America The Dead 2 – Dell Sweet

March 14th

Rochester NY: Joel and Haley


He was still holding her when he awoke the next morning. Haley awoke a few minutes after he did. She kissed him softly, and said, “Thank you for not being like every other man I’ve met in my life. I could love you, Joel, you know that?”

Joel kissed her back, and then she left to help with breakfast. Glenn wandered over, his eyes bloodshot, a rifle slung across his shoulder.

“Did you see anything last night, Glenn,” Joel asked?

“Zip. I stayed up all night myself, whoever or whatever… They didn’t come back.”

“I thought you were going to switch off with Ed. You should have got me up,” Joel said.

“Was gonna switch off, but… I don’t know, Joel, there’s somethin’ strange with Ed. It seems like he’s walking around with his head stuck halfway up his ass. I ain’t so sure he’s gonna make it,” Glenn finished in a near whisper.

“It happens, some people can’t take it when things get flaky, Glenn. Still, you should have got me up.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter now,” Glenn said grinning. “Besides, it looked like Haley needed you. Looked like you needed her too,” he finished quietly.

“I think we all need each other,” Joel answered, “Ed will come around.”

Once everyone had eaten they packed up the Jeeps; unlocked the garage doors, and backed out into the already hot morning air.

Joel left the cab and motioned the others out of the Jeeps. The quiet of early morning descended.

“We don’t know anything at all about what’s next. If, after a night to sleep on it you have changed your mind, it’s no sin… No one will blame you if you want to go back… Or even somewhere else.” He waited, but no one spoke. No nervous clearing of throats, no uneasy laughter. Nothing. “Okay,” he scrubbed at his face and the beard that was growing across his chin. Marveling at how it could be there at all. “I’d say windows down… Rifles loaded and safeties off… Watch… Follow my lead. If I back up and try to get out of there you follow me. Don’t turn around, just keep it floored in reverse… Let’s just be smart. Maybe those guys were nothing but smoke.” The silence held.

“Smoke or not we can’t run away,” John said. He straightened and smoothed his shirt front.

Joel nodded, looked around once more and then climbed back into the jeep.

They pulled off the service stations paved area; rolled slowly through the intersection and headed into the city of Rochester…


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