Head for the Hills

This story is 45 MS Word pages long, by D.S. Klausler, aka our friend Dave. He handed it to me maybe a week ago. As I began to read it I got absorbed, and finished reading it in two sessions. It is well written and enjoyable – his descriptions of life in the outdoors, tools and weaponry are masterful. I will not spoil it for you other than to note that at the opening the sun is moving in the sky. That should hint at what follows.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I will be suffering under the Florida sun, unless it is moving. I’ll return around late November, and hopefully by that time Dave will have acquired new readers and followers. The blog during that time is deservedly his – to bask in that moving sun,.


Head For the Hills

By DSKlausler


Goodbye Cruel World

‘Goodbye, cruel world, I’m leaving you today.’

Incredibly, the sun appeared to be moving – due south. Not only was it heading in the wrong direction, but it was moving steadily enough for my eyes to easily register motion. Surely this is it. Finishing my run, I kicked in the last 300m hard and the crushed limestone scratched loudly. No stretching as I jumped into the Hondo with liquid skin and soaked shirt. I had gotten in the habit of calling my Honda Ridgeline “Hondo” during my daughter’s driving years at school. We had multiple Honda vehicles more than once; she and Wifey had started naming each to distinguish them – and for fun presumably. [“Morgan Freeman” was one such name; it was a black and chocolate Accord.] It is classed as a “mid-size” [pick-up] truck but actually can handle more load than the three major “full-size” U.S. built pick-ups. After startup, I scrolled the windows and cranked the A/C blower to the max, aiming the vents for the artificially cool air to flow mostly by my ten o’clock – two o’clock positioned wrists then onto my face. Who came up with that unsafe lie, I thought, 10-2. I grabbed the old cloth baby diaper from the console and began to wipe all exposed skin as I reversed then engaged forward and moved briskly to my nearby home. Normally just under four minutes away (because of “school zones”) – now just two and a half at speed. The emergency tornado sirens began wailing (we’ve had exactly one that did minor damage in my twenty-four years here – money well spent, of course), the nearest just three-quarters of a mile westerly from my current position. Bright and sunny with not a cloud in the sky; no wind either. I backed in the drive as the overhead door opened. At least two other weather stations, to the south and the east, joined in on the racket. My wife of thirty years stood anxiously waiting. She had the lists in her hand. I exited and approached. It sure felt like the earth was trembling.

She tentatively said: “This is it, right?” We had discussed this eventuality many times.

“I believe so.” Emotionless. Clearly not a weather event… more like an alarm clock saying: ‘Wake up sheep, time to be shorn.’ Or maybe: ‘Get moving, Reginald, the bunker vault doors lock in twenty-four hours.’

She would be heading to Kentucky to be with our daughter and almost certain death. I would be heading to the Rocky Mountains and an outside chance of survival from the Extinction Level Event unfolding before my eyes. Christ Jesus supposedly said: ‘…flee to the mountains…’ I don’t think that he meant the Rockies necessarily, and maybe not even from a world-ending catastrophe, but I was in on both; Wifey would rather die, if it came to pass, with our only daughter. How strange that this twelve-thousand-year cyclic event would occur during my lifetime here.

All cable channels were on a repeating loop of some talking head calmly telling the masses to remain in their homes “for safety… this power grid problem would be repaired shortly.” All search engines on the interweb returned the same generic advisement. “Please stay off the roads so emergency services and utility crews can reach the problem areas unobstructed.” So, NOT a weather event is confirmed or acknowledged or projected. Just your routine emergency… go back to sleep.

Our planning had both vehicles fueled full at least every-other-day, the truck with ten extra gallons of gas on the supply list. Wifey was dressing according to our script; I followed. We emptied the non-essentials from both vehicles and began our rehearsed pack. We moved orderly and briskly as time was not on our side. We had to clear metro-Chicago quickly indeed – before being locked in by blockades or jam ups – on the main expressways anyway.

It seemed to take forever to pack, but when I checked the clock, we were ready to go in just thirty-seven minutes. Although I suggested putting them outside, as they both can hunt, she had the kitties in the transport cages (and space-hogging bags of kibble). We said our good-byes and hugged deeply and firmly; thirty years. “I’ll see you on the other side.” That’s right, I had to end it with a little Fat Ozzy – probably lost on her though. I think he’s right though; I’ll meet her essence somewhence beyond… my kitties too – and the ones already years gone – I hope. She exited the drive and headed towards Interstate-57 southerly and me towards Interstate-88 moving westerly.

The Long and Winding Road

‘The long and winding road that leads to your door, will never disappear.’

Other than a bit more police presence en route, the expressway was no more or less crowded than any weekday. The drivers had to have heard all the blather on their phones… probably just trying to get home – as usual. The car radio was still repeating the emergency message. No traffic at all by the time I made the Dekalb County line. Many people were in the parking area surrounding the last toll plaza. Although not yet dark, there was a strange brown glow to the sky; it looked like the usual ten million watts of lighting was dark. I hope they haven’t killed the power already. I had hoped to clear the Big River unhindered, but after I linked up with I-80 and approached the large bridge; I could see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles – simply blocking one of the largest, longest and busiest expressways in the country.

Wifey should have hit the Pilot Travel Center in Remington, IN just about now. There is a Petro right next door (her favorite), and they are more than a hundred miles outside Chicago-metro, also more than ninety miles from Indy-metro. There is even a third place right across US24. They are big truck stops right on I-65, one of them had to still be open for gas. After that the plan was for her to take two-lane roads for the rest of the way, avoiding Indy and Louisville. All scheduled, with an alternate west bypass of Indy if the preferred east bypass was unavailable. Slow, but far safer at that time in the Event. I was thinking no problemo.

There were no vehicles coming from the west over the bridge. The huge, worded flashing signs already up were saying that the bridge was closed. No reason… no space on the signage. Not good, I had a very long way to go. I was re-directed off onto Illinois 84 with no further restriction or guidance. I noticed that the on-ramp to west bound I-80 was blocked with similar signage. I guess it’s possible that the bridge is as bad as many across the U.S. and the rumbling earth had created some cracks. The traffic signal was out at the bottom ramp with police actually using the red light-sabre flashlights directing the flow; truly a scene from some disaster movie (hah!) I don’t know if that action was enough to send people home, or the big rigs to Rest Areas, or whatever, but I simply headed north to the next nearest river crossing, which happened to be on US30 – my planned route when the interstates were blocked. No lights on in the majority of homes and farm buildings along the roadway; gas stations dark, but people visible. I crossed Old Man River on US30 without issue.

I passed a USBank branch and police were there with multiple cars. I didn’t think that Clinton would even have two cars on a shift. They had already called in back up. Not good. Up ahead I could see lights on at a Shell gas station – I pulled in. Now in Iowa, the radio is still saying the same thing: ‘stay inside, blah, blah, blah’. People were not heeding that out here. The lights went out – even the displays on the pumps. Oh but the beer signs were somehow still lit. Creative handyman wiring probably. I hadn’t intended on borrowing gas in front of so many people (especially locals), and I still had plenty… I pulled out as the huge, red-trimmed yellow seashell icon crashed to the ground – plastic shards spraying everywhere.

US30 was okay so far. I choked down a nutritious, chewy and nutty heavy energy bar with the last of my cold tea. I had concerns as Cedar Rapids approached; I-380, a north-south branch from the big Interstate passed through and it was larger than Iowa City to the south – and the University of Iowa. Greater than a hundred thousand, a large university and several other colleges meant a lot of young people potentially scattered or freaking out wherever. At least I was not passing through the center of the city; lights mostly out. I came in cautiously; I could see lights on at a huge Kum & Go gas & snack near the big cloverleaf interchange. I could also see emergency lights saturating I-380 to the south. Maybe blocking the Uni from emptying northerly. I glided in, scanning everything, and docked at the only remaining open pump. Surprisingly, my plastic money worked. I had only used up maybe ten gallons, which included my employment transit earlier in the day, so the fill time was not too long. I checked every moving vehicle and all humans in the area as I scrubbed the bugs off the windshield and headlights while the fuel flowed. I hustled towards the doors to get some tea – hot or cold – as this might be the last open convenience store that I come upon.

I cleared the pump islands and I could not believe my eyes… some sturdy woman had just taken a full swing, good batting posture, with a pipe or hefty pole at the back of some humongous dude’s head – HEAD – no fucking around on the body. A clear dong sound hummed. The screeching girly woman near her was being dragged along by her teased blonde hair with long pink nails on spastically thrashing fingers and arms, by an equally large black male. The two of them easily exceeded six hundred pounds and were each well over six feet in height. Both were wearing their XXXL U of I jerseys, with the bright lemon-yellow IQ numbers dead center on the inhumanly large masses. The pipe move dropped Player #66 like a huge water-soaked sandbag onto toothpicks and he released yet another female; tiny in comparison, adult, white, also blonde, early twenties maybe – now gagging as she too dropped to the ground while heaving. Player #67 literally threw aside his wailing prey and moved towards Pipe-Lady. She has little time to evade but did turn to run. The tub of lard is surprisingly quick as he lightly quickstepped and first snagged her by her wavy and sandy shoulder length hair and then easily pulled her fighting hundred and forty pounds into a clumsy forearm choke hold while loudly laughing in her unadorned ear. This is just too much for me; too much bully bullshit taken way too far after a lifetime of unchecked size dominance. He glances back twisting and away at Player #66 trying to shake off the cobwebs. This is when I put everything I had behind a massive full power punch unwinding from hips and shoulder downward landing perfectly at his expanded right low rib and kidney therein. His knees buckled and a low grunt fell out, releasing Pipe-Lady to the ground, yet somehow it spun quite agilely around to where I was ready to meet the animal. He started to open his drooling mouth to speak, or growl, or spit and I destroyed his left knee assembly with a fast and hard low round kick. The ACL snapped audibly at the newfound angle, and he cried out wobbling. Kwanjangnim Chang, my Hapkido instructor, was in my head reminding me that knees do not like that direction. He involuntarily, and obviously untrained for such, tilted downward in great pain on an angle at his waist to grab at the failed joint. He’s tough, he thinks, so as he regained something, he started to rise up scowling while mumbling and glanced my way while obliviously exposing the right side of his head and face… and just then my left elbow crashed through his right temple with a distinct crack. David, too much power in my head once again, but very effective. Puddle of mud on the ground; done. Pipe-Lady is gone. Someone else was running out of the doors screaming about a robbery or some such perceived “horror”.

No tea. I turned to get lost, and The Man was pulling in, blinding lights in the darkness and shrieking sirens. The vehicle was maneuvered to block the exit drive. They killed the sirens, and I heard Girly-Woman still crying loudly. Doughnut-Boy barely climbs out of his cruiser, stood up and mounted his trooper-like brim atop his military wanna-be crew-cut coconut. I was attempting to casually get to the Hondo and out of this building mess. He glanced my way as Player #66 yelled out implicating me in both the robbery and his ego-bruised assault – not even close to English. Klink miraculously translated the wild gesticulations and slurred syllables. I have no time for this, or a friendly county lock-up. If the cuffs go on, my life probably ends. The gleam in tough guy’s eyes is not unexpected, but disheartening. Girly-Woman speaks loudly in cry-language attempting to clarify, but only muddles the situation. He decides.

“Stop right there old man; hands in the air; down to your knees.” His right hand on the top of his belt mounted baton, the other pointing.

“No thank you, Colonel, you have the wrong man, and I am all done playing. Your boy-toys are waiting right there,” thumbing towards the thugs still on the tarmac. The anger at the casual insult both flusters and confuses him, especially since I advance rather than cower like the kids he usually beats upon (he has no idea of my martial arts training).

“Last chance Gramps, or I will help your sorry old ass to the concrete.” Baton now out; white knuckle grip; crazy eyes.

“It’s actually black-top, asphalt or tar-and-chip if you prefer… either way, I think that I like standing much better.” I increased the tempo directly at him, and he is shockingly lifting his arm way up for a forehand vertical strike, rather than the much harder to defend horizontal back-hand that he was supposedly trained to use. Raw fury is emitting from his eyes and nose as he begins the well-telegraphed crank forward. I simply step out slightly and first quickly jab my c-shaped right hand directly into his larynx, recoil slightly and as I am parallel to his body, thread my hand and arm under his, then backwards to me wrapping my right hand around his forearm above the wrist from behind it and above my head. He’s gagging as I step with more force while ripping his arm backwards then down with now both hands and severely dislocating the shoulder. [Think about the arm of slot machine being cranked the wrong direction.] It pops, elongates unnaturally and he howls, dropping the baton. I follow the blob downward burying my right knee with all my weight breaking the two low ribs upon ground impact. The aqueous grunt expels bile and blood from somewhere internally – probably from one of his ulcers. His sweet brim dislodged covering his eyes and his head struck the hard surface with a loud clunk. Dazed, he cannot move without exacerbating the excruciatingly reversed, tucked under and shredded rotator cuff. Caroline, from Little Big Man, is in my head reminding me to draw and shoot before you touch the gun as I quickly extract his service S&W 40 from the holster (this is the semi-automatic Smith and Wesson with much more power than the old .38 revolver and even the more recent 9mm models). I simultaneously roll slightly away chambering a round while scoping his equally fat partner finally extricating himself from the unnecessarily large county-taxpayer-expensed vehicle. That guy is nervously drawing a bead on me as I flick the safety and cleanly shoot him once in the exposed V above the zip of his paltry and casually donned vest. He collapses like a discarded accordion. The gurgling kommandant attempts to open a channel to base with his shoulder mounted radio. I end that by kicking his arm away pinning it with one, then crushing his loosely fisted hand with my other heel. A couple metacarpals snap. I grab the squawk attachment and rip it from his accoutrements. I pitch the over-rated pistol into the culvert among the landscaped cattails. Silence behind me initially, then the lard buckets start spewing Ebonics, or similar, in my direction… while still immobile… splayed on the ground. Pipe-Lady is back and kicks Player #66 squarely between the legs with a booted foot as he attempted to get to his feet. He whimpers into a puddle of pancake batter. She looks my way; she looks at the moaning mess near me; she looks at the very bloody peace officer twitching half in, and half out of the cruiser. SHE decides – and turns to run around the trucker area with her hair flying and good speed.

I turn to go as well. The big boyz aren’t saying anything, but Player #67 is leering menacingly at Girly-Woman. She too decides.

“HEY! You can’t just leave. Help me!” Crawling up, pulling down her crotch-level spandex sleeve of a skirt and frowning at her broken right index fingernail.

“Catch you on the flip-side, Princess.” Ozzy not on my mind this time. Heartless, I know.

Even though the car lot is full, no one else is coming out. Sirens in the distance, getting closer. I mount up and ease forward as the lights go out while the earth rumbles audibly. The tires, suspension and soft leather seats dampen the feel; but it’s there. I had to weave around the flashing cruiser blocking my out, which means I head to and through the trucker zone. Some operators are now out of their rigs and looking about, apparently unaware of the nearby calamity of just one minute passed. I almost run over some lady waving her arms in a moderately controlled manner while flashing her phone light. The lady; Pipe-Lady. I give her a chance… and scroll down the passenger-side window.

“What’s your story?” she says sternly, with hands on door. No polish; trimmed and neat. Lined flannel shirt with cuffs folded back; top two buttons opened revealing a dark t-shirt – not black, maybe green.

“That’s not how it works; what do you want?” Even tone, staring into her eyes illuminated only by the dash instruments and periodic sideways blue and red flashes.

“Where are you headed?” Shocked but not freaked face.

“Let’s try again: what do you want?” Calmly, eyebrows raised, leaning closer.

“Come on; I’m in a bit of a panic here. Who are you? What are you?” Calming down – already.

“Understandable; decent move with the pipe. Last time: what do you want?”

“A RIDE!” Surprised at herself that she yelled making a request. “Okay?” Softer.

I stare, for ten full seconds into her clear dark eyes, while I debate mentioning a mate. Nah; not yet anyway.

“I have no time for this… hmmm; can you shoot? Do you have any essential skills?” Something going on here. She doesn’t even hesitate.

“Of course, and… I can handle a map, terrain, the whole deal.” Firmly. Of course?

I say nothing for a lengthy pause. Clock is ticking as I consider. “West; high.”

“Come on… I can weave!” Barking, but hiding. Blushing?

“What, really? Reeds, yarn, a story, Play-Doh, what?” What a thing to mention; clear thought.

“ALL.” Firm.

