Later that same day, Krista got the word that the man who attempted to assault her in the Union Bar for the second time, this time getting a black eye for his troubles, was sentenced to four months confinement and equal time on the forced work crews. However, in light of the grand operation that now loomed before her and the rest of Special Teams, the news was reduced to insignificance. Now the big secret was out and the whole gang was going to be involved. Somehow, she couldn’t shake the feeling that it would wind up being a milk run, that while the construction of the new compound in Lordsburg went on, nothing would show up and their training, while valuable and certainly confidence-building, might not have to serve its true purpose. Still, the thought did pop up here and there that the inevitable noise of vehicles, equipment, and shouting workers might draw them in from miles around, though the fact that ALERT was soon heading out to take down whatever they found and leave piles of charred corpses with bullet holes in their heads might make that a non-issue.
The next morning, after virtually no one on Special Teams got much in the way of sleep, the motor pool looked like the ports in England must have on June 5th, 1944, as the whole world prepared to bang down Hitler’s front door bright and early the next day. Everyone was running around, gathering this and pouring over that. Mechanics were dirtying their hands on one thing or another, maps were studied, supplies counted, and prayers said aloud. There was a great deal of apprehension as a project of monumental proportions was beginning, mixed with excitement as Special Teams was at the core of a new age, an age in which some would come out from behind the walls and build new ones, slowly spreading across what had once been their country, in an effort to take life into their own hands and take the fight directly to the living dead. They were literally about to build the future, and everyone, even those racked by tension, were pumped over the prospect of being among the few who would later be able to claim that as humanity walked into its new age, they were the ones who held its hand.
Captain Heyward was privately briefing Romeo Three with maps and charts and so on (Lieutenant Forbes, again, was stuck in his office, no doubt unhappy that the world was more or less moving on without him) and everyone noticed that someone, no one knew who yet, had painted a design on the side of their bus like an old World War II bomber. Like ALERT, it featured an American flag waving in the wind with the dramatic caption of “The Sleeping Giant will Awaken.” It was just more visual evidence that everyone involved grasped the gravity of the situation, and that somehow, when America came back into existence after taking down the last of the living dead, this day would be seen as one of the starting points. In a way, the Duke City town council were almost the new Founding Fathers while the Constabulary, at least Special Teams, were more like the Continental Army of old. It was all beginning here.
What would they think when the new outpost was established? What would they think when others followed? How about in decades to come when the country, now dotted with colonies like Duke City, was dotted with hundreds of new colonies and outposts that formed an interlocking web of humanity that could finally hold hands and crush the last of the dead? Krista had her own idea. She thought, as she saw Romeo Three board their bus, that as an old woman, possibly sitting on her couch with a graying, doddering relic like Raymond Fuller beside her, could tell the young that she was there. She was among those who ventured out of the wall to give humanity its world back. She and Ray were of the happy few, the new band of brothers, who refused to lay down and die and with their sweat and blood, gave humanity back its soul.
She shook at the thought. It was the perfect validation of her own survival.
Somehow, she thought that out there somewhere, Arlen Bradford was smiling on her, wishing he could be with her. She hoped that wherever he was, he had forgiven her. Krista wished that he could experience this moment with her.
Romeo Three rumbled out of the gate and off to the future. There were waves and cheers and ‘good lucks’ as they vanished off into the west.
Minutes later, everyone was gearing up for their own parts in this tale. They checked their vehicles and checked them again, going over every gauge and round of ammo. They cleaned their weapons adjusted their load-bearing vests down to the millimeter. No one could talk about anything but what the next year or so might be like. Silently, they pondered whether or not they would volunteer to be among those who manned the Lordsburg outpost, whether or not they would leave their home to build new ones, or stay home and continue their efforts from the homes they now had.
During lunch, Krista sat on a bench near the motor pool, eating a simple fare of a sandwich, a bag of banana chips, and a plastic bottle of juice, while Ray found her and took the seat next to her.
“I guess that will be me everyone’s waving off in a couple of days, huh, Krista?”
“Yeah, I guess it will. Just keep your eyes open and you’ll be okay. I sort of envy you. I don’t know when One is going out there. Even Darius doesn’t know, but we will be out there soon, I expect. We’ll all be out there time and time again over the next few months. I never thought this would happen. When I first got here when everything had already fallen apart, I just thought we’d hide behind our walls, scratch out some kind of existence, and die in there while the whole world still belonged to them. I guess we’re made of tougher stuff than I thought.”
“But soon, we’re still going out, right? I mean, they’re not going to have us out there everyday. We’ll still have a couple of days off rotation so we can chill out, right?”
Krista smiled, knowing that Ray was hoping that their plans of possibly getting together hadn’t been erased by the rising tide of history. “I’m sure we will. This is going to take a year, Heyward says. We can’t be doing this everyday. We’ll be taking it slow, I’m sure. Don’t worry. You’ll be looking good with me on your arm soon enough.”
Just then, Ghost walked by. He stopped after passing them, turned, and folded his arms. He stared right at Krista to the point that Ray nervously excused himself.
“Krista, I’ll see you in a bit. I need to see if the team needs me for anything.” It was a half-assed excuse, but Ghost still intimidated Ray, but not Krista. Not anymore.
“Thanks a lot, Casper the Asshole. Ray and I were having a private chat and you had to come along and fuck it up.”
“You may find it useful to shut your mouth and deal with it, Constable. Whether or not I inconvenience you is a matter of total irrelevance.”
“Why did you even stop? What’s it to you? You have business with me at the moment?”
“Only a suggestion, Showalter.”
“Oh yeah? And that is?”
“When you find yourself spending quality time with Constable Fuller, I hope you remember what you did to Arlen Bradford. Fuller is a young man full of promise and no one needs you taking that away from us like you did with Bradford. One sad end to a bright future is all you should be willing to allot yourself. You have come some distance since you got busted off Recon, that I will admit, but I can only hope that as you have improved yourself as a constable, that you have also made some effort to improve yourself as a person. That is something in which you cannot be trained, and it is something in which you have consistently come up short. If you have not developed in terms of character, then do not drag Fuller down with you as you did with Bradford. Things are happening now, and I will not allow you to hinder us in the slightest way. If your true nature as a substandard human being has not yet been tamed, do not allow Fuller to pay for your deficiencies. Do not allow yourself to fall under the delusion that anyone would forgive you a second time. A great many people have yet to forgive you for Bradford. I am among those.”
“Ghost, I’m tired as hell of you throwing Brad in my face every chance you get. What the hell makes you think that it’s ever been any of your business? Huh? That was a year and a half ago and I’ve been punished enough for it.”
“Think what you will, Showalter, no matter how incorrect it is. You may be tired of being constantly reminded of the day you took a great friend from us, but I am also tired of living in a world that does not have Arlen Bradford in it. There is something truly sad about surviving a world ruled by the living dead to come to this place and die of a broken heart.” With that, Ghost was gone before she could even open her mouth to respond.
Ghost had once again, as his name would imply, brought the past back to haunt her. All the enthusiasm she had felt only minutes before was now replaced by regret over Brad and fear over whether or not she had the ability to treat a kind young man like Raymond Fuller the way he deserved to be treated.
She had not outrun her past quite yet.
Last edited by Ponyboy314
on Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!