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As she had for the last three weeks since she was freed from the bastard, Page woke up sore and miserable. That was, until she remembered her last conversation before she had fallen asleep. She smiled thinking of the boy she loved as a son. The sheer determination on his face when he announced that she was his mother had filled her with pure joy. That boy would grow to be an amazing man.

Moving slowly, she eased out of the bed and limped to the bathroom. Turning on the light she looked into the mirror over the sink. She was still pale. So pale the lavender of her eyes stuck out more than normal. Her face and neck were the only unbruised parts of her body. The bastard had told her he did not have the heart to mar her face any worse than it already was. He had worked hard the first three days not to scar her. It had not been until that last day that he had lost all patients with her and broke out what he called his toys.

The whip ripping into her back more than a dozen times, as he demanded she fear him, had left the worst of the damage externally. Hank told her the beanbag shot from his shotgun catching her in the ribs, had been the near fatal shot however. The beanbag had broken three of her ribs damaging one of her lungs. Four days of being beaten on, ended in a collapsed lung. Had the bastard decided not to kill her, and had Kidd and Ulysses not saved her, she would have been dead before the end of the day.

Page shook her head not wanting to think of it anymore. There was no point dwelling on such things. It was bad enough the nightmares every time she slept reminded her. She used the toilet and then washed her hands. Back in her room, she found Hank waiting for her.

‘Well you are moving around surprisingly well considering.’ He said with a sad smile.

‘Can it Doc.’ Page sighed ‘What’s the news?’ The look in his eyes said it all. She had been dreading this visit, but at least now, she would know.

‘The STD test were all negative.’ He told her. Page did not relax however. She sat on the bed watching him waiting. ‘So was the pregnancy test.’ She closed her eyes and let out a sigh of relief. Pregnancy was the last thing she needed to deal with on the road, let alone having to carry the bastard’s kid.

‘Thank god.’ She said and looked back to him. He was not smiling. ‘What?’ she asked worried.

‘Martin sent a party to the cabin to get your belongings.’ Hank said sounding ill. ‘Page, those skulls you told us about. Those were just his victims since the world ended. He had scrapbooks. There were hundreds before the fall. Men, women, children. He had no preference so long as they feared him.’ The news did not surprise her; however, she could not contain her shiver of disgust.

‘I know.’ She said swallowing the bile that had formed in the back of her throat. ‘He liked to brag.’ She shook her head and looked to him. ‘He smashed my phone and ham. The bastard took pleasure in doing it in front of me.’ Hank nodded

‘We found the pieces.’ He said sitting down. ‘Kidd’s cart made it, yours was broken, and he ripped the wheels off of it. We found most of your stuff.’

‘Did my pack make it?’ She asked. Page was not worried about the cart. She could always find another one. The high end hiking pack however had her music drive, list of rules, and mp3 player hidden in it.

‘It was fine. He left it sitting on the floor of the cabin.’ Hank told her. ‘Martin is moving everything into the room he gave Kidd.’ Hank frowned confused. ‘Where is he?’

‘My son,’ she said chest swelling at saying the name. ‘is hopefully outside raising hell with Dogg, Ulysses, and Roy. The boy worries too much, and I did not want him stuck in this room waiting for me to get better.’ Hank nodded frowning.

‘Page I know you two did not want to stay here for the winter.’ He started nervous. ‘The weather outside has gotten miserable. There was even frost on the ground this morning. You will need physical therapy for your back and wrist, with a minimum two more months for a full recovery.’

‘We will stay.’ She assured him before he could continue. His eyes widened in surprise. Page sighed shaking her head. ‘Like I told Martin before. When it comes to my son, all rational thinking goes right out the door. When we left that first time, I was still pissed about what had happened. Aside from that, we have had bad experiences staying with people during the winter. Until we both heal up, I think this may be the best place for us.’ Hank nodded.

‘Martin will be pleased.’ Hank said nodding. ‘He was afraid you would try to leave again as soon as you were stronger. I was even ready to give Ulysses all the booze we have in the base to keep you here.’ Page chuckled amused and shook her head. ‘Well, now that is settled, would you object if we enrolled Kidd into our school? It will help keep him busy and his mind off of you.’

Page loved the idea. She had done her best on the road to be sure the boy could at least read, write, and do basic math. A teacher she was not however.

‘Yes,’ she replied. ‘I will talk to him when he comes back down. He is a smart boy and I am sure he will do well in your classes.’

