Just a story I started this weekend. Been a while since I wrote anything. Let me know if you like it and I'll try to finish it We had been working the last two weeks way up in the hills three quarters of the way to the coast from town. The company I worked for was contracted to replace generators that supplied power to cell towers. Rather than undertake the two hour drive each way every day we had hauled up my wall tent and Jims old travel trailer. As a side bonus the per diem money we had received minus food and propane went into pocket. The worst thing was we were out of contact with everything since the tower was shutdown for the duration. The job had gone smoothly and It was nice being up in the woods for so long kind of like a camping or hunting trip. Although Mike continually whined about being stuck up in the middle of nowhere for so long, Jim Steve, and I had told him to go into town for the weekend if he missed it so much but he just sat sullenly saying what was the point if he was by himself. I had rode in with Mike stashing the gear in the back of his pickup and hauling the work trailer, allowing Jim and Steve to haul the travel trailer with the company truck. The job finished Friday afternoon we spent the night around the fire drinking a couple beers and discussing what our next job might be. All of us were worried because with the economy lately in such shambles work was getting scarce and although the company had managed to keep a few crews going it had also laid off three quarters of the employees recently. I was especially thankful because I had only been with the company for six months. I guess my supervisor liked my work ethics and performance since I had outlasted people with years in service. Hell we were all lucky just to be still working. The next morning we finished packing all the gear and headed down the logging road towards civilization. Mike wouldn’t stop checking his phone as we made our way down the old road winding along the edges of mountains, It was making me nervous, if he missed a corner we were up that creek that you always hear about and I don’t think the fishing is very good there. Finally we came to the gate and I hopped out, unlocked and swung it open allowing Mike and Jim to drive through. I noticed a rather large camp in the next draw over and below us. It seemed strange for them to have picked that area and to have so many tarps setup, It hadn’t rained in the last week and a half and it was early July. I locked the gate and thought one more key to add to the collection, I collect keys for everything, gates for BLM, Forest Service, Timber Company lands, I also had master keys for most major equipment, picked up over the years. They had come in handy more than once, (One time my hunting partner Joe and I were elk hunting at the top of a pass seventy miles of bad fire road in the direction we had come in from and only twenty from a little town. I backed into a rock turning the trailer around at camp and punctured the gas tank in my Jeep, I thought it just dented the skid plate but no such luck. By the time we noticed the tank was empty, after patching the tank we dumped the jerry can in and headed towards the little town only to find the road closed due to a wash out. I could drive around the wash out but not the large link-belt excavator blocking the road, key to the rescue!) I passed by Steve’s side of the truck on my way up to Mikes rig. “hey do you have cell service yet” Steve asked out the open window “both Jim and I have been trying to call the office so they can put the tower back in the system and check our messages but can’t get a signal” I pulled out both my personal and company phones and had no signal either. “no I’ve got nothing yet and I know Mikes been driving me crazy checking his” I replied “That’s strange we’re only a couple of miles from the highway and should have service here, I guess nothing to be done about it now lets get on down the road” said Jim. I jumped back into the truck with Mike he put it back into gear and we started toward the highway. I was looking forward to a beer book and bath when I got home this evening, Mike continued checking his phone every thirty seconds or so, I’m not sure who he was so interested in hearing from maybe his wife. I had only met her once, but god I would have welcomed being away from her awhile she was a very negative rude woman. I might have caught her on a bad day I guess. Though it seemed no one could live without their cell now, constantly looking at them and paying more attention to that little piece of plastic than the people around them. I always laughed when I saw a group having dinner in a restaurant somewhere and they were all bent over their phones the entire time not even talking to each other. We finally reached the highway and turned toward the