|APAGear II Archives||Volume 1, Number 6||June, 1999|
[Note: This story continues part one of "Forced Isolation," which appeared in Volume 1, Number 1. -Ed.]
Leeza woke to the sound of her baby crying and coughing.
Her eyes snapped open as she ran her hands over Albain. He was still tightly wrapped up as she left him, despite his struggles and kicking.
Albain was dirty with ash smudged on his face, but had no burns or cuts. Leeza's face relaxed as she looked down at her son.
She quickly filled a bottle with water. Albain quickly drank it.
Leeza saw him start to struggle, as if to build up pressure to force out more cries. She quickly opened a small plastic container of pinkish yellow jell. She looked around, then stuck two fingers in her mouth and sucked.
Spitting out the dirty siliva, Leeza scooped out the baby food with her fingers and pushed it into her son's open mouth.
Albain smiled as he tasted the sweet jell in his mouth.
She smiled down at him, the dirty, half melted walls faded away as she became engrossed in feeding him.
He smiled up at her, sucking the last of the baby food from her fingers.
Leeza screamed and clutched her baby to her as she spun and backed away from the sound.
A man crouched in the doorway to another room. He was covered in dirt and ash.
"Uh, sorry, tried not to scare you. My name is Jak." he said as he leaned towards her with his hand out.
Leeza scrambled further back, eyes wide with fear.
He pulled his hand back, looking at it, "Guess it could use some cleaning..."
Jak looked around the room, his eyes did not pause at her food or water.
Leeza's eyelids re-appeared and she blinked, "Uh...what do you want?"
His eyes stopped at her, "I was just checking some of the empty looking houses on my way out."
Standing, Jak pulled up a bag partial full, "Just trying to collect some items we would need."
Leeza's eyes narrowed as her hand found a metal can. She adjusted her grip.
"Oh...wait, me and my sons." He said while holding his hands out to either side, palms forward, griping the bag with just two fingers.
She raised an eyebrow slightly.
"They are up the street, can't leave them alone for long." He said while looking away in their direction.
"Well, it was nice meeting you, Miss...?"
Leeza just looked at him.
"...and we will have to do this again sometime." He looked around one last time and then turned and walked out.
Jak made his way out of the remains of the house. He picked up the shotgun from where he had left it.
As he stepped out onto the street and into the sunlight, he looked around. The only thing moving was a group of crabflies.
Jak headed towards where he had left his boys, Neddy and Tomas. They were supposed to be hiding behind the Hardhat.
The fuel he had found earlier would let him make it out to the farm.
Jak tried to jump, turn and level the shotgun all at once.
He hit the ground on his side, but the shotgun was on target....to the woman he had found before.
Leeza had used every nerve to follow Jak. She was not really sure why or maybe it was she did not want to think about why. When he pointed the shotgun at her, she had nearly fainted, but she covered her weakening of the knees by sitting down and adjust the blanket over her son.
Using the shotgun to help him up, Jak stood, saying "I guess you got me back."
"Are...are you really leaving here?" Leeza nervously stuttered out.
Jak, looking puzzled, replied "Yes, I am taking that Hardhat over there out...well, out of here."
He felt bad for keeping back information, for being paranoid.
"Take me." Leeza forced it out before she changed her mind and ran back into the house. "I...I...I..." Tears watered her eyes and started to leave streaks down her face.
Jak nodded and smiled a little, "Don't need to explain right now, if you want to come with me, you are welcome."
Leeza could not believe that she was trusting herself to someone she had only known for a few minutes. Then again, he was treating her better than some people she had known for years.
She started to wipe away her tears, but almost dropped her supplies.
"Could I...carry that?" Jak asked, pointing to her beatup bag.
"Uh...sure?" Leeza said, not really confident of the situation or herself.
Taking the bag, Jak turned and started walking towards the Hardhat. "Need to check on the boys, probably left them out by themselves too long." he said over his shoulder.
Not wanting to be left behind, Leeza walked after him, now being able to use both of her hands to hold Albain.
As he got close to the Hardhat, two shapes darted from its shadow, almost knocking down Jak.
"Neddy, Tomas. You guys ok?" he said to the children. "I want you to meet...." Jak turned and looked at her.
"Leeza." she said.
"She will be coming with us." Jak said as he tried to push the boys towards the bed of the Hardhat. He was really glad to have found the Hardhat functioning.
Both of the boys stared at her and then turned and used the treads to climb into the bed. The bed seemed to have alot of dirty bags half full. Leeza's was added to them, as was the other bag Jak was carrying.
"Clear a spot for Leeza." he directed to the boys. They looked from him to her and back. "Now!" he said, leaning towards them.
They quickly cleared a spot for Leeza. Jak helped her in.
Jak walked around towards the front of the mechanical centaur, with its truck lower body and its humanoid upper. The arms where mismatched, general manipulator on the left, high speed disc saw on the right.
"This is going to be loud for you back there." he said, climbing up into the Hardhat's cockpit.
The Hardhat started up with a roar and then settled down.
Then it shuddred forward, moving down the street, rolling over the burnt remains of Leeza's old life.
|APAGear II Archives||Volume 1, Number 6||June, 1999|
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