60. Sam/Cam.. Cam tells stories: stories about his youth, his ancestors, the Appalachians he grew up in. Sam worries these will be the only stories of Earth that survive.
The first years after the end of the world were hard – rebuilding always is. Earth was gone, the alpha-site abandoned. So was the beta, gamma, and delta. You can only move a population so many times before it frays around the edges and starts to fragment. People drifting off in twos and threes to strike off on their own if the planet was suitable to their needs and wants. Or leave through the stargate to find something better if it wasn't. What started off as nearly a thousand souls was nearly halved by famine and hardship in the first two years.
But they say that after the apocalypse is a time of great hope. People work together to rebuild from the ashes, children are born and life is celebrated.
When the plague hits them six years in, they're down to fewer than two hundred survivors from Earth clustered in a small settlement on a planet sparsely populated but rich in wildlife. They'd been making a comeback finally, somewhere off the beaten galactic path.
She didn't know why they didn't get sick along with most of the village. She was tired of coming up with all the answers and Cam never pushed. He was good that way. Maybe they'd already been exposed. Maybe it was a natural immunity. She was thankful that Daniel had been off world when the plague hit. At least she knew he had been spared.
Cam started bringing them home like lost puppies. Not a single one older the six, they were the children of New Earth and they were now orphans. When he brought home the newborn and told her the baby was the last of the survivors, she left a note for Daniel, packed up the rest of the children, and followed the remaining survivors through the gate.
Daniel caught up with them two days later on a commerce planet, Vala in tow.
She's in the local market the first time she hears it.
"Like my gramma always said…" Only it sounds more like a single word. Like listening to the Lord's Prayer being recited by a lifelong Catholic. OurFatherWhoArtinHeaven…
She turns to find the source but the voice is lost in the white noise of the crowd. It didn't sounds like one of their people anyhow. The accent was wrong.
Their home is simple. Two rooms, wood stove, plank floor. Cam calls this planet Little House on the Prairie world, but the lack of technology makes it easy for them to blend in. She overhears him outside with the children while she stores the supplies.
He's stacking wood and he's put all but the youngest of the three to work. "So then my dad puts the truck in gear and tells me to hit the gas, only I stall it again and-"
"Cam, how come your dad let you drive?" It's David, the middle child. They guessed his age to be around four year, give or take. Sam thinks they should probably start picking birth dates for the kids to celebrate, but she's not sure if that's for the children's benefit or for her and Cam.
She doesn't hear Cam's answer because Daniel comes through the door with something that looks like an over-sized headless duck. She's assuming it's for dinner when Daniel sets about plucking it over the kitchen wash basin. Daniel and Vala have they own place just down the lane but they're over for supper more evenings than not. There's so few of their own people left that they stick pretty close together.
He's grinning while he works and she finally gives in and asks what's up. There hasn't been much to grin about in the last few months.
"Not much," he replies, but he's practically bouncing around the kitchen area.
"Spill," She orders. She's feeling caught up in his good mood and it's nice for a change. She wants to hold on to the feeling.
He glances out the window to make sure they're not over heard. The kids are still peppering Cam with questions about his dad and the truck. "Keep it to yourself though. If something happens…and it's still early yet…"
"Daniel?" She thinks she knows where this is going and she's happy for them, really she is. But still, the very idea scares her.
He's washing the table where he just finished cleaning the duck. Daniel's never been fidgety but today it's hard not to mistake his excitement. "Vala's- we're expecting," he blurts out and waits for her response. He's grinning from ear to ear now and any fears she has are pushed aside.
"That's great." She tells him and she really is happy for them. She'd hug him but he's still got blood on his hands from the duck.
"Just…keep it to yourself for a bit?" They're all too aware of how fragile humanity is right now. No need to set themselves up for more disappointment.
"Of course." She reaches him the big roaster and throws another log into the stove. "Things are going well?" she asks because it's the thing to do.
He shrugs. "As well as can be expected, I guess." The grin is gone and Sam is sorry to see the serious look that replaces it. "Without having proper doctors and medical care and all that, I guess there's really no way of knowing."
