Beginning of story
Even in the last rays of sunshine, the first glimpse of the shelter brought on a new emotion: shame. My pride had failed me once again. It took 3 weeks of exploring before I found the shelter, even though it was only a 20 minute walk away from the City. But all the trips I had made to it left a clear trail which they had obviously followed. It wasn't enough to make sure that no one could use the passage I had found, they had to destroy the supply, too.
The shelter had been a marvel when I originally discovered it. It was obviously the work of the Founders. It must have been a prototype for the systems the City was based on. The glazing appeared to be the same material as the Dome is made out of. Now, since I am not a researcher, I can't say that for certain, but as a maintenance man it certainly seemed to be identical to what I worked with. That's why they took it all, and how I knew at first glance that they had been there. The framing for the glazing was missing, too, so it would not have even been possible to replace it with a lesser material.
The tears finally burst forth. For decades, the shelter had stood, unattended, collecting the rainwater, absorbing the heat of the sun, keeping the plants inside healthy from the extremes of the climate outside. Now, because of my folly, that system was destroyed forever.
Knowing that they had already been there, the shelter was as I expected when I got there. My big beautiful Bean tree was gone, with just a burned out stump to show where it had been. All the seedlings I had planted had been cut off at ground level.
Even though my day had not been very strenuous physically, I still felt exhausted. If I had only been smart enough to take different paths to the shelter so as not to leave a trail, I might have been able to live a somewhat comfortable life there. Still, it was getting dark, and I had no place better to go for the night, so I walked down in. Even without the glazing above, the northeast corner of the shelter still had soaked up the warmth of the evening sun and would keep me from getting too cold. I gathered up all the little branches I could to make a rough mattress. It was by far the least comfortable thing I had ever slept on up to that point. Were I not so exhausted I doubt I ever would have gotten to sleep. I was glad I did; tomorrow was going to be a long day.
Part 5: A Life of Crime