Sam watched from beside Tama as Peter and Amy wandered off from the meeting.
“…And, God forbid, should someone fall, pull their body out of the way, grab their gun and step in.” Darrel said. He had already gone over how most of the wall positions were being handed out. They had been told that there were a possible two hundred spots along the wall, and that twenty of them were reserved, but the rest of them were being given out via lottery. As they were leaving they would reach into a drum and pull a piece of paper with their spot on it.
“What about the surprises?” Tama asked Darrel, loud enough so that everyone heard.
“Well, we have four army grade machine guns that will go up on the towers. I have hand picked who will operate them. There are also two full tanker trucks that have been pushed out into the field.”
It was Sam’s turn to ask a question. “What happen’s when they make it through the gate?”
Darrel looked annoyed with the question, but answered it anyways. “Anyone that is not on the wall at that point will need to either help get the doors closed again or will need to fall into line and help with the defense of inside the town.”
This was the answer Sam expected, although by the noise in the crowd, many others had not even considered the fact that the gates would be reached, let alone opened.
“Ok people,” Darrel said, holding his hands out, palm down, in an effort to quite everyone, “Lets all get some rest. I want everyone to be ready and in position by six.”
The gathering began to disperse, an orderly line forming to draw lots for their spots along the wall. Sam watched peoples faces as they did so, some of them were happy, others were sad, others still were frightened. He tried to figure out which each of the faces meant. Would he be happy with a spot first in line, or did he want the chance that he would not even make it onto the wall?
Tama stood before him, shuffling forward. Finally her turn came, and she reached in, pulling out a strip of paper. “Damn,” she said, looking at it.
Sam held his breath as he leaned over the large barrel and pulled out a slip of paper of his own. He walked away without even looking at it.
“What did you get?” Tama asked.
Sam shrugged, “It doesn’t matter.”
“Sure it does, I am in position twenty-one, which is close to the gate, but slot three. I may not even get to the wall.”
“There’ll be plenty for us all to do, even if none of us die, you heard Darrel, we need to be ready to pass new weapons up, or reload them if they’re handed back to us.’
“Yeah,” Tama pouted.
Sam finally looked at his number. “Looks like you may get to the wall before me,” he lied, looking at the hand written numbers upon the sheet. Position one hundred and three, slot one. He would be on the wall for the first wave.
“You seem disappointed,” She told him. “Don’t be, like you said, we all have our parts to play.”
“Hey, did you see Peter and Amy slip out when Darrel took the stage?”
“Can’t say I did, why?”
“I’m just curious, you know.” Sam replied.
“They were your friends, weren’t they?”
“Were? Are? They seemed happy to see me when they got here.”
“They’ve been through a lot. So have you. Speaking of, how much trouble was it getting Evelyn to go?”
“Once she found out her friends were all going, it turned into a massive sleepover. I think it might be hard getting them to come back.” He smiled.
“Well, we better make sure that the city is still here for them to come back to.”
“Hey Sam!” Brian called from somewhere behind him.
“Well, I better get going, I need all the rest I can get,” Tama said, leaving Sam as Brian caught up.
“Hey Brian,” Sam said, “What’s up?”
“Nothing much, have you seen Peter?” Brian asked.
“Yeah, him and Amy slipped out a little while ago,” Sam chose not to disclose the fact that they had not stayed for the entire discussion.
“Oh, where’d they go?”
“Say, what positioned did you get?” Brian asked.
“I haven’t bothered to look yet,” Sam lied again, but Brian continued to pester him.
“We could trade if you don’t like yours.”
“What did you get?” Sam finally asked Brian.
“One oh 4, slot 2.”
Sam made a show of looking at his paper, “Well, we’re neighbors I guess. Hope I am still up their if you have to step up.”
“You got slot one?”
Sam showed the paper to Brian.
“Damn man, good luck.”
With confidence that was fast waining, Sam said, “I don’t need luck, just a lot of ammo.” He smiled a cheshire cat grin before adding, “But it’s time for me to rest now. See you on the wall.”
“Yeah, see ya’.”
Sam attempted faking a yawn, but it turned into a real one as he took leave of his friend, and headed for his apartment, thinking of how far he had come in the last few months alone. He had someone counting on him now, not the nameless hundreds he barely knew, but Evelyn, not to mention Tama and Brian. The mid-morning air was crisp as he walked back to his apartment. He checked the digital clock on his nightstand, twenty after nine. He set its alarm for three and lay down on the bed, fully clothed, and drifted off into a restless sleep.
He hit the snooze button once, twice, a third time, and the clock said three thirty by the time he finally threw both legs over the side of the bed. He stretched and made his way out to the town center, where he could see smoke rising into the sky. The smells were overwhelming as he walked into what looked like a giant picnic.
“Hey Sam,” Peter said, waving him over. “No use fighting on an empty stomach, dig in,” he said,
handing a plate that contained what looked like barbecue beef and corn on the cob.
“Thanks,” Sam said. “Thanks man.”