[Race for Safe Haven - Only the Essentials]
Various bits of food and equipment were being gathered by the register. Mike was coordinating it all into three piles; car supplies, food and everything else. Steve and Tara were meanwhile carrying all the alcohol they could find into the back office. "Just the essentials, eh?" Rhett asked as Steve walked by. "Mike won't let us take any on the road," Steve responded "So drink them while you got them."
After everything was sorted, Mike and Steve sat in the back office discussing their next plan while standing over a map. Rhett walked in carrying some straps he found. "We have three handguns and Eric's magnum," Mike said as Rhett walked over. "Two more and a shotgun," Rhett reminded him. "So you changed your mind?" he asked, not too thrilled with what he heard. "Yeah," Rhett said "At least to scout ahead to Albany. After that, I'm going to find my friend in Buffalo."
"That's a day or two at the most," Steve said "I think he should stick around for it." Mike slowly nodded. "Absolutely," Tara said, carrying a final case of beer. "Fine, fine," Mike said, surrendering to the idea "Rhett can stay, but just watch where you aim from now on." Rhett frowned. "You make it sound like I have a habit of shooting the living." Mike ignored him as he returned to the map.
"The interstate is probably hopelessly congested," he said as he trailed his finger along the map, showing the road "We're gonna have to stick to back roads."
"Should we hit up Utica for supplies, or try to power through to Albany?" Steve asked.
"I don't want to stop at any more cities if I can help it," Mike said "We almost didn't make it out of this one."
"But what if Albany is gone just like here?" Tara asked.
"How long do you think it'll take us to drive to Albany? We'll be fine." Mike said.
"It took you a week to get here from Harrisburg," Steve reminded him.
"Let's just play it by ear for now," Mike said "We head out tomorrow."
"Is that a good idea?" Steve asked.
"We have a car, we have supplies. What more are we waiting for?" Mike asked.
"We might not have enough gas to make it to Albany, even if we start with a full tank," Steve said "We need to fill all the extra gas cans we can. Also it wouldn't hurt to find a second car."
"You aren't so keen on having me around, yet you forget whose car that is in the garage," Rhett said, earning a look from Mike.
"We can't afford to wait forever," Mike said, crossing his arms.
"One day," Tara said "It won't kill us. I'll give you a chance to find a good car, and some of us could use a day to get our bearings after today."
"Fine," Mike said, realizing no one else shared his view "One day. After that we double time it to Albany." Mike's statement was received with shrugs and nods as he left.
"Is he ever in a good mood?" Rhett asked. "He's just...you know," Steve said. "Being in charge has its pressures," Tara added. Rhett shrugged and reached for a beer.
"Why is he the one in charge?" Rhett asked.
"He knows how to get to Safe Haven," Steve said "He keeps a packet of information on him detailing how to get there, he knows what stuff is needed and when."
"It's complicated," Tara simply said.
"What if something happens to him?" Rhett asked.
"Well he was teaching..." Tara started "Uh, he was teaching Eric what he needed to know, just in case."
"Lovely," Rhett said as he took a swig of beer.
"Matt too," Tara continued "He knows a few things."
"Why doesn't he teach everyone?" Rhett asked.
"Insurance I guess," Tara said "As long as he alone has the knowhow to get there, then it keeps him in charge and keeps us from ditching him."
"Mike's the one who knew about the pickup locations," Steve said "Picked each of us up and accumulated the group along the way. You're just the latest entrant."
"Really?" Rhett said "No one here knew anyone else before?"
"Nah," Steve said "When he found me, it was just him, and Matt. We found Eric not long after, then Tara and Jenny. Next we ran across Sarah, Jason came next, Laura a couple days ago and finally you." Rhett looked to Tara. "You and Jenny knew each other?" he asked. "Nah," Tara said "Not before the apocalypse. We kind of ran into each other and had each other's back until Mike and them showed up."
"That reminds me of this guy I met," Rhett said "The day everything started going to shit, I headed for my local bar, don't ask why. Anyway, there was this guy there, Chris..."