By michaelcahill

I am reluctant to call this a horror story or a science fiction story as none of my stories conform very closely to what one would expect from those genres. Most of my longer pieces are concerned with characters that find themselves in certain situations and their reactions to what they encounter and who they encounter it with.

I have been told that this story has elements of horror and science fiction in it. But, I don't want anyone expecting anything technical when it comes to the scientific end. Whatever is happening is viewed through the eyes of ordinary people that have no knowledge of what they are looking at. They are merely reacting and speculating with whatever limited knowledge they have.

This story takes place in Yosemite, California which is a National Park in the United States noted for giant ancient redwood trees that are gigantic and awesome to see. That isn't part of the story, but simply where the characters happened to be when disaster struck.

There appears to have been a combination of terrorists acts and natural disasters that have occurred suddenly and it appears to be global in nature. The characters are in the dark as to the exact nature and scope of the events. They can see, however, that they are surrounded by death and calamitous events that they are lucky to have survived.

The focus is on the interaction of the characters and their day to day struggle for survival. There are other pockets of survivors as well. At night there are other campfires off in the distance. All are reluctant to leave the safety of their own campfire for fear of what may be lurking in the forest.

Unlike my last piece, this is a finished work. However, I wouldn't be surprised if, based on input and reaction, this piece took off in an unexpected direction that I hadn't considered.

I am new to prose and I am still learning. The input I received on my last piece was amazing and I couldn't have completed it without all the excellent advice and help. So, feel free. I hope you will follow this piece. Chapter one either tonight or tomorrow night. Thank you!


Author Notes This is just a preview. So, read and I hope it interests you to read the piece itself. I don't care for the title. So, if you think of a better one, let me know.

Chapter 1
Deadly Rainbows

By michaelcahill

I’m the writer. I’m not saying I am a great writer. I’m not saying that I should be the one to record these events that unfold before us all. It is simply that amongst our little lost conclave that I am the writer. There is no doubt within others in this group an ability to record these events. Indeed, there are probably some with more ability that is simply untapped. That said, it is I with some experience and more importantly a predilection to do this. Should I just record the events as they happen, perhaps lending a sage comment here and there as though anyone would be interested?
Or, maybe I am the Anne Frank of this group, writing my thoughts and experiences, unaware of the context that they may one day reside in. I’m sure that, as in the holocaust, the overall recording of events is well transcribed and documented. Honestly, none of us knows exactly what happened. We only suspect the scope of what has befallen our planet and more importantly (to us at least) its inhabitants.
It is as though the earth itself struck out at us, weary perhaps of our needling presence. It, no doubt, would’ve been a spectacular show to view from afar. To be in the center of it was terrifying that being a word newly defined. Over a relatively short period of time the sky began to change color until what once would’ve been considered a spectacular sunset became a permanent modern art, abstract, riot of color.
I stood inside a redwood tree. I put the thought of how stupid it was that a hole had been carved out of the center of it out of my mind. I marveled at the size and age and let the majesty of its life engulf me. I needed the time away from what awaited me outside of this carved out world I had momentarily entered.
I stepped out and looked at the amazing beauty of the California sky. It looked as though every rainbow ever formed had congregated together at this one spot and danced above our heads. We couldn't enjoy it, of course, we knew vaguely that its source came from places that were not conducive to healthy futures.
There had been so many stories of natural disasters and terrorist induced disasters that there could be no way to determine what had and had not happened. What scared us the most was what was next. I don't think anybody knew including our own beloved United States of America. I wasn't even so sure that my own country wouldn't be the one to light the fuse that would blow the whole thing up.
It was beautiful, but the knowledge that the sky wasn’t supposed to look like that made it a constant threatening and impossible to ignore presence. Finally, the sky just exploded into a war unleashed by every mythical god ever imagined. There were bolts of lightning seemingly intentionally aimed. There were gaseous clouds randomly wreaking havoc and death on whomever encountered them.
After the initial onslaught, the chaos became more predictable. It was now possible to protect one's self and seek shelter to a degree. We could see evidence in the distance of other survivors, Campfires near the horizon here and there let us know that we were not totally alone, but at the same time, there was an understandable reluctance to breach the unknown and seek them out. And truthfully, the campfires bespoke a situation similar to our own; there was no sense of hope that they had more to offer than we did.
Television, telephones, radios and computers offered static to our anxious yearnings for answers. Before long, the few batteries we had were dead and contacting anyone became a past fleeting thought. There remained a glimmer of hope that perhaps there was some kind of remnant of civilization somewhere in the world that might find us and restore something of our former grand existence.
There are 13 of us at our little campfire. I will attempt to introduce you as we go along. There are strangers here. But, there are pre-existing relationships as well. There is a pregnant girl with us, as well as a possible father. Some of us worked together and even shared a home. As time passes, all of these relationships continue to evolve based upon the current straits in which we find ourselves.
Who's in charge obscures daily and leadership becomes innate and less and less beholding to precedent. It seems to be more influenced by circumstance. After all, if one is being attacked, it seems a soldier would benefit more than an entrepreneur or a shy musician or, dare I say, a wannabe writer.
First, I will introduce you to Jennifer. She is the pregnant girl. She is also the person that I credit our survival to. I hadn’t considered the true effects of pregnancy before. Sure, I understood that there was definitely an altered state to consider in a mother to be. There are cravings and heightened senses as well as a sense of nothing else matters like it once did. She was my friend before these events and continues to be to this day. I assure you that I am not the father to be. I do confess however that the thought had occurred to me. Well, that is for another time.
It was Jennifer that I took my cue from when disaster struck, her reactions were primal in nature but, not primitive, I watched as her nose twitched and her eyes narrowed. Whatever direction she choose I, as the reluctant leader, followed. And all followed me unaware of the true dynamic. Whatever instincts she brought to bear were totally correct and no doubt the reason for our survival.
All around us, life withered into a convulsing pool of death. Human, animal even plant life seemed to indiscriminately succumb while others ran on unscathed. Jennifer knew in a way that wasn’t intellectual the path to survival. To my credit, I realized in a totally cerebral way that this was so.
In a somewhat orderly way, we quickly settled in. We were in Yosemite National Park on an outing with clients from the board and care where some of us worked. I was a caregiver. I passed out meds, cooked, and provided as much counseling as I could muster. Usually I listened and that was probably the best therapeutic approach to employ for people that weren’t usually listened to at all.  Jennifer was our driver and Carlos was the owner. 

Author Notes At the beginning. I have added to the supposedly complete story before the first posting, so complete is a relative word. I wrote this before I joined here and I can see a difference in my writing. I am always open to suggestion and when they are good, I usually keep them in mind and often run with them. So, feel free.

Chapter 2
A Stampede & Georgie Porgie

By michaelcahill

In the first installment we were introduced to the nature of the predicament that a group of vacationers found themselves in. A catastrophe as befallen them in Yosemite National Park and they are going about the business of surviving. We are beginning to meet the people and become acquainted with the nature of the disaster they have encountered. They do not know what has happened. They are coming up with a plan of day to day living as well.

The CD player also will play the sound on a DVD so; we have half a dozen movies to listen to if we really get desperate. I brought them to play on a small laptop, which has already run out of juice with no way to charge it. I imagine there is a way to use the van’s battery but really don’t have the inclination to bother with it. It is the end of fall here and winter is around the bend.
There is some snow but it isn’t covering everything and is not yet a factor in our survival. There is plenty of wood and fuel. There is a lot of food for the short term anyway. For the most part, we are in good shape. But, we are stranded here and as lovely as it looks this is a very dangerous place.

There is also an underlying tension as to the true nature of what has caused all of this. The stench of death is something that we came all too quickly used to. In truth, it looks like little more than a lovely camping vacation. But, it certainly doesn’t feel that way.
I thought back to the events of the last few days. It was difficult not to. As secluded as we had felt in our camping trip under the stars, it became apparent that there were quite a number of people enjoying the seclusion of Yosemite.

We had all gathered at the foot of Half Dome for a concert of folk music. It was part of an earth awareness celebration that the park was sponsoring. That and the discount group rates that came with it had drawn a large crowd.

There were some well-known acts set to play and the opening acts were very entertaining. It was a great show in a beautiful setting. The horrifically beautiful sky made for an eerie reminder of why being aware of our planet was important.
The group on the makeshift stage was doing one of those audience participation numbers and we were going along with it in good spirits when the sky exploded. I can't describe it any other way. It wasn't loud though, it was the sound of fire.

The sky appeared to catch fire in a way that one would imagine a giant chemistry experiment to ignite. It wasn't hot unless a fireball struck you. The fireballs appeared to be aimed though they must have been random. The clouds of gases that were mostly visible were the deadliest of all. They moved steadily but not rapidly. They could be outrun.
Running became the general response. The direction appeared random. For us, the direction was towards our campsite. I imagine a similar mindset enveloped everyone. The look of it was a chaotic and pointless dash into the night. A stampede is the only term that occurs to me as a description. But, it was a disorderly stampede.
Bodies dropped in mid-stride as did wildlife. Birds fell from the sky at our feet. A body would drop while another less than five feet away would speed forward. A fireball would seek out one of a group of five as the other four ran on unsinged.
Our group made it to our destination with about half of its original size. I knew who was missing. I saw two of them fall. The other ones I couldn't say. I suspected that they were dead. At the moment, it was academic. The strangers that fell were unknown to me. The ones that arrived with our group were here. It wasn't an issue at the moment.

There were survivors scattered throughout Yosemite, we all knew that. We were curiously fixated on our own existence and finding some order and normalcy in it. Perhaps it was the unlikelihood of finding answers. Perhaps it was the simple need for a routine that resembled a sustainable existence that kept our focus so small.
Conventional entertainment has mostly vanished now. I used to wonder how one was entertained before radios, TVs, and computers. Now, I know. However, we all do have memory of that. I can’t really decide if that is a help or a hindrance. They say ignorance is bliss. But, I wonder.

I do cling to the images, sounds within my head, and can’t imagine them being absent. But, I know the difference. I have my guitar with me but, no desire to play it. Somehow, singing at the campfire or leading a sing-a-long has no appeal to me whatsoever. There have been a couple “play something's” or an occasional “sing us a song”.

But, there is no groundswell amongst our group to pressure me. So, it sits there with me staring at it occasionally as though it were an old flame not yet extinguished but at odds for the time being. “What is your favorite movie?” is a frequent time passer at our campfire.

The movie under discussion this night was “The Natural”. It is the story of a brilliant young baseball player whose life took a turn. He ends up finally making the majors late in life and the talent he still has quickly propels him to fame and questions about what happened to him that delayed his career till such an advanced age.
It is a really good movie and one of my favorites. Without too many interruptions, the story of “The Natural” unfolded to mainly interested ears. The ensuing discussion was revealing to me. The consensus was that the story was essentially unbelievable. Things like that don’t happen in the real world many said but, just as many disagreed.

I then launched into another story once again to mainly interested ears. After all, there wasn’t really anything else to do what with sing-a-longs being for the moment on the back burner. I’ll tell it now as I am the writer and this is what I fell like writing,
"They called him Georgie Porgie. Georgie was a large boy and came from a family of little people and lived in a town of little people. They all loved Georgie and he was a happy sort and liked to smile and eat pies. Living in "The Little People's Town Of Pie's" seemed to be the perfect match for Georgie. At first it was. The townsfolk baked pies and the pies that weren't made up to the standards of perfection demanded by the City Board of Pie Standards were eaten with great relish by Georgie. Georgie didn't care if a pie was perfectly round or if it had exactly seventy-two percent fresh fruit filling. But, Georgie kept growing and growing."

To my surprise, all eyes were on me. I continued, 

"Before long, the rejected pies were no longer enough to feed Georgie. Georgie began to cut into the profits of the cities pie revenues. Georgie's family fell on hard times trying to keep Georgie fed. Georgie was no longer beloved in town and no longer smiling. The townsfolk became frightened of him and begged his family to move. Saddened, but not wanting to live where they were not wanted Georgie's family moved to Pittsburgh."
Rhonda, one of the clients in our board and care facility interrupted with a question.
"Is this a true story?"


Author Notes Already some great feedback that is much appreciated. Though I have completed this story that doesn't mean that there aren't areas that might require more explanation or detail. Feel free to point those out. Characters that you wish to know more about please let me know.

Chapter 3
Speculation & Strategy

By michaelcahill

We discovered in the last installment that a catastrophe of unknown origin had struck and killed a number of people vacationing in Yosemite National Park. The scope of the disaster is unknown to the people there, but appears massive. There are pockets of survivors and we are focused on one group that are settling in and setting up camp. In an attempt to achieve some kind of normalcy one of the people is telling a campfire story that has been interrupted by an amusing remark. We continue on with the story as the group reacts.

The group, in spite of the dire circumstances of our existence, fell to the ground laughing. Rhonda was an older schizophrenic lady with a penchant for non-stop chatter. She had the intellectual capacity of a seven or eight year old. She did me a favor actually; I had no idea where my story was going. I had a greed metaphor in mind, but I didn't see it developing on the stories horizon in the near future. Of course, I had a lot of time.
"What do you think happened?"
Jennifer voiced the question that everyone had on their mind, but no one spoke out loud. I knew that there wasn't an answer. I knew at the same time that discussion had to occur and that maybe it was a good idea to get the feelings out in the open. I began with my usual detached view of things.
"We don't know and we are not going to know. We can blather on about it all night coming up with theories, but that doesn't help us survive a minute out here. Survival is going to be an issue and I expect it will be sooner and not later. We have a few bags of marsh mellows for a nice campfire get together, yes. But, they will run out and then what? That should be our focus."
Apparently, they weren't ready to discuss that yet. Carlos, who was used to a position of authority as the owner of our board and care facility spoke first.
"This was no act of God that is for sure. At least no God that I know. This was clearly an act of a terrorist. It's chemical warfare. You saw it yourself, clouds of gas, birds falling from the sky, who the hell knows what it is. I know this; we seem to be out of danger right here. I strongly suggest we don't move. There is no telling what we might run into or what deadly cloud we might walk through."
I could see his point. Terrorism had been in the news and instances had been increasing to the point where they weren't even reported unless the body count was high. But, this had Mother Nature written all over it as far as I was concerned.
"I see your thinking, Carlos, and I think it is sound. I might even go along that terrorists might have played a part, but this looks like the earth itself to me. It looks like one too many chemicals was put into the air and it just blew up. You ever seen a star born or one die. It's pretty from a distance. But, you sure as hell don't want to be in the middle of it."
"How am I going to see the doctor when I am way out here? Is he going to come out here to visit me? What about my medicines? Is my medicine going to be sent out here. When are you going to drive me home? I'm tired of these trees. I'm tired of these 'asquitos' too." Rhonda had her own concerns.
"Rhonda, for Christ's sake. Have you looked around lately? There's dead bodies lying all over the place and we're lucky to be alive. Drive you home? What makes you think there is a home to be driven to? Yeah, where are the meds? I think I need some." Carlos was definitely on edge.
I could see the dynamic of the group beginning to unfold. The clients or residents would remain with their mentality of needing to be cared for. I suppose that made sense. Carlos still had the mentality of leader as his mindset. That appeared to be shifting already. Jennifer and I already had demonstrated a more commanding presence and more natural leadership skills.
There was no battle for control looming, but I could see a shift in decision making in the near future. With that in mind, I motioned to Jennifer to come with me. I thought the two of us should take a short walk and survey the immediate surroundings. I also wanted to get her thinking on what we should do next and what we might adopt as a long-term plan.
"Not wise to confront someone mentally ill under the circumstances. There isn't any emergency response team to call that I am aware of."
Jennifer, or Jen as we all called her, was on the money. Carlos was a decent businessman, but there was a reason that he hired caregivers. We knew how to deal with the residents and frankly, as he just demonstrated, he didn't.
"You're right, Jen. I wanted to get your input on some things because I have the feeling that most of the decisions are going to fall on us. I realize this isn't what you envisioned as a world to bring a baby into. It is the world though and we have to deal with it."
The scene was grim on the perimeter of our campsite. There were several dead bodies mostly unknown to us. Jason, a resident, was lying face up near a small redwood tree looking peaceful. We exchanged a glance as we noted a crow siting on his chest. We took that as our green light to cautiously approach his body.
"There is no physical damage at all, Johnny. It had to be the gas. But, it seems to have either evaporated or moved completely on. The crow that was here and some other wildlife and insects all are unfazed in this area. Us to, of course."
"I guess that is good news, Jen. But, it still doesn't give me the confidence to go running in the daisies. The clouds may have just drifted on. I'd still be wary. But, living creatures make for a good indicator of safety, so we'll have to remember that. As I see it, Jen, we are the only group with access to the mercantile store. That puts us in great shape in the short term. But, I worry about other survivors out there. They may not be sitting in our position. We need to be ready for them. Carlos has military experience. We need to draw on that I think. We need a defense against whatever is out there."
"God, Johnny. I hadn't even thought about it. Hell. You're right. If they run out of food that will change the game totally for them. Gas or no gas, hunger is a great motivator."
We headed back towards the group. They were still having there discussion. I approached Carlos.
"I know you have already thought about this considering your military background, but we are going to need some kind of defense against whatever is out there in case it wants what we have here."
"Yes, you're right, I've been considering that. I'll have a plan by eight hundred hours. We don't have much of a unit here, but we'll make do, improvise and adapt. I'm gonna' hit it Johnny. Sleep tight."
The evening came to a conclusion and we huddled close to the safety of the campfire. At least it felt safe for the most part. My eyes kept looking into the darkness. I knew something was out there. That’s what darkness is for, hiding something.
The morning came and with it, a little more reality then I wish to deal with. I see Jennifer returning from the direction of the stream. She looks disheveled and strangely unhappy. It is not the usual detached melancholy I normally associate with her. It is more specific and I dread what I think is its origin.
 “Are you okay?”
“No” her one word response. 


Author Notes The input and suggestions have been wonderful. What was once a complete story I now realize has some additions that need to be made. Please continue to point out anything that you think needs to be addressed or have questions about.

A board and care facility in the United States is simply a household regulated by the State that cares, in this case, for mentally ill clients providing housing and meals as well as all medical attention such as giving them their medicine and taking them to doctors appointments etc.: Full time care essentially. That is for those not familiar with the term.

Chapter 4
Old Friends and New

By michaelcahill

We left the last installment with the group discussing the catastrophe that as befallen them and possible plans of survival that might be pursued. Jennifer and Mike have spoken privately as they realize that much of the leadership responsibility may well fall on their shoulders. Mike has noticed a disheveled and distraught Jennifer returning from a nearby stream. We pick up the story now as Mike addresses her.

 “Are you okay?”
“No” her one word response. 

However, that response tells me everything I need to know. She has lost the baby. I also sense that this is not the time for discussion.
“I’m sorry” is all I have to say for now, and no doubt all she wants to hear, if even that. We would talk when she wanted to talk. It had always been that way with us. I knew things usually before she told me. She knew that I knew before she told me as well. I knew that she was pregnant before she told me. I knew who the father was and she hadn't told me, yet. I wondered if she would now or if it even needed to be acknowledged anymore. There was a time when the married boss getting the hired help pregnant would've made for quite the scandal. It didn't seem to be the problem it once was.
In a practical sense, it does alleviate many potential problems and surely potential drama. Raising a baby under these circumstances would no doubt be a demanding task. The question of paternity has now been reduced to an idle speculation for those that think that it matters. It will certainly add a sense of sadness to a world that is already sad by nature.

I hope she will be okay. Not just as an asset to our survival but as a friend. I imagine that it will be a relief to Carlos. He isn't one that masks worry well. But, he worries a lot and the source of his worry is sometimes difficult to determine.

Is he concerned about his wife and two young children? Is he concerned about his mistress here and her condition? I suspect his worry centers around his current predicament. In a selfish way, I find that an asset to our survival. I'm not one to judge other matters though, of course, I do anyway.

I don't think he knows that Jennifer was pregnant to begin with. She told me, but I don't think she told him. Carlos would be considered handsome by the opposite sex I imagine. That is the reaction he seems to receive from them.

Jennifer has a different appeal. Her willingness to make fun of me I find endearing. I do have a sharp tongue that most are afraid to engage in a war of words. She is not, I like that.
She is still somewhat overweight but well within the boundaries of attractive especially when combined with an interesting personality and intellect. I know that her abilities as an artist do obscure my perception of age and beauty as they apply to my mindset.

I know she was shockingly overweight at one point in her life. She has even shown me pictures in a matter of fact way. I do wonder how that comes to play in her new and improved self. Well, just musing as I have a predilection to do.
As I said, there are 13 of us in our little group, eight woman and five men. You’ve met Jennifer and to some degree myself. They call me ‘Johnny’. I don’t know how it is that I become Johnny as opposed to John or Johnathon. Yet, that is the case. I would never allow Mr. Jefferson or Sir not that I think it ever occurs to anyone. So Johnny it is. For all I know I am the oldest Johnny in the world. Lord, what an awful thought.
So, eight woman and five men. I like that. One might assume that at my advanced or at least advancing age that I won’t factor in. Be advised, I always factor in. I don’t believe in the rules and seldom follow them. I don’t truly understand why but, rest assured I am always a factor. That aside, I will try to explain some of the dynamic of our group.
There are four strangers. By that, I mean that there are four individuals unknown to the rest of the group until the events that have unfolded, three women and one man. First there is Christine who is somewhere in the vicinity of 30 years old. She is voluptuous to say the least and every man here and a few of the girls as well are drooling over her.
She is freakishly strong and it takes everything I have to hold my own arm wrestling with her. Of course, she is just playing while I am fighting to the death to hold on to my diminishing manhood. I suspect that if she had ill will towards me that she could easily rip my arm off and pat me on the head with it. Despite her strength, she is very feminine and enticing. She is totally non-judgmental and easy to engage in conversation. Without meaning to, she encourages every wild scenario that occurs to us and there is many a sleepless though pleasant night daydreaming about her.
She is not at all a leader though she is incredibly intelligent and insightful. Her opinion matters and is considered in every instance. She is also the defacto entertainment director. It is hilarious to see the silly games she can get full-grown adults, myself included, to participate in. She is "totally festive gay" she has told me, as I am the person to whom one could reveal a secret. So, unbeknownst to the boys jumping through hoops for her, they don’t have a chance. But, know this dear Christine; I am not one of them, and I do have experience.
I will say this; it would be very tedious being in this situation if not for her. She keeps the dialogue and entertainment going even if it is just us listening to her every word. Somehow, she just has a way of making people feel good about themselves. It truly is a wonderful gift especially for us, especially under the circumstances.
The other two women consist of a very young beauty named Lacci and a 40 something gal named Judy who I suppose is our mother figure of sorts. She is not unattractive at all but, seems somehow born to motherhood. For the time being, it removes her from most of the men’s list of pursuable women. But, as always, there is always something underlying a cursory perception.
The man is named Joe. In my head, I call him “Average Joe”. He seems a decent sort. He is fit and is friendly enough. I have little regard for men. So, I’ll leave it to the ladies to fit him in somewhere.
Finally, there are the nine of us that are fully acquainted. There are Jennifer and myself. There is Carlos, suspected father and former boss. There is Linda who is a caregiver like myself but, new to the company. Then there are five clients or I should say in reality former clients. We were all part of a board and care facility dealing with mentally and physically disabled people. There remains that delineation between staff and client.
However, the former staff hierarchy has mostly vanished. The so-called challenged for the most part still embrace the call of the cared for as though it were a birthright. It is a thinking that I have little resentment for yet find reprehensible within myself. For me it is the ultimate revocation of humanity to seek care. And be advised that I consider help and care to be very different things.

The hand I raise from the abyss is the same hand I would plunge into it if I am to be human, as I believe it to be at its finest. Well, just my little rant as I am the writer and am given to self-indulgence on a regular basis.


Author Notes Moving forward with a lot of advice and excellent suggestions in mind. Please keep the ideas coming. Much of the input is things I haven't considered. So, it is much appreciated. Thank you for your support. At some point I have to introduce the characters in the story and sooner is better than later in this case. So, I am doing it now. It eliminates the problem in the future.

Chapter 5
Dreams, Outbursts and Johnny Cakes

By michaelcahill

In the last installment we learned that Jennifer had lost her baby. We have yet to see what her full reaction to that is. We have begun to meet the people at the campsite. We catch the group gathered around the campfire and Johnny is about to tell them about a dream he has had. Or, at least he is telling them that it is a dream he has had.

We lacked for entertainment. I liked to make things up. That is what I called anything I did of an artistic nature, making things up. I had an aversion to pretense. I don't like referring to anything I do as "my craft", even though I suppose it is. I guess it just puts a vision of the second grade in my mind of Elmer's glue and construction paper.

I informed the group that I had "that dream again", and they were all anxious to hear the details. I dream, but unfortunately I seldom recall in any detail what they are about. In any case, I made up a dream, based on our circumstance, to kill time for all of us.
"I saw a meeting of the United Nations. They were arguing the fate of the United States of America."
“There is no United States. It is an uninhabited wasteland. Therefore, a vote on the security council or a vote of any kind seems irrelevant!”
It was the Chinese ambassador speaking through an interpreter. The American ambassador, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. answered him.
“If I may Mr. Chairman Both Alaska and Hawaii as well as Puerto Rico and several other islands under our protectorship are unaffected by recent events. It is evident that the Pacific Northwest and most of our close friend and ally Canada are also intact. We have embassies all over the world. We have a major worldwide military presence at the ready. We remain financially sound with corporate interests the world over. We have embassies and citizenry working and living all over the globe. The mainland notwithstanding, the United States of America does indeed exist. Furthermore, it remains a nation of great power both monetary and moral. There are countless dead, true, but at the same time, there is a large population that is surviving. Plans are under way for rescue and reclamation. America endures, as it always has, and always will. It endures in the hearts and resolves of Americans everywhere. Let us not forget the wanton acts of terrorism that crippled our great land. We neither forgive nor forget these actions and remain at war with those factions involved. Rest will only follow victory and justice.”
With that, a majority of the assembly rose to its feet, some with more enthusiasm than others. Thus, affairs of a global nature resumed. The destruction was from a variety of causes. There were biological weapons with an unpredictable effect as weather spread their destruction at its whim. There were conventional weapons aimed as well. There were countless acts of terrorism and sabotage occurring simultaneously. Millions died instantly. Many millions more died a slow and horrific demise. And many millions more, ourselves included, clung to the edge of existence with death and danger surrounding every safe haven. For most of us, there was no knowledge of outside events. We could only speculate as to why and how. For us, the here and now demanded our attention.
I explained that I woke up then and that was all that I remembered. A discussion ensued. It was much like the discussions we usually had and based on facts that were, frankly, about as accurate. Whatever happened was unknown to us.

We knew the state of the world was precarious, and had been for some time, when we left for our little vacation. Speculating that all hell had broken loose was a reasonable conclusion. Indeed, my dream would not be a surprising scenario to discover given the state of things the last time we had first-hand knowledge of them.
Linda seemed upset, which was not a common state for her. "There is every likelihood that you are describing something very accurate. I doubt that what we witnessed and experienced confined itself to this part of the world. Part of the sky doesn't ignite like that. Let's face it, the whole damn world has gone to hell and we are probably on our own here. Does anybody get that? All these little get-togethers and talks are nice, but when are we going to get down to the damn reality of our situation?"
I must say that she spoke the truth. I could see it on everyone's faces. At least the faces that had a familiarity with reality. The mental patients could've been sitting at home on the couch waiting for medication. Hell, they were perfectly equipped to deal with this situation.

They brought the same coping skills to every situation, at least until their medication ran out. That would be in the not too distant future. I would have to start cutting back right away. Just one more little task to add. Linda's outburst required a response. Just as I was about to give one. Christine spoke up.
"It is pointless to invent a world that we don't inhabit. We inhabit this world. The thirteen people that live in this little area faced with whatever conditions exist right here. To concern ourselves with anything that exists outside of that is bordering on insanity. When you wish upon a star, don't you wish for something that will affect the life you are living? Or, do you wish to live on the star as it hurtles through space? It makes good sense to play a game by the campfire. The benefits are immediate. Worrying about what might happen if something else might happen doesn't sound nearly as productive. Preparation is one thing. Speculation is better spent on making up fantastic stories about flying saucers. At least they have entertainment value."
"It's hardly insane wanting to come up with some kind of sensible plan of survival. We have five mental patients here and I hate to break the news here, but the pharmacy don't deliver to the Emerald Forest. We have the mercantile here with supplies and food. But, what about when that runs out. What about water. Is that water over there drinkable?"
She motioned over to the little stream about fifty feet from our campsite. It stood beneath a large overgrowth of something green that was more like a plant than it was a grass. I had drank from it, so I knew it was good. I jumped in.
"You're both right, of course. Christine is correct. Trying to figure out what happened is a waste of time. Nothing works. As far as we are concerned, it is as she says. The world consists of what is right in front of us, each other and whatever supplies we have plus the contents of that store. Yes, we need to plan things out. But, really, a lot of it is going to have to be response to what happens. That will occur when things happen. We just have to…"
"Shut up! Damn it! Why don't you all just stop this mindless meaningless talk. Shit happens and there is nothing you can do about it. Here we are. You get it. Here the hell we are. You’re here, I'm here, these idiots are here and that isn't going to change. Do you think that we're going to come up with some cozy gimme a hug solution to this? Hell no. We're gonna be crappin' in the forest and eating dead people before we're done. And for what? What in hell is the point of it all anyway?"
Jennifer's outburst silenced everyone including me. I knew where it came from, but I don't think anyone else did. Besides, what had she said that wasn't true? Christine stood up, walked over to Jennifer, and put her arm around her. I know that she didn't know about her being pregnant let alone her loss of the baby. She just cared and it was genuine.
Christine spoke, "We all have the same thoughts in our head. Let's face it. Jen isn't saying anything that we all aren't thinking. I'm thinking worse to be honest with you. I'm already writing recipe's for Johnny cakes with real Johnny in them."


Author Notes I'm trying to resist the temptation to rush and drop a bombshell in every post. Certain things have to be introduced like who the characters are, location, housing and other things that aren't exciting, but are necessary. I'll try not to make that too boring. Hahaha. Your suggestions and input have been amazing and have elevated the story and expanded it considerably already. I hope you will continue to feel free to offer your opinions and ideas, I'm all ears.

Chapter 6
Client Therapy & Dog Care

By michaelcahill

In the last installment a discussion of the situation ensued about the groups situation that got heated. Jennifer's emotions spilled over and Christine offered comfort. Christine spoke to the group and surprised them with a joke at the end of her statement. We repeat her statement and begin with the groups reaction to it.

Christine spoke, "We all have the same thoughts in our head. Let's face it. Jen isn't saying anything that we all aren't thinking. I'm thinking worse to be honest with you. I'm already writing recipe's for Johnny cakes with real Johnny in them."

There was a pause to make sure that she said what we thought she said. Then we all burst forth in that wonderful laughter of the insane. Even Jennifer joined in. Leave it to Christine to raise the moral. I realized that she made a difference to our survival that couldn't be measured. By adding insanity she helped keep us sane.
I spend my days now mostly in contemplation. I interact with my fellows mostly out of obligation but, I suppose, sometimes out of need or interest. The lack of obligation does appeal to me I must admit. I would never really refer to myself as responsible. Yet, I always seem to end up as the one that is turned to.

I know that in what "once was the real world that I craved challenge and loved a do or die dynamic. Honestly if the task was small or easy, failure was likely. What I feel more than anything is that now that every day is a struggle for existence I feel calm and at peace. I feel no urgency to reveal or define anything. I simply wish to reflect and in so doing make sense of myself and who I am and how I turned out in lieu of all the variables that presented themselves along the way.
There were relationships that had formed amongst the group. I made note of them. The most important were the ones that involved me. Number one was the trio of me, Christine and Jennifer. I had separate personal relationships with both of them, but those were different than the relationship the three of us shared together.

The three of us together were the real leaders of the group. There was no struggle among the three of us for power or authority. We were on the same page and that page was turned to survival. Our personal relationships were considerably different and separate from our group dynamic and didn't affect it.
The former clients of the board and care clung together and for all intents and purposes were still clients. they had nothing to offer and needed direction in everything they did. They were a liability in every sense of the word.

They would become a bigger liability as time passed. We all knew that. All of us that is, except for them. The conversations that used to irritate me now provided me with relief from the stress of thinking about our situation.
David Vernon McMahon was speaking, "Well, dammit! I've got rights. You can ask Johnny or Carlos if you don't want to take my word for it. I can come and go as I damn well please. If I want to leave and go for a walk, I can damn well do that. I'm David Vernon McMahon and nobody can tell me when to take a walk in the forest."
"Oh you talk too much, David. None of us can get a word in sideways. You can't do nuthin' if it were against the rules of the board and care. If the board and care has rules, you has to follow them. I know that I've been in board an cares since I lived on Fenhold Street and they wouldn't let us do nuthin'. You amember Fenhold Street right Tonnie." Rhonda was hard to stop once she got started.
Tonnie was itching to join in, "Miss Canfields the one that broke me and Vincent up. We were going to be married. I'm carrying his baby right now. I've got to see the gynoclagulist and get pictures taken of the baby."
"When we lived on Fenhold Street they only let us take two showers a week. That was the rules there at the board and care on Fenhold Street. You have to follow the rules or you'll be out on the street and then what will you do? Johnny and Carlos lets us take showers whenever we want. Yous complain too much, David. If you don't follow the rules than you'll be on the streets. Then what?"
"I told you I've got rights dammit. I'm David Vernon McMahon…….."
It honestly went on and on with very little change in the dialogue. It used to make me want to scream. I considered it a test of my resolve and patience. Now, I just listened to get a laugh. I knew they'd be having the same conversation the moment before the very end of time.
 Death has visited us today. “Average Joe” died in his sleep. There was no sign of a fight for life. He looked to be in a peaceful sleep. His death is most unwelcome. Though surrounded by and witness to uncountable demise, it is now one of us. It is one of the survivors. It is one of the lucky ones. One of the invulnerable.

The pallor of fear is such that no attempt at sorrow or sense of fleeting loss exists. There is not the slightest nostalgia for what once was or what might’ve been. Like the most vile of monsters, his corpse is buried as far away as we dare go. No grief, no eulogy, not even a thought of propriety or even the falsest gesture of regard.

There is none of the relief of having survived an accident. No. Death has become the unwanted guest that will not leave. In a way that is not poetic or ironic a part of us has died.

It is the silent scream of a foreshadowing that lives in every spine, like a clever worm in a piece of fruit undetected, but laughing nonetheless at the thought of a greedy hungry bite.
My own sense of not being bound by the norm or the natural laws that seem to dictate most lives is still intact. But, even I am shaken. Even I feel the foreboding of leaves rustling along an imaginary cobblestone pathway strewn by a silver wind that looks suspiciously grey.

All of us are clearly affected. It is Jennifer though that has the unamused smirk of understanding. Her loss hovers around her like a shadow that has forsaken light as an ally and no longer has an allegiance with its host. There is an unexpected strength that flows from her and an aura that attracts the survival instincts in us all.
Once again, the distant campfires catch our gaze. Though there is certainly more fear than ever the draw is greater as well. We are in circumstances more dire than anyone speaks of. It is a world of finite resources.

The outpost mercantile is slowly being depleted. There are fewer and fewer animals every day and though we haven’t reached a point of hunting them, it doesn’t bode well in a world where we will sooner or later have to.

Thoughts and conversation have again turned to what might be out there. What might be out there at some point will have to be discovered if we are to hope for long-term survival. Yet, there is no immediate pressure to act. Therefore, we don’t.
It was like a knife cutting the darkness and revealing something more dark. My first instinct followed by a nervous chuckle was to kill it. It was a small fluffy dog looking like a little wind-up toy and all the more horrifying for its perfect grooming and incongruous perkiness.

The sight and thought of all of us in fight or flight readiness started with nervous laughter, which in time became truly insane laughter. This is the scene that the disheveled but still attractive woman stepped from the forest into the light of our campfire to behold. Her initial shock at our reception was soon replaced by her own insane laughter.

Part of what was out there was now answered it was a cute dog so small and helpless looking that it gave us a sense of hope. It was this rather lovely woman a survivor of god knows what that somehow added steel to our resolve.

But, her story was chilling made even more so by her calm detached demeanor. She spun her tale as though she were crocheting a blanket with months to go before Christmas.


Author Notes Well, my original story appears to be more of an outline now for something larger. Your input is having a major influence over the content and direction so please don't be shy. Thank you for your support.

Chapter 7
Others, Endowments & Repetition.

By michaelcahill


Previously, Joe died overnight for no obvious reason bringing a foreboding mode to the group. A poodle wandered into the campsite startling the group and a disheveled woman followed shortly thereafter. After some questioning the woman began to tell her story of survival. It differed considerably from our group. We continue the story as she is addressing the group.

“There were only six of us initially but, the number grew one at a time to over thirty. Of course, there was much attrition along the way. Four or five would straggle in and maybe one or two would still be alive the next day. We stopped counting the dead. The ravine where we dumped the bodies was a huge and foul smelling pit of death. Yet, with time we were unaffected even by the smell. Those that succumbed soon became a part of the pile. My little poodle, Sprinkles, seemed immune. She ran everywhere seemingly unconcerned. I know that the key for my survival and sanity was to embrace something normal, and nurture and preserve it at all costs. It was that little dog that saved me and kept my wits sharp.”
I looked keenly from face to face as she spun her tale. Most just vacantly listened with little reaction. Jennifer had a decidedly negative reaction. She seemed coiled like a viper ready to strike. I made note of this, fully aware of the truth of her instincts.

Christine, on the other hand, seemed almost enchanted. But then I knew that she, and to a lesser degree myself,would be someone capable of engaging the devil without truly being in danger. For Christine and I the intrigue was too tantalizing not to pursue. For Jennifer, I suspect an untimely demise was already being plotted against our visitor.  Jen spoke first,
"Where were these people coming from and what did they say? What did they see? I can't believe you just sat there and did nothing while a bunch of zombies wandered into your camp. What the hell were you doing, just waiting for death?"
"I don't know. We were in shock. We didn't know each other. We didn't have any idea where anyone we did know had gone or if they were alive. No one was in charge or wanted to be. We were looking for people to show up and rescue us. We were hoping for people to wander in. Each new person gave us hope and then the reality of who they were sent us further into depression. You're probably right. We were waiting to die."

