Thank you for the posts.
Always helps me feel better lol.
No I am not a professional writer thank you for the complenmet. I dream of being discovered lol. But don't a lot of us in some way
By that time his mom was coming to their area and he waved at her to stop where she was, she was about 25 feet to the right. He heard the bushes rustle and saw Barbs coat when he looked to the left. Gees, he said to himself we all need some training at this sneaking around stuff. Barb came a little closer and she saw him and Lysbeth and he motioned for her to stop to, and he pointed towards the kids by the RV’s.
“ I have an idea whispered Lysbeth to Brain, we have to get to those kids, and let them know we’re not bad guys.”
Brian hadn’t had time to say anything back at all when Lysbeth scooted away from him and was out from behind the tree and yelled, “HELLO IN THE CAMP.”
The boy turned quickly as he was still trying to herd the other children into the camper behind them and shot wildly in Lysbeth’s and Brian’s direction.
Missing all of them in the woods, thank goodness.
“It’s alright no ones going to hurt you, were friendly,” she yelled.
From the camp the boy yelled, “How do we know that? Some one already said that and then killed my parents and my uncle and aunt, robbed us of what they wanted and took off, they thought it was funny.”
Lysbeth could tell he was all choked and crying, he was having a hard time talking. From inside the camper he could hear someone calling, “Henry were scared.”
“Is that your name, Henry?”
“Honest Henry, we will help if we can, you see I am new to these people I am with too, my granddad died on the ride out of McCall and these people found me and made me part of their family. We won’t hurt you or the other children.”
Lysbeth stepped out from behind the pine tree, Brian gasped, he couldn’t believe she would take such a chance with a scared kid.
“See Henry it’s just me, I’m Lysbeth. Brian, Barb, and his mom Beulah are riding to Washington.”
“I saw the bikes that’s why I shot at you, I decided I would shoot first and ask questions later.”
Henry lowered the pistol and Brian let his breath out, he thought Lysbeth was going to get herself shot. Henry then sat down at the picnic table and started to cry, the other children came boiling out of the camper, and ran over to Henry. When they saw Lysbeth they stopped talking as they had been asking Henry if he was ok.
“It’s ok kids, I’m Lysbeth, I am going to call my friends out of the trees now, so don’t be scared.”
Lysbeth called, “you can come out now,” but she saw they were already coming out as she called. Duh, she thought to herself of course they heard.
The children watched as the strangers came out of the woods and they huddled together.
All four of the adults came over to the picnic table and sat down. The younger one who called herself Lysbeth introduced the other adults.
By this time Henry had calmed down and had realized these people weren’t going to hurt them, at least they didn’t seem like it, heck one of them was a kid too.
Beulah asked, “Henry will you introduce the other children and are you and the others able to tell us what happened to your parents, if you’re up to explaining? How many days ago did this happen?”
Beulah was also thinking and wondering which way the murderers went, and hoped they took a different route after they got past Riggins or someone else gave them what they had coming if they tried this again.
Henry finally looked up, the two youngest children were tight on each side of him, he didn’t have to introduce them, the youngest a black haired green-eyed little girl said, I’m Karen I’m five, and that’s Gil he’s eight,” as she pointed at the little boy on Henry’s right.
Henry got his voice again and said, pointing at the other boy, “that’s Timothy he’s ten and that’s Bea and she’s eleven. Bea and Karen are my sister’s, Tim and Gil are our cousins and we’re all Olson’s, my dad and theirs were brothers.”
The talking seemed to be helping him and the other children. They had all loosened up and didn’t appear so scared.
Brian looked over to where they had left their bikes and cart, “Henry would you and the other children mind if we go over and get our bikes, I think we would feel better about having them over here with us.”
The kids all shook their heads yes and the adults got up, with Karen and Gil trailing after them as they went over to get their bikes.
All seemed ok with the bikes and cart, Brian had tried to not put his bike down he had kind of half laid it up against a tree as fast as he could, he didn’t want too chance breaking the connection to the cart. The two children just stood waiting, way to patient for children that age Beulah thought.
In a few minutes they had the bikes and cart over by the first RV on there kick stands and had gathered around the picnic table again. When everyone was settled again and the two youngest were again at Henry’s sides, Beulah asked, “Ok would you tell us now what happened to your parents.”
None of the children seemed to want to be the first to talk, Karen looked up with her beautiful green eyes.
“Bad men came yesterday and shot mommy and daddy and Aunt Lucy and uncle Tyler, just like on TV, but it wasn’t pretend.”
Gil rolled his eyes, “no dummy it wasn’t yesterday, everything’s yesterday to you.”
Karen got mad and yelled, “was too. Gil, was not, was too, was not.”
