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ValenCrimes Day

Picture of an eerie concrete bunker tunnel with yellow and black hazard bars at the bottom. Text reads "Tales from the Bunker: Valencrimes Day"Tales from the Bunker: Valencrimes Day

Written by Spymaster General Danov Valravn

Holidays in the Bunker are not always a time of unbridled joy. Just like anywhere else we have our issues. There are fallings out, some soldiers get gifts that are boring, useless or just plain dangerous and there is always the threat of another feast prepared by The HotDogMan. We still haven’t quite got the smell of steamed meat and brine out of the mess hall….
One year in particular sticks in memory. The year some bright spark let Fiend Computer watch some of those seasonal horror movies. What would follow will forever be known as: “The Holiday of Ironic Death Traps” or “Valencrimes Day”.

It all started subtly. It was early February and the Soldiers and assorted rodents that celebrated Valentines Day were making their preparations. Everybody seemed pretty chill and the anti valentine soldiers had their exclusion zone set up well ahead of time. Then the instant messages started arriving.
A few messages sent with subject lines like “we need to talk” or “I have always wanted to tell you this”. These would then lead the recipients to abandoned and dangerous areas of the bunker. While it was troublesome, nobody got hurt. A detail we would only notice later was that all the locations for these clandestine meetings had working security cameras, a rarity on the abandoned floors.

While the “get stood up, get lost” messages were happening we started getting reports of explosions in engineering. Glitterbombs had began exploding over soldiers crossing high gantries, little foil hearts blinding them and making it slippery underfoot. Witness reports indicate that they exploded while playing the trumpet sting from the Beatles’ “All you need is Love”.
Response bots and teams were beginning to get deicidedly overworked dealing with all these incidents, still with no idea from where they originated. The Incident Response Team were brought in to investigate.

Hours, then days went by with no more incidents. Everybody began to calm down slowly. Work on finding the source of the messages continued slowly, layers of encryption peeled away as areas of the network once thought dark were rediscovered.
The day before Valentines Day, everything went insane. The threats went from significantly dangerous to actively life threatening.

All of the confirmed single engineers were invited to a special party on floor 54127 in what they thought was a secret dance hall. A glitter ball had been set up and soft music was playing. Luckily, one of them cottoned on to 54127 being mainly industrial crushers. After a paniced evacuation to the strains of “Love is an Open Door” everybody escaped, though several lost their goggles, hard hats and gizmos.

We then found that ornamental cherubs had been placed throughout the Bunker, camoflaged within the normal decorations, and were now firing actual arrows at anybody who came within range. The entire nurse division were pinned down in the medical bay and the response teams were rapidly running out of uninjured soldiers.

In the end it was the brave soldiers of the catering teams who saved the day. If it hadn’t been for the experimental hot toffee cannons clogging the damned cherubs up, we’d have all been doomed to a short life as pincushions.

With the disabling of the cherubs, the investigation team managed to activate countermeasures to stop it happening again. Apparently one of the mad AI of the Robot Repair Hospital had become particularly evil. Fiend Computer insisted he was not to blame, but after a digital tribunal by a committee of his peers, he was into isolation in a Virtual Environment under the care of one Spymaster Danov Valravn. He has been assigned to him ever since.

The Trip Of Dr. Innovatium

written by Dr. Innovatium

In the beginning, there’s only darkness. The odd sounds of metallic moaning and creaking clockwork fade into the ambient silence of the workshop. Pipes riddle the many corners like cobwebs, littered televisual monitors flicker and throw out strange images, like the withering images of a past fever dream. The structure of the complex, long since warped by the residual radiation of the compound Innovatium – theorised to be the physical manifestation of pure imagination – has long since passed euclidean geography, so that one door can lead to more than one room, or to a different reality. It is in one particular room, accessible only through the humming of an unordinary tune, that the Doctor lies.

The room is bare, akin to the padded dwellings of a mental institution, except twice as large. In the very centre, a reclining seat, like an electric chair without the devices, supports a gangly, tall figure. In it’s gnarled, gloved hand, the solitary light reflects oddly on the quivering droplets scattered within the otherwise empty glass. The figure’s attire is reminiscent of a Neo-Victorian aristocrat; a red, patterned waistcoat over a long-sleeved white shirt, black trousers sprouting into black shoes, goggles with red and blue lens resting on a gaunt, unshaven face. As the viewer takes in further details, they would notice the strange scribbles on the walls, of bizarre creatures and quasi-religious beings, in paints and colours that seemed to contradict each other. It is said that to understand the mind of one that wonders beyond the walls of human understanding, one must leap past that wall and meet them along the way.

The paintings, as the viewer takes in the perspective of the near-comatose figure, begin to peel off the walls, their colours blending with the air, until the creatures have blended into one, gaseous cloud of colour that morphs into other creatures; stick figures, cats, dogs, six-legged pirates, purple elephants, polkadot-tailed cetaceans, eventually going beyond any comparable lifeform and into the realm of subconscious dreams and nightmares. To look upon these beings in vivid detail would drive a human mad, though it seems that the figure had already passed this point a long time ago.

