Life Gets Even
Sunday afternoon, across America, posed a bunch of challenges. Most people had improvised ways of telling which day it was. Those who had wall calendars from the auto repair garage, or the insurance agent. They were doing well. People who had electronic gadgets, the batteries on most of them had long since gone dead. And there was no way to recharge them. Hundreds of PDF, Bluetooth, Blackberry, and other modern devices. Sat, unused. With dead rechargeable cells. The petroleum refineries depended on the power grid, to refine oil. There were a couple super tankers of crude oil in harbors. But, with no power to off load the cargo, they sat with full tanks. Running out of diesel, the tank trucks could not get the crude to the refineries, to produce more diesel.
The President had commissioned a study, to see how the nation was doing. Things were not looking promising. 98% of the nation was without electricity. This means that all the freezers of the nation had long since thawed out. A few people had backup generators. But, those were out of fuel. Five galons of gasoline doesn't last very long. A few people had planned well with extended run propane tanks and propane generators. Or diesel generators. But, 98% of the nation was without electricity in any form. Except for a few solar devices, and a few batteries remaining.
The military and FEMA had gone into action. There were resident camps, and feeding stations set up around the nations. The cities were the worst, crime was way up. Just as after the hurricane that damaged the levees at New Orleans, the residents had started attacking the rescuers. It was no longer safe to wear a uniform of a fire department or police agency. Those who had some ammunition left, took care of their own. Those who did not have a gun, stayed indoors even if it was very uncomfortable.
No one came back from the FEMA camps. Rumors were flying, and no one had actual answers. There were rumors of slave labor, and selling people overseas to other governments. But, no one really knew. The FEMA buses would come around once a day. Anyone could get on, but no one could get off. You had to be pretty hungry to get onto the FEMA bus, they did promise food and safe housing and all your rights would be respected. But no one was really sure. Since no one had come back.
Lunch in Tennessee was noticeably different. Jade and Madison were thankful to have food. Martha tuned out to be a bible thumping Baptist, and she took to he two kids to church. They were scared by the minister, who got a bit eager and animated, while he was preaching. The kids had not been to church before, and did not know what to think about the entire experience.
Heather's church experience was wonderful. She had enjoyed being away from the house. The other women were also neatly dressed, but she noticed she was a bit cleaner than any of the other women. Apparently, they were running out of clean clothes, and also running out of laundry soap. And no power to run the washing machine. Fortunately, Heather had a good supply of water, soap, and so on. As church ended, she decided to stay a bit longer.
The kids wanted to go out and play. So, she sent them out with a stern warning "keep your clothes clean, boys!" and the kids went out to the back yard to play. Heather chatted with the other adults, and caught up on the news. Gomer had taught her well, she didn't reveal very much about their preps. She knew that there would likely be starving hordes, and that she should not admit to having anything at home except for hungry kids. That was the way things were, now that the nation was in crisis.
The other adults at church had set up an informal barter network, they would all meet at the church every Monday. Sundays after church they would discuss what they had to offer, and what they needed. Mondays, they would return to the church. So they would not be doing business on the Sunday sabbath. And then after dinner on Monday was the trading time. Potluck dinner, after church and for Monday dinner. Of course, they could also keep up on all the latest in gossip.
After about an hour, the parents started to look at each other, and wonder why it was so quiet, outside. One parent asked another "do you think the kids are getting in trouble?" and they all looked back and forth. they nodded yes, for it was a given. When the kids are quiet, they are getting in trouble. As a group, the adults walked out the back door of the church, and down the long flight of cement steps. They slowly walked out to the field, behind the church. There was not a soul to be seen. They walked into the field, and some stared to call out their kids names. At the back of the field, was a row of trees, and then a small stream that ran behind the field. The parents started to wonder, if the kids were OK. Maybe they were playing by the water. As Heather looked through the row of trees, she was astounded to see about two dozen children's heads floating on the water, out in the stream. Heather want into panic, some mass murderer had beheaded them all, and then floated their head in the stream, it was just too gruesome.
Heather gasped, and then one of the men in the group hollered "Steve! Get your butt out of there! I told you to keep your clothes clean!!". Heather did remember saying that, also. One of the boys stood up, and started to walk towards the sandy banks of the stream. Heather giggled as he walked out of the water, he wasn't wearing any clothes.
Zack saw his Mom in the crowd, and immediately pointed at Shawn "He started it" he hollered and pointed to Shawn. One at a time, the kids came out of the water, and found their clothes along the edge of the bushes. Since there were no towels, they started to walk back to the cars, holding their dry clothes out away from thier wet bodies. None of the parents spoke for a long time. they just didn't know what to say. A few of them looked rather stern and upset with the kids. Others looked embarrassed. Heather just figured it was another everyday day.
After a slow drive home, that seemed to take forever. Heather said not a word. The kids knew that this was the wrong time to say anything. So, they had been very quiet. They all knew that they were in big trouble. It was definitely not all right to be in trouble on Sunday.
As they got out of the car, Heather said they were dry enough. Dress up. They did so. and slowly marched up the stairs, into the house. Heather sent the kids ahead, so she could keep an eye on them. And then Heather got ready to tell Faith all about her day at church. She wasn't sure how Heather would react to the news that the kids were skinny dipping. But, Faith was down the hall in the bathroom, and so she knew she'd have to wait. But, that's okay, as the kids were hungry.
Pastor Peters brought bad news. After Sam and his family had eaten lunch, he said he had an announcement. Sam and the others looked at him, and wondered what that might be. Pastor Peters asked if they remembered Aunt Myrtle, the crazy aunt. They gently looked back, wondering what he was going to say. He cleared his throat, and started to speak. Aunt Myrtle had been in the hospital several times, and had just gone to her final reward, last night. There was a silence. No one knew what to say. Pastor Peters continued. And in the yet undisclosed terms of the will, she had left her entire estate to Sam, who had helped her endlessly during her mortal life. So, now, Sam had been given the inheritance. The farm, the house, the vehicles, and everything on the farm. As the law office was closed in town, Pastor Peters had been chosen to deliver the news to Sam and Brenda.
Sam had to sit and think for several minute. He leaned back in his chair, and hummed, as his breath exhaled. It sounded like it took near to forever, for him to think about the matter. Finally Sam spoke. "We'll have to go look around. She's got some nice stuff, that might come in handy now that we are having a national emergency. I'm sad she's gone, but she did leave some good stuff.. "
Leaving. The kids at Gomer's Compound figured they would be leaving for an orphanage, seeing as how much trouble they were in. Heather had finished preparing lunch and called the kids. She figured she'd have to feed them before beating them. The kids filed into the room, somber and funeral speed. They took their seats, and looked around. But something was wrong. They looked, and looked some more. Something was wrong. Savannah broke the silence. "Where's Mommy?" she asked. Heather said she figured Faith musta been in the bathroom. "Can't be", Melissa said. "We just all washed our hands in there."
Heather waved her hands in the traditional "scatter" motion, and sent the kids out to look. They came back about two minutes later. The blank looks said that Faith was no where to be found. "She went out for a walk?" Zach asked.
"Oh, gosh, maybe that's it...." Heather said, and ordered them all back to the car. Zach grabbed his sandwich and started to pack food in his mouth. "Good idea. bring your sandwiches. We need to eat." Heather grabbed her sandwich, also. The group of children and one adult, stumbled down the stairs, bumping into each other.
Heather pushed the remote control for the electric gate, and then started the car. She took off down the driveway, about 15 miles an hour. Far, far too fast. Turned right onto route 5, and increased speed to 35 miles an hour.