Reads: 205

Elliot looked as surly as usual and stood glowering at the training kids. He looked to them and nodded. As soon as the tree joined them, he peered at her bow.

‘Knew you were no civi.’ He said ‘That's a Spartan six series. How did you get your hands on it? They never issued them.’

‘We found them at our old base.’ Ty said. ‘They were locked in the armory.’ He offered Elliot his hand. ‘Sargent Lance Tylor. US Marines.’ Elliot accepted his hand.

‘Lt. Commander Elliot Spencer. Spec Ops. Not much more I can tell you.’ He said and Ty nodded.

‘Most people I would call bullshit on that.’ Ty chuckled ‘The fact you recognized the Spartan, means you had a high class security pass.’ Elliot did not reply and looked to Page.

‘Page Gallagher.’ She chuckled ‘Housekeeper.’ He flinched and Page knew she surprised him. She did not know why everyone mistook her for former military. ‘Kidd said my brace was done.’ He nodded.

‘I need to see you shoot first.’ He told her. ‘Then I will fit you with what I have and see if it works.’ Page nodded and went to the last target. They had them fifty yards from the firing line and that lacked a challenge. She moved back a hundred yards and drew an arrow.

She aimed and blocked out the world around her. One arrow after another, slammed into the targets center. She had made it to the fourth arrow when the ache in her left wrist started. The eighth arrow went high and to the right by four inches as a sharp pain rippled through her right wrist.

‘Stop.’ Elliot commanded. Page did as told and he took the bow from her setting it aside. ‘I thought I recognized you.’ He said nodding. ‘You’re the same Page Gallagher who took the national championship a couple of years before the fall. I saw you blow your companion away and then just took your trophy and walked away. No fuss no muss.’ Page shrugged. ‘They were looking for marksmen at the time for a special project and we flagged your file.’

‘I have a file?’ She said with a raised eyebrow.

‘Everyone has a file.’ He did not elaborate and took ahold of her right wrist studying her scars close. Elliot shook his head. ‘You put up one hell of a fight to get scars this deep.’ He slipped a leather brace onto her arm. Page took a close look at it as he tied up the rawhide laces.

It was made with a stiff dark leather that ceovered halfway up her forearm to just below her knuckles. The leather wrapped around her hand covering her palm but left plenty of space for her thumb to move with no restriction. She did not know what he had used to line the inside, but it felt soft and cool against her skin.

To her surprise, he slipped a second one onto her left wrist. Once the laces were tied, he motioned her to keep shooting. Page worried she would be restricted, but she had almost full movement in both wrist. Picking up her bow, she noticed the weapon still felt comfortable in her hand.

Shooting one arrow after another, Page hit her mark every shot and with no pain. She smiled seeing her last arrow out of twenty-five, hit its target. She grinned to Elliot.

‘You’re a genius.’ She told him. ‘They work great.’ He nodded looking pleased.

‘Good.’ He said. ‘I couldn’t stand myself if I let an artist like yourself get slowed down by some wrist trouble.’ Page blushed at the compliment.

‘I have to admit.’ Ty chuckled. ‘I was skeptical when she told me she used a bow. For the life of me, I could not understand why she did not want to learn rifles. Even brought an extra rifle in case I could get her to change her mind.’ He motioned to the arrows in the target. ‘Now I get it. The bow makes almost no noise at all.’

‘And it’s lighter.’ Page told him. ‘The ammo is light and reusable so long as you don't damage them.’ He nodded.

‘When you raided that base,’ Elliot said ‘were those the arrows in the red container?’ At Ty’s nod the man smiled which surprised her. He did not seem like the kind of guy who smiled a lot. ‘You won't need to worry about damaging them. The arrows are made of the same material as the bow. May have to replace a guide feather or two, but the shafts will never fail you.’ She was curious what material they used. Page wondered if she asked if she would get an answer. The US government no longer existed, but other than Ty and Theo, anyone she had met who served were reluctant to speak of military secrets. ‘Do the braces pinch anywhere?’

Page flexed her hand and rotated her wrist as much as she could. There was no pinching and the brace fit her comfortably. She shook her head and smiled to him.

‘They are very comfortable.’ She said ‘About payment.’ Page motioned to the box Ty was still holding. ‘That should be enough to cover it.’ Elliot frowned confused but went to where Ty set the box down on a small table. Page popped the lock and opened the top. Elliot’s frown deepened at the sight of the gold and silver coins filling the inside of the box. He looked to Page.

‘I will take four of each.’ He said ‘The whole thing is too much. You already gave this town enough.’ Page shrugged

‘Take it all.’ She told him. ‘It is weighing us down. There should be enough there to build your tannery.’ He took out the eight coins.

‘This is enough. The boy knows how to clean, repair and adjust the braces.’ He pocketed the coins and walked away.

‘What a stubborn pain in the ass.’ Page chuckled amused.

