61 Chapter Sixty - Into Every Life, Some Rain Must Fall

    With Spring came new life, just as expected in this season.  The trees that had suffered a longer Winter than they were used to burst into blossom, early wildflowers sprouted in the warming soil and the animals that had survived the apocalypse began to mate and give birth to young.  The two female sheep had, at some point, fallen pregnant with offspring and were due soon, and one human baby had given renewed hope to the survivors living in the mansion.

    Jonah names the baby James Lynn Shaw; the child's first name was inherited from his uncle, who passed on a few years before in a car accident and the second name was to give the baby more connection to his mother.  Lynn had the meaning of 'lake'.  Giving him this name was more than symbolic, it was a tie, a bond, something that Brooke hadn't developed with her newborn as yet.

    Autumn was startled from her sleep by the baby's loud cry and rubbing her tired eyes, climbed out of bed to see if the little one's father required any help.  She found the man in the kitchen, gently rocking his tiny son in his arms as he waited for the water to boil upon the stove.  "Hey," she called out, her voice cracking due to some dryness.  "Everything alright?"

    Jonah glanced up with weary, but soft eyes.  He never imagined that one day he'd be a father, that he'd have a child of his own.  He had long put his career before his personal life and when he'd noticed the lack of the latter, he'd felt that it had already been too late for him.  That and he could never have claimed to have been popular with the ladies before the apocalypse.  "Yeah," he replied as the water began to bubble.  Autumn shooed him to one side with a gesture and took over making the baby's formula.  Fortunately, Jonah had picked up several tins of it during their last raid, seeing as Brooke was struggling to breastfeed.  Autumn believed that her cousin was just too overwhelmed with the responsibility the little one brought with him, after all, she'd always been the one being taken care of.  Still, Autumn held hope that Brooke would learn and finally let go of others' hands.

    Unfortunately, into each life, new or old, some rain must fall.  This was the era following the apocalypse.  There was new life, but there was also death and the dead refused to lie still and be buried.  Since the ice had melted and the frosts subsided, the numbers of zombies wandering through the area seeking life in order to replenish their energies had been on the increase.  Although their numbers were small, making them less attractive a food source than other established bases, zombies still followed their scents upon the wind and were drawn to them.  The wall was an obstacle, not a deterrent.

    Now, duties were split between patrolling and maintaining the wall and developing the fields.  The stronger and more able members focused upon the wall, the rest focused on farming, though this was not a hard and fast rule.  For one thing, Eraj happened to be a natural plant killer, even the cactuses he tried to raise at home died at his hand.  So he stuck to household chores or using his twenty-twenty vision to scout beside Cole or Dexter's side.  Autumn split her time between looking after the baby, cooking and coaxing Brooke.

    Have to say that Brooke did not hate her child, nor did she really blame him for the fact her stomach was no longer flat and smooth.  But changing nappies was gross, being peed and puked on was unpleasant and the screaming just got on her nerves.  Her boobs were sore and heavy and nipples were cracked and this whole motherhood thing, she felt, was overrated.  That 'rush of love' experience hadn't happened either.  Still, she thought that she had managed to at least bring an attractive baby into this word, rather than some ugly, wrinkled thing.

    The other thing that occurred in spring was the fact that Nathan had fled back to his cottage and the peace and quiet it provided.  And Ren Zexian had naturally followed him.  As Lucy had chosen to remain to live with Autumn and Monika, the second bedroom was once more filled with green.  Seedlings were abundant, from a new batch of strawberry plants to carrots and parsnips.  From tomatoes and cucumbers to cauliflower and broccoli.  A few pots were slowly growing trees from apple seeds and plum stones, which would take a few years until they would produce fruit.  Plus there were several trays of rice, corn and wheat seedlings ready to be planted into their new respective beds.

    Just as the false dawn painted the sky in numerous colours before once more vanishing to black, Nathan opened his eyes and stared at his ceiling, for a moment.  He blinked twice, before turning to glance at the man beside him, who was also stirring from his sleep.  Ren Zexian's glanced at his boy, complimenting curves fashioned his eyes and lips as he bid; "Good morning."

