Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fiftieth entry: Field Trip

July 5th

The last week or so have been good. I am feeling a lot better since I put those things away, and good things seem to be happening as a result. I know the glasses, and the present, and stuff are all still there, but not seeing them everyday isn't as hard as actually being able to see them was. I've also been spending more time with Pippa while Gerry is out on runs and Beth is down in the labs doing her training. It's been nice, and I've not felt creepy, which is also nice.

Gerry came back from a run on Thursday with a present for me. He had been home for a couple off hours when he came into the living room where I was reading (“1984”, if you're curious), and dropped a large purple gift bag on the IKEA-esque coffee table.
I lowered my book, and asked, “What's that?”

“It's your birthday present. Happy birthday!” Gerry said, and I saw Pippa come into the room from the dining room where she had been on her laptop.

“It's not my birthday,” I said.

“Well, I figure I have known you for more than a year, and I've not seen you celebrate your birthday, so we must have missed it at some point. That's from Beth too, by the way, but I didn't want to wait for her to come home from training.”

“Is she okay with that?”

“If she's not, tough,” Gerry grinned.

“You didn't have to get me any-”

“Open it!” Pippa cut me off with a gleeful cry.

I dropped my book onto the coffee table, and took the bag; it was heavier than I expected. In the bag was a relatively plain looking cardboard box with the FutureTech Computers logo on the side. I pulled the rectangular box out, and set it on the coffee table.

“Is this?” I asked.

“Yup,” Gerry beamed, “Now you and Pippa can play together.”

I let any obvious replies to that go since they would just make me look bad.

I opened the box and found wrapped in the plastic and styrofoam inside was a shiny black laptop emblazoned with the FutureTech FT logo.

“How did you get this?” I asked as I unpacked the folder of instructions and the power cable.

“We brought a bunch back with us on the last run, and as I am sure you remember, being on the Acquisition Team has its advantages,” Gerry said, “You might want to look in the bag again.”

I looked in the gift bag, and at the bottom of it was a shrink wrapped copy of Seventh City Online. It was the deluxe version that came with a headset for voice communication in game and a superhero action figure.

“I figure you'll need that too.”

“Install it! Install it!” cried Pippa.

“You really shouldn't have,“ I said, feeling embarrassed.

“It wasn't all my idea,” explained Gerry, ”and I expect you to do a better job of sharing than Pippa does.”

“Hey!” Pippa protested.

It's a nice laptop, and it might even fit in my satchel if I cleared some of the crap out of there. It's even got a little television plug-in for it that can pick up Lovelock's one TV station, not that I watch the news much, but it's nice to have the option.

I installed the laptop's battery, and plugged it in. The laptop booted up perfectly and I went through all of the first time use stuff. Register? No. Sign up for free online backup service X? No. Subscribe to virus protection software? No. Sign up for internet service provider X? No.

Finally I was able to get the computer onto Lovelock's wifi, and install the game. Once it was running Pippa hovered around me while I created my character.

“Your nose isn't that big, and you're not fat like that!” Pippa protested.

“Who says it's me?” I said.

“It looks like it's supposed to be you. Look!” Pippa pointed at the screen, “You even gave him a scar over his eye like yours. Come on, do it right! No fatties!”

After decking him out in an all black suit, a black fedora, and a pair of steampunk-looking goggles Captain_Noir was ready to hit the streets of Seventh City. Rushing through the tutorial, I selected his powers (telekinesis, strength, and enhanced healing), and left the tutorial area.

On the street outside the starting area I found a couple of people waiting for me, Super-Pippa, a tall female in a bright red bodysuit, and Evie_of_Destruction, a pale woman in a flowing white dress and cape who hovered about a foot off the ground and glowed, casting light onto the street and buildings around us.

“Hello, Captain Noir,” Evie_of_Destruction said, and I recognized the voice immediately; it was Doctor Byron.

“Doctor Byron?” I asked into my headset.

“Now now,” Evie_of_Destruction cautioned me, “Let's try to stay in character.”

I checked out Doctor Byron's character and found that she was maxed out at level ninety-nine. Pippa on the other hand was at level twenty, and of course I was a mere level two (you gain a level in the tutorial for choosing your starting abilities).

“I know that you have been having some trouble connecting with people since you arrived here,” Evie_of_Destruction, “So I was hoping that you might be able to form some connections here. I hope you do not take offense.”

A little bit, yeah, but that's not what I said, “No doct-... Miss Destruction”

Evie_of_Destruction sighed, “Will you please, in here at least, call me Evie?”

“Get him!” a voice called from behind Captain_Noir, and there was a gunshot. A red “-10” appeared over his head. I spun my character to see three men in raccoon masks and black and white striped shirts firing pistols at me.

A red beam shot past me as Evie_of_Destruction fired her eye beams, and sent all three of the low level NPCs flying against the wall of a building with a red “-1542” appearing above each of their heads. They hit the ground and faded away.

“Well, I have a raid to go to. I hope the two of you have fun, just make sure this does not interfere with your other responsibilities. Now if you'll excuse me,” and with that Evie_of_Destruction shot up into the sky and out of sight.

Pippa and I played well into the night, and I was at level thirteen before we stopped. I've never been much of an MMO player because I didn't like the subscription model. I was afraid that if I was paying a monthly fee I would feel obligated to play it at the expense of playing something else. I've seen “Second Skin”, I know how addictive these games can be, but this was a lot of fun.

My week of goodness continued the next day when, instead of standing around at one of the roads into town I got to go a field trip. I was invited to help stand guard while the scientists tested out some of their anti-zed technology. Most of the guard was composed of Genetitech Security (including Beth), but me, Zack, and a handful of other civilian guards were along just in case.

The reason for the heavy security presence is because they do not test these things in town We actually drove to a town to the east called Harlan because we needed a supply of zeds to test on. Honestly, I doubt the claim that there are not zombies kept down in the labs for testing on, but I don't suppose bringing them out into town would not be a very good idea.

Our caravan of trucks, cars, and vans drove quickly along the road that had been scouted out in the morning to make sure that it was still clear and intact, and arrived at Harlan early in the afternoon.

The testing field was the baseball diamond at Harlan East Middle School. This was not the first time that they had used this location, as there was already a cage built out of chain link fencing out in right field with three active zeds locked in it, and a large fence had been erected around the entire field to make sure no one could accidentally walk into the testing area. I was told that they've been using this place for awhile, and the lack of active zeds in the town would seem to be evidence of that.

