With snow blinding me and an icy wind using a scalpel on my face, I thought I’d made a stupid fucking mistake. Lowering my head as far as I could behind the windscreen, I kept on the throttle, hoping that I wasn’t passing the trio or that I’d run ’em over. I should’ve been on them by now. I’d seen them on the cameras at the two hundred yard marker. They were almost stopped then. Since, the snow’d come on proper. No way they’d gotten closer to the house, I was sure.
I wasn’t completely stupid, though. I’d tied a rope to the garage ‘fore I left it and another to the buggy’s rear bumper. Even if I didn’t find the three, I’d been able to get myself back to the house. This had gone past being a rescue thing, acquiring an aura of a personal goal because I was remembering the time I’d failed. I wasn’t failing again. I hadn’t fought to live and survive just to fail helpin’ others. No.
Almost running into the pole I’d planted years before as a marker helped orient me. I’d deviated from a straight line by ’bout forty feet. Turning right, I squinted against the swollen battering flurries and drove into the wind, cursing myself, the weather, the people, my humanity, and my stupidity. Then, like a chance as I was passing ’em, a blue garment flashed at me on my right.
Jesus, I was passing them. Dropping off the gas, I swerved right and swamped the buggy in a snowdrift. Righting it with a combo body-lean, wheel turn, and burst of throttle, I twisted right. The blue loomed up. I aimed right for it. As I did, I saw obscured shadows that had to be the other two.
On their knees, the blue-clad figure was waving their arms at me. Wind tortured hair around an exposed white face. A mouth yawed open below dark, hopeless eyes.
I pulled the buggy in amongst them. Between me and blue, we wrangled the other two onto the buggy’s back. One of them was such dead weight, I was leaning ninety degrees toward the certainty that they’d died. I didn’t wanna drag a dead person home, but since I didn’t know indisputably, my course was set.
With them in the buggy’s shallow bed, and blue on the buggy’s passenger side of the sole bench seat, I grabbed the rope up and hit the gas for home. It was damn slow going, as I had to keep pullin’ the rope in and adjusting my course. My speed had to be kept down lest the buggy’s bumpy ride tossed the three rescuees out.
Dusk was grabbing the land and I was frozen exhausted by the time the rope led me home. Back into the garage, I pulled the door to and closed it up, just about shutting out the cold and the shrieking wind. Blue became livelier then, gushing tearful thanks at me. The other two were in greens, grays, and blacks, pants, sweatshirts, coats, hats, and scarves, anything, I guess, to be warm and protected. Still, it seemed like scarce stuff to be wearing in that shit outside. I wondered where the hell they’d come from, why’d they’d been out there, and why’d they’d been coming my way. With blue’s help, we got the other two out of the garage and into the house.
Gasping, sniffing back snot, wiping her nose, and pushing her dirty blond hair back, blue introduced herself as Lauren. Her friends were Gwen and Shalla. Shalla proved to be the unconscious one that I thought might’ve been dead. All looked like they’d missed soap and food.
“I’m Bill,” I told ’em, not my real name, but part of the wild Bill persona I’d created for myself. Don’t know why I used it instead of my real name but it felt right. The animals had come in to see what was going on, so I thought I’d introduce them, too. “Meet the Beatles. The shy cat hanging back is Ringo, and the darker tabby is George. Their mom is the bigger tabby, Paula. The husky is John.”
“The Beatles,” Gwen said with a wan, teary smile. Dark banks shuttering her face, her head dropped forward. As she fully slumped onto the floor, Lauren did the same, like the heat was melting ’em down after being out in the cold. In seconds they seemed as unconscious as Shalla.
The animals went about sniffing the comatose new arrivals as I gaped, grappling with what I’d need to do. They were the first people I’d seen in three years, the first women I’d seen in almost four. Though I didn’t really enjoy the prospect, I had to get ’em out of those cold, wet clothes, and into the bed by the fire. Once I’d done all that, I’d have to mark my calendar, cause it was an auspicious day, the day that three female survivors met the Beatles.
I just knew it was going to change my world.