Esel and Charl had returned to his level of the bunker and packed up as many of his possessions as they could carry. Esel had asked if there were any trolleys or sleds they might be able to use but there wasn’t anything that they could get up the stairs to the carpark, so they only took what they could carry themselves. When they reached the top carpark level, strewn with debris but light enough that they didn't need torches, she said, "Perhaps tomorrow we can find the makings of a sled? If we do, then we can get a lot more of your gear out of there."
Charl asked, "Why is that important to you?"
Esel took a quick look around to make sure that they were still alone. "I figure that everything on your level belongs to you. I mean it's been yours and your family's for five generations. You made stuff, repaired it, used it. Bred the plants, all that sort of thing. It’s possible that the people down below, assuming they're still there, might try to claim that they own everything in the complex. If they do, then it will be easier for you if your things aren't there anymore." She gave him a sunny smile. "I like things to be fair."
He thought for a moment. "Okay. That sounds reasonable. So, how far is a kilometre?"
"You'll find out," she promised him. "It's a distance, but an achievable one. Plus we can stop and rest if it's more than you can do in one hit just yet. I passed what looked like a good camping spot on my way up here this morning, and that should be a little outside the one-kilometre zone."
"Camping?" He sounded dubious. "I know what that is, theoretically, but I've been spending every night in my own bed. Aren't there supposed to be tents and things?"
"Tents are shelter, and yes, they would be a good thing. I have a tent that will sleep two if we need it, but we need to rig up a shelter for your things too - it would be better if they didn't get wet."
Charl only needed two stops to rest before they got to the site that Esel had picked out for their camp. He'd also told the truth when he said he had no idea about camping but he was good at taking directions and with Esel's supplies, plus what they'd pulled out of the bunker, the two of them were able to put together an extended shelter for both of them and their equipment. Esel's tent was the wind and weather break on one end and a rigged canopy sloped over the rest of it. Charl's bed was set up between the tent and the small stack of his possessions with the cloth Esel used for water filtering hanging from the canopy at one end of the bed to give him the semblance of three walls.
The radio was in the tent with Esel's swag and she didn't invite Charl in to hear her conversation with her headquarters. When she emerged from the tent half an hour after going in, she told him, "It will be the day after tomorrow before more of my people get here. They'll have transport and won't be walking in, but they have to get the people they need together first." She paused to give Charl a chance to comment or ask questions, but he just nodded. "The first ones to arrive will be the health team. Their job is to make sure the we don't give you anything that'll kill you and vice versa. You might have something that the rest of us are vulnerable to but we're more likely to something that'll hurt you. I'm afraid there will be a lot of vaccinations for you once they get here."
"You can make vaccinations?" Charl was astonished. "I've heard of them, but we couldn't make them, and we were taught that if anyone survived outside the bunker then they would be barbarians who'd lost all technology."
"Lots of people who predict the future get it wrong," commented Esel. "Also you make a vaccine, and use that to vaccinate someone. One of the medical people coming the day after tomorrow will spend half an hour explaining that if they get a chance. That may be your thing, but if you'd rather avoid a half hour talk on grammar, consider yourself warned."
"I will," agreed Charl.
Esel did the cooking because Charl had no idea how to handle a campfire, and he hadn't heard of half the things in her food supply. As they ate their evening meal, they made plans to go back to the bunker the next day and fetch more of the contents from Charl's floor. Esel also filled him in on the nocturnal wildlife they were likely to see. "Mainly birds and bats," she told him cheerfully. "Those spikes I out in the ground around the camp will keep the land animals away. Wild dogs or cows might come up to the approach perimeter. Them or goats and alpacas. The non-ferals aren't that curious about us, so we shouldn't see any of those. We will both need to apply the insect repellent though - otherwise the mosquitoes will eat us alive."
"I have met mosquitoes," said Charl gravely, "and I do not like them. After leeches, they are my least favourite thing about coming out of the bunker."