I only got to witness three of the tests, but I did get to meet Zack's wife, Margaret, and the two guys she works with. Grant Vang, a youngish looking man with short black hair, and James Carraway, a balding man with a ridiculous handlebar mustache who wears a newsboy cap. Vang and Carraway are both absolutely insane, but the machine of theirs betrays genius beneath that insanity.

Doctor Byron was with us, wearing a loose white blouse and slacks and carrying a wide white umbrella to keep the summer sun off of her sensitive skin. The whole exercise seemed to be a mix of the progress on these items being demonstrated for Doctor Byron, and a morale boost for the scientists who have spent I don't know how long working on them. It was all quite impressive really.

The first demonstration I saw was built by Doctors Hutchins, Vang, and Carraway; it was something they called Da Vinci's Scythe Wagon. It looked more like something from the old Battlebots show than any design of Da Vinci's I've ever seen though. It was a box about four and a half feet tall with tank treads at the bottom. The wagon was topped with, just as Beth had described it, what looked like a two layered helicopter prop. One of the props was set at around five and a half feet, the other at about five feet, and each of the blades was actually a curved scythe made of gleaming metal.

The scythe wagon was driven out onto the baseball diamond by a large remote control that Doctor Vang was holding. When he got it to the pitchers mound, Doctors Carraway and Hutchins went out and tinkered with it; I think they were undoing some sort of safety device on the propellers. When they were done, they both quickly moved away from the machine.

“Safety is off!” Doctor Carraway hollered.

“Wagon is live! I repeat, wagon is live!” Doctor Vang yelled in response.

Hutchins and Carraway got to the gate in the fence, and closed it behind them as the scythe wagon's blades started to spin. It was like looking at a giant rolling food processor.

“Release the subject!” Doctor Hutchins called.

The door to the cage with the three zeds in it out on the field slid open, and the zeds shambled towards freedom, but the gate slid shut again before more than one of them could get out. The ghoul started shambling towards where the majority of us were standing outside the fenced off area.

The scythe wagon turned and started rolling in the direction of the zed, its whirling blades throwing off glints of sunlight. The wagon was slow, a normal person could probably outrun it, but it was faster than most of the zeds I've ever seen. Doctor Vang drove the wagon around in front of the zed, and then charged it head on. Whatever motor the doctors used in that thing must be incredibly strong because it tore through the zed like it had been made out of paper. The scythe wagon tore off the zeds head and left arm and shoulder before the creature even had enough time to fall to the ground.

“I am impressed,” said Doctor Byron, “And what kind of battery life can we expect off of these?”

“At full power, around ninety minutes,” answered Doctor Vang, “However without the weapon employed the scythe wagon can travel for approximately four hours.”

“And does it need to be controlled locally like this?”

“No, Doctor,” explained Doctor Hutchins,” The wagon is fit with video cameras, and can be controlled from the vault in what we expect to be about a six mile radius.”

“Very nice,” Doctor Byron.

At that moment something hit the fence next to me, One of the blades from the scythe wagon had broken loose and launched itself in my direction. The fence stopped it in a small shower of sparks, dropping it to the ground harmlessly. That did not stop me from flinching far too late to have saved me, tripping over my own feet, and falling onto the brown grass. The impact of my sword against my back momentarily knocked the wind out of me.

Out on the field the scythe wagon now wobbled dangerously, thrown off balance by a missing blade, “Shutting down!” Doctor Vang called out, and the blades started to slow.

“Are you okay?” Doctor Byron called to me as I got back to my feet.

“Yes, Doctor, just surprised,” I said as I brushed dust and bits of dead grass off of my jeans.

“I think there is still some work to be done,” Doctor Byron judged, “but I would very much like to see your progress. You are cleared for one more month of work, but at that time I want to see your balance situation resolved. “

Doctors Vang, Hutchins, and Carraway came over to me, “Hey, I am totally sorry about that, man,” said Doctor Vang.

“That's what the fence is for, right?” I said, trying to seem less freaked out by it than I really was.

“It is,” said Doctor Carraway, “but sometimes I think that we maybe need something more... substantial.

“I think,” announced Doctor Byron, “that we are going to need more test subjects. Justin, please take Beth and a couple of the citizen guard with you to gather some.”

“Yes, Doctor,” a tanned man with a buzzcut in a black Genetitech Security uniform snapped, “Officer O'Hara, pick two people and meet me by the cars.”

I had started doing a bit of daydreaming when I felt a hand on my shoulder, “Come on, lets go,” Beth said, and kept walking.

“What are we doing exactly?” I asked.

“Gathering test subjects, you know, zeds, zombies, animated corpses, soulless, ghouls, etcetera. You don't think I would let you hang out here and miss fun like that, do you?”

“No, why would you?”

We walked over to where the cars and trucks that had made up our caravan were waiting. Officer Justin Lassit and Beth's other civilian pick were already standing there by a large black Genetitch Laboratories delivery truck talking. I was surprised to see that the other person Beth had chose was Barbara Rosenberg; I hadn't even realized she had come out there with us.

“O'Hara and I will take the truck, you and Rosenberg will follow behind,” Justin said to me, “Stay close; I don't want to have to waste any time looking for you, okay?”

“Yes, Officer,” I said.

He seemed to think for a moment, and then said, “Call me Justin; If O'Hara thinks you're okay to call her by first namse, then you should be okay to call me by mine, okay?”

Justin and Beth got into the large truck while Barbara and I took a small blue Prius. Barbara asked me to drive, and I did not see any reason to disagree. Two uniformed officer opened the gate to let us out of the fenced in area and into the seemingly abandoned town.

One thing I noticed as we slowly drove through town was that all of the stores looked empty, as in totally cleaned out. Some stores looked like they had been broken into while others looked untouched, but every one of them looked like it had been cleaned out down to the walls. Clearly Lovelock's acquisition teams were a lot more thorough than we were in Mallville.

“So you're Gerry's friend, right?” Barbara asked,” I mean you live with him and Beth and that girl, right?”

“Yeah,” I answered, “We traveled together for a long time.”

“Gerry told me,” Barbara, “You guys were lucky to have each other. I would have killed for someone to talk to on the road.” she clutched her Annihilator tool in her lap while she spoke.

“I would'nt be here now if it wasn't for them,” I said.

“I'm lucky to be. Everyone I ran into out there was a complete asshole. There was Barry, he was a coach at the school I taught at; you know I was a teacher, right?”


