Category Archives: fantasy fiction

CHAPTER FIVE – I’ll Cry For You, Argentina

CHAPTER FIVE – I’ll Cry For You, Argentina
(from the novel, The Rocky Road to the End of the World)
Copyright (c) 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman
All rights reserved.

        “You don’t have to be so hard on her,” I whispered to Mark.  “She’s just a kid.”

“She’s a kid who’s trying to survive, same as us, Alex.  But there can only be one leader of this expedition, and that’s me.  If everyone wants to survive, that’s the way it’s going to be.”

I sat back, gritting my teeth, stroking Tilly to regain my temper.  One of the things I was mad at was knowing that Mark was right…again.  He always did that, and it annoyed me enormously.  Fact was, I still didn’t grasp the significance of the situation.  I still believed in the goodness of people.  If the e-Wave, as the media was calling it, hit us, we were dead.  Running away, like cowards in the night, was no way to make a last stand.  It didn’t dawn on me that the e-Wave wasn’t the enemy.

The grass rustled and I looked into the gloom, expecting Patty to emerge.  Instead it was an indistinct figure brandishing something.  As it approached, I gulped and leaned over to Mark.

“He’s got a weapon, Mark,” I said.

“I know,” Mark replied evenly.  Even as we talked he slid his rifle sitting behind me out of sight and put the butt end on the floor.

“All of you, get out of the Jeep,” the man yelled.  At least it had to be a man by the timbre of his voice.  I still couldn’t see his face.  “No funny tricks or I’ll shoot ya, all of ya.”

“Go on, you two,” Mark grated.

Justin opened the rear door behind Mark, as I opened the passenger door.  Both of us stepped out at the same time and moved away from the car.  I could tell by the way the guy was moving his head, he was having a little trouble keeping track of us in the dusk.  Before Mark could even step out, however, a slight whishing sounded, followed by a grunt.  The man collapsed.  Patty walked up on the verge and dusted her hands off.

“Good thing I went to the can,” she said with a smirk.

“You could have been killed!” Mark raged.  “I had it under control.”  He got out of the Jeep, carrying the rifle.

“I figured you didn’t want a gun battle with Alex and the Jeep as targets.  The least we would have gotten was one or more flat tires.”

Mark didn’t say anything.  Knowing him, I figured he had already thought of that and was ready to take the risk.  I also figured he was surprised that Patty had thought it through so clearly.

“Is he dead?” I asked, my voice a little shaky.

Mark returned from checking him out and placed a revolver, presumably the man’s in the glove compartment.  “Nope,” he said, “but he’s going to have a granddaddy of a headache when he wakes up.”  He reached behind my seat and slid the rifle into the slot he had made for it.  “Nice head whack,” he said, grinning at Patty.

“Thanks,” she said, grinning back at him.

I scooped Tilly up from where she had been cowering on the ground—men’s loud voices always scared her—and the four of us got back into the Jeep.

“Maybe we can get some local news,” Justin suggested.  “Might give us a better idea of what’s going on with looters.”

Mark nodded as he geared up the Jeep, heading back onto the road, and I switched on the radio.

 …of Argentina and Chile.  This is the first time only part of a country has been swallowed by the e-Wave, and the results are interesting, although not unexpected.  Accounts from northern Argentina report that communications were normal from the southernmost part of the country.  There was absolutely no warning when the e-Wave struck.  When it did, all communications ceased.

The line of destruction in Argentina was straight along the north border of Santa Cruz province and included everything southward, plus Islas Malvinas, Antarctide Argentina, and the Falkland Islands.  A similar demarcation in Chile was an imaginary line through the Twelfth District of Magallanes y la Antartica Chilena Region extending across Chile on the same latitude as the northern Santa Cruz border.

What was different in this attack of the e-Wave was that it was the first one to dissect a country.  All along the Santa Cruz border was evidence of the scientific precision of the Wave.  Cars, people, plant life, animals that had been crossing the border or lay across the border at the time the Wave hit were bisected at that point.  One person had been walking to the other side of the provincial border when the e-Wave struck.  His leg was removed as cleanly as if with a surgical scalpel.  The person, unidentified at the moment, was rushed to hospital.  A hospital spokesman reported that the man’s chances for survival are favourable.

