They drew to a stop with a few feet to spare. The cart’s wheels ground against the old rail like fingernails on a chalkboard.
The blockage on the rail presented itself when they rounded the corner about 200 feet back. The pair had been going slow anyway. It didn’t pay to fly around blind corners. This was the farthest down the line a scavenge group had been in a long time and there were no guarantees as to the upkeep of the track.
The vines and plants had grown entirely around the barrier. It was a green hand pulling the barricade back into its mouth. As they’d pushed further east along the line, there’d been plenty of evidence that nature was taking back what was loaned. The pair had needed to stop more than once to remove debris or cut back vines that had found their way onto the track.
The duo would disembark, check the air monitor, adjust their protective equipment and figure out whether or not the barricade could be removed. This far east, contact shouldn’t be a problem but it didn’t pay to go unarmed. Just another type of blind corner, wasn’t it?
If this were the end of the line, they’d do a short reconnaissance of the surrounding area and rate it for salvage. If it looked promising, they’d mark it on their map and report it back to the counsel. Then the big carriages would be sent out. Those of diesel power instead of muscle would do the heavy hauling. Strictly speaking, scouts weren’t supposed to be hauling gear back. There wasn’t a scout team out there that didn’t have its own hidden stashes along the rails, though.
As the pair made its journey, there was evidence that the toxins that had blighted the land were in recession. Two days back they witnessed two birds in tight formation briefly tail them before disappearing back into the foliage. As the cart rolled, the team saw the scat of some predatory animal along the tracks. The fat flies dogfighting around it indicated its freshness.
Perhaps, in a few more months, they could ascend the underground complex they called “home” for the past five years. For the twosome had made it this far without hearing the nervous chirping of the air monitors, hadn’t they?
After five minutes of silent observation, they hopped down from the cart. The barricade looked too substantial to push out of the way. They’d have a look around and begin the journey back home. A quick stop to pick up the bottle of whiskey and the pack of batteries they’d secreted and then a straight shot back.
The pair moved forward, one behind the other, eyes ahead and to the sides. Just this last stop and they’d be headed home…