Ally picked her way through the trunk, looking for a matching boot. She had cleaned herself off using some tepid water from the basin in the room and now was looking to replace the ragged shreds of her clothing. She had dressed her wounds herself as best as she could, and Morgan, the man she had met on the road, had bound the worse of her injuries. She tentatively traced the bandages that he had wrapped around her feet before she laced the once missing boot up.
She wasn't sure how she felt about Morgan. He was strong and safe, but somehow seemed withdrawn. He wouldn't talk about himself or his past, just that he had fought in the war and that he was heading to town. He hadn't told her what he had found in the shed out back, but he hadn't seemed very happy about it. He had closed the door to the shed and walked back to her. Together, they had searched the house, finding it empty. Most of the house had seemed ransacked, and there were trails of blood and signs of looting, but in one of the rooms they had found the trunk of clothing.
After Abby had laced the boot she stood up and looked at herself in the mirror. The dress was a simple, durable affair of brown wool, buttoning up the side and had a divided skirt suitable for riding. The boots were simple leather with a short heel. Finally she had pulled a heavy cloak from the trunk and pulled her hair back under a scarf. She could see the bruising on her face and eyes, though her lip had scabbed over. It still hurt to breath from her bruised ribs and she limped when she walked, but even so she still felt worlds better than she had a few hours earlier.
She walked around, gingerly at first, but the more she moved her balance seemed to steady. She felt her nerves settled down for the first time in what seemed forever. She left the room and walked down the stair case, supporting herself on the railing. the wafting smells from the kitchen told her that Morgan had found some food, and she realized just how long it had been since she had eaten. Her stomach growled noisily as she walked in on Morgan, frying some bacon in a pan.
"I found a couple of unbroken eggs and some bacon in the larder. You need to eat something for your strength."
Abby murmured her thanks and dug in ravenously. In what seemed like seconds she had finished the meal and was sopping up the grease with a crust of only slightly moldy bread. They didn't talk much, but she watched Morgan eat out of the corner of her eye. He ate methodically, his eyes almost never looking at the plate. They shifted from the door to the big window, which gave him a view from out onto the front drive. He was always looking, always watchful, always so sad. She'd never felt safer with a more intimidating man.
After the meal was finished, Morgan told Abby to stand up. He led her outside towards the shed, the door still closed. Abby felt her throat grow thick and well up inside her. The feeling of safety she had felt just moments ago were fled from her and those jagged spikes of fear and adrenalin flooded her system. Morgan stopped them just before the shed and turned her to face him. He gripped her shoulders tightly and looked her in the eye.
"Abby, I can't imagine how you feel right now. With all the bad shit that's out in the world right now, this damnable black sun above our heads and worse yet, the death of your family and the torturous journey you've undertaken in the past day. What I do know is that you have to be one of the toughest women I've ever met to still be alive and still be fighting. You can't be afraid anymore. You need to know what is waiting for you out there."
Morgan pushed open the door and she saw the woman. Her face bruised and battered, his dressed rips, the ways her legs were spread....the gaping hole in her chest. Abby pulled her hands in front of her face before Morgan roughly pulled them away.
"LOOK DAMMIT! Look at what happened to her. It's not just those god damn monsters out there. Regular folk are just as bad as they are. You can't be afraid. You have to be strong. You have to be ready."
With that he pulled free a battered old Colt Revolver and a worn gunbelt. He turned her to face the tragedy in the shed as he buckled the gun belt around her waste. Abby forced herself to look at the woman, to look at the fear on her face, until she couldn't feel anything anymore. She stood there a long time, just looking, as Morgan never moved or said anything. After what felt like an eternity, she looked up at Morgan.
"I'm ready to go."
End of Line.