Vinnie yawned as he rolled over in his sleeping bag. The light from the window was a square of brightness directly on his face. He tried to roll the other way, and it didn’t leave. Further, he rolled, and gravity took hold. He landed with a thud and squawk, and finally sat up.
He began to run a thin hand through messy blond hair, but stopped midway and blinked before he withdrew his head. Bleary eyes looked around, barely seeing as he struggled out of bedding he didn’t remember climbing into.
The boy dressed quickly in his usual grungy, oversized clothes, then pulled on his labcoat and goggles. He grabbed his cell and stared at the painfully bright screen a few minutes. Saturday. Butthole of the morning. He looked at the window and narrowed his eyes at the offending morning light, offended that it filtered right between the iron bars of the old factory office. With practiced ease, he balled up his sleeping bag and tossed it onto the desk, then walked out of the room.
The factory was rusted, gutted, and missing part of the first floor ceiling. It’d been abandoned some time in the 1990’s, and left unused like so many other industrial buildings in the country. Tetanus shots were a must for anyone who dared to enter barefoot.
His stomach growled loudly as he stretched, canvas shoes curling with his toes as he let his muscles move. He went to the bathroom in the grungy toilet, and then headed back to his office bedroom to see what food he had left.
Among his stash, he had a can of baked beans, a bottle of milky-looking apple juice he’d abandoned halfway through, a few grape stems, and… he wasn’t sure what was in the darkened bottle with olives on the label, nor did he want to look. He grabbed the beans and a can opener and closed the broken safe with a grunt.
The meal was spicy and gooey and cold, but the little piece of bacon mixed in added a little extra treat for the boy as he stuffed spoon after spoon of baked beans into his mouth. He was relieved when he reached close enough to the bottom to justify the money spent, and hurried to toss the can into the trash back out the front door.
One of the two men in suits was leaning against the big black van, and waved at Vinnie before pushing off and approaching the boy. “Hey Vinnie. You’re up early.”
“I blame the sun.” He rubbed at his eyes. “I have a package coming in today, I think. If I take a nap can you grab it for me before the locals notice it?”
“Yeah.” The agent nodded and took a slow drag of his fag, then exhaled slowly. “I can do that. What’s in it this time? Nothing ticking? No powders?”
The boy shook his head. “Just some new parts.”
“What’s the project?”
“A freeze ray. Low-powered, of course.” He grinned. “Nothing strong enough to kill anyone this time.”
The agent raised an eyebrow. “Make sure of it. You almost got tossed into foster care last time.”
The boy nodded.
“Also, you need a shower. Are they all broken in there now?”
The boy blinked. “Yeah. I’ll fix them.”
“When?” The man crossed his arms and took another drag. Another breath out, filled with smoke. “You know we have to make sure you’re cared for, and cleanliness is one of the factors there.” He let his green eyes trail over the boy for a moment. “You need to stay inside until you, your clothes, and your room are clean. I’m gonna withhold the package until then, too.” He smiled. “And if you can afford it, it might be a good idea to hire a scrapper to pull out all of the crap-metal on the floor.”
Vinnie scratched his head, just above the strap to his goggles. “Jerk.” He began to turn. “That’s my metal.” He tied his garbage bag. “I’ll clean and fix things, though.”
“Good boy. Make sure you use soap on the clothes, too– all of them.”
With a nod, the boy dropped the bag and went inside. “On it.”