Will felt someone pulling open his left eyelid in the early morning darkness. Sure enough, it was his four year old Allison.
"Anybody in there?" she asked.
Will tickled Allison and sat up. The old windup clock said it was already four thirty which meant he was late.
Getting out of bed, Will dressed in one of his two remaining pair of jeans, a shirt (one of four longsleeves left), and his only pair of workboots.
He cut through the kitchen and kissed Tiff, his wife of the past seven years on the top of her head, hooked a drop biscuit off the counter, put on his coat and hat and went into the October morning chill to get on his chores.
In the barn, a single lamp was lit and DeShawn was already at work on the milking. After a quick "'Lo" to DeShawn, Will started milking Clari on the far end of the barn. The two would milk to the middle of the small herd of seven Jerseys, store the milk and slop some in the nearest hog pen.
DeShawn lived in another farm house the other side of the barn. Their partner in crime, Ralphie Six, lived in another ancient house five hundred yards to the north. The three worked the surrounding land as well as keeping their cows, hogs, chickens and fruit orchards.
This past spring marked seventeen years since the flu spread through their world. Will and Tiff had been found by Jack, Ernesto and some of the others while they were still children. Jack, the late Jack Gershom, relocated all he found to the area surrounding Whiteright, Honeygrove and Bonham (maybe other places from the stories) where they lived to this day.
Will, DeShawn and Ralphie farmed and had the line on peaches, pears, Mexican plums, some grapes (and alcohol products derived from each), a little tobacco and of course their corn, wheat and hog harvest.
Other groups had their lines as well. The smithy and welder over in Savoy. The cattlemen in Ector and Dodd City. And of course the Fletcher's fuelworks outside of Paris. There was that group in Sherman who did little other than scavenge what little was left, garden some and eat anything. Fortunately there was not enough of them to be a burden or a besore as Jack used to say.
Will and Tiffy had four kids with a fifth on the way. Be fruitful and multiply they were told so they did. All three men had families; DeShawn and Whitney had five kids out of the chute, while Ralph and Maddy only had three kids before Mary Katherine told them to take a break.
After the milking, Will returned for his second breakfast with the kids. Biscuits, fruit, wheat cereal, milk, eggs and some yoghurt. They packed it in while his oldest boy, Pete, made plans for the day. He was going to travel to Mars, drive a Buick to Las Vegas and then deal with the pirates in the cow pasture. Allison and her twin brother, Watson, could help, but it was best if they left the dirty work to him.
Watson sat at the table with his old oven mitt next to him. He called it a baseball glove and had a crudely drawn circle representing a ball on one side.
"I'm gonna hold my glove out and the ball will come inside it" he would say.
Will was pretty sure he had at least two baseball gloves when he was little. He played baseball on a team and they won a trophy he seemed to remember. That was a long time ago.