Reads: 166

Page woke feeling absolutely miserable. They were back on the road and Kidd was driving the wagon. She had been asleep on her cot in the back. Ty offered her some water and she had to sip it carefully. Her jaw was so sore she could only open it a little. ‘I have some soup for you.’ He said handing her a cup with tomato soup in it.

‘Thanks love.’ She tried to say and winced. He nodded looking worried. ‘How long have I been out?’

‘All day.’ He told her moving to sit beside her on the cot. She leaned into his arms and sipped the soup. ‘Warren back at Dexter has of course told Mouth how you flew in and rescued the whole settlement from the raiders. Page rolled her eyes and he let out a deep laugh. ‘Sorry babe. You’re famous and there is nothing you can do to stop it. ‘We do have some good news. A trader we ran into this morning says the roads east are all clear. There is a second behemoth past Rochester and the city was retaken. So far, we have a clear path all the way into Wisconsin.’ Page nodded and regretted it as a sharp pain ran through her whole head and neck.

‘Here,’ Theo said and she frowned not seeing him join them. He was offering her a pill. ‘it will help with the pain.’

‘Thanks.’ She took the pill and sipped the soup washing it down. ‘Theo, I think I am loosing bits of time. I didn’t see you coming over.’

‘You fell asleep.’ Theo assured her. ‘I think you have a concussion. It is why we kept waking you up last night. Once you finish you soup, you should go back to sleep. Between that ass hitting you, and what you did to yourself, you are quite a mess.’

‘Yeah well, it got us free, so I think I can live with a few more scars and a headache.’ She told him before sipping the soup again.

‘Ty, Kidd, and I were speaking last night.’ Theo said ‘We keep going over what happened and cannot think of a way to prevent it from happening again.’ Page frowned thinking over the ambush at Dexter. She had thought over it herself as Theo patched her up. She had not come up with a way to avoid the ambush. ‘Ty came up with an idea and we wished to run it past you.’ Page looked to Ty.

‘When we know we are coming up to a settlement,’ Ty said ‘I think Theo and I should scout it first. If we did at Dexter, we would have found those men waiting in the field and none of this would have happened.’

‘I agree with the plan.’ Page told them. ‘Only thing is, you will have to be sure not to be seen by the settlement. If they spot you sneaking around, they may mistake you for raiders scouting the place.’

‘We thought the same thing.’ Ty said nodding. ‘We need ghillie suits. There are a few stores we will pass in our travels that sell them. Theo and I will keep our eyes open.’

‘I have seen them in hunting stores.’ Page told them ‘There is a big hunting store in Rochester. We will see if we can trade for a couple.’ Page drained the last of the soup and handed the cup to Ty. ‘Thanks, that was good. It wasn’t canned was it?’

‘No.’ Ty told her as he got up. He helped her lay back down. ‘Dexter loaded us up with a life time worth of homemade canned and freeze dried goods.’ He kissed her on the forehead and covered her with her sleeping bag. ‘Sleep woman. You need rest if you’re going to be beating up more raiders.’ Page smiled as she closed her eyes.

 

Wiping the sweat from her forehead, Page glared up at the clear sky. It was supposed to be fall and it felt like summer. Elly let out a soft nicker reminding her she had been doing something. Page went back to work digging road gravel out of the horse’s hoof. Kidd and Dogg joined her.

‘Is she okay?’ He asked worried.

‘It’s just gravel.’ Page assured him. Her jaw still hurt two weeks after the attack at Dexter. After consulting with both Hank and Sara, Theo was convinced her jaw was broken. In Rochester, they found a portable x-ray machine like Sara had. Unfortunately, they had not yet found a power source to charge it. ‘Did you check Charger?’

Kidd nodded and helped her hold Elly’s massive hoof. Cleaning with one hand was not easy and she appreciated the help. Once it was done, she let him set the hoof down and she stood going to the horse’s head. ‘Good girl Elly.’ She offered her a carrot and the horse accepted it. ‘Is Ty and Theo back yet?’

‘No,’ Kidd started worried ‘it’s been a long time. Should we keep going and check on them?’ Page looked down the road worried. The two had left this morning dressed in ghillie suits to scout the settlement ahead. It was the last one in the state and huge. The Coalition was iffy about it and Page promised to check it out.

‘We will give them until lunch time.’ Page told him ‘Ty said it could take a while.’ Kidd nodded but did not look any less worried. ‘Show me what you were working on last night.’

‘I was just making you and dad a better blanket.’ The boy said leading her to the wagon. He pulled out the fur he had gotten from the deer Ty brought down yesterday. ‘I know you don’t like the sleeping bags anymore because of the zippers.’ Page shook her head amazed as she ran her hand over the well crafted fur.

‘Boy, I wish Floyd and Elliot could see this.’ She told him. ‘I think they would be a little jealous.’ Kidd blushed but grinned at her.