city, still no cell service and surprisingly very little traffic. I gave up checking the cells switched the play list on Mikes I-pod and kicked back for the hour long drive wishing I was on the other side of the truck so I could watch the river as we drove along. There seemed to be an awful lot of cars abandoned along the side of the road leading from town, especially as we got closer I started to get a little nervous wondering what was going on. Just outside of the city there’s a little town with a convenience store gas station combo, a bar, and pretty much nothing else. I told Mike to pull in and turn on the radio while I went in, we waved as Jim and Steve passed honking their horn as they did so. We would see them at the shop to unload and pick up me and Steve’s cars in half an hour or so. I walked into the store noticing the cash only sign on the window as I did so. The older gentleman behind the counter looked at me wearily when I walked toward the Gatorades in back. Strange the shelves look pretty bare I thought grabbing two of the remaining Gatorades. Returning to the counter I set the drinks down and reached for my wallet. “It’s cash only you know right?” asked the gentleman “Yes sir I saw the sign on my wa….” The man had suddenly jumped back with a panicked look of fear. It took me a second until I realized that when I reached for my wallet my pistol had printed beneath my tee shirt, crap! I normally carried a subcompact Glock 27, but since I was going to be in the woods for a while had decided to go with my full size Glock 22. I’m to small to hide it perfectly with just a tee shirt and it had shifted some in the car. “sorry sir I’m not a threat I have a permit” I quickly said as I opened my wallet and pulled out some cash, I dug out my permit too just to ease his mind if possible. He seemed to relax and stepped forward slightly picking up the cash and glancing at the card, I think the cash calmed him down more than the card. “so why cash only is the card machine not working? I just got back to civilization and my coworkers and I still don’t have cell service what’s going on? I asked suddenly adding it all up and having a good idea. “civilization humph” snorted the old man “the country’s gone to hell in a hand basket, stock market, banks, and the government all shutdown or might have well of. People acting all crazy lootin’ and rioting and such, don’t suppose social security checks will amount to anything anymore” Just then I noticed the work trailer flash by outside! Leaving my wallet and drinks on the counter as I rushed out the door, but it was to late Mikes truck was already on the road and speeding away! That sob left me and took all my stuff I thought. This is very, very bad. Turning to re-enter the store I noticed a pile of stuff alongside the shop, My stuff thank god. Even my wall tent, I went and collected my pack and sleeping bag carrying them back to the door, I dumped them next to the door in sight of the counter. “your friend leave ya son?” the old clerk asked “no friend of mine.” I replied “next time I see him there’s not even going to be a word spoken on my part just a fist” “sorry to hear that young fella how far you got to home? Hope it aint far or in town cause public transportation is all shutdown and town’s a disaster” the old man said sounding sincere. “unfortunately I live about 70 miles on the other side of the city, but my cars just on the other side of downtown at the company shop” I told him “well not sure what to tell you but unless you got somewhere else to go I would try to hoof it. I couldn’t attempt it, I’m not as spry as I used to be. Fact of the matter is I’m getting ready to leave myself just as soon as the little lady gets here. Should have left a week ago but I thought it might still turn out okay, my daughter and son-in-law got a farm down by the coast we’re heading for.” the old clerk told me as he glanced at the clock. “ya I guess I’ll have to walk it until I can reach my car or hitch a ride” I told him “ you got any use for a wall tent I guess I can’t pack it with me and I’ve got a bigger one at home” He looked at me thoughtfully and said “how bout we make a trade? I got this little Honda 70 trailbike outback it isn’t in that good of shape but it beats walking” “sir you got a deal that’s the best thing I’ve heard all day” I smiled We walked out to where my tent was and I carried it into the shop for him, then I grabbed the rest of my stuff and set it inside the shop the old man locking the door after me. We went through the back storage room which was bare the old man explaining that he hadn’t received any shipments in a week. Well he wasn’t kidding about that old bike not being pretty, the seat was nothing but tape, the tires bald, and the motor covered in years of oil and dirt. But hey what do you expect it was from