The black consumed everything. Sound… Light… Color… Thought… Air… Life… Feelings and pain; and sometimes when it happened I wished it would just go on forever. Just blackness forever. Rest. Sleep. Peace of mind. #ScienceFiction #Armageddon https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dreamers/id1087476401?mt=11
Posted 07-03-17 Geo Dell
Jimmy Hoffa and other things that make me wonder.
I have been concerned about the fact that Jimmy Hoffa must be buried somewhere. And they have had such reliable snitches to tell them where the body is that I started thinking about the odds of actually finding it. I mean, eventually, after sixty million wrong guesses, the odds will narrow, right? Then I thought, hey, when I was kid and anything came up missing, the cat, or the dog, you could usually get a pretty fast answer from Mom or Dad…
“Well, Spot went to the farm. You see, son, Spot was getting to be a handful and with your mother and I both working, well, we thought it would be better for Spot at the farm.”
“Well, geez, I didn’t want Spot to go to the farm. Can we at least visit him?”
“Sure, son. Sure we can.”
And of course we never did, but I built up a story in my head about the farm and what it was like. There would be Spot, running through the fields, chasing butterflies. Toilet bowls and fire hydrants everywhere. A cat to chase under every tree. Good old spot.
So, when I heard that maybe Jimmy Hoffa went to the farm, I thought, well, hell, that’s not so bad. I never heard any complaints from Spot about it, but as we all know, for the fourth or fifth time, Jimmy Hoffa is not at the farm chasing butterflies with Spot, or Tigger, or Frisky. Not there. But it got me thinking. He hasn’t been at the farms. Nor in the bridge. Nor the dump. Nor the vacant lot. Here is a short list of places he wasn’t:
Sources: Combined Google searches: API, NPR and CBS. (Paraphrased)
Authorities have pursued multiple leads as to Hoffa’s whereabouts since his disappearance in 1975. He was last seen outside an Oakland County restaurant where he was to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain.
Waterford Township, Mich.: Roughly two months after he vanished, in September 1975, investigators spent three days digging in a 29-acre area on a farm in Waterford Township. State police and members of the organized crime division of the state attorney general’s office broke out their spades after a Mafia informant’s tip…
Detroit area: In October 1975, FBI agents probed the trash compactor at the Raleigh House restaurant, roughly five miles from the Machus Red Fox, the restaurant where Hoffa was last seen alive. The theory was that Hoffa’s body was stuffed in the compactor and hauled off by a Mafia-connected sanitation company; investigators turned up nothing in their search of the 40-cubic-yard compactor…
Jersey City, N.J.: The search for Hoffa took investigators to Jersey City, where in December 1975, FBI agents searched a 47-acre landfill with mob connections. Officially, investigators weren’t searching for the rumored 55-gallon drum with Hoffa’s remains, but rather the body of Armand Faugno, a missing loan shark…
Hampton Township, Mich.: An incarcerated informant, who had already led police to another body, claimed Hoffa’s body could be found under an above-ground pool in the backyard of his former home in Hampton Township. The tipster, brought to the scene in handcuffs, watched as a backhoe demolished the pool in July 2003 and dug beneath it. Later, the people living in the home would get a new pool paid for by the county…
Milford, Mich.: The FBI called it quits after a 12-day search of Hidden Dreams Farm in Milford in May 2006. A 100-foot barn was demolished as part of the search by 35 agents, geologists, archaeologists and other experts. While the dig didn’t yield any remains, it proved to be big business for the Milford Baking Co., which sold 3,500 “Hoffa cupcakes” featuring a green plastic hand reaching up through the icing and sprinkles…
East Rutherford, N.J.: In 1999 a convicted mobster alleged Hoffa’s body was buried at Giants Stadium, though the feds never dug it up to find out. In a Playboy interview, Donald “Tony the Greek” Frankos said Hoffa’s body was cut up in Michigan, then driven to New Jersey and buried in the concrete foundation of the stadium — Section 107…
Roseville, Mich.: After a tip in the fall of 2012, authorities began sampling soil on the property of a Roseville home. Investigators had used radar and found an unusual mass, which prompted the sampling, but the results showed no sign of human decomposition in the dirt…
There are more of course, but remember, these are places Jimmy Hoffa is not. They have been checked, cleared, in Cop-speak. Not there. But this past weekend I decided to put in some outdoor security lighting at home. What does that have to do with Jimmy Hoffa? Well, hang on. We’ll get there. I decided on two of those big sodium vapor lights, except one wasn’t sodium vapor.
I got to the store and I saw all the ‘Go Green’ stickers, you know – “Don’t use so much energy!” “It’s your world too!” “Save up to $298.00 a year!” Okay, I speak that language, ‘You had me at money’ so I bought two of the Fluorescent yard lights. Unfortunately I had to take one back as it was missing parts. So, I ended up having to put a sodium High Pressure system in and a fluorescent system for the other light. Hmm. The whole idea had been that they match, same replacement bulbs. But hey, It’s my world too and I do care… And I saved $300.00 bucks (Nearly).
So I get the lights. I get the post for the one that goes in the side yard (A 16 foot 4 inch by 4 inch pressure treated post. I buy a shovel. Thought about post hole diggers, said, Nah, I’m a Man, I don’t need post-hole diggers (Note: Get the post hole diggers. They’re called Post Hole Diggers for a reason! God, I can be so stupid), outdoor wire, Wire connectors, and on and on. Then I came home and picked the spot for my pole, but then I thought, ‘Whoa… Wait a minute… They have not found Jimmy Hoffa yet. He could be right under that spot I want to dig up to sink my post in the ground.’
I’m pretty sure Jimmy Hoffa is not in my garden, or my side yard, or the driveway. Those are all areas I have worked on lately, had to dig down into, and I didn’t see anything at all that looked Jimmy Hoffaish. Yes, I know that is an incorrect usage of ish, but, really, are there any correct uses of ish?
Here’s the thing though, I have not dug into the front yard and I am very concerned that he could be there, but not concerned enough to do anything about it. And if you are, and you would like to dig up my front yard to look for him, no. No! Now, after I’m dead, sure. Have a blast. Tell the new owners, in fact, that I said you could.
Reasons why Jimmy Hoffa might be in my front yard.
1. He wasn’t at the last place, so he has to be somewhere.
2. He had a friend who had a friend who had a cousin who visited New York one time.
3. Jimmy Hoffa worked for the Labor Union, and a lady just down the street went into labor a few days ago.
4. It’s not a farm. They’ve dug up enough farms.
5. The cats always seem to avoid a certain section of the lawn. Walking right long and then hop straight up into the air. Yes. I realize cats are nuts and I do have crazy cats, but still.
Okay, that’s enough reasons. I believe that is more than the FBI had, information wise the last time isn’t it?
But hey, considering all the places they have dug to find him the odds are pretty good, or even just as good that he could be out there in the front yard. So, I mounted the light on top of the garage instead. Yes, I know, I bowed to my own fears. And the side yard light pole I installed next to the house and incorporated into the deck. I figured, ‘Okay. Maybe Jimmy Hoffa is out there in the yard, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have buried him right next to the house.’
I am happy to report that I dug the hole and did not find anything at all… Well, one bone, I’m pretty sure it was a ham bone the dog buried there. I say that because the neighbors dog, I don’t have a dog of my own, seemed pretty bent out of shape about me digging up the bone. But, come to think of it, that is better than the FBI did. At least I found something. Anyway, I didn’t call the FBI, the dog took the bone and left, he’ll probably rebury it somewhere else, you know how dogs are. Meanwhile, Jimmy Hoffa’s still missing I’m sorry to report.
In other news. Fred, my cat was nearly taken by the turkeys again. You may not believe this, but there are turkeys that live in the woods behind me. Today I was in my office taking care of some email when I heard a rush of wings, a squawk, and some gobbling: If you have never heard a 35 to 40 pound bird drop out of a pine tree to the ground you should. Nothing that big should be a bird, and if it is it should not be falling from a damn tree.
Anyway, I rushed from the house. No, really, I did rush from the house, and what do I see, Fred standing her ground against a turkey that looked to be about three feet high. No, I don’t really think it was three feet high, but it was all of two and some change. The turkey saw me and took off. Good, I was not in the mood to fight a turkey, I was still concerned about Jimmy Hoffa as I had to put mulch in the garden, and that meant turning over the soil.
Well, it is obvious that the turkeys have it in for Fred. Fred has killed just about everything that lives in the woods at one time or another: When she was a kitten she used to bring them to me. Yes, Fred is female cat. It’s a long story. Damn cat. I think, sort of like that Clint Eastwood movie, Unforgiven, that the birds, mice, chipmunks, (This year has been a tough one for the chipmunks, that’s all I’ll say) and yes, probably the neighborhood dogs too, got together and sent word to the turkeys. I think, like the cowboys in Unforgiven, that Fred’s days are numbered. But if you had told me a year or so ago that a turkey would try to attack a cat? I would have laughed. Not no more. Not no more. This is serious business. These turkeys have taken a contract out on Fred I believe.
Okay, last news. I am listing all of my books on NOOK. NOOK is Barnes and Nobles eBook seller. So when you have some free time cruise on over to NOOK and check my books out. Thank you, and please pass this along, Geo…
Okay. Once again it’s raining here in northern New York. I guess I don’t mind the rain so much. Have a great week…
Earth’s Survivors is copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet
Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 2016 Wendell Sweet and his assignee Andrea Scroggs. Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.
Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
This material is copyright protected and is used here with permission
This material is NOT edited for content and is rated 18+
Shop and Save Convenience store:
“Last one,” Neil said.
