L'esprit de l'escalier

"Come on, Keel!"

"But…" He looked longingly back toward the lake. "Rye… You know what Sh—"

"Bob said that he heard someone found an old… ped?… that they used to have to carry around before–"

"Eye-pad." Keel looked smug.

"Bob said they–"

"Bob says people used to talk to people through wires. He doesn't know anything."

Rye looked sullen for a moment, but then he grinned. "This is where Bob found those coins – real metal ones. From before the war."

Keel looked at him suspiciously. "Okay… But remember it's your idea. If we get in trouble…"

"We won't. Come on!"


Rye ran up the rickety stairs (one step missing) and Keel followed slowly. It was their third house in the deserted district – one of only five still standing on that block. As usual, the room at the top was mainly full of burned furniture – the kind of you'd see in in piles in the park, being picked over by old people. The boys looked around.

There were a few odds and ends in the corner. Rye started rifling through them. He found a fork and a piece of curled metal. And a sword? Bob hadn't even found one of those! He pulled away the wood and soot, but it was just a disappointingly round tube of light metal.

"Any coins?"

"Nope." Rye looked over to where Keel was pulling at the metal door of the cooking station – the old kind that had fires and was really dangerous, Bob said. Once they found a big pan and some sort of bone they'd never seen before in an old cooking station.

The metal door came open with a crash. "Eugh! They… Bob never said…" Keel stopped talking and stared into the cooking station with horror.

Rye walked to him and looked in, too. A skull – a human skull – was sitting in the oven. "Cool!" He grinned. Keel was edging back towards the door.

"I'm going back home. If we touch that we'll be in so much trouble!" He started down the stairs. "You coming?"

Rye looked behind him to see that Keel was really down the stairs and then popped the skull into the large rucksack on his back. He wanted to look at it later because… Well, it wasn't every day you found a house that had been owned by cannibals.