Outside thunder rumbled sullenly, a few seconds later a bolt of lightening lit the sky. Jason breathed a sigh of relief, the noise outside would distract them for a little while. He crouched at the window and peered out, it was still mid-afternoon, though it was dull outside he could see them, scattering as the thunder boomed. They’d hole up in one of the buildings for a few hours. He’d get a break, he just needed a little while to get his breath back. It had just been a simple supply run, so easy. There had been no movement in this sector for days, they weren’t scheduled to arrive for another week at least. He just had to remain calm, out think them. They were afraid, that gave him an edge. He ducked down again, for fear they might spot him. If they picked up his trail again they’d track him until he was back in the town or until they killed him. He’d get out of this, of course he would, after all he had faced much worse. There appeared to be just the one group, maybe a hundred all told. Once they were a lone tribe he would have no trouble, if they had split off before entering the city he could be in a bit of bother. He took a gulp of water, then double checked that his bag was properly sealed. He’d get back to town, warn everyone that they were early. They’d have a tough time until they moved on again but they’d survive, they always did. If it came to it, they could always arm up, head into the city and take what they needed, it would be a bit messy, but better the savages die than one of their own..
Jason crouched and began to move from the window, he was higher up than them, so they shouldn’t spot him, but it was best not to take any chances. The rain had started to come down heavily now, the storm starting in earnest, they’d be indoors, cowering and gibbering. He hoped they didn’t start any fires. He had heard they did it in Eddinton, burned the place down to the ground. They’d learned though, fires were kept outside if they were in an unknown place. They’re living grounds was a large industrial complex, in the garages, doors half open, fires created on the concrete floors. Jason moved down the dark stairwell carefully, even with his torch it was difficult to see and the echo of his footsteps made it hard to hear if there was anything below. He made it to the exit with out any trouble, there he paused until there was another rumble of thunder, and using it as a cover, he pressed the bar and stepped out into the cold rain.
He moved through the streets carefully, looking around almost constantly. He didn’t bother changing his planned route, it was already designed to lead him away from their hotspots. In the distance he could hear some faint yelling. That was good at least, gave him an idea of where they were. In large groups like that once one started they all did. Perhaps it was some kind of intimidation technique for wild animals. Scare them off or something. It was hard to tell really. They knew very little about them, it wasn’t like you could just shove on a disguise and pretend to be one of them, somehow they knew. There were things that Jason couldn’t understand, they could be clever in some ways, setting up ambushes and traps, but completely idiotic in others, like not realising that cans contained food. They must have come across empty cans with bits of food left in them, or attacked people while they ate, but they hadn’t seemed to have made the connection. Frankly he was surprised they were still going. Everyone expected them to die out in a few years until there were only a few left, lack of hunting and all, but they seemed to be thriving. The best policy found so far was no contact. Both groups left the other alone, the only difference was the savages would kill any smaller groups they came across. The ones who were still people just avoided them entirely. Some killed the savages out of spite. It was difficult though, killing them. They were still people after all, just savages. They couldn’t really speak any languages very well, but they could clearly communicate, they knew how to hunt and pick fruits and berries. Jason sometimes wondered if they’d slowly evolve over the years, get back to where they were some point down the line, before the virus had brought them back to the stone age. It had hit too fast and too hard to try rounding everyone up. If they had of known what was happening then, if they had expected it, maybe they could have put the people into a sort of nature reserve and let them live there, but that wasn’t how things had happened.
It was getting dark when he arrived at the village, already the floodlights were on, leaving the area within a hundred feet of the walls almost as bright as on a sunny day. He raised one hand in greeting as he went towards the gate. They’d added the flood lights a few years ago, when there were rumours of sneak attacks from the savages. The council had agreed it would be better to prepare for it, in case the rumours had proved to be correct. So far they hadn’t been necessary, and everyone hoped it stayed that way. When he reached the gate it was already open, he stepped inside smiling, and slung the bag from his back, he shook hands with the guard on duty as the gate closed again.
“Looks like they’ve arrived early this year.”
“No, the storm kept them inside.’
“Good, here, I’ll take this to inventory, you go get a hot shower.”
Jason signed his name in the book, then went to the showers. He hadn’t had a hot one in a few weeks, it would be nice. It had been cold but he hadn’t been too bad, the rain jacket had kept most of the rain off him. A stiff breeze blew through the town, sending a shiver down his spine. A hot shower and some food would do him a world of good.