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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 10a , by Christopher Young

The Girls Turn

Dinner time arrived, at Bill's retreat. Madison had the chicken cooked up, heated on the camp stove. Connie was still asleep, so they went to the dining room table to eat. Madison struck another match, and lit a slim taper candle. Used that candle to light two pillar candles in glass, which were at the dinner table. The two kids sat at the table, and weren't sure what to do. Jade knew that the thing to do was eat. He was hungry from the day's stress. Scooped big piles of chicken onto his plate, and shovelled them in.

The kids heard what sounded like a car or truck rolling into the driveway. Surely, they must be mistaken. But when a car horn beeped outside the door, Madison and Jade looked at each other with fear. The bad men came back to hurt them some more? Without any conscious thought, they took each other by the hand, and walked slowly towards the front door.

Dinner at Sam's was a bit more animated. Sam was on a tirade about sanitation. The water was still on, which is good. Somehow, the water treatment plant in town hadn't been damaged. There was still plenty of water in the water tower. The sewage was still running, after all, it's all down hill from here. But, the solid waste garbage pile was unacceptable. Just an invitation to roaches, ants, and mice and rats. Gomer rolled his eyes, and pretended not to hear as Sam went on and on about the importance of disease control.

Brenda could see an argument about to happen, so she suggested turning on the radio for news. Without bothering to hear any replies, she went to the radio and turned it on. The last of a country western song came through the speaker. A wimpy hardly melodic wail came through, about getting his truck back from the bank. Gomer and Chris made violin motions, and pretended to be sad.

At the end of the song, the announcer came on. He reported on the local news. The county and city buildings in the nearby city had been burned to the ground, last night. The fire department had responded, but there wasn't enough manpower, or water or equipment to do much good. There was a live feed from Washington DC, which would be aired in about five minute. The President was preempting all other broadcasts, in order to adress the nation.

At Gomer's compound, Heather and the kids were not listening to the radio. Heather was doing her best to take care of Faith, even if she didn't much like the woman. Heather decided that she had best stay with her patient. She turned to Melissa, and asked her to start dinner. Burgers and fries. And be careful with the stove. Melissa beamed. She had helped Mother in the kitchen many times, but this was the first time she was allowed to do it all herself.

Heather asked Savannah about the camp fire. How did you know what to do? Savannah and Bobbi started to talk at the same time. Heather focussed on one, and then the other, and back. Finally she got the general idea that Gomer had been big on camping, and had taken the girls and Faith out camping several times. Faith mostly stayed in the car, and listened to her music. But,t he girs had paid attention the camp fire, the fishing, and the other parts of camping. They had learned a lot. Gomer had let them gather sticks, and they both knew about tinder, kindling, and fire wood. And how to find dry tinder. Heather was impressed.

The broadcast from Washington started. "My friends, fellow Americans, ths is the President. These are perilous times. Times of trouble and strife in this great land of ours. Many have suffered much, and we are doing what we can to rebuild this great land. We ask you to remain calm, in these troubled times. We are doing what we can, to find the source of the problem, and adress it at the root. So that we can one day very soon get back to the business of running this great nation as it once was, and may become again. God bless America."

Sam turned off the radio, and said to the assembled family that we've got to meet our neighbors, and see who's on our side. George would be a big help, now.

Brenda had been out to meet the neighbors

Heather finished dinner. She had so much enjoyed having someone else cook for a change. And, it turns out Melissa is a very good cook. Of course, she's done each of the things before. But this time, she managed to arrange it so the food all arrived at the table at the same time. Very impreessive. She's quite an intelligent girl.

Heather was thinking out loud. She could really use a pair of dry socks, now. Melissa said "no problem" and came back into the room with a pair of clean, dry socks. Still warm from the dryer. "How'd you do that?" heather asked. Well, you see, while you were out rescuing Faith, I decided to catch up on the house work. I had the boys bring all their dirty laundry. I sorted it, and washed it. Your socks were in the last load in the dryer. Heather was solidly impressed.

A quick check on Faith revealed that she was still deep in a coma. Heather decided it was time to see if the local farm store was open. Since the Buick was running, now, and had some gas in it. See if she could pick up on all the neighborhood news.

Heather called to Zack, who came into the room. Zack had been playing video games, and Heather figured it was time for him to get a little less screen time. Told him we're going to the farm store, and see if they are open. We can use a few things around the house. Heather assembled the other kids, and told everyone that Melissa is in charge. Do what she says. Melissa glowed, with the trust and responsibility.

Trust and responsibility. Madison was also enjoying being the oldest functioning person in the house. She and Jade walked slowly towards the door. They pulled the curtain aside just a tiny bit, and then both smiled. It was Martha, the woman who lived up the street. She is such a nice lady. She's been to the house many times. Usually brings cookies. Her husband was a quiet fellow, hardly said a word. Just sat and watched the television. Naturally, they were thrilled to see any friendly adult. The kids were getting lonely.

Madison threw open the front door, and they both started to talk at the same time. Martha just stood, and listened and listened. Martha finally started to get the picture. "Well, there's a lot of cleaning up to do, around here! This house smells like a distillery!"

That was just the prompt the kids needed. Madison got the bucket with the cleaning supplies, and Jade went to get the vacuum cleaner. Madison looked at her younger brother and said "whatcha gonna do with that?". Jade looked at Madison like she was stupid or something. "Well, d'uh, what else do you do with a vacuum cleaner? Wash windows or something?" Jade pluggged in the electric cord, while Madison smugly smirked, and watched for Jade to turn the switch. Jade flipped the switch, and looked blank. "Oh, yah, the power is off". Madison started to give him the royal horse laugh treatment, but Martha interrupted. "Now, now, lets rememeber how to treat each other with civility and manners".

"Whatcha gonna do with that big pile of meat?" Jade asked. He wasn't very fond of his step dad, and it showed. Martha hadn't thought quite that far ahead. Well, maybe the county coroner or someone would know. In the meantime, she checked on Connie. At least Connie was still alive, and breathing.

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