Earth’s Survivors Rising From The Ashes
Beth poured coffee in the small tin cups for both of them before she spoke. “Where are you thinking?”
They had backtracked all the way into Kentucky. Stopping last night at what they assumed was the Ohio River, too tired to decide what was next.
He shrugged his shoulders as he responded. “I think we can start heading for the East coast. What do you think?”
“I guess so, I… I don’t know. It certainly can’t hurt, and where else would we go?” she stared into the fire as she spoke. “I think we should be a lot more careful though. I get the feeling that those people we ran into aren’t the only ones around who would just as soon kill us, and I’m not kidding myself about it, I think it was pretty clear. They didn’t want to talk, or even to just take us prisoner or something, they wanted to outright kill us. No sense pretending about that.” She paused.
“I mean, I really thought there, for a second, that they were just scared or something, or maybe saw me and… Well, you know, but that wasn’t it.”
When she finished he nodded silently, and then sipped from the cup before he spoke. “You’re right; I just didn’t want to think about it. Hell, I couldn’t think about much of anything except getting as far away as possible, and I kept thinking about the truck too. Did they do that before they tried to kill us, after, or was it someone else? There’s no real way to tell I guess, but even if they were alone I’m not kidding myself that there won’t be others just like them. We do have to be careful,” he paused, thinking. “In fact I think we need to get off the main road from now on. These parks, rural areas seem better. No people, fewer people anyway. I never thought I would say fewer people were a good thing, but,” he shrugged, “guess I just did. I don’t think it’s safe… You agree? I mean, there are lots of other roads that parallel the main highway. I guess it just seems like the smart thing to do, and it feels like the right thing to do. What do you think?” he asked.
“I think you’re right. I’ve been sitting out here thinking about pretty much the same thing for quite a few hours, and you’re right, we have to be careful, and you’re also right about the main road… It just doesn’t seem safe, or the safest way to get anywhere anymore.”
“Well,” Billy said, “if we’re going to take side roads, we’re going to have to get another map, and that means we’re going to have to go into the next city to get one. I’m not thrilled about that, but we’re also going to need to pick up more ammunition too. Either way, we have to follow the highway into the next town down the line. No way around it,” he almost seemed as though he were hoping that she would come up with some alternative as he spoke.
“No other way,” she said, “so… I guess we better get moving?” She allowed what she had meant to be a statement to rise at the end and turned it into more of a question.
“No,” Billy said immediately, “no way. It’ll be dark soon, and I really don’t think that would be a smart move at all. No… I think we should wait it out here tonight, and get on the road early in the morning. We should be able to make the next town without a map. I don’t even know what the next place is, but it can’t be too far, can it?” he didn’t wait for a response; he had asked more of himself than her. “No, I’m pretty sure it won’t be far. We’ve been running into lots of small towns every twenty, thirty miles or so, and most of them at least have gas stations. We should be able to get a map fairly easily. After we do though, that’s it. We get off the main road, and stay off it.”
As darkness closed in, they had both turned quiet. Beth had begun a small dinner over the coals in the fireplace, they had hastily thrown together earlier that morning when they had arrived, and Billy had walked over to the truck and occupied himself with checking the mechanics, making sure that nothing had been damaged the night before as he had driven.
Several times he had driven over debris in the road, but in his haste to put miles between them, he had ignored it. He had also become convinced during the night as he drove, that they were being followed. He had kept glancing into the mirrors, sure that he would see glowing headlights closing in on them from behind. It had not happened though; the road behind them had remained empty of headlights all night as he had driven.
He had another thought as he stood looking over the truck. What if they had done something to this truck, he wondered. He knew the thought was irrational, there had to have been over a hundred trucks on that lot, and… How would they have known to choose this one? And if they had, wouldn’t something already have happened?
In spite of how ridiculous it seemed, he checked the truck over anyway. There was one small gouge in the front passenger fenders paint, probably due to some debris flying up and hitting it, but other than that the truck seemed fine, and none the worse for the hurried trip. He pushed it from his mind as he walked away from the truck, and back to the fire.
They had starting backtracking the next day
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