AFTER THE DAY: Timothy's History, The Dispute: The Travellers meal part 1.

In the Valley, almost everything new was named by the children, no one planned it, it just happened that way: by the time we reached the community, the three new arrivals were 'the travellers.' John was chatting with the 'old one', whilst the children were monopolising the 'others'.

The 'others' seemed a bit uncomfortable with this, but 8 year old Shelly seemed to be on a mission to wear them down,  showing them doll after hand made wooden doll, she kept in her permanently attached bag, with detailed descriptions, of who they were, their names, what they did, what clothes they had, what clothes they were having made, what furniture they had in the big dolls house at home, and hundreds of other details.

The adults were all engaged in conversations, some quiet and discreet others quite loud and raucous. There was something of a party atmosphere, but with an odd undertone. Lilly in particular seemed to be standing back trying to appear disinterested in the group, without appearing suspiciously disinterested. It was obvious there would be a gathering as soon as someone thought it was practical.

I was interested in listening to John's conversation but was distracted by James's arrival, and went over to talk to him.

I asked him what he had seen In his wander around the hills overlooking the Valley.

"There is another group of at least 5 camped out on the plain about 15 miles away" he paused and looked around, "I should tell Lilly."

There's no way to properly describe the consensus among the adults of the community that seemed to have taken hold. We all knew each other well, and without really discussing things had a good idea about what everyone was thinking, and what kinds of things they were doing.

"I think Lilly want's to keep an eye on the travellers for now." I said, "Come outside and tell me what you found out, I'll make sure Lilly knows when I can."

James was uncertain at first but then nodded and we went out into the evening air. Where we sat and watched the sun falling below the western hills.  He told me that the group had camped out on the plain, and looked like they were trying to conceal their presence. They definitely had guns, that looked like the 'combat weapons' Lilly had us all practicing with once a month. 'The tents They were using weren't of any fabric he'd seen before, and as far as he could tell they were all men.

James wasn't just good at hiding, although he was just a teenager, he was a natural observer, Lilly had given him one of the communities 5 pairs of binoculars years ago, before John had given the first, 'report' to the gathering. He had spent time up on the High Hill, but Lilly had opposed this happening too regularly because she said, 'he's An asset,' and she wanted him to hand if she needed him. James said he was certain that although the group had arrived at their camp from the north east, that they had travelled out onto the plain from the high mountains in the  north and then turned back. "As though" he said, "they were trying to disguise where they came from."

I reassured him I would tell Lilly as soon as I could, but not to bother her right now. He agreed, and went back in to eat. I spent a moment thinking, and was about to follow when John appeared, spotted me, motioned me to stay where i was and walked over.

"The travellers are very interested in us." He said.

"And not just these three." I replied, "James saw at least 5 more camped out on the plain, well armed, in strange tents, that sound like the all weather tents people used before, 'the day'."

John stood looking out to the west at the fading light of the sun setting behind the mountains, "They say they come from a community in the hills to the north east."

"Not according to James, he's convinced they came down from the mountains and went out onto the plain and then turned back so it looked like they came from the north east." I said.

We both stood quietly for a moment, "Did the 'old one' say how he survived 'the day'?" I asked.

"He's a bit evasive on that, he just said their community was well protected from the bombs. And then asked another question about us, as if he wanted to change the subject quickly. I don't know what to make of it." He paused and looked at me, "You look like you have an idea, do you think they're smokers?" He said.

I did indeed have an idea, the encyclopedias, and several other books gave a quite detailed history of a time before 'the day', which had been called the 'cold war'. These mentioned scenarios with 'bunkers' where governments might survive a nuclear war. I wasn't sure why the idea had occurred to me, but somehow it had fixed itself in my mind.

"No they are not smokers," I said, "I think they are much more dangerous than that." I paused, wondering for a moment, if I was making too much of it. Then said, "I think they are Isms."

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