Cover image by Rachel Roberts. Check out Rachel's other amazing work at http://www.pencilpusher.biz/

Cover image by Rachel Roberts. Check out Rachel's other amazing work at http://www.pencilpusher.biz/


Salvage Give Away

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SALVAGE - CHAPTER 1

The ruined building groaned ominously and Silver froze in place, holding her breath lest the hundreds of tonnes of twisted metal and broken concrete above her give way. Her heart thundered in her chest, and she counted the beats. Once, long ago, her dad told her that if you got to ten beats then you'd be all right. Within a few seconds, she had reached the number and the rubble above remained intact. She wondered briefly whether her dad's heart had ever reached ten beats as quickly as hers just had.

            'You still with us, Sil?' The deep voice of her partner Coal sounded distant. She shifted slightly and raised her head to look around. Illuminated from the light built into the side of her gas mask, the air around her had taken on a smoky quality from the dust that had been disturbed. The beam of light revealed broken concrete, the twisted mess of metal reinforcing, and a few other odds and ends. She imagined she could taste the grit in her mouth, smell the mouldering damp of the place, and was thankful for the breathing filter. Apart from the metal, there was little here of value, and not much hope of digging any further into the building.

            'Yep, I'm okay,' she called belatedly. 'Not much here though.'

            She reached down to her thigh, which was no easy task in the cramped space, to pull forth the compact saw stowed there in a pocket sheath. With the saw free in hand she rolled carefully onto her back to get better access to the fingers of metal clawing down from above. The light revealed a couple of black cockroaches staring down, incredulous at her for disturbing their home. She brushed them away with her gloved hand, used to them by now. 'Roaches were perhaps the most prosperous of creatures still living in the Badlands.

            'Just taking all the metal I can,' she called out to Coal, before setting to work with the small hacksaw. The serrated blade was sharp and cut fairly easily through the finger-thick pieces of metal, though it grated and squealed loudly in the process. Despite the keenness of the blade, it was vigorous work and after a few minutes Silver was breathing heavily and sweating inside of her overalls. Each time a piece of metal came away, she would tuck it into a hessian sack she carried with her. It was far from the most valuable of material she had retrieved from the Badlands, but it would fetch a price nonetheless, and keep her place within the crew.

            After a few minutes more she had cut away anything everything she was likely to get and carefully slipped the blade back into its pocket, making sure to secure the clasp.

            'All right, pull me out Coal,' she called, rolling back onto her stomach in preparation for backing out. A rope fed through loops in her overall legs would enable Coal to pull and assist her as she carefully backed out of the rubble. It could also be used in an emergency, if something happened to her whilst while inside the ruins.

            'Coal?' she called again, after waiting a few moments for the rope to pull taught. A few breaths more and still nothing. 'Coal! Get back here!'