“All right kids all right, don’t worry about it,” Henry said, “stop fighting.”
Must have been Bea’s turn to talk or she finally felt like it, “they came four days ago. We had been camping here when everything went dead soon after dad heard on the radio that we were going to be bombed, he liked to listen to the 5 o’clock news. Bea had tears running dirty streaks down her face, but she went on. Anyway he thought we all just best stay here instead of riding our bikes out or walking after the RV’S wouldn’t start. We were to far from Boise he said and we would just wait things out for a couple of weeks or so and then we would try to get home. He thought maybe they would be looking for stranded people by then.
Beulah asked, “I wondered why you all weren’t at home anyway with school in and all.”
This time Tim answered, “we’re home schooled all of us so we always vacation when the others are home. Dad thought it made the campgrounds more private, now I wish we camped when everyone else did.”
Tim laid his head on his folded arms on the table and didn’t’ say anything for awhile. Henry had his arms around Karen and Gil as the others talked. Bea turned and looked toward the entrance of the campground.
“They came in walking, three of them, dad said for us to go into the woods behind our camper just in case. We had a hard time keeping Karen quiet, she didn’t understand, so we told her we were playing hide and seek and she had to be very quiet behind the bushes. I didn’t really see anything I was in the bushes with Karen. But Henry sneaked up real close to our camper behind the rear where that big pine is (she pointed at it at the same time) and hid behind it so he could see what was going on.”
Henry had his arms around a couple of the little one’s and was trying to be brave as he started telling what he saw and heard.”
“The three men looked around awhile then spotted our campers and acted all friendly, they started to introduce themselves and said their car quit a few days ago. They called themselves Butch, Mitch, and Stan. Dad told them what he heard on the radio about being nuked and that’s why all our vehicles wouldn’t work anymore. EMP took everything out electric. The biggest of them, Butch, got this big smile on his face then, like he couldn’t have heard a more wonderful thing had happened. They weren’t a bit sad or scared about it like you would think, like we were. The other two started to laugh and reached behind their backs and pulled out guns. That’s when dad and uncle Tyler, who was standing by the picnic table not far away realized we were in trouble. They got real scared looks on their faces and both started to back up, but this Butch pulled out his gun too and told them to just stay where they were. Then he had his friends; Mitch and Stan each go into our campers to find what was in them.”
“What they found was our mom and aunt Lucy in ours first off and hauled them out, they were being real rough and dad asked them to not hurt anyone. They just kept laughing. Butch had Mitch cut some rope from the tent us kids were sleeping in and tied up dad and uncle Tyler, and then they took mom and aunt Lucy behind uncle Tyler’s camper. There was lots of screaming and crying and swearing, I never heard that kind of swearing before, not even at school. Awhile later there were two shots; I guess that’s when mom and Aunt Lucy were killed.”
By this time tears were streaming down everyone’s faces the new comers included.
“Then the men came off from behind the camper, Butch had big scratches down his right cheek and was bleeding real bad, he ordered Stan to go in a camper and find some first aid stuff. Stan couldn’t find any, so when he came back out of our camper empty handed Butch hit him across the face with his pistol, then he asked dad where a first aid kit was and dad just sat on the ground and cried and when he didn’t answer Butch shot him right in the head. Then he pointed the gun at Uncle Tyler and Uncle Tyler said it was under the driver’s seat. But you could see uncle Tyler was really, really mad. Mitch went and got the first aid kit and fixed up Butches face. When they were done Butch turned and shot uncle Tyler in the head too. He didn’t say a word about it, he just laughed about it. Butch then yelled at Mitch and Stan to help look around, because from the looks of the tent and other things there were brats around. Then they would see what could be found in the way of goodies in the campers.”
“That’s when I took off from behind the tree as quiet as I could. It didn’t seem to make much difference the creeps make a lot of noise as they tried to look for us. I went to the other kids and told them to be very quiet bad guys were after us. But that was a mistake because it made Karen start to cry, so they found us in a few minutes. They just laughed at us and told us to stay in the woods or they would kill us, so we did all night and it was really cold, but we were afraid to go back to the campers.
It was a good thing we didn’t try to go back cause they stayed the night in our campers. Tim and I snuck up close enough in the morning to see them stuffing some of our stuff in some of our backpacks. They each took a sleeping bag too and tied them on and then walked out the way they had come. Tim and I went back and got the other kids and found mom, dad, uncle Tyler, and aunt Lucy. At first we didn’t know what to do, if maybe cops or rangers heard the shots. But no one did, so we dragged the bodies into the woods and covered them with rocks, wood and leaves the best we could.”
Henry was exhausted by the time he was finished and sat there taking deep breaths.