“Well, he tried to force himself on me at the end of the first month, and that... that didn't end well.”

“Wow, I'm sorry,” I said, not sure how to reply to that.

“Then there were these pricks that thought they were vampires. I got away from them by escaping in the daylight.”

“They thought they would burn up or something?” I asked.

“No, they were afraid of seeing each other as they really were. They said they were ugly in daylight. I wanted to point out to them that they weren't exactly fashion models in the dark either,” Barbara took a deep breath, “I wish I could have been with your group, it sounds like you guys had a better time of things than I did.”

“It wasn't all great,” I said, “We lost some people... some really important people out there.”

“Oh, yeah, huh? Gerry told me about your wife. I'm sorry about that,” Barbara said a little awkwardly.

“It's no one's fault,” I told Barbara, like I tell myself every day now, “I'm finally starting to move on now.”

“But you still miss her, huh?”

“I miss everyone I've lost, but she is certainly at the top of the list,” then, trying to change the subject a little, “but I'm sure you miss people too.”

“Yeah, I do,” Barbara said, and then stopped talking.

It was about fifteen minutes of seemingly random driving before The black truck slowed to a stop in front of us. I saw Justin and Beth hop down, Beth was pointing her vicious looking assault rifle (Beth tells me it's an FN F2000, which is good because it keeps me from having to just refer to it as a futuristic-looking gun) at something in front of the truck that I could not see. Justin motioned for me and Barbara to get out of the car and come over to him, and then slid up the back door of the truck up.

“Help me with the ramp,” Justin said as I jogged over to him, and together we extended a ramp from the back of the truck to the ground. As I handled the ramp I could feel cold air flowing out of the back of the truck, and realized that the inside of the back was refrigerated' this truck probably hauled produce or meat or something in the old world.

The inside of the back of the truck gave me pause. About two feet in from the edge of the truck was a cage wall with a sliding gate on it. On the walls of each side of the truck were four seven foot long metals poles, two to each side, with metal cable dangling from each. Even though this stuff didn't look anywhere near as amateur, it still made me think of the Hell's Postmen and their cage truck. The fact it was refrigerated was to make the zeds more sedate once they were inside the cage, which was something I'm sure the Postmen would have wished they had thought of.

Justin climbed into the back of the truck, and pulled one of the metal poles out of the bracket that was holding it to the wall, and tossed it down to me. I caught it, but not without one end clanging against the surface of the street. At one end of the pole the cable was bolted down , and looped so that the rest of the cable was threaded through the pole. About two feet from the other end of the pole the wire came out through a hole, allowing the user to tighten noose at the other end. There was also a metal clip to lock the cable in place once your target had been caught in the noose.

“Okay, so I know this is the first time doing this for either of you,” Justin started, “but I also know that you must know how to handle yourselves around the ghouls or you wouldn't be here now,” Justin pulled another of the poles free, and tossed it down to Barbara who caught it much more smoothly than I did.

“What we're going to do is simple. We need to catch some ghouls for the brains to test their projects out on. Now we don't want to waste the meds sedating them,” Justin pulled a third pole loose to demonstrate with, “so one of you just needs to catch the ghoul's head in the loop, pull it tight, and then lock it in place with the little clip down there by your hand,” he pointed at me.

“Once you've done that, then the other needs to catch the ghoul in their own loop, and do the same. Then you both just guide them up the ramp, and into the cage, there's an open space on the gate for the poles to go through when we close the door. Once we have the ghoul secured in the cage, unlock your loop, and slide it back over their head, and the cold will take care of the rest.”

“What do we do if there's more than one of them?” Barbara asked.

“Beth and I will be covering you. If you're in danger we'll take care of it,” Justin said, patting the rifle hanging from its shoulder strap and resting on his hip.

“If we want to take this one alive, you'd better get to it, “ Beth called from around the front of the truck, “I'm going to take it down if it gets much closer.”

Moving to the front of the truck we found a male zed about twenty feet away; it was shambling a direct path towards Beth, who kept the barrel of her gun trained on it. The zed was pretty short, maybe five and a half feet and was wearing a filthy white button up shirt. It's left arm was missing, the sleeve of his shirt ending in maroon tatters. A bear? Are there bears up here? Do bears eat zombies? Can a bear become a zombie (to that, the answer is apparently no; Zack Hutchins told me that the virus/bacteria/whatever doesn't seem to spread between species while I was drinking and telling my tale in Bacchus later... thank God for that).

Catching the zed was fairly easy; Barbara went around one side of it, and I went around the other. We were able to capture its head easily enough, and hold it stable between us to maneuver it around the back of the truck and up the ramp.

The gate of the cage was automatic, and Justin opened it by pushing a button that I had not noticed on the side of the truck. I noticed that he had to put a key into it first, which is probably meant to keep anyone from accidentally releasing the zeds. Getting the nooses off of the zed's neck once it was safely locked up took a bit of work though; we didn't have a lot of room in the gate's gap to move the pole around, but in time we figured it out.

It took about an hour to gather up eight zeds, and most of that was just finding them. Previous rounds of experimentation have pretty much cleaned out Harlan of its undead infestation. It's too bad we can't just chip away at all of them like this.

We got back to the middle school in time to see two white coated scientists spraying down a flaming zed through the fence with fire extinguishers. Hell, I could have told them that setting the things on fire was a bad idea.

Since we had captured the zeds, we were spared the pleasure of having to re-rope the now sluggish zeds and remove them from the back of the refrigerated truck and into the holding pen. The warm summer sun seemed to revive them pretty quickly, but not before they were safely locked up again in the holding pen..

The last two tests of the day, there had only been five planned and we missed the second and third, were both quite interesting. The first was some sort of microwave gun (I did not catch the proper name). It looked like a big square satellite dish mounted on the roof of a van.

When the door to the holding pen slid open, two zeds managed to get out before the door slid shut again; a male and a female. They startled their shuffling job towards the truck, and the satellite dish tracked the the whole way.

Once the zeds no longer had the holding pen behind them the dish activated (I guess, since I didn't hear any noise). In seconds both zeds started smoking; their skin appeared to dry out and start to crack like the meat in a TV dinner put in the microwave for too long. A couple of seconds after that they stumbled and fell to the ground, smoke and steam drifting up off of their well done corpses.

“It can cook a turkey in a minute too,” said the scientist working the gun by remote, Doctor King, earning him a good round of laughter.

