Mark was tired. They had been up the entire night before, running through the night. They had been attacked, right in the evening as everyone was settling down. Tactically, it made sense. Mark had done it before too. Especially after people had just finished eating. They tended to be slower, less prone to actually mounting an effective response when they were trying to digest food. No one had dared attacked them before. Sure, there had been the incident with Michelle, but that had been some coward in the night.
“Someone make sure the kids are in line.” What was otherwise silence was passed down the line. They were short on supplies and terrified. That was the advantage of things like this happening, it helped to ensure that orders were carried out. Mark didn’t relish the power he had, but it was required to make sure that they survived. He had stepped up when things had turned bad, when everything just started falling apart. People followed him as a result.
Every time things got too easy, or at least seemed like they got too easy, they started to question him. Then people got sloppy. This was why they had been able to be jumped. They hadn’t used guns, it had been stealthy. It wasn’t to chase them off. Being loud would’ve encouraged them to leave. Instead, this was trying to kill them. Efforts at their destruction.
It was going to be difficult to survive the coming winter. One of their group had scouted back the location they had been at and had seen that their food had been stolen and there was little worthwhile remaining. He continued to push them North, further away from the city and the tribes that had been there. Too many people in his group were too young, didn’t remember how to take care of Mark was the oldest in their group, nearly forty, and it was bizarre how much had been lost so quickly. They moved so slowly now, movement was almost solely by walking.
Earlier, when they were further South, he had hoped that there was a chance of them getting horses. He wasn’t able to figure out how to organize them or care for them. The only horses that they had been able to catch had been either sickly or hurt. All of them were no longer tame. Mark had difficulty understanding how things had gone wild again so quickly. None of the horses seemed to remember what it had been like to have been tame, but many of them must have been tame when the change had happened. Mark thought he remembered that horses could live up to twenty years and it had only been three. Either way, the horses made for good eating.
His plan, near as he had one, was to continue North of the city and try to find fishing grounds. They would be able to figure out some way to store them, and hopefully gather berries and the like. Without Caitlin and Michelle, there were only thirteen of them. He had frozen recruiting this year because they just weren’t able to secure enough food. They would grow again, in the future. He needed larger numbers. They had to be able to defend themselves, to ensure that they didn’t fall prey to other tribes. People had gone back to tribes quickly, he mused, and he guessed that this was one of his own. He was chief, he guessed, or as near as they had of one. He was going to take care of his people, no matter what it took.