More Bad News
"So, you kids saved, yet?" Martha's husband asked, with a twinkle in his eye. Madison and Jade looked back, didn't know what to say. Martha finally explained to Pa that they had only been to services once. That was a bit too much to expect of heathen children. The kids didn't know what those church words were, so they didn't say anything. Finally, Martha invited them in, and said she'd get started fixing lunch.
Not many people were having lunch at tht time. As the Presidential Survey was finding out, 82% of the nation had run out of food. Things were getting lean, in the gold old USA. With no truck to deliver, the stores were empty of food. Even things like jars of olives were sold out. And some courageous souls had started to eat cat and dog food. Some had even tried pig food, finding it nearly flavorless. Farmers were having a tough time trying to keep looters off their property. It wasn't yet harvest time, and the crops were not yet heavy enough to harvest. But, the crowds were hungry NOW. Neighborhoods had set up mutual defense leagues. Blocking streets, and setting up guard posts.
The news from the Presidential Survey was slow to get back to Washington. The telephone grid was starting to come unraveled, as sub stations lost power. The internet hubs had also lost power, and so computers were no longer connected to each other. The US Mail was in standstill, there was no fuel for the postal vehicles. Planes were not flying except for a few privately owned air planes, short distances from their home fields. But gasoline was in scarce supply. So, they could not risk to travel very far.
The old time American tradition of hunting was back in full swing. A nation of people had gone to the closets, and dusted off the old guns that their parents had handed down. A generation of grocery shoppers had taken to the woods, and started shooting. It was no longer safe in the woods. All those hungry and inexperienced people shooting at anything that moved.
And in New York, it was definitely not safe in the woods. With the rapidly decreasing deer population, the predators of the woods had less food to eat. They had been getting hungry, and had started to go after other forms of meat, such as house hold pets, and people walking alone. Particularly people looking sick, weak, or otherwise handicapped.
Handicapped was a good way to describe Sam, still. He had a cast on his leg, and was still traveling by crutches. Getting better, no longer having to take anything for pain. Lunch was finishing at Sam's house, and the house was packed a bit tight with people. Pastor Peters had directed most of his preaching energy towards the Mormons. Chris, and the two missionary Elders. Figured this was a heaven sent chance to save three lost souls who definitely needed saving. Chris and the Elders sat quietly and politely through the preaching. After dinner, Pastor Preters pushed away his plate, and thanked Brenda for a very good lunch. Chris decided to speak up.
"thank you for the very good message. However, I think the Elders don't often get a chance to teach what the LDS church believes. Might they have a chance, now? " Pastor Peters started to scoff at that idea. After all, what could a couple of unwashed and unsaved wet behind the ears teens have to say that could be any better than what a Pastor of the Gospel would have to say. As he started to ridicule the idea, Sam spoke up. Said he'd sure love to hear what the boys had to say.
One of the Elders cleared his throat, and began to speak. As he did, there was a sense of quiet and peace that filled the home. He didn't speak loudly, but did speak of the things of God, which are important to the teachings of the church.
Sam sat, and listened intently. He nodded, and the young man spoke some more.
Nodding. Well, that described Faith. She had made it about a mile down route 5, and was heading back to her apartment. She knew her mini van was out of gas, and she'd have to walk. But that was no big deal, it was only a mile or two. She'd driven it enough times. And in her mentally confused state, she was stumbling down the road. This would be the moment when a National Guard truck passed, leaving the town where she had seen those unruly children, the last time. They slowed down, and whistled. Stared at her for a few seconds. And called rude things to her. Asked for sexual favors. Faith raised her hand, and flipped them the bird. They kept rolling past, and then took off at road speeds.
Faith kept stumbling down the road, for a couple more steps. She wobbled, and nearly fell. It had been ages since she left Gomer's compound, and she was so, so thirsty. As she stumbled again, the largest black bear she had ever seen charged out of the woods, and knocked her down.
Knocked down. Well, that's about how fast Heather was going, when she came out of the gate of the compound. Fast enough to knock down the gate. She guessed Faith would head for home, so she turned in that direction. Heather pushed the gas pedal, and the car slowed down. Big mental disconnect, here. Push the gas, and the car is supposed to go faster. So, she pushed the gas pedal to the floor. Finally, the car rolled to a stop, and she coasted to the curb. She looked at the gas gauge, and found the tank was empty. Not a good thing. fortunately, they were only a couple hundred yards from the gate. Still, it was irritating.
Out of gas described Gomer pretty well. He had finished lunch, and gone to the living room to play his hand held video game, and put his earbud headphones in. He zoned out the entire world. Not only had everything gone wrong, but now he was stuck in the house with a bunch of preachers. Sam noticed Gomer wasn't doing very well. He motioned to Chris, to step out back. The two men stepped out the back door. Sam a bit more slowly and carefully.
"So, what's with your boy?" Sam asked. Chris thought about it for a while, and decided that Gomer was probably depressed, having lost the truck in a fire. and he was also out of his element. Used to being in charge, and now he was going along as a firth wheel, to speak of. "Time for you to get back ont he road, and take your boy home." Chris agreed, but suggested they go to see the farm first. There may be stuff that was useful, at the farm. Sam nodded.
Chris entered the kitchen in just about enough time to see Pastor Peters storm out of the front odor of the house. The Elders were looking at each other, and even Gomer had perked up a bit. Sam asked what happened. There was several seconds silence, and then Brenda spoke.
"The boys had a message that was totally interesting. Really warm, and loving and good. I'd never felt this good, and so I asked to learn more about their message. Pastor got red in the face, spluttered for a few mintues, and stormed out of the front door."
Red. That's the color of a gasoline can. Heather was lugging one along, it was really very clumsy. But, she knew it was necessary to get the car going again. About an hour later, she had got back to the Buick, and was pouring the gasoline back in. Ordered the five kids back into the car, and then put the empty gas can in the trunk.
Got in, and turned the key. the engine started, after a few seconds. She took off again. Going about 30 MPH along the road.
A mile from the compound, Heather slowed down. Thought she saw something along the side of the road. They got closer, and sure enough, it was Faith. There wasn't much left, to see. Whatever got her, got her good. Some clothing, and part of a leg was what was left. And a couple big lumps of poop.
Heather clutched her hand over her mouth. Not sure what to say. The kids looked out of the car windows, and Bobbi stared to cry. Zach opened the front door, and walked over. He looked the situation up and down. Finally, he stared at the poop for a couple seconds. He got down on hands and knees, and had a closer look.
Zack got back up and announced in a loud voice "She was attacked by a black bear!"
Heather asked how would he ever know such a thing.
"The spoor has small metal bells, and smells like pepper."