Linda jumped in at that point,
"We're not, you get that? We are not waiting to die. So, if you are looking for a cozy place to dig a grave and take a nap, this isn't it."
Linda was showing a side of herself that I hadn't seen before. It was a side that I liked. It was a side that gave me hope. The mother-vibe she gave off was now more of a mother lioness protecting her cubs. It was not something to mess with. She was proving to be more of an asset than I had previously thought her to be. Linda had one other question,
" What do you want on your grave-marker if we bother to bury you and mark your grave?"
"I won't be needing a grave. That is why I left. I wasn't about to sit there and die. Death isn't an option for me."
"Okay then. These people you were with. Do you think any of them may have followed you?"
"No, there's no chance of that. They were committed to sitting there and waiting for rescue. Nothing I said mattered. They were gone." She eyed Jennifer. She had no fear in her eyes.
"So tell us the rest of it." Jen eyed the newcomer. She had contempt in her eyes.
The story continued:
“Now we had water and fuel a plenty. We had several cars nearby and the fuel within. We had Angel Falls and all the water we could drink. Of course, the fuel created heat to boil it to our somewhat paranoid satisfaction. Stupid really, Sprinkles drank out of it and even swam in it. There was limited food however. There was wildlife and plant life. But, all was of a suspicious nature. Is that the herb or berry that kills us all? It was impossible to know especially early on. As time went by we had an uneasy speculation that what had managed to survive was okay.”
She carried on for some time with her story with Jen and Linda glaring at her while Christine looked at her delighted.
"People dying was a very matter of fact revelation and carried little emotion other than a foreboding fear of what it might foretell for us personally. Even attractions and affections were of a superficial nature. It was as though we had a universal instinct against attachment or reliance. Anybody could die anytime. That was the reality. As for the darling little toy poodle had it been a pet pig we would’ve eaten it. I know for most of them that when our food supply became more critical it would not receive our last little morsel of food. Indeed, it would probably be the last little fluffy morsel. For the time being, she was kinda cute and provided some solace by being a watchdog of sorts."
It was clear that, like Jennifer, Sprinkles' survival instincts were fully functional.
I think that what disturbed us most was that there were nomadic stragglers wandering around Yosemite on their own. Our vision of stable campsites of hardy survivors was somewhat shattered by this knowledge.

Along with the uncertainty of what constituted a safe area was now made more ominous by what unknown person might pop up out of nowhere. Visions of zombies and chainsaw wielding maniacs brushed through our nervous sub conscious.
Our new member was named Annette and everyone called her Annie though she never said, “call me Annie” or “most people call me Annie”. Her little dog was named Mr. Sprinkles, as we already knew, I assume because he was excitable and bladder challenged when excited. If that wasn’t the case then it should’ve been.

He was snowy white with what looked like cinnamon powder gingerly distributed all over his face and nowhere else. Christine was quick to note that he was very gifted in the area of genitalia. She delighted in how uncomfortable it made everyone when she referred to it. I found it hilarious and often joined in straight faced discussions about it to everyone’s discomfort.

“Can you imagine if a human male had those proportions?” Christine would exclaim.

“Yes, it is a tremendous burden I must admit.” I would deadpan.
Another problem was beginning to become manifest. Our former board and care clients were quickly running out of meds with no replacements in sight. I had cut down on dosages to extend the supply. There were already delusions and conversations with entities the rest of us were unable to see.

Where tension and stress are the norm, it is sometimes not readily apparent just how desperate things have become. I know that most of us had embraced a murderous mindset. As I watched Tonnie slip further and further into her under-medicated insanity, it occurred to me that the time to deal with it might be fast approaching. But what to do? I quickly thought to myself, “kill her”.

I suppose that what shocked me was how disengaged that thought entered my mind. My instinct, I was aware, was to help her and protect her. Whatever pride I had in that was sorely tempered with the caveat, “but not at my expense”.

To further complicate matters two of our former clients were parolees. They were not just psych patients. They were predisposed to criminal behavior. On top of this was a host of minor perceived slights and irritations. David Vernon McMahon was convinced we were all against him even more than he usually was. Nathan, the other male parolee, was eerily silent. He was the one that worried me.

On top of all that, Jennifer was pregnant again complete with all the idle speculation that came with it. In spite of rumors to the contrary, once again it is not me. I admit though a certain sense of relief that she will be in full survival mode. It has to be Carlos, again. What an idiot. How could this be the time and place for that?

My friendship with Christine is a major thorn in everyone’s foot. There is jealousy and I understand that. But, I am used to being in that situation and, frankly, I don't really care what they think. 


Author Notes The input is very much appreciated as are the suggestions. Moving too slow? Or, is the pace okay? Some things have been suggested that I do have plans to address later, so don't think I have not taken note. Remember that there is only so much that can be included in a single post. Thanks for following and helping. Much appreciated!

Chapter 8
Alliances, Joe Returns!

By michaelcahill

In the last installment a stranger and her little dog wandered into camp with some news of conditions outside of camp. Roles continued to be defined and relationships continued to form. Jenifer was pregnant again and Johnny and Christine had developed a strong bond of friendship much to the chagrin of many in the group. We catch the group now as they continue with their reactions to the newcomer and their own changing interactions. Christine continued to draw attention.

It was very clear that she was a unique and compelling spirit that demanded attention without seeking it. That I had her attention was the cause of much envy and even jealousy. I was beyond infatuated with her on numerous levels. In my usual manner, I kept that to myself. I suspect my estimation of my own cleverness was probably over rated.
Truly, of all the people in our little conclave it was only Jennifer and Christine that sparked any interest on my part. I was delighted that they both would challenge me when most wouldn’t have anywhere near the nerve to risk my wrath. It told me that they actually got me and knew what I was really all about.
Christine was quick to realize that I would even revel in old man jokes at my own expense. This came after a brief but very sweet period where she was actually sensitive to it. There was a time when she would refer to something or someone as being old and actually try to cover her tracks for fear of offending me. It was precious and out of character for her. Once she realized that it didn't bother me, jokes at my expense where the order of the day. One time Carlos saw us together and yelled out,
“Hey! Jefferson! Whatcha doin', robbin the cradle?”
“Naw! I’m robbing the grave!” Great response, courtesy of Christine.
Synergy was never more apparent to me then when the three of us were on a roll. It was downright intimidating to the rest of them, which, of course, delighted the three of us. Well, I dwell on this, as it is the only distraction to our increasingly grave situation.
Our group by now had split into the ones that could contribute and the ones that couldn’t. Myself, Jennifer, Christine, Carlos, Linda and, a bit warily, Annie were the core of people that were ready to take action and on whose abilities there was a degree of confidence.

Lacci and another stranger named Larry weren't liabilities, but they weren't exactly assets either nor was Brenda, a lady that was almost an afterthought as she was so much a part of the background. Russell was game to help, but without his medication his epilepsy and schizophrenia were an impediment for him.

Rhonda, Tonnie, David, and Nathan were clear liabilities and needed to be dealt with sooner or later. Tonnie and Rhonda were weaning off their meds and constantly talking and arguing with everyone. They both had become promiscuous and to my surprise were getting regular takers. Nathan was becoming increasingly bizarre and detached. There was a definite aura of danger that we all felt from him. It wasn’t what he was doing it was what we feared he might be capable of doing.

David Vernon McMahon had turned from an irritating and verbose idiot into almost a complete zombie. Honestly, I was surprised that he was even alive. In the back of my mind, I was grateful for his current harmless condition and secretly lamented that such a fate had escaped Tonnie and Rhonda.
Lacci appeared pregnant though she denied it. I know she was more flat chested when I first met her. I laugh at myself realizing that it actually makes a difference to me. I suspect Carlos based upon my belief that she would be impressed by young and handsome.

She had shown me a picture of her boyfriend who was rather chubby and homely to be kind. She was very pretty and had a nice personality and it did make me wonder why she didn’t have a mate to match. Maybe, like Jennifer, her good looks were recently acquired and she still suffered from an unattractive mindset.

Again, I laugh at myself. It seems that once young and good looking the mindset remains with you even has time betrays and mocks you. 
Knowing that there were people wandering around Yosemite in varying levels of distress heightened our senses and imaginations. Sounds that used to conjure images of bears or creepy crawlers now evoked visions of the undead waiting outside in the shadows deterred only by our campfire.

Why the undead would not want to cozy up to the warmth of our little hearth, I do not know. But, that has always seemed to be the rule in any horror film I ever saw.

With that being our mindset our reaction to the intruder that stumbled into our conclave was perhaps more understandable. As though sprung from our worst imaginings a large figure loomed out of the shadows and stumbled towards the campfire. He was filthy and at least in our minds eye walked like a classic ghoul from a forgotten childhood horror film that haunted our unconscious minds to this day.

In reality, this was simply a man tired and hungry from a long ordeal of survival. Had we simply been a group of vacationers we no doubt would’ve rushed to his aid. But, we were of an entirely different perspective. Several of our group attacked and drove him to the ground in a sea of fists and kicking feet screaming and grunting in a way not reminiscent of humanity. All he could respond with was “Please!’ over and over again diminishing with each wail as though he were getting farther and farther away. But, of course, He wasn’t. He was severely beaten before the attack finally ceased in an exhausted collapse of energy. He layed there moaning softly and unresponsive to questioning.
“Who are you?”
“What do you want with us?”
“Why have you attacked us?”
“Are you sick?”
Finally, after some time had passed he whispered his answer, “Please.”
Somehow, the fact that we could easily have beaten him to death tempered our desire to do so. There were no apologies of even a perfunctory nature shuffling alongside anyone’s tongue. What was in his mind was hard to discern as he sat there slowly recovering. He made no attempt to leave perhaps out of fear or perhaps what was out there was far worse than what he had found here.
“I’m Joe.” He said softly.
At that point, many intelligent minds made the leap to,
“Oh my God! Joe is back from the dead!”
He looked nothing like the previous Joe and the thought was ridiculous. But, if just for a moment, it was a thought we entertained, underscoring the true depth of our desperation and paranoia.
At this point, Christine and I began parodying walking zombies.
“I am Joe, back from the dead to avenge myself!”
“I am his willing bride, waiting to dine with him on a feast of bloody flesh!”
The laughter was beyond nervous and did nothing to relieve any of the tenseness of the situation. This delighted us both, illuminating the true basis for our friendship. It was Jennifer that broke the ghoulish spell. She slowly walked up to Joe, sniffing the air like a great predator, and said in her best horror film voice,
”The meat is spoiled! We are doomed!”
Our ensuing insane laughter more than eased our tension. The others joined in as well. Whether or not their tension was truly eased, I cannot say. We all silently agreed to return to at least a pretense of normal, for the time being.

For me, a realization made itself manifest. Christine had become my friend and gained a status that the others wouldn’t attain. Jennifer also was set apart to me from the others. They were the people of value to me. They were the people that even under these circumstances I would entertain an element of risk for. Regardless of the outcome of these events, they would be two people that I would want to continue to know.
We all listened intently as Joe began to tell his story. It was a story of an attempted rescue. 


Author Notes I hope those that may have missed chapter six have had a chance to read it. The input continues to be excellent and appreciated. Anything that occurs to you feel free to let me know. I am listening.

Chapter 9
Joe's Story & Plans

By michaelcahill

A man wanders into camp dirty and stagerring and is attacked due to the extreme paranoia of the group that percieve him as a threat. Once they realize that he is no threat, they begin to question him. The story picks up now as he explains where he has been and what he has seen. The group listens intently as he describes a rescue attempt.

“In one frenzied moment the exhilaration of rescue plummeted to the depths of hopelessness. Most of those on the ground survived the crash of the helicopter. Some of those hanging from the runners were crushed on impact. I remember thinking in the least compassionate moment of my life: Idiots! I noted that the pilots and rescuers were absolutely terrified of us and realized that we had slowly transformed over the months into something too feral for the civilization that remained in us as a vague memory. Whatever anger and frustration that was in us overflowed into a sea of violence and retribution. The fools that clung to the runners and caused our crash were pummeled to death or near it. Suddenly we were looking down the barrels of guns held by well-trained military types. We froze more out of surprise than fear. Had it been one of us with a weapon everyone would be dead. The ease with which hostility ended was in a strange way more frightening than when it began. Once it was clear that we were subdued, the weapons were secured one at a time. Very little of the helicopter was salvageable. There were a few medical supplies ejected during the crash. The radio was dead and all the electronic gadgets were fried in the fire. Whatever plans our rescuers conjured up clearly didn’t include us. Frankly, we saw them as being nothing more than extra mouths to feed in our ever-sinking boat. There was little reaction to finding them gone in the morning. For reasons still unclear to me, I set out on my own. I think I had some notion that I would try to find them. My plan never formulated beyond the simple act of leaving.”
“Did the soldiers tell you anything about what happened and what the state of our country is?” I ached for any clue as to what had actually happened.
“Very little. It all happened so fast. We did gather that the President survived and that the country still exists in some form. The capital, which is where they were taking us, is now Salem, Oregon. Why, I do not know. They referred to the unfriendlies. Foreign invaders? Crazed survivors? I don’t know. I know I heard gunfire in the distance."
"Come on now. They must've said something specific. Gunfire? We've been here for a few weeks and never heard a damn pea shooter. Whose guns. Our guys? The enemy?  What the hell, tell us something." I'm thinking that he isn't telling us anything really. Just random crap.
"Whose I can’t say. The soldiers I know had weaponry. My journey here was perilous to say the least. There are small groups like yourselves spread out as far as the eye can see. Most are in more disarray then you appear to be in. I have been met with hostility at every turn. I approached here having given up and growing weaker by the moment. At least you all haven’t discussed how I might be cooked for diner though I fear that it won’t be long before that becomes a necessity. I can tell you this; I haven’t run across anyone in better conditions than you. I have seen many in worse. Anyway, I know this; since we were being rescued, there are certainly better places to be than here. I don’t know what is in Salem or anywhere else. But, there is a government and there must be places better than this. Of course, there are certainly many places worse as well.”
I could see that it would soon be time to do something. What….I couldn’t say though travel seemed to be inevitably on the list. For now, we would settle back into what had become for us our normal existence. I’m guessing we will stay until being here appears more dangerous than the unknown perils that await us.

I motioned for Christine and Jennifer to join me. Linda and Carlos came along too. I had no objection. I didn't know this Joe guy. As far as I was concerned, he wasn't part of anything. He could prove himself or whatever. Right now I'd keep my eyes on him. I didn't know him, I didn't trust him. None of the others in our group indicated any other attitude towards him.
We had some nice tents that were holding up well and the mercantile store for shelter. There were a s couple storage sheds that were good size and adequate for sleep. There was mobile home of sorts that appeared to be used by whomever owned the mercantile. We had no idea where they were. We used it as an office. That is where the five of us met.
"Okay. I'll start. Today is the day to start making decisions. At this point we have food. The water in the river is clean. The water isn't going to be a problem that I can see. The food is. We haven't had much meat in our diet and that isn't going to change. Rice and beans are fine. Canned and dry goods are fine as well. But, there's no milk, butter, cheese, fruits, vegetables and frankly anything that tastes worth a damn. It is survival food already. There isn't enough game to rely on. We aren't in bad shape as far as starving, but it will get slowly worse and worse. That is one issue."
"Johnny, that isn't the biggest problem. It's the clients. Christine doesn't know and Carlos doesn't live with either enough to really know. Linda is new and hasn't seen them when they aren't right. We have. It will take over everything we are doing. These people are too much when they are out of control. And I don't mean Tonnie and Rhonda screwing in the bushes. I mean Nathan and David with criminal records. Long ones. David's a registered sex offender. The last time Nathan was taken in he was walking around with a headless pigeon talking to it. No one knows where it's head went. He had blood all over his face. That was a clue."
"Jen's right. You wouldn't believe how strong Tonnie is when she's off the deep end. I'm strong and I can barely restrain her. You don't realize Carlos and that isn't a criticism. You just don't have living with them as part of your duties."
Christine got right to the heart of it. "So, what do we do with them."
Linda spoke, "I'm not for murder. But, I'm not for them getting us killed or them killing us for that matter. It's a practical matter here, I think."
"What are you saying? Are you saying we should kill tham?" Carlos seemed a bit put off by that idea for a military man.
"We have to do something. They are going to get worse, I've seen it. Ask Jen. She'll back me up."

I guess nobody wanted to come right out and say it. We needed to decide whether to kill them or not. If we decided to kill them, then when? At he moment David and Nathan were like zombies. They just shuffled around in an apparent fog. Tonnie and Rhonda were having the time of their lives. They were just having sex in the bushes. Not really a threat. Well, it could wait for now. At least we were talking about it.


Author Notes Input and suggestions have been great. Critiques have been most helpful too. All needed and appreciated. Please don't be shy.

Chapter 10
Drug Free & Needing Them

By michaelcahill

Warning: The author has noted that this contains strong violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains strong sexual content.

In the last installment we learned something of the nature and scope of the disaster that has struck tha nation. Another group thwarted a rescue attempt with over-eargerness. One of the group left the madness of that group and ended up wandering into camp to a rude welcoming. His story shed light and increased paranoia among the group. The board and care clients were running out of meds and their condition was deteriorating. We pick up the story as the narrator is describing some of their behavior. 

Tonnie's sexual escapades had ceased to be clandestine for some time now. Whatever embarrassment some of the men felt had given way to a bare essence of discretion. For her part she had pretty much lost any grip she had on sanity and was no doubt infinitely happier than we. I expect the two or three willing to accommodate her weren’t all there either.
Nathan had become a decidedly ghoulish zombie-like individual. He would stand motionless for long periods of time with a blank look on his face. He would respond vaguely to questions with short yes or no answers or a simple "I'm okay". Yet, he managed to become animated enough for a liaison with Tonnie. If we couldn’t see her having sex directly, no one was spared the sound of her insane screaming and ranting.
I knew there where at least three of our party that needed to be eliminated. First amongst them was Tonnie. But, as with most things in this existence, there wasn’t any great sense of urgency yet. David and Nathan were pretty much gone for the most part as was Tonnie.
Rhonda, though now off her meds, seemed to be unchanged. In her case, it was with the intellect of an eight year old, and a chatty one at that. It’s funny how her incessant chattering no longer irritated me like it did in the real world. Of course, here I discovered that it didn’t bother her to be ignored or even abandoned mid-sentence. Would that I had known that before all of this took place. I could have saved hours of polite listening to her and being tolerant.
Russell was hearing voices, but they seemed as innocuous as he was. His seizures though were becoming longer and more frequent without meds. He remained willing as always to help in any way asked. But, he wasn’t up to the task as readily as before.
The new Joe gained our confidence in short order and proved to be an intelligent guy. He was traumatized by his ordeal, which truthfully had been worse than ours, but he was game and had become accepted as a part of the group. He was an outdoors type and knowledgeable about basic survival. Only Linda and to a much lesser degree Carlos had any knowledge of those matters.

Gourmet Joe, as we came to call him, added to the diet right away with knowledge of plant life and simple things like where one could find salt. I never realized how much I missed salt until I tasted it on a can of peas. I had forgotten how delicious peas could be. Add a little wild basil and some white root that he had dug up and it became one of the best meals I had eaten in a long time.
Carlos, our former boss, was an asset, though more of a follower now. Lacci was of value in much the same way. Too bad Lacci wasn’t the wild sexual object that Tonnie was. I might have considered that. On the other hand, I am not one to be enticed by easy or even conventional. Apparently Carlos was.

Annie and Sprinkles weren't outcasts by any means, but they never quite fit in as true accepted members of the group. Annie was smart, but she was distant and there was no real connection to any of us other than a fellow victim of whatever had befallen us.

Sprinkles was cute. There was nothing wrong with cute. We liked cute, so perhaps that was a good thing. Carlos was waving me over.
"Take a look at these, Johnny."
Carlos had been busy. There was a decent arsenal in one of the storage sheds. Bows and arrows, spears, knives and a few devices that I couldn't name as well. I knew that the need for them was there. I am sure that, like myself, the others had some kind of weapon concealed on their person.

I had a box-cutter that I had found in the back of a nearby-parked truck. I also knew exactly where the crowbar was that used to be there as well. Organization in this area was a good idea whose time had come.
"Damn. That is impressive. I think you are going to have to instruct some of us. I also think that we better secure the hell out of this. There are a couple people here I can't see arming. But, you are on the money. Both strangers that wandered into camp came with stories that didn't sound promising as to what to expect out there. We need to be prepared to defend ourselves. Thank God, you're here. I couldn't begin to sharpen the end of a stick myself."
It doesn't hurt to throw a few kudos around. Good morale doesn't hurt. I wasn't telling a fib either, I wasn't handy. I don't know why a man that could play an intricate piano piece couldn't nail two pieces of wood together, but that was my story.

We called those of us we considered reliable and trustable over to see the stash of weapons to a positive response. Christine and Linda were experienced with the bow and arrow and took the lead in instructing the rest of us. I must say they looked awesome when the shot those arrows with deadly accuracy. I guess what people would call girly didn't appeal to me. I liked the Queen of the Jungle aspect.

Jennifer picked it up right away. In fact, within a couple days, all of us had at least adequate skill to be a threat to any intruders. The girls were more than a threat. They were deadly and even surpassed Carlos and his military training in their skillsets. Linda was the first to respond.
"We need to do something about these fools here. They are getting worse. I'm not a cruel person. I didn't sign up to care for people because I'm not a good person. But, this isn't civilization anymore."

She picked up a bow and checked the string tension. She continued.

"I see the food supply just like the rest of you do. They are eating our food. I hate to say it, but we are the ones that matter now. They're liabilities. I'd march them out into the forest if I wasn't afraid to go out there. what do we do?"
"What are you saying, Linda? Should we go over there right now and kill them? Is that your suggestion? I'm not saying that you aren't right. But, I'm no killer. I know that Christine, Jen and I joke around a lot, but that is for fun."

I sensed some surprise that I would be a voice against drastic action, but I was a caregiver for a reason.

"I've been taking care of these people every day of their lives for years now. Killing them isn't in my nature and it isn't in theirs either from what I know of them. Carlos has a military background, maybe he can do it. I don't know. It's your idea, Linda, are you volunteering?"

Christine could be serious, and when she was all eyes focused on her. When she wasn't smiling an aura of purpose surrounded her like armour. 
"Johnny, I see what you are saying and I agree to a point. You and Jen know them and probably care more about them than we do. That's just honesty. But, Linda is right. They have to go one way or the other. There is no way they are going to survive and they can only cause us harm. There is a good chance that they will either kill us or get us killed."

She reached over and put her hand on mine and spoke directly to me. It was as though no one else was there.

"I'm one of your best friends Johnny, I would never ask you to do it."

She turned her attention back to the group, but left her hand on mine. It meant the world to me for some reason. Well, not some reason, I knew the reason. She continued,

"But I think one, or all of the rest of us should. I think we should take it upon ourselves to do it when no one is looking. That way no one knows for sure. We just find a dead body and don't say a word. They suddenly die one at a time."
I agreed with Christine. I think everyone else did too. That was the last word anyone spoke on the subject. Time would tell what the silent decision was. 


Author Notes Things are slowly becoming more desperate and the need to act approaches. The input continues to be most helpful as are the suggestions and critiques. Please keep them coming. If you think of something being over looked, let me know. A couple of things have been pointed out that just didn't cross my mind and they have made a big difference to the story!

Chapter 11
The David Vernon McMahon Diet

By michaelcahill


Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains strong sexual content.

In the last installment options were discussed. One of the biggest problems was the deterioration of the mental patients that were clients at the board and care owned by Carlos and run by Johnny. It was discussed that the clients were a decided threat to the safety of the group and should be eliminated. The final word was that they would be eliminated annonamously and that no one would know who did what. We pick up the story after a nights sleep with the campers awakening.

The next morning we awoke to find David Vernon McMahon lying by the fireside with his throat slit ear to ear. He had no expression on his face indicating he was probably no more aware of his death then he was his life. There were no signs of surprise or regret to be found on anyone. It didn’t even prompt the curiosity to inquire as to who had done what amounted to this favor.

It was assumed that it was one of us. It certainly had occurred to each of us. It was almost a courtesy that whoever did it made no attempt to cover it up. Had they moved the body or set up some form of cover-up it would have certainly led to speculation and concerns that something or someone outside of our circle had done this. No, it was one of us and thus perfectly acceptable within our current morality.

It seems that we had agreed to a plan and were now carrying it out. No one tried to get eye contact or scrutinize anyone's expression or mannerisms. We knew where the ultimate responsibility fell. Each shoulder felt a little heavier even as a collective sigh of relief was exhaled. It wasn't me. I don't know any more about it and I never would.
“So, what should we do with it? I mean should we preserve the meat? Does anyone know how to go about it?”
It was Lacci that posed the question on everyone’s mind. It prompted a few chuckles, as she was the youngest and most innocent looking of the group. I noted that she referred to a human being as "it".
I reflected on our morality or lack of it and more specifically, my own. I did not attend church and hadn't for many years. With my long hair and outspoken ways, I wasn't received well there. I invited that reaction I have to admit. I never make it easy for anyone.
Christine had a complex belief system that would be difficult for most to understand. She believed in a higher power and seemed to find validity in every religion that we discussed. She didn't believe any one religion was the true religion and she didn't believe any religion wasn't the true religion. Yet, when I spoke with her, her views made perfect sense and she struck me as very spiritual.
Jen and Carlos were Catholics and Carlos was rather devout. He had rosary beads, prayed, and read from his bible on a regular basis. Jen was reluctant to talk about it. The others I hadn't spoken to about the subject. I hadn't conversed with the others beyond either practical or polite matters.
Somehow, we had become a group of murderous renegades on the verge of cannibalism. That wasn't a dramatization on my part. There was the murdered body of David Vernon McMahon laying there and a discussion of how to preserve his meat for future consumptions was about to be entered into. Did we look the part?
The women for the most part looked well kept under the circumstances. The men looked more predisposed to such thinking with their long unkempt hair and wildly growing unkempt beards. Only Carlos made any effort at any grooming other than general rudimentary cleanliness. His beard and hair were neatly trimmed and looked for the most part, as he always had.
I was certainly an icon for crazy forest dweller. I already had long graying hair. Now it was crazy long and unkempt. For some reason this greatly appealed to me. It somehow removed any need on my part to act with any propriety.

It took this circumstance to realize that I resented having to do this in my former existence. In many ways I enjoyed aspects of our plight that I’m sure most people wouldn’t. What had been a curiosity to me in the past became much amplified here.
Men for the most part have been very wary of me almost bordering on fear. Women on the other had found me to be gentle and kind and had not the least bit of fear of me. Can’t say why. But, it is of interest to me. In truth, I don’t know why I affect anyone the way I do. I wonder if anyone does. This not to say that I am blind to the evidence of a lifetime. No not at all. I am keenly aware of how I am reacted to. I don’t understand it but, I am totally aware of it. Well, too much of my idle musings.
The discussion of our impending cannibalism was chillingly brief. It consisted of a couple questions pertaining to skills and knowledge concerning the matter. The morality or willingness or the group to participate was not brought up as a topic of discussion. The morality was academic and the willingness apparently was a given.
Joe and Linda seemed to have the most knowledge as to the preparing and preserving of game. Joe’s experience came from his previous camp and Linda’s from being an avid hunter. They set about the carving of David Vernon McMahon in a somewhat orderly way. I could see that he wasn’t a very meaty chap and that his organs looked less than delicious to say the least. Morbid humor was the order of the day.
Christine and I started a mock argument over which of us would eat his brain which our compatriots nervously laughed at. Suddenly Christine jumped up, pointed her finger at Tonnie, and said,

“We don’t have to argue about his wiener at least. She ate that!”

“No I didn’t!” she exclaimed “it's right there.”

And there it was just as she said. I don’t know why it was so funny. But, Christine and I couldn’t stop laughing at his poor shriveled up wiener lying on top of his seemingly inedible and blackened liver.
Then Jennifer said with a straight face “Why aren’t there more meats on sticks? Such a waste.”

Even the sight of me and Christine rolling on the blood soaked ground didn’t cause her to crack a smile. She just sat there stoically as though contemplating the proper techniques to employ at a wienie roast.
“Say Johnny. Looks like you’ve lost some weight. New diet?”
“Yeah. I’m on a new low nutrition diet called the David Vernon McMahon diet. It consists of David Vernon McMahon!”
More laughter, this time including Jennifer and less vociferously some of the others. It really was a rather macabre scene I suppose everyone bloody and in good spirits and David Vernon McMahon hacked to bite size bits.
Things returned to normal or at least normal as we had come to accept. Some of us ate the new food source and some didn’t. I had no problem with it, which surprised me a little. But, on the other hand, I am rarely motivated by guilt though I do feel a strong sense of guilt. I’m not exactly clear in my own mind as to why that is but, I suspect a lifetime of false accusations is no doubt a factor. 

I do seem to attract very insecure and jealous mates which has something to do I’m sure with me being raised by a schizophrenic mother and not having a father. I don’t contemplate it much being quite satisfied with myself and how I have lived my life. I’m rather fond of myself and have attempted to do the right thing and try to never injure anyone in any way. I fail often but, I know my hearts intent and sleep very well.

Well, that aside circumstances were somewhat dire but not critically so. Our food supply was still ample and if guilt influenced some to avoid certain behavioral lines that meant more David Vernon McMahon for me and my cannibal co-horts.

Somehow, thoughts of a plan or dreams of rescue faded into the dark recesses of our consciousness in a realm where things like morality and decorum slept an uneasy sleep. The situation was clearly urgent yet, we couldn’t bring ourselves to treat it that way, and we existed day to day and left tomorrow for some future consideration when action would finally become a necessity.


Author Notes The seriousness of the situation is becomming more critical has supplies run out and former mental patients begin to lose more and more control due to lack of medication. I've posted a warning and offer another one here. If you don't want to read about violent things happening then now is the time to stop reading. For those still reading along, I very much appreciate the support. The input has played a huge part in shaping the story and improving it. I hope you will continue to feel free to suggest and offer critiques. Thank you so much. mikey

Chapter 12
The Amazon Archers & Recon Johnny

By michaelcahill


Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

In the previous installment the group crossed several lines. One of them murdered David Vernon McMahon and the group decided to preserve his meat for later consumption. No one knew who did it and that was the unspoken plan. We rejoing the story with Johnny alone by a tree contemplating the previous days events.

The following morning found me alone with my thoughts. It was company that I enjoyed. I had always been a loner and anything over one other person was usually too many for me. I was leaning up against one of the magnificent giant redwoods and for once, I was admiring it. I knew it to be hundreds of years old. It was massive in girth and height.
"What would you do in this situation?" I inquired of my new shoulder to lean on.
As if in answer, I heard a distinct click. I knew the sound. I knew it from television shows and movies. It was a gun and I could feel it against the back of my head. I had no reaction. I, to my surprise, had no fear, but I was frozen in my tracks. There was no amazing ninja move in my arsenal. I waited for the next move or word from this intruder.
"Don't move or your head is history."
I considered that a decent line, but a little after the fact considering the circumstances. I wasn't moving and any reasonably intelligent individual would consider their head to be in jeopardy with a gun pointed at it. I assumed he wanted a response.
"What is it that you want?"
"Food, dammit. We need food. I've been watching your camp and I know you have plenty of food. I don't want all of it, get it? I want our share is all. You people aren't anymore entitled to it than any of the rest of us, see? We're starving and you're getting fat and laughing your asses off. We want our share of the food. There's no damn game here. It's all dead or runned off, I dunno."
"Well, that's no problem. We are all trying to survive. We are all here to help each…."
I heard a familiar sound in the air. It was arrows, more than one. We had been practicing for days. The pressure of the gun against my head released and I heard a shot go off behind me. I reached for my head and jumped forward for no good reason.

I heard a thump on the ground behind me as though someone had dropped a sack of potatoes on the ground. I turned to see a man with eyes wide open and a very stunned expression on his face lying there. He had three arrows sticking out of him. He wasn't moving. They were all mid-chest as though someone had painted a red X there.

I looked off to the right and saw Christine, Linda and Jen standing there with bows in hand. I have always found women to be the superior sex. I would never have the slightest doubt again for the rest of my life.

They looked like mythical Amazon warriors arrived from some magical island to rescue this little creature that they found charming and amusing. I would gladly do their bidding. If they'd let me, of course.
"I told you not to go out and play by yourself Johnny. You know that you get lost too easy at your age." Dear Christine, always with the jokes at my expense. How like music they sounded at this moment.
Christine grabbed another arrow from her quill and placed it in her bow at the ready. Linda and Jen did likewise and approached. Linda handed me a bow and quiver full of arrows. Jen spoke to me.
"If you don't need to change your diaper, we better patrol the area and see if this fool has any buddies hiding out. Grab that gun and check him for ammo or anything else worthwhile."
"Well, ladies first." I gestured for them to lead the way. I always took the scenic route. Carlos came running up with several weapons in hand.
"I heard a shot. A Glock by the sound of it. What happened? Everyone okay?"
Christine smiled her cure the world smile, "This guy looks a little pale, but we're all fine. Just getting some target practice in."
I wondered if she actually felt things like the rest of us. It seemed like her bravado wasn't false. I have to admit that there was a bit of a front to my bravado. I could feel the adrenaline flowing with that gun to my head.

Fear wasn't the right word to describe it, but calm wasn't either. It was tense and I was certainly anxious and concerned. I was relieved to say the least when the gals bailed me out. I knew I wasn't paralyzed by the situation I was in though. I would have taken action. I could feel that in me before it became a moot point.
We filled Carlos in and searched the area. We found what looked to be the area from which he observed us. There was no evidence that there were any more people there. We set up a watch system on the spot. There would never be a night when someone wouldn't be awake watching and ready to alert the camp. No more wandering off alone.

It was agreed that a line of sight must be maintained at all times with at least one other member. All of this was explained to the rest of the group. Annie, Joe, Lacci and even Russell all seemed to understand. Nathan, Rhonda and Tonnie didn't even pretend to. Rhonda asked about pharmacy delivery and Nathan and Tonnie went out to the bushes to enjoy a little romance. They did manage to follow the line of sight rule much to our dismay.
Christine and I decided to venture a little further out than normal. We informed Carlos and Jen of our plan and we all decided that it would be wise for just the two of us to go. Carlos rattled off some military terms and we became "Recon Team 1" which amused us both greatly. We kept our amusement to ourselves for a change.
"So, Recon Johnny, how far out do you think we should recon?"
"Well, Recon Christine, I've never formerly reconned before unless you consider climbing a tree at Alhambra park to watch the girls put on bathing suits a recon mission."
"No, that would be a search and deploy mission. Did ya pitch a tent right there in the tree? Talk about survival skills."
I could marry her just for laughs. That would cover most of my requirements for a happy life. "I think we need to determine who are neighbors are. If we are willing to venture out then so are they. Hell, they've already ventured."
"Why don't we follow the river. That is a safe bet. We won't get lost that way either. I don't pretend that I'm miss wilderness here. I'm a room service girl. I can't believe I've survived this long without cable T.V. to be honest with you. I haven't seen a lesbian in weeks. Hell, Recon Johnny, you're starting to look good to me. Talk about forest fever!"
She was flirting with me. I knew I was one of the luckiest guys on earth, but was this possible. I realized that I thought it was from the moment I met her. Well, to the task at hand,
"I often get mistaken for a lesbian. It's the beard. It makes me look so butch. I think the river is our best bet."
It wasn't long before everything looked unfamiliar. It occurred to both of us simultaneously to draw our bows and have them at the ready. I taped my back pocket to make sure my box cutter was handy.

We became quiet and moved slowly with eyes and ears open and straining for any sight or sound. I noticed a deer sipping water from the stream and nudged Christine. She already had her bow drawn. Before she could shoot, there was a splash in the water near the deer and it took off running. We couldn't see the source of the arrow that missed, but we could hear them argue.
"Damn, Lester, I told you to let me take the shot. You couldn't hit a bale of hay if you were on a hay ride."
"Christ, Jonesy, if you twernt breathin down my neck maybe I coulda gottin a bead on it. That twer the first deer we's seen in two weeks."


Author Notes I should've known this would take on a life of its own. The original story is still functioning somewhat as an outline. But, other factors have been brought in and there are ideas that have been suggested that I like and plan to incorporate. So, keep them coming and we'll see what happens. Your input has been amazing. Thank you.

Chapter 13
Stalking Lester & Romance?

By michaelcahill

In the last insatallment the girls rescued Johnny from a dangerous situation. It was decided that Christine and Johnny would do some exploring outside of the normal boundaries that they had normally traveled. They came upon a couple of men trying to shoot a deer with a bow and arrow. They decided to follow them and find out where they were camped out and what their situation might be. We continue the story with Christine and Johnny decideding to track them. 

