“Why do you think Frank gave up on maintaining the generators around town?” Sam drank half the remaining coffee. “I mean, I know he lost his helpers, but he could have recruited others.”
“Could he?” Marie pouted. “It’s just like that coffee. When it’s gone, nothing else will taste quite like it. Frank and his friends worked good together. When they d…” She couldn’t bring herself to say the word. “Now they’re gone, I guess the knowledge they shared is gone too.”
“Yeah. Well, there’re other ways of surviving. More enjoyable too.” Sam took another drink, then handed the cup back to Marie. “Finish that. We need to get going.” “You said you’d go meet my friends, remember?”
“Maybe you should go on without me. I think I’ll just stay here with…” Marie looked at the urn on the mantle. “Not much more we can do now anyway.” Wind blew into the front window. “See, even nature’s telling us it’s time to give up.” A loud clap of thunder shook through her.
Sam frowned. “You aren’t dead yet. At least come and listen to what we have to say. Bill’ll be here waiting when you come back.” At the door, Sam twisted the knob back and forth. She tapped her left foot making a rough sound that was so irritating Marie wanted to get away. If only there was another exit, or better yet a door with a lock. No such luck.
“Come on. What can it hurt?”
Marie grabbed her coat. “You’re right. But then I’m coming back here.” It wasn’t as if she would change her mind. If somehow they could bring Bill back maybe. That wasn’t going to happen.
They walked down empty sidewalks. Lit with streetlights that sucked the last of the juice from the automated electricity generators, Marie refused to carry on a conversation with Sam who stomped along beside her in silence.
The meeting Sam took her to was in the middle of the park on the outskirts of town. They might have driven, but all the gas that was left was gathered to fuel the bus Sam and her friends used to transport what little supplies were left in the stores. At the river, the once sturdy bridge groaned from the growing gale.
Marie wrapped her coat tighter.
“Over here. Over here. Come on. Let’s pull things together.” A bolt of lightning arced over their heads. Another loud clap of thunder added to trepidation that vibrated through the air.
Panicked voices surrounded Marie with fear.
“We can’t stay here.”
“One of these trees is going to come down on us.”
“We’d be better back in our homes out of this.”
The group of people pushed together under the one standing structure. With no walls, a small gazebo overlooked the rushing torrent of a thick green river.
“It’s starting.” Sam shivered. “Mark, move over please.” Sam worked her smile to make room for the two of them on a narrow bench.
A slender, nondescript man stood and smiled. “Sure thing sweetie.” A flash of lightening brightened the dusk. When dark settled back, Marie sat down next to Sam. She couldn’t make out the faces of others around her. Whispers joined with questions and statements that brought no resolution to their current predicament.
I shouldn’t have come. Marie wished she was home, wrapped in the soft blue blanket Bill had bought her on their second anniversary. Instead, here in the thickening mist, cold penetrated her heavy coat. Bodies pressed against her. But there was no warmth, only the chill of fear.