“Where’s your gear; your clothes; your food?” Maybe.

“Over there, where my dead car sits. Minimal gear; no food; some water.” Angry.

“I have enough space – barely. Sans Wifey. I have one pistol. Get your ONE bag – quickly.” Why not?

“Okay.” She spins and rips off ten quick steps. Oh; her car is right there. Good. Old, a really old Honda. She returns in just fifteen seconds. “Where should I put it?” She’s hoisting a fully loaded large and clearly heavy backpack – well-used – with one shoulder and arm (right). Hooded olive Carhartt chore coat over the top. This just gets better and better.

“Hold on. I said that I have ONE pistol, and now we are two. You saw what might be necessary to continue, yes? You felt the earth move, correct? You witnessed the panic, right? YOU may need to play rough, understand?” Nothing. “UNDERSTAND?” No further hesitation.

“Yes.” Matter-of-factly.

“Alright. Drop your pack; go over to the dead copper, approaching from behind so Vic Mackey can’t see you at all. Remove his side-arm from his hand, or from the nearby ground… also grab the two extra magazines from his utility belt, or maybe attached to his vest. Leave the shotgun.” Pause; uncertain. “We need it; actually, YOU need it. Decide now.” Calculating.

“Ugh; okay.” Perhaps the deadness; maybe just the gore; worst would be uneasiness about a law enforcement officer rebuked.

“I’ll jam in your pack and spin out to meet you over there in the roadway.” Pointing.

She just nods. Good.

No lights on my truck, but she is already waiting for me because of the delay of the trucker exit route. She’s crouching nicely too. I don’t know what she is. Spinning the roulette wheel here maybe. She’s holding the S&W properly, but I don’t see the magazines. She’s unbuttoning her left chest pocket as I tell her to stow it in the pouch on the backside of her seat. I nod as she puts two full magazines back there as well. She spins around, straps in and stares straight ahead.

“Are you sure?” A foot from her face. It doesn’t really matter; I could ditch her if absolutely necessary. I don’t think that it will be, though.

“Yes.” Alrighty then.

“I’m Dave.”

“Jennifer… Jenny.”

“Jen? One syllable names are easy and quick to spit out sharp.”

“Okay.” Some history there maybe.

We backtracked out onto US30, and shortly thereafter cross over I-380. We both look on as an ambulance of some sort and a state cruiser this time come off the interstate and head, no doubt, to the distress at the Kum & Go. There is a barricade down on the four-laner; apparently blocking access out of Iowa City. WE, now move on westerly, with a full tank. Her breathing eases. Recorded music still works, but my attention is acutely on the road, restrictions, and on her. Might as well dig in.

“Did you see the sun earlier?”

“Yep; that’s why I left.”

“Left what? Where?”

“My job, if you want to call it that.” Long pause while thinking. “I’m a post-doc field researcher – geology… approximately. Associate Professor at Iowa. I was arguing with my boss, the big man, the old man, when the sun dropped. He actually cried, as I pointed to my prediction being demonstrated in the sky.”

“You know things solar?”

“I know things earth; and most of what affects it.”

“And the earth told you to obey the sun?”


“In what language, or how did it speak to you?”

Miles and miles go by. She sat quietly, considering my question and her stance on the cosmos. She collected her thoughts eventually.

“It said ‘I am moving apart from my roots, you should too’, it doesn’t lie, you know, the living earth. Only two things will make the sun seem to do that. The sun moving relative to the earth or we on the earth moving relative to the sun. The sun does not move; we do – now stopped to be more accurate. This is a crustal displacement.” Just so.

“I know.”

“Do you?” Disbelieving. “How might you know such a thing?”

“I read.”

“Apparently not comic books.”

“Comic books… Jen, how old are you?” Great, not a gamer but a cosplay drone.

Miles and miles go by. She realizes her odd reference, again in thought.

“Thirty-one, but I was raised by my grandparents… way rural, here in Iowa, isolated even. Old school farmers. They had a collection. Maybe my never-met father’s.”

“So, why are you heading west?”

“Come on Dave, you said that you know of such things. I’m heading west AND high for the same reason that you are. The tsunami coming; building, and on its way by now actually.”

“West from the university means I-80, Why were you well north in Cedar Rapids?”

Miles and miles go by. She thinks.

Emphatic sigh precedes “I was going to try one last time with my undergrad roommate and best friend. Explain; show images; plead… maybe beg. She’s good; true. She still has my winter coat from last spring. She’s slim.”

“So, a duck coat for serious unpredictable winter is all you have?”

“I have my shell; packed.”



“You said that you work in the field, right? Where, Alabama?”

“I was in a hurry, okay? I was angry. I couldn’t find my list.”

This will need fixing… soon.

Miles and miles go by as she contemplates supplies.

“And your family… those grandparents?”

“Gone; dead years now.”

“Boyfriend? Girlfriend? Husband… kids?”

“No husband; former boyfriend was a bit of a doophus, but he did hike seriously.” Thumbing to the backpack. Never married and no kids.”

“Did you want kids; ever discuss that with Billy-bob?”

“Ha ha. Yes and no respectively. Samuel… it was an easy amicable split – surprising after five years. He too, did not believe what I eventually arrived at and presented to him – with nice graphics. He was a bit mad; a bit too heavy on the biblical stuff.”

“What? He should have bought right in… alongside Noah and his crew of merrymakers. Five years together and you never discussed having kids? Not father material?”

“Nope.” No more.

Miles and miles go by in silence. Endless farmland is barely visible.

“You said that you could shoot?”

“Yes. Gramps was a great man, he called me ‘Jen’; I still miss him. Granny was even better, but she didn’t want her prized girl shooting like a boy, or some such.”

“Oh, you meant long guns… plinking?”

“No. He had a WWII Colt .45 and hunted as well.”

“He must have been pretty old. He had his little granddaughter shooting a semi-auto 45? That’s a fairly large and powerful pistol.”

“I was not small and I was not scared. He had unspoken history and practically demanded that I learn.”

“Can you ride?”

“Of course.”

Miles and miles go by as she recollects her younger life.

“Jen, you seem very casual about this; you know that we may die… just as millions of others certainly will. You were headed out alone… after your BFF couldn’t be reasoned with.”

“Of course, but there is a chance. I’ve prepared mentally for a long time. The data is nowhere near perfect. Much history has been buried, literally and figuratively, yet here the event is, undeniable, and I have nothing to lose.”


“Not exactly as planned; but impossible to just advertise ‘Hey, you wanna come on my end-of-world road trip’ and be taken seriously. Not to mention the unlikely viability of most males – certainly the academic types that I run into. I would have had to leave the school soon anyway; I could bear no more of the silence on the truth.”

“Flee to the mountains.” She nods knowingly. Maybe Samuel reluctantly told her of the loose quote. “You intended on driving that 2WD CR-V into the mountains, in early winter? What is that a 1999?”

“It’s all I have. 1998. I’m not getting rich on rocks; especially by vocally countering the status quo. My money is better spent elsewhere. At least until now. Actually just Harney Peak – Black Elk if you prefer. No snow even now; plowed if it does.” Lost in thought.

“Best case, and BFF had joined you. You make it to the namesake of Heȟáka Sápa alive and what, ride it out? Two university girls, getting together for a camp adventure? No weapons and no gear?”

“I refused to sit and die.” Hang dog.

“Hmm. What is that peak, seventy-two and change? Not much protection westerly, none southerly. Very little deep surface water. The Ogallala is too far away and then probably down too deep at that point. I think that if you did survive the big wave and wash, you’d then starve or dehydrate – even if you’re gifted with non-toxic rain. At least months to hold on. I intend on going further and higher… where there is both protection and deep water. Abundant wildlife; fish. Unless we get similarly gassed and melted there.”

“The data is nowhere near perfect.” Again. “Especially the potential wave height… or ultimately: depth. Some thousands of feet maybe; the Pacific is immense and deep.” Stating the obvious to counter the unknown.

“Cannot argue that, other than erring on the side of caution. I am thinking several thousands of feet.” I can feel her distress. “Have you eaten anything recently?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” Sure.

Miles and miles go by; thinking while ignoring her body’s needs.

“What about you? That was quite a demonstration. You’re the one who is casual. Sorry… scary.” Yet here she is.

“Me? No, YOU with the pipe… what was that?” Primal.

“I actually think that one of those morons had the unlucky draw of my Earth Science 1000 class. He recognized me and maybe recollected the result of his brilliance. Wrong time and wrong place for me; it’s as simple as that.”

“And the level of violence displayed? Most would have half-heartedly swung at his body.”

“What good would that have done; he was immense.” Just so. “He was strangling that girl… he was obviously whacked out. He had already man-handled and threatened others inside the store. High, or drunk; maybe both. She gave him her money inside… didn’t matter. I think that they wanted something more.” Do tell.

“That was a good swing; I mean good form. You’ve whacked others similarly?” Stares at me, while I stare at the road smiling.

“No. I was an all-around athlete way back… one of the reasons I made it into the U, and sadly, one of the reasons I had to get away from Granny. But she eventually realized the cost was too high and my abilities alleviated that. Heptathlete eventually.” Unbelievable. “Hey, nice dodge. We were supposed to be talking about you; and whatever it was that you did to those guys. Don’t bother with the gun, I saw what he was going to do to you. I can’t shoot like that. Why do they shoot-first now, and ask questions later?” After a lengthy pause: “What was that, kung fu?” Sigh.

“No, not quite. I have had some training.” Kwanjangnim Chang in my head: lose your ego David. “It’s mostly leverage and balance.”

“Suuuurrrre it is,” actually chuckling. “That knee shot was leverage? And the neck move?” She was watching more carefully than I thought back there. Nice expression, friendly, curious. Strange.

“Other things too of course.” No need to scare her.

“Okay, as you wish. Horrifying, but awesome.” Calm.

“Those lazy rogue revenue agents either transferred from a large metro area or were trained there. Rural and remote locales like to hire them because they think that they are rugged, no-nonsense, but in reality, they are just indifferent, adolescent, trigger-happy bullies and end up destroying the populace confidence and trust of the entire body.”

No response.

US30 runs far enough north of Des Moines, that we see nothing. Scattered minor lights. Smooth sailing, but slower than I-80. The intersection with I-35 is nothing… no one around. Same with I-29 and crossing the Big Muddy; well north of Omaha and just before midnight. Neither maps nor navigation needed yet – it’s a well-marked roadway… the first paved transcontinental highway in the U.S.

“Alright, what about you? Family? Wife? Children?”

I zone out thinking about Wifey. She should be with our daughter by now. The rolling hills of horsey Kentucky. Maybe she would convince her to at least try her Plan B: head to the Smokies. Being easterly, she would probably be able to use the fast interstates. Just four hours, skirting Knoxville, then into Gatlinburg on the perimeter of the park. It may be fraudulently closed to prevent people from driving right up to Clingman’s Dome. Just sixty-six hundred feet, but a prominence of forty-five hundred (distinct from the nearby low land). Maybe, just maybe the long traveled Pacific wave wouldn’t surmount that. Just like with Jen’s initial plan: there is no water; there will be no water afterwards. So, they maybe drive up, possibly avoid the gate closure and hike the twenty-one miles up FIVE-THOUSAND feet with Penny (Aussie) and fifty-pound backpacks on. All to watch the huge wave roar up and destroy everything around them, right up to just below their feet. They would cheer that they are alive and then shortly thereafter die a truly miserable death of dehydration, starvation, acid and ash fallout or all three! OR they drown when the wave DOES blast over the big hill. Crushing them with local trees, debris and cars with people still in them tumbling from Nashville over two hundred miles away. This is why we called that a shot-in-the-dark… one in a hundred chance… maybe. A horrible death if it came either way.

“Wife; heading to our daughter in Kentucky. She knows what this is; she has similar supplies and sufficient gear, but it matters not down there – as you know. Son; ongoing advanced technical education in Germany – a few years younger than you. [Daughter before rough unpredictable challenge without her, and unfortunately, him as well.] We understand each other well on the matter. No others would believe me, even with the freakish sun dance clearly visible. Originally, I welcomed the challenge; talking with you now, I am reminded just how hard it may be.”

I actually was thinking of a couple of extremely cold tent outings. Even with proper gear and large fires, it’s really rough – and those were for only a few days, not an entire mountainous winter, although my current outfitter tent has a stove. My hands are useless in winter – I wear thick insulated gloves while running HOT, at just thirty degrees. Big mittens are mandatory for any length of time in the cold – for me. Hiking alone was not much fun either. Just then an extremely bright flash blasted overhead momentarily. Unknown origin. A sign from Christ Jesus, no doubt.

“That’s rough.”

“Apropos for the end of the world, no? Of course I would have liked to see them marry… have kids of their own. My brother has grandchildren.”

“Where are you headed; I mean we?” Just like that.

“The High Uintas Wilderness. It’s in northern Utah, and we will be trying to approach from the north – maintained gravel to nine thousand plus. There will likely be snow. We need to get you better outerwear. I’m hoping that the majority of the models I’ve seen hold true… that we, riding the crust upon North America, end up far closer to the present equator. Alive would be nice… and not ablaze. The possible high-speed winds would be problematic. But as you have stated: ‘The data is nowhere near perfect’. I’d rather give it a try than simply drown.”

Both thinking.

“Jen, we’ll be coming to a place that I have actually visited, recently, that will have the clothing you need. Cabela’s in Kearney, Nebraska… our route passes within a half-mile.”

“I’ve been to the one in La Vista… outside of Omaha. They have everything outdoors at that one.” Thinking. “I’m not sure about the Antarctic imbalance theory. If we do move that much, I think that the plates will buckle so much that we will be eventually killed by the incredible volume of toxic volcanic gasses emitted, or the ash block… or everything just crushing us from everywhere.”

“Some say humanity has never survived one of these. Seems obvious – to us. Some say the chosen few will remain safe in the DUMBs. Some say the chosen few wish no one else to survive. I believe that is why we are seeing the road blocks; they will not allow anyone to move to even a remotely safe location.”

“Huh? Seriously?”

“Deep Underground Military Base, Bunker originally, I think. One of the largest is in the Denver area. This is one reason why we cannot drive on I-80; it’s too close to their home. Supposedly supplies for up to a hundred thousand people – for ten years! Hard to believe, I know. But the drilling equipment was not hidden. And the other info is very convincing. Some say that they have also stored all that is necessary for the recreation of all things high-tech – upon their emergence. Some say they will use such things to kill all else upon the surface – the cleansing.”


“Yeah… I’ve had some time on my hands. Remember, I read. Doesn’t make any of it true though. I’ll meet them whenever. I still do not want to drown or give up. My curiosity about this remains extremely high.”

“Hmmm. How is it that I have never heard of such things?”

“You’re in the rocks, you’re buried in academia, while I am all over the interweb mostly away from academia; hours per day when I go off on an interesting tangent. I consider all views, not just my favorite or specialty. Years; longer than your advanced education; more time than your post-doc work. You now know of the blinders your tenured seniors and superiors wear; it’s not much different. I am open minded about such things.”

“And what do we do now… with this unbelievable information? You seem to think we may die from it… them… they.”

“Will we not die anyway, some day? Are we not alone as two and it makes little difference now? We will likely know more in just a handful of hours, maybe a dozen. If we survive and we have the chance, and they present themselves as adversaries, we will fight for our lives, right? Maybe it’s futile. They have incredible toys and weapons of which we know little or nothing. Perhaps others may survive. Maybe they too will die, maybe they will not. I don’t know. Nothing to lose, right? Maybe Christ Jesus wipes the hidden psychopaths as well as us. That dude could be tricky.”

“This sounds worse than I envisioned.”

“Possible. I’ve stewed on this for quite a while. I have some skills, some tools, some food, but if they really want us dead, then we’ll likely be dead. One saving grace may be that their high-tech gadgetry dies shortly. The cosmos carries a big neuronic whip.”

Silence as we drove on for miles.

