It was not the most spacious place, but Sam appreciated the second floor two bedroom apartment he had been afforded since driving through the gates of Boulder City. It was sparsely furnished, but it had a pair of beds and a few chairs for them to sit in. They had even been given clean clothes once their debriefing had finished. Tama had been given a first floor unit a few buildings over that was similar. She had yet to meet anyone she knew, but they had not met many people yet.
They had been kept isolated for three days, occasionally visited by a man named Darrel, who was in charge of security for the city, or once by a man named Samuel Clemens, who claimed to be mayor of Boulder City. During that time they had been asked about what they had seen, where they had come from, where they had gotten the car. Their supplies had been confiscated, added to the city’s larder to be distributed as needed.
Sam stepped out of the shower, checking the gage that had been installed inside the bathroom to make sure that he had left enough of their daily allotment for Evelyn to use. She had taken to sleeping in quite easily, clutching a brown stuffed bear that someone had left on her bed for her. He had just finished pulling on a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt when a knock came at the door. He checked through the peep hole and saw the face of a young girl from down the hall. He opened the door, straightening his clothes. “Can I help you?”
“Can Evelyn come out and play?” The girl asked, and the phrase sounded so foreign to Sam that he laughed.
“Evelyn lives here, right?”
“Can she come out and play?”
“I think she’s still asl-“
“I’ll be out in a minute!” Came a shout from her room.
“Ok, I guess so, give here a moment. Want to wait inside?”
“Uh,” The girl looked back down the hall, toward her own apartment Sam guessed, and said no.
“Ok.” Sam said, closing the door, but leaving it slightly ajar.
Evelyn came bounding out, her own outfit similar to his, new jeans, or at least clean and un-ripped jeans, and a t-shirt. She had also grabbed a light jacket. She raced out the door and Sam had to call after her.
“Be back for lunch.”
Sam watched her run down the hallway with the other girl, amazed at how different this was from the life he had grown accustomed to over the last few months.
He finished get ready to go out and ten left, heading for the main square of the town, where he knew he would find Mayor Clemens, drinking coffee outside of a cafe. He was there every morning to listen to his constituents he had said during their first meeting.
After a brief walk through the windswept streets, Sam reached the park they had taken to calling the main square. They were only using about half of the city, and had barricaded streets throughout the town in an effort at protection. A small bakery and coffee house occupied the northeast corner and true to form, Sam found the mayor there, speaking with an older blonde, Juliette he thought her name was.
Mayor Clemens nodded and held up a finger, acknowledging Sam, who ordered a small coffee, handing in one of his leisure chips. Everyone in the community was given a dozen of them a week, and there were job postings that allowed them to earn extra chips that could be spent on everything from coffee to extra water, or toys in case of some of the kids, and more child-like adults. Basic necessities, to a point, were taken care of and provided for by the community. He was sitting down sipping his coffee when a shadow fell over him.
“May I?” Asked the mayor, indicating the empty seat across from him.
“Go for it.”
“Ok, so Sam, what can I do for you?”
“When do I get my car back?”
“Not beating around the bush, are you? I’ve been talking with Darrel about it, and he thinks we can make a compromise.”
“A compromise? I gave you all of the other food and the weapons that I brought in, all I am asking for is my car.”
“And we’ve given you a place to stay, electricity, running water, and protection.”
“None of which I asked for!”
“What did you expect to happen when you came through those gates?”
Sam had to admit that he had no answer for this question and he sat quietly.
“So, back to our compromise. You can have the car back.” He pulled the keys from the inside breast pocket of his jacket and set them on the table. Sam reached for the keys but Mayor Clemens held up a finger. “There’s a catch. You can’t keep it within the walls. We think it’ll cause too much fear with the rest of the people.”
Somebody waved at the mayor and he waved back. Sam picked up the keys. “I can live with that, is that it?”
“Well, we would appreciate it if you took someone else and checked out some of the farther out towns for supplies soon. We’d give you extra chips of course.”
“Well, Darrel suggested himself, I think he just wants a chance to drive it.”
“You mean he didn’t?”
“Oh no, it hasn’t left the garage you brought it to. That fear thing and all.”
“Ok, I was planning on it anyways. What about Evelyn?”
“Well, the woman you came in with, uh…”
“Tama?” Sam offered.
“Yeah, she could watch her. Or Evelyn should probably be going back to school soon-“
Sam choked on his coffee. Red in the face from coughing, he finally managed to say “After all I’ve been through, I just find the idea of school a little far fetched.”
“How many weeks worth of food did you have? How many bullets. Could you tell the time by the sun? What about music, I saw the CD’s in the car.”
“Ok, I see your point.”
“Plus what is she to do? We need intelligent and trained people if we are going to succeed, not only here, but out there as well. We need people more people like you that we need people like me. Sure I can lead. I can give a grand speech, but you are a doer. It’s people like you that are going to keep us going. People like you that will move us forward.”
“I hope so. About that, who should I talk to about going out for supplies.”
The mayor smiled, “Darrel, of course.”