Excerpt from Some Other Traveller:
I stopped at the fortified gate to Glen Mhairi, counting our people back home, and reflecting as they passed, that they looked like throwbacks to a clan’s cattle-raiding past. Not that I looked much better. I was dirty and utterly weary. I had a graze on one cheek that still bled a little, and my husband, Donal, had bloodstains down the front of his jacket – although, happily, they weren’t his blood. With us, we had a baby and three children in one lorry – rescued or kidnapped according to who defined their presence. We had a long line of utes and other vehicles with four trailers, all loaded with salvage, and some of our younger people had taken to wearing bandanas to keep their hair back – rather than cutting it – making them look like pirates. It was far from the civilization we’d had and far from the one I hoped would come back some day in the future, but we were doing our best, and you can’t do better than that.
We were armed to the teeth. If this had been a year ago and I’d seen our group coming, I’d have vanished into the nearest cover and not come out for hours while phoning the police, ambulance service, and probably the army as well. But that was then, this was now, and I, along with Donal, was one of the war leaders of Glen Mhairi. I counted my people back and reflected on changing times and how people adapt or die when that happens. Since we had no intention of dying, we’d adapted, one of the few cohesive groups to have done so in our area – or so far as we knew.
The last of our warband passed me. Young Barry swung the heavy gates shut and rejoined his vehicle. I nodded to the gate guards as I followed my people home. Donal was waiting for me down the road and jumped into the Landcruiser.
“All right, dear heart?” I nodded. “No one injured, a total of twelve children added to the glens, more livestock, and some good salvage.”
“Aye,” he grinned, Donal’s wide, infectious happy smile that I’d always loved. “Did you ever think you’d be doing this sort of thing at our age?” I shook my head. No, I hadn’t. My memory slid back to the start of it, and I shivered. So much death, so many unbelievable things. Desperate acts, difficult decisions. I was fit, healthy, and expected to live another twenty years or more in the quiet glen that was my home. Then the Laird had phoned, demanding we come to Edinburgh. Johnny didn’t make unreasonable demands, and I’d heard the clear notes of grief and desperation in his voice, so we’d come running – and the world had never been – would never be – the same.