Mufflers and Chevy’s

A few weeks back we were on the way home and the muffler fell off the car. It decided to hang on by the barest of thread and so it dragged all the way home and made a hell of a racket.

I consider myself a do-it-yourself guy. Sort of like a modern day cave man: Even if I can’t do it well, shouldn’t do it; been warned not to do it, I’m doing it. So I got on-line found the parts locally: Muffler and tail-pipe turn down piece and after nearly having to take a nitro over the price I looked on Amazon, where I buy everything, and found the same parts for less than a third of the local discount auto bargain fix-it-yourself guys price. I determined that since I have Prime and free shipping I could get the parts in two days and so I ordered them.

The parts came after much finger clicking and tapping and cat petting (I didn’t have to pet the cat the cat just wanted to be petted). I spent two hours on a piece of cardboard from a shipping box wrestling the parts into submission. Ye-Haw, I thought. I know, not very caveman like, but I am not sure exactly what a caveman would say since they didn’t have Chevy’s to work on. I believe back then all they had was Fords.

Mom drove the car into town… Well toward town… She made it a mile and then I heard one hell of a racket out front. I was in the back in my office. It sounded like someone started a lawn mower: One of those old ones that the muffler had rotted off of. Well, I was half right, it did have something to do with mufflers. Curiosity lead me to the front of the house where mom informed me the muffler had fallen off.

If you are a caveman you do not believe in this. Things you fix stay fixed. Bears sleep through winter. Naked bodies should have hair on them… So, I refused to believe this. I went outside and looked under the car and sure enough the muffler had fallen off. Impossible I said, yet there was the evidence in front of me. A new muffler all scraped up from being dragged home by the tailpipe hanger.

This is the part where I said some cuss words we have all never used and then I got out my trusty cardboard and crawled back under the car. Hmmm, I said. And hmmm again, and then I looked forward to see why the muffler had fallen off as it was obvious the muffler had been torn loose as the clamp was still attached. That was when I noticed that the entire exhaust was on the ground. All of it… All the way to the front of the car at the catalytic convertor.

They pay almost $550.00 scrap for a junk car now and I thought, well, ol’ Chevy you are dead meat. I had visions of Breaking Bad and Walter and Jessie crushing up the Bounder. Sigh. But then I went back on-line, skipped the local’s this time and priced that front section of pipe to the header pipe. I assumed it was two pieces, maybe three. In the old days it would be, but it was all one piece. I found the same pipe, called the Resonator pipe because it has a built in resonator and a long pipe that joins to the catalytic converter and then extends to the wheel well and then all the way to the back of the car, for wide variances in the prices: From a few hundred to fifty bucks. I used a few more carefully chosen expletives having to do with things I use expletives for and then bought the pipe, a pair of ramps to drive the car up onto so my fat butt could crawl under the car, some clamps and some cat treats because the cat was right there and had seen the treats on my frequently ordered list and meowed. No stupid cat is my Houdini.

Yesterday I am editing a story and the last parts arrived and so I went out at noon and dragged out my now crumpled and smelly cardboard (It was rained on, and I think a neighborhood dog wizzed on it too) and went to work. Two things here: One; I am out of shape barely getting back on my feet, so I told myself I would go slowly, ha ha ha. Two, rotted, rusty pieces of metal are not having any happy thoughts at all, and this pipe system was no exception. I ended up having to cut the bolts off of the Catalytic convertor where the resonator pipe joins to get it loose, that was after an hour of prep work, um, crawling around looking at this and that and wishing it would fall off. After I cut the pipe loose I realized there is a reason they do these things in a garage on a lift. How to get the pipe out? So I jacked one side of the car up and gained enough room to get the old pipe out and the new pipe in. I called that car so many names it turned from white to red.

Anyway, in with the new pipe, back on with the muffler, all new hangers, bolts, clamps and voila a new system was in place. I went back into my cave with the other cave men and grunted with satisfaction. Tomorrow we are going hunting… er editing…

America The Dead Book One Episode Five

EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Based on the series by W. G. Sweet

Episode 5

PUBLISHED BY

independAntwriters Publishing

AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Copyright © 2013 by independAntwriters All Rights Reserved

Writers: W.W. Watson, Geo Dell, W.G. Sweet, G.D. Smitty

This book, in this blog format, is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share this book with another person, please point them to this blog entry. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2013 independAntwriters. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print..

*******

EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S – AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

*******

CHAPTER FOUR

March 14th

Everyone was up early and ready to go before the sun was barely above the horizon.

“Yesterday,” Jake said to no one in particular. “Thirty two hours long.” Silence greeted his remark. Katie checked her own watch.

“So, like, that means things are slowing down,” Lana asked?

“You think,” Jake asked unkindly.

“Well, something like that,” Lana shot back defensively.

“Why would it go backwards,” James asked?

“Yeah. Wasn’t it supposed to stop, reverse and then start up again,” Lana asked?

“Maybe,” Conner agreed. “But that was all based on theory. No facts involved at all. I think they had some evidence that the poles had reversed at a few points in history before. And some legends that spoke about the Earth standing still for a day, something like that. But even so, that’s all theory. Not fact.”

“Yeah,” Jake chimed in. “It’s like an asshole. Everyone’s got one.”

“Don’t you mean opinion,” Lana asked sweetly?

“Whatever… We ready to go, or what,” Jake asked? Everyone followed him outside in the uncomfortable silence that fell.

~

“What’s up with those two,” Katie whispered as she followed Conner outside.

“Who knows,” Conner whispered back. James met his eyes and raised his eyebrows. Conner shrugged his shoulders and shook his head as if to say I don’t know.

“We may as well take all three trucks,” James suggested. “That way if we find stuff we want it’ll save us driving back to get them.”

“Easier if we get stuck too,” Katie suggested.

Jake shrugged his shoulders. “Fine by me,” he said. He headed for the Suburban with Lana right behind him. Jana and Katie headed for the pickup truck. James broke into a laugh and grinned at Conner. “Guess that leaves me and you in the old dinosaur… Want to drive?”

“After you,” Conner said laughing. James started the truck and pulled out last in line and followed the other two trucks as they picked their way along the edge of the ruined road.

~

“It was me that asked Jana to go with Katie,” James said as they followed slowly along behind the other trucks.

Conner nodded. His eyes following the sides of the road as James drove along. “I thought it was something like that,” he said. “What’s on your mind, James?”

“Well… A lot,” James said after a second or two. He hesitated a little longer. “I guess mainly to say Jana and I would like to go with you when you leave… And Katie, I assume.”

“Yeah,” Conner agreed. “I know that probably seemed kind of quick.”

“It’s a…”

“Quick world,” Conner finished. “Katie said the same thing. I don’t know how much better off we’ll be, but we’d be glad to have you two with us if you want to come.”

“We would. Jana and I talked it over. We talked all night long last night. I got nothing personal against Jake; he did alright by us, but he’s a little too…”

“Demanding…? Aggressive..?” Conner supplied.

James looked thoughtful. “I don’t know… Something like that. I just don’t see him being able to see this through. I feel like if we came back here in ten years we’d find him still holed up in that … He’s… I don’t know… Too immature to talk to about it. He has only one way of looking at things… That can’t work.”

“You’re probably right. He’d still be here with Lana… Probably with a couple of babies running around… But, maybe that’s not such a bad thing…Maybe that’s a good thing…” He shrugged. “The immaturity… I don’t know… It’s there though. Maybe he’ll move out of that. Maybe it’s just the situation.”

“Maybe,” James agreed. “But that’s exactly the time he should be mature, isn’t it?”

Conner nodded. James continued.

“So, maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But not for me. I don’t want to stay here. Nor Jana either. I wouldn’t want to quit this unless I knew this was all there was. I mean, this couldn’t be worldwide, could it?”

“I don’t know,” Conner said softly. “But I agree. I know what you mean. Katie and I talked about it last night as well and came to the same opinion. It could be better elsewhere, and, whatever is right for Jake or Lana isn’t necessarily right for us. I was for going from the start. I have to know if this is really the end. If there’s anything else. If it is I’ll deal with it. Find a place to settle down. Thank God I have Katie, you and Jana… Maybe we’ll meet others on the way to… Well, where ever.”

“I think so,” James said. “There are people, other people around. We just got to find them… Or them us.”

“Yeah… We got to remember rifles or pistols… I hate to say it, James, but we may need them.”

“Yeah,” he nodded, “Yeah.”

They continued on in silence as the small caravan made its way past a collapsed building partially blocking what was left of the road.

