Nearly eight hundred men and women stood before him, some as young as fifteen, all the way up to Tama at eighty three, although the old man in the front row looked like he had her by a couple of years. Peter stood within a small amphitheater in the park, a pair of large speakers on either side of the stage, and a microphone in hand.
To say he was nervous was an understatement. He was also extremely sore, the pills that he had been given for the pain really were not doing much for him for his ribs, or his face, although most of the swelling had finally gone down. He looked to the side of the stage where Zach, Amy, and Darrel stood. Amy nodded and mouthed ‘you can do this.’
Peter smiled back and took a deep breath, finally bring the microphone to his mouth. “I’m not really good at this, so you’ll have to forgive me,” he began. “I’m sure many of you know that for the past couple of days, there has been an army of what we called ‘Others,’ camped upon the top of the mountain just south of here.” He pointed toward the peak in question for emphasis. “Every indication they have given to us,” He looked again at Darrel, who nodded, “Is that they will attack tonight.”
A whisper started somewhere in the crowd and the ripple of murmurs was intense. From where he stood, it did not appear to be fear, but Peter knew that these people were afraid. “I know for many of you it has been rough. All of you have lost someone to this disaster, whether it was on that first day back in late September, or since then. To some stupid accident, or to someone else. And I am here to tell you that while those losses have been sad, they have not been for nothing. Look around you. I have been here less than a week and I have seen things I never thought I’d see again. You have schools, your children have friends. Hell, I had a latte the other day.” This elicited a cheer from somewhere within the gathering. “I’ve even heard rumors of there being softball games again sometime soon,” Peter had not heard that, but decided a little poetic license on his part would be fine. “I am also here to tell you that the losses are not done yet.”
This again elicited a response from the crowd, whispers, a few sobs. He waited for the low noise to die down, “I am not going to lie to you. We’re outnumbered by more than three to one by the looks of things,” There were a few gasps at this, but Peter continued on, “But we have the superior position within these walls, and we have plenty of weapons. And a few surprises of our own.”
Someone near the back of the crowd yelled “We’re doomed,” and the old woman in the front row, Tama, Peter recalled her name, stepped forward and turned around. “Shut up,” she started, and before anyone could react, she said, “He’s right, not the fool in the back, but this guy up here. We could run, but they’d just give chase. They’ve been hunting us across this country for months now and they won’t stop until we’re dead. Or they are.”
Peter said, “She’s right you know,” but Tama glared at him and continued on herself.
“I for one am going to fight, if it is just him and me on the wall, then so be it. If you want to run do it, the gate’s that way. I’m sure they’ll open it for you. Won’t you?” She looked at Peter again, smiling.
Peter smiled, “What say you Darrel?”
Darrel got up on stage and took the microphone. “Sure, although right now we can’t spare any extra weapons, but anyone that wants to leave, step forward now and I will get an escort to bring you to the gate. If you leave now you might be able to get far enough away that they won’t chase you for a day or two.”
Heads turned back and forth in the crowd, as everyone watched each other, either not wanting to be the first to step forward, or daring somebody to do so, Peter did not know which. No one did though.
“Good,” Darrel said, and went into the details of the defense of the city. Peter joined Amy and Zach on the side of the stage.
“Good speech,” Zach said, smiling.
“Yeah, hers was better,” Peter responded with a smile.
“You said it, not me.”
Amy took his arm, “We need to talk.”
“Come on,” She said, pulling him from the gathering. The walked out past the empty park, the lack of delighted childish screams already seeming out of place. All of the small shops, from the coffee house to the bakery, were closed, their proprietors were at the meeting. She led him to the little park where the kids normally played and sat down on one of the swings. “I know now is about the worst time for this.”
“What’s wrong?” Peter asked, sitting in the other swing and kicking his feet.
“Nothing’s wrong, Peter. I’m pregnant.”
Peters legs stopped moving, his jaw open as he slowed to a halt.
“Are you sure?”
“You need to leave then, I’ll get Sam to drive you to-“
“No. I’m staying.”
“Like hell I can’t. If we don’t win this fight, we won’t survive long enough for this child to be born anyways.”
Peter wanted to argue with her logic but couldn’t. All he could do was ask the same question, “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m staying.”
“How long have you known?”
“For sure? This morning, I’ve thought so for about five days now though, but there’s just been so much going on.”
“Ok.” Peter felt bad, he thought there was more he should say. “Ok, then you’re going to be right beside me the entire time tonight. Does anyone else know?”
“I haven’t told anyone yet, no.”
“Ok, let’s keep it that way, at least until this is all over.”
“Do you think it will be over after this? I mean really over?”
“Yeah, it better be,” He stood up and walked over to her, pulling her off the swing and into his arms.