“It's what on the inside that counts.”
Chuck E. Cheese* #quote
I wonder if there are any coupons for when you strike a deal with the devil. Like half off so you only need to sell half your soul. It'd probably not be worth it since he'd most likely take all the good parts of your soul. Like the parts that let you enjoy reading stories. Anyway onto the flash fiction!
World War V shook the Earth and left society in shambles. After a few generations all memories of the old world passed. Most places were scorched to the point that the Internet fell to pieces and new large cities were created either atop rubble or in new locations. It took years to recover because knowledge had to be amassed together since no one person knew how everything in the world worked. Nations centered their new capitals around the last standing libraries so they could use the knowledge inside to rebuild industry.
One library stood miles away from another relic of another old world artifact. A nuclear power plant. The reactor provides power to no one. The world war destroyed the city around it, but the workers prevented the initial meltdown, and for generations, found ways to prolong the happening of a meltdown. The lowered the settings and turned the power of the reactor to work on powering its own coolants. Half the water from the old water system go to cooling reactor. Despite all this they built a new city around the library for the knowledge, looking at the workers at the nuclear power plant carrying out a duty that their family lines had been doing for generations all between farming crops.
War came to the city, another nation without a library thirsting for theirs. The battle involving clashing spears and the occasional gunshot. A nation of fools invading, wasting their guns attacking common soldiers instead of going for a commander. Bullets that fit guns of the old era and working old guns were rare since most of them had been used up in the first generation after World War V.
The battle was won, by the defending force but a few of the invaders fled to the nuclear power plant. Several of them ignorant of what the structure even was. Only the a man named, Isaac, the only literate man in the entire invading force of two thousand who escaped since he was in the very back knew the nature of the structure.
“We have two options men,” he told them, assuming role of commander since the real one had been gutted in battle. “We can either flee home and report a lost battle or destroy their entire city and us with it.”
The soldiers, deserters already, pondered the proposition, not understanding exactly what Isaac meant. They assumed the literate Isaac knew what he was talking about. If they went home they could be executed for fleeing. Though Isaac could be spared since he could read.
“If you're willing to do it, I am.” One solider said, the others agreed soon after jumping on the bandwagon. Isaac didn't know everything about a reactor, he just knew that if they did something, somewhere it would meltdown and destroy the city.
They wandered through the facility, lost while holding their weapons high. Eventually they ran into one of the keepers of the nuclear reactor who wore an old ragged shirt that said, “SECURITY”.
Isaac then told him, “Out of the way. This reactor is ours now.”
The keeper then pulled out an old gun that had been kept exceptionally clean and well taken care of. Originally just a security guard gun meant to scare away intruders the keepers eventually found bullets for their weapons and loaded them all up.
The security guard, recognizing the colors of the invading nation in their clothes and looking at the spears in their hand made his decision on how to handle the problem. “Didn't you read the sign? It said trespassers will be shot.” The keeper of the reactor took his gun and shot every one of the men, protecting the site.
When the keeper of the reactor was young his grandfather told him how his grandfather told him stories of the wondrous things that the power of the reactor did for society. What electricity could do. That protecting the reactor and the library in the rubble of the city nearby could lead to all that being rediscovered. He didn't understand it fully, but the keeper did his duty and in the end that's what mattered to him.