Jess and I are with a bunch of other people this time, and we've got trucks. Lots of trucks. We're going to start the process of loading the stuff Jess and I scouted out last week. The weather has turned warmer the last few days, and the snow around here has melted, making driving a lot easier. It's going to be a long trip...
I realized the other day, after one of my friends mentioned it to me, that I haven't talked much about my sister in a while. I guess that strikes some people as odd, since I've been living in the same community with her for, what, more than a month? The truth of the matter is that Jackie and I rarely see each other, and it's only since the attack that we've spent more than a half hour together since I settled in with the other refugees.
It's not that I avoid her or anything. I love my sister, and just as important, I like her. She and I might not talk often, but we're close. We trust each other implicitly, can talk about anything. It's just that she's busy seeing to the education needs of North Jackson, and she has four kids. Her husband is busy as well--his expertise with computers is incredibly useful and much in demand, which eats a lot of his time.
Jackie was hit very hard by the attack. She cares very deeply for people, especially kids. She lost students in the attack. Virtually all the kids that live inside the walls are her students, and she loves them. It hurt her so much when those kids were hurt. She could barely handle it when she found out they wouldn't be waking up.
She came looking for me, and I wasn't going to tell her I was too busy, even though I was really, really busy. It's not often that my sister comes to me for solace or advice--after all, she's nine years older than I am. She's got all of this life experience and wisdom that I don't. Yet once in a while throughout our lives, she has done this. I don't pretend to know why, other than the ceaseless emotional support I offer her as a brother. Maybe she just wants a different perspective on things. Perhaps just kind words and a shoulder to cry on.
I sat with her for a long time, talking about many things and taking breaks to let her blow her nose and dry her eyes. It was strange for me to see her that emotional. She's one of the strongest, toughest people I know, for all that she's more of a girlie girl than my tomboy of a mom would have expected. Jackie is usually the one to be there for others, and she's been there for me many times. Hell, she practically raised me.
I think a lot of it had to do with her own kids. She's aware of just how spectacularly lucky she is to have her entire family, husband and kids, alive. I think seeing those children, alive yet unable to survive, struck that deep maternal instinct in her. The sight of them slumbering their way to eternity grabbed on the the fear center of her mommy-brain and squeezed. Imagining that being your kid would bring anyone to their knees.
Hmm. Maybe that's why the attack and resulting deaths have put people so universally up in arms. Those who have children likely felt the same way as my sister. Those who had lost kids in The Fall were reminded sharply of that terrible lack. Those who didn't have kids might have looked at the terrible agony the adult victims were in, and in that pain seen the possibility that it could have been them. Or their brother. Their lover.
I held their hands as they died, and that could have been Jackie. Could have been Jess.
The thought makes the bottom drop out of my stomach.
All of us are angry, but none of us are stupid. To attack the compound would be literal suicide--I know Will Price well enough to know that he has to have improved the defenses since we've left. And god knows how much firepower the Richmond soldiers brought with them. We're stuck with being pissed off to a degree that English doesn't have a word for and not being able to do anything about it.
So, we stock up. We're going to make North Jackson as sturdy and defensible as we can, pack it with supplies, and plan. The soldiers know we're coming for them one day, that's no secret. All we have to do is figure out how and find a way to build an army to do it. We've got the moral support of so many of the other survivors Courtney met and worked with, but it's just that. None of them are going to organize massive efforts to help us take our home back and free our people. I get it, really. People have survived because they didn't risk their lives when the likelihood was almost certain that they would be killed. Only if you have to. That's how you keep on breathing.
I don't mind talking about it now. The Richmond soldiers know that their unprovoked attack has had terrible repercussions for them. They can't expect us to just forget it and move on. They knew when my people fled the compound that we would eventually come back. Thats MY home. Our home.
Now they have hundreds more equally ready to kill them with gusto. Far from being worried that they know we're planning, I WANT them to know. To think about it. To worry and fret over just what the details are. I want them afraid and jumping at shadows, thinking that the next random noise could be one of us sneaking in for the kill.
I doubt it, though. That's how it's done in books, not in reality. These are trained soldiers, and while their moral fiber seems to have gone threadbare, I doubt that years of training and discipline will fail them when faced with threats and taunts from a group of seven hundred people that have about a hundred bullets between them.
Well...maybe a bit more ammo than that. But not enough. Nowhere near.
So...something else will have to take the place of guns. Like I said, this will be a long drive. Plenty of time to think about that problem.