Many others, numbering in the hundreds, were not so lucky and did not survive.

While scientists have still not determined what the e-Wave is, where it originates, and what its purpose is, they have mapped out a rough pattern that the Wave seems to be following.  The speculation is that the Wave started from Australia as a testing point, a whole country, contained as an island, small enough to study effects, yet large enough for the effects to be visible from space.

The e-Wave moved northeast to Papua New Guinea, hovered indecisively, then for some reason headed south, taking in the Solomon and Fiji Islands and New Zealand…more island countries.  Analysts believe that, after observations by the manipulators of the e-Wave’s behaviour during the tests, these same manipulators caused the destruction to head westward across the Atlantic, missing the tip of Africa, presumably because it was too far north.

The Wave took in the islands surrounding the western hemisphere landmass, and then, unexpectedly, took a bite out of the two countries occupying the most southernmost space.  This pattern would seem to indicate that perhaps whoever or whatever is manipulating the e-Wave is not proficient in handling it operation.  Further speculation supposes that the e-Wave is being pretested on our planet.

Although there is still considerable disagreement about various aspects of this attack, the majority are now in agreement that this is an attack directed by intelligent beings.  We are told that what finally convinced most of the scientists is the doubt and change of course after Papua New Guinea.  There is still a slim chance that it was simply survival instincts veering from the northern route because of some unknown disagreeable factors there.  Still the majority opinion prevails.

Looters are reported running rampant in most, if not all, populated areas.  Because the entire world could be at risk, most people are interested in being with their loved ones.  A small percentage of people worldwide are heading north, in the belief that the southern parts of the world are the most dangerous.  They hope that the north may be missed.

The United Nations has delivered a mandate to the global scientific community to determine the cause of the e-Wave and find a solution with all possible speed.

Mark nodded his head as if the announcer had said something he agreed with or had already known.  Sometimes I had no idea what my husband was thinking.  As the buzz of the station grew insistently annoying, I turned the radio off.

“Well,” Patty said, “that was less than cheerful.  And here I was hoping to see…to see my mom and dad s-soon.”  A soft sob turned my heart to mush.  Mark was fond of saying it turned my head to mush too.

“It’s okay, Patty,” I said.  “If it’s humanly possible, we’ll find them.”

“Only if they’re on the way to Lake Timiskat,” Mark muttered under his breath, but I heard him and turned to glare at him.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t see my facial expression in the dusk.  Fortunately, he had the sense to keep anything else on the subject to himself.

I noticed that Justin’s arm had found its way around Patty’s shoulders, and she had rested her head on his chest.  Probably a better comfort than I could provide right now.

Stroking Tilly’s soft fur, I leaned my head back.  I wished I had been able to talk to either my son or my daughter when I called Calgary.  Leaving a message on their answering machines wasn’t very satisfactory.  I couldn’t tell them the route we were taking north since I hadn’t known at the time.  I still didn’t know.  Just the destination.  As soon as Mark had told me was when I had phoned them.  I hoped I would see them again.

A tear surprised me by trickling down my cheek.

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CHAPTER FOUR – Potty Breaks Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

CHAPTER FOUR – Potty Breaks Can Be Hazardous To Your Health
(from the novel, The Rocky Road to the End of the World)
Copyright (c) 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman
All rights reserved.

         “So, Justin, what’ll it be?” Mark said finally.

After a long moment, Justin replied in a low voice, “I guess I’ll stay.”  Then right away, “Sorry, don’t mean to be begrudging.  I really appreciate you letting me stay.  I’ll try and make it worth your while.”

“That’s fine, Justin,” I said.  “Just stay healthy.”

“Uh, so, Justin,” I heard Patty say, as I turned to face the front, “how long have you lived in Spiritvale?”

“A couple of years,” he murmured.  Their voices sank to a pleasant buzz, and I relaxed into my seat.

“Need me to drive?” I asked Mark.

“No, I’m good,” he said.  “I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be able to use the Jeep, though.  Get some rest while you can.”  He looked worried, and I conceded his right to look that way.

