Shari comes by the next day and looks worried. I think this is the first time I have ever seen her out driving by herself.
She says she and Will have found signs that someone has been camping around the back of their property, where they can watch the house. She is worried that it is the fellows from her hometown. I agree it probably could be, but really don’t want to scare her more than she is already. I ask if she has heard anything about Royal and what is happening with that.
She says somehow, the Court didn’t see how he was a danger and let him loose. They suggested he head home, but no plane tickets saying he did. The Trooper is upset and so are Will and Shari. Uh-oh, this does not sound good.
She says he only stayed in office as Sheriff through intimidation and voter fraud. So many had signed the voting lists that have been dead for almost 100 years that it was fairly obvious.
While we are standing in the yard, talking, we suddenly lost balance and just as suddenly, regained it. Oops, a small trembler. This was Shari’s first and she did not like it. I reassured her they were usually harmless and happened quite often up here. She turned on the radio in her SUV and finally found a station we could hear through the static. Seemed to be quite a few earthquakes happening around the world, but none were major. Some damage and some loss of property. Nothing too bad, but we both felt a sense of something not quite right. She decided to get home and check on Will, I went to check on the canned goods on my shelves.
Right then and there, I decided to add better bars across each shelf to keep jars on them. Nothing had fell, but some had jiggled to the edge. I found some 1x2s left from roofing and started fastening them along the shelves, a couple of inches above the shelf. That should help a lot.
After finishing mine, I go over to see if Rose and Kara need any help fixing theirs. Rose has very low ones on hers and would like higher ones on them and Kara has none. So we find more 1×2’s and start with the screw gun and fasten them up, starting on the top shelves first. Nothing like a small wake up trembler to remind us we live in earthquake country. Rose has not had a problem with hers even through the 7.9 that shook the State several years ago, but would just rather not take a chance on one larger or closer.
After I get home, I feed my animals and make sure they have water. The chickens are big enough now to be considered chickens, not chicks. I would like to have got a few more as these seem to be about half males. Noah built a small chicken ark that rolls along between rows in the garden and lets the chickens fertilize and feed on weeds at the same time. An unlucky vole wandered into reach one day and they had meat with their greens. 3 of the roosters are very friendly and good natured, so I put them in a separate pen.
I think as a gift, I will give one rooster and one hen to Rose and to Shari, so they can start their own fresh egg factories. Since these are nice, we will each have one and save them from the ax. The hens are all very good natured, which is one reason I got these 2 breeds. Large, good natured and pretty good layers and brooders, also. The other males will be nice chicken dinners as soon as I find someone that don’t mind chopping off their heads. I may have them all winter, everyone has made pets of them.
I make another trip to town with the little bit of gold I have panned in the last couple of days. I buy feed for the chickens and the goats. I stock up on salt blocks and mineral blocks. I find some building supplies at the Transfer Station and finish loading my pickup. There are a couple of very nice rugs also, that go over the whole load, then my tarp and net and I am headed for home again. Just after I cross the last large bridge, my pickup has some steering problems and I almost go off the road. I slow way down and proceed with extreme caution.
As I proceed, I see that several trees are down along the road that I had not noticed before. These are close enough to come get for firewood. I turn my radio on, just to see if maybe that was another earthquake. All I find is static and dead air. That is not unusual with my radio and I think nothing of it until I get closer to home and as I start past Will and Shari’s, I see them outside, sitting on the ground, holding each other. Something is wrong so I pull in.
Shari is crying and Will is upset. This does not look good. “Is it the baby?” I ask as I stop.
“No, Bubble Bump is fine. But I think the rest of the world is in trouble.” she replies.
“The early reports are of massive damage and loss of life all over the world,” Will says. They have been using a broadband radio he bought a while back and are monitoring the short wave stations. None of the usual stations are on the air. He says the reports out of the Anchorage bowl area say there is no more Anchorage, no more Seattle, no more cities left standing around the world
. Major fires from ruptured pipelines. The underground facilities everyone thought were foolproof and completely safe have either collapsed or flooded out. Whole countries are no more. Islands have disappeared and a few new ones have emerged only they used to be inland mountains. There is speculation that possibly 2 or more of the countries developing nuclear weapons may have detonated at various places at about the same time and set off worldwide earthquakes of a magnitude beyond the Richter Scale.