All was quiet for a few minutes until Beulah started talking; she was wiping her eyes with her coat sleeves.
“Children that was an awful thing to happen to you and your parents, I’m afraid things like that are happening all over the country right now, but we will take care of you the best we can, we will take you to the farm with us, my parent’s farm.”
The younger children perked up a bit after hearing that and that they wouldn’t be left all alone out here in the woods.
Brain said I have a question, “Henry where did you get your pistol.”
“Dad had it in a drawer by his bed, he always said we needed it just in case, you know for wild animals and such. He never thought men could be wild animals too. I see you all have guns. Do you know how to use them, I’m going to from now on.”
“Yes, said Brian, I know how to use mine, my grandfather taught me how and how to hunt, I don’t know how well the ladies know how to shoot. But don’t worry granddad and my uncles will teach you all you need to know.”
It was getting towards dusk now, and none of then had eaten.
Lysbeth asked the kids if they were getting hungry because she sure was. They all said yes they are hungry.
“Ok where’s what’s left of your food, we have some to share if we need too also but your family has what you like to eat.”
Bea was still sniffling but managed to get out, “the men took some of the food, cans and things but they couldn’t take it all, dad always brought lots of extra and so did uncle Tyler, so even though we had to stay here a lot longer we had plenty of food. Mom always gripped about all that stuff she had to pack and cram everywhere but she was glad this time. The bad guys didn’t even look in the storage spaces under the camper and there was lots of food under there.”
“Take my hand Bea and show me, you to Karen, you take Barb’s hand and we’ll all go look while Brain and Beulah see what else we need like pots and dishes.”
Henry said, “we have a Coleman three burner stove, it’s over there under the tree, dad had moved it so the picnic table would be clear during the day. I don’t know how to work it; I wish I had paid more attention, so we have been eating cold food. I was afraid to start a campfire; I thought maybe they would see it and come back. I was always to busy playing to learn to start that stove, never again, I what to learn to do things, this has showed me a lot of things I need to know.”
“You and me both Henry,” and then Brian and Henry went off to get the stove.
Beulah smiled as the boys walked off, looks like Brian has someone to look up to him now. At least there was something to smile about after all that had gone on, she was surprised at herself and then thought ump, oh well, now for pots, pans, and dishes and headed for a camper.
Barb and Lysbeth with the girls found all kinds of canned meats, vegetables, fruits, and canned juices in Bea’s parent’s camper. Lysbeth turned as she saw movement out of the corner of her right eye, it was just Beulah going into the camper. Whew, her heart kind of jumped. We need to set up a guard for the night if I’m going to get any sleep at all and I will gladly take my turn, were the thoughts running through her head.
Brian found two Coleman lanterns sitting by the stove, he had Henry bring those and he carried the stove over to the picnic table. He had Henry go back for the Coleman fuel by the tree, as the stove was almost empty when he shook the tank. He taught Henry just like his grandfather had taught him to fill, pump up, and light the stove.
Dinner done and things cleared away to keep bears from coming into camp; Brian showed Henry, Bea, and Tim the right way to build a campfire. The reason Gil wasn’t with them is he and Karen had both fallen asleep with their heads on the table before they were even done eating and were being put to bed.
Tim looked at Brian with scared eyes, “won’t the bad guys come back if they see this or even different ones?”
Brian knew Henry had told the children he was afraid that might happen.
“No, I don’t think they will come back Tim, not the same ones, and were going to set up night guards to watch things, no one will get the drop on us if we can help it. Most people are all holed up for the night by now anyway. It’s cold enough for people to want to be around a fire themselves or inside, so as soon as we’re done here I think it’s time you all head off to bed. We need to get a early start in the morning for home.”
Brian let them all make their own small campfire from scratch and called it a night after they had the fires all put out.
Brian and Lysbeth took first watch, four hours. They both took up a pine tree on each side of the camp and stayed in the shadows, as the moon was quite full. Brian kept time by where the moon was. Gramps would be happy that he had remembered his lessons.
All was still quiet as Barb and Beulah took over watch, Brian reminded them to stay in the shadows, and told them to wake him when the moon disappeared.
After Brian and Lysbeth were back up he let his mom and Barb take a one hour nap, then they woke the children and began to look over the children’s bikes to see if they needed any work before heading out unto the road. The bikes had been brought so the kids could explore the camp better and had been tied to the back of the campers.
Most of the bikes were mountain bikes; one had a child seat attached behind the rider’s seat. Brian thought he was the strongest rider so maybe he would be the one to have Karen. Barb would take his bike with the cart and have Henry ride her bike. Lysbeth’s grandfathers bike went to Bea, they put the seat as low as they could. That way Tim who was a bit shorter could ride hers, which was a 15 speed. Gil was given Tim’s 10 speed, so even one had traded up. Gil’s bike was just a plain old pedal power speed. Brian didn’t see any other way to do things and they began to discuss this and pack clothes, shoes, any meds they could find into other backpacks, there were plenty as the scum had only taken three.
