Sunday, August 4, 2013

Go In

Will pulled the canvas sled as he and his mother headed for the door of the Fort. He assumed it was a sled, it looked like a canvas sleigh, and it slid well across the ground.

As they passed the powder magazine, where in the past explosive material was housed, Eve pointed out the wooden carts sheltered by the deep eaves.

I think tomorrow we should see about moving furniture around to make a comfortable house for us. You and Kat can help, and we can use those.”

We should probably use those to bring more wood and water up for us and Mr Joe before it storms. Val says a storm is coming. And if there's one thing he seems to know, it's storms,” Will said.

And trains. And when visitors are coming.”

Ok, three things.”

And he keeps complete maps in his head,” Eve added.

In video games!”

It might translate into real life,” Eve said. “I guess we'll see.” She opened the inset door at the front gate. “Hurry. I'll go up to the top of the Round Tower and I'll warn you if I see anything.”

How will you do that? You can't whistle, and shouting seems like it'll cause trouble.”

She held up a plastic whistle he knew to have a piercing sound. “My rape whistle.”

Ok, just remember to be clear about which way you're blowing it – yes-rape or no-rape.”

Get out,” she said, deadpan, and he laughed. She shut and bolted the door behind him.

He waited near the Fort until he saw her reach the top of the Round Tower, then waved and was on his way, dragging the sled with one hand, his hoe ready in the other.

I really should name you,” he said to his weapon. “A man should know what to call his hoe.” He glanced guiltily back up at the tower where his mother was watching. She gave a thumbs up, not having heard him, and tucked her hand back inside the blanket she'd wrapped around herself.

He hummed to himself the rest of the way to the visitor's center.

The doors were locked. “Of course,” he said. He walked around the front of the building, alert for movement, saw nothing, returned to the back doors. With no one around – no infected – and no power, he felt justified in knocking the glass out of the back doors with his hoe, since the back doors were closer to the Fort itself.

It was dark enough inside he lit his camp lantern, frowning at having to use up batteries. He used his hoe to break into the gift shop.

Inside, he loaded the sled up with whatever he saw that looked useful, remembering to grab some extras for Mr Joe. There was very little food; he did find pancake mix and syrup, jams, wild rice, almonds, and lots of candy.  A room temperature cooler held sodas and bottled water, and on the counter near the cash register he found energy bars. There were various tshirts and themed socks, he grabbed those too; then pens and some empty journals for his mother to write in and for his sister to draw in.

A recipe book of Fort Snelling-related recipes, scented candles and candle holders.  Some Red Wing crockery and a bunch of the blue and white dishes his mother loved.  A magnifier, a cribbage board, sunbonnets, scented soaps and lotions. He didn't grab any of the throws or pillows because there were plenty of those at the Fort.

He found playing cards and dice, various historical paper dolls and coloring books, colored pencils, and crayons. Val would like the toy soldiers, he knew, and a couple sets of Lincoln Logs, and a toy flute. There were books with histories of Fort Snelling, of the Dakota, of Minnesota, Will grabbed them for Eve. 

Then he started to worry about time, and began to drag his sled toward the back doors.

Someone stood just outside of the bathrooms, watching silently, their chest heaving.

Uh, hello?” Will said, dropping the rope for the sled and gripping his hoe in both hands.

Go in,” the person said, a male voice, though the person was either a small man or an older child.

Go where?”

Go. IN!” the man snarled and lurched toward Will, slipping and falling to one knee, scrabbling forward. “Go in!”

Will hesitated for only a second before energy surged through his hands and he brought the hoe down on the Red Flu zombie before it could gain its feet. His swing took it hard in the shoulder and the metal head of the hoe bounced off the floor of the visitor center with an audible crack.

He tried to yank his hoe back but it was lodged pretty firmly inside his enemy. “Shitshitshit,” he shouted.

GOWIN!” the creature gurgled, grabbing his leg. The hoe jerked free, but the creature was too close now for a good swing. Instead Will bopped it hard on the head with the hoe, straight up and down.

The creature was not stunned, but hissed in rage.

Will kicked it hard with his other foot, falling backwards. He continued kicking, cold fear lending strength and swiftness he did not usually exhibit. The zombie's head rocked back and forth from the force of the kicks, and confused, it released his leg. Will was on his feet and back far enough for a good swing of his hoe in a blur of motion, and this time he hit the creature square in the top of its head.

Dark blood poured onto the ground, the creature shuddered and lay still. He left the bloodied hoe, its handle now broken, where it was.

Gross,” Will said, then hurried to get the sled out of the path of the blood. He realized he was shaking, and took a deep breath.

