“Aaaaaaaaron.” Damien was whining. He’d been walking for at least an hour. They’d stopped, but he was getting tired and he wanted to sit down. “Waaaaaiiiitt.”
And his brother had longer legs and the ability to walk further. He stopped. “Come on, Damien. It’s just a little further. And you’re going to love it. I promise. Wasn’t the lights great?”
Damien nodded, then shook a little remembering his dream.
“Aar” he started, as if thinking about something as he spoke. “What if we were too naughty?”
“Well – 54N74 counts. Suppose they count that we’re too naughty. What happens then?”
“I was just wondering…that’s all. In case…in case something bad came instead.”
He had caught up to his brother now. They stood at the top of a hill, the grass around was grey with the ash. The boys had had to wear complete environment suits for this trip, and that was adding to Damien’s difficulties.
Aaron put his gloved hand on his brother’s shoulder and looked him in the eye. His face was distorted though the visor of the protective mask, but he thought he got it. “Damien, if anything bad comes, it’ll have to come through me to get to you. I’ll look after you.”
Damien wasn’t entirely convinced. “But…who’ll look after you, Aaron. You’re still small too.”
“Mum, you moron. And who’s going to take her down? She’d kill anyone who looked funny at either of us. Now come on.”
Damien laughed and trudged next to his brother.
“Is this is? It’s.. just a ruin!”
They stood at the top of a small flight of stairs. The ceiling of the building had caved in, and most of the site was littered with bricks and rotten wood – but there were some chests here, some glass that had, amazingly, not broken, some metal.
“It’s more than that – Day. It’s a treasure trove.”
“A place where there’s treasure.”
“How do you know that?”
“I’ll show you. Careful”
Aaron lead his little brother down the stairs and across the uneven floor. At the back, behind a precarious looking wall, was another flight of stairs.
“Be very careful here, Day. It’s not easy.” Aaron put on his light and carefully stepped into the basement.
Once they were on more solid ground he turned and switched on his younger brothers light. “Over here.”
Ad the end of the room was a box, Aaron crouched and opened it. Inside was things that Damien had never seen before.
Aaron nodded. “Pre-Collapse. That’s paper. There’s all sorts in here. You know when we use our spimes and grab images, well in the olden days they were called photographs. You got them on paper.”
“You’re doing it again Aaron. We can print images into paper. They’re still ima-” The rest of the word was lost as Aaron pulled something from the box. Their lights reflected off of it, as if it was covered in Plas. But it was looser. On it was in image with all the colour bled from it.
“Didn’t they have colour in the Olden Days?”
Aaron laughed. “Sometimes they didn’t have colour when they took the picture.”
“What is it?”
“Old tech. We’ll never know. I’m trying to find out if I can work it out from the books – but there’s nothing, really, in there that helps. It all seems to think that you’d know already.”
Damien held the fotograf. It was so light. It rolled and bent in his hands, so he played with it, being careful not to fold it in half.
Damien looked at his brother. Aaron was fishing around in another box, showing him things he’d already found.
“Aaron.” He said. “I think I must have been very good already.”