Pete made one more trip to town. Whereas the last time he ventured out there was a sense of nervousness and tension despite everyone trying to remain optimistic, all pretense was gone now. People were terrified, and for good reason.
Wherever he went people were glued to their phones, waiting for any news to come out. Deadlines were given and ignored. Sanctions were put in place and were laughed at by Mombozi. Every analyst was predicting that he was just waiting for an excuse to launch his weapons.
He made contact with his friends, who all agreed to meet him at his old apartment. When he first got there, he didn’t know what to expect. It was no surprise though that Julie had completely moved out. Before he made his first trip to the cave, he called her and told her about his plans. She knew him well enough and long enough to not be shocked at the news. If things had been better, she may have put up a fight, but it was time to let go. She waited a week before moving out completely just in case he changed his mind. But knowing Pete, she didn’t really expect him to.
Pete was looking around the empty apartment when his three friends walked in the open door.
“Pete”, Keith shouted before running over and giving him a bear hug. “Man it’s good to see you bud. Was starting to think I was going to have to trek out to that cave to see you again.”
Jane and Kasib came in and greeted him as well. The sadness and loneliness that he was feeling after walking in and seeing Julie’s things out of the apartment were gone now. He had his friends back with him. They spent the next few hours catching up. Keith had of course brought a bottle of vodka, and the four of them sat on the floor in the empty living room and drank until it was almost midnight.
When they all decided to call it a night, Pete walked them all to the front door of the building and said his goodbyes. He wasn’t sure if or when he would see them again but just having fun and taking his mind off of world events for the night had been just what he needed.
He walked back upstairs and made a make-shift pallet on the living room floor. He laid there staring up at the ceiling until he dozed off to sleep. When he woke the next morning he was reinvigorated. Just knowing his friends were okay and doing good was the boost he needed to keep going. He knew there would be hard days ahead, but being reminded of the good times made his mission that much more important.