We go inside their house and find only a few items out of place and it seems sound. I want to stop and check on Kara and Rose on my way home to see what damage my place may have sustained.
I pull into their driveway and see that Roman’s cabin and buildings seem to be okay. I go on down the hill and the guest cabins seem to all still be standing. Kara’s house looks okay from outside. I stop and go to the door. No one answers so I go on down to her Mom’s.
Kara is there and we go inside. Rose is fine and picking up a few items that had fallen. Nothing major seems to have happened and the house looks okay. Kara says her place is fine, also. I tell them about thinking my pickup is breaking down. We laugh but it is not much of a laugh.
If Fairbanks didn’t get hit very hard, soon there are going to be thousands of hungry people looking for food wherever and however they can find it. I tell them what I heard at Will and Shari’s. There was no mention of damage to the Interior city or towns. We are far out of town, but not that far if they still have fuel to drive. All the military bases are a worry, also. That is a lot of people needing food in the immediate area.
Since it is late August, the nights are starting to get fairly dark again for a few hours. None of this is good news. I tell them I planned on giving Rose the 2 chickens to start her own small flock with, but now she won’t be able to buy food for them. It may be too late to harvest grass seed, also. It is a good thing that chickens will eat just about anything. She says she will feed them whatever she is eating. Just like her dog and cats will have to do.
I have to get home and see what damage I have and how my animals are doing. As I pull into my yard, I see a stranger sitting on my steps waiting for me. When he sees me, he places his hands on top his head in a classic prisoner pose. He holds this as I walk toward him with my handgun in my hand. “Who are you and why are you here?” I ask.
“My name is Jeremy Rhodes and I killed Rod and Rob before they could hurt Shari. I caught your goats after the quake and put them back in the pens. I’ve been keeping an eye on Will and Shari’s place since Royal and his buddies showed up. I don’t want to hurt any of you but I really, really need a meal and someplace to stay, if possible. I know you should just turn me in, but honestly, I won’t hurt anyone here.”
Strangely enough, I believed him. It had to be someone they knew, to get so close to each guy and knife them while they waited in ambush for Will and Shari. I asked him exactly what happened that day, then said “Wait, why don’t we go over and let you tell it to everyone here and we will decide what to do. After I check in the house first to see if everything is okay.? He said he checked under the house and it looked solid and okay. So I unlocked the door and he went in ahead of me. There were some pictures off the walls and a few items fell from shelves in the living room, but overall, it looked pretty good.
We stopped at Rose’s and she and the guys and Kara followed us over to Will and Shari’s. Shari was shaken to see Jeremy but hugged him saying she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. Seems he is her cousin.
Once we were all introduced, we waited for the story. Jeremy started right from when they left the airport. He only came along to be the calm voice of reason, he thought, so they could talk over some legal matters needing cleared up by the death of Shari’s folks. They did not think Rod was all that bad, and left him some property jointly with Shari, in their Wills with Rights of Survivorship. Rod decided he wanted it all. But Jeremy didn’t know that until he was tied in the back of the SUV and heard what they were planning. He was to take the blame and they were going to use her own rifle to shoot her and if they had a chance, Will, also.
Rob was only backup and to make sure Will didn’t show up too soon after Rod had his little talk with Shari. Jeremy finally managed to work loose from his bonds while they trashed the house. He went in as they were going out the back and they did not see him. He found the large sharp knife where they stuck it into a sofa back. He followed Rob first and came in behind him as he hid behind the old outhouse. He was making too much noise to hear Jeremy who had been in Special Forces in the military, slip up behind him and slit his throat without a sound. He quickly stuffed him into the outhouse and then stalked Rod.
