Fall of the Risen – Week 28 – Clark
Word that I was leaving spread around Sisco pretty fast after my argument with Jack. Some people came to me crying, claiming the settlement wouldn’t survive without me. Others shook my hand and patted me on the back, seeing the benefit to being offensive but too frightened to do it themselves. And still, there were people that just walked past me and gave me a look that said I was nuts. The same look they’d been giving me since the day I arrived in Sisco.
With information traveling so fast, it was no shock when most of the settlement showed up to watch us leave. We had just finished moving the funnel aside to let Murray drive our new armored mini-van to the top of the overpass. When we turned back, there was a crowd of people watching us.
I gave a wave, but an unsatisfied murmur ran through the crowd. I stood there, frozen.
“What is it?” I called out.
“Who’s going to lead us?” someone called out.
I sighed. “That’s not up to me to decide. I’m not going to be here.”
“You could at least recommend someone,” the same voice replied.
“I was never even in charge in the first place!”
Dave made his way to the front of the group. “I know I made some big mistakes, but I can work on that. I think everyone would agree that beyond a few hiccups, I ran things pretty well.”
“Hiccups?” I asked. “A hiccup is running out of gas. A hiccup is coming back from a run with Corn Flakes instead of Cheerios. Walling the one guy trying to make a difference, being overthrown by your head of security, and loads of people dying is not a hiccup.”
“Who then?” Dave asked, motioning toward the crowd of people. They were all looking at me, or Dave, with a combination of fear and confusion. Kind of the way cows look at everything.
“Jack would be a good choice,” I said.
A mix of agreement and ney-saying arose from the crowd.
“What did I say about that?” Jack’s voice rose about the din.
The crowd parted and Jack walked to the top of the overpass with a duffel bag on his shoulder.
“Besides,” he said. “How can I lead when I’m going with you?”
He walked to the van and leaned against it with a smirk on his face. The smirk said a lot to someone who could read it.
It said he felt like an ass for how things almost ended with us. It also said he knew I felt like just as much of an ass. And it said that as long as I didn’t bring it up, he wouldn’t either.
I was thrilled to see he was coming with us, but I still had no idea who to tell these people to make their leader, or why I should be the one to do it.
Before I could think about that, Romanda took a few steps up the overpass.
“This is a surprise!” I said with a smile. “But there’s room in the van.”
“Fool, I ain’t coming with you,” Romanda said. “I’m stepping up to let everyone know that before the zombies hit the fan, I was the mayor’s aide in a small city. Had to kill him with his own recognition award when he turned. Anyway, it might not have been New York City, but we still took care of fifty-thousand people, I’m sure I can take care of a few dozen.”
I shrugged. “Anyone opposed to giving Romanda a shot?” I asked.
Dave looked like he was going to object, but thought twice and his mouth stayed shut. The people of Sisco murmured to each other, but no one voiced an objection.
Dave stepped toward Romanda, hands fidgeting at his side. “I know I don’t deserve a shot, but I think if you’d let me, I could be a great asset as your assistant.”
Romanda looked at Dave for a few seconds, then looked at me. I shook my head, “You’re the boss now. Your decision.”
After another pause, she gave a nod and color seemed to bloom back into Dave’s face.
“But there will be no seconds chances. On anything. One screw up, and I’ll put you on recruitment runs.”
Dave nodded a little too rapidly to be natural.
Romanda looked to me and I gave her my most approving nod. “I like your style.”
“I’ll be waiting for you all if you ever decide to come back.”
“We’ll be back,” I said. “Doesn’t matter what we find out there. This place is home.”
Romanda nodded and smiled.
“Can I make one recommendation?” I asked.
I locked eyes with Ferguson in the crowd and motioned for him to join us. He walked quickly and nervously, like a kid called to the front of the classroom. I put my arm around him.
“You’re going to need a new head of security, and I think Ferguson here is the man for the job.”
Ferguson stammered looking from me to Romanda and then to the van.
“You want to go with us, don’t you?” I asked. “Dammit! Why do I suck so much at appointing people? Fine. Get in the damn van. The thing’s getting a little full if you ask me.”
Ferguson stopped just before stepping into the van, a real smile appearing on his face.
And because I’m an asshole, my only reply was a toothy grin and two thumbs up.