Part 6 for your reading pleasure. This one is a bit shorter than previous installments, but it breaks in a good place. You'll just have to be happy with this smaller installment. Posting these snippets has been inspiring. It's been keeping me writing, and that's great. I hope you all have been enjoying the story so far. I've been having fun writing it.
I mentioned in the first installment that the title on the cover, "Five Days After," would probably change since none of this story takes place five days after anything. I think I have the new title, Rubble and Ruin.
I think I'm about half way done with this first episode. Not exactly sure. There are three big milestones that I need to hit in the writing. I've just started writing my way toward the first of those. Seems like it should take another 5k to 10k words to get us through all three, but I could be off on that. My estimates have been very wrong before.
Once this is done, I'm going to package it all up and put it out for sale with at least four more books to follow this one. I hope that if you've enjoyed the story so far that you'll buy a copy when it's ready to go.
And with that, I've rambled enough. Here's Part 6.
Welcome to the End//Part 6 -- Maggie
Maggie pulls one of the milk crates up next to me.
I sit up. “For what?”
“For bringing my girl home to me.”
“She’s a good kid.”
“I think so, but I’m biased.”
“She’s smart. She’s confident. She’s going to do well.”
“Well, she would have. I always thought she’d be a success, but that was when being a success meant more than staying alive.”
I stand and move toward the food that’s still warming over the small fire that’s slowly dying. It’s on a cast iron pan that Caroline and her mom brought from their apartment after their building was destroyed in the initial attack. They salvaged what they could, which wasn’t much. They each had a couple changes of clothes, and Caroline grabbed the pan as they were leaving. She wasn’t thinking about cooking on it. She wanted something heavy to swing, just in case.
Maggie steps in front of me and pushes me back toward my seat. I sit, and she fixes me a plate. It’s some sort of meat in some sort of gravy. I don’t ask for details, just eat.
“But she can do that too,” I say through a mouth full of food.
“Yeah, but that confidence scares me.”
Maggie sits and situates her milk crate in front of me. She slides it close, leans her elbows on her knees and looks me in the eyes.
“Her arm, Mack. What happened?”
I don’t respond. I like Caroline, but this isn’t a conversation I need to be having with her mom. Maggie knows that the world out there is dangerous now. Definitely more dangerous than it was before. But she also knows she has a girl who is going to do what she wants to do. She’s getting that itch that comes as adulthood approaches, pushing and stretching at the edges of the rules to give yourself a little more room. More freedom. Elbowing out your own piece of ground in a world that’s opening up before you. I answer Maggie’s question with a question.
“What did she tell you?”
“She hasn’t yet. I haven’t asked about it.”
“Then talk to her first.”
She smiles and nods. “OK. Thanks again for bringing her home safe.”
Maggie takes my empty plate from me, and I lean back again and stare into the beams of the Texas Star.