Lysbeth had taken the girls to hunt in the other storage space on their uncle’s camper and had found freeze-dried foods, two whole cases along with boxed and bagged juices for the kids in both storage spaces.
Since there was still quite a bit of room in the cart for things, Brian untied the bike from it and had the kids help fill water bottles, get silver ware, pots, pans, and sharp knifes and other things from the kitchen and anything else they may need that they could take for the future. Brian tied the tarp back on when they were finished loading it; now it was really packed.
The children were all dressed warm and standing by the bikes and ready to head out. Brian saw them look back at the campers, knowing that their way of life had been changed forever without their parents, well he said to himself, I guess we all can say that our lives will be different from now on; now can’t we?
Barb took the lead and they headed down and out of the campground. They had to go slower so Gil could keep up. It took a few miles for Brian to get used to the child seat and extra weight on the back of the bike with Karen. But it wasn’t any harder then it had been when he was getting used to riding with his backpack, and now he hardly noticed it at all. The only thing that bothered him was the smell of smoke that was still in the air and it seemed to be getting more noticeable the further they went down the mountain.
Beulah turned her head, “does anyone else smell smoke?”
Lysbeth said, “I do and have for awhile, I just thought it was camp fires or something.”
“Same here,” said Barb and the children.
“ I smelled it yesterday too, when we came into the campground, I thought it was campfires to, but I’m beginning to think it’s more then that,” replied Brian.
He rode up to beside Barb at the front, “keep a keen eye huh Barb.”
They were rounding a corner about then and now they could see the smoke down further was dark, “no way that’s a campfire,” he said. “We best slow down, get a little closer to the source of the fire and leave the kids and bikes and check it out.”
It was a very curvy on this section of road and as they rounded the next curve they saw where the source of the fire was, on the next bend was a blacked house, still burning in places.
Brian nodded his head at the others, “over there, bring the bikes and the kids over into the trees and Barb and I will go check this out.”
Brian got off his and walked it and little Karen over to the woods.
“Where are you going uncle Brian she asked?
Brian smiled, “over to that house Huggy Bear, aunt Barb and I are going to see if anyone needs help, is that ok?”
She loved her new nickname her new uncle had given her; she had never had a nickname before, “yes Uncle Brian that’s ok.”
“You be quiet now and do just what your told.”
If there was one lesson this five year old had learned it was to be quiet when she was told, she hadn’t before and the bad men had found them, now she knew something was different and she had to do more of the things she was told.
Brian and Barb then made for the partly burning house, it was mostly down to smoldering now. It must have been burning and smoldering for a couple of days.
They walked around the outside in the trees first, each taking a different direction and meeting up behind the house.
Barb whispered, “I didn’t see anything.”
“Neither did I, lets get a little closer now I don’t think there is anyone around here.”
They were still watching the area around them and had their guns ready just in case, as they made there way closer to the smoldering ruin.
They were about 30 feet from the house when Barb went down; she thought, so much for watching, I can’t even watch where I’m going for Pete’s sake, she looked down and over and gave a gasp when she saw what she had fallen over. Brian who had been a few away from her, began to ask her if she was ok when he also saw what she had tripped over.
It was the remains of a half charred man’s body, partly clothed because most of them had been burned away. But what didn’t help matters was it looked like the animals had been at it.
Barb went white, and started heaving as she got up; she went a short distance and relieved her stomach of it’s contents.
Brian had thought, people going all white in the face was just a saying, now he knew better. He didn’t feel so good himself. He went over to Barb to see if he could help, which he really knew he couldn’t. She wiped her mouth with the shirttail of her husbands flannel shirt she had on.
“I’ll be ok now Brian, it just surprised me is all. I guess we will see more of this in the days to come won’t we, either from murder, starvation or accidents. I guess I will get somewhat used to it.”
As they went back towards the house he said, “I don’t know if this is something we will really ever get used to Barb, it’s just to horrible.”
The back of the house looked like it was the first to burn, so it was just smoldering, Brian looked around and then went over to a small shed where he saw a shovel leaning and went back to the house to move the burnt boards and other debris. One of the things he found was a burnt skeleton, and he noticed there was a small gasoline can all burnt up also.
“I think the kids bad guys came this way Barb or someone just as bad, no way this was an accident, there is no reason these people would have a gas can in their bedroom, chalk two more up for the bad guys.”
As they were walking back to the others Barb noticed Brian still had the shovel.
“Brian why in the world do you still have that shovel?”