Neil was a detective for the sheriffs’ department. It was closing in on 2:00 AM and he and his partner Don had just come back from six hours of sleep to get a jump on the day. Yesterday one of the checkout girls had disappeared between the Shop And Save, a small mini mart on the western outskirts of the city, and home. Earlier this morning she had turned up dead in a ditch just a quarter mile from the front door. The techs were still processing the scene, but it was looking personal. Stabbed to death, multiple wounds, no defense wounds, at least none that he or Don had been able to see, and fully clothed. Her purse had been found nearby, wallet and cash inside. No ID, but her store ID had still been clipped to her shirt. They would know more in a few days once the coroner did her magic. It all pointed to someone she knew, and they had no known boyfriend. The trailer park where she lived had turned up nothing, they had questioned some people at the convenience store, but some had been off shift, so here they were back at the store questioning the other employees.
They had commandeered the night manager’s office which was barely larger than a broom closet, but at least it was a place to sit with enough space left over to call in the workers and ask their questions. Free coffee via the same night manager, who had still not gone home, was taking a little of the six hours of sleep sting off, but to Neil free coffee in a convenience store was like a whore offering a free shot of penicillin to the first twenty five customers.
“Who’s next?” Don asked.
The last half hour they had been interviewing the people who worked the same shifts as Amber Kneeland.
“Haley Mae,” Neil said.
Don looked up and stopped writing in his little notebook. “How do you,” spell her name, he had meant to ask Neil, but she was right in front of him.
“EM. A. E,” she said with a smile.
“Vietnamese?” Don asked. She was obviously mixed race, African American and Asian, he questioned himself.
“Japanese,” she told him.
“Nice name,” Neil said, “Haley.”
Beautiful girl, Don thought. “Did you know Amber Kneeland? Sometimes works this shift?” he asked.
“Not really,” she answered. “I mean, I met her, but only in passing… I just started here myself.”
She really is beautiful, Don thought. “You wouldn’t know if she had a boyfriend… Other friends?” he asked.
Haley shook her head. “Sorry,” she said… “What has she done?”
“Nothing,” Neil supplied.
“She went missing last night,” Don said. “Turned up dead this morning.”
Haley shook her head. “Oh my God. That’s horrible. She was such a nice girl… Quiet.”
Neil nodded his head. “So maybe you did know her a little better than you thought?”
“I just started here a few weeks back, and like I said, I don’t really know her… But it might be a girlfriend not a boyfriend.”
Don looked at her. “You wouldn’t know who?”
“No. It’s just a rumor. Someone said it to me… I don’t even remember who… But I’ve never seen her with a guy, and I have seen her with other girls… Maybe also the way she looked at me a few times…”
“Go out with her?” Don asked.
“No… Never… I…”
“Don’t swing that way?” Don added.
Haley frowned slightly before she answered. “I work. I don’t swing any way. But if I did she wasn’t my type. She never asked me out, I never asked her out.”
“Didn’t mean to offend you,” Don said. He shrugged. “She’s dead.”
“She would probably do the same for you,” Neil said.
Haley nodded. “That really is all I know. I hope you find who did it though. She seemed like a nice girl,” Haley said.
“You don’t seem the type for this… Bagging groceries at 2:00 am,” Don said, changing the subject. “You aren’t local or I’d know you… This city really is small despite the base.”
Haley smiled. “Came here a year back with a boyfriend, Army. He left, forgot all about me, I guess. I had this idea of modeling… Tough to get a foot in a door though.”
“Wow, if he left you behind he must be a fucking idiot… Any good?” Neil asked.
“Excuse mister smooth there,” Don told her. Neil feigned a hurt look and Haley laughed again. “He meant, have you done anything? I know somebody… Might be interested.”
Haley arched her eyebrows. “I can model. I did a You Jeans ad back in Georgia a few years ago. I just need to prove it to the right person.”
“Escorting? Maybe dancing. It’s strictly escorting or dancing, no funny stuff. Dance clubs… Clothing modeling,” Neil said.
“Probably start out escorting… Dance a little… Then if he likes you he’ll put you into the modeling end of things. He owns a lot of shit… Several car dealerships across the state… Some of the biggest dance clubs, clothing outlets, those bargain places, but still, modeling is modeling, right? Not the big name stuff, but it is a foot in the door,” Don added.
“I can do that,” she said slowly.
Neil passed her a white business card with his own name scrawled across the back. “Tell him I sent you… That’s my name on the back.”
“Jimmy Vincioni,” Haley asked.
“Just V… Jimmy V, good guy,” Neil said.
Haley nodded and tucked the card into her front jean pocket. “I’ll call him… Thanks. Look…” Her voice dropped to a near whisper. “I’m pretty sure she had a girlfriend here… I just don’t know who,” Haley added quietly.
Don finished writing in his notebook, nodded once he met her eyes and then shook the hand she offered. She walked away.
“Beautiful,” Neil said.
“Absolutely,” Don agreed. “You ain’t getting none of that though.”
“Yeah? But if Jimmy V hires her? It’ll be the next best thing.”
Don shook his head, but smiled. His eyes rose and watched as Haley walked away. “Guess I’ll have to have a few drinks at the club if that happens.”
Neil chuckled low. “You and me both,” he agreed.
Watertown New York
Off Factory Square: Joel Morrison
Joel sat at the bar and watched football on one of the big screen TV’s Mort had put in. It was a slow game, he was tired, and his mind kept turning to other things. He couldn’t concentrate. Part of the allure of the Rusty Nail was the quiet. After a 12 hour shift at the mill with the constant noise from the huge machinery, the quiet had been nice. But that had all changed once the bar had become popular with the nearby base. He needed to go home. The crowd in the bar was starting to build and the noise was giving him the beginnings of a headache. He caught Mort’s eye and went back to his thoughts as he waited.
The Rusty Nail had always been a locals only bar up until a few years back when the economy had taken a nose dive. The nail was wedged up a side street off Factory square. Not exactly easy to find, and that had hurt business too as the old people left and the new people came in.
Mort, Mortimer to anybody that felt like being tossed out on their ass, had nearly lost the small bar and the building above it to the bank. The building above it had six small apartments that Mort had purposely left empty when he had bought the building fresh out of the service thirty years back. Who wanted to deal with tenants, he had said then. But times changed, and so he had sold his house, moved himself into one of the apartments, and then sold the bank on remortgaging the whole building as well as renovating the other five apartments. The bank had come up with a loan that took all of that into account and added a second income source from the apartments that could pay the monthly mortgage and put a good chunk of change into his pocket too.
He had signed on the x, taken their money, renovated the building, moved in the tenants and then taken a hard look at the Rusty Nail. He had decided to completely gut the bar and do it over. He had dumped far too much into the renovations though, including being closed for nearly a full month, and then opened it to find that the economy had taken an even deeper nose dive during those nearly thirty days. The third month into the new mortgage and he had found that he was maybe in a bad spot already.
Joel remembered now that he had sat right at the end of the bar when Mort had talked it over with some others, Moon Calloway, Johnny Barnes, Jim Tibbets, Joel had been welcome to include his two cents which he had declined to do.
“Well, what you do is put the word out to those cab drivers. Believe me, I’ve seen it. They will have them soldiers down here in no time, even if you are off the beaten path,” Jim had said. Jim was a school bus driver for the north side district and less than a year away from a fatal car accident on the interstate. Jeff Brown, who had been a local football star, was doing ten years up at Clinton Correctional for hitting Jim’s car head on drunk and killing him. But that night Jim had still been alive and had wanted to be a part of the New Rusty Nail that Mort had in mind. Something a little more modern. Modern bought the soldiers, but more importantly it also bought women.
“I’m not paying a cab driver to bring me G.I.’s,” Mort had said. “And I know your game. You’re just hoping to get laid out of it.”
They had all laughed at that, except Jim who had turned red. But after a few seconds he had laughed too, and the conversation had plodded forward the way bar conversations do.
“Well, you ain’t got to pay them exactly, give them a couple beers,” Moon threw in.
“Jesus Christ,” Mort exclaimed. “That’s why you boys ain’t in business. You think the beer is free.”
“I know it ain’t free, Mort,” Jim said. “But it don’t cost you that much. You get it wholesale.”
“Wholesale? I drive right out to that wholesale club and buy it by the case most of the time just like everybody else. Cheaper than them beer guys, except draft, of course. That ain’t free. You got to pay the yearly club fee. You got to pay them taxes to the feds. You got a lot you got to pay for. Some fuck crushes your can you’re fucked for that nickle. Jesus… wholesale my ass. It ain’t no bargain.”
“Yeah? … Let’s see,” Moon starting writing in the air with his finger. You get it for let’s say six bucks a case, I know that cause that’s what I pay out there too. So six bucks divided by 24 is,” he drew in the air for a few moments, erased it, and then started over. “How the fuck do you do that, Joey… The six goes into the twenty-four? Or times the twenty-four?” Moon asked.
“Uh, it’s a quarter a can,” I had supplied.
The argument had raged on from there. Once Moon found out he was paying a buck fifty for a can of beer that only cost a quarter he was pissed off.
In the end Mort had talked to a couple of cab drivers. Free draft beer one night a week if they bought soldiers by all week long and told as many others as possible about the place. Within two weeks Joel hadn’t recognized the place when he had come by after shift to have a couple of beers. The soldiers drank a lot of beer, the bank mortgage got paid, and life was fine. Except for the fights, Joel thought, but you can’t load young guys up on alcohol and not expect trouble. Especially when those young men were just waiting on the word to go and maybe die in another battle that remained undeclared as a war. High stress levels meant heavy duty unloading. The M.P.’s got to know the place as well as the soldiers did.
“Joel, you ready?” Mort asked now.
Joel smiled. “I was thinking back…” He had to shout to be heard. Tomorrow his voice would be hoarse. “This place was empty! … Yeah… One more then I gotta go,” Joel agreed.
Mort leaned closer. “Gov’ment tit. I know it, but screw it. It’s all the Gov’ment tit. Road and Bridge projects. Job centers. One way or the other it comes out the same. Even them subsidies so the paper mills can still run. It’s all the Gov’ment tit, ain’t it, Joel?”