“I think… It’s not my business,” James said, “But I think you made an enemy of Lana. She was thinking you would be with her…”

“Yeah… I could see that, James… I don’t think Jake was pleased either.”

James nodded. “Nope… None too… Him I wouldn’t worry about though. Her, she’s pretty spiteful. I’ve only known her for a week, but it’s enough. That child did pretty much what she wanted to I’ll bet… Used to having her own way… Getting what she wants… When she wants it.”

“Yeah… I can see that… But last night we talked about the journals; I’m keeping one, Katie is as well, Lana said she would… Something to leave when we leave…”

“It’s not a bad idea,” James agreed. “I’m not much for writing myself, but Jana might like it.”

Conner nodded. “Well, Lana liked the idea. She didn’t say she’d go, but she might… So, hate me or not, she might be with us.”

“Oh,” James said. “I see that. Maybe she’ll be okay… She’s a kid… Maybe she’ll change.”

“Guess we’ll have to see,” Conner agreed. “Guess we’ll have to see.”

James worked the truck up and over a huge slab of up-tilted asphalt and followed along behind the other two trucks as they made their way down the strip.

“What did you think of the idea that Jake had of fixing up one of the new trucks,” Conner ventured after a few minutes.”

“Won’t work. Or at least it won’t work without a lot of trouble. The new engines are computer dependent. We could probably find ourselves another motor, maybe even a new crate motor at a parts store somewhere around here,” James said.

“What’s a crate motor,” Conner asked?

“It just means a new motor, all crated up when it was sent from the factory. They sell them. Race cars. Old rebuilds… Like that. But even if we couldn’t find a crate motor, we could find enough parts to rebuild anything we would need to rebuild on nearly any vehicle. So really, when we’re done, we’d have what amounted to a new vehicle. Jake wants to oversimplify that. He thinks we can just find the parts and swap them out on the motor that’s in the truck. Maybe we can… I’m not that good though, and I don’t think he is. I think we should stick to what we can do for sure. Utilize what we have… The new parts.”

“That what you think we should do? Build a vehicle?”

“Yeah… Maybe two… Four wheel drive of course. Go right through them top to bottom. Everything new. It would take a few weeks, but we’ve got that and more. Meantime you could work on your Ham radio idea, “James finished.

“Can you get electric? Those big Ham radio outfits need regular power.”

“Yeah, that’s not a problem. We’ll just find a generator. That will give us all the power we need. We could even hook up a power inverter to give us one twenty in the vehicle,” James added.

Conner nodded. “So we’re going to jump right into this thing. Get ready to go?”

James nodded. “I’m with you. I’m not spending next winter in a cold factory building unless I have to. There’s a place in Tennessee… Maybe Kentucky.” He closed his eyes for a split second as if seeing something only he could see. He shook his head, frowned and then continued. “If not, I’m thinking the coast… Southern or western, either will do. Whichever one looks to be the better bet. And who knows how hard it’ll be to get there? So the sooner we’re ready to go the better.”

“I agree,” Conner said. “I’ll talk to Katie.

“And I’ll talk to, Jana. But we already talked…”

“So did we,” Conner agreed. They both laughed.

James angled the big truck around a final piece of asphalt and into a cracked and buckled parking lot. The two other vehicles sat silent; waiting for them.

As they left the truck Conner noticed that the store hadn’t seemed to incur any more damage since the last time that he had been there. The roof was bowed inward, it had been before, but there were plenty of upright pillars that supported the roof and they all appeared intact. At least the ones he could easily see. The supports were spaced about every sixteen or so feet.

“Safe,” Jake asked?

“Looks the same as it did the last time,” Conner allowed. Katie and James looked at him and he shrugged. “I’d say so. It looks the same as it did the last time I was here. It doesn’t even look as though anyone has been here.”

The scattered, powdered snow seemed undisturbed around the shattered doorway that lead into the building. Conner snapped his flashlight on and led the way inside.

The inside of the store told a different story. Someone had been there during the time Conner had last been there. Several of the glass display cases that held the weapons had been damaged. They were locked. Who ever had made the attempt had made it halfheartedly. The glass was safety glass of some sort. It had cracked, spider webbed, but it had not broken and caved in.

“Guess someone tried to get in,” James offered.

Jake held up a discarded crow bar. Even in the weak light they could see the streaks of scarlet on one end. Jake let it fall to the floor. The clatter was loud enough to make Lana draw in a quick breath in the broken silence that followed.

“Jesus, Jake,” She sputtered. Jake only grinned.

“Why does someone go through all of that when they could’ve taken a simple screw driver and just popped the locks,” Katie asked?

“Well,” Jake started.

Katie had walked behind the counter, taken a screw driver from her pocket and began to jimmy the lock mechanism. It was a cheap sliding set and easily bent to one side far enough to slide the glass door open. Katie smiled.

“Learn that up in the big city, Miss,” Conner asked with a smile.

Katie smiled back, reached inside the case, careful of the glass that had sprayed in small slivers from the spider webs in the top, and withdrew pistol after pistol, setting them on a wooden topped case next to the cash register.

“Forty five caliber… Nine millimeter, a cheap one though… Three eighty, kind of nice, though small… Here’s a much nicer Nine Millimeter…” She set several more guns on the wooden top, looked up with a crooked grin and asked, “Well, gentlemen…Lady… what will it be?”

“You really know about this kind of shit,” Lana asked in an awed voice.

“Obviously well enough to know what’s what,” Jake said.

“That’s right. Obviously well enough,” Katie agreed. She gave no further explanation.

“What do you think, Katie,” Jana asked?

“Yeah, what would be the best,” Conner asked?

Katie shrugged. “It depends on what you like. I like a three eighty myself. It’s small. Not as heavy as a Nine millimeter.” She pulled her own Nine Millimeter. “This was my Dads… A good gun, but I liked the Three Eighty I had… A Three Eighty won’t really knock somebody down, not like you see in the movies. But, a nine millimeter won’t always do that either. It’ll just make a bigger hole. If you want to knock somebody down you need this.” She held up the bigger forty five caliber pistol. She held the mostly black pistol easily in one hand. “This will knock somebody down and kill them… And, on the off chance that your aim was bad and you didn’t immediately kill them, believe me… They are not going to feel like getting back up.” She grinned. “It’s still not like the movies… You know, where you see them flying backwards through the air. But, it will knock them down and keep them there.”

“Jesus, Girl… I’m like in awe,” Lana said.

“Katie,” Katie said, “and thank you.”

“So how do you know all that…? Like for real? How do you know all that shit?”

“My dad was a cop… Not in New York, before we moved there. He had a thing for guns. I just caught it. When he knew I was going to be like him when it came to guns, he sent me for training… Safety stuff mostly, but I liked it so much I started buying my own weapons as well. I took the test… Eventually I would’ve had my foot in the door in New York. That’s a good department. I would’ve been in already if not for the economy. “

“The thing is I love to shoot. I’m good also,” she sighed.

“So… What will it be?” She let the smile return to her face, reached over and began to jimmy another of the locks on the sliding glass doors.

They spent the good part of two hours in the store. Camping gear; rifles, pistols and ammunition. Conner began to feel like they were equipping there own private army before they were done. Even so by the time they left everyone was carrying at least one pistol, and several rifles and boxes of ammunition had found their way into the back of the pickup truck. Katie, Conner noticed, had added a matte black forty five caliber pistol to the Nine Millimeter. She wore them in webbed holsters on a wide leather belt.

“I thought you preferred a Three Eighty,” Conner said half jokingly as he replaced the Nine Millimeter he had decided on back into the side holster he had chosen.

“I do,” she said. “For shooting… But like I said, a Three Eighty can’t knock somebody down.” Her eyes met his.

“Yeah… There is that,” Conner agreed quietly.

They spent a short amount of time looking through a small convenience store in the same parking lot. There was very little left. Most likely cleaned out, James voiced, by the same folks who had tried to take the guns. This was evidenced by smears of maroon on the counter tops. Even so they managed to find boxes of stuff in the storage area. They finished filling the backs of the trucks with basic First Aid stuff and several boxes full of Candy bars and junk food too.

The sun had been standing overhead for what seemed like hours. James Spoke.

“Hotter,” He said. “You can feel the heat. And,” He motioned with his hands, “the snow is melting faster too.”

“Got a theory on that,” Conner asked?

James shook his head.

“Maybe the whole process takes time,” Katie said.

