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    [Moon_Arc-03] RA-01 Picking Up The Pieces

    Moon_Arc-03 Rats Alley
    ===================
    Rats Alley

    This is the premiere adventure of Mark Steele and his story of how he discovered Rats Alley.

    [Moon_Arc-03] RA-01 Picking Up The Pieces
    By Darrel Vanwinkle (Lord Pouchlaw)
    01/01/2021


    Chapter One.

    Former city of Detroit, Michigan; U.S.A.
    A month after the Continent-Wide Tornado Outbreak...


    A young man of short mousy brown hair, green eyes and dirty tanned skin made his way through the twisted and ruined former city of Detroit. It had been a month since the continent wide tornadoes ripped whole cities apart while leaving almost secluded farms like his family's place alone. Before retiring, his father had been in the Detroit Steel business; his mother before retiring had been a railroad engineer; one of the few women to hold that position. Their occupations were ironic since their surname was Steele. Despite the government telling the public to stay out of the weather torn disaster zones, Mark Steele was making his way equipped with a camcorder/microphone w/speakers headset so as to keep his arms and hands free during his sojourn into the former city. He wasn't aiming to take anything he found there but he did want to get video documentation of what was left of the areas where his parents had once worked. He had a before video filmed a year prior to the weather event. Now he wanted the after video.

    Finding the rail yards wasn't all that difficult; former rails from the tracks were spiraled around metal telephone poles in a weird art form. Said poles were barely standing while the twisted rails were somehow still attached to the rail line itself. Narrating his trek of discovery through the city permitted him to hear his own voice. Places like this were darn right creepy when there was no sound. "Here are the rail yards where my mother used to work. What a roller coaster ride that would have been! Leave it to nature to make an art form so fantastic that it would make amusement park creators scratch their heads on how it got done. Boy, nature did a number on this place; time to head over to the steel mills where my father once worked and-" He broke off his commentary as he overheard the echoing sound of what sounded like a manhole cover being tossed on to a section of a street some distance away. "I might not be the only one exploring Detroit today, folks. At least I am not making a mess of tbe areas I am entering."

    Sometime later, Mark was having to shove a dumpster out from in front of a door that would lead into the old mill that his father once worked in. "Where's Superman when you need him? Oh well, I am getting in a good workout." And at the last second, the entire dumpster bin nearly careened away from the door he was trying to reach. Standing nearby dusting off his gloved hands was a lanky individual wearing a black hoodie, black pants with a dark apron connected to his belt and he had wrapped boots on his feet. He also appeared to be wearing thick goggles over his eyes as well as a creepy old school plague mask / gas mask combo. It almost reminded Mark of Spy Vs Spy from Mad Magazine. "Thanks. I am filming an after video but I will edit you out, if you prefer to remain anonymous. I am filming my parent's former work places. This is the last locale on my YouTube list. My name is Mark Steele."

    The individual replied with a muffled voice. "The part-time urban explorer? Awesome! I've seen your videos. I'm Rod Rattooth. My family and I run an underground tavern in the area called Rats Alley. Today is my first time above ground since the tornado went through. That was a wild wind. Our wind tunnel energy turbines really got a big charge out of that. When I say my family, I mean my brother and my two sisters. We fled New York City during the fumigation attacks on the sewers. We were the only ones to make it out using a video of the sewers you filmed once. I am not looking for sympathy, Mark Steele; but come on by the tavern someday and I'll see to it that you get treated right."

    Pushing the door open revealed that the entire roof of the steel mill had been removed by the tornado and the internal structure of the building was filled with debris as if nature had used the building as a trash can. "Dad won't be pleased to learn of this, but he is retired and what nature does is not to be questioned. Now to make my way back out of the city. I hope you guys enjoyed this little after trip into the ruins of Detroit after the tornado outbreak. Signing off until next time. And remember, if you know of an old place you would like me to check out, drop me a line and I will look into the locale in question. This is the Mark of Steele signing off." And he turned off the headset at that point. When he turned to look at Rod, he found that the masked individual was already gone. "I didn't even get to shake his hand or give him my autograph. And he didn't tell me where the tavern was either."

    A few hours later, Mark was sitting at his computer fine tuning his newest video with a link to the previous video in case anyone wanted to compare the two locales. However, when he reached the portion of the video just outside of the old steel mill, he got a shock: while he had made made commentary to the visitor that his human eyes and ears could see and hear, the camera and microphone didn't record Rod Rattooth at all. As if he wasn't even there. "Dammit! I know what I saw and heard! I guess I will have to include an artist's interpretation of the guy whom helped me to move the dumpster out of the way. I still think Spy Vs Spy when I recall how the guy looked. Just some extra work for me. I won't mention the guy's last name to preserve his privacy. But he said he was a fan of my videos."

    Using a sketch pad and a charcoal pencil, he then etched what Rod had looked like from the image in his memory; then he edited this into the appropriate spot where in the video he had met the guy and he edited in over-text to give the guy's reply to Mark's inquiry. He deliberately left out personal information since that was part of privacy and Rod had not given his consent to include such details. Thus the reply was something like, "The part-time urban explorer? Awesome! I've seen your videos. My family and I run an underground tavern in the area; one of your videos really helped us to get to safety one time. Come on by the tavern someday and I'll see to it that you get treated right."

    Finally, Mark watched the video one last time to see if it met up with his standards of amateur film making before he uploaded the new video to his Youtube channel. In the description, he placed an apology to his viewers for the art work he had to edit into the video where the ghost had appeared that he spoke to but his camera could not record. Then he sent an alert to all of his watchers as he sat back and waited to see how many people tuned in to watch his newest video. After two hours, he refreshed the page as he noted that the video had been viewed two hundred fifty times and he had one private message in regards to the video. It was from an agent in the FBI. It read that his artist representation was of an individual from New York whom had been missing for several months and has been on the declared dangerous list. Mark was advised that if he saw the Plague Rat again, to use caution and to keep his distance. The FBI agent further explained that the Plague Rat was actually one of the moon-touched tribe. A literal Were-Rat; like werewolves, they had supernatural strength and it took special camera equipment to even film them. At least the guy's name made more sense at that point. Rod Rattooth was apparently a Were-Rat. But the way the FBI agent was carrying on, Mark was in danger of being attacked by this moon-touched rat man. But that wasn't the implication that Mark had gotten from the stranger at all.

    Intrigued, Mark wanted to see Rod again. He had an open invitation to go to the Rats Alley tavern from Rod. Although Rod had not said where the tavern was aside from it being subterranean. That could place it anywhere in the Detroit sewer system grid.

    It was too late to go look for the place at that moment since it was well after dark. Mark would head back out after breakfast to go and try to find this tavern.

    Mark had dinner with his parents as he told them the conditions of Detroit that he had seen during his outing; although he refrained from talking about the Plague Rat.

    End of Chapter One.
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