All he said was.
“You have no idea when a good shovel will come in handy,” and continued walking back. When they reached the others he found a place to stick the shovel on the cart so it wouldn’t fall out and they told the others what they found at the house.
They were a pretty sober group as they rode down the road; they kept going this time when they saw smoldering houses, they pretty much knew what they were going to find.
Brian knew they were coming to an area that had quite a few homes on this side of the river on both sides of the road, nothing new they were pretty poor people who used to be loggers, until that industry mostly shut down, there was still some going on but not much.
“Lets slow down some,” he said, “I wouldn’t think three guys could take out all of the people and quite a few live up ahead.”
The first two houses were smoking ruins, and one scorched on the right side of the road closest to the river, they had been the furthest out. But what they saw next brought glee to their hearts if that’s appropriate. There swinging from two trees, one wasn’t big enough, were three men, dead as can be.
Henry stopped right in his tracks and Beulah nearly ran over him. Thank goodness they had been going slow.
“That’s the men that killed our parents, it’s them alright.”
Henry then put the bike on the kickstand and picked up some rocks and started to throw them at one of the bodies, the one with the long scabs on it’s cheek. Tim, Gil and Bea did the same when they saw what Henry was doing. People started to come out of their houses on both sides of them, and Brian didn’t know if he liked that or not. He looked both one way and then the other, his mom, Barb and Lysbeth were doing the same.
An older gentleman shouted so they could hear, “it’s ok kids no ones gonna hurt you, you would have never gotten into town if the guards hadn’t thought you were ok to let through here.”
Guards Brian, “I didn’t see anyone, did any of you?”
He got no’s all around.
“We have to learn to be more observant.”
By now the older man and a few others were close to them and the kids had stopped throwing rocks at the bodies.
“Howdy son, you have quite a crowd rolling down the road with you.”
“Yes sir we sure do,” Brian said with a smile and stuck out his right hand to shake hands with the man.
“I want to shake the hand of one of the men who must have helped take these three pieces of scum down.”
“Well son your welcome, did these pieces of crap hurt any of you and yours? I figured as much the way those kids were throwing stones at the bodies instead of hiding their faces from such as this.”
Everyone had gotten off their bikes and had set the kickstands, Lysbeth went over and unstrapped Karen while Brian was talking and set her down beside her, keeping a good hold on her hand.
“Those scum bags killed these kids parents a few days ago and we have found else where down the road that these three must have killed people on there way here. We’re sure it had to be them; it was like a trial leading right to this spot. By the way I’m Brian Reynolds, and the lady on my left here is my mom Beulah, next to her with little Karen is Lysbeth Owen, and to her right is Barb Yoder. The kids that threw the stones are starting with the oldest Henry, Bea, Tim and then Gil, there all Olsen’s, from two brothers that camped together a few miles back up the highway at a campground.”
“Good to meet you Brian and ladies even if it is under these circumstances, I’m Kurt Howell newly appointed mayor, your welcome to rest up awhile, have lunch and water up if need be, while you’re here with us you are safe.”
Beulah was standing beside Brian now, and that brought a smile to Kurt’s face, “nice to meet you madam.”
“It’s nice to meet you and your group here Mr. Howell, we will take you up on the offer of safety while we feed the kids something and ourselves, is there a place with a picnic table or something close by?”
“Yes there is, there’s one right down there by the river between those two houses, as he pointed the way, and please call me Kurt.”
Kurt was about 40 years old give or take, 6 feet tall; say 200 pounds, light brow salt and pepper hair, and brown eyes. He wore a 45 on his right hip and a 12-inch bowie knife on his left. He had on a blue and white checked flannel shirt and brown camo pants, with Army boots on his feet.
Kurt waited for them as they got there bikes and walked them over to the picnic table, no way were they going to leave them sitting in the middle of the road. They didn’t trust everyone that much.
Brian kept glancing over at Kurt, noticing Kurt looking at Beulah constantly, it seems Kurt had taken quite a shine to his mother. To bad Kurt didn’t live closer, he seemed the type to take care of things and not go haring off when he was needed, or stomp off because his wife didn’t have her makeup on and he was ready to go, so he leaves without her. In fact Brian thought his mother never looked better as she did right now, hair unbrushed and not a bit of makeup on her face.
She happened to look over at him, “what in the world are you grinning about Brian, you look like the Cheshire cat.”
“Oh nothing mom, just nothing.”
He changed the subject quickly, “here we are mom let me help you get your backpack off,” all the adults had put extra food in their backpacks at the campers to replace what they had used up and a bit more since they had more mouths to feed.
When Kurt saw Brian reach for Beulah’s backpack he jumped in, “oh let me help you with that while Brian helps the other ladies and kids.”