The smaller cities and towns were silent and dark, but I still wanted no attention from any overzealous Barney Fife types working third shift. I was counting on them being at home, maybe “on call”, with their wives and kids. Maybe busy with minor power outage issues. Helping Granny to the nearest generator-backed hospital seemed likely enough. We rolled into Central City and nothing was lit; we had to be – at least forward-looking. It’s the county seat, so I decided to skirt the main town area, and the prominent municipal buildings, by heading anywhere around to the south. US30 had a bend that way, so we should easily link right back. As we crossed over the main N-S street, very bright headlights were coming towards us from a handful of blocks north. Three more blocks and I hung a right and flipped the utility switch shutting down all rear lighting, then a quick left near the next corner. We see a police cruiser go by on our original street – moving briskly. We just glance at each other. Switch back on; proceed forward. After a couple more blocks, we pass by a glowing church – candlelit and cars parked. We rejoin US30 and hang an easy left. The large brightly lit multi-story building we cannot now avoid turns out to be a medical center, and it has plenty of active customers. No doubt the destination of the previously avoided cruiser. Some cars were even moving in and out.

Jen pipes up: “These towns will be busy with their own emergencies; they won’t care about us.”

“Hopefully. I have spoofed government plates on. ‘GS60 2022E’ That’s a Geological Survey pick-up.”


“The end – Professor Plum.”

“Walker. I thought that was a male?”

“LGBTQXYZ horseshit change. I’m sure you’re familiar with that from your enlightened place of higher education.”

I offered: “You know, you’re right. With the hustle and bustle around the med center and the route from the police being away from us, the gas stations here will be empty. The police have their own gas tank.”

I spun around slowly in a lot next to the railroad tracks and headed back out on US30 easterly. In less than a half-mile we dropped in to an empty and completely unlit Pump & Pantry. I parked just adjacent to the underground tank refill ports. I flipped auxiliary switch two for no lights anywhere.

“Come on, let me show you. Don’t latch the door. Just stay calm.” I grabbed my hidden Baretta and tucked it into my shoulder holster. I popped the hood and the fuel fill door. We hopped out; she came around at my hand signal. “These leads go to the battery; red to red and black to black; black first.” I unwound the cables, lifted the hood and showed her. I set the hood back down onto the cables. I signaled back with my head. “This hose goes in the tank right here.” Nod. “This one” as I pull out and partially unroll from the twenty feet of one inch diameter translucent PVC, goes in the big underground storage tank. There should be a Red, or Blue lid; if not, White. Here’s the tool to pop the lid gently. Like this… shhh.” I feed the hose down. All this junk extracted from the conveniently located bin against the cab-end bed wall. “Gloves… that stank in the vehicle, on your hands, would get annoying.” She nods. “All set, then flip this switch,” click “it activates the pump under the bin.” It hums to life at five GPM. “We wait a few minutes. Stay clear, there’s no auto-shutoff. After this training run, we’ll estimate the fill time beforehand, and you can stand at-the-ready, on the switch and hose.” Nodding. “Now would be a good time to pee, or other; I have supplies inside.” She raises eyebrows as in where are they? “Here you go, stay calm and quiet.” I thumb to the back of the building.

Only a little overflow, switch off and I show her the disconnect and stow process. The hood is left loose as we will latch it outside of town. Silent; not one car had passed. I go and pee. I grab two heavy energy bars giving her the easy berry whatever flavor. We mount up. I switch on the aux lights override moving my body so she can see where it is. I keep the Baretta. I pull a beat up Sigg from behind the console to wash the food down with water. I already miss my scalding tea. We exit and glide down US30, westerly now, passing the med center again and onward. I pull over a few miles down and latch the hood.

“No problemo.” Kwanjangnim Chang in my head again: Easy, riiiight?

We stayed mostly silent for a while. If the tremors continued, we didn’t feel them. All bridges, although minor, were intact – it seemed – in the dark. Almost three in the morning, about twelve hours after the sun dance, and we approach the Cabela’s. It’s dead to the world – maybe literally. No lights anywhere in the semi-industrial area. We take a lap around; no cars at all. There’s a single truck attached to a dock door. For the first time, I notice some moonlight, I don’t see it though. Is that the sun?? At three in the morning? Aux 1 off for no rears, I pull into the next pit over, park and flip Aux 2.

“Get your gun, put on your coat… hood up.” Nod and we hop out. There’s a small staircase to a service door directly adjacent to the old canvas accordion docking tent attached to the trailer. We climb up and I easily cut through the loose flimsy material. Sign language to follow, as I climb through. I guess they usually depend on personnel present and security cameras to limit what I just did. Jen follows me in. Once inside we pause to listen… nothing, and zero lights. We have to use my flashlight… on red. I put my mouth very near her ear: “Women’s apparel – hunting.” Nod. She takes out her phone, activates the light, and dims it – not bad. If I recall correctly, all clothing is on the first floor. We weave out of shipping and into the main store, then main aisle. A light appears on the floor well ahead of us. I touch her hand to stop. I signal her to continue slowly; I switch over a couple of aisles. Thirty seconds pass and I can hear an old male engaging her – not loud. I wander around some specialty counters and a cup of somehow steaming coffee is on top of one. I come back around and she is calmly saying that she just wants to use the bathroom. Her light shines on the metal of a long gun that he is holding, directing it low at her. That is definitely not standard procedure. I am six feet behind him as I pull and release the slide of the Baretta – an unmistakable sound – especially to someone handling a gun. His shoulders slump.

“Ease down that scattergun, Jeremiah.” Calmly and firmly. He does, shaking his head slowly. His light courteously not directly in her face.

“I should have known… this pretty lady wouldn’t be here alone. How do you know my name?” Jen’s eyebrows go up in question, and relief. I look at her; she is pretty – that’s very unlike me, I hadn’t noticed. End of the world, don’t you know.

“All the way down onto the floor please, we don’t want any mistakes.” He does, and groans. “Your name is right there on the security sign in sheet… on the clipboard next to your coffee.”

“Oh… right.” He’s got to be seventy. Even in the red light, I can see that he is a bit hunched and has all short white hair with a bald dome.

“Jeremiah, this is Professor Jennifer Walker, she is a famous university geologist. A bona fide expert. You felt the earthquakes, right?” Nod. “She is Thee Man doing the field investigation in this area. You get me?” Nod. “She knows a lot about the earth but seems to have forgotten her clothing for the cold we are headed into. This is serious business. I am her government chaperone; you may check my plates on my assigned truck if you like – it’s in bay two.” Doubtful. “Professor, please show Jeremiah your credentials.” Without hesitation, Jen slowly reaches into her inside pocket and draws out a lanyard with about ten various standard sized plastic cards on it… key cards, pictures, colors, and one with Herky the Hawk of course. I just don’t believe this lady; excellent. She fans them and isolates one to put within Jeremiah’s limited squinting visual range. Then another, and a third that is just black and yellow. Probably the key to the tenured bathroom. He’s sold.

“Now what?”

“There are no cameras on, obviously, but we would not like you to get blamed for any borrowing of goods, even though this is an emergency. Do you have a phone with a camera?” Nod. “Good. Take her picture; she’ll hold out her ID. You may give that to your boss when you see him next.”

“Hmmm, okay.” Satisfied.

Jen pipes up: “Jeremiah, this is truly serious, the world is shaking – you can feel it – you said so. If you saw the sun earlier, it moved strangely.”

“You’re right… Mary-Beth didn’t believe me! My eyes aren’t THAT bad!”

She continues: “I’m sad to say this, but I have no family, nor does Mr. Badger here,” while pointing with a Mona Lisa grin. Cabela’s has dozens of animals mounted around the store. I glance quickly up and back; I happened to be standing just underneath my newly assigned snarling namesake. “We volunteered for this vital task. It is possible that we will not return. We’re going close to the hot zone. Understand?”

“Yes Ma’am, I certainly do.”

“What I would do, if I were you, is head on home to Mary-Beth, things may get very, very bad. Who better to spend more time with? Forget this closed down place. You have my picture and my credentials… the entire city is shut down… the police department isn’t even lit, we checked, they too are probably at home with their families.” She’s spewing gold here. “Only one thing I need from you…”

“Okay… you’re right. I knew something weren’t quite right. How can I help.” Perfect.

“I need one of those one-piece hunting coverall things – insulated… hooded too, if you have them. Of course some warm gloves and a hat too.” They have it all.

“Aisle thirteen, right over here.”

Jeremiah assists like a pro, yammering the whole time. Now thrilled.

“Thank you so much, I don’t know what I would have done without your help – I would have been looking around forever in the dark.”

“Smart lady; I doubt that.”

“Jen, you’ll need a cup and some utensils as well.” She and Jeremiah retrieve a basic camp set while I move over to browse the compound bows. I still think my recurve is the way to go for minimal maintenance and a truly outdoor life. “Long underwear, heavyweight, uppers and lowers.” A sigh from Jen; no problem for Jeremiah.

We head back over to the shipping department, Jeremiah up front with Jen.

“How did you get here anyway; we saw no car.”

“I walked; I live just two minutes away.” All shacks there, if I remember correctly.

She helps him down the stairs, he had never taken off his Cabela’s coat and zips up. They hug, sincerely.

I finish it up: “Hey Jeremiah, here’s your gun; please take it back home and leave it there. It’s not worth you getting seriously hurt for a job.”

“Thanks Mr. Badger. That’s not really your name, is it?”

“No Sir, it is not; super-secret government baloney.” He laughs.

Somehow, we pack her new clothes into and on top of the jammed interior, keeping the cup and utensils up front. He sees all the gear in the bed and does one of those old man whistles. We mount up, startup, and I scroll the window.

“Thank you kindly; head home to Mary-Beth.”

“You’re welcome. She’ll jump out of her skin when I come in so early. Get her breathin’ again maybe.” With a smirk.

We wave as the truck reverses smoothly. I flick the aux for lights back on, engage forward and head out to US30. Nothing moving, I put the pedal to the metal – except through the towns. We pull the gas move again near [brown] dawn in the city limits of Sidney. Lights are out, but a few cars and pickups drive by. Easy enough; they have other things to do; we look broken down with the hood up, while hiding inside. We’ve now passed the I-76 cutoff to Denver (if we were rolling on I-80). Just have to get beyond Cheyenne and we should be clear to use I-80 – I think.

Just a half-hour later we cruise into Kimball. Several in-town places have lights on – must be generators rolling. A bakery delivery van cuts a left right in front of us – through the dead light. If he’s delivering, then the source is producing; we follow. The van pulls in to Merrycakes; several cars fill the angled parallel spaces on both sides of the street. The place is well lit. We park and head in. In addition to a multitude of house-made bakery, they have egg thingies as well. They’ve been busy. We wait. People are yammering about the crazy things going on, wondering out loud if the power will ever be restored. One guy says that his old rickety windmill finally gave up and collapsed from one of the “rumblers.” I order two egg sandwiches and Jen orders a raspberry pastry while whispering. I frown at her, and she adds an egg something; Mary-Sue smiles. Two hot teas to go. Our order is ready in less than two minutes, we pay in the requested cash and stroll out.

“End of the world, right?” as she bites into the huge Danish.


Walking On a Wire

‘I wish I could please you tonight, but my medicine just won’t come right.’

We make it to Cheyenne and notice there’s activity. I flip on the radio and the scan locates a talking head saying ‘stay inside’; off. US30/Bus-80 has stoplights – and they are ON. We’re sitting impatiently at a red light and the ground really shakes. It doesn’t stop for twenty long seconds – we’re shifting around in our seats. Car alarms start blaring, some power lines are swinging mildly. The light actually changes to green, and we move on. We make some green lights, then another red and the earth moves again. The lights go out, and we roll on through the intersections; fewer cars still moving. US30 is actually paired with I-80 south of the city; we have to take WY210 – Jen on the map, but I printed the likely route. We are relieved to clear what seems to be the city limits. Crossing I-25 we can see blockades at every point of the I-25/I-80 interchange. A ton of flashing lights visible from so far away. I pass the west-bound exit ramp and pass a Wyoming State Cruiser coming off and moving in behind us. Great. Pursuit ensues.

As far as we have heard, on-and-off on the radio through the night, there was no actual threat issued about staying off the roads. Clearly though, officialdom is still limiting the Interstate access. He stays within a hundred feet of the rear bumper for a minute or two, then pulls very close. The obvious government plates are visible at that range. Less than one minute further he flips on the flashing lights. I pull well onto the shoulder, light up the hazards and wait. He’s still on his radio, but eventually finishes, exits, mounts his brim and heads over. The trooper uniform indicates rank and base location; he has none, the lowest. My mirror view shows a very young, short guy, not even thirty years old, probably just twenty-five. Not good; more likely an unseasoned all-powerful newfound-authority type. Unpredictable.

“Silence please, Jen.” I can sense her fear welling up; not of him, but of what I might do to him. Both hands to the wheel at ten & two.

I scroll the window. He stays the requisite three feet back of the door edge, with his hand already moving to his fucking holster. Great. The plates have probably given me up, as I was at most two MPH over the limit – within accuracy and human capability standards.

“Where are you headed?” No request for ID, registration, or insurance. Hmmm.

I’d like to hit him with my favorite ‘FUCK YOU, that’s where I’m headed!’, as it is none of his business what my business may be. I hold back due to the circumstances (and plates) and decide to try the smooth lie. Communications just have to be jammed and screwed up everywhere due to the miscellaneous power-grid activity and all around klusterfukk; I’m surprised his radio works decently with the probable heavy voice traffic. Yet here he is bothering me.

“Good morning Trooper, I am a field technician and escort for the professor here.” Thumbing to Jen, who had mounted some fine coke-bottle glasses from an unknown location and gives a small hand-only wave after tilting forward a bit. Her assorted IDs flop out into view. Perfect; who is this lady? “She is the designated liaison to the Department of the Interior – Geological Survey out of the University of Iowa. Dr. Walker is an earthquake expert. We are heading to the Merritt Hill observation bunker for some preliminary measurements, then on to Cody for a de-briefing with the bigwigs about the Yellowstone caldera.” I don’t have to look to know that Jen’s eyes have enlarged to saucers.

“Huh, no kidding. In a Honda Ridgeline?”

“You’re telling me, it’s mine; cheap-assed department has no service fleet. Not even for the good doctor here.” Head wave. “I’m sure you received that intel from the base.”

“The IT wizards can’t get our systems straightened out; I just saw your government plates and needed to verify who was onboard. They’re all over us about keeping people off the Interstates. Especially near the air force base.” We’re on a two-laner buddy. I cringe as I realize that the route drove us right by a federal secretive facility. How did I miss that?  He’s scoping the stacked gear in back, and a Cabela’s logo is on top. “Hey, is that an outfitter tent?” The huge duffel covers the hidden pump.

“It is indeed; our dwelling for any multi-day site visit out in the field. No hotels for us.”

“My buddy has one with a stove, and cots… sweet. I was supposed to be out there now; but then this.” Both arms up; casually pissed off.

“I have no idea how long we’ll be out there; I’d bet at least a week.” Shaking my head. We’re due in Cody by the end of the day… barely enough time to perform the standard tests.”

“Yeah, the usual hurry up to wait for the higher-ups. I’ll let you go then; be careful near the Hill, someone saw a lion there last weekend.” Mountain lion, I presume.

“Hah… we hear those stories all the time. Usually turns out to be a big coyote or dog, only once was it a large bobcat.”

“Have a good day… if you can.” Slight wave as he turns on his heel.

“You too.” Ah, the gift of gab.

He’s already reversing to spin his rig around while we sit a bit. Back live on the roll and Jen stares at me.

“The ‘Hill’… what was all that?” Incredulous.

“I read maps; details matter. Just a little embellishment on what might be happening… like he knows anything about the matter. Pffft. All common terms and authoritative. Good move with your glasses and IDs.”


“Let’s get outta here.”


Steady as She Goes

‘When you have completed what you thought you had to do, and your blood’s depleted to the point of stable glue.’

We’re clear of any real intense civilization, and time is a factor, so we change the route and head to I-80 at Abe’s Statue – at a million miles per hour. We pull in for a quick pee, where I had stopped at least a handful of times over the years. We cautiously approach and enter the big road and it is empty. We fly to the Bus-80 exit before Laramie – just in case – because Laramie has a decent size regional airport. That space may be guarded now. In town, we need a clandestine gas stop. Almost everything is closed and quiet. As we pass the huge Safeway, a fourth city cruiser is pulling in – lights and sirens. There is a mass of people, it’s not looting, but very close. Hundreds of people all over the place. Perfect diversion of LEO (Law Enforcement Official/Officer) resources for us, as we cruise by. However, there are no convenient gas stations near by. Onward. Finally! The immense Road Pilot appears to be closed, but a tanker is off-loading. I slide in close; really close. Behind his rig from the store and the road. He’s at the diesel fill. A huge slob of a guy; looks like he’s carrying nearly due triplets in his gut. Gnarly beard. He hides a beer as I step out. Nice.

