Fred Casper was more than happy to be living in his own corner of the farm house basement now that the three girls and himself were getting situated in their new home in the Colorado mountains. There had been a quick trip back to the ship in their helicopter to get more supplies including extra fuel for the bird but the girls were busy getting to know their knew friends. Fred loved the privacy of the basement. The relationship he had with the girls was bonded through a mutual love of science. The girls however had no clue that there was much more to these ocean voyages than just science research. Casper was also working on weapons development for the CIA and Pentagon, a joint venture that had him testing weapons ideas never known to humanity and this made such an operation a matter of utmost secrecy. The government paid Fred well for his efforts but he had come to hate having such silence and secrecy hanging over his life. This disaster that had recently befallen the entire world was most likely a game changer for him but it would take time before he knew if there was any government officials still alive and to what extent they where operational. Turning now to the steel suitcase on his bed he hesitantly opened the lid and toke out the first of seven highly effective weapons he had tested, holding it in his hands. To the human eye it looked like a most beautiful butterfly that resembled the colors of a stained glass window. It was about the size of Fred’s palm but could fly by what was called new special signal directive to any spot in the world and transmit all manner of information back to Fred. There was also a deadly capability to this device in that it could attach inself to any creature or structure and blow it up. Fred turned now to the other butterflies, he had sixty in all but these were only one of several small weapons tests he had tested. There was a second one that had been a favorite of his, the pentagon had named it the tremor toad. This palm sized nuclear powered toad shaped device could burrow a couple of hundred feet below the earth and move anywhere at over two hundred miles per hour. It’s ability to penetrate almost any substance made the tremor toad a first in it’s class and had been used a year earlier when the United Nations had feared that Chernobyl was becoming a bigger problem than was being admitted. Fred had sent the toad to gather and find out the truth and the operation was successful. This little weapon also possessed the capability of self destruction that could cause a blast of nuclear proportions. It also came with a self sustaining system that allowed it to maintain it’s operation using any earthly substance. Casper had helped to invent all of the weapons he had tested and so he had full knowledge of their operations and capability. The deadly and serious nature of this responsibility weighed on his mind daily. He was preparing to look at his other test subjects when the house door opened and closed hard bringing him out of his thoughts. He quickly closed the case and put it back under the bed and hurried upstairs to find his friends carrying the unconscious body of Kevin Cross upstairs to his room.
The freak out factor raged hot through the blood of Kevin Cross now as it seemed that his nerves were at their very limit tolerance wise. It had all started when Bill Langley had almost landed a plane on top of his head that fateful day on what was left of the west coast. There had then been the flight where the plane they were flying became stuck in the high tree tops of the Colorado mountains culminating in a life risking rescue that Kevin was amazed had not killed him. Things had seemed to be good after a period of rest when an innocent walk in the field ended with a helicopter almost landing on all their heads sending all manner of wildlife running in all directions including a huge pregnant cow that had decided that Kevin was a fine fellow to trample. He had escaped the crazed farm animal by dropping and rolling instantly which got him out of her way and under the hooves of the largest of the three billy goats gruff. He escaped all of this with some minor cuts and bruises and now about a day later was still trying to calm his nerves. He headed now into the woods in an attempt to clear his head because now that this scientist and three girls had arrived coupled with the body bag carrying the remains of their friend, another thing that unsettled him, things were just louder and this kind of rattled him further. He paused now closing his eyes and breathing deeply of the cool and crisp mountain air. Aw yes one of life’s many pleasures that could never be taken from him. His indulgence in this moment was fine as he stood there eyes ceiled shut. That is why he heard the large bull moose instead of seeing it bursting from the woods in front of him and was right on top of Kevin before he could react in any way. The animal was just as surprised as he was to see the lad and so he moved slightly to one side checking Kevin into a stand of bushes. The blow did not injure Kevin badly but was enough to knock him unconscious. His friends carried his lifeless body to his room in the house.
Abe Yoder sat his horse that stood there with head raised, ears straight up and every muscle in it’s body tense. There was no more movement for the moment and so Abe made the decision to swing down and tie the horse to a nearby rock then move slowly towards the carriage to check things out. The horse that lay dead in the traces now stank something terrible and so Abe covered his nose fighting the gag reflex in the back of his throat. His eye suddenly caught a quick movement near the front wheel of the carriage but it was gone quickly in a flash of pink. Abe shook his head thinking that was weird so pulling his flat crowned Amish hat forward on his head he continued towards the back wheels and was almost there when his heart gave a start.
