General Fiction posted February 27, 2014 Chapters: Prologue 1 -2- 3... 

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Catastrophe and settling in.

A chapter in the book Yosemite

A Stampede & Georgie Porgie

by michaelcahill

Survivors of a disaster are in the dark as to its origin. There are people that know each other and strangers trying to come up with a plan together.
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?"



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.
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