“I’ll try,” I answered doubtfully.  Honestly, I was as worried as Mark looked, and I was being inundated by all the what-ifs.  What if we ran out of gas?… What if I broke a leg?… What if the dogs couldn’t keep up?… I was very good at what-iffing.

The car cruised to a stop, and I woke up.

“Why’d we stop?” I asked, not sleepy anymore.

“Two reasons: I need to take a leak, and the news is getting worse.  I’m not sure we should stick to the road anymore and I want to take a look at the map.”  Mark got out of the car and disappeared into the brush.

“Wha’s happening?” Justin called sleepily from the rear seat.

“Nothing major,” I reassured him.  “Mark had to take a leak, and he wants to take a look at the map.”

“Me too,” Justin said urgently.  “Excuse me, Patty.”

As he disappeared in Mark’s general direction, I glanced at the sky and realized I had been sleeping for at least a couple of hours.  It was getting dark.  There was a smell of dampness in the air, signaling rain sometime in the near future.  It would be a bad time to leave the Jeep, I reckoned.

Justin and Mark arrived back at the Jeep and got settled in.

Patty laughed.  “Those gas station maps aren’t much good for anything except to give you a general idea of where the main roads go.  They don’t show most of the grid roads.”

“Yeah, I know,” Mark replied, unrolling a large white map.  “Turn on the overhead lamp, Alex.”

Reaching up, I clicked the ceiling light on.  “Don’t worry, Patty,” I said.  “Mark is an expert in tracking, hunting, map-reading, and survival.  We couldn’t be safer in anyone else’s hands.”

Patty grinned and the light of it almost illuminated the interior of the Jeep.  “That’s good to know.  For once, I’ll be able to tell my folks I used my head.”

“Yep.”  Justin nodded approvingly.  I suspected they had shared their life stories.  They seemed very comfortable with each other.  I wondered if Mark and I would feel comfortable with each other again.

After making a few notations on the map, he handed it to me.  “I think we’ll keep on going as long as we can.  I’ve marked out a route that should keep us away from crowds.  You can’t tell about the farmers living along the route, though.  You can bet they’ll all have guns.  Hopefully, they’ll be sleeping.”

I was the only one who knew that Mark was kidding, but the other two took comfort from his remark.

“I’m going to fill the gas tank with the reserve I brought along.  We don’t need it yet, but I don’t want to have to stop once we get going, and I won’t be going into any towns for gas.  With luck we’ll find a deserted farm with purple gas available.”

“Purple gas?” Justin asked.

“A low grade of gas that farmers are allowed to use in their tractors, etc.  Not legal for ordinary vehicles, but I don’t suppose anyone will be objecting,” Mark replied.  “Now, if anyone has to take a leak, take it now.  Alex, take the dogs out to stretch their legs, and feed them.  As for us, perhaps Justin could rummage through the food sack and see if there is anything we can eat as we go…chips, beef jerky, stuff like that.”

I thought quickly.  “Well, maybe while Justin is working on our food orders, Patty and I can take a pee.  When I get back, I would appreciate help with the dogs.”

Patty nodded and hopped out of the car.  I grabbed a box of tissues and followed her.  When we were finished, I spotted a small glade just yards away from the side of the highway.  With all the dense brush and trees surrounding it, I thought it would be perfect for the dogs.

Justin staggered a bit when he got out of the car, but seemed to regain his balance after a few tries at walking.  Patty handed Tilly Tot out to me, then reached in behind the back seat and passed out the carriers holding LingLing and Oreo.

Oreo was trembling, and I handed Tilly to Justin so I could pick Oreo up.  He was a chunky little Shih Tzu, weighed about fifteen pounds, and was ordinarily the pint-sized king of his domain at home.  Here, it was a strange wilderness, obviously governed by something else from the smells.  Although he was no coward, he didn’t seem very anxious to meet this something else.  When we got to the glade, I put him down beside me and walked away a bit to give him privacy to do his duty.  He hastily followed me every step I took.  So I stood still and let him do some long-distance sniffing.

Patty and Justin took their cue from me and put the dogs they were holding down.  Tilly did her job and then casually strolled around the glade, sniffing here and there with great interest.  LingLing was delighted and pranced around as if the glade were her own private yard.  She had claimed ownership of the big yard we had at home and this seemed no different to her.

