Monday, October 6, 2014

Eye Of The Tiger

Ruth bandaged Travis again. Haley, who was interested in becoming a nurse, watched closely and assisted by handing Ruth supplies as she asked for them. “Try not to tick off more zombie raccoons,” Ruth said, dryly. “And then try not to keep reopening your wounds because you have to stack everything.”

My other arrangement wasn't really efficient for supplies, and we're going out again today to Target to bring more in.” Travis held his arm up to look at his new bandage, covering several previously ragged but now partly healed tears where the rioter raccoons had bitten him when the trio had been busily killing off the little monsters trying to get to Gary.

Bring feminine hygiene products. And anything you can get from the pharmacy. And diapers and baby supplies – but especially cloth diapers if they have them. Just because disposables are going to be a disposal issue.”

Anything else you might need for the... ah, new arrivals we'll be expecting? And when, is the thing, I guess.”

Bassinets and baby clothes would be nice,” Haley said softly. “Maybe a baby bathtub and lotion and baby soap.”

Actually, I have a list, if you think it will help,” Ruth said.

I like lists,” Travis said solemnly. “Amanda has one too, since she's setting up the schoolhouse.”

All right. Go get 'em, kid. And remember, no new wounds, no opening these, no zombie raccoons.”

Val was in the kitchen, listening to Robbie Rocket, while helping Eve hang washed socks on a wooden rack in front of the fireplace.  She hadn't had much opportunity to do much washing of laundry, but kept socks, underthings, and long johns as clean as possible by washing them in the same tubs she used to bath the children. Now with more children, there were socks and underpants to wash every day, especially for Baby.

Baby kept trying to climb onto Eve's lap, then growing bored with the laundry and trying to climb into the plastic tub to have a play. Eve would set her down and shoo her away from the laundry, and five minutes later she'd be back, climbing up Eve's legs onto her lap.

Finally, clear as a bell, she said “I need dat!” while reaching for the water. Eve stopped what she was doing, startled. These were the first words Baby had spoken in the nearly a week the children had been here. She set Baby down next to the tub and let the child slosh her arms up past the elbows into the laundry.

That was very good, using your words,” she told the toddler.

Baby is smart,” Val said, approvingly.

You are smart, Baby,” Eve agreed.

Baby have a name?” Val asked.

Eve watched the toddler for a moment. “What's your name, Baby?” she asked, hopefully, but the toddler just shrieked with laughter and slammed her small hands down into the laundry.

She does have a name,” Eve told Val. “But it might be a while before she tells us, and she might not remember it. She's very little still.”

Not memba name?” Val said, incredulous. “She have a new name.”

Let's give her a couple more weeks,” Eve said. “Then we can talk about giving her a new name.”

The front door cracked open and Kat trundled into the kitchen, snow slumping off of her wet winter things as she walked. On the trip to Target after they'd plowed their way over there a couple days ago, the scavengers had brought home winter clothes for the Aubreys and other survivors and a stockpile set aside for anyone who might yet come. “Katrin Aubrey!” Eve scolded. “You clean that up. And hang your stuff up to dry.”

Kat groaned but moved to obey.

Kat need new name too,” Val said, a devil's sparkle in his eye. “Kat is now Puppy.”

I don't know why you can't just behave, Val,” Eve said, hiding an amused look.

Robbie Rocket say I not have to.”

Travis, Will, Amanda and Ben swept the Target and Home Depot, looking for rioters, every time they came back in case the strange group of creatures had returned.

They must have found new digs,” Ben said, meeting the others at the front of Target. “So what's our plan today?”

Travis handed Will Ruth's list. “This is stuff Ruth needs for the new mothers,” he said. “Get it all, if you can.”

Olive oil?” Will said, snickering. “We gonna have fresh cooked baby for dinner next week?”

Amanda gave him a flick on the back of his head. “Laugh it up, Bones. Now hop to.” She turned to Travis. “Commander Amanda reporting for duty, SIR.”

Commander?” Ben snorted behind her. “Bit of a reach, isn't it?”

Come help me wrestle some wood stoves up into the back of the truck. Safer heat, more convenient and more efficient for heating and cooking.  Home Depot has several. And we'll grab any wood we find-” Travis paused to give Ben a stern look, barely quelling the other's laughter. “Will, meet us there to gather up burning fuel when you're done with the list. Put your things into the minivan.”

Private Parts reporting for duty, SIR,” Ben said, mimicking Amanda's salute.

You are a pain in my ass,” Travis told him.

I know.”

You're in the back, digging for any more food back there. In the storage area. And foam pads, and bedding.”

Affirmative, General Nonsense,” Ben said, and dodged Amanda's kick.

Tammy waited until the sun was near its zenith and flipped on the radio. Robbie Rocket was playing what he considered ass-kickers, starting with Eye Of the Tiger. Good enough boogie music, and it was time to boogie. She hadn't heard from Gary in at least 4 days, though sometimes time was a little weirder now.

She pulled on tall boots, flat-soled but up over the knee, and adjusted her warm clothing. Before she went out, she checked herself out in the mirror. Even these days, it was good to make sure a body was ready to be seen.

There was nothing she could do about her Adam's apple, nor the lines on her neck and face. In truth, she was not pretty; her face showed decades of hard living. She hadn't been much of a drinker or user, but she'd been known to throw the first punch when a situation called for it. Despite the rugged face and the previously broken nose, her cat's eye eyeliner was perfect, her lip beyond reproach.

I am a bad ass bitch,” she told the mirror, sliding her sunglasses on. In the time before, she'd been too worried of nothing she could name anymore to live in the clothes, the makeup, the life she had wanted to choose; but she'd taken the opportunity of a new world being born through smoke and blood to choose the life without fear she wished she had chosen long ago.

Last thing she heard from Gary was that Fort Snelling had survivors. He'd intended to tell her to come once he'd gotten there. She could only assume something had happened to him and she was on her own.

This is going to suck some balls,” she told the mirror-woman whose eyes were hidden behind the slick black lenses. No more time to waste, though.

Ed and Lila Bender finished packing their snowmobiles. Lila had a sledge attached to her snowmobile stacked with their own supplies; a change of clothes and boot liners, food, warm bedding, standard camping things. Ed had released Champ the terrier a week ago to go find his own fortune; Lila believed he had done exactly as he had said because believing Ed had probably broken Champ's neck was too painful.

He's just trying to look out for us, she told herself. He's trying to take care of me.

Keep up with me, Lila,” he warned, standing astride his machine, holding his helmet in his hands. “I can't be coming back for you all the time. I won't be able to do much if you get too far behind and get swamped with zombies.”

Are we going to check on George?” she asked, worried about her grown son from a marriage before her marriage to Ed.

I told you, no. I'll go back out and check after we get you to the Fort safely. There's people there – there's smoke from the chimneys.”

All right, Ed,” she said, keeping her voice reasonable and demure.

He rolled his eyes. She was so dumb, she read in his face. “I'm not gonna keep explaining this, honey, daylight's a-wasting.” He put his helmet on and strapped it in place. Lila did the same, starting up her machine just after he started his.

I will follow him, she heard in her head, as she had the first night she'd met him, when she knew she would do exactly that. I will follow him wherever he may go.

Into hell itself, she thought, and ignored the idea that hell was where she'd lived since not too long after that first night. To the Fort, and to safety, today.

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