Part 2. Enjoy! Followup to “Epidemic.” Go here for part 1.
We drove the four hours from the prison we had taken shelter in to Salt Lake City, where we pulled into the nearest apartment we could find, spoke to the man sitting at the front desk, got our key, and went to apartment 306. We unloaded our meager belongings, put our food into the pantry and recently-started fridge, and tried not to think of the family who had left the beds and furniture in this house for our use. They were probably dead. That’s why we tried not to think about it.
Several months passed. The world was more or less cleaned up—well, the dead bodies were cleared, at least. The funeral was bland and quick. Matthias’s body still had not been found.
An interim president of the United States—whose population was now confined to a smattering of states throughout the country, namely Utah, Washington, New York, and California—was elected. Coincidentally, that president was the former president of our safe house. I guess the man just reeked of leadership.
Money was reinstated, just as it had been before. Everyone was given a starter of sixty thousand dollars, plus the spare change people might have. People began to get jobs.
I decided I needed one. If things were going to cost money again, I needed a way to support the boys—and I didn’t want Will to have to work.
“Okay, boys, I’m off to go see a man about a job,” I announced one morning. I think it was a Tuesday, but the days began to blur together after mom and dad got infected and we were shipped off to the first safe house. The one that had turned out to be not so safe, after all.
“Where?” Will wanted to know.
I shrugged. “Retail, probably. I dunno. I’ll look around, see what catches my fancy. Can you look after the other two while I’m gone?”
Aaron came bounding up to me. I noticed that his pants were several inches above his ankles, and I could see his belly under his shirt. “Hey, Evie, are we going to have school? I never got to go, you know.”
“I don’t know. I think that’s not a huge priority among the leaders right now,” I explained, straightening his clothes as much as I could. “But I’m sure some sort of schooling will be reinstated soon enough.”
“What does ‘reinstated’ mean?”
“It means ‘brought back.’ And I really need to go. Bye, boys.”
Jake waved absentmindedly from the chair where he was reading a newly discovered book, and Will and Aaron chorused a “goodbye!”
I marched down the stairs, jingling the truck keys as I went. I drove around the city carefully. The streets were hazardous in more ways than one lately—with no one to tend to them for over two years, there were cracks and potholes everywhere. Not to mention there were scores of unexperienced drivers about since the reinstatement of civilization. No one was that concerned with Driver’s Ed, and people needed to get around.
I skimmed past various stores, not wanting a job in retail unless I had to. I also pass by reconstruction work, knowing I don’t have the muscle or time to build the muscle for that job. There’s nothing interesting. I don’t have the experience for much, and fun jobs, like working as an entertainer, aren’t exactly being offered.
I drive the day away, and finally decide that I need to go back home. I sigh, flip a u-turn, and head for home.
“Any luck?” Will asks as I swing the door shut behind me.
I sigh again. “Nope. I couldn’t find anything interesting, and I spent too long looking for it.”
“That’s alright, you can just go back out tomorrow. I could get a job too, you know.”
I looked up sharply. “You will not. You and the boys will have fun and be kids and besides, who else could I get to watch the two younger boys?”
“Okay, okay, I won’t get a job.” Will raised his hands, palms forward, in a placating gesture.
I relaxed my tensed shoulders. “Sorry, William, I just don’t want you three to grow up too fast.”
Will smiled sympathetically, if a bit sadly. “That’s really nice, Evie. But, you know, in a way, we already have.”