Fortunately, for them, we were not in their line of sight. We were in a stand of trees. Christine had her arrow aimed right at them the moment one of them spoke. Without making a sound, we caught each other's eyes and decided to follow them. They weren't worried about noise and easy to track. They left the river and were heading towards Half-Dome, a prominent feature at Yosemite. It was a mountain shaped like a dome that had been cut in half. We guessed they had a camp there or maybe there were cave in the mountain.
"What are we going to do when we find out where they live?" Christine looked pensive. "Maybe they're in better shape than we are."
"Yeah. Maybe they're in worse. But, those two yokels looked like they were out on a turkey shoot in the Ozarks." I realized that I was unnerved by their casual attitude. "Did you notice that they seemed like there wasn't a care in the world?"
"Yes. Yes. That bugged the hell out of me. We're up here at recon five and they're down there practically filming a sitcom episode. They don't act like they're in any particular dire straits. Maybe it's time to move." She looked at me without the little spark of humor that usually adorned her visage. "I realize that those are your friends, Johnny. They're not mine, you are. I'm pretty sure that whatever life I used to have is gone. As it stands right now, you are my life. I don't need to go back. But, that is your decision. If you go back, I'm going with you. I just think that if this is a better option that we should consider it."
"I hadn't thought that far ahead, Christine. I imagine my feelings for you are obvious. I am with you wherever that is and whatever role that is. You didn't kill David, I know that. Do you have any idea who did? It's been on my mind. It's one thing to talk about it; it's another to do it. That's hypocritical as hell of me, I know. But, it doesn't sit right with me."
"I was shocked to be honest with you. I knew I had to get us off the hook. That's why I said what I did. I knew you weren't down for it, so I made it a task for the rest of us to do anonymously. Well, that left me out. I'm no murderer. I'd kill to protect myself or someone else. But, I don't kill just to make my life more comfortable. Whatever payback that comes with, I don't want." She sat back against one of the redwoods that shielded our location.
She continued. "It wasn't Jen. I know her well enough to know she wouldn't take a life like that. She carries life within her. The two don't go together. Carlos could do it. It isn't his nature, but he's been brainwashed before into that way of thinking. Linda I don't know well enough. I can't say. But, Johnny, what scares me most is that it might not be any of the above. It could be anyone else. It could be someone completely outside the group hiding in the forest, like the guy that pulled a gun on you."
"I know all three of them, even Linda, though not as well. We've all tolerated David for a long time. He was a pain; I'm not saying he wasn't. But, it never crossed my mind to kill him or even transfer him out to a different facility. As far as I know, they were of a like mind. I don't see Tonnie or Rhonda having it in them either. Nathan, yes. Lacci, I doubt it, but I don't know her or Gourmet Joe either. Annie I sincerely doubt. Russell, not a chance. Nathan would be my best guess. But, it is just as likely that someone drifted in from the forest and did it. But why? They didn't take anything."
That would have to wait for now. An older woman was greeting our boys. I couldn't make out just how old she might be from this distance, but she stood stooped over and appeared quite old. The distance muted the conversation, but it looked animated. I caught Christine's eye and with a glance we began to sneak forward. Within earshot now, we could hear the gist of the discussion.
"Dammit Lester. I'm so tired of squirrel stew I could eat a squirrel stew. That deer could have been cured and feed us all here for a long time. Why didn't ya just let your cousin Jonesy take the shot?" She stomped her foot and gave a little kick to the side. It looked angry from my vantage point.
The man she called Lester looked like a little boy about to be sent to his room. He just shuffled his feet and stared at the ground. I'd swear any second now he was gonna go and get a switch so his momma could swat him.
"I'd a been practicin' real good, momma. That deer just moved is all. The arrow hit right twer he was. Tell her Jonesy."
Jonesy hesitated. Then some kind of kindness came over him. "That's the way of it, momma Slavert. He that old deer hadn't a moved, we'd be eatin' venison. That's the truth of it." He looked as scared for lyin' as Lester did for having her find out the truth.
Lester looked relieved and gratified, but still terrified that momma Slavert was a little too clever to fall for that. "I'm sorry momma. At least we knows thars some game out there. That’s a good thing, right?"
At that point, several others came out from a stand of trees to join them. Including kids, we counted fourteen. There could have been more. We had to get down there and see what their camp looked like. A glance to Christine showed we were of like mind and we began to move quietly towards their position. It was dusk and we had to decide whether to return home and come back another time or continue ahead now.
"It's been getting colder, and it looks like rain. Is this the time to do this?" I had fantasies of being huddled together with her braving the weather and that didn't seem half-bad.
She smiled coyly, "Is there something to this that I'm not aware of?" She laughed softly. "I think dark is when we want to spy. The more we know about them the better. I don't think we're ready to walk up and say howdy at this point." She looked back at the river now a ways in the distance and then at the sky as though assessing all available data. "I'm thinking staying here at this point is safer in any case. That is if you don't mind the company."
I looked back at the river and contemplated the sky, but mostly I imagined being alone with her. "I'm for staying put. I don't relish heading back in the dark, especially if it starts raining. Who knows what the rain will wash out of the forest."

"Johnny, you know those dreams you've had? I had one too. It was just like yours. I mean, just like yours. I don't know anything about any of the people or places in this dream Johnny."

Christine preceeded to relate her dream to me in detail. It was almost identical to mine. Having the same dream was beyond strange to say the least.
Unbeknownst to any of us our fate was being discussed in a more formal setting. The President had convened the Security Council to discuss the state of the union. Not the State of the Union that was portrayed in an annual speech to a glazed-eyed populace, but the real state of the actual union of what was left of the United States of America.

Author Notes The campers are starting to question the morality of David's death and it isn't clear who killed him. Moving away from the violence. Continuing to receive great input and I am listening intently. The story has taken on a life of its own now though it is still following a basic outline of what I originally had in mind. Thanks for your help.

Note: Dream sequence is in Italics.

Chapter 14
The Council Meets, Recon Peeks

By michaelcahill

In the previous installment, Christine and Johnny ventured out to survey the area beyond the camp and ran across two hunters and trailed them to their own camp near Half-Dome. They saw that over a dozen people were there and decided to wait until dark to check it out further. In the meantime, Christine continues to relate in great detail, the dream she had about how the government of the United States continued and the Security Council was meeting to discuss plans for a possible rescue. None of the survivors were aware of this discussion, of course. We continue the story as Christine continues to describe her dream which is identical to one that Johnny has had.

(Christine continues relating her dream)
The Secretary of Defense was speaking, “The question is do we really want to rescue these people. For God’s sake, can they even be rescued? For the most part the continental United States is a wasteland teeming with cannibals. Murder and rape is the norm. This isn’t the Donner party struggling with the morality of survival."
"Actually, Joanne, the Donner party were rather murderous and immoral and you know that our facts are sketchy at best. A few wide-eyed stragglers picked up on a deserted highway aren't exactly spokesman for the entire area." Tom Theobald had been considered a courtesy appointment to the cabinet to appease the Democrats.

President Johannsen wanted someone more conservative, but politics demanded at least a token liberal on board. She had come to enjoy Tom's input very much and they had become friends. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development turned out to be a perfect fit for him.
Joanne Montalvo, Secretary of State, didn't quite roll her eyes and continued. "Our data is pretty accurate and based on more than a few stragglers. It is a classic breakdown based on hunger and desperation. These people are like animals with an intelligence that bows to will and whim alike. It’s not clear that they even desire rescue. Then if we do rescue them, can they be re-incorporated back into society. I know this; there are millions of them and sooner or later, they will begin to organize. Unless you relish the sight of 2 million cannibals marching on our new capitol here in Salem we better do something,”
Donald Romney interjected, “Whatever we do people is going to cost money, be clear on that, money and lots of it, we don’t have it. I can’t make it any more clear.”
“Look. This is not some third world country in need of disaster relief. These are citizens of the United States of America. The very ones, I might add that voted us into power. We work for them, or, have you forgotten the basic premise for our democracy.” Tom was insistent in his tone.
"Well, need I remind you that the United States is not in the same shape we were a few months ago. We just can't…" Tom cut off Donald in mid-sentence,
“Oh come on now. It’s not like these are primitive cave dwellers that know no other existence. They may have resorted to cannibalism as a last resort to survive; you are all acting like they just decided it would be a good idea. There's no proof of that anyway. Anyone that doesn’t have to face such dire conditions can claim any altruistic mantra they want. They aren’t there and can’t say what they would do. You forget that up until the time of the attack these were all regular people going about their lives. They were no different than we and I suspect that they still aren’t.”
“Well, I say we begin the food and supply drops. That is the safest thing at this time, I can’t help believe that sanity will return once they realize that help is on the way and rescue is a real thing to hold on for. That is my recommendation Madame President." Joanne was not above some kind of action
“I can agree with that. Stabilize things and rescue will be easier and safer.” Tom could be reasonable as well.
President Johannsen nodded her head in agreement and the wheels of government began the slow process of turning.
The subjects of the debate had no idea, of course, that this discussion was taking place. Indeed, there was very little knowledge of anything that transpired. The only thing they knew is that all hell had broken loose and that they had survived it.
Unbeknownst to us civilization was only about eighty miles away, from about 80 miles north of Yosemite all the way north was untouched by any of the attacks. The entire Pacific Northwest and the majority of most of the northern United States and Canada were intact.

The East Coast was obliterated and the mid-west was much as the west was, devastated with pockets of survivors. Mexico suffered greatly and Central America to a lesser degree. The other continents were not hit in a major way though it had become a relative term.

Paris, London and Moscow were all hit with heavy casualties from bio-chemical weapons. It wasn't only Chinese and Korean involvement. It was a coalition of unlikely allies including many terrorists' factions and other countries that were on board for the financial rewards. They were allowed membership for access to their resources usually oil.

The devastation was so thorough that the perpetrators themselves were just as devastated. The death toll in China was in the billions as weather conditions shifted and sent their own deadly clouds back to their senders. World War III never got off the ground. It lasted all of two weeks.

Christine's dream made me think about life back in Los Angeles County and I'm sure everyone in our group did as well. Christine was from there also as was Gourmet Joe. Annie and Sprinkles were from San Diego, California. One day we would all find out that there was nothing left of anything we had once called home if what we were dreaming was true.

In our dream, Los Angeles was one of the main targets and was hit with conventional weaponry as well as biochemical. A major earthquake followed within two days of the initial attack. Whatever stood at the time, stood no more. A waste of time to speculate.
For Christine and me all of that had little consequence at the moment. We had no knowledge of it and even if we did, we were here and they were there. What mattered now was the work at hand.

The sun was setting in its usual spectacular way. We were used to it. For once, Christine and I paused to enjoy it. I suppose one could call it a romantic moment, I would. I can't speak for her.

There was a time when the sun used to slip down behind the horizon. Now the horizon eagerly awaited it, like a ravenous carnivore with a gapping open jowl. As the sun timidly tried to escape, the horizon leapt up, devoured it in a blood bath of deep reds, and congealing dark purples, as the blood dried into a sticky black paste that covered the night. The stars had left long ago and the moon drifted comatose across the sky barely discernable as a pinkish halo of dying light.

Perhaps romantic was not the word for it. Well, she was so lovely, my vision was certainly not clear. Jonesy and Lester and their people all disappeared somewhere behind a large grove of trees. They were either between them and the mountain or in the mountain. That is what we would find out.

Christine had her bow and a hunting knife she had found. I had my bow, box cutter and a Glock that I simply called a gun. Carlos had taught me the basics of how to use it. I was competent. I knew it felt better in my hand than it did at the back of my head.
"Johnny, tents." Christine had a look that I would describe as feral.
"I see them. There's four of them, no five. The campfire looks like it has a bench around it halfway and a kind of bar-b-que pit off to the side. There's at least a dozen people down there that I can see. Wanna get closer?"
She just nodded her head. She moved like a cat. Every sense at the ready. I felt silly even thinking such a thing under the circumstances, but she looked sexy beyond belief. I chuckled to myself.
"I swear, Recon Johnny, you're crazier than I am. I love that about you." She smiled, but went right back into her cat-like stealth mode. I clumsily followed along. An orangutan comes to mind.
"Where you folks a headin' all quiet like? If'n ya's lookin' for somethin' to eat, we's got plenty. Y'all don't have to sneak it out."
We froze. I had my hand on the Glock and I know that Christine had her hand on her hunting knife, ready to strike.


Author Notes A different point of view in much of this chapter. Much of it is Christine relating a dream she has had. It is the same dream that Johnny has had. In it the government discusses the survivors and their plans for them. The characters, of course, know nothing of this. Any thoughts on this? Your input continues to be excellent. I have strayed far, far away from my original little story. Yee haw!! No idea where I'm going just the way I like it. Hahaha. Please don't leave me. Help!

Chapter 15
Hospitality & Dreams

By michaelcahill


In the previous installment Christine finished telling the details of her dream about the Security Council. Johnny and Christine discussed the fact that they had been having the same dream about things they knew nothing about. They decided to venture out of camp and came upon a couple of hunters that they decided to follow. They were surprised to find that they had been followed as well and were soon caught and frozen in their tracks. We carry on with their reaction to being caught in the act of spying.

"Where you folks a headin' all quiet like? If'n ya's lookin' for somethin' to eat, we's got plenty. Y'all don't have to sneak it out."
We froze. I had my hand on the Glock and I know that Christine had her hand on her hunting knife, ready to strike. 

"I wouldn't be a doin' whatcha yer thinkin' bout'. Y'all think yer fallerin' us see, but we's a falerrin' you."
"We're just curious to see who are neighbors are. You scared us sneaking up in the dark. There's some scary people out there. We don't mean any harm." Christine sounded like a sweet little girl with that pretty voice of hers.
"Well then, why don't y'all come with me then. It's turnin' cold at night. We's got a fire goin' and you can see watch ya were fixin to see in the first place."
It didn't sound like an invitation that would be wise to refuse, so we followed him down to his campsite. I followed along a bit in a daze and then I caught Christine's eye. She was still in stealth mode. Pure predatory cat-like tension in every limb accented her every step. Her posture put me back at alert. I had to be ready I realized. I had to be ready for…anything. We arrived at their campsite to very little notice. The lady that had dressed down the two hunters stood to greet us.
"I'm Dora Lee; they all call me Ma here. I spect they call me other things behind my back." She extended her hand.
Christine extended hers, gave her a firm shake, and announced, "I'm Christine."
"I'm Johnny." I gave her a firm handshake making sure not to let up too much and appear weak.
"Johnny, huh?" She looked me over. "Lester, get out the big pot, he's ready to boil right now." She looked deadpan right in my eyes.
If death had left the world of concepts and become human then it was standing right in front of me. My hand nervously patted the pocket that contained my Glock. I could feel the mane on Christine's back go up even though she didn't have one.
Dora Lee went from looking like the taker of souls to the silliest looking hillbilly gal in an instant and burst out laughing. "Jesus Lord in a hot tub, I wish I had a camera. The look on your face." She started losing her balance she was laughing so hard. "You done seen too many movies Johnny. Besides, you ain't been cured yet!" More laughter with the rest of the clan joining in.
I must to say I wasn't surprised that Christine was laughing as loud as any of them.
"Cured? Who says I'm sick? I feel fine!" God, I was truly hoping this was all a joke. Either way it was too funny to stop myself from laughing right along.
When the laughter died down, we were invited to sit by the campfire and handed a bowl of some kind of stew. It was good too. There was meat in it. I didn't ask what kind of meat. It was good whatever it was. I tried not to speculate. Ma addressed us again.
"I suggest you spend the night. Y'all are safe here. Iff'n we don't get hungry." She smiled and this time it had a motherly sweetness to it that put me at ease. "It's dangerous out there. We can see all over from up here. You don't want to be wanderin' at night."
With that, everyone started heading off to bed. They didn't pay us any mind at all. I noticed Lester sitting up with a rifle by the fire. I was guessing he was part of the guard duty. Christine and I took our blankets near the cave. We didn't go in. We needed to talk.
"This looks safe, Christine. I can't leave the others there just like that though. We'll see what they have to say. I've been having those dreams again. They are getting more and more real. I can't shake the feeling of them."
"I've been having them too, Johnny. There's officials in them and details that sound so real. Those stories you told at the campfire. Those weren't made up were they? Those were your dreams. Johnny, I'm having the same dreams that you're having with the same people. I don't know a damn thing about our government. I've never given a damn about it. I have no idea who the Secretary of State is. Is Joanne Montalvo the Secretary of State?"
"I don't know either. But, she is in my dream. What's the capital in your dream?"
"Salem, Oregon."
"Damn it, Christine. I don't usually remember my dreams at all. I'm remembering every detail of these. I am remembering facts that I don't know about places that I've never heard of. People that I've never heard of. You remember your dreams. I know that you remember yours in amazing detail. Is this the same thing?"
"No, it isn't the same. I'm in my dreams. I'm not in these dreams. I'm watching them. It's like a movie or a news program on T.V. It isn't the same. It isn't normal at all. It doesn't stop either. It goes all the way to the end every time. I never wake up in the middle. It never changes."
None of the others said they had dreams anything like ours. I had asked them all even Rhonda and the other former clients. It was only Christine and me. One of us having strange vivid dreams was one thing. But, both of us having the same vivid dreams was another.
"All I can say is we get some sleep and sort it out in the morning. We can't do anything about our dreams. Even if they are visions or whatever, so what. It doesn't do us any good at the moment. Here and now is what matters. Tomorrow we make a plan. I know that this is a better situation than we left. I don't know how they would feel about a dozen new members though."

We pulled the blanket over us. Christine put her arms around me and snuggled up close. I couldn't believe it. She was my girlfriend. I felt a little bit insane, but this may have been the happiest day of my life.
"Goodnight, Recon Johnny."


Author Notes I made an error in a previous installment that I am trying to correct. Since this story is written from Johnny's point of view, there would be no way for him to know what is happening in the government or anywhere else that he can't see for himself. The information about causes and rememdies by the government turn out to be vivid dreams that Johnny and Christine are having. They are both having the same dreams and are unaware why. Okay, I ran out of the original story. Hahaha. This is nowhere near complete so I am winging it as usual. Input and suggestions are needed more than ever. Please don't be shy. Your ideas have been wonderful. In fact, that is why the story is so much longer than it started out to be. Thank you. mikey

Chapter 16
Romance & Stealth

By michaelcahill

In the previous installment it was discovered that Christine and Johnny shared nearly identical detailed dreams about the situation that they were in. The agreed that though curious, there wasn't much the dreams could do for them of a practical nature as they didn't know their source or anything else about them. They met the people that were camped out by Half-Dome and they seemed like good folk. We find them waking up in the morning after a peaceful nights sleep.

The morning found me awake looking into the eyes of the smiling Christine who remained wrapped around me. "You're the hairiest chick I've ever slept with Johnny."
She kissed me and smiled some more as I smiled back unable to hide my obvious joy. "I think I'm pregnant, Christine."
"Are you sure I'm the father?" She laughed heartily at that.
"I was kidding. I thought I was the man." I rolled my eyes and pretended to be angry.
"You're not really a man, Johnny." she spoke with seriousness.
Somehow, I knew what she meant by that. It was a great compliment coming from her. I kissed her for the very first time. I had never felt quite welcome to before. Some guys needed a written invitation. I was one of those guys.
"You love me?" She asked it in the form of a question and smiled. "I love you too."
"Yes, you are a smart girl. You have it figured out. I do love you, Christine." The desire to run around in circles making unintelligible noise was rather strong. Under the circumstances, I settled for a silly smile. "What should we do about the Clampetts here?"
"The Clampetts?" Christine looked confused. It was a look I seldom saw on her face.
I laughed. I guess there was a few problems our age difference might pose. "An old T.V. show, never mind. Our hosts. We just wait and see what they say, right?"
"That sounds like a plan. I think we can trust them, but I say we stay on our toes. They have the upper hand here.  They can afford to relax, we can't. We may be able to form some kind of alliance, but we may have to get the hell out of here too. Just be ready. You're my girl, right?" She smiled that dazzling smile and threw in some sparkling and slightly crazy eyes to go with it.
I could only smile back and nod. Christine pulled the blanket up over her head. "You get some more rest. I'll see about coffee if they have any. I'll wake you if things get exciting." I gave her a little kiss on the forehead. She was already asleep. "Sweet dreams." I whispered and went to see about coffee and strike up a conversation.
I saw Ma and Lester by the campfire, pouring what I hoped was coffee into mugs. "Morning." I greeted them with my cheeriest smile.
Before any discussion could begin, our hosts began pouring out from the cave and their tents and were looking skyward. They were animated and I could see why. A convoy of four stealth bombers flew overhead. Christine didn't stir.
"It's aliens Lester, just like your dream. We's beein' invaded!" I didn't know the tall scruffy gentleman that was literally hoping up and down as he spoke.
"That's my dream! That's my dream! I told ya ma. Just like I said. Four of em. Sure as bunions, without a sound." Lester looked terrified and proud at the same time. A combination that came off as crazed.
I interjected, "Those aren't aliens. Those are stealth bombers. Those are American planes. I've seen them before. Their American planes. They're spy planes." They did look alien like flying black triangles. I had seen them in a parade when they had one fly over low as a stunt.
"American spy planes ya say? Well, that sends the worm back in the apple. Whatcha reckon they be a spyin' on us fer?" Ma had a purposeful look on her face. It was clear that she was in charge for a reason. "I spect they's wantin' to see what the lay of the land is…what they's up against. No sense wipin' us out. That's been did. 'Spect thay's seein' if they can hep."
That didn't sound nearly as wise as it was. The accent triggered some pre-conceived notion in me that I willed my brain to set aside. Too many movies just like she said. "I think you're right, Ma. They must be looking the area over to see if they can rescue us or help in some way. So, something is still out there operating. It isn't all wiped out. Maybe there is some hope."
"Lestor's seen it all, Johnny. He's got the sight. I can't say there's anythin' y'all would want to be a returnin' to. There ain't nuthin' for us to return to. Lestor's seen that much. But, that's for you and your lady to decide. You gots your people out there waitin' too. Your lady here, she moves like a cat. You’re a little loud son, but I spect she wouldn't hear of bein' without ya. We don't have room for much more. I know y'all understand that."
I took it all in and stopped at "son" for a second. I liked being called son. It was nice being referred to as young. A silly pause for sure. She passed on a lot of information in a very short time. We were welcome, but the others weren't. That was reasonable. I knew already that I couldn't just abandon the people at our camp like that. But, this was a door that I wanted to keep open. I'd talk to Christine. She was free to make up her own mind. I knew she would go where I went. It touched me to know that. So, Lester had dreams like ours too. That was interesting. It wasn't just me and Christine. I hadn't had a dream about stealth bombers though, I wonder if Christine had. I wondered if these dreams were occurring to other survivors in Yosemite. I couldn't imagine what effect they might have.
Christine was stirring finally. "How did you manage to sleep through all of that?"
"Oh, I was dreaming. What did I miss?"
"I had a little talk with Ma. Oh, Lester has dreams like we do too. He dreamt we were attacked by aliens." I laughed. "It came true too. At least in his mind."
"Johnny, I just woke up from that dream. I've had that dream since I was a little girl. It doesn't have anything to do with this. Four black alien ships flying overhead shaped like triangles. I always wake up before I find out what they are up to just like I did now. How could he have that same dream."
"Christine, those aren't alien spaceships, they're stealth bombers. They're American planes. How could you dream about them when you were a little girl? They hadn't been invented yet."
Christine just started laughing. It was that crazy infectious laughter that was impossible to resist. I didn't. It was pretty insane. For God's sake, weren't things calamitous enough? There really wasn't a damn thing we could do about these dreams. There was no certainty that we could rely on them well, for anything. I had yet to tell her though, that those alien spacecraft from her childhood dreams had just flown overhead as big as a pimple on the nose of a fair-skinned cover girl.
I found Ma. "I just want to thank you for your kindness. I can't leave my people down there all alone. I have to go back. Is there anything you can tell us that we may not know. I'll be glad to share whatever we know. I want to think of us as friends and allies."
"I can tell you this, Johnny, y'alls in the middle of trouble down there. We can see it all from up here." She knelt down and started drawing in the dirt. "You've got a good position, but you've got a good number of folks in bad shape nearby. I don't think that most of em even know you're there. But, you've got to get serious. We coulda snuck in anytime and done whatever we wanted whilst y'all was sleepin'. Ya already had that feller kilt. Ida thought that woulda woke ya up."

Author Notes Well, just as I walked the plank a dragon scooped me up and rescued me. Of course, he's taking me to his nest to feed to his babies. But, I'm still alive. In other words, I am past the point where the original story ended and I am flying blind and have introduced some things that may have not been a good idea. Hahaha. Good times. So, trying to recover. How am I doing? Input and suggestions are most welcome. You may chastise me if you wish too!! Your input has been wonderful. Hope this is at least fun. mikey

Chapter 17
Goodbyes & Unwelcome Strangers

By michaelcahill

In the previous installment we discovered that Christine and Johnny were not the only ones having strange dreams. Lester was also having them. One of them turned out to come true right in front of their very eyes as four Stealth bombers flew over head. Johnny quickly informed eveyone that they were in fact American planes and not alien invaders. With new information about camps surrounding theirs, Christine and Johnny prepared to return to their camp. Ma informed Johnny that they had seen David killed and it was a stranger that did it. She, of course, knew nothing of the camps plans. We pick up the story now as Johnny reacts to Ma's revelation.

"You saw that. It wasn't one of us? We didn't know who did it. To tell you the truth, Ma, this is the first time we've ventured outside of camp. We've been afraid of what might be out there. From what you've shown me here, we were right to be cautious." I took a deep breath.
"Yep, you gots that right. But, see, you know that and they don't. Winter's closing in. There's hardly any big game here anymore. All small stuff. You have to stock up now or ya are gonna be eatin' that poor fella and who knows who else too. We's charitable people, Johnny, but we ain't got but enough to squeak by ourselves. We's friends. Y'all can count on that. I spect will cross paths again. You and that lady are welcome here. She's a special one, Johnny. I guess you know that. She'll keep ya safe." With that she gave me a warm hug.
Handshakes and hugs were exchanged and we were back by the river, on the way back to our camp. I vowed to myself that if I ever got the chance I would write a true story about hillbilly's one day.
"If we ever have a daughter, Christine, I want to name her Dora Lee."
"You bet, Johnny. If we have a son though, I want to name him, David Vernon McMahon."
Hopefully, if we were being followed the sound of our laughter would be insane enough to give anyone second thoughts about approaching us. With the added information from Ma, our trip back had a higher sense of caution attatched to it. We knew the location of several other camps and avoided their locations.

We stopped for a break by the river. It was a beautiful setting in spite of the ominous skies that hovered overhead like a demonic reminder of deadly sins and payment due. The water was mountain fresh and any even imagined taint was no longer apparent. We drank our fill and filled our containers. We had some stew that we decided to eat cold. It still had a good flavor and surpassed most of what we were used to hot. I took the time to let Christine in on my little secret.
"I should have told you earlier, but your little dream about flying alien triangles was no dream. While you were sleeping, four of them flew right over our heads clear as day without a sound. Of course, I already told you they were American planes. I just didn't tell you that while you were sleeping they flew right over our head."
"When the hell were you going to tell me that? Lester dreampt that same dream. I don't get this at all, Johnny. These visions of what might be happening in the government and all that, okay, something that makes sense could be causing that. But, hell, I dreampt about those triangle planes when I was a little girl over twenty-five years ago. What the hell is that supposed to tell us?" She looked angry and curious. But, she didn't look afraid. Fear was the one emotion that I never saw cross her face.
"I don't know. I just don't know. But, look, you two both dreampt those planes would fly over and they did. Maybe I would've too If I had been sleeping. I don't know. I didn't dream about it when I was younger, I can tell you that much. I still don't think these dreams are worth much really. So you dreampt about some planes and there are the planes. Now what? We don't know a damn thing new. Until our dreams come with a little booklet that says what we're supposed to do about them, I can't see how we can do anything."
"Yes. Yep. I agree. We need to stick to the matters at hand. But, we keep each other informed. We question everyone too. If Lester has the dreams, maybe others do too. Something may come of them. I sure as hell would like to know it if someone is crawling around in our heads. They damn well aren't welcome."
"Between you and me, Christine, we are a little superior in the brain department when it comes to our group. I'm just sayin. I wonder if there is something that is stimulating something in our brains. Something that is already there. We're all chemicals and we were just doused with God knows what cocktail of lethal chemicals. Maybe there is some kind of side effect or something."
She just shrugged. I suppose for now that we would have to leave it at that. We had nothing else to go on. We had finished our break and our camp loomed ahead. Finally we arrived to a most surprising scene.
Things did not look like we expected at all. There were people by the campfire. They were chit-chatting and having coffee I assumed. The problem was, I didn't recognize any of them. There was no Carlos or Jen. There was no Tonnie or Nathan. There was no chattering Rhonda.

Christine had already ducked behind a tree like a cat before I could even alert her. I felt her hand pulling me down by her side before I could even react. "She's special, she'll keep ya safe." That's what Ma had said. I let Christine take the lead. She motioned with her head to retreat and we backed out in the direction we had come.

We found a secluded area by the river with shelter and a good view of the surrounding area. We were certain that we hadn't been seen. We had learned from experience to not be careless.
Our plan of action was clear. But, we had options to discuss.
"You don't have to offer, Johnny. I know what we have to do. First we have to find the others if they're alive to be found. I can't imagine Jen and Linda giving up without a fight, but look how easy they got the drop on us. Anything could have happened. We can't guess. They could be captured, killed or hiding out. Anything is possible or a combination of the three. I know this, I don't care for any of those options for us. That's our camp and I want it back." Again, no fear. Just determination and a touch of anger.
"I saw sprinkles. That was the one familiar face. He was running around like nothing was out of the ordinary. I don't know what that tells me. He was devoted to Annie. He never left her side. But, there he is and no Annie. He's a dog, wouldn't he go after her. Or, if she was captive there, wouldn't he be barking at the spot where she was being held? You'd think that stupid dog would do something dog-like to give us a clue."
I could feel a chill in the air already. Winter was on its way. I started thinking of Christine and how nice it would be to cuddle up with her and brave the harsh winter nights. I laughed to myself, but not out loud. Christine somehow heard it anyway.
"Hey. Recon Johnny? No time to go soft on me now. We have to stay alert here. I'm already cold. As soon as the sun goes down we go into action. I know they've found the mercantile, but maybe they haven't found the sheds or all of the tents and vehicles. We'll check that out first."


Author Notes Rollin' along blind and lovin' it! Any ideas or suggestions? Loving all the feedback. It is most appreciated. I read and make note of every review. I am way behind in responses and I do apologize. I try to review everybody's work has my first priority then read my reviews and then respond. Just behind. I hope you will understand. The real world keeps interfering, illness, work and trivial things like that. Thanks for all your help. mikey

Chapter 18
Lost and Found

By michaelcahill

In the previous installment Johnny and Christine said their goodbyes to the hillbillies and made their way towards camp. All was not well. None of their friends were there. The campsite was over-run with strangers and only the dog, Sprinkles, remained in sight. They sought shelter and decided to come up with a plan. Step one would be to find out what happened. We join the story now as they sneak up on the storage sheds which appear to be undiscovered yet.

Night wasn't far off. It seemed to fall quicker than normal. Or, maybe it responded to our sense of urgency. A man and a woman were stationed outside the mercantile. I didn't see weapons on them, but it was dark and I couldn't be sure.

About a hundred yards away were the storage sheds and in one of them was a large cache of weapons. I held my breath as we came up behind them. They were unattended. The weapons shed looked undisturbed for the most part. It wasn't raided, that was for sure. It was fully stocked.

That could be for one of two reasons. These people hadn't found it or they had and didn't see the need to arm themselves. Maybe they already had better weapons. There was a drawing on the door. It was three female archers. They had there bows drawn and were ready to fire. That wasn't there before.
"Christine, what do you make of this?" I thought she might have some insight into the other girls. 

Christine took a long look and studied the drawing. "I think it's a message of some kind. It must be the three of us: Me, Jen and Linda. I just have to think of what they're trying to tell us. Hmm, drawn bows…maybe it's directions. The arrows are all pointing north towards those trees there." She looked towards the trees as though she could see behind them. "Check em out?"
"Yeah, lets." Seemed like the logical thing to do.
We headed in that direction. Once we crossed into the stand of trees Linda came out from behind a large redwood. Lacci was by her side. I looked around quickly, but saw no one else.
"We weren't sure if you were coming back or if you were attacked somewhere down the road. It's good to see you two. What have you found out?" She had that same cat-like feel to her that Christine had adopted. Lacci was more the deer in the headlights posture. She stuck close to Linda.
Christine spoke for us. "We know little. Strangers in our camp. No sign of anyone until we found the two of you. That stupid traitor dog happy as a clam with the enemy. What's up with that? What do you know? I hope it's more than that."
Linda continued, "We were too lax, it's that simple. What the hell were we, campers on a weekend outing? We were all sound asleep. Jen was supposed to be up on guard. She was curled up by the fireplace, passed out drunk. They just came in and took over. Some of us tried to escape. Some made it and some didn't. Annie turned on a dime. It was her group. I don't blame her, switch to the winning side. Lacci and I managed to escape. Carlos and Jen stayed and fought, but were easily taken down. We thought about returning to help, but there were at least a dozen of them."
I could see that she felt some guilt over that. "It's the smart move, Linda. Retreat to fight another day. No sense in your capture. Now there's four of us. What weapons do they have? How many are there? Looks like eight that we could see walking around. What else do you know?"
"They've got Carlos, Jen, Joe and Russell tied up and just sitting by some trees. We've been planning to rescue them. Tonnie, Rhonda and Nathan we don't know. Annie, we told you is with them like one of the crowd along with the damn dog. I don't know what her loyalties are. I wouldn't trust her. I never did anyway. Joe was with us all the way. Russell too. The other patients just sat there like they were watching T.V. Too damn much, man. They didn't move a muscle."
Christine looked ready for action. "They didn't come after you?"
"No. They didn't even look to see what direction we were headed. They haven't looked around much either. They found the mercantile, but not the storage sheds, tents or vehicles. They don't seem very organized. They have guards posted, but it isn't organized. Rescue is no problem. But, hell, it's our camp. Screw them and Annie too. I'm not down for a war, but they started this."
I had to agree with her. What were we supposed to do, sit out in the forest and starve? It amounted to survival. We had to take our camp back. It wasn't a choice. It had to be done. I could see Linda and Christine were already committed. Lacci would go along with it, but she was not the warrior type. Maybe there was another way to use her. She had alluring and gorgeous going for her. Maybe a decoy of some kind.
As if reading my mind, Christine seemed to have a plan. "We need a distraction. I don't know if you're up for this, Lacci, but you could really help us out here. It's dangerous, but we would be right there behind you. We'd have your back no matter what. Know that. If you could distract those idiots then we could sneak in and take them out."
Lacci shuffled her feet nervously, "You mean, kill them? There's so many of them though. It seems like suicide. Maybe we could just talk to them, make an alliance or something.  Why don't we just get the hell out of here. I don't want to die down there."
If I had touched Christine at that moment, I'm sure that my fingertips would've frozen solid. I could almost see the frost form from her mouth as she spoke.
"Okay, no problem. You run along then. We are going to do whatever it takes to rescue our friends and take our camp back. If you aren't down for that, there's no hard feelings and you are free to go. We wish you the best of luck."
She turned and faced me and continued, "I still think a diversion is a good idea. Either Linda or myself wanders into camp looking helpless and vulnerable while the other two free Carlos and the others. Then we attack and take back our camp. We need to get in and let the others know that we are out here and what the plan is. We can't be seen or we're screwed. Any thoughts?"
Lacci looked like she was going to cry. But, the reality of the situation hit home. "I didn't say I wouldn't do it. I was just throwing out some options to discuss. Of course, I'm not abandoning anybody. I'm the decoy. I'm not the fighter that Linda or you are, Christine. I'm the obvious choice."
Christine didn't offer any mercy or apology. She simply moved ahead with the plans. She knew what she knew about Lacci. Now she had to rely on her. "You have everything you need. You're young and beautiful. You just need to realize that. I don't think you do. You walk into that camp like you're the hottest thing to walk the earth. To tell you the truth, girl, it isn't far from the truth." She looked over at Linda. "You can doll this up, right?" She nodded towards Lacci. "I want her lookin' so good that it would bring Johnny here back to life!"
"Hey, that's not what your daddy said!" I whispered sounding offended.
As we were laughing, Linda and Lacci stared at us and shook their heads. We topped it off with a big kiss that stimulated parts of their brains that they were previously unaware of. I suspect we may have done that with or without being in love. I was always prepared to make any sacrifice for a laugh.


Author Notes Camp has been taken over by strangers. Christine and Johnny have decided to try and mount a rescue. Their dreams while interesting haven't proven to be of much value to them yet. Seeking any and all ideas and input. Flying blind. Far past the original story line. Thank you for your support and help! Mikey

Chapter 19
Plans Made and Set in Motion

By michaelcahill

In the previous installment Johnny and Christine returned to camp to find it overthrown by unknown individuals. The found Linda and Lacci in hiding and eventually Russell who had escaped. Carlos, Jen and Joe where tied up and held captive. Tonnie, Nathan and Rhonda were missing. Annie was deemed to be still loyal, but undercover as a member of the new camp. Plans for rescue were immediately planned. It was determined that they would take back their camp.

Carlos, Jen and the others couldn't have been in a better spot for rescue. They were right by a stand of trees and they provided excellent camouflage. Step one would be to alert the captives to our presence. The only variable happened to be the over exuberance of Russell. I feared that he might give us away. I could hear him exclaiming, "Look! It's Johnny. Everything's gonna' be okay now." We had to take that chance. The four of us couldn't take that camp by ourselves.
"Christine, I think we should have arms already in their hands before we make our move. We untie them, arm them and then send Lacci in. When they aren't looking, we attack."
Christine looked at Lacci and then at Linda and then at me. "We have it. No matter what happens, we are taking back our camp. One of us should go alone to survey the scene. Maybe get a head count. Maybe see where Tonnie, Nathan and Rhonda are. I'd say I would be the one."
I started to protest, but Christine met my protest with her eyes. That constituted our whole discussion right there. No need to go through all the steps that would result in the logical conclusion that she should be the one to go. I knew that. "Agreed."
It seemed like an eternity for me. I hadn't been away from Christine this long in months now. I realized that as I waited for her. We had spent every moment of this ordeal together. It also established the level of my love for her. I wanted nothing in the world, but her presence. That level had not been achieved in my life before. Somehow, I had to make it through whatever this disaster happened to be. But, maybe this came about because of the disaster. Would this have happened under normal circumstances? I didn't know if I should even be thinking about such things. Fortunately, a familiar sweet voice interrupted my train of thought.
"Ya miss me, Recon Johnny? I found some nice timberland for homesteadin'. Baby David could grow into a fine insane man there." Christine looked pleased with herself. She had Russell with her. "I found this handsome young gentleman wandering by the campsite. I think he had plans to take the camp over all by himself."
Russell had his usual smile brimming forth. It had to be in my top three favorite smiles. Christine held the top spot. Russell came in either number two or three depending on my Rosie Perez's availability at any given time. He had a smile that said, "I am smarter than you". It had an endearing quality because he wasn't and he didn't think he was.
"How did you escape, Russell?"
"It was easy, Johnny. I just kept wiggling my hands over and over and over until the rope got loose and then I shook it off my hands. I tried to help Carlos, but he said for me to get the hell out of there and find some help. He used the "F" word a lot. I asked him if he was mad at me and he said no and that I should get out of there and find help, but I couldn't find any help so, I was gonna rescue them myself and then Christine found me." He smiled as though he had done something wonderful. He had.
I wanted to get as many details as possible from him. "Think hard now Russell. Where are Tonnie, Nathan and Rhonda?"
"They got sent off into the woods. I haven't seen them. Carlos is hurt. He beat up some of them pretty bad, but they beat him up too. They beat up Jen too, but she got one of them real good. I think she killed him. Joe was asleep so they got him easy. I fought real good, but there was too many for me. I'm not hurt though. They're crazy, Johnny. Talkin' about outer space aliens like in a movie and stuff. Those planes flew over and they went crazy. Carlos told us what they were. I already knew that they were Stealth B-51 bombers. I have a model of one back in my room." He looked pleased with himself, but probably not as pleased with himself as I was with him.
"Okay then. Thank you very much, Russell. You have helped us big time. Anything else, Christine?"
"They look like they think they have it all totally under control. Jen knows we're here. I caught her eye. That saves a lot of risk and trouble. She nodded over at Annie seated over at the campfire and gave a thumbs up sign. I was surprised so I gave her thumbs up and nodded towards Annie and she shook her head "yes". So, I guess Annie's on board. Makes sense. They'd know about the weapons and tents, everything if she had turned on us. So, they're expecting us. Carlos looks messed up. I don’t think we can count on him, but the others will be ready. I say we go at sundown just like a western movie."
Everyone nodded their agreement, even Lacci looked determined. There were no doubts that I could detect anywhere.
"We have a few hours until it's time. I suggest we get in a little sleep. I'll take the first hour watch and then we'll trade off every hour until the sun goes down. And then we'll take back our camp in time for evening coffee." I looked at four determined faces that I had great faith in.
Linda shook me awake and I noticed the sun very low in the sky. It was getting close now. Christine motioned me to the side. I had something to tell her anyway.
"I'm glad you called me over. I had the damnedest dream. Transport planes dropping parachutes with huge packages attached to them. I know that they were supplies. There had to be a dozen of them scattered all over the valley here. ."
"That's what I called you over for, Johnny. You beat me to it though. I had that same dream. Now this dream, if it's real, you know, a prediction of the future, I think we should pay attention to it. After we're done taking our camp back. Johnny?"
"What is it?" Christine looked pensive.
"I want to make sure we're on the same page. Shoot to kill. I'm not losing you to these idiots. They asked for this. They have the numbers and we don't know their mindset. We may be in for a fight. We have to go in with no mercy. That isn't you, I know that. Make it you this once, okay?"
"Yes. I see what you mean. I know what has to be done. I know what's at stake. I won't let anyone down. I'm doing what has to be done."
We stood side by side and watched the sun slip behind half-dome. I had the feeling that we we're being watched. I had the feeling that there was some goodwill going along with us.
Lacci wandered into our camp barely dressed looking confused. "I'm lost. Can anybody help me?"
There seemed to be several true gentlemen in this group. Eight men immediately rose and came to assist her. The women held back I was assuming to prepare a suitable meal and find warm clothing for their new honored guests. We snuck in and untied Carlos, Jen and Joe and provided them with suitable weapons. We stuck to our plan of stealth though not an eye was looking in our direction. Annie scooped up Sprinkles and provided a further distraction to the women folk just in case they didn't find Lacci and the interest of the men all that interesting.
Carlos caught my eye and nodded in the affirmative. He was indicating that he intended to participate regardless of his condition. I could see it in his eyes, it wasn't up for discussion. We all picked a target and moved forward. We'd give them about two seconds to surrender. If they didn't we wouldn't hesitate. They had no idea that we were approaching. But, they weren't the only men there.
Annie yelled out, "behind you!"
Christine and I turned, the others fired.