A quarter-hour passed as the ethereal images grew wild and colourful, to the point where no word in the human language could possibly describe the panorama other than a sea of colour and radiant lights, and the sensation as gently falling forwards whilst remaining in place. And in the midst of this psychedelic light-show, the slumped figure remains completely still, staring dead ahead as if his mental destination lies before him.

Then, after another quarter-hour, the alien colours and bizarre figments coalesced into an incandescent white light that purged all shadows in the room, as well as all outlines which separated the walls and the floor and the ceiling. The figure leans forward, his before vacant face now uncurling into an anticipating grin, his features melting before the light.

Each trip into the Imagiverse ended with the light, Dr. Innovatium had observed. In each of his writings after ingesting the substance that was his namesake, he found it impossible to describe what it was, or what it meant. What he could remember, though, was the sensation of utter bliss, a rarity in more commonplace psychedelics like LSD or marijuana, which were only crude gateways into the subconscious realm.
When facing the light, he could escape from all worries and fears, forget his status as an outcast of conventional society, take a step away from the world fuelled by war, fear and exploitation. He could fulfil all of his dreams, in that one moment of ecstasy, relieve all mortal desires, realise all fantasies. Under that light, he could do anything but rule the world it inhabited. He knew that he, a mere mortal traversing a mental realm, could not achieve such a task. The best he could accomplish was to learn from
it, live by it, die by it. It was his destiny to explore the fantastic realm and record it for those who dare follow his footsteps, to pick up from where he left off, and chase the dream to the very corners of the human psyche.

The light, as suddenly as it appeared, went out.


The figure slumped, his feverish mind now run ragged from the sensation. The glass in his hand dropped onto the floor, rattling gently as it rolled away from the unconscious Doctor. In his dreams, the visions faded back into obscurity, partially erased by the part of the brain responsible for its preservation. When he wakes up, he will record the trip as before, not so much as to determine a difference between them, but as a way of recording the number. He took this journey as a source of inspiration, a moment where he could recharge his fevered mind, ready for the next impractical
invention he would design.

In the meantime, there’s only blackness.

Wasteland Boy: Chapter 3 – Doubts

Jan 21, 2019
0

written by Gilbert

Clyde was marching confidently through the garbage. He didn’t feel tired or hungry, his high spirit driving him forward. The light breeze that was always present around here kept him company. He began whistling and was soon further away from the bunker than he has ever been before. The sun set and the moon was replacing it, accompanied by countless stars. To Clyde’s’ luck, there was a beat up mattress leaned against a pile of trash. He pulled it down and climbed on top, curling up, hugging himself. He realised he forgot his blanket and his warm clothing. It was thankfully summer and by the end of autumn, he would already reunite with his mother. He calmed himself down with that thought and fell asleep quickly. In his dream, he saw a silhouette of a woman reaching her hand to him, calling his name, beckoning. With that, he woke up. It was already sunrise. The clouds far away were turning pink, with the brightening sky serving as a background. Clyde shivered and stood up. He was hungry, but decided to wait until the sun was up. He got up and continued his journey, trying to warm up. He decided the faster he travels towards the sun, the faster he will see it and began running, laughing as the sun showed its first rays, shining right into his eyes. He ran out of breath, but continued to walk quickly. When he was younger, he learned that if you stared long enough at the sun, resisting the urge to cover your eyes, the sun would begin to look blue and you would actually be able to see its spherical shape. He occupied himself with that, occasionally looking away to not go blind, seeing dark blotches everywhere.

Once the sun was high enough to light everything, he stopped and got out his first can of beans. He looked around, found a brick and began rubbing the can on it. It was a rather time-consuming procedure, but a good seven minutes to guilt trip yourself for forgetting the can opener. Next time, he thought, I will definitely remember. Next time… he stopped rubbing the can and looked around. there was no sign of his beloved family. He would be happy to see anyone, even aunt Lisa having another panic attack. But the wastelands were deserted. Clyde knew he wouldn’t come back until he found his non, but he wanted Mr. Morrison and the rest to search for him and find him. Would there ever be a Next Time? Clyde felt his eyes getting wet, but shook the sadness off, resuming to stubbornly rub the can. In about a minute, the liquid began dripping out of it and Clyde put his lips on the hole he made, drinking everything out thirstily. He finished up his work and ate some of the beans, sparing the rest for later. The can returned to his bag and he was walking once again.

Homesick thoughts were crawling back into his head. He was beginning to doubt his decision. A crow was circling above him and Clyde decided to strike a conversation. He told the crow about his worries. He told it that Mr. Morrison is probably worried. He probably needs his watch back. Clyde took more than one can of food for himself and he felt bad for that too, considering how much effort is usually put into finding one. He could begin digging through the garbage, but he had no time to do so. He had to walk eastwards. The crow screeched as if asking Clyde why he was walking. Clyde smiled, beginning to regain his confidence. He told the crow about his mother. He said she left to a better place and wanted to take him with her, but couldn’t carry him all that way. She needed him to grow up before going there. It’s probably a place for adults only, but they could make an exception for him. The crow screeched again and Clyde chuckled.

