Be an upstanding well-loved man about town

Perhaps mob is a misleading term.  Or maybe it isn’t.  A mob doesn’t have to be angry or threatening does it?  Is a mob just a group of people?  Can there be a happy mob?  These people were neither happy nor angry or threatening.  They were a pretty sad bunch.  I suppose that’s what happens when you’re the survivors of a losing battle.  These were the people of the convoy (?) that we saw being attacked by the Invincible (and others?) bereft of their dirt bikes and whatever else they had, but with the addition of wounds not bad enough to get them left behind to die.  I have no idea what soldiers looked like after a swords and arrows battle in the olden times, but I imagine it was something like this. 

Not all of them looked alike but there was a solid core that must be some the same bloodline or tribe or whatever happens now.  They were completely hairless and had long horsey faces.  I suppose I should be more careful with my terminology these days since I’ve seen actual people with bug and lizard parts.  They didn’t literally have the faces of horses, they just had long facial features with big lantern jaws and way too many teeth.  Since they just got stomped I’ll refrain from any mention how ugly they were.  But they were.

The first few dozen that came plodding up the road ignored us and made for the stream.  I’ll refrain from any jokes about leading a horse to water.  I can’t cast stones I suppose since I was just bathing in the waters myself, but after a score or so of people had dipped their hands in to drink, the water downstream was taking on a greyish pallor.  Pall?  Pallor. 

After being ignored for a while, a little knot of hairless horsepeople in the middle of the group came over our way.  I was dressed at this point FYI, even though I hate pulling on wet clothes.  It’s the worst right?  I mean other than everything else happening all the time.  It’s hard to tell people’s ages these days but this group was wrinklier and they were wearing capes or robes or something made out of animal hide so I assume they were elders or leaders of some kind. 

We could more or less understand them.  They asked us if we were Roadrunners or California Highway Patrol.  We told them no and they just stared at us for a long time.  I suppose they were waiting for us to tell them who we were.  They were the first group that seemed to find our very different appearance from everyone else (not ugly) noteworthy.  Aside from the clump of wrinkly people, they kept their distance but they gawked at us like we were space aliens.  I felt a little good about that until I heard them whispering about how they were glad we weren’t part of their group because it would be impossible to find enough food for anyone so large.  Rude.

They said they were heading for a place nearby called Bosstown that would take them in since there was no reason to continue on to Scrapbridge and there was no way for them to get home.  Home they said was a place called Antolpe.  They run a yearly caravan from there that was supposed to be protected by the Roadrunners.  And it sounds like the Roadrunners were doing a bang up job of it until this year.  They were pretty bitter about that.  I suppose that’s fair.  From what I saw, there were several hundred of them yesterday and the group before us wasn’t even fifty.    

I asked them what they were hauling in their giant truck/train and what they trade it for.  They said they bring in ore which makes sense, and some kind of dried foodstuff that I didn’t quite get, and then they said that they also brought glowbugs (fireflies?) and hormones.  Hormones?  What the fuck does that mean?  Before I could decide if I wanted to know, they started talking about this Scrapbridge place like it was New York City – they had anything and everything you’d ever want!  Just for laughs I asked them if Scrapbridge had a theater district and one of them nodded their head so vigorously I thought they were going to topple over.  S/he was talking so fast it was hard to be sure, but I’m almost certain they were describing a play they saw there last year.  Better get in touch with my agent. 

At that point I did something very stupid.  I offered them some of our food.  Martialla shot me a mean look, but eight seconds later she was right there with me handing out ceramic “tins” of food sludge just like me.  She’s practical but she’s not made of stone.  As our stash of food dwindled more and more, we both kept looking at each other like “we should stop now right?” but it’s hard when people keep coming up with their hands out.  We had given away half our food before we lied and said that it was all gone.  It felt shitty, but what’s the point of us having no food so these people can all have a third of a meal?  This is the kind of fuckery we have to deal with now.  Honestly we shouldn’t have given them anything because it’s going to hurt us way more than it did anything to help them. But once you cross that moral threshold, what kind of person are you anymore? 

It’s a bad scene man.

They did ask us if we could escort them to Bosstown.  Not sure what good one car and two guns is going to do them if the Invincible come back, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.  I asked them what Bosstown was like and they didn’t really answer us.  I’m pretty sure it’s not a great place, even by apocalypse standards, but they don’t have any other options.  I assume there’s going to be a boss of some kind that runs the town and I have a suspicion that he’s going to be a real asshole.  Although if these people are expecting to find shelter there, it can’t be all bad?  I almost said succor instead of shelter but that’s a dumb word. 

Even though it was early morning they all crowded around J-Lo like kittens around a momma cat and went to sleep.  I guess we’re staying here for the day.  We kind of wanted to get away from the press, but there was no way we were leaving our car and supplies alone so we just sat there listening to the snores of the horse people and their friends.  Since there’s no radio, I started singing “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” for Martialla’s pleasure. 

She put her fingers to the bridge of her nose “Could you not please?  I have such a headache right now.”

I shrugged “Your loss.  You know what I’m thinking?”

“Something self-absorbed and narcissistic?”

“Don’t those mean the same thing?”

“That we just gave away half our supplies and we’re probably not going to stumble across a tanker truck of fuel again?”

“No, I was thinking about that scene in Jaws where Quint says ‘we’re going need a bigger boat’.”

“That was Chief Brody, not Quint.”

“Whatever, I was thinking when they rebuild the world and they make a movie about us the scene where we come out of the cryopods and fight off the mutant hordes, the Ela character should look around at the devastated land and say something like ‘you’re going to need a bigger apocalypse to take me out!’”

After a moment she grunted “That’s not a bad line actually.”