Some time ago, I mentioned that I was going to thank you all for following my blog so faithfully by unfolding a chapter at a time of my WIP, THE ROCKY ROAD TO THE END OF THE WORLD, in my FantasyFic blog…this one. Yes, it is fantasy, but it is a specific sub-genre of fantasy, i.e. apocalyptic fantasy, which can also claim to be science fiction, depending on how it is written. In addition, although it is definitely fiction, it is also based on how I think I might handle this kind of situation myself.
This book is the first in a trilogy, which have already been mapped out. At the end of this book, I will be giving you the first peek into the second book and where it will lead.
For now, I will be posting a new chapter once every two weeks and will collect the entire novel as it appears in my new section, The Rocky Road….
The time has come, and I present to you Chapter 1 (You Never Think It Will Happen To You) of this novel. Enjoy. Feel free to leave your comments and/or constructive criticisms at the end of the chapter. THANKS!!
The Rocky Road to the End of the World
By Sandra Bell Kirchman
Copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman. All rights reserved.
CHAPTER ONE – You Never Think It Will Happen to You
“Are you packed?” Mark asked, throwing his jacket on the table. The question and his grim expression set my bad-things-are-happening senses tingling.
I stared at him. “What are you talking about?”
“You should listen to the radio more often,” he said. “Throw some warm clothes and blankets into your duffel bag. Pack canned goods, utensils, matches, medicine kit and your medications into it. Nothing that the two of us can’t carry for a few miles.”
The shock I was feeling drained the blood from my face. He patted me on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I’ve thought a lot about this ever since the Mayan calendar scare a couple of years ago.”
“Oh, my God! The Mayan prediction? It’s happening after all?”
“Nope,” he said. “Get the details on the radio. They’re broadcasting them pretty often.”
I hurried into the bedroom and listened to the radio while I packed my duffel bag. My blood was running cold by the time I had finished. The announcer was vague on what was happening, but very precise on when and where.
NASA has released a statement warning of an unidentified electro-magnetic-type Wave sweeping over the planet. Scientists cannot say exactly what the wave is or where it originates. Apparently, NASA scientists are debating whether this is the Mayan prediction of the end of the world coming some years later than the predicted Dec. 21, 2013.
The Wave hit the east coast of New Zealand and the Pacific islands in that area about an hour ago. We have no reliable information on the precise effect of the Wave. One last broadcast from New Zealand was garbled and indistinct, but words of devastating destruction and people dead or dying were understood through the overpowering static. The Wave continued on to Australia and the southern tip of Africa, then stopped. Nothing has been heard since from these countries.
Canadian Prime Minister Monique Leger has declared a state of emergency. If the Wave moves north, she has ordered help stations set up in every province in the most populated areas. Pundits predict going south may the best route, since, with winter on the horizon, the north turns to a survivalist’s nightmare in two months, adding to the challenges of surviving the Wave itself. Ultimately, each person will have to make his or her own decision. And may God go with you.
Depending upon unfolding developments, this may be the last live broadcast from this station. In any event, we will continue to transmit the information on the situation that we have to date. Any updated information will be remotely uploaded to the station’s broadcast system and transmitted. We will continue to keep you informed as long as we can.
Listening to the brief buzz after the broadcast, then a spate of frenetic music that threw itself against the speakers, I looked around the room to see if I had forgotten anything. Trotting into the kitchen, I grabbed another bag and mechanically started packing cutlery, utensils, knives, and several small pots, along with an economy size box of wooden matches. Mark’s camping skills will pay off, I thought, and opened the dog cupboard, staring at the dog food and treats lining the shelves.
Mark hadn’t mentioned anything about stuff for the dogs!
I ran to the top of the stairs and shouted down. “Mark, what about food and medication for the dogs?” There was silence, then, “Never mind about that.”
Fear froze me for a second. I started down the stairs slowly, using my cane to steady me. I reached the bottom and stood watching Mark in his precise, calm way as he finished packing one duffel bag and reached for another.
“What do you mean, don’t bother about food for the dogs?”
A look of what I could have called panic, except that the person I was looking at was Mark, flickered in his eyes for an instant. He spoke slowly. “Alex, be reasonable. We are on the run, going as far north as we can for as long as we can. There is no guarantee that we will follow the roads…if there even will BE roads…or gas…or food. The dog food we have will last maybe a week at the most. We can’t take the dogs.”
Our three little Shih Tzus had trotted downstairs to see what was so important down here that required my unaccustomed presence in the basement. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at the three little ones, their perpetual puppy faces smiling, their brown eyes filled with love and trust. They knew Mark and I would never do anything to hurt them. They were our family.
I turned without saying anything and made my way upstairs. The big bag of kibbles supplement was sitting just outside the back door into the garage, near where our Jeep Cherokee four-wheel drive utility vehicle sat. Mark took good care of his belongings and especially his vehicles. I could bet that the Jeep was filled with gas, had had the oil changed recently, that all the fluids were topped up, all the belts tightened, and all moving parts oiled.