“Its is,” Joel shouted. He nodded. It was. This town would have dried up years ago without it. Mort left and then came back a few moments later with a fresh beer.
“Vacation?” Mort yelled.
Joel nodded. “Two weeks of silence,” He shook his head at the irony and Mort’s laughing agreement was drowned out by the noise.
“If I don’t see you, have a good one,” Mort said leaning close.
Joel nodded. “I will.” He raised his glass and then tossed off half of it. A few moments later he was outside on the relatively quiet sidewalk punching numbers into his phone, calling for a cab. The night was cold, but the cold sobered him up. It seemed nearly capable of washing away the smoke and noise from inside the bar. He stood in the shadows beside the door waiting for the phone to ring on the other end. The door bumped open and Johnny Barnes stepped out.
“You ain’t calling for a cab, are you?” Johnny asked when he spotted him.
Joel laughed and ended the still ringing call. “Not if I can get a free ride from you.” Joel told him.
“Yeah, you were always a cheap prick,” Johnny agreed. “Hey, I heard you’re heading into the southern tier tomorrow?”
“Two weeks,” Joel agreed as he levered the door handle on Johnny’s truck and climbed inside. His breath came in clouds of steam. “Get some heat in here, Johnny.”
“Coming,” Johnny agreed. “Man, I wish I was you.”
“Me too,” Joel agreed.
Johnny laughed. “Asshole, but seriously, man. Have a good time. You gonna hunt?”
“Nothing in season… Maybe snare some rabbits. Not gonna be a lot this time of year.” Joel said.
“Maybe deer,” Johnny offered. He dropped the truck in drive just as the heat began to come from the vents.
“Probably, but they’ll be out of season. Rabbit, and I got freeze dried stuff. Trucks packed, which is why I didn’t drive it down here.”
The truck drove slowly through the darkening streets as the street lights began to pop on around the small city: The two men laughing and exchanging small talk…
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Zombie fall is a collection of Seven short stories including the title story Zombie fall. These stories have been best sellers on their own but never before offered in a collection…
Zombie Fall: Geo Had lived along the River all of his life. Spring was beautiful. The summer one of the best. But the fall was not so good. Fall was when Geo discovered that Zombies had moved into his old barn…
Alive Again: They were three, set out to leave the city for the safety of the road, where they would be relatively free from the dead that plagued the cities, but only two were destined to escape the dead that plagued the city, and even then what did they escape to? The Dead were everywhere…
Rapid City One, Two and Three. When the Zombie Apocalypse was at it;s height, gunslingers roamed the new frontier towns, offering their services to hunt down and kill the zombies. Theses are short stories from those days…
Jennifer learns more about the undead than she ever wanted to when she is murdered and then rises from the dead to her new life…
Donita, the birth of a Zombie Queen. She feels the changes as she leaves life, and her memories remain for a short time. It is only after the major changes have taken her from life solidly into death that she no longer remembers her old life at all, just this new need to kill and eat the flesh of the living…
READ MORE RIGHT NOW…
ZOMBIE PLAGUE: BOOK TWO
Zombie Plague: Book Two is copyright © 2010 Geo Dell. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2018 Geo Dell
Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Geo Dell
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.
Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
ZOMBIE PLAGUE: BOOK TWO
On the road
~ March 26th ~
The camp was up before dawn, tents packed away and breakfast and coffee taken quietly together around the low embers of the camp fires. The breakfast didn’t consist of much more than the coffee and a few energy bars, but it suited their purpose well enough. The Dog, who still had no name, was going person to person and begging little tidbits even after his own breakfast of canned meat.
As the sun was touching the horizon, the small caravan of six vehicles were once again winding their way southward, leaving the roads where they were impassable and taking to the fields.
The two Suburbans that had been fitted with lifts and bigger tires had no problem with the on and off road transitions. It was tougher for the other four vehicles.
They monitored the radios as they drove along. Bits and pieces of conversation and skip came through the static. Sometimes clear, sometimes garbled and barely intelligible, but there were no conversations they could follow. Mike had never been a C.B. Radio fan, but Bob had been and he explained skip to everyone.
Skip could be two thousand miles away, or only a hundred. It was a signal that hit the atmosphere just right, or cloud cover, or a mountain range, and carried farther than it normally would have. You might talk to someone a thousand miles away as clearly as though they were no more than a mile down the road. And you might have that conversation for ten minutes or two hours and then suddenly they were gone because those atmospheric conditions that had allowed the conversation had changed.
Early on, Mike had thought about Ham radio. You could reach around the world with Ham radio. But Bob had explained that Ham radio accomplished that with relays. All the people that did the relays were most likely gone, at least for now. Maybe they would be back eventually, but they had heard nothing but a soft electric hiss cutting across the miles the two times they had tried the bands, and no one had answered their calls.
The F.M. Band had also remained dead. It seemed all the traffic was on the C.B. Channels. The V.H.F. Bands, normally used for Marine conversations, were empty too. But that offered a secure option for them to talk without being overheard. As they drove through the morning now, they talked back and forth on the V.H.F. Band, monitoring the C.B. and the F.M. Bands.
They filled their tanks two hours after dawn at a collapsed gas station next to the interstate. A length of rubber hose connected to a hand operated Kerosene pump made the job quick. The only hard part had been locating the underground tank. The cover had been found though, the cap spun off, and the odor of gasoline drifted up into the air telling them that the underground tank had not been ruptured.
The little area that serviced the interstate contained a large garage, two small Mom-and-Pop stores, the gas station and a chain auto parts store right next to the garage, probably built with the garage in mind.
On the other side of the asphalt parking lot sat a motel unit that had seen better days. Most of the units were flattened. The swimming pool was cracked and empty; wire mesh and what looked to be a bottomless void graced the middle of the rust stained pool. A second row of motel units running parallel to the pool looked to be untouched. Across the road were two name brand outlet stores, obviously placed to take advantage of the interstate. They had pulled the trucks onto the cracked pavement of the gas station, and after they had finished gassing up the trucks, Mike had gathered everyone together.
Bob and Tom came back from checking out the garage and the auto parts store just after the trucks were gassed up. Bob nodded his head at Mike.
“You noticed Bob and Tom looking over the garage,” Mike said. “We’re thinking of stopping here. We’d probably end up here for a few days while Bob and Tom work on the other four trucks. And we need a few other things: tail gate swing outs that can hold a spare tire, gas can too, roof racks to carry gear, lifts, better, bigger tires… In short, the things we had intended to do back in Watertown.” He looked around, trying to catch the eyes of each person individually.
“You can see how much easier it is for the two Suburbans to get around wrecks, buckled roads, down in to and out of ditches. It just makes sense to give the other four trucks that ability, otherwise they’ll just be slowing us down. You saw a little of that this morning.”
“Makes sense,” Janet Dove agreed.
Molly nodded. “My only concern is, are those…” she paused and her face reddened, “People,” she managed after a long pause, “coming after us?” Her eyes were dark and questioning. Mike could read the fear in her posture.
“I doubt it,” Candace said. She spoke quietly but forcefully.
“We’ll listen in on the radios,” Nellie added.
“They won’t come. In the city they knew how to get around… Out here,” Patty waved her arms around, finally lifting them to the sky. “They wouldn’t know what to do. Couldn’t sneak up on us.” She shook her head. “I just don’t think they’re the kind that want to deal with even odds.”
Candace nodded in agreement. “You know, Molly. Spineless, right?”
Molly nodded and Mike watched the fear leave her and something closer to determination replace it. She nodded her agreement once more, looking directly at Candace as she did.
Mike cleared his throat and continued. “The reason we traveled on was to put some miles between us and them. It’s a long way for them to come. I don’t see it,” Mike said. He let the silent nods continue for a moment and then continued.
“There are other things we can do, things we need. Canned goods, maybe one of those cows, or a deer. They seem to be wandering everywhere. There really is enough to keep all of us busy for the next few days while Bob and Tom get the truck situation straightened out.” He paused but no one spoke. “So… If there are no real objections?”
“Let’s do it,” Molly said.
“Yeah, I’m for it,” Patty added.
As Mike turned away, Patty, Candace, Molly and Nell began to set up a plan for monitoring the radios. Everyone agreed that they would probably hear about anything coming their way long before it reached them. Molly went over to the garage a few minutes later and pitched in, helping Bob and Tom move whatever was in the way so that they could reach the racks and garage bays. There were two tow trucks that they used to do most of the work, but chains and muscle power accomplished the rest.
In the end, they cleared out three stalls that they could work in. Molly stayed, and not long after Nell found her way over and began to work side by side with her.
The garage was a prefab steel building that, either because of a whim of the Gods’ or its design, had remained standing. By the time some others were returning with a cow and two large does in the back of one of the pickup trucks, the garage was ready to go. Molly and Tom wheeled out a towering chain-fall for the hunting party to use to dress out the animals and then went back to work.
By late afternoon the third Suburban was well under way. The lift was done, brush-guards installed and they were working on the carrying racks. Mike and Ronnie stopped by to look over the effort and were amazed. The Suburban looked like something that had rolled out of some sort of Safari outfitters garage, or a futuristic end of the world epic, Mike joked. But that sent them all into silence for a few moments, and Mike didn’t mention it again.
Molly and Nell were working on bolting a huge winch to the front bumper of one truck while Tom and Bob worked on stripping out one of the pickups to get it ready for a lift kit.
Tim and Annie had made their way to the garage and then found themselves drafted and made part of the work crew. Annie was in the third stall laying out the parts they would need for the lift on the pickup truck while Tim worked at mounting the oversize tires to new, larger rims, using a pair of heavy iron bars and his body weight to accomplish the work. He and Annie joked back and forth as they worked.
They were using a small twelve volt air-compressor to inflate the tires after they had them mounted. They both seemed to be enjoying themselves, Mike thought, and they seemed happy to be in each other’s company.
Outside, near the far end of the garage, the chain-fall had been set up, and a group led by Janet Dove, which included Sandy and Susan, were hoisting a large cow up into the air.
