Amy says she needs to confer with her inner circle, and asks Samson and Gremlin to wait outside. Dr. Kumar will accompany them. Amy asks about George, and Gremlin says that the last he heard, Troy was watching over them on the bus. Dr. Kumar suggests they could check on them after everything’s settled. She asks if the bus has been cleaned, and Gremlin’s not sure, but promises to check on it first and clean it up if necessary. It’s clear that Dr. Kumar is holding off eating until it’s absolutely necessary.
The air is completely dry; the dust storm has obliterated all traces of moisture. Some of the girls are working to put up pieces of wood to cover the floor-to-ceiling windows that were blown out years ago. Samson can see some of the girls wearing black cloth over their rainbow armbands. He’s not wearing his, but he’s been fiddling with it, and is aware that it’s the only reason he’s still alive.
After a while, Amy comes back out, and lays out her terms. Samson is banished, and cannot return until he has completed his penance, which is to replace the life he took. Gremlin and the rest will be welcome back as allies, but they can’t bring him in until he sends them someone, wearing the armband. Samson and Gremlin agree that this is more than fair. She wants them gone by sundown, otherwise she’ll have to banish them as well. They say their goodbyes.
Troy has completely cleaned up the bus, measured the blown-out window, and is fiddling with his robot when Gremlin, Samson, and Dr. Kumar arrive.
When Samson gets on the bus, he stashes the armband in one of the child skulls in his pack. He goes in the back to check on George, who is sitting up so they can see out the window. They are covered with a blanket up to their neck. Samson fills them in on what happened at the trial, and the task he’s been set by Amy. He tells them about the armband, and asks about knitting. They tell him they can’t move, and they’re really scared. They tell him a about FDR, one of the emperors from the Day Before, who couldn’t walk, but was a great leader nonetheless.
Once Gremlin sees the bus is clean, he brings Dr. Kumar on board. She goes to check on George, while Gremlin and Samson head to the front to talk to Troy.
Troy turns on his robot, the one good eye moves, and it begins to speak. It reports that it’s name is Specialist John-239, followed by a serial number. It then starts speaking in a number of foreign languages, apparently repeating the same information, because the name John is repeated.
Samson retrieves his hammer and eyes the robot suspiciously. Troy asks him not to brandish a weapon around him, and Samson says he’s doing the same thing.
Maude gets on the radio, and Gremlin greets her and tells her to meet them at the bus.
There’s a tense moment when Samson and Troy stare each other down. Gremlin breaks the tension by suggesting they head outside. Maude shows up as they do so. George asks where everyone’s going. Gremlin says that they need to step outside for a bit. George asks Samson to come back afterward and talk to them.
Gremlin and Samson bring Troy and Maude up to speed on the events of the trial, and the result. Gremlin says that one way or another, they’re out of there by nightfall, preferably before.
Troy says he saw some large pieces of glass in the warehouse by the marina; he’d have to cut it down and shape it, but it should suffice for a replacement for the window.
Dr. Kumar reports that George has successfully fought off the infection, but appears to be paralyzed. There’s no way of telling if it’s permanent.
Troy asks her if there’s anything they might need from Pensacola. Dr. Kumar says that Amy has requested their presence be kept quiet.
Gremlin mentions their intention to scavenge some glass from the warehouse by the marina, and Dr. Kumar will run it up through channels, but says it should be alright. They wait by the van while the guard on the bus goes to confer with Amy.
They get the okay, and Gremlin, Maude, and Troy pile into the van. Samson stays on the bus with George. Before she leaves, Dr. Kumar asks Samson if he could provide a semen sample. He considers it, and in return he asks for colored thread, so he can make more armbands. He says that Amy might consider one life to be sufficient to replace the one he took, but he doesn’t, and it’s his intention to send anyone who is in need of somewhere to belong, and is inclined to join up with Amy. It wasn’t specified, but Samson is assuming that they’d prefer he recruit only women.
Dr. Kumar has another request for Samson: to procure a sample of George’s hair. He says he will consider it.
Maude is driving the van, leaving Gremlin and Troy to talk about what happened on the bus. Troy says he doesn’t trust Samson, and Maude agrees. Gremlin agrees to keep Samson on a leash. Troy makes a comparison with Greaser’s morale situation earlier, better to nip it in the bud early on.
Maude points out the ruins of a church, and comments on the fact that she keeps seeing them. Gremlin says that there was one back home, but his parents didn’t have much use for religion.
They get to the marina, and the air gets a little easier to breathe. Troy leads them to the warehouse. They find a stack of glass panes quickly, but the problem is that it’s high up on a shelf, the panes are huge, and at some point something built a large nest next to them. Maude says it’s alligators. Everyone wonders how they got all the way up there. Each shelf has about 15 feet of clearance to the next one up. In the Day Before, a mobile lift was used to access the upper levels, but it appears to have gone missing.