Brian turned, mostly so his mom wouldn’t see his smile and helped Barb off with her backpack, the others were already helping each other. Barb saw his smile and then looked over at Kurt and Beulah and grinned also at the two.
Barb whispered, “kind of hard not to notice isn’t it?”
She then went over to Lysbeth and started to get food out of their packs for the kids, before Brian had time to answer back.
Lunch is always good when your not having to watch your back at the same time, there hadn’t been many times in the last couple of weeks like this thought Brian. The kids were done eating and were down by the rivers edge throwing rocks into the river and having a good old time, except for Henry he was sitting at the table watching over them.
The adults looked at each other and nodded, it was time to go and they all knew it.
Brian thought it was time to start giving Henry some more responsibility.
“Hey Henry how about going down and collecting the kids it’s about time for us to take off again and after we get going I would like you to ride to the left of Barb kind of a side guard, is that all right with you?”
Henry’s eyes lit up at least a little, “sure Brian I will be glad to help out,” and he took off down the gentle slope after the children yelling, “it’s time to go, come on everyone.”
Brian chuckled and said out loud, “I could have done that.”
Lysbeth who was sitting next to him said, “yeah you sure could have, but you did the right thing, he knows he has left some of his childhood behind him with this new world and he needs all the help in the world right now to adjust, I know I do. Keeping busy helps, gives me less time to think.”
“Well this little trip has sure helped me with that, instead of sitting around at home brooding, hiding and wondering how I am going to protect my mom from the next piece of scum who decides to invade our neighborhood and our home. Just a taste of that was enough for me, ok we better get back on the road, lets get the kids backpacks on and then I will help you with yours.”
The kids were running up the hill, Gil only had a small pack, they knew he couldn’t carry much, the little bit older kids packs were heavier, but most of the their stuff was in and on the cart. The cart did look funny with stuff here and there sticking up and all that wrapped in a tarp.
Kurt had sat and talked with Beulah while they had eaten, a few others from the little community had come and gone, stopping to say hello, and hear the news about where the group had been. A couple wondered if they had seen any National Guard or military of any kind at all. They went away with long faces when they heard there wasn’t. Kurt just shook his head at them, "we told them folks not to expect anyone to come riding here to help us, good thing they have some talents cause all they had was one months worth of food to their name. Their neighbors and all so we wouldn’t have turned them out and if they hadn’t seen for themselves what those pieces of scum did to two of our neighbors they would have wanted to hold those guys for the law. Which is what we would have done in normal circumstances, but things aren’t normal any more. As it was they had a squawk about hanging those men until we showed them what they had done to the Weston’s and Gary Basset, Gary fought them off while his wife got away, but he didn’t make it.”
Beulah was hanging her head, “I’m very sorry to hear of all the trouble here, but a few weeks ago I was an empty headed fool too. I never gave a thought to where next weeks food was coming from. I would just run to the store when I needed something, after all what could happen to affect me in this day and age. I was raised to know better too, but as life was so easy I stopped thinking more and more, and only what I could buy for the day. Clothes, makeup, jewelry, friends, and keeping up with the Jones were the name of the day. I feel like I have woke up these last few days. I nearly got us killed at home with my empty headed actions. I guess I must have been in shock too for a few days. I thought once I got away from home and all that old fashion stuff my parents shoved down my throat I would be free from that kind of stuff for the rest of my life and I would be in the real world. She laughed a bit with that statement. Now look where I am, right back where I started.”
All Kurt could do is smile and nod his head at what she was saying.
“Beulah I think this has woke a lot of folks up and some have no idea what to do, so many will be prey for scum and others will become scum. They will do things they never thought in their wildest dreams they would do, to keep food in their stomachs, and in their families. It’s not the depression of the 1930’s, people then still knew how to do things to keep from starving but they still had a lot of folks on farms back then too. It’s a whole different era now, I think we are more dog eat dog, plus how many know how to grow food, cook a simple pot of beans from scratch, make clothes, hunt. I think were in for a whole world of hurt, and this is just the beginning. Goodness I don’t mean to be preaching to the choir, I have told our own folks here the same thing, those two that we’re here last didn’t want to listen, but I think they are now. They have had it shoved right in their faces. Kurt was chuckling, you shouldn’t get me started, I can’t seem to quit.”
Beulah noticed when Brian had Henry go down to get the children and knew it was time for them to be on there way again.
“It’s been very nice talking to you Kurt, it looks like it’s time for us to go.”
She hadn’t even mentioned her husband, she knew Lee was a lost cause, she knew he had been cheating on her, there had been too many signs and the smell of perfume when he came home a few times. She was going to consider herself a widow in 6 months time. She hadn’t told Brian this; she hoped it wouldn’t shock him too much.