“Mike,” Janet said as he and Ronnie passed by on their way out of the Garage.
“We would like to smoke most of this meat… If we’re going to be here a few days, I thought…”
Mike nodded. “Yeah. Might as well, Jan. We have the time,” He assured her, “And, it’ll help to have the meat with us, who knows what’s ahead.” He shrugged.
Janet Dove smiled, turned away, and Mike stood watching as the huge cow began to lift into the air from the back of the pickup truck before he and Ronnie turned and walked away.
A few minutes later, the two of them fell in with Candace and Patty who were sifting through what the chain stores had to offer in the way of clothing, canned goods and whatever else they came across that they could find a use for. They passed by Lilly who had taken over the toy department, blocked off one aisle, and was keeping Brian and Janelle busy. She smiled and waved as they passed. Janelle waved back. Her dark eyes finally looking rested and happy.
Brian had built himself the biggest Lincoln Log village that Mike had ever seen and was now busy populating it with dozens of green, plastic Army Men. Mike smiled and Brian took the time out of his game to smile back at he and Ronnie. He held a large plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex in one hand which seemed to Mike about to wreak havoc on the village and its population of Army Men.
A half dozen trips with Candace and Patty, and late afternoon turned into early evening. Fires were burning to smoke the meat. Two large roasts were spitted over a huge fire pit made of field stone. A stew was bubbling in a pot that had been suspended over the flames. Nearly everyone had found a reason to stop by the area Janet Dove had set aside for cooking, most arriving just as she had been about to send some others out looking for everyone to round them up for dinner. The Dog was running around in circles, happily racing from person to person, tail wagging crazily. The smell of roasting meat hung heavy in the still, cool air.
Everyone sat close together at several wooden picnic tables that Janet had drafted a few volunteers to bring over from the collapsed section of the motel. They had sat in a small clearing not far from the building, untouched, while everything around them had been leveled.
The temperature was in the low forties, but with the early evening sun still shining, it felt much warmer.
Mike sat next to Candace, Ronnie on his other side. Across the table, Molly sat with Nell. They were both laughing, involved in conversation with each other. It was the happiest that Mike had seen Nell or Molly.
Canned potatoes, fresh beef and venison, a stew that held a bit of everything in it and a steaming platter of peas dominated the table center. Everyone had heaped up their plates. Too long eating thrown together meals or energy bars had left them hungry for real food.
Their basic protein needs had been met, but there was nothing like real food to make you… Happy, Mike decided. He looked around the table at all the smiling faces. It was actually a mood elevator, he decided.
“What’s on your mind, Baby?” Candace asked. Her eyes smiled, but her mouth wore a question he had come to know was more serious than her smile insinuated.
He bent forward and kissed her, making the smile on her face spread wider still. “I was thinking how happy everyone looked.” He turned his head and let his eyes sweep the tables once more, then turned back to Candace whose eyes and face now wore another look he was becoming familiar with. He bent forward and kissed her once more. “I’m pretty sure I love you,” He told her.
She laughed, “Pretty sure!” She slapped his arm with one hand. “You better be more than pretty sure, Mister.”
Mike laughed and kissed her again. “Positive,” he said. “I’d be lost without you.” His eyes turned serious. “That’s the truth,” His voice dropped to a near whisper as he leaned even closer. “I love you so much that I don’t have words for it. I only know it’s real. I only know I need you.” He kissed her once more and sat back up to catch Annie giggling and looking away.
Candace laughed beside him. An easy laugh that eased the seriousness of the conversation.
“I hope we’ll have some time later on,” she said, her voice still low, husky.
“I’ll make sure of it,” Mike told her.
“I was looking at that garage building,” Ronnie said from beside him.
“It’s one of those industrial prefabricated jobs. I’ve put up a few, but I had no idea how well engineered they were. They hold up pretty well, or at least this one did. The buildings not really damaged at all.”
“I noticed that too,” Mike agreed, “What are you thinking?”
“Well,” Ronnie grinned, “When we get where we’re going, it may not be a bad idea for a dwelling… or dwellings. At least for a temporary dwelling until we build… if we build. Lightweight, easy to put up. Easy to insulate. Not bad in an earthquake, if that stuff’s not completely done with us.”
Mike was nodding his head. “I’m for it, but are they hard to come by? I mean, where could we get one?”
“Not as hard as it seems. There are outlets where you can buy them in larger cities. And there are thousands already set up. We could take them apart pretty easily, take them where we want them and put them back up. All the structural supports are pretty much the same. You just add more or take away to make the building the size you need. Very lightweight, so they’d be easy to transport. They’d go up or down pretty fast,” Ronnie finished.
“Has my vote,” Bob added. “Fast, easy. They seem solid. It will save us a ton of time.”
“I’ve seen them around. I think it’s a good idea. We wouldn’t have to worry about wooden structures falling down on us.” Mike looked around. “Almost all the wooden structures are down. Concrete seems okay, for the most part, steel. But wooden structures just give too easily. Putting them up fast would also be a plus,” he finished. He raised his eyes from the ground – he had a habit of looking at the ground to visualize his thoughts – and saw that Molly and Nell had been listening to their conversation. They were nodding their heads in agreement.
“That garage is really solid,” Molly agreed.
“Cement’s cracked here and there, but the building itself held up really well,” Nell agreed. “I don’t even like walking into a wooden building anymore. You can feel it move, hear the creaks and groans… pops.” She shook her head.
Mike and Ronnie both nodded.
”It’s a good plan,” Mike said. He turned his head to Molly. “Where did you learn to turn wrenches?” he asked her.
Molly smiled. “My dad had a race car. It started out as a hobby but became something else. He’d work on it all week long and then run it in races on the weekends.” She smiled shyly. “When I was a little girl, as far back as I can remember, I used to go out and watch.” She laughed. “Pretty soon I was fetching wrenches, parts.” She laughed again. “The first time I came in with greasy hands, I thought my Mother was going to die. When I was fifteen, my Dad bought an old beat to shit Mustang. A sixty-four. It was a project car, he’d said. We’d work on it in our spare time together, finish it up and sell it for a profit.” She smiled and her eyes misted as she seemed to be looking back through the years.
“It took nearly a year of work. That was also the time I was eligible to get my permit. The day I got my license, he handed me the keys,” she finished, smiling happily at the memory.
“Pretty nice,” Candace said.
“Yeah, except it got smashed flat when this,” she lifted her hands and gestured helplessly, “happened. But once we’re where we’re going to be, I think I’ll try to find another one, or maybe a two door sixty-two Chevy Impala. I’ve always liked the way those Chevy’s look.” She shrugged, “Crazy, I guess, but I really think I’m gonna do it. There must be one somewhere.”
“I can see that,” Patty said. “Or something else worth rebuilding.”
More than a few heads nodded in agreement.
“Sometimes,” Patty added as an afterthought. “The thing you find is better than the thing you thought you wanted.”
Nell looked at Molly. Molly smiled, and Nell leaned closer and kissed her.
“You two?” Candace asked.
“Nell tempted me,” Molly said.
“It’s like Patty said, sometimes the thing you find is better than the thing you thought you would find… or want. I hadn’t expected this much out of life in the old world let alone this one,” Nell said smiling, but serious. She worked her hand into Molly’s and leaned closer to her.
Mike’s eyes swept across Patty’s face, expecting to see a smile but finding a distracted, sadness on her face instead. Patty swept it away so quickly though that he wasn’t sure just a second later that it had really been there at all. Maybe, he decided, he had imagined it. After all, Patty had found the better thing she hadn’t known she would find in Ronnie. There would be no reason for that sadness to be on her face. He found his own hand holding Candace’s, and she leaned into him for a kiss.
“Get a room, you guys,” Tim said as he and Annie passed by. Annie was blushing but had a huge smile on her face.
“Horn dogs,” Tim told her as they walked away, laughing with each other and holding hands as they went.
“Horn dogs?” Mike asked.
“I don’t know about you but I am no horn dog,” Janet Dove joked as she passed by.
The thought of prim and proper Janet Dove making a statement like that caused everyone to crack up. Janet stopped, a shocked look on her face.
“Good one, Jan,” Candace said.
“I can’t believe I said that,” Janet said.
Everyone cracked up then, including Janet Dove.
Candace lay in the crook of Mike’s arm as they talked quietly.
“Gotta go in about five minutes,” Mike told her. “My watch.”
“No,” Candace said. “You can’t go if you can’t get out of bed. Besides, we paid for the room for the night,” she finished and laughed.
Mike chuckled. “This is nice. Privacy, first we’ve had in… well, forever.”
“When we leave, we’ll be back to getting none at all again,” Candace told him. She snuggled against his side, one hand resting against the flat of his stomach, her index finger drawing small circles. “But,” she lifted her eyes to his. “I guess I have to let you go. Just think about that alone time for later.” She kissed him softly. “Something to keep you thinking about it.” She turned away, swung her feet to the floor and began to get dressed.
“You do give me things to think about,” Mike told her. He trailed his fingers down her back, bent forward and kissed her shoulder.
Candace looked back at him. “Do you want to make that watch?”
Mike laughed. “No, but I have no choice at all.” He leaned forward and kissed her mouth. “Later,” he said.
“Later,” She agreed.
The room had not been in bad shape. It was funny how fate could be, Mike had thought. One wing flattened, one untouched. From sleeping in a cave a day ago, to sleeping in a real bed the next.
The room was dusty, a slight musty, unused odor, but dry. The roof had held up. The walls seemed untouched.
“Where are you going?” Mike asked.
“You’re not on, Babe,” Mike grinned.
“Correction. I wasn’t on. You had Patty on, but she wanted to spend time with Ronnie, so we switched. That way, when we’re done, we can come back here again…” She cocked her eyebrows. “And take our time?”
“What, not be rushed?” Mike asked.
