Destruction Aftermath, Book 2a
Chapter 17

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

He wanted us north. Overall, he was pleased with the jaunt south but disappointed in the result based upon the original objective, which was to look at the partition. Even now, we couldn't do that without specialized protection and supplies. That would wait.

We had a lot of territory under our control or knowledge to the west and to the east. We were growing in both directions. The surprise from the north by the Triple-A's was not pleasant in his mind and he wanted us to get up that way and find out what was going on and who was doing it before we had another surprise.

Bennie and I talked about things that night and decided that being farmers was not on our list of things to do. We went to Poppa with a proposal that we would be Preservation's official explorers and acknowledged as the same for support by the community. We told Poppa that we would give up the farm and move to a house or build a house with that job in mind. We caught Poppa by a bit of a surprise but Momma had figured it out when we did no farming while Bennie was healing. She had a location for our new house already picked out. It was about one hundred yards away from theirs in a wooded area easily reached by their power line. It would be close enough that they could watch over it while we were gone.

Poppa looked at Momma and said, "Shirl, you've thought this through and must be for it."

'Yes, neither of them have ever been farmers. They're the best-equipped couple for being explorers. Make it official."

Poppa didn't hesitate, "It's official. I'll tell the council at the next meeting. They will go along with it." He smiled. "I guess the question now is, 'Do you want to stay and watch over the building of your new house or not?'"

Bennie looked at me and then said, "We trust you to do a better job than either of us. Janice, what do you want from our old house?"

"Momma and I will go over that over the next couple of days. You'll be busy looking at plans with Poppa. Don't make it big."

It took a week before we were on the road. The house was started. It would be a two bedroom, two bath, house with a big kitchen, living, and eating area. Momma had a list of what to move when the house was complete and we were packed with our horses and the pack horse. We had breakfast with Momma and Poppa. Poppa reminded us to report in frequently. Preservation was going to an hourly HF listening watch on 3.970 on the hour and 7.185 on the half hour. It might not be at their house but Momma and Poppa would never be far with the two-meter repeaters.

We rode over to I-85 and headed north to Atlanta. This time, we went through Atlanta and had no problems. Since we had just cleaned out the Triple-A menace a month or so ago, there hadn't been anyone try to come in and fill the vacuum. We followed I-85 north over the next two days finding signs of the Triple-A's in two separate farms. Their defense had been futile and every person had been killed, even the children. Bennie and I talked about the situation and didn't really expect to find anyone until we were in North Carolina, if then. There hadn't been many people there anyway but the Triple-A's cleared them out thoroughly. Game was plentiful but, as we expected, we didn't see signs of people until we were north of Charlotte at Durham.

We were coming into the Raleigh-Durham area early one afternoon when we ran into people. We were riding together along the Interstate laughing and talking when a rifle shot rang out hitting the pavement in front of us. We stopped and waited.

"Stay where you are! Who are you?" A voice asked us from across the Interstate.

Bennie shouted back, "We are Bennie and Janice Sullivan from Preservation."

"What do you want?"

"From you? Nothing. We're exploring for our community. We're peaceful unless attacked."

"Where are you from?"

"We're from Preservation, a new community close to Carrollton, Georgia. Who are you?"

"I'll ask the questions."

"Bennie hauled his horse around and I followed his lead. We began to walk the horses back away from the ramp system that was just ahead.

"Wait, I haven't finished talking to you."

Over his shoulder, Bennie said, "I'm not interested in a shouting match with you. We don't want anything you have. You aren't friendly so we're leaving." He turned around to face back the way we came.

"No, wait. Don't go."

I turned in the saddle and shouted, "Why not? You don't want us around. We don't want anything from you and won't let you take anything from us. Good bye."

We continued to walk our horses down the road.

"Wait! Please, don't go. I'm all alone. The Triple-A's got all my friends. I didn't want them to get me."

In a normal voice, I said, "Bennie, what should we do?"

Bennie looked around and said, "Let's walk the horses over to that clump of trees and take a break. If our shooter wants to join us, they can. After we rest a few minutes, we'll get away from here, mark the spot on the map as 'bad, ' and continue in another direction. It's more out of the way but we'll still get to Richmond."

I wasn't sure of his plan but I would back it completely. We pulled over in the shade. We tied the reins loosely and removed the saddles wiping the horses down. Our pack horse we tied but left our light load on it. Bennie and I each picked trees close to one another and sat down leaning against the trees. It didn't look obvious but we could cover most of our surroundings from where we sat.

After a couple of minutes, I whispered, "Someone's coming."

"I know. Just wait them out." Bennie put his head back appearing to be resting. His arms hung loose at his sides but his gun in its holster was loosened and that meant he could quickly draw and shoot. I had seen him do it.

"I could have shot you," the voice said shakily.

"Only one of us," I replied. "The other one would have come after you and killed you."

Bennie said slowly, "If you don't stop pointing that rifle at my wife, I will shoot you now. I'm tired of your hysteria. You can either act like a human or crawl back into your hole. We did not ask you to join us here."

She lowered the rifle and said, "How do I know you're not from the Triple-A's?"

Bennie replied, "You don't, other than our statements. As we said earlier, we are from Preservation, south and west of Atlanta. We've met the Triple-A's and they didn't like the meeting. Preservation takes a dim view of that type of group and the type of persons in it. Now, who are you and what's your story?"

"I'm Amy Fisher. I was born in Durham. My parents and brother and sister and I all survived the virus. I was five when the virus came."

'We call the day that the explosion occurred, the Day. The virus came shortly thereafter. Go on." I encouraged.

"We lived in a house in the suburbs. My parents told me about what happened on the D-day. I just know that all my friends went away and we stayed inside most of the time. Dad was a hunter and he took Mom and my brother to find food. We lived like that for a year or so. I was seven, so it must have been two years after the virus. The power went out.

"I think my parents had been planning for that because we moved away within a day or so. They took us to a farm further out of town. It had its own well and a windmill that provided power along with a lot of batteries and some solar panels. I think my dad installed those because he was always tinkering with that kind of thing. He was a handyman even though he worked in an office. Mom was a teacher and schooled us constantly. We took books from the schools and she pushed us to read everything we could find.

"We had met a few other families over the next few years and were friends with them. There were so few people left and most of them just wanted to be left alone. I know my parents felt that way. We had our farm and were happy there. When my sister, Carol, was sixteen, we began to have some social times with other families. She met a young man, named Greg, who came to see us frequently and they were talking about being married some day in the near future. My parents liked Jimmy and his parents. They lived about five miles away.

"I liked math and Mom had started me on algebra and geometry. I read in literature including a number of biographies and studied geography. Some of our neighbors had heard about Mom's school and offered to pay in labor or food if she would teach their children. Mom agreed and soon there were six of us being taught.

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