Author Notes Out on a limb and sawing on the branch. Not sure if I am on the right side of it. Great input and suggestions. Anything to offer? It is appreciated. I am behind in answering reviews, but I read every single one and am very grateful. Trying to get caught up. Thank you for every word, mikey

Chapter 20
The Battle & Maybe Some Supplies

By michaelcahill

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Previously Christine and Johnny found Linda and Lacci and made plans to take back their camp. Though out numbered they had the element of surprise and a distraction in the form of Lacci their beautiful comrade. Annie was on the inside to offer help as well. We left the story just as Lacci showed up in camp and Johnny and the others approached quietly ready to attack. We join the story now just after Annie has shouted a warning that there is danger coming from behind them.

Annie yelled out, "behind you!"
Christine and I turned, the others fired.

I could hear the action behind my now which consisted of screams, running and shouting. It was a maze of voices some of them familiar and some of them not. Names I knew and names I didn't punctuated whatever happened behind me.
"Mary, I'm hit, oh God!" 
All of this to the wooshing sounds of arrows and thudding sounds of blows struck as well as bodies hitting the ground. There were moans of agony and shouts of conquest. All of this ran through my brain unasked for as Christine and I faced seven armed men rushing towards us from the direction of the river. As I drew my gun I watched one of them stumble. Christine had already fired. He looked like a runner at the end of a long race that had run out of gas and couldn't muster the final steps to reach the finish line. I took aim and hit my target but he didn't fall. He continued to advance, holding his arm.
I looked to Christine who must have sensed the situation in the same way I did. Our eyes locked for a moment to say goodbye. She smiled and pulled back her bow and fired as I took a shot myself. I was sure we would both fall in the next instant. The six men had stopped to take aim. Our final shots were in the air. I had read about time slowing down in an extreme crisis. It displayed itself to me right there in that moment.
I took one last look at Christine. She stood there as if posing for a statue to be immortalized, the perfect female, fearless and endless of heart and courage. She embodied every good thing that a woman carried within them, everything that a man spent a lifetime trying to emulate. I Saw one man receive her final arrow straight and true directly in his chest. He looked only mildly surprised and a little amused. He didn't get his final shot off.
I saw the man next to him jump back as though he were falling into a heated swimming pool at a fancy hotel that he couldn't afford. An arrow whizzed by me from behind. It surprised me. I hadn't considered the possibility of help, but it didn't seem to find a target. Another man fell forward with a look of shock as all movement ceased in his body. "Timber" I thought to myself as he fell forward. I was surprised that something silly would enter my mind at such a time.
Another man dove for the ground while the previously wounded man dropped to his knees with his hands thrust over his head. It was too late as an arrow pierced his chest. A man running towards the river tripped over an imaginary object and fell face forward unmoving.
Time returned to normal. I looked behind me; I saw nothing but familiar faces. I watched Christine running forward to greet some old friends. She planted a big sloppy kiss right on Lester's mouth. I had the feeling it might've been the most action he had seen in a long time. I headed in that direction. Little did he know that there was more to come.
Lester and Jonesy had big smiles on their faces. Lester spoke to me with his hands up, as if to ward me off.
"I'm as affectionate as the next guy Johnny, I thinks yer lady heres done gived me all the lovin' I could handle fer one day." He laughed and I'll be damned if he wasn't blushing.
"She's a handful my friend." I extended my hand and shook his. I pulled him forward into a bear hug. "Damn, you look mighty handsome all of a sudden! Talk about puttin' the U.S. Cavalry to shame. I thought we were done for."
"Yous two looked like you was a takin' care of business ta me. But, no sense takin' no chances. Ma said y'all might need a little boost considerin' how many of them there was."
I looked around at the scene. Russell had taken an arrow in the leg, but it was bandaged and, of course, it wasn't enough to take the smile off his face. Jen had some bruises and Carlos looked as bad as he did at the beginning, but not worse. Everyone was alive and accounted for. Our clients were missing; we'd have to see about that later. There were seven dead and six wounded amongst the enemy. There were another eight being held as prisoners. That totaled fourteen people we had to decide what to do with.
Christine walked up, put her arm around my waist, and gave me a little squeeze. She had lost all of her cat like attitude and had returned to her usual playful carefree self. Had I not witnessed her in action It would be hard to believe what a formidable foe she could make. Having her on my side was a good thing. Having her by my side, considerably better.
Carlos had decided to get some information out of our prisoners. He had singled out a man not to much larger than I was. He called him Turner. I didn't know if that was a first name or last. I assumed that Carlos had observed the camp and knew him to be the leader. Turner had been wounded, but not gravely. He had an arrow through the shoulder and someone had landed some heavy blows to his face. His wounds had been attended to by one of the ladies from his group that appeared to have some skills.
"How many more of you are there? Where is your camp? You're going to answer or you die and I ask the next guy. This isn't civilization here Turner. You get the same mercy you showed me and a pregnant female." Carlos clearly had vengeance in him that wasn't completely fed yet.
"I'm telling you. There's nothing at our camp. This is everybody. Some of these people I don't even know. They followed us in. It's a rat's nest out there. There aren't camps. There are just people running around killing each other trying to survive. That's all we're trying to do. What gives you they right to…."
Carlos answered that with a hard slap to the face. "I'm asking the questions. You attacking me and my friends gives me the right to take you out. What should I do with you? Send you on your way so you can plan your next attack? I know what you'd do in my position. What do you suggest I do?"
"Look. We all need to work together. We'll all end up dead. We need to form some kind of government. Some kind of authority. It's nothing but madness now. You might as well kill me now. You send us out there we die anyway. The dreams say there might be help. Are we going to kill each other when there might be help coming. The dreams give us hope."
Carlos looked confused. "The dreams? What in hell are you talking about?"
Christine stepped up. "He's talking about the dreams that some of us have been having. Dreams that seem to be put in our heads about what happened and might be happening now. Did you see the black planes that flew over?"
Carlos shifted in place. "Stealth Bombers."
Christine rolled her eyes. "Yes, secret spy planes or whatever. Johnny and I both saw those in a dream and so did Lester here. It looks like we're not the only ones having these dreams. Now this fool is talking about them too. He's talking about a dream we had of big fat planes dropping off…."
I took over, "Cargo planes, Carlos. Dropping off huge packages of who knows what. We're guessing that they could be supplies to help us get by until we're rescued. But, hell, trust isn't something that I have in any great measure for our beloved government. Stealth Bombers. So what? Who's flying them? But, we dreamt about the bombers and there they were. Can we assume some packages are going to be dropped? Yeah, I think we can. We should at least plan to see what is in them."


Author Notes Rolling along. Any thoughts or ideas? Out on a limb sawing on the wrong side of the branch. Wheeee! Great input and thoughts that are most appreciated. Am I heading in the right direction or off a cliff? mikey

Chapter 21
Hostages and Cargo Drops

By michaelcahill

Previously, Johnny led the takeover of their camp with some help from Ma and the boys. The dreams of cargo planes delivering supplies was revealed. What to do with the newly acquirred hostages as well was another issue. We continue on no as Carlos responds to Johnny's comments.

Carlos thought for a minute. "Okay, but if what this jackass is saying is true, it isn't safe going out there. We need to be armed and dangerous and ready for anything. That brings me back to this idiot and these fools. What do we do with them? We can't just let them go."
"Why don't we all get to talkin' and come up with some kinda agreement. All of us killin' each other don't make a lick of sense ta me." Ma sounded sensible as could be amidst all the tense voices.
I didn't even know that Ma had come down with the boys. I made the introduction.
"Everyone, this is Dora Lee. Everyone calls her Ma. She's our friend. She's a smart lady and I think we should listen to what she has to say. After all, things may not have turned out like they did if she hadn't sent the boys her to our aid."
Ma wasn't the least bit shy about taking center stage.
"I sees it all. I sees Johnny and his lady and your group here with a little order gettin' on pretty well. But, y'all ain't a payin any 'tention to what's 'round ya. Y'all layin' here sleepin' whilst these yokels come up and take ya. They coulda kilt ya all had theyda mind to. Now this Turner feller here, he's a just tryin' to save his own cowardly skin. But, that don't mean that what he's a sayin' aint truth. Me an the boys here can go home and be as safe as a virgin at a chess tournament. That don't help nuthin'. We's tired of havin' to be on guard all day and night. Let's get together and bring some civilization back to this situation."
Carlos looked skeptical. "How are we supposed to trust these people?"
Ma had a ready answer. "Stop yer playin' then and kill them all right now. Do that or come to an understandin'. Can't ya see it son. Them's the choices. Kill em all or learn to live with em."
The sound of engines grew louder overhead. The sky filled with parachutes. Attached to each parachute was a large package. The packages varied in shape and size. They appeared to be of substantial size. There were dozens and dozens of them. They were being dropped everywhere, just like in our dreams. The time for decisions had arrived.
Everyone paused to consider the sight of parachutes dropping into Yosemite National Park. Getting to one or more of those packages had to be number one on our list of priorities.
Ma spoke again. "Johnny? What are you going to do? Folks is already a runnin' to gets themselves some of whatever's in them bundles there."
"I can't just release these people and let them mingle here with us. They're not my problem and they're not going to be my problem. Tie em up for now. Christine and I check out the bundles and the rest of you guard them. We'll come back and tell you what's up and then we'll make a plan. Any thoughts?"
Carlos spoke, "That's fine with me. I'm not ready to let these people roam around free, not after they just tried to kill us all. We can talk. We'll talk with them tied up where we can keep an eye on them. What about that, Ma?"
"That's all up to y'all. I've said my piece. We have our own business ta tend to. Y'all stay out of trouble now. I'm tellin' ya. Y'all's gonna have ta talk. Talk or kill each other. That's the choice. Let me speek at ya, Johnny."
I stepped over to Ma and we strolled off away from the group.
"What is it, Ma?"
"You gotta convince them to make peace with these folks, Johnny. Killin' em all ain't gonna do ya a licka good. Ya needs some numbers. They's numbers. They might be a heap better'n whatever else wanders in. Tie em up, lets em stew on it a spell. I see that. Make yer spyin run. When ya gets back ya needs ta make the peace. We's up there if'n ya needs us. We'll signal if'n we needs you. Can we count on ya?"
"Yes. What's the signal?"
"It'll be loud. Can't miss it. Just in case. We'll keep an eye on ya. Jest be smart."
With that, Ma signaled the boys. Lester and Jonesy took off in the direction of the packages and Ma and the rest of the boys headed towards home. Christine and I took off too. I looked back; Carlos and Jen were both watching the crowd of people that were captured in the battle. There didn't look like any fight was left in them.
Our attention quickly turned to the matter at hand. It felt like we were in the wilderness. We heard voices coming from everywhere. We started to see people as well. We took to cover. These people strolled along as though they were shopping in the mall.
"Johnny, have you seen anyone armed? So far, I haven't. These people are strolling along like a day in the park. I don't get it. They should be in dire straits."
I agreed. They weren't acting like anything I expected. "Christine, I'd swear these people were wasted. Look, I don't know what those planes dropped on us, but I say we be careful. These people are just wandering around. That guy curled up by the tree doesn't look like he's getting up. You watch me for any signs. I'll watch you. Could be in the air. I remember those people dropping like flies. Caution rules the day."
She just nodded. She smiled as always without fear. "Let's see where they came from. They're all coming from over that little ridge beyond that giant redwood. Let's check it out."
I nodded in the affirmative and we began to make our way there. Though I doubt anyone we saw on the way would have cared, we nonetheless kept off the path and out of view. At the top of the ridge, we looked out from behind an ancient redwood to a curious scene. There was a giant open container full of supplies with at least twenty people lying on the ground near it scattered about. They appeared uninjured. A couple were moving, writhing would be the word. The rest appeared dead. There were another seven or eight wandering around picking things up and walking in circles.
It was a dilemma. There were supplies down there. But, could we safely go down there and check them out. It sure didn't look like it. It looked like the drops were a lure to draw people in and poison them. But, what was in the boxes. That was the key to the risk. I guess we would have an answer soon enough. One of the semi-conscious people, an older gentleman was walking right towards us. Did he see us? I'm not sure he saw anything. He came to within five feet of us and stopped. He sat the package down and laid down beside it. He passed out within seconds.

I walked over and picked the package up. It read, "Kellogg's Cornflakes on the blue and white label that we noticed attached to the side. I could see that the box held nothing the second I picked it up. I opened it just to verify that. They had dropped off nothing. Who they were would be interesting to know.

Invaders that had over-run our country? Or, as I suspected, was it our own government stabbing us in the back? We had to get back and tell the others. I wish I knew where Lester and Jonesy were. Well, that would have to wait. Things were worse than we thought. This wasn't a rescue; this was an attack. 


Author Notes Rolling along. Thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am behind terribly in responses. I have read them all, but the site and my own internet provider keeps crashing. I truly appreciate your support, so please be patient. mikey

Chapter 22
Bigger Enemies, More Friends

By michaelcahill

Previously, Johnny and Christine had a close call and had to decide what to do with hostages taken when the camp was retaken. As the debate continued the large cargo planes that had been dreamt of began dropping packages into the forest. Christine and Johnny went to investigate and were surprised to discover it was a deadly set-up designed to kill as many people as possible, They encountered Lester and an injured Jonesy on the way back to camp. It was clear that they would have to rally everyone together to fight against a common enemy. We pick up the story now as They return to camp.

"Damn it Christine. It is all a scam, even the dreams. What the hell is the point, continuing to come after us? We're already wiped out. What threat do we pose? There's every possibility that we'll destroy ourselves. Why the helping hand?"
"It's hatred, Johnny. What else could it be? Twin Towers. That's political? That's the will of God? Not any God that I have studied. And I have studied them all. How can your enemy be a stranger? Along with hatred comes arrogance. Real arrogance, Johnny, the kind that thinks that they are better than you are. They believe that. That's their downfall. That's their fatal mistake. By considering themselves superior, they become inferior."
Nothing ever sounded so sensible to me. But, now, what to do about it. Ma had said it right as rain. There could be no question about it now. We had to put aside everything and become one entity here. The thought of it made me tremble. Looking at the chaos around me didn't inspire confidence. The enemy, unknown enemy I should say, had just struck a lethal blow and it had been a deadly one. It wouldn't be possible at this time to even know the full effect. Just then, I saw a familiar face.
"Lester! Over here!" I blew our cover. It was a chance I had to take. Lester walked along trying to stay out of view, I could see that, but Jonesy could barely walk and had his arm over Lester's shoulder for support. We ran to their side. There was no danger from any of the walking wounded here anyway. Stealth wasn't a skill in great need at the moment.
"I shoulda known it would be you a wakin' the dead. I gotta say you's a lookin' pretty handsome to me as the sayin' goes." Lester managed a weary smile. "It's a mess Johnny boy. But, I reckin' you knows that already. Jonesy here got into it with a couple fellers on the way in. They wasn't too pleased to make his acquaintance as it turns out. They's not havin' to worry bout none of this no more. Saved us as it turns out. Kinda hobbled up Jonesy's leg a bit. We showed up late for the party. They's a droppin' like flies when we showed up. Booby-trapped. The ones openin' the crate dead right there. The ones nearby took a spell longer. The ones a little farther out got powerful sick and looked like a drunk possum climbin' a woodin' leg."
That was more than Christine could take. She burst out with some insane laughter right there on the spot.
"A drunk possum climbing a wooden leg! HAAAA! HEEEEE! Nothin' worse than a tree with only one branch!" She was on the ground delighted with the whole idea.
The rest of us couldn't resist joining her. I noticed a couple of somber men approaching and started to get up to intercept them, but one look at us and they took off running. That proved equally funny to me. Eventually the laughter died down and we were faced with the reality of the situation. It surprised me that Lester and Jonesy looked to me to begin. "Leader" never struck me as a title that came naturally to me. But, it seemed to somehow end up as my title on a regular basis.
"Ma had it to a tee, Lester. That's the plan. Not just the people in camp. All of these people, every damn one we can find and convince. Someone want's to wipe us off the face of the earth. That's what we know. That's all we know. There can be no doubt that it is bigger than that. Well, we can't worry about that now. We have to worry about what we have in front of us right here. These dreams wherever they come from are deliberate. But, maybe we can use them. We know that they are lies. We'll keep that in mind. Perhaps the day will come when we can turn their trick against them. The priority is survival. Survival of all of us. That means all of these people walking around here. If they don't have a clue we have to give them one."
Everyone looked in agreement.

Christine looked concerned. "We have to be as careful as hell, Johnny. We need to be in charge, but Christ, that isn't easy, not with this many people and a bunch of strangers on top of it. No one knows anyone else or has any reason to trust anyone else. There are going to be problems. This isn't going to be Shangri La. You're going to have to be strict. It isn't your nature, but if you're not, it's gonna unravel. You need to put people in charge of security and your military. This is war now. Life and death. We don't know who the enemy is. We need to find out and we need to destroy them. How? I don't know. But, I know this, as it stands right now, we are ducks in a barrel."
"I think that's fish in a barrel." I smiled.
"No. Fish could swim around a little bit. Ducks are already drowning." She smiled back, one of those dazzle the world smiles.
Jonesy moaned in low tones. He was in obvious pain. The lady that had bandaged up Turner and tended to his wounds came to mind. She took on a new significance to me. Head of medical operations came to mind.
"We have a nurse back at camp that can look at that and get you some relief. Let's get back there while we still have some daylight." Everyone moved at the sound of my voice. Somehow, that brought a weary sigh out of me.
We arrived in camp to a scene I hadn't expected. Carlos and Turner were huddled up by the stand of trees in an animated discussion. He wasn't bound and it was clear he was no longer a hostage. In fact, there were no longer any hostages. The camp buzzed with activity. Ma and her whole clan were there and a good number of people that I didn't recognize.
Linda and Jen were sights for sore eyes. They would be integral moving forward. These were true skilled and fearless warriors. Linda had leadership ability too. She had surprised me by speaking up and taking charge more than once. "General Lionheart Linda" and "Jaguar Jen", I thought to myself and smiled.
Several people were on the ground being treated. It looked like an army camp. All eyes were on us as we arrived on the scene. To be honest, all eyes were on me. It didn't suit me, but the responsibility had become familiar to me. I faced the crowd to address them,
"It is clear that some news of recent events has already preceded our arrival. Gather round, let me recap and I will tell you what we have discovered and what we believe our plan should be. Then we need to know what you think. The supply drop was a disguised attack. It was disguised to draw as many people as possible to achieve the maximum number of kills." A long pause right there. The sound of the word "kills" needed to be etched in everyone's brain.
Feeling that they had dwelled on that long enough, "There were no supplies, only empty boxes to entice hungry desperate people to their death. Upon opening the bundles, poisonous gases of an unknown nature were released. Those in the immediate vicinity were killed outright and those close by soon thereafter. Those a little farther away became quite ill and there fate is unknown. We saw many individuals walking in a dazed state." Once again, a long pause. The horror needed to be ingested deep within each of them.
Again, enough time had passed, "We have been attacked by unknown forces with the intent of wiping every last one of us off the face of the earth. We are at war! Whatever differences we have had with each other are now resolved. Look to your right and then look to your left. These are your brothers and these are your sisters. We are together now, one force, for each other, standing by each other, without any hesitation. Are you with me?"
"Yes!" They all shouted together with surprising conviction.


Author Notes Do you like this direction? Open to ideas as always. Loving all the excellent input. Thank you so much. mikey

Chapter 23
A Ready Militia and Dreams

By michaelcahill

Previously, Johnny and Christine witnessed a fake food drop which lured many to their deaths as the packages were rigged with a letal poison of some kind. Survivors began to congregate at the camp and organize now that they had a common enemy. Johnny gave a speech to the congregated group of people to rally them. We join the story as he finishes his speech with a call to arms. The response surprises him. 

These are your brothers and these are your sisters. We are together now, one force, for each other, standing by each other, without any hesitation. Are you with me?"
"Yes!" They all shouted together with surprising conviction.

"Are you with me?"
"Yes!" Even louder. My God, it thrilled me to the bone.
"To victory!" I threw my fist into the air. What possessed me, who can say? It was well received.
I joined Christine who hugged me tightly. She curtsied and spoke, "Well done, mine liege."
I gave her a big kiss and smiled. "I was happy being your Queen."
Christine's laughter mixed in beautifully with the cheers and togetherness of our newly formed little conclave. "The United State of Yosemite" I thought to myself. There was no real call for all of this good cheer. However, it didn't hurt anything, and it served to send a message to all that could hear or see that a stand would be made. We would not lay down and die. We would fight.
What once we tried to keep as our own private secret now became lit up like a Christmas tree and shined like a beacon for all to see. A surprising number of people came from all over Yosemite drawn by the bright lights that must have spelled hope in the darkness that had enshrouded everyone for so long. All were greeted with open arms. Many brought supplies and tools. Most brought skills as well, nurses, doctors, soldiers and construction experts.
Winter approached and became an additional enemy. Attention turned to shelter. Yosemite had wood, but, other than the small cave that Ma and her boys had found, little else in the way of shelter. There were some cabins that were easily taken down and rebuilt closer to camp. Things progressed rapidly and camp began to take shape.
Small game and fish began to become more plentiful and even some large game on occasion. Within three weeks a large functioning community had formed. For Christine, Lester, myself, and three other people in camp a waiting game had begun. We anticipated another dream. We were at the ready for anything, but there was no reason to assume that the enemy would abandon a successful a working tactic.
Christine looked a little pensive as she pulled me to the side. "What did you dream about last night?"
"I dreamt you were wearing a vanilla ice cream night gown and that you asked me if I'd like to make a banana split."
”Normally, Johnny, I'd respond with something outrageous and superior in humorous construction, but I'm serious. What did you dream about?" She wasn't smiling.
"I didn't dream Christine. At least that I can remember. I'm aware that I did dream. But, I have no idea what it was about. I didn't have one of those dreams, if that's what you mean."
Christine just started talking. "That is what I mean. I didn't exactly either. I had one of my dreams. I had one more detailed than any I've ever had. I think that they have stimulated whatever I had going on there. I'm getting bits and pieces of things. Just pictures really. This is just between us. I think that we've been invaded. No one is in charge. There's nothing but, mini wars in different parts of the country. Everything is cut off from everything else. Here it is Russian, coming through Alaska down through Canada, Washington, Oregon and Down Northern California. They're small, but they have weapons. Look. None of this is a fact. These are dreams and visions and I don't know what I'm seeing and what my mind is making up. But, from experience, I can tell you that this is based on something that is real. So, in a general way, it's real. You have to believe me."
I knew about her dreams. We had talked, a lot. "I know enough to believe you. But, no one else will. Okay, we keep it to ourselves. I listen and react. We make our plan and I make it look like everybody's plan. That's the idea. If they knew, they would not believe a word of it." My attention became drawn to a commotion.
The sight of soldiers entering camp created quite a stir to say the least. We were at the ready. All of our defenses were focused and trained on them and their approach had been noticed from a long distance off. I thought back to Average Joe and his tale of the botched rescue attempt. I motioned to Christine and Carlos.
"I think these are the soldiers that Average, I mean the Joe that died a while back followed out of his camp. They have to have some good information. I doubt they're hostile. They look pretty beat to me. Those weapons are an improvement over our little arsenal that's for sure. Let's go great them."
We all went to great them. They seemed relieved at our friendly greeting. I imagine that the last few weeks had been an ordeal. It had been for all of us.
"This is Carlos, marines, Christine and I'm Johnny. We constitute the leadership here such as it is." I extended my hand.
"Sgt. Fransen, Sir. This here's Private Vaugn, Private Jefferson and this is Corporal Corcoran, he's a munitions expert." He maintained a military mode, but it seemed more out of obligation than anything. I had the impression that he felt like he had to. I appreciated that quality in him.
"Munitions huh? That sounds good for Fourth of July if we're still around. Well, Sgt., we're informal here. We're still figuring things out. Those weapons are a big step up from what we have. Carlos, Turner, and a couple of the others have military background. I'm a pacifist, but that doesn't mean I don't want to wipe out the enemy in an efficient military manner." I gave him my best "I'm tougher than I look" smile.
That last remark seemed to put them all at ease. The tension seemed to drain out of their bodies and they left with Carlos to discuss things. Carlos would get back to me with what he discovered. I figured that I'd let him have first crack at them since he spoke their language. I was anxious, but I didn't want to overwhelm them. I'd give them an hour. Maybe half an hour.
After about fifteen minutes Christine, Linda and I joined Carlos, Turner and Ma in conversation with Sgt. Fransen.
I asked Turner where the other soldiers had gone. He replied, "They wanted to get settled in and get some food in them. They didn't know anything that Louis here doesn't know. Best to let them get acquainted right off I figure." When he said Louis, he nodded to Sgt. Fransen. Good, I thought. Titles bothered me. The sooner those terms were forgotten the better.
I thought about Christine's dream. "I'm guessing since we are so far north, that the enemy is Russian. dropping down through Alaska. Is that how it's going down? Just a theory."
Louis looked surprised. "That's right sir. I must say that's a helluva guess…"
"No sirs here, Louis. Just Johnny. "Sir" makes me feel like a grown-up." I smiled.
"Yes, sir, Johnny. I mean, ah, Johnny. They were just taking advantage of the situation. Anything north of here is safe so to speak. If you don't mind, getting shot that is.  But, as far as the biological weapons and the nuclear fallout goes, it's virtually untouched from about a hundred miles north of here and up to the pole. The capitol is there, Johnny, in Salem. But, it's like an oasis. The road there is dangerous. It's not the United States. There are terrorist's and some of them are citizens groups too. They're not all foreign. The East Coast is the same way and a good part of the south. Pockets of civilization surrounded by chaos."
"Is there a country? What about the government?"
"Yeah. There is some kind of government, I guess. That is what they call it. The United States. I'm supposed to be a United States Air Force Sgt. Am I? Hell, to tell you the truth, I don't know."


Author Notes It seems that there may be a common enemy that unites all of the survivors now. They begin to organize. They still remain in the dark with little information. There are some dreams, but they are of little value so far. Any thoughts or ideas? All input welcome. Loving all your help. Thank you so much. mikey

Chapter 24
Plans, Hostages and More Hostages

By michaelcahill

Previously, camp began to fill up and become organized as a common enemy was now known to exist. Even a few American soldiers wandered in having been stranded in a botched rescue attempt. What appeared to be Russian soldiers have been spotted advancing on their position and plans for an ambush are under way. Johnny and Christine prepare to discuss things privately as we continue on with the story.

I caught Christine's eye. We excused ourselves.
"You are on to something, Christine. I'm not sure how we can use it. But, you are tapping into something that I'm sure they don't want you to see. Russians. Damn. It's like the sixties again. I still don't get what the hell they want with us or this I suppose. This is what they want, the land. I suppose it beats Siberia."
"I wish I knew more, Johnny. It isn't much of a help. But, knowing there is a real enemy and that there might be a real country. Those are things to know, aren't they?" She looked content as she put her arms around me. I was content. I had what I needed from the world.
"Johnny, They're coming. I can see them. We have to get ready." I've never seen her look more serious.
Just then Lester came running up to me. "They's a comin right down the road pretty's ya please. They's armed too. A good number of um. It's a turkey shoot. They hasn't a hoot owl's toot what's a gonna greet um. They's a strollin' a long lookin' up at the purdy trees."
I caught Linda's eye. She looked over and I gave her the signal. It consisted of two crossed arms above the head. She nudged Carlos who jumped into action. He started with Louis, filling him in, I assume, on our system of silent alerts.

Within a few moments, the entire camp had turned into a military operation. Virtually every straggler, on a stroll or relaxing by the river, had returned, ready for action. Amazement would be the word to describe seeing our plans actually come to fruition. I took the squad leaders to the side and told them the situation. We agreed on an ambush site. They returned to formation.

I nodded my head. Each squad leader took their squad off to explain the situation and plan of action. Within minutes, the camp emptied and the woods became filed with our militia. "Ready or not, here we come." I thought to myself.
We moved through the forest like visible ghosts ready to disappear at the slightest sound. Did your eyes really see something? Well, there is nothing there now. You must be mistaken. The squad leaders had done an amazing job. The seriousness of the situation permeated the psyches of each soldier, and that is what they were, that advanced forward as one body.

My squad, the recon squad, led the way far out in front and not visible to anyone. They knew we were out here though. Hopefully, only they knew.
I nudged Christine and she gave the sign to hunker down. I heard movement up ahead, a lot of it. I looked at Christine and she shook her head, "No".
I sidled up to her. "By no, you mean this isn't what you saw?"
"That's right. I don't know what this is. More survivors. Other enemies. Could be anything. You hear that voice? I know you recognize that." She had a half-smile on her face.
It had to be Rhonda. I couldn't make out what she might be saying, but it couldn't be anyone else. No one chattered away like her. "Yep. It’s her alright. But, dammit. Who is she with? Her good buddies? Or, is she a hostage to some equally unstable folk, but with weapons and a bad temper?"
"You and me?" She caught my eye and nodded answer. She gave the signal to the rest of our team to remain. We slipped down closer to the noisy bunch, unseen, as far as we knew.
Rhonda stood out like a talking sore thumb. I laughed at my own silly thought, as Cristine chastised me sweetly, with rolling eyes. In any case, there stood Rhonda, talking to no one that had any awareness of it, just like she would had we been at home watching television.
"Survivors." Christine looked concerned. I understood her reasoning.
I realized the dilemma. "What do we do with them? They can only be trouble. That's all I need is Rhonda announcing our approach to the Rooskies." I had a Slim Pickens movie flashback, knowing full well that Christine wouldn't know what I was referring to. No one would for that matter.
"As long as you don't spill any of your precious bodily fluids, you'll be okay, Johnny. But, it would be inconvenient." She smiled, knowing how shocked I would be that she got the reference.
I gave her my most "I love you, look at these sweet-puppy-dog-blue-eyes" look and said in my most fake-sexy-man voice, "Nuthin' spillin' love donut, this pastry man is ready to dunk!" We both managed to keep our insane laughter completely inside of ourselves. It couldn't be more clear what drew us together. I wondered what schtick I would come up with on my death bed?
"Damn, Johnny. Now what?."
"Christ. Go back and get the rest of the team. Send two runners back to advise the others of the situation. This could be a miracle. They are walking right into our trap and we didn't even set one."
Christine gave me a quick peck and didn't say a word. She flew towards the rest of the guys with the news. The Russians had arrived and taken hostages. They had stumbled upon the little group we were observing. The looked just as surprised as the group did. It was only superior weaponery that won the day for the Russians.

They had weapons and Rhonda's little group, didn't. They put up no struggle anyway. I hoped our people arrived in a hurry. Our little recon team might have to go into action without them. It didn't look like a prisoner round up. It looked like they were rounding them up to execute them.
These were not disciplined soldiers. Rhonda was literally all over them. Some were responding too. I assume the higher ups didn't like that. They knocked Rhonda to the ground and shoved the soldiers back into some kind of order. The scene was chaotic. I had my hand on my gun. I couldn't do anything so stupid though. I had to wait.

"Come one dammit! They're going to do something! Hurry." I tried to will them speed in my mind. Christine and the remaining six of our team arrived. Linda, Jen, Turner, and three other gentlemen whose names I'm sorry to say I couldn't recall. More than competent though. One carried an AK47. That was a big improvement over my Glock.  

The recon team was the best squad in our little militia. It had to be. We were at the front of the front. Everyone told me I shouldn't be part of it. Ha! Like I wouldn't be where Christine would be. Dream on people.
We poised there twitching with anticipation. I knew at the slightest sign of aggression we would go, back-up or not. Go and hope the cavalry would arrive in time. We weren't exactly pure military types. We couldn't watch a slaughter just because it was the smart thing to do.
I could see more covering just south of us. I motioned for the team to try and sneak over to it. That would put us within a few feet of the Russian soldiers, if we could make it there unseen. We would have surprise to be sure.
We made it to a thick stand of trees with overgrown vegetation that provided perfect covering. I could've reached out and grabbed one of those fur hats right off of one of their heads.  The Russians had constructed a kind of portable shelter that appeared to be shelter for the higher ups. I pointed it out to the others. That would be our target. Cut off the head and the snake would wiggle or some such wisdom that escaped me at the moment. 


Author Notes Things are getting complicated as outside influences are filtering in. The world is in chaos and the campers have little information. They have to be ready for anything. Input and suggestions are always welcome and considered very seriously. Thank you for your great support. Most appreciated. I truly would be lost without it. mikey

The "Rooskies" and the dialogue about precious bodily fluids come from the movie Dr. Strangelove from way back in the day. Just think of a movie that a couple would have in common and exchange a couple inappropriate lines from. Donna and I would probably quote "Silence of the Lambs"!!

Chapter 25
Asylum and Prayers

By michaelcahill

Previously, our militia came upon Russians as they captured a group of survivors without a struggle. Johnny and Christine led the recon group and went ahead of the group and discovered them. Johnny sent Christine to get the rest of the group in case they had to act immediately. We continue with the story now as the group is poised to strike. They prefer to wait for the rest of their forces to arrive, but the hostages that the Russians have taken might be executed and action my have to be taken immediately. We join the story now as the scene unfolds.

Several of the prisoners were being lined up. We had signals worked out for almost everything. My hand shot up with the fist closed. "Ready!" They were more than ready. One finger pointed at the officer nearest my position quickly pulled down and across my throat. All eyes were on me. As one they all nodded in the affirmative. My shot would be like the starter pistol at a sprint. Ready. Set. Hopefully, we could manage a stand off until our back up arrived. I looked at Christine. Not a bit of fear, just a smile and a darling wink. Did I mention that I loved her. I took careful aim. I think it was the commander of this group. I squeezed the trigger. I wanted to tell my squad that each and every last one of them would be receiving commendations regardless of race, creed or color, but their wasn't time. Go! I dropped my target in the mid-sentence. The people talking to him froze in shock. My people had them at knife and arrow point before they could draw another breath.
The nearest soldier to me felt my hand grasp his neck and the pressure of steel against his head. "English? Who speaks English?" I added a suitably insane expression for emphasis.

No doubt they had the impression that I would keep firing until someone yelled, "Nyet!", but in English of course.
A female voice shouted out something in Russian. It was Linda. I laughed out loud. I didn't bother to ask if she spoke Russian to my credit. "What did you say?"
"I told them you were crazy. I told them someone better learn English or there would be a lot of dead Russians here." Linda smiled.
"Sir, I speak English. Nikolai Volkov. You have no chance. We don't wish our comrades killed, but you will not take over our whole camp in this manner."
The man trembling in my grasp said something that sounded official. Nikolai looked deranged. I turned to Linda. "What did he say."
He said, "We still shoot traitors."
Nikolai deranged expression quickly turned to anger and his anger to disgust. He approached my captive speaking in animated Russian. I didn't ask for a translation. Without losing eye contact with my hostage he said, "Blow his head back to Mother Russia."
A shot rang out followed by a burst of fire and the whoosh of an arrow. Two bodies hit the ground motionless. Nikolai wheeled and shouted what sounded like a command in Russian. Weapons raised at the ready returned to a more relaxed, but still at the ready position. Linda already aimed another arrow. Her captive froze in terror, though no longer even guarded by her. The thought was enough. The soldier with the AK47 was in full battle mode.
"At ease." It was the only military sounding phrase that occurred to me at that moment. "Christ!", I thought, "I'm glad I didn't say parade rest or quote a commercial for marine recruitment…the few, the proud, the Marines!" I laughed. Christine snickered. The tension level in my people reduced, but the fear level in our hostages increased ten-fold.
"Nikolai. Here's the situation. Our troops are already deployed. This is an ambush. You're lucky it went down like this. We were just going to wipe out your invading party. You best tell these ladies here to lay there weapons down or we can started now." I gave him my best Clint Eastwood "I hope you let me start shooting everyone soon" look."
Nikolai surveyed the situation. He looked at Christine and quickly looked away as he sensed my disapproval. He paused at Linda a bit, in deserved awe. He considered our soldier and his AK47 steady and at the ready. He cast arrows of fiery hatred towards the man I still had at gunpoint.
He turned and faced the tense crowd. He spoke briefly in Russian and turned to face me. As he began to speak, the Russian soldiers each put their firearms on the ground in front of them and stepped back placing their hands on top of their heads. The hostages we had all slowly dropped to their knees except for my defiant one. A squeeze of his carotoid artery put him in position quickly.
Nikolai spoke to me, "I formerly request asylum for me and my men in…in this paradise. I suggest you dispose of this one. He dreams of spooning naked with Putin."
As always, our adventures seemed to end with Christine bursting into insane laughter and her minions, including Nikolai, joining in unable to resist her magical powers.
Our troops arrived in the nick of time to find us rounding up the Russian soldiers and making plans with Nikolai to assimilate our new arrivals into the group. Sometimes luck lends itself to legend in the most fortunate of ways. I could imagine a campfire in these very woods a hundred years from now with a mom and dad telling this tale by the campfire.

