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.