Flex takes Renyke into a disused concrete building.
He can hear voices, people, activity and motors from another part of the building. There is a smell of fuel and mumbling voices.
Flex beckons Renyke to Jerome's office. A ramshackle room is filled with books. More books than Renyke had ever seen. Books were no longer used and the paper shortages after the warming had meant that they were no longer being produced. There were also problems with scritters.
Scritters are large crawling insects that had been made in a laboratory by the Russian military.
They looked deformed with big insect heads and metal body parts. They had been used to carry tiny incendiary divides on their backs as they could be trained easily and were not affected by the nerve gases. But after the Russian and Chinese wars, the scritters had bred like wildfire, devouring paper. and trees. Whole libraries had been mutilated by them. They were a scourge on the planet and another reason so many houses were built on stilts in the Midcast Projects.
'A car you say?' asked Jerome. 'I got plenty, but the fuel....we got no fuel. We are working on some alternatives, but all prototypes so far. They cut off our fuel after the riots. And the food supplies. I have been missing gummies, I loved those.'
Renyke nodded as Jerome continued....
'Transport is a big problem. You'll be better off walking, my friend, if you can get through the tunnels. But there are booby traps all around the perimeters here in the zones.'
Renyke checks the OS for details but the tunnels are unchartered.
The OS seems to be struggling and is losing satellite connection since Renyke moved away from the Alley he woke up in.
'I have a hybrid cart. It runs on solar but only for about 3 hours per full charge if you do under 40km. And if it is a cloudy day, an hour. I can let you take it for 3000 G-bits. It won't get off the ground without jet fuel but it can drive on flat ground well enough.'
A scritter crawls across the floor and Jerome stamps on it. A black tar oozes from under his foot.
Jerome sees Renyke might be changing his mind about the deal.
'I will take TELL You got some TELL?"
The POS gets a signal at last......
...TELL: abbreviation of Tellurium, found in copper ore. Used in mobile phones, especially older versions where it was added to other metals improving their strength and hardness and reducing corrosion. Rare due to demise of traditional copper mines.
Renyke remembers the 3 antique mobile phones in his rucksack that Mabel had given him from the store at Midcast.
'How much TELL, he asks, trying to sound knowledgeable.
'Well, Mr clean,' Jarome sniggered, 'At least one phone's worth, older the better.'