Smiling, my imagination took over, "It was back in the dark times kids. The only hope for the world then was Recon Johnny, leader of a rag tag group of forest dwellers. There were the Amazon Archers, Christine and Linda. It is said that if you looked into their eyes that mortal women would never satisfy you again. There was Red Dog Ronnie. He was the most steely-eyed soldier that ever carried an AK47 into battle. It is said that he still roams the forest lookin' for kids that don't mind their parents, ready to jump from behind a tree at any time and say: BEDTIME KIDS OR I SHOOT!"
Well, no time for my fantasy world at the moment. We had to get back to camp and sort this out. I nudged Christine, "No more sleeping for you, Darlin'."
"Oh?" she leaned into me. "You makin' promises or just braggin' again Recon Johnny?" She smiled and blushed, but only inside.
I smiled slightly, but I had a request for her, "Christine. You need to tell one of your stories to these people. It is about time we remember who and what we are. There's two dead bodies right there, human beings. Either one of us would have been happy to kill one of them. I don't like being that person. I know that you don't either. Before we return to camp, they deserve a proper burial. It would relieve a lot of tension if you would say something over their graves. You'll know what to say. Would you?"
"I will, Johnny. I think I know what you want. It's what I want too. Yes, I'll do my best."
Being the leader had become second nature to me. I spoke in my best command voice, "Before we return to camp we need to pay our proper respect to these two people. That looks like a nice place over there by that large redwood that overlooks the meadow. After that we'll be on our way…we'll be on our way home."

It finally dawned on me that this place was now home. That hit me hard. Did the others feel the same way? Graves were dug and the two deceased were buried.
I stood by the two gravesites with my arm on the shoulder of an older woman. Her name was Brenda. One of the gravesites held her daughter. She had no one in the world now besides us. This would be a moment to remember. It had to be remembered for us to remain human.
Christine stepped forward to deliver her benediction. She closed her eyes and held her palms up. "I know that your name is not important. We are small and you are large. We name things when you understand things and have no need to name them."

Nikolai translated to the Russians softly to a group off by a stand of trees.

Christine continued, "Even now we have to explain to each other what our words mean. We have to discuss even what your name is and how we should speak to you. Well, I will just speak to you without a name for I know that you must understand. We are sorry for what we have done to these two people, your people that you placed in our care. We have failed you and our hearts our heavy." She paused and waited for Nikolai to finish his quiet translation. She continued on,


Author Notes This is rolling along and into territory that is unknown to the campers. Information should come from the Russians. But, in a sense they are in the same boat as the campers. Well, some of you will notice that I do hear your ideas and often they heavily influence the direction of the story. So, please keep the suggestions and thoughts coming. I know I am way behind in responses. I apologize again and assure you that I am reading them and trying to keep up. I review first and then answer responses. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support. I would be lost without you. Thank you so much. mikey

Chapter 26
The Spirit & Are There Countries?

By michaelcahill

A tense but short battle resulted in two deaths and the campers emerging with control of the Russian invaders. Christine began to say a eulogy of the victims gravesites. Her words served to bring harmony to both sides. We pick up now as Christine continues with the eulogy for the two fallen victims of the hostilities.

The sight of Christine in such a serious state clearly feeling every word she spoke moved the crowd in a way that I understood completely. These were soldiers, real ones and ones made so by necessity. Usually guilt crept to the surface years later after eating its way through a thickened crust of denial and justification. Christine wasn't allowing guilt to hide this time.
She continued, "Even as we mourn for ourselves, for that is what we do, if we are to be honest, we feel you pass among us. We feel you examining our hearts and minds for the truth of what is inside of us. We weep, for we find ourselves lacking. We cower for our unworthiness. We are left astonished that you wash over us with hope and good wishes. We can only thank you and try to be worthy. Take care of these two souls that are already with you, a beloved daughter and a brave comrade in arms. We are left to take care of each other."
She gazed out over the crowd whose eyes fixed on her. Nikolai completed his translation. She spoke once again, "As a tribute to these two innocent people we will now exchange greetings of friendship together. Share the grief together so that it doesn't find a home inside of you. Rejoice in the new friend you have found. Feel the joy of the spirit as it soars upward on the wings of joy."
If anything stranger has ever befallen my eyes I can't recall it. Greetings and hugs were exchanged between Russian soldiers and our militia. Only Putin's would be girlfriend remained as a bitter figure sitting by himself over by an appropriately fallen redwood. Plans and negotiations would still be ongoing. But, Christine had certainly made our first meeting a healing one and a rousing success.
The return to camp became a walk instead of a march. The effect of Christine's service remained enveloping all like a blanket of hope. Would it have a lasting affect? Time would tell. It would not be forgotten by anyone, that was a certainty. Rhonda had rejoined us as though she had never left. Russell asked her about Tonnie and Nathan. Christine, Linda, Lacci and I listened with great interest.
Russell flashed his permanent smile as he spoke, "Where's Tonnie and Nathan, Rhonda?"
It occurred to me that Rhonda always had a kind of smirk on her face. She looked like she thought she was in on a joke that only she understood. It struck me that she may be correct and made me smile. Russell had a similar look. The two of them conversing looked like two intellectual giants engaged in great debate over some topic of great depth. Well, if you couldn't hear their actual conversation that is.
She answered Russell, "Theys both dead as doorknockers. I told them not to go near them packages. But, would they listen? Nooooo. They had to go see what was making all those people fall down on the ground dead. I tried to tell them that they were gonna fall down dead, just like those people and that why didn't they think about it, cause you know all those people were dead and why wouldn't they be dead too? But, I swear theys as stupid as a hen sittin' on an egg. They wouldn't listen to Rhonda, they didn't care what Rhonda had to say. Okay fine. Forget what Rhonda says, go ahead and go down there and die then, and so they goes down there and start lookin' at those boxes and theys all empty and I'm like see I told you there's nothing down there now let's get out of here but they're all woozy like theys been drinkin' liquors and then theys both layin there dead as doorbells. I didn’t go down there cause I figured I'd be dead just like they was. I did the right thing right, Johnny?"
The shock of her finishing her story and the silence that ensued, delayed my response for a moment. Then, my response finally found its way to my tongue, "You did the right thing, Rhonda. You probably would have died too. You were smart in everything you did. You couldn't help it if they wouldn't listen to you. It's sad that they're gone now, but I'm glad you're okay. We'll try and keep an eye on you and you keep an eye on us too, okay?"
She smiled broadly and nodded her head up and down. She continued talking, but I wasn't listening anymore. Someone may have been and if not, it didn't really matter. Rhonda would keep talking anyway. It was great to hear her voice again. I laughed to myself thinking about how funny my brain thought that was.
The trek back to camp proved uneventful. Problems of a logistical nature began to become manifest. They became an immediate priority. Shelter, food and a formal regimen of rotating guards went into implementation right away. Christine's remarkable eulogy had reduced tension between the Russians and our forces considerably. Nikolai had become considered an ally in most of our eyes.
The only true feeling of enemy remained reserved for Missus Putin, the name we now called the still uncooperative general of the Russian forces.
A major threat to stability in my opinion. That is how I viewed him. He continually addressed his former charges and tried to rally them. According to Nikolai he played upon their sense of duty and loyalty to their homeland. This was of grave concern. America remained more than a concept to all of us. America still existed in the present tense as far as we were concerned.

But, did it? There were some soldiers in camp from the United States of America. It didn't seem like the good old U. S. of A. had much interest in their well-being. Certainly America hadn't shown much concern for our living conditions either. My birthday had passed without a card. They let me slide on my taxes. Of course, that was the best evidence right there that America no longer existed.
Linda and Nikolai helped us interrogate some of the Russian detainees. Detainees. What a deceitful word that was. Well, at least we cared enough to try and sugar coat it.
Linda asked questions prompted by me, "What is the nature of the Russian government?"
Missus Putin exclaimed, "They are on their way to destryoy you!" At least that was the translation according to Nikolai.
Carlos quickly gave him an immediate response with his boot. Jen and Lacci drew deep breaths and had their hands on arrows. The other Russians had no reaction. He layed there with a bloody mouth, silenced for the moment. Carlos loomed over him.
Nikolai looked around for a response to Linda's question and saw no one volunteer. He began to speak,"The government is in Juno, Alaska. I believe that it once was the capitol of Alaska when it was one of your states. I'm calling it Juno for your convenience. Of course, it has a Russian name now. Information is not forthcoming and what is divulged is of a suspicious nature. I doubt things are as good as Putin makes them out to be. He would be in Moscow wouldn't he? If there was a Moscow. You're President Kennedy, he would be in Washington, if there was a Washington, no?"
"Kennedy?" What did he mean Kennedy? This wasn't 1960. I needed an answer to that.
Nikolai sensed my shock, "Kennedy, the son of Robert Kennedy. I don't know the politics. With Clinton and Brown missing Kennedy was the successor. That is all I know. But, it is all a mess. I don't know if there are countries anymore. But, they think they are countries. They have resources and man-power. At least compared to us they do."
Christ. It sounded like the 5th grade except there was more than one bully that might be waiting for me after school.


Author Notes Rolling along discovering a little bit about the state of the world. Suggestions and input always most welcome and appreciated. Thank you for everything so far! mikey

Chapter 27
New Country and Government

By michaelcahill

Previously, Christine finished her moving eulogy and requested that those that were just hours before enenmies embrace in memory of fallen comrades. The affect of healing was immediate. All returned to camp where plans for the future began to be discussed in earnest. We continue with the story as Johnny and his friends are gathered around the campfire.

It seemed like old times. That sobered me to the reality of our situation. The situation suited me though. This was living that had eluded me for a lifetime. The 'edge' was for me. Finding it in the world that once existed proved impossible. Humans seemed to crave repetition it. Why else invent time? Why have calendars? Days, months, years? Hours, minutes, seconds? Aren't moments all that matter? We were collecting moments here.
A survey of the faces around the campfire brought a smile. These people had stepped up and proven themselves. They have probably surprised themselves. Pride covered me like the warmest down quilt. My people: Linda the fearless warrior, Jen the earth mother, Carlos the fearless soldier, Annie and her loyalty, Russell and his devotion and Christine, the everything,

I liked to call her, "The Christine Creation". It didn't seem possible that such a woman existed. My girl. The world had gone to hell in a rickety hand basket and life teetered on the brink of extinction. My life, on the other hand, had never been better. Yep, Recon Johnny, the luckiest man alive.
The conversation turned to the state of affairs. I loved to hear Ma talk. Usually whatever she said came to pass.
Ma looked like a gypsy fortuneteller, highlighted by the light of the campfire. All eyes were on her. "This is the world now. Right here. What's out yonder don't matter a hill a fritters. We's gots to keep focused on our world. This a hornet's nest right here y'all. Everyone walkin' round wavin' sticks ta poke at it. That's where the danger be comin from. My boys'll tell ya whats a comin' down the road. Whats a gonna pop up here. That’s a tricky one."
"Ma's right." Jen didn't speak much; she was a listener. When she spoke, people sat up at attention. "We get little drops of information here and there. Tidbits from soldiers. Nikolai here has information from his part of the world. Hell, he doesn't even have faith in it. One thing is clear, the world is a big mess. Do we even want to connect with it? I know this though, we better be ready for it. One way or another, it will find us. When it does, it will want to govern us. I never realized 'till just this moment what a dirty word that is, "govern". Talk about hidden meaning. "Government for the people" has to be one hell of an ironic phrase when you think about it."
Carlos seemed animated by that. "I wouldn't go that far, Jen." Jen happened to be curled up in his arms as he spoke. There was no longer any mystery about paternity concerning her pregnancy. "Government gone wrong okay, you are on the money. But, you have to have order. You have to have law. Do you think there would be anyone alive here without some kind of structure? Hell no!"
Christine had an answer. "Judas was a beloved and revered disciple before he betrayed Christ. That's what Ma is talking about. The danger is right here in this camp. It may even be here at this cozy campfire. I agree Jen, you could substitute "subjugate" for "govern". But, Carlos is correct too. There has to be structure. We have to treat this place like a country. This is a country. I sure as hell owe no allegiance to some walled in castle in Oregon, claiming to be something that they are not. I owe allegiance to this." She waved her hand, indicating all that surrounded her.
This had turned to the inevitable question at hand. Was there anything left that we were a part of. Was there a United States of America, reorganizing its resources, preparing to rescue and take care of its citizens? If there wasn't, then we had to form a country ourselves, and we had to do it right now. I knew the answer was academic. There was no way to know if anything existed outside of our current world that could possibly have our interests in mind. We had to take care of ourselves.
"What shall we call our nation?" I looked around at the faces of my friends, as the full significance of my question began to sink in.
"Yosemite". Russell seemed to have it right on the money. He looked pleased.
I thought about some history book two hundred years from now and Mrs. Bigbottom, the steaming hot history teacher, conducting class:
"Paul, please stand and tell us who named this great country of ours."
"I…I…uh…I can't stand Mrs. Bigbottom, my leg's asleep."
"Doesn't look asleep to me, Paul." Rosie, the class clown, shouts out while the class giggles and titters.
"Johnny. Earth to Johnny. Hey, we're forming a country here. Interested?" Christine seemed highly amused. That was part of my charm.
"Okay, the representative from Smilesville has put forth that we name this union, founded in necessity and formed out of desperation, with a dash of love, Yosemite. All those in favor?"
"Aye!" They all smiled.
I drew my glock menacingly, "all those opposed?"
Linda was standing behind me with an arrow to my ear, before I finished my sentence. Christine fell to the ground laughing. I joined her in a dignified manner, as befits a head of state. I noticed that Linda cuddled up with Nikolai as we enjoyed the moment. "Romeo and Juliet" came to mind, or "Romanov and Juliet", I laughed to myself.
Finally, the laughter died down. I wondered to myself if Jefferson and Adams ever cracked a smile,back in the day, when forming the United States. Christine's put her arm around my waist and looked into my eyes. With a little squeeze, she let me know that she understood the enormity of what was on my shoulders. There was no need for words. A chill passed through me imagining 'here' without her. A warmth filled me realizing that she was, indeed, here. Ma was about to speak. My attention turned to her.
"That's a good name, Yosemite. Y'all put that name in yer hearts and minds. That’s number two now. Number one's your kin. Kin means your family where'ns I comes from. Family's those that ya sez is family. They's number one. Ya got a big ole target on yer back now Johnny. Y'all best be lookin out fer your boy here. Not many like him. He don't give a pile a bear scar bout bein the boss. That’s what makes him good. That gal a his, she's the jewel. Her an my Lester'll see what's a comin', Y'all pay attention when they's a talkin'. This ole ball a dirt was in bad shape already. Lord knows what they'd did to it now. Ain't no tellin' how many parcels a land like this there be. Best get her defended." Ma sat back looking for all the world like the wisest woman on earth. She just might have been.
Joe stood up. He hadn't had much to say since that day when he first wandered into camp. What a welcome we gave him. We were capable of terrible things. That had to remain in my mindset. We beat him for no reason at all.

We had seen people murdered and felt nothing. We had witnessed wholesale death unaffected by it. For God's sake, we had carved up one of our own as a possible food source. Had we really reached that desperate a point? Yes, we had. To forget that would be a mistake.
Joe spoke. "I don't mean this in a disrespectful way to Johnny. I like Johnny and think he is sincere and has done a lot for us. But, to automatically just put him in charge doesn't make sense to me. Who says he is the best one to take command? Who says he is the best leader?"

He stood up and started pacing around. He continued,"I am a leader. I'm a state senator from Nevada. I've been elected to office and lead people. I know how laws are passed and how they're enforced. Why wouldn't I be the better choice? Is this going to be a democracy? Or, are we just crowning a king? Or, maybe it's just a dictatorship and there isn't any choice at all. I just want to know what the deal is."


Author Notes Focus returns to the campfire where the survivors have to make decisions. They must get organized. It is clear that the world is in chaos. Chaos is death to the campers. It cannot be tolerated. Suggestions? Input? I realize that it won't be long before the world is back at the front door knocking. Any ideas are always welcome. Thank you for all your help. mikey

Chapter 28
Taking Control & More Soldiers

By michaelcahill

Warning: The author has noted that this contains strong language.

Johnny has called a meeting to discuss leadership and the future of the people assembled. As dissention seems to grow, it is becoming apparent to him that he may have to be more forceful and simply state the way it is and the way it is going to be. We pick up the story after one of the camp members has tried to make a case for himself as leader. Johnny is addressing the assemblage. 

"Who else wishes to speak? I don't mean to just take over anything. Nobody has to fear speaking up. That has to be the first law. If you have something to say, stand up and say it." What other approach could I take? Joe was right. Or, was he? What were we going to do, have elections? No, we had to do something now. The more the issue rolled through my mind, the more clear it became. Call it whatever it needed to be called, I needed to be in complete charge. It needed to be right now. Democracy could come later. There was no other way. Speeches and opinions could be stated, that was the smart thing, to allow it. But, in the end, Yosemite already had it's leader, me.
A voice from the crowd shouted out, a female voice. I motioned for the crowd to quiet down. "I'll speak. I've no problem at all throwing my two cents in. Two cents is about all I have after voting for that jackass. I lived in his district in Nevada. He don't give a rat's ass about people. He just wants the power and the damn money. He wiped out Main Street in our city to put in an auto row. I had a business there for twenty three years and my momma for thirty before that. This bastard thought it would make the city money selling Toyotas there instead. Yeah! It made money all right. It made him and the other bastards in government money. It didn't make me a dime."
Joe was no stranger to the stage. "That row of auto dealers put our city on the map. It brought in millions of dollars to Sparks, Nevada. You got top dollar for your business. You could've moved your business or done anything you wanted with that money. But, you're too busy looking for a free ride…"
"Free ride? Move it to where? Inside the Walmart you moved in rent free? That wiped out the other side of town. What did you get out of that? I know the business owners that got kicked out on their asses there didn't get anything."
Christine looked at me. "Stop this, before it gets out of hand. You know the answer to this. We either leave right now or step up and take charge. Carlos is right. It has to be organized. Someone has to be in charge. That's you, Johnny. That's how the circumstances have played out. Now's the time. I'm with you. You know that. Do it."
Standing up, my hands were raised in a gesture of silence. Eye contact alerted my people. A nod prompted each of them to join me including Turner, Nikolai and a few others considered part of our camp. Ma was already on her way over with her boys.
I paused for quite a while, making it a point to get eye contact with Joe, excluding him from the group. He looked pensive and unhappy. Good. These people needed to look at our camp. They needed to recall where they had first encountered us. The group that took over our camp, remember us taking it back? The Russian soldiers, recall what eight of us did to your troops?
"Welcome to our camp. Welcome to Yosemite. I am in charge here. That is the wishes of these people. This is my family. They are my priority. You are welcome to join us here. We are trying to protect ourselves from unknown enemies that are liable to show up anytime. We have no knowledge of the outside world. We know this world. In this world, we help each other and watch each other's backs. If you wish to leave, leave. You may want to take your chances with Joe here. That is fine with us. Make no mistake, we tolerate no threat to the safety of this camp. A threat to one is a threat to all. The future is of no consequence. We know less about it than ever. We have to be ready for now. That is all." We all resumed what we had been doing.
None of us gave any acknowledgement to anyone. We left them standing there as though there was nothing for them to say. In truth, there wasn't. It was the way it was. There would be no discussion. Without looking directly at them we could get a sense of the reaction nonetheless. Joe faded into the crowd. He was no longer one of us and not really one of them. Everyone else returned to whatever they were doing.
Lacci spoke first, "If there is one asshole, it's like cockroaches, there is probably more."
Linda nodded her head in agreement, "She's right. Everyone has some kind of undercurrent going on. I'm sure that even among us there are ideas that don't always mesh 100%. We can't be too democratic. We just saw that. I'm not saying this needs to be the Roman Empire, but it needs to be pretty damn firm if you ask me. You should start with that jabbering jackass right there." She pointed to the Russian commander that never seemed to shut-up.
According to Nikolai, his own men hated him. But, there was something about taking an oath and going through training and being a soldier. Carlos had described it to me. We'd been talking and the Stockholm Syndrome came up. Hostages, over time, coming to identify with their abductors. His eyes lit up at that. He'd laughed and said that it sounded like marines at the end of basic training. So, my eyes were always surveying those Russian troops for a reaction to the commanders ramblings.
The signal for attack got us to our feet and into action. Lester rushed up to me, "Don't recken I knows what it is. Jonesy gave the signal. He's too far away to talk to. I's on my way to see what he's a talkin' 'bout."
Not everyone was acquainted with procedure. Half of us were on the ball and the other half were running around frantically. "Listen, Nikolai, get your men under some kind of control. Annie, see if you can at least get some of those people to get to their tents. They're sitting ducks milling around there. Carlos, you know what to do with that jabbering asshole there. I didn't see a thing." I heard a heavy thud and a low moan. I couldn't imagine what it might be.
Lester was back, "They's American, Johnny, but they don’t look good. They's a mess. Limpin along. I don't think they's attackin'. They's a lookin to be rescued."
"Look. Someone must have did that to them. Where are they? That's what we need to know. Jonesy hasn't seen anything?"
"No sir. Just them American boys all beat to hell."
"Okay. Okay. Let them get closer to camp. Spread the word. Nobody fires. In fact, everybody stands down. How many are there?"
"There's a good thirty or more. They's armed too. But, they don't look much for scrappin."
"Okay, get Carlos and Louis and those other soldiers over here."
I explained the situation to Carlos, Louis and the other soldiers. There were three other veterans that I trusted as well. "Look, they are probably ready to fight. I would be. They're at the ready to defend themselves. You are American soldiers. You should be able to greet other American soldiers. We want to help these people not get into a costly battle with them. The rest of us just don't fit the bill. It's up to you guys to greet them and get them into camp without getting them killed and without getting yourself killed. We're gonna cover you. I'm not taking any chances. Like Ma says, kin are number one. Okay, go for it."
Christine, Linda, Nikolai and myself were up behind a tree and some bushes as the encounter was about to take place. Carlos shouted out, "Friendlies coming up, boys. Friendlies." Then he called out his platoon number and a couple other numbers that I couldn't make out. The advancing troops could hear him, but weren't sure of which action to take. The commander who was not looking all that commanding signaled for them to hit the side of the road. It looked like an ambush. We tightened the grip on our weapons.


Author Notes Always looking for input and suggestions. Some excellent input that has had great influence on the story. Most appreciated. In a blind piece all ideas are considered, nothing is set in stone. So, feel free. Your help has been the difference. Thank you, mikey

Chapter 29
New Friends & Who's The Enemy

By michaelcahill

Previously, it became clear that too much democracy was not a good thing. Johnny established control over the camp as a necessity of survival. Organization continued with most people on board with Johnny and his people in charge. He had proven to be fair and wise in his dealings. American soldiers were spotted approaching their position. They appeared to have come from one or more battles. Plans to greet them were put in motion. We continue on now as a small group of military personel from the camp attempt contact.

Carlos kept slowly advancing along with the other soldiers. He continued to repeat his message. He whispered something to the others and paused for a moment to make sure they all heard him correctly. "We are unarmed. We are friendlies. We're here to help get you to safety." Damn, Carlos. What the hell are you doing? They had laid there weapons down and placed their hands on top of their heads. "Smart, I should have thought of that. Remove all threat." Christine just glanced at me and nodded affirmatively. As they arrived at the point where the troops were, three of them jumped out with rifles aimed at them. Carlos and the others didn't move.
"Where's the rest of your unit, soldier."
"There is no unit. We're not active duty. We were dispatched to meet you, to offer assistance."
"Assistance? What the hell makes you think we need any damn assistance from a soft civilian former grunt like you, marine?"
"Nothing, sir! Just following orders, sir!"
"Well, marine. You may as well signal your commander to come on down and have a pow wow. He sure as hell ain't gonna send a mealy mouth puke like you out here with these ladies all by your lonesome."
I took that as my cue. I signaled my people "don't a muscle". I moved far from our position and approached from where Carlos had just left. "Johnny, sir." I said with my hand extended.
"Well, I must say, Johnny, you’re a sight for sore eyes. I don't suppose you have any grub back at the home base do you?"
"Yes, sir. All you can eat. Glad to have you."
With a big sigh of relief, he shouted out a command, "Formation, forward heeeewaaa."
I wasn't sure what the last word was exactly, but I assume it meant "march" as that is what they did. It Occurred to me that I'd better have a discussion with the commander before arriving at camp. They may not be excited to be meeting up with Russian troops.
"Commander? Could I have a word?"
"Corporal Garfield. Tom Garfield. Just call me Tom, Johnny. We haven't heard from anyone in two months. A couple unmanned supply dumps, that's it. To tell you the truth you're the first friendly face we've seen since they dropped us off in Kings Canyon."
"Tom. We captured some Russian troops and they have defected to our side. They're part of our community. I wanted to tell you in case you've had encounters along the way."
"Russians? They're supposed to be friendlies. But, who's to say anymore. No, we fought Al Qaida side by side the first week out here. That’s the last we've seen of Russians. Since then, it's been all ambushes, sneak attacks from Americans. Rogue groups in the forests. No match really, but it takes a toll. We've lost half our number, one here and two there. This looked like a set-up at first too until Carlos identified himself as a friendly. No marine ever turns on a brother. Not ever."
Something about that touched me in a way that I couldn't quite put my finger on. It reminded me of Ma talking about "Kin first".  I could sense the tension release in the soldiers as the marched to camp. It was more relaxed.
Christine had something on her mind, "I had a dream last night, I was wondering if you did too?"
"I dreamt that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was flying in Air Force One to London, England for a meeting with various heads of state. France, Italy, Finland, India and a couple other countries that I can't recall were all coming for a big summit. It all seemed unreal. Did you have the same dream?"
"Yes, Johnny, I did. I had another dream as well. I had a dream that Robert F. Kennedy was on board Air Force One and it was landing in Newfoundland, Canada. I dreamed that terrorists had taken over the capitol building in Oregon. Johnny, I have an old wind up watch that was my grandmothers. Today is October twenty seventh. We are in Northern California. Does anything look strange to you?"
"Strange? The so-called capitol being over thrown is strange. The president in exile is strange. What is strange about October twenty seventh?"
"Johnny, It's winter. It's winter in Northern California. You're in a tee shirt. It's supposed to be covered in snow here already. It's rained once since this all went down. Once, Johnny. Forget the bombs and biological weapons. The earth is out of kilter. For all we know the Pacific Ocean is twenty miles away. We have to stop thinking of everything like it was and start thinking of things like they are. Kennedy isn't hibernating in some ice cave. He's in sunny Newfoundland. The South, the East and West coast? They're probably under water. Johnny! Central America is gone! Do you see what I'm telling you?"
"Yeah. I get it. I really do. But, what's it have to do with us?"
"It's our thinking. We have to eliminate what was from our mindset. Eliminate it! Nothing that existed before exists now, nothing. We live in paradise. This is heaven on Earth right here. Even if there is some form of The United States or any other country still hanging on in some form it doesn't matter. This is the future, that is the past. Yosemite is our country now."
"But, Christine, who is putting these touchy feely dreams in our heads and why? Someone wants our mindset to be that America is well and on the mend. What in hell is that supposed to mean to us?"
"It isn't just us, Johnny. It's a big country. Think about it. Look at how many people are here in this tiny little area. What about the rest of California. What about Oregon, Washington, Utah, The Dakotas and all of Canada? Shall I go on? There are probably millions of survivors, millions. There are forces that want us sitting here waiting for rescue. A rescue that isn't going to come. A rescue that comes in the form of murder. Food drops that kill the hungry. They want the land and they want it without us on it."
That all made perfect sense. I could see how that knowledge could keep us safe. How could it help us strike back? Until we could strike back, we were targets. I had a question for Tom. I brought Christine with me.
"Tom, do any of your soldiers report dreams of an unusual nature?"
"Johnny, we have a dream squad. They were assigned right after we were deployed in Kings Canyon. I don't know exactly how it works, but somehow they receive some kind of transmissions through their dreams. More trouble than their worth between me and you. We stopped paying attention to em to be honest. We started calling them the nightmare squad. Every time we'd get orders through them, it would be a blood bath. Somehow, things would just go to hell. The intel was good. It just seemed to be jinxed or something."
That answered my question. The dream squad would be getting to know Christine and me quite well very soon. It became clear to me that there was an enemy. Not bands of starving survivors desperately attacking for food. That was a threat to be sure. One crazed starving individual could always burst out of the forest and do some damage. The enemy wasn't Russian troops that probably didn't have a country to return to. In many ways, and perhaps in every way, they were more like long lost cousins than they were enemies. There was an enemy that had control of stealth bombers. There was an enemy that could arrange and execute a false food drop causing the death of hundreds without scorching a blade of grass. There was an enemy that had the technology to implant thought.
"Johnny? You seem lost in thought. That scares me. You know I prefer you mindless and compliant." Christine could warm me in a way that no one ever had. Humor reached me deeper than any romantic notion ever could. It seemed more intimate to me.
"I was contemplating the enemy. I wish we could give them a name."
"The enemy works for me. We know who and what they are, Johnny. It never changes. We need to find out where they are and when they are coming. We have found out a lot in the last few days. We have found out who is not the enemy. Those that are not our enemy are our allies. Look at these men and woman, Johnny. Trained soldiers armed to the hilt. Security just went up a notch. Good job, fearless leader."


Author Notes By process of elimination the real enemy is becoming clearer. We find out more and more about who the enemy is not. Wonderful input as always. I don't know if I could ever write anything of this length without this excellent help. Please always feel free to suggest, criticize and lavish me with sixes!! mikey

Chapter 30
Fort Yosemite & The Inner Circle

By michaelcahill

Previously, the camp keeps expanding. Information keeps coming in and it is all unreliable. Nothing is really known as a fact at the end of the day. The people in the camp have one thing in common, their common need to survive. The enemy is out there and remains unknown. The enemy has resources and is interested in the land that the campers occupy. We continue as Christine and Johnny converse in private about who should be in the inner circle of people they can fully trust.  

"Christine, we need to gather the people we trust together. Every day brings a new twist. It all looks good until you start thinking about it. Trained soldiers are fine when they're on your side. What if they get ideas? We're not in their heads. Look at that jackass, Joe. He comes out of the blue with that crap about wanting to lead. I trust you. Who else can we trust?"
"Linda. She has never swayed from day one. Annie stepped up big time helping us recover our camp. Nikolai has to be in. He comes with Linda. I want to say Jen, but Carlos has that soldier thing going on. I see Jen with him regardless, and I don't know if he goes with us against the American Troops if it comes down to it. You saw him with that Sgt. Tom. He fell right into soldier mode. I like Carlos, don't get me wrong. But, I don't tell him my inner most thoughts. Ma and her boys, without a doubt. I don't want to make a move without hearing Ma's take. I don't have any other names coming to mind. You?"
"I think we see it the same way. I don't know about Jen. I see her as one of us. I always saw her as ambivalent towards the potential father of her child. It didn't seem all that important. Now I see her with Carlos and I wonder if that has changed, or if it is simply convenient. But, we can't take the chance. That we agree on. You and I keep everything to ourselves. This is our show. We decide what we tell to who. We delegate what needs to be delegated. But, this is a powder keg. We don't know a damn thing when it comes down to it, and neither does anybody else out there. Linda, Nikolai, Annie and especially Ma will be the first level of trust. Then Jen, Carlos and to a lesser degree Lacci and Turner. All the others need to think that they are included. They need to think they are in the inner circle."
Later that evening the true power of Yosemite met in private, far away from prying eyes. As the leader, the tone of the meeting needed to be established. Humor would be set aside for the moment.
"I don't trust anyone that isn't sitting around this campfire. I know that some of our friends aren't here and I know that I may be out of line by saying that. So be it. My thinking is that there are no countries out there. No one is coming to our rescue. There is nothing out there but enemies. They want what we have. For all we know, this is the garden spot of the earth. Trust or no trust, we need the people down at that camp. We need them together as a force. How do we do that? That's one question. The enemy is coming. We don't know who it is. How do we defend ourselves? That is the other question. Let's talk."
I was always pleased to hear Ma speak. She could get to the heart of things in a hurry. "One thing we's all gots here Johnny is incentive. No sense in rockin the boat. Most of the folks here ain't goin fer what that fool was a tryin. They sees you as bein fair. Lets em keep a seein that. If'n ya need bad guys, y'all gets one a us. Y'all gots the right folk right here too. It's not as bad here as ya might think. Soldiers need leaders. Theys loyal. Twasn't soldiers took down Rome, twas pol'ticians. Gets em all busy defendin' the castle. Yous gonna need that any who."
Nikolai was nodding his head vigorously, "The Russian troops are most anxious to prove themselves. Well, to hell with Russia. The Yosemite troops are ready to prove themselves. We feel rescued. All the men have told me this very thing. We were treated like dogs. The bastard you call Putin's wife, out of respect for Johnny, we let him live. You will see. We back you all the way. These people smile and make jokes. Yosemite is our home now."
"Believe him Johnny; you know where my loyalty lies." Linda had earned my trust countless times. There was no doubting her sincerity. She continued, "I can see it in their eyes as they share the campfire and the friendship that we take for granted. It touches them. They value it in a way that we fail to even consider. There is no question that they will fight for it."
I wanted something to be clear, "It's obvious that there is a large group that is not represented here. There are no American soldiers. How do you feel about that?"
"I'm relieved." Annie answered immediately. "To be honest, they're the ones I fear. I can hear one of those officers just like that idiot senator trying to exert his authority. "Well, I'm the ranking officer so, I'll take charge. This is a military situation." She gave her best mocking-military vocal rendition.
Christine laughed, but not hysterical laughter. "Yes. We were talking about that earlier." She motioned to me, sitting by her. "They may still have that, "I'm a United States Soldier", mentality. Carlos acted like he was still in the Marines when he greeted them. That's why he isn't here right now. It isn't that we don't trust him. I'm just afraid of whose orders he'd follow, if it came right down to it."
Christine had said it perfectly. I continued, "That is why I want you people here to be in the inner circle and no one else. This is a closed circle. Nothing leaves here and no one else is invited. We meet, we talk, and we hold nothing back. I trust you all with my life."
The morning found a renewed industry to the camp. My concern over conflict seemed unfounded (though I harbored it nonetheless). Ma had suggested putting everyone to work. The simplicity and genius of the idea had escaped me. There was no end of things to do. We had both the manpower and the skills available to accomplish almost anything that occurred to us. Our little campsite looked more and more like a wilderness fort every day. Thoughts of the Alamo were pushed quickly out of my mind. "Not amusing", I thought to myself.
Nikolai had suggested that stragglers that appeared in camp be put through a quarantine process. They would be questioned and assigned living space. If they were hungry, they would be fed. If they were injured, their wounds would be tended too. It provided information to peruse and an indication of skills and gave the new residents a sense of order. It was a good idea and handled much like a visitor to a foreign country. There were no intense interrogations or grillings. It was quite informal, but served its purpose.
I was thinking about my high school prom when Ma came rushing up to me. By rushing in Ma's case that would be something a bit more than a cool stroll.
"Johnny, get that purdy gal of yours. I gots sumpin that’s a gonna fry yer chicken with the feathers on."
I smiled at Christine and nodded. She joined me. We followed her up to Half-Dome. Lester was standing near the top with a telescope staring through it. I don't recall ever seeing Lester motionless before. It was a strange sight. Lester struck me as the man that inspired the phrase "ants in his pants". I'd never seen him still a moment since I'd first met him. Ma motioned for me to head up there where he was.
"Whatcha lookin' at there Lester?"
"Well, Johnny, if'n I'd told ya, ya wouldn’t believe me." He handed me the telescope.
It wasn't a fancy one, but it had enough power to bring in some detail on the moon, if it was out to look at. I pointed it in the direction Lester had been looking. What came into view had to be the most astonishing sight anyone had ever beheld.
"Holy shit, Lester, I don't believe my eyes. How far away do you think it is?"
Christine grabbed the telescope from my hand and looked for herself. "Whoa. That can't be more than twenty-five miles away."
Linda had seen us leave and tagged along. "What in hell are you looking at for Christ's sake?"
I looked at her trying to think of some gentle way to put it. There wasn't any. "The Pacific Ocean."


Author Notes Well, I have a lot of questions to answer. Hahaha! Now I've added another one. Thank you all so much for all your input. If not for your help I would've fallen off the cliff long age. Thanks to you, I am still standing right on the edge ready to fall. Any input or suggestions? Throw me a rope? No, not for that!!!

Chapter 31
Ocean Front View & Dream Vacation

By michaelcahill

Previously, Johnny and Christine determined who are the people they could trust and who couldn't they trust. They inner circle as they called it was small and as they began to start planning their next move Ma took Johnny to the side and took him, Christine and Linda up to Half-Dome where Lester was looking at the Pacific Ocean through a telescope. It was only twenty-five miles away. The ice-caps were melting. We pick up the story with Linda's reaction to the astonishing news.