The final one was probably my favorite, they called it the Vortex Ring Gun, and it was also truck mounted, though to a pickup truck this time. The device looked kind of like a super-sized grenade launcher, although unlike the microwave gun this one was controlled directly by a Genetitech Security officer.

When a zed was released into the testing area it charged the fresh meat atop the pickup, but when it was maybe twenty meters away it was suddenly thrown off of its feet by an unseen force. The zed tried to get back up off of the ground, but was flattened, as if pounded by an invisible giant's fist. The zombie did not try to get up again.

I did not get to hear the explanation behind how this gun worked, so I don't know if it was sound or air pressure, or what, but it impressed me. I can only imagine what we could have done with something like that back at Mallville. Of course I can also imagine what Kaur would have done with it too.

Over all Doctor Byron said that she was very pleased with the progress everyone was making, and that she looked forward to seeing what else people came up with by next month's test. I hope that I'll get to go on that one too.

On the ride home I ended up in a car with Barbara, and two guys named Ciaran Monroe and Christian Whitehall. Ciaran, our driver, kept hitting on Barbara the whole drive home.

“Would it be okay if I were allowed to buy the fair zombie wrangler a drink at Bacchus?” Ciaran asked.

“Well, okay,” I said, “but you're not getting past second base on the first date.”

Christian and Barbara laughed at that, and I'm pretty sure Ciaran turned red, but I could not see him clearly from the backseat.

“I meant Barbara,” Ciaran said, a little bitterly.

“One,” retorted Barbara, “the drinks at Bacchus are free, and two, I'm sorry if I offended you.”

“Whatcha mean?” Ciaran asked.

“Well in some countries giving somebody a glass of that wood stripper would be considered a hostile act.” Barbara explained. Ciaran laughed perhaps a bit too hard at that.

Barbara puts on a good front, but I think she's uncomfortable being flirted with. Maybe it's just that Ciaran was trying too hard. The problem can't be that she's not used to being hit on because she is quite attractive.

Don't get me wrong; even though I do find Barbara attractive I have no interest in her. I need to be with myself and my adopted family for awhile now, and I don't know if I have room in that part of my heart for anyone after Tara and Sharon.

We did end up at Bacchus that night, and Barbara and I sat at the bar and watched the others act far more foolish than two glasses of even stuff as strong as Milly's specialty could possibly get you. Zackariah did a pretty mean rendition of “She Blinded Me With Science”


Of course the crowning jewel of the last week was yesterday, July Fourth. Last year I spent the holiday pretty much considering suicide, but this year was so much better.

For Fourth of July Doctor Byron had a picnic put on in the park at the center of town. She wanted to do a barbecue, but that requires meat, and the best we could come up with on that front were apparently canned whole chickens and Spam. Grilled Spam is actually not bad, but the canned chicken was not so good. It's not that the chicken actually tasted bad, but more that it didn't taste like much of anything. Who thought that canning whole chickens was even a good idea?

Aside from the grilling there were vegetable and fruit based dishes that were good. Fruit salads, pies, cakes, all good stuff. I think the whole town turned out for it even though the sky was cloudy and kept threatening to rain..

You can really tell how much Doctor Byron cares about this town; she really tried to create a sense of the world before. If it weren't for the fact that most people carry weapons of some sort with them all the time it might be a little more convincing, but I'm not complaining.

Pippa and I took part in the three legged race, but lost out to Zack and Margaret Hutchins. Actually we lost to a lot of people, including Barbara and Beth. It probably would have been easier if I had just carried Pippa.

Beth and Pippa forced me to join in on a baseball game. It was civilians versus Genetitech staff. You would think that beating the scientists would be easy, but they also had security officers on their team (although Beth was allowed to play on the civvie team), so it evened things out a lot. In the end we won thanks to Beth hitting a grand slam home run in the eighth inning.

It probably would have helped if I were any good at sports, but I'm not. I did manage to make it to base twice though, and even crossed home plate once thanks to Gerry hitting a long one into left field. He says it's from his days in the major leagues, and you don't forget batting skills like that once you learn them.

There was live music on the park's bandstand. The first band was a group of scientists from the labs who called themselves The Ionics. The other was really just three teenagers called Maneki Neko and th Ch'an Chu. It was fun; Beth made me dance with her some more.

Later in the afternoon the wind picked up, it got colder, and rain seemed a near certainty, but very few people left. I don't think they wanted the illusion of normalcy to end. Going back to our homes and watching the one TV station would just be a reminder of that.

Luckily it never did rain, and the clouds actually worked in our favor. There were no fireworks, but there was still a light show. Someone from the labs built some laser projectors (or maybe they just already had them for some reason), and the clouds became the canvas for a fantastic laser light show. Nothing exploded, but there were still plenty of “oohs'” and “aahs”in the park that night.

Like I said, it's been a really good week. I only wish that Tara, Alex, Sharon, and Maria could be here to enjoy it with us. I'm not going to let that get me down though; I wouldn't want them to be all mopey like I've been if things had gone differently.

I'd better stop now; I was supposed to meet Pippa in Seventh City 20 minutes ago. Captain_Noir is level 22 now.

I never thought I would be able to say this again, but I actually feel pretty happy; like I could live happily ever after if things could just stay the way they are right now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Forty-Ninth Entry: Dance Alone

June 25th

I have to say it, I like it here. Doctor Byron and people of Lovelock have done a great job of recreating the world as it was before. It's not a total recreation; I mean people are wandering around with weapons, and nobody pays for anything with money (in my head I keep hearing Wolf News anchors screaming about communism), but the overall feel is there. The atmosphere is certainly not as fearful as it was in Mallville.

Pippa has started going to school again, and she seems to really like it. She tried to get me to help her with her homework a couple of times, but this stuff is beyond me. I got off the math train after geometry, it's all foreign language to me after that.

I was a little surprised last week to come home and find Pippa using a laptop computer. It wasn't so much that she had one as what she was doing with it that surprised me. Far from doing any sort of homework on it, she was playing a video game, Seventh City Online, an MMO.

“Is that Seventh City?” I asked.


“How are you playing that?” I ask, knowing that the servers had to have gone down with everything else.

“Lovelock has its own server. There's not a lot of players, but then there's not much kill stealing either. It balances out, sort of.”

I guess this makes sense. This is a town originally populated mostly by nerds, so some of them must have used one of those hacks that let you make your own private server. I wonder if I could find a good game of Shadowrun to join?