“Maybe,” Jake agreed. “Maybe it’s not so easy to start something spinning in the other direction… And we don’t know if it really stopped or not. The sun’s coming up in the north, or it was, but that seems to be changing also. I don’t think it stopped all the way. I think it’s just got a different spin now. And maybe a different path.”

James nodded as did Conner. “I guess we’ll leave it for the scientists… Long as we don’t fall off the Earth.” He chuckled a little.

“Call it a day,” Conner asked?

“Yeah,” Jake agreed. “We still have to unload all of this.” There were a few halfhearted complaints, but everyone piled into the trucks and they made their way slowly back towards the heart of the city and the old factory that lay behind Old Town.

Jana March 14th

We are six people who have managed to stay alive through whatever it is that has happened to our planet. My husband James and I were fortunate enough to be protected by our spirits and brought through all of this.

I am Jana Adams; my husband is full blooded Blackfoot and a very proud man. A very good man as well. And not just to me. He treats all people well.

My mother was Cherokee and my father was French. I don’t mean French transplanted to this country. My mother met him in France. We are looking forward to whatever the Great spirits purpose is in this.

We have many young people with us. Conner Davis. He’s mixed race. Like many of us. He probably doesn’t realize it but he is in fact our leader. He’s in his early twenties. I guess the mixed race stuff doesn’t matter anymore, but I lived with it for so long that it’s hard for me to let it go.

James has suffered worse with those prejudices. Many other people besides me. Maybe the world is at that place where all of that stuff can be let go now? I hope so.

Katie Lee is a beautiful young woman. Her father is African American, her mother Asian. She has her father’s dark skin blended with her mothers features. Striking. I enjoy her company. She reminds me of my daughter. I don’t know how she fared in all of this. I suppose we’re all wondering similar things.

Jake Light. And, Lana, Marcia Lana Santos fill out our party. We are planning to leave here in a few months and head south, or west. The direction isn’t decided only the realization that we need to go. The thinking is that we should head south. Somewhere warmer. After all, there is no electricity here. And we are living in an old factory right down by the river. It’s not a bad , and we’re lucky to have it. Almost the entire city has been destroyed. Most buildings are unsafe to live in. This one was built up against the cliffs. It’s solid.

When we leave, we’ll leave all of that behind us. This is who we are. We will most likely continue to the south. We are currently looking for a Short Wave radio set to try to get in touch with others around the world. You, whoever you may be, may be able to reach us that way where ever we have gone to now.

James believes in the people. That the people will once again live on the earth the way they used to. James believes it, and so I believe it. I’ll continue to keep this book up while we’re here and include any useful information we can pass on to you before we go…

Katie March 14th

I guess I should start this the right way. I hadn’t thought about it when it was just me to think about. But it’s more than me. Or even those of us that are here now. It’s the ones who might come. Or will come after. So even if you figured out almost all of what I’m about to write I’ll write it anyway.

I read back over what I wrote and it doesn’t even seem like me. Like I wrote it. Like those things happened to me

My name is Katie Lee. I was living here when all of this happened. I’m not from here. I actually did live here for a while last year, but that’s a long story. The point is I’m not really from here like the others are.

My man is Conner Davis and we are with two other couples; Jana and James Adams, and Jake Light And Lana Santos. I came here with them; Conner was on his own then. I was too, even though I had people around me. I guess if you’ve read all of this diary you know what I’m talking about. I had Jana as my friend. This diary and my father’s gun. I Thank God for what I had, especially Jana.

Jana and James are older. They are really good people. Jake and Lana are younger. Well, Lana is. Lana’s even younger than I am, but Jake is quite a lot older. I don’t think anyone cares about that anymore though. At least nobody here does.

We are going to leave here sometime in the next few months and try to make it down to the Gulf coast. We don’t know for sure how that will go. I’ll keep this updated though until then. We’re going to leave these behind us. Hopefully they will be useful to someone. But I think I’ll keep my little Notebook. It means something to me.

Things we know: You can get trucks and cars to start as long as they are older ones that don’t have electronic brain boxes, as James put it. That is how we intend to go before winter or just after winter really lets go. Otherwise we’d really have to wait for summer to settle in before we could chance travel.

There are several sporting goods stores in the area. We’re all carrying guns now. It seems smart to do. Maybe I should say it would be stupid not to. We think it only makes good sense.

This building we are in seems stable, but many of the other structures in the city aren’t safe to live in. We don’t know if it’s even all over with yet. Whether there is more to come. We hope not.

We’re going to try to reach others with Ham Radios. We’re also trying to find a battery powered television set just to see if anything’s on the air. We’re hopeful. We’re also going to pick up some hand held F.M. radios. Walkie Talkies James calls them. That way we can speak to each other when we’re separated.

The sun is rising in the north. Really the North West. The days were long, then short, now going back towards long again. We don’t know what that might mean. Where it will end or even where we will be when it does end. And maybe end is the wrong word to use. We don’t know what began or ended; might begin or end.

I re-read that, I guess it seems melodramatic, at least to me, but it’s honest.

I’ll write more as we go along.

March 15th

Early morning darkness held the road that fronted the old factory. The moonlight, sparse, reflected off the rapids of the river.

A shadow moved by one of the pickup trucks. Another moved by the Suburban. The sound of sand gritting beneath the sole of a shoe came clearly in the shadowy darkness. The door of the pickup squealed loudly as it was carefully opened. The shadow paused looking towards the Suburban. The shadow there appeared to be fighting with the door to no avail. The shadow next to the pickup gestured quickly with both hands and the shadow next to the Suburban gave up on the door, crossed to the pickup and quickly climbed inside. Once they were both inside silence returned to the small patch of asphalt that fronted the entrance to the building. A few seconds later the pickup roared to life. The headlights snapped on, the wheels turned hard left and the driver launched the truck down what was left of the shattered roadway.

Voices were raised in alarm from inside the building, and within just a few moments everyone inside was outside. Lana, gun in hand, unloaded a full clip at the fleeing pickup truck. Both Jake and Conner snapped off a single shot, more in startled response to Lana’s’ shots than with any real hope of hitting the retreating pickup truck.

“Jesus,” Lana said breathlessly. “They stole our truck!” She turned and looked at Conner with wide, frightened eyes. “They stole our Goddamn truck,” She repeated. “How could they steal our truck?”

Jake headed for the suburban, pulled the keys from his pocket, prepared to unlock the door.

“Jake,” Conner called. “Where are you going, Man?”

That’s our Goddamn truck. I’m going to get it.” His eyes were wild. The truck keys in one hand, a pistol in the other. No shirt. Sock-less shoes, laces trailing.

“It’s an old truck, Man,” Conner said.

“It’s my old truck,” Jake said defensively. “And if I catch that fucker…”

Fuckers,” Lana said.

“Huh,” Jake asked?

“Fuckers as in I saw two heads. Two of them. Not one,” Lana said. Her voice held a breathless, excited quality to it that Conner didn’t like. She was dressed in jeans and a thin T-shirt. She shivered slightly, whether from the cold or the excitement Conner couldn’t tell.

“Either way. One, two, how would we catch them? … And then what? Are we going to shoot somebody for stealing an old truck? Is that what things have come to,” Conner asked?

“Look, don’t get moral on me,” Jake said. He leveled his eyes at Conner. “I do things my way. You take from me you pay for it.”

Conner just stared back at him.

“You’re soft,” Jake said. But his fists, still clenched, dropped from the truck door and he walked away from the Suburban and back into the building.

Lana threw Conner a nasty look, finally managed to fish a replacement clip from her overly tight front pocket. Ejected the empty one into her hand and slid the new one into the pistol with a solid click. “Soft,” She echoed as the clip clicked home. She turned and walked back inside the factory. In the distance the muffler of the truck began to fade. It was hard to tell where it had gone. Which direction.

James stepped up beside Conner where he stood with Katie and Jana. “I’m not going to kill anybody over an old truck,” he said.

“Me either” the other three said in near unison.

“Guess we better start making sure everything’s locked up tight,” Conner said.

“We’re going to have to start keeping a watch,” Jana said.

“We will,” Katie agreed. “What if the next thing they want is a woman?”

“That’s not funny,” Conner said.

She leveled her dark eyes on his. Silvery moonlight reflecting from them. “I wasn’t trying to be funny. Now that they know we’re around…” she shrugged. “Lana may have overreacted, but… Maybe not…Who the Hell would pull a stunt like that anyway? Everything’s just lying around… Want a truck? Go get one… No… It’s a mind set. Someone who takes like that doesn’t take because it’s easy. They take because they like it. Because they can…” She lowered her voice, “Truck… Woman…. Might all be the same to them.”

