Reads: 145

Page stopped to wipe the sweat from her forehead. Her plan to attach the two carts had seemed like a great idea at first. The ache of her whole body however screamed that this was a stupid plan. She looked to Kidd to see he looked just as tired as she felt. The boy’s cart was twice as heavy as she had ever filled it.

Dogg even had a makeshift saddlebag on, filled with some of the freeze dried meals. It had not slowed him down at all. Jimbo said he could be trained as a cart dog and she felt it was high time she started his training. The small cart should do the trick; all she need was the harness Kidd had made back at Treetop.

She shrugged out of her pack and went to the boy’s cart digging down. She had almost left it back at the bunker thinking they could just make another one. Now she was happy that she didn’t.

‘Come here Dogg.’ She called and the puppy bounced to her. She took off the saddlebag and put the harness on. He did not even care about the new harness as she put the bags back on him.

‘What are you doing?’ Kidd asked confused.

‘We are going to start his training as a cart dog.’ She told him putting her pack back on. She grabbed the ties of the dog’s harness with one hand, and the handle of the cart with the other. ‘I hope we can get him to drag the little cart for us.’ The boy smiled.

‘That’s a good idea.’ He said. ‘Jimbo said he could.’ Page nodded and tied the harness leads to the corners of the big cart. She moved under the one on the right so she could get to the cart’s handle. Dogg’s parentage showed a lot that day as he helped Page drag the carts.

By the time they set camp, the normally hyperactive pup, was calm and lay beside Page’s chair panting and wagging his tail. Kidd giggled and looked to Page.

‘I think he had fun.’ He said before spooning more of his chili into his mouth.

‘Me too. We will try him with his own cart tomorrow.’ She said. ‘I will split the load in the little cart between our carts just until he gets used to pulling on his own. I don’t want to make him do too much at once.’ She reached down and pet the dog’s head. He groaned and roll over showing her his belly. ‘You’re such a silly critter.’ She chuckled scratching his belly. She looked back to Kidd. ‘Did you get enough? I know it’s not as much as we ate in the basement, but I want to ration our food until we can get some where with more places to check.’

‘It’s good.’ Kidd assured her. ‘The bread you made is filling.’ He blushed and tossed her an open packet. It had red licorice in it. ‘I found those in my pack and I have been eating them all day.’ Page chuckled tossing them back. ‘Do you want some?’

‘No thanks,’ she told him scooping the last of her chili up with a hunk of bread. ‘I don’t like licorice. But if you find any chocolate in there, you better plan on sharing.’ He grinned and reached into his bag before tossing her a sealed bag of miniature chocolate bars. ‘What else do you have in there?’ she chuckled amused.

‘I haven’t gone through it all yet.’ He admitted ‘I found a really good first aid kit though. It is better than the one we had in my old pack.’ She nodded impressed.

‘I slipped in a jar of powdered hot chocolate mix in the big cart.’ She confessed. ‘I know we didn’t need it, but I thought it would be a nice treat for us on those miserable rainy days.’

‘Can we have some now?’ he asked, and then frowned. ‘Never mind. I think your right. We should save it for cold days.’ He looked up to the sky. ‘I think it will rain again tomorrow.’ Page had been thinking the same thing. That was why she had set up their lean-to and made sure their cots were under it before she started their diner. The weather had been miserable since they left the bunker. If Ty and Theo were not expecting them, she would have kept them at the Macaroy house for another month when the good weather would start.

Kidd pulled out his radio and turned it onto the Mouth. The last few weeks all he reported on was the ripper migration. There were far less reports of settlements being over run this year and Page guessed it was because people knew it was coming this time. Even those south of the snow line had reported less problems.

‘This next part is for my two worried marine friends.’ Mouth said after the reports. ‘I have eyes on our fiery redhead and she and her boy are back on the road after a few days rest. They are looking good and I think they had chili for dinner tonight. If your hearing this girl, you have got to tell me where you found that.’ Page chuckled amused shaking her head. She raised her middle finger up to the sky grinning at the giggling Kidd. ‘Wow that was just rude. In other news,’ Page grabbed her bottle of water taking a sip. This was from the river and she was surprised how well the water filter worked on it. It was worth the extra weight to her cart.

