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The wind picked up nearly knocking the two off their feet. Page glared up to the darkening sky and sighed. She smiled down to the boy. ‘It’s getting nasty out buddy, let’s get inside and warm up and get something to eat.’ He nodded and the two turned to go into the bunker. They stopped seeing the door open. Martin and three others were coming out in heavy winter gear.

‘Oh, your back.’ He said smiling wide to her. ‘We were just going out to see if we could catch up with you.’

‘Were you heading for the settlement?’ Page said worried. ‘I wouldn’t if I were you. There is another behemoth between here and there. She is pregnant and untrusting of humans.’

‘She is Ulysses’s girlfriend.’ Kidd said excited before looking up to Page. ‘Do you think we will get to see the baby mom?’

‘I don’t know sweetheart.’ Page sighed ‘I would like to, but the way she reacted when we came into that clearing, I don’t think it would be safe to go back.’

‘Can you show me on a map where she is?’ Martin asked and Page glared at him suspicious of his motives. The story Mouth told them about the attack on a behemoth infant in Texas was still fresh on her mind. It was not too long ago that these people had been shooting at the behemoths and halflings.

‘Why?’ She demanded and Martin took a step back.

‘Easy Page.’ He said worried. ‘I just want to check for a route around them for the spring.’ She nodded relaxing. ‘We weren't going to the settlement. Mouth is on the radio yelling for anyone in this area to take cover. A big storm is moving in fast. We were afraid you two would get caught out in it.’ Page nodded and the group moved into the bunker. As she peeled her coat off, she grinned down to Kidd.

‘Wait until I get ahold of Floyd and tell him about these furs little man.’ She said hanging up her coat. ‘He will be so proud of you. I can already hear him gushing over the ham.’ Kidd giggled and helped her brush the snow off Dogg.

The others left them. All except Martin who stood by with his stupid looking grin. His persistence with her was getting on her nerves. She was afraid to tell him off however. If he got mad enough, he could kick them out of the bunker. They still had two months of bad weather left and Page did not want to risk the Kidd getting sick or killed because of it.

‘So,’ he said clapping his hands together. ‘would now be a good time to check the map?’

‘Maybe latter.’ Page said. ‘I need to feed my son and Dogg.’

‘You promised you would help me with my homework tonight.’ Kidd said glancing annoyed at Martin. Page knew he did not like the man at all, and had made it clear to everyone he did not want Martin hitting on her. She was also well aware that the boy had no homework tonight considering he had skipped class today.

‘All right little man.’ Page chuckled ‘Now let's go eat before I start to nibble on Dogg.’ Kidd giggled and Page waved to Martin before heading for their room.

‘Can we listen to Mouth while we eat?’ The boy asked ‘I know you don’t like listening to him, but it’s better then the TV.’ Page nodded.

‘It’s fine with me.’ She told him ‘I don’t mind listening to him now that he doesn't talk about me all of the time.’

‘He is really worried about us.’ Kidd sighed looking up to her. ‘I wish we made it to the settlement so we could call and tell him we are okay.’ She nodded her agreement. She did not like having Mouth reporting her every move on the radio, but the man had become a friend. Not to mention all of the people they met in their travels. It made her sick thinking of how worried they all must be. The worst was not being able to tell Mic or Ty they were safe and all right. The two must be worried sick since they vanished.

In the room, Page went to work making the two dinner out of the few rations they had been provided. Kidd went to his pack and pulled out one of their surviving radios. A moment later Mouth’s voice filled the room talking about the massive storm moving into their area.

She looked over and saw Kidd setting the little two seater they had found down in storage. ‘Thank you Kidd. Why don’t you check my pack and see if I have anything good stashed in there to help make this edible.’ He nodded and went to their pile of things in the corner.

‘In other news,’ Mouth started ‘I finally have good news to report on our friends the Gallaghers.’ Page frowned confused to the radio and Kidd and stopped digging. ‘The halfling Bernice has returned to Clark Fork settlement. She was not in the mood for conversation; however, she did say two words. Gallaghers safe. We still do not know what happened or why they had cut contact. Page, if you are listening to this broadcast, please get in touch with me as soon as you can. Our big marine friend is not taking you disappearance well.’

Page looked worried to Kidd. They had to make it to that other settlement, or find someway to contact Mouth. She did not like that Ty was suffering so much over their disappearance.

‘We should go to the bunkers radio room and see if we can at least try to contact mouth.’ Kidd said worried. ‘I don’t want Ty to be sad.’ Page nodded.