No one answered.

~

Jake and Lana sat talking in low tones as the others walked back into the building. They had rebuilt the fire and the warmth and light spread out, glowing on the brick walls. “Jake,” Conner started.

“Listen,” Jake said. “I shouldn’t have said that… I didn’t mean to say that. And, no, it would be stupid to go chasing after a goddamn truck in the middle of the night. And, no, I don’t want to kill someone over stealing a piece of shit truck,” Jake said. “But that kind of shit can’t happen… I mean, what’s next?”

“Yeah,” Conner agreed. “Yeah. I guess what’s next is locked up trucks. No keys left in them. And…” He looked over at Katie. “I guess a guard at night… Katie said… She thinks someone who would come to take a truck might come to take a woman also.”

The silence held only for a second.

“Fuckin’ A,” Lana spat.

She looks positively rabid, Katie thought. “What I mean,” Katie said, “A truck… Maybe one of us… Who steals a truck when everything’s just laying around free to anyone who wants to pick it up?”

Jake nodded his head.

“Well as soon as it’s light I say we follow the tracks. If we’re careful it should be no problem at all,” Conner said.

“Goddamn right,” Lana said.

“Should be armed… I’m sure they will be,” Katie said.

“Not you… You’re not going are you,” Conner asked?

“I’m the best shot we have,” Katie said. “It’s that simple. If we don’t go after them,” she shrugged and then shook her head. “No,” she said. “The more I think about it, they’ll probably come back. And they’ll probably come back armed as well. Hell, maybe they were this time.” She looked at Lana.

“Lana saw two in the truck, but how many more were there? Or back where ever they went to,” she finished seriously.

“So. The idea is to take it to them before they bring it to us,” James asked?

“Got a better idea,” Jake challenged?

“No… No… But I’m no killer. It’s still just a damn truck…”

James finished.

“Yeah, tonight it was a truck, tomorrow it might be me… Or Katie… Or Jana,” Lana said.

James stayed silent, thoughtful. He sighed. “What a damn mess,” he said at last.

“It’s that,” Jake agreed.

“I got to agree, James,” Conner said. “It’s not the same world. What if they do come back? Do we decide then to do something? It might be too late.”

“Honey. I think it’s best to go get them,” Jana said quietly, her eyes on James’s own. Those eyes looked frightened, Conner thought. He supposed a little of that fright was resting in every ones eyes right now.

“I don’t like to be bullied or pressured into anything,” James said.

“Hey,” Conner said. “It’s no pressure, Man. It’s real. It really just happened.”

James nodded his head yes but a frown remained stamped onto his mouth. Deep lines scared his forehead. His hands twisted restlessly in his lap. He suddenly bought his hands together firmly. “Okay,” he agreed. “Okay. I see the point. I’ve done a lot of hunting. I’m a good shot with a rifle… … I’ll go.”

###

Available from Barnes and Noble

Book one-Series link

America The Dead Book One Episode Four

EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Based on the series by W. G. Sweet

Episode 4

PUBLISHED BY

independAntwriters Publishing

AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Copyright © 2013 by independAntwriters All Rights Reserved

Writers: W.W. Watson, Geo Dell, W.G. Sweet, G.D. Smitty

This book, in this blog format, is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share this book with another person, please point them to this blog entry. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2013 independAntwriters. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print..

*******

EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S – AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

*******

CHAPTER THREE

March 12th

Conner closed his notebook and stuffed it down into his pack. Looking around the factory floor he was surprised how different a few more warm bodies could make it. It didn’t seem as cold, so oppressively quiet, so echo filled with any kind of sharp noise, so… so different. And it was different still. But different in a good way.

Katie had been watching from across the room where she had made a little area for herself. She hadn’t wanted to interrupt while Conner was writing, but now that he seemed finished she walked over to him.

“This was really nice of you,” she said as she walked up. “We were staying in that old school building. None to stable. Last night was the best sleep I’ve had in awhile.”

“Funny,” Conner replied, “I was thinking the same thing. For me it was just having others around. People.”

Katie smiled. She’s beautiful, Conner thought. He wasn’t normally a fan of tattoos, but she had some sort of tribal stuff that snaked up under her shirt sleeve. Just a hint of ink where her shirt didn’t quite meet the top of her Levies made him wonder just exactly where the ink ended. She caught his eyes and smiled again.

“Mind,” She asked, gesturing at the ground beside him.

“No. Sit down,” Conner smiled. “I have no manners at all. How

long does it take to devolve? I guess a little over a week.” He smiled again.

She laughed as she sat down. The silence stretched out for a few seconds, each of them looking around the factory floor as the others talked or settled in for the night. They both spoke at once.

So…”

“Sorry,” Katie said and laughed.

“No, really. It’s that devolved thing again. Go ahead.”

She fixed her eyes on him. “I was just wondering what you were planning on doing. I mean, have you thought about leaving? I know you spoke a little bit about it yesterday when you were talking to Jake. But I could see you weren’t quite ready to fall in with the Jakeites yet.” She lowered her voice for the last.

Conner looked at her levelly. “Yeah… I guess it does show. I don’t dislike him. I don’t even disagree with what he said… I just… I just don’t know. We don’t click… Know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I do.” Katie answered. “It’s the same with me. I can think. I don’t need someone to do it for me.”

“Exactly,” Conner agreed. “But it’s a little more as well. Like Alpha male shit… This is my tribe… Me chief.” Conner finished in a near whisper.

Katie giggled but quickly clamped a hand over her mouth while nodding her head in agreement.

Conner continued. “I’m not really an Alpha male type of guy, but I’m not a dumb sheep either.”

“Me either,” Katie agreed, her giggles under control. She fixed him with her serious eyes once more. “So what will you do?”

“Probably like I said, like everyone else said, leave. But I don’t see why the south or the west wouldn’t be a good direction to go in. We’ll all see, I guess, as spring comes on, or as…”

“What,” Katie asked?

“Well. As this goes on. It might not be over yet. There might be more changes ahead. The days have slowed down, almost seemed to stop for awhile last week when the sun just hung in the sky. Maybe what was supposed to happen happened? Now the sun’s rising in the wrong place in the sky. Did the Earth’s spin reverse? That fast? Weren’t some people claiming we’d fall off the Earth? Something like that?” He took a deep breath.

“I guess I’m just waiting to see how this goes. What happens next… But in a few months, not far into spring, I’ll probably leave. Whatever has happened, is happening, should be over by then…” He smiled. “I guess that was a long drawn out answer.”

“No. Not really,” Katie answered. “I’m in the same place. I’m not sure what happened either, or if it’s all over. But I don’t think I want to live in a old factory forever either…” She looked around, “But who knows, maybe it’s come to that?”

Conner shrugged his shoulders.

“Anyway,” she continued. “I… I just wanted you to know I’m seeing it the same way as you. I mean… I mean I want to be on your side of it….” She locked her eyes on his and gave a firm nod, then flipped her short, black hair out of her eyes. She firmed her mouth, set her jaw, and spoke once more. “I’d like to go get my things… Move over here with you..” Her dark eyes settled on his own. “Be with you… I mean be together.”

“Quick,” Conner said.

She nodded and smiled, “Maybe it’s a quick world now. I’m taking you at face value, I guess. You don’t have a little harem locked away farther back in this old building do you?” She smiled.

Conner laughed. ‘Not hardly.”

“Well then,” she asked quietly, her eyes serious.

Conner nodded, which caused a huge smile to spread across her face. His own smile answered it. But, he thought, did she really mean…? He didn’t complete the thought as she stood and walked across the floor to where she had put her things and spent her first night. She turned and looked back at him. Conner stood and walked over to help her move her things over to his side of the factory.

Several pairs of eyes watched the move.

~

“Guess that settles that,“ James Adams said to his wife Jana.

His wife nodded, a slight smile on her face. For the last few days Jake had been pushing Katie. Jana had disapproved. Let the girl make up her own mind, she had thought.

“Maybe it’s for the best,” she said now. “That young man is much more likable, James.”

James nodded in agreement. The fly in the ointment might be Lana who had been making eyes at Jake since they’d first met, but who, for the last few days had only had eyes for Conner. James looked over just as a look passed between Jake and Lana. Oh oh, he thought.

