In which we receive news of the world
Funny how I still wake up at the ‘normal’ time even though nothing is normal and there is no reason to be awake this early. I wonder if anything will ever be normal again, or will it ‘become’ normal to check what our daily dose of radiation is, or will it ‘be normal’ to know which day it is in the new accounting of things?
We used to keep count of what day of any year it was, we knew when our birthdays were and how old we were. It wasn’t unusual for someone to ask the date, it often got lost in the general shuffle of days and weeks. But now we count day 1 and day 3. Our days suddenly have become more important: We Have Survived 4 Days. Will it become normal when we have counted 365 days and then start in years? Or will it fade in time to questions like when Kennedy died or the Twin Towers fell. March 26. 3/26 is our new 9/11. Numerologists played with 9/11 adding up the numbers. 9+1+1=11, 1+1=2. Funny. 3+2+6=11, 1+1=2.
Will 2 become the number, the important 1+1? ‘Two’ means there is yet another. Two means someone else. Two means not alone. Two means someone to watch your back. It takes two to hug or make love or keep the race going. I miss coffee.
It is official. I am now the Scribe of our little family. I thought it should be Duncan. He is published and all, but he said that I had been doing it since we began and I should continue. He said he writes of history or magic or romance and that there is no more history—it is all gone. He said there is no more magic and that survival will replace romance. They voted. The vote was unanimous. When I saw that everyone was voting for me, I went with the flow. My vote wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe I should have voted for Duncan. I could have recorded it for posterity. But I didn’t.
Today began strange. Tony is gone. I wonder if he will survive Outside. I hadn’t thought much about our surviving until we banished him. We lived through the initial Big Bang as it were, and all of us simply seemed to assume this would continue. We didn’t talk of ‘our’ dying. We talked of those we assumed dead.
Cyndy checked with her Geiger counter today and while readings near entrances seemed higher, for the most part inside our castle everything was normal. (Sigh) Freddy is not doing well at all. Lilac wanted is to try to get to the pharmacy in town and get some of his medicine. We did have the prescription to pick up. It was probably sitting in a little white bag on a shelf at the drugstore in town. Freddy didn’t want anyone going Out (we say it with a capital letter these days -- the new normal --) and he said that it would be difficult to keep him in insulin and keeping it cold. There was no place for the sick or dying in this new world. Lilac didn’t want to listen to that but Freddy’s eyes, as he looked at us, showed his understanding and acceptance of what would be.
We now have mattresses down here, all checked and okay-ed as safe. We all went in the pool today. We swam naked. It seemed perfectly natural and no one wanted to wear wet clothes. We have been raiding the closets and making do. There was apparently no reluctance to be naked in front of anyone, but I did feel strange. It only really bothered me around Duncan and I stayed a distance away from him.
There was talk about how long we would, could stay here. There was talk about how ‘the castle’ was safe and could be made safer. John, Duncan, Doc and Lanie were talking about guns and ammo and defending and setting up guards. We got some books from the library today and Cyndy was looking at prevailing wind patterns, jet-streams and seasonal transfers of heat. We wondered what cities besides Boston and New York were bombed. Cyndy opted for Colorado, California, Virginia and Texas as there were military bases there. It seems a fair assumption that Washington, DC was bombed as well. The generator died and John went to the garage and got some gas cans full of gas from their cars. So we have light again. We compared notes and no one remembered hearing of anything specifically threatening on Saturday news-wise. Last Thursday had been the first day in a while there had been no American casualties in Iraq. All anyone really remembered from ‘the news’ was everyone fighting about Terry Schreibo’s right to live or die. What a joke.
So now we, the living count 12. 11 humans and one dog. 10 adults, 1 child, 1 dog. Soon to be diminished by 1
And thus we survived Day 4
Day 5-- 6 am
I am awake. Everyone else is asleep except for Danny. I don’t want to write this morning. My brain is tired. All night long I dreamed disjointed dreams of what isn’t. Unimportant things now. Rendered thus by an impotence to do anything about what is. Would Ken Jennings have won the Super Jeopardy Championship? Who would have or should I say, did, win Survivor Palau? Would I have gotten that job I’d been waiting to hear about? Where are my kids?
Day 6 – 6 am –Today is April 1st, Day 6, April Fool’s Day.
Lilac is crying.
Freddy died last night. His arms were wrapped around Lilac when he died. He was stiff with rigor mortise when she woke up. They broke something, I think, moving his arms so she could get up. Doc and Duncan carried him Outside. I don’t know what they actually did with him. I didn’t ask. We had a ‘service’ of sorts this afternoon for him. Lilac is very quiet and just stumbled through her day. No one quite knew the right things to say. We, as a group, didn’t know Freddy well. He and Lilac were married over 60 years. We stumbled through Amazing Grace growing stronger voice-wise as we neared the end of the song. We all recited “Our Father” and Doc said “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” and then no one said anything. Those words have new meaning now.