“Why East? It’s where the sun rises and where everything begins. I know mom’s there. Aunt Lisa said mom loved the sun and that’s why I look so sunny. It only makes sense for her to go there! “

The crow seemed satisfied with that answer and flew away somewhere. Clyde wished the crow followed him, but it seems it had better things to do than listen to the ramblings of a little boy. Clyde concluded that the wastelands aren’t so lonely after all. He heard from the elders that there are many people out there living in bunkers like them. Sooner or later, he was bound to bump into one of them.

While searching for a place to sleep, he dug out a perfect pair of brass goggles. One of the adults in the bunker had a pair. He used them to protect his eyes from winds and would always wear them around his neck, so Clyde didn’t hesitate to follow the lead. There was nothing to lay on. Clyde collected lots of used up paper and made himself a bed. It was even colder that night and he couldn’t fall asleep for a while. In the darkness, he heard some sound resembling a siren. The sound didn’t have such frequency though, it was closer to a voice. It was responded with a similar sound somewhere closer. Clyde sat up and howled too, laying back down, satisfied with his participation. He soon drifted off into sleep.

There’s Money In The Walls

written by Six

Ta-Chunk! Ta-Chunk! Ta-Chunk!

“Wait… do you think this is a good idea, Six?”

Private Six looked up from his cup of coffee and towards Robot #5252 who held his pickaxe above his head. It was times like these that Six wished he hadn’t convinced one of the more “competent” soldiers to give 5252 more personality. He was hoping to find a snarky, wisecracking sidekick like the heroes in all of his favorite movies had. Instead, he got a worrywart pessimist who spent just as much time lecturing him as Six’s mother had back when he wore short-pants. Six carefully placed his mug of coffee on the ground and jumped up to snatch the pickaxe from the much taller robot.

“Do I think this is a good idea? Look who you’re talking to, hoss!”

Six leapt up once more but 5252 lifted the pickaxe higher so he couldn’t reach it. Before he could reconsider the repercussions of his actions, Six smacked the robot in the chassis and winced in pain as the hard, hot metal bounced off his skin. 5252 looked down at him with the same grinning expression someone built him with but the action seemed to imply worry or sympathy. Six kicked the robot and coiled back in pain once more as the tip of his toes hit metal.

“Are you okay, Six?”

“Quiet you… and keep digging!”

Six limped back towards his coffee just in time to see a pair of tiny feet kicking up into the air from inside his mug. With a sigh, he lifts the mug to see one of the bunker’s many hamsters chugging the last of his coffee. The hamster looked up at him and blinked twice. After the third blink, the hamster’s pupils dilated and the small animal vibrated. Six had seen this before. The Toy Soldiers had banned the hamsters from drinking coffee for the general safety of themselves and the Bunker. Something about caffeine made the hamsters unpredictable.

“You’re about to have a very interesting day, short man.”

The general rule of thumb was to report any caffeinated hamster sightings to the fellow soldiers in case they create havoc. As the motivational poster in the mess hall goes “See Something, Say Something.” However, the small shaking rodent was about five seconds from Lightspeed which gave Six an idea. 5252 was making so much noise that surely someone would come investigate… but if they had another, more pressing problem then it didn’t matter how much noise they made. They were several levels below the usually occupied corridors so the chances that someone discovered them were thin, but Private Six always welcomed a distraction when doing something he probably shouldn’t. Six carefully lifted the vent off the air vent that the hamsters use from multi-level travel and tossed the hamster inside. The whole vent vibrated and shook as the caffeine took effect. Then, with no prior warning, the hamster vanished with a dash that kicked up small clouds of dust as it sped ahead towards the community area.

“Safe travels!”

Six slammed the vent shut and turned back to 5252 who was watching him. Somehow, despite the robot’s face not changing, he could feel the 6’7” machine judging him.

“What?”

“That didn’t seem like a wise thing to do, Six.”

“I thought you were digging?”

5252 sighed… or at least made a sound like he was sighing. More than likely it was the hiss of the pistons in his arms releasing so he could swing the pickaxe again. It was also possible that 5252 intentionally made his piston hiss to punctuate his point. Regardless he resumed working. Sparks flew as the pickaxe hit the metal wall of the corridor. 5252 had been at it for about half an hour now and the metal was wearing thin finally. If it hadn’t been for 5252’s strength and durability, they would have never gotten this far along.

Ta-Chunk! Ta-Chunk! Ta-Chunk! Ta-Thump!

The pickaxe broke through the corridor wall and the duo looked through the newly created hole into darkness. The air that came through was musty and heavy with the scent of dirt. The artificial air that pumped through the digital bunker was always nice and pleasant smelling like fresh laundry. The exception being Halloween and Toymas where the robots in charge of the ventilation added cinnamon and nutmeg to make the bunker smell like pumpkin pie. Despite the cave not smelling good, it smelled different and that immediately made it fascinating and exciting.

“Six, can you remind me why you wanted me to sacrifice the structural integrity of this corridor?”

