I didn’t sleep at all last night.

I was completely wired. I tried to go to sleep, but I was so restless Anna actually kicked me out of bed. I was keeping her awake.

It was probably a good idea. I was anxious as hell. The exhaustion didn’t even blunt it.

I kept having visions of Scavengers descending on the house. I could see Mohawk’s teeth glinting in his awful grin before my eyes. I even spent several hours keeping watch in our lookout, trying to calm myself with something productive — something to focus on.

It didn’t help. If anything I think it made it worse. I was jumping at every odd noise, every lonely squirrel jumping through the dry underbrush or creak of an old tree swaying in the breeze.

By this morning, I was a mess.

Nate came around dawn and tagged me out. He had coffee with him, I could smell it before I even heard the crunch of his footfalls. He even brought me a cup.

He’s a good guy.

By the time I got back, everybody but Evangeline was stirring. Judging by the way everyone looked, I don’t think they had gotten much sleep earlier. The bags under Al’s eyes were bigger than I had every seen them. Dawn and John, his daughter and son, were a mirror image of bloodshot eyes and gaping yawns. Mikey, however, looked fresh and alert. He probably passed out as soon as he layed down yesterday.

Al’s wife had more energy than any of them. As soon as I walked through the door she scooped me up into a giant hug.

“Thank you so much, Bill!”

I wasn’t expecting the attack and my arms were pinned to me as she actually managed to pick me up off the ground.

“Let the man breathe, Terri.” Bill monotoned with a bit of a chuckle. She finally put me down with a hearty, triumphant laugh.

“I can’t help myself. You really saved us last night.”

I made an attempt at a disarming smile. “Really, don’t mention it.”

“Nonsense!” she said, looking me in the eye. “If you need anything, just ask us.”

I tried to laugh her off. Her mirth was infectious, which helped. I didn’t want to get bogged down in talk of favors and payment.

The truth was, though, I felt a bit mollified by her statement. I was a bit worried about bringing Al into this little venture that seemed to be springing up around us. He had his own interests, his own family, his own goals. I was worried what would happen if he came to see me as a rival, instead of a friend.

I soon realized what a boon he really is, though. He hadn’t just escaped the house — he brought all his guns with him. Twenty-five weapons in all, with more ammunition than I felt the need to count. I hadn’t even realized the Hummer was sitting six inches lower than normal until we started unloading the thing.

Honestly, I feel a lot better with half of that iron in my safe. It was all I could fit in it. Al took the other half with him to the empty house on the other side of me. His whole family moved in there today.

It’s good to have the house back to ourselves. I took the day to relax, something I don’t actually get to do often. I got to read a book with Evangeline. Moby Dick. It gets a bit boring halfway through, but a good way to spend an afternoon with my daughter.

I think I’ll sleep better tonight.


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