The Original Survivors: Alabama Island from Dell Sweet
The Original Survivors Alabama Island is copyright © 2017 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2017 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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Joel, Haley, Glenn and several others were standing by the rear doors that led to the stockroom in Jacob’s Superette.
They had been discussing where they should go. A few others from the small group were there with them.
Joel looked around at them as the conversation went back and forth. They seemed solid enough. Terry Jacobs who had worked for Glenn, Amber Johnson who was married to a GI from the base who was now stationed overseas, and Scott Vincent, a carpenter working on one of the many housing developments in the area. There were others but many of those others that had followed them to Jacobs Superette did not really seem to be doing anything other than following. The ones that had gathered at the back of the store seemed to be on the same page, leaving Watertown.
Ed Weston and Dave Jackson had joined the small group earlier. Ed had worked for Glenn at the gravel pit for over ten years. He was tall with dirty-blonde hair and a slim muscular build, and Joel liked him. He’d grown up right here in Watertown on Fig Street, down by Jackson’s Lumber. A piss poor family, but Ed himself was a damn good man. He seemed a little rattled today, but weren’t they all? He was a hard worker and would be an asset to the group if he chose to come along.
Glenn and Haley both knew Dave. He owned one of the local lumber mills: A small family mill. He had also driven truck for Glenn once or twice when things were slow. Joel had never met him, but he had seen him around: Watertown was a small city. Neither of the men had voiced their opinions, but had been standing quietly as the other three had talked. Dave was younger than Ed, but just as tall, and his dark black hair was tied in a small ponytail that hung down his back.
The conversation at the market never really got going. The crowd that followed had spread out into the store, taking what they wanted to eat and then split up into smaller groups, discussing their own plans. A few had congregated near the beer coolers. That discussion was sometimes heated, and more than once Joel had caught some nasty looks directed at them from that crowd.
“I guess not everyone is on the same page,” Joel said now.
“It was a good idea,” Glenn said. “You can’t make people see a good idea. Look at cigarettes. People knew for years what they were doing to them and they still smoked. Some of these people haven’t hit the wall yet. They still believe the system will save them.”
“Yeah, except there is no system,” Scott said.
“Listen,” Joel started. He paused until they were all looking at him, not sure if he really wanted to proceed. “Might sound stupid,” he said after a few moments of silence.
“I don’t think anything would sound stupid right now… We’re trying to figure this out,” Haley said.
Joel frowned. “Okay.” He frowned deeply, and then nodded decisively. “So it’s this. I was leaving this morning for the Southern Tier. I’m thinking, the truck is all packed, what are we,” he paused and counted heads, “Eight? I have enough food packed to keep us all fed for a few days… We could head out to the Tug Hill Plateau. Close by. We could pick up some stuff here to take with us too…” He paused again, but no one spoke. “I say let’s get another truck or two and get away from the city for a few days. Maybe the Tug Hill Plateau wouldn’t be a bad place to be right now. Let things calm down, especially the hot heads.” He paused, his face grim. “We can come back in a few days… Maybe the Guard will be here by then, maybe not, but it would give us a few days to think this out, if it… Well, if it really is as bad as it seems to be…” He looked from face to face as he stopped speaking.
“Smart,” Scott said.
“Probably for the best,” Glenn agreed. He had all been listening to the nearby conversations, some loud and argumentative, and the beer cooler was emptying quickly: That certainly wasn’t going to help the problem.
“Yeah… These guys seem bent on getting drunk and figuring it all out,” Amber said.
“I’ve seen that sort of thinking before,” Haley agreed. “I vote go.”
“I’m on that,” Scott agreed.
Dave Jackson and Ed Weston agreed.
“I make that all eight?” Joel asked.
“Only, let’s get some trucks and get what we need here before we go. This place is going to get picked over fast,” Haley said.
“Who do you want to go with you?” Joel asked.
“I’m open,” Haley replied.
“I’ll go,” Amber said.
“Me too,” Scott added.