“How do; I don’t give a shit about the brew. Are you interested in this?” I hand him a Benjamin. “Pop the mid-grade unleaded, would you.” Not a request. He does without a comment. Jen is out, joining me. She wires it up, and I feed the long hose in. Mr. Gas just looks on. I stay close, Jen inserts the truck port hose and flips the switch. Now he smiles.

“I can’t believe they have you out today in this crazy shit.” She actually goes and gets the squeegee and does the windshield. Of course he’s looking at her ass as she does the stretch for the high glass. A state trooper flies by. We stare him away. “He’s headed to the Safeway… practically a riot there.”

“Pfft. Pays my bills; short run from Rawlins; they offered double-time.”

“Not bad.” Jen disconnects the entire kit up in the background. I stow the hoses and gloves. She hops in. “Thanks.” I hop in. Just like that. We ease away; the I-80 on-ramp is in view.

Jen says “That was easy.”

“Money talks.”

The sun isn’t where I expected it to be; way high in the sky for September.

“That sun is way out of whack.” A concerned nod.

Long run getting to the Mountain View exit. We see a few vehicles heading east-bound. ALL are RVs.

“Behind your seat is a cooler bag with some hard-boiled eggs and fruit. The last of my live food.”

“Okay.” She unstraps, spins around, digs, and brings it forward. Straps back in. She looks at me.

“OK Co-pilot… let’s dig in.” Cracks and peels the eggs; two each, instead of the four for me. One apple each. “The rest is powdered or freeze-dried.”


“Wait, that’s not true… I had room somewhere and dumped in a load of tuna and Bush’s beans – cans. If we don’t freeze immediately, they should be good.”


I glance over; she stares forward.

Miles and miles go by.


With Arms Wide Open

‘Well I don’t know if I’m ready, to be the man I have to be.’

An unmarked jet screams by overhead; heading SSE and very low.

She may have been dozing… I am tired.

“What was it like being a parent?” This subject was inevitable.

“Umm, I still am.”

“Yeah, yeah… early on.”

“We knew nothing. Doctor one was a barbarian. After a somewhat prolonged and difficult birth… we were scared – mainly by the archaic staff. Doctor two was a comparative godsend; we knew more, but still were grossly misinformed. The delivery was straightforward and joyful – for me anyway.”

“OK, but not that early… parenting – raising your children.”

“My wife performed almost all of the day-to-day stuff, but I did participate… I did change diapers too. We played; we traveled a bit. They were happy. The regular spaghetti dinner remains one of my fondest memories. I became more involved as they grew older… sports, camping, school to a certain extent. They were both fit and smart – pretty easy in that regard – not as easy when they began their true self-awareness journey as teens. We grew too. We were decent parents; I think that they both have said as much now, as adults. I reflect back and cry sometimes; I could have been better. Even so, we are proud of ourselves, and more so of them.”

“I can’t imagine giving birth in the wild.”

“I’ll be around, and I know a few things. It has been done for eons.”

“Have you not had enough? You stopped at two, right?” Asking more with her eyes and facial action.

“We have little choice, if we wish to remain on this planet… humans that is. We have no idea who may or may not survive and look at the quality of those around us these days, especially those inbred psychopaths hiding in their elite bunkers. I am viable, I had my applicable plumbing resurrected. I presume that you are capable, no?”

“Yes. ‘Resurrected’, nice.”

“That was a strange conversation with my wife, but once she had committed to our daughter, I fully committed to life beyond – and its requirements or necessities. Had this not come about, it would have harmed no one.”

“Just like that; you’re definitely different.” Smiling.

“Who said ‘It is better to have the stuff and not need it, than to not have it and need it?’, paraphrased of course.”

“Hmm, Kafka?” She reads too.

“Not bad Professor. I miss them both. I was anticipating grandchildren; I had fantasized that I might be happy with that – reading to them sticks in my head. Explaining this and that.”

“I don’t know what I would do… could I even do that.”

“I think that many women would doubt themselves in that regard, given the fear and medical baloney shoved on us all the time. That was the worst for the two of us: realizing that we had been lied to, for so long, and how it had likely affected our children. You’ll be fine; you seem healthy – at least with a pipe.”

“Wow.” Shaking her head.

Deep in thought again.

Miles and miles go by. Empty miles.

Rock Springs has some life. Hard to get a sound evaluation from up on the highway, but it does look to be powerless. We have no intention of visiting. I think back to eating twice at the Renegade Café… never again, as we pass by.

We approach the Green River and there are unmanned barricades – the big wooden horses with a few orange throbbing lights on top. No signage; no detour… no advance warning. I don’t even remember how far back an alternative is.

“No highway services anymore apparently.”

Jen has the Wyoming map out.

“Seven maybe eight miles back we can pick up WY374 in Green River, and come back this way onto… that bridge over there.” Pointing south as I turn around – yep, into oncoming traffic – but just for a hundred feet or so and mosey slowly across an easy grade to the eastbound lanes.

No power in the town. I start to think that this may be purposeful; none of these places have been shaken so bad, there would have been at least several power plants along the thousand-mile main route. ALL were affected? Badly enough to still be out more than a day later? Our heavily electronic vehicle is still operating – so no severe EMP action.

“Check your phone.”

“No bars.” THAT is purposeful.

We glide by a Travelodge on the western edge. Some people are out in the lot, some driving away. Everything in sight looks closed down. We do not head into town and get right on WY374 west. It takes only a few minutes to get to the dead James Town, and then the alternate bridge. On the other side of the river, we pass by the backside of a big Love’s. We can see that there is activity around the trucker depot. Hard to tell about lights or power with this crazy sun almost overhead. In less than ten minutes we hop back on I-80. Fifty minutes further and we exit for Mountain View.


The End of the World as We Know It

‘This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear.’

“This could be the last available gas.”


“Stay alert.”

I scroll the window to listen as we cruise in. It is much warmer than anticipated for the sixty-eight-hundred-foot elevation. It has to be near seventy. Crazy. Pre-trip intel has the town with just two police officers and a temp chief. Probably two cars, maybe only one out rolling. First though, we drive through Lyman. The Maverick gas station is surprisingly crowded with people and cars; no one appears to be doing much of anything. Some yelling; maybe the place just closed. No one at the pumps is active. We motor on. A couple of bends and turns and we hit the town. Benedict’s Market is in trouble. Definite panic. Cars and people everywhere. Two police cruisers are already on site with lights still flashing. Civilized looting, it looks like… groceries, carts full of water jugs. No power. People can’t pay. Once again, a decent diversion for us.

We turn off Main street onto a side street aiming at another Maverick. This one has no one, no vehicles and was clearly vandalized, if not fully looted. The front door glass has been broken and one huge adjacent window as well. I see the high school sign next door as I pull over to the fuel ports and spin around to block the fill from the street view. Jen looks at me.

“We have to… last chance for gas.”

“This is bad.”

“Come on” with a reassuring head nod, “it’ll be quick with both of us working the gear.”

We link everything up as usual and we are pretty well hidden – I leave the hood up. The pump is humming. The ruckus is audible from the market mayhem.

“I have to use the bathroom really bad, not pee.” Signing with the crouch and leg squeeze. Great. No use barking now.

“Keep quiet and alert. Step carefully through the big window… the bathroom inside is probably usable. It looks empty but scream if someone approaches you.”

“Okay.” She goes; I scope continuously.

Behind me someone says: “Just what in thee fuck do you think yor doin’ government boy?” I have no idea where this yahoo came from.

“I paid, I put fifty on the cash register.” I turn slowly around; he doesn’t object. Maybe five-foot-seven; two hundred unfit pounds. Camo t-shirt revealing part of his gut; Coors hat up top; five-whisker “beard”; squinting eyes yet the shades are up on his head; unlaced boots and a very nice over-under shotgun leveled at my chest. Looks like 12-gauge. It’s new. “I have more,” patting my pocket while removing my right glove. He is very close; foolishly close.

His rump-ranger cohort appears on the other side of the truck, but back a bit. He’s tall and skinny and greasy; one eyebrow is way higher than the other, maybe painted on. He’s wielding a Bowie bigger than Mick Dundee’s. He’s quite filthy; he has no idea how to handle the large knife. From his broken-teeth mouth comes “Blast the cocksucker, Earl.”

“I don’t give a shit ‘bout no fuckin’ money… especially from an ass-licker like you.” Never heard that one before; regional, I’m sure.

“Fuck him up, Earl.”

“Shut yer yap, Syd. I ain’ innerested in any shit you got, princess.” What the fuck?

Just then Jen exits the building. She sashays out with her flannel unbuttoned nearly to her waist, nothing underneath, cleavage clear and present.

“What are you interested in Sugar?” What a woman.

Earl turns just slightly and his head a bit more, eyes alight. He does realize his mistake, but just a bit too late. I extract the 9mm from my holster quicker than Roland Deschain while stepping in and grabbing the large double barrels and twisting the gun fiercely. It clears my body wide left and booms loudly, my gloved hand feels the heat. He possibly subconsciously hears the snick of the safety just before I put a round from under his jaw up and through the back of his head. Without body motion, I move my arm one foot and shoot grease-monkey Syd in the center of his forehead. I still hold the shotgun. The high velocity cracks are sharp and Jen flinches. Without a sound, she turns and goes back in.

Gas is spraying all over the place. I holster mine and put the new shotgun on the pile of gear temporarily. I do the long arching arm and body stretch to flip the pump switch. I’m putting away the refuel kit and Jen reappears – fully dressed once again. Calm. This is very surprising – the calmness. She has a bag of Fritos in her hand; I guess that I can let that slide. I stow the extra long gun butt first into the jammed back seat area. The earth lets loose once again – fifteen seconds – strong enough that the cheapo roof over the pump islands is wobbling.

“Let’s get out of here, NOW.”

Not a word. We mount up and head out. Gunny Highway in my head: Pussies!

I need not say anything about her performance back there; sterling.

“Why did you keep that shotgun, having instructed me to leave the police model back then… seems like years ago?”

“I didn’t know what gauge the police model would be, it has a much shorter barrel and other options designed for shooting people, or their dogs, not hunting for food. My shotgun ammo matches the gun you now have available. It is a very nice Italian model. This is similar to why I said to grab the copper’s magazines for that pistol… my ammo is different – you would need some extra.”



Go Walkin’ Down There

‘I go walking down there, I go searching down there. There’s nothing left for you and me’

Lonetree is over seventy-five-hundred-feet elevation as we slow our passage. A humongous distant low frequency boom is followed shortly by strong ground rumbling. Thirty seconds later a warm breeze blows through from the north. The blacktop ends as we exit the tiny town. No people visible of the purported ten residents. My route says sixteen miles to go; I note the odometer. The decent gravel road steepens. We see a simple two by two sign noting the Utah border. With about five miles to go, we can see that snow has been compacted to ice here and there, but there is obvious liquid melting to puddles. We pass by a FR134 stick sign – I know we’re close; I drove that crude dirt road when I was here over a dozen years ago. An old cabin is back in the woods.

We pull in passed zero cars, and zero RVs to the trailhead parking area. We’re at ninety-four-hundred-feet; the interior temp gauge reads seventy-one outside… incredible. We hop out. It stinks of sulfur; not good. The outhouse is still standing, as are the hitching posts.

“I’m so glad we picked up that winter clothing.” We’ll see.

The professor speaks: “That was Yellowstone that let loose, I think.”

“Hmm. Wasn’t that in itself supposed to destroy a three-hundred mile radius? We’re on the edge of that right now.”

“The data is nowhere near perfect.” With a smile this time. “What now, Mr. Clark.” Not bad.

“I do not think that Mother Earth is done yet. There has to be some wind associated with that wave, maybe not a thousand MPH, but even this far inland and protected, I would bet fifty mph or higher. However, the data is nowhere near perfect.”

No response.

“No tent yet, let’s wait until morning, if there is one.” I spin the truck around to put the windshield to the west; it’s angled and stronger than the rear glass. IF that is where the wind will come from. IF we are still aligned globally the way our maps say. “We may already be on some new Lat/Long on the globe. My watch says almost six, five local, and that sun is still high.”

“We’re still alive; we could have been gone by now. I’m hungry.”

“Let’s check out the creek first.” We stroll through the lodgepoles and meet the babbling Henry’s Fork. Beautiful, still clear, and I reach down to confirm that it is quite chilly. “The source is maybe five miles away, and up another thousand feet, I think.” I’m looking at a decent sized flat spot that others have obviously used. A rocky fire ring is there and a crude, but usable grill.

She says “Beautiful.”

The temperature has barely faded as we sit on a log next to each other as the big can of Bush’s heats up on the old grill over the perfect fire. The tuna is a lovely ambient sixty-five or so. This is just so strange (and I thinks she feels it too)… much more then ninety-nine percent of the planet is about to die, we might as well, and we are casually eating dinner at a campfire. I just don’t know what is going on elsewhere. Nothing we can do. Jen retrieves our utensils from the truck and hands mine to me – silently. I did not remove any gear, so I am stirring the beans with a pine wand. We share each can like you might those white Chinese food containers. The stuff is pretty tasty after all those heavy energy bars. As I have not removed the filter from the gear stash, we are drinking the rest of the warm travel water. First hot stuff for a long time. I’m looking at this woman that I met only a day ago. Again, I believe that she is doing the same. It’s both shocking and amazing what has transpired in that short time. No words.

The sun has finally moved, or we have here on Earth, but it sure seems like the wrong direction. It appears to be what was once southeast. I realize how tired I am.

“It’s not going to be too comfortable, but if we shift some junk around, we can tilt the seats back a notch.” We do just that.

“It doesn’t matter much, I am dead.”

I keep my heavy shirt on and add my thick sweatshirt. She adds her coat over the top. I have my wool utility blanket up top, and after an hour of staring at my eyelids, I move it over and across both of us. I did not notice the transition to darkness.


Lightning Crashes

Like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind; forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again.’

I have to pee, and I glance over – Jen is awake.

“Are you okay?”

“I think so, something startled me. I think I was dreaming. I have to pee.”

She grabs the shit-kit and we uncover then depart the vehicle.

The sky is absolutely alive. I have never seen anything like it. Green, yellow and some true red waves flow continuously from what I would have said a day ago was due west. I have no idea where we are on the surface. I don’t need to point; we each have shadows and she is also looking up with amazement. All the exterior vehicle lights perform some random flickering then go out. The interior lights die. We stare for minutes.

“Was this going on during the daylight?”

“You’re the expert, I have no idea at this point.”

The sulfurous smell from before is gone. The urge returns and I move away to drain about a gallon. She does the same, but in the outhouse in the almost-dark. I forgot to mention a headlamp for her back at Cabela’s. My plastic watch says 9:11 HAH! The indestructible, but now useless piece of junk still works. That time probably no longer has any meaning on this globe.


I Feel the Earth Move

I feel the earth move under my feet; I feel the sky tumbling down.’

We’re not back inside yet when a low rumbling starts up; vibratory, oscillating, not erratic shaking. Louder and stronger, like a huge train locomotive, or one of those immense hydraulic black-top rollers working five feet from your body. Now really shaking the ground; up and down at least a foot, and sideways… really crazy. Tree trunks are squeaking and groaning. We can also hear the wind whistling through the swinging trees. Pinecones are flying all around.



‘A thousand miles and poles apart, where worlds collide and days are dark.’

The shaking levels off in magnitude, but the sound of boulders falling, tumbling and smashing starts… not near us though. I casually mention that Kings Peak and his buddies are basically huge rock piles, and it seems like that 13,528’ highpoint ten miles away will be no more. Those are/were our guardians to the south, but I have no idea where we are – if that direction matters any more. The oncoming big water won’t spin around like the land, it’s going to push and slosh all over the place since we don’t appear to be moving symmetrically. We have the Salt Lake basin beyond the Wasatch to the former west. I had hoped that those two elements would assist in spreading and blocking the mile-high tidal wave. Finally, that action recedes, the vibration starts again, or is prominent once more and the wind starts to crank up. The activity in the sky is no more; black. We can hear the trees swaying but cannot see a thing – nothing; ZERO light. Branches are snapping and pine needles are striking us. Pinecones are pelting the undented body of my Hondo. We have to shield our faces with hands and arms.

“How is that possible?” Yells the Professor.

“The data is nowhere near perfect.” Directed to where I think her ear is. I can feel her facial expression.