Jana shook her head. She had noticed the look pass between them as well. “Maybe if those two get together it will level everything out,” she said softly. Jake had made it clear he was interested in Katie, not Lana, but the girl had made her choice. Jake would have to accept it. Jana felt Katie had made the better choice of the two. She turned her attention back to the conversation she had been having with James.

Jake watched as Katie moved her sleeping bags and back pack over to Conner’s side of the large room. He didn’t see what she saw in Conner, but it was her choice and she wouldn’t get a second chance with him. He frowned at his own thoughts. Don’t be an ass, he told himself. It’s not that serious. He looked over and caught Lana’s eyes, the question was right there. He nodded and she sprang to her feet like a rabbit. A mean look on her young face as she looked towards Katie. The look went unanswered by Katie. She turned her back to the girl as she walked back over to Conner’s side of the room.

~

Lana quickly gathered her things and moved them over to Jake’s area. Stupid, Bitch, she told herself. She can have the other dude. She’d only wanted Jake all along. Even the last few days, chasing after Conner had only been an attempt on her part to make Jake jealous. Jake would take her out of here. She hated this place and everything to do with it. Always had. Jake was tough. Tougher than the other guy. She didn’t think of it in terms of Alpha Male and territory, but it came down to the same thing. Jake was the top dog. Her top dog.

The fire burned lower as everyone settled in for the night. Some happy, some worried, some undecided, but everyone along for the ride.

March 13th

James leaned around the hood and looked through the windshield of the old truck. He nodded. “Try it, Jake.”

The motor turned over a half dozen times then suddenly fired and rumbled to life. Jake gave it a little more gas, pulled out the old fashioned choke. The motor smoothed out and began to run a little better.

James backed away from the engine compartment, a large smile on his face. “Know what this means,” he asked, raising his voice to be heard above the noisy truck.

Jake grinned and nodded back. “As long as they’re not electronically controlled they’ll run. We should find a few more.”

James nodded in agreement.

They had found the old truck in a lot out in back of one of the car dealerships out on the strip. The lot itself was wrecked; the buildings not much better, but hundreds of new cars and trucks sat on the cracked pavement, or pointed their noses or tails at the sky where they were half buried. The truck had been set up with a plow and they all agreed it was probably just used to plow the lot.

Before they had even gone looking for a vehicle Jake and James had gone hunting for a small gasoline powered engine. Lawn mower, Leaf blower. It didn’t matter, just something small without an electronic ignition or brain. They’d come up with a heavy duty chain saw. Several tugs and a little choke had got it running. That had convinced them that it would be worth finding an older, full size truck.

“We could convert one of these newer trucks. It would take some work but if we can find the right parts we could do it,” Jake said.

“Maybe,” James agreed. “Trouble is finding a block that’s still the same. Heads. Intake. It’s a lot to hope for. It would be easier to just fix the old stuff up. New tires, battery. We could even do the axles if we absolutely had to.”

Jake nodded his head. “Hmm,” he grumbled. “Guess so.”

James turned away. It was obvious to him that Jake didn’t like being disagreed with or second guessed. Yes, parts were parts, and if they were just parts, no problem. There were even kits to convert non-electronic ignition motors over to electronic ignition, but not the other way around. There were motors built mostly for racing applications that were designed to use carburetors and simple distributors. There were things they could do, but it wasn’t simple black and white.

He had been seeing more and more of this close minded attitude from Jake since they had moved into the . Jake had lost his place as leader. It didn’t matter that he had been nearly the only one who had seen himself that way. He had seen the situation that way, and now the situation had changed. He didn’t see himself as leader any longer and he didn’t like it. Oh well, James thought. He’d get over it or he wouldn’t. There was nothing for it except to watch it happen whatever way it happened.

Jake let the truck idle high for a few minutes then reset the choke dropping the idle down to normal.

“We got wheels,” Lana said happily. She, Conner, Katie and Jana had come walking back from further down the lot. Pulled by the sound of the truck starting from where they had been searching for other vehicle that would be good candidates for starting.

“We found three others that seem as though they might work out,” Conner said. “One’s an old crew cab state truck the other two are old pickups. All three are four wheel drives.” He grinned at James.

James laughed. “Well, let’s go get them,” he said. He turned and started away.

“Hey,” Jake said, leaning against the door of the truck, “Wouldn’t you rather drive?”

James laughed again. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Much rather.” Everybody piled into the Suburban. Jake pulled out of the back of the lot and headed back in the direction the others had come from.

Conner March 13th

Man, it’s been a long day. We walked out the strip to the car dealerships. Everything is torn up out there, but there are tons of cars and trucks. We found three trucks that we got running and we drove them back. So we have a pickup truck: A Suburban; and a big four door state work truck. One of those ones you always used to see along the highway when they were doing road repair. There were a few others we found that also ran, but they were in such bad shape that we left them.

Jake wanted to build one. I mean take one of the new trucks and put old parts on it. I got the idea from James that it probably wouldn’t work out the way Jake thought that it would. The right parts would be hard to find. I could see the idea. The appeal of a newer vehicle so we wouldn’t have to be concerned about break downs. But I could see James’s point of view too. I think it pissed Jake off though. But it seems that almost everything pisses Jake off.

I didn’t write this in here yet, but Katie and I are together. It just happened that fast. I was surprised in a way, but in another way I wasn’t all that surprised. Who knows how long this world will last? What it was that really happened? Maybe there is no time for slow anymore.

Katie said that and once I thought about it I agreed. Things are so different. And she’s right for me. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened this fast in the old world. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened at all. But everything’s changed. It’s all different and this seems right. It seems like the way it should have happened with her and me. The right way for it all to work.

It also seemed to work out for the others. By that I mean Jake ended up with Lana. She’s a lot younger than he is, but like I said it is a different world now. They seem to be happy together. I thought I felt some animosity from both of them at first. But either I imagined it or they’ve moved past it, got over it, something like that.

We haven’t discussed leaving again. It’ll come up. Katie and I want to go. I think James and Jana want to go. Jake and Lana seem to be against it. Lana keeps talking about how none of us know what it might be like anywhere else. Like she wants to throw that out before we even discuss leaving at all. Here we have food, shelter what’s so bad? I guess we have been talking about it without really talking about it at all.

Jake backs up everything she says with a nod of his head. He pointed out we have this old factory and we may not find that anywhere else. At least not easily. Maybe they’re right. Hell, they make sense, but it’s the attitude. The rest of us bend. They refuse to.

We decided to go out toward the mall tomorrow to the sporting goods stores, and also look at some of the markets out there. Something else I didn’t check out while I was out there.

Lastly: I’m glad Katie and I have each other. It makes all of this easier to deal with.

She asked me why I’m writing this journal. I felt kind of stupid. I told her why I started it though, and that I’m continuing it for someone in the future. Maybe a child? Someone to come later on?

I expected her to laugh that off, or look at me like I was crazy, but she only nodded as if that made perfectly good sense. She told me she has a journal as well. A diary, she said. Of course Lana jumped on that too. At first arguing against it, then saying she thought it might be okay. Jake said he wouldn’t do it. He said he’s not leaving to go anywhere and if someone shows up here he’ll be here, not some journal…. Okay.

It’s stuff like that that makes me wonder. And, anyway, I only mentioned it, it wasn’t like I wanted anyone else to do it or was trying to encourage someone else to do it. It’s that kind of a Jump on it attitude I don’t like. Like they think I’m looking to screw them over some how.

But it’s all good. I’m alive. I looked back at some of what I wrote in here. I had no one just a short time ago. I didn’t even know whether there was anyone else. Now I have Katie. We have some plans. Things we’ve begun to talk about. Agree about. A little ego trouble with Jake is really just bullshit in the scheme of things. I have to try harder to look past that. Maybe I’m too damn sensitive. And anyway things are good. This could be a lot worse…

A thing that bugs me and I can not figure out, where are all the bodies? I mean there don’t seem to be enough bodies to match all of those that were killed. It bothers me. Maybe they weren’t killed? But that makes no sense. Where would they be? I don’t have an answer, I only know it bugs me.

Lana March 13th

Hi! My name is Lana. I’ve never written a journal or kept a diary before. We’re all here in this . A , yes, we’re living in a dirty old abandoned factory. I can’t believe it! There are no showers. No toilets. No kitchen. Ha! We’re eating out of cans. It’s about as hard as it could be. I don’t know how it could be any worse than it is.

We’re all writing these journals to leave them behind in case someone comes after we, or some of us, leave. I might not ‘Cause I’m sort of with Jake right now and he doesn’t want to go. There are six of us; Conner, Jake, James, Jana, Me and a girl named Katie. We’re all stuck here until spring, I guess.