Troy examine the shelves, and discovers at the far end of the warehouse, another set of shelves has collapsed, forming a ramp up to the second level. However, just at that moment, three very aggressive nutria burst from the wreckage and advance on Troy. He hits them with the whammy, and makes it known that he wants them to back off. Two of them do in fact shrink back into the holes they sprang out of, but the third launches itself shrieking at him, and knocks him over. Gremlin ad Maude hear the noise, and come running.
Samson gets back on the bus, and at George’s request, carries their trunk to the back. They talk about art, and wolves, and the people that Samson came from. George asks if his people ate their own when they died, and Samson says they would eat the heart, as they believed that was where a hunter’s power was centered. George asks Samson to make sure they don’t get excluded every time there’s a discussion. They say they realize they’re the only passenger in the crew, but it’s starting to get old.
George says they turned 18 the day before they met Gremlin in Tallahassee.
Samson says that the reason he asked George to teach him to knit was because of his intentions on how to fulfill his penance.
Samson tells George that the reason Leon kept him alive when the rest of his people were killed is because he is fertile. He tells them about Dr. Kumar’s offer, and asks their permission for one of their hairs. When it becomes clear that Samson doesn’t know what Kumar intends to do with it, George tells him she wants to run tests on it to find out more about them, something they’d rather didn’t happen. George suggests they both decide to keep their bodies to themselves, and Samson says he’s not used to having the option. George says that “No” is always an option.
Maude and Gremlin arrive on the scene in time to see Troy blast the nutria with his shotgun. Maude takes aim with her assault rifle and shoots one of the others in the debris. They retrieve the corpses to butcher later and begin to climb up to the shelf.
Once Gremlin gets up to the upper level, he takes a second to look around. In amongst the rotting pallets and strewn bones, he can see the trail of an alligator. He points it out, and Maude points past the stack of glass panes, to a large pile of cleets that were once upon a time destined to be bolted to a pier somewhere, and indicates that the alligator is perched inside the pile.
Gremlin and Troy quietly discuss how to retrieve the glass. Troy says if they can find a tarp or piece of canvas, they can drag a pane back down the ramp relatively quietly.
Gremlin starts to climb back down to grab a tarp, and something catches his eye. He gets a little closer and finds what seems to be the lift that was missing. He gets Troy’s attention and shows him. Troy peers at it, and it seems to be intact, other than the fact that it’s lying on its side under a pile of wrecked metal shelves.
They set about dismantling the ramp. It’s noisy, which sets a large group of smaller wildlife fleeing to all corners of the building, but they don’t seem to be attracting any unwanted attention. All told it takes about 20 minutes, but they manage to clear away the wreckage of the shelving and free the device. It resembles a giant version of the ladders on wheels one used to be able to find in libraries.
It takes all three of them to get turned upright again. Troy realizes the cables hanging loose from the roof were used to power it. He knows that it’s not likely the power for the building is on, so their best bet is to find some independent power source and jury rig it up. They go scavenging and come up with two perfectly intact nautical batteries. Troy works on hooking up one of them to the lift, but knows it will almost certainly burn out after a few short minutes. If all goes well, the other one can be used for barter.
Troy starts up the lift, and Gremlin and Maude ride it up to the second shelf. They very quietly approach the panes, and attempt to slide one off the stack, but it’s no good with both of them on the same end, so Maude goes around to the far end that’s closer to the gator, and they are able to slide it over to the edge of the shelf. At that moment, they can hear the low rumble of the gator growling. They carefully maneuver the pane into the clamps, and Troy lowers the lift back down. By the time they get down to the ground, the growling has stopped, but the battery is leaking and the engine is ready to give out.
They carefully carry the pane outside and strap it to the top of the van, retrieve the spare battery and the two nutria corpses, and head back to camp.
They get back to the bus to see Samson hanging around on his own outside, no longer under guard. George is still inside. Gremlin boards the bus, and asks George how they’re doing. They confide that they’ve had to pee for a while now, and they’re trying to figure out how to deal with it. Gremlin says that sooner or later they’re going to have to trust someone. George snaps at him at first, but Gremlin doesn’t rise to it. He says that whatever they need him to do, he’s ready to do it. George asks him to carry them outside and hold them up so they can urinate. Gremlin promises to keep his eyes closed the entire time. True to his word, Gremlin manages to get George’s trousers undone and hold them up by the armpits until they say they’re finished, and then get them dressed again, all while keeping his eyes firmly shut. He tells them that they’re still going to have to find a better solution sooner or later, because eyes closed or not, he’s not wiping their ass.
At Samson’s request, Troy brings the empty test tube and sample bottle back to Dr. Kumar, and she understands Samson’s answer, even if Troy doesn’t. She bids him good luck, and hopes that Gremlin finds what he’s looking for. He says he likes how she talks. She tells him about Cambridge, where she went to school in the Day Before. He gives her a heads up about the alligator nest in the warehouse.# ontheroad