Read Alone, Book 3: The Journey Online
Authors: Darrell Maloney
By Darrell Maloney
This is a work of fiction. All persons depicted in this book are fictional characters. Any resemblance to any real person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Copyright 2015 by Darrell Maloney
This book is dedicated to:
Gwendoline Ann Lupson
Linda Houghton Rymaszewski
Sometimes it’s the simple things, like kind words from friends, that give one the strength to go on.
A Recap of Book 1 of This Series,
ALONE: Facing Armageddon
Dave Speer had always been a planner. Dating back to his Boy Scout days, he took the motto, “be prepared” to a whole new level.
When he was twelve and a sudden cloudburst flooded the campsite at the annual camporee, scout leaders considered packing up and going home. Everything, including the matches, were soaked and heavily damaged. Leaders weren’t allowed to smoke at such events, or even carry lighters.
It was Dave, and not the leaders, who saved the day. He laid a sheet of glass over a pile of dead grass tinder so the afternoon sun would dry it while they were cleaning up from the rains. He climbed a tall tree and cut down a dead branch. A branch that had been hardened for so long it soaked up virtually no water. He used his Boy Scout hatchet to cut some of it into chunks of kindling. Some very thin, some a bit thicker.
The rest he made into firewood.
When the day drew to an end and the air turned cool it was Dave, and not his leaders, who used two sticks to spark the tinder. He built a roaring fire as though he’d done it every night of his life.
It wasn’t until the last day of the camporee, after he’d pretty much become everybody’s hero, that he made a confession:
“I smuggled in a lighter, just in case. It’s in my pack, in a waterproof zip lock bag.”
The Scoutmaster asked him, “Why didn’t you pull it out? It would have made things so much easier.”
He answered, “But then we wouldn’t have had such a great adventure.”
That’s the way Dave was.
Many years later, when he and his wife Sarah became convinced there were dark days ahead, he joined a subculture of society whose main mission in life was to prepare for Armageddon.
And to survive it.
They called themselves “preppers.” Every spare minute was devoted to talking through an endless series of “what if” scenarios.
One of their scenarios seemed much more plausible that the others. They’d seen a show on one of the cable channels and it piqued their interest.
It was about the Mayans, and the incredible things they were capable of doing without modern machines or technology.
Sarah was puzzled.
“How could they have identified the planets and their moons without telescopes? I look up and all I see is a bunch of lights. I can’t tell the stars from the planets. And most of the planets are too far away to see anyway.
“And how in the world did they predict earthquakes? Scientists can’t even do that today, even with all the fancy equipment they have.”
She was fascinated. And she had to find some answers.
For weeks, Sarah spent her evenings at the public library, researching the Mayans and their accomplishments.
In the end, she discovered two things. The first was that, contrary to what the public believed, the Mayans never said the world was going to end on December 21st in the year 2012.
What the Mayans
said was that date would start a new era. An era they called “the last period of progress.”
The second thing Sarah discovered was that the Mayan’s predictions of some type of cataclysmic event had something to do with the mass failure of machines.
She explained to Dave, “The sun periodically has massive storms on its surface, which send huge electromagnetic pulses, or EMPs, to bombard the earth. The EMPs are invisible and harmless to most people. A strong one might cause a feeling of unease or even nausea among very sensitive people, but it’s only temporary and does no permanent damage.
“However, what it does to machines and electronics is something altogether different. Anything that has electronics or batteries will be shorted out forever. Anything with electrical wiring that is plugged into a power source will as well.
They began hoarding food and supplies. They discovered that by building something called a Faraday cage, they could protect a limited number of batteries and electronics.
They soon realized that prepping was a costly affair. So Dave took a part time job, and devoted each of the additional paychecks for the cause.
The one thing they couldn’t control, though, was the timing of the event. It never dawned on them that when the EMP finally came, they might not be together.
And fate would deal them a cruel hand.
On the very day Sarah took their two young daughters, Lindsey and Beth, on a trip to Kansas City, everything suddenly went dark.
Even worse, it happened at almost the exact minute their airplane was due to land at the Kansas City airport.
Dave was suddenly alone, in his suburban home in San Antonio, a thousand miles away.
He had no way of knowing whether his family was on time and landed safely. Or was running late and fell from the sky.
Over the following months Dave struggled to implement all the processes and projects that he and Sarah had planned to do together.
As people all around him were killing each other as well as themselves, Dave managed to stay alive. Hunkered down in a house he’d modified to look vacant. Whiling away the hours and days, trying not to think of the possibility his family might not have survived.