I yell to get back in. She jumps in to me, because she was so close. We use our hands to trace around the backend to the front doors.

“Look at that.” Yelling across the roof and pointing to an orange-red prominence a thousand feet up in the distant former north sky. Duh, she can’t see my hand. “Northerly.”

“YELLOWSTONE?” From the expert geologist.

“The data is nowhere near perfect.”

“ALRIGHT already!”

Once inside, I dig out my supposed top-quality flashlight from the bottom of the console and it works! The bright light pointed outside shows the trees bent way over with a tornado of dust and debris everywhere. My watch says 3:33… what? Six hours of this… can’t be. She sees the look on my face in the scattered bright light.


“Either my watch is now cooked, or we just sped through some crazy time shift. This junk says six hours have just passed since we were outside. No way. Maybe my brain shifted timelines and I dragged you along.”

“I’m going to go with ‘watch cooked’, we couldn’t have been out there more than… you know, I can’t even remember now. Did you notice how warm it was?”

“No.” I open the door a crack to check and it is slammed back. “Not much we can do.”

I have no idea how long that went on, but the next time I faded back in, I could no longer hear the wind, or feel the truck rocking. Jen was asleep under the blanket, despite the obvious warmth. I glanced out and could see stars once again. What the fuck??

“Hey. Dave.” She is gently prodding me.

“Wow, that rarely happens.” I was soundly asleep. I have no answers. It’s dawn.


Here Comes the Sun

Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here.’

I’m thinking Day One.

“Umm, that used to be east. Wait it is still east, the new east; all my mental landmarks are now wrong.” Until I unload the gear, I guess the temperature at mid-sixties, at dawn, at over nine-thousand feet, in late September. We’re not in Kansas anymore.

I start a reassuring fire down at the site near the creek. There are many downed trees, but many more still standing. Aspen, and a bunch of mixed conifers. Branches everywhere. Even though I had a list, the gear was packed for space efficiency and weather protection (except the fuel rig). My pot kit is buried. I off-load down the middle remembering where I had stowed everything just a day-and-a-half ago. Jen arrives from her visit to the hopper.

“Okay Commander, what’s the plan?” Surprisingly good spirits but the unintended reference to Of-Fred hits me hard.

“Green drink and then hot tea with heavy energy bar. You must. We must stay as healthy as possible early on. We can add tuna if you like.” She scrunches her face. “Do you not agree that we may be visited by miscellaneous and potentially lengthy volcanic fallout? A day or two possibly without. Ahhh, who knows, this is not our world.” The sky is just mildly hazy, but the warmth has me happy.

“I agree… with both. It seems that if anything, we did NOT move northerly.” Nothing more.

“Tent after that. Regardless of the nice temperature, we have no idea about rain patterns, wind or daylight length. I will be cutting and splitting wood for use in the stove within the tent – in case of prolonged rain.”

“What am I going to do?”

“You can assist with the tent, then SIT and study your surroundings, the landmarks – you mustn’t get lost. Walk the creek, with at least your pistol – there’s probably a fisherman trail.”

I had never used the tent, but it went up just as it had in the backyard near home. Even the chimney skirt and sealing tape works out well. Jen smiled.

“It’s bigger than I thought it would be. I thought that you might have some minimalist thing to travel around like a nomad.” I glance over establishing one of my many patented looks of ‘do you recognize me, would I do such a fool thing?’

“The tent you describe is in the gear pile, and that is exactly what it might be for: exploration. This one must house us; beds, kitchen and some storage.”

“Nice.” As she ventures in.

We move all the interior goods inside, stacked high in a corner for now. She helps me drape the heavy-duty tarp over the bike on the rack of the truck bed. She stares at me questioningly about the toboggan next to the bike. We anchor the cover up with rocks temporarily. She sees the red jugs, the blue jugs, the tools, the bow with quiver and the chainsaw. Her eyebrows go up again.

“Red is gas, for the saw; blue is water. Yeah, we have only ten gallons of clean water, but I have a rig, storage, a filter and a plan. We’ll deal with that when you return from your tour of the grounds.”

“Of course you do.”

She sits on a log looking around while I prep the saw.

“Okay, I’m going to walk,” and turns to go up-river. I stare, she has the same Swedish pants on that I am wearing. Crazy-assed rock lady.

“Gun?” She turns and pulls it out of her pocket.


River Runs Red

‘You’ve taken what’s good from the ground, but you’ve left precious little for me.’

The infallible saw fires right up. I pick the nearest dead lodgepole of moderate diameter and saw ten twelve-inch-long logs. I also saw a trunk segment of a green spruce that has to be at least two feet in diameter for a splitting table. One more smaller diameter green for some future use. If anyone has survived near us, they certainly know we are here now; so do the animals. I roll the logs over near our fire area. Splitting the light dead pine is easy and satisfying. I stack the stove-sized tall pie slices near the tent.

Inside, I assemble the cots, and move them to the perimeter away from the stove. Air mattresses and bags go on top. Her pack under hers, mine, entirely clothing filled, under mine. Light duty table nearer the stove. I leave all the cooking gear in the bin. I put the decades old indestructible pack pot on top of the stove. Good enough for now.

Jen returns.

“It’s beautiful here.” Do tell.

My shirt is soaked. She eyeballs the two chairs near the fire, smiles, and sits.


“I can’t wait.” I let slide that she will be consuming half of my supplies.

“But first… close your eyes.” Instead, she rolls them at me. “That, or you get dog food.” She does. “Do not move!” I head to the creek and retrieve a six-pack of tall-boy Bud – COLD – for now. “Stay there.” I silently remove one from the retaining rings. “Put out your hands in front of you.” She gives me negative body language. I do not move for a full minute. She puts out her hands. “Do not open your eyes.” I set the can in her hands and close her fingers around it. She’s smiling. “OK.”

“You consider beer essential? You made space for this?” She cracks it.

“Earl had set these down on the sidewalk; I didn’t think that he’d be needing them.” I crack mine.

She holds it up to toast; I hold off.

“Chris, if you can hear me, this is to you. That’s my brother, Jen. Here’s to you for joining me.”

“Live long and prosper.” Wow.

I take a deep long draught. Shitty domestic beer never tasted so good. She drinks too… and smiles just like I am. We finish it off in short order. I put the remainder back pinned in the creek. I have some effect; I imagine that she does too.

“Why do you always have a fire? It must be near eighty.”

“It makes me feel safe. Childhood experience… winter… wet… who knows. We should have enough wood.” Arms spread.

I introduce her to the enhanced protein drink, yummy chocolate.

“Drink it.”

Bush’s beans. We keep the cans, and the nearly severed lids.

“Stow your jacket in the tent – in case it rains. We’re going for a hike.”

“Roger.” In the tent: “Wow; nice.”

“Your bag is grey.”

I kick in the small remaining logs. The fire area is surrounded by sand and loose rocks.

“Where are we headed?”

“To the cabin.”

“Aye Aye.” Wow.

Walking along the burbling waterway, in about a half-mile we reach FR134 as it passes through the creek. I stop.

“Do you smell that?”

“A fire? Ours?”

“No, it is not. Stay sharp.” I have my Baretta in a rear hip holster.

Late season, or it used to be, so the water is low enough to rock-hop across. There is no road, there are no ruts, there are only remnants from years passed. Three or four hundred feet along the path and Jen puts her finger to her lips and points into the trees at an old cabin… there is smoke coming out of the pipe chimney.

I move close to her.

“We have to do this sooner or later; let’s go meet our neighbors.”

I move in front of her.

“HELLO! Anyone home?” From fifty feet away.


“HELLO! Anyone home?” From the small porch.


I signal Jen to stay outside. The 9mm comes out. I enter through the creaky unlocked door.

“HELLO! Anyone home?”

I scan. It’s a one-room place with a small loft area and a log ladder.

“I’m coming up!”

No bed. No clothing. No one home.

“Okay Jen, come on in.” She does.

There is a stone fireplace unused. The pot-belly stove is warm. No food around. It’s a really rugged place. One window front, and one rear. Just the front door. No furniture except for a stool in front of the stove. A galvanized bin, no sink or plumbing. No pump. I look outside; an outhouse. There is also a fenced area.

“Well, obviously someone was here, and not anymore. It is unlikely that this fire is still burning from early yesterday. It’s possible that they vacated after the weather went wild last night. The road is enough to follow.”

“Now what?”

“Look, this place may be usable – the tent won’t last forever. IF no one has claimed it. The chainsaw is for two things; cutting for firewood, and building a more permanent dwelling. Repairing this would be easier.”

“Yes, but you were planning on winters, right? The fireplace would be great, the stove would heat too. This new weather is unknown, but so far is looking much warmer than anticipated.”

“We may still have significant rain, torrential; think tropical.” Her eyes go big. “It’s possible. Let’s check the outhouse. I can’t believe that the forest service left this thing here, they usually only do that when someone has been granted a permanent easement: ‘grandfathered in’ as they say.”

We go out. The fence has chicken wire… in decent shape. I shrug ‘I don’t know.’ The outhouse is beyond use; maybe the wood shell is salvageable.

“So, whoever, may come back.”


We head back.

In the creek we notice silt; not too bad. Other detritus from the destructive night.

Back at camp I start hauling out the water rig.

“Here’s what I thought: if the volcanic fallout didn’t start right away, we could store some fresh water – it’s obviously too heavy and too voluminous to carry in the truck. We are going to assemble this aluminum frame and this big heavy-duty hundred-gallon bladder fits inside.” Jen nods. “That may give us some time with potable water while we simply wait out the fallout. It may not be enough though. With my pots we can boil of course but some of the toxic compounds or metals may remain. I have a really good filter as well, but I’d like to leave that for exploration or emergencies.”

“Is there anything you didn’t think of?” Smiling.

“I’m sure many things, and I had limited space. We will see those failures as time passes, I’m sure.” Frowning.

“Looks pretty thorough so far. How do we get the water from the creek into the big bag?”

“I had intentions of using the fuel rig, after flushing thoroughly with boiling water, but that baby is now dead with the truck. Soooo, I have this,” I show her the hand-crank assembly. “This gets screwed into the log out there, and you just turn the big arm. I have some tools. Connect the hose first of course. We could also haul it up with the sealable five-gallon bucket there.”

“That is really neat.”

“Let’s see if the junk works. Before the creek turns to death. I did not test it.”

It works. I’m sweating again. Easily eighty degrees.

“Hey Jen, I have a thermometer hanging from the canopy of the tent, check it out.”

“Yikes, eighty-three.”

“Would you rather thirty-three? The tent has screen windows with awnings, and they are all open.”

“I see that. No wonder that trooper liked your model so much.”

I’m holding my arms away from my soaking body.

“Let’s go in the tent for a minute.”

She follows. I dig out a bag of bricks, individually wrapped and bagged within.

“I have just twelve of these. These are rugged soap; they should last a long time. This one is now yours.”

“Are you trying to tell me something?”

“No, but I am going to wash. Back in the day, didn’t those sodbusters just bathe on Sundays? I don’t know what you brought for clothes, but I only have three pairs of atomic fabric underwear, and six sets of socks. Laundry, of sorts, will be necessary. Again, space was limited to survival stuff. I have this small camp-towel; it may not last too long either.”

“I actually have more underwear, and less everything else. Some feminine products.”

I dig again.

“The outhouse is functional for now. I have six of these, as I show her zip-locked mega-rolls of toilet paper. After that, other means of cleaning will be necessary.”

“I see.”

“This is a big change for me too… at home I was showering and shitting twice per day. One of those will change for sure, probably both.”

“At least it’s warm. In winter, outdoors, that would be rough.”

I grab a clean t-shirt and multi-purpose running shorts. I show her. I drop all into the clean, handled bucket

“Off I go,” and I do, downstream.

We had just walked the area, so I head directly to a flat sandy section of the creek next to a large rock. I strip and step into the very small pool. I dunk my head and scratch my scalp vigorously. Compared to the heat, it’s like ice, but I’m betting not for long. I rinse my shirt and then use it as a washcloth and apply the brick of soap – it’s rough. Not much lather, but I can feel it. I’m using the bar directly in my hair and I see Jen upstream a bit. She has already undressed and is in the ankle-deep water. She sees me see her. Her absolute indifference about the nakedness is surprising. What can I say, all the parts and pieces of a thirty-one-year-old woman are there. Just so. She is casual, but me being me, I can hardly contain myself. This may take some getting used to. I barely resist staring. I finish up. I put my socks, t-shirt and underwear in the bucket. The shirt has some residual soap and I spend five full minutes grinding all items within. No washboard style yet. Rinse, ring out, re-bucket. I dress, sit on the warm rock, clear off my feet one by one and insert each into a boot. I head back clopping the boots. Jen has already finished and returned to camp. I hang up my laundry on the auxiliary tent guy-line. She sees this and asks me to explain the laundry action. I do, in great detail. She nods and grabs the bucket.

“We have two.” She smiles and heads back out.

A breeze is picking up and the sky to the former south is tan. It never reaches us. Crazy.

“You know, I’m still kind of waiting for something awful to happen. But here we are, much better than I expected. Keep in mind that I have a very limited first-aid kit. I have a few essential books too… fishing gear. Of course the guns. There is a rifle in there, and my shotgun… you saw the bow.”

“This is well beyond any idea of survival that I had. You have a lot of stuff.”

She’s sitting at the tiny fire. I disappear like a cat.

“Beer?” As I hand her one.

“Why not.”

“I have just these, as you know, but we could still die shortly. Fuck it.”

“As morose as that sounds… cheers.”

Cold and predictable; down the hatch. Perfect.

“Same goes for dinner; we’re going to splurge. You choose.” I have a pouch of freeze-dried beef stroganoff in one hand and chicken teriyaki in the other.

“Ooo, the teriyaki.”


“I thought that I’d by running around all day sawing logs and splitting wood initially; eventually moving on to hunting or fishing, but this weather – it’s just incredible.”

“More than two full days since ‘sun dance’ as you called it.”

“Check this out,” I show her my sextant. “Let’s see where the hell we are,” as I’m getting buzzed.

“I’ve used one. Gramps.” I just stare at her, into her and she notices the difference.

“Stars and land?” I am re-reading the pamphlet taken from the zip-lock bag.

“Water too, on a vacation cruise, which is not much different than land, but visually easier… more accurate.”

“I have only read a how-to.”

She does some things towards the sun. Explains. Writes notes on the map of Wyoming as scratch-paper with a pencil.

The dinner is excellent. Probably relatively useless, but it fills.

“Finish your green.” Frown, but less so than before.

We watch the new sunset… actually, she hasn’t been here before, so she doesn’t have to renegotiate landmarks with her stored memories. She does some things with the sextant again. Notes. Calculations. It all seems unimportant to me. You’re crazy, within my own head. Maybe.


Under the Milky Way

‘Sometimes, when this place gets kind of empty; sound of their breath fades with the light.’

Dark; fire; stars.

“Last one.”

“Here’s to a true reading in an hour.” We touch cans. She plays with the sextant yet again.

“When your supplies run out, we start hunting?”

“No way… LONG before that – like tomorrow or the next day. That stuff has a ten-year shelf-life, some of it longer. We should save it for emergencies, or the elusive winter.”

“Yeah, that sounds more prudent. Hey, take a look to the ‘former north’ as you call it.” It’s orange, but much lower, a glow on the horizon. “How can that thing still be spewing lava, or whatever?”

“Wow, YOU are asking ME? I’ve got nothin’. We’re alive somehow. It was obviously not nearly as powerful as the experts predicted. That could be very good for the following fallout drift – for us. Who knows about the results elsewhere on the globe.”

“That low vibration and super-strong humming? That was the water against the mountains. Grinding everything into a slurry. Can you imagine Salt Lake City?”

“I’ll go along with that. Forget that city Jen. The world is likely gone; you know it. I will ride down the road tomorrow and take a look. Eventually, we will hike up one of the remaining peaks and take a look from there as well. I have some pretty good binoculars.”

Diddling with the sextant again. Notes and calculations; she has my headlamp on.

“Map of the earth? Star chart?” I give her the ‘do you recognize me’ look.

I bring out the topo map tube and my flashlight.

“Dave. Dave! Do you know why it is so warm? Even if I am way off, it looks like we are near twenty degrees north latitude. Holy shit! Look, that crosses Hawaii… or where it was before. It IS the tropics. Given what you say and we see and what I have measured, it seems that we, probably North America has spun around too. The sun will rise in the former north and set in the former south – approximately. Didn’t you say that that was the predicted result of the displacement models that you were familiar with?”