One problem arose.  LingLing had been trained to the pee pad so well that she wouldn’t pee on the grass.  Poop, yes, but not pee.  I signalled to Justin and Patty to watch all the dogs while I made a dash back to the vehicle.  I was happy to note that Oreo was now so interested in the smells that he didn’t notice I had left.  I grabbed a pee pad from the kit bag and hurried back.

Justin was sitting cross-legged on the grass, chewing a blade of grass, while Patty was walking around the glade shaking the kinks out of her legs.  The dogs ignored her, all three intensely interested in the magnificent odours, many of which they had never smelled before.  I put the pee pad down in an out-of-the-way place, for which LingLing was grateful.  She was very private about her personal daintiness.

I decided the glade was as good a place as any to feed and water the dogs.  I ran back to the Jeep to let Mark know what we were doing.  He nodded and I could see he was getting annoyed again at how slowly things were going.  Mark would feel like he was in heaven if his life could be run with military precision.  He was the only man I knew who would eat his food as a chore to be finished quickly.  He didn’t dine; he shovelled, and then was off to doing something else.  Resting was a foreign concept; yet he needed it more than anyone I’d ever known.  I told him we wouldn’t be long, and ran back to the glade with the materials.

I fixed their little dishes, and added Tilly’s arthritis medication to her kibbles.  Putting the bowls down near each other, I filled the big bowl about half-full of water, trying to conserve it until I knew for sure there would be more available.

The dogs must have been hungry because they dug into their kibbles like they actually liked them.  Not even any trouble with Tilly and her arthritis medication.  Then they took turns taking drinks.  Justin and Patty, bless their hearts, started playing with them, throwing a stick for Ling Ling to chase, rolling Oreo in the grass and tickling him, and petting Tilly and letting her know what a pretty girl she was.

When it got to the point that I knew we’d better get back or Mark would be fuming, I changed the pee pads in the carriers and loaded the two dogs.  It didn’t take long to get us all squared away.  Patty and Justin were more comfortable, since we repacked the back seat to make it more compact and give the two more room.  I got the sneaking hunch that they didn’t mind the togetherness all that much.

“Okay, everyone ready?” Mark said, a little more forcefully than necessary, I thought, as a small chorus of yeses answered him.  “Justin, did you manage to get some food ready for us?”

“Aye, aye, sir,” Justin said with a grin.  He dug into the pack and pulled out four bundles each wrapped in a napkin and handed them out.

Curious, I unwrapped mine and found two sticks of jerky beef, a large cube of cheddar cheese, mild, a chocolate bar, and an apple.  Justin then handed around a can of pop and dug into his own little meal.  It was strangely satisfying, and I munched happily, as Mark pulled the car around to head north again.

“When we’ve finished eating, Alex, I’ll need you to guide me once we reach the first bend.”

“Okay,” I said and sighed mentally.  It was going to be a long rocky ride to the end of the world.

After I finished eating and wiping my face with the napkin, I dropped whatever needed to be disposed into the plastic bag that Justin passed around, then picked up the grid map.  It was a plainly lettered map, divided into rectangles, with the grid roads riding as boundaries to the largest rectangles, or a combination of rectangles.  The east-west roads were township roads and the north-south roads were range roads.  It appeared we were on Range Road 36 W2M, whatever that meant.  I gave Mark the information, to which he grunted without comment.

A pained sigh came from the back seat.  I craned my neck to see what the problem was.  Patty whispered to me.

“Now I have to go number two.  Will Mark be mad if I ask him to stop now?”

I nodded.  “Probably,” I whispered back.  “But ask him anyhow.  When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

Patty nodded back and cleared her throat.  “Uh, Mark, so sorry about this but I have to go to the can again, this time for a…um…poo.  Must be the huge meal I just had.”  She laughed in embarrassment.

Mark was silent, and I was afraid he was going to explode.  He gave so much of himself most of the time that people were shocked when they found out he had little tolerance for many people-type foibles.  Dog-type foibles too.

Then he said in a strained voice, “All right.  I realize it’s hard to regulate your bodily functions.  But, in the future, just a heads up that there will be times when we won’t be able to stop for anything.  We don’t know what we’re facing from the environment, but we do know what people threatened with extinction will do.”