She stood and turned into him as he was getting ready to leave. A beautiful woman wearing only a pair of white socks, which was all she had managed to get on. She stretched up onto her tip toes and kissed him. His hands pulled her close. She pulled away with a smile.
“I thought you were coming with me,” Mike said.
“I am,” She giggled.
He reached for her once more, but she skipped away. “We’ll never get there, Baby,” she told him.
“As it is, I’ll probably be thinking about you throughout the whole watch and waiting to get back here. God, Candace, you’re so beautiful.”
She looked at him seriously. “Keep that up and we’ll never get out of this room.” She crossed the short distance between them and kissed him once more. “Say it just once more?”
“You’re beautiful,” Mike told her as he pulled her close.
It was about an hour and a half past sunset when Mike took over one of the perimeter guard posts from Susan. It was simply the far corner of the garage complex that overlooked a field and the highway beyond it.
“Quiet?” He asked.
“Pretty much. The dog… what’s that dog’s name anyway?” she asked.
“He doesn’t have one,” Mike admitted. “We, uh… we just call him The Dog, you know. He survived. He got through it same as us; he made it, you know. He’s The Dog.” Mike finished lamely.
“Oh. Sounds like a little guilt there, Mike. Maybe we should all get together and name it,” Susan suggested.
“Well, anyway… The Dog kept looking off towards the highway. He didn’t, like, bark or anything. I thought maybe deer, cows, something else. But with the meat drying, it could have drawn anything at all. The fires and so many people should be enough to keep anything away. Even if it’s wolves, they’ll probably stay away, right? I just thought you should know about it.”
Mike nodded. “Could be something, but you’re probably right. Most likely it’s nothing. I imagine the smell of the meat will draw every carnivore in the area. That’s okay as long as they don’t try to bother us. There will be plenty of scraps when we’re gone.”
Susan nodded this time. “Mike,” she hesitated and Mike nodded for her to continue. “Well, I wondered what you thought about Jan and Bob’s idea of settling in the wilderness. You know, deep in the middle of nowhere… a new Nation.”
Mike nodded slowly. “I think they really want to do it. I think they really believe in it, Susan,” he shrugged. Her eyes questioned him. “Okay… and… And I wish I could believe in it they way they do. Not that I believe it won’t work. I think anything we do will take hard work, a good deal of hard work,” he shrugged again. “And I think they’ll put the work in, I really do. Maybe you’re asking me what I want to do, and I can’t tell you that. I don’t know… I haven’t decided. It’s something Candace and I would have to take the time to sit down and decide, and we just haven’t had the time to do that.”
“You know, in my head the old world was selfish. It was all about selfish. The me-generation? Something like that. And I’m not saying I was any better. I wasn’t. Oh, I had my friends, and I helped them when I could, but when it came down to push or shove, it was me. It was me, and a lot of the people I knew, worked for, with, associated with, were the same way. Social on the surface, but scratch that surface and it’s a different story. Push or shove… and not an overly hard push or shove either.” He looked at her and Susan nodded.
“At least for me it’s been that way. I guess I sound cynical. But it’s not that way anymore. I’m not that way anymore. It’s not about me. It’s about me and Candace. And it really isn’t about us either. It’s deeper. There are people here I’ve really come to care about. I mean really care about. Do you realize that I haven’t watched T.V. Since the night this all started? Sounds ridiculous, right? None of us have, but I did computer work. Scripting, C, C plus, plus, graphics, more. I used to turn my computer on, turn on the T.V. for company and go to work. Eighteen hours sometimes, even longer on occasion. It… that… was my life. No relationships. No one to really care about. No time for it. And everyone I knew was the same way. Superficial. Shallow? Yeah, that too. Well… I don’t do that anymore; I don’t want to.”
Susan nodded. “Everyone I knew was too busy living to think about how they were living,” she said.
“That I do understand,” Mike said. “But not now, you know, somewhere, in some secure building, on some secure server I have a couple of bank accounts that were well over a million dollars each.” He laughed. “All means nothing now, Susan, nothing. I am happy with what I have. I don’t want what I used to have.” He sighed.
“The Nation? Probably a great idea. I can think of only a few things that I could do that would matter as much to me as that does to them. Kids… love… Candace, you know? Do it right, not like the old world. And that’s the rub. It depends on Candace… and the baby. She’s trying to get pregnant. It seems like almost everyone is.” He rubbed the flat of his palm along his jaw feeling the stubble that was softening into a beard. “If she wanted to do it, yes. If she wanted to travel to Alaska, yes. When the time comes, and it’s probably not all that far away in the scheme of things, but when the time comes for Bob and those that have committed to go with them, and those that will – I know there will be more – when that time comes, if Candace wants to go with them, I’ll jump in with both feet. That’s the truth of it.”
Susan’s eyes were misted. “Thank you,” she said.
“Thank you for being long winded and entirely too personal on short notice?” Mike asked.
Susan laughed. “No, for being honest. I think I’m going to go have a talk with a young lady. I’ll see you later, Mike,” she said. She smiled and then walked off into the shadows of the night.
Mike watched her go. Apparently everyone was more appreciative of people now, not just himself, he thought. He turned his attention to the field and the highway. After his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he could see the dark shapes of cattle grazing in the field, a few deer mixed in with them.
He thought about what he had just said, how much he felt for Candace. How for the next few nights they would have a real bed. His mind filled with thoughts of her. He almost missed the radio call, almost wrote it off as one of their own, until he realized it wasn’t.
“Hello the camp,” the voice repeated.
Mike unclasped the radio from his belt and raised it to his mouth and spoke. “I guess you mean us,” he said more calmly than he felt…
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Zombie Plagues on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/25728
White Trash: Two young kids find themselves on the run from the cops, the bad guys, and everyone else after they steal 14 millions dollars and take off for Mexico… #Crime #Fiction #Urban https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/white-trash-dell-sweet/1129773737?ean=2940155853428
New books from author Dell Sweet
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 61,250. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2017 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Star Dancer is an inner galaxy cruiser, transporting inmates and materials between the penal colonies on the Moon and Mars, as well as supplies and people to the bases scattered throughout the Solar System. Her captain, Michael Watson purchased Star Dancer right out of school, but the last few trips have left him longing for more adventure out in the wider expanses of space…
Series: Earth’s Survivors Life Stories. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 102,780. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2017 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead,Fiction » Horror » Crime
A top secret drug that resides within a top secret facility finds its way to the street and from there into the world where it just might end the human race all on its own. Follow a cast of shady characters and criminals as they go about their criminal business and and just maybe, inadvertently start the apocalypse…
Necro looks at the Zombie Apocalypse through the eyes of one couple as they awaken to it and try to keep themselves alive through it. John is an average guy. He doesn’t believe in monsters. That may have to change. Kate has never believed in much of anything including herself, but she is learning to believe again. Together they take their first steps into the land of the dead…
Series: Crime Novels. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 127,500. Language: English. Published: May 11, 2017 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller,Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Crime Time is a collection of nine crime stories from author Dell Sweet. From short stories to near novel length… … When a man tells you he has the moral flexibility to include murder in his life if he deems it necessary this is probably not a man you should be hanging out with. Jeff Johnson had reminded himself of this fact about Robert Biel more than once…
CONNECTED: SHORT HAULS
by W. W. Watson 2018 all rights reserved foreign and domestic.
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
Portions of this novel are Copyright © 2010 – 2015 Dell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and or distributed without the author’s permission.
Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
This material is NOT edited for content
A DRESS FOR JANEY
I rode slowly watching the trail side. There wasn’t much to see in the moonlight, but enough to follow if you knew where to look, and I did.
The thing was, this fella was not no kind of careful anyways. And he was not no horse man neither.
I rubbed my geldings rump, patted a time, and silently promised him a little extra rest time once we caught up to this fool sometime later in the night.
Mister Johnson was a good horse. More used to plow than saddle, but circumstances dictate those positions more’n I do. And this man I was trackin’ had dictated tonight’s circumstances clear and straight.
I turned Mister Johnson down a short chute of a canyon, keeping him to the side so as not to mark the trail, and to keep his iron shoes from ringing out on the stone. We come to a little stream that cut the canyon and I stopped, rolled myself a smoke. I sat, hand cupped and smoked. Listening to the surrounding night.
If this was a smart fella, no way would I have lit no smoke. But this was no smart man at all. This, from what I could see, was a desperate man. Desperate or dumb. Or, possibly, both. I’d know for sure before dawn.
I finished the smoke, flipped it into the crik and went on my way again, following the trail of my own other horse, Mizz Johnson.
I had, had her as long as I had, had Mister Johnson. Truth be told I thought Mister Johnson might be even more pissed off about the situation that I was. He just didn’t know how to use a rope, if so I’m sure he’d a been out for a hangin’ too.
I worked my way sideways down a gully, leaving the actual trail behind me where it out and did a loop back onto itself. The direction was clear enough, and he was far enough ahead that I wouldn’t come up on him, and the shortcut would save me time considerable.
I had me a farm, a good woman and two boys old enough to help a little already. A girl child who made me feel like crying ever time I looked at her. I don’t figure how that is: That a girl child can do that, ‘cept I can see she will have to live her life, and it’s a hard one, and I wisht better than what I got to give her.
Men is men. The boys will grow up rough and tumble. That’s boys. That’s boys comin’ to be a man. But a girl child, seems to me, looks out at the world all pretty and hope, and then the world sort of breaks her down. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.
I’d seen that truth in the eyes of a whore down in Dodge several years back. A young pretty whore, but resigned to be a whore. I’d paid my dollar and stayed for a little conversation as it was a slow night. I don’t never want to see that look in my Melissa’s eyes. But I can’t see that my Janey would ever let her go down that path. We learn from our mistakes, we do: If we don’t we don’t last long in this world.
I made the trail and walked Mister Johnson on the up-slope at a steady pace. He didn’t need much help or pointin’: I figured he could smell ol’ Mizz Johnson at that point, and he was, as I said, a might upset himself.
