A few days passed, and eventually it became apparent that with our increased numbers, we were going to have to move. Where to was something I didn’t know yet, but we could worry about that later. I talked it over with Rae and Robin once we’d gotten the others settled and fed, and they seemed to agree that it was for the best. Oddly enough, I wasn’t all that eager to leave. The tower, despite the circumstances, felt like home.
The next morning, I called everyone down to the lobby to announce the news. They all seemed nervous. I knew everyone had been worried since Owen and the others arrived, and we’d done our best to reassure everyone that things would work out in the end; after all, we still had running water, and the generator was in no short supply of fuel thanks to Robin’s weekly siphoning jobs, but I guess for all our talk, people were still scared.
“As you all know, we’ve taken on Owen and the others, and supplies have been running out for a while now,” I announced to the others once I was certain everyone was present.
“Has the f-f-f-food run out?” Dante asked nervously. His stutter had gotten worse in the last few weeks, from what I could only guess was stress.
“No, we haven’t run out of food. We’re in short supply, but we haven’t run out yet.”
“I was on cooking duty yesterday, there was barely enough to last us til tomorrow,” Sam argued.
“Like I said, we’re in short supply. If everyone would please listen, and talk afterwards,” I said, and the lobby fell silent. “Thank you. As I was saying, supplies are running low, which means we only have one option.”
“Which is?” Sam asked, a little aggressively.
“We relocate. Now, I understand some of you have come to think of this place as home; I know I certainly have, and I’m not going to force any of you to leave against your wishes. All I want to know is who’s coming and who’s staying. Any of you that are staying, Robin and I’ll make sure you’re not in any immediate danger before we leave.”
“You’re kidding, right? Why would anyone stay here?” Sekani questioned.
I ignored his question, waiting while the others murmured amongst themselves. I saw Robin and Rae amongst the crowd, talking with the others; no doubt trying to convince them that moving was a good idea. Eventually, the crowd fell silent, and I looked at them for their answers. No one wanted to speak first.
It was Alice who first broke the silence. “We’d like to stay, Colligan. Sam and I, I mean. We’re in no state to move, not with Gabriel still so young.”
“It’s fine, Alice. I understand.”
“I know the odds are against us,” she said, looking down at Gabriel who lay sleeping in her arms, “But if we’re going to die, I’d rather it be here than miles from home.”
I nodded silently, and Alice leant into Sam, who put an arm around her shoulders. One by one the others announced whether they were staying or going, until only Maria, Joe, and Sekani were left to decide. I looked to Maria, her leg still bandaged, as she leant on Sekani for support. We’d meant to go back to the hospital to find some crutches for her, but as of yet, the thought had been put on hold.
“You know I’m with you, Loco,” Maria sighed. “If you can get me down the stairs, that is.”
“I’ll carry you myself, if need be. Anyone else?”
“I don’t like it, but I won’t leave the Garvers to fend for themselves,” Sekani muttered. “I’ll stay behind to look after them.”
“Thank you, Sekani,” Alice said softly.
“I’m going with Riley,” Joe said sternly.
I glanced back at Riley, who was staring at his feet. Had the two of them gotten back together? If they had, Robin hadn’t mentioned it. I heard Riley mumble something, but I wasn’t close enough to catch it. I was close enough to notice the look of annoyance that washed over Robin’s face.
“Listen, Joe, why don’t you do us all a favour and leave him alone?” he said, looking at Joe.
“Leave him alone? You’ve met him, he can barely look after himself,” Joe glared at Robin.
“So what? He doesn’t need you hanging around all the time. You and him are over, remember?”
“No thanks to you,” Joe said, glaring again.
“He’s my friend. If he won’t stick up for himself, someone has to.”
Joe chuckled. “Your friend? Robin, you’re so far in the closet, you’re in Narnia.”
“Gentlemen, now is not the time for this!” I yelled, silencing the both of them. “Settle your differences somewhere else. Joe, Sekani and the Garvers are going to need food, and you’re the only one that knows anything about the garden.”
“I’m not staying here, Colligan,” he said, trying to stare me down.
“Tough shit, Joe. You’re staying whether you like it or not, and that’s an order. Everyone dismissed.”
I felt a little bad for ordering Joe to stay, but at the end of the day, tensions between him and Robin were only going to get worse and Alice and Sam had a baby to feed. If Joe had any problems with it, he never mentioned them to me, though more often than not, I’d find him and Robin at each others’ throats. By the time we left, I’d had to have the two of them restrained more times than I cared to remember.
Less than a week later, those of us that were leaving had packed up everything we needed, and were ready to move out. I’d been a little tight-fisted about what we were taking with us; I’d wanted to leave as much behind as we could, since we’d already exhausted most of the supplies in Pine Ridge, and we had to think about those staying behind. When push came to shove, a lot of our band of survivors had changed their minds about coming with us. They seemed to think they had a better chance of survival if they stayed put, and I couldn’t fault them that blind hope. All in all, the group coming with us consisted of myself, Robin, Riley, Maria, Scott, Dante, Kat, Pet, Rae, and four of the survivors from the hospital; Berny, Owen, Simon and Thomas, Robin informed me they were called.
I managed a few brief farewells to those that I had known better, and before I knew it, our three cars were off to the next city over. Astoria.