This is the second half of the June 15th chapter. The longer ones are broken up to keep the read time down.
They buried Seth and Dan and the other dead in a large hole they spent the afternoon digging. The last six months had removed much of the stigma from mass graves and making them a simple necessity. A small pile of stones was made and simple ceremony followed, each saying what they felt necessary to or remaining silent in turn.
After the funeral, everyone piled into two Dodge cargo vans and headed to a self-storage lot by Route 9 where Bill and company had taken up residence. Besides Marty and Will, Bill’s group consisted his wife, Susan, who was short in stature and jovial by nature, their other son, Tom, was more quiet and was a veteran of the Iraq War. Also with them was a tall, slender girl with red hair, Stephani who was introduced as Will’s girlfriend.
The storage lot, while short on amenities, did have private rooms for anyone with the inclination to clean out a shed. According to Bill, lots like this not only provided shelter but proved to be valuable sources of salvage. Most of the equipment his group had had been taken from such lots. As darkness fell Alex and Bart hauled old furniture and nick-knacks from a shed to make room for them for the night while Anne watched over Arlene.
Since the attack, Arlene had vomited twice and complained of pain and nausea. Marty had been a paramedic before the invasion and thought that she might have some swelling in her skull. His tone was not reassuring. His prognosis two other survivors was much more bleak. Both had suffered severe burns and were in shock. Marty did what he could for them but did not believe that either would last the night.
After Alex and Bart had gotten everything settled everyone gathered around an old propane lamp and tried to enjoy a meal of beans and corn.
“She’s gonna have to try to stay up tonight, or at least sleep propped up,” Marty said, referring to Arlene, “Help the swelling.”
Arlene moaned, she was having hard enough time staying upright, leaning against the corrugated metal of the shed.
“I’ll stay up with her,” Anne volunteered.
“No, Anne, you have sleep, for Margo,” Bart said. Since the attack, Margo had not left Anne and was now curled up in Anne’s lap, staring into the fire.
Anne frowned, but nodded agreement.
Alex began to speak, but Will cut in quickly, “None of you have to stay up. Me and Tom take turns keeping watch at night so we’re used to being up.”
Tom nodded as he spoke, “We’ll keep and eye on her for you.”
“We’d appreciate that mightily,” Bart said softly.
“We’re not used to such kindness from strangers,” Alex said.
“No offense,” Anne said quickly.
“Well, we like to be like the old ways,” Bill said, “and no offense taken, people you can count on are few and far between these days.”
They all sat in silence for a few minutes, then Alex spoke, “Were you part of that group that got attacked on the road today?”
“No,” Tom said, lighting a cigarette, “They were fools.”
Bill gave him a sharp look, “We were here when the attack began, Will spotted the saucers we just tried to see if we could help.”
“You did kill a bunch of them,” Bart said.
“We sure did and…,” Will started to say.
Susan cut him off, “But we didn’t save the people, and it’s the people that count.”
Will looked at his feet and Stephani put her arm around him, “But we did try.”
“And Dan’s dead,” Tom said quietly.
Bill glared at his son, anger on his usually pleasant features, “But we have to try, if we don’t then what good are we. We might as well be dead if we don’t try to fight back.”
Tom was quiet for a moment and then, “Sir, yes, sir.”
Worry flashed across Susan’s face and then to Alex, “So, tell us your story.”
Alex looked at Bart and Bart spoke up, “We don’t have much of a story, me Alex here and Arlene were survivors on a bus that was hit back in Normal. One moment we were on our way to Wal-Mart and the next one of those damn dinosaur things appeared out of nowhere and tore into our bus. That was about two days before the nukes were launched.”
“Me and Seth, we were students at ISU,” said Anne, “We thought we’d be safe in the shelter under Watterson but after days in the dark and the stink and no word from the government that everything was O.K., we had to come out.”
“We all met up at Eastland Mall,” Alex said, “And that’s where we found Margo too, wandering around in the food court.”
“And we found Carol there too,” Anne said and then turned pale. Bart and Alex looked sick.
“She went Crazy, didn’t she,” Bill said, his voice full of sympathy.
They nodded together, slowly.
“Terrible thing to watch, isn’t it. It’s those bastards, ya know,” Marty said, pointing up.
“Yes, I know,” Alex said, staring off into the distance.
“Can we talk about something else,” Susan said, hugging her arms around her.
Bill pulled her in close and whispered, “It’s all right.”
The group was silent and then the small talk started and continued into the night until the last cigarette was extinguished and Tom settled into his seat next to Arlene, rifle slung comfortably around his shoulder.