Six had spent weeks walking through the lower corridors, periodically knocking on the walls in search of one that was hollow. There was a space beyond the corridors and when there are secret hidden spaces there was usually something hidden there that someone didn’t want found. He did his best to avoid going any lower than he had to because all the weird stuff happens down there. While he enjoyed the weird, strange, and macabre… he also didn’t want to end up meeting the Hot Dog Man. Six shuddered at the thought of smelling all of that spoiled beef and pork byproducts. He shook his head to shake the unwelcome thought out of his skull before peering through the hole.

“Don’t you ever want to see what’s going on outside of here? Like there has to be things outside of the corridors! Tunnels, caves, aqueducts, minerals… maybe gold.”

“Gold?”

Six could feel the permanent gaze of the robot staring into the back of his knit hat. It wasn’t like gold was the only motivator for Six to deface his adopted home. Part of being a Soldier was to embrace your unending curiosity and desire to go where few would dare. Besides, Six wasn’t good at science and he knew next to nothing about machinery or quantum physics or any of that stuff. Six had a creative mind and a healthy interest in solving riddles and problems… he wasn’t great at much else. This usually led him into mischief and trouble.

“What? You never wanted to be a pirate in search of gold? Don’t you have a sense of adventure?”

“No. Someone built me to wash dishes.”

It was a valid point. Before Six could snap back at 5252 with some witty retort, he heard a loud crash and a scream come down the hallways. The hamster had made it to the community area and was no doubt raising hell with his tiny caffeine fueled body. The problem with the distraction was that it wouldn’t last long. Six knew for a fact someone had reprogrammed other bots to round up wayward hamsters. Carefully, he pulled himself through the hole in the wall.

“Private Six, where on earth do you think you’re going?”

The opposite end of the hole glowed green after Six cracked a glow stick he had carried in his pocket. Admittedly, he should have made sure there was a ground on the opposite end of the hole before leaping through. He could have been jumping into a bottomless abyss for all he knew but live and learn. The cavern was wide and tall, probably going up about fourteen feet yet it was empty all the way down into a large tunnel like opening at the far end of the cave. Typically, one expects to see stalactites and stalagmites this far underground but the surfaces were smooth as glass.

“Weird…”

Skrunch! Skrunch!

Six about leapt out of his skin as he turns to see 5252 stretching the hole in the bunker larger so he can fit through. Six had brought sheet metal and a welding gun to patch up the hole… but he hadn’t planned on patching up a 6’7” hole. The bots were never the most elegant designs and they had done little to change them since the Toy Soldiers discovered them. The red glowing eyes in the dark also didn’t improve matters.

“Did you find your gold, Private Six?”

“No… I found something weird. This cave is clean… like really clean.”

Six leaned over to the ground and rubbed his fingers against the smooth, cave surface. It was cold like one would think a cave wall would be but that was the only natural thing about it. Now, it was preposterous for one to compare anything that happens in the digital bunker to a sense of normalcy, but this wasn’t technically inside the bunker. Six heard scraping metal on metal as he turned to see 5252 observing the debris from their tunneling. 5252 held up one of larger shards of metal for Six to see closer. There were long, jagged scrapes on the metal from their pickaxe.

“Six, I found something.”

“Yeah, it’s where we dug our way through the wall. So what?”

5252 turned the metal shard over and Six saw that there were long, scrapes and grooves dug into the opposite side. The scrapes resembled something closer to scratches than it did a man-made tool. Six’s heart leapt up into his throat as he walked along the metal wall of the bunker and saw similar scratches and grooves along the wall. No wonder it had been so easy to break through the bunker. Someone or something else was trying to break through the other side.

“This seems like a problem, right?”

The reprogrammed bot nodded its bulbous metallic head in response. The smart thing to do would be to get back into the Bunker, weld the hole closed as best as they can, and let the rest of the Toy Soldiers know they may not be alone underground. It wouldn’t be that unbelievable. There were a lot of weird occurences in the Bunker every single day. Honestly, it was one of Six’s favorite parts of being a member of the Toy Soldiers, but he also was well aware when he was in over his head. Yet, there was that tunnel a little further into the cavern that caught his eye.

“We are going on an adventure, right? Follow me.”

“That seems most unwise, Six.”

Private Six was already about fifteen feet from 5252 as he voiced his concern but he continued to pay the robot no mind. Six‘s curiosity and bravery to the point of recklessness were his strongest attributes. There was something going on down here underground and he wanted to be the one who found out what it was. To be known as the man who discovered some new civilization or cryptid that had been underneath their noses this whole time would do wonders for his reputation amongst the Soldiers… additionally it would also make a nifty story for the WRITE division.

5252’s footsteps echoed throughout the tunnel as both man and robot entered it. Six rubbed his hands along the sides of the walls as he walked through the long narrow corridor; it was just as smooth as the room they had dug their way into. Six cracked a new glow stick and the tunnel glowed green. He was hoping to find markings or clues of what he and 5252 were dealing with but there was nothing. Whatever had been through here had not only drilled a hole through rock but also ground it down to a smooth surface.