the seventies, I just hoped it would run. I pulled the carb bowl off and changed the oil refilling it with fresh oil and fuel from a five gallon can the gentleman brought me saying that he had filled up all the cans he could find before the pumps went dry. While I wrenched on the bike he gave me a quick rundown on what had been going on in the last few weeks. It seems that when the government announced that there would be no more welfare, food stamps, unemployment benefits or any social services, including an as of yet undisclosed cutback in social security. In addition the stock market dropped and banks started closing. After that well it just started to “go to hell in a hand basket” as the old timer put it! I finished checking the bike over and after kicking it for more than a little while it coughed to life blowing smoke everywhere. I wheeled it out the gate and around the side to the air pumps, the old man returning inside to start the compressor and re-open the store. Filling the old weather checked tires I hoped they would hold air and not blow up on me. Just as I finished I looked up to see a lowered Honda complete with the horribly crafted ground effects pull up in front of the store. Two thuggish looking kids got out and sauntered inside leaving the door open, one had his hand inside the front of his shirt. Uh oh I thought this could be bad. I walked up alongside the wall of the store making sure the car was empty and glanced in the window to the shop. The kids were walking back up to the counter with nothing in hand, the bigger one still with his hand at the front of his pants, Reaching the counter they faced the old clerk. “open the ****ing register old man” Shouted the larger one at the same time pulling out a pistol and pointing it at the old gentleman. I could see the gun shaking in his hand, they both looked very nervous, not that I could blame them. I’d bet this was there first armed robbery but how the hell would I know, I’d never pulled a gun on anybody. The smaller of the two started around the counter, luckily the one with the pistol, a Beretta 92 I now noticed, had his back to the door and the other was heading away towards the end of the counter. Stepping inside the door as quickly and quietly as I could strangely calm I stepped behind the gun holder Glock to his head noticing as I did so that his Beretta was un-cocked. “stop right there and lower the gun or I put one in your head “ I stated calmly hoping the other didn’t have a gun. I didn’t think he would or he would have had it in hand. They both froze then, the gun-man lowering the Beretta gingerly to the counter. “sir would you pick the pistol up and walk the other one around over here please” I slowly asked the Clerk He picked up the pistol and without being told the kid started back around the counter, he was shaking and looked about ready to cry. The old man followed pistol in both hands looking more relaxed than I felt. “okay both of you on your knees hands behind your head and put your forehead against the wall” I told the kids. “do you have any zip ties” I asked of the old clerk. “yeah in the toolbox in the back you got these two? I’ll go get them” he replied and hurried into the storeroom. The smaller kid was crying now, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs, I don’t think these kids were more than sixteen or seventeen. The old man appeared a moment later and zip tied their arms securely behind their backs. I searched them and found no other weapons. Only the one that carried the gun had any ID on him, I looked at the license and sure enough he was only 16. “well what do you want to do with them” I asked the old gentleman I could feel the adrenaline now giving me the slight shakes, just like when you almost get in a fistfight but no blows are thrown. “well we can’t call the police, beings not even land lines are working, I suppose we could haul them into the station, but I think they’re pretty busy right about now. I think we’d be best off taking em around back and dumping em in the river like we did the last ones” he said giving me a wink and mischievous smile “what do you think” They were both crying now. “please guys we’re sorry we aint never done nothing like this before and we promise we never will again we swear really sorry I mean it” spouted the larger one. “well I suppose we could let the little one here go I mean he didn’t threaten me with anything, but I think we need to make an example outa this one” mused the old man. “please don’t hurt my brother please, honest we never done nothing bad cept shoplift afore, Its just that with all that’s going on and everything we needed money, mama ain’t got none and we needed money for food an stuff” cried the smaller one. “well what you think” I asked “let me think on it some” he said Right then a silver crew cab