by Kiwi

Part 16

Next day dawned. Again, Jeroboam was awake before Amos stirred but he didn't wake him, he lay quietly, patiently waiting until Amos sat up and smiled at him.

"Good morning, Good Looking."

"Good morning to you. Amos, I'm dying for a leak!"

"A leak? Oh, you want to pee again."

"I need to pee, badly need to. Have you got the bottle?:"

"Yes, right here. Let's do it then."

They took care of things. Amos took the bottle into the bathroom and attended to his own business while he was there. He returned to their room and opened the drapes. Jeroboam craned his neck but couldn't see more than the tops of some buildings, hills and grey sky.

"Is the weather improving?"

"It's a lot better than yesterday. Still cloudy but not raining. Not right now anyway. There's not even much wind out there."

"That's good. Doesn't make much difference to me anyway, but you and Esther can go out if you want to."

"I don't want to. I'm staying here with you, but Esther's going out. She's going looking for a water-heater, a generator and electrical tools and stuff. We might have hot water and power by tonight."

"That'd be good."

"It would, it'd be excellent!"

Esther left quite early on her foraging expedition so the boys were left alone together for most of the day. There were some things that Amos would've liked to go out and look for and he was keen to explore the big empty city. From what he could see from the windows, it was a fascinating place. But he wouldn't go out and leave Jeroboam alone there; that was not going to happen.

He never strayed far from his bedside all day, not even when he was sleeping, which he seemed to do all too much of. He did have to leave him though, in the late afternoon, when Esther returned with a full load of gear. She wanted help to carry it all up from the street.

Jeroboam said that he felt guilty just lying there while the others were working. Esther told him to grin and bear it.

"What are you going to do anyway, you can't even walk down the stairs."

"That's right," said Amos. "Your job is to lie there and get well. Once you've done that, then we'll work you."

"Okay, I know but I still wish I could help."

"You will, one day when you're better."

They didn't get any power connected or water heated that day, it was far too late. However, by the end of the next day , they had both - water heated in a gas califont and jury-rigged electric lights and appliances. They'd even be able to iron their clothes, if they ever ran out of new ones.

The radio and television picked-up no signals at all, of course, but now they could play pre-recorded music, films and other programmes. They'd never be bored now and it was so good to have some background noise to smother the oppressive silence.

Days passed, one by one, and each one brought new discoveries. Jeroboam recovered, slowly but surely; even his leg did. It wasn't broken, it wasn't gangrenous, it was just twisted and spectacularly bruised. The bruises faded, the swelling receded and he got better. They were lucky. Things could've been much worse, especially considering that there were no doctors to turn to.

The time came when he was able to, slowly, walk down the stairs and out into the street. He sat in a wheelchair, Amos pushed him and they went exploring. They didn't go too far though, only through the Civic Center to the waterfront, then they agreed they'd rather be back indoors. It wasn't that nice a day.

Back at the hotel, with rests, Jeroboam walked up three flights of stairs and they moved into the Bridal Suite which had bigger rooms, a better view and, most importantly, a bigger bed. It was a huge bed, the biggest either of them had ever seen, even bigger than their parents' family beds back at home. Esther said that it was a King Size. They'd never seen a king - they must be big men!

The bed was theirs now so Amos had no excuse not to share it with him. He said that he was comfortable enough down on the floor, but Jeroboam didn't like him sleeping down there, it wasn't right. Now he could come up and sleep with him, there was lots of room.

Amos wanted to, but he didn't. He hadn't slept with anyone since his parents turned him out when he was 3 years old. Jeroboam said, "Well neither have I, but now I want to sleep with you."

"We can't do any of that sex stuff, not yet anyway."

"I know that, but one day we will. We can cuddle, can't we?"

"I suppose so - carefully."

"Sounds like you don't want to."

"I do want to, but I don't want to hurt you in my sleep. What if I kick your leg or something?"

"I don't want that either! Trust me, if you do the whole world will hear me screaming! Please share the bed with me."

"Okay, yes please!"

"Good, we'll do that."

They slept together that night and every night from then on. They didn't need all the room in the bed, they only used a small part of it. They started sharing the bath when Jeroboam could bathe. It was better than wasting hot water and, also, it was fun.

It was a bit embarrassing telling Esther they were sharing the bed, but she said, "Hey, if that's what you want, you go for it. You don't need my permission, I'm not your mother. As long as you don't impinge on my space, you do what you like."

She spent time each day just driving around, looking at her city and searching for signs of people, but never found any. Sometimes they went with her, but usually didn't. They were happy staying in the hotel, watching movies. They had hundreds and hundreds to watch, it was a whole new world for them.

The only films they'd ever seen were educational and exhorting ones. Musical comedies were much more enjoyable. They couldn't get enough of those.

There came the day when Esther said it was time for her to go. She'd found a suitable micro-light and even done a couple of test flights. Winter would be coming soon, it would be too bloody cold for flying then. She was anxious to explore before it was too late.

Jeroboam was all-but recovered, he'd soon be as good as new. They didn't need her to nursemaid them now, they could look after themselves and each other.

Before she left a decision had to be made and they agreed that they'd stay there in the Academy Hotel. It was centrally located, new and comfortable. The only change they made was to move up to the penthouse suite on the 12th floor.

They didn't have power to work the lifts, unfortunately, but the stairs worked. There were great views up there, and it was more easily defensible - not that they seen anything to defend themselves from, but Amos still worried. He was good at worrying.

With cables and pulley-wheels, they jacked-up flying foxes down to the rooves of several adjacent buildings. Launching themselves off the roof and flying over the concrete canyon and the far-below street was scary but fun. It was all part of their defences and emergency escape routes. Hopefully, they'd never need them, but it was still to have them, and it was fun.

They went with Esther to the airfield, wished her luck and waved goodbye as she flew away. She didn't know how long she'd be gone, maybe a long time.

It was a bit sad watching her go, but not sad enough to cry about it. They looked at each other, shrugged, grinned and went home.

If there was anyone out there, hopefully, Esther would find them.

Somehow they knew there was a world somewhere that continued without them. Workers worked, farmers farmed, mothers mothered and fathers fathered and all the multiple threads of millions of lives went on, coming together, drawing apart, laying the course of the future and making history.

Somewhere there was a world that didn't die; a world where doctors, physicians and psychologists, pondered the rapid eye movements and the continued brain activity of patients deep in barbiturate-sustained, pathological comas and they speculated on what kind of world they inhabited.

One night, exhausted after a busy day, Amos dreamt of flying in the night on the flying fox. Somehow it no longer needed the cable and insterad of just crossing the street he flew all around, high above the city. Wind was blowing, rain was falling and it was cold. His fingers were numb, his grip slipped and he fell through the air.

The pull of the earth took hold of his spine and his limbs spread over space. There was a fearful moment of falling, spiralling down with the air pressing hard, then it let go. Still falling, but up not down. Falling up???

Light split his eyes open, brilliant, painful, enormous light. Silence pulsed, it expanded and it shrunk. All of the world shrunk into nothingness and back again.

Amos woke alone and stretched. He rolled on to his back, yawned vigorously and flung his arms out wide in the big bed as he stretched and yawned again.

The back of his fingers slapped something and a voice protested, "Oi! Watch who you're smacking, Mister!" He turned and grinned at his mate.


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