Chapter 3 - Entry 6
April 21st cont. - April 22nd
I swept through the building from top to bottom and back again, finding a few zombies who had once been residents but nothing moving with a pulse. Mary was a pale, wet, shivering mess by the time I went to get her. We paused at the generator shack to get electricity flowing again and I had to carry her inside the main building.
Mary rested on the hallway floor while I got a room open and the shower running, then helped her strip down and sat with her beneath the warm waterfall while she softly cried. We ate lunch, a pair of thick steaks pulled from the commercial freezer, in silence as ash coated the ground outside. Later she took a long nap while I searched bodies for keys to the remaining Hummer.
The sun had set by the time Mary stumbled into the cafeteria, looking very small and insecure in just an oversize teeshirt. I offered a smile and put down the big bag of rice in my arms to offer her a hug. There was an uncommon stiffness to her body that brought a frown to my lips. Guiding her by the hand, I guided us to a table and sat in the chair beside her.
“What’s up butter cup?”
Her lower lip disappeared as she chewed it furiously, gaze locked on the table rather than meeting my own. I moved a hand to lift her chin and offered a smile.
“Am I safe with you? I mean…are you like…psycho?”
The question caught me off guard and I fought to swallow down the angry reply trying to escape. Instead I took a long, deep breath and lit a cigarette.
“Yes and yes? You’re safe with me and yes I probably am psycho.” My answer wasn’t very comforting.
“Jaeger, there are hundreds of bodies outside. You killed a dozen men before we even got here and three others before that. Plus who knows how many before you went to jail. I’m seriously scared. If I say the wrong thing or piss you off, are you going to kill me too?”
She had a point and I wasn’t sure how to counter it as my mood went from bad to worse. I knew I’d never hurt Mary. Well unless she betrayed me or tried to kill me. But how to make her feel as if that were the case? The words just wouldn’t come to me so I simply shook my head.
“No. I don’t kill people I care about. But if you’re that scared then take the Hummer or the Ford, food, water and some weapons, and go. Take whatever you want. It’s ok.”
Tears were running down her face as I spoke and, to be perfectly honest, a sense of relief flooded me when she shook her head.
“Not unless you want me to leave.”
I didn’t and so for the moment the issue was settled.
We got to work after that, loading up the Hummer with food and the Guardsmen’s weapons. I was all about standardizing equipment so having nothing but M16s and M9 service pistols made me a happy camper. There was still a ton of food left so we found a map of the area and headed to a nearby U-Haul rental place to grab a truck. Mary insisted we leave enough food for the survivors in case they came back so I agreed to earn back some brownie points. We also left all the mismatched firearms behind.
Go Jaeger! Humanitarian of the year.
The interior of the second Humvee was a bloody mess and riddled with bullet holes but the thing was still drivable. Mary and I made a few trips, stashing both the shot-up hummer and the U-Haul truck in a garage down the road. Spare gas cans were filled with diesel fuel from the generator after we’d topped off the Hummer’s tank and I left the keys in the Ford’s ignition. That was that.
We stayed the night and poured over all the detailed maps FEMA bitch or the National Guardsmen had gathered. For awhile we discussed if leaving the retirement home was even necessary but I’d done a number on the building and didn’t think it could be repaired. There was a real sense that time was running out, especially considering years without sunlight, and we needed to find somewhere safe to hunker down.
Mary surprised me during breakfast by placing her hand on mine and softly asking, “Do we really need to hook up with a bunch of neo-Nazis? We could spend days just looking for them.”
I shrugged and leaned back in my chair, smoking a cigarette while considering the question. In the end I agreed with her. Survivors would be too rare a commodity. Especially in a few years. Turning away a skilled man just because he was black or Jewish didn’t make sense.
“Alright. Fuck the Nazi’s. Let’s find somewhere else to go.”
Together we discussed various places that could be fortified and made livable. Hotels. Schools. Apartment complexes and hospitals. In the end we decided a small college would be best considering the typical buildings and varied skill sets to be found among survivors.
“Nothing on the ocean. At least not around here. Between the nuclear power plant in Niantic, the nuclear submarines in Groton, and the Pfizer chemical plant in New London, I think we can rule out most of the coastal areas.” That narrowed our search considerably.
It was Mary who found what we were looking for nestled alongside a river ten miles to the northwest. The Vale Technical College and its small campus looked perfect. If it was still standing.
We left at noon.