Sunday, June 10, 2012

Skewed Slightly to the Left: Cameron and Chloe during the war

[Originally posted at Slacktivist (page 4).]
[In the actual books Buck has a brother, not a sister.  I misremembered.]
[This would take place during the previous one, in one of the breaks.]

Verna approached the office Cameron had gone to to make a private call, he wasn't the only one who'd wanted to take a moment to contact family or friends.  Without actually doing any arranging they'd taken time to make such contact in shifts, never more than a few at a time doing that instead of working on the news.
As she approached she could hear Cameron talking, "I should have told you all this a year and a half ago, but I've been under surveillance and thought I could do more good by appearing loyal.  At this point that doesn't matter anymore."
There was a long pause.
"I don't expect to see you again and..." another pause, "I love you.  Please think about what I said, and stay safe.  Things are going to get a lot worse, so just..."  he sighed.  "So please be careful."
Another pause.
"And I was the one who stole your My Little Pony tapes.  Sorry about that.  Been wanting to apologize for decades but was too embarrassed to admit to it, but if this is the end I figured I should say I'm sorry.  So, I'm sorry, I love you, be safe."
He hung up and Verna asked, "Voicemail?"
"Voicemail," Cameron confirmed.  "What's up?"
"There's world shattering news coming in, and I'll get to that, but first I have to ask..."
"My Little Pony?"
Cameron smiled, "Most subversive thing I did in my life before Serbia."
"What happened in Serbia, anyway?"
"I was stupider than most people say, but it turned out better than most people think.  Credit goes almost entirely to my cameraman, and what doesn't go to him goes to, and this seems weirdly appropriate given that My Little Pony is what got us here, a twelve year old girl.  I originally though she was an orphan because, you know... but it turned out she was just doing it out of the kindness of her heart.  Her tiny, tiny heart.  I swear she looked younger than twelve."
"You're not going to tell me," Verna said.
"No."  Cameron glanced down.  "Nice shoes."
"Thanks."  She gestured toward the newsroom, " The end of the world beckons."
Chloe kept going back and forth between thinking that the shelter was impressively large given that they'd only had 18 months to build it, and thinking it incredibly small given the need that they'd have to fill.
If the coming war was to be nuclear they'd never be able to shelter everyone who needed sheltering, even if it weren't they couldn't hope to treat everyone in need of medical treatment.  Hopefully existing hospitals would survive and do most of the work and they'd only have to deal with the excess.
If the war weren't nuclear it would mean that the year and a half she'd spent pouring sweat, blood, and even the occasional tear into making the thing seemed wasted.  They'd have been able to do much more if their standard hadn't been one keyed to surviving a nuclear war.  On the other hand, if it weren't nuclear, wouldn't that be worth celebrating in itself, regardless of how things might have been?
Of course it was, but the waste would still be discouraging.  Planning for the worst meant that if the worst didn't happen more might have been saved by doing something else, so even if things turned out better than expected there would be little to celebrate.
Still, she'd built this shelter with her own hands, scavenged, bought and stolen the supplies to stock it herself.  She hadn't done the construction alone, but she had done it.  Now the time was coming when it would be needed.  And she wasn't going to let it go to waste.  She checked and double checked that everything was in order.  She made sure that the volunteers knew their roles, and she prepared to do battle with the second horse of the apocalypse.


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