Previously, the battle broke down on all fronts. The earth itself continued with its reaction to what mankind had done to it. The oceans and weather remained in turmoil due to the devastation brought upon earth by man's folly of chemical warfare. Earthquakes that had long been predicted in California hit as the battle commenced adding to the devastion. Johnny was knocked unconsious and rescued by dolphins who had taken up residence in one of the few habitable regions of earth. We join the story now as Johnny attempts to hone in on the faint mental picture he is receiving of a friend in distress.
I started to get a hazy picture in my mind. A part of a boat underwater…people trapped underneath…a tree across it…oxygen running out. "Follow me!"
I ran to where I thought Lacci and the others were trapped. It was a few yards out to sea just as I pictured it in my mind. The tree would take some doing. "Everyone! Over here! Everyone!"
"Everyone. Now! We need your help" Ricky took up the chant. People came running from everywhere. I could see Christine and Nikolai among them.
Ricky took over. "Everyone we are going to my right. Look at where I am standing and where my arm is pointing. That is the direction. Be careful! We don't want to rescue you next. On my count. When I say "three", you lift. "One…two…THREE!" The tree came up easily and the portion of the boat popped up. There were sixteen people underneath including Lacci and Carlos. Only two were able to stand. We grabbed all of them and rushed them to shore. Lacci came to with little emergency effort. Nikolai worked on Carlos feverishly. Several others responded. Nine of the sixteen were standing within five minutes. The other seven, including Carlos, never would.
As one, we caught sight of a monstrous wave bearing down on us. Christine yelled out, "Run!" Jen didn't move.
Jen sat there holding Carlos in her arms unmoving.
Linda implored her, "Jen, he's gone! We've got to get out of here, or we're gone to."
Jen looked up. "I didn't realize until this very moment how much I loved him. I can't just leave him here."
Christine walked over. I wondered what tender and persuasive words she would say to get Jen up and moving. Christine pulled her right arm back and clocked Jen on the right temple. Jen slumped over. Linda and Christine dragged a groggy Jen out of there. Ricky looked on in admiration. We ran like hell for higher ground.
From a safe distance, we watched the sea take what it wished as arrogantly as it wished too.
Maybe the tears had been held back for so long that they over-flowed. I don't know. Perhaps there was no longer a need to be brave and present that gallant persona to the world. Whatever the reason, I cried and didn't care who saw it. We all did. Every kind of tear all at once, joy, sorrow, regret, hope even tears to name in the future if our understanding grew.
We watched that wave take our friend out to the unknown. How could anger possibly enter the thoughts of sane minds? Look at what we had done to the world. The ocean speaks for the earth. It had just spoken right before our eyes. Would we still deign to argue with it?
For that matter, what arguments amongst ourselves remained unsettled? We wearily walked towards the bunker to the sound of laughter and the smell of food and even music. I thought of our resilience. Then I considered our extreme need for it.
There certainly were a lot of people here. Rhonda and Russell came running up. The look of wisdom they both had was a welcome sight.
I wasn't surprised that Rhonda was already talking before they even reached us. "Most of these people don't even speak any English, Johnny. I don't think they know what I'm talking about. They really like me though 'cause they're smiling at me a lot. I don't know what the hell they're talking about, but they make some good food though. They need some training in their manners though, they's eating everything with sticks instead of silverware. They handed me sticks and I just cracked up and told them that I didn't eat food with a bunch of sticks that I was an American and we eat our food with knives and forks so they smiled at that so they must know some English I guess."
I turned away and she directed her speech towards some lady that happened to be standing nearby. I don't think she spoke English. She had a nice smile though. I saw Ma and some familiar faces and the smell of coffee was inviting.
"Well, Ma, we did something. Can't say I know what it is we done, but we did it."
Ma smiled and looked out at the throng. "Well, my friend. You's be a makin' more sense every time I talk to ya. We done whittled down the numbers and got Mother Nature in a bit of a tizzy. But, I look round here and things don't look a head different to me. The birds looks like they are findin their own feathers jest fine."
She described the gathering aptly. There seemed to be a lot of interaction and genuine camaraderie, but there was at the same time a cliquish nature to the various campfires. Could that be familiarity? Perhaps folks sought out the folks they knew. We did that right here at Ma's campfire with our coffee and close friends. It didn't enter my mind what race or background anyone had. Maybe that held true throughout the throng.
Ma looked even more thoughtful than usual. "Nothins changed. Jest smaller's all. Y'all gots yer pretty gal here and some good folks a with ya y'all can count on. That's all ya need. One of these groups is gonna get angried up at another one. They'll a get ta fightin' and there we go. Don't matter if'n ya gots five billion, million or five thousand. It's in their head already. Their kids'll pick it up."
I considered that. Hell, I knew exactly who every one of those people out there were. Yep, there were the Iranians and the Russians. The hell-bent-on-war-psychos and the create-weapons-to-destroy-the-earth-for-money madmen. There were the take-over-the-world Chinese. Sure, I knew every one of my new brothers and I had no doubt that they knew me just as well.
I could hear them talking by their campfires at night turning and twisting the truth into some bedtime story that makes the kids pull their blankies up to their chins. "Yep, there's that Johnny character. They say he's some kind of a pacifist. Some pacifist. Tell that to the thousands of my people at the bottom of the Pacific. And that woman of his. I heard she made people jump ship and dive to the bottom of the ocean. She controlled their minds. Cruel! Made them bark like dogs! The whole lot of them living in Yosemite in caves like animals."
Before long, we'd have improved maps and better communications with what remained of the world. Options already presented themselves to the folks gathered here. Kings Canyon and Sequoia National parks were not too far from Yosemite and equally habitable. There were many places to settle down.
They'd be moving on to a spacious new world to go about the business of filling it. Some communities would prosper and others might fall upon hard times. Such is the way of the world. Humanity is resourceful. We find ways to endure and survive. We even have our nobility. We often rush to the aid of our fellow man. But, we can turn our back too. Yes, we also do that, don't we?
What would the next war be about? Maybe they need wood to build more houses. Maybe we don't want our wood being taken. Maybe they will just take it anyway. Maybe we'll have to stop them.
Perhaps it would be something of a more philosophical nature. "My God is better than your God."
A spirit of peace flowed through Yosemite. If only we could follow that spirit. One soul could. Two souls certainly could. A few souls around a campfire seemed able to find and hold on to peace.
For humanity, the sum of the parts destroys their value. It is an overwhelming fear of being meaningless.
Yet, the greater the whole, the greater are its parts. How do we get that wrong?
Well, it could give me a headache trying to make sense of it. I heard Sprinkles, the poodle, yapping up a storm. Somehow, his survival didn't surprise me. Christine and Rhonda were laughing hysterically about something. That looked like the place to be. We might as well enjoy peace for as long as we could make it last.