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The Melting, Book 2 – The Progression
Excerpt 5 – Book 2
Briana shivered as she hurried toward the kitchen. The temperature had fallen drastically and snow was spitting outside. The generators that were still working couldn’t handle the HVAC units for the buildings. More were being scouted as a top priority but in the meantime heat was a luxury.
The children had been moved to the kitchen. Between the stoves and the dishwashers some heat was generated. She knew that more people would opt to sleep there tonight regardless of the uncomfortable conditions.
None of them would take any responsibility for the hardship. That was a given. She shoved her hands back into her pockets. The gloves would help but she had to work too. At least a knit cap covered her dark hair. The gray was showing with no expensive treatments to keep it hidden, but she wasn’t alone there. She’d managed to keep her figure, but now regretted all those treats she had passed up. Having a little more meat on her bones would have come in handy to stay warm. The jogging and minor workouts in the gym were nothing compared to the kind of work she did now.
She’d taken the paper she’d found in the shorthand book back to the room she and John shared and they’d checked out the information Meg had hidden. John had moaned when he’d read the skills of the people that had left. This was a different list than the one Gary had finally located in the desk.
Gary’s list had everyone’s name, age, previous position and family affiliation. The one she found had the skills in detail. They had lost a dentist, a firefighter, and a seamstress not to mention both head cooks. They’d lost a lot of their organizational skills as well. Gary had gotten the work lists back up with help from Briana and Sarah, but the people handling the work now needed more supervision.
Briana looked at the corridor floor. It hadn’t been swept in some time. These weren’t dust bunnies in the hall, more like dust grizzly bears but there was actual litter as well. She knew for a fact that job was on the work list, but no one cared. Gary couldn’t be everywhere and no one listened to Sarah or her.
No one had cared enough about the staff that had welcomed them to learn anything about them. Or to realize their value.
Briana entered the dining room to see that it was already crowded. It smelled of a past burnt meal or two, unwashed bodies and clothes and now accidents by the children. More than one of the children had reverted with the trauma that was their reality now. Those children were in the back, in an area created for them nearer the stoves. They still looked cold and miserable.
People had begun skipping what little bathing they could do in order to avoid undressing. The temperature in the corridors couldn’t be much above fifty during the day. Thank goodness it was too cold for fleas. Would lice be next? That was a cheerful thought.
She could ask Gary to set up an area in the very back of the kitchen with some kind of privacy screen so that everyone could at least take a sink bath, wash their hair. There was more than one person in here who needed it badly. But would he listen? There would be warm water and she thought there was a drain in the floor back there.
Laundry duty had become a daily chore and with the cold, the duty was more appreciated. It was one of the warmer areas with the machines going.
If they couldn’t at least keep clean, sickness was going to be next. They did have doctors here and medicines for a while.
If they had been able to keep the people that had escaped . . .
Briana headed toward the children’s area. All of the children needed an extra cuddle these days. The yelp startled her and she saw flames take hold of the grease left from a past meal on the stove. “Get the children out!” She hissed toward the nearest woman and raced for the fire extinguisher. None of the people lounging in the area were military. That schism was growing as well, so no one reacted to the emergency.