‘I just need more fur to finish it.’ He told her accepting the fur. ‘You and dad are both big and this one fur won’t work to cover you up.’ Page glanced at her right wrist. Theo had casted it, but she knew even after the bone healed, she would never be able to shoot a bow again. She had damaged it so badly; she now had little feeling in her hand and could hardly move her fingers. ‘I can’t shoot anymore, but I can still hunt.’ She looked to him. ‘When the guys get back, we will go out into the woods and see what we can scare up. You can shoot for me.’ Kidd nodded frowning to her hand.

‘Dad said he saw a lot of deer last night.’ The boy told her as he put the fur away. ‘He said there was pig too. We don’t need the meat ourselves, but we could use it as trade at this settlement if it’s safe.’ Page nodded her agreement. She had been thinking along the same lines. They did not need anything at the moment however. Other than two wagon horses anyway.

The Coalition said this next settlement had clydesdales, fjords, and quarter horses for trade. The only problem was the price would be steep. That was what the members of the Coalition were undecided about on the settlement. Some said the settlement was taking advantage of travelers, and others said the price was steep, but fair.

Movement on the road drew her attention to the east. Two figures were walking toward them. Page grabbed a pair of binoculars and looked. Ty and Theo were carrying the ghillie suits and talking as they walked. Both looked in good spirits and she took that as a good sign.

‘There are the boys.’ Page said felling relieved. ‘Let’s make them some lunch. I am sure they will be half starved by the time they get back.’ Kidd nodded and climbed up into the wagon. Page frowned seeing how tight his shorts were. ‘Boy,’ she scolded playfully. ‘what have I told you about growing up so damn fast? Knock it off.’ Kidd giggled as he dug through their supplies. ‘We need to find you some better fitting cloths. I think there is a little town north of here. We will check it out when we go hunting.’

‘Okay.’ Kidd agreed. ‘Dad doesn’t like that stuffed bell pepper soup right?’

‘No he does not.’ Page agreed. ‘See if you can find the last two jars of the chicken tortilla soup. I can help you make the tortillas.’ Kidd frowned to her worried.

‘You can’t eat them though.’ He said and she nodded.

‘You’re going to make some fry bread for me.’ She assured him. ‘If I soak it in the soup it will soften it enough for me to chew.’ Kidd nodded and went back to digging. Page went to the fire and went to work building it up to cook on. She just finished getting the pots and pans ready when the boy joined her with his arms full.

By the time the two men joined them, the meal was finished and ready to eat. Ty grinned accepting his bowl of food and a hand full of tortilla chips.

‘You two are way too good to us.’ He chuckled as he sat down.

‘How did the settlement look?’ Page asked sitting as well.

‘It’s not as big as I thought it would be.’ Theo told them. ‘It’s about the same size as Dexter. They have their gardens and animals outside as well.’

‘They have fjord horses.’ Ty told her. ‘I can finally get Rain back.’ Page chuckled amused.

‘Kidd can have Charger.’ Theo told them. ‘He is the only one that can keep that crazy horse out of the water.’

‘Well,’ Page chuckled. ‘you have to admit; he is appropriately named.’ Theo nodded his agreement. ‘Kidd and I are going hunting after lunch. We will go to the settlement tomorrow.’

‘I need to remove your stitches first.’ Theo said motioning to her jaw. ‘While you’re out, I have another list for you.’ He pulled out a paper and handed it to her. Page looked at it as if it was a snake.

‘I thought you gave up trying to drug me into submission.’ She said worried and Kidd and Ty laughed as Theo blushed.

‘I honestly had no idea that last mix would knock you out like that.’ He said shaking his head. ‘I have not given up on helping trackers. I just wanted to do a little more research before I tried again. That’s why I spent so much time at the library in Rochester.’ He frowned thoughtful. ‘I just wish I could get a proper study to determine why you sense rippers. It would make it much easier to help you.’

‘What would you need?’ Kidd asked. ‘Maybe we could find it for you.’

‘Not likely Kidd.’ Theo told him with a sad smile. ‘Even before the fall, we scientist knew little about how the human brain functions. There were machines being developed to help us see how the brain works. Even if you were able to find one, they are massive in size and require a great deal of power to use. We cannot even find a place to charge the portable x-ray machine.’ Kidd nodded frowning.

‘There were a ton of deer in the woods.’ Ty said frowning ‘I think you should wait until after the settlement to go hunting. We are a lot closer than I thought and may be stepping on some toes hunting here.’ The news made Page frown. One of her unwritten rules was never to hunt near a settlement.

‘You’re right, but it sucks.’ She sighed. ‘I was hoping we could get some more fresh meat to throw in for trade.’

‘I think we will be alright.’ Ty assured her. ‘That last batch of goods we found should be more than enough to get us a couple of horses.’ Her sat phone chirping cut off the rest of what he was about to say.

‘Man,’ Page sighed ‘it was such a good day too.’ She unclipped the phone gearing herself up for whatever bad news Mouth was about to give her. ‘What’s up Mouth?’ She sighed after she turned on the speakerphone.

