EARTH’S SURVIVORS AMERICA THE DEAD: WAR AT HOME 1
Earth’s Survivors America the Dead: War At Home 1 is copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet
Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons’ places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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STOP! This material is not edited for content, and is rated 18+
The ground that had been torn up had been leveled out. The roads had vanished in places under a layer of dirt. The vague outline of the street itself could be seen under that layer of rubble, and here and there a building or part of a building still stood.
Cars, trucks, a few stalled city buses, an occasional glimpse of asphalt where the road rose higher than the water had flowed. Tom, Ronnie, Mike, and Tim had stopped ahead. They were close to where the old high school had been. All that remained on the left side of the road now were a few walls and, strangely, a large oval track that seemed untouched. The parking lot, most of it anyway, still remained and was full of cars.
On the right was a small strip mall, also with a parking lot full of cars. The men were off the road in the strip mall parking lot standing next to what looked to be a nearly new four wheel drive sport utility vehicle. As Candace and Patty caught up, Ronnie turned and smiled.
“Keys are in the ignition,” Ronnie said grinning. Tim tapped the horn, a hard metallic blast sounded.
“Battery’s up,” Mike said, his grin as big as Ronnie’s.
Tom slid into the driver’s seat through the open door. “Well,” he said. He turned the key.
The motor spun and caught immediately. The truck kicked up to a high idle. The stink of burning gasoline filled the warm air.
“I forgot what that smelled like,” Patty said. Everyone was smiling and laughing at once.
“Let’s say we ride the rest of the way,” Tom suggested. No one needed a second invitation. Doors were opened and everyone piled in. Tom shifted into four-wheel low, eased the truck down off the slight rise that lead from the road to the parking lot, bouncing the truck on its springs as it trundled down the rise, over the sidewalk curb, and onto the dirt and asphalt road below.
A small cheer went up inside the truck as Tom made the road, turned right, and headed slowly up the big hill towards outer Washington Street and its miles of car lots.
By the time the sun stood straight overhead, eight hours of the day had passed by, and a small caravan of six vehicles were snaking their way back through the debris and devastation, making their way back to the cave.
Although a wide section of the old asphalt roadway had toppled into the river, a large area still remained. They parked the vehicles in under the small overhang of cliffs above the cave opening. The cliffs extended a little more than thirty feet beyond the caves then dropped down towards the ground, leveled out and disappeared into a small wooded area populated with scraggly, undernourished trees. On the back side of that wooded area was a huge parking lot that ran up and behind the cave. It had once provided parking for the downtown area of Watertown.
Everyone who had stayed behind wandered over from some project they had been working on in front of the cave to admire the vehicles. Three new Chevy Suburbans and three new pickup trucks. The pickups were mismatched, one Ford and two Chevy trucks. The Chevy trucks were different models, one a full size pickup, the other a smaller one, all the trucks were four wheel drive. Bob wore a heavy apron stained with blood and was carrying a large butcher’s knife as he walked over.
“Deer,” he explained as everyone gaped at the blood stained apron. “Wandered right down the road. Had to be about ten of them. I got one and Sandy got one. Fresh steaks tonight, and that isn’t all.” He pointed towards Lilly and Nell where they stood over what looked to be a make shift fireplace of some sort.
It was built up from the asphalt with three layers of thick stone that formed a base. From there the back and sides rose to support a huge wire rack that had been appropriated from somewhere. A good bed of coals glowed under the rack and several ears of corn roasted above them on the rack
“You guys have been busy,” Tom said.
“Never mind that,” Patty said, “where did you find corn?”
Nell laughed. “There were cases of the stuff in the stock room of the market. Won’t be good for much longer, but it is now.”
“We took a wagon, one of those little kid wagons,” Lilly said. She looked around. “We filled it up. It’s still cold in there… It might last a few more days.”
A small, red child sized wagon, still loaded with overflowing boxes of corn, sat off to one side. It made Candace smile when she saw it.