“How did you get a laptop?” I asked.

“School. It's to do work on, but you know, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

“Is there anything else online?”

“Just local stuff. Nothing outside of town is accessible. I'm afraid your days on Facebook are still over, although there is a local Twitter server.”

“So are you going to share that computer with the rest of us?”

“Mmmmaybe. If you're nice to me,” Pippa answered teasingly.

“I'm not sure if that's worth it then.”

We've not seen very much of Beth these last couple of weeks. She has been in training with Genetitech Security, and has only been home this weekend since she started. She says that things are going really well, but it is wearing her out a little bit.

Gerry has also been gone a lot. He's only been home about one night out of every three, as Lovelock's acquisition runs are multi-day affairs involving truckloads of equipment. I'm sure that by now they are having to go quite far to even find stuff worth taking.

Gerry tells me that they are a lot less discriminating about what they take. They don't go out just looking for food and clothing, but hardware, chemicals, metal, and pretty much anything else not nailed down. He says he's trying to get them to take me on one, but I don't know if I would want to leave Pippa here alone.

As for me, well I've been doing a lot of standing around with the other guards at the gates talking. I don't really fit in with them though. None of them are even remotely geeky and it makes me miss Sharon and Tara just that much more.

Even at home I feel like I'm sort of an outsider. I can hear Beth in my head telling me what bullshit that is, but I don't really think so. Maybe it's just because it's me and Pippa on our own for the most part, and I've felt a little awkward around her ever since the morning after Sharon died.

Of course that is my problem, and I need to get my shit together and not be taking that out on Pippa. I think I understand why Pippa did it in a way that I couldn't at the time, and while it would never cross my mind to do something like that for a number of reasons, she did mean well.

In the time I've been at the gate we have had only one new survivor come in. I guess this is good though since it means that people are still out there, and that us and Alisdair's group are not the only people left in the world. I wish we saw more survivors though, and that we had seen more on our own trip here.

I am on afternoons right now, so basically at the hottest part of the day, working under the supervision of a man named Samit Linde, who was a high school football coach back in the before. He's a nice guy, but his jock and my geek don't mesh all that well. Still we manage to stay friendly.

It was right near the end of our shift at the east gate when one of the spotters, Gordon, called down that something was coming towards us. We readied ourselves and found that the something was a girl on a red bicycle. She had a head full of curly brown hair, and was wearing a pair of motorcycle goggles. Her skin was shiny with sweat.

As she approached, Samit raised his bullhorn and called out to her, “Please get off of the bike, and keep your hands where we can see them.”

The woman slowed to a stop, and got off the bike. She slipped the straps of the bulging camouflaged backpack off of her shoulders and let it drop to the surface of the road. I could see a long black object hanging from a belt holster on her right hip, it looked like a small pick ax.

“Are you going to shoot me?” the woman asked.

“Not unless you give us a reason to,” Samit answers,” Please remove any weapons, and come forward slowly.

The woman reached behind her back and slowly pulled out a pistol (I'm not sure how she thought she would be able to get to it if she needed to with that massive backpack on), and placed it on the ground. She then pulled the black pick-ax looking thing (it's called an Annihilator, I was told later, which is most certainly appropriate) from the loop on her belt, and placed it on the ground next to the gun.

With her hands in the air, the woman started moving towards us, pausing after each step like she was walking down the aisle at a wedding.

“You don't need to walk that slowly,” Samit says.

“And you don't need to keep pointing, what, four, five guns at me? You put down the guns and I might be more inclined to most faster.”

Samit raised his hand to signal the rest of us to lower our weapons. We did, but I still kept my gun half raised, not so much because I thought the woman a risk, but because I want to get into a habit of doing that. I'd hate to get killed because someone outdrew me.

The woman closed the distance between her and Samit, and stopped just beyond his reach, “So, you guys don't really look like soldiers; what is this place?”

“You didn't come here intentionally?”

“I am here intentionally in as far as I don't want to be where I came from, but I wasn't aiming for here specifically. I just got on my bike and headed in the opposite direction of the zombies, you know? It was a hell of a ride too.”

I was a little surprised at how unafraid she seemed of us. Beth, Gerry, Pippa and I handled it pretty well, I think, but we were coming here intentionally. To just stumble upon a guarded roadblock and not seem to even be scared though; I was in awe.

“Well you are safe now. My name is Samit Linde, and this is Lovelock,” Samit motioned behind him with the bullhorn. I think he was trying to be dramatic, but there's nothing really to see past the gate except for road. It's about half a mile to the actual town from there.

“I'm Barbara, Barbabra Rosenberg, and the first person to make that stupid Night of the Living Dead joke gets punched, got it?”she said, looking around at the rest of us as we came out from behind out cover.

Samit grabbed the walkie talkie off of his belt, “Base, this is Linde. I have a newcomer out here. A female, says her name is Barbara Rosenberg.”

“I will alert Doctor Byron. Transport is being dispatched,” replied to woman on the other end.

While we waited for Genetitech Security to come pick up Barbara, Samit gave her the spiel about how her items would be gone through for anything contraband, and would be delivered to her assigned residence. When he was done with that we all introduced ourselves to her. It turns out she's from Montana, and has ridden across two states to end up here. She told us about a large group of zeds that seemed to be moving as a single flock, and how she felt the best place for her to be was somewhere they weren't.

Barbara told us that before the end she was an elementary school teacher, and after the end she was the last survivor amongst her friends. I asked her about the pick ax thing, an that's when she told me the name of it. She said she found it in a hardware store, and that it is meant to be a demolition tool, but with a flat hammer head, a bladed prybar head, and a spike at the bottom of the handle that it works really well on zeds; even better than a normal crowbar. I want one now.

Before security showed up, our shit change came around, and so did Zack with his crew for the evening shift. He pulled up with his five people in a white minivan, and parked it next to the one that Samit would be driving us back to town in.

Getting out of the van, Zack approached us and the newcomer, “Hey, I heard that we had someone new,” he looked at me, “Between your group and her it looks like we may be at the start of a population boom, eh?” then to Barbara, “Name's Zackariah, but everyone just called me Zach.”

“I'm Barbara, Barbara Rosenberg.”

“Oooh,“ Zack exclaimed, and then in what was meant to be an eerie voice “They're coming to get you, Barbara.”

