Okay, first off, welcome to The Collection. Yes, it’s not just a myth. But then, if you shlepped all the way out here (coz I’m leaving it in as remote a place as I can find to limit the fallout damage), you must’ve been pretty confident about that.
There’s a little bit of a cubby area just to the right of the entrance. I’m leaving water and some protein bars there. You’re probably in need of them. Keep this book with you. It’s the only form of handover you’re going to get. Sorry about that. I would’ve loved to stick around and meet you but, well, I’m not going to make it.
Right, introductions. My name’s Tia and my family looked after The Collection for a while. It isn’t quite like the legends say. It doesn’t have every book ever written, for a start, and the layout stays pretty much the same. It’s just the front door that moves, but only on the outside. Once you’re in there’s a map on the wall by the coat-rack and it’s fairly reliable.
It does have a lot of books, and also tons of music and art from before the Cold. When the war was gearing up a bunch of people spent time and money on how to send the rich into the relative safety of space. Others prepared for surviving the nuclear winter. And a couple of crazies focused on saving as much art as they could. I don’t know why, you’d think there were bigger problems to worry about, but here we are. The world’s last library.
Oh, and there’s a vegetable garden in the basement. You’ll need to look after that.
See, here’s the deal. You guard The Collection, stop folks stealing from it, share the knowledge where it’s needed, add to it as and when you can. In return, it’ll give you someplace warm and dry and safe to live, with clean water and actual food grown in non-toxic soil. Pretty sweet, huh? Aren’t you glad you hauled ass all the way out here?
But you have to do the job. It’s important. We lost so much in the Cold and this place can help restore some of it. Can help people survive. That’s power, and plenty of bosses would love to get their hands on it. Control it, ration it, whatever. The Collection doesn’t allow that. It’s why the door keeps moving. It’s not up to you, either. You help whoever needs it, no matter what. We’re too good at forgetting we’re all in this mess together. You have to be above that. Otherwise…
My dad made that mistake.
You’re probably tired. If you head straight on, past the Agriculture section, there’s a staircase up to the observatory. There’s a bed there. It was mine but you can have it. I liked watching the colours of sunset in the ash. Rohini usually sleeps there too. Please look after him. I think he’s going to miss me.
Um. Yeah, that’s my deal. I wrote this to help you, but you have to look after my cat. Please.