After several days of slogging through the frozen hell that covers every part of America that we've seen, the Ark is now safely ensconced in its hiding place. Mason is relieved to be done with carrying the copies around with him, and he surprised us by producing more of them from the storage compartments of the bus. The ones he had in his backpack were our copies, the ones he could afford to lose.
He has agreed to come stay with us at Jack's for a while. I was worried that he might not be able to come, thinking that he would have to head back to California and set out to distribute and secure more copies of the Ark, but he informed us after the deed was done that he was just one of dozens of couriers who took the job. He sent messages to Mountain View tonight letting the folks at Google know that he'd be a while in coming back.
Last night was the worst since we left Jack's compound, by far. Yes, I include the full day we spent in the cattle car, locked up and with no food or drink. It got so cold that we had to hole up in an abandoned (seems sort of redundant to say that at this point--most things are abandoned now) house, one with a fireplace, and wait out the cold. We risked someone seeing the smoke and coming to investigate for exactly one reason--we had to. It was four below zero outside, and the wind was kicking up fiercely. It was build a fire somewhere out of the elements, or run the very serious risk of freezing to death.
We're back in that same house now, but will be on our way home instead of the other direction. It isn't as deadly cold out there right now as it was a day ago, but our energy reserves are still low from nearly constant cold and several intense bouts of running and fighting with packs of zombies. I'm thinking about a warm spot next to my wife with the sort of disbelieving hope that a man dying of thirst has about a nice glass of water.
We're going to try and get back as quickly as possible, and that's going to be a trick. We've got enough fuel to get within a hundred miles of the vehicles we left behind, but that's about it. We're going to need to find some more diesel before then or it's going to be a long walk back to our SUV's. If they are still where we left them, that is.
I've been in touch with Google tonight as well, and they have a pretty good fix on where Patrick's cell signal is coming from. My hope is that I can get back to Jack's and resupply, which will be made a lot easier if Courtney and her roving group have made it there. They've been on their way for a long while now, but several interesting opportunities have sidetracked them. Call them...chances for good trades. Once we're stocked up and ready to roll out, it will only be a matter of days before Patrick and his kids are safe with us.
Pat, Courtney and the others have been away so long that it seems impossible to me that I may even see them again. I love Jess, and she is my best friend, but my other friends are as vital to my mental well-being as she is, just in a different way. I'm excited about it, as well as getting the copies of the Ark we have with us back to Jack's. Their copies will help them to create a lot of really useful things...his compound could become the manufacturing center of a new world, if we can all live that long.
It's cold and I'm tired, the stew we cooked a little while ago is sitting heavy on my belly. It's putting me to sleep. Not to mention all the people around me who look angry at the constant pecking on my laptop, which I only managed to get charged this evening. I'm going to run away now, before they mutiny and hold me down to wrestle it out of my hands. We'll be home soon, god willing.