As she did every night, she pulled her atlas and phone book out to check the road ahead. They would reach the first bridge in the morning. Page could see if off in the distance, but they were both tired and decided to hold off on crossing it until morning.

She looked to the south confused. Everyone warned her this area was barren, and she had expected empty fields as far as the eye could see. What she had not expected was the thick woods everywhere. The last field they had seen was back at the Macaroy house. Even there however, there were strong signs of nature retaking the fields and she had spotted several saplings growing.

If they had their bows, she was sure they could hunt those woods and find plenty of wild life. Now that spring was here, she knew there was a ton of edible plants growing and just waiting to be harvested. Those at the bunker must have been city people like the islanders back by Treetop. They had no clue just how plentiful Mother Nature was. With a sigh, she closed the atlas and looked to Kidd.

I am turning in little man.’ She told him standing. ‘Make sure your stuff is covered. If it rains tonight, we don’t want it to get wet.’ He nodded and she went under their make shift shelter. Page crawled into her sleeping bag and sleep came almost instantly.

Crossing the bridge brought more forest. There were more houses then Page expected to find as well. They were a little ways from the road, but easy to reach. Even though they needed no more supplies, Page stopped them several times. She wanted to go check a few of the buildings. She did it only because she was still afraid to. Fear had nearly killed them both, and she did not intend to make that mistake again. She had to overcome this at all cost.

Her trips came with a payoff however. She noticed there were horse trailers at many of the homes they had passed. All of them were designed to be pulled by trucks, so Page had never considered them as a replacement for the pull carts. At a house attached to a large field however, she found an old horse drawn buckboard wagon.

Someone had treated the wood and taken great care to keep it safe from the weather. Taking her time to look over the wagon, she was impressed with the condition of the wood. The bed was a good ten feet long and four feet wide. The sides were only nine inches deep, but she could see where rails could be put in to help keep it’s contents in. Looking around, she found the rails and four new wheels next to a tool bench. She did not know what tools were needed to change a wheel, so she grabbed everything and put it all into the wagon along with a few books she spotted.

After releasing the breaks, she grabbed the yoke and pulled with everything she had. Page almost fell on her face as the wagon rolled easily. She regained her balance and headed back toward the road. It was easy to pull, until she went off the pavement.

Kidd’s eyes widened in shock as soon as he spotted her coming. He ran and helped pull the wagon up onto the road. As soon as Page caught her breath, she smiled to the boy.

‘No,’ she chuckled ‘I have not lost my mind. It is easy to pull on pavement. Give it a shot.’ He looked dubious, but grabbed the yoke and pulled. The boy stumbled as the wagon moved easily. Page grabbed him stopping the wagon.

‘Wow that’s cool!’ he said excited. ‘If we can find some horses, they can pull it for us.’ Page chuckled nodding.

‘That’s the idea.’ She assured him putting the brakes on. ‘Mouth’s been broadcasting about people riding horses to travel. The rippers are afraid of them and bother no one traveling that way.’ She patted the wagon. ‘It is light now, but I have a feeling once we load it up, it is going to get very heavy. All three of us will have to work together to pull it.’ Kidd nodded and dragged his cart over.

Working together the two transferred over the contents of the carts, and then packed the three carts away. As Page suspected, the wagon was much harder to pull now. With the three working together however, they did a good job moving it. Concentrating on pulling the wagon accomplished something else however. They covered a lot of ground without realizing it.

When it came time to make camp, all three of them were beat. Dogg scarfed his food before flopping beside his bowl and going to sleep. Page was a little jealous of the dog. She still had to make dinner before she could go to sleep.

‘Can’t we just sleep?’ Kidd whined laying on his cot.

‘No,’ Page scolded. ‘No skipping meals young man. We will heat up some of that jarred Mexican chicken soup you like so much.’ With a sigh, he sat up and went to the wagon. As she cooked, the boy pulled out the left over fry bread from yesterday’s dinner. Despite his protest, he ate everything she gave him and all of his bread. Page smiled as she watched the boy crawl into his bed without even cleaning his plate.

Understanding how the boy felt, she did not have it in her to yell at him. Page cleaned the dishes and then crawled into her own bed.

Submitted: January 17, 2016

© Copyright 2021 CJones. All rights reserved.


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