So many definitions have changed, or rather, connotations, perhaps. Outside there are millions of people dead, millions more suffering injuries or the beginnings of radiation sickness. We coldly banished one of our group to share in that fate. But we weren’t coldly faced with death until this morning. Now we are all in mourning. Mourning all that we have lost and it is mourning beyond lost children or families. We mourn the death of Life as it has been, we mourn ‘normal,’ we mourn the loss of our true innocence.
9pm—In which we receive our first news of Outside
We have two new members sharing our ‘family’ tonight. Steve and Bobby. They arrived around dusk, calling to the house, yelling hello. They approached with arms raised and asked to join us. They had seen the men earlier when they went Outside with Freddy.
Steve and Bobby met each other while walking on Route 7 south of Rutland. Both had been Outside when the bombs hit. Both had cars simply stop running. Steve had had his new 05 Mustang for 2 days. It had less than 500 miles on it and he was driving to NYC to present a new ad campaign to Cantor Fitzgerald Corp on Day 2. Bobby was on his way to Florida for a vacation. His girlfriend had died when another car crashed into his. They said the highways were full of cars and trucks like a kid had dumped play toys out of a box. Cars were left with doors opened.
Steve was on his way to NYC and was headed south on RT 7 and just passed through North Dorset. He had been listening to a cd and had no idea about anything until the car died on him. Suddenly cars were rolling free and power breaks weren’t working and cars began crashing. Off on the horizon the sky got very bright and that was his first inkling about what had happened. At first people were yelling at each other, blaming and cursing whom ever had hit their car. That stopped as a tanker truck blew up and startled people into silence. No one knew what to do and little clumps of people began breaking off and wandering in different directions. He started walking south. He said he didn’t remember thinking about why or where, but that he simply grabbed his briefcase complete with his laptop out of the car and began walking. Two days ago he left his laptop with his presentation on the side of the road. In Barnumville, he said that he felt he was walking through a ghost town He didn’t see a single soul. He figured with a small town that he would see some people and was, in fact, worried there would be trouble. The door to the Barnumville Country Store was open and he went inside. The deli meat was beginning to smell. He grabbed a soda, some water and a bag of chips. He was about a half mile out of town when, he said, he’d realized how silly that was. He just kept walking and eventually met up with Bobby in Manchester.
Steve still seems dazed. I expect he is an intelligent go getter; you’d have to be in the marketing world. But to me, he seems as if he isn’t quite here. He still talks about getting to NYC. Sometimes he makes perfect sense, at other times he just isn’t with it.
Martha kept insisting he had to be hungry and that he eat something, but he said he wasn’t.
Bobby had driven over to Castleton State College to pick up Susie, a junior, from her apartment in town. They were on their way to Boston where they’d had cheap tickets to Orlando, Florida. They were headed for Disney World for her spring break. He was just south of Dorset on Rt. 30 when the car died. The car spun around when he hit the guard rail and the car behind him slammed into the passenger side. Susie was dead when he came to. He had had the radio on but they weren’t really listening to it as Susie was telling him about how she was going to be spending the summer in Dorset doing summer stock at the Playhouse. He remembered hearing something about a raised terror level warning, but hadn’t paid any attention to it because who did any more?
After the crash and after he realized that Susie was dead, he checked the car behind him. Both the people in the front seat were dead too, having had their heads smash into the front windshield.
He never saw the sky get bright, but heard about it in Manchester where he ended up until he met up with Steve. He walked down the road to Manchester with a group of people who pretty much scattered when they hit town. He’d been holed up at the Colburn House. It was there he heard about the bombs.
He’d met a William Herrick who was a ham radio nut and who had a generator. He said that bombs had taken out NYC, Washington, D.C., Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, LA and Kansas City. The country was dead. We were pretty safe here, because, he’d heard, the jet stream was pushing the radiation from Detroit and Chicago down over NYC. People immediately east of the affected areas were in the greatest danger. The people IN the affected areas didn’t care anymore.
He’d heard that Pennsylvania was a death land and that the Chicago fire could be seen across the lake. A jet had crashed down near Bennington. All the flights in the air crashed. There were three waves of bombs. The first were electro-magnetic ones, the second wave took out the cities and then there was a third, smaller wave of dirty bombs. So much for their not having weapons of mass destruction. He’d also heard that we got some bombs off, but he didn’t know where they’d been headed, if they reached their targets or if they had failed when the electromagnetic pulse had hit. He’d heard, but hadn’t been able to verify that Paris, London, Moscow and New Delhi were hit as well.
Some of the radio operators were already dying of radiation poisoning and he didn’t know how long he’d be getting news. All of this was Day 2. No one had seen him since.
Bobby met Steve yesterday. They were both walking up the mountain on Route 11 looking for a place to hole up. They saw lights moving here last night.
We have made it through Day 6