“I just don’t remember where I put it.” A woman squeaks as she scrambles around her bedroom.
Leonard stands in the doorway. “Well, you’re lucky these old car garages are pretty small. Those water jugs shouldn’t be hard to find. Did you look under your bed, Emma?”
Emma dives beside her bed. “Oh, look here they are. I don’t know why I keep putting things there. I meant to leave them out last night, but I guess this is just force of habit.”
Leonard enters the bedroom and grabs the jugs. “That’s fine. Get the rest of your pack together. You might want to bring a few more rags. I’m sure there will be much to wipe down. Plus, the camp members could bandage some wounds with them. I’m going to fill the jugs and check on Chuck.”
Emma rushes over and hugs her dad. “Thanks for your help. I’m sure I can manage from here. Is Chuck even up yet?”
Leonard tosses an “I don’t know” over his shoulder as he moves away from Emma.
Leonard walks through the courtyard between the former garages used as bedrooms. Leonard set up this courtyard for flowers and plants. He thought the family could grow some of their supplies. Chuck’s bedroom stands at the back end of the place that they call home. Leonard calls out to no one in particular. “We have to remember to pick some of these tomatoes tonight. Those plants are looking heavy.”
Chuck spins on his heels inside his bedroom. “What was that?”
Leonard shakes his head. “Oh, nothing. I was just looking at our plants. We need to pick some stuff tonight. Got everything you want for today? I expect some electrical tools will come in handy if we make it to midtown.”
Chuck grasps his pack on his bed and gazes into it. “Yeah, I got those tools and some for repairing walls. I’m not taking too many of the heavy tools since we will have a long walk.”
Leonard smirks at his son. “That’s a good plan, Son. I like the way you think. Plus, we may not even get there.”
Chuck rolls his eyes. “Yeah, I thought of that too. I’m planning for the job that we know of, but I threw in some other things too.” Chuck zips up his pack and flings it on his back. “Well, I’m ready. Would you like some help filling those jugs while we wait for Emma?”
Leonard hands him one of the jugs. “I would appreciate that. You take this one.”
They leave Chuck’s bedroom. One stone path through the plants leads Leonard and Chuck straight through the garden. They end up at a glass door. The room on the other side was once the reception area for the garage. When Leonard first came here, he tore out the reception area and built a kitchen. There were already some gas lines run and some sinks. That made the work a little easier. Leonard taught Chuck how to repair things by having Chuck work on the family kitchen.
Leonard and Chuck each take a sink and begin filling the water jugs. The door slides open. “Oh, there you boys are. I heard y’all moving through the garden, but I couldn’t figure out where you went. I’m ready now. I did pack some extra rags, Dad.”
Leonard shuts off the tap just before overflowing the jug. He puts the jug in an outside pocket of his pack. “That’s good. Now, I am thinking we walk down to midtown today. It will be a long walk, but we should make it by late afternoon.”
Chuck finishes with his water jug. “That sounds good. Those people will likely welcome our help after last night.”
Leonard nods at Chuck and turns to Emma. “Good. But, let’s not worry too much about it. If we find other people, that’s fine too.”
Emma smiles at them. “I know some folks had a rough night, but there’s people here that need help too.”
They form up in the former reception area with Leonard out front. Emma follows him out the door into the street. Chuck pulls the door closed and locks it. “You know, I don’t know why I continue to lock this door. It’s not like people wouldn’t just break the glass if they decide to come in.”
Leonard and Emma laugh as the group sets off down the street.
After a few steps, another group turns onto their block. The other group is small too. Four men walk toward Leonard and his children. They carry automatic weapons. Body armor covers the oldest two. One of them waves at Leonard. “Hey, does anyone live on this street? Or, is it deserted like the rest of this place?”
Leonard puts a hand on Emma’s shoulder. “We haven’t seen anybody else here. I figure this place is as lonesome as the rest. I mean look around, where would you build a camp in these parts?”
The other group’s spokesman glances behind them. “Y’all been traveling long? Doesn’t look like you’re carrying much.”
Chuck looks the man up and down. “Nah, we just left our camp this morning and haven’t been walking long. We’re out scouting for supplies. Do you know of anything nearby?”
The spokesman shrugs. “Nope, we haven’t seen anything but you this morning. We keep hearing about this group of ‘seconds’ that are supposed to be here.”
Leonard looks back down the street. “Well, we can’t help you there. What are these ‘seconds’ about?”
The spokesman looks at his comrades and nods. “I can’t believe you ain’t heard of them. They go around helping other groups with repairs and supplies. No one seems to know a thing about them though.”
Leonard glances at his children and nudges Chuck. “Sounds like some good people. Well, good luck finding them. Do you need some help finding them?”
The other members flank their spokesman. The spokesman laughs. “Nope. We can find them and solve that problem.”
The spokesman leads his group on down the street. Leonard watches them for a moment before leading his family to the end of the block.
Leonard turns his head back down the street as they turn to go toward midtown. That other group lingers for a moment outside his home before disappearing down the street.