Day Zero – Chapter 3 – 04

            “Shit,” Davon mumbled, straightening from his examination of the rear corner of the building.  Matt grimaced, knowing Davon’s pronouncement could mean nothing good.
            “Not stable, is it?”
            “Not by a long shot.  These quakes keep coming, it’s not going to stand,” Davon scratched the back of his head and peered upward.  “ ‘fraid it’s going to be the same story across the board.  They didn’t build these things with earthquakes in mind, just the standard Midwest crap.”
            “We kind of suspected that,” Matt said, glancing toward Jack, who looked unhappy at the prospect of living outdoors at least for the time being.  “Better hurry and get anything personal or terribly useful on out, right?”
            “Remind me why we’re not hiking out to find someplace with buildings we can use?”  Jack mumbled as the three used Marin’s keys to enter the dormitory.  He let Davon enter first, trailing him a few steps behind with Matt bringing up the rear.
            Matt shook his head.  “Here we have the high ground, know the lay of the land and even if the buildings are going to come down, they still have resources we’ll be able to snag from the wreckage.  Ravine gives us a natural wall on a couple sides.”
            “Sounds like you’re thinking some kind of end-of-the-world Mad Max shit,” Jack muttered, then paused, looking at Matt and Davon.  “…oh, shit, don’t tell me that.”
            “You seen the National Guard yet?”  Matt grimaced.  “Heard any sirens?  Seen anything in the sky other than those damn meteorites coming down?  One way or another, we’re on our own for a while.  City’s a mess, from what Marin hiked through.  We’ll gather up what we can, sit tight, and see what happens.  Work on surviving for the long haul in the meantime.  Just in case.”
            “Fuck,” Jack mumbled under his breath, keys jangling in his hand as they moved into the dorm’s hallways, unlocking doors.  Windows on the back side of the building were blown out, offering a grand view of the trees clinging to the walls of the ravine behind the dorm.  The plaster on the interior was cracking, showing more damage on the interior than the exterior was showing yet.  Davon grimaced.
            “Not good at all,” he grumbled.
            “Sounds like the last three buildings, Davon,” Matt said as he ducked into the first room.  Nothing but bare furniture.
            “I know, I know,” he said as he joined the other two in checking rooms.  “There’s no way we’re staying in any buildings.  Not tonight, anyway.  None of the ones we’ve found are safe.”
            “What’re we going to do, then?”  Jack asked, coming out of one of the rooms with a few pillows in one hand.  “Those tarps they’re pulling from underneath Michigan or wherever aren’t going to give us much of a shelter, are they?”
            “No, but I know where to find something that might.”
            What about those big blue and white monstrosities they trot out for tailgaters and Greek rush and the renaissance festival every year?  Matt glanced at Davon.  “The blue and white tents?”
            “Yeah.  I know where they are.  It’ll be rough hauling them out here without a truck or something, but I think I can swing it.”  Davon scratched the back of his neck and looked up and down the hallway.  “I’m going to go back and round up a few people to help me move those.  You guys can handle hauling stuff down and out of buildings we’ve already checked, right?”
            Matt nodded, glancing at Jack, who nodded as well.
            “We’ll round up some of the other staffers,” Jack said.  “Haul some more furniture and crap down from Robinson and Copeland.”
            “It’s not a bad idea, Jack.”
            He sighed.  “I know.  I just wish that you two had something reassuring to say about all this shit.”
            Davon shook his head.  “We could be dead.  If we try to sleep in these buildings, that’s probably how we’ll end up.  Maybe not tonight and maybe not tomorrow night, but a few days or weeks down the line, these things are going to come down.  Either way, probably before the cavalry arrives.  Going to have to work fast to salvage stuff before they come down.”
            “And after they come down?”  Jack asked, brow creasing.  “What then?”
            Matt shook his head.  “Then we salvage what we can from the rubble.”  Could use the brick and crap to start building new shelters, smaller ones, timber frames with the brick and cinderblock and concrete to supplement.  An idea, anyway.  Might be more stable in a quake than these monstrositites.
            “Long haul, right?”
            “Exactly.”  Matt blew out a breath.  “Come on.  Let’s get this stuff out and we’ll go grab your staffers and get to work.”
            Jack grimaced but nodded.  He glanced toward Davon as they emerged into the open air, air that smelled vaguely of smoke, brimstone, and death.  “There should be some staffers that can help you with those tents.”
            Davon nodded.  “Was hoping you’d say that.  I’ll round up a few and leave the rest to you.”  He squinted up toward the sky.  “I’m thinking the lower to the ground we are, the better.  What about you two?”
            They both followed his gaze to the sky, darkening in the west with some kind of storm building out over the lake, a couple dozen miles away.  Matt grimaced.  “Better be quick with those tents, Davon.  Better run.”
            “Something tells me you’re right.  How far out do you think that is?”
            Matt winced as the ground bucked again beneath his feet, then settled.  “Don’t know.  We won’t have more than another couple hours, though.  Three, tops.”
            Davon clapped him on the shoulder and set off at a jog toward the cluster of furniture and people that represented the surviving community.  Matt watched him go for a moment before looking at Jack.
            “C’mon.  Let’s get back to work.”


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