White-faced, Patty exited the vehicle, clutching the tissue box I had handed to her.  She scrambled through the ditch and disappeared into the trees.

CHAPTER 3 – Business Managers Are Indestructible

CHAPTER THREE – Business Managers Are Indestructible
from THE ROCKY ROAD TO THE END OF THE WORLD
Copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman

Not sure how long I dozed, but I awoke to the sound of angry voices.  Still woozy from sleep, I rubbed my eyes and looked around.  Mark was sitting in the driver’s seat, dark circles under his eyes.  Outside, in front of the Jeep, a young woman stood off to the side, while two men waved their fists and shouted at each other.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Mark shook his head.  “Who knows?” he said.  “I deliberated for a while cuz I really didn’t want to take a chance on stopping.  I’ll probably regret it, but I decided make a quick side trip into this town to check the air in the driver’s side front tire and to fill up with gas while we were here.

“I slowed down to turn left into that gas station,” …I noticed an Esso on the left… “and these three idiots appeared from nowhere and started arguing.  They’re too close for me to turn left, and if I back up they follow me.”  He snorted with disgust.

“Did you get out and ask them what they are doing?” I said.

Mark didn’t say anything.  I gathered he hadn’t.

I undid my seat belt, tucked Tilly firmly under my arm and stepped out of the car.

“Alex, get back in here!” Mark roared.  “You can’t trust anyone.”

Ignoring him, I walked to the front of the vehicle.  “Excuse me, but would you mind moving so that we can drive into the gas station?  We have a tire that needs looking at.”

The two men paid no attention to me and continued their shouting match.

The girl came up behind me.  “They’re arguing about who gets the Jeep,” she said in disgust.

“Pardon me…they’re what?”  I suppose the honest confusion showed on my face.  The girl put a hand on my shoulder.

“I know it sounds pretty terrible, when you say it like that.  If it’s any consolation, I’ve been trying to talk ’em out of it.  Being the bozos they are, they’re not listening to anyone right now.”

I nodded and bit my lip as I turned back to the shouters.

“Over my dead body,” the youngish, short man yelled.

“That can be arranged,” the taller, older man shouted.

The young guy swung his fist, but the older man saw it coming and ducked.  This threw the young guy off-balance and the older guy kicked him when he was down, producing a roar of rage from the young guy.

“The owners locked the pumps and left, so you won’t be able to get gas.  If you hurry, you can probably back up and fill your tire with air,” the girl said.

“Thanks, we’ll do that,” I told her.

“You have such a cute dog,” she said.  “By the way, my name’s Patty.”

“Alex,” I said over my shoulder and hopped into the car.  Mark had seen the turn of events and backed up before I said anything.  I told him the conversation while he gunned the Jeep into the gas station driveway, stopping at the air pump.

While Mark worked with the tire, I took Tilly out on a small patch of lawn and let her do her thing.  The other two would use a pee pad, as we had trained them, but Tilly was set in her ways and only the great outdoors would do for her.  I scooped her up just as Patty came scrambling down the hill.

“Look, you seem like nice folk,” she said.  “Let me unlock the pump and turn the pump mechanism on for you to get gas.”

I didn’t ask any questions.  “Wonderful, Patty.  I’ll tell Mark.”  She hurried over to the far pump, fishing out a set of keys from her jeans pocket.

Just as we were filled and ready to go, a shot rang out from the direction of the crowd at the top of the hill.  It wasn’t a car backfiring, either.  I just knew it was one of the fighters.  I looked at Patty and she looked at me.  Without a word, I opened the back door and shoved her in beside Justin, then hastily took my seat in the front.

Mark had jumped in and gunned the car.  “What are you doing with her?” he growled.

“Never mind.  The guy who wants our Jeep apparently has a gun.  Let’s get out of here.”

We sped out of the gas station and onto the small ribbon of asphalt heading north.

“Where do you want dropped off, miss?” Mark called to the back of the Jeep.

There was a small pause, then, “Would you have room for me?  Mom and Dad left this morning, but I refused to go.  Jeff was still here, but…”  Patty’s voice trailed off.

“We sure as shooting don’t have room for Jeff,” Mark growled.  “Non-negotiable.”

