Saturday, December 31, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
Two weeks had passed since the visitors had departed, still heading east. Peter sat on the porch, watching the water drip off of the roof from the melting snow.
Amy stepped back out onto the porch to grab another armload of coffee mugs to bring in and help clean, but stopped when she noticed Peter’s pensive stare. “What’s wrong?”
“How am I supposed to stop the war?” He asked, reaching into his pocket and playing with one of the obols that rested there.
“What?” Amy asked.
“Bill asked me if I was sure I could stop the war…” Peter said, raising his other hand to his forehead and scratching it.
“We should be leaving soon,” Amy suggested, looking back into the house. “Do you think Jud and Aubrey will come with us?”
“No,” Zach said, coming out of the house, “They’re not coming with us.”
“You’re sure?” Amy asked, a bit of disappointment creeping into her voice.
“Yeah, they’re staying. All I think we can do is make sure they have enough supplies.” Zack replied.
“Well, we’re going to need some stuff as well.” Peter said as he stood up. “You guys stay here, I will be right back.” He went inside and called for the rest of the members of the household to meet them on the porch.
It took fifteen minutes, but everyone, including Jud and Aubrey, made it out to the patio.
Peter looked over his friends before beginning, “It is about time we move on. Tomorrow morning, we will make one more foray out to gather supplies, and then once we return, we will spend the next day packing, and hopefully in four days time, we will be departing here.” Despite his expectations, the announcement was not met with any grumbling, so he continued. “Now all of you are welcome to come with us, we’ll be heading toward Boulder City.”
“And anyone who wants to stay with Aubrey and I is welcome to too,” Jud interrupted.
Peter nodded, acknowledging the older man. “Now if any of you are in need of anything specific that I need to look for, you have until tomorrow morning to make me a list. Jud, can we borrow the truck and your horses for the supply run?”
“Only if I can go along.” Replied the older man.
“Fine with me.
The group broke up and went about the rest of their daily routines. Peter took the opportunity after collecting some more logs to check the harness and get it hooked up to the truck. When he got back into the house, he found a two pieces of paper. The first was a list from the women containing clothes that the group could use, including a windbreaker for Kyle, who had outgrown the one that he had begun his journey with. Not pink was heavily underlined. The other piece of paper was from Kyle, and contained the one thing he wanted them to pick up, Reese’s Pieces.
Returning birds sang Peter to sleep and he woke up ready for the journey ahead. Jud already had the horses hitched to the truck when Peter walked out into the yard, and Amy sat in it’s bed, a shotgun strapped to her back.
“What’s going on?” Peter asked her. “I’m going to go so Zach can look over the carts that we have and make sure they will still work for us. He thinks we ought to pick up a new one if we can.”
“Sounds good, are we ready then?” Peter asked, looking at Jud, who nodded.
They spent the better part of the day traveling looking for a development that had not been touched. They headed east to the junction of 40 and 279 before heading north along the latter. They passed by community after community, making quick forays into each, finding homes with doors standing wide open and cupboards bare. It was not until darkness had begun to fall that they came to a neighborhood that looked relatively untouched. The first door they tried was locked so Peter broke a window and found a pantry full of spoiled vegetables as well as some boxed pasta’s. Another foul smell mixed with the rotten food and it was not until Peter got upstairs that he found what it was. A dog lay dead at the closed door of the master bedroom it’s ribs showing. “Poor thing,” Peter said as he stepped over it, pushing into the master bedroom.
The odor assaulted him as he opened the door. The dog had been a precursor to what he found inside. A woman, half of her head missing, lay on the bed, the wall behind it splattered brown with dried blood. Peter held his nose and looked around the room, spying the figure of a man lying on the floor beside the bed, a hole clean through his head and a gun on the carpet beside it’s outstretched hand. He glanced over the room again but could not stomach the smell and darted out the door and down the stairs, shoving the front door open and gasping, letting the crisp winter air fill his lungs.
Resisting the urge to throw up, he relayed what he had seen to his companions.
“Poor souls, they couldn’t handle it,” Amy said before adding, “Let’s try the next house.”
“It’s someone else’s turn to go in then.” Peter smiled weakly.
“I’ll go,” she told him. The next house required her to break a window but netted them two cans of green beans and a blue jacket that she thought might fit Kyle. She tossed these into the bed of the truck and offered, “Should I get the next one?”
Peter smiled and shook his head. “I’ve got it.” They took turns going into houses while Jud watched the truck and the growing pile of spoils they grabbed.
As the stars began to show and the sun finally dropped below the distant horizon, Amy approached the final house of the neighborhood and found the front door unlocked. She opened it and was buffeted by a pair of wings as a large bird flew out the door over her head. Shaken, she took in the scene in front of her. A large floor to ceiling window was shattered on the backside of the house, the whole pane, with the exception of a few shards near the ceiling, laying on the carpet inside the house. A brown brick rested amongst the broken glass. The floor was coated in leaves and stuffing from the empty cushions that lay strewn over the back of the sofa, the walls in black spray paint. Jonathan was here and Nick loves Tara were the only legible comments that she could make out. She started her search in the kitchen, thinking that the she would find nothing but was pleasantly surprised by the box of Velveeta shells and cheese that she found along with two cans of Rotel and an open box of Slim Jim’s. She tok this haul out to the truck before going back to look through the bedrooms. A smashed acoustic guitar hung from a wall in one of the rooms along with a shattered television set. The dresser held a few pairs of white socks and two pairs of jeans that looked a little big for Zach, but she took them anyway. The closet in the master bedroom was empty, a pile of soiled clothes lay upon the bed, something had been living in it recently from the smell. Finally she checked the bathroom, and found two cans of shaving cream, an un-open razor,and a package of bandaids. These all got taken and dumped into the bed of the truck.
“So, do we sleep in the truck or take on of the houses?” Jud asked, trying to stifle a yawn.
“That house,” Peter pointed at a two story structure a few homes from where they stood, “Was in pretty good shape. The garage was empty, we could get the horses and the truck in it.” The other two agreed and they rolled up the driveway, pushing the truck the last few feet into the garage before pulling it shut. Despite taking turns on watch, the night passed quietly and all three set out the next morning in relatively good spirits.
“Look,” Amy pointed south, where a thick wall of black smoke had begun to rise into the air.
“That’s too far away to be your farm, right?” Peter asked, looking at Jud.
“I hope so…”