Speechless. I just nod.

Finally: “I wonder how that will affect the plants and animals. Some will die off I suppose, but I bet other things will grow fast, or huge… or both. I think that we are probably still at something around nine-thousand feet. Maybe it won’t get as hot as Mexico.”

The first night in the tent is fine. No fire of course. She can’t miss my solar powered glowing lamp.

“I have a solar recharger for the headlamp and flashlight, but I have no replacement bulbs. That thing – is designed to be abused; it should last longer. I guess we could use the phone as a calculator and light.” I’m in my underwear she in hers and a t-shirt. Thermometer said fifty-eight. The mattresses are squeaky like Styrofoam. I pee at an unknown time in the darkness; stars are still there – brilliant.

She’s prodding me again. It’s dawn.

“Man, I can’t get a make on this earth alignment. I never sleep like this.” She’s dressed already.

Breakfast; same.

“I have one hundred tea bags… in addition to this little baggie.”

“It will be rough to wean ourselves of some things. I miss my slippers.”


Woman Oh Woman

‘To find a woman, not a girl; just that feeling, like the beginning of the world’

We’re finishing up breakfast at the fire, I step well away to pee as we’ll be here a while.

I head back and I see someone at the camp that is not Jen. The creek burbles. Jen is seated. The gray-streaked black haired short person is speaking in feminine tones. She has something in each arm, tucked close to her body. I approach like a cat. Jen doesn’t react to me, as far as I can tell.

Without turning, the woman says: “Come Moosa, join us.”

Presumably, that’s me. I do. She has a chicken under each arm, a hen and a rooster. She must be a thousand years old; yet standing and having walked here.

Jen says: “Dave, this is So’so.”

I am now facing her and look at her for at least a minute, she does not react in any way.

“Hello.” Simply; calmly. “How is it that you are here with us?”

“I had walked a great distance a few days ago from down below.” Below?

Pause. Waiting for me, I guess.

“The birds?” A gentle and smooth open hand questioning wave at each.

“My Fathers of the sky told me to bring them. I have just caught them from wandering. We stayed at the wooden hut.” A slight head nudge – back to the cabin presumably. Would those same Fathers be related to the ones who just destroyed this world, I wonder.

“Have you eaten? Would you like some water?”

“The forest is full of food. Water is right there.” A barely perceptible shoulder point.

“Do you have any people with you… somewhere near?”

“They have long passed.”

“Would you like to stay here, with us? I saw no bedding.”

“The hut is fine.”

“I may be able to repair the roof and walls for you.”

“The hut is fine.”

I nod and pause thoughtfully.

“Old Mother, why have you come?”

She lifts both arms slightly… an offering.

“My Fathers told me someone would be here.” Even metaphysical me is questioning this gift. There are likely still deer, elk, moose, and wild birds all over the place.

“You will just leave us then? Back to the hut? May we visit?”

“There is a pen for the birds. They will grow and become more. They will provide many things. We will see each other often.” Multiply, eggs and convenient meat; presumably.

“Will you go back below?”

“There is nothing there.”

“There must be someone, somewhere.”

“My Fathers have not told me of these things. You are here.” Evenly.

“Some people may have hidden; they will be back.”

“My Fathers Grandfathers of the stars would not allow such things. There is no one below. The smelly holes have been plugged.” The Bridger oil field that she may have walked through, or lived around?

“There may be others like us.” With my hands out palms up.

“My Fathers have not told me of these things. You are here.” Evenly.

“You have found us. Are you able to ask your Fathers of others like us?”

“This may happen.” No facial expression at all.

“You are welcome here.”

“The hut is fine. You may visit. I am often away.” Head circling about.

She just turns and leaves.

Jen looks at me with questioning eyes.

Below? Fathers?”

“I’m guessing Uintah, or Hopi. Strange, huh?”

“Moosa?” I shrug.

“Before you joined us, she said that ‘So’so’ means grandmother or something similar.”

“This can’t hurt anything. Actually, her ‘the forest is full of food’ is very promising.”

“How is this possible?”

“The Great Creator has provided a gift? Christ Jesus threw us a bone? Off-worlder’s stepped in to clean up? I’ve read stories of all those. She looks real.”

“Wow. ‘Grandfathers of the stars would not allow such things’. Killed them all?”

“I read somewhere that granite is piezoelectric, and that the immense mass of the Pacific Ocean flowing on top of, and squeezing that granite, would induce an unimaginable current within. Frying them all. Says nothing about non-granite hidey-holes though, but the big one, the main one, I think is granite.”

“Granite is all over the place, and of differing types, but yes, not everywhere.”

“Grandmother… YES! She’s seen things, done things… a million years old and able to live in the forest? Fantastic! Maybe she’s not human.”


“I’ve read some things, many things, convincing things.”

“So I’ve heard.”

Eventually I unracked my bike, put on my small pack with some supplies.

“I have to check, and that is the easiest way. Should only take five miles or so. Keep your pistol handy, okay? Just in case others have survived. There are other campgrounds and trailheads at similar altitude; one within five miles, I think – as the crow flies.” I headed out and down on the gravel road. I was at just under five miles and the view opened up to the former northeast. I retrieved my binoculars from my pack. There was not much below… tan and brown stuff logs, some man-made junk. The surrounding mountain peaks were still present, but I didn’t have a good vantage for that. All of the slopes had been completely stripped of trees and vegetation. Rock down to brown and blackness everywhere – EVERYWHERE. As far as I could see with the 10x42HD binos and the further down I scanned the more homogeneous the brownish color was. Miles and miles distant; thousands of feet down… out of sight. I was at eighty-eight hundred feet or so and the first evidence that I could discern was a maybe a couple hundred feet below that. Just like you see when the Mississippi has ripped up the banks during a century event flood – except that this was a twelve-thousand YEAR tsunami. Half a billion tons of Pacific Ocean water racing above eight thousand feet – and slosh-back… and the Atlantic. Absolutely incredible devastation. I drank deep and looked again.

Ugh, EIGHTY-FIVE-HUNDRED FEET of water, unstoppable from here through the Midwest… raging across the big rivers over the Smokies and dumping into the temporarily waterless Atlantic coastline. Destroying EVERYTHING in its path. KILLING everything in its path. Wifey is dead… or will be shortly. My only daughter is dead… or will be shortly. I tried to tell them; I really did. Tears flow. Just stunning.

Enough, I mounted up. I worked hard for a half-hour grinding back up in a haze to the trailhead camp.

I gave Jen the awful report.

“You know, we are here, Old Mother got here somehow. There are many, many other high places. There are others. There has to be. Colorado alone has significant population above nine-thousand feet. Panic, riots and looting won’t kill everyone, plus, there is some big money there… high and secure mansions. I would think that the people living, or surviving up that high would be a bit more level-headed, or prepared than those down in the big cities, right?”

“Probably. The odds say yes, but we are in a very protected area, you said as much.”

“The Rockies are huge and long. You know that. The water wouldn’t have reached the same altitude in every location.” But we are very high here, I thought to myself. “There are others. You don’t really believe that we could have been chosen for this, do you? Why would that be? Come on.” Repeating to myself: eight thousand feet of speeding water; impacting and going higher.

We spent some time walking. I showed her the hiking trail that I had been on a couple of times. It would be easy to follow to lakes with bigger fish than the creek. We could use it to join other trails and venture up high for the view that I mentioned beforehand. Gray clouds appeared. It started raining lightly. I put a can out to gather the water.

A quiet lunch under the canopy. Shells on, even in the warmth – mainly to retrieve the can of beans. The few burning logs were extinguished. I cleared some of the downed trees and rolled the logs to the fire area. Kind of in a daze.

Jen spent some time looking through all my stuff, at my request to familiarize herself with what we had. She threw out a question now and then. Then the tools in the bed of the truck. Then the food inside it. Nothing new there: tuna, beans and some boxes of freeze-dried. She did see the half-dozen large double-bagged green powder, and the brown powder.

The rain continued for a couple of hours. I went in the tent and retrieved a waterproof toolbox and brought it under the canopy where Jen was sitting out of the light rain.

“Here you go, careful please.” I handed her the small cylinder of pH paper strips. “I’ll get the can.” I hustled back light footed without the can. “Look!” I pointed down the creek twenty or thirty yards.

“A wolf?”

“Nah, way too small. Too short for a coyote. I think it’s a dog.”

“From where?”

“Old Mother’s Fathers?” She tilted her head at me. The dog just looked at us.

I went back out to get the can of rain.

“Here you go.”

She inserted the single strip that had been removed from the container.


“Looks like a bit higher than five and a half. What does that mean?”

“Slightly acidic but NORMAL!” ‘Acid Rain’ would be much lower – low fours probably. Hah! So far, so good!”

I put the kit away. We sat. The rain stopped. Hazy sun came out.

“Holy shit! Look at that!” The dog was back, having emerged from the creek side bushes just twenty FEET away face to us, now sitting. Close.

“What does it have in its mouth?”

“Wow. It’s another animal. I can’t believe this, a hunter? A retriever?”

I got up. It dropped the animal and scampered away.

I went to check it out. A large healthy hare. I signaled Jen. I had it held by the large ears.

“This is still warm!”

“Come on. It gave us this?”

“Dogs are smart. It has to have been trained. Abandoned or lost in the big event maybe. I’m sure that there were campers and hikers here just beforehand. THANKS Buddy! Have you any experience with this?” I raise it up.

“Yes, but many years ago.”

“Okay. There are certainly large carnivores in our area… maybe still freaked out, but they’re here. Black bears, coyotes and cougars for sure. Doubtful on Grizz and wolves. Wolverine, bobcat, lynx, and the smaller guys. We will keep a clean camp because of that. Let me get a flat-ish board and the largest pot.” I set it down.

“Yep, I get it.”

“Thank the Fathers Grandfathers for this. Yes!” I hacked it up a bit, but was able to skin it pretty decently. I left the head, the lower legs and feet, along with the entrails. I purposely left the good organs right there, on the board for our hunting pal. It had to be close. I quartered the rest. I carefully bagged the pelt in a large zip-lock. “Let’s see what Old Mother can do with this.”

“Good idea.”

I carefully placed the uppers and torso in the pot. Not too messy. I handed it to Jen. I washed my hands with sand and water – scrubbed, the knife too.

“Alrighty, let’s cook this baby up.”

After building and burning down, the fire was ready. The dead and dry wood was perfect. The old grill was okay. It was almost dark.

“Grab the glowing lamp okay?” I still was hesitant to use the lights for non-emergency.

“You saw it right, the salt? The small one is bagged in one of the boxes in the cab.”


“Plates, knives and forks. A rag each.”

“Got them.”

The meat was sizzling beautifully. A little salt, not much. I really was careful on this first meat meal. I’m not a big grill guy at home. We were sitting on logs, closer to the fire than we would be with the chairs. We ate it all. Maybe half a pound of meat each. Bones into the pot.

“Not bad, huh?”

“Great, really great.”

I used the headlamp to carefully check for spillage and bones. I pointed my head out to the alter.

“Look.” Its eyes glowed in the light. I quietly took the bones out there. It had scampered.

We wiped up carefully. I took the rags to the creek to rinse thoroughly. I hung them up on a nearby branch well away from us. We sat by the fire quietly and thoughtfully.

“This truly seems otherworldly.”

“If you told someone about this, they simply wouldn’t believe it.”

“I’ve had enough of that for three or four years.”

Silence… other than the gurgling creek.

“Seems obvious, but we crank up the fire to burn away any stinky stuff, and especially the grease on the grill. Really hot.”

“Yes, I’ve been out camping when animals came in. Nothing big though.”

“Good. We do not have rigid walls… the other reason for a cabin. I do have rope and a protective sack to hang. We still have the vehicle too.”

“Mm hm.”

We moved to the chairs and sat for quite a while at the fire.

I had gotten rid of my watch somewhere. I had stopped checking the temperature.

“Just a fantastic unbelievable day.” I kicked in the last log ends. I put a big green one on top. A questioning look from Jen. “Habit. It’s not dangerous here, and it may deter animals a bit. Just a glow.”

A smile. Then to the tent with the glowing lamp.

We talk for a while in the tent, a bit somberly.

“I miss my children. They would absolutely thrive in this environment.”

No response.

Jen joined me on my cot.

“Then let us begin again.” Just so.


Ten Years Gone

Then, as it was, then again it will be, and though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea.’

Old Mother visited every couple of days. The third time she had four eggs. She always had a comment about something going on with the forest or water or sky.

Sera, the blue heeler named after Jen’s Granny Sarah, hung around the edges of the camp for a while and eventually came in around us, especially Jen.

Simple snares worked well for the abundant rabbits. I used the shotgun occasionally for birds; trying to conserve the ammo, but needing some variety. Decent fish were available from the creek, bigger in the nearest lake. The map said it was Alligator Lake. For floating logs? Old Mother took Jen out scavenging ground plants while I worked on the smokehouse. This was after Jen discarded my mix and blended a “proper” mortar – mostly clay and sand. The cooker was dried and baked, the stone walls more crudely. The roof was quarter sawn lodgepole pine – still sappy. Heavy rocks on top. The structure was big enough to smoke and hang meat. The first deer I took was at three weeks, with my mini-14, at only thirty yards… an ear shot. [The versatile Ruger “ranch” rifle is one of those absurdly listed as an ‘assault’ weapon.] We feasted; Old Mother knew, of course, and joined us. She added in commentary, in her language, about the organs. Sera ate with us at the fire. We wasted nothing. We smoked and dried pounds of the meat.

I set up a sundial in the former parking lot and we used a standing large dead tree to carve in the days and dates. We had strange colored clouds for weeks, but the rain never turned badly acidic, and the orange glow went away that might have been Yellowstone. The rain became regular at mid-day. At four weeks the bugs appeared. Sometimes in swarms; sometimes biting. I had head nets, but they were cumbersome and as annoying as the bugs. A pattern was established: they would appear just before the rain, and we would have our lunch in the tent. Some days they were really bad. The wind was a relief.

We planned the cabin; I had a book. We had only the truck windows and some translucent rolled plastic… no screens. I didn’t want to tear apart the tent. I mentioned that there were probably other structures within hiking range; I had my bike, and the exploration began. The topo maps had the forest service gravel but not the endless dispersed camper roads, logging roads and personal property paths. The local wilderness map had other details. On the first few rides I saw carcasses near what appeared to be the high-water mark. Eventually a corpse showed up too. Most of the routes stayed up high. Jen worked with Old Mother hauling and conditioning the soil for a garden; Sera on guard – always – but she never stayed around through the nights. I built her a shed to entice her.

By the end of the next month, I had found a wreck of a house with six windows, four had screens; destroyed roof. No tools, but a usable sink. It was ten miles away by bike… five as the crow flies. I considered hauling them by foot, but back at camp I rigged up some rope and green branches to hold them to my pack, and eventually got them home – one by one, the entire window assemblies. I dragged a door too. The cabin came together. I made crude furniture; I had a book. By this time I could have beaten Lance in the Tour… WITH his drugs. Old Mother moved to the tent. I moved the potbelly stove to our cabin. I built a small coop for her hens.

The forest service guard station (as labeled) turned out to be just a shack. It had some tools, but mine were better. There was a wheelbarrow! The storage area had rotten wood but two rolls of cyclone fencing and a bucket of tar. The place was eleven miles away. Ever use a wheelbarrow with a hundred pounds in it? For eleven miles! Twice? The fencing allowed Old Mother’s chickens to wander a bit; and keep the ground critters away. Sera helped there – at night. Eventually vegetables came in; we still had green powder left and the brown too. If it had been winter, who knows. Jen was growing rounder.

At six months Sera gave birth to four pups, in her shed just outside the coop. They were the craziest colored dogs I had ever seen. One looked like an okapi. She guarded them fiercely. I guess that the father was probably one of the many coyotes audible regularly. One day they were simply gone; Sera as well. The largest, the okapi returned, and was Jet from then on. He stayed with us in the cabin and everywhere else. Sera dropped by weeks later; healthy, but a different animal altogether. She greeted her son warmly. Life was non-stop work, but everything rolled. The days ended with satisfaction. Old Mother knew how to make soap!

At seven months I found The House.