I guess that you know all about the world ending, or whatever it did. We don’t know. I don’t know. Not really anyway, but, hopefully we’ll get everything fixed up pretty soon. I mean, a lot of stuff is F’d up, you know? But, like, it could get fixed up eventually.

I had a boyfriend in the old world. His name was Paul, but I don’t know where he went. His apartment was gone. The whole street he lived on was gone. So I don’t know. It made me feel really bad. Hopefully this will be over really soon.

We have, like, some old trucks now to drive around. We used to have to walk everywhere. That sucked. The trucks are really old. Like Shit boxes as Paul would’ve said, but at least we’re not walking, right? Paul had an old shit box truck too. These trucks are even older. If we break down we can’t call Triple A. Ha Ha!

There are six of us and Jake thinks more will come to us; probably know we’re here and are just waiting. I guess that’s cool.

I don’t really know what else to write in here. I’ll write other stuff down as well though. … Oh, I’m almost nineteen…

Katie March 13th

I did it. I don’t know how I worked it out or where I found the courage to do it, but Conner and I are together. It’s like I wasn’t breathing; like I was waiting to breath. Something like that. All I know with absolute certainty is that tomorrow looks better. Isn’t that all that’s important?

###

Available from Barnes and Noble

Book one-Series link

America The Dead Book One Episode Three

EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Based on the series by W. G. Sweet

Episode 3

PUBLISHED BY

independAntwriters Publishing

AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Copyright © 2013 by independAntwriters All Rights Reserved

Writers: W.W. Watson, Geo Dell, W.G. Sweet, G.D. Smitty

This book, in this blog format, is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share this book with another person, please point them to this blog entry. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2013 independAntwriters. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print..

*******

EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S – AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

*******

CHAPTER TWO

Conner March 9th

Maybe it’s March ninth. I guess I really don’t know. But, that’s what I think it is so that’s what I’m going with.

It’s late. I spent today getting food. Canned stuff mostly. It was rough. Almost everything is flattened, and what isn’t flattened is badly damaged. I spent about five hours a few days ago digging my way into a market on the Park Street Road. The roof was down but held up by the tops of the aisle stacks, so I was able to make my way through. I just had to be really careful of broken glass. That was where I went back to today.

I had no flashlight at first, but I managed to get a small flashlight and batteries. I had to take so much stuff out of the front area of the store that all the impulse stuff they sell was right there, Candy, little radios, and of course flashlights and batteries also. I tried a small portable radio, nothing but static on the A.M. and F.M. bands both. I bought it back with me along with some extra batteries. I listened to it a short while ago; still nothing, maybe tomorrow.

I spent the day at the market digging out canned goods and bringing them back here.

Here, is an old factory. The factory is down in back of Old Town as it’s called. I knew about it from growing up here. It used to be some sort of a manufacturing plant and it had been closed up for years. The quake took care of that though. The doors that had once been closed and bricked up buckled and sprung open. I was worried about the building itself collapsing, but it seems to be fine.

It’s only about a mile and a half from here to the markets in the village but with no vehicle it’s slow going. I’ve been piling stuff up on a large sled and making trips back and forth.

I found several cars and trucks, snowmobiles, but none of them will run. Most of them have no juice but even the ones that do just turn over but won’t fire up. Maybe if I was a mechanic I could do something, but I’m not. So it’s the sled and a lot of muscle work.

I did notice today, after not going there for two days that no one else had been there either. No tracks in the fresh snow. It’s depressing. No way can I be the only freaking guy here, right? And that made me wonder, what the hell am I writing this for? I mean, if there’s no one left who will read it? I guess those are questions for another day. Another day because, truly, I don’t want to deal with them today.

So I spent my day getting food. There are maybe two dozen buildings still standing in Old Town. But that’s where I was when I left off writing yesterday, heading for Old Town, so I’ll pick it up from there.

When I got into Old Town there was no one there. Only the handful of buildings standing as I mentioned, and two of those went down a short time later from an aftershock. The Police department… Gone. The Fire department… Gone. I know I walked out there. Ditto the high school. All the old houses. The newspaper, museum. Really, it’s all gone.

There were some tracks, but how old were they? I couldn’t tell. And I couldn’t tell where they were headed either. I got pretty down about it and ended up walking back down to Old Town and then down towards the river in back of the buildings. There was a porn shop, still there. It seemed like the dirtiest place I’d ever seen. I mean, why would a place like that still be there, still be standing when almost nothing else was?

Is that a statement or what? Hey, maybe it is. But, since I was down that far I thought I’d take a look at the river, and that made me think about the old Factory down by the river. I remembered playing around that building as a kid. Solid back then. I could never figure out why it was abandoned. Maybe it was still solid.

It wasn’t hard to find it. It’s on an old abandoned road below the level of Old Town, but a good hundred feet or so above the level of the river. All of the brick work that had once closed off the entrance way had fallen. The building itself seemed okay. Some brick had come down, but not much. Most of the brick lying around looked pretty old. Like it had been there for some time. Given the buildings in Old Town, which were still falling, or this old factory that seemed pretty solid , I chose the old factory. It just seemed to make more sense.

It’s quite big. Lighted from the old wire reinforced windows all along the front. The front area is huge, and dry, more room than I could ever use, so there’s no need for me to go back into all that darkness where the light doesn’t reach and find out how deep it goes. And that’s funny, isn’t it? What is it that I’ll need? Might need? Could need? I don’t know. I do know I won’t be spending the rest of my life living in an abandoned factory, that’s for sure. But it’s winter. I have to stay somewhere for the next few months. Then maybe I’ll head south if no one shows up to rescue me. I guess it would be me, there’s no one else here. It shouldn’t be that way though. There has to be more than me.

I spent the rest of the day looking around. I walked all the way out to the strip, as well as out of Old Town toward the old rail yards. It’s all car dealerships and strip malls now. The South Town mall, or most of it, has collapsed. But I should be able to get some stuff out of it. The interstate is car wrecks and bodies everywhere. I could see it from the overpass. I didn’t feel a need to go down there to see it in person. I didn’t want to.

I hadn’t really seen many bodies. Some at the mall, some at the market, a few others here and there, but there is so much ground, houses, things missing, that I think the other people just got swallowed up by the quake. There is a lot of raw earth. Most of the streets are messed up. The interstate is like that in places, what I can see any way, but close to the mall it’s all wrecks and bodies. Wrecked and burned vehicles and it smells horrible. I could smell it long before I came up on the overpass. I’ve decided it will take a lot to get me to go back out there again.

The market has that smell. It’s just a small neighborhood market really. I found two people up by the checkouts when I first dug it out, but none since then, as I’ve dug out other parts of the store. Maybe it’s the meat department at the back of the store that smells like that.

I spent most of the next day wandering around. Trying to start cars and trucks. Calling out to the people I had hoped were there. Nothing. I heard something that sounded like an engine running, but it came and went on the wind and I couldn’t tell where it had come from. But I took that as a good sign. It has to be someone right?

I can’t imagine being alone.

I tried to start new cars, old cars, new trucks, you name it. None of them do anything except turn over. But at least their batteries are working.

That was the day I realized that the daylight seemed to last way to long. My watch wasn’t working, so I can’t say for sure, but the sun just seemed to hang in the sky all day, then it seemed to sink in the wrong direction once it did set. And I was sick all day. My stomach. And I was light headed.

The night lasted a long time and the sun came back up in the wrong place, unless my sense of direction is off. Maybe it is. In any case I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was the earthquakes? I don’t know. It could’ve been, but it doesn’t seem possible.

The end of the world books were saying the Earth would stop and then run backwards. Maybe it did, but I didn’t feel weightlessness if it did. Or at least I don’t think so. But I thought about the vehicles, magnetic poles, maybe because everything is electronic now they can’t work? I don’t know. It’s just an idea, but I’m thinking I’ll look for an older vehicle to try out my theory on. Like I said, I wish I were a mechanic and then I’d know.

Once I found the old factory my mind was pretty much made up. I spent a lot of time clearing out the glass and broken bricks. Bringing food in and even some chairs, blankets, things like that. I’ve collected a lot of firewood and every butane lighter I could find. Paper plates. Plastic forks and spoons. And, man oh man, coffee. I found a small metal coffee pot in an aisle with camping gear. It works pretty damn well. I got some heavy duty pots and pans there also.