dodge pulled in towing a twenty foot enclosed trailer. “Looks like the missus is here bout time to hit the road” he smiled obviously relieved that she’d made it safely. She walked in a moment later and looked at her husband and I then at the two would be criminals at our feet. He quickly explained what had happened. She seemed to take it all in stride asking what he was going to do with them. “well I figure they just volunteered to load the store for us” he chuckled a bit “this old back aint what it used to be and I wasn’t looking forward to it.” So that’s just what happened I checked their car for weapons then pulled the coil wire off it while the old man supervised the loading of the trailer. The trailer full the old man told them to take the last couple cases of ramen and other canned food as well as water and put it in the back of their car. Then he sent them walking down the road in the direction they came from. “thank you son you grab some food and water out of the trailer whatever ya need here’s there pistol. I’m Jacob Bailey by the way an this is the little lady Ellen” “I’m Zeke O’ Reilly and it’s a pleasure to meet you both. I appreciate the food and bike sir and you keep that pistol you may need it” I said as I grabbed a few cans of prepared food and a box of Powerbars. I had been going through my pack and trying to decide what to take and leave, mostly it was just clothes, I thought about my emergency ruck in my car and wished I had it with me now. All in all I wasn’t to bad off. My backpack was a good quality Gregory I used for backpacking and weeks long work trips, it had a hydration bladder that I filled in the store. The main problem was I was going to be on a bike and with two weeks of work clothes it was to big and heavy to ride with, let alone run if I had to. So I selected my Filson tin pants a couple tee shirts, socks, underwear, coat, beanie, gloves, headlamp, shaving kit multitool, and laptop. Wrapping my Thermarest around the computer and sliding it into the top section along with my clothes I pulled my sleeping bag from its stuff sack and put it in the lower compartment. I then filled the stuff sack with all the food and other assorted items stuffing a couple Powerbars into my pockets. Jacob brought out a two gallon gas can for me and I strapped it on the handlebars. I hoped to be able to make it through the city to my car and then head for home except for one stop to check on a friend. My car wasn’t much just an old Toyota Celica that I used for commuting to work but it ran well and I knew it had three quarters a tank. I thought I could probably wedge the bike in the trunk and take it home with me. I finished packing and then gave Jacob a quick rundown on the Beretta as he wasn’t familiar with it. “wish I had my old 1911 from the war but I gave it to the son-in-law to protect my daughter and grandson with bout 15 years ago or so” he lamented “ got my old Garand in the truck but this will definitely be easier to use in the rig. Thank you son you sure you got everything ya need?” “yes sir thank you Mr. Bailey you take care watch your topknot and take care of Mrs. Bailey now” I replied They waved and pulled out onto the highway as I swung the backpack onto my shoulder, It wasn’t until I went to buckle the hip belt that I realized the problem. With the inside the waistband holster I couldn’t buckle it and without the hip belt the pack was to unstable to ride with. After a bit of thinking I figured out If I took my Nalgene out of its pouch on the hip belt I could slide the holster and pistol in there and have a sort of cross draw setup. I kicked the bike until it started and headed down the road, a little shaky at first but I soon got the hang of it. I suddenly thought of what I must look like going down the road, gas can on the handlebars, large backpack on a used-to-be-blue years ago trailbike going 30 miles an hour down a major highway being chased by a cloud of smoke. I almost would have been embarrassed to be wearing a helmet. This was definitely not how I pictured the way I would enter any major societal collapse. I was still laughing when I saw the two would be robbers walking down the side of the road. I pulled over tossed their coil wire at them, warned them that they got off lucky, not to even think about vandalizing the store, and rode/ wobbled of in a cloud of smoke laughing like a maniac. I hoped I wouldn’t get pulled over, but figured the authorities had enough to worry about if what Jacob had told me was true. I entered the outskirts of town a little bit later noting the smoke, not like the whole city was burning but a lot. Leaving the forest behind and entering the pavement jungle with the pallor of smoke hanging overhead, it hit me this is real. I had imagined or read about different scenarios of an apocalyptic/ major disaster