Barbara is quick; I guess when you deal with grade schoolers for a living you have to be. Before anyone could stop her she had lashed out with her right fist and socked Zack in the face. I don't know if she just hit that hard, he's that bad in a fight, or he was just taken by surprise, but the hit caused him to stagger back, lose his balance, and fall on his ass on the surface of the road.

“What the hell?” Zack asked, more confused than angry, as Samit, and a couple of the others ushered Barbara away from him.

Despite that incident, it looks like Barbara will be staying here in Lovelock, at least for awhile. I saw her around earlier tonight.

In one of her many attempts to create a sense of normalcy and community here in Lovelock, Doctor Byron has a dance held at the high school once a month. I went tonight, but only because I was forced to.

I was sitting at home this afternoon reading when I heard the front door open. Pippa was in her room using her laptop, and Gerry was in the shower having just gotten home from an acquisition run that had lasted three days. At first I didn't realize who it would be coming through the door.

“Hey, is anybody here?” I heard Beth's voice call.

I heard the door to Pippa's room slam open, and the thundering of teenaged feet as she ran through the house, “Beth!” she cried.

I head Beth say “Oomph!” as Pippa undoubtedly pounced on her.

I rose from my chair in front of the empty fireplace, and went to the front door to find Pippa and Beth hugging, “Do you two want some privacy?” I asked.

Pippa released Beth, “Perv!” she yelled at me, “So are you done now?” she asked Beth.

“No, but I am off for the weekend. I have to report back on Monday,” Beth said, sliding a blue gym bag off of her shoulder and dropping it onto the entryway floor, “So what are we up to? Were you going to the dance tonight?”

“I am!” Pippa shouted, “I have a date!”I think that moment is the happiest I've seen Pippa look since I've met her. She looked even happier than when we found the record collection.

I raised an eyebrow, “A date?” I asked, “That's the first I've heard of that.”

“I didn't know I was required to tell you,” Pippa said, a little snottily, “You'll meet him at the dance tonight anyway. Gerry's going to.”

“Sounds great, I'd better go and start getting ready then,” then Beth looked at me, “You're going, right?”

“I thought I'd skip it this time,” I answered.

“You will not! All you do is sit around this house and work.”

“How do you know? You haven't even been here.”

Beth just looked me in the eyes, “Tell me I'm wrong.”

“You're not, but I still don't want to go. It'll just be depressing. I don't want to dance alone.”

“You'll dance with me then,” Beth said.

“What about Gerry?”

“What about Gerry? You guys can share me if you want. It's just dancing.”

“I can't dance,” I said, basically just making excuses now.

“I've seen you dance, and no you can't, but you manage.”

“Beth, I don't-”

“So it's settled. Go get ready,” Beth said and gave me a quick hug while whispering, “Don't make me kick your ass.”

Beth grabbed up her gym bag again and smiled, “I've missed you guys,” she said, and headed for her bedroom.

So with that settled I went back to my room and tried to find my least smeggy things to wear. I decided on a black button up over a grey t-shirt and jeans. I'm eventually going to have to find some nicer clothes if I am going to keep up the illusion of living in civilization again.

I stood there alone in my room for awhile looking at the relics of Tara and Sharon. I wish they were here, then I would have someone to dance with. I held Tara's Christmas present and Sharon's glasses in my hands for awhile until it felt like a small black hole was forming in my chest. I probably would have sat there all night if Gerry hadn't knocked on the door then.

“Come on man, we're leaving, and Beth says if she has to come get you, you'll be sorry.”

I placed the items back on their shelves, took a deep breath, plastered a smile on my face, and opened the door. I must not have been as convincing looking as I had hoped I was.

“You okay?” Gerry asked when he saw me.

“Yeah, I'm just not really looking forward to this. The last dance I went to was prom, and that was with Sharon. We sat there and made fun of people for most of the nights, and she spent probably as much time dancing with other guys as with me. It ended with her getting drunk and puking out the side of the limo.”

“Sounds magical,” Gerry said.

“It was,” I said, “I have always kind of regretted it as a wasted opportunity though.”

“Well no more wasted opportunities for us! Beth wants to dance, and we need to see what kind of a boy Pippa is dating.”

“Are you drunk?” I asked.

“No! No!” Gerry protested, “Well maybe a little.”

The dance was a fairly no frills affair. There was a fog machine and lots of flashy lights, but none of the paper streamers or balloons one expects from an old fashioned high school dance (or at least the way TV shows used to portray them). There was a table with a big bowl of fresh lemonade though, and that was quite quite awesome.

The gym was crowded, I swear that half the town was there. I found Beth, Gerry, and myself some seats off to one side of the gym as soon as we got there. Beth had no intention of letting me sit though.

“Get your ass onto the dance floor!” Beth ordered.

“Beth, no..”

“Yes, dance with me, dammit! I want to talk to you,” and then to Gerry she said, “and if you don't find someone to dance with I'm coming back for you next!”

Beth dragged me, quite literally, onto the dance floor. The music was some fast-paced funky song that I've never head before, and I was able to find the rhythm pretty quickly and settle into that dance where your feet never leave the floor and you basically are just swinging your arms and hips.

“So how are you doing?” Beth asked me over the din of the music.

“I'm doing okay, I guess. You?”

“I'm great! It's so great to be back into a disciplined routine, and you should see the weapons they get to use. Kaur would have sold his left nut for this stuff.”

“Wow,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“So have you met anyone yet?”

“I've met lots of people.”

“Any prospects?”

“You mean a relationship? No! I'm not looking for that.”

“Why not?”

“It's not even two months!” I exclaimed, getting angry now, “Why do you even care?”

“Because I care about you. You're a good guy, and you deserve to be happy.”

“I was happy.”

“I know, and someday you'll be happy again. No one is ever going to replace Sharon or Tara, but you do have a place in your heart for someone, and if you refuse to look for that someone yourself, I'm going to help you.” Beth smiled, but there was a wicked twinkle in her eye. Suddenly she was looking past me into the distance, “Hey, who is that that Gerry's talking to?”

I looked, and saw that Gerry had gone over to the drinks table and was chatting up none other than, “Barbara Rosenberg; she's new in town. I hope Gerry doesn't make any Night of the Living Dead jokes.”

“Oh, is she the one that popped Zack Hutchins? I heard about that; she gave him a black eye.”

“Yeah, she's quick.”

“She's kinda cute,” Beth said thoughtfully, “I mean I'm not digging the whole Little Orphan Annie hair thing, butshe's cute. I met his wife, you know? Margaret, she's nice, but she works with a pair of maniacs. They are building something that looks like a go-kart with helicopter blades on it. The younger guy, Grant, he says it's for sending into large groups of zeds. I would love to see it in action.”