"What in holy hell are you talking about, Johnny? What do you mean the Pacific Ocean? You can't see the Pacific Ocean from hear." Linda looked panicked as the thought of what I told her began to take root.
"It's right there, Linda. No joke. What I want to know, is that where it's going to stay? Or, is it still rising?" I grabbed my head. It felt like something was buzzing inside of it.
Christine and Lester were mimicking my actions. We all had both hands on the sides of our heads. I felt like I was hallucinating. I could see ships on the ocean. A fleet of ships. They were out of focus. No, they were getting clearer. Flags flying. American flags. Rescue. Rescue. Rescue. That word kept occurring to me. Ships, American flags, and that word, rescue, over and over and over.
Christine closed her eyes and dropped to her knees. "Block it Johnny! Block it! There is another signal. Look for the other signal Johnny. Lester, can you see the other signal? Look at the bottom. I can't explain it. Look down, look down. Not American."
"Jesus, Christine. It's Persian. Ancient Persian. I see it. Lester. See it? Lester?"
"I don't rightly know what I'm a seein' , Johnny. Taint American. That’s fer sure."
Silence. Whatever it was, stopped. We sat there in silence while Linda looked on stunned.
"What in hell are you all talking about? I didn't see anything. What signal? I didn't hear anything. What the hell is going on?" Linda looked like she had seen at least three ghosts.
I felt like I had seen three thousand. The dreams were surreal to me. This was intrusive and unwelcome. I felt violated. I suppose "rape" was the word that danced in my mind. I'd never been raped, but I could well imagine that it must feel something like what I just experienced.
The dream team. That thought sent a chill up my spine. "Listen, we've got to get back to camp right now. There's no telling what those soldiers are planning right this very minute. They're probably planning for rescue. They may have the whole camp up in arms already."
"Johnny, that ocean has sent God knows how many people our way. They can go one direction, north. North is where we are. We can't have those fools taking off on a wild goose chase right now. We need them. They'd be marching to their doom, if they ever made it there. Who knows what lies between here and the new coastline? I doubt it's anything good"
"Let's go."
Ma had a couple words to say, "Lester and I is gonna lay back here with a couple of the boys. We'll keep our eyes a peeled. You know the signals. Y'all needs us were there. We sees sumpin' comin' we'll let y'all know. Johnny, no nice guy. Take command."
I gave Ma a quick squeeze and we were on our way.
Sure enough, my worst fears played out in front of me. Camp was in an uproar when we returned. Annie and Jen were arguing with American soldiers who appeared to be packing up to leave. Carlos was with them. Nikolai and Turner were with another group seemingly arguing against their departure as well. The commander, the one we called Putin's wife, laid there dead as hell right were we had left him a couple hours earlier. Jen and Carlos were really going at it. I'd start there.
Jen was livid. "Dammit Carlos, you don't just up and leave after all we've been through.  These are strangers. We're your family. What the hell are you thinking? Your child is inside of me. Doesn't that matter to you?"
Carlos was apologetic. "Jen, you know it matters. This is my country we're talking about. I made an oath to defend it. I can't turn my back on that. What kind of a man would I be if my word was no good?"
It was time for me to step in. "Carlos, the dreams are a trick. They are a trick of the enemy. How can you so quickly forget what happened the last time your beloved country sent us aid? You don't recall the food drops? You remember Tonnie and Nathan don't you? You took an oath to care for them too. They're dead. What about Rhonda and Russell, and your oath to care for them? Is that not your back we'll all be seeing as you march to your death with strangers? Listen to me, all of you!"
I stepped back on a little mound of dirt that gave me some elevation. The time to address this crowd had come.

I had to take charge and I had to do it right now. "We have seen what happens to people that follow one of these false dreams. They get poisoned and die. They reach for boxes of food and lethal gas is their prize. Those dreams are not coming from America. They are coming from the enemy. Hundreds dead! Now you want to march like lemmings to your death. Well, I've got news for you. It won't be a long march. We have stood on Half-Dome and seen the Pacific Ocean. It is just south of us about twenty-five miles away. Was that in your dream? The capitol of the United States is under water. Was that in your dream?"
All eyes looked my way. All ears awaited my next words. "We have broken the dream code. We know who the enemy is and how to turn their dreams against them. They believe they will be striking a blow against us. We will be striking a blow against them! We will make our stand here. We will not be fooled by the tricks of the enemy. We will defeat the enemy and emerge victorious. We will not rest until our enemy falls to the ground begging for mercy!"
A cheer went up through the crowd. I could hear the kinds of noises that soldiers make. I took it to mean they were on-board. I glanced over at Christine and she smiled back. Her eyes told me, "That was one hell of a lie, Recon Johnny. That's why I love you."
I had to put Tom and Carlos right at the forefront of our plans to defeat the enemy. That went without saying. There was no plan, but they didn't need to know that. A pretend plan still would take plenty of preparation. I motioned to Tom, Carlos and Turner to join Christine and I. Jen caught my eye and I nodded for her to join us. She and Turner had proven themselves. Carlos had too in an expected, disappointing way. A surprise would've been nice.
Information lacked. It would be nice to find some right here in camp. Perhaps, there were untapped resources right here. "Lacci, I need you and Annie to start asking around. We need to find someone that has some knowledge of this global warming that's going on. Have Nikolai ask the Russians. They don't have to be scientists. Anyone that knows anything, knows more than I do."
Lacci and the others sought knowledge. Tom had the impression he was in charge of counter-attacking the enemy. Tom and Carlos planned, with Turner there as my eyes and ears. It was good for them to be battle ready. It could come at any point. Nikolai and the Russian troops integrated along with able men and woman in camp. Christine, myself, and the inner circle participated as well. The girls gave instructions in archery. There was a lot of weaponry, but not enough to arm everyone. Knives, arrows and the skill to use them remained a necessity.
The camp transformed from the brink of break-up to a well-defended fortress. No one could sneak up on us. Ma and the boys were on top of any threats looming in the distance. They monitored and measured the Pacific Ocean constantly. It appeared stable for the moment.
Some kind of trap awaited an unknown number of unwitting victims. We would like to help. But, the victims themselves could be a danger to us. Something would be arriving twenty-five miles away that threatened our existence. We had surprise on our side. We had no idea, as of yet, what they had on their side. Our fortress looked safe and secure. We would sleep on it.


Author Notes For the Pacific Ocean to be that close to Yosemite the water level has to have risen at least 90 meters. That puts a lot of California under water, but not all of it. Florida would be essentially gone. The Eastern seaboard would be underwater including Washington D.C.. The list goes on world wide. Suggestions? Input? Help??? Considering the level of the original tragedy and the condition of the atmosphere it is inevitable that global warming would've accelerated. Still working on where the dreams are coming from. The source appears to be the middle east. Am open to any thoughts whatsoever. Thank you for all your help. I'm still behind. But, I read every word of every review and copy most of them into word. I appreciate them more than you can know. Lots of real world interference lately. Working on catching up. Thanks for bearing with me. mikey

Chapter 32
Christine Reveals & Bunkers Below

By michaelcahill

Previously, Johnny has averted a potential pullout of soldiers who were responding to a bogus implanted image of rescue. Johnny and Christine have selected a few people to be the true power of the camp. Work for the rest of the camp is under way and productive. Answers to the state of the earth physically are sought. The source of the dreams and how to combat them are needed. We continue now as Johnny finds Christine deep in thought.

Christine seemed transfixed on the sunrise the next morning. Her limbs were as short as mine were absurdly long. Something not noticed unless pointed out. We pointed it out to each other, of course, finding laughter to be a major component of love. She sat there with her legs crossed in a position that I would adopt, but found less comfortable. The sky had become common to me by now. But, her contemplation of it made me consider it once again. Blue was replaced by colors that were not blue. Has a higher power painted a sky canvas to set the mood? Doom seemed the journey's end over the horizon.
"It’s all whispers, Johnny. Whispers and feelings. Deceptions and plots. Pieces of a puzzle that leave too much to the imagination. Iranians, Russians, brain waves…senseless, but all aggressive and with ill will. You should know that my family thought I was mentally ill, Johnny. They were all so dull, and I was…so…so like this." She smiled knowing that I understood. "I had already reached the age of fourteen when I realized that my dreams weren't real. At least, everyone told me that they weren't. Imagine if people tried to tell you I wasn't real, Johnny. Imagine that. Can you understand what my reaction would be?"
"Yes. I can. I would know the truth. I suppose I would no longer feel part of them. I would feel alone. How could I be a part of a world that I wasn't a part of…that didn't acknowledge my own world as real."
"That is exactly it. Well, it is all for another time. But, in a strange way, the angry red skies and smirking sun seem much more real to me than the blue skies filled with white doves that used to greet my mornings. You are more real to me too, Johnny."
I didn't have words. Ironic, I suppose, for one blessed with them. I hoped a smile and a kiss would suffice. "These whispers, do you get that from the people here…from me?"
"Not in the way you mean. I sense. I sense intentions and feelings. It isn't specific. I know that I am desired. I know it. I don't get it. But, yes, I know it. Carlos, Linda even Russell are all attracted to me at different levels. You were from the moment I met you. But, the intentions or I should say the feelings that all of you projected were all different. You understand what I am saying. You have this same ability. That is how you knew to pursue me. You sensed my attraction. You may not even have realized it. You've always been like this. Back at the camp yesterday, it was no accident that you knew exactly what to say. You could feel it. All of the people receiving these dreams must have this ability. People call it ESP or whatever. That isn't a bad term. Extra sense. That is probably what it is. An extra sense that has some physical source within our brain. They have discovered how to tap into it."
I saw were she was going, "So, the ones that had the ability would receive the messages. Someone like me wouldn't have a clue what was going on. I imagine that no one would question the dreams. Why would they? It would be human nature to think that they were having a vision or something. I never would have seen underneath the message without you directing me."
The dreams were making a little more sense. I love the Twilight Zone, but being in a real-life episode wouldn't be a burning desire. "How are we able to tap into their thoughts then? We aren't transmitting anything."
"That I don't know. But, they are transmitting a signal and I imagine we are riding right back on it. We are tapping into whatever is at the other end. It could be other signals being sent to troops. I don't know. I know that it is something they aren't aware of. That's a big plus for us."
Lester came strolling up. "Ma's got a pot a coffee on. We's got sumpin a show ya. You's gonna like this." Lester looked about as amused as a possum right side up on a Ferris wheel. Well, I suppose I should leave the down-home wisdom to Ma.
We came upon Ma sitting by her campfire with three disheveled gentlemen and one older lady. The lady looked as though coffee had just been invented and she owned the rights to it. She looked to be perhaps forty, though whatever she had been through might have contributed a few years to my perception. The gentlemen looked like over-grown boy scouts, in over their heads, and lost on an overnight camping trip. I noted that they were all well-groomed and looked nourished.
Ma looked amused. I swear, she thought this whole situation was a hoot. She may have been correct. "I found a few more supplies. These folks here been a takin good care of em. I gots a couple boys a tied up over there by that tree."

I looked over to see two soldiers sharply dressed and looking very unhappy.

Ma continued. "They's powerful important top secret military men. They's got themselves quite the bunker built underneath all this. Course none of it works. But, keeps the rain off'n yer noggin'."
They were in full military dress. Bunker. Damn! An underground bunker. This I had to see. I walked over to them.
"I'm Johnny. You two been hiding out in the bunker this whole time? What's you names?"
"Staff Sergeant Nicodemus Fierstein. This here is my assistant, Private Mark Henry."
"What do they call you, Nick?"
"They call me Sgt. Fierstein." He looked defiant in a way that said, "this is my last hurrah."
"Look, Nick, I don't have time for this. I get your loyalty, duty and honor and that's fine. The world has gone to hell and we're standing at the gates. I've got a whole platoon of former United States soldiers in camp and there is only one thing we're all worried about now, saving our asses. Now let's go have a look-see at that bunker. You can give us a tour."
He paused and let reality sink in and, appearing relieved, nodded in the affirmative.
Bunker was an understatement. There was a city beneath Yosemite. Without electricity a lot of the equipment was useless. It had weaponry and dry goods. There were blankets, clothes, tents and all manner of survival gear.
I looked to Christine. "I'm wondering if we want everyone to know about this. I mean, it seems like a lot to throw at them all at once."
"You know, Johnny, I think those soldiers would have a sense of this being theirs. They think they're still in the Army or whatever. Even Carlos thinks that. I still think they're capable of military thinking. Hell, they were ready to march off at the drop of a hat. We have to maintain control of this. What about Dudley DoRight and his girlfriend here?" She nodded to Sgt. Nick and Mark.
"I see them coughing up Mark's bra size if any of the soldiers asks for it. I don't know what the hell to do with them. Scare em?"
Christine smiled, my favorite insane smile.

She addressed the two soldiers. "Listen, I'm sorry about this. But, we're going to have to eliminate you two. You can't be trusted and we can't have this information leaking out. I'm guessing there's medical supplies here. I'd like this to be painless. Hmm. Maybe some morphine. Some good pain killers. That's a nice peaceful way to go. I just have arrows here. That could take a while. How bout it. Any pain pills or anesthetic stashed her"
Christine pulled an arrow out of her quill and sent it whooshing through the air straight at Nick. Before it arrived she had already pulled and shot another arrow straight at Mark. Damn, she looked so cool, like a forest goddess. Almost in unison, Mark and Nick turned their heads inwards to look at the two arrows side by side in the beam between them. They were both white as sheets and Mark was a black man. 


Author Notes Christine reveals more about her own dreams and psychic abilities. Ma has found four forest rangers and captured two American soldiers that have been holed up in a huge underground bunker filled with supplies. Answers to the physical changes occurring on earth may be forthcoming soon as one of the rangers is well versed on such things. Thanks to all that are trying to keep me from drowning. Hahaha. Your input and help is amazing. Thank you so much. mikey

Chapter 33
Underground Bunkers, Oceans & ESP

By michaelcahill

Warning: The author has noted that this contains strong violence.

Previously, Johnny has quelled an uprising of sorts by preventing the departure of the entire compliment of American soldiers. They were following an implanted dream telling them that rescue was on the way. Johnny convinced them that it was a trick. Ma found four park rangers and took them into her camp by Half-Dome and also captured two soldiers. The soldiers had been running maintenence routines on an underground bunker that has proven to be of great interest to Johnny. We continue with the story as Christine confronts the two soldiers with the reality of their situation.

I spoke, "Of course, if there was some way that you could guarantee your silence, we could delay your execution. It would be a big disappointment to Christine here. She just loves archery. So, it works like this. She sees you engaged in conversation, she puts an arrow through your throat. Sound Good!" I threw my best military voice on to that last phrase.
"Sir, yes sir."
You can only imagine how Christine and I laughed at that response. You can imagine how much more fearful that made them as well.
The other four people turned out to be park rangers. They had a cabin that was fairly well stocked. They had been staying there for quite a while until displaced by "a bunch of crazy bug-infested lunatics". Barbara, she of coffee madness, gave us that description. She was under forty and the head ranger. The men were Roger 62 and looking 82, Hameed 19 and looking 12 and Agapito 31, which seemed about right.
Barbara knew about global warming. Well, she knew that there was no such thing according to her. She explained to the first truly interested ears she had probably ever encountered, "Look, global warming is a bunch of crap. I'm not saying that we aren't destroying the planet. I'm saying that what we're doing isn't affecting the temperature in a real way. This…" She waved her hand at the sky, "this is some insane thing that man has done. A chemical weapon that has burned the hell out of the atmosphere. I'm guessing that the ozone has holes in it big enough to fit a continent through. My guess is rapidly melting ice caps. That’s the beginning. All that water goes somewhere. It isn't even either. The whole shape of the planet changes. The way it spins changes and its angle. Longer days and nights. All that stress causes earthquakes. Earthquakes cause tsunamis. Parts of the earth are going to burn like hell and turn into a wasteland."
I stopped her and filled her in, "The Pacific Ocean is about twenty-five miles south of here."
"No shit? It's already happened. I'll be damned. The San Andrea's fault didn't move." She started laughing and then stopped. "The pressure most of neutralized or been cushioned by the water. Hell, who knows. It's all theory. This is all green here. Damn. We're okay. It's green. Roger, green as grass. The redwoods survived." She skipped over, gave Roger a big hug, and within seconds Agapito and Hameed joined in.
I saw no need to stop them at the moment. Actually, I was happy about the great news. I didn't know why, but it seemed like good news and I decided I would enjoy it. Christine and Ma had smiles on their faces, why the hell not? Someone was happy, might as well join em. All of this global warming talk or whatever it was had my mind spinning. What was the state of the world? It appears things hadn't gone as predicted right here in our little section of the world. Now that I thought about it, half of California was supposed to drop into the sea and that was without melted polar caps.
"Johnny." I turned to answer Christine's call. She wasn't there. "Over here". I looked over by the entrance to the cave. She waved to me with a smile on her face. She was almost a hundred yards away.
"Yes." I tried to answer her. "Yes." This time I pictured her in front of me with my eyes closed.
"Cool, huh?"
I kept my eyes closed and concentrated. "Why? How?"
"Amplified. Using it. Don't know. Practice. Love."
"Love." My head was spinning or felt like it was. The back of it felt like it had something inside of it spinning. Christine was on her way to me.
"Can you pick up thoughts? You know…read minds…you don't mind what I fantasize about you?"
Christine laughed. "No, I sense moods and character; I'd guess you'd call it. Like the two soldiers. They're terrified of me. The exact thoughts, I don't know. But, fear is what they feel when they look at me. With you, it's fear and resentment. A little different. You, on the other hand, I can catch words and pictures. Really, it's parts of things. I have to look hard and concentrate. But, when you tried to project something simple to me and I was trying to hear it, I did. You heard me, right?"
"Yes! Like you were standing by me. I couldn't believe it when I saw you way over by the cave. We can use this, right? We keep it to ourselves, of course. This means we can project something to the so-called "dream team" or who knows who else."
I couldn't say how this might benefit us. But, every little edge helped. The near exodus the day before showed me how easily things could fall apart. Control had to be maintained. Not power, control. Thank God, it did nothing for my ego being in charge. It was a position accepted with reluctance and resignation. My love for Christine and my affection and loyalty for some of the others compelled me. Dammit, I cared about them. What could I do?
Some quick plans were in order. These new people would have to stay right here. We couldn't risk news of the bunker leaking out. Nick and Mark were not going to intentionally spill the beans, but any off-hand remark could trigger a mind to thinking. "So, Nick, what were you doing here?" What a loaded question. How would he answer that? He'd have to come up with a pretty clever lie. He didn't seem clever and Mark, less so.
The forest brigade, as I called them, liked to talk, especially Barbara. She was an extremely intelligent version of Rhonda. There would be no chance that she could carry on a conversation without revealing a secret. Ma and the boys had everything completely under control here. Christine and Linda would be the only other people coming up here with me.
The bunker ran on electricity. That left us with few options. But, there was some solar equipment that might be utilized. It was worth a try. One look at that sun swimming in a sea of red and orange chemical soup didn't give me much confidence though.
The giant redwoods were bright green though and plant life and things edible were still in abundance. So, perhaps some luck had come our way. How wonderful some radio waves would sound right about now.

Gunfire, and a lot of it, interrupted my musings. They were coming from the camp. My first instinct was to run in that direction. Christine was already pulling me towards the lookout position on Half-Dome.
We all had binoculars, courtesy of the fully stocked bunker. Christine had shown great instinct. It would have been a run to certain death. The camp was surrounded by poorly armed but numerous individuals on the attack. Our highly organized and fully armed garrison were picking them off at will.

It was a slaughter. I wanted to stop it, but it couldn't be stopped. The attackers were determined to take over and it couldn't be allowed. I wanted to feel pride in the efficiency of our team, but the wholesale loss of life sickened me. I could hear the single word response from Christine, "No."
Finally, it reached an end. The sound of gunfire was replaced by the sound of voices shouting orders. The words weren't clear, but the intent was. Linda, Christine and myself headed back to the compound.
We were no more than fifty feet from the gate when Christine suddenly pulled me to the ground. As I crumpled down beside her, I heard a shot ring out. Shortly thereafter, another shot, followed by an anguished yelp. The gate swung open, Jen and Annie rushed out.
Jen dropped down by my side, "Johnny, are you hit? Are you okay?"


Author Notes Trying to fully explain some of the aspects of the story. It is thought by many that the National Parks of the United States are likely to have large underground bunkers built underneath them for emergencies. Questions? Input and suggestions are always welcome. Trying to catch up. I am reading all reviews and appreciating every word. Thank you so much. I would be totally lost without your help. mikey

Chapter 34
Nightmares & Surprise Dreams

By michaelcahill

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Previously, Johnny and Christine had discovered an underground bunker. It appeared to be well stocked and looked to be possibly of great size. It may have been for emergency use or left over from the cold war. That had not been determined. Some more information about possible explanations for some of the global calamaties were forthcoming from a talkative forest ranger. Just before they were going to return to camp, gunfire broke out. From Half-Dome they witnessed an attack on their bunker that was easily repelled at great loss of life. Upon their return a shot rang out in the direction of Johnny. We pick up the story as Jen and Annie rush to check on Johnny and Christine's condition.

Jen dropped down by my side. "Johnny, are you hit? Are you okay?"

Annie mimicked the same questions to Christine. Linda stood motionless in stunned silence. I was fine and I could see that Christine was to as she rose to her feet. She put her hand out. I took hold and rose to my feet as well.
"I'm fine. Looks like I owe Christine my life. Well, I already gave her that. I suppose a box of chocolates will have to do." I smiled and Christine smiled back. She sensed that attack apparently. "What happened? Someone shot at us? At me? Who was it?"
Jen looked stunned as she spoke, "it was Carlos. He looked like he was in a trance. He freaked out when the shit hit the fan. He started screaming and shooting crazy. Damn, man, it looked nuts. It didn't matter really. It seemed like someone kicked an anthill. The woods emptied out and there they all were. Guns, spears, rocks you name it just a crazed attack. We opened up and it was the end of time. Jesus Christ, Johnny! It was like they had no minds. They just kept coming, crawling right over the dead bodies and then falling dead on top of them."
"What happened to Carlos?" I was hoping he wasn't dead. I would like to know what the hell he was thinking. We had been friends long before this all went down.
"I shot him." Jen looked to be on the verge of tears. They didn't come though. "I don't know. I just reacted. He's lucky I had a gun. An arrow would have been right in the heart, instinct. A gun? I'm not that good a shot. I think I got him in the shoulder. He looked okay. I don't know."
I heard Christine's voice, in my head, say "no", then she spoke to me, "It's not him, Johnny. Dream team. Round em up now. Right now. There part of the enemy. Kill them if need be. Alive is better. I'm stronger."
I looked at Jen, Annie and Linda. "You heard her. Let's go do what we need to do."
We entered the camp with weapons at our side. We looked at eased. Christine nudged me slightly. I heard, "To the right", in my head. I glanced casually in that direction. Tom, Turner and Nikolai were in a discussion with our target. All five of them were there.
As though their heads were attached, they turned in our direction.
Christine yelled, "Now!"
Tom and Nikolai drew their weapons. Turner sat their unmoving.
All five began to rise to their feet as we arrived with our weapons drawn. I could feel a buzzing in the back of my head. It felt like the same sensation that accompanied the last false vision. I could see that Christine felt it too.
One of the five dropped to the ground holding his head and another followed quickly after. Annie, Jen and Linda had guns to the heads of the other three, but their hands were shaking.
"Hold on! Resist them!" Christine shouted.
I reached one of the ones on the ground and pulled his head back. I put the gun to his forehead. "They stop or your head is going to be missing its brain."
Nikolai had his gun trained on Tom. Tom had his gun trained on me. I concentrated all my thoughts on Tom. His hand began to shake. I felt a little surge in my mind and his hand dropped.
All resistance ceased. The five dream team members had eight guns trained on them held by very unhappy individuals. They looked terrified. I looked behind me and saw Rhonda standing there. She had that "I'm smarter than everybody smirk" all over her face. I had the feeling she might have something to say.
"That son-of-a-bitch had a gun pulled; a gun on you, Johnny. I just can't believe that son-of-a-bitch would do that. I saw that and I thought to myself, "you son-of-a-bitch, you better put that gun down or Rhonda's gonna come over there and kick your butt", but, I didn't want to interrupt anything like you told me. You always told me, "Now Rhonda, when people is  talkin' you gots to wait untils they're finished and then you can talk cause that's polite," remember when you taught me that, Johnny? So, I just stood here and waited thinking how I was gonna kick Tom's butt if he didn't put that gun down. I guess I musta thought pretty loud cause that’s just what he did."
Tom instructed his men to chain the dream team up and post guards on them. He posted guards to keep an eye on the guards and yet another team in secret to keep an eye on both of the other teams. He didn't like the feeling of having someone playing inside his head.
I couldn't wait to converse with the so-called dream team. How in hell did they end up as a unit in the United States Marines? That just blew me away. This was just one rag tag platoon. How many more platoons were there and more importantly where were they? We were a small group here. There had to be larger groups. There had to be full-fledged countries still in existence. We weren't imagining stealth bombers and cargo planes. Someone had the capacity to transmit signals to our brains. We had no power, but the world was not powerless. Bombers don't fly on dreams.
The inner circle had more questions than it had answers and it seemed that priorities were becoming more difficult to rank. The state of the planet certainly mattered. The threats to the compound clearly were of immediate interest. The dreams could hold the key to our ultimate survival or demise. Plus, there was a huge underground bunker system that only some of us knew about.
I began with the most current occurrence, "What is the status of the attackers. How many survivors were there and what is their state of mind."
Nikolai seemed anxious to speak, "There are over one hundred uninjured and another sixty or seventy wounded in various conditions. The wounded are being tended to. The others are being detained and processed as we would any stragglers. I am assuming that you don't wish retribution."
"Correct. It would be pointless, good call. What is their attitude? Does it look like they will be able to fit in?"
Nikolai had a ready answer, "I would say that they are anxious to do so. I imagine, judging by their condition that this is a considerable improvement for them. I don't envision any problems. Of course, there are always individuals. But, there is no way to know that."
"What about Carlos?"
Jen looked embarrassed as she responded, "he is already up and back to work. He is not pleased with himself. As much as I understand that he was being controlled, I still have misgivings. I hate saying that. But, why him? Why was Tom pointing a gun at you and not Nikolai who was sitting right next to him? Why was Turner just sitting there? We can't ignore the facts. Rhonda, for God's sakes, helped more than Carlos or Turner. I don't see how that can be ignored. I felt them right inside my brain. I resisted. I don't trust someone that doesn't have resistance. Carlos tried to kill you and Tom was willing to. That's the bottom line."
"I hear you Jen. I'm not blaming Carlos or Tom either. But, you're right, we have to be cautious with them. It has nothing to do with their loyalty or friendship. It's simply a practical matter." Jen's loyalty was impressive. It would not be forgotten, Nikolai as well.
All of this had great significance. Christine motioned me over to her. We went off together to talk. There were priorities that we had to establish. 


Author Notes Trying to level some aspects of the story. Most things about the world are unknown to the people in Yosemite. So, the state of the earth is speculative. The real enemy is a guess as well. There are clues, but nothing is very solid. Wonderful input that is keeping me on my toes and preventing me from drowning. I'll try not to throw anything insane into the mix for a while!! This would be totally impossible without your help. Thank you so very much. mikey

Chapter 35
Interpreting Dreams & Opening Doors

By michaelcahill

Previously, The compound was shaken by an attack that though easily repelled cost a lot of lives. Upon returning to the compound Johnny was fired at by someone in the compound which turned out to be Carlos. Christine determinded that the so called dream team was somehow exerting influence over people and had to be stopped. In a confrontation they were subdued. It left everyone confused as to what was going on. We join the story now as Johnny and Christine go off by themselves to discuss the situation.

Christine spoke the moment we were alone, "I think that we are beginning to learn that there may not be a world that is anything like the world we once knew. I understand the people stranded here and the people forced north by the rising water being attracted to this compound. From what we've been able to see from Half-Dome, there isn't anything else like it. But, Johnny, that doesn't explain why the rest of the world would care. They have bombers and power. Why don't they wipe us out? They don't want to damage the land, that's why."
"I've been thinking the same thing. That whole food drop scenario. Why go to all that trouble? Why not just drop a few hundred bombs? You're right, the land. It has to be the land. I keep thinking about that bunker. We've got to see what is in there and where it goes. I read about bunkers from World War Two in China that went for miles like whole cities. There's no telling what is there. We've already seen tons of supplies. We need to get in there and explore and see what we have there."
Damn. We still didn't know anything. But, it didn't look like this was any kind of peaceful oasis.
May as well let a friend off the hook. I saw Carlos over by a housing structure under construction and strolled that way. "How's that shoulder? Don't you know not to tell your lady she's fat?"
A look of relief came over him. He smiled, "I always seem to learn things the hard way, Johnny. Sorry about what happened. It was the damnedest thing. Like I was convinced that you were there to threaten the compound. It wasn't even you in my mind. Just threat, that word, over and over. Hard to explain. I felt like I had to protect the compound. I know that makes no sense. It doesn't to me."
"Hey, don't sweat it. We all got a taste of it. Powerful stuff. We got em under guard now. Christine will fry their brain if they try anything. I'm glad you're okay. Jen was beside herself. Talk about a lover's quarrel." We both shared a little laugh. I doubt his was any more genuine than mine was.
I found Christine talking to Linda and Nikolai. Perfect.
"What did you do in the Russian army, Nikolai?" I needed someone I could trust that might know something about what we might find in that bunker.
"Communications. Too bad those men didn't have any wires or micro-chips in their heads. I could have reprogrammed them. I studied at Cal-Tech right here in this state. I tried to establish some communications in the field, but the signals were too weak. The atmosphere is charged and unstable. The satellites should still be there. But, who do we transmit to? I don't know. But, these dreams that you say you receive must come from the satellites. There is no other way unless they are nearby. Well, nothing here to work with." He looked like a marathon runner locked in a closet.
I felt like Nikolai should know about the bunker. A glance at Christine gave me her answer. "We have something to show you that might help. Linda, grab Annie. Tell the others we're going on a double date to the malt shop." I looked at Christine again, "Do you sense anything?"
"No. Those fools are quiet as church mice. They're just pawns, Johnny. I spent some time with them a little while ago. They're straight U.S. military. Whatever it is in our brains that receives those transmissions is stimulated by the transmissions. It heightens it. I'm aware of it already. It all blends together for me. You are already part of my past, Johnny. I remember you from dreams I had as a little girl just like the stealth bombers. I dream about the same people all the time. They grew up with me like family. Now you are there too as a part of them. But, you are there in the past too. I remember you. It's crazy."
I had a vague understanding of what she meant. I had seen her wake up in the morning as though she had been gone for a very long time. For all intents and purposes, she had. Her dreams were in real time. It took a little while to orient herself to current time when she awakened. Very complex, but I understood more or less. "These guys though, it seemed like they were trying to eliminate us."
"They had no idea what they're doing. They were tuning into the feelings of Tom and Carlos and some of the soldiers. That feeling that they should be running the show. It's a mistake. They don't know what they're doing really. They're just amplifying the feelings. And projecting them. Carlos and Tom do think they should be in charge, so they were receptive. Nikolai doesn't think that way so he isn't. Turner? I guess he's undecided. Us? We are on the same page. Anyway, I've had an awareness of this all my life. You? You have it, but you call it luck or instinct. But, you are in tune with it. Linda, Nikolai, Annie and Jen and even Rhonda are in tune with us. Well, all of this is just talk. We can't do anything with it here, but give each other headaches. We need some high tech equipment. We need to get inside that bunker and see what we have. We're just treading water here."
The five of us headed towards Half-Dome. No one paid any attention to us. As far as they were concerned the compound was home and Half-Dome was the wilderness. That worked out well to my way of thinking.
The sight of Christine caused an immediate stiffening of Nick and Mark's joints upon seeing us approach. Christine began laughing and the rest of us joined her, including Nikolai who didn't even know why. That didn't ease the tension for the two soldiers.
"At ease, soldiers!" My military voice had improved. They went into a formal at ease stance. "No, guys, I mean at ease. Relax. We're here to check out that bunker and we need your help. We need to know everything you know. There's an attack coming and we need to be ready. Where's the communications center in there?"
Nick looked a little less nervous, "Sir…"
"Look, call me Johnny. I'm not in the military. I've got some news for you. There is no military as far as we can tell. There doesn't even seem to be a country. Right now there is this group of people here in Yosemite trying to survive. That's it. So, Johnny will do."
"Yeah, okay, Johnny. Look, that's one of the reason's we got stuck here. No power. The communications are out, everything is out. There's no juice. As far as what's in there, we'll show you what we know, but we're low security. We're just here to keep an eye on the place. We're just glorified caretakers. This place isn't used in the winter. We haven't even seen most of what is in here. It's all locked up and off limits. We have access to food, basic communications and our quarters. We inventoried and made sure that the food stores were in order and checked dates on medical supplies. We ordered things that expired and that is about the size of it. We were to be relieved a month ago. But, who knows. We've heard nothing since all of this happened."
"Okay, Nick. Appreciate it. Let's go do a little breaking and entering."
Once inside we could see that the portion of the bunker that Nick and Mark had access to wasn't of great value to us, at least as far as finding and defeating our enemy. The food, clothing, tools and survival aids were a great plus to be sure, but not what we were looking for.
"Well, let's bust some doors down." I could see that Mark, especially, feared some kind of retribution. "Look, Mark, we have a platoon of both Russian and American soldiers at the compound. There is no one to cause you any grief. Get over it and give us a hand. Okay?"
The size of the bunker turned out to be astonishing.


Author Notes Christine tries to explain the nature of the forces that are brought to bear on the mind. Plans to utilize the bunker are made as Johnny realizes that they are getting nowhere. They need information. What is inside the bunker is about to be discovered. Next chapter has them inside breaking down doors and seeing exactly what is there. About to go on the offensive. Any ideas or suggestions? The dreams are being transmitted from the middle east using Russian technology. Satellites have to be involved. Your help to this point has been invaluable. Thank you very much. mikey

Chapter 36
Open Doors, Exodus & China

By michaelcahill

Previosly, Christine attempted to explain the nature of her dreams and her mental abilities. Johnny understood somewhat having abilities of his own to some degree. Christine was clearly in a class by herself. Some understanding was achieved though. The focus of the inner circle shifted to the bunker. The group slipped out of the compound to explore the bunker and see what they had to work with. It was hoped that they would find usable communications equipment. Without the ability to strike back it was felt that they would not survive an attack from an enemy that had stealth bombers. They needed a weapon to take them out.

Some more hands and strong arms would come in handy. Ma's boys had plenty of those. Jonesy looked quite interested with the solar panels found during our last visit. We could check out his progress at the same time.
Christine spoke softly to me, "Those two soldiers are terrified of me, Johnny. This isn't going to remain a secret very long. Let me take the heat off. It might loosen their tongues a little. Enough vinegar, a little sugar, okay?"
They seemed to know more than they were revealing. In hushed tones I whispered, "Just don't get them too excited. This Glock hasn't been fired in over a week."
She sauntered over to Nick and Mark with a sweet smile. Ma and the boys remained my destination. The sound of doors creaking open echoed throughout the large expanse of the bunker. It sounded like progress.
Ma and Lester had improved their wardrobe considerably. They looked ready for battle. Ma looked delighted with my expression. Lester greeted me with a firm handshake. Ma gave me her best military salute.
She spoke with a touch more excitement in her voice than normal, "Jonesy's got them sun squares a workin'. Gots some hot cookin' and bathin' water. Gots a couple lights in the cave and Jonesy's been a fiddlin' with an old radio he found in that bunker. Sounds like noise to me. He sez there's signals and what not comin' through it. Can't make nary a thing out of it though. At least some ones a talkin' bout sumpin' though."
"That's awesome, Ma. He got all that out of those four panels? I bet there's a whole room full of those in there. We might be in business. A radio you say? Now, that is something I want to hear. Even some static would be like music. I don't suppose you got any coffee to pour that hot water over do you?"
Ma laughed and looked like a down-home commercial when she answered, "Folgers crystals. Yosemite's choice." She held the jar up by her face and smiled, "We gots about twenty cases of it, Johnny. I sez we hides it in the cave. Officers only."
We both laughed as she poured some of the best coffee I recall having in a long, long time. Ma read my mind and poured another cup as I went to get Christine.
"Christine!" All my concentration focused on that word. It tickled the back of my head. The voice I expected in my head came right into my left ear.
"You don't have to shout. I'm standing right here." Christine smiled and waited for me to open my clenched eyes.
"Coffee". Sometimes a long-winded speech isn't required. We moved quickly back to Ma's campfire.
Christine took a couple heavenly sips and then let out some news, "You two won't believe what we are finding in there. It's like a city. An underground city. The huge room we think of as the bunker is just a loading room I think. There's a room bigger than that full of…hell, Johnny, I don't even know what it is. There's solar equipment. But, then there's stuff that looks like it belongs in outer space. There's a control room that looks like Cape Canaveral. I think we might be able to fly to the moon if it doesn't work out here."
"What about communications equipment?" I was starting to get excited.
"Nikolai started doing some kind of dance. I don't think it was Russian though. It looked like something perhaps a cartoon character might do. He just kept saying, "Yes!" Over and over. He told me that this is what we need. He's worried about power. We should get together and talk. After the coffee, of course."
I nodded my head. The coffee scenario worked well in my view. We enjoyed one of the most normal times any of us had experienced in a long while. Three friends enjoying a nice cup of coffee among the beautiful redwoods of Yosemite. Thoughts of the future made a daring appearance in my mind. Could that truly be possible? Christine looked so beautiful and extraordinary sitting there chatting with Ma. This would be worth fighting for.
Nikolai did have some moves, that could not be denied. The Road Runner's speed and Popeye's grace came to mind as an apt description.
He practically ran to me and blurted out his assessment, "This is what we need, Johnny. If the satellites are still in orbit, we can transmit. We need power though. Lots of power."
"The panels work, Nikolai. Ma has light in the cave. Jonesy has hot water, light and an old radio spitting out static from four solar panels we found here. They work! There's your power."
"That's not all. Tell him, Linda." Nikolai was breathless.
Linda motioned for me to join her in an office off to the right. Christine came with us. Nikolai continued with his work. Linda looked almost in shock as she spoke, "It was our own plan turned against us, Johnny. It's right here in these files." I looked in her hand at a stack of files. They were stamped "TOP SECRET" in big red letters, like something out of a spy movie. She continued as she handed them to me, "This mind thing is something our government has been working on for decades."
I read the title on the cover sheet. It read, "Project Exodus." Moses parting the Red Sea popped into my head. I knew Linda had already looked at it, so I let her continue.
"I don't understand the technical aspects of it." Linda wiped the sweat from her forehead. It wasn't warm. She continued, "It is something to the effect of stimulating a center in the brain that is a sixth sense. People call it ESP, instinct or whatever. This report pinpoints it to a part of the brain that transmits electronic images or something. Look, I can't explain it. But, according to this report, they can transmit images and pictures to this part of the brain and the brain translates it into something real. It's so damn insane sounding. But, you two talked about it. And then what happened in the compound. It sounds just like this."
"So, they found a way to transmit signals to this part of the brain? But, it doesn't work on everyone. It hardly works on anyone…"

Linda interrupted, "No. It doesn't. But, that doesn't matter. It only takes a few that are convinced. They convince everyone else. The report calls it, "Believable hysteria". They planned to pit the Arab countries against each other. Then they were going to have the citizens flee their countries to be rescued at the shoreline. But, they were going to slaughter them and take over the oil. It was all about the damn oil. The damn money."
"Well, what happened?" I got all that she was saying, more or less. But, this was all being done to us. I started reading myself. It didn't take long to start getting the picture. The Iranians had recruited the top Russian scientists along with German, French and Rogue operatives from all over the world. Any one that would be enticed by a boatload of money, was on the Iranian payroll developing weaponry with unlimited research funds and no moral restrictions.
Christine was anxious. She finally spoke, "Dammit, Johnny, what the hell does it say?"
"The Iranians had the technological expertise of the best scientific minds of the world. They had the backing of the Chinese."
Christ. I had to pause and mull it over. The Iranians with all of those scientists developing any kind of weapon they could dream up with no restrictions. Chemical weapons beyond our imagination, no doubt. Four billion Chinese people ready to jump into the fray. I don't know exactly what happened. But, when I glance up at the sky now, it doesn't look all that surprising after reading all of this.
"This stuff is all dated at least a month before the catastrophe. So, we don't know what happened exactly. But, someone started it and it was on. Both sides let loose. It looks like the bad guys are still going. I don't know what happened to our guys. We have to get this equipment going. We know something. We need to know more."

