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After the Bombs Fell

Posted on Sun Apr 28th, 2024 @ 8:05pm by Hale Stratton [Major, United States Army] & Emma Lynn Starsky & Ethan Thompson & Alonzo Blazevic & Reuben Baptiste & Killian Sutton & Calista Sutton & Victoire Olaffson [Lieutenant, United States Navy]

2,935 words; about a 15 minute read

Mission: Winter is Coming
Location: Farmhouse Outside of Bangor, Maine
Timeline: 5 September 2010 - 7:00 a.m.

[Inside the House]

Ethan had been sleeping on the floor which was not the most comfortable way to sleep for the adults but for a boy of fifteen, it was fine. The noise level in the house had risen as everyone came awake and started moving around but he had remained where he was, tucked underneath the dining room table. As the blast wave swept through the house, diminishing in power as it went, he curled up into a tight ball and waited it out. In less than a month, he'd seen his dead parents being eaten by someone they trusted, went on the run because the police thought he was involved, and seen the dead walking the streets of Bangor. After all that, giant explosions were almost expected. To his mind, that's the way life was when the world just went insane.

When the worst of it had passed, he crawled out from under the table and rushed outside in search of the two people that mattered most to him at the moment, Hale and Alonzo.

Emma had chosen the lounger in the living room. When the blast wave passed through the house, she jumped off and hid behind it. Stupid, in retrospect, she thought because it was unlikely the lounger would offer much protection. It hadn't with foster dad #2 or was that #3. No matter. She had grown up in a pattern of sudden, explosive periods of violence and her ability to adapt under pressure was as good as the military members of the group, just without all the skills. Her first thought was ' what now'. She stayed where she was, back to the chair, slowly relaxing as things settled down, and thought mostly about what this was going to do to their chances of getting food.

Reuben and Kenny entered the house, noticing Emma he did his best to smile, "Looks like Uncle Sam made some very bad decisions. Like the old R.E.M. song 'It's the End of the World as We Know It, And I Feel Fine', but something tells me you already know that. Best we can do for now, eat something, pack our bags and prepare to didi mau."

René, after ensuring Vienna was not injured from the explosions, went to the bottom of the stairs and called out to the second floor. "Madame Sutton, might I suggest you gather your gear and come down stairs. We will be leaving soon most likely."

Reuben nodded, sliding into his NCO mode, "Good idea, make sure everyone gathers up their gear and meet in the kitchen. Prepare a quick meal." he said to René. Then he began searching the living room. He found what he was looking for, a phone book. He quickly thumbed through the book and found what he was looking for, a boarding stable close by by the name of Serendipity Stable near Glenburn Maine. He flipped to the phone books map page and traced the route. Not too far away. Now the trick was convincing the rest to make the trip.

Vienna made sure her things were where she’d left them, before heading to help with getting food for everyone. They all needed to eat a hearty breakfast ready for moving on.

Reuben very gently removed the phone book map from the phone book itself. It was not the best map, but for now it would suffice. It at least showed the streets of the surrounding communities and major waterways. He carefully folded the map and placed it in one of his pockets. He then made his way into the kitchen, Kenny trailing next to him.

"Meals," Calista said. What bread they had been able to get that wasn't moldy with the jams she had found in the cabinet. It wasn't much. Better than digging into the tuna they had for breakfast.

Emma rose from where she'd been sitting, stopped long enough to pick up a bag of food supplies from the recent trip to the convenience store, and headed into the kitchen. Not being able to speak had its drawbacks but she was good at visuals and so, she opened the bags and gestured toward the contents.

"This makes it all that much better," Calista smiled, pushing a lock of her blonde hair behind her ear that moved as she had looked down into the bag of food. She pulled out the items onto the counter and motioned for Emma to help her with setting up the food to eat.

Reuben looked at the sandwiches that Calista was making. "Hell, that is going to be something I am going to miss, sliced bread. Of course there is also coffee." He said as he moved to assist with breakfast. "Anyone game for scrambled eggs? I have eight left and I think scrambling them will make them stretch for all of us."

Emma, who had been filling a bowl with energy bars, nodded enthusiastically. She hunted for a bit in the lower cabinets and came up with a good-sized skillet. She handed it over to Reuben with a slight flourish and moved on to making coffee. No electricity but mercifully, the gas will still on and they did have a lighter. And all that together meant breakfast.

Reuben smiled at the Emma and took the pan "If I know the major, he will be chomping at the bit to leave. I'll run interference and point out the troops need to eat before we roll out." He said as he began cracking the eggs. "Good thing about the military is that the good officers learn to listen to the seasoned NCO's. The major, I believe, falls into the good officer category" Reuben began to quickly scramble the eggs preparing them for cooking. "So, how many of you all have ever ridden a horse?"