‘Hello sister.’ Mic chuckled amused.

‘Mic?’ She asked surprised. She had not talked to her brother in months. Mouth had kept her updated on him the best he could. ‘How?’

‘A few of us made a run to Fort Drum for weapons.’ Mic explained. ‘It’s a safe zone so we took our time looking around and found some sat phones. I got your number from Mouth.’

‘Good.’ Page said ‘I am sick of not being able to talk to you.’

‘Yeah, me too.’ He sighed ‘How’s your jaw and wrist? Mouth told me you broke both back at Dexter.’ Page glared at the cast.

‘Sore.’ She admitted. ‘Theo has been keeping me drugged out of my mind so it’s not as bad as it should be.’ Mic chuckled amused. ‘How bad is New York?’ Page asked worried. ‘I have been delaying planning a route until I could talk to you.’

‘I don’t suggest staying on 90.’ Mic told her. ‘Buffalo all the way to Syracuse are a nightmare. Stalkers, rippers, and raiders are killing anything on the road. Even the traders are not brave enough to tread there. Your best bet is taking 17 east Binghamton and then just onto route 12 north. You know the way from there. Once you get into the north east, it will clear up a little. We don’t have a lot of rippers near us. Thought we had stalkers at first, but the local halflings say there aren’t any near us. The rippers just don’t like the Adirondacks. Marcy thinks it’s because it’s always cooler up there.’

‘Sounds about right.’ Page said frowning. ‘We didn’t see a lot in South Dakota either. It was cold there most of the time. How is the cabin?’

‘It’s in good shape.’ Mic assured her. ‘We aren’t there. My group is retaking Hopeville on the south end of North Lake. We will only be a few miles from the cabin.’

‘Hopeville?’ Page said frowning in thought. She remembered seeing signs for the town, but had never gone into it.

Anytime she went to the cabin, she brought everything she needed and never had to go to town. The cabin was on the south side of South Lake. There had been a few houses on the north side, but people never came to the south end. The woods were too wild and packed full of dangers that most hikers and hunters did not want to risk. Only her grandfather had been insane enough to buy and build on the land.

‘Yes.’ Mic confirmed. ‘By the time I got here, I had about twenty people with me. The cabin never would have been big enough for all of us. So we retook Hopeville from the rippers. The place was a mess, but we have fixed it up nice and now we are self sufficient.’

‘I don’t think I ever went there.’ Page admitted. ‘In fact, I don’t think I ever went near North Lake.’

‘Me either.’ Mic admitted. ‘It is a good sized town and we have room for two hundred. More if we expand onto the lake.’

‘We passed a settlement that was built on a lake.’ Kidd said excited. ‘They had a bunch of barges tired together and we traded for a ton of fresh fish.’

‘That’s what Marcy wants to do.’ Mic chuckled. ‘She has been pushing to start before winter. I am more worried about the wall around the settlement. I want it up before next spring’s migration.’

‘I am with you brother.’ Page said frowning. ‘Until you grow close to exceeding housing requirements, new homes on the lake should take a back burner.’

‘That’s what I keep telling her.’ He chuckled. ‘The woman is as bull headed as you are. Kidd, I have heard over the radio that you’re an accomplished leather worker. If you all decide to stay in town, we have a spot for you to set up shop.’

‘Are you sure?’ Kidd asked worried. ‘Tanning the hides smells. Most settlements won’t let leather workers inside.’

‘There is an old bait shop that is just on the edge of town.’ Mic told them. ‘It’s big enough to work in and far enough from the town not to stink us out. Right next door to it is a big old stone fishery that had been abandoned. As soon as we get the wall done, I plan to restore it and turn it into a smithery for Ty. I know you all want to go live in the cabin, but I still set up a house for you in Hopeville.’

‘Gzz.’ Page chuckled ‘Hint, hint much?’

‘Sorry sister.’ Mic chuckled amused. ‘I miss you and want my family close when you all get here.’

‘Mic,’ Came a man’s call from his end. ‘We are ready to move out.’

‘I’ll be there in a minute.’ Mic called back before sighing. ‘Sorry guys. I have to go.’

‘It’s okay brother.’ Page said smiling ‘You have a phone now. We can talk any time.’

‘We will have a ham at the settlement now too.’ Mic assured her. ‘That was our primary goal coming here. I was sick of hearing second hand what was happening to you.’

‘And I am sick of not knowing a damn thing about what’s happening to you.’ Page admitted. ‘It’s worse than hearing bad news. You know how over active my imagination can get.’ The statement made Mic laugh.

‘Over active is an understatement.’ He teased. ‘I will call you again as soon as I can. I love you all; I know it’s not easy out there. Please be careful.’ They all bid him good-bye and Page hung up.


Submitted: August 04, 2016

© Copyright 2021 CJones. All rights reserved.

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