“Boo”, shouted the little girl as she jumped from behind the carriage.
She looked to be about three years old with shoulder length curly blonde hair and dirty dirt streaked cheeks with tears that had been as she had been crying. Her eyes looked disoriented as she had not eaten properly in a couple of days and her pink dress was dirty. There was a large bag of chips sitting nearby that she had probably been eating from but no other person at least living seemed to be nearby. Abe took her in his big arms and walked over to where five charred bodies lay over a large crack in the ground
“Mommy and Daddy”, said the little girl pointing towards two of the adult sized corpses.
Abe’s heart was touched by compassion as he quickly undid the traces from the dead horse and brought his own over hitching it up quickly. There was a number of daylight hours left to travel and so he fed a nice meal to the little girl from his supplies and she ate hungrily almost gaging and he had to urge her to take her time. They then set off in the buggy at a good pace and the little girl snuggled under the blanket as Abe put his arm around her.
” What is your name”, he asked?
” Emily”, she answered slowly and then settled down and went into a deep exhausted sleep.
Far off in the distance a coyote yapped and wild dogs barked and howled. A new day on this earth was upon them and they rode into an uncertain future. Abe prayed silently for this little life beside him, for himself and for traveling mercies. Amen.
The flight was one of vigilance for Bill but young Kevin Cross was fast asleep, deep in a dream world about the happenings of the past couple of days. In these dreams he ran across the hill side overlooking the pacific ocean dodging large cracks in the ground that constantly tried to swallow him up. Just when he would think he may be safe a huge gush of water would blast from the earth shooting him off into the middle of no where and he could hear the voices of his parents and see his mothers face. He would then be sitting at the kitchen table as a boy watching his mother pull pans of fresh baked goods from the oven. Oh the smell of that wonderful corn bread or those chocolate chip muffins with gobs of liquid banana in them. Suddenly his mother dropped a tray on the table and the whole room gave a lurching shudder. Kevin awoke to Bill shouting
” We are stuck in the trees, we are stuck in the trees”.
Looking around and rubbing his eyes Kevin could feel the sway of the high trees that they were stuck in the top of. There was suddenly a distant shout of a mans voice saying hello from somewhere below and Bill shouted back.
“I will go and see if I can find a ladder, said the mans voice. Just try to sit tight for now”.
It seemed like an eternity until they could hear a sound of scrapping against a nearby tree as someone put a ladder in place and then the face of a young man appeared.
” Hello there my name is Dave Rippley, got yourselves in a bit of a fix I see”.
Bill spoke back with his laid back humour, ” story of my life I am afraid. Bill is the name and this here is Kevin”.
The men all nodded their formalities and then set about trying to get the two men to safety. This proved to be dangerous because the plane was very unstable in it’s current position and one wrong move could plummet everyone to the ground. Moving Kevin to the middle of the plane to maintain balance, Bill managed to take hold of a rope fastened to a tree and swing to the ladder. Kevin was weak and somewhat unstable but he managed to do the same. Once on the ground Kevin suddenly realised that this was the first stable ground he had set foot on in a while and he sat there trembling. Bill and Dave seemed to silently understand and they simply stood on either side of him with a hand on each shoulder. Some times simple silent understanding is the best thing we can give one another.
Abe Yoder grew accustomed to his journey very quickly but he really had no choice. He moved through what used to be Pennsylvania and was into Ohio within a couple of days. He knew he had done so because he passed an old welcome to Ohio sign as he traveled a short distance on what used to be a highway. Detouring was part of this journey and he found it very distasteful but necessary and the horse seemed to handle all of this very well. Abe’s grandfather had often said that a good man could handle most any hardship with a good horse under him and this young man was finding this saying to be true. Gas was still shooting up in the air at times but it seemed that it happened less often. Ohio was much more flooded than Pennsylvania but Indiana was a different situation all together. Abe and his horse had not gone three miles into the state when a huge crater loomed in front of them requiring the two to travel around it due to the fact that it was so deep one could not see the bottom. A couple more miles found another crater and then another. When riding through the other states Abe often saw belongings and other objects strewn about but Indiana seemed to have nothing left of it but craters. Abe was almost overjoyed to enter Illinois and things seemed much different right away with green grass and some trees in places. He found a highway presently and followed it westward and stopped for the night near a truck stop. He rarely approached buildings due to possible danger or mishaps. He was awake before first light and had a quick bite to eat from his supplies and after giving his horse a drink from a nearby stream and some grain was off once more. They had not gone far when it seemed they were approaching a city of some sort and there appeared to be abandoned vehicles and bodies strewn about. There was flooded areas and broken up ground as usual but Abe did notice that off to one side there was a tourist place. A closer look revealed a nice carriage with a horse that lay dead still in the traces, probably killed by gas or something. Abe then froze as he noticed something moving on the other side of the carriage and his horse raised its head giving a snort.