All of that over the last few days, but still no other people. It makes me wonder about the tracks that went past my house. Where did they go? Where is there to go to? I turn the radio on every once in awhile but nothing. Even so I’m keeping my attitude upbeat. Positive. There has to be other people. Doesn’t that just make sense? Winter can’t last much past May, and then it will be time to get out of here. Hopefully with other people.

Katie March 9th

I saw him! I know there is this other person just across the river. It was while we were on the way back and I happened to look back across the river from the rail trestle and there he was by the river bank. Climbing it? I think so, but why? And how can I say it was the same man that belonged to the footprints? I can’t. I feel it though. I believe it was him. Who else could it have been?

I wanted to go back right then. Jake refused. There was no reason for him to refuse but he did. We argued about it. I mean really argued. I hadn’t realized or really even thought about what it is about Jake that I don’t like. Maybe a better way to say that is what keeps me away from him. Why didn’t I, in all this destruction, hopelessness, just fall into his arms, or love, or whatever would pass for love in this world. Isn’t that logical? Shouldn’t I have? But I didn’t and the reason is because he’s got this attitude about what place a woman has in his world. It came out today when we argued. I think I picked it up subconsciously before that though and it kept me away from him.

Anyway I’m not going to go there. I’m leaving in the morning to go over there and find the man that I saw. I know that sounds crazy. I know it does but I’m going. I’m getting up at sunrise and I’m going. Jana and James said they would go with me. If Jake doesn’t want to go he doesn’t have to. We’re not speaking at all. Lana seems upset by that. She wants him but not at my expense. I guess that makes me like her a little more than I did.

I was outside until way after dark looking for firelight on the other side of the river. I didn’t see any at all.

I don’t know that area though. Maybe I wouldn’t see a fire over there. Maybe he is being careful. I want to know so much. When will I know it?

March 10th ? (probably) Conner

Another long day, more trips back and forth to the market. The days are definitely longer, but so are the nights. I don’t see how that can be but it is. I have no real way to judge it; it’s just a gut feeling. I found several watches by the checkouts. None of them work either. But, I know its true. I feel the longer days. I feel the longer nights. That’s all I can say.

A few days back I became sure that the days were even longer and that’s changed. They’re not as long as that, but still longer than they used to be.

I was thinking. Who are you? I know that’s kind of dumb but, you’re somebody, right? And you’re reading this, right? And, how far away is it in time? Place? Do you know who I am or did you just find this and begin reading it? Have you been through this too? Is it over and explained? For all I know no one is here to read this. I can’t really believe that though. Man, I really can’t… Won’t. It’s the only reason I’m writing this. So that someone, you, will know who I am. That I made it, at least so far, and as I go along I hope to get some answers. There must be some somewhere. Maybe you have them. Maybe.

So my name is Conner Davis. I’m a web site designer… Was, I guess. I guess there’s no more internet, right? Hopefully it’ll be back though.

I’m twenty three years old. I’m single and it looks like I might remain single for awhile. That’s not funny really. Hopefully I’ll find other people soon. I can’t be the only one left. But if I do or if I don’t, I’ll have this written record.

I dragged about fifty sled loads of stuff down here today. The inside of the market is really beginning to smell bad. No, really bad. And I found more bodies as well. Two today. I’ve been concentrating on canned stuff, trying to make sure I don’t get sick. There is a lot of it, and I have a lot of it here now.

I heard dogs today and not far away either. And there were paw prints in the market. And something had been at the bodies. The dogs, I suppose. I was kind of leery of going in but they weren’t there. And had they been they probably would’ve been as afraid of me as I was of them. But I was also wondering, were they dogs? Wolves? I mean, don’t they sound the same? Leave the same sort of tracks? Maybe not to someone who knows what to look for in the tracks, but to me they look like dog tracks. And the bodies I had found had been partially eaten. Something was eating them. Dogs? Wolves? I didn’t know but I knew I had to be careful. And what about the other tracks going into the market? Other People? Where are they?

That got me thinking about the zoo. What happened to all of the animals there? So I walked out to the park, but I couldn’t get all the way up to the park entrance. The road’s gone. The whole park area seems to be gone. No trees just raw earth. So I turned back around and came back. I don’t think anything could’ve lived through that. But lions, wolves, bear? There are a few new things to worry about, right? Can a lion survive in the winter? I don’t know. But I walked back from my trip to the park a whole lot faster than I walked up there.

But I heard dogs… Or wolves. I heard them, and if they lived other people had to live, right? And a few times now I’ve felt that I was being watched. You know that feeling you get? Well I’ve gotten it a few times in the last few days. I still haven’t seen anyone though. I’ve called out a few times; no one has answered.

I haven’t seen other footprints besides the market, but it’s been a little warmer and the snow has melted. Not all of it, but a lot of it. And they could also walk where I’ve been walking, in which case I wouldn’t see their tracks. But they should have no trouble finding me. I’m not try to hide… Be careful about the tracks I leave. I don’t know if that’s good or not. I’ve been thinking about that too.

I’m not much for guns. I’ve never shot a pistol or a rifle or gone hunting. But I’m thinking of walking back out to the strip. There were a few sporting goods stores out there. I even took a few things from one of them the other day, but I didn’t think about guns at the time. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.

A weird thing did happen today. I was being careful, making sure there were no dogs or wolves, or whatever in the store. Looking around. I was up at the front where the payphones are, there was a time when people used things like payphones, these were still there from that time, and one of them rang. As soon as it did the other two there rang also. Only a little jangle. It didn’t last more than a second, but it scared the crap out of me. I thought I was dead right there. For some reason I thought the wolves had sneaked up on me. Come up behind me and were about to get me. Don’t ask me how I got wolves from a ringing phone but I did.

I calmed down after a few minutes and so I walked over and picked up the nearest receiver. Static. Scratchy static. Then it cleared for a second and, it was probably just my nerves, but I could swear I heard someone there. Maybe not heard, I don’t know if I heard anything at all, it was more like I knew someone was there: You know what I mean? Like when you get a crank call and the person doesn’t speak but you know that they are there anyway? Like that. Exactly like that. But, then it went right back to scratchy static and I felt stupid for even thinking it at all. Who could’ve been there? Who would know I was there? It was just nerves. I know it was.

After I got everything back to this building I organized it. I’ve bought back a lot of stuff. Meat, vegetables, bottled water. I have to work my way over to some of the other aisles. I need rice. Pasta. Maybe some instant potatoes. I started on that today. I got part way through the end cap, but the whole roof seems to be resting on that part of the aisle stands, and it’s the same way on the other end. That’s when I found the bodies. It was so bad I couldn’t tell what they had been.

I thought it might be better to go through the aisle dividers. They are solid steel though, and I can’t see any way through them, short of a set of torches. Maybe I could find a set, but it seems as though it would be easier to start from the checkouts and work my way through the piles of stuff until I hit another aisle. I have no idea what each aisle is though.

Yeah, I’ve been there about a thousand times, and I can tell you where the beer and chips would be, paper plates, disposable forks and spoons, but that’s about it. I’d hate to spend five hours or more of digging just to reach the toilet paper and sanitary napkins in aisle four. That would be my luck. But there’s nothing to do for it except to do it. Or go find a set of torches.

I know I need carbs. Canned meat and vegetables are good, but very low carbs. It’s funny but I need fat, things I’m burning heavy and need to replace. I have nearly constant exercise. My pants are hanging off me. Who knew it could be this easy to lose weight?

I’d also like to find supplements. A good selection of first aid stuff. Vitamins, band aids, disinfectant, things like that. I guess that’s my next little bit of time mapped out for me.

Other things I’m looking for: A wind up watch (Should work right?); an old car or truck without an electronic brain (My hope is that if it’s just a simple distributor/spark arrangement with a carburetor, I should be able to get it to work). I think electronics are shot. They don’t work that’s for sure. But I could be wrong. Maybe they will in time.

A battery powered T.V. ; maybe there will be a station on. I know it’s a long shot. Everything is digital. Do they even make battery powered digital televisions?

A C.B. or Ham radio. That would let me listen to the state, maybe the world. I should be able to reach someone. And, last; I’m going to check every phone I come across… Just in case.

It’s early but I’m tired… I wish I weren’t alone.

Katie March 10th

It’s late at night. What a difference a day makes. Conner is his name.