“That’s not a problem.”  Patty’s voice was trembling.  “He won’t be coming.”

I felt so sorry for the girl.  “You sure, sweetie?  I bet we could make room if we tried.”

“No, ma’am.  One of those two was the shooter and the other was the victim.  They’ve both turned into monsters that I don’t know anymore.  My folks were right.”

I turned to catch a tear rolling down her cheek and felt the surge of her sorrow.  How terrible was it to know that your lover was either a potential murderer or possibly a murder victim…and not know which one it was, to boot?

I looked back at the gas station.  A sizable crowd had gathered up on the road, people were shouting, and I noticed two or three guns being brandished.  O Canada!  When had we turned into a rabble?  We were lucky to get out of there.

Just as I cleared my throat to start talking, to help Patty adjust to the terrible shock she must be feeling, a moan that sounded like a ghost speaking through a tunnel emanated from Justin   Patty jumped and edged away from him.  The two dogs in the carriers in the back started barking, and Justin groaned again.  He reached up to touch the back of his head, winced, and let his arm drop.

“What happened?  Where am I?  Who is this?” he demanded.

“Easy, Justin, ” Mark said, checking him out in the rear view mirror.  “Two rednecks tried to steal my truck and thought you were a threat.  One guy beaned you with a rock.  We couldn’t leave you there so we brought you with us.”

“Sorry about that, Justin, but we can’t take you back.  We can let you off if you want.”  I turned to Mark.  “How far north of Spiritvale do you think we are, Mark?”

He paused for a moment, then said, “Probably a couple of hundred miles.”

“A couple of hundred…”  Justin turned pale.  “I left Monster in the house.  I have to go back.  There’s no real reason to be running north.  Australia could be just having an electric blackout for some reason.  There’s no new news.  I…”  He brushed his hand over his face.

“Let’s see if there’s more news,” Mark said and switched the radio on.

The announcer didn’t sound happy.

The last word out of New Zealand was less than an hour ago.  All New Zealand broadcasting has ceased.  No communications of any kind are being sent from or received by that country.  This is the second country in two hours to be involuntarily removed from global communication systems.  There has been no response from Australia since this morning, nor has Papua New Guinea responded to any transmissions.

 The jet pilots sent by the Indonesian Air Force to reconnoiter the area have reported that the countries are still there, visible from the air at 20,000 feet, but that no activity is seen on radar or by the naked eye.  The planes can only approach within two miles before encountering some kind of blockade that prevents forward progress.

Scientists around the globe are are working non-stop to try to decipher the readings that the planes captured with their in-flight cameras and plotting instruments.  So far, nothing that could explain these phenomena has been discovered.  Station CJSK will continue to update this general broadcast as news comes in.

You could only hear the humming of the engine and the sound of the tires crunching through the gravel.  Only an occasional ping sounded as the gravel bounced off the side of the Jeep.  Finally, Justin spoke.

“That’s for real, then?”

“I’m afraid so, Justin,” Mark replied.  He looked as shaken as I’d ever seen him.  He pulled over to the shoulder and turned to look at Justin   “So, what’s it to be?  Drive on or get out here?”

“I-I don’t know.  I might not even get back to Spiritvale.  I bet there are more grotty characters roaming around like those two back in town.”

Patty narrowed her eyes as she spoke up for the first time.  “You weren’t even conscious in Breckenridge.  How did you know about that?”

“No, Patty,” I answered here, as Justin frowned and looked at Patty.  “Justin is talking about two looters back in Spiritvale, where we come from.”  I patted her on the shoulder.  “Justin is our neighbour.  Justin, meet Patty, daughter of the Esso station owners in Breckenridge.  Patty, meet Justin, a worker at the potash mine south of Spiritvale.”

“Business manager,” Justin corrected and held out his hand to Patty.  “Pleased to meet you.”

They murmured pleasantries as if everything were all right in a sane world, then fell silent.  Nobody seemed to know what to say next.

Aside

Thought you might be interested in how I revise my drafts.  I have a few writer friends whose opinion I value.  I ask them to read the draft and then post their comments (on another forum).  I consider their comments, … Continue reading

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CHAPTER 1 – The Rocky Road to the End of the World

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.