Mike “The Rat” Stanislavski was woken by a rustling near him. He woke to see a huge (metre high) rat fossicking seemingly intelligently for his toothbrush. Stanislavski swished his machete at the rat, but it dodged. Mike called hoarsely and Vincent430’s eyes flicked open. He leaped at the rat and grabbed it by the scruff. “Breakfast!” he grinned. They had not eaten for two days.

The rat made terrified squeaks. It was wearing a makeshift vest with primitive tools. Mike realised it was intelligent. It gestured frantically at a notepad. “Trade points!” grinned Vincent, but Mike gestured to allow the rat to sketch on the notepad. “Breakfast is still the prime option, rat, so this had better be good,” he told the creature, which could clearly comprehend some language.

The rat sketched a metal hatch, and indicated that it was not far and that it could lead them there. Mike and Vincent looked at each other. It could very well be a trap, or an opportunity for the thing to escape…or it could lead to interesting discoveries, or at worst a delayed breakfast. They set off into the thick Weed which overgrew the old Hollywood Hills, hacking it slowly with Stanislavski’s machete. After a while they found a small clearing with a piece of corrugated iron on the ground.

Vincent430 looked cautiously around, lifted the iron and saw a sturdy metal door with an opening wheel. He turned it, and the door swung open to reveal darkened steps. They had no light until…Mike spotted a dynamo torch half buried in the ground! Already wealthy from this find, the rat had half redeemed itself. Mike handed the torch to Vincent430 who descended. The stairs went down a good few metres below ground, so Mike and the rat joined Vincent below. The passage ended at another door which led to an anteroom. There was a metal cupboard containing shoes — it was turning out to be a lucky day after all — and an inner door. Inside that was a low-ceilinged hexagonal chamber. It was survivalist’s bunker. The survivalist had not performed his function — his corpse was slumped in a chair in the middle of the room with a handgun in its fingers. Vincent automatically removed the handgun and checked it for ammo (just one spent cartridge).

The survivalist’s bunker was a real find. There was plant room (no gas or oil left), a bedroom with clothes, pillows, sheets, a fully equipped kitchen with knives and other utensils, a pantry with no food but — ah! toilet paper, toothpaste and toothbrushes, and a laundry/bathroom. There was enough stuff in here provide good trade. But no one else must know about it. The rat…might need to disappear. Mike knew Vincent would do it without question, though neither of the humans felt quite the same about breakfast now. Instead though, Mike decided to let the rat go, even though it might cost them dear. He gave the rat a toothbrush, some toothpaste, a polar fleece and told it to get gone and not return. The rat squeaked excitedly and Vincent430 escorted to the entrance and watched it leave. Stanislavski and Vincent gathered a sack each of easily transportable tradeables from the bunker and cached them nearby. They planned to observe the bunker from a distance in case of any other incursions. Can’t be too careful in the Rubble.

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nehwon

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