This blog is dedicated to the stories I've written over the years. Sometimes I get some time and add a story. Grab a hot cup of something and enjoy!

Please note that for some reason, blogger is NOT allowing me to post on any comments. So thank you for reading and know I do read all the comments but cannot reply.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

If You Abuse it, You Lose it -Seven


She was so missing TV right now -which surprised her since she hadn’t really watched it much except for those occasions in the evenings with her Grandpa. She was just getting old enough to watch the ‘grown up’ shows before the ‘event’ and after the Bugger went to bed, she and her Grandpa would make popcorn and sweet tea, then the two of them would watch TV. They only watched at night since the day was filled with many day to day activities and of course all kinds of wilderness skills training.

She had so many good memories and she hoped that they would never fade. Watching the long anticipated Shawshank Redemption had been a real eye opener for her but she now knew why it was one of her Grandpa’s favorites.

But she had bad memories too and those were hard to shake sometimes.

I didn’t know why Momma had come to pick me and “The Bugger” up from Poppy’s. We both were upset and Momma didn’t look like she wanted us to ask her any questions! She had come to Poppy’s in the middle of the night and we all left early in the morning. It was misting rain and I didn’t want to leave. So basically everyone was miserable and Momma seemed mad.

Even at 13, I still loved living with Poppy even though Granny had died last winter. And with all the rumors of that bad flu going around this fall, Poppy had made both me and my younger brother “the Bugger” drink that elderberry concoction every morning and every night. He had of course, already been drinking it forever!

I think I saw tears in Poppy’s eyes as we left. I tried to be brave and make him proud of me. The Bugger had sniffled a bit, but I have to say, he was pretty brave too.

Here Momma had literally ignored us both for months and now she was acting all strange and taking us from the only real home we had ever really known for only God knows what reason! Our dad had long disappeared from our lives and we had no clue where he was or even who he was. I only had a few faint memories of old spice aftershave and a soft beard on his face. The Bugger had none.

Momma had started muttering and cursing. AND she started coughing hard which made her driving all weird and reckless-like. Her eyes looked funny. The Bugger and I were both belted in and we checked to make sure the belts were tight.

It was all over in a second yet it lasted for hours! The mist slicked road, the curve that goes to the right then left by an old apple orchard, Momma in the middle of a hard cough, the deer that jumped out of nowhere and startled Momma, the sharp jerk of the wheel and the long slow slide that really only lasted a few seconds. The Bugger screaming and not screaming as the wind was forced out of us both at the sudden stop. The quiet.

Momma never woke up from that one. The Bugger and I managed to get out of the car and find our way back to Poppy’s but that small amount of time we spent with Momma had left us with a final evil gift from her. She had had that bad flu and both The Bugger and I got it.

I don’t know why I managed to live through it and the Bugger didn’t. Poppy and I would put flowers on his small grave. I can’t believe how much I miss him.

Monday, December 27, 2010

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Six


She was trying hard to plan for the future, but still wasn’t sure exactly what to do. Stay. Go. She just didn’t know, so she made sure she would be ok through the winter. And she hoped that she could remember everything she had been taught by her Grandparents. She had taken to writing down all she could remember in notebooks as she thought about the many things she had learned.

She could now smell crispness in the air which made her think that winter was coming early this year.

She was thankful that she had been able to save some things from her Grandparents home. Especially the books since there didn’t seem to be any good ones in town. Those books would also help her to remember what she had been taught. And it never hurt to have a good mushroom ID book around when one loved mushrooms! She hoped to find some