‘He reminds me of you when your talking to mouth.’ Kidd said.

‘Brat.’ Page chuckled giving him a light shove. The boy smiled up to her and Page retuned it. She looked back to the target happy to see all of her arrows in a tight group. ‘You both did a great job.’ Page said looking down to the leather glove.

‘It really doesn’t hurt anymore?’ Kidd asked worried taking her right hand into his. He checked over the seams of the brace.

‘Not even a little.’ She assured him. ‘How long am I am I able to wear them at a time?’

‘We made them with a special cloth in the inside.’ He told her. ‘Mr. Elliot told me he brought it with him from his old base. He told me you can wear them all the time if you want too. You should still do the physical therapy in the mornings and at night. Mr. Elliot said if you don’t, it will get really bad.’ Page nodded intending to continue the therapy.

‘Thank you Kidd.’ She told him. ‘Are you going to go with us to dinner tonight, or go to Gwen’s again?’

‘I’ll go with you guys.’ He said. ‘I want to look at the books I traded for.’

‘What books?’ Ty asked

‘Mr. Elliot had some good books on leather working.’ Kidd said excited. ‘He even showed me how to make the seams in our winter gear water proof.’ He grinned up to Ty. ‘I can make you a coat too. I just need bigger furs.’

‘We will take care of that on the road.’ Page assured the boy. ‘Tucker told me there is a big herd of elk to the east of here. We will save the freeze dried stuff for an emergency. I have picked up a few tips from the slaughterhouse on how to cure and preserve meat on the road. I want to see if I can get an elk and play around a little.’

‘Will you show me?’ He asked. ‘You promised you show me how to get big game after I messed up with that deer.’

‘You didn’t mess up.’ Page scolded. ‘How many times do I have to tell you?’

‘What deer?’ Ty asked.

‘Just before he was shot,’ Page started. ‘He shot at what he thought was a rabbit in the thick brush. Turned out to be a deer leg. It went running off and he tried to find it to end it’s suffering. That’s when that dumbass shot him.’

‘How is that a mess up?’ He asked frowning.

‘That’s what I have been trying to get through his head.’ Page chuckled. ‘Let’s go eat. We all need to talk anyway.’ Kidd ran to the target and pulled the arrows from target. He ran them back to her. ‘Thanks Kidd.’ She put the arrows away and the three went to the inn. They took their usual seat near the fireplace.

‘Are you going to try something new this time?’ Ty teased her. ‘I think I have to take Kidd’s side on this one. Your addiction to stake is disturbing.’

‘You two just leave me be and let me enjoy my stake.’ She said unable to keep from smiling. A short man with a big belly went to their table smiling.

‘You’re all early tonight.’ He greeted.

‘How’s the baby Felix?’ Ty asked

‘Good and healthy.’ The big man chuckled ‘She is eating us out of house and home.’ He looked to Page. ‘We have an excellent midwife.’

‘I have a stash of condoms.’ Page said giving him a sweet smile.

‘Gross mom.’ Kidd said annoyed. The adults smiled amused.

‘Well, I know what Page is going to want.’ Felix said ‘For the others however, I have pot roast, or apple glazed pork chops.’ Both Ty and Kidd called for the pork chops at the same time. Once they finished ordering and Felix left, Page looked seriously to the two.

‘We need to talk about when we will leave.’ She said ‘We have one more lesson with Stanly the day after tomorrow.’ She looked to Kidd who was frowning. ‘The longer we wait to go, the harder it will be to leave.’ He nodded.

‘I know mom.’ He sighed.

‘We should go after your lesson.’ Ty suggested. ‘The wagon will be all hooked up, and you normally have them in the morning. Why not load the wagon tomorrow night and then, just head out after your lesson.’

It was a sound plan, but Page felt a little bad not giving Tucker and his family more notice that they were leaving. The last two weeks with them had been the most fun they have had since they left Treetop.

‘Okay.’ She sighed. ‘I will head to Tucker’s after we eat and tell them.’ Ty nodded but Page felt horrible. Kidd looked like he had just been punched.

 

‘You had better take care of yourself and that boy.’ Tucker warned as he hugged Page tight. The wagon was all loaded up and the horses were hitched. The quartermaster Stanly was standing by atop his horse waiting for them to finish with their goodbyes. ‘If you don’t I will hunt you down and give you hell.’ He peered at her. ‘You know I can.’ Page smiled nodding.

‘I will never doubt that.’ She told him. ‘You all just remember what I told you. When I get to the cabin, I will build a house nearby. That will be your place. Come or not. You know you always have a home there.’ Martha wiped the tears from her eyes and Gwen handed the woman one of her tissues.

‘Oh Page.’ Martha sighed hugging her next. ‘I am so proud of the woman you have become.’ She released her smiling. ‘You are a strong and amazing young woman. This world is ugly and horrible. Never let it change you.’