stricken world. Honestly I had enjoyed these romantic daydreams, now I was scared and saddened the enormity of it all. Thank god I couldn’t hear the sirens or gunshots I knew had to exist over the rattle of the little bike and its rusted exhaust. I just wanted to be safe at home with my dog, to be able to call my mom or uncle for no reason, or a couple of friends to come over for beer or meet at our favorite bar. I turned left towards the river, hoping the industrial side of town would be safer than trying to make my way directly through the center of town. Glad that I had spent a year driving all around the city running service calls learning the roads. I crossed the railroad tracks took the next right, and stopped my improvised escape buggy. The sounds I had been expecting didn’t materialize as expected more like a muted roar pierced here and there by a closer siren or crash. I gazed at the tableau of destruction around me . There is usually little traffic in this area of town, to my left I could see the river and there were no tankers or tugs to be seen. Across the river smoke rolled up from somewhere I could not see, a slight orange tint on the underside. I wasn’t surprised, that side of town had been pretty rundown in recent years, well actually as long as I could recall. That section of town was filled with half empty strip malls, dilapidated houses, depressing apartment complexes and sad parks. To the southwest I was surprised to see almost as much smoke, the hills rising from the city were forested, with sparsely placed million dollar homes. Perhaps the smoke was just rising on air currents against those hills. The city center with its skyscrapers, old brick buildings, and colleges intermixed with tranquil parks, was usually quite beautiful. Now the smoke hung just over top of the medium height structures. The skyscrapers if I looked just right seeming to grow out the smoke like a city built on clouds, every once in a while I could catch the reflection of flames in their glass sides. The Industrial area in which I sat was untouched, only a few blocks away I’ m sure there was chaos I could feel it. But here in this wasteland of steel, rock, and dirt with the smell of oil and creosote hanging in the air it almost seemed peaceful. I struggled to restart the old Honda chastising myself for stopping, I couldn’t act like I was watching a movie, This was real, and I was in it. The tracks and road I was now on angled south towards downtown leaving the industrial area and its relative isolation. There was no help for it as the river made a right angle ahead swinging from my left and cutting directly in front of me. The bridge I was aiming for was only a few blocks south. If I could make it across I would be able to exit the bridge into another industrial zone, then I would be on the surface streets. First though I had to make it through the edge of downtown. I slowed even more even though this made it harder to balance atop the bike. I had just left the desert of the industrial park and was now in a populated area. I had seen movement but very little prior to this. Now I could feel eyes on me, a terror like that which I hadn’t felt since a child outside alone in the dark. I eased the bike onward slowly taking the next right. That’s when the bike died. I started pushing it pausing only to pull out my pistol not wanting to try starting it just yet. Two blocks later still pushing the bike I hung a left continuing halfway down the block my breath ragged the foul smoke stinging my eyes and burning my nose and lungs. I had stopped just outside a ravaged mini mart. The kind that has those cheap knives from China in a glass case, porn magazines behind the counter calling cards to Mexico from counter to ceiling, cheesy figurines, flags from everywhere, cheap beer and even cheaper wine. I happened to notice a couple of handkerchiefs next to the register. Looking around I leaned the bike up against a meter and stepped inside. Head swiveling in every direction pistol gripped in both sweaty hands, my neck should have been sore from looking around so much. I stepped gingerly up next to the register on top of broken glass and stale booze and what was probably dried blood. I grabbed a couple of the bandanas from the plastic hanger. As I was doing so I saw through the glass, a man was lying there in a pool of blood a sawed off double barrel shotgun in his outstretched arm. His black shirt had an even darker glistening stain upon it, his forehead bore a small jagged hole with powder marks visible circling. Shocked I stepped back quickly. Suddenly from the back of the store I heard muffled scream, a woman or a child maybe, I froze listening intently. Over the roar of background noise emanating from the burning city I heard it again along with a shuffling sliding noise. I cautiously