Your monthly food supply is running thin and you aren’t expecting a resupply for another week.
Couldn’t hurt to call HQ for an early delivery.
Sitting up and looking around the 64 square foot room.
Not a lot of space accounting for the bed, a desk, a small fridge, and a wardrobe separated by a short countertop with the only storage being underneath it.
Things wouldn't be so cramped if not for the centerpiece, an Osborne fire finder.
You’ve never even used the thing since you can eyeball the distance to any pillar of smoke in the valley.
There's a message for you on your phone.
You let it play while getting into uniform.
”Anon, it’s April, we sent some supplies up early with a new volunteer. We’ve been a lot busier lately and figured you could use some help.”
Great, a roommate.
”I know it’s short notice but can you be down here at noon to pick her up?”
Your heart skips a beat.
According to your watch it is three in the afternoon.
Ignoring the several other messages, you scramble into your uniform and run out the door.
Walking down the sixty feet of stairs, you run through excuses.
You’d be chewed out for not reporting.
Nobody even walks this trail…
No excuse is gonna do you any good.
Reaching the ground you break into a jog.
You’d like to be home before sundown, and you aren’t gonna be running back with forty pounds of food and toiletries.
Rounding the corner around the public bathroom you’re stopped in your tracks.
Standing before you is an anthro in a uniform identical to yours.
You examine her reddish gray fur mottled with black stripes.
Her uniform is tailored to prevent her bust from being crushed, but clearly not enough.
A lynx based on her longer fur on her cheeks.
Her blue eyes are squinted in a look of annoyance.
On her back are two of the forty pound supply bags for the FLOs.
Your thoughts are interrupted when the lynx speaks.
”You must be Anon.”
Break the tension, be cool.
“Yep, that’s my name, don’t w-”
Your words are choked out by the weight of one of the cumbersome bags.
Stumbling backwards you barely regain your footing.
”Thanks for the help.”
“Sorry… I worked late last night.”
”Good, you can take care of this for me.”
She holds a piece of paper in your direction.
Surely you can take care of some work for the newbie that brought more supplies for you.
You accept it and she walks past you toward the lookout before stopping at the first step.
”I’m Valerie, by the way.”
Valerie turns and walks up the stairs to the tower.
Returning to the paper, you find a short list.
pick up trash from delta (north and south)
check basin for visitors
check falls for visitors
All of it is clearly to get her familiar with the area.
Heaving the bag of food over your shoulders, you start up the stairs.
She should be cooled off by now, maybe you can convince her to come with you.
Walking into the cabin of the tower you find Valerie face down on your bed.
She’s taken the liberty of kicking her boots off and stripping into her undershirt as well.
You throw your bag on the counter and prod at the lynx.
Groaning, you turn to look out of the windows.
Admiring the blue sky and green trees.
You hear the lynx, breathing deep and slow.
You smell her musk, not quite unpleasant, but new.
You need air.
The northern delta isn’t far, five minutes maybe.
It’s a very popular spot for photos.
Many people don’t bother going to the other side as they already walked 2 miles from the campgrounds.
Sometimes people will try for your blessing to camp out there, but you aren’t going to take a strike from HQ for them.
Approaching the delta you see no trash whatsoever.
People who are willing to walk this far are better than that.
What you do see isn’t on the ground, but in the sky.
A small thin column of smoke.
Maybe twenty feet past the treeline.
Walking into the treeline you step through the foliage for a short while before breaking into a clearing.
Two tents with a small campfire in the middle.
Taking one last sip from your water bladder, you extinguish the still smoldering core of the fire pit with what's left.
Looking around you don’t see the owners anywhere.
Tents, bags, open food, but no people.
Taking note of this, you leave.