‘After diner we will see if we can find it.’ She promised before turning back to the stove. They ate with little interest. The pasta was stale and the sauce tasted like liquid cardboard that had been coated with a tomato like substance. The half a bag of red fish Kidd had discovered in her bag was a more welcome treat. ‘First thing we are doing when we leave in the spring,’ Page said as they left their room. ‘is find a bait shop or sporting goods place to replace our fishing gear. Then we are going to spend a whole day gathering good food from the woods and go fishing.’

‘I can’t wait for spring.’ Kidd sighed wistful.

‘I can’t wait for real food.’ Page said rubbing her stomach. ‘This stuff is killing me.’ Kidd nodded frowning. They wondered the halls for a while, and then stumbled across the radio room. Inside was a large ham radio sitting on a table. It was on, but the only thing coming over it was static. A young man was checking over the wires coming out of the back of it. He was around five-nine with a moderate build and his black hair was cut in a military crew cut. He frowned at them when they entered.

‘Can I help you?’ He asked a little annoyed.

‘Sorry,’ Page said. ‘We thought the radio room was open to the public. Our bad?’

‘Wait.’ He said stopping them from leaving. ‘Martin didn’t send you?’

‘No,’ Kidd told him ‘we just wanted to see if we could figure out what was wrong with the radio so we could try to contact Mouth. He is worried about us.’ The man’s expression relaxed.

‘Sorry buddy.’ He said standing. ‘Martian has been on me for the last six months to get this thing fixed. He keeps sending people in here to check my progress. It’s been bad lately.’ He smiled to Page. ‘I am guessing on account of you. I think the ass is trying to impress you.’ Page rolled her eyes and the guy chuckled amused. He offered her his hand. ‘I’m Corporal Woodrow Milliner. Former US army. Everyone calls me Woody.’

‘Pleasure to meet you Woody.’ Page replied shaking his offered hand. ‘I am Page, and this is my son Kidd. As Kidd said, we have come to see if we could help.’

‘How much do you know about hams?’ He asked.

‘You push the button and people talk to you.’ Page chuckled and Woody smile.

‘Perfect,’ he said clapping his hands together. He grinned at Kidd. ‘This way I don’t have to tell you you’re wrong about the information you think you know.’ Kidd smiled. ‘I already know the problem.’ He told them ‘Thing is, I need three more sets of hands to fix it.’ He motioned to the bundle of wires on the floor under the table. ‘I think the wires running up to the antennas have ben chewed on by rats. I have a new wire, but to feed it up to the roof, I need help.’ Page nodded frowning.

‘We can help you and I think I know someone else that may be willing.’ She told him.

‘Before you volunteer,’ Woody said frowning. ‘It will require going into the sub flooring. It is a very narrow crawl space. You two could fit, but I don’t know anyone else in the base that could.’

‘What about Dr. Hank?’ Page said. ‘He is who I was thinking of.’ He frowned thoughtful.

‘Never thought of asking him.’ Woody said and smiled. ‘Hell that could work.’

‘I will go ask him.’ Kidd volunteered. Page nodded and the boy ran out.

‘I hear you had one of those fancy mobile ham radio walkies.’ He said.

‘I did.’ She confessed. ‘The bastard destroyed it with my sat phone.’ He nodded and went to a cabinet opening it. Woody pulled out a book and set it on the table.

‘Did it look like this?’ He asked pointing to a picture. Page looked to see her phone’s twin. She nodded. ‘Next to Great Falls is an Air Force Base. They are stocked with these and a few other toys. I was talking to my buddy Monroe about making a run up there for supplies.’ He frowned to her. ‘That was before we took your survival classes. Had no idea it was that bad out there.’ Page frowned studying his face. Her classes were always packed and it was hard to keep tabs on who was attending. She remembered seeing him a few times in the back of the class.

‘It is rough.’ She sighed relaxing. ‘You guys do not understand how lucky you are. You’re in the middle of a chain of behemoth territories so you will not have to worry about rippers. Last year Mouth reported a settlement falling to ripper attacks near Great Falls. If the base is still there, I doubt it will be easy to get into.’ He nodded

‘We came to the same conclusion.’ He said nodding. ‘It’s not worth the risk for a few guns.’ Page looked back to the picture.

‘It would be out of our way.’ She sighed. ‘I will miss having it, but like you said. It is not worth the risk.’