"I don't think anyone likes mosquitoes," replied Esel, "but I know a couple of people who find leeches useful - for bruises they say. The things I really don't like are sand-flies." She explained why and then went on to tell him how to identify the ants with painful bites before they bit him.
"I'm not going to remember all of this," Charl admitted.
"Don't worry," Esel reassured him. "No-one learns all of this at once. If you remember a few things, then you will have started learning."
"If you say so." He sounded as if he wasn't completely convinced of that. "Why are these ants so big? Are they mutants or something? I always thought that ants were two or three millimetres long."
"No mutants. They've always been that big." Esel shook her head as she spoke. "There are ants the size you're expecting, and some of them do bite but not like these things. There are smaller ants too, and if your ancestors didn't think to mention spiders, there are some the size of the palm of your hand that are harmless to humans." She paused and added, "The venomous ones are smaller than that."
He looked at her and asked, "Do your ground spikes keep these venomous spiders out too?"
She smiled at him and confessed, "I don't know. I haven't had a problem with them up until now, but I did make sure we're not camping on top of any of their holes."
"Perhaps you should tell me what these holes look like." He looked at the ground nervously. "I might have been happier not knowing about those."
They survived the night, and any potential spiders in the vicinity, and so were able to spend the next day ferrying more of Charl's equipment and personal possessions out of the bunker. The stairs out were the major limit on how much they could move at once, so they made multiple trips up and down the staircase to build a stockpile of goods outside the carpark which they then loaded onto an improvised wheeled sled to move everything back to their campsite. They made three of the longer trips during the day, and by the time darkness fell, Charl had a considerable stash of tools, materials and personal possessions under the canopy.
Both of them slept well that night.
The health team arrived before the dew had dried on the grass, driving a truck that had bounced them up the remains of the old roadway in less time than they had expected. Five of them began setting up their workstation around the vehicle with practiced ease, while the sixth came over to greet Esel and Charl. He was wearing a bright green overtunic with matching gloves and a face mask. It helped that Esel had met him before, and part of her job now was to reassure Charl that bad things weren't about to be done to him. She used a chirpy, familiar greeting, "Hi, Dazza. Met any new diseases?" In an aside to Charl she added, "This Dr Darryl Cork. He's with our Infectious Diseases Control people. Through my maternal grandmother we're second cousins twice removed, fourth cousins once removed, and third cousins." Then, "Dazza, this is Charl. He came out of his family's bunker looking for help when the last of his kinsmen died."
"I'm sorry for your loss, Charl," replied Dazza formally. "I'd be happy for you to call me doctor, or Dazza."
Charl looked confused as he replied, "Thank you, but I'm confused. Esel said your name is Darrylcork, but she calls you Dazza and that's what you want me to use?"
"Cork is my family's name," replied Dazza easily. "Darryl is my formal given name, but we have a lot of Darryls and Darrens in my extended family, so most of us go by nicknames, abbreviations or other use names. Mine is Dazza."
"Ah," Charl nodded in understanding. Then, "There must be a lot of you?"
"There are," Dazza agreed. "Now, the primary reasons my team and I came here is to test you two to see if you and Esel have infected each other with anything of concern, and to vaccinate you for everything we can before you can be exposed to the full range of our endemic diseases."
Charl asked cautiously, "What does that involve?"
"Today? Four injections and two oral doses," replied Dazza cheerfully. "And while I have Esel in front of me, she can get her tetanus and haemorrhagic boosters, as well as this year's influenza shot."
"I haven't done this before," confessed Charl. "What's involved in a shot?"
"Why don't I start with Esel's tetanus booster?" suggested Dazza. "That way you can see for yourself."
"I'll just roll my sleeves up," interjected Esel resignedly. "The sooner we get started the sooner it'll be done."
"That's the spirit," applauded Dazza. "I'll be back with the vaccination supplies in a second."
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