The stench from inside the storage bunker was unmistakable. On top of the sweet stink, she could see the small flies that always seemed to hang around rotten potatoes. There was nothing for it, she’d have to empty the bunker, saving the uncontaminated potatoes while putting aside those that’d been touched by the noxious fluid but were still sound for thorough washing and immediate use. They couldn’t afford to lose the whole bunker of food. The rotten potatoes would have to be dumped and the bunker scrubbed out with disinfectant then dried before it could be used again. There was no help for it, Hamble’s shoulders slumped at the thought of the extra work, but it would have to be done and done by her.
There was enough to do already, the outpost had been haemorrhaging labour. Three of the brighter kids her age had gone off to higher education in the capital last autumn and just after that Latimer and Crusson had run away to live in the wild lands. Lucy had eloped with one of the farmers from two outposts away and hadn’t Ingersol the new supervisor created a fuss over that?
She sighed and got on with it. Now was when she had time and the fermenting mess couldn’t be left. She didn’t want Ingersol angry with her.
She found the plastic tube almost at the bottom of the bunker. It was long, roughly oval in cross section, bumpy in detail and dark from what was inside it. She had come across it halfway along its length and it was only by chance that she cleared the potatoes from the rounder end of the tube first. When she’d done that it took her a moment to realize what she was looking at.
Behind the thick plastic was Latimer’s face.
Crusson was in an identical tube next to the first. Beyond that were tubes holding the parents of the college kids, Lucy’s parents, Ingersol and another half dozen outpost members. Hamble suddenly felt very alone.
There was a scuff behind her and she turned to find Ingersol recovering from his landing on the potato covered floor. “Look what you’ve found.” He smiled at her. “So, what’re we going to do with you?”