They were on foot, and far enough away that the heat from the asphalt made them look like they were emerging from the ocean. They did not look like a crack unit of road warriors from here, but they had survived this long so they had to have something going for them.
"Okay. I'm going to stand in the middle of the road. If they keep coming we will see if they want to talk. If they scatter then we hunt them down." I looked at Ricky and Loco. They were okay with that.
I strolled out into the middle of the road and watched them approach. In the background I heard Ricky and Loco take up positions on either side of me. Ricky had a car to take cover behind. Loco had to make do with flopping in the grass on the side of the road. I was carrying a Marlin 30-30 on a leather sling over my shoulder. It was also known as the Appalachian AK. I liked it, but I figured I would be swapping it out for a real wood stock AK or M-14 as soon as I found one. I wasn't a big fan of rifles but they had they were useful when you had to really reach out for someone.
I reached in my shirt pocket and stuck the two cigarette butts I kept there in each ear. My hearing was good, real good, thanks to Freya. That had turned out to be a mixed blessing. My vision, which was always good, was better too. Cigarette butts in the ears was my new idea. I had yet to test them but I figured anything had to help. My head really rang the last few times I had to slap leather and the headaches were a bitch afterward. It was easier to find gold nowadays then a couple of aspirin. Shelli wanted me to look for willow trees while we were out here because they grew aspirin or something. I had just pretended like I hadn't heard her. You start going down that road with people and you would end taking requests for all kinds of shit. I don't do personal shopper very well.
While my mind was running random crap like that through it the rest of my brain was watching the people approaching. One old man with gray hair and a really good old testament prophet beard. He was walking in front and had spotted me about a minute ago. A young guy, long hair and a decent beard also was pulling a garden cart with a tarp covered load. Off to one side was an even younger kid with no beard, probably because he didn't have the juice to grow one yet. They were all armed. Cart Puller had something slung over his shoulder. I couldn't tell what it was and a handgun on his hip. Grandpa had a handgun and a genuine black plastic assault rifle of some sort. Youngster had a shotgun and no handgun that I could see. They were all wearing knives. No body armor that I could tell. Decent boots and each one had a day pack. This might be interesting.