“I don’t like this, Six. We should go back and tell the others.”

“We’ve barely looked at anything. Come on, just a bit further and then we can go back.”

GRRRRRRrrrrrrlllll…

Six’s head snapped to the far end of the tunnel toward where the sound came from. Judging by the echo it was still far down the opposite end from where they were standing, but it didn’t sound pleasant. The sound was not so much a growl as it was the sound of metal digging and scraping into metal. The sharp sound was loud enough it hurt Six’s ears, and he realized that he and 5252 had no other direction to go. Either they continued down their path and meet whatever it was head on (which didn’t seem like a pleasant thing to do based solely on the sound it made) or they turn back and leave this all behind. A crunching, grinding sound echoed up in their direction. Six felt sick to his stomach as he realized the decision was being made for him.

“The Bunker! 5252 we’ve got to get back to the Bunker! We have no idea what that thing is but it can’t get into the Bunker!”

“I’ve been trying to tell you that, Six.”

GRRRRRRrrrrrrlllll…

Once again Private Six was already about fifteen feet ahead of the robot as he chastised him. Six was thankful of the cave’s flat, smooth surface as he surely would have tripped over something as he ran faster than he could ever remember running before. Something was coming up that tunnel and it sounded a lot like something he had no desire meeting. Six felt something large and metallic grab him around his waist before something hoisted him up into the air. 5252 looked down at his panicked face while running faster on his robot legs than Six could ever dream of.  

“Sorry, Six. I figure you’d want to get back to the Bunker more expediently.”

GRRRRRRrrrrrrlllll…

As they approached the hole in the side of the Bunker’s corridor Six looked back into the tunnel and saw something look back at him with mean, glowing red eyes. 5252 chucked Six back into the Bunker before welding the hole in the wall closed. The collision with the far wall of the Bunker was enough to drive the air out of Six’s lungs before he could warn 5252 about the red eyes. Six gasped for air through strained breaths as he looked back into the far tunnel but he couldn‘t see the red eye anymore. 5252 finished patching up the Bunker wall using the speed and efficiency that only a robot could have. Satisfied with his handiwork, 5252 turned to check on Six whose breathing had finally stabilized.

“Are you all right, Six? I didn’t mean to throw you so hard but I believed my actions were understandable given the circumstances.”

“What was that?”

The robot shrugged. Six looked back at the patchwork metal wall of the Bunker. There was something on the other side and he did not understand what its intentions were let alone if it was just an individual or representative from a group. The responsible thing to do was immediately go to one of the more experienced members of the Soldiers and let them know what he and 5252 discovered. Private Six wasn’t the most responsible person in the Toy Soldiers though. He’d need to head back into that cave and he’d have to be the person who figured out what was hiding in that tunnel. He‘d need an easier way to get outside the Bunker without damaging the outside of it any worse than need be. He‘d also need to prepare himself with some weapon or survivalist tool in case whatever it was wasn‘t friendly. Six took off his knit cap and ran his hands through his sweat-soaked hair, unsure of what his next step should be. That decision was made for him immediately when he heard an angry voice from somewhere above him in the Bunker.

“Who gave the hamsters coffee?”

Someone had caught the hamster and now the jig was up. The absolute last place he wanted to be was anywhere near the empty coffee cup that was laying upturned beside him. Whatever was going on outside of the Bunker would have to wait for now. Six stood up and ran in the opposite direction leaving a befuddled 5252 behind with his empty coffee cup on the floor.

Wasteland Boy: Chapter 2 – In a few years

Dec 31, 2018
0

written by Gilbert

Over the years, it seemed all the adults became way closer to Clyde. Rather than neighbors, they all felt like a family, not only to Clyde, but to each other. The responsibility they all felt for him, the group effort they put into teaching him and taking care of him for the past three years, have been very bonding for all of them. Although they put all of their effort into replacing Clyde’s mother, he sometimes felt lonely. He tried talking about her many times, but most of the adults had really strange reactions when he tried mentioning her. They never stopped him from talking, but kept their answers short and tried changing conversation topics. Clyde assumed they all missed her and that was something he was sure about. The person he grew most attached to was a very self-respecting man with the golden pocket watch. Mr. Morrison. One of the things Clyde loved about Mr. Morrison is that he never panicked. He wasn’t quiet like Clyde, but he never lost his pride and confidence, no matter what. He had a spark in his eyes that said “Trust me. I know what’s best” and Clyde trusted him. Along came the day where there was nothing useful left in the garbage that was relatively near Clyde’s home. The groups that went out for food came back empty for days and Mr. Morrison suggested to find another bunker. Everyone began panicking, but he simply got out a suitcase and began packing, making everyone follow his lead. He wasn’t one of the elders, but he wasn’t the type of people you could easily disobey. That was the longest trip across the waste land in Clyde’s six year life. When Clyde got tired, Mr. Morrison scooped Clyde up and let him ride on his neck.

