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5 - A little on the side

-- After a hard day at the port (during which I had to leave no less than 5 times for naps . . . what is it with this cloning business? Maybe I was one of those at the beginning or end of a shift, and they just weren't paying enough attention...), I returned one last time to see a co-worker mixing something in a tank of fuel and hiding the pure fuel he had replaced. I stayed back in the distance and followed him into the ruins, where he met up with someone and exchanged the cannister for an envelope. After looking around, he stepped into the shadows. Following him brought me face to barrel . . .

"Looking for something?" he demanded. I'd seen others like him, how strong they were, and how short their tempers were. Most folks just stay clear of them, which, in retrospect, might have been wiser, except . . .

"How much do they pay?" I asked, rewarded by a sneer of approval.

"Why don't you see for yourself?" he barked back, still sneering, but easing up on the trigger.

"How would I do that?"

"By turning around, . . . slowly," a gruff, oddly-muffled voice came from behind. I turned to meet the gaze of a brightly-lit pair of eyes behind one of those strange masks those Prometheans wear. A rather tall fellow in a cowled robe stood before me, and after a brief and somewhat confusing conversation, I now knew how to make a little extra cash on the side. These certainly weren't the people to build a resume for a career, but for now, perhaps I could make ends meet.

I was almost surprised to discover that my career position would pay me whether or not I went to work or even lifted a finger to the appointed tasks. That goes far toward explaining a lot of things around here, I think.

While I was there, I found several electrical components and some empty beer bottles laying around, so I decided to pay my first visit to the market and see what kind of offer I could get for them.

It wasn't much, but at least I didn't have to raid my new savings to finish paying for that rat-hole I'd been sneaking off to for naps.

Too weak to really go anywhere, I finally got past my revulsion and opened my rations packet.

Wow, they call this food? Even without any memory, I know food should be better than this. Another nice job, civil servants. I think I'll skip next time and just take a nap. That seems to work wonders.

Of course, when I got there, that thing was on my "bed" as it slid out of the wall. I tried to catch it this time. Whatever it is, it sure is fast and knows how to hide. I'll start watching for it. Maybe I could kill it and eat it.

It has to be better than what I had from that pouch. I wonder if it could double as a barf bag. How do you get stale water, anyway?