Two packs sat next to the front door of the bunker. Drake struggled with the last zipper as his portable cooker proved just small enough to fit into the bag’s pocket. Charley tested her wind-up flashlight and then tied it onto her backpack with some 550 cord. With a final grunt of effort, Drake pulled the zipper closed without breaking anything, as far as he could tell. The air felt stale as it recycled for the seventh time. There was only so much the filtration system could remove over long periods. After that, it started to feel off.
“Alright,” Drake said, “let’s run through the plan one more time before we step off.”
Charley nodded and met him at the map on the table. It was a local map showing the main city and its surroundings. The bunker nestled into a draw a mile from the main city, which most likely kept the other survivors away.
“We are going to leave from the bunker at 0800 hours, which should give us plenty of daylight to go out and return before dark,” Drake said.
“According to your book,” Charley said, “that will set twilight at 1932. But since we’re in the mountains, we will want to return before then for safety reasons.”
“Right,” Drake said.
Drake couldn’t help but smile. While they’d been fighting the last few days, it felt nice to fall into step with each other. Drake ran his finger across the map and stopped on the building a few blocks away from the main supercenter.
“Remind me why we can’t go to Bracken’s Super Center,” Charley said.
Drake sighed and regretted it instantly as Charley scowled back at him. Every time she Brough this up, he gave the same explanation.
“Most survivors probably already ransacked or locked down Bracken’s,” Drake said, “we will have better luck getting to Cook’s Market.”
“But there’s so much more stuff at Bracken’s,” Charley said.
“Yes,” Drake said, “and if there are survivors, they are more likely to have guns at Bracken’s instead of Cook’s. We need to get a feel for how long we will be surviving off of our food storage. But we can’t let anyone see us.”
Charley nodded. While there hadn’t been much they agreed on since the beginning of the seven days from hell, they both knew that keeping a low profile would prove key to their survival. The last precautions seemed excessive, but after watching what happened to the man and woman in the forest, neither wanted to risk exposure.
“The protective suits were meant for biohazard environments,” Drake said, “they are going to be hot and suck, but that’s why we’re grateful it’s still cold outside. But we need to keep our eyes out for wildlife and other humans walking around without protective measures. Those two made it a certain distance before they drew near the marker. We need to find out why.”
Charley gave an exaggerated salute.
“Yes, Sir,” Charley said.
Drake chose to laugh that time, as his annoyance hadn’t boded well for the previous day’s fights. There were small moments like that. After twenty years of marriage, Drake remembered why he fell in love with Charley. Yet, somehow, in all of the chaos of everyday life, they’d both forgotten. The newly added level of apocalyptic level issues made theirs even worse.