Archive for the ‘07 Pied Piper – Part 2’ Category

Doc chuckled.  “She’s a little prickly.”

“You’re telling me,”  Matt answered with a crooked smile.  “I guess in her eyes I deserve it.”

Doc raised a gray, bushy, eyebrow. “And how did that happen.”

“Got myself in trouble and she had to come save my ass.  It’s a long story, but this shit, the infected, well, I saw it once before.  I was on a team that slipped into Iran about a year and a half ago. They had a bio-lab.  There was an accident.  They bombed the place and only a few of us made it back.  I got to drinking too much. Now, I’m having a problem without the booze.”

“Ah, that explains some things.”

“I got something that will help with that.” Doc offered.  “I have to get into my car.  Can I borrow the flashlight?”

Matt handed over the small cylinder with a trembling hand.

Tate walked into the store room where the collection of women sat quietly around a Formica table.  Red, puffing on a cigarette nodded at her arrival.

“Feel better?”  She asked.

“Smell better for sure.  What did they bring in the boxes?  Anything good?” Tate asked as she finger combed her hair back from her face.

Theresa pushed a cutting board, with a round of sausage and wedge of cheese, across the table.  “We found crackers in a case back here.  There’s soda and Lone Star.”  She made a gagging noise and everyone laughed.

Red pointed to a bench a few feet away.  There sat a hot plate with an old style percolator with steam wafting from the spout.  “Coffee, if you’d rather. I’m not making any promises; I’ve never used one of those before.”

Tate shrugged and poured a cup of strong black sludge.  “It’ll be fine.  I’m used to Starbuck’s French.”

Everyone laughed.

She settled on a stool, used the knife to cut slices of cheese and sausage.  She stuck the first piece in her mouth and began chewing.  After she swallowed she asked.  “So who’s who here?”

Helen smiled.  “You know Red and Theresa.”  She pointed at a blonde to her left. “This is Marge, Jackie is wearing the black shirt then glanced toward the youngest of the group and added.  That is Lori, and her sister Jennifer.”

“It’s good to meet you.” Tate brought the cup to lips. “Sorry we couldn’t have done more.”

Hellen shook her head. “You did what you could.”

“Those assholes did what they did and we have to live with it.”  Red added. “Where are we going?”

“Maybe we can take you back to where you were?”  Tate said.

Theresa gasped. “There’s nothing there except the dead. Those bastards burned the houses. They wanted to make sure we’d have nothing to go back to if we tried to escape.”

Tate nodded.  “Sorry.” She busied herself cutting more cheese and sausage. Finally, she continued without looking up. “We have a camp. We have soldiers. And kids.”  Tate looked up smiling slightly as she realized she referred to the place as if it belonged to her.  “Lots of kids. Oh, and even a pregnant lady.”

Helen smiled.  “Oh, that’s wonderful. I was a nurse and my husband is a doctor.  I think we should to go with you.”

“Maybe they won’t want us.”  Red snapped. “We have nothing to offer but more mouths to feed.”

Matt walked into the darkened storeroom.  “You can learn to contribute.”

“Slave labor?”  Theresa snapped.  “You saved us, fine.  Now you can just move on. We won’t go back to being whores for a different set of assholes.”

Matt stepped closer with a wounded look on his face.  “NO! That’s not what I meant.”  He looked to Tate but she just shrugged.  “That’s not what I meant, for Christ sake.  We have a garden, livestock and lots to do around camp like learning to defend yourself.”

Red smirked.  “Why would you do that?”

Matt shrugged. “It’s the right thing to do. We started with two kids, and seems every time I turn around I collect a few more.” He grinned as he realized the Valium Doc had given him had kicked in. “How was the sausage?”

Tate laughed.  “Yeah.  He’s the fucking Pied Piper of the apocalypse.”

Everyone joined in laughing at Matt’s sudden discomfort at Tate’s remark.  The tension in the room disappeared.

“I’m going to keep watch so Doc can get cleaned up and eat something.”  Tate stood up and headed back into the gloom of the storefront.

“I’m going to get some shut eye and will spell you at midnight.”  Matt answered as he reached for a length of sausage and wedge cheese.  He walked away toward the back of the storeroom, found a pile of flattened cardboard and pulled a couple pieces out to make a bed. He settled on the cardboard, ate the meager meal, drank most of his bottle of water then laid down.