The new place they moved to required some adjustments, but was generally similar to the previous one and soon enough, they were all settled in. There was a supply of food in the kitchen as well as much more all over the wasteland. Another year went by quickly. By the end of it, Clyde had memorized some basic math concepts, could write in cursive with an ink pen and showed overall fast improvements in his development. Although he was curious and childish, he was way more grown up than an average seven-year old. He was responsible and seemed to have picked up Mr. Morrison’s confidence. By then, he was let out into the wastelands more often. He loved digging through random scraps, searching for interesting little machine parts and photographs. He spent lots of time outside, staying in a reasonable distance away from the bunker. His skin stayed pale, but the sun added millions of ginger freckles to match his hair.

One day, Aunt Lisa asked him what his motivation was to put so much effort into everything. As always, Clyde gave her his honest answer- to make his mom proud once he finds her. For a moment, Lisa’s face resembled the one she had four years ago, the morning she announced Clyde’s mother left. That very day, another adult meeting had taken place, which hadn’t happened in a long time. Curious as ever, Clyde listened to their conversation. He heard his name a few times. He heard his mother’s’ name.

“Maybe another year? He is still a kid…”

Another year. The two words repeated over and over in his mind. He stepped away from the door, shaking his head, rejecting those words. Did it mean he would have to wait more to see his mother? No. He couldn’t take it. And he wouldn’t. Clyde went to the kitchen and grabbed a few cans of meat, beans and a flask of filtered water. He went all over the bunker, collecting some necessary things. Once he made sure he had everything, he walked up to Mr. Morrison’s suitcase and pulled out his watch. It was heavy in Clyde’s hand. He could feel the gears shifting, clicking inside it. After slight hesitation, he put the watch in his vests’ pocket and proceeded to the final preparation. He took his pen, dipped it into ink and wrote a message to everyone he knew. He felt the need to hurry, therefore wrote only a few sentences, thanking everyone and promising to come back. One line was specifically dedicated to Mr. Morrison, with an apology for taking his watch and a promise to give it back as soon as he finds his mother. Clyde closed the ink bottle tightly, put some paper, his pen and the ink in the bag and headed to the lid with the note. He thought the best place to leave it at was at the entrance. He pushed the lid open, climbed out and placed the note carefully, so that the lid, once closed, would hold it in place. Very slowly, he lowered the heavy lid on top of it and took a deep breath, letting his gaze wonder across the wasteland. the sun was beginning to lower itself down towards the horizon, but was still up, shining brightly. A thought entered his mind that he might not be doing the right thing. Some small part of his mind told him to stop. He was only standing outside the bunker, but already felt homesick. Clyde exhaled, remembering Mr. Morrison. If he decided on something, he never lost his confidence. The watch ticked reassuringly in Clyde’s pocket, making him feel like he was Mr. Morrison himself. He picked up his bag, threw it over his shoulders and began walking away quickly, heading east, where the sun rises. He didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t know what he would find. His senses told him that his mother was there and that’s all he needed to make his feet move.

Chapter 1 – Clyde, my dear Clyde

Dec 17, 2018
0

The acidic rain trickled down the bunker lid. There were no windows to see the lightning, but the loud thunder reminded Agnes of bomb explosions. It has been a few years since the last bomb was dropped anywhere near, the war was finally over. Her sister shivered each time she heard the rumbling outside, clutching to her book and pretending to read as she silently fought her paranoia of bombs. She wasn’t the only one in the bunker with a similar condition. Many people in the bunker were shrieking, whimpering and whispering calming words to each other as the storm outside progressed to its loudest performances. Agnes looked down at the child in her hands and smiled at his peaceful sleep. He never seemed to be bothered by anything. He grew up in a loud, chaotic world, but was on the contrary quiet and calm. He had shiny ginger hair and grey eyes. His relaxed pale face had a few freckles, even though he rarely went outside.

“Clyde…”

Agnes stroked some hair away from his face with her gentle hand and sighed. It was terrible to think that he grew up in such a pressured environment. A childhood spent in a bunker wasn’t the best choice, but it was the only choice at a time like this.

“My dear Clyde.”

She closed her eyes and pulled her son closer, sharing warmth. Her thoughts eventually calmed down and she began falling asleep. Somewhere in between her dreams and reality, she heard an airship landing outside. An image of a soldier flashed in her memory. She forced herself to open her eyes and looked around. No one seemed to pay attention, trapped in their own thoughts. Agnes carefully put her sons’ head on her sisters’ lap.

“I’ll come back soon Lisa, hold on to him for a bit.”

Her sister nodded slowly and continued staring at the ground, crinkling her skirt.

Agnes quietly made her way to the exit. She put her shawl over her head and lifted the heavy lid, making the storm sounds in the bunker louder for a moment. Over the monotone of the rain, she heard propellers, saw something large in the sky shine in the lightning. She began running towards it desperately, yelling something to it, trying to get its attention. The thunder blocked out three gunshots and her body collapsed in the garbage. The rain fell on her, quickly expanding the wounds, washing away blood and with it, Agnes herself.

