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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 9, by Christopher Young

Ring Out The Dead


About 7 AM, the sun rose in the East. There is a certain comfort to know that regardless of what mankind does to each other, there are some things which remain the same from day to day. At Sam's house, Gomer was on watch. He had taken over from sam, a couple hours into the night. Sam was ready for sleep, heis leg had been painful. He spent much of his watch time hopping around on crutches, to keep his circulation going. However, after a few hours of that, Gomer couldn't sleep with all the noise. So, Gomer volunteered to take the rest of the shift. Sam hopped slowly up the stairs, using one leg. And headed for bed. He took a Vicodin, and then lay down on top of the bed without boterhing to take off his clothes.

A bit farther East than Ohio, Faith's van was still along side the road. The two girls had long since stopped trying to wake their Mom. They had taken what clothes they had, and wrapped Faith, to keep her warm. Mom was covered with size five and size seven shirts, pants, and socks. The girls had gone to the back seat of the minivan, and had lay down together. They were used to sleeping in the same bed, but this time was more important than ever to stay warm. Intuitively, the knew they had to stay with the van. And with their mother. They fell asleep some how.

Some what further East than that, Heather woke about 7 Am, and wiped the dreams out of her eyes. In her dream, she was about 18, and was the prom queen at her high school. Gomer had been her companion, though a bit younger looking. Heather put on her bath robe and slippers. She had been sleeping in a warm bed, in a heated building. She went to the kitchen, and turned on the shortwave rdio to get the news. She turned on the television, by force of habit. Flipped through the channels, and found nothing on. no surprise, there was nothing yesterday, either. The short wave radio found Voice of America, broadcasting out of Florida. There was some cheeful music, and perhaps a German polka or two. Some early Beatles, and then the news announcer came on.

About 7:30, Heather wondered idly what had happened to Faith. Probably got home safely, and was warm and dry at her apartment. Heather knew her kids would be waking soon, and she put a couple slices of bread in the toaster. Opened the refrigerator, and got out a dozen farm fresh egges, from the local farm a half mile down the road. Last of the eggs, she'd have to drive there and see if the farmer was still selling eggs. But, plenty for today The kids did't eat that much, and Gomer was the big egg eater in the family. As long as they were cooked solidly through, Gomer would eat any egg known to man. And with all these eggs, Gomer still had a low cholesterol. Must be good genetics, and the extreme missions he served for the military. Lots of exercise.

Heather turned on the scanner, on the shelf next to the sink. There wasn't much action.

Action. Well, not a good kind. That's what was going on at Bill's. Connie and the kids had slept in the closet, in the cellar. Connie had gone out for a look, and found David on the floor, not responsive. She knew some how, there was no use. So, she went to go take care of her kids. In the morning, Connie had to go to the bathroom. Well, the kids also needed a potty stop. So, they went as a team, to the bathroom.

Breakfast was what was on everyone's mind. Sam had woken from a long night slumber, and found himself still dressed. Not a good sign, the last time that happened was after a party during his teen age years. Chris woke, with a sore side. He'd also slept in his clothes, he wasn't used having a revolver pressing him in the side. As Sam's family and guests reached the kitchen table, Chris asked how were everyone, and what's the plans for the near to medium future.

In Tenn, Connie knew the kids would be hungry. She told them to wait, for a moment. Don't come upstairs till I call. She went to the bedroom, and got a blanket. She went upstairs, and threw a blanket over David's remains. Figured that was better than nothing. And then called for the kids to come upstairs. Slowly, they did. Trying not to look into the other room. They both knew.

Connie looked through the kitchen. There wasn't much that she could cook. The camp stove was sitting on top of the electric stove. She used the camp stove to cook up some coffee, and a pot of tea for Bill. A couple of eggs for the kids, and some warm orange juice for the kids to drink. Breakfast was somber, and quiet. No one spoke. No one looked at anyone else. The kids ate about half what they usually ate. After breakfast, Connie decided to check, to see what was still OK. She tried the FRS radio, but everyone knew from the sound of her voice that there was no hope. Figured if Bill hadn't called in by this time, he wasn't likely to call in. Should she call the police? The phones weren't working. Maybe the cell phone. But what could the police do?

