The old man, ragged and exhausted from months of journeying through charred landscapes, wipes the layer of ash off of the building that reads ‘Mocon’ on the front. He checked to see if any mutant biker gangs or bug-zombies were nearby, and then walked inside with his son.
Inside the dark, aquarium-like carapace of the building were piles of pillows, clothes, broken exercise equipment. Artifacts of a grand past and near-forgotten time.
“Waste not,” the man whispered reverently.
“What does that mean?” the boy asked.
The man found a faded blue rug and handed it to his son. “Carry this,” he said.
“What do we need this for?” the boy asked.
“It cost only, like, two dollars,” the man said. “Years ago.”
“It smells funny.”
“As it always did,” the man agreed. “Here—” He handed the boy a copy of Patriot Games.
“What is this for?” the boy asked.
“It’s for reading Tom Clancy,” the man. “Ooh, and there’s a couch with only one missing leg. Let’s take it.”
“But we don’t need any of this,” the boy said. “We need radiation pills. We need lasers to fight the mutant biker gangs.”
The man grabbed the boy by the shoulder. “Waste not,” he said. “Don’t you see? Our ancestors wanted us to take it. We must honor that wish.”
The boy thought. “Maybe...” he said, “Maybe we could take that computer joystick too?”
“Yes,” the man said. “Now, help me...” The man heard the telltale click-click-click of bug-zombie jaws outside. They were approaching the building.
“Help me move the couch,” the man whispered. “We must save it. Civilization must endure.”
The boy nodded solemnly.