worked my way down the aisle glanced between the shelving but the backstops were solid. I could still hear it coming from my left, reaching the end of the shelving I kneeled down and started to peek around the corner. I stopped, catching a reflection in the glass doors of the beverage cooler. I started to make sense of what I was seeing. A man was kneeling on the chest and legs of a small women or child a gun pressed to the head the other hand apparently covering the mouth. His back was to me and he was staring down the aisle to his left. My heart felt like it was beating out of my shirt. I knew what I was going to do yet it didn’t quite feel real and yet at the same time entirely to real. I could feel the pulse throbbing in my neck, hear it in my ears. I braced my left knee against the shelving, taking care not to bump anything or make any noise. After a quick glance at the reflection I pivoted my upper torso around the corner. I aimed deliberately even as he spun noticing my movement. I didn’t even notice squeezing the trigger the pistol just jumped a bit then the sights lined up and jumped again. The third and final round passed over him as he slumped sideways, his head cracking into the cold tile floor. I would have shot again but whomever he had been holding was now directly behind him. I quickly shuffled across the floor on my knees not wanting to take my eyes or pistol off him. The gun he had been holding now lay a foot from his hand, he looked dead no movement that I could see. Reaching for his gun with my left hand, keeping my gun trained at him with my right. I almost shot him again when the body behind him rolled suddenly away. I had temporarily forgotten about them. His pistol in hand I slowly backed up and stood. Now I could see the blood and bits of bone. One of hollow point 40 caliber rounds had somehow managed to exit near his spine, or impacted it causing bone shards to exit. I looked up at the person now standing with their back against cinder block wall. It was a girl maybe 14 or 15 I don’t know I’m horrible at guessing age. Her eyes wide, fists clenched at her chest. She had dreadlocks in her hair, wearing a yellow shirt and blue jeans. There was blood on the side of her shirt it almost looked like it was somehow dyed that way from the factory. “I’m sorry” I said standing there looking at her. She looked confused. “huh?” she asked uncertainly “I’m sorry, I got blood on your shirt. I didn’t mean to” I realized I had no idea what I was saying. She looked down for a second then shrugged “its ok so do you” she pointed at my left side. I looked down. There was a small tear in my shirt just below my rib a little blood showed on the shirt. I noticed I was still wearing my pack. There was a small hole in it too. I dropped my pack pulled up my shirt and checked the wound, not much more than a scratch. I shrugged and dropped the shirt. “are you okay, hurt or anything? Do you need anything?” I asked dumbly “no I’m okay” “good that’s good” I remembered my bike “can you watch that for a minute” pointing at the pack. She nodded, I turned and walked out the store. Reaching the bike I went to grasp the handlebars. I still had the Glock in my right and the other mans gun in my left, it was a Taurus 9mm slim. My fingers weren’t on the triggers, so at least there was that. Good habits, training paid off. How did I take my ruck off I wondered. Must have been with my left hand I thought, the Taurus was pretty small. That means I wasn’t being careful keeping the muzzle in a safe direction. Bad habit. Why am I standing in the street in the middle of a disaster? Shock. I carefully put both weapons in my back pockets and rolled the bike into the store. I sat down on my pack the girl was still standing there. I pulled the Nalgene out the pack lid opened it stared at it for a second closed it and offered it to the girl. She walked over and took it sitting down next to me. I looked at the glass cooler, noticed a couple bottles at the bottom laying on there sides. I stood up removed the guns from my back pockets and set the Taurus on the shelf keeping the Glock in hand. I opened the glass door of the cooler knelt down and retrieved the bottles. There were four of them Mirror Pond Pale Ales. Sitting back down next to the girl I opened one on the shelf handing it to her. She grasp it and looked at me. I opened another took a drink and sighed, it tasted like angel kisses. “ I’m not 21” she said. I shrugged. We sat facing the door. I was worried about someone walking in and ruining my peace. It felt safe in here now. I realized that not even five minutes before I had walked in that same door and shot a man. I didn’t feel bad maybe I would later. I could feel I wasn’t in shock anymore. Not since I’d walked in that door a second time. Right now I just wanted to drink my beer. We