‘The ham I can help you with.’ He said putting the book away. ‘There is a place just on the out skirts of Missoula. You have to leave the interstate to get there, but it will be worth it.’ He pulled a map out of the cabinet and spread it out on the table. ‘You need to go south on Butler Creek Rd right here. It runs under the interstate and you will have to be careful. There was a lot of good spots there for the rippers to hide. Just after the expressway, there is a place called Tiny’s survival Store. The place is a survivalists wet dream. If has not been looted already. You can get another ham like the one you had. Hell probably better.’ Page nodded thinking.

‘That’s still a long ways off.’ She sighed. ‘Montana has not been kind to us. We have been in the state for almost a year now and we haven’t even gotten half way through it yet. We were doing well in the safe zones.’ She shrugged. ‘Then that last mess happened and now we are stuck here.’ She blushed glancing at him. ‘No offence.’

‘None taken.’ He chuckled ‘This bunker sucks. If we don’t get out of here soon, there will be riots amongst the ranks. The food is shit, and the equipment is all falling apart. I heard Martin was planning to build outside. It’s a good idea, but he isn’t thinking about security. If we get raided, we have almost no way to protect ourselves.’ Page nodded

‘I talked to him about it a while ago.’ She told him. ‘He seemed to take to heart what I told him about the raiders.’

‘I sure hope so.’ He said frowning. ‘My wife is pregnant with our first kid. I don’t want it to grow up in this prison.’ Page smiled.

‘Congratulations.’ She offered and he grinned. Kidd and Hank entered. Hank was smiling wide.

‘Woody, I hear you know how to fix the radio.’ He greeted shaking the man’s hand. ‘What can I do to help?’

‘I need two of you in the crawl spaces to guide the wires up the right set of ports, Then I need someone down here to run up and tell me when the antenna light comes on while I am on the roof hooking up the new wires.’ Page looked to Kidd.

‘Why don’t you stay here little man?’ She suggested. ‘You can probably out run all of us.’ He nodded his agreement.

‘Good,’ Woody said pleased. He pulled a set of blueprints from the cabinet. ‘I need you two in the crawl spaces between the third and second floor, and the second and first floor. Page I will put you in the second and first. The access hatch is right next to the mess hall. It’s the little blue door on the floor.’ He handed her a key. ‘Once your inside, just keep your eye out for an open blue tube. The wire will come out from there. Once it is out, drag it over to the red tube. Push it right up the tube.’ She nodded and waited until he gave Doc similar instructions.

‘That easy?’ Doc asked confused. ‘I hate to sound like Martin, but why did it take so long to fix?’ Woody shrugged.

‘I had to check over a thousand feet of wire by myself.’ He told the doctor. ‘Martin kept pressing me to fix it, but offered no help.’ Hank nodded frowning.

‘I will talk to him about this later.’ He promised. ‘For now, let us get to work.’

The group split up, and Page went to where she had seen the blue hatch. The key worked on the lock and she opened it. She understood immediately why Woody needed very thin people to do this. The crawl space was not only narrow; it had a low ceiling and was jam packed with wires and pipes. One pipe was so hot she burned her forearm when she accidentally brushed against it. With some effort, she was able wiggle her way in and found the blue pipe that led down to the third floor.

‘Are you there Page?’ Came Hank’s voice through the pipe.

‘I’m here.’ She said ‘Boy he was not joking about a tight fit.’

‘Yes, I think perhaps I will go on a diet soon.’ Hank mused. ‘Especially if I will be crawling around in here.’

‘Here it comes.’ Woody’s voice came from the tube.

‘I see it.’ Hank called ‘A little more, got it.’

‘Okay, I am heading up to the roof now.’ Woody called.

‘Here it comes Page.’ Hank said ‘and not a moment too soon. I think I saw a rat.’ A black wire worked its way out of the tube. Page grabbed it.

‘I have it Hank.’ She called down the tube. Looking around she did not see a red tube anywhere. Wiggling deeper into the crawl space and doing her best to avoid the hot pipe, Page searched for the red tube. She found it near the far back corner. Ice cold air poured out of the tube telling her it was the right one.

‘Woody?’ She called up the pipe.

‘Here Page.’ He called down. ‘Shit it’s cold out here. Looks like a hell of a storm is brewing too.’ She feed the wire up the pipe. ‘Got it, thanks Page.’

‘No problem’ she called. ‘I will meet you back in the radio room.’ She backed out trying hard not to get tangled up in the wires or burned again.

Submitted: January 16, 2016

© Copyright 2021 CJones. All rights reserved.


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