So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright

‘Architects may go and never change your point of view’

t wasn’t that the cabin was insufficient, but something just had me searching for better and especially bigger, we would be a family soon. The cooking water had to be hauled every day, and we were still cleaning the hunted animals at the creek. Jen and Old Mother could handle most everything. We could live this way, yet I had ventured further and further. I eventually started packing my small tent and some food. I was heading more and more to the former east. That was towards the old Flaming Gorge. Back in the world-before, more vacation and hunting cabins were on that end due to the easier access up into the wilderness.

At thirty-six miles out I came to an apron with an open gate and well-graded gravel. The gate was eight feet tall with razor wire coiled on top. The similar fencing extended out of sight into the forest in each direction. The map and my eyes approximated eighty-three-hundred feet elevation. No signage. I followed the road up into the tress. It was very steep. At point-three mile I could see a windmill. Then an outbuilding. The house was on a huge slab of exposed rock. A ridge of rock ran up and away; way up. I pulled in and dismounted. I ditched my bike and my pack at the completely empty and open multi-bay garage. I drank while I looked around. I dug out and strapped on the Baretta. I walked the full perimeter while calling out. Nothing. The house had been built upon four massive piers bored into the rock. Underneath were cords and cords of split wood, and a huge LP tank. The walls looked like stucco. The windmill spun quietly; there was a constant breeze up on this bit of a knob. I climbed the heavy steel stairs to the doors. The glass was wire reinforced; above was a roll down shutter box. The frame was steel. The adjacent windows had functional steel shutters next to similar glass. I called out again. Nothing. I knocked, then pounded. Nothing. The large knob turned but even when I leaned into it, the door did not budge. By knocking here and there, it seemed that the walls were actually textured concrete. The industrial steel grating deck extended around the entire perimeter. I headed around to what looked like the back – nearest the outbuilding – at the base of the windmill. All the glass and that back door was similarly protected. I headed to the outbuilding, and no doubt the work area. That door was even bigger, and it looked heavy, at least steel clad, maybe solid.

The knob turned and the door swung open easily as I called out yet again. The building was maybe twenty by thirty feet. The shelves were loaded with hand tools. There were two large work benches. All kinds of stuff. I toured around. There were racks of PVC pipe and some milled lumber. There were covered bins of miscellaneous parts. The back wall was all stainless-steel cabinets. The inside shelves were loaded with canned food. I inspected them all. Fruit and vegetables, no meat product at all. Back over to the windmill wall, there were similar heavy-duty windows with cages upon them this time though. In the corner was a bike with its rear wheel axel connected to a shaft than ran into a port near the bottom of the side of a washing machine. There was a shaft coming through the wall that was attached to a huge table saw. The windmill was spinning in my sight. I saw a wood burning stove, and a gun safe too. One wall was lined with bookshelves. One had half-height cabinet doors; inside were large diameter candles. The first shelf that I glanced at, eye-level, was filled with three-ring-binders: “Security;” “Windmill;” “Stove;” “Saw;” “Water;” “Fireplace;” “Bathroom.” Okay: maintenance. I opened the ‘Security’ binder. Nothing but a translucent sleeve with two keys in it. HAH! I pocketed them.

I closed up and headed back to the rear door of the house. “Open sesame!” The key audibly released multiple bolts, and the knob turned but the door did not open. The second (stainless-steel) key required a bit more force, but again a mechanical release was audible. Yes. I stepped in low with pistol in hand and called out. Nothing. I’m in the large kitchen. Sink, an old shaped but spotless four burner stove, no fridge, no dishwasher and no LIGHTS! Yep, no light switches… no receptacles… no ELECTRIC! Large candles are mounted in stainless-steel holders on either side of the window above the sink. I moved to check out the stove. It’s old styled, sixties-ish, but in perfect condition and all stainless-steel. I opened the nearest drawer to the stove – yep – stick matches. No electronic ignitors. All the cabinets are stainless-steel. All the counter tops are stainless-steel. The cabinet next to the sink has all stainless-steel dishes. The drawer directly under it, under the counter has all stainless-steel utensils. The table and chairs are… stainless-steel. I saw no evidence of food. Slate floor. The room opens to a big middle room centered with an immense stone fireplace. It has the swing arm attachments for tooling into the firebox. There is a huge stainless-steel tank wrapping around the entire upper chimney to the fifteen-foot apex of the ceiling. There are large candles on the mantle. There is also a hurricane lamp with a clear fluid as the source fuel. The backside of the fireplace is actually a stone room… a bathroom. Large, with a doorless stone walled shower, stainless-steel toilet on a stone floor next to a small stainless-steel basin. Water flows from the faucet as I turned it. I stepped out and saw a network of insulated pipes above. What is this place? I go back to the kitchen… the water works there as well. Minimal furniture in the big room. Stone floor. Log style sofa, with what looks like deer pelts on it. No cushions. Two similar chairs facing the fireplace; log style end tables with large candles on each. No electric. The far side of the room has a hallway. I called out one more time. Nothing. The four small bedrooms have four stainless-steel framed cots in each. Kevlar or some such mesh. Pelts on top. No beds. No other furniture. A multitude of hooks anchored into a plate rail. No electric. A small closet in each. The windows are the same as the others that I had seen. Slate floors in all. The closets have cedar doors and a stack of wool blankets in each on the upper cedar shelf. No pillows. I exited the hallway. The front of the main room has filled bookshelves. I quickly scanned, then continued for a minute. The majority of the books are about acquiring food from the wild. There is a section for processing animals as well. Clothing; alcohol production; medicinal plants. Gardening. Fishing and net-craft. Plant identification, tree identification and animal husbandry. NOTHING covering Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Electricity; maybe those are out in the aux house somewhere. I checked the front door which has a very thick top-to-bottom pivoting steel bar lock (like the rear door). I used both keys to clear the barriers. Out on the steel deck again, I walked to the far side. I now see three insulated pipes heading around a bend in the hill. Water source. I spent another hour investigating everything. I locked up and set up my tent in the yard area. I noticed the eight-foot-tall fence around what appears to be a substantial garden. At least a hundred feet long and maybe thirty or forty feet wide. It has no plants but has a hose bib at each end. I use the outdoor fire pit to boil water for my freeze-dried meal. No sounds throughout the night; no one returns. In the morning, I walked around the house along the pipes to the water source. The rock of the hill and creek has been cut back fifty yards, blasted or whatever to make a ten-foot drop. A couple pipes lead into the water from a small shed on the edge of the creek. The house pipes lead into the shed from the opposite side. I saw no access to enter the shed, Oooo maybe a hydraulic ram pump. On the return I can see that roof of the house is very shiny metal; I had never seen a stainless-steel roof before, but it sure looks like it. Large eaves all around. The whole place is mechanical. Simple. I packed up and headed out. On the long ride back I was dwelling on why no electric… no solar panels, no micro-hydraulic turbine, no generator on the windmill. The builder or owner had some obvious aversion to electricity, but no aversion to spending money apparently. Did this guy know about the electrical nature of the sun dance beforehand?


Going To California

‘Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams; telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.’

At just under four hours, I pulled back in to camp. Jen is in the garden, so is Jet. I tried to sneak up, but no way, not even close. He’s sitting up from his alert nap looking right at me, wagging. Jen sees his tail and straightens. I hug her, we’re both sweating big time. Her belly makes contact first. We grab some stuff and go to the creek to strip and bathe. I give her the story. I get out the maps, to view the proximity of the house to a lake, or flatter hunting grounds, or anything unusual. It’s above a meadow, a marshy area, and a lake. The owner chose wisely.

“I left a note in the kitchen. If no one returns by my next visit, I think that there is no doubt that we should move. It has everything. Way, way more than I could ever build. The water system alone is so fantastic, and it is likely heated. Simply an easier life, with plenty of space.”

“Where is the owner?”

“I have no idea. There are a million possibilities as to why they may not be there. Maybe it’s as simple as being stuck down low… a bridge out, or the road blocked. Maybe they decided to stay with family… avoid this high winter.” She smiled big.

“That’s a long way, and I haven’t hiked in forever.”

Right… you’ve been working twelve-hour days for over six months. It’s paradise.”

I studied the maps for hours. There wasn’t a decent route that saved enough miles to warrant roughing it off-trail. Especially with what would be big backpacks. We planned the move. Old Mother listened to all of this, not saying anything. I went back in two days. No one had returned, as far as I could tell. I revisited everything on the grounds. I found an access door in the back of the utility building that opened to a twenty foot long cool and dark tunnel. There were heavy-duty plastic shelves lining the walls. Thinking about the place in general, I could find nothing lacking; every bit of it seemed far superior to our cabin.

Back at camp I updated them.

“I will stay here in the new hut for a while,” said Old Mother. There was at least ten pounds of dried meat, and she had her chickens. The water reserve was full. She did not want any of the remaining tuna or beans. I left a marked map of our route, again she just smiled. Jen rubbed her belly; Old Mother saw this and just slowly nodded. We agreed to a three-day hike along the road. Due to the terrain, we scheduled fourteen mostly downhill miles for the first day ending at a decent creek; seven almost all uphill miles ending at former reservoir on the second day; and finally, fifteen almost all downhill miles to finish up. There were plenty of creeks and some lakes along the way.

I disassembled the big tent and stowed it in the cabin. Without us in there. Old Mother fit fine with all the tools. We left the fuel jugs and water jugs in the back of the dead truck. We left the canned food in the interior. We put the winter clothing in the cabin; maybe Old Mother would use the stuff for a bed on one of the cots. I was planning to return right away for the bike and all the food that would fit in my big pack… anything essential that we had forgotten as well. I would be coming back yet another time for the remaining guns, ammo and seeds; much faster via bike though. We could always return if the house didn’t work out.

We packed the small tent, our sleeping bags and pads, freeze-dried meals, and of course the green powder. One hiking stick each. We had the backpacking stove, fuel, cook kit, shit-kit and water filter plus full bottles. We wore upper shells to start, over t-shirts; the Swedish pants, underwear and socks in boots. Leather gloves. Maps, first-aid and a bar of soap. We packed all of our non-winter clothing. I had the mini-14, Jen had her pistol. Old Mother waved as we headed out after breakfast cleanup. I looked around; I had only good feelings leaving the cabin I had built. I had no issue switching to modern convenience. A slight finger motion and Jet was at our feet.

My legs had biked more than a thousand miles; Jen had hauled soil, rocks, logs and gathered food for miles out. We made all three days pretty easily. The fires at night were fantastic. Every night Jet came to the fire with some animal to eat (he certainly crushed the purported ten percent success rate of carnivores). He slept outside the tent door.

“I am so fortunate to have you.”

“That’s my line buddy.”

The house was still there. No one else was, or had been.

We off-loaded everything into the empty garage.

We toured everything together. Jen was crying. I handed her the keys. We hugged deeply.

We moved all the clothing and Jen’s sleep stuff into one of the bedrooms.

Jen now knew where all the house supplied food was located. I built a fire in the fireplace. Just perfect. The cots were as stiff as usual; a proper bed was now on my short list.

After breakfast, I packed again, but far less. Her pistol, no rifle. Less food, no stove or fuel.

“After all this, please be careful.” I gave her the ‘do you recognize me’ look. “Jet; stay.” Easy, riiiight?

I made it back to the cabin in two days. Old Mother was not there. The potbelly was cold. Some meat was gone. The garden looked the same. The chickens were gone. I slept restlessly with I am lost dreams. I was alone in the morning. I filled my pack to overflowing with all the packaged food. I left the meat hanging in the smokehouse. I made it by late afternoon to the house. That crazy looking Jet knew I was coming. They both were outside to greet me. How can you beat that? I unloaded the food into the auxiliary cabinets. The freeze-dried was still the best for exploring and would be saved. I had the green powder and the brown. I handed Jen the green. She frowned.

“Must,” with my hand on her belly.

I stayed the night. Jet had an animal on the porch. I went out.

“Sorry buddy, from now on you’ll have to eat outside.” He gave me the sideways head look. When he was done with the squirrel, we let him in. He slept with us on a third cot.

I headed out for what I hoped was the last time, in the morning. Empty pack except for water and a baggie of dried venison. On the bike I made it back to the cabin by early afternoon. Old Mother was not there; the potbelly was cold; no additional meat had been taken. No chickens; garden the same. I ate at the fire and then slept in my clothes in the cabin. Next morning, I was still alone. I packed my shotgun, my pistol and all the ammo. Thirty or forty pounds. I added the bow and quiver to the outside of the pack. I filled my water bottles and topped the pack full of dried meat. A couple pounds were still in the smoker. The pack weighed about a million pounds… and then, onto the bike. Fun times!

I didn’t make it back to the house until dark… dead to the world. Jet was waiting all the way down at the gate. My psychic buddy. I dismounted and scratched him until he was rolling on his back. I couldn’t ride anymore… I pushed the bike up the road to the house. Candles were lit inside. Wow. Jen was as beautiful as ever. She smiled at me.

Three weeks after that final ride, we were both working in the garden when Jet pointed up. Sera was at the crest of the driveway, and Old Mother just behind her – with a chicken in each arm. She carried them for thirty-six miles? Off-trail?

“I don’t think she’s human,” to Jen who was no longer there. She was running to her, waddling really. She hugged her for so long that I was going to head down there and check it out. The chickens were clucking. They finally turned to finish up the last bit of road. I hugged Old Mother warmly, and she reciprocated. We showed her around. She said nothing. She smiled at the running water. She had only a thick shoulder bag and we directed her to the designated bedroom. She didn’t go in, just nodded while at the doorway. “No hut?” I shook my head slowly.

I built a small hen house attached to the fenced garden. I built another smokehouse; it was far easier with sawn lumber from the trees. The cooker was still stone along with Jen’s mortar concoction. There were some long screws in the aux house; much easier to secure the roof planks. While I was searching the supplies, I went back in the rock tunnel with my powerful LED flashlight. Way in the back, the last shelf unit had ten ten-pound bags of salt on the top of one, and they were double-bagged. There was also a large bag of black peppercorns.

The fishing was better at the local lake than back at the first site. There were less deer but moose and more elk. The first kill at the house was a small doe elk. It was a huge amount of meat. The garden already had decent soil, so the planting went straight ahead; fruit and nut tree seeds lovingly spread out in a different area. All things looked good. Everything in the house worked without issue. The saw linked to a small gearbox and shaft from the windmill. I had eventually returned to the cabin for the chainsaw and then the fuel. It was not apparent if anyone had visited. The house maintenance guides were flawless; there were replacements for all wear parts – not many. I found the key to the gun safe in an envelope mounted in the back of the “Security” binder. Inside were two incredible items: 1. The unmistakable brightly green colored SAKO TRG sniper rifle, with a huge starlight scope mounted; and 2. A very nice Bear Cruzer compound bow. Additional items included a THOUSAND rounds of .308 magnum ammo for the rifle and a HUNDRED aluminum shaft arrows for the bow. Cleaning and maintenance kits were in there as well. Thanks Buddy!

Jen used new-climate humongous yucca leaves to weave a basinet – then fur-lined. I worked on a crib, again, far easier with the saw and screws. At ten months after the sun dance, Jen gave birth… to TWINS; a boy and a girl, with Old Mother working like a pro. Sera in the room and Jet too, making wooooo sounds. I just supplied clean stuff and was amazed. We named the girl Accipitra, and the boy Leonis. Jen thought me strange but accepted my reasons. They looked and felt normal and healthy. The scales from the aux house said twenty inches and eight and change pounds each. They looked big to me. The exhausted new mom was ecstatic. Old Mother just smiled and worked with Jen like her actual mother might have.

I was outside with Jet staring into a fire while Jen slept alongside our incredible new children, Sera guarding. Old Mother came out silently.

In her usual even and earnest voice: “My Fathers in the sky spoke to me while on my journey here. I will stay here. You will stay here.” No more. I said nothing and bowed slightly at the waist with just a bit of an angled twist of my head.


Who’s Got My Back?

‘All that has been devastated, can be recreated.’

Throughout their early lives Ace and Leo learned gardening and fishing. Basic bush craft, all manner of food acquisition and preparation. By age four, they were accompanying Old Mother into the forest without Jen or me. They had assisted Old Mother and their mother bringing a new brother, Onca, into the world. Jen handled teaching them to read and write. By age six, they were out and about with one or the other of us on the hunt. They knew how to operate and maintain every system in the house. Although they did not use them hardly at all, they were taught the use of all the hand tools. They grew incredibly strong and lean. They were taught the sanctity of all life. Old Mother had shown them all the animals and their ways. We all learned how to make animal skin clothing; Old Mother guiding, and the house books detailing alternative methods. We needed very little to cover our bodies in the warm climate. It seemed that they could swim naturally, but I told them of large rivers with strong current and they must be strong in the water. They were also taught fighting skills and archery. They were inseparable, it seemed that they had their own silent communication. We spoke often of the world before, and the great cleansing. Ultimately, we were preparing them to venture out, where they might find other people. We guided them with cautious optimism about our future, and theirs.