I was two days out from home. Me out from home meant that Janey had to do it all with no help from no man. Plow what she could with that goddamn, son-of-a-bitch mule we had. Be lucky if it didn’t kick her bad is what I’d be.
This life don’t slow down for no horse thief. The kids got to be fed. The chicks fed too. The cows milked. The other things a woman’s got to do. Cook, and clean, what all. But she’s got to do all the things a man’s got to do as well. All piled in there. No break at all. That was this life out here, how it had to be. How it was.
I caught the smell of fire and meat roastin’ on the air. Fresh, green wood. Not much of a woodsman either, I opinioned. But, considering the horsemanship, the theft itself and all of the rest of it, I’d say I was not too surprised. I stopped, rolled another smoke, kept it cupped to hide the flame, didn’t worry about the odor even though I was close now. The wind was at me after all, and his own, smokey fire would hide all other smells if the wind did shift. Chances were he had no idea of smells on the wind anyways.
I let my eyes travel the sky, lookin’ and I spotted a few stray sparks as they rose into the night sky not far away. All kinds of dumb. But I bet he considered himself some sort of woodsman just because he could light that fire.
Some figure if they can build a fire they’s a woodsman. I laugh at that. I have slept in snow banks and stayed warm. I tracked snowshoes in dead winter and got them. I have been lived in the wild with just a knife for two months while I was working out of the back country and my first horse dropped a leg in a chuck-hole and I had to shoot him.
I was green then. Used up one of my last four bullets on the horse, when I could’a used the knife and saved that bullet. Packed some out with me, dried over the fire, and et better those two months. I was young, dumb and life to come. And for me I was goddamn lucky to have lived through it that time. But, as I done said the one time, you learn or you die. Life, it don’t forgive a lot out here.
I finished the smoke, crushed it out between my thumb and forefinger, then angled Mister Johnson down toward the fire I’d seen. I could be, maybe, cocky and ride right up on him, but I don’t like to misjudge. I tied Mister Johnson to a tree to keep him out of it in case there was gun-play, which I intended there might be. I’d just have to hope there were none that got Mister Johnson. But he’d fare better hidden away. A man will always try in shoot a man’s horse at first sight if he can.
I walked the last hundred or so yards into his camp. My old sprung boots was so mushy and soft they was like walkin’ in Indian mocs anyhow. He never heard me comin’.
He had a chuck spitted over the fire, and probably ever cat, wolf, bear and wild dog for two miles around was sniffing on the air. He was stupid alright. I’d seen some green eyes, and two sets of red eyes as I had made my way into his camp.
He sat before the fire. A fat man: I’d knowed that from the depth of the hoof print though. And a stupid man just as I had guessed, as he had allowed me to walk right up to him, too busy tryin’ to twist the cap off’n a store bought bottle of whiskey he’d got from somewhere.
I decided on the spot to save the bullet: Put my gun away and pulled the rope that I had bought with me free from my shoulder. If a man ever works with cattle, branding, he don’t forget how to rope. And, as a younger man, I done my share of that. I had him in on one toss, and cinched it tight as I walked up on him face to face like.
“Hey,” he says, but me, I go about my business. I got me a limb picked out. We wrestle a little while I drag him to the limb, shift that rope quick like to his neck, and haul him up. He don’t say nothin’ after ‘Hey’, he tries to though.
Folks think hanging a man is easy. And, it can at times be easy, but this wasn’t no easy time: This was one a them hard times. A fat man, a thick neck, and me being plain tired out. He kicked and thrashed for all of ten minutes before he slowed. Me hanging on the end of that rope to keep him stretched, but I could not get him to swinging. And then, me being tired as I was, I looped that rope around Mizz Johnson’s saddle horn, the dumb bastard didn’t know enough to take a saddle off’n a horse, and walked her a bit to get him swinging free. Goddamn if he didn’t kick some more at that. I waited ten more minutes, ticked ’em off on my Elgin. I seen men come back if they neck ain’t broke, and I was sure it was not.
I let him down after that time, rope don’t come cheap to me, and left him laying there for the coyotes, wolves, bear and cats the damn fool had called down. Fat man might not be their favorite, but when times is tough it will do I’d bet.
I gathered up Mizz Johnson, went back and got Mister Johnson. They was happy to see each other. Blowing and touching noses to necks.
The fat man had two pair a saddle bags. The first had a food store, no surprise there, except why he’d been about to eat chuck when he had bacon. The second was a surprise: Gold, and not a little. I will tell you it was enough to sit me right down there by the fire to look it over.
I can count, but there’s a limit. What I knowed, I did, and then I had reached the limit and there was a long ways to go yet. A very long ways. And the trouble was I did not know for absolute what each piece was worth. Coin, stamped, but I could not read none. I could only say there was five times of counting to one hundred and a way to go after that.
Janey could read and write too. And she could cypher figures a sight farther than I could when it come to that. Whoring had taught her that. No whore could afford to get cheated.
I looked at it there in the moonlight for a piece, then put it all back in the saddlebags except a few pieces I kept for my pocket. Janey could count it; whatever it was we were a huge sight better off than we had been. It almost made me want to thank the fat man. I didn’t though. He stole my horse and he got what a horse thief is supposed to get.
I tied Mizz Johnson to the saddle horn of old Mister Johnson’s saddle by a longish lead and we rode out of there. I did put that fire out before we left. I left the chuck where it was, dug me out a piece of jerky my own Janey had made. I chewed thoughtful, thinking about the money as I rode. I was gonna stop at Abilene, which was on the way, and buy Janey a dress. She’d always had such pretty dresses when I’d met her, but times being as they was there weren’t no money for pretty dresses.
I smiled to myself thinkin’ about Janey’s eyes when she saw a new dress or two and then a saddlebag full a gold pieces. It made me feel good inside. I looked up at the moon, sent a prayer to God above up there somewhere, turned Mister Johnson for the next ridge and headed towards Abilene.
EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
Based on the series by W. G. Sweet
AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
Copyright © 2013 by independAntwriters All Rights Reserved
Writers: W.W. Watson, Geo Dell, W.G. Sweet, G.D. Smitty
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S – AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
This material is not edited for content
Conner March 9th
Maybe it’s March ninth. I guess I really don’t know. But, that’s what I think it is so that’s what I’m going with.
It’s late. I spent today getting food. Canned stuff mostly. It was rough. Almost everything is flattened, and what isn’t flattened is badly damaged. I spent about five hours a few days ago digging my way into a market on the Park Street Road. The roof was down but held up by the tops of the aisle stacks, so I was able to make my way through. I just had to be really careful of broken glass. That was where I went back to today.
I had no flashlight at first, but I managed to get a small flashlight and batteries. I had to take so much stuff out of the front area of the store that all the impulse stuff they sell was right there, Candy, little radios, and of course flashlights and batteries also. I tried a small portable radio, nothing but static on the A.M. and F.M. bands both. I bought it back with me along with some extra batteries. I listened to it a short while ago; still nothing, maybe tomorrow.
I spent the day at the market digging out canned goods and bringing them back here.
Here, is an old factory. The factory is down in back of Old Town as it’s called. I knew about it from growing up here. It used to be some sort of a manufacturing plant and it had been closed up for years. The quake took care of that though. The doors that had once been closed and bricked up buckled and sprung open. I was worried about the building itself collapsing, but it seems to be fine.
It’s only about a mile and a half from here to the markets in the village but with no vehicle it’s slow going. I’ve been piling stuff up on a large sled and making trips back and forth.
I found several cars and trucks, snowmobiles, but none of them will run. Most of them have no juice but even the ones that do just turn over but won’t fire up. Maybe if I was a mechanic I could do something, but I’m not. So it’s the sled and a lot of muscle work.
I did notice today, after not going there for two days that no one else had been there either. No tracks in the fresh snow. It’s depressing. No way can I be the only freaking guy here, right? And that made me wonder, what the hell am I writing this for? I mean, if there’s no one left who will read it? I guess those are questions for another day. Another day because, truly, I don’t want to deal with them today.
So I spent my day getting food. There are maybe two dozen buildings still standing in Old Town. But that’s where I was when I left off writing yesterday, heading for Old Town, so I’ll pick it up from there.
When I got into Old Town there was no one there. Only the handful of buildings standing as I mentioned, and two of those went down a short time later from an aftershock. The Police department… Gone. The Fire department… Gone. I know I walked out there. Ditto the high school. All the old houses. The newspaper, museum. Really, it’s all gone.
There were some tracks, but how old were they? I couldn’t tell. And I couldn’t tell where they were headed either. I got pretty down about it and ended up walking back down to Old Town and then down towards the river in back of the buildings. There was a porn shop, still there. It seemed like the dirtiest place I’d ever seen. I mean, why would a place like that still be there, still be standing when almost nothing else was?
Is that a statement or what? Hey, maybe it is. But, since I was down that far I thought I’d take a look at the river, and that made me think about the old Factory down by the river. I remembered playing around that building as a kid. Solid back then. I could never figure out why it was abandoned. Maybe it was still solid.
It wasn’t hard to find it. It’s on an old abandoned road below the level of Old Town, but a good hundred feet or so above the level of the river. All of the brick work that had once closed off the entrance way had fallen. The building itself seemed okay. Some brick had come down, but not much. Most of the brick lying around looked pretty old. Like it had been there for some time. Given the buildings in Old Town, which were still falling, or this old factory that seemed pretty solid , I chose the old factory. It just seemed to make more sense.
It’s quite big. Lighted from the old wire reinforced windows all along the front. The front area is huge, and dry, more room than I could ever use, so there’s no need for me to go back into all that darkness where the light doesn’t reach and find out how deep it goes. And that’s funny, isn’t it? What is it that I’ll need? Might need? Could need? I don’t know. I do know I won’t be spending the rest of my life living in an abandoned factory, that’s for sure. But it’s winter. I have to stay somewhere for the next few months. Then maybe I’ll head south if no one shows up to rescue me. I guess it would be me, there’s no one else here. It shouldn’t be that way though. There has to be more than me.