Dave Ripley felt he had hit the mother lode upon entering the cabin that seemed small from a distance but turned out to be a two story affair with a large dirt floor basement. The basement was packed with all manner of supplies and had a lantern that hung on a nail at the top step so that one could see their way going down the stairs. Upon entering the basement area there was a number of lights that could be lit for the whole area. Behind the cabin there was a lovely barn with a large coral and plenty of hay and grain. There was a lush green pasture and plenty of seed storage for crops. There was plumbing in the house and a large drilled well outside. The whole place ran on wind turbine and solar panels with a good sized storage and distribution facility situated back in the trees. One look in the barn told Dave that an Amish family had built and lived in this place. There was five horse stalls in the barn and only four of them had horses in them. There was a place to store two carriages but only one remained. This family had probably departed before the disaster but had not made it back. Dave thought now about his family that had been in Denver when it had all happened and the sad likelihood that they were no longer alive. A noise out back of the barn brought him to attention and walking out back he saw another coral with sheep and goats in it. Many of them had young and there was a pump system set up so that water flowed into a trough on demand. The hay and feed manger was long empty and so Dave filled that for them and they made a racket clamouring for the food but he made sure there was more than enough to go around. The next few days when not tending the livestock Dave was out looking around. The large sulphur water pool that shot into the air on a daily basis had just finished it’s course this fine afternoon when it was replaced by a sputtering sound from above and a shadow passed over Dave as he turned looking up just in time to see an off white twin engine plane swoop low and crash into the trees beyond.
The horse was behind some upheaved ground eating at some blades of grass and Abe Yoder recognized him right away as a young year and a half old stallion that Anna Colbenze a few farms down had owned. Anna’s father had wanted the horse gelded but she convinced him to keep the horse for breeding. The horse was a handsome long legged American Standard breed with a dark brown coat and two white socks on the front hooves. Anna had ridden this horse and although Abe had not done so himself, he had on occasion patted the horse while visiting the farm. The horse raised it’s head and gave a snort upon Abe’s approach but seemed to recognize the amish youngster and settled back down to chomping on the bits of grass he could find. Abe knew what he would do and early at first light managed to gentle the horse named Ziggy and ride back towards the area where his farm had once stood. There was much detouring to be done due to broken and flooded ground coupled with gas that still belched up into the air here and there. The Colbenze farm was the first one that they reached with the old farm house gone except for a small portion of the backside that was still somewhat intact. The barn on the other hand being a large four branch dairy operation was in amazing shape considering what had happened in the last couple of days but Abe knew he must be careful all the same. He managed to find a good saddle and feed sacks in the barn and the backside of the house turned out to be the kitchen and so he was able to pack a good amount of food. He then mounted the horse and headed towards the three Yoder farms but had not gone far when upon a rise he was able to see that there was no way that he would ever get close because that entire area was one huge crater from which smoke still billowed. Abe’s heart broke anew once again as he sat his mount weeping his shoulders heaving with endless sobs. This went on for close to an hour and when he was done he felt drained and so he lay down in the shadow of a large old tree stump and slept. As he slept he dreamed of a visit he had made to his uncle and aunts in the mountains of Colorado, a wonderful green valley with their cabin at one end. Before he awoke he knew where he would go and and when he did awake before noon he set out on his journey.
Abe Yoder paddled down the small yet rushing river for what seemed to be forever and when he was not paddling he would put the oar over himself and sleep. The young man was very physically and emotionally drained to say the least and so when he did sleep it was deeply and for extended periods of time. The Amish youngster had never felt so alone and the severity of his situation was felt more simply because he knew that all of his family and friends were most likely dead. Abe had never known a life outside of this group that referred to themselves as the quiet people of the land, and now here he was floating down a river alone and headed literally to nowhere and a destiny unknown.
” Why God?”, he shouted suddenly through chocked emotion.