That's the reality of their new lives that she has a hard time adjusting to – the unknowns. Things they took for granted like finding out the state of your own health in a matter of minutes.
"Hey." Daniel is watching her now as she cuts the potatoes and drops them in the roaster. She'd never been much of a cook but Cam had shown her the basics. He told her he didn't want the men folk down at the livery to keep bugging him that his woman was out hauling wood and he was stuck home with the children. With a smile of course.
"You and Mitchell even think about having a couple of your own?"
"Right," she snorts. "Like this place isn't crowded enough?" But it's exactly the thing that she and Cam have been discussing. Or rather, he'd been discussing and she'd been avoiding.
"Don't you ever wonder who'll be left to carry on the human race when we're gone?"
"The human race seems to have gotten on just fine. We're spread out over two galaxies that we know of" She's avoiding the question and he knows it.
"Ok, what happens to the people from Earth. From our time and place, if you want to argue semantics." Daniel knows her too well to leave her a loophole.
She busies herself with the stove again but she can feel him watching her work.
"It scares the hell out of me," she admits finally. "We don't even know what day any of these kids were born on so we can celebrate their birthdays."
He's leaning back against the table, arms crossed, watching her. She knows that she's getting fired up about it but she can't help it. The worry has been bubbling just below the surface since they took the children in, but Cam has always told her not to worry about it – things would work themselves out.
"I mean what about school? What do we teach them? What do they need to know? I don't know even know how to begin tracking down any of the other survivors that might be on this planet…" The task is daunting and she's been turning it over in her head for months now.
He's about to answer when they're interrupted by Cam and the baby. At least they knew her name was Emily – that much they were able to guess from some papers at the house where Cam found her. Right now she's clutching Cam and looking rather heavy-lidded.
"Somebody here has stacked all the wood she's going to stack for the day." He hands her over to Sam with a nod to Daniel in greeting. "Do you mind putting her down for a nap so I can finish up with the boys?" He doesn't wait for an answer before he's back out the door again.
"He's really taken to the Grizzly Adams lifestyle, hasn't he?" Daniel asks, watching Cam out in the yard with the kids.
She shrugs and busies herself getting the baby ready for bed. "It makes it easier for the kids if we fit into the culture." The pioneer level of technology offered by this planet is a far cry from the modern conveniences she was used to. "It's not much different from how he grew up."
"Or so he'd like us to believe." Daniel teased. He's smiling again, even if it's not the 'I've got a secret' grin from earlier.
"He used to spend summers with his grand parents and cousins in Kentucky. Apparently he was a real hellion back then."
"Apparently. I've heard a few stories around the village about that offworld woman and her crazy husband."
She raises an eyebrow as she holds a cup to the baby's lips to drink. Baby bottles are another luxury they don't have. She tells him what she heard in the market earlier.
"I'm not surprised. Ancient cultures that developed along trade routes often adopted bits and pieces of the people passing through. Look at ancient Persia for example. It was a crossroads of-"
"I get it." She cuts him off. Daniel's missed the joy of academia as much as she misses the thrill of pure scientific study, but there's still work to be done today and the baby is just about asleep in her arms. "It means that things will work themselves out."
Daniel carefully bundles the baby out of her arms. "Exactly. We share a bit of our culture and history here. The kids will pick up some from the locals." He carefully deposits the baby in the cradle in the corner and tucks her in. "In a couple of generations you won't be able to separate the old from the new."
Sam covers the roaster and puts it on top of the stove and sighs. "I guess I'm just worried that we've lost so many of us that we've lost our history too."
"We can teach it, pass it on, share it out. And not just to our own children." He nods towards Cam and the boys trooping noisily through the front door with arms full of kindling. Cam is rambling on about rabbits and snares and hunting with his cousins and the boys are hanging on every word.
Daniel leans over so he's not overheard. "You don't have to have a PhD to be a teacher."
She gives him a smile. "Just like my gramma used to say."