Sera had passed on silently one early night, in Old Mother’s arms; she wept, then we all cried. We buried her at the end of the garden. The next day, Jet came home with a very pregnant coyote. He corralled and shepherded her for days, sleeping outside under the decking. I rushed to build a shelter for them; it took the chickens much longer to get accustomed to a wild coyote next to their space than with Sera back at the cabin. She would not eat the food that I offered. She stayed and he brought back food. They used the shelter with skins I had added. Six pups were born quietly one night. They all looked the same initially. Ten weeks or so later the coloring changed, and they looked like black coyotes – but just the tail had longish fur, the rest was short like Jet’s. They had very large ears, very long snouts and long legs too. Strange looking. The whole family left. More than a month after that Jet and the Mrs. returned with just two pups. Sly, and her daughters Granite and Obsidian; I could not tell them apart. Our children loved them. Sly stayed leery of us but remained as a member of our home.

Ten years in the house. Jen had had no more children after Onca. We had seen no sign of any high-tech beings or devices. By that age the twins had incredibly grown as tall as Jen, BOTH of them, and they were hunting as a pair returning days later. Their brother was going to be even larger. Further and further they ventured, requiring more time out and away from us. Not one person had yet been spotted all around our range of peaks and valleys. By age twelve we discussed a month away. This was enough time to reach out three hundred miles. We sent them to the former west then south keeping to the Wasatch crest. This would expose the Salt Lake basin, and with their skills, they would likely see of any survivalist camps resulting from a successful evacuation of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. That would include as many as a million people. They returned with stories of the great emptiness beyond our mountains. They saw huge heaps of man-made remains near the base of the range along the former west slope. The elevation of that city is only around four thousand feet. They saw no one. They saw the same environmental destruction that was present closer to our high home. The high range had plenty of food and water, just like our home. Old Mother just nodded.

By age fifteen, we contemplated a year away. Onca was in the discussion too, of course. They both were taller, stronger and more agile than I had ever been. Even with the foreknowledge of the quest, and their life-long training, this was very, very difficult for us. Old Mother throughout remained a trusted family member and advisor.

“My Fathers in the sky have spoken to me. It is time. They must go. Onca must stay. Those two will go,” gently waving towards Granite and Obsidian. Just like that.

We thought that Colorado was the best bet, but the route could be difficult in that it would necessitate a crossing of lowlands. Fifteen years of Mother Nature doing her thing would be somewhat unpredictable. However, they had grown in this world, they lived outdoor, they did not need to carry tons of food, it was everywhere. I was not sure of the water though, there would be no second chance if something toxic remained. We could not take that chance, they were required to take the basic pot, boil and filter the water. I gave them our only purifier and an extra element.

We only had state roadway maps, so the planned route turned out to be quite general. At all times they were to remain high… they knew this but us sending our children to potential danger was difficult indeed. We picked the relatively high Dillon Reservoir – maybe people would have gone high up there from Denver-metro hoping to have fresh water. After that, easterly, former easterly, now north to approach Denver. Take a look. If possible then follow the now northern slope east to as far as Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs. Check it out. Then back into the mountains and across to Crested Butte. Backtrack just slightly and head the very high city of Leadville. There is/was only twenty-five-hundred people, but it is above ten-thousand feet and has/had a complete city infrastructure. Approach extremely carefully; investigate. Finally, Glenwood Springs. Return home alive.

The farewell was excruciating for Jen and me. I handed my second first-born son my invaluable razor-sharp alloy knife. I gave my second first-born daughter, and best archer among us, my bow and quiver. They were cat-like; we had decided against the weight and need of firearms. Onca cheered and hugged and wanted badly to go with them. Old Mother was calm.

“My Fathers in the sky have spoken to me. You will encounter others.” That’s it. First mention ever of living people besides us.

They departed in what was February. This was just as bad as missing my first two children from the world before. Onca was an expert at everything wild, he easily provided meat and fish for all of us. The garden and trees provided plenty of vegetation. With only one child home now Jen spoke of it to Old Mother at the outside fire one night. Old Mother was calm and nodded thoughtfully.

“You have done well. You will have many grandchildren.” Tears of joy.

The awful wait faded a bit, but not much. There is not much else to say on the matter, we tried to avoid the subject. I hiked far new-west with Onca and we found obsidian out and about on the ground the further we went. We brought large stones home for knife fabrication. Our lives went on… happily, other than a part of our family in unknown territory. Even though we had paper from the stock room of materials, Jen carved each day and date into a huge dead lodgepole next to the garden.

Twelve long months; thirteen. Heartbreaking. Old Mother passed silently on the thirteenth day of the thirteenth month; we had a quiet gathering with candles and buried her between the lemon and lime tree, which she always found peculiar. We all cried. Jet made a long “wooooo” and Sly amazed us all with her beautiful coyote singing. Thirteen days later the dogs (dog/coyote and coyote) sensed something unfamiliar. Old Jet first moved to defensive posture and Sly swung out wide in the yard with impressive teeth bared. They relaxed. Finally, we comparatively deaf humans heard them. Not our children’s voices alone. G & O greeted their wild mother affectionately. Jet cruised a circle around the twins and two others of similar age. Our children, sixteen years old, had returned with what looked like very healthy partners. Yes, partners; the body language was obvious. Jen was beside herself with joy; I was crying. This greeting took a long time. Jane and James were brother and sister – not twins, one year apart at sixteen and fifteen respectively. The news of Old Mother saddened all; they had shared stories of her apparently. We had fire and feast and listened for hours of their quest.

J & J were crudely school educated to read and write for a few years they said. They had no living parents. They came from Leadville. Others lived in the area. Our children spoke calmly about seeing the fighting, and lack of food, even while in the healthy mountains. They had not been taught to hunt or scavenge. The people chose to live in the city buildings still but had to go out for water and catch small animals. They had eaten all the pets long ago. Human waste was all over. People were sick. J & J had had a provider mother who had taught them enough that they lived outside of the once vibrant town. Ace and Leo had found them first. Here they are now.

The other high locations had some people scattered. They found one place, by noise, outside a small town. There were people gathered and yelling at a gate like ours: tall with razor wire. A man inside had a huge gun and was simply telling them to go away. Crested Butte had a group, small but communicative, and with children. They shared dried meat and some grassy stuff as Ace called it (just like her mom). They shared stories and location information drawn out. No one wanted to leave the group, and ours did not want to stay. No people near Denver. None near the reservoir. Plants and clear water everywhere, animals everywhere, including the lowlands. “Yes, we used the filter the whole time,” said Leo to my reaction at “clear.” “Papa, all the animals were drinking the water, even in the lowlands.” Hmmm. We now had a larger happy family.

One year later ten-pound Carla was born to Leo and Jane. Grandma Jen swore Old Mother came to her in her dreams on that day. “You are now Old Mother (at age 48).” I became the teacher and storyteller.

Life will find a way.

24 thoughts on “Head for the Hills

  1. Enjoyable read, thanks for sharing. Reminds me a bit of the novel “The Dog Stars” but way more concise and less depressing.

    Lord Steven Christ often spoke of a cataclysm involving the sun – he claimed the sun would stop and cook half the Earth, and that we would all need to go to Australia and go underground.

    Xavier Delacroix on the Off-Guardian comments (which Petra frequents) also often (and cryptically) alluded to a 12,000 year cycle which would bring a cataclysm in the near future – seemed to be a great deluge, as in this story – but he never provided any evidence to substantiate this prediction, nor did Lord Steven.

    I have never been able to find anything substantial or convincing that would lead me to believe that a such cataclysm – deulge or otherwise – is imminent, if anyone could point me in the right direction I’d love to go down that particular rabbit hole. I find myself extremely skeptical, chalking these predictions up to just another flavor of the fear-mongering that we’re all subjected to on a daily basis from every conceivable angle.

    Personally, I’ve gone through my prepping phase and come out the other side. Realizing that nuclear weapons, and thus EMPs, are a fairy tale took a lot of wind out of my prepping sails. Ever read “one second after”? Fear porn at it’s finest! Still, I have my dehydrated food, my ammo, cans of heirloom seeds, etc. but I doubt I’ll ever need them. Should get me through a month or two in a pinch, but of course it wouldn’t do me much good in the scenario depicted in this story.

    Post-apocalyptic stories are so prevelent that they’re basically their own genre at this point. If the cataclysm is nigh, do please show us the evidence, otherwise I’ll focus on living the best life that I can with the assumption that the sun will rise tomorrow, and leave the prepping to those who are more convinced than I am that it will be needed in our lifetimes.

    Still – good read – thanks again Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t see prepping as if for a specific event. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle. Like ‘subsistence’ farming these are life skills that are being lost—ways of being in balance in the world. It’s not about hedging your bets against some distant catastrophe, it’s about teaching the next generation what resilience actually means at a time the WEF crowd are pushing fake sustainability as if it comes in a bottle to be dispersed from Central Tower around the globe. Can you live in your environment without the global machine? What would that take? It’s not just about material goods—it’s also about spiritual and moral fortitude. Boredom has destroyed more lives than EMPs, that’s for sure. I am not convinced I will see any more catastrophes in my lifetime. But, I have seen 3, first hand. It’s not about the prepping, that’s the easy part. It’s the aftermath, the years of rebuilding that take their toll in every way. I hope I don’t have to live through another one. But now I want to show the next generations what it will take, if I can, even just a bit.

      That said, I’ve not gotten past page 4 of the story. Though it is certainly well-written and sounds very interesting from Mark’s comments. It’s hard to find the time for fiction when there’s so very much still to learn about self-reliance, even after a decade of it!


    2. Howdy Cyrus, what you may find convincing and what I may find convincing could be miles and miles apart – I would guess. Many factors contribute on a personal level… education, life experience, environment, parents (or lack thereof), mentoring, financial security (to a certain extent) among many other things. Top of my list is this: I would very much prefer that this world gets cleansed, rather than dwell in this unending, circling-the-drain shitshow. Here is another consideration, as you have mentioned: I can afford such supplies and training; if an event of this magnitude does NOT take place, who have I hurt? And as Kensho mentioned, look at the self-sufficient skill-set that I have (and WILL implement further).

      I have twenty plus years looking at all sorts of baloney, mythology and the best that “science” has to offer (not much in my opinion). I am a trained [mechanical] engineer working I.T. I have the freedom to read at leisure and I do. If I would send you to one source that sees things the way I do, it would be Graham Hancock… or the Electric Universe in general.

      Thank you for reading – it is fiction in my favor.


      1. Great read. Sounds a lot like the thesis proposed at the (former) amallulla.com website (“An Apocalyptic Synthesis”), down to the specific details of the coming cataclysm. There is nothing wrong with that, but the author should probably acknowledge that he was inspired by the ideas proposed on that site…


        1. Very good Uni. However, Luther is not the only source for such predictions. As I mentioned above, Mr. Hancock, and many others have presented such data LONG before Luther knew of what he was speaking. Same goes for the Electric Universe. I actually knew of such things well before reading [any and all of] Amallulla (leonardodavinci.tv – formerly thousands of pages) if you are interested. I actually disagreed with his insistence on a specific location to escape to – the choice in my story being much more fertile (I have been to his chosen site). I also don’t give a shit about his love of the common god (perhaps the Man Who Fell to Earth), or gods. Look at this shithole “he” has allowed… if you’ll allow that. Preposterous as commonly defined (as are all organized religions). I would stand behind intelligent design and an inherent periodic cleansing though. [I would have added such if it were my design.] What Luther offered, and as far as I know no one else, is the very best detail as to why, when and who (maybe what) know (with certainty) of such an event – he insists it is eminent. So, ultimately, he/it is but the most recent [source] (of dozens), but one of, if not the best for all encompassing analysis. Mr. Hancock is by far the best story teller.


  2. I agree … and, I agree, a good read. As I told Dave, I do not think I have 45 pages in me, but I think this guy has 3-400. It flowed, no dead spots, and the softening texture as it went on. I thought at the beginning that it was going to be mayhem and violence, but instead he stepped it down, made a family, humanized everyone.


  3. Riveting story that held my attention in just one sitting! Bonus points for the hot chick at the gas station fantasy. And has your wife read this? LOL


    1. Thanks Darin.

      Of course Wifey has read this. Of all things, she dislikes my use of punctuation. There are other things that I have written that she would have preferred me not. Many points are complete truth to me – but that’s a personal thing, no?

      I have a serious question for you: What makes you think Jen is a “hot chick?” Must be her post-doc cred – right?


      1. Well, you described her as petite and in extremely good shape, and then the cleavage scene at the truck stop, followed by the bathing scene where you could stop staring at her… Sounds hot to me! The smart and capable part is just icing on the cake.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m going on memory here: didn’t I say “Sturdy”? “Cleavage”? Between beach balls or grapefruit? Absent a bra, a fucking shoulder squeeze would work. I’m a healthy male… ANY naked woman will set me off (my wonderful childhood [TV] conditioning – no doubt). I had this actual sentence in something that I wrote: “Hey Dave, you’re so smart, why don’t you just cast off that conditioning?” My response, ultimately, in writing was: “Why don’t you fuck off?”

          I just didn’t think that I pointed to my inherent lust of the female form (at least early on). Keeping it emotionless and requirements based.


          1. You made me go back and look now! You did say sturdy and 140 pounds so not as petite as I had previously thought. Size on cleavage would not have mattered much to me (or the shotgun dude) either. And you did keep it matter of fact until you started appreciating her amazing competence as the story progressed. And then the river scene.. The nice thing about reading is that your imagination can take over. I have a picture of her in my head and she quite the looker in there! LOL

            Something else that made it fun for me was that I have been to many of the places on your route, including Cabela’s and both sides of the Uintas (I80 and US40). You have a gift for adding in little details that others would overlook. Anyway, I enjoyed it so thanks!


  4. DSK, this is a gripping piece. Well-paced, excellent detail, interesting situations, but sadly lacking a description of a well-groomed bush. For that we will have to deduct a point give it a 9.

    The Old Mother and the dogs/coyotes were a treat as well. Coy-dogs fascinate me and my daughter. Wife, not so much.

    I suspect we would have no worries about the soundtrack on a road trip, since I recognized most of your lyric references without the attribution. 🙂 Have been to several of the locations in the story, including Iowa City and Leadville.

    Elements of Jeremiah Johnson and Josey Wales as well, perhaps?

    As for the debate about Jen, I will weigh in on the separate post MT made.

    Cheers and thanks!


    1. You know Baja, that kind of commentary just makes my day; thank you so much!

      Two of my favorite movies.

      Please tell me that you were one of the ten people in the world who knew Walking on a Wire. If not, please play it. It is one of the most stirring and beautifully diametrically opposed duos you will ever hear. Same for Mr. Thompson on the brash and haunting guitar.


      1. Yeah, those are two of mine too. When he told Jeremiah to “drop the scattergun”, I thought it was a line from “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”, when the Kid surprises Bob the guard. I will name-drop Tom Horn and assume you have also read “Blood Meridian.” That could be an incredible film if they would just let me consult and have total artistic control, including casting. 😉

        Actually, I am one of those ten; there is a community radio station here, KXCI, where they play the Thompsons, and not just during the country show. Chilling and lovely. Just played it for my wife; she’s a classic country fan. Brilliant! I will add Angel Olsen’s “All the Good Times” as a recent lament which I enjoy, also from KXCI.


              1. Sacrilege, I say!
                RockyIII with Mr.T as perfectly menacing fighting machine ‘Clubber Lang’. Pitiful choreography, but the point is well made. The character’s few quotes are better than the whole of the movie. “I pity the fool.” Burgess Meredith said it accurately: “This guy is a wrecking machine!”
                Says The Man: “I’m gonna torture him. I’m gonna crucify him. Real bad.”


                  1. Pain. Misery. Loss. These things lead to some of the very the best lyrics, and when accompanied by music of people like the Thompson’s, it is expressed brilliantly.

                    Clubber was very good at the Pain aspect. I no longer attempt to locate the source of my inner ramblings.


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