Swamped Chapter 15 Page 24

You can’t take any more of this. You fling the door open, and see Tom Eighth building what looks like an elaborate trap that fills the whole room.

You don’t care any more.

“The hell are you doing, Eighth?” you shout. “All you care about these days is your damned inventions. We used to be inseparable, you and me and Fifth. We had a good thing going, with our little band. We were even kind of good at music. And then you just, stopped. You’ve stopped making music and exchanged it for just noise.”

“You know full well why,” Eighth grumbles. “We lost Third to the rain. That’s why I’ve been working so hard. If you want to reminisce, go find Fifth. Everyone has trouble telling us apart anyhow.”

“You think I haven’t tried talking to him? He’s cut himself off even more than you have. Barely says a word to anyone unless he’s on-duty, and then he’s all business. Nobody else has noticed because he puts on a strong face, but I’ve known him long enough, I can tell the difference. You could, too, if you ever actually pulled yourself away from your workbench.”

Eighth just gives you a glare and goes back to work.

“What the hell are you even doing?”

“There’s a greatrat in the tunnels. I’m going to lure it up here and catch it.”

“If the tunnelers haven’t eaten it.”

“Tunnelers take decades to get big enough to even threaten a greatrat,” Eighth says absentmindedly. “We’d have noticed something long before now if they’d been down there that long.”

“So you’re a nature expert now too?”

“I don’t know swamp creatures like Dean does, but back home we had some abandoned houses with huge tunneler nests under them. These ones were bigger than humans. Heard they can get even bigger out in the desert, never seen it myself though. Anyhow, ours are probably just big enough to start digging. They dig fast when they get started. The bigger ones dig slower, but you can tell when they’re at work because the ground starts shaking a bit.”

At that moment, you feel the floor shake.

“Would it be like that?” you ask.

“Huh. Maybe we only found them late in the growth cycle. I guess they could be digging closer to the surface, too, but there doesn’t seem much point to that when the greatrats already have good-sized tunnels.”

“Maybe we should, um, let the officers know about this,” you say.

“You can if you want. I’ve still got work to do.”

That didn’t go so well. Is there some other way you can try to appeal to Eighth, or are you just going to go now and report the shaking?

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everyone felt the shake. what you need is to get through to tom and stop him from pushing everybody away all the time

Wait…Eighth’s closet is open…does he still have his Tom Toms? …He does! but…they seem to be attached to some kind of …automaton?
no it’s just tums