“Why have you done such a thing to me, how could you let such things happen to your people”?
He then thought on the teachings about the old testament prophet Elijah who asked God to kill him when the Queen was pursuing him to have him killed. God had reminded him that even though he thought he was alone that there were thousands of Gods people left in that land. Abe wondered if there was even one other person left in the entire world.
The smaller river soon reached a point where it met a larger one that moved and surged swelling with all kind of debris and so he held up at the fork and upon finding what seemed to be solid and safe ground he hesitantly came ashore. The earth had ceased its shaking some hours ago but gas still shot into the air here and there making Abe remain somewhat uneasy. The sun was setting and he had no idea how long he had been on the river but his aching backside seemed to tell the story. He managed to gather dried leaves and wood for a fire and had just got it going when he heard the horse blow and stomp.
It had been a couple of days now since the entire world had rumbled and broken apart, spewing gas and other such things into the air and leaving not so much as a shadow of former things in it’s wake. Dave Ripley now lay on what he thought may well be a small bit of what remained of the entire world. He had swam with all of his might after plunging off of the mountain side into the lake and seeing the mountain peak plummeting towards him. He had swam in many a competition in previous years but never like he did with rock and such crashing into the water around him causing a huge downward pull in the small lake. At one point he had reached what seemed to be all the fish in the lake swirling in a circle of crazed confusion and had been bruised all over his body by many of the larger ones that had slammed into him in their haste. Then there was the terrible site as he came up for breath and looked towards the shoreline in time to hear an eerie shriek as three female deer ran along the bank on fire in desperate search for relief from their agony. Such sites and sounds would never be forgotten by this young man and he tried now to push them from his mind as he sat beneath the remains of an old tree on an island surrounded by the lake and ruined upheaved and flooded land. Gas still spewed into the air afar off here and there but other than that there was nothing but silence, an eerie silence that seemed to put his very soul into a state of mourning. Dave tried to clear his head and shake the feeling by staggering around to gather wood for a fire. He had swam clean up onto this place by accident and a quick look around had told him that there was really no where else to go. One night shivering under the stars was no fun for the young man but by the end of the second day he was rewarded for his troubles when he came upon the abandoned tent with food and camping supplies.
Kevin and his two friends had not gone far up the road away from the ocean when they crested a hill. From the top of the hill they could see the road ahead for miles but that was when all traffic ground to a halt because a huge quake rent the earth and the entire country ahead disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Kevin being the ever quick thinker that he was pulled into a small picnic area to collect his wits. The earth was shaking continuously now and nothing could be seen either of the road or country ahead. The picnic area was on top of the hill so they were able to look back over the country behind including the ocean. To their surprise except for a few puffs of smoke and gas they could see the land including the ocean. Kevin felt powerless there was simply nothing that could come to mind that would make him feel better. To the three youngsters horror as they looked out over the ocean a transformation occurred that sent rivets of shock through their very beings. The ocean suddenly resembled a huge bath tub in which someone had pulled the plug in the middle and the water swirled in circles as it seemed to drain. The quaking intensified now and smoked now obscured the vision between them and the ocean. Suddenly a shout from behind brought Kevin out of his shock and turning he saw his friend Joel bent over the lifeless body of his girlfriend Tiffany wailing in sorrow. It seemed a crack had opened underneath her and shot a molten gas type substance all over her to the point that Joel could hardly touch her let alone recognize his lover. Looking away Kevin wiped the sweat from his face and tried hard to focus and think of what to do when suddenly a horrid shriek brought his attention back to his friends. The crack under Tiffany had expanded suddenly swallowing both Joel and her. Kevin stumbled backwards in terror from the expanding crack and an urge for action seized him suddenly sending him sprinting and dodging off across the top of the hill running for dear life.
Bill Langley was coming to the end of his afternoon flight as he soared thousands of feet above the earth in his twin engine plane. He had just crossed from Nevada into California and was due to land well within a couple of hours. His first clue of problems on the ground was many puffs of smoke rising from of the ground that seemed to increase. Bill was born in Nevada but had grown up in good old California and so he knew the signs of earth quakes all too well. After trying to radio the tower three times and getting no response he became even more watchful and was able to witness ultimate history as California seemed to split away from the rest of the continent before his eyes and drop in one motion into the pacific. The smoke and dust shooting upwards was far too thick to see the ground afterwards and so he was spared the site of the rest of the ground for miles beyond California breaking up like pieces of a puzzle.