(Please read http://librarianwithsecrets.blogspot.com/2009/09/adventure-i-did-not-have-or-did-i-cont.html before you continue; thank you!)
Walter had been here for so long that he had almost forgotten about the world that was out there and up there.
Somewhere deep down in his memory, buried under layers of other memories, there were faint recollections of big open spaces, a bright and warm light called the sun, of birdsong and people's voices, of wind in his hair and grass under his feet.
But there were also memories of gunshots, of hard fists and shouting voices, and of a run that seemed to go on forever and left him so breathless and with every part of his body shaking and in pain that he thought he was going to die.
Die he didn't; instead, he found this place where there was everything he needed.
At first, he had felt apprehensive about using a bed and opening cans of food that were originally not meant for him, but when he realized there was no-one else going to claim any of it, he settled into a rhythm which, unbeknownst to him, still followed the old familiar pattern of day and night, with sleeping and waking hours.
There was not much difference between sleeping and waking here, and certainly none between day and night, and sometimes he was not quite sure whether what he saw and heard was part of a dream or really happening.
Not that he actually cared; his dreams were just as real to him as the rough blanket of the bunk bed and the cold metal of the water tap.
It was no surprise, therefore, that he was sure he was dreaming when the woman appeared.
The sounds of her cautious footsteps he had heard minutes before she reached his place, and squinted in the flickering light from those bulbs that were still intact.
What actually convinced him of her being real he couldn't tell, but the idea of coming face to face with another human after such a long time down here on his own scared him no end, and he decided to hide, slipping out of the room and shutting the metal door behind him.
Trembling, he leaned against the tunnel wall. He closed his eyes - the light still hurt him - and shook his head slowly from side to side.
Now the woman was in there, where HE belonged, not her.
Was she going to make one of the beds her own, like he had done back when he had found the room? Was she going to eat the food that had become his sustainment?
It wouldn't do, no. She was part of that other world, not of this one.
He had to do something.
So, very slowly and carefully, like someone approaching a venomous snake that will strike when it feels threatened, he opened the door again and crept back into the room.