“You seem really relaxed,” I observed.

“You think so? Maybe it's just that I feel we're safe now, you know? I've got a family in you guys, and a home, and a job again. Maybe I just feel like I am whole again.”

“Or maybe Gerry shared his stash of booze with you?”

“Maybe that too, yeah.”

The song ended and a really slow version of Beyond the Sea started. I took a step to leave the dance floor, but Beth grabbed my sleeve and yanked me back, “Where are you going?”

“To sit. The song ended, so it's Gerry's turn, remember?”

“It would be rude of me to interrupt his conversation. You'll just have to keep on dancing.”

“It's a slow song.”

“I don't have cooties,“ Beth pulled me close, “Just keep your hand on my back, okay?”

“Beth,” I whined.

“Don't make me lead.”

I put my arms around Beth, and held her at as great a length as I could manage, but she pulled me against her, and we started to sway back and forth.

“This is making me uncomfortable,” I said.

“It shouldn't. There's no reason you cannot dance with me. Nothing is ever going to happen between us; I promise.”

“I'm not sure that makes me feel any better.”

Beth laughed, “Hey, is that Pippa over there?” she pointed across the gym.

Yes, it was Pippa and she was dancing with her boyfriend. I felt my blood surge a little bit seeing the guy holding her in his arms. He was one of those greasy little slicky boys with close shaved hair and the weak moustache that makes it look like he's been drinking used motor oil.

“You want to loosen up a little?” Beth asked, pulling away from me, “You hold me any tighter and we're going to combine into one person.”

I hadn't realized how tightly I was holding her then, and loosened my grip, “Sorry.”

“So what was that? Is that the big brother wanting to protect his little sister, or was that just jealousy?”

“Okay, not funny. You know I don't have feelings like that for her.”

“I also know it gets you worked up,” Beth said with another laugh, “I'm sorry, I shouldn't be being so mean to you.”

I sighed, “No, it's okay. I think you're helping actually.”


“Yes. Thanks for putting up with me.”

We danced together for the next four or five songs in silence. It both felt good to hold Beth in my arms, but at the same time it made me miss Tara and Sharon even more. It should have been one of them in my arms, not Beth. We should have all made it to Lovelock together.

I noticed during the last song that we danced, “I'm Too Sexy”, that Gerry and Barbara had started dancing together. They both looked like they were having a good time together. I'm happy for him. I'm not sure what exactly there was between him and Maria, but if he can move past that, then I am truly happy for him.

Of course that does leave me as the only one of us still waiting for the next shoe to drop, but then I've always been a worrier (or whiner as Beth puts it) anyway. Maybe I should put those things away. Tara's books, and that Darth Vader head; Sharon's sword, and glasses, and the little ape. I don't know if I can do it though.

When “I'm Too Sexy” ended, Beth finally relented and lead me off the dance floor over to the refreshments table. She grabbed a lemonade and handed it to me, and then took a cup for herself.

“So how are you feeling?” Beth asked.

“Lonely,” I answered honestly.

Beth frowned and sighed, “What am I going to do with you?”

“Give up on me and let me be miserable in peace?”

“Not a chance,” she smiled.

Someone spoke our names from behind us, and we turned to see what I first thought was a ghost. But the flowing white figure was not a spirit; it was Doctor Byron dressed in a long white dress with a flowing white shawl that combined with her pale skin and hair to make her have more than a passing resemblance to Casper.

“Doctor Byron,” exclaimed Beth, “I did not expect to see you here.”

“I always put in an appearance at the dances, Beth. It would be very hypocritical of me not to,” Doctor Byron took a sip from the cup of lemonade in her hand, “I hear your training is going well. It sounds like you will be an asset to the division.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Beth replied, smiling.

“Evie, please. And how are you adjusting to your job?” Doctor Byron asked me.

“It's a lot of standing around and talking, but it certainly beats being on the road.”

“I'm sure that it does,” Doctor Byron agreed, “but don't underestimate the importance of it. Not only are you our first line of defense against the animated corpses, but you are one of the first faces that newcomers see when they first come here; like Barbara over there,” Doctor Byron motioned in the direction of where Barbara and Gerry were still dancing.

“Of course, ma'am, I'm sorry.”

“No need to apologize, I just want you to know that you are appreciated. Everyone here needs to know that they are both important and appreciated,“ Doctor Byron said, “lthough I do still think you should talk to a counselor about what you have been through.”

“Everyone's been through the same stuff, Doctor.”

“True and untrue. While we have all experienced the same or similar events, we all have experienced them differently; we have all been effected by them differently. There is no reason to be ashamed for needing to talk about it. Still, I will not force you,” Doctor Byron took another sip from her lemonade, and started to walk away, “Have a good time, you two.”

“You want to dance some more?“ Beth asked.

“Actually, can we go get some air?”

“Sure, let's go,” Beth threw an arm around me, not like a lover, but like a friend, and we went outside.

Once in the warm summer night air Beth released me, and took a deep breath in and let it out in a contented sigh, “For the first time I really feel like things are going to work out for us.”

“I wish I felt that way.”

“I wish you did too, but we're not going to give up on you; Sharon would be mad at me if we did”

“Is that why you're doing this?”

“I promised Sharon that I would make sure you're okay, and you're not yet. Until you are okay, you're stuck with me.”

“So I'm a pity case?” I asked.

“No, stop that! You're-”

A voice cut Beth off; Pippa's voice, “Richard, I said no!”

“Pippa?” I said to Beth, and she nodded, her body tensing.

Beth and I quietly, but quickly, moved in the direction of Pippa's voice.

“Richard, stop it! I'm not ready!”

Coming around a pair of large shrubs we found Pippa and her boyfriend, Richard, sitting on a relatively secluded bench. Richard was kissing her neck while trying to slide a hand up under her pink skirt. Pippa was using both her hands to try and push his away.

“Come on, Pippa, just for a little bit.”

“No, stop!”

Richard didn't stop; instead he used his free hand to try and pull her hands away from her own lap and into his. Pippa groaned and struggled.

I felt rage build up inside me, and I stormed forward. Far from trying to stop me, Beth was right behind me. I got to the bench first, and Pippa saw me coming, “What are-”

Before Pippa could finish her question, I had Richard by the back of his shoulders, and yanked him off of Pippa and off of the bench, “Hey man!” Richard squawked as I spun him around to face me. I shoved him backwards.

