station seemed to have been finished, and all the empty fuel cans were gone. As they pulled up, he was happy to see another face he didn’t yet know standing nervously by Penny. He was glad that she was turning out to be a kind of mother hen figure. He had a plan to build a kind of society for as many people as they could find, but he couldn’t do what he wanted to do – go and find those survivors – if he was stuck at base camp organising everything. Penny wasted no time in welcoming the new members. Dan introduced Kev and Jimmy and gave a quick run-down of how he met them, adding under his breath that Kev had an acquired brain injury. “James. Kevin.” She said formally, offering a hand to both in turn. “Pleasure to have you with us” She gently grilled Jimmy about their history and skills, quickly figuring that the addition of two physically capable men was a plus. They went into their new caravan which was being set up by Neil to stow their new gear and take a look around what was now home. She in turn introduced their own recruit. The new person was called Andrew, and was very usefully an accountant. Tall and thin with a permanently worried expression. Dan quickly realised that he didn’t have much of a clue when it came to life without modern comforts, but every extra pair of hands was a godsend to their cause and every surviving human being was a miracle. Penny hadn’t been idle; a healthy stack of supplies was loaded into Neil’s 7.5 tonner and organised well. Andrew had wandered up to them not long after Dan and Neil had left, and after a small induction was put to work emptying the shop. Leah had helped under Penny’s direction, and smiled at Dan when she saw him. God only knows what is going through her head, he thought. He walked away with Neil to the fuel pumps nominally to look over what he’d done, but more to discuss their new recruits. Neil had managed to pump out nearly two hundred litres of diesel – plenty for what they needed in the short term, but he still wanted a fuel tanker if we saw one. “Andrew’s a bit of a wet lettuce, but he seems nice enough” Neil said quietly. “Doesn’t have much of an idea what to do, but Penny’s been working him hard all day!” Dan smiled, “Already we’re in a matriarchal society, and I thought things might be different now…” They both chuckled, and trailed off into silence, thinking of their own matriarchs of last week, no longer with them. A meal on the camp stoves, all seven of them quiet in their own thoughts, made Dan think that cooking for a group any larger would take full-time organising. He made a mental note to rescue a commercial chef at the first opportunity. They turned in; Dan and Neil to their caravan, Penny and Leah to theirs, Jimmy and Kev to one of the new additions to the circus and Andrew on his own. Then there were seven.
NEW WORLD ORDER Breakfast was early, Penny saw to that as she started cooking the eggs and bacon singing what sounded like hymns. One by one the survivors came out into the world. When they were all gathered, Penny cleared her throat and called for everyone’s attention. “Good morning everyone” she paused. Dan wasn’t sure if they were expected to chorus ‘good morning’ back to her. “I have drawn up plans for today, I hope you don’t mind me taking the liberty?” She paused again, scanning the group. On hearing and seeing no exceptions raised she continued with confidence. “Sit, everyone, please” she fussed “Now, our immediate supply issues are well catered for as the contents of this supermarket would sustain us for many months. However, we have further considerations if we intend to spend the coming winter in any form of comfort…” “Daniel here has set us all on a path, to some extent. It’s fair to say that many of us would be wandering without much in the way of purpose had this man not sought to bring us together for a common cause.” Dan realised that