It didn’t take long to get ready to go, a few minutes later they were waving goodbye to those who saw they were leaving and came out to wave and tell them good luck and God’s speed.
Beulah happened to look back as they rounded a curve, Kurt was still standing on the highway, the last one watching them ride out of sight.
Brian was leery of going through Riggins as they neared the town, but they had no choice it was the only road, there was not another one. The town sat along the Salmon River, a tourist town except in the winter. It catered to salmon fishermen, white water rafters, hikers and the like. The Seven Devils Recreation area was close by and this was the nearest place to buy supplies. He felt better on the open highway then being afraid of who had taken control of a town. One thing he knew the people that lived here, most of them had to be pretty self-reliant, the small town folks and the ranches in the mountains nearby had to keep extra supplies. They like New Meadows were the heck and gone from a bigger town with large stores. Grangeville, Idaho was two hours away to the north by car in the old days, but now it was a day or twos journey, depending on how fast you could ride and how long it took you to get up U.S. 95. People called it the new White Bird grade but it really wasn’t. The real White Bird Grade was the old road, it wound its way back and forth up the mountainside, but it wasn’t as steep as the new, the newer U.S. 95.
White Bird was known for being the first battle in the 1877 Nez Peace Indian war, you came over the mountain down into a deep valley and that is where they set up the small town of White Bird by the river. The town was mostly bypassed now, only tourists went down there and those that wanted to take the old road up the mountain on the self guided tour of the Battle field.
Well we aren’t there yet, and this daydreaming isn’t doing me any good, Brian realized he wasn’t keeping a good eye on the roadway and the surrounding hills. They were seeing more signs of life as they got closer to Riggins. They saw a few people standing on the shore of the river fishing, boy did that seem normal, but it was to put dinner on the table for now and the days ahead. One person turned as they went bye but turned back when he saw the group had children and didn’t seem threatening. That could be another mistake in the days ahead; even people with kids could take you out.
They went by more and more homes, there were a few people in their yards, and most of them were cutting or stacking wood, putting plastic over the windows and readying their homes for winter.
No one had been threatening here yet. Brain was glad it was early into this disaster, not too many people were real desperate yet, but he knew that would change. It didn’t take long to be in the middle of Riggins. A few people were coming and going from the small store, there was a horse or three tied to the side mirrors of a pickup truck, and bikes of all shapes and sizes locked to the bike rack. Everything like the café’s and gas stations had closed signs in the windows. Brian looked straight ahead when he heard clop, clop down the road. A horse and wagon team was making it’s way towards them with a man and women on the seat and three children in the wagon. There were burlap bags piled in the wagon that the children were sitting on. The riders passed the wagon and the children in it waved at them as they went past. Kids being kids they waved at the other children with smiles on their faces, children adapt quickly.
It didn’t take long to get to the new bridge a few miles out of Riggins and as Brian remembered after you crossed the bridge you were in the Pacific Time zone. Like that mattered anymore, at least not for the time being.
The homes sitting up on the mountainsides looked deserted, but that could be deceiving. He figured if they didn’t look to close maybe the people who might be hiding inside, would pay them no mind.
Now the gradual climb would begin back up out of the river valley, it didn’t get to bad for quite a few miles, but you could tell you were riding up. They passed the roadside fruit stand, a few ranches along the road and saw they still had cattle grazing in the fields.
A roadside bathroom stop was ahead on the left and they all decided to make the stop, there weren’t any more after this point. Even these outhouse type bathrooms were a luxury.
The small break did the children some good, the climb was going to get tiring and they would need quite a few breaks. They were headed up and Henry saw the sign for the Hoots Café and Gas Station up a few feet on the left. He was riding on the left of Barb and knew he needed to keep a sharp eye out for trouble. Brian rode up close to him and noticed Henry was concentrating on the entrance to Hoots.
“Good idea keeping a lookout on that place Henry, you never know if the people stranded there stayed or not, I’ll tell everyone quietly to speed up as much as Gil can go, so we can get past here as quickly as possible.”
Brian then veered off to ask the others to speed it up so they could get past the entrance to Hoots quickly. Speeding up saved them from becoming more people under Eddy Rightworth’s control, as at this moment, there was a world of hurt going on in the café part of the gas station.