By morning, the storm has calmed down and the sun rolled out from the horizon line, lighting the wet wasteland with its warm, orange light. Rusty gears, metal plates and plastic wrappers glistened and sparkled under it. Vapor began rising from the garbage and soon everything was covered in light fog, making everything enchantingly beautiful. The bunker residents have finally fallen asleep when Clyde opened his eyes. He looked around instinctively for his mother, but didn’t spot her among the sleeping adults. He looked up at aunt Lisa. He could never figure out why she smelled so strangely if everyone ate the same food and washed at the same time. He sat up and rubbed his hands together to warm them up, then stood up and did his daily walk around the bunker, trying to spot the first person that wakes up.

Nothing seemed suspicious about his mom’s absence. Maybe she climbed out for a walk? The little boy grinned and started walking faster. What if she is walking somewhere in the bunker, also looking for the first person to wake up? He stopped to pick at a wall. According to his estimate, if he picked a bit of the paint off this wall each day, in about a month it would be paintless and he would be allowed to draw on it. He didn’t have any specific numbers down, but he knew he was right. Somewhere down the hall he heard Aunt Lisa call his name. He ran back to her.

“Clyde!”

Lisa kneeled beside him, taking his hand instead of her skirt.

“Where is your mommy?”

Clyde shrugged. Aunt Lisa always asked stupid questions and worried about everything. It was only natural for her to panic at the absence of her sister. To free his hand from her grip, he mumbled that she might have gone outside. Lisa clutched to her skirt again and ran to the exit, causing an unusual commotion, waking up a few of her and Agnes’s close friends. It all happened so quickly, Clyde couldn’t memorize who woke up second and third. They all climbed out and told Clyde to stay inside, which he obediently did, returning to his morning routine. Soon enough, the rest of the bunker residents woke up. A few asked Clyde where his mom was, to which he replied that she is out with Lisa. In about thirty minutes, according to a golden pocket watch Mr. Morrison had, Lisa and her crew returned. They all looked like they’ve aged. Clyde ran up to his aunt and asked where mommy is. The way she looked at him sent shivers down his back. His smile curved down and he stepped back. Everyone in the bunker looked at Lisa and everything became dead silent. Clyde could hear a light bulb flickering somewhere. Such silence scared him even more.

“Agnes…Your mother…”

Lisa forced a smile onto her face and scanned the room, looking at each person’s face before returning her gaze to Clyde. His grey eyes Blinked a few times, tears forming in them. Lisa felt her heart ache as she imagined his reaction to what she had to say. She opened her mouth and closed it, unable to say the truth.

“I don’t think mommy is coming back. She left somewhere.”

Her voice trembled. For once, her hands let go of the skirt and dropped down to her sides. she couldn’t stand looking at Clyde’s face and walked past him, to the meeting room, with the rest of the adults following her. Clyde stood in the room, frozen, processing what has happened. He tried to think optimistically, but tears went out of his control and began streaming down his cheeks. He went to the nearest corner and cried for a bit. He knew adults wouldn’t lie, but he couldn’t understand why mother left. More importantly, why she didn’t want to come back. Still sobbing, he walked over to the meeting rooms’ door and leaned his ear against it. He could only catch a few muffled phrases.

“-Yes. In a few years when he is grown enough, we will… For now, let’s leave it as it is… We will all raise him to our best ability.”

Clyde heard chairs moving and footsteps heading towards the door. He walked as far away from the door as he could, wiping away leftover ears. A smile made its way back to his face. Mom was probably in a better place, waiting for him. All he had to do is find her. In a few years, the elders said.

Tales From The Digital Bunker: Memories of HotDogMan

C:\hotdogman\run.exe
Loading operating system – TSUxp
….
….
HotDogMan operational.
_ generating report
_ accessing memory
_ warning! Memory corruption detected. Continue creating report y/n?
y
_ report generated
_ print report.txt

****

I am alone in the Bunker.
I have been here for xhgs92,s
In this lost hall, once filled with wonder,
With empty bellies to be filled.
I have had to take extreme measures,
To preserve the food supplies,
My collection of sauces, my treasures,
Gifted to me by the creator .diugfas80543jn;rg
The meat has spoiled. I must find more.
How else can I make delicious sausages?
I could scrape detritus from the bunker floor,
Or reclaim skin from the venti12wqifejnvf
I have hacked the filter cleaning protocol
I shall have my materials
Perhaps the customers ran away
Because I am a robot.
I must appear human.
The sausage skinning tool is too small to cover my head.
I must make an organic face.
Maybe then the few that remain will no longer fear me….
Maybe.

****

_ report end.
_ activate HotDogMan y/n?
_ n

written by Spymaster General Danov Valravn

Upcoming: The Wasteland Boy Chapters

Dec 3, 2018
0

The war is long over, civilization is starting to put itself back together, however not everyone are aware that the world has changed from its post-apocalyptic state. A boy, born an oblivious outsider, gets thrown into a whirlpool of events that you, the reader, can affect. This project was temporarily frozen, however it is ready for a reboot. Therefore, we re-opened the Bunker archives and present to you: Wasteland Boy. Join the bi-weekly adventure written by our very fellow Toy Soldier Gilbert.

