The first few days were a blur of eating, sleeping, fooling around with the radio, riding the bike, reading, using the bathroom and killing time. Every other hour I had to fight an urge to open the door, go up the stairs and take a peek outside and see how the rest of the world was doing. Around the third day, it started to stink in our confined space.
Chuck and I flipped a coin and the loser bagged up the toilet. We sprayed the bucket well with Lysol, dumped a bit of lime inside and then put a new liner in place. We then took a risk when we removed the tape we had sealed the stairway door up with and quickly opened the door and put the bag in the stairwell. We shut the door and retaped it.
Things smelled better, but not much. The problem was us. No hot showers or baths in a few days. Chuck advised that we use some of our water in the bucket and wash up. The best way would be to heat up a rationed amount of water on the hot plate and wipe down with a wash cloth and soap. Curtis of course dumped his whole bowl of water on his head over the sink before he had washed or before we could stop him. We gave him a second chance, (for the benefit of our own senses) and told him to quit acting like a dufus.
We cut Curtis some slack because of his iPhone. While he could not make calls or text, it had lots of games, music and other diversions downloaded on it which passed the time. Looking back, Curtis may have had the only working iPhone for hundreds of miles around at that time.
One (day?), I took out my Remington, safety checked it, and showed Curtis and Chuck proper gun handling and how to use it. We went over the four rules a few times before they stuck with Curtis, but Chuck was not much better. Questions like "Why is it assumed that every gun is loaded? It is a state the firearm is in, empty or loaded. If it is empty. it is logically impossible for it to suddenly be loaded." It was like teaching Mr. Spock.
In the end, I realized that if I was unable to use my shotgun and the duty fell to Curtis or Chuck, we would be in such serious trouble I doubt things could be much worse.
Chuck spent most of his time reading books he had brought down earlier. Some were standard stuff like science fiction or best sellers. But he regularly read other books with other topics like first aid or home made power projects. He said he wanted to be ready when we emerged and be useful when he finally met back up with his family.
I decided to go through the book box and find something to read one day. First one featured a romance between two people training to be astronauts in the future. No girls down here, so that depressed me so I tossed it.
The next book was about a computer hacker investigating some mystery. Technology was dead as far as I was concerned, so this book was also depressing. Finally, I settled on some old 1970's non-fiction book about how anyone could move to the country and live off a few acres. That sounded like some good self-help advice so I read it cover to cover a few times.
About a week or so into our shelter stay, we heard some muffled noises coming from the steam tunnels. It sounded like someone was pounding a hammer wrapped in a rag on a pipe. We killed the lights and kept still and quiet. The sounds were far away, but it still meant someone else had figured out to burrow down under the school to avoid the fallout.
The next day, we could have sworn we heard voices talking. They were't whispering, but speaking in normal tones. They would speak and then stop for a while and then start again. Chuck wondered if the voices weren't coming from the ventilation systems from one of the other buildings.
We heard nothing for a few days and then heard a distinct scream, a woman's scream, punctuate the tunnels. My first reaction was to wrench open the door and find out who was in trouble but Chuck made me stop. "You don't know why she is screaming. Maybe she stepped on something. She might have seen a bug or a spider."
"Or maybe it's some girl who might be hurt or being attacked. What we know is there is someone else down here Chuck. Someone who might be in trouble and who we can help. What if it was a girl from one of your classes? Or your sister or the sister of a friend? What if someone is attacking her? Wouldn't you want someone to help your sister or friend?"
"OK, Mike. But what if she is with ten, twenty or thirty other people. What if they have not had much to eat or drink in the past week? What if they look and smell as bad as we might have without our supplies?
What are they going to think when you come bouncing down the tunnel shotgun and flashlight in hand. reeking of ravioli, chocolate and tuna fish? You think they are going to apologize for the racket and send you on your way?
What if they come down here and take over our space? What if they decide you, me and Curtis have to go as there is not enough room for us? What then? Who gets to tell your sister or parents what happened to you then?" Chuck hissed.
I paused for a moment and turned my head to listen at the tunnel doorway. We heard nothing else and I hoped there would be no more.