‘And how about you?’ Martin said from the door. ‘You need to keep busy too. Would you be interested in teaching a class on survival while you are here?’ Page frowned confused. He shrugged. ‘You have a million times more experience out there than any of us do. What little we picked up on that broken old ham radio, things are out of control outside of this base. If my people will be running around out there, I want them to have a fighting chance.’ Page nodded her agreement.

‘Hank says you found a bunch of our stuff at the bastard’s place?’ She asked. Martin nodded confused. ‘Find my son. Ask him to get the radio out of my pack. You can have that. It is not a ham, just a regular am/fm radio that you can plug in. Listen to Mouth’s broadcast and you will learn a lot about what is happening out there.’ She frowned thoughtful. The bastard had taken her watch, but she was sure it was still September. That gave them between five and six months of crappy weather where travel would be impossible. If they would be stuck in this underground bunker for that long, she would go nuts if she had nothing to do. She looked back to Martin. ‘Did my bow survive?’

‘I am sorry, but no.’ He said looking sad. ‘He destroyed both of your bows and all the arrows. The only things that made it were your bats.’ Page sighed disappointed. She was not surprised, but it was all right. She would find replacements for everything they lost easy enough.

‘All right. You have us until spring.’ She sighed ‘I can’t promise we will stay the whole time. Kidd and I tend to get restless and may wander a little. I am curious about that settlement north of here, and I know there is a town to the south. I will want to go there to see if we can replace some of what we lost.’ Martin nodded perking up.

‘Excellent.’ Hank said with a smile. ‘I will be the first to sign up for your class. I want to hear more about the plants you told me about.’ Page nodded ‘I want to give you one more checkup, and then I will release you from medical. The room Martin gave Kidd has two beds in it. Will you want to share with him?’ Page nodded and then regretted the movement as pain shot up her back. ‘Easy.’ Hank soothed.

‘Back injuries suck.’ She sighed. Martin nodded sympathetic. She frowned to Hank. ‘When can I take a shower? I feel like I have been rolling around in a slime pit.’

‘Your room has a shower you will be able to use.’ He informed her going to her side. She felt him open the back of her hospital gown. ‘I will have a shower chair delivered to your room. I do not want you standing for long periods of time.’

‘No problem Hank.’ Page sighed a little frustrated at how slow she was healing.

‘I cannot believe how fast you are healing.’ Hank said, and she looked to him confused. ‘I know it does not seem like it to you, but you are healing at an amazing rate. Even where we had to put the chest tube in, is closing nicely. I think I will be able to remove the stitches soon. You’re about a week ahead of where you should be with such wounds.’

‘So I can go to the room?’ She asked. ‘No offense Hank, but it stinks down here.’ He chuckled amused as he stood up.

‘I imagine it would after spending so much time outside.’ He said. ‘You are free to go. I have some cloths you can change into and I will send a nurse in to help you.’ He looked to Martin. ‘Can you send someone to find Kidd and tell him where she will be? We do not need a repeat of what happened a few weeks ago.’ Page frowned worried.

‘What happened?’ She asked looking to Martin. The man frowned shaking his head.

‘It was when you two first got back.’ He explained. ‘They needed to take you into surgery and Kidd did not want to leave your side. We had to sedate him to get him to calm down. When he woke up, we told him you were fine, but he would have none of it. He broke Stewart’s wrist and dislocated Zylen’s finger. By the time we caught up with him, he had found you in recovery. Every time we tried to get him to leave your side, he became violent.’ Page wanted to be mad that Kidd had given them so much trouble, but she could not help but to be proud that the boy had been so adapt at taking care of himself.

‘I will talk to him as soon as I see him.’ Page promised. Martin nodded and left. Hank followed only to be replace by a nurse Page had learned was called, Blaire.

Blaire helped Page dress in a loose fitting gray sweat suit. It was far more comfortable than Page had expected it to be. Blaire helped her ease down into a chair and then wheeled her out of the room. Hank was waiting for her near the door. He handed her a brown paper bag.

‘Pain killers, antibiotics, and something to help you sleep.’ He told her. ‘Just follow the instructions on the bottles.’ He frowned ‘The sleeping pills will help with the nightmares.’ Page nodded grateful for them. The last thing she wanted to do was wake Kidd up in the middle of the night screaming. She had done so for every night since her release. ‘I will stop by in the morning and at night to give you a checkup. More so I can try to win some of my dignity back at cards.’ Page chuckled amused.