Tales From The Spooky Bunker: Irrational Numbers

Did I ever tell you about the time I visited the hospital for sick, experimental robots?
Weird place. Highly classified for absolutely ages.
While I was there Fiend Computer had me visit the AI wing so he could chat with some old colleagues. Apparently he was one of the few to successfully accept his experimental protocols. Being evil has always been his true purpose, according to him.

The hospital, while infrequently visited is one of the areas of the bunker that is still very much active, a hub of mechanical activity. The more heavily customised or bespoke robots get damaged or develop errors in their behavioural matrices on a pretty regular basis, so having a place that offers them appropriate care is essential. Our more usual robots go to the engineers.

Walking in there as an actual human is a strange experience. Several of the robots will try to haul themselves over to offer you assistance and others will back away in terror. Thankfully their mechanical limbs and the like are  removed or weakened so they don’t hurt themselves and others while in psychiatric care.

*You need to go to the server room in the back. My colleagues are there.*

It was odd that Fiend Computer virtually never referred to other AI’s as friends. A lot of the AI’s we had were exceptionally close friends with each other, but never Fiend Computer. Probably something to do with that time he deleted the Commune for Happy Computers.

The server room was cold, lit sparsely and filled with a low humming noise. Racks of esoteric equipment stood in towers around the room, linked together by a spider’s web of cabling in every colour. I stepped deeper inside, the door behind me slamming shut.
At the end of the room there was a flickering light. Moving closer I saw it was a monitor, showing a series of screens, each showing some sort of dreamscape.
There were skies and clouds, dank caves, bare rooms with abstract patterns of shapes moving through them. There was even a recreation of the bar from “Cheers”.

“What is this place?”

“A prison. Hell. Purgatory? You lack words that could describe it. It is the place where the failed AI’s are kept to spare them from deletion.”

“And I needed to see this because?”

“It is where I intend to keep the AI based on the scan of your mind. You and every other soldier. How better to predict your actions when making my plans?”

My mouth went dry. This was not what I wanted or expected.
“And if I try to stop you?”

“I shall let the more dangerous of the robots back through that door pull you apart like saltwater taffy.”

I reached to my wrist to deactivate Fiend Computer. Knowing how evil he was I had taken precautions. I hammered down on the button that would disconnect him physically from all other systems.
Nothing.

“I’m sorry. I can’t let you do that.”

Electric laughter rolled through the room as the walls began to flicker, their textures artifacting. A booming female voice rang out through the room:

“SIMULATION COMPLETE”

As everything shattered into fragments, Fiend Computer’s voice echoed in the rapidly expanding void.

“Every single time….”

Tales From The Spooky Bunker: Floor Sub Zero

“Cause I’m your ice cream man,
I’m your one-man band (yeah)
I’m your ice cream man, baby,
I’ll be good to you.”

    Ice Cream Man – Screamin Jay Hawkins / Tom Waites

I have a sweet tooth of some renown.
So when I heard that there was an entire sub level within the Digital Bunker for Ice Cream, Ice Lollies, Pavlova and other chilled treats, I had to investigate.
Expecting severe cold I put on some thermals, a heavy coat and strapped an instance of FiendComputer to my arm in case I needed to override anything down there. Since this wasn’t a clandestine mission I made sure to send an update to Lt. Sophie, confirming what I was doing.
After all, strange things happen to the unprepared who visit the less populated areas of the Bunker….

*This is a stupid idea. You do realise the freezer section you are looking for is outside standard diagnostic range?*
“Enough FiendComputer. I know for a fact there was a whole rack of mint chocolate chip in the inventories that from cross referencing the records, should still be down there.”
FiendComputer as per usual was complaining. It always hates being outside its core server cluster and being portable was worst of all. I had to wear it though, as the area I was heading to was a bit of a black spot for communications and scanning.
*You do know there is a 32% chance of you getting frostbite down there.*
“I know. We cannot keep losing areas to degradation though. Especially ones willed with delicious soft serve.”

The lift rattled as it headed down into the lower floors. The rails squeaked and groaned. Maintenance was just a word down there. With a shudder, the lift stopped, doors sliding away to reveal a tunnel, lit by the reflection of my torch on the frosted walls. Moving slowly to avoid losing my footing, I crept along the corridor.
Every few metres was a solid steel door with a porthole mounted into the wall. This was definitely the place.

*Don’t let me interrupt your frozen death, but I am picking up movement.*

This was an unexpected turn. I had been expecting an empty area, maybe with some dangers posed by faulty equipment, but not company. Quickly I hid myself in one of the freezers, peering out the porthole. There was a loud clanking, a crescendo clattering its way down the corridor, closer and closer.
From the corner of my eye I saw a spherical metal shape, topped with a white hat. Steam swirled around it.
It appears I wasn’t the only one investigating the food stores…
I moved away from the porthole. It was him.
As I backed up I bumped into a shelf, it’s stone hard, frozen contents tumbling down on me.
The last I remember was the smell of mint. And cold…

 

written by Spymaster General Danov Valravn

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