sat in silence for a few minutes taking swigs at the same time. I glanced at her bottle, good it wasn’t down to the paper label yet. I’d only let her have that much. I opened my second bottle. “I’m Zeke by the way. Are you sure your alright?” “yeah fine, I’m Tania.” she continued “ I just came in to get the gas cans Mr. Chan had for us in the back. My mom was going to pick us up and we were all going to leave together. Mom dropped me off and Mr. Chan told me to wait in the back while he watched the front. That’s when that man came in and shot Mr. Chan. I tried to run but he caught me and then you came. “I’m sorry about Mr. Chan.” I stood up and walked behind the counter picked up the shotgun cracked it open and closed it again. I saw two boxes of 00 and picked them up too. I then checked the pockets of the man I had shot finding another mag for the Taurus and 20 rounds of loose 9mm. I went and sat back down next to Tania “so your moms coming back here?” “yes she had to pick up my uncle said it was safer I waited with Mr. Chan he had a gun and was coming with us. And he had the gas so we could make it out of town to my uncles friends house.” “okay I’ll wait with you. Let me show you how to use this pistol and shotgun.” I then explained the basics of the firearms. Though I never could understand what the point of the double action on the little Taurus was for. “Why don’t you go and grab all the canned food you can while I watch the door” I told her. She came back and set several bags of canned goods and such next to the door and then sat down again. She asked where I was going and after I’d told her she explained about the paved footpath that paralleled the freeway. I hadn’t even thought about that that would be much quicker and safer than the surface streets. I almost shot the dog when it walked in the door a few minutes later. It was an Australian shepherd. Looked like a pup maybe a year or so. It just walked in and sat down next to us. I looked at Tania she looked at me and then we both looked at the dog. It just sat there looking at the door. Tania stood up and found a couple of cans of dog food and dumped one and then the other on the floor. After he’d finished both cans he sat back down and watched the door again. A few minutes later he growled once and then stood up and wagged his tail. A moment later Tania’s mother called and appeared in the doorway. She looked at all of us rather curiously with a bit of worry in her eyes. “is everything okay? Where’s Mr. Chan?” she asked looking around the room. She had appeared so suddenly and talked so fast that we hadn’t had a chance to answer her question or even stand up. Tania an I having been in such a tranquil mood for the last 30 minutes or so, unbroken by even the strange visit of the dog. Tania and I quickly stood up. “Mr. Chan’s dead mom. Right after you dropped me off a man came in and shot him.” Tania spoke as she was picking up the bags of food she had gathered. Tania’s mother looked sharply at me as Tania spoke. I had risen and picked up the two 5 gallon cans of gas. “not him mother! That’s Zeke and he came in just after the man caught me and Zeke shot him.” “oh my god are you okay dear? I’m so sorry! I never should have left you, I thought it would be safer here than out in the streets with me.” gushed Tania’s mother. “yes mother I’m fine thanks to Zeke” I smiled at her mother and carried the gas cans out to the car. Keeping a wary eye open I emptied the cans into their car as Tania and her mother loaded the bags loaded with food into the backseat. Tania explained that her uncle had a bad leg and wasn’t able to move around to well. The gas cans empty, I walked around to the passenger window and handed the uncle the shotgun and boxes of shells. “you have your pistol and extra rounds” I asked Tania “yes thank you so much for everything and take care of Hank” she said as she gave me a hug. “Hank?” “yeah that’s his name” “you know him? Who’s he belong to? “never seen him till a bit ago but I’m pretty sure that’s his name” she was completely serious. “thank you for taking care of my daughter” called Tania’s mother as she slid behind the wheel. “yeah sure. Leave out the industrial park its safer there” I told them as the car pulled away. I waved and suddenly reality struck. The last 45 minutes had been so surreal. I glanced around once more and darted back into the shop shrugging into my pack and hoping the bike would start. Luckily the bike was co-operating and I started out the door looking quickly around. ‘Hank” trotted out after me running alongside the bike his head swiveling from side to side as we traveled slowly down the road. Luckily I didn’t have to worry about the smoke or noise exuding from the exhaust attracting any undue attention. A least until I cleared the smoke and noise from downtown h it.