‘I wouldn’t if I were you.’ Blaire said wistfully ‘I am sure she cheats. I just have not figured out how yet.’ Hank laughed and shook his head. Blaire pushed her down a series of long drab hallways. Page shook her head.

‘Girl, you have to talk to Martin about painting this place something other than olive green. It is so depressing.’

‘Tell me about it.’ Blaire sighed. ‘When we could finally go outside, I collected a bunch of stuff to decorate my room with. It looks like fall all the time now. I cannot wait until next spring. Martin has plans to set up homes outside of the base.’

Page remained quiet and slipped into thought. She understood them wanting to leave the base. The underground shelter had no fence surrounding the stone entrance however. In fact, it had almost no security, which was odd. Martin had told her it was a former military shelter he and the others over took during the fall.

He and the others had seen the military convoy pass through their town as all hell was breaking loose. Out of sheer desperation, they had followed the convoy to the base. Those assigned to this shelter had been military medical personnel and a handful of soldiers. Most of the soldiers had not wanted to let them in. As Martin stood before the armed men alone yelling to let his people in, several in both groups succumbed to the ripper virus and became violent. Working together, both groups overcame the attack, and the survivors fled into the shelter.

These people did not understand what was waiting for them out there. They did not need to fear the rippers; however, they would be easy pray to the raiders and depraved psychos like the bastard.

‘Here we are.’ Blaire said. ‘I will be back in a little while with that shower chair.’ Page nodded and stood using the chairs armrest for support.

She opened the door to find a small room with bunk beds to the right of the door. On the left was a small kitchenette. There was a small desk next to the bunk beds and beside that was a door that led off to a shower area. Hanging on the wall was a TV that was on and showing cartoons. In the far right corner, was what little Martin’s people had retrieved from the cabin.

‘I know it's not much.’ Martin said joining her. ‘All the rooms are like this. We are planing to move topside as soon as spring comes.’ Page frowned

‘Yeah, Blaire mentioned that.’ She said sitting down on the lower bunk. Kidd's stuff was spread out on the top bunk. Page told Martin her fears of them leaving the shelter. He was quiet the whole time she spoke. With a sigh, the man nodded.

‘I agree with your concerns.’ He said ‘I had been thinking about it since you and Kidd first came here. We had no idea how bad it was out there and I am just understanding how horrible people can be to each other without some kind of law to keep them in check.’

‘It’s not all bad.’ Page told him. ‘The last several settlements we have stopped at, have been great. Of course, they have their own law system in place. Some even have patrols on their roads to prevent raiders from moving in.’ Martin nodded and gave her a small smile.

‘Thank you Page.’ He said straightening. ‘You have given me a lot to think about.’ She nodded, and he left her closing the door behind him. Page lay down sighing. Her back was already bothering her from the little she had done.

She felt as if she had just closed her eyes when the door opened again. Kidd was pulling in a cart she recognized from the kitchens. With him came an amazing smell that seemed familiar. He grinned at her.

‘I’m glad you’re awake.’ The boy said practically bouncing ‘Wait till you see what I got.’ She frowned confused as she sat up on the bed. ‘I didn’t know when your birthday was, so I decided today is your birthday.’ He moved to the cart and took the cover off the plate nearest to her. Unexpected tears filled Page’s eyes at the sight of the spam, egg, and cheese sandwich on the plate. Page grabbed the worried boy and hugged him tight. ‘You don’t like it?’ He asked frowning up to her. Page kissed his forehead.

‘I love it sweetheart.’ She said wiping the tears away. It was not the sandwich that had moved her so much as it was the fact that he remembered the story she had told him last year and her desire to have the special sandwich again. ‘How?’ She asked amazed looking the toasted bread over.

‘I traded for it.’ He told her grinning proudly. ‘I told Mr. Logan that if he could make the sandwiches for us, I would give him my little Walkman so he could listen to Mouth.’ Page flinched.

‘You spoke to him?’ She asked surprised. Kidd nodded and looked her right in the eye.

‘All wounds heal.’ He said seriously. Page shook her head never felling so proud in her life.

‘Now you’re getting it tiger.’ She said ruffling his hair. ‘Let’s eat. I am starved.’

Submitted: January 09, 2016

© Copyright 2021 CJones. All rights reserved.


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