Author Notes Somehow my computer lost everything I had written. So, this is my new take. It is similar, but I couldn't remember what I had written. I'm glad I've been posting this and only lost a few thousand words. The other 45,000 were safe here at Fanstory! Maybe my muse was doing me a favor!! So, any thoughts or suggestions? What next? Your input has been great. The Christine character is based on someone that I know personally. I'm not exaggerating very much when it comes to her. Thanks for your help.

Chapter 37
Determining the Enemy

By michaelcahill

Previously, the contents of the bunker begin to be revealed. Top Secret papers are discovered that appear to be from the United States, but are they official? The enemy looks to be in the middle east allied with scientists from Russia and around the world. There appears to be backing from the Chinese. Nothing is certain. The search and discussion continue as we join Christine and Johnny in conversation.

Christine looked as angry as I'd ever seen her. She spoke in a low tone, "This report isn't from the United States, Johnny.  At least, not the official United States that we know of. This is bullshit, off-the-grid, behind-the-back crap. There's no way the President, or anyone in the real government, knew about any of this. There are terrorists working within our own country...American terrorists. Our own people, gone right off the friggin' deep end. Jesus, Johnny, it's "Dr. Strangelove" and it's no joke."
She hit on something that bothered me from the moment my eyes took in those words, TOP SECRET. The sense of spy movie irked me. It looked so cheap and "Hollywood Movie" to me. What the hell would something so sensitive be doing locked in a file cabinet, guarded by two, wet-behind-the-ears, recent, soldier-school graduates.
"We", didn't start anything. These fools did. Nick and Mark were clueless patsies with no idea what they guarded. Some high-stepping, military uniforms barked orders at them, and they ran to fetch. But, that still didn't tell us what happened. It did tell us what all of this equipment was doing here. Where in hell did these psychos go? Why did they leave? Why hadn't they returned? Damn, that last question sent a chill down my spine and back up again.
I motioned to Annie. She came over to where Christine and I were. "Let's have a meeting. We have to make a plan. Get the others. Let's take a coffee break."
Everyone looked pleased to be sharing a moment of peace. We conversed about nothing and sipped coffee for a little while. It seemed like a needed break to me. We were human and acting like it felt good. This group of people were of the finest quality, proving themselves over and over in every way. The honor of being held in their esteem surpassed anything in my life. Time for business.
"Our friends are here in Yosemite. Our enemies are numerous and seemingly everywhere. We have an idea who they are and where they are. We even have an idea what they are doing. The world is in extremely bad shape. How bad we don't know. How many people are dead, we don't know. Are there any allies out there? We don't know. Is there anything left of the United States of America or any of the countries that were once our friends? We don't know. This paradise that we live in is a target. The enemy wants. They can't have it. That is our current state. What's the plan? That is what we have to determine. Now is the time."
Nikolai wasn't about to wait. He spoke first, "It is everything needed, to transmit anything you ever dreamed of transmitting. This is all provided the panels deliver enough power. It's all here in perfect condition ready to go. Whatever they can do, we can do."
Annie jumped in, "That's not all. There are tunnels extending forever. We haven't reached the end, Johnny. There is an additional bunker a mile north of here in a valley. There's a heliport there with a helicopter. A helicopter, Johnny. None of us knows a damn thing about flying a helicopter, but it's there. Who knows what else is there. We've found vehicles and weapons. A lot of it hasn't been used in decades. Tree roots are growing through some of the rooms. But, some of it is pristine and ready to use right now."
Just as I planned to speak, Jonesy came strolling up. That was a sprint for him. He sat by Ma. He didn't speak very often, but when he did, it usually held some significance. We all became still to listen as he spoke, "I was a talkin' to the Royal Canuk Mounted Police fer a minute or two. Least wise that's who they sez they was. The signal kinda gived out. They sez to call 'em back in two hours."
Leave it to Jonesy to drop a bombshell like he just saw the first rosebud of spring. "What did they tell you? Is there a Canadian government? What do they know about the U.S. or the President? What…"
Jonesy kind of waved his hand slightly. That worked to silence me. He continued, "They didn't say all that much. They said they was doin' okay and was happy ta hear from me. They sez they'd heard from a few folks in parts of the U.S. They didn't have much time to chew the fat. They just gave me some channels we could chat on and all. Y'all can ask 'em yourself in a little spell."
Linda came running up and joined in, "I'm getting some transmissions, Johnny. They're faint and hard to make out. We don't have things set up yet. But, it isn't English, that much I can tell you. It isn't all the same language either. Some of it's Asian, that much I do know. The rest of it, I couldn't tell you. It isn’t French, Spanish, or anything similar. I'd recognize those."
I could feel that tingling sensation in the back of my head again. At first, I anticipated Christine sending a little hello or something. But, it wasn't that. It was that same image as before. Boats on the water and the words or feelings or rescue. Over and over, rescue, rescue. Christine caught my eye. Lester was holding the back of his head. Mark looked distressed and held his head. Damn! The compound. Would they be able to maintain order this time?
I wanted to continue this meeting and make plans. But, getting back to the compound and making sure all remained calm took priority. "We have to check the compound. They're transmitting the rescue images again. Make blocking that signal your number one priority." Nikolai nodded as I caught his eye. I looked at Annie, "You and Jonesy keep at the radio system and see what you can find out. Don't talk to anyone except those Mounties. See what you can find out. Hopefully, we'll be back in short order."
Christine and I headed in a hurry towards the compound. My head ached and, no doubt, hers did too. The desire to discover a peaceful scene at the compound went without saying.
The buzzing in my head ceased as suddenly as it started. Could it be that Nikolai had found a way to block it already? That was wistful thinking. But, it felt good to think like that. Maybe our trip to the compound would be a short one.
We came upon a peaceful compound. Carlos had an older man and a young woman over by the dream team and seemed intently questioning them. We went to investigate.
Christine smiled and spoke first, "Looks like you have everything nailed down here. Who are these two?"
Carlos looked pleased with himself and responded confidently, "Jerry here", he nodded towards the older gentleman and continued, "He went a little berserk when the attack hit. We noticed the prisoners getting squirrely and knew something was up. This one began running around telling everyone to get ready and the like. Sarah here", he put his hand on the young lady's shoulder and smiled as he continued, "she was trying to set him straight, telling him it was a trick and to resist, like we've all learned. He wouldn't listen, so Turner grabbed him and cuffed him. He's calming down now. I think Sarah here might be able to help you guys. She seems to see other things the way you do Christine. She says she saw Chinese soldiers on ships with Persian flags. She's Iranian."
I jumped in, "Hi Sarah. You saw Chinese soldiers? Are you sure? How do you know?"
She was eager to answer, "I recognize the writing from the artwork my grandfather collected. The characters are different in each language. The Japanese characters are smoother and rounded, the Chinese characters have many more lines and jagged edges. There's more to it, of course, but I recognize most of the writing."
"Good work Carlos. You're promoted to Six Star General Elite." That got a big smile. "You can let this guy go. I think he gets the picture now. We'll take Sarah here with us. I want to ask here about some details. We have some more plans to discuss with Ma. I think the camps in good hands. We'll see ya soon."
Carlos look pleased as we turned to leave.
Christine whispered in my ear, "What's up grandpa, I'm not young enough for you?"
Sarah just stared at us as we burst out laughing. But, it wasn't long before she was laughing too, unable to resist.

Author Notes Lots of speculation as always. But, what is true and what is not. They try and sort the truth from the supposition. More about the cause of the disaster and who the enemy might be is coming to light. Still many questions remain unanswered. Input and suggestions still welcomed. Thank you for all your help.

Chapter 38
Power and the Wizard of Yosemite

By michaelcahill

Previously, answers started coming out of the bunker along with more questions. However, directions and plans could start to be formed and progress started to be made. A potential emergency for once turned out to be easily handled back at the compound and another individual that was receptive to the projections being transmitted to the brain was found, Sarah. Johnny, Christine returned with Sarah to the bunker to check on the progress. We join them now as they come upon the work in progress.

The area in and around the bunker buzzed with excitement and activity. There were sounds unheard in months. Gasoline powered engines revved and labored to their tasks as they went through their paces. My mind drifted back to those early days of static on the radio of our Ford van as the battery slowly died down. The fear is what haunted me the most. The overwhelming paralyzing fear preventing movement. Now, this scene before me looked hopeful and forward thinking.
Linda and Nikolai came bubbling towards us. They cast a wary eye towards Sarah and I introduced her, "This is Sarah, Christine and I adopted her. She looks like me, don't you think?" Turning to Sarah, who had in a short time, become accustomed to my humor extended her hand, I continued, "Sarah, this is Linda and Nikolai, they built this bunker from an erector set." I whispered loudly, "The tall one doesn't speak any English."
Nikolai practically did the "I have to pee" dance and started speaking, "Yes, yes, yes…all very funny. Nice to meet you. Johnny, there is too much news. On the lower frequencies, there are contacts and lots of them. You call these frequencies, C.B., citizens band, in Russia we call them…well, no matter. There are survivors scattered in many locations. Some, Johnny, are nearby it seems. I can't be sure. They describe terrain like this. They don't know anything about how to tell me there location. They know names of things. Some are in other states. We need those rangers. They might know these names they tell me."
Christine already knew to go get Barbara, the talking machine, and the other rangers. Other states. Survivors nearby. That certainly was good to know, even potentially beneficial, but that didn't tell us about our enemy.
"What about the enemy? That is what we need to know."
Linda didn't dance, but she had the same anxiousness as she spoke, "There is no question that the enemy is from the middle east. It's probably Iran or a coalition. But, Iran is just the front. The Chinese are the true threat. Iran put up the money and brought in the scientists from around the world. To them it was all a religious war. Some twisted vision of God's triumph over the evil dogs blah, blah, bullshit. As best as we can determine, they are here. I mean, here, Johnny. Maybe four or five hundred miles south of us. Mark says there is an Air Force base in the Mojave Desert there."
"Edward's Air Force. Lancaster, California. That's where we came from. You just moved there, Linda, Edwards is just north of us on Avenue A. Sonic Booms? Those are the Stealth Bombers. They fly right out of Edward's. The Iranian's are there. You've got to be kidding."
Linda looked stunned. She continued, "We don't know who is there, Johnny. We know that transmissions are going from there to the middle east, Tehran specifically. I'd hate to think it's our own troops flying those bombers. But, I think I'd hate it even more to think that there were Iranians flying them."
Nikolai interrupted, "What may be more interesting, Johnny, is where there are NO transmissions coming from. There is nothing from Europe. There is nothing from China or anywhere else in Asia. There is nothing from Mexico, Central America or South America."
Did that mean that those areas were destroyed? What could be left? still so many damn questions. What about Africa, Canada…Hell, Nikolai, what about America?"
"Africa and Canada has transmissions. Canada more than anywhere in the world. The U.S. too. But, then I can pick up signals that are closer and direct. World signals are intermittent and bouncing off satellites. Right now, we are listening as you wished. We've waited for you to return. We don't know what to tell them."
"Hell, Nikolai, I don't know what to tell them either."
Christine arrived with the rangers. There were four sets of wide eyes that accompanied the rangers when they got a gander at the activities and scope of what transpired around the bunker. Barbara, the talking machine, fell silent for the first time since before the mid-wife slapped her bottom and started her making noise.
Nikolai began immediately, "Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Fire Falls, do any of these names mean anything to you?"
Barbara found her voice, "Well, yes. Kings Canyon, Sequoia? Those are sister parks. They're about two hours south of here. Beautiful too, I've been to both many times. Of course, they don't compare to Yosemite, but they have their own beauty and aren't as crowded…"
"Yes, yes. Fine. Fire Falls?" Nikolai somehow managed to get a word in.
Barbara lifted her arm and pointed off to the right. "It's about a mile or so, right over there. We don't do the fire show anymore, too dangerous…" For once, she stopped herself from going on and on.
Christine spoke up, "What did the people by Fire Falls say?"
Nikolai thought for a moment and replied, "They were planning to pack up camp and go to be rescued. They were looking for other survivors to go with." Nikolai fumbled through his notebook briefly. "Ah, yes. Here it is. Panda Bear. That was their name. Americans have cute little names for their radios. This one was Panda Bear. Should we go get them? Maybe it's too dangerous."
Christine was quick to answer, "If it was me, I'd want to be rescued. Let's be those kinds of people. We go get them, right Johnny?"
She was right. Civilized. That's what civilization implied. Yes, we had to rescue them. I looked around at all of our equipment. We could make quite a show of it. That would be the best approach. The more official the rescue looked, the more effective it would be.
I still wanted to know what else had been discovered. "What else have you found out?"
"I'll have to show you." Nikolai smiled.
We all followed him inside. The stunned rangers came with us. They looked as though they had been suddenly transported to the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.
I understood their feeling when I saw what Nikolai and the others had installed. Star Trek never had it so good. "Spock…you…damn green-blooded freak! What…have…you done?" It wasn't a bad Captain Kirk considering it was my first attempt. It occurred to me that Nikolai had never seen Star Trek and now considered me a little off.
"I have only done as you, yourself, have instructed me to do, Jim." Nikolai smiled broadly.
He had seen Star Trek. His Spock surpassed my Kirk by quite a bit.
"Dammit, Jim, I'm a girl! I don't have any lines. I'm not a doctor…too obscure?" Christine did an even better and certainly more attractive Dr. McCoy. I loved her little take about the females on the show not having anything meaningful to say.
"What is all of this?"

Nikolai looked pleased as he responded, "This is what they've been doing to us. They are transmitting the electronic interpretations of thoughts over the airwaves to those that are able to receive them. Those like Christine, yourself, Lester and young Mark over there. Technically, they are transmitting all of the thoughts, but they are amplifying specific ones. Those are the ones that stand out. Christine, apparently, is able to sift out some of the others as well."
"How are they able to get the people transmitting to think of the same thing? I can't concentrate on tying my shoe."
"Not so difficult. You just haven't tried. They probably have a picture to stare at or use hypnosis. No doubt, they use individuals similar to Christine and yourself. To send our own signal, that would be who I would use, you and Christine and some of the others like you."
"We do nothing until the time comes. I don’t want them to know that we have a clue. Can you block their signal without tipping them off?"
Nikolai smiled again, "Oh yes, we can block it, capture it and watch it on T.V. or listen to it really. We can also sift through the signal, extract other weaker signals, and amplify them. We can find out what they are really thinking, Johnny. We can read their minds, so to speak."
"I like it. Keep working on this. We'll think about what we want to transmit when the time comes. Great work, Nikolai. You are promoted to Wizard."


Author Notes Research on translating brain waves into language for the deaf is currently ongoing. The premise of transmitting signals to the brain is by no means science fiction. I'm trying to keep it withing the bounds of reality based on current research with some leap of logic. Great input as always. I imagine that I would be floating out to sea without the great suggestions and help. So, thank you so much everybody. mikey

Chapter 39
Rescue Begins At Home

By michaelcahill

Previously, the bunker revealed many secrets and equipment began to be utilized and constructed. Pockets of survivors were discovered, some within Yosemite itself. Another attack by the enemy had minimal results as the survivors proved to be ready and prepared to combat it this time. More and more information came to light. Johnny had an idea. We join the story now as he is about to ask Nikolai a question about the equipments capacity.

It occurred to me that the new mind equipment might come in handy in our rescue attempt. I knew Nikolai had some fancy name for the equipment and cringed when I called it "mind equipment". I didn't have time to learn the science. Using it had to be my focus.
"Nikolai, we've been talking about transmitting signals long distances. What about short distances? Can we control the signal? Can we send it two miles away and no farther?"
Nikolai paused briefly. "Of course, Johnny. I haven't been thinking in those terms. That would be simple. The closer the target the greater the concentration and the easier the targeting."
That opened up some interesting possibilities. "Christine, I think we could draw those people here with our own projections. If they are packing to leave then someone is receiving the enemy transmission. Why not send them ours instead?"
Christine smiled. "I am in favor of that, of course. It's safer than a blind trek through the forest to a reception that is uncertain. But, Johnny, I don't know the first thing about…well, any of this."
Nikolai interjected, "There is nothing to know. I simply hook you up and you start thinking and concentrating on the message. Not just you. As many of you as possible. Anyone that registers on the equipment. It isn't some mind game. It's simple electronics. It's television. Well, I can see by the look on your face, Johnny, that it is not important that you completely understand."
We all burst out laughing at that remark. I could feel the look on my face and knew it wasn't the look of great intelligence. A puppy seeing its master levitating would be the equivalent. I truly didn't understand the technology. Christine did, perhaps she could explain it to me when we had some leisure time.
We decided to go with the people on hand. Making a madhouse out of the bunker needed to be avoided for as long as possible in my view. Christine, Lester, Mark, Sarah, myself and Ma, who'd been holding out on me it appeared, were all hooked up to Nikolai's array of equipment. There were monitors and wires going everywhere. The solar panels had the bunker lit up like a Las Vegas casino. A picture of the bunker with a large number of people eating a meal filled a large panel directly in front of us. A short script flashed line by line directly under it.

That constituted the entire transmission. The screen switched to the next line every five seconds. Nikolai instructed us to speak the words clearly in our mind and not vary the tone. Speak in a monotone he told us.
Nikolai had some final words. "Remember what I told you. Don't add anything to the message. It is important that each individual mind combine to make one mind. The message is simple. You want these people to follow the instructions. You want them to seek the comfort and peace of that picture. It is the truth. You are saving their lives. You must put all of your effort into these thoughts."
Nikolai flipped a switch. I felt a light buzz in the back of my head. It was nothing like what an incoming transmission felt like. This just tickled a little bit. The screen started slowly rolling. The lines changed from one to the next, over and over, one after the other. Five seconds seemed longer than I imagined they would. We were all doing what we would be doing until Nikolai turned the machine off.
A large searchlight stood on top of Half-Dome to act as the beacon. It shone for miles in all directions.
Carlos, Turner and Tom had the regular military at the ready just in case we drew the wrong people in. It had taken some coaxing to get me to agree, but the threat of being defenseless with Christine, myself and Ma indisposed gave me no choice. Thank God, Annie, Jen and Linda were there to watch over everything.
Time began to stand still for me. Christine and the others would verify that same feeling with me later when we talked about it. Christine had a sense of people approaching the camp. None of the rest of us had that. All of us sensed Christine as a guiding force walking calmly through our thoughts guiding us. Personally, her smile became a part of every cell in my body and her laughter a part of my spirit.
Nikolai flipped a switch on his console and the sensations of the experience slowly drifted away. No one felt a jolt back to reality. No one ever felt like they had left reality. It felt more like reality simply expanded or perhaps we had discovered a corner of it we hadn't seen before. A part of the experience remained with me.
Christine smiled as she spoke softly to me, "Your still shuffling around in here, Recon Johnny. I kind of like it. To be honest, I love it."
"I love it too, Christine. I wouldn't mind getting hooked up to this thing just for fun."
That would have to wait. We had been transmitting the message for over four hours and the results were beyond anything we might have imagined. The bunker was not a secret any longer, at least to the citizens of Yosemite. The transmission's effectiveness could be counted by the dozens.
Linda exhibited more signs of fatigue than all of us put together. She sighed. "Over seven hundred so far, and there are more coming from all over. The beacon is still on. We had to bring the troops in for crowd control. I don't mean to imply that they were unruly, no one was. Just the damn numbers, Johnny. Some of these people have been to hell and they have just got back. They're eating these rations like they're New York steaks."
"No enemies? No one negative or problems?" It seemed too good to be true.
Linda's expression seemed to mirror my inner feeling of astonishment. She shook her head from side to side. "No one even displayed anything negative. They all arrived in great spirits. Hell, to tell you the truth, it almost creeped me out." She let out a laugh. "I guess this must have looked like heaven after what they'd been through."
I realized that I was smiling. I looked over at Christine as I realized why. She looked so peaceful as she surveyed all of the activity taking place in the bunker. I wasn't concentrating when I called out to her softly. She turned and smiled. Words were not needed.
Nikolai waved us in to the control room. He looked pleased. It was beginning to be his normal look. He pointed to the monitor. The rescue scene that had been transmitted many times over the last week was on the monitor. It appeared as a hazy and out of focus image that moved in an unnatural motion. Ships on the water with American flags. Underneath the screen, phrases followed one after the other every five seconds: rescue, shoreline, America, country restored, rescue coming.
On another monitor, another picture was on display, a little more out of focus, but still discernable, warships, Persian flags, and Chinese personnel aboard. There was a jumble of words rapidly changing below: deception, destruction, victory, land, land, land. The word land appeared often. An aircraft carrier was among the ships. It looked huge.
Nikolai frowned as he spoke, "They are transmitting to the location you called Edward's Air Force Base. It's a call for back up. Codes and coordinates. It sounds official, Johnny. It sounds legitimate. Those bombers deployed before. We saw them. Either they stole codes, have hostages or there are traitors. But, we have nothing that can affect a stealth bomber. We can't even detect them until they enter our field of vision." Nikolai smiled and looked pleased once again. He started pushing buttons and flipping switches. He looked at a small monitor. "But, Johnny, we can scramble that signal. Oh, hell yes, we can scramble that signal!"
"Can we talk to Edwards?"
"Hell yes, Johnny. Inviting them to tea?" Nikolai looked…well, you know how he looked.


Author Notes Getting to the point of confrontation as more and more is discovered. Excellent input and suggestions. I hope you all keep it coming. It is invaluable to me. I appreciate every word of encouragement and critique as well.

Chapter 40
Good Vibes

By michaelcahill

The survivors have found out how to use the equipment in the bunker and have transmitted a signal of their own. Stranded campers from all over the area have responded and come to the bunkers. The mood of everyone is strangely upbeat and happy. Johnny is contemplating that fact as we continue the story.

The mood at the bunker astonished me. I knew where my awesome mood came from. Hooking up to that equipment with Christine had affected us. Maybe it was our already deep connection. I suspected Christine stood outside the boundaries of normal. She reported things that none of us experienced. We felt her presence during the transmissions. I felt her presence now.
It sounded crazy in my mind as a thought, let alone spoken as an idea. Perhaps Christine influenced everyone's mood through those transmissions. Maybe she stimulated some kind of positive energy. Jesus, Johnny, get a damn grip. You sound like a straight to video Disney movie.
Nikolai waved me over with "the look" on his face. I needed to come up with a name for that look. "Pleased" didn't cut it. Perhaps, "blissful restrained-euphoria". I'd work on it.
"What is it? Did the Dodgers win the pennant?" I loved seeing him ignore things that had no meaning to him or sluff them off.
"Yes, of course. Rah, Rah. Now, the real winners are on the end of that microphone, Johnny. Say hello to Edward's Air Force Base."
There was a little static, but the transmission was quite clear. "This is General Scopes, is this Johnny?"
"Yes, sir. It is good to hear a friendly voice coming from my hometown, sir." I meant that sincerely.
"Well, Nikolai there has been debriefing me on your situation, Johnny. You are doing a helluva job, son. We are hanging on as best we can here. But, we've been flying blind until this very moment. We have some fuel reserves here, Johnny, but I regret to tell you, we can't just raid the Shell station and fill-er-up. So, we're limited in how many missions these birds have in them. We wasted one already. Nikolai says we caused quite a stir."
"Yes, sir. You did indeed, sir. We have some kind of attack coming. We aren't exactly sure what it is. We think it's by sea. There seems to be an aircraft carrier, so there's that also. I'm sure Nikolai told you about their weapon."
"Yes, son. We've been duped by that already. But, fool me once as they say. Well, Johnny. There isn't much to cross the ocean with of concern. Hell, we're right in your backyard. Five hundred miles isn't an eye blink to a stealth bomber. But, we can't go back and forth. We need to know when and I mean when for sure. We can shock the sand out of their desert if we know when to do it."
"You've got me hoping, General. I'll let you talk to these folks here that speak your language. We're all in this together for once. I'm starting to like our chances, sir."
I handed the receiver back to Nikolai. Carlos, Turner and several other soldiers from the Russian and American troops were there mingling together. I couldn't discern any thought of them or they, only we and us. I thought back to a time in my childhood when there were thoughts of super powers destroying the world. Funny, what remained of the super powers now held the survival of a free world in their hands. A bunch of crazy people it appears had practically destroyed the earth.
Information and news of survivors started to pour in. There continued to be concerns, mainly on my part, that we would tip off the enemy if we got to chatty. There was no stopping communications though. The curiosity overwhelmed us. How could I say no when I wanted to know just as bad as anyone else did?
Linda, Jen, Annie and Lacy all had been receiving transmissions from around the world. Christine, Ma, Lester and myself were trying to piece it all together into some kind of picture that would tell us what the world looked like now.
Linda seemed the most anxious to speak. She had been concentrating on the continental U.S. and Canada. "The farther north we go the more stable things seem to get. Then it turns to chaos again. Waterways are completely over their banks and new lakes and rivers have formed.  Dams have burst, but other areas are almost unaffected. Parts of Canada are without damage of any kind and parts of the United States as well. Vast parts of the United States are destroyed. I mean completely destroyed, Johnny. Gone. Underwater or unlivable. Christ, Florida, the east coast, the west coast…well we can look and see some of that here. But, even here, in California, many areas survived the initial disaster. Look at us."
"I thought about that, Linda. If Edwards is still there, then our houses might be as well. Have you found anyone in Lancaster?"
Linda smiled, "Not Lancaster, but Lake Los Angeles. There's some miners out there with CB equipment and generators. They were underground when the attack, if you want to call it that, hit. They stayed down there for a week before poking their heads out. Same as here. They climbed to high ground and saw survivors, but were afraid to move. Eventually a camp formed and they have a little community there. They're scared, Johnny. They couldn't believe their ears when they heard me answer their call."
Annie jumped in. "It's cold everywhere I talked to. Not freezing, just cold. Forty, fifty degrees. But, that's where winter has usually hit big time by now. The Dakotas, Minnesota and most of Canada. The weapons didn't affect Canada, but the melted water wreaked havoc. Streams turned into rivers, brooks turned into lakes, you get the idea. Northern Canada melted for the most part and poured down on the rest of the country. But, there are a lot of survivors and many Americans are there too. They say the President is there. But, I can't get a clear answer."
One of Ma's group came running up to Ma and whispered something in her ear. She motioned me over. Christine came with me.
Ma looked pensive for her. She spoke, "with that new lookin' equipment we's can see a good distance now. Lester sez he's seein' visitors comin' quite a ways out there. He sez maybe a couple days the way they's a goin' now."
"Can he see how many ships or what kind?" My pulse was racing.
"I guess we best go see fer ourselves. He's a askin' fer ya." Ma was already up and ready to go.
Christine and I joined her. I instructed the others to start working on maps and getting numbers and names in some kind of organized books.
From Half-Dome, we could see a great distance out to sea. The air itself was crystal clear now. The reddish color of the sky seemed to be higher up in the atmosphere. I could see that there was a large fleet of ships coming. I couldn't make out details, yet. They had just entered the field of view. There could be more that hadn't reached the line of sight yet. It already had enough size to give me chills. It was a large force. Whatever plan we came up with, preventing them from reaching shore was a necessity. If they managed to get their forces on the ground thoughts of the Alamo found an unwanted berth in my mind.
I knew that their message came through every two or three hours now, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. What message could we send that might give them second thoughts about landing on our shore? We needed to give them the idea that this wouldn't be a nice place to visit. 


Author Notes Survivors continue to be found. The enemy appears to be on its way. The survivors need to find away to stop the enemy and they need to find it quickly. Suggestions? Always anxious to hear your input and ideas. Critique is welcome also. Thank you for all of your help. Your reviews have made the difference!!

Chapter 41
How's The Weather?

By michaelcahill

Previously, contact is being made throughout the continental U.S. and Canada. There is an eerie silence throughout much of the world. The damage to the earth appears extensive and catastrophic. Yosemite appears to be one of the few thriving eco-systems on the face of the earth. An armada of vessels approaches their position. Its size is unknown other than being quite large. Its purpose is clear, to take over Yosemite. Plans continue to unfold. We join the story as incredible storms attack the approaching armada. The campers view the violent weather from Half-Dome.
"Damn, Christine, they are getting slammed out there. The may not even make it here. It looks like evil twins playing rubber ducky in a bathtub. But, they're still coming."
Ma laughed. "That's a been goin' on a startin' day one. Every which way you'd look. Storms, lightnin' flashin' lights, quite a show. Course we had nothin' but lookin' glasses till we runned cross this bunker here. Then the show was a really crackin'."
Christine looked up from what seemed to be far away. "Only the one rainstorm here. Seems odd that the weather spares this area. The disaster didn't. You remember, Johnny. People dropping sometimes within two feet of someone that kept running. Does it look like they've lost any ships?"
"Can't say. Lots of em still iffin' they did. I'm guessin' they's a might desperate if you's to ask me. Tough as it's been here, nothin' would gets me an the boys out on that angry pond." Ma leaned back.
I'd come to recognize that posture. It meant, "Mull that over for a second. There's something to think about there, something important."
Christine beat me to the punch. "They have no choice. They have no place to go. They're homeland is destroyed. They're without a country. That's why they want this land. This is all they know, war. War and power is what is ingrained in their memories for generations."
"No transmissions from China, Christine. None. Europe, Central and South America. All of Asia, Christine."
Ma smiled as the picture started to form in our minds. Christine leaned forward propelled by the force of her own revelation.
She look surprised; I had not seen that look since our first kiss. "They have nowhere else to go. They are fleeing the devastation of their destroyed countries..."
I couldn't contain myself. "Everything they have left, is on that armada of ships. It's do or die for them."
We sat there and pondered that for quite a while. Ma got up and boiled water for coffee. The smell of those crystals exploding in the water drew others to the campfire. Even Nikolai and Linda, the couple that never slept, joined us.
I broke the silence and probably the last moment of peace we would enjoy together for a long time. "This isn't a war. This is a hostage situation. How else can we look at it? None of this is a certainty, but it is likely that this armada is all that remains of a large portion of the world. We have to consider most of the people on these ships as being there involuntarily. We have to attempt rescue. In any war, if all of the leaders suddenly disappeared, how long would the soldiers continue to fight?"
Jen jumped up. She rubbed her back. She had a decided protrusion in her mid-section. Rumors of her pregnancy were not exaggerated. She blushed as she felt eyes slowly rise up, to politely make eye contact with hers. She smiled sheepishly and spoke, "what about our ships? Surely, we have some ships still afloat. What about Canada? They seem the least affected by the catastrophe. Don't we have some kind of answer for this ocean full of ships coming our way? I mean, Nikolai says Edwards may not even be able to get planes off the ground with this crazy weather. For Christ's sake, he says it's snowing there. It's eighty degrees here were it should be freezing and it's snowing in the middle of the desert. I feel like we're in the eye of one giant ass tornado and Dorothy is barefoot."
I should have known Barbara, the talking machine, couldn't resist the opportunity to speak. She looked to be ready to jump out of her underpants. I blocked thoughts of what color they might be, but to no avail, a shade of green that had no name, and existed nowhere else, came to mind.
I shuddered, as she spoke, "You don't get the picture. This is not something natural. This is mankind taking a blowtorch to an ice cube. This is Godzilla pointing his ass at the ozone, cutting a huge fart and lighting a match. There isn't some scientific model to help your kids with for show and tell. They've fast-forwarded the earth's evolution a million years. Maybe it's backwards, I don't know. For all I know, this is what the Lord woke up to on the fourth day. Except, this time he threw man on the planet early. Hell, I don't even know what I'm saying!" She burst out into some kind of sobbing laughter that came without tears or humor.
Carlos found no humor in any of it. He looked somber as he spoke, "our concern is right here. We have to concern ourselves with us. As far as I'm concerned, this armada, or whatever you want to call it, belongs at the bottom of the ocean. Need I remind anyone that they are the bastards that did all of this to us?"
That thinking hit a familiar chord with me. That word "us". It never struck me more clearly than it did, at that moment, what a damn devious word that was. What a deception for the powers that be, to refer to those that they rule, as equals. "We", indeed. We, the people. No, the people aren't in charge of a damn thing in spite of what the people that are in charge, tell you. They, are in charge of you, the people.
That sounded so comforting and correct to call our group of merry warriors, "us". The whole problem with "us" is that it creates another unfortunate group of people called, "them". The time had come to decide what kind of a world everyone would be living in. The world still existed, and so did humanity, for the time being. A famous quote ran through my mind now. It came from a time in my youth: "I don't know what weapons World War III will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and rocks."
World War III was fought with weapons of mass destruction. World War IV loomed on the horizon. We still had weapons a plenty to bring to bear. Hell, we might yet be able to destroy the rest of it, if we put our minds to it. After all, "we" had to protect what was "ours", so "they" wouldn't get it.
Tom stood to address the group. "I appreciate the sentiments that Johnny and Christine have expressed here. I'm sure we can all agree that without them, none of this would have come about. But, I have to look at this from a practical standpoint. This is an enemy that comes to call. This is a desperate enemy, and one that is hell bent on our destruction. Hundreds have died horrible deaths at their dastardly and devious hands. They aren't coming here to seek asylum. They come to annihilate. If there are survivors, yes, we show them mercy. Johnny has demonstrated that numerous times, to the benefit of all. But, we protect our own first. We wipe this threat off the face of the earth. Then, peace will be the order of the day."
Should I squelch this immediately, or let it play out? I expected as much from these two. Nothing new. Let them state their minds, knowing the mindset of those around me had an importance to me. I needed to know how extensively Christine had influenced the mood of the camp. I'd let everyone have their say. The path to take had already been set in stone, as far as I was concerned. I'd like to hear the extent of the support I could expect.

