"Acclimated huh. Is that a fancy way of saying 'screwed, blued, and tattooed' Sheriff?" I had learned that phrase from Gunny back when we had a town and it was nice to have a chance to use it.
He shrugged. "It's not for everyone. People get all paranoid at first when I tell them about it. They think the government is going to get them inside and next thing you know they are going to be tied to a metal rack and doctors with evil grins are going to implant chips into their brains. The thing is the government actually needs functioning people who will do the right thing because that's what they believe."
"And the ones that don't?"
Sheriff Smiley spread his hands and said "They can get with the program or pay the price." He wasn't smiling.
I had a pretty good idea what that price might be. Another good reason to get as far away as possible from these lunatics as we could. I was also mulling it over. While the Sheriff was talking I had watched a petite women with long black shiny hair walk across the other side of the room and into the hallway which more than likely led to the Ladies room. I only caught a glimpse of her face, she was a little heavier than Night, but damn if I wasn't hit with a surge of physical an emotional need to see her again.
"How long does this acclimation class take?"
"Three days. Maybe four."
"Does the boy stay with me?"
"Yes he does. They didn't start that way but we got tired of responding to hysterical woman, pissed off men, and screaming kids. Nobody gets separated. Just as well. It was a stupid policy to begin with."
I did the math and it sounded good. I could be with Night in a week probably. Or I could go around the Zone and dick with god knows how many dumb ass wannabe bandits on the road. Possibly ending up having to continue on foot to avoid them.
"You got functioning gas stations here?"
He was back to smiling. "Yep. When you finish acclimating you get a chit good for five gallons of gas which might get you a 100 miles in that truck of yours. Another voucher good for two meals and if you want it, a referral to the job center in your area. That is if you know where your going and there is one around there."
I said very softly "How did you know I have a truck?"
Sheriff Smiley didn't smile. He laughed. "Hell Gardener. You pull into town in a Brethern truck with a wolf pack in the back and you don't think you will get noticed?"
He had a point.