Monday, November 3, 2014

Part 93


In the end his reaction was so funny it kind of cancelled all of the angsty carp I was feeling that was making me queasy.  See it was weird having him so close and practically on top of me but I wasn't freaking out so bad that I was going to give up the warmth of the fireplace so I just sat there and wrote in this notebook.  Actually it wasn't bad which is weird but anyway ... then he wakes up.  I had warned him he needed to watch his feet and head but I guess he forgot.

"What the ... ?!" I yelped in surprise as I started to tumble backwards.

His arm was around my waist and when he had started to roll over he didn't let go and kinda took me with him.  Well when I yelled he yelled in more surprise because he'd only been half way awake and then tried to sit up only we were already tangled and he forgot where he was.  First he banged his head so hard on the card table that it started to fall over.  I grabbed it but it was too late and too over balanced and even if I had been able to stop the table, I couldn't stop the chairs from falling over even though they had the coolers in the seats because the card table falling had jerked all the covers too much.

Poor Cochran was in a panic because he couldn't figure out what was going on and all I could do was laugh because it reminded me of the time that Dad had come home late but forgotten that Toddie was having a bunch of his friends over to watch a marathon of horror movies.  Dad walked in and didn't take two steps inside the dark house before he starts tripping over boys.  They start yelping and eventually Dad goes down and squashes a couple of them pretty good and they're all howling thinking one of the monsters from the movies is after them.  Mom comes running from upstairs and I come running and get blinded as she turns on the light.  It was a sea of blankets, pillows, and teenage boys and Dad practically riding the waves.  Mom starts laughing and I start laughing because she is laughing.  It took us forever to untangle everything and for Mom and Dad to get the boys calmed back down especially after one of them started to have an asthma attack.

Trying to calm Cochran and get untangled was about like that and when we finally managed to get our heads out from under the covers all I could do was keep laughing because the look on his face was exactly like Toddie and his friends.

Finally Cochran wakes up enough and notices the mess that he'd made.  Card table and chairs flipped, covers every which way, cans rolling all over the place and then me laughing like a loon.

"Uh ... whoops?" he said like he wouldn't mind finding a hole and crawling in.

All I can do is keep laughing and finally he starts laughing and that must have gone on for another five minutes.

Finally we catch our breath and he asks, "What the heck are we laughing about?"

"Beats me but it feels ... I don't know ... good.  I haven't ... not like this ... in a long, long time."

He gives me a strange look but he's still smiling.  "So is that a good thing?" he asked.

"I guess.  Either that or I've finally lost it.  Either way is fine with me.  All I know is that I'm not picking up this mess by myself no matter how funny it is."

So we got up and straightened things up.  We never said anything about the other stuff.  He did say, "I need to go check the weather and try and call in."

"OK.  I suppose I can figure some food but don't expect anything fancy."

He turned and looked at me before he crawled out of the hole and nodded although I thought he was going to say something at first.  He'd taken his flashlight with him and the fireplace didn't give off much light so I had to crank the wind up lamp so I could look at what I had.  It was cattail hash using some of the last of my fresh/frozen roots and a little bit of squirrel sausage I had to dig out of the "freezer" I had cobbled together in the beginnings of my root cellar.  It was just a cooler filled with ice I had chipped out of the creek and then hidden under a "trap door" in the floor.  I had collected big rocks to build "walls" around the cooler and a couple of really big ones to sit on the lid to keep the animals out of it and so far it was working.

I was three quarters of the way finished cooking when I wondered where Cochran was.  I was about to turn around when I heard him coming back down.

"And here I thought you two would be starving popsicles in need of rescuing.  Instead it smells like a damn diner in here."

"Sarge!"

I jumped up and ran and gave him a hug and he looked surprised for a moment before laughing and hugging me back.  "Watcha cooking Kid?"

"Squirrel sausage hash."

I was thinking about how to make enough to share when he told me, "Stop thinking so hard, you're gonna smoke us out.  I've already eaten and so have the men that came with me.  Just feed Long Tall Sally here so I can return to base without him fainting of hunger."

Cochran scowled until I handed him his share and then he was too busy eating.  I was hungry too but I don't like eating in front of people that aren't doing the same thing.  Sarge parked himself in front of the fireplace with us and started shooting questions like we were his soldiers and he expected a report.  I guess Cochran was but I wasn't so I let him do the talking.

Sarge turned to me and asked, "What the Sam Hill did you get so far from the cabin for?"

I shrugged and said, "I don't need the lecture.  I already got the lesson instead."

"Humph.  You gonna need to watch that mouth one of these days."

"I watch it all the time and it serves me well."

I was coming close to the line of his tolerance and I knew it but I just wanted him focused on something besides looking for a reason for me being out in the woods.

He decided to be generous and said, "Well, at least you were prepared for an emergency and had a way to escape those dogs.  We had a report this morning that a patrol found some chewed on remains and a couple of the camps in this area have admitted to losing people and animals to the dogs.

I nodded.  "Yeah.  Singing Water keeps their numbers on this side of the lake down when possible.  But that's not the first time the dogs have bothered me.  Jamie and Shane can tell you about it."

Cochran asked, "Those are the guys you were trying to save?"

"When?  Oh you mean the other day?  Yeah.  They are about the only ones I can stand to have around.  All the other men eventually start acting like jerks.  Jamie and Shane are just annoying in the same way Toddie could get."

"Your brother?" he asked.

"Yeah, you know ... bossy, know it all, teaching me things but never letting me forget they had to teach me, that sort of thing."

He leaned back and burped making me wrinkle my nose.  "Gross."

"Then you shouldn't cook so good.  It makes me eat too fast."

"Yeaaahhhhh.  Blame me because you're disgusting."

Cochran just grinned and Sarge looked between the two of us and then he grinned too.  But then he sighed.  "Sorry you two but Cochran you need to head out with me.  We're badly short handed for what the docs want to do.  We lost an entire guard shack of men during the first storm and then too many of the idiots that went AWOL.  We're still finding them ... or what's left after the animals have gotten to them."

"Will the docs get in trouble for ... uh ... inciting or whatever you call it?" I asked letting him know that I at least had a little understanding of what had happened.

"Yeah ... at least from the military side of things.  From the civilian side ... not as much as they should.  People are too desperate to find a solution to the massive number of infecteds.  They'll put up with some losses if in the long run the solution is effective.  Now what about you?"

I didn't have a clue what he meant.  "What about me what?"

"I've been authorized to barter with locals for some work hours.  The age limit is sixteen - which you say you are."

I already had more work than I could handle but you never say no until you find out what you might be saying no to.  "What would I be doing and how many hours are we talking?"

"We are collecting the frozen infecteds and those that are in suspended animation are going to be transported out west to the rehabilitation facilities that are being set up out there and the ... uh ... dead ones are going to be cremated.  We don't have long to get a handle on this.  Another horde is being driven in this direction and pretty soon we are going to have more bodies than we can safely deal with."

I nearly dropped my bowl, "Another horde?!"

"Easy DeeDee.  I don't like it any better than you do but the powers that be have decided.  If you think you got it bad you should listen to what is coming out of those small communities out west that are going to be near the rehabilitation centers."


 

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