[Over at the Cherokee]

Ethan made a straight line for the jeep and flung open the hatch to see Alonzo amid a shower of tiny squares of glass. Having cut himself on broken glass more than once, he ran back, found a hand broom and shovel near the back door, and came back to start sweeping as he spoke. "You alright? That was some explosion. I was under the table so, I didn't get hit." He looked around for a moment while continuing to sweep; his steady monologue continued unabated. "Hale's over there with some of the others. Guessing their looking for the source? Personally, I think we should run the other way but then I'm not a soldier either." He paused. "Maybe that's not right. We all are what we have now. Come on, let's go see what's going on. You are alright aren't you?"

To say the experience knocked the wind out of him was an understatement. He had lived through a lot, severe thunder storms. He had only been toddler when his parents took him away from the war zone, the artillery and explosive devices were childhood nightmares, faint echoes that were not clear enough to him to be memories, but what had shattered the glass of the Jeep Cherokee had taken him back to those days.

It took him a while to even register Hale wasn't with him. Ethan was there. Alonzo checked his body. He was fine. His chest had been speckled with tiny speckles of the shattered glass. His shirt was somewhere. He was only bleeding mildly, nothing serious. "I'm...yeah. Fine. I'm glad you're okay."

Running away. That was probably smart, but Alonzo was not leaving without Hale. "No, you were not a soldier, but I think you might become one," Alonzo said looking at Ethan. "I need to find my shirt" he added.

"Hang on," Ethan said. "Looks like safety glass but still, you should be careful getting out." He pulled out of the back and went around to the front seats where he found his shirt hanging off the rear-view mirror. Laughing, he pulled it down and brought back to Alonzo. "Found it," he said, grinning opening, "it was hanging off the mirror."

"You're a gem," Alonzo replied and he was happy to be reuinited with his shirt. The problem was as he started to regain his senses after the whole blast effect he noticed he was wrapped up in a blanket but feeling not quite right. fuck thought Alonzo.

He was cocooned in the blanket for good reason. His shirt was not the only thing he had taken off and misplaced during the night. "Uh Hey...help a brother out? I think my briefs are somewhere. But I'll settle for my jeans." On the plus side his pack of cigarettes and lighter were within reach.

"Turning into the trunk of shame here," Ethan said. "Just a sec." He went back around the front and hunted around some more. Alonzo's underwear and jeans were puddled around the gas pedal and brake; he brought them back and tossed them at Alonzo. "And for the record, way, way too much information."

Alonzo glared at Ethan disapprovingly and sighed. He had heard the trunk of shame comment but wasn't sure what to make of it. Did he know? Alonzo wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer. Instead, he downplayed it. "Some people sleep with clothes on. Some people don't," he commented simply. "Yeah, we'll, we are all living close together these days. Glad that you are safe, ya brat."

Taking his clothes, Alonzo carefully assembled himself under the blanket and threw on the shirt. No socks, no shoes, no problem. "Everyone else okay?"

Adults, Ethan figured, were sometimes weird. No other word for it. Still, going with the flow, was something of his new philosophy and so far, it had worked. Kept him alive and moving anyways.

"Everyone's alright," Ethan said. "At least in the house they were. Scared mostly. Here's hoping we get something to eat before we have to get moving." He sent a speculative look in Hale's direction. "He's got that ... itchy look ... again. The one that had us running yesterday?"

I'll go scratch that itch thought Alonzo. "Yeah, he... yeah. I'll make sure he's alright and if we need to get moving, we'll find some food. We won't get far on empty stomachs."

"I know I won't," Ethan said fervently. "Don't they ever feed soldiers? Because if they go on as little as he does, I'm not sure I want to join up when it's time." He paused a second, head cocked to one side. "Now there's a thought. Will there even be a way to join up when I'm of age." He shrugged. Pushing it aside and going with the flow. "I'll find a broom or a rag and get rid of the glass. If we're keeping this. Personally, I'm hoping for something with a bit more personality, you know?" Grinning, he took off back toward the house and a closet he remembered that had something cleaning things piled up.

Alonzo shook his head and exited the Cherokee. "Right, we'll you clean this up Cinderella and I'll go see about finding you somewhere with more personality to it. Maybe we'll take a road trip and break into Bill Murray's mansion along the way" he muttered to himself as Ethan had ran off like he does. The boy was always there one minute and gone in a blink.