Author Notes The story has a lot of aspects to it. It's difficult to keep the posts short enough to comfortably read and address everything that I wish to address. Keep pointing things out and I will keep them in mind. I am listening to every single word intently, believe me. Your input is the greatest. I can't thank you enough. Sorry for my responses being so terribly slow. Limited internet. I have my laptop to write on all day. But, only a couple hours a day to post and review. mikey

Chapter 42
Kodiak Bears and Debates

By michaelcahill

Previously, discussions continued in earnest. The approaching armada appeared in great distress due to unpredictable weather. Edward's Air Force Base reported possible problems with a timely air strike due to weather as well. They planned to be ready, but might get delayed by weather. It was snowing in the desert while we enjoyed relatively warm days. We pick up as Johnny listens to discussion from the group as to course of action concerning the armada. The military types want to blow it up. They more moderate of the group, including Johnny, want to attempt a peacful outcome. The story continues as the debate goes on:
Lacci seldom spoke out publicly. She voiced her opinion in small private groups. She had grown considerably. The young unsure girl had become a strong willed opinionated woman. She had gained the respect of all of us. She stayed seated as she spoke in a firm but soft voice. We were silent so that we could hear every word. "I have no love for the world that once was. It was a world that told me what I should weigh and what type of nose I should have. You say that I am beautiful. The world found every flaw and offered every remedy. It left nothing inside of me. All that I was could be found on the surface. I have found myself here with these people."
Lacci slowly looked from Jen to Annie and then to Linda. She smiled at me and finally looked and gave a little head nod to Christine. Christine returned the gesture acknowledging who she had become. Lacci continued, "I see a lot of people sitting around this campfire enjoying coffee and more importantly enjoying friendship. I recall a time when more than one of you were, as Tom put it, hell bent on our destruction. We decided to make every effort to allow you to make a decision to choose a different path. Given the choice, you all did. I cannot support any action that does not include that choice."
A young lady stood near the campfire. I didn't recognize her. She stepped forward. "May I say something?"
A warmth, similar to what passed between Christine and I, drifted over me. "Yes, all may speak their mind."
She appeared shy, but determined speak. "I'm Fortunada Esquievel. I came to this camp with my mother and two children. I had packed up my family for rescue when the new message came. I was confused and did not know what to do. But, then this woman spoke to me." She stood by Christine and acknowledged her with a slight smile.
She continued, "Until then, I was confused and unsure. She spoke no language. She spoke to my feelings. I cannot explain it any differently. She brushed by my confusion and softly reassured me that I would be safe with the people here. She didn't speak, but I knew that she spoke the truth. I joined others that traveled towards the beacon. Those that received the message shared those feelings with each other without speaking words. We share them still. The people that come will hear the message and share it as we have. That is all."
The discussion continued for some time uninterrupted. The need for my intervention passed as the overwhelming consensus backed my plan of rescue as opposed to destruction. Complete readiness for battle had to be maintained, I knew that. We may yet see stealth bombers fly overhead and drop the lot of em into the briny deep. We might see them hit the shore like army ants wiping us out too. Peace was like a butterfly when it came to mankind. It looked pretty flying by, and delighted us for a moment. But, it never remained in our thoughts once it left our garden.
Turner wandered up to me, white as a sheet.
"What is it? I want to say you look like you've seen a ghost. But, you look like you've become one. What the hell happened?"
Turner managed to blurt out a response, "Kodiak bear. Kodiak bear."
 He pointed over to a spot beyond Half-Dome, but nowhere specific.
"What? What the hell are you talking about? You're saying you saw a Kodiak Bear? Aren't you a little far south for that? I mean, like a thousand miles or so too far south?"
He just stood there looking like he saw a Kodiak bear in the middle of Yosemite.
"Lester." Lester sat over by a group of Russian soldiers chatting and drinking coffee. I wondered, for a moment, what that conversation must sound like. But, that could wait.
Lester came over and eyed Turner with an amused smirk. "Seen bigfoot, huh?"
I smiled at how close he came. "Pretty close. He said he saw a Kodiak bear over by that stand of trees."
Lester scratched at the beard that used to be there. (Ma found it squirrely lookin') "Don't surprise me none. Ya ain't been a noticin' a lot a steak on the menu? There's more game here than ever there was. Critters that was never here afor too. Must be they's a likin' it here better too."
I hadn't thought of that. "Spread the word, Lester. Get Linda and some of the others on it. God only knows what may have migrated here. No more strolls in the forest." Lions and tigers and Kodiak bears, oh my!
The armada had come into better view now. We were able to make out what kind of vessels where coming and how many of them there were. The sight transcended imagination. War ships of every shape and size led the way. Aircraft carriers, battleships and smaller military-looking craft. I honestly knew little about such things. Many of them looked to be severely damaged, but many more looked sleek and ready for battle.
The rest of the armada couldn't be dreamed up by a drunken storyteller itching for a keep-the-shakes-away drink. There were boats of every shape and size. There where floating structures that looked like run-down cities undulating on the water. They were ridiculous in size, perhaps measured in acres, as opposed to yards. It fell nothing short of miraculous that this armada remained afloat. It chilled me to think of how many vessels had been lost along the way. We could see vessels in grave distress even from out vantage point still miles away.
"Johnny. Are you okay?" Christine had tears in her eyes.
I realized that I did too. "Yes. It just hits home. What we have done to ourselves. How foolish we are. Here comes what's left of humanity, guns drawn, even as the people sink to the bottom of the abyss."
"I know, Johnny, I can feel it from here. Despair and desperation. There is no hope coming from that armada. It is all the same to them. The bottom of the ocean, the onslaught they fear may come…they feel helpless. It is instinct that drives them forward. Oppression takes their hope away. I know you think we can return it. I don't know, Johnny. Nobody here is trying to replace true hope with false hope. Hatred, greed, power…those are strong and intense feelings, Johnny. They bring forth destructive senseless actions. Look at the world. It is the result. People that speak about love to predators end up being eaten by them."
Christine didn't look defeated or even unhappy. She looked truthful. I can't say confidence overwhelmed me, but I couldn't deny the feeling inside of me and there was no doubt of its source.
Lacci ran up to me with news. She looked so young. Hell, she was young. Twenty years old. She made Christine at twenty-six seem old in comparison. I could be her father if I was capable of seeing myself objectively. I wasn't. How she had grown. "Yes, my friend."
She smiled, acknowledging my sincerity. "There's news at the command center."
The command center. We had come a long distance from the campfire days that were only a few weeks past. "Awesome! The Academy has called. I can feel it! This is long overdue."
Lacci laughed. I looked at her as though she were crazy. She laughed louder. The three of us hurried to the bunker.
Christine said, as we entered the doorway, "They don't give best acting awards for documentaries, you know."
I could feel war in the air. It would be waged on two fronts. There could be no guarantee that we stood much of a chance in an armed conflict. It would take some lucky breaks and a fleet of stealth bombers to turn the tide in our favor. That was by no means something we could count on.
We had the second method of attack also. We would be sending a signal of welcome. A welcome to all who wished to come in peace and join our community. I feared that the men with the guns would rather see the world end than accept peace with us, their sworn enemy.

Author Notes Getting to a point where the end could be in sight. Have I missed anything? I have lots to consider during editing. Any other suggestions? Your input has been tremendous. I apologize again for my late responses. I promise that I read every word and copy to word most of your reviews to consider when I go to edit. I have limited internet. So, I have time to write, but limited time on site. Posting takes very little time. Then I review and finally try to get to responses. Thanks for everything. mikey

Chapter 43
Options, Maybes, New Friends

By michaelcahill

Previously, The state of the world became more and more known. The make up of the armada approaching our compound became more clear as it came closer to us. It was huge and made up of all manner of vessels. Plans began in earnest, but many options remained up in the air due to unstable weather. Everything we planned always had a maybe attatched to it. Details were pouring in. The story picks up with Johnny consulting with the experts about the current state of communications and what survivors might exist globally.

The bunker pulsated with action. Meetings were taking place everywhere. Headphones sat atop talking heads that furiously took notes. Information seemed to be pouring in. There was a centrally located world map. There were four or five people working on updating it. It told a chilling tale. Even the concentration of multi-colored stickpins that traversed the U.S. had a tale to tell. At first glance, a sense of excitement struck me. Then, upon closer inspection, the reality of what it actually said devastated me.
"Linda, what do the various colors mean?"
Linda said, "The blue, that is the safe zones. Safe ecologically that is. Here we are. You'll see a lot of blue in Canada, the northern U.S. and some of Russia, but very little. The yellow is livable but unstable. The red is survivable but extremely volatile. As you can see most of the United States is red. We are hearing from the Midwest were people were able to survive because of tornado cellars and shelters. But, conditions now make staying in them an almost round the clock proposition. Most of the mountainous regions have yellow and blue areas like ours."

A quick glance showed many blank areas throughout the world. China remained completely empty. Europe had a few areas of survivors. That heartened me a little.
I saw Nikolai and motioned him over. "Nikolai. What are our capabilities? I guess what I'm asking is, can we count on any help outside of Yosemite? And…just what do we have here in the way of…well, weapons?"
Nikolai looked thoughtful as though considering an encyclopedia of information. "Everything outside of Yosemite is dependent on the crazy weather. There are ships. There are remnants of the Russian fleet and the U.S. Fleet, though there is no organization to it. There are pockets of ships, docked and at sea, attempting to stay afloat. The Canadians have some organization and there are commercial vessels, fishing and cruise ships, all in varying states of sea worthiness. It is hard to ask anyone for help, Johnny. They are in dire straits and the pathways here are treacherous. It is no picnic when they arrive either. The seas here are no better and there is the little matter of a massive force of murderous psychotics' hell bent on conquest. Little things like that can be a deterrent to cooperation."
Nikolai smiled coyly. He had picked up on the gallows humor that we employed to keep our sanity. I smiled and had to admit that humor made for a welcome transition between earth shaking revelations.
"What's your feel for the situation? If they are able, will they help?"
"Yes. They understand both sides of the coin, Johnny. If it is all out war, then it must be won. If it is a massive rescue operation then humanity decides its direction for the future."
"Is the recorded signal drawing in more survivors? I wonder if it is as effective, if it reaches the same way. I receive it, but without the urgency and without as much…I don't know…feeling, I suppose."
Nikolai sighed. "It still has an effect. There are still people arriving, but not with the certainty of the people that received the live transmissions. But, once they are here, they seem to absorb the mood of the camp and quickly settle in peacefully. Are you thinking of transmitting to the armada?"
"No! We must wait. It could be disastrous to transmit too early. There is no telling what those in charge there might do. If they sensed their people seeking refuge, they might retaliate. We have to time the signal strategically. We have to give the people a chance for rescue. They have to be close enough to make it to shore and we have to protect them."
Nikolai called a young man over. Well, he looked young to me. He had some scars and looked to be a man that had seen many a battle. "Johnny, this is Sgt. Ricky Chatham, he's laying out the strategy along with a select team of veterans. I wanted a group of men that had actually seen combat."
Ricky smiled broadly and extended his hand. A genuine down home smile wasn't what I was expecting. "A pleasure to meet you, Johnny. I've been briefed about not calling you sir. Nikolai also warned me about not calling you grandpa or referring to your advanced age."
I shook his hand. "Good advice, I wouldn't want the hottest gal in camp to know she hooked up with some old geezer."
I could see we were going to get along fine. I continued, "The pleasure's mine. What's our status?"
"Well, we have a helluva force of men and women here, both professional and volunteer. We have equipment for any kind of ground battle. We have some anti-aircraft apparatus, some surface to air and even some smart missiles. But, most of the ground vehicles aren't of much use in this terrain. I don't know what's coming our way, Johnny. They face the same disadvantages as we do once their boots are on the ground. We have a secure compound and observational capacity. We have surprise. They can't possibly imagine the ass kicking force that's waiting to greet them. If they're geared up for Tarzan and the Amazon Arrow Women, they might be a bit surprised."
"I gotta tell you, Ricky, that sounds pretty damn good. I haven't looked at it from that angle. You're right. They have no idea what we have here. Where did you come from anyway? I can't believe I haven't met you before."
"Well, Johnny, you're gonna love this. I arrived a couple days ago with the rest of my squad. I'm a boy scout troop leader. I brought some boys up here to learn survival skills. I thought it might be a challenge for them."
We all just burst out laughing.
Ricky suddenly jumped up. "You hear that? Shh. Shh. Everybody. Hold it down for a minute."
The noise level came down quickly. There it was. Explosions. Off in the distance.
"There bombing the shore, clearing a path. They have some firepower. That's some long-range stuff right there. Carlos, Turner, Tom and three other men I didn't recognize came rushing up."
Carlos spoke first, "Looks like they're just making some noise, sir. We'll keep monitoring the situation. Nothing from subs yet that we can detect. They have to be out there. They'd have a better chance of making the journey then what we are looking at. I'd hate to think about what they might be packing."
Nikolai stood and seemed to be the one in charge. "Remember, they want the land. They aren't likely to destroy the very land they plan to live on. Don't panic. If they knew we were here, they'd be bombing us. This is a good thing."
I felt an arm slip around my waste. Christine seemed to sense when an arm around my waste would be just the thing to soothe my jagged nerves. "I think I may be falling for you, Christine, would you like to be my queen?"
"You're already mine, Recon Johnny, you're already mine."
I smiled. It was good to be the queen. I couldn't recall the movie, some comedy. A funny line I recall.
"Let's get everyone together for a meeting. I'd like you to start it with a prayer. You know, something like what you said over the graves of those two back then. Would you mind?"
"No, I would like to say a few things. I imagine it would be called a prayer. Do you know what you're going to say, Johnny?"
"No, not exactly. But, like you always tell me, it's more than instinct. Something will come to me, I hope."
The bunker looked full and It looked impressive. I thought back to a month ago and our bow and arrow attack to gain back control of our campsite. We had advanced. I didn't see any bow and arrows anywhere. The image of those three gals saving my bacon will never leave my memory though. Amazon warriors from Mount Olympus, I couldn't see them any other way.
I stood up to the podium. The crowd quickly came to silence. The silence built as everyone anticipated what would be my opening remarks. "It's good to see all of you here in Yosemite."
The crowd broke into applause and cheers. It gave me chills. What the hell? Where is that coming from? The response startled me, but only for a moment. "It is good to be home!"

Author Notes Preparing for things to come. Trying to get to it. Setting the groundwork for certain things. Trying not to plod. Any input or suggestion is more than welcome. Wonderful help so far. Lots of work when I'm done. But, this has become a project worth the effort. Thank you so much for the great help. mikey

Chapter 44
Prayers and Departures

By michaelcahill

Previously, more and more details poured in and a plan began to develop. The size and make-up of the armada became more clear as they came closer. Shells began to explode on the beach as the intentions of the approaching enemy became clear. Johnny consulted with all of his advisors and a plan began to unfold. It was clear that the majority of the armada were ordinary people under a tyrannical rule. A meeting of the full compound was called. We join it in progress.

I stood up to the podium. The crowd quickly came to silence. The silence built as everyone anticipated what would be my opening remarks. "It's good to see all of you here in Yosemite."
The crowd broke into applause and cheers. It gave me chills. What the hell? Where is that coming from? The response startled me, but only for a moment. "It is good to be home!"

The roof reverberated with the spontaneous release of joy. I couldn't contain myself. I hugged Christine and the others on stage. Linda, Jen, Annie, Nikolai and many others that we'd met along the way. Even Ma couldn't help but grab someone in a bear hug. Everything just hit us all at once. We had survived the near end of the world. We had come together displaying humanity at its best. It was time to address the citizens of Yosemite.
"I have asked Christine to give thanks and ask for blessings on our community in our hour of reckoning. Our home is under attack. Forces from across the ocean bear down on our position even as we celebrate our survival. They have brought their own hostages enslaved to do their bidding. They are at the mercy of these evil monsters and need our help much as many of us once did not too long ago. Christine?"
The ovation for Christine will remain in my memory as long as I live. She, more than anyone, lived within us all as a presence of good that gave us all hope in a way that came from within our heart and soul. I could feel her trembling. How easy to forget that she was a woman like any other. Circumstance had put her in this position. She happened to be extraordinary, but she was also completely human.
The lights dimmed until only a candle illuminated Christine as she stood at the podium.
She spoke softly, "In the darkest room a candle glitters, drawing every soul to the possibility of sight. Despair scurries to the shadows and cowers with fear, exposed for their deceit.  We look inside for the spirit that guides us. We have all come to know your spirit so well in these difficult times. We have felt you inside of us guiding us to the better parts of ourselves. We have come to know who we are and who we want to be with your guidance and presence within us. We have come to understand that we are one soul made up of many parts. We all close our eyes now…everybody…and in silence reach out to each other through the spirit that we share. It has no name and no need of a name. We have names, it is us."
I joined her onstage in silence. Her presence always flowed within me. Now, along with hers, I could feel a general feeling of the all of it. It spoke for itself. Staying in that moment would have been wonderful. If only life could be like that. Life isn't like that. The lights on stage came up and I was washed in a white light.
I began to speak immediately. "Some of you have seen first-hand the armada that approaches even as we meet here at this moment. There are war ships…countless war ships of all shapes and sizes. Their intentions are clear and can already be heard exploding in the distance. We have encountered this enemy already. Our very thoughts have been invaded by lies. Our friends and loved ones have been drawn to gruesome deaths by the deceit of their treachery. And for what? For land that nobody owns. We don't claim to own this land. If this land has a rightful owner, it might be these giant redwood trees, astonishing the eye. They have lived here in peace for hundreds of years."
"We're with you, Johnny!"
A couple others shouted out.
Rhonda stood up and faced the audience. "You stop interrupting Johnny now. Johnny taught me that it's rude to interrupt people when they's talking. You're supposed to wait until they're done with they're talking and then you can start you're talking. What were you born in a manger or something?" She turned around and faced me. "Isn't that right, Johnny?"
"Yep. You're right, Rhonda. What was ya, all born in a manger or something?"
That got a big laugh and I lead the group in some applause for Rhonda. Now I had to bring the mood back to something a little more somber.
"Along with those bastards, hell-bent on our destruction, are people like Rhonda here. Look to your right and then look to your left. What would you do to rescue those people? Look around this room now and on this podium. What if all of us where held hostage out on the ocean by suicidal assassins? Would you hope that someone planned your rescue?"
I paused to let that sink in.
"There are people out on the ocean that have come a long way, seeking only a place to call home. We know what that is like. They have watched loved ones die before their eyes. We know what that is like too. Earth and man are attacking them at the same time, and still they push forward. We understand that, don't we? There are enemies we have to defeat, yes. But, more importantly, these are brothers and sisters that need our help. These are fellow citizens that we have to rescue. Are you with me?"
I could feel the response before it came.
"We have more planning to do. Some of our strategists will brief you now, and answer your questions. Nikolai?"
Nikolai took over the stage with his people.  I took our little group with Ma and headed out for afternoon coffee. With most of the population inside the bunker, the solitude drew our eyes upward to the towering redwoods. You've managed to survive man's stupidity so far. Maybe this is the end of it. I fear we may not be here to enjoy the end. I do find some solace knowing that you way or the other.
After some well needed coffee and conversation, I climbed the lookout platform erected near the top of Half-Dome. The military vessels were now clearly in front of the armada and putting more distance between themselves and the civilian conclave every minute. Their intent was clear. It was a lucky break. We could fire on them without worry. There were no civilians around them now. Having something to fire at them would be a question that might not be answered...ever.
They expected hordes of people lined along the shore awaiting rescue. That is what they would find. The less reason those battleships had to open fire, the better. We could ambush quite a force of unaware ground troops. If only help could be counted on…if only. With the unpredictability of the climate, we might not know until the moment-of-truth. We could very well die on that beach never knowing.
I knew that Christine and I would separate for the final assault. She had her place her at the bunker, transmitting. My place was on that beach, leading. Linda and Nikolai, Carlos and Jen and many other people that belonged together would face the possible end of their lives apart. It had to be. I could only hope that we would all gather for a little reunion around the campfire with Ma, sipping coffee and swapping war stories. I could only hope.
The time had come. I had hugs for many people. Nikolai, Jen, Rhonda and many others that had become closer than any family had ever been to me. There wasn't much for Christine and me to say to each other. We were never truly apart anymore.
"I suppose what will be most difficult for you is having Nikolai here to fuel your fantasies instead of this." I posed in a sexy but absurd athletic manner.
Christine smiled. "I could do worse than this bowl of borscht." She stroked Nikolai's biceps as he turned an interesting shade of red.
I gave her a final hug, turned and began the long trek with most of the compound's population in tow. Those left behind were people using the new equipment to transmit signals and some too old or young to make the arduous journey. A small contingent stayed behind to guard our home. In these times, there was no telling who or what might show up.
The sound of explosions in the distance grew louder. They sounded dangerous. Our plan was to travel to them like moths to a flame.

Author Notes Wonderful input and ideas continue to be of great help to me. I haven't decided on the ending yet. There is still time to influence me. They grow wings and fly to the moon? Won't the man in the moon be upset?

Chapter 45
The Best Laid Plans

By michaelcahill

Previously, Johnny and Christine did everything in their power to appeal to the better nature of the citizens of Yosemite. A ground swell to make their final stand a rescue mission became the focus of the final meeting before the confrontation with the enemy. War might be inevitable, but rescue would be attemted if at all possible. We join Johnny at what is now the shore of the Pacific as he contemplates what has gone before and what is to come.

I used to love going to the beach. The sand stretched out like a spongy white blanket leading to another world. The ocean threatened the shore, but always playfully, roaring like a favorite uncle as it rushed up to its favorite nephew. Then, all at once, the threat would end with tickled feet and laughter. The ocean always remained in its place and the beach always remained a place to nap in peace and safety.
There was no beach here to flop down on for a relaxing afternoon. The ocean could no longer be trusted. It roared with its approach and had no comfort in its voice. It made us tremble with its hunger. It had no respect for mankind just as we had never respected it. Our puny structures disappeared beneath its relentless approach. I could see dwellings staring back at me, peeking over the surface helplessly. I could almost hear them whisper, "Go back, go back".
I thought about beaches no longer there. Santa Monica Pier, Malibu, Long Beach and so many that were almost in my backyard growing up. All of those exotic locales that one day I would visit if I ever became rich, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Cabo…was there even a Hawaii in existence? There were no beaches on earth. There were no glaciers or frozen wonderlands.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… I always wondered why. Why would he? More to the point, after seeing it and deciding that it was good, why put something as destructive as mankind on it. Looking out at this angry ocean a sense of lonely despair came over me. That must be the answer. Create something beautiful and share it. That is the nature of the spirit.
Well, that would have to wait. This was not a time for reflection. Christine? I'm here Johnny.
The armada was not in sight, yet. "What's out status, Nikolai?"
"You,re looking at a couple hours until visual. Okay, let me speak English. You should be able to see them in a couple of hours, Johnny. They are a few miles still from your position. The military vessels have completely separated from the civilians now. I'd say abandoned would be a better word. There's no one friendly coming. Our back up is still up in the air, Johnny, no pun intended. The general said if they can get off the ground, they're coming. Communications with any of the ships or subs is spotty and we don't want to tip off the enemy. That's an unknown. The enemy has subs. There's an unmanned station still operating out there reporting activity. This channels open, Johnny, and it will stay open."
My new friend, Ricky, had control over coordinating our response here to whatever came our way. I had the utmost confidence in him. I motioned him over to fill him in on the latest.
"I wanted to give you the latest from Nikolai. We're a couple hours from seeing them. The military has broken away from the armada and stands alone know. Nikolai says we've detected subs. The general at Edwards is going to give it his best shot and not too much to say about possible help on the water."
Ricky didn't look like a decorated war hero except for a couple scars. That smile of his could launch a ship, it didn't seem like it could sink one. I knew different. "Okay, Johnny, it sounds like victory to me. We've got some great toys for them. There's some pretty high tech gizmos stashed at that bunker. We'll see if they work. Don't forget, I was stationed in Guam for over a year. You'll notice that you never heard a peep out of them, right?"
Ricky went chuckling back to his troops, obviously delighted with his little joke. I considered it up to Yosemite standards and laughed accordingly.
I could hear seals barking nearby. I couldn't see them, but once you've heard them, it is unmistakable. It sounded so out of place, but everything looked and sounded out of place. I wanted to say it was out of place, but it was in the place it was and that would not change. I wondered what else might be out there. It would be just my luck to see bigfoot. I bet there's no reward anymore.
Talk about awakened from my reverie! The water exploded right before my half-open, day dreaming eyes.
Ricky yelled out at the top of his lungs, "Whoooo HOOOO! That is what the hell I am talking the hell a bout! Oh yeah!" Then he started singing, "Oh Canada, your subs are kicking aaaaaaassssss!"
"What's going on Ricky? What the hell is blowing up? It's a good thing, right?"
He did some kind of a dance. I would have to call it a victory dance. "The Canadian Navy is kicking ass, that's all folks. Kicking ass in an efficient military manner. Hells yesssss! They came to the party, Johnny boy. Surprise, surprise, surprise!"
He did a perfect Gomer Pyle. Gomer was a T.V. character from back in the day, a good old boy, very lovable and harmless. If you knew who it was, you'd split a side laughing. The combination of the thrilling first strike and the great humor had me doing some kind of dance. It wasn't the same dance as Ricky's, but it was a victory dance too!
"Transmit the signal, Nikolai, everything you've got! Any word from Edward's?"
Nikolai could have been standing next to me. "No news. Snowing in Mojave. If they can go, they'll go. You'll see them. If not, you're on your own. Good luck, my friend! Transmitting full force."
Within seconds, the wave of thought ran through us with great force. We expected it too and it still came through us with surprising strength. We had felt the message of rescue from the enemy for quite some time, but they had no effect. The deceit engendered nothing but irritation. The thought of how the force of a completely fresh perspective bombarding the minds of those approaching thrilled me. This would be the first time any of them had ever received a different message. A message of hope and a new life would enter the hearts and souls of people that knew only despair. I prayed it would have a miraculous effect.
It didn't affect the fast approaching convoy of military vessels. Vehicles filled with troops were launched and approached rapidly. Our response awaited. It would be a surprise. Would it be enough? There were a lot of men coming. We stood on the beach pretending to wait for rescue. We waved and looked as happy as people about to be rescued could be. We hoped the submarine activity wouldn't be connected to us. Ricky, Carlos, Linda, Jen and a heavily armed contingent of Yosemite's best waited in the wings. They held our weapons just out of sight.
The battleships stopped in the water off shore poised with turrets pointed. The troops on transports approached rapidly. The rest of the armada closed the gap rapidly. We waited. The signal continued to be transmitted full force from the bunker.
We could see a fleet of vessels bearing down from the north. Some help had arrived. Would it be in time and would it be enough? Vessels of every shape and size, some military some commercial. I looked up to the empty skies. They didn't remain empty for long. Aircraft launched from the enemy position began to fill the sky. No cavalry this time it seemed.
Our ruse ended and we fell back to retrieve our weapons. Whatever tricks Ricky had up his sleeve were about to be made known. Missiles hit the air from our position headed towards the incoming enemy aircraft.
The armada was coming up on the military vessels now making targeting more difficult. We certainly didn't want to hit innocent citizens. The signal had to be clear. They should be steering clear and heading towards shore. They appeared to be heading straight towards the enemy. It appeared as though the signal had failed. They must have blocked it.
I felt the end coming. I had no intention of surrendering. I'd prefer to die in freedom.

Author Notes Getting close to the end now. Still time for last second suggestions and input. Plus, lots of editing to do after this is done. So much to consider. Anything else? Wonderful input and most of it is copied and printed to refer to as I try and tighten this into something publishable. Thank you all so much. Amazing support!

Chapter 46
Earth At War

By michaelcahill

Previously, all the plans had been made. The signal had been sent, but still the armada approached. There was some cause for joy when the Canadian Navy arrived with submarines, but it was short lived as the signal to suggest rescue seemed to be ineffective as the armada's citizens closed rank with their military. We had hoped they would break and head to shore. We awaited the arrival of troops followed by thousands of possibly armed citizens. No friendly aircraft in sight yet. It didn't look good. We join the story now as the Yosemite forces wait to engage the enemy.
I stood with Jen and Linda my two closest friends, besides Christine. An overwhelming concern for their safety came over me. "You two should go back. This isn't looking good. I can't watch you die here. I'd rather you went back, grabbed Christine and went north. There could be safety up there. There's a lot of blue area."
Linda smiled. "Someone has to save your ass. No offense, Jen, but your boy, Carlos is just as likely to shoot him as the enemy."
Jen smiled and let a little laugh out. "Yep, you damn men. Like little boys. This is a job for women. You just step back and watch what a couple of pissed off chicks can do."
"Yep. I can't argue with that logic. You tell Christine what a hero the old man was, right?"
Linda feigned exasperation. "You know we always lie for you, Johnny."
We put our battle faces on, and went to face the enemy. They were in for a fight.
Ricky was shouting out orders. "Don't let them out of the water. Pass it on. No mercy. They put there weapons down, we stop shooting. As long as they're shooting, we're shooting. Pass it on. Keep em in the water. Ducks on a pond. Right out of the boat. Let em have it. County fair. Ducks in a row."
He made it sound easy. To tell the truth. I believed him. Ducks on a pond. County fair. Damn, though. Hundreds of troops were one thing. There were thousands of citizens in that armada. Even unarmed, how could we hold them off? This was the first wave. Maybe we could beat that back. An endless human wave? I didn't know. I sure as hell didn't relish the idea of slaughtering hundreds and hundreds of people.
I remembered back to that attack on camp. All those people attacking with no hope of victory. We slaughtered them. It was senseless and ugly. It haunted me. This would be worse. Where is the freedom when we are slaves to our own nature? Our dream to spend a moment living as we were meant to live looked almost silly to me now. I thought about Christine hooked up to that equipment sending out a message of faith and love. Damn! You damn people would rather fight when you don't even have to fight. You are willing to kill or be killed for something that is there for the taking. So be it. Reap it!
The enemy troops began to hit the water. Ricky hesitated to give the go ahead to fire. The troops were anything but organized. Some fired on our position, others were unarmed, and still others attempted to disarm those that had opened fire.  Ricky just stood there with his arm in the air. He gave the order to retreat! Retreat and take cover.
I rushed over to Ricky to get a feel for what he had in mind.
He was looking through binoculars. "You have to see this. You have got to see this. As I live and breath. You have got to damn well see this." He handed the binoculars over to me.
The scene was chaotic. It couldn't be. The citizens were boarding the military vessels. They were being repelled, but they kept on coming. It looked like ants swarming an anthill. They were attempting to take over the battleships!
My astonishment was interrupted by gunfire. The planes were strafing our position. The redwoods provided protection, but we were suffering casualties. There were a lot of aircraft. Lester manned one of our anti-aircraft guns and Tom the other. But, two guns were nowhere near enough.
They were doing a hell of a job though! Enemy aircraft began to drop out of the sky in flames. It looked amazing against our reddish sky. No! It wasn't them. As silent as a barn owl, a dozen or more stealth bombers flew overhead. I saw their shadows first. The enemy had no answer, but would not disengage.
Troops continued to advance, despite resistance from their own and Ricky passed along his orders. Single shots, and be accurate. Aim for armed soldiers that fired on us. Don't fire at anyone not showing aggression. Be careful. Pinpoint accuracy. There are friendlies out there. There are people seeking asylum. The rescue had begun, even as the war had commenced. 
Rain began to fall. It started so slowly that It went unnoticed at first. At first ,the cool drops felt welcome. Within minutes, it became a downpour. The ground had already become soggy from the advancing ocean. Now, it felt like a swamp, not that I had ever been in one, but I imagined one would feel like this. The rumbling of the ground made sense with all of the explosions and exploding submarines and enemy aircraft. This was more than rumbling. I could barely keep my footing!
"Linda, are you feeling that?" I shouted above the roar of the ensuing battle.
Linda had her arms out to her side as if trying to maintain balance. Jen hugged the ground and looked to be trying to steady it with her downward palms. Linda cried out, "Earthquake!"
The sky filled with every kind of lighting I had ever heard of. A mad scientist had taken over the sky. When I say mad, I mean pissed not crazy! Parachutes and burning aircraft plunged towards the ocean and land. Fire engulfed our vision everywhere we looked.
"Johnny, look!" Ricky staggered over with the binoculars. The armada looked like toys in a bathtub full of spoiled children. Civilians had overrun the military vessels. Flags were ripped from their mastheads and replaced by white flags of surrender.
Ricky screamed out, "Cease fire, cease fire." But, no one had thought about firing on either side for some time now. War of a completely different and unexpected nature had broken out, waged by the very earth that we all coveted. The ground shook us like a dog shakes fleas. Everything the earth had to offer was being thrown at us, the ground shook and the sky exploded. The seas churned and tossed everything upon it around like twigs in the rapids.
I hit the ground hard, as though struck, but no one threw a blow. It felt like the ground gave way beneath me. Wave after wave of briny water crashed over my prone body. The message of rescue still coursed through my being.
I screamed out, "Rescue, rescue!" I could hear my cry echoed by others.
Ricky, Linda, Jen and many others advanced towards the shore, staggering under the shaking earth, while the sky continued its deadly light show. Earth is simply damn tired of us.
"They're coming! They're coming! Mercy, they're driving those boats right to shore. Bodies in the water. Let's get them." I could see the rag-tag ships from the north moving to intercept and attempt rescue. Lifeboats and small craft were launched and bobbing like tops on the ocean. Waves appeared out of nowhere and catapulted them forward without regard. Boats of all shapes and sizes began to sink and screaming hordes threw themselves into an ocean that would just as soon drown them on the spot.
Ships began to sink one after the other on both sides. Was there such a thing as sides anymore? I grabbed hold of a man and helped him to shore. Had he been my enemy twenty minutes earlier? What did it matter? He was not my enemy now.
I reentered the water and looked for anyone else that needed help. I felt something strike the side of my head. "Johnny!" I heard Christine's voice. I was too groggy to answer. I struggled to swim. The shore looked suddenly distant too me. I knew I must have been losing consciousness. I began to sink. It felt as though a hand reached under me and pushed me towards the shore.

I knew these had to be my final moments. It felt so peaceful gliding along. I felt like I was flying through the water. Others joined me. We were all gliding blissfully towards the shore. If this was death, it wasn't so bad. They seemed at peace. I assumed they were dying too. I smiled at them. It looked as if we were going to the same place.

Goodbye Christine. Until we meet…


Author Notes One or two chapters after this one. Last minute thoughts? I have a couple paragraphs, but I haven't finished this yet. Open to input or suggestions still. Your help has been amazing. I thank you again. mikey

Chapter 47
Johnny's Fate, Anyone Else Alive?

By michaelcahill

Previously, all of the plans couldn't have anticipated the late entry into the battle of mother nature. The stealth bombers, the surprise appearance by Canadian submaines and even the surprising civilian turn against the enemy turned out to be no match for mother earth and her ability to shake the earth and fling fire from the sky. The causualties were heavy. We continue the story with Johnny's fate, seemingly dire, about to be revealed.
If this was death, it wasn't so bad. They seemed at peace. I assumed they were dying too. I smiled at them. It looked as if we were going to the same place. Goodbye Christine. Until we meet…
"Johnny! Johnny!" I opened my eyes to see an anxious Linda suddenly break into an angelic smile. "You jackass! Don't ever pull that crap again. If it wasn't for the dolphins you would have been fish food."
"Dolphins?" I admitted to being a little confused.
"Dolphins. I don't know what they saw in you. Maybe they didn't want you in their water. They pushed you all the way to shore. I think one of them said, "Did you lose this thing? We found it floating in our backyard?" Well, that was how I took it, anyway."
That is what had come up under me and lifted me up. A dolphin. They must have come seeking refuge as much of the other wildlife had done. It was not just me though. I remember now. Many took the same journey to the beach that I did. I remember thinking that we were all going to heaven together. It actually felt wonderful. I wonder if my actual death will be so pleasant. Dolphins... I realized Linda waited for a response to see if I truly was okay.
"Dolphins, I'll be damned. Flipper came through. I always knew they were superior. Help me up." I pulled my hand back and sprung to my feet. "That'll be the day."

I had read in the data that the entire mind communication program was based on dolphin research. Perhaps the dolphins knew what was happening. Maybe they wanted to help. Or, maybe, as Linda said, they didn't want "this thing" floating in their backyard. Saving the high quality human, that's what I'm going with. Thank you.
Ricky and Tom looked to be relieved and agitated at the same time. I began to get a sense of their discomfort. There was a discernable disturbance in the air. It pelted my mind. It had a confused feel to it. Minds trying to focus but unable to do so. A desperate feeling. I'm guessing that they were also pleased to see me alive as well.
Ricky spoke with urgency. "We had to drag several of the soldiers that remained hooked up to the transmitting equipment even after the fighting ceased. They were chained to it, Johnny. Chained! The command wouldn't give up either. We had to take them out. They fought to the bitter end. I didn't have it in me to take action against those poor souls doing the transmitting. They were obviously doing so against their will."
Tom jumped in, "there were hundreds of them. It looked like a damn Spielberg movie. Rows and rows of them, all wired into that machinery like zombies. We took out the equipment, but their brains are fried. God only knows how long they've been hooked up like that. Christine already knows about it. She thinks we can help them. I don't know. We have them under guard now for their own safety. I hope we can help them. I can't imagine being without my mind."
"So, all of the military leaders are gone? There are none to question?"
Ricky looked down as he answered. "We tried, they preferred death. Their own men shot the ones we had subdued. We have seven or eight being tended to by medics. I don't know their ranks or what they know. I don't think they're high ranking though."
I looked at the scene all around me. Utter chaos. Chaos, devastation, death and absolutely no answers. No answers. Dammit! None. What the hell was the point of all of it? Who was the enemy? I wanted someone that I could sit down, talk to, and ask, why? Why, you ignorant son of a bitch, did all of this happen? What is it that you wanted so bad. Well, whatever it was, it's gone now. It's destroyed. Hell, whom was I kidding? There was nothing left now but survivors. It didn't matter what anyone used to be. It only mattered that we were all the same thing now.
My mind just started running in circles. Saved by dolphins…mother nature's revenge…mind controlled hostages…suicidal dictators…Christine. That is what really dominated my thoughts, Christine. I needed to see her. I could sense she knew I was okay. I knew she was busy and she knew I was too. Screw all of this. I needed to put her in a bear hug for a few days. I grew weary of leading and being wonderful. Well, hugs and kisses would have to wait.
I smiled at Jen. What kind of world could we provide for her child? "What is happening now? What's the status?"
Jen spoke up, "A lot of lives lost. I don't know how many…thousands I think. A lot of lives saved. Thousands and thousands. They're all over the place. We are heading back towards the bunker. Looks like it's time for another plan."
Linda looked thoughtful. "Most of the vessels sank. By the time the storm ended and the earthquake was over, ninety percent of the vessels were at the bottom of the ocean. The aircraft, all lost. Many of the pilots were rescued though. Carlos is missing and Lacci too. Some others that we know. Christine, Nikolai, the people at the bunker are all safe. The compound sustained heavy damage, but the bunker is still functional. Half-Dome is split in half but, none of Ma's people were there."
I thought about some of the missing. Carlos had been my friend for years. Hell, he'd been my boss and actually took a chance on me long ago. I never was one to tone down my personality to suit a situation. It had cost me too, many times. I let my mouth or viewpoints cost me lucrative situations more than once. But, to his credit, Carlos knew that I would take care of the clients and that is what mattered to him.
Lacci seemed like a child when I first met her. I don't mean because of her youth. I refer to her mindset. I've known many an old twenty something. She just seemed incredibly uninterested in anything meaningful. She had grown in these few months into someone I cared about deeply.
I still sensed her. Not to the extent I sensed Christine or even Ma. Most of those that received the signals strongly had a strong sense of each other. We could also sense a slight presence of others we knew closely if we concentrated on them. I couldn't sense Carlos; I could sense Lacci.
"Linda, Jen. I saw a couple of the people that were transmitting from the bunker. See if you can find them and bring them to me. Also, the survivors from the armada, see if there are any of them that receive the transmissions strongly. I need them here."
Linda said simply, while Jen nodded, "we're on it".
"Ricky. Let me borrow that. Well, hook me up with Nikolai."
"No problem". He pushed some buttons and handed me the headset.
"Nikolai, here Ricky. We're almost on site. People are pouring in to the bunker and compound. It's chaos, but going well. We're on our way to help with the rescue efforts."
"Okay. Perfect. It's Johnny, though. Is Christine with you?"
"Johnny. You scared me for a minute there. I never knew you did a Sea World act."
Funny. I didn't have time for funny. "Concentrate on Lacci, she's missing, but I still sense her. Do you?"
"Yes, yes. Faintly, very faintly. I think she is in trouble…trapped maybe. We're almost there. Gather everyone together. We have to try to find her. Not much time. Start now, don't wait for us. Some of the others are with us. I know what to do."
Jen arrived with a few people I recognized and many more that I didn't. "Linda is still looking for more. There are some translators here too. Tell them what you want."
"There are people trapped somewhere. I think if we concentrate together, we might be able to find them. I need everyone to clear their minds, concentrate on my thoughts, and try to help me look. You too, Jen, everybody."
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!"

Author Notes One more chapter after this. If there is anything you want to see, tell me now. Feel free to offer anything still. This is a first draft and will be getting substantial edits. Are there weak spots? Neglected characters? Anything you think I should keep in mind as I edit. Your comments and suggestions are all copied and filed to refer to as I edit. Truly awesome support. This story never gets completed without the encouragement and help from you! Thank you. mikey

Chapter 48
The End & The Beginning

By michaelcahill

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.


Author Notes This is a work that could not have been completed without your help. Thank you for all of your input and suggestions. A lot of work awaits as I take this first draft and try and edit it. All of your input will be kept in mind as I do so. If you have any final advice or input, I would appreciate it. I can never thank you enough. mikey

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