Swamped Chapter 20 Page 4

“Well, up until a few minutes ago, my backup plan was sneaking you into the swamp,” Crook says. He’s being quieter now that you’re in the cart, but you can still hear him clearly enough. “See, there’s this spot near the west wall that I use when I want a break without anyone bothering me; shallower than it looks, so you just need to crouch down with your mask on and nobody sees you. Well, we took your mask and I can’t get ahold of it, but I had something else for that. But that won’t do now, not when a good chunk of us are fighting out there…”

He pauses suddenly.

“Oh, good afternoon, Doc,” he says. You’d better keep quiet. “Busy day, is it?”

“And likely to get busier,” Doc says. “You’re on sheet duty, Crook?”

“Volunteered. Just because there’s an alarm doesn’t mean the base doesn’t have to keep running.”

“Good. I need new sheets for the infirmary bed. It’s seen more use than I’d expected today.”

“Here you go, just leave the dirty ones out by the door and I’ll grab them when I pass by. Or I can make the bed for you if you want…”

“No. You’re not on the list of people I trust in there unsupervised.”

“Fair enough. What takes you away from your workspace, anyhow? Checking up on the patients?”

“No. We’ve got another sick officer, and as usual that means I have to take on some of their tasks. You’re usually on cell duty, aren’t you, Crook?”

“That’s right.”

“When does Butterfly work the cells today?”

“Should be there right now. She had the shift after mine.”

“Thank you, Crook. I’ve got to have a few words with her. Carry on.”

You hear Doc walking away, and Crook resumes his whispering.

“…so anyways, with all the uproar the base is emptier than usual. So there are places I can slip you into more easily. It’s a big base, and it’s been sort of gradually built over decades, so nobody really knows the whole layout… well, they say maybe Rider does. But I know lots of little places to hide things, and this next one is one of my favorites. Here we are.”

You poke your head out and see an empty hallway. There aren’t any doors in sight.

“Here we are? But I don’t see anything.” you say.

“Exactly! Now, this is a good one. There’s a loose panel on the wall, you can barely tell…”

Crook pushes the panel aside.

“And behind it is a secret passage! Only person who might be able to find you here is Rider, and if he comes back, he’ll make sure Razor doesn’t lay a finger on you.”

“Where does it lead?”

“I, uh, wouldn’t recommend going too far down it. It’ll be trouble. Just stay quiet. You can walk for a bit in there if you want to stretch your legs, but otherwise, just stay hidden. I’ll come by again when I can, and let you know what the situation is with Razor.”

“Thanks,” you say, slipping into the passage.

“Don’t mention it. Sticking it to Razor is its own reward.”

Well. Now you’ve got to pass some time by yourself while hoping you don’t get caught. Again.

You do wonder why he wouldn’t talk about where the passage led, though. On the other hand, it seems to get quite a bit darker further down, so perhaps you’re better off not indulging your curiosity.

What are you going to do now?

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let’s not lose another arm. stay put