Sam called another family conference, which was a bit of a useless gesture, as everyone was at the table already. Still, it was nice to formally anounce that the family conference was in session.

The question that Sam posed was what to do with the next couple weeks. They had food and water for a couple weeks, and figured that the folks at the compound at Gomer's would be all right for a few days while the rest of the family was away. But what then? It didn't look like the economy in the US was going to bounce back into shape any time soon. Didn't look like the regular channels of business like gas stations and grocery stores would come back to action. Time to look at the resources, and see what is available. to use, and what to do. Figuring for a year of shut down before the nation rebuilt itself.

San opened the "floor" for comments. Gomer chipped in, that he had a good supply of rations, some good neighbors who were farmers and other useful people. That his house had a well, and a good supply of fuel. Both solar, and wood based fuel. They could heat with wood in the witner, and good shade from trees for the summer. Now, they had not only the Model A for transportation, but also the Mitsubishi with part of tank of gas.

Gomer suggested that they ought to do a detail job, and some body paint on the mitsubishi. Some of the other Mussies might recognize the car, and kill whoever was driving it. There was general agreement, that the car could not be left lookign the same as it was. Even if it was just to clean it out, and put some bumper stickers and some paint for the body.

Since Sam was good for several weeks, there is no big rush to move any where.

Chris mentioned that Bill was far better equipped. And a more temperate climate, being in Tenn. It makes good sense to go to Bill's, as a gathering point. That Bill would have plenty of bunk space, and a good supply of necessary supplies. Warmer in the summer, but less need of heat in the winter. And that in passing, more or less literally, Chris had some supplies at the trailer, if the trailer is still standing.

The discussion went back and forth. Chris was in favor of going to Bill's, but Gomer had plans only to go back to his place. They decided to check if the cell phones were working, and see what was going on.

Gomer pulled out his cell phone, and rang up Heather. Learned that it waas a fairly routine morning there, that the three kids were just waking up from their night sleep. What? three? Gomer thought there were five. Well, Faith had gotten upset and stormed out. so, there were only three kids at Gomer's compound.

Chris used his cell to call Bill's, and got no answer, again. That was really strange. Chris then called Faith's cell phone, and Savannah answered. Which was even more strange. Chris could hear them fighting over the telephone, and finally Savannah came onto the line. Savannah wasn't all that clear, but Chris was able to make out the important parts. That Faith had wrecked the van, and she wasn't able to answer the phone. Chris repeated back what Savannah said, so that the other adults aound the table could hear what was going on. He told her to stay with the van, and don't go any where. They would be there as soon as they could, to see if they could help Faith out.

Chris disconnected the call, and then slowly looked around the room. Gomer, Sam, Brenda, Sammy, and Sam's daughter all looked back at him. The baby started to cry, it was so quiet.

After a few seconds, Chris spoke. "Well, looks like Faith needs another rescue mission. Who's coming along?" Gomer muttered something that sounded like "Trucking idiot." Chris wisely didn't ask him to say it louder. Sam spoke next. "Guess you boys are on your own, I can't do much to help out, even if I wanted."

Chris said, it sounded like since they had to go up that way anyway, that they ought to check on Faith's girls, and see what's doing with that. No way to know where Faith is, except that they are between Gomers and Faith's, on route 5. It's several miles, and can't expect the girls to walk the entire way. Hmm. Now, what? Heather is a lot closer, wonder if she can get there some how? When he said that, Gomer's eyes lit up a bit. Heather had an old car, that she'd used many years ago, before they got married. Gomer had it in the barn, the battery was disconnected. But it should run, if the battery were hooked back up. Gomer pressed redial on his telephone. Heather wasn't going to be happy to hear this.

Chris auto dialed Bill's cell phone, but got the voice mail again. Tried David's cell phone, and got the voice mail. What he didn't know, was that David's phone was under a blanket. And both kids were staring at the phone. Or at the sound it was making. Connie had taken a thermos of tea, and gone to the OP to see if Bill was still there. Connie figured that Bill would be needing some breakfast, soon. And a pot of iced tea was Bill's habit. She'd best be there, just in case Bill was wanting breakfast.