“That’s enough… I guess we’ll get stuff ready here… Wait on you,” Joel said. He held Haley’s eyes until she nodded. A second later she and the others left and the rest of them began to put together some bags of supplies.
Joel and Haley
The Tug Hill Plateau
The camp was a makeshift place off an old logging trail. It was dry under the pines where they had set up camp, but the logging road had flooded over, the water had receded, and now the road was a quagmire of mud steaming in the early morning sun.
They had encountered no major obstacles on the way in. Joel knew the way. The road was cracked in a few places, flooded in a few others, but only a few inches of water. The major stuff had held off until they had arrived and settled in.
The last few days had bought rain, snow, and what felt like earthquakes or explosions far away. Heavy vibrations they could feel through the pine needle covered ground. No one was sure what they really were, but they were all worried about it.
They had made up their minds late last night, when the rains had stopped to get out of the woods, but the two new trucks they had driven in would not start. Joel’s old truck turned over and started fine. They had spent most of the sunrise checking over the two trucks, but they found nothing wrong with them. The batteries were up, the starters turned over, but they would not fire. There was no spark at the plug. Scott and Glenn who were both mechanics were puzzled over what could be causing it.
“If we go, most of you will get stuck in the back of my truck… No other way for it,” Joel said.
They had spent a great deal of the last few days wondering what was going on in the world. Twice, slow moving cargo planes had overflown them. They had seen no markings on the wings, but they had both been painted the olive drab of army equipment. The battery powered radio they had listened to had stopped working. Their wristwatches, cell phones, the two trucks, all dead. They had wondered about a nuclear blast, maybe that was what had happened to the electronics.
Scott nodded. “Maybe that is the deal though. Your truck is old, no electronic brain… Maybe we could find another like it… Or two.”
“If it was a nuke, would it knock out electronics like that? And wouldn’t we all be sick right now?” Amber asked.
“Not necessarily… If it was it wasn’t close, so it would just depend on which way the wind was blowing,” Haley said. “Electronics? I have heard that, but I don’t know. Makes me wish I paid attention to all of that apocalypse stuff on the internet.”
“A dirty bomb… I think that’s what they called it, but it could have been that meteor… I think I read once that a near miss could be as bad as a direct hit. Mess things up the same as a nuclear bomb.” Glenn shrugged.
“But they said that would miss us completely,” Ed threw in.
Dave nodded, “Maybe it didn’t. Wouldn’t be the first time they said something that turned out to be bullshit.”
“What? You don’t trust your own government,” Amber asked in mock surprise.
“Yeah… Well, either way we’re back to sticking it out here or going back to Watertown to see what’s going on… Or somewhere else for that matter,” Joel threw out after a few moments of silence.
“I say we go back… Maybe the guard is there, or has been there,” Amber said.
“Can’t hide out up here forever,” Ed agreed.
“We’ll run out of food… At the least we have to stock back up,” Scott added.
Glenn nodded. “With more too… We don’t know how long this is going to be.”
“Or if it still is,” Haley added.
“There is that too,” Glenn agreed.
“At the least then we should go back and stock up. I mean if no one is there, we can stock up, come back here if it’s bad and decide what to do… Get on with the old life if there is someone there,” Terry said.
“Who wants the front seat…? Two,” Joel asked.
“Probably the girls,” Dave said.
“Why is that,” Haley asked.
“What?” Dave asked.
“Why the girls,” She shook her head before he answered. “Well, I’m not a girl. I’m a woman. It was a rough road to become a woman, and I don’t want to be called a girl.”
“Hey… Peace. I didn’t mean anything by it,” Dave said.
The silence held for a few minutes.
“Well, let’s get this place picked up… I guess store everything in the other two trucks… Maybe we’ll come back for them,” Joel said.
“Maybe not,” Glenn added. “So bring what you want to keep, only make it a small amount.”
A half hour later Joel drove the old truck down the logging road, sticking to four wheel drive and the sides of the road where he could. Twice he had had to make everyone get out and then take a run at a particularly bad section of road before they all climbed in once more. It was late morning before they found route 177. A short time later they found route 11 and headed back toward the small city of Watertown.
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