Thursday, April 2, 2015

#146 Fire and Ice

The sun grew smaller every day.

I kicked aside a heat-shriveled plastic bottle at the top of the subway stairs, the aftermath of last summer’s holocaust. Yellowed newspapers crumbled under a coating of frost, their desperate headlines rendered irrelevant by the new reality. Earth had fallen from her orbit, disturbed by a passing black dwarf. Anything that had lived through our brush with the sun now had to face an unimaginable winter.

All that mattered now was this. Had something edible survived in the darkness of these subway tunnels?

The grip of the cold grew less as I descended and turned on my headlamp. It was dimming, just like the sun. I had to find some new batteries. I spotted a newsstand in an alcove, looted of food and drink, and batteries of course, but still with plenty of heat-crisped reading material. If I decided to stay down here instead of going back to the colony at least I wouldn’t die bored, so long as I was careful about turning the pages.

I smashed open an office door with my crowbar and rifled through all the drawers in the desk. I spotted a battery, but it had been burst open by heat, same as an old can of tuna that had left dried and shriveled flakes of fish meat coating a shelf. Solar fish jerky. I ate as much of it as I could scrape off.

It was the only thing I could find on the platform.

For longer than I should have, I debated whether to go down the subway tunnel. That untouched can of tuna, even though it was behind a locked door, made me think that this part of the subway system had remained uninhabited. What I wanted was to find a cache of supplies stashed away down deep, carried down into the tunnels where the deadly heat hadn't penetrated. Preferably abandoned, but if not, I could try and persuade the owners to join the colony.

If they didn't try to kill me first.

Keeping my crowbar ready, I slid off the platform and down onto the subway track.

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