Hopefully they won't check the street cameras or they will know I never left. Then they might begin to suspect something, and at the very least they could put me in prison for business fraud."
"For that? What kind of prison? How long?"
"For that. Whatever prison they want. As long as they feel like. Welcome to the Outside. Hopefully you never have to live in it."
Stanyard left quickly through a hatch in the ceiling. I didn't ask him any of the other multitude of questions that I wanted to. I figured he couldn't stay any longer.
Cea was still sleeping, and I figured better not to wake her, so I went over to what Stanyard had called the "burn pile." I wasn't going to read any more of that "manual for RIUNS," but I had to find something to do. Once Cea was awake we could try to figure out what we should do from here. I knew I was not versed in underground skills enough to figure things out for myself on this one.
There were a few books there in the burn pile. On all of their covers and many of their pages were crudely stamped the words, "Religious. Discard," or "Archaic. Discard." I scanned their titles as the paper backs fluttered through my hands. The Song of the Troll. The Hobbit. Angel Fall, and something by someone named Burnett. They were all written by authors I had never heard of, except maybe in school. I didn't listen much in literature class at school because they had tried to teach me so much rubbish.
If worst came to worst I would try to read through the stamping on those old pages, but now the huge map on the wall had caught my attention. I wondered why it hadn't been of interest to me before.
It was a map of part of our city, in great detail. Words were scrawled across it in a language I had never seen before, full of angles and crossing lines. Numbers, too, in combinations that clearly indicated words somehow. These underground workers were incredible.
All the streets of the city ran in a cardinal direction, or else at a perfect forty-five degree angle, in huge blocks. More properly termed a metropolis, it was composed of blocks all segmented by huge streets six lanes wide, which were given numbers or names. The east-west streets had numbers, and those running north-south had names. The names were simple ones like "A" "Alpha" and other languages names for their first letter.
I looked up at the top of the map and my eyes went wide. There was Street 17 Camp, one of hundreds of blocks in the city. Indeed, the camp now only took up a small portion of the block as other dwelling and utilities built up around it as its walls were pushed in.
Never had the tactic of moving the walls in seemed more powerful to me than now. We really were shrinking away.
Want to read more? The next part is out!