the Cavern – Part 19

I was horrified at just what a state my pelt was in, being with the other group we hadn’t thought much on physical presentation. The mental images we had of each other was that of when we first met, back when I was putting the teams of volunteers together. Now with new people about I realised how rank I had become. Matted fur, un oiled purples and of course the smell of night fever and sweat and poor latrine action.

I smelt bad, and looked worse and yet they seemed to all recognise me as leader. Maybe it was because most of them were not much better off than me, some looked decidedly worse. What ever the reason I started grooming myself with a sort of shameful urgency.

Once I felt I had neatened my fur as much as it was physically possible and I started to get people to settle down, there were not enough blankets and we were where trying to make as little noise as possible, so hunting through the stores was not going to happen. I noticed the odder looking members of the group were staying away from me, I had meant to check them out, to go over and just introduce myself but I really was just so tired and the thirst was beginning to make swallowing hard. I settled myself and just hoped no one would be stupid enough to try and go outside until I awoke.

But before long I felt an insistent tugging at my arm, a young girl, really she was not fully pelted. Normally have been classed as a youngling, she stared at me, looking worried. ‘Where do I.. erm… where’s the latrines?’ she whispered.

I closed my eyes and tried not to growl at her, when I opened them again she was still staring at me in ernest. ‘There aren’t any and nor can you nip round the corner which is what I assume you have been doing?’ she nodded. I gritted my teeth over idiots that let social convention put them in danger. ‘We cleared a corner in the other container and used that as best we could – we have only just built a sanitation unit in there and it is crude!’ Her ears dropped, it was a heart breaking site, somehow worse than the bodies. There was something so vulnerable I just could not leave her like that.

‘Depending on how desperate you are perhaps you could get some of the others to corner and area off with crates or something – just do not make too much noise!’

She thanked me and fled into the darkness, we had a few torches but no actual lights. I closed my eyes and sleep sloshed in on me – I dreamed of castles and kingdoms and battles. All the floatsum of childhood skittered away to be burnt with bodies on the pyre. I felt my people scream, felt the suffering in my bones, I needed to collect them together before they destroyed themselves but I was failing. I was wrapped in Uthine silks and smothered to insensibilities. The images became frantic and fast and vivid and then with a rush I was away and blinking at the quiet blackness of the container, little snores could be heard. I sat up feeling the prickle of the dehydration and scratched an itch, my fur was sticky with dream fever sweat.

I stretched, cold joints popped and I shrugged the rough canvas I’d been using as a blanket off of me. The light was even dimmer than when I’d closed my eyes – the batteries in the torches must be growing low. I cursed as I hit my shine on a crate, taking off a good handspan of fur off. I found the other torches but before I put them on I strained my hearing, making my mind creak as I listened and almost tried to feel the space beyond the container. I could find nothing, hear nothing and I knew that that meant nothing and shivered. I put on the other torches and began to take stock of what we had in there with us. The others awoke, one by one and helped me sieve through the boxes to find the bits we needed.

I made sure we were all armed before we risked opening the doors, the area beyond was a devastation and the bodies of the reanimates we had killed had been torn to bloody shreds, yellow oozing masses were all that was left. I retched by held down the bitter bile that was all my stomach had left to throw up.

We set up a parameter guard and I tapped on the other container – it hurt my hand but the sound resonated into the thing, clanking sounds told me that the others were stirring and they pulled the busted door open with an effort. I was so thirsty but I feared that I would find my lecturer not there – that they would be part of the shreds and tatters we had had to walk through. But he was there and I felt a whooziness of relief. I took stock of everyone – we were to my amazement all still alive!

They passed out what was left of the water and I shuddered at having to send them out to get more. ‘We have to get the two containers linked!’ I cried, I felt a desperation over that, ‘and roof access.’ We needed to be able to see if things were clear – I was gambling on the creatures not being able to jump more than twice their height. We stacked crates round the side of the original crate and the sort of fixed but really not quiet working hammer jack was passed up. But it would be noisy – it was going to attract attention. I could not let them start until the water team was back. Just one whole through that was all we needed – we had saws and could do it by hand from within.

The youngling who had tugged me back to wakefulness came trotting over, her purples were a bright pink colour, she really was very young, ‘ I’ve found loads of sand and cement and stuff – not sure if the cement will be any good but I thought we could make some sort of spiky fence?’

I hugged her, I squeezed her in a familial way, ‘that is a brilliant idea – do you think you can organise it?’ She nodded and smiled. She really did not seem to understand the severity of the situation but that suited me fine and I sent her off with two large builds. One of them had lost a lot of fur but again he somehow avoided letting me near enough to see how far gone he was. I was growing more concerned with that – I didn’t want anyone turning on us in the night.

The water team returned, the knot in my stomach eased – maybe at some point I would get some Stim.

Posted: Monday, February 3rd, 2014 @ 9:26 am
Categories: Series, Story, The Cavern.
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