[Over on the Hill]

Discussion over, Hale started making his way down the hill, heading back toward the Cherokee to check on Alonzo, and after that, get everyone moving. The not-nearly-dead-enough-to-suit-anyone would becoming with a beacon like that drawing them in and that meant this whole area would become a hot zone.

Killian had spoken to his wife for a brief moment, and they were decided that if the group would have them that they would rather be with them then on their own. There was no way that they would be able to make it home in one piece, and they were too out of their element. He cleared his throat when he approached Hale. "I overheard a bit of your conversation, and I understand choosing words carefully; I hadn't meant to inflict any extra salt to the open wound," he mentioned motioning to the smoking horizon. "While we're not adept of knowing how to survive the end of the world on our own, we are pretty scrappy in a pinch. We are very cognizant that we'll never see or hear from our loved ones again. We are well out of our depth, and would like to pitch in where we can to earn our way. I rather be of assistance to your group than off on our own."

"You're more than welcome," Hale said. "I promised Alonzo I would start teaching him the basics, using weapons, basic self-defense moves. That sort of thing. If you like, you can join in."

Whatever Killian would have said was lost when they saw Alonzo moving toward them at a rapid pace.

Alonzo approached Hale, partially worried about Hale, yet partially pissed at him because it was Ethan that came to check on him first. So, Alonzo approached a bit hot and if not for Killian standing there, Alonzo may have taken a swing at Hale, or gut checked him.

"I know," Alonzo said without needing Hale to say anything. "Grab the guns, get the kids, collect the essentials. We need to go and go quickly" stated Alonzo. "I've read enough to know the noise will attract them."

Hale's expression, as he turned toward Alonzo, dropped for the barest moment the professional facade he maintained around the others revealing a wealth of repressed feelings. Gone as quickly as it had appeared, he nodded. "It will but first, breakfast. We went all day yesterday without food and I don't want to repeat that if we don't have to. We've got to find vehicles and a few supplies but then we'll hit the road, head south."

Alonzo clenched his fist, and launched it right into Hale's right shoulder. "I'm glad you are safe. I appreciated Ethan checking on me," he said. "Breakfast. Right, sounds like a plan, Major."

Jaw clenched, Hale walked away and as he strode toward the house, visible in the early morning light, were tiny pinpricks of blood scattered across the back of his shirt. Not that it slowed him down any. He made it to the house in a few angry strides and went hunting for his gear. A few moments of privacy while he packed up and readied himself for the long day ahead.

Reuben had heard the door open and the very distinct military cadence of boots walking about. He knew it was most likely the major. He turned and looked at Emma "mind finishing these. Need to go talk to the major." He handed her the spatula and made his way out of the kitchen. Seeing Major Stratton over by his gear he walked over to him. "Major, I want to talk about our transportation needs." Here Reuben pulled out the map he had taken from the phone book. "I know you are keen on the use of vehicles, but I would at least like to propose an alternative. We make our way to this boarding stable and see if there are horses or mules there. Personally, I would prefer a mule. The advantages of this are easier cross-country travel, less noise and well the fuel situation." Reuben pointed out the boarding stable on the map. "I will however defer to your judgement."

Private moment ended, Hale leaned against the wall and considered Reuben's proposal. "Once we've found a place to winter, I think that might have some merit as a means of travel but for now, I want to get us farther south, get ahead of crowds headed this way, and scout an out-of-the-way place we can all hole up. 'Sides, Thea isn't going to be for horseback riding for months yet."

"Right then, this is the best map I could find of the area. I would love to find something better to use than this. Also, there is Thea, as you said, she is worried that no one will not want her around once the baby is born. I tried to reassure her that would not be the case, maybe a word from you would help." Reuben smiled as he stood up. "Sir as the top acting NCO in this little group, time for us to get up and ensure everyone gets chow before we execute a move out." Reuben then winked, "Also want to get in on the scrambled eggs before the youngsters dig in, horde of locust are less destructive when it comes to food."

Vic had returned to the house just in time to hear Reuben's last comment and though she had locked her emotions tight she couldn't help the laugh that escaped at it and she nodded to Reuben. "Okay Master Sergeant; that's simultaneously the funniest and most true statement I've heard in the last couple days... but I'll counter you with a platoon of Boots."

She stepped past Hale and Reuben, a small smile on her face. "I'll have a word with Thea, Major. Let you focus on other things." She went in search of Thea.

Alonzo would handle his issues with Hale later when the two could be alone. There was no need to address things out in the open, not with others around. "I'll get things ready" he said passing by Reuben and Hale.

 

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