It didn't get better. It got stupefyingly boring. The break for lunch came right on time as far as I was concerned. When we got up to go I noticed Sledge stop Greasy Ink from coming over to talk to me. I was disappointed. I heard Sledge whisper "Later." I shrugged it off. Later, tomorrow, a week from now, it was all the same to me. I needed to go find Zane and get us into the lunch line. Later, after dinner, I wanted to check on Woof. I also needed to find out if anyone had a map of the Zone. Maybe they even had some kind of travel advisory for the roads outside of it.
Lunch wasn't bad. Spaghetti with tomato sauce. Corn was the vegetable. Desert was applesauce. Nobody wasted any which was a good thing. They had a woman posted by the tray drop off to check to see we ate everything. It was eat everything or else. I wasn't sure what "else" might be. Me and Zane would probably never find out for ourselves. We both could pack away the food.
We didn't eat alone. The feisty Latina joined us as did a couple of other people that she had already met. She didn't ask to join us. She just sat down, grinned, and said "I bet you hate meetings."
After slurping a bit of stray spaghettii noodle down I replied "That has been said by others."
"Hi. I'm Sherri."
She reached across the table to shake my hand and I caught the swell of her breasts. Nice. Woman made a point of dressing down now I had noticed. Baggy clothes and short hair. Outside it was hard sometimes to know the gender as some went as far as they could go to hide it. The days of dressing to display what made women delightful was history in the places I traveled to. A woman would have to be a serious badass or traveling with a group of them to want to hang temptation out there for others to notice. No tight leather bodices, cleavage, and long legs in shorts like the video games. It was frump, baggy, and lock down in the new reality.
Except for Sherri. She was modest in dress but she let you know that a woman was wearing those camos. She must have gotten lucky on the draw to get a set that fit so well. I was also going to have to remember to call her "Sherri" instead of Maria which I had mentally expected.
I told her "I'm Gardener and this is Zane."
She shook hands then with Zane who said "Hello" to her. She introduced the two people who tagged along with her. I didn't bother to remember their names.