Hasta la... ah, sayonara,” he said to the dead thing, and headed home with his sled full of pancake mix.

Though he felt strangely exhausted, he and Katrin loaded one of the wooden carts with firewood and delivered it to Mr Joe and to the commander's house. Eve stood at Mr Joe's door and they sorted through the sled. Mr Joe took some of the food and two tshirts, one of the six journals and a handful of pens. He dragged the sled to the commander's house for Eve while Katrin and Will finished unloading the firewood, storing it in a woodbox in the hospital and in the entry hall of the house. The kids then parked the cart inside the powder magazine. Katrin stayed and dragged the other cart in as well, and shut the door firmly before running off to help Will drag water containers to both homes.

Joe went down to the workshops and brought up four shovels, leaving three with Eve at the commander's house and taking one back to his own quarters. He made sure he had extra blankets, his bones felt the storm coming.

While Will had been off at the visitor center gathering gift baskets and killing a zombie, Katrin had covered the bottom of a bin that had been emptied of water with dirt for the cats. She had set it on the stair landing leading up to the attic, and she'd set out in the parlor a wooden plate of cat food and a couple fresh tin cups of water, so each cat could have her own cup. Will felt this was a pretty good set up, all things considered.

One more thing,” Will said, when they finished up with the water. Taking Kat by the hand, he hurried them down to the employee area again, this time making a small train of bins that had not been used for water, tying a long rope around all four bins with knots between them. He and Katrin filled the bins with clean clothes – reenactor costumes, including woolen socks and mittens and military style woolen coats; there were also calico dresses, shawls, canvas pants and cotton shirts.

Now we can have a bath,” he said, and they dragged the train of clothing all the way back to the house.

Katrin let go of the rope and ran off toward the store; Will started to yell at her but stopped when he saw his mother struggling in the doorway of the store, dragging the sled out with the same hand she had to try to control her crutch. Katrin glared at her mother and reached for the rope pull for the sled.

They all made it back into the house just as the wind began to howl and the first flakes began to fall.

Inside the windows rattled and worried Katrin; as they were inside a home that had basement access only by going out the back door, and she no longer had her tornado box handy. She sat near the fire in the parlor, hugging Bertram and Leah tightly. Eve and Will closed the shutters and made sure the doors were tightly bolted. Candles were lit in each room and provided a warm, soft light over the main floor of the house.

Looks like pancakes for dinner!” Eve said brightly. “Baths first – sponge baths, but better than we've had for more than a week!”

Will dragged one water bin into the dining room and set a fire in the fireplace, then dragged another bin of water into the parlor. Eve scooped water out of the bins into two big three-legged pots in each room, placing both pots into the fireplace to heat in each room.

When the water was boiling, she had Will pour the pots of water back into the bins, warming the water enough to bathe. They all picked out scented soap from the loot stacked in the hallway, where they'd stored for now all the stuff from the gift shop and the clothing from the reenactors area. Eve handed them all small towels from the gift shop and clothes from the bins. “Tomorrow we'll get this all put away,” she said. “And we'll get set up to live here for a while.”

How long?” Katrin asked. “Is this our house now?”

Our house now,” Val said, making his stubborn face. “This my house now.”

Let's guess the winter, eh?” Eve said. “It seems safe enough here.”

The boys went into the dining room, Eve and Katrin went into the parlor, and they closed those doors and bathed in privacy. Will bathed his grumpy, protesting brother first, carefully pouring water from a crockery pitcher over his brother's head as Val leaned over the bin to wash his hair. He helped his brother dress in a soft tshirt, a loose cotton shirt with long sleeves and a tied neck, and draw string pants. He went to pull socks with small loons patterned all over them onto his brother's feet, but Val, seated back in his wheelchair, snatched the socks away.

I do it myself!”
When everyone was clean and dressed, Eve and Katrin in warm shirts and long johns beneath bright calico dresses, Eve had Will store the bins of bathwater in the front of the hallway away from the clean water. “We can use it to flush the toilets in the public bathrooms,” Eve said. “No point dumping it out.” She showed him how to bank the fire in the dining room, and they laid a fire in the children's room and built up the fire in the master bedroom.

While Eve made pancakes over the fire in the parlor, Will and Katrin worked together, adding extra mattresses to the beds in the children's room of the commander's house and in the master bedroom, setting out extra blankets and pillows. Their mother was amazed; in the past, the two could not be trusted to manage chores together without furious squabbling.

As Will began to drag an extra mattress up the stairs, claiming the guest room in the attic for himself, the family heard a voice in the parlor.

Robbie Rocket!” Val squealed. Will dropped his bedroll rushed into the parlor to be near his family and listen to the radio by the soft light of the candles.

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