Alma woke up in her bed with the sun coming through closed curtains. There was no telling how long she’d been out. She wasn’t certain but it felt like a long time. She had foggy memories of coming in and out of consciousness.
When she tried to sit up pain shot through her midsection, but it was bearable. She sat swung her legs to the side of the bed and looked down at the bandages on her side. She was wearing a sports bra and boxer shorts.
She really hoped Cass had changed her and not one of the guys. Especially not Alex. That would have been extremely awkward.
She saw a pair of fuzzy slippers (not hers) but didn’t see a robe or any other clothes within arms reach.
After painfully standing up, she shuffled to her closet and rummaged through her things. Most of it was cargo pants and t-shirts. She didn’t want anything as tight as a t-shirt so she found an AC-DC hoodie and slipped it on and then a loose, cotton dress over sweatpants. Then, for added style points she pulled Cass’s Voltron blanket over her shoulders.
She wasn’t out to win any awards. She wanted comfort and warmth.
She was starving.
Alma made her way down the stairs one step at a time. Each step caused fire to burn through her abdomen.
Where the hell was everyone?
“Hello?” She called out in a voice that sounded weaker than she would’ve liked.
When no one answered she continued her descent, swearing with each step.
No one was downstairs but she heard people talking outside. She stumbled to the front door and opened it.
The “town square” was full of vehicles and armed people going around. She didn’t see Cass, Alex or Lisa anywhere. But she did see Rebekah standing on the porch with her arms folded and a Remmington 700 slung across her back.
“Rebekah, what’s going on?” Alma said.
Rebekah turned around and gave her a wide eyed, huge smile.
“I noticed that already. What’s going on?”
Rebekah hurried over and helped her down into a rocking chair. Great. She was turning into an old woman now.
“We’re fueling up all our vehicles. That humvee there is going to go on a patrol to find these Provisional Government jackwagons and the other three trucks are heading to Farmville for the meeting.”
“Yeah, the big council of the towns.”
“Start from the beginning. What’s this council?”
“Well, last week we got an invitation from Farmville to go to this council of all the surviving towns. We’re taking fifteen people in three trucks.”
“Well, Alex and Lisa are going. Cass and Jason are staying.”
“The big fellow that saved your life.”
“Oh, that’s right.”
She remembered now. The past week had been a little confusing.
“What’s this meeting about?” Alma asked.
“Trade, mutual defense, borders.”
“You bet it will be! I can’t wait to see other survivors. I hope there’ll be a cute Jewish guy…or at least rabbi.”
“When you heading out?”
“In an hour or so. Want me to go get Alex?”
Rebekah hurried off and ran over to where Alex was organizing supplies for the trip. She saw Alex’s head shoot up and him and Lisa quickly walked over to the porch. Alex walked up the steps and leaned up against a pillar. Lisa was right beside him.
“How you feeling, Sis?”
“Peachy. You heading out to some post apocalyptic United Nations?”
“It’s a start. We need to trade for things we can’t get or make.”
“Glass, medicine, ammo.”
“And the Provisional guys?”
“We’re going to talk about them too. Jason mapped out their location and strength.”
“Where is this Jason guy?” Alma asked.
“He’s over with the recruits,” Lisa said.
“What’s he doing there?” Alma asked.
“Training them. He’s very good,” Lisa said.
“Sis, you mind being in charge while we’re gone?” Alex asked.
“I think so. Cass is staying, right?”
“Yeah, she’ll be here.”
Alex walked over and sat down on the porch swing next to her.
“You had me worried,” Alex said.
“That’s what I get for being introspective and crap and wandering on my own, right?”
“Something like that.”
“Won’t do it again.”
Lisa turned around and started to walk off but then stopped.
“Cassidy will want to know that you’re awake,” Lisa said.
“Thanks, hun,” Alex said.
“Now its my turn to tell you to be careful,” Alma said.
“I will be. Lisa and Rebekah are coming with me. Adam is as well but Jen’s staying here. Keep your eyes open. I don’t want the Provisional Fascists sneaking up on you.”
“We’ll keep lookouts and send out patrols,” she said.
Then Cassidy came running into view. She was holding down her cowboy hat as she approached the house. She stomped up onto the porch and threw her arms around Alma.
“Bout time you woke up, girl!” Cass said, almost smothering her.
“Easy there, Cass. I just came back from the dead.”
“Right. How you feeling?”
“Like I was shanked by a psychopath.”
“Oh, yeah. Makes sense.”
Then she looked back to Alex.
“How big a threat are these Provisional guys?” Alma asked.
“Big enough. They have military vehicles and lots of big guns. That’s why we’re having this conference, to discuss a mutual defense treaty. We can’t take them by ourselves.”
“The world’s just ended and we’re talking about war already. I was hoping for a generation or two before it started up again,” Alma said.
“We’ll talk about that as well.”
“Sounds like you got a lot of work to do,” Alma said.
“We’re building new countries. It’s not as easy as it sounds,” Alex said.
Lisa walked up and slipped her arm under Alex’s. A public display of affection from Lisa? How long had she been out?
“You’re going to help me out, right Cass?” Alma asked.
“No, more like I’ll be doing all the work for you,” Cass said.
Alex turned to look at the vehicles and the assembling people.
“We got to hit the road soon,” he said.
“Fine, go do what you gotta do. I’ll be here,” Alma said.
He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.
“Take care, Sis.”
“Take care, bro.”
Alex got up and walked over to the trucks with Lisa in his arm.
“They’re buddy buddy,” Alma said.
“They’re engaged,” Cass said.
“I feel like that Hand Solo guy from Star Wars.”
“Han Solo. See? My nerd education is rubbing off on you.”
She watched as Alex and his crew drove off to their conference in Farmville. That had to be the most unfortunate name for a town. Eventually the memory of Facebook will die out though and Farmville could take some of its pride back.
She knew she’d see him soon so she wasn’t worried.
Cass relaxed in the porch swing and flung her hat on a nearby chair.
“This aint so bad,” Cass said.
“At the moment, I guess it aint,” Alma said.
They were building a confederacy of towns to stop the progress of a bunch of uptight politicians that thought they were still in charge. They had to form trade routes and find other survivors. Farms had to become self sustaining and civilization had to get back on its feet.
She knew it’d be a long time before they got close to what they had, but at least they were on their way.
Things could have been worse. At least they didn’t have zombies, mutants or Cthulhu running around. No. The biggest threat had been other people and always would be.
Alex was happy. Lisa was a soulless ice queen, but Alex seemed to love her so she couldn’t wish Lisa harm. Nobody was perfect.
She looked over and saw that Cass was smiling as she looked out over “Town Square.” Cass saw the good side of things and right now she was happy. That was something else of Cass’s that was rubbing off. If only she could get Cass to swear then things would be even.
Life at Promised Land wasn’t bad at all. It wouldn’t always be rosy, but it could be good. They had a home. They had a family. And they had a future.