* * *
It had been over two weeks and the place was about out of food. The eleven people in the café had pretty well gone through most of it. There had been fourteen people when this started, a fight had broken out over one of the women, the young 20-year-old waitress, and now there were twelve. Neither of the two men who had fought got the woman; they had gone after each other with knives and neither one had survived. The six foot two inch bull of a man named Eddy ended up with her, he had just stood and watched and let nature take it’s course. So all that was left was the cook Lenny, Madelyn the waitress, Bruce from the gas station, Mick the day manager, Eddy of coarse, Eddy’s man Toad, Ted and Betty Getty both in their 60’s, and four fishermen headed for a good time of salmon fishing. The four fishermen had gone down and fished with a guard on them of course, and had caught some fish to help supplement the cafe food but it seemed they weren’t very good fishermen. They were all single men and had traveled down from Spokane, Washington and they didn’t think there was a way in Hades they could walk home, so they had held up here until everything blew over. Well now it looked like they should have at least tried, things were going from bad to worse. Eddy stood in front of his people a Glock 17 stuck in his pants and 12 gauge shotgun in his hands, yes he had put himself in charge, he felt he was a natural born leader and there was mutiny in the racks.
“Outside all of you he bellowed, go on outside right now.”
They huddled together and tried to get out the door, but had to unhuddle so at least two could go out at a time.
“Idiots,” yelled Eddy, “no wonder we’re in such bad shape.”
“We need some new blood, someone with more brains then you all have.”
He didn’t realize he could be put in that same category.
“Were going to walk over to the entrance, it’s time we looked over any close homes and see what we can appropriate for the common good, ours.”
Eddy had been watching his people try to get out the door of the café and hadn’t noticed the group of riders go past. Then by the time the Eddy folk had gotten to the entrance the bike riders were up the hill and around the road that curved to the right.
* * *
Brian hadn’t known why he had gotten such a bad feeling about Hoots; he just sort of had gotten the creeps the closer they came to the place.
“Ok, we can slow down, Gil’s about pooped I see anyway, Brian grinned at Gil, you did a great job Gil.”
Gil smiled over at Brian, that praise had given him a big boost.
“I hope all of you didn’t think I was being silly about speeding past Hoots, it just didn’t feel right.”
Beulah looked over at her son, “Brian don’t you ever feel bad or think it’s silly when you think something is important for us to do, you saved my life and have gotten us all where we are now, I for one will take all your recommendations to heart my dear.”
Brian blushed at his mom’s statement, and then he heard, “we all second that you know Brian, Barb said, so far you haven’t led us wrong.”
From Lysbeth, “I haven’t been with you very long but I put my two cents in that to, I’ll do what ever you feel we need to.”
Brian got even redder if that was possible, and peddled on.
They stood beside their bikes at the top of the hill that led down to the bridge and U.S. 95. They continued to look up at the very steep Grade, then they looked down into the river valley where the little town of White Bird was. They could see the old White Bird Grade snaking it’s way up the mountainside from the valley out of White Bird.
Brian stood by his bike looking at the others, he knew which way they needed to go.
“Ok,” he said, “I know which way is going to be the easiest, but we will have to go through White Bird. Three things, one it should take all of two minutes to get through the town, two is we have to go through the town, one good thing one bad. Three we will have to go down to go up again.”
Everyone was looking up U.S. 95 then back down to the valley, riding down would mean adding a few more miles. But it would most likely take half the time to go up the old road as it would the newer one.
Beulah said, “Well if it was just us adults I would say go for the high road, but since were not, we go with Brain as we should for the children’s sake and take the low road.”
All the way down the hill as they coasted Beulah sang, “You take the high road, and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll get to Scotland before ya.”
Brian didn’t even know his mom knew a song like that, he had never heard her sing anything before, hum yes, sing no. They coasted into White Bird and back out less then two minutes later, not a soul in sight. They had been seen but those that did see them were too afraid to be seen themselves.
Three hours later they were at the top of the grade taking a nice long 15-minute break. Barb had her windup clock out again so they didn’t stay here to long. They would find a place to camp on the way down the mountain on the way to Grangeville, but before they left the safety of the forest. After you got to the bottom of the mountain you were back on the plains for miles and miles.
Tomorrow after a 30-minute ride they would be at the turn off onto the back road, so they didn’t have to go into Grangeville, they would cut the corner. That would take a few miles from their trip at least.
They were all very tired when they settled in for the evening; they were behind an old building about three quarters of the way down the other side of the mountain. Brain thought they were about a mile from the home that was on the right almost at the bottom of this hill. They had trees and bushes around them, but they were to tired for a hot dinner so they just opened up some MRE’s for dinner, poor little Gil was asleep before he even finished his. First thing they had done was set up the beds for the kids in a couple of small tents that had been stashed in the cart.
Barb came over and relieved Gil of the rest of his meal as he slept sitting up Indian style, picked him up and slipped him into the tent and his sleeping bag, always fun on your knees trying to get a limp child into a sleeping bag. A few minutes later all but Brian and Barb were sacked out, they had first watch.
End chapter 7