Survival: Taking Action
I stand with my back to the rest of the people, surveying the scene outside the meeting place. It’s all I can do to keep my emotions from showing on my face but I’m sure Leila can still see small traces of panic and confusion. She steps up so she’s right by my side and leans against the makeshift doorway, watching the three boys patrolling outside.
“Do you think three watches is enough?” I mumble quietly, not wanting anyone else to hear me. Heaven knew the panic that would arise among the people if they found out I didn’t have a solid plan just yet. Hopefully, by the time I moved on, everything would be in semi-working shape. My first priority was helping these people.
She nodded. “They’re very capable and young. Not too old like some of the people in there to be of assistance when help is needed.” She hooks her thumb over her shoulder, also keeping her voice low. “No offense to them but when push comes to shove, they aren’t going to be adding anything to the team.”
I open my mouth to say something but clamp it closed. She’s right but I don’t want to admit it. To look at half of those people in there as lost causes for our fight was enough to make bile rise in the back of my throat. I barely had a handful of people on my side and now, it was drawn to my attention that they wouldn’t be of help.
“I know all of these young men,” she continues. “Don’t worry; they’re perfect for the job.”
Nodding quietly, I remain where I am as she disappears back into the meeting place. I can hear low whispers and murmurs but when I turn to hear better, it goes quiet and everyone’s eyes are on me.
“Where do we start with the wall?” An older man pipes up, obviously edging in on his early eighties.
I scan the room for a brief second before answering. “As I said earlier, collect the rubble. Grind it into powder, mix it in with water, I don’t care how you do it, just make sure it holds.”
I quickly walk up to where Leila is standing and barking out orders. “Pick out the people you think are best for weapon-making and get them on that. The others send out to the streets. I want able-bodied people collecting rubble, ones that will be quick so as to not draw too much attention.”
Leila frowns. “I think starting on weapon processing right now would be a little too obvious. Lionel Banks most likely has men everywhere, looking for things like this.”
“Then be careful about it,” I explain. “Choose a more hidden location, one they wouldn’t immediately suspect and get to work. All of you.”
“You can use my father’s old bakery.” Felix stood up. He had grown up in the town and I had met him only once before. The bakery was bigger than any other bread shop I had ever seen and had room for the machinery we would need.
“Okay, we’ll start there.” I nod at him, thanking him silently. “If Banks and his men catch on or if we suspect they know, we can always move it.”
I turn to Leila once more who has already begun to separate the group according to the two groups I need. When she’s done, I have about seven people, five males, and two females, which will be gathering rubble from the streets and bringing it back.
We decided on the remains of the library as the mixing headquarters. It was right on Main Street and one of the few buildings that were still standing. It gave us access to plenty of rubble.
Hopefully, they wouldn’t notice a few people roaming around Main Street and find it too suspicious.
We disperse and I lead my group out, one by one. My heart is hammering in my chest as I quickly run along the side of the desolated post office and down the back alley to the bank.
Money was of no value now as everything was destroyed and there was nothing to buy. I had yet to check the building and safes but as far as I knew, people had already looted it and left town.
I hunker below the barriers in the back parking lot of the library, which sits right next to the bank, and motion for the others to quickly follow. It wasn’t until everyone was hiding behind the same cement barrier that I started talking.
“I need two or three people to go through the whole town and locate where every single last one of these cement barrier things are,” I start, keeping my voice low.
“The others will go out and start collecting rubble. There should be five-gallon buckets that are still useable in the back of the hardware store. Don’t carry more than you can run with.”
They nod, not speaking. My eyes land on Felix who had been the only one to volunteer to do this job. Sadness settled over me, weighing heavy on my shoulders at the thought of the millions of people who’d had their lives ruined.
I grit my teeth, determining to slowly, but surely, fix the country. The sooner things were better, the sooner people would be able to live their lives again.
“I only have one rule,” I say before I send them off. “Your life is more important than cement and rubble. If something happens, you leave whatever you have behind and get out of there—get somewhere safe. I can’t lose any more people. You got it?”
They nod, not speaking because of the fear that’s choking them and holding back their words. I send them off, patting them on the back as they leave one by one.
Now it’s just me, sitting in a pile of ash, listening to the eerily haunting sounds of the empty town.
I had a job to do and I had to get it done before nightfall.