‘I promise.’ Page told her. Dan went to her keeping his head low. She knew the thirteen year old did not want her to see he was crying. ‘Hi Dan.’ She greeted. He sniffed.

‘I didn’t get a chance because of Brett.’ He said so low she almost did not understand him. ‘Thank you for the book. I still have it.’ Page smiled and pulled the boy into a hug.

‘You’re welcome.’ She said sighing. ‘You take care of these guys okay? One day, when the world calms down a little, you come see us.’ He nodded and pulled away wiping at his face. Tucker helped Page lift Dogg up into the wagon before Page climbed up into the seat.

She could not look back as she drove the wagon down the road to the interstate. If she looked back, she would start to cry and she was not sure if she would ever be able to stop again. Kidd was quiet at her side as Ty rode his horse beside the wagon.

The two fjord horses Helena had given them differed from any horse Page had ever seen before. They were huge and Stanly had told her they were small draft horses that used to pull the king’s carriage during the parades. The girl was Elly and she was a light dun with a black and white mane cut very short. The male was Buck who was a shade darker then Elly with a white tail and mane cut the same. They were both friendly and worked well together. They had proven their patients more than once with Page.

‘You look good.’ Stanly told her when they hit the interstate. ‘Just watch out of those damn pot holes. Our people have filled the bad ones, but even a small one can mess up a wheel and you only have four.’ Page nodded.

‘Thanks Stanly.’ She said ‘Steven mentioned that there were a few other settlements with horses along the interstate. Do they have people that can fix wagons if we need it?’ He shrugged.

‘I know some of them sent people last year for a few yearlings we had.’ He said ‘They seemed knowledgeable in horses. If Elly or Buck need care, I would count on them. Don’t know about the wagons though. First one I know of is in Superior.’ He peered at the road. ‘Make sure you get their shoes checked if you’re going to keep to the road. If you wise up and leave the road, they won’t need shoes. That’s what I love about the fjords. They are good horses in conditions like these.’ Page nodded. ‘Good journey folks. Watch for the rippers.’ He turned his horse from them and rode back toward the castle.

Page sighed and made a clacking noise with her tongue giving a light flick to the lines. Elly and Buck started forward again and she turned them east. For an hour, no one spoke a word. Page’s mind kept going back to what they had just left and she was questioning her sanity. She had never seen Kidd this miserable. Even when they left Treetop, he had bounced back and was looking forward to moving on. She shook her head and pulled back on the lines. Elly and Buck came to a stop. Both Ty and Kidd looked to her. Page’s eyes were on Kidd however. The boy had been crying at some point and his eyes were red and puffy.

‘I am sorry.’ She said. ‘I assumed you would want to go and never gave you a choice. We had security back at the castle. Friends, and Helena even offered me a home in there nobles quarter. We can go back. I can contact Mic and tell him where we are.’ Kidd was silent for a long time and then he scowled shaking his head.

‘No.’ He said with such conviction it surprised her. ‘We have been through too much.’ He glared at the way they had come. ‘We have to go to NY now.’ He looked to her. ‘It's the principle of the thing.’ She thought about it for a moment and then agreed.

‘All right little man.’ Page told him ruffling his hair. ‘The castle is our fall back until we find a new one.’ He nodded and she started up the wagon again.

‘What’s a fall back?’ Ty asked and she knew he was just trying to get their minds off leaving the castle.

‘It’s were we fall back to if anything bad happens.’ Kidd explained. ‘Treetop is our other one.’ He frowned. ‘Mr. Elliot is going to call Floyd. He was thinking about going to Treetop and leaving the Castle.’

‘I can’t say I blame him.’ Ty said. ‘His stall was buried in the middle of the city away from the trader’s square and they refuse to let him work his leathers the way he wants.’ Kidd nodded.

‘He said when we get a ham to call the castle and see if he left.’ The boy informed them. ‘If he did, I have to give him time to get to treetop and he will tell me some more tricks working the hides.’ Ty shook his head.

‘You are going to grow to be an amazing leather worker at this rate.’ He chuckled. ‘We should see if we can find a library for more books on it.’

‘I was thinking the same thing.’ Page said frowning. ‘Not just for leather working though. I think our trade will benefit if we start caring more skill books.’

‘That's what Hank was asking for wasn't it?’ Kidd asked and Page nodded.

‘The people at the bunker had no skills useful to surviving this world.’ She explained to Ty. ‘Well other than Hank who is a doctor.’

‘They will need to learn fast.’ Ty said worried. ‘I have been listening to Mouth a lot lately. There have been increased raider attacks in the south since the start of the northern migration. As soon as the rippers settle in up here, I am afraid it will start up here.’ Page shook her head annoyed. She had heard things would get worse before it got better. Hopefully, the better times were coming, because things were pretty crappy at the moment.


Submitted: January 26, 2016

© Copyright 2021 CJones. All rights reserved.

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