Continued from Delirium Jane: Part V
or Start from the Beginning
“Take me with you. I know how to fight. I’m not the man you remember,” Zac pleads.
I laugh. “The man I remember? You just a little boy the last time I saw you.”
“That’s not true. I was seventeen.”
“Maybe, but you were all skin and bones and twitchy nerves.
“Not anymore. I’m as strong as anyone here, except for Cook. I know how to hunt and shoot and –“
“Oh really? That tree must have really pissed you off then?”
He crosses is arms in front of his chest. “It was a warning shot. If I wanted to kill you, I could have.”
“You shot at Jane?” Molly asks in disbelief as she hands me a mug of water.
“It was just a warning shot, Ma, and I didn’t know it was her.”
“Have a seat, both of you.” Molly gestures to the folding chairs she had placed on her platform.
When we had arrived, Molly had been hanging laundry to dry. Recognizing me immediately she dropped everything and gave me a tight hug, insisting that I stay around for a while. She would make me dinner and we would share news and memories.
“What do you guys do during winter?” I ask. Being late summer, its comfortable sitting outside up in the trees with a light breeze blowing and a nice shade, but my mind keeps wandering back to what this place will be like in a few months, when the leaves drop off the trees, the wind picks up and the snow begins to fall.
Molly smiles thinly. “It’s harsh.” Her face is pale and gaunt; she has dark circles under her eyes; and her blond hair hangs limply and falls over her face. Where her son has filled out and grown strong, she has remained the same tired frail woman I remembered from our journey north. Most people were half starving and exhausted by the time the made it to the Ridge; hiding from the horde does that to you, but once some semblance of safety and normalcy was achieved, they would often bounce back. Molly, on the other hand, appears to have only grown more hollow and broken.
“We spend a lot of time in the meeting hall,” she points to the only platform with a permanent structure.
“We were all supposed to get homes. We weren’t supposed to still be living in tents,” Zac says darkly.
“Zac, don’t get started on that. Not now. You know how difficult it is to get building materials out here.”
“You know, things have turned out pretty well back at the Ridge. It’s definitely nothing like before the dead climbed out of their graves, but it’s safe. Everyone has their own room; families even have their own houses. We have running water and a little bit of electricity. We work hard but it’s warm and we have food in our bellies every night. It wouldn’t be much out of our way, we could take you there.”
Her eyes are wistful and for a moment I think she might take me up on the offer. “What? And leave Cook?”
“Would that be so awful?” Zac mutters, barely audible. His mother shoots him a dirty look.
“He could go too.” I know the words are a lie as soon as I say them. He would never agree to go back to the Ridge and I doubt the Captain would accept him anyway. He was too . . . troublesome.
“No, no. Besides, if it is so great, why are you leaving?”
I shrug. “I’m just looking for something different; something I’m not going to find safe behind a fence. I’m looking for my place.”
Molly nods. “Well I have found my place and it is here with Cook, but . . .”
“But if you can, you should take Zac with you. He has turned out to be a fine young man. He works hard and does as he’s told,” she smiles, “most of the time.”
I look from mother to son. They both look like begging pups, pleading for my approval and acceptance. “I’ll talk to Skip about it. It will be his decision, but I’ll talk to him.”
Continue with Delirium Jane: Part VII