He found Rod just as he was taking aim at Will. He wanted to taunt and punish Shari, so he was going to shoot Will right in front of her. The other woman (me) being there didn’t even slow down his plans. He figured he would get to punish 2 women instead of just one. Jeremy slid silently up behind him and stuck the knife up under his ribs just as he started to squeeze the trigger and the rifle went off. There wasn’t time to hide him or the rifle as we started directly for the sound of the shot. Jeremy just had time to get himself hidden before we got to the body. Then, the Trooper showing up, really made it impossible to do anything and Jeremy was afraid they would haul him in
and he would never see the light of day again. He had been keeping an eye on Royals’ buddies since they were now wandering the woods out here, also. He apologized for stealing food once in a while, but eating berries and roots and small rodents just was not a good diet. He was sorry he took my cinnamon rolls in the greenhouse, but just could not resist. When was I going to make some more? Well, since the earthquake, we had no idea whether or not there were any Troopers left to come out or if there were any type of Court system left in the State.
We talked it over while Jeremy sat in the other room, and decided he probably had saved several lives by the 2 he had taken. If Will and Shari were willing to have him stay here, the rest of us had no problem with that. They were willing. He was very surprised when we told him the decision.
Then talk turned to the earthquakes and Will turned the shortwave radio back on for us to hear the updates. There were still a few HAM operators on the air and trying to let everyone know the extent of the damages. It sounded like the earth as we knew it was totally gone. There may still be a few small towns and villages here and there, but the roads, trains and shipping was gone. All the major cities, also gone. It was hard to think that Fairbanks may be the largest city left on earth. It had no means of supporting itself, so it soon would cease to exist as a city, either.
I finally got home and unloaded my pickup. It would probably be the last load of anything I would ever be able to buy in town, ever. This was it, there won’t be any more. Noah helped me put the feed away and unloaded the building supplies and rugs into the barn. We are both silent as we part and he goes back to his camper which weathered the quake fairly well.
The next morning, we awaken to a freak snowstorm. There is about a foot of heavy wet snow on everything and more coming down. Oh, this isn’t good for the survivors in town. If they have no electricity most won’t have heat. As deep and heavy as the snow is, no one will be driving out this way, anyway, so maybe it is good news for us.
I go out and make sure my animals are all closed up in their pens and buildings. I drain my water tank and tip the washing machine to drain the pump. I start filling all the water containers from the spring and storing them in the old ice house and in the house. The new ice house is also loaded up with some half full containers of water to allow to freeze, later, for ice.
The snow continues all day and there is the crashing of tree limbs breaking from the load on limbs still covered in green and gold leaves. Trees are bending and the brush is almost flat on the snow banks. The wind has come up, so it is blowing drifts across the roadway.
I ask Noah if he wants to try making it over to be with his Dad and brother. He says no, he is comfortable where he is, but if it gets much colder, could he move into the little cabin out back? It does have a small wood stove in it. Well, yes, it would be nice to have him here.
The snow keeps falling and during the night, the temperature starts dropping. I feel sorry for anyone out in this weather and the poor folks without homes now are to be prayed for.
Early the next morning, I hear the sound of a snow machine coming in my driveway. It is the fellow we delivered firewood to, this summer. He comes to the door and says he is just checking to see if I am okay and is going over to check on Rose, Kara and the new folks. He asks about the earthquake so we tell him what we have heard on the radio at Will and Shari’s. He is dumbfounded and just shakes his head. I ask him if he will be okay and he says yeah, he has over a years supply of gas for his snow machine and chainsaw and seldom ever went to town, anyway. I send him on his way with a bag of cinnamon rolls to either keep or share at each stop he is making this morning and invite him back for a meal on his way home. He accepts after thinking it over a second or two.
After he leaves, Noah comes to the door and I let him in. He has shoveled a path from the house to the barn and to the woodshed. I fix breakfast and he is very happy to come in and get warmed up and a hot meal. After breakfast, I start bread dough and a large pot of stew from the remnants of the garden.