    "Good morning," Nathan murmured, before rising from the bed, watching as Ren Zexian did the same and together they replaced the covers carefully, using a stroking hand to remove the creases of their presence.  Ren Zexian's head tilted to once side as he watched Nathan perform his morning stretches and together they then made their way out of the bedroom.  Ren Zexian headed for the kitchen, while Nathan made his way to the bathroom to deal with his needs and wash with a damp towel and soapy water.

    After selecting some clothes that were clean, he left his room to head for the kitchen.  Ren Zexian had boiled water to make tea and all was harmonious as they drank the hot beverages while waiting for the main house to stir.

    Fortunately, Autumn, despite being tired from checking up on the baby and his daddy, was not one to linger in bed long in the morning and was already making her way into the large kitchen downstairs and lower still, into the basement.  Upon a shelf in the cool space, three bowls of proving dough were waiting for her, which she brought into the kitchen.  Soon, the aroma of freshly baking bread seeped out of the kitchen and drifted on upstairs and along the hallways.

    Dexter was the first person to enter the warm room, saying nothing but offering Autumn a smile as he dried the cleaned bowls that had been placed upon the drainer beside the sink.  Autumn blushed and glanced away, a little flustered, before scampering back down into the basement to grab the opened jar of blackberry jam and the basket of fresh greens that Nathan had brought her the day before.  Breakfast these days consisted of bread and jam or toast and jam, while lunch was soup made from fresh greens (cabbage, kale and the like) and bread and dinner was usually noodles and more greens and picked onions.  The meals were small, their bellies often grumbled, but it was better than starvation.  However, Autumn had decided to reconstitute the rest of the sweet potato flour to make mash that evening, less the others go mad from the monotony, while they waited for the next batches of vegetables to appear.

    The others appeared from their rooms or from the gym, from the cottage, the wall or in the case of Aslan, from thin air!  And breakfast was soon in full swing.

    Yet, no sooner was the first bites taken when Aslan began to growl and Ren Zexian stood up at the table, his hand placed upon his stomach.  "Not good," he muttered, glancing towards the south east.  As others froze around the table, he bent down, placed a kiss upon Nathan's forehead before requesting; "Stay here, be safe."

    Jonah's eyes were filled with concern as he bid his lover words along the same lines, before they flickered to Autumn in unspoken request before following Ren Zexian out of the door.  With his move to depart, Dexter, Monika and the men responsible for patrolling did the same.  Lucy tugged on Autumn's skirt, before placing her thumb in her mouth as Aslan licked her face before also disappearing into fog.

    "Is it more wandering zombies?" Patrick asked as he panted, chasing those who had already climbed the wall.  "Or the herd?"  The wall was now thicker and taller than before, sturdier with an even stronger foundation.  Parts of it were coated in metal, though that additional coating was not complete as they had only one man who could manipulate the material.  The garage doors had spikes that dove into the road, preventing any from opening it from outside and making more secure the gap between the doors and the ground.  The stairs fixed along its length were steep and a little troublesome for someone of Patrick's stature, but he still pressed on to reach the top to see the troubled looks upon his friends faces.

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    "No," Harry said as his eyes were fixed to locations close to the ground but still a hundred metres out.  Patrick followed his gaze to see a heaving sea of small bodies approaching the wall, pouring along the distant road and through gaps in abandoned garden fences and from bushes.  In his panic, he reached out to increase the weight of the air, fixing the front runners of one incoming mass to the ground, however they were simply crawled over by those behind them.

    "Fuck!" Cole swore as he too began to unleash his abilities.  Deep potholes formed in the road as it collapsed, only to be quickly filled by small bodies and the undead rush continued.  "Fuck!" He cried out again as the other ability users quickly began to strike with globes of lightning and fire, with a rain of rocks and icicles.  "I **ing hate rats!"
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