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At the End of the World: Chapter Eighteen

       Last updated: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 11:35 EDT



August 18

    Haven’t heard any more transmissions. Wouldn’t mind much if we had: too tired to care.

    For the past four days, we’ve been working like dogs. Most of it has been readying more sheets of punctured steel siding and roofing. There’s also been a lot of dragging old struts and pipes and even light girders into the plant, all to hold up the I-beam support that braces the big doorway which opens out to the pier. It’s gonna have to hold a lot of weight.

    We’ve also been building a pair of platforms, one on either side of the I-beam so that they flank the access lane that runs right out onto to the pier. We’re building these platforms like they are stools: solid and able to hold up a lot of weight at their center — unless you pull away one of their legs. Which seems to be the plan.

    Meanwhile, poor Johnnie’s been out on the shallows in the Voyager‘s dinghy, lashed to either one of two sets of pilings about forty yards out along the pier. He’s been whacking away at them almost all day long, every day, with the biggest of the whale boning axes. He’s got them whittled down so much that I wouldn’t stand on that stretch of the pier on a bet.



    Silent Steve and I had hard days of a different kind: hiking with the captain. Although he gets winded sometimes — more and more, it seems — he can set a pretty exhausting pace for a while. He led us through two lowland valleys to the hunter’s shelters he’d asked about at KEP. Damned if he didn’t have more stashes there. Apparently he’d had some war souvenirs that some of the hunters had been so crazy about that they’d traded away some of their own stuff to get them. So in addition to what we expected to find in each shed — a portable camp-stove, a lot of wood-pellet fuel, blanket, oil lamp, some canned and dry goods — in one of them, he lifted up the floorboards to reveal a .308 bolt-action with a scope. At the other, it was a .44 revolver. The rifle had plenty of ammunition; the pistol not so much. It was a gun for putting wounded animals out of their misery, apparently.

    With all the caches pulled in, the captain has become a little more generous with the vitamins and other “fortified foods.” Damned if I don’t have more energy, feel more alert, wake up more quickly.

    But it seems to be having the opposite effect on the captain. He’s okay in the middle of the day, but mornings seem to be a little harder for him now, and he racks out a little earlier every night. I never really thought about it, but despite his being as tough as shoe leather, he’s just not that young anymore. Best I can figure, he’s almost sixty.

    I’d write more, but there really isn’t anything more to write about. I spend a lot of time looking at Chloe; she spends a lot of time looking at me. We don’t say anything. But Willow spends a lot of time looking back and forth between us and smiling like she was just given a puppy for her fourth birthday.

    God, is that annoying. Almost as annoying as knowing that tomorrow, we’re going to get up and work ourselves until we’re falling down tired.


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