Standing at the front door, Fred let a low steady growl escape his lips. Hackles raised, teeth showing, he backed up slowly. I walked up to the door. It was slightly open, and inside I saw a bit of movement. I unholstered my .45 and pushed open the door. Whatever was inside moved a little, like the door opening had startled it. It was still too dark inside to see what exactly "it" was. Caden had been smart enough to grab the flashlight from the truck. He turned it on, and carefully threw the beam on the floor. Played along the wood, until he came to the "it", which turned out to be a "her". In the beam of the flashlight, she appeared to be a young girl, maybe about 3 years old. She cringed when the light hit her, and dropped to the floor as if she were shielding herself from a direct blow. While we were distracted with her, we didn't see another person coming up behind us. The horn honked, and as I turned around, that's when it hit.
The sun is coming up on the horizon. It's fall, and I'm walking Fred. We are walking in one of the fields we used to walk in, on my friend's farm. He is happily tromping around the field, staying close to me as we're walking. His tongue is bouncing and hanging out the side of his mouth as he runs, and I can tell this is just what he wanted for our morning walk this morning. As we get to the far end of the field, Fred stops and starts to sniff. Something has his attention, so I clip him to his leash again in case it's something bigger than he is (which would be a bear, because Fred at the time weighed about 92 pounds). He continues to sniff, nose to the ground as he walks trying to find out what this delicious scent is. Or maybe not delicious, but he sure as hell wants whatever it is he is smelling, and will not stop until it is within his grasp. We walk a little further, with his nose to the ground the whole way, before we stop at a tiny bird. The object of his desire. On this day, I see my dog do something I have never seen before. Very carefully, Fred licked the bird. I half closed my eyes, afraid he was going to eat it. He didn't. He helped the bird to it's feet, nudging it ever so gently. It must have fallen from the tree above us, and dazed itself. With the nudging done, it flew away. Then he looked at me, as if to say "What? It needed help." and turned his head away. He then happily tromped away, once again carefree.
I woke up in a fog. My head ached tremendously, and I'm sure I could see a line of dried blood on my face when I looked toward my nose (which, to do so caused little black and white stars in my vision). Immediate panic. Where were my children?? My dog?? I opened my eyes more, only to have sharp flashes of light across my vision, obstructing any view I may have had. Instinct told me not to talk, but the will to see if my children were okay was stronger. "Hello?" I called out. There was a movement, but no answer. "Hello!?" I got louder when I spoke, and more panic rose up in me like a fire. Where the hell were my children?!?! As I tried to move, my vision came back as a light came on in the room. It was a makeshift medic room, with odds and ends of supplies everywhere. It looked like someone had robbed one of the hospitals. I sat up slowly, and realized that Caden and the kids were in the room with me. The kids were quietly talking to him. When they saw me sitting up, they ran over to me and hugged me. "Mamma, we're so glad you're ok!!" Liam said, hugging the hardest of the three. My head was pounding. I asked groggily "what happened?" Caden stood up. "Someone hit you on the head and knocked you clean out... you've been out for about two hours now. But don't worry, everything's ok. He didn't know what to do, he thought we were going to hurt his child." I remembered. The little girl in the living quarters. "Who are they?" I asked. "He is the lighthouse keeper, and the little girl is his daughter. I think the mother is dead though, I haven't seen her." he said, and got a worried look. "He said there hasn't been any infected here in a while. I told him about the incident in Newberry, and he thinks that we could be in for a fight." I got a dizzy spell, and laid back down for a moment. The table I was on was cold steel, but it felt good for the moment. "Well, I have ammo for the guns, do you have any more expolsives?" I asked, hoping like hell he did. "No, but I can make some. I have the materials. That's what I was doing in the bathroom of the gas station where you found me. Concocting more." he said, and I kind of sensed a hint of pride in his voice. Apparently he had been some sort of weapons expert before this whole shindig went down. Either that, or he was just very good with expolsives. Either way, we needed his expertise right now, and I wasn't going to pry into his previous profession. As if reading my mind, he said "No. I worked at a factory. That's all. I just educated myself after the first sign of shit going down."
