A dingy back staircase leads to the third–and so far as is known, final–floor. It is coated with hardened grease and grime, and a noxious odor is known to waft up. In an ordinary store, it would be employees-only.

But the employees here do not even enter the first floor.

All is darkness below, and the only light is what the intrepid explorers bring with them. Vast piles of refuse exist down there in great heaps, mound upon mound of cast-off items. Some work, many do not, and all must be dug for in piles of wrappers, broken plastic, and cardboard. Unlike the other floors, too, the final level seems to be much larger.

It may, in fact, be endless.

Wondrous things have been located, often by the most ardent explorers equipped with infrared and ultraviolet lights. High quality consumer electronics like working computers are occasionally salvaged, and finding one can pay for a dozen failed searches, but the wonders go much further than that.

One explorer pulled up a machine that produced an endless trickle of 9-volt energy, enough to run a small table lamp perpetually. Another returned with half of a book that listed every winning lottery number for fifty years.

Of course, the lowest level also has its dangers. A seemingly normal plastic bin turned out to react with sunlight to give off cyanide gas. A disinfectant was so powerful that it killed all an explorer’s gut flora before they died of perontitis.

There would be more exploration, and more discovery, were it not for the ever-present danger of the Butcher.

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