I spent the rest of the day looking around. I walked all the way out to the strip, as well as out of Old Town toward the old rail yards. It’s all car dealerships and strip malls now. The South Town mall, or most of it, has collapsed. But I should be able to get some stuff out of it. The interstate is car wrecks and bodies everywhere. I could see it from the overpass. I didn’t feel a need to go down there to see it in person. I didn’t want to.
I hadn’t really seen many bodies. Some at the mall, some at the market, a few others here and there, but there is so much ground, houses, things missing, that I think the other people just got swallowed up by the quake. There is a lot of raw earth. Most of the streets are messed up. The interstate is like that in places, what I can see any way, but close to the mall it’s all wrecks and bodies. Wrecked and burned vehicles and it smells horrible. I could smell it long before I came up on the overpass. I’ve decided it will take a lot to get me to go back out there again.
The market has that smell. It’s just a small neighborhood market really. I found two people up by the checkouts when I first dug it out, but none since then, as I’ve dug out other parts of the store. Maybe it’s the meat department at the back of the store that smells like that.
I spent most of the next day wandering around. Trying to start cars and trucks. Calling out to the people I had hoped were there. Nothing. I heard something that sounded like an engine running, but it came and went on the wind and I couldn’t tell where it had come from. But I took that as a good sign. It has to be someone right?
I can’t imagine being alone.
I tried to start new cars, old cars, new trucks, you name it. None of them do anything except turn over. But at least their batteries are working.
That was the day I realized that the daylight seemed to last way to long. My watch wasn’t working, so I can’t say for sure, but the sun just seemed to hang in the sky all day, then it seemed to sink in the wrong direction once it did set. And I was sick all day. My stomach. And I was light headed.
The night lasted a long time and the sun came back up in the wrong place, unless my sense of direction is off. Maybe it is. In any case I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was the earthquakes? I don’t know. It could’ve been, but it doesn’t seem possible.
The end of the world books were saying the Earth would stop and then run backwards. Maybe it did, but I didn’t feel weightlessness if it did. Or at least I don’t think so. But I thought about the vehicles, magnetic poles, maybe because everything is electronic now they can’t work? I don’t know. It’s just an idea, but I’m thinking I’ll look for an older vehicle to try out my theory on. Like I said, I wish I were a mechanic and then I’d know.
Once I found the old factory my mind was pretty much made up. I spent a lot of time clearing out the glass and broken bricks. Bringing food in and even some chairs, blankets, things like that. I’ve collected a lot of firewood and every butane lighter I could find. Paper plates. Plastic forks and spoons. And, man oh man, coffee. I found a small metal coffee pot in an aisle with camping gear. It works pretty damn well. I got some heavy duty pots and pans there also.
All of that over the last few days, but still no other people. It makes me wonder about the tracks that went past my house. Where did they go? Where is there to go to? I turn the radio on every once in awhile but nothing. Even so I’m keeping my attitude upbeat. Positive. There has to be other people. Doesn’t that just make sense? Winter can’t last much past May, and then it will be time to get out of here. Hopefully with other people.
Katie March 9th
I saw him! I know there is this other person just across the river. It was while we were on the way back and I happened to look back across the river from the rail trestle and there he was by the river bank. Climbing it? I think so, but why? And how can I say it was the same man that belonged to the footprints? I can’t. I feel it though. I believe it was him. Who else could it have been?
I wanted to go back right then. Jake refused. There was no reason for him to refuse but he did. We argued about it. I mean really argued. I hadn’t realized or really even thought about what it is about Jake that I don’t like. Maybe a better way to say that is what keeps me away from him. Why didn’t I, in all this destruction, hopelessness, just fall into his arms, or love, or whatever would pass for love in this world. Isn’t that logical? Shouldn’t I have? But I didn’t and the reason is because he’s got this attitude about what place a woman has in his world. It came out today when we argued. I think I picked it up subconsciously before that though and it kept me away from him.
Anyway I’m not going to go there. I’m leaving in the morning to go over there and find the man that I saw. I know that sounds crazy. I know it does but I’m going. I’m getting up at sunrise and I’m going. Jana and James said they would go with me. If Jake doesn’t want to go he doesn’t have to. We’re not speaking at all. Lana seems upset by that. She wants him but not at my expense. I guess that makes me like her a little more than I did.
I was outside until way after dark looking for firelight on the other side of the river. I didn’t see any at all.
I don’t know that area though. Maybe I wouldn’t see a fire over there. Maybe he is being careful. I want to know so much. When will I know it?
March 10th ? (probably) Conner
Another long day, more trips back and forth to the market. The days are definitely longer, but so are the nights. I don’t see how that can be but it is. I have no real way to judge it; it’s just a gut feeling. I found several watches by the checkouts. None of them work either. But, I know its true. I feel the longer days. I feel the longer nights. That’s all I can say.
A few days back I became sure that the days were even longer and that’s changed. They’re not as long as that, but still longer than they used to be.
I was thinking. Who are you? I know that’s kind of dumb but, you’re somebody, right? And you’re reading this, right? And, how far away is it in time? Place? Do you know who I am or did you just find this and begin reading it? Have you been through this too? Is it over and explained? For all I know no one is here to read this. I can’t really believe that though. Man, I really can’t… Won’t. It’s the only reason I’m writing this. So that someone, you, will know who I am. That I made it, at least so far, and as I go along I hope to get some answers. There must be some somewhere. Maybe you have them. Maybe.
So my name is Conner Davis. I’m a web site designer… Was, I guess. I guess there’s no more internet, right? Hopefully it’ll be back though.
I’m twenty three years old. I’m single and it looks like I might remain single for awhile. That’s not funny really. Hopefully I’ll find other people soon. I can’t be the only one left. But if I do or if I don’t, I’ll have this written record.
I dragged about fifty sled loads of stuff down here today. The inside of the market is really beginning to smell bad. No, really bad. And I found more bodies as well. Two today. I’ve been concentrating on canned stuff, trying to make sure I don’t get sick. There is a lot of it, and I have a lot of it here now.
I heard dogs today and not far away either. And there were paw prints in the market. And something had been at the bodies. The dogs, I suppose. I was kind of leery of going in but they weren’t there. And had they been they probably would’ve been as afraid of me as I was of them. But I was also wondering, were they dogs? Wolves? I mean, don’t they sound the same? Leave the same sort of tracks? Maybe not to someone who knows what to look for in the tracks, but to me they look like dog tracks. And the bodies I had found had been partially eaten. Something was eating them. Dogs? Wolves? I didn’t know but I knew I had to be careful. And what about the other tracks going into the market? Other People? Where are they?
That got me thinking about the zoo. What happened to all of the animals there? So I walked out to the park, but I couldn’t get all the way up to the park entrance. The road’s gone. The whole park area seems to be gone. No trees just raw earth. So I turned back around and came back. I don’t think anything could’ve lived through that. But lions, wolves, bear? There are a few new things to worry about, right? Can a lion survive in the winter? I don’t know. But I walked back from my trip to the park a whole lot faster than I walked up there.
But I heard dogs… Or wolves. I heard them, and if they lived other people had to live, right? And a few times now I’ve felt that I was being watched. You know that feeling you get? Well I’ve gotten it a few times in the last few days. I still haven’t seen anyone though. I’ve called out a few times; no one has answered.
I haven’t seen other footprints besides the market, but it’s been a little warmer and the snow has melted. Not all of it, but a lot of it. And they could also walk where I’ve been walking, in which case I wouldn’t see their tracks. But they should have no trouble finding me. I’m not try to hide… Be careful about the tracks I leave. I don’t know if that’s good or not. I’ve been thinking about that too.
I’m not much for guns. I’ve never shot a pistol or a rifle or gone hunting. But I’m thinking of walking back out to the strip. There were a few sporting goods stores out there. I even took a few things from one of them the other day, but I didn’t think about guns at the time. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.
A weird thing did happen today. I was being careful, making sure there were no dogs or wolves, or whatever in the store. Looking around. I was up at the front where the payphones are, there was a time when people used things like payphones, these were still there from that time, and one of them rang. As soon as it did the other two there rang also. Only a little jangle. It didn’t last more than a second, but it scared the crap out of me. I thought I was dead right there. For some reason I thought the wolves had sneaked up on me. Come up behind me and were about to get me. Don’t ask me how I got wolves from a ringing phone but I did.
I calmed down after a few minutes and so I walked over and picked up the nearest receiver. Static. Scratchy static. Then it cleared for a second and, it was probably just my nerves, but I could swear I heard someone there. Maybe not heard, I don’t know if I heard anything at all, it was more like I knew someone was there: You know what I mean? Like when you get a crank call and the person doesn’t speak but you know that they are there anyway? Like that. Exactly like that. But, then it went right back to scratchy static and I felt stupid for even thinking it at all. Who could’ve been there? Who would know I was there? It was just nerves. I know it was.
After I got everything back to this building I organized it. I’ve bought back a lot of stuff. Meat, vegetables, bottled water. I have to work my way over to some of the other aisles. I need rice. Pasta. Maybe some instant potatoes. I started on that today. I got part way through the end cap, but the whole roof seems to be resting on that part of the aisle stands, and it’s the same way on the other end. That’s when I found the bodies. It was so bad I couldn’t tell what they had been.
I thought it might be better to go through the aisle dividers. They are solid steel though, and I can’t see any way through them, short of a set of torches. Maybe I could find a set, but it seems as though it would be easier to start from the checkouts and work my way through the piles of stuff until I hit another aisle. I have no idea what each aisle is though.
Yeah, I’ve been there about a thousand times, and I can tell you where the beer and chips would be, paper plates, disposable forks and spoons, but that’s about it. I’d hate to spend five hours or more of digging just to reach the toilet paper and sanitary napkins in aisle four. That would be my luck. But there’s nothing to do for it except to do it. Or go find a set of torches.
