A man stood on the porch of an abandoned farmhouse, a rifle slung over one shoulder. He stared hard into the brooding horizon, then turned and stomped downstairs, closed the door, and boarded it up.
He gazed across the cellar at the unconscious woman on the bed. He’d found her by the old highway, in bad shape but alive. He should have just kept walking, but there were four other bodies and an empty gun in her hand. Whoever she was, she hadn’t gone down without a fight.
He respected that.
Besides, something about this girl tugged at his memory like a vague sense of deja vu. Anyone else might have shrugged it off, except that he didn’t have memories; not before he woke up six months ago on a surgeon's table with a bullet hole in his skull, anyway.
He'd been trying to decide what to do with her when he noticed the storm front gathering and a powerful wind kicked up that told him something big was coming.
The cellar seemed like it had been used to wait out the wasteland storms before; he'd found bedrolls and blankets and even a crate with some tinned food and a bottle of whiskey to help pass the time.
The woman lay completely still, her chest barely rising and falling with fragile life. Her hair was matted with blood and her cheeks smeared with dirt, but she was the loveliest thing he had ever seen. He’d patched her up as best as he could with whiskey and cloth, but he was no surgeon.
He tried to convince himself that she was as good as dead anyway. Whoever he had been before had bounty money on his head and she would only slow him down. Reason told him to leave her as soon as the skies cleared and keep moving, but he wasn’t sure he’d ever been a reasonable man.
Trapped in violent dreams, the young woman groaned and without thinking he knelt and placed his hand on her forehead gently. She sighed, oblivious to the deadly tempest raging outside.
He wondered if her lips were as soft as they looked.
Slowly, as if for the very first time, her eyes fluttered open. They were as vibrant and blue as the sky before the bombs fell.
He'd missed that colour the most in this dusty, dead world.
"Jonathon?" She whispered, gazing up at him blearily.
Her soft voice speaking his name rang something clear and true within him, and he knew it belonged to him.
And this woman, had she been his, as well?
"My love," she sighed, her eyelids drifting closed again, the ghost of a smile haunting her lips. "I knew you were alive..."
The man watched her for a long moment, lost in thought, then rose and poured himself a drink.
The storm howled around them.
It was going to be a long night.