We went back today to see if he had been back to the store. I went there first. I hoped to catch him there early but he wasn’t there. Jake dragged his feet. Like he didn’t want to go at all. He didn’t say that but it seemed that way to me. Maybe things were just getting to me. Jake putting more and more pressure on me to be with him. Lana turning up the I hate you attitude. Maybe it’s just me, or just was me. Either way, by the time we did get there this morning the snow was melting and there was no real way to tell if he had been there at all. I thought about what I had decided yesterday, just going without Jake, but I waited.

We went back to the river and began looking along the banks on that side. I couldn’t figure where he had gone to.

I backtracked to the market up street, thinking I must have missed him, missed something anyway. On the way back I saw him crossing the end of Old Town. I practically screamed out loud but he didn’t hear me. By the time we got there he was gone.

Then the day just started to slide away. I began to think I wouldn’t find him at all. It depressed me.

It was James who smelled the smoke. All we had to do was follow the smoke and we found him. James found him. How do you follow smoke? Have you ever tried? I mean, if I could see it in the air? Sure. But I couldn’t. James knew how to follow it anyway. That man is smart.

I guess there’s a lot more that I could say about today but I’m not going to say it now. I’ll say this though, I want him. I want him and Jake knows it. It’s like Jake knew it would turn out this way. Jana knew how I felt, knew how it would be. She told me that today. She said she could see it in me last night. Like this is the way it’s supposed to be.

Lana knows as well. She’s happy about it. I saw her face when she figured it out. She looked from me to Conner and back. Then she did it again; this puzzled look on her face, and then she smiled, looked at me and nodded. I think she’s just biding her time now. I guess I am too.

Conner Davis. Conner. I think I already wrote his name. I don’t know what happens next. How to make it happen. I’m no good at that sort of thing. I’ve never done it. And my little notebook here, my only friend through all of this, along with Jana, can’t help me with that. I can write it here, look at it, but that doesn’t realize it.

I still have my father’s gun. That has also been my friend the last few days. But it can’t help me either, unless I shoot Jake. I guess that’s not funny. Jake never liked my gun. It bothered him Not ladylike? Something like that I think. Conner wasn’t shocked at all except to say he should have already gotten one and didn’t. It didn’t intimidate him in other words.

Tomorrow is March eleventh. I would have started a new life tomorrow. Maybe one I wasn’t meant to start. I feel like… I don’t know. To be honest I feel like I’m just a dumb girl pretending to be a woman, a grown up. Does nineteen know everything? No. I don’t want to pretend at this. I want to get things right. I don’t know what’s next. But does anybody?

Conner March 12th

Things have been really crazy the last few days. I’m not alone anymore. It’s funny because that’s the last thing I wrote, and two days later it’s like an answer to prayer. It happened later on the evening of the tenth. Oh, and it was the tenth. Jake has an old fashioned wind up watch. So does Katie. And they’ve both kept track. Kept them wound up too. But, in another way it isn’t the twelfth today at all because the days and nights, or the rotation of the Earth that makes the days and nights, isn’t the same at all. It’s much slower. It’s taking about twenty eight hours to cycle through. But last week it was up to almost thirty six hours. And, none of us knows why, except it slowed up and it’s now starting to get back to a normal length of time to cycle through a night and day. So, it’s not really the twelfth, and they’ve just been keeping track of the days as they pass. Same as I’ve been; except for the day I thought I’d lost.

Anyway, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from start; I was organizing stuff. There is a warehouse down closer to the river full of wooden pallets. I went down there a few days ago. Box upon box upon box. I have no idea what’s in them. I figured sometime I’d just open a few up and see. Maybe it would be something useful, maybe not. What’s useful now is radically different from what used to be useful.

Anyway I noticed all of the pallets. Pallets everywhere. Some full, some piled high with stuff, but a lot of empty ones; so I went back down with the sled and made a few trips back and forth to the factory so I could stack the canned stuff on them, so they’re not sitting on the floor. I was putting them in the back of the building. I was so wrapped up in stacking the canned goods that I never even heard them until Katie cleared her throat. I guess to get my attention.

It scared me bad. I thought about the gun I had never bothered to go and get, and a lot of other bad stuff. It went through my mind so fast. The first thing in my head was. The wolves got me! They Sneaked up on me! Stupid, I know. I knew it was a person, but my head still insisted wolf. It didn’t last though, and my reaction scared them as well. Lana said I had a can of peas in my hand and she was sure I was going to bean Katie in the head with them. For some reason she found it funny that I would bean someone in the head with a can of peas and she giggled. I just felt embarrassed and glad I didn’t throw the can. I set it down on the stack and took a few deep breaths instead. We all ended up laughing our asses off. Nervous energy. Release, I guess, or something like that. And then we all began to talk at once.

They had known about me for two days. They had seen that someone was going in and out of the market. They were going out to one on the north side, the other side of the river from where I was. For some reason I hadn’t thought to cross the river, they had already been on the other side to begin with, and even though the main bridges seemed too damaged to be trusted, the railroad trestle seemed solid and unharmed to them, so they crossed over on that to get to my side. I was impressed; that is an open trestle. A long way down to the water.

Because the snow on the asphalt was melting they couldn’t figure out where I was going when I left the market. They were actually going back across the river when Katie happened to look over her shoulder toward the opposite bank and happened to catch me going into the factory. She had thought to yell, but over the sound of the rapids she couldn’t get anyone around her to hear her, let alone me.

Once they were across she talked to Jake, Jake pretty much was their leader (I don’t know if I like that. Do we need leaders?), and they decided to come back the next day, which was two days ago, and see if they could find me. They didn’t know about the . Katie had thought I was just climbing the rock above the river. They searched along the back of the Old Town, or what’s left of it, and down towards the strip. If they had come back down one more road towards the river, they would’ve found this old factory then. Maybe they hadn’t realized there was a road there at all; so they just followed the path of the river thinking I was living in

one of the fallen down buildings closer along the banks of the river itself.

They had seen me from quite a way off crossing the square as they were heading back. It looked to them like I was heading for the north side, maybe crossing one of the bridges, but by the time they got there I was gone. They even began to wonder if I had seen them and hidden on purpose. Maybe out of fear. They had searched for awhile and then, just when they had been about to quit for the day, James realized that he could smell smoke. As soon as he said it, everyone else realized they had smelled it all along as well. After that it didn’t take long to find the old factory. They just followed the smell of smoke down to the lower road and found me.

So that was that and now we are six. Jake, Jake Light, he was their leader as I said. He’s an older guy. In his late thirties. Used to be a truck driver.

Katie Lee (don’t call her Honey. I don’t know why). She’s nineteen and was visiting her grandparents. She was from New York. I thought she was with Jake. I think Jake thought so as well.

James and Jana Adams. James is a little older than Jana. In his fifties, and he said he is a mechanic. Jana does, did, data processing. And Lana. Her real name is Marcia Santos. Lana is her middle name. She said she always liked Lana better. She was still in school, local college. I guess she’s the same age as Katie, nineteen. And last, but not least, me.

We spent all of yesterday getting their stuff from across the river and bringing it over to the factory. I thought that was weird. Why go get stuff anyway? You can have anything you want. It’s all free. But in another way I guess I understand. We’ve lost everything. We want to hang on to what little we still do have. We’re all going to stay here. And we talked about what’s next, and what we know about what happened.

I said I had been kind of planning to leave once spring came. Head south or west. Somewhere where I wouldn’t have to worry about winter. Jake said it may be that where it would normally have been warmer it won’t be any more. He said it depends on what happened. None of us really know. He thinks it might be smarter to stay here. We could stock up this building. We could even hunt. He said he’s sure there are deer around. James agreed with him, at least on there being Deer around.

I told them about the footprints by my house. They said they had seen footprints also. They had gone out toward the strip and seen the tracks of three or four people going in and out of a small store in a strip mall out there. They had called out, but no one had answered. They had had second thoughts about calling out as well. They weren’t armed. What if someone shot at them?

That bought my original thoughts to mind about a weapon. I mentioned the sporting goods store and we all agreed to make a trip out there soon.

We talked about cars and trucks and agreed it would be good to get an SUV or truck of some kind if we could find one that will run, as they might be the only vehicles that could drive around as bad as things are torn up. They have also tried starting a few vehicles with no success. I mentioned my electronic brain idea, and Jake said he had thought of the same thing. Turns out he’s also a mechanic. I guess I can see why they chose him to lead. I feel kind of useless around the guy though. We agreed to try finding an older vehicle. Jake thinks our chances of getting one running are good. We’ll see what we can find.

The first night together was good. The best I’ve slept since this thing started. Just not being alone, you know? I guess I’ll end on that note…

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