I grabbed the kibbles and wrestled the big bag into the house. If it cost me my life, I was not leaving my babies behind. They would learn to eat kibble and they would survive. Throwing the kibble into an old kit bag of Mark’s, along with a box of treats, I picked out three small toys and threw them in the bag as well. I knew Mark would think me foolish, but there was no way these dogs were being abandoned.
In a moment of clarity, it struck me. Mark wouldn’t abandon the dogs…he would shoot them to save them from the terror and suffering that otherwise awaited them. I threw in a water dish and three small kibble dishes and zipped up the bag.
Next stop was the medicine cabinet, and it took a while to get all the meds out and packed into another bag. I didn’t see how we could carry all we had so far, even excluding the kit bag, but hopefully Mark had a plan. He usually did and he usually finally shared it with me.
I supposed it was too late too late to try filling more prescriptions at the Pharmasave. If I ran out of pain pills, that wasn’t too bad. I guessed the end of the world might rank higher than the aches and pains that often came my way, not to mention the neuropathy in my hands and feet and legs. But I wasn’t sure how long I would last without my diabetic pills. Perhaps the extra exercise would reduce my need for the Metformin. There’s a cloud in every silver lining, I told myself wryly.
I wasn’t sure what else was essential to my survival, but I suspected the blood pressure pills were up there. Maybe if the exercise reduced my need for medications, it would handle my blood pressure as well. I was pretty sure that the end of the world might raise my BP pretty high; at the same time, apart from my breathing exercises, there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I shrugged and started carrying stuff out to the Jeep. I left them on the garage floor, since Mark preferred to load the vehicle himself.
Mark came up carrying three bags filled with his precious gun equipment, hunting knives, hunting tent, foldable hunting blind, and three sleeping bags. I rummaged around for the dogs’ carriers stowed neatly away under Mark’s work counter. Defiantly, I added them to the pile, along with a pile of pee pads in a paper bag.
“We are NOT going to kill members of our family just for our convenience, Mark.” I rarely tried to change Mark’s mind. They invented the word “stubborn” just for him, and I had better things to do with my time. However, at this point I had no intentions of budging. To my amazement, Mark simply nodded and placed the carriers in a neat row near the Jeep.
“Help me get the fishing rods down. We can dismantle them and carry them in another bag,” he said.
I looked down at the stack of bags and other items waiting to be packed in the Jeep. “I dunno, Mark,” I said doubtfully. “It’s an awful lot to carry.”
He nodded again. “I’m taking the big backpack. We may have to discard some of these things if we have to head for the hills, but at least we can start with them while we still have the vehicle.” His American accent came out clearly when he was under pressure. There is a certain way that Americans pronounce “vehicle,” like they pronounce the “h” and emphasize the word. It must be the love that Americans have for their fancy cars and powerful trucks.
I heaved a sigh of relief. He wasn’t going to kill them now, anyhow. Maybe I could show him how well-behaved they were becoming. I ran back to the foyer between the kitchen and the garage, grabbed leashes and harnesses, and squeezed them into the kit bag.
Then I got to work on the fishing poles. We had four of them…one of them was mine, just an ordinary spin reel. Mark had the other three: one was like mine, one was a trolling rod, and one was a fly-casting rig. I finished taking mine apart and started on Mark’s spin reel, just as he finished the last one. He grabbed an axe off the wall and a jug of pure water, and started packing the Jeep. It looked like we almost might have to take the Ford truck, but he managed to get everything in, leaving his guns to the last. I thought this was ominous but didn’t say anything. Just as he turned to get his guns, the doorbell rang.
I got up to get it, but Mark grabbed me. “Leave it be,” he said softly.
I struggled to get free. “Stop it, Mark. It’s our neighbour from across the way, Justin Slotsky.”
Justin peered in through the window, shading his eyes. Fortunately, we were beyond his range of sight, on the other side of the Jeep. “Alex, you can’t trust anyone in a life-threatening situation like this. Your neighbours can turn on you like rabid dogs.”
I sighed, thinking of all the times Mark had ranted about people and how stupid they were. I used to try and show him how that was so untrue, but he remained unconvinced.
“Get the dogs in their carriers, and I’ll go and lock up the house as best I can,” he said.
I called and the three of them came running. “Who wants to go for a car ride?” I asked them teasingly. The two girls loved going in the car; however, Oreo, our little male, was terrified because of an experience he had had before he came to us. Still, the promise of a treat calmed him sufficiently to get him into his carrier. He liked his carrier because he felt safe in there. I left them to get my boots on and grab my collapsible cane and a small flashlight. Immediately the three started yipping. I hurried back and hushed them. They must have heard the fear in my voice, because they quietened right away.