Dave kept a journal, in which he wrote to Sarah every few days. It was a diary, of sorts, and a testament to his love for her. Somehow, writing to her seemed to make him feel closer to her. As though her spirit was there with him when he wrote.
The journal had another purpose as well. If she and the girls somehow made it back to him, only to find out he hadn’t survived, it would tell them of his struggles. And let them know he never forgot them.
Dave had already resolved to set out in the spring to look for his family. It would be a long and arduous journey, and one which might have a heartbreaking conclusion.
But he had to do it. He’d plan well, be cautious and careful, and hope for the best.
First, though, he’d have to survive the worst winter in modern history.
A Recap of Book 2 of This Series,
AN UNKIND WINTER
With no internet and no Weather Channel Dave had no way of knowing, but San Antonio was suffering through its worst winter on record.
Dave counted 107 consecutive days of freezing nighttime temperatures, and began to wonder whether the EMPs had somehow shifted the earth’s climate patterns.
He remembered before the blackout, how scientists all over the globe screamed that the earth was getting warmer. That the polar caps were melting and polar bears were dying.
Dave couldn’t help but think that if the world was indeed getting warmer, it wasn’t doing a very good job of it.
At least not in San Antonio, Texas.
For most of the winter, Dave stayed up at night, hunkered in front of a fire in his tiny safe room. It wasn’t much bigger than a prison cell, and felt like one.
During the days, when the fire would have attracted unwanted attention to a house that was supposed to be vacant, he doused the flames and slept, cozy and comfy in two winter sleeping bags.
Oh, Dave wasn’t alone. Not technically. He shared his house with a dead burglar named Mikey, and a couple of rabbits he named after his daughters.
Mikey was a good kid before the blackout who turned into a looter when his family died in a tragic accident.
Like Dave, he was all alone in the world.
Unlike Dave, he was totally unprepared.
It was while looting Dave’s house that Dave surprised Mikey and shot him. Mikey turned and Dave saw something shiny in his hand catch the light. He thought it was a weapon.
No jury would have convicted him, Dave was certain of that. Justifiable homicide, they’d have called it.
Still, Dave felt incredibly guilty about killing an unarmed seventeen year old boy.
Mikey stayed as a houseguest in Dave’s kitchen, in a seated position with his back against Dave’s cabinets, where he’d slumped when he died. He froze solid that way, and Dave had no way to bury him.
The ground, it seemed, was frozen hard as a rock as well.
He could have dragged Mikey’s body into the street, where he’d have joined other looters shot by homeowners and put on display and as a warning to others to stay away.
But Dave felt to do so would be wrong.
So he and Mikey became roommates. Temporarily, anyway, until the thaw allowed Dave to give Mikey a proper burial.
In due course, the two became friends, of sorts.
As Dave related to Sarah in one of his journal entries:
Mikey is the strong silent type. He doesn’t talk much at all. I think he has something to say, but he yields the floor to me because he knows I love to talk.
He just sits there most of the time, staring off into space. His expression never changes, but deep down inside, I know he finds my jokes hilarious and is trying not to crack a smile.
In fact, he hides his emotions better than anyone I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’ll ever play poker against this guy. He’d clean me out.
Despite his quiet nature, I’ve decided that I like him. I’m sorry I killed him. If I hadn’t, I’m convinced we might have become friends.
In fact, I asked him if we could be buddies, since we’re apparently stuck with each other’s company for the next three months or so. He just looked at me, but didn’t say a word.
I’ll take that as a yes.
I think I’ll like having Mikey as a friend. With someone to talk to every day, I’m less likely to go insane.
As the harsh winter dragged on, Dave also developed a close friendship with an older couple two blocks away. Frank and Eva Woodard helped him in his efforts to share his seeds and rabbits with others.
For Dave, the gesture was therapeutic. He felt a need to give penance for having more than enough to eat, while others around him starved to death. Helping others eased his conscience.
The neighbors, on the other hand, considered Dave a saint. Word got around, and they even named him: the mysterious Rabbit Man.
Through Frank’s ham radio, Dave was able to find out that the area around Kansas City had been overrun just after the blackout.
Dozens of convicts from Fort Leavenworth Prison, northwest of the city, escaped and were still on the loose.
“But wait a minute,” Dave protested. “Those are just military prisoners. They’re just guilty of desertion and AWOL and stuff like that. They’re not really dangerous, right?”
He learned otherwise.
He learned that the escaped convicts ran the gamut from counterfeiters to murderers. And that many of them were brutal beyond belief.
Through Frank, he learned something else too. That FEMA and the National Guard were restricting travel between large cities to curb a crime wave in the rural areas.