A Kind Gesture in the Barn

Posted on Wed May 1st, 2024 @ 10:50pm by Civilian Thea Matthews & Reuben Baptiste

1,281 words; about a 6 minute read

Mission: Winter is Coming
Location: (Barn) House Outside of Blast Zone, Maine
Timeline: 5 September 2010 - 8:20 p.m.

As Reuben was getting ready to bed down for the evening he noticed the young woman brought back from the run did not appear to have a sleeping bag. He walked over to her, "Excuse, Thea correct? I noticed you do not seem to have a sleeping bag. I want you to use mine. I have a bed roll from some sheets and a blanket I took when I was in Bangor. I will not except a no, as it is obvious you are going to need it, besides my parents and grandparents would kick my ass if they found out I did not provide you at least my sleeping bag." With that statement Reuben handed her his U.S. Military 4 Piece Modular Sleeping Bag Sleep System with Gortex Bivy Cover and Carry Sack. He then turned Kenny walking at his side and fixed their bed for the night.

Thea stood for a moment in surprise, she hadn’t been expecting such a kind gesture. “Thank you Reuben,it is Reuben isn’t it?” She offered a warm smile as she knelt down to sort out her bed for the evening. “You’re very kind.”

Reuben gave Thea a small smile, "Trust me when I say if any of my kin found out I didn't give you my sleeping bag they would flog me to death then bring me back so they could do it again. Besides, I have some of the best SERE training the U.S. Air Force could provide. I would say sweet dreams but given the circumstances I'll just wish you a restful sleep."
Reuben then knelt took the backpack cover off his bag and fluffed some straw into it. "Okay buddy time to get a little rest. Have a feeling the major is going to push us hard tomorrow."

Thea smiled as she watched Reuben and his canine companion. “Can I...stroke him?” She motioned to Kenny. “How long have you two been companions?”

Reuben smiled "Better than that, you can brush him down. He is a love mooch. I am sure he will love all the attention." He looked Thea over, in a combat ready eye manner. "Tell you what, as long as we travel together you can use the sleeping bag and if you need assistance carrying anything I can help." Reuben then handed Thea Kenny's brush and turned back to making his bedroll bed out of the blanket and sheets he had taken. Kenny came over to Thea, sniffed her and began to wag his tail.

Thea was in her element offering Kenny all the love the canine could take, giving him a gentle yet thorough brushing as well. “I love dogs!” She grinned as she looked at Reuben. “My family always had pets when I was a child, dogs were my favourites next to felines. I never got around to having a pet of my own, Andrew was going to...” She paused, talking about her deceased fiancé was difficult.

Kenny sensing the pain in Thea placed his paw on her and began licking her hand. Reuben looked at her for a second and saw the pain in her face. In a gentle whisper he replied "It is okay. Talking about loved ones and friends that have been lost is difficult. Best to remember the good times with them. Trust me I am intimately familiar with the concept."

“Sorry...” she offered an apologetic glance. “Andrew was my fiancé, we were robbed at gun point, Andy was killed defending me.” Her smile faded before returning as she went back to fussing Kenny.

"Like I said, no need to apologize. I have lost several good friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Probably dealt just as much hurt to those with whom I was engaged in combat with." Satisfied with his bedroll layout he laid back into it. "Going to be a long trip to find somewhere safe. Going to need to find a good papoose for you and your soon to be young one. It will make the hiking and running easier. I'll mention it to the major in the morning."

Thea made herself comfortable on her makeshift bed as well. “I’m not sure people are going to want me around that much. It’s not so much now, it’s later on, we both know being quiet is key to avoiding these...things, and a baby is anything but quiet.”

Reuben shook his head, "You do not understand, your child represents the hope for the future. Sure, the little one will make noise, hell most of you guys do. Military folks like Major Stratton, Lieutenant Olaffson, and myself have had years of hard fought; blood, sweat, and tears training to move and act as we do. For my part I am willing to help you for as long as I can. I lost my purpose in life after I was injured in Afghanistan and medically retired. Now I feel like I have a new mission, one I am well suited to help with."

Thea gave Reuben a teary eyed look. “’d do that for us?” Her hand rested on her growing rounded stomach. “You barely know me, not that I’m complaining.”

Reuben smiled "Sure, it is the end of the world, and I will be damned if I go out with a whimper. Nope plan on fighting, kicking and screaming. Like I said your child represents hope for humanity. So as long as I am able, I'll protect you and the child. Eventually this craziness will reach homeostasis, and humanity is going to need youngsters to fill the gap as we old farts die off."

Thea couldn’t help but laugh at that one as she wiped away a few stray tears. “I just hope we find somewhere safe to go, away from all this craziness.”

"We should. I would head west avoiding the major cities and get away from the overpopulated east coast. Get somewhere like the Dakota's, Montana or Wyoming. I believe however the rest of the group want to head south, to avoid the upcoming winter. Issue with that plan is we remain in a highly infected area. I will stay with the group for now, safety in numbers and all." After saying that he reached into Kenny's pack and pulled out the cleaver and chef's knife and handed them to Thea. "You may need these, or if you prefer you can have my improvised spear. I still got my survival axe."

Thea looked at the cleaver and knife, “I’m not exactly in a condition to get into a close contact fight, I’ll take the spear if you don’t mind?” She offered a warmer smile offering back the cleaver and knife.

Reuben smiled at Thea, "One impprovised spear coming up." he then handed her the spear. Taking back the cleaver and chef's knife, he made a quick decision and packed them low in his ruck. "Well I recommend you fet some rest. If I know the major, he'll be biting at the bit to get moving. I think he sometimes forgets the majority of this group are not harden spec ops troops." Reuben then put away his glasses and put the eyepatch on and lowered himself into the bedroll, snapped his fingers and Kenny went to his bed next to him. Looking at Thea one last time he said, "Goodnight and may you not have any bad dreams."

Thea smiled. “Goodnight Reuben, May your dreams be good ones.” With that she made herself comfortable, for the first night in a long time she was soon fast asleep in the knowledge that she was safe.



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