An Unkind Winter (Alone Book 2)

BOOK: An Unkind Winter (Alone Book 2)
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Alone: Book 2    







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 2014 by Darrell Maloney








































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 very little 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.

     “What if terrorists get ahold of nuclear weapons? What can we do to survive?”

     “What if the economy finally comes tumbling down, once and for all, and the dollar becomes worthless? What will we eat?”

     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.

     Mayan prophets had predicted the coming of modern technology. They’d described automobiles and airplanes and “things of metal that would do the work of a hundred men.”

     And they also predicted that at the end of their “last period of progress,” all such machines would suddenly stop working.

     Dave was at a loss. Even a nuclear war wouldn’t stop the world’s cars from running. Even a meteorite wouldn’t shut down power plants.

     Then Sarah came up with the answer. It was the earth’s own sun that would do them in.

     Sarah believed that, like most other things in the universe, major solar storms ran in cycles. And that somehow, despite their lack of technology, the Mayans had devised a way to record such cycles, and to predict the next major solar storm.

     At the end of their “last period of progress.”

     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.

     “I believe the Mayans somehow devised a way to predict the solar storms, just like they learned how to identify the planets and their moons, and how to predict earthquakes. And I also think that the last day of their ‘last period of progress’ is the day they think a massive EMP will strike the earth and send us all back to the stone age.”

     It was that day, three years before, that Sarah and Dave became preppers.

     They’d seen the shows on the cable networks, but never paid much attention to them. Now they watched them with a passion. Not for entertainment, but for tips.

     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.

     He also had to fight off his own inner demons, who tried to tell him his family was dead, and that he should join them.

     He struggled with the thought of ending it all.

     But there was one thing that kept him going. It was the possibility that they were still alive. And that someday, somehow, they would all be reunited.

     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.





And now, Book 2 of the series,





     Dave stood at the back door of his house, coffee cup in hand. The coffee had gone stale long before, despite all their efforts to preserve it.

     He remembered laughing at Sarah the day he walked into the dining room and found her with two dozen bricks of Folgers coffee and two boxes of very large zip lock bags.

     “What on earth are you doing?” he’d asked.

     “Hey, I can live without my television. And I can darn sure live without my treadmill. But there’s no way in the world I’m going to live without my coffee. When the world goes black and they can no longer process coffee beans, I’m gonna have enough to last until we can grow our own.”

     He counted the number of bricks.

     “Well, twenty four packages should last us a year or more. But what are the zipper bags for?”

     “They’ll help preserve it. The only reason coffee has an expiration date on it is because air will inevitably seem into the package through the seams. Every layer of plastic we put between the coffee and the outside air will delay that process.

     “I ordered some raw coffee beans on the internet that are guaranteed to grow for a year. I’ll grow just a couple of plants in the garden every year, not to make coffee with, but to get fresher beans to put aside for the following year. Then when the EMP hits, we’ll be able to grow and grind our own, plus extra we can barter for other things we need.”

     Sarah had a good head on her shoulders. She thought of many things Dave never even dreamed of.

     She made an excellent prepper partner.

     But even Sarah wasn’t infallible. Despite her best efforts, the zip lock bags hadn’t kept the coffee from going stale.

     Dave suspected that it was the eventual chemical breakdown of the coffee inside the bag, and not the air on the outside, that determined its shelf life.

     And the coffee beans she’d ordered on the internet?

     Dave couldn’t find them.

     The previous spring, right after Sarah and the girls vanished from his life, he planted a large garden in the yard of a vacant house behind him. Sarah had done a great job of buying and cataloging the vegetable and berry seeds she’d collected in the months prior to her fateful flight.

     But the coffee beans weren’t among them.

     He’d searched high and low for two full days, in every nook and cranny he could think of. He still couldn’t find them.

     He tried to remember her exact words. Had she said she bought some on the internet? Or did she say she was going to? Perhaps she never got around to it. Or maybe they were lost in shipment. He’d remembered her getting all excited when some seeds came in the mail one day. He’d thought they were coffee beans. But maybe they were something else.

     Wherever they were, he was confident they weren’t in the house.

     In any case, stale coffee was better than no coffee at all. He conserved it as much as he could, only boiling a small amount each morning in his campground coffee pot.

BOOK: An Unkind Winter (Alone Book 2)
4.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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