The Correspondent is a web serial by Dylan Reed. Buy the whole story now.

Origin, Episode 12, Part 1

The Correspondent

People always talk about where they were when they first heard about The Correspondent. She came out of nowhere and tried to make a difference. Some saw her as a beacon of hope, others as a sign of how far down the slope we had come. I never paid attention to all of that. I was too busy. Too busy working to pay my bills, too busy trying to figure out life. I was seventeen when it started. I was The Correspondent. This is my story.

STEALTH MODE IS JUST ME moving with deliberation. Using my night vision, light and noise sensors I was able to move in almost perfect silence. I wasn’t going to win any races moving at this speed but that doesn’t matter since I have, literally, all night. Using the information I got from Mouse I was able to locate the entrance to The Rat’s Nest.

The entrance wasn’t even that hard to find, but if you didn’t know about it you would assume it was just a normal storm drain with a chained off grate. I found a good vantage point that would allow me to watch the entrance and I set a timer for fifteen minutes. I figured that would give anyone that may have heard me time to give up and it would also provide me with fifteen minutes to chicken out. I wasn’t going to, but I wanted to make sure.

During that fifteen minutes I checked everything on my suit for the hundredth time. Everything was running at optimal levels and my battery charge was still above ninety-nine percent. I made sure that my phone was still in its pocket and that I had the bat ready to go. The bat wasn’t the sexiest of weapons, it didn’t really fit in with my motif and I wished I had ordered the collapsible baton earlier. But the bat would lay down a lot of hurt and hopefully keep me from getting killed.

When my suit buzzed letting me know that fifteen minutes had passed I was ready. I snuck forward and pulled the grate open. Just as Mouse had said it wasn’t actually chained, the chains just prevented people from getting too nosey. The hinges squeaked as I opened the grate and I berated myself for not bringing oil for the hinges, I had read the chapter: ‘Sneaking In: What do you need?’ the night before and had forgotten one of the main supplies needed. No use crying over spilt milk so I hurried inside.

The pipe that I entered was corrugated metal with about four inches of water trickling along the bottom. I was able to walk with my feet out of the water, lowering the amount of noise I would make, but it was awkward as hell. I waddled along the pipe until I came to a bigger room.

The room was a huge cement cube. There were multiple pipes, like the one I was in, coming in on all sides. Some of them had huge amounts of water coming out of them and others just a trickle. The water echoed through the room, which made sneaking a lot easier but also meant I could be snuck up on easier. There was a ladder that led down into the room.

I looked down the ladder and saw that someone had built a platform across the bottom of the room. The water rushing in from the pipes went on all sides of the platform, making the whole room damp and slippery. I headed down the ladder and made it onto the platform with little trouble.

I moved to the side of the ladder and out of the light in order to “assess my tactical options”, which is a fancy way of saying I hid in the shadows and looked around. The platform was made of wood, which was covered in a slimy mildew like substance. There was a shack of sorts in the middle of the platform that looked like a kindergartener’s treehouse. Light was coming through the cracks in the walls and I could see shadows moving around inside. I crept up close to the wall and listened.

“I don’t know where he is,” said a deep voice that I recognized as the bruiser from the robbery, “He probably wussed out or got caught.”

“He didn’t get caught. If he got caught the police would already be on their way,” said The Rat, “We need to move our base before he does get caught”

“But we just finished building this one. And it is such a great location.”

“I know, I know. Hopefully we have made enough money to afford a proper base this time.”

“Yeah, that’d be nice.”

I heard a creak, which I figured was one of them sitting down, and thought about my options. I could go in and try and take them in a fair fight, which seemed like a horrible idea, or I could find a way to lure them out and take them out one at a time. Figuring that I had a better chance taking them out one at a time I looked around to see if there was anything that would help me out.

Last time I had encountered these two I had been able to turn out the lights and it had worked out ok. Looking around I saw a wire running from one of the walls to an electrical box on the back of the shack. I made a mental note to add wire cutters to my utility belt. I then made a mental note that if I made it out of this I would order a utility belt.

The wire running into the box was insulated, which meant that if I was careful I should avoid being shocked if I ripped it out of the box. I snuck over to the box and grabbed the wire. I counted to fifteen, psyching myself up for what was about to happen, and pulled down sharply on the wire. There was a satisfying pop and the wire pulled free of the box. Avoiding the loose copper ends I threw the wire with all of my might towards the concrete walls.

There was a smack of the wire hitting the wall and then a loud zap as the wire touched one of the water falls causing a short in the line. I heard The Rat say, “Oh, shit.” Followed by the cocking of weapons. Oh, goodie, they still had guns.

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The story of The Correspondent will continue weekly. The Correspondent: Origin is available now. If you enjoyed this story, please consider scrolling down and recommending it on Medium. Follow me on Medium or on Twitter for more posts like this. Want early access? Support me!

Dylan Reed has always been interested in a good story. Raised without a TV he spent a lot of time with books and loves reading. Dylan has been a professional entertainer, studied commercial diving, and loves random trivia. He brings all of this and more together in his stories.