“I built the oversize Barbecue,” Bob said. “I remembered that there was a little rib place down off the square. Wrong time of year to be cooking out of doors,” He looked up at the sky and smiled, “Well, used to be… But, I remembered that place, and I remembered that they had always cooked outside on a huge grill all summer long. So I went and took the grill. I took a few other things too,” He held up a large pair of tongs that had been shoved in a side pocket. He re-pocketed the tongs. “So… the electronics are working again?” He looked embarrassed at the attention and relieved to be able to hand the conversation off to someone else.
“Might have been before,” Mike started. “Just didn’t think to check. But they’re sure working now. The hard part is finding vehicles that aren’t all smashed to hell. All of these have their war wounds. But it’s just scrapes and dents, nothing serious.”
Bob nodded and then went back to cutting up the venison and piling it onto two huge platters. One contained much smaller pieces.
The smaller pieces were long and thin. Janet and Sandy were stringing them over a second smoky fire that had been built just past the stone grill that Bob had built. A makeshift steel roof kept the smoke and heat close to the ground and the meat that hung on the racks. Tom walked up to admire the work.
“It’s all from the Barbecue place,” Bob admitted. “I’m just using it a little differently, to smoke the meat instead of cook it.”
“You know how to do that?” Candace asked. She seemed impressed.
“Oh yeah,” Janet told her. “Bob taught me. He always makes his own jerky, cures his own hams. Knows his roots and herbs as well.” Bob seemed even more embarrassed than he had been a few moments before.
“It’s stuff The Nation taught when I was a child… to preserve our heritage. We pass it on to the next generation. The legends say the people will come back to the Earth Mother. There will come a time when the people will need the old knowledge again.” He grew serious. “Guess that’s now,” he finished. He began to place the thick roasts of Venison onto the grill rack beside the roasting ears of corn.
The group spent the afternoon into the early evening enjoying each other’s company, eating and filling each other in on the details of their day. The sun sailed smoothly across the sky, sinking into the Northwest after about fifteen hours of sunlight.
For the first time in several nights the stars came out, glowing brightly in the cloudless sky. The moon seemed to be in the wrong area of the sky and almost totally eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow.
“Think that was too long?” Patty asked Tom.
“We’ll have to wait and see when the sun comes up,” Tom told her. “But I’d be willing to bet it’s back closer to what it used to be. And we don’t know what normal will be now. Maybe longer days… maybe shorter days,” he finished.
“Yeah,” Ronnie agreed. “It would seem a little too good to be true if it could stop, reverse, and come right back to something close to a twenty-four hour day.”
“Yeah. That probably isn’t going to happen,” Bob agreed.
“We’ll just have to see where it levels out,” Patty threw in.
Candace nodded, looked over at Mike, took his hand and smiled. “This was a pretty good day,” she said. “We have our own little community here. It’s nice.”
“I was thinking that also,” Mike said. He squeezed her hand lightly and pulled her close. The day had cooled off, and the night had cooled off even more after the sun had dropped from the sky. It reminded everyone that, despite the weird weather, it was still late winter; spring was a month or more away. Janet and Sandy kept the smoky fires burning under the drying meat, joining in the conversation when they had the time or opportunity. Lilly and Tom were involved in some sort of heavy conversation, while Bob, Ronnie and Patty were talking about hunting, herbs, folk remedies and what kinds of structures they would like to build for a home. Candace laid her head against Mike’s shoulder and looked up at him. “I’m tired, man of mine.” Mike smiled at her.
“I think I have to put my woman to bed,” Mike said to Patty who sat closest to him. Ronnie laughed and Patty smiled at him. Tim sat on the other side of Ronnie, his eyes heavy lidded. Everyone said their good-nights.
As Candace and Mike got to their feet, Tim trailed along behind them, following them into the cave, leaving the rest of the group to their quiet conversations. The stars shone above. The sky was clear and inky black.