I know I need carbs. Canned meat and vegetables are good, but very low carbs. It’s funny but I need fat, things I’m burning heavy and need to replace. I have nearly constant exercise. My pants are hanging off me. Who knew it could be this easy to lose weight?
I’d also like to find supplements. A good selection of first aid stuff. Vitamins, band aids, disinfectant, things like that. I guess that’s my next little bit of time mapped out for me.
Other things I’m looking for: A wind up watch (Should work right?); an old car or truck without an electronic brain (My hope is that if it’s just a simple distributor/spark arrangement with a carburetor, I should be able to get it to work). I think electronics are shot. They don’t work that’s for sure. But I could be wrong. Maybe they will in time.
A battery powered T.V. ; maybe there will be a station on. I know it’s a long shot. Everything is digital. Do they even make battery powered digital televisions?
A C.B. or Ham radio. That would let me listen to the state, maybe the world. I should be able to reach someone. And, last; I’m going to check every phone I come across… Just in case.
It’s early but I’m tired… I wish I weren’t alone.
Katie March 10th
It’s late at night. What a difference a day makes. Conner is his name.
We went back today to see if he had been back to the store. I went there first. I hoped to catch him there early but he wasn’t there. Jake dragged his feet. Like he didn’t want to go at all. He didn’t say that but it seemed that way to me. Maybe things were just getting to me. Jake putting more and more pressure on me to be with him. Lana turning up the I hate you attitude. Maybe it’s just me, or just was me. Either way, by the time we did get there this morning the snow was melting and there was no real way to tell if he had been there at all. I thought about what I had decided yesterday, just going without Jake, but I waited.
We went back to the river and began looking along the banks on that side. I couldn’t figure where he had gone to.
I backtracked to the market up street, thinking I must have missed him, missed something anyway. On the way back I saw him crossing the end of Old Town. I practically screamed out loud but he didn’t hear me. By the time we got there he was gone.
Then the day just started to slide away. I began to think I wouldn’t find him at all. It depressed me.
It was James who smelled the smoke. All we had to do was follow the smoke and we found him. James found him. How do you follow smoke? Have you ever tried? I mean, if I could see it in the air? Sure. But I couldn’t. James knew how to follow it anyway. That man is smart.
I guess there’s a lot more that I could say about today but I’m not going to say it now. I’ll say this though, I want him. I want him and Jake knows it. It’s like Jake knew it would turn out this way. Jana knew how I felt, knew how it would be. She told me that today. She said she could see it in me last night. Like this is the way it’s supposed to be.
Lana knows as well. She’s happy about it. I saw her face when she figured it out. She looked from me to Conner and back. Then she did it again; this puzzled look on her face, and then she smiled, looked at me and nodded. I think she’s just biding her time now. I guess I am too.
Conner Davis. Conner. I think I already wrote his name. I don’t know what happens next. How to make it happen. I’m no good at that sort of thing. I’ve never done it. And my little notebook here, my only friend through all of this, along with Jana, can’t help me with that. I can write it here, look at it, but that doesn’t realize it.
I still have my father’s gun. That has also been my friend the last few days. But it can’t help me either, unless I shoot Jake. I guess that’s not funny. Jake never liked my gun. It bothered him Not ladylike? Something like that I think. Conner wasn’t shocked at all except to say he should have already gotten one and didn’t. It didn’t intimidate him in other words.
Tomorrow is March eleventh. I would have started a new life tomorrow. Maybe one I wasn’t meant to start. I feel like… I don’t know. To be honest I feel like I’m just a dumb girl pretending to be a woman, a grown up. Does nineteen know everything? No. I don’t want to pretend at this. I want to get things right. I don’t know what’s next. But does anybody?
Conner March 12th
Things have been really crazy the last few days. I’m not alone anymore. It’s funny because that’s the last thing I wrote, and two days later it’s like an answer to prayer. It happened later on the evening of the tenth. Oh, and it was the tenth. Jake has an old fashioned wind up watch. So does Katie. And they’ve both kept track. Kept them wound up too. But, in another way it isn’t the twelfth today at all because the days and nights, or the rotation of the Earth that makes the days and nights, isn’t the same at all. It’s much slower. It’s taking about twenty eight hours to cycle through. But last week it was up to almost thirty six hours. And, none of us knows why, except it slowed up and it’s now starting to get back to a normal length of time to cycle through a night and day. So, it’s not really the twelfth, and they’ve just been keeping track of the days as they pass. Same as I’ve been; except for the day I thought I’d lost.
Anyway, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from start; I was organizing stuff. There is a warehouse down closer to the river full of wooden pallets. I went down there a few days ago. Box upon box upon box. I have no idea what’s in them. I figured sometime I’d just open a few up and see. Maybe it would be something useful, maybe not. What’s useful now is radically different from what used to be useful.
Anyway I noticed all of the pallets. Pallets everywhere. Some full, some piled high with stuff, but a lot of empty ones; so I went back down with the sled and made a few trips back and forth to the factory so I could stack the canned stuff on them, so they’re not sitting on the floor. I was putting them in the back of the building. I was so wrapped up in stacking the canned goods that I never even heard them until Katie cleared her throat. I guess to get my attention.
It scared me bad. I thought about the gun I had never bothered to go and get, and a lot of other bad stuff. It went through my mind so fast. The first thing in my head was. The wolves got me! They Sneaked up on me! Stupid, I know. I knew it was a person, but my head still insisted wolf. It didn’t last though, and my reaction scared them as well. Lana said I had a can of peas in my hand and she was sure I was going to bean Katie in the head with them. For some reason she found it funny that I would bean someone in the head with a can of peas and she giggled. I just felt embarrassed and glad I didn’t throw the can. I set it down on the stack and took a few deep breaths instead. We all ended up laughing our asses off. Nervous energy. Release, I guess, or something like that. And then we all began to talk at once.
They had known about me for two days. They had seen that someone was going in and out of the market. They were going out to one on the north side, the other side of the river from where I was. For some reason I hadn’t thought to cross the river, they had already been on the other side to begin with, and even though the main bridges seemed too damaged to be trusted, the railroad trestle seemed solid and unharmed to them, so they crossed over on that to get to my side. I was impressed; that is an open trestle. A long way down to the water.
Because the snow on the asphalt was melting they couldn’t figure out where I was going when I left the market. They were actually going back across the river when Katie happened to look over her shoulder toward the opposite bank and happened to catch me going into the factory. She had thought to yell, but over the sound of the rapids she couldn’t get anyone around her to hear her, let alone me.
Once they were across she talked to Jake, Jake pretty much was their leader (I don’t know if I like that. Do we need leaders?), and they decided to come back the next day, which was two days ago, and see if they could find me. They didn’t know about the . Katie had thought I was just climbing the rock above the river. They searched along the back of the Old Town, or what’s left of it, and down towards the strip. If they had come back down one more road towards the river, they would’ve found this old factory then. Maybe they hadn’t realized there was a road there at all; so they just followed the path of the river thinking I was living in one of the fallen down buildings closer along the banks of the river itself.
They had seen me from quite a way off crossing the square as they were heading back. It looked to them like I was heading for the north side, maybe crossing one of the bridges, but by the time they got there I was gone. They even began to wonder if I had seen them and hidden on purpose. Maybe out of fear. They had searched for awhile and then, just when they had been about to quit for the day, James realized that he could smell smoke. As soon as he said it, everyone else realized they had smelled it all along as well. After that it didn’t take long to find the old factory. They just followed the smell of smoke down to the lower road and found me.
So that was that and now we are six. Jake, Jake Light, he was their leader as I said. He’s an older guy. In his late thirties. Used to be a truck driver.
Katie Lee (don’t call her Honey. I don’t know why). She’s nineteen and was visiting her grandparents. She was from New York. I thought she was with Jake. I think Jake thought so as well.
James and Jana Adams. James is a little older than Jana. In his fifties, and he said he is a mechanic. Jana does, did, data processing. And Lana. Her real name is Marcia Santos. Lana is her middle name. She said she always liked Lana better. She was still in school, local college. I guess she’s the same age as Katie, nineteen. And last, but not least, me.
We spent all of yesterday getting their stuff from across the river and bringing it over to the factory. I thought that was weird. Why go get stuff anyway? You can have anything you want. It’s all free. But in another way I guess I understand. We’ve lost everything. We want to hang on to what little we still do have. We’re all going to stay here. And we talked about what’s next, and what we know about what happened.
I said I had been kind of planning to leave once spring came. Head south or west. Somewhere where I wouldn’t have to worry about winter. Jake said it may be that where it would normally have been warmer it won’t be any more. He said it depends on what happened. None of us really know. He thinks it might be smarter to stay here. We could stock up this building. We could even hunt. He said he’s sure there are deer around. James agreed with him, at least on there being Deer around.
I told them about the footprints by my house. They said they had seen footprints also. They had gone out toward the strip and seen the tracks of three or four people going in and out of a small store in a strip mall out there. They had called out, but no one had answered. They had had second thoughts about calling out as well. They weren’t armed. What if someone shot at them?
That bought my original thoughts to mind about a weapon. I mentioned the sporting goods store and we all agreed to make a trip out there soon.
We talked about cars and trucks and agreed it would be good to get an SUV or truck of some kind if we could find one that will run, as they might be the only vehicles that could drive around as bad as things are torn up. They have also tried starting a few vehicles with no success. I mentioned my electronic brain idea, and Jake said he had thought of the same thing. Turns out he’s also a mechanic. I guess I can see why they chose him to lead. I feel kind of useless around the guy though. We agreed to try finding an older vehicle. Jake thinks our chances of getting one running are good. We’ll see what we can find.
The first night together was good. The best I’ve slept since this thing started. Just not being alone, you know? I guess I’ll end on that note…