Monday, September 8, 2014

Before The Storm

Eve watched the work as Travis and his friends and her children placed tall wrought iron fence sections tipped with fierce points along the shorter Fort walls. Travis had built a quick framework and was securing the fence sections with quick-setting concrete while Kat and Ben held them in place. Amanda and Will were fastening the razor wire fencing on steel fence posts scattered around to make something of a maze near the entrances of the fort.

That won't slow them down much if they're not feeling pain,” Travis had said while they were plotting it all out. “But if we hang the wire in loose coils, it should sort of snag them long enough we can take them out.”

They surrounded the small parking lot closest to the actual Fort with the wire maze and placed a couple moveable barriers also draped with razor wire across the entrance to that lot. Eve carefully parked both vehicles there and covered them each with a tarp as protection against the storm she could see rolling in from the west. While the sky was bright, chilly blue here, it was dark and ominous that way.

While the other worked, she checked the food she had going in the commander's quarters. Bean soup made from several of the mixes brought from the gift shop simmered near the fire in the kitchen. It would be done around the time everyone came in from their work today. She checked on Val, who was listening to Robbie Rocket singing along with his favorite 80s songs and playing with his Hot Wheels.

Gonna go up to the hospital and make sure it's ready for the new people,” she told Val. “You wanna come with me or wait here?”

I not going. I busy,” Val said, giving his mother a preemptive mutinous look just in case she intended to insist. “I talking Robbie Rocket.”

I'll be back to check on you,” she said, half reassurance and half warning.

She had some food and supplies set up in the doctor's quarters, and she'd placed all the medical things aside from the shiny purple walker that now belonged to Val in the doctor's storage rooms. She'd had Will pull the bunks out of one of the patient rooms in the hospital and replace them with a couple non-bunk beds. When he'd gone off to help Travis and the others reinforce the Fort, she'd put a couple of the foam pads on the beds and placed a quilt, a sleeping bag, pillows, and wool blankets on each bed and dragged a couple trunks in to place at the end of the beds. After all, two pregnant girls were coming today, along with the midwife who would take over the hospital, and these beds were hard enough to get sleep on for non-pregnant folks.

Eve laid a fire in the doc's room and the girls' room and kept it burning low for the time being, then climbed back up to the top of the Round Tower to look around. The midwife would be coming by car; she had a Smart Car she felt she could take around any obstructions, and they would leave their current hiding place at noon. It was now only about eleven AM, so there could be another couple hours before they arrived.

I need something useful to do,” Eve told Cassie as the little cat came to sit beside her on the top of the tower. Cassie made her nearly soundless mew in response. “Travis doesn't want me on the wall, Amanda doesn't want me outside of it, and I'm not to mess with the supplies until they're tallied and organized according to Travis's standards down in the commissary.”

Cassie gave Eve a stern look, as usual, then rolled onto her back, baring her fluffy white belly for rubbing.

Is this what passes for useful in your world?” Eve said, and indulged her cat in a thorough rub. Cassie purred happily. “The world burns down but Cassie gets her belly rubs and all is good.” She received no disagreement from the elderly calico.

She let Cassie nap in the sun while she kept watch again. Eve had brought a chair up to the tower top, and she sat there with Cassie sleeping peacefully on her lap, tucked just inside the woolen cloak she was wearing over the lightweight coat she'd worn from their old apartment.

The midwife arrived about an hour and a half later, careening through the upper parking lot in a car far too tiny to hold three people. Eve called down to Amanda and Will and they had the close lot open before the Smart Car reached them. It slid just a little sideways to a halt near the minivan and Joe's truck, and Amanda and Will dragged the two razor wire barricades back in place as quickly and carefully as they could. Eve hurried down to open the front gates for the newcomers, Cassie complaining as she was dislodged from Eve's lap.

The vehicle gate to the side was reinforced from the inside now and had fencing placed over the top inside the framework Travis had built; it was simply not easily accessible any longer in the interests of keeping the Fort itself safe. Travis considered the vehicle gate the weakest point, so for now the front gate was the only way in and out of the Fort.

Eve swung the smaller inside door open just as the midwife was hurrying the two pregnant girls toward it, and they all stopped short for a few seconds.

In, in!” the midwife, a small Native woman who did not appear much older than her charges, barked. The girls hurried to do as she asked and Eve closed the door behind them once they were all inside.

Eve Aubrey,” she said, reaching out to shake the midwife's hand.

Ruth White,” the midwife said, giving Eve's hand a quick, businesslike shake. “This is Daria Jayne and Haley Nielsen,” she added, introducing Eve to the teenagers with her.

Hi,” Eve said. “How on earth did you all fit in that tiny car?” She eyed the teens' bellies; tall, lush, cafe-au-lait Daria looked minutes away from going into labor. Haley, pale, freckled, bone thin with fluffy tan hair, was not as far along.

She sat on my lap,” Haley said, pointing at Daria with her thumb. Daria grinned, tossing perfectly braided hair, her hands cradling her heavy belly.

Oh, my goodness, you must be … hungry? Cold?” Eve said, and began to show them to her own home. “Do you want food or do you want to get set up in your quarters?”

Show us the quarters, then food,” Ruth said. “We weren't able to bring much and the girls haven't eaten yet today.”

Have you?”

Ruth didn't answer, just gave half a smile. “Quarters first. Let us put our packs down.” She indicated the duffel bag she carried and the backpacks the girls had.

Ruthie ain't eaten in days,” Haley said. “She told us her stomach was upset from that rat we ate a few days back.”

Oh, I am so sorry,” Eve said, aghast.

Wasn't your rat,” Ruth said, with the same half smile.

Eve showed them to the hospital. For the moment, they set their bags in the doctor's room, then followed Eve to her kitchen, Daria settling heavily into the sturdy, high backed chair near the fire. Eve pulled a stool up to the fireplace and began to form and fry up the fry bread from the dough she'd left resting, swallowing a strange sense of embarrassment to be making fry bread for the Native midwife. By the time she had a plate stacked with bread, the others filed in from outside.

Storm's close,” Ben said as they all took seats around the table. Val came in with the purple walker Will had found him at Target, turning it at the head of the table to make use of the built in seat. Cassie and Leah curled up near the hearth. "We covered your car with a tarp," Ben said to Ruth.

Will and Eve began handing out bowls of bean soup and Ben poured water into tin cups for everyone. Amanda took over the introductions and hands were clasped quickly all across the table.

Not like it beans,” Val said sternly.

You love beans, Val Aubrey,” Eve said as sternly.

Beans give you gas,” Kat whispered to her brother, and Val grinned, his dark glare clearing.

I toot all night for you,” he told his sister.


Just... eat your food,” Eve said, exasperated.

The sky was just beginning to darken as Ben and Will cleared up the dinner dishes.

Storm is here,” Val said. “Lock a doors and lock a windows. Big storm is here.”

No comments:

Post a Comment