“Hey, we’re back.” I announced as I walked through the door. It was about 0230 hours. “We heard and saw you get back.” Kelly answered in a tone I’ve heard before. “Yeah, everyone meet Nick, Beth and Kyle Bentz. Nick was a cop in Haven before ‘The Fall’. They’re all friends of mine. They got stuck in Haven when the wanna-be warlord took over. He’s no longer an issue.” I explained. “Welcome to our group Nick, Beth and Kyle” Mike Barnes gave the first greeting then everyone else joined in. Kelly was pissed. She said her hello then grabbed me by my ear and pulled me to the side. “You run off without letting me know again and I’ll put one in your head. It’s that simple. I know you understand. I’ll say no more.” She was ticked and I wasn’t even going to try to pimp her. I handed her my keys as I walked away.
“Let’s get settled in. There is one queen size and one full size air mattress with a pump in the closet. There are plenty of blankets too. We’ll get you set up.” I said as I started digging the mattresses out.
There were folks sleeping everywhere. The couches, beds and mattresses were full. Two folks were back in the rig and two others were in the CSU. I advised against sleeping in the pickup. A zombie could break those windows with relative ease.
I saw that everyone else was settled in and looked around. There was no spot for me. Well not inside at least. I grabbed my gear and a light and headed for the back door. Kelly was on the lounge chair. “Where are you going now?” Her eyes were still closed. “I’m gonna take a leak and then I’m gonna sleep in the tack room. Do I have your leave, Madame?” I pimped her a little this time. “Remember what I said!” she warned. “What was that?” I cracked as I closed the door behind me.
It was a chilly November night. The sky was clear and a breeze was cutting up through the hollow. I stood for a moment and drew the night air into my lungs. I let out a long breath and drew in another. I continued to the stable and set my gear outside the door. I reached around the corner and took the spare key from under a flat stone. I turned on one of the camp lanterns after entering the tack room. I dropped my gear near the corner I’d be sleeping in. I pulled up a floor board and flipped the switch below. I had made preparations weeks ago in case we had to house everyone here instead of at the camp. One of the preparations was the solar panels on the roof of the stable. They powered a battery bank set up in the space between the tack room ceiling and the barn roof. An inverter converted the power from 12 volt to 120. Two lights came on in the tack room. I turned off the camp lamp and pulled a set of panniers from under the table that held my duffel bag. I unloaded a bed roll from the panniers and set it up in the corner. I sat down, pulled off my boots and shirt and reached in my gear and pulled out my cell phone. The power had run out sometime that day. I plugged the charger into a socket on the wall and then into the phone. I turned it on in a moment and saw there were no messages. I flipped the lights off and slept.
Rap, rap, rap. “Ed it’s time to wake up.” The voice was outside the door. “Okay, I’m up. I’ll be out in a second.” “It’s almost noon, let’s go man.” It was Rickie calling me.
I put my gear back up in the pannier and walked out into the cool air. It was overcast and dreary. Great day to be alive. I could smell meat on the grill. I walked about thirty feet and found Alonzo wearing my BBQ apron and cooking up what looked like SPAM.
“Morning, Afternoon, Ed” Alonzo greeted me. “Canned ham work for you?” He handed me a plate with a slab of SPAM and potatoes. It tasted pretty good.
I walked inside and noticed a couple folks were missing. Baer, Morse, Barnes, Nick Bentz and Karen were gone. Jesse was talking to Chad Spears in the kitchen. I sat down to eat and Jesse started to replace my bandage. Kelly and some others were looking over the trailers and tow vehicles. Bryon was around front. He appeared to be looking over the area. I walked out front and asked Bryon where the others were.
“We figured that we would be staying here a couple days.” He went on,”The others decided to try and find some fresh eggs on the farm up the road. They were going to look for some diesel too. There are plenty of farm tractors around to siphon from. They’re bound to find something useful. They’ve been gone about an hour.”
“I assume they took radios?” I asked.
“Yep and Nick has a good idea of the layout of the area.” Bryon added.
“Good.” I commented. “We may as well make the best of what we have. I wouldn’t mind taking the ATVs out and looking for supplies. We should let any livestock we come across loose too. They stand a chance out in the wild but none at all if left in their paddocks and barns with no one to care for them.”
“Ed” Beth called as she came around the corner. She came over and gave me a hug. “Last night, we didn’t have a chance to thank you guys. It was scary. That bastard Liston was like a dictator. If you pissed him off or just disagreed with him you could disappear. His own family members too.”
“Well Beth, there’s no chance of him harassing anyone again.” I told her.
“Thank you for getting us out of there, both of you.” She gave us both a hug.
“That’s what friends are for.” I responded.
Bang, bang, Ratatatatatatatatat! BANG, BANG! We could hear shots coming from the farm.
“That doesn’t sound good.” I said as I started tying down my gear.
“Not good at all!” Bryon added, “the last two shots were from a shotgun. They only took rifles and pistols.”
“Get Alonzo and Kelly. Have the others get in the house. RICKIE, Rickie.” The kids heard the shots too. Rickie was running toward me. “Rickie, get the kids in the house. You guys load up your guns and listen to what Chad and Jesse tell you. Another thing, if something happens and we don’t make it back here you go into my computer desk. There is a road atlas. The map of Pennsylvania is marked with the route to the farm. You get everyone up there. Find my brother Joe or find my friend Ted. Tell them what happened and not to come back down here. You understand?”
“Ed, I can...” I know he wanted to come and fight. “Rickie do you understand me?” I pressed the question. “Yes, I’ll listen to Chad and Jesse and we’ll go to the farm if something happens.
The trailers were open already. We pulled the two ATVs out and cranked them up. I switched my Master Key to a left-handed carry and got behind the handlebars of one of the ATVs. Bryon got on the other. Marley had just got his gear on and I motioned for him to jump on with Bryon. Kelly came over and stopped for a moment before getting on the back of my ATV. She spoke over the engine “Remember, Janet said to take care of me. That means no wrecking this contraption with me on the back.” “Yeah, no wheelies right?” I pulled out as her butt hit the seat. She lost her balance and fell against the backrest. I could hear the bolt slam forward on her AR-15. I hoped the guys at the farm were holding out. We’d find out in about 2 minutes.