Tuesday, 9 June 2009 - 6:31 pm

Concealed weapon

I had forgotten about Dad’s rifle until a couple of days ago. I can’t remember what made me think of it, but all of a sudden there it was, pinging at the forefront of my brain. And here we were, within yards of it.

I haven’t seen it in years. Dad used to go shooting with a friend of his on alternate weekends; my mother frowned on it, but he kept it at the house anyway. Then someone tried to rob the car yard, broke into the garage to steal parts and tools while Dad and a couple of salespeople were still in the buildings. They turned on the lights and scared off the would-be thieves, and after that, Dad kept the rifle in his office. Just in case they came back. Just in case someone worse came back. I think it made the girls feel safer, knowing it was there.

I’ve been in his office a thousand times and had never seen it. I don’t know if he was licenced to keep it here, but either way, he hid it well. I told Thorpe and Matt about it and they agreed to help me, flashlights at the ready. One thing we all agreed on without breathing a word: the Wolverines must never know about it. No-one wanted a weapon like that in their hands.

So we snuck down to the office late last night after the groups fell quiet, keeping our beams of light down and subtle. We looked in every cupboard we could find, on top of cabinets and underneath the desk. Every long, narrow space that might house a rifle was checked. Nothing.

Maybe Dad had been here. Maybe he had visited and collected it – that would make sense. If he had come here, he wouldn’t have left it behind. But there was no way for me to know if that was what had happened.

I sighed and looked over the room one last time, and the single foil decoration dangling from the ceiling over the desk caught my eye. Its tether was caught in the gap between ceiling tiles and remembered how Dad hadn’t wanted me to put it up there. Matt pointed his light up to where I was looking and gave me a crooked smile.

“You think he hid it up there?”

“It’d be just like him. Who’d look there?”

Thorpe looked at us, then at the ceiling, and stepped onto the desk. He lifted the ceiling tile easily – I would have struggled to reach, just like I did when I put the little foil tree up there. I had nearly tumbled right off the desk. Thorpe had no such problems, reaching into the dark cavity and feeling around. I tried not to think about what else might be lurking in there.

He coughed in the dust and turned to hand down a long, narrow object in a leather case. I took it and lay it on the desk; I didn’t need to open it to know what was inside. The weight was familiar; Dad taught me how to carry it, how to hold it, even how to fire it once. I remember it seeming bigger and more unwieldy than it is now, but I was only a kid at the time. Couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old, just before my mother decided that I should be doing girlier things. Dad was disappointed, but he knew better than to fight her on stuff like that.

Thorpe fumbled around until he had found a couple of boxes of ammo and was satisfied that we had everything hidden up there. Then he slid the ceiling tile back into place, neat as you like, and hopped down.

We all looked at the weapon in its dusty case and the sad-looking boxes. Do we hide it? Yes. I wasn’t even sure I wanted Masterson to know about it. Who gets to carry it? Whoever has a pack big enough to take it. Thorpe is the obvious choice; everyone’s wary of him and his pack is probably the safest. It’s ironic that our best defence requires the most careful protection. Are we ready to do this? Well, we couldn’t stay there all night and we’d be foolish to leave it behind. We had to adapt to the world we were in, and that meant arming ourselves as best we can.

I couldn’t help but think of the Pride, and of Matt’s leg with the healing bullet-hole in it. I wondered if looking at the rifle made the wound itch. I reached for his hand, just in case, and he gave me a surprised look. Whatever he was thinking, it wasn’t the same as what was on my mind. He smiled anyway and slipped an arm around my shoulders.

So it was decided, and we snuck back to our back room with no-one the wiser. Matt and I packed away the ammo while Thorpe took the rifle itself. It seemed sensible that way. Then we all piled in under the blankets to warm ourselves into sleep.


The ice had snuck over the windows and cars again today, creeping in across the floor until midday. We packed the roofracks of the vehicles with the cans of fuel and spare tyres, lashed them down and covered them with tarp. Getting ready for when we can’t put off the departure any more.

Dad didn’t come here in the time After the bomb. I don’t know what to think about that. He went somewhere when he left the house – all I need to do is figure out where. In the meantime, we have his rifle to keep us safe.