I swung my torch beam across the empty building, dust motes glinting in the harsh light from the bulb. The huge metal machines, long since rusted away, didn’t sparkle nearly so much.
‘I think we’re clear,’ Roland whispered from behind me, his own torch sweeping the area. ‘No sign of any… others.’
I suppressed a shiver at the hushed name – it had been so long since we’d seen any of them. Some people back at camp took this as a good sign, had started to walk around with actual smiles. Me? It only made me more nervous.
‘Check out that corner over there,’ I gestured. ‘This used to be a place to get commercial LED lighting, there’s a chance that something useful is hanging around and hasn’t been picked clean yet.’
Roland nodded stiffly and walked where I’d pointed, torch still swinging in a frantic arc around him.
‘Now,’ I whispered to myself, looking up at the dilapidated office that overlooked the floor we were on. ‘Time for my job.’
I hadn’t told Roland about this part, partly because I didn’t want to give the rest of the camp anything too big to gossip about, but mostly just because I couldn’t be bothered with the wide-eyed fear and the telling me it was too dangerous.
I scaled the rusted stairs, avoiding the steps that looked too far gone to support my weight, and mercifully arrived at the top. I glanced momentarily at the door, propped alluringly ajar, but decided to go in through the well-broken window instead; I’d seen too many door-traps take too many good people to ever truly trust one again.
A filing cabinet greeted me as soon as my feet touched down, and I quickly scurried to open it. Documents spilled out with all sorts of fancy titles – Information about commercial solar financing was so thick it almost knocked me out.
‘Helpful,’ I muttered to myself, then froze.
There it was, glinting at the back of the cabinet. It was real. Lucy had been right…
Hope suddenly clawed at me, foreign in my chest, and I slowly reached into the cabinet.