Richard stumbled back right into Beth's waiting arms. She caught him, and the shoved him back to me. I caught him by the front of his shirt, and pulled it upward to bring him closer to my face, “The young lady said no,” I growled in what I think was pretty passable as menacing.

“Fuck you!” Richard said defiantly.

I had a good grip on him, and started walking, half pushing, half dragging him as I went. I shoved him through the bushes, onto the sidewalk that rings the gym building, and hard against the wall of the gym, “If I ever see you near Pippa again, my friend over there is going to make earrings out of your testicles.”

Beth came up beside us, and pulled out a pocket knife (from where, I do not know since her dress didn't appear to have pockets). She waved it in the air a little while she smiled. I'm not totally sure, but I think Richard may have pissed himself at this point.

“The next time a girl says no, you should listen, Dick,” Beth said, and her voice was oily and tinged with humor.

I pulled Richard away from the wall, and knocked him back into it again, “Now get out of here, and try to enjoy the rest of your evening.” I released his shirt, and he nearly collapsed to the ground.

Richard regains his balance, and quickly ran away, rounding the side of the gym and going out of sight.

I turned to Pippa who was still sitting on the bench, “Are you okay?”

“You asshole! That's my fucking boyfriend!” Pippa yelled, rising from the bench.

“Your fucking boyfriend needs to learn the meaning of the word 'no',” I said evenly.

“Your fucking boyfriend needs to learn some respect,” Beth added.

“Oh my God! Why do you hate me?” Pippa shrilled, and it was like she had slapped me in the face.

All the rage had drained out of me in an instant, “I don't hate you.”

“Then why are you so mean to me? Why do you avoid me? You won't spend any time with me, and now Richard's never going to talk to me again, and he's gonna tell everyone I live with a couple of psychos! I hate you, you're ruining my life!”

Pippa turned and ran off into the darkness.

“I'll go talk to her, okay?” Beth said.

“Yeah, sure, “ I said, feeling stunned.

“It's okay,” Beth reassured me, “You did what any good big brother would do. It's hard raising teenagers.” She smiled at me, and then ran after Pippa.

I stood there for awhile before walking home. I couldn't get over what Pippa said, “Why do you hate me?” Did she mean it? Did she really think I hate her? I will admit that I have kind of been avoiding her while it's been just the two of us in the house, and I really cannot explain why that is.

When I got home I went to my room and lay down without even changing. I lay there in the dark staring at where I knew Sharon and Tara's things were even though I could not actually see them; I laid there and felt sorry for myself.

Beth is right, I know she is. Sharon wouldn't want me to be like this, and neither would Tara. They would want me to try to go on with my life. I know all this, but I still can't seem to shake myself of these feelings. I don't want to try to get into a new relationship; I couldn't bear losing someone else.

Maybe that's the real reason I've been pushing Pippa away. Not because of the incident in bed, but because I'm afraid of growing too attached to her? It certainly makes more sense... and makes me feel like less of a pedo.

I lay there struggling with those thoughts for a couple of hours before I heard the front door open and close at around eleven. I didn't go out to greet them. I could hear the three of them talking, but couldn't make out what they were saying.

About twenty minutes after that there was a knock on my door, “Are you in there?” Pippa asked.

“Yeah,” I said, “you can come in if you want, but leave the light off.”

The door opened, and light from the hallway illuminated the room for a moment before Pippa closed it behind her.

“Why are you sitting in the dark?” Pippa asked.

“I'm thinking.”

“What about?”

“Things. Me. Us. What kind of life it is I am leading.”

“Can I sit?”


I felt Pippa sit down on what, for the lack of a better word, I shall call my bed. She crawled up next to me, and lay there, “I don't hate you,” she said.

“I don't hate you either.”

“I know. I'm sorry I said that stuff. I know you were trying to help me out. Richard was being a creep. You only did it because you love me.”

“Did Beth tell you to say that?”

“No, but she did point it out to me. She must be getting old, it took her two blocks to catch up to me,” Pippa giggled.

“Well you did have a head start, and she was wearing heels.”

“So why have you been avoiding me if you don't hate me.”

“That's what I have been thinking about.”

“Is it because I call you a pervert?”

“No. I don't think of you that way.”

“Then why?”

“I think it's because I'm afraid I'll feel too connected to you, and if something were to happen to you I wouldn't be able to cope. If I keep you at a distance, like Maria, I won't be hurt as much.”

“You're afraid something will happen to me like it did to Sharon?”

I shrugged in the blackness, “I think that might be part of it, yeah.”

“What if I promise that nothing will happen to me?”

“Don't make promises you can't keep,” I said, “but I will try to not push you away anymore; just don't do things that make me feel creepy.”

I felt Pippa reach an arm across me in the dark, and hug me, “You don't like feeling like a pervert?”

“This would be exactly the sort of thing I mean,” I answered.

Pippa didn't let me go, instead said, “I miss Sharon.”

“So do I, Pippa, every single day. Her and Tara both.”

“Was Tara nice? You made her sound kind of bitchy.”

“She was. I don't think I do her justice on paper. I think you would have liked her too.”

“I wish I could have known her.”

“I wish you could have too,” I said, “You need to stop reading my journal though.”

“I like reading it. I makes me feel like I knew you and Sharon before. It helps me understand you when you won't talk to me.”

“It's private, Pippa. I'm not writing it for anyone but myself... at least not for anyone else until I'm gone.”

Pippa didn't reply.

We lay there for a long time in silence, and I again was left to my thoughts of how I had wasted time with someone I care about because of my own stupidity. That ends though; I'm going to spend more time with Pippa, and we're going to be more like a proper family. I will not push her away anymore, I will not make her have to sneak in to this book to try and understand me better.

I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew it was four in the morning and she was gone. I'm glad she didn't sleep in here with me, I would not want to put up with the crap that something like that would get me from Beth and Gerry. I'm glad that Pippa came to talk to me though; I may have kept acting like an ass until it was too late otherwise.

It's about five-thirty now, and I think I'm going to try and get some more sleep. First I am going to put away those things. I can keep my memories, my artifacts, of Sharon and Tara without needing to see them every time I open my eyes. I'm not getting rid of them, and I'm not forgetting the two women who loved me, but I'm not going to live in the past either. Of course I'm not going out looking for love either; it's just way too soon for that.