I sat up. Dizziness and headache gone, I stood up and walked over to a mirror that was wall mounted. I realized that the man had hit me straight in the face, about an inch above the direct middle of my eyebrows. There was dried blood down my face, on each side of my nose... and apparently it had needed stitches, because there were about fifty two of them across my brow. "What the fuck did he hit me with?!" I exclaimed. "Spade shovel. You're lucky he didn't hit any harder than he did. When you were turning he was swinging, and realized you weren't dead...... had he hit you with full force, well, you'd be missing the most essential part of your head." Caden told me. I grabbed an alcohol pad from one of the medic kits and wiped the dried blood off my face. When I got to the spot with the stitches, I winced a little at how sore it was. Threw the alcohol pad away, and turned to the others. "Well, let's meet this family." I said to Caden. He nodded, and walked out the door of the make shift hospital room. I followed, down a hallway and into a parlour room. The room was full of vintage stuff, down to the wallpaper on the wall. In a beautiful old highback sofa sat the man that had hit me in the face. He stood up when we entered the room, seemingly very vintage himself, until I realized that this is the man that had smacked me in the face with a shovel. We would see if it really was an accident. "Hi. My name is Tim. Tim Kraft." said the man. He was soft spoken, sort of shorter man with boyish features. The little girl on the couch held a blanket close to her. Liam went up to her as if on cue, and said to her "Hi, I'm Liam. What's your name?" the little girl giggled at him, and said "Lily". He sat on the couch next to her, picked up a stuffed animal sitting next to her and hugged it. "Is this your bear?" he asked her, and she nodded. "I had a bear one time, his name was Cooter the Bear. I named him after my ferret. He died." The little girl frowned at Liam's statement. "Mamma died too." she said.
The kids all sat together while we sat at a table to talk. Mr. Kraft took three cans of soda out of a small cooler, and handed them to Caden and I. "I haven't had Pop in so long!" Caden said. "Yeah, I was doing a town raid and found a bunch of it at a warehouse I was in. That's where......." Tim's voice trailed off. I knew then that his wife had died getting supplies. "Lily's mother?" I asked, and he nodded. "Yes, my sister. Lily is my neice, I've never had children myself. She is taking her mother's death very hard." he said. I looked at the little girl, and she seemed to be receptive to Liam the most. Kayla was trying to play mother hen, as she had always done, but Lily wasn't buying it. She was listening intently on Liam talking about things past, things before the outbreak. "Are all three of them yours?" Tim asked. I nodded. "Kelsey is the oldest, then Kayla, and Liam is the boy." I said. "All small talk aside, what is your plan?" I asked. No bullshitting. I didn't think this was the time to reminisce, it was time to make a plan. And one that worked. "I think we should get the supplies moved to the lighthouse building. We can barracade the doors and windows and hold up in there if there is an attack." Tim said. "I think the higher ground we have, the more advantage we have to see an attack, and deal with it properly." I agreed. He nodded, and we both looked at Caden. He didn't look too thrilled, and said "You guys can go there, but I'm staying here." I was surprised at this sudden change in his behavior. "What? What do you mean, you're staying here? This isn't safe Caden." I knew it would be a long shot to change his mind, but it was worth a shot anyways. He thought for a moment, the quietly spoke. "Is there amenities there, such as water and bathroom?" he asked. Tim shook his head. "Yes, there is a bathroom that still works, and the water is pumped from the well. If by chance the water won't run, we have a running water supply through the back part of the building. It's fresh water, constant flowing water." Caden thought long and hard for a moment. "I guess we will be okay. I'm up for it then." he said.
It took a few hours to get stuff moved from the safety of the home to the building. Liam, Kayla and Lily were keeping themselves occupied in the lighthouse tower at the bottom of the steps, while Kelsey helped us move supplies. We walked back and forth, and Kelsey joked with me like she used to. "Don't you miss playing Guitar Hero on that giant tv? And what about when we'd go swimming when it was hot out? I miss that stuff." she said, then added "I liked to kick your butt at Guitar Hero." I just smiled. We entered the parlour again, and for the first time I noticed an old upright piano. Kelsey looked at me, then at the piano, then at me again. "Will you play mamma? I know there's danger coming, but I'd still like to hear you play something again. I miss it." she said. I looked around, Tim and Caden were in the lighthouse. "Ok, but it has to be fast." I said, and sat down. I started to play the only song I could remember how to play,Cancer. Such a beautiful song, with strong lyrics, I'd struggled to learn the song. When I finally had learned it, I never forgot. Not even in these dismal days. I started to sing along with it, as did Kelsey. As I was playing, Caden and Tim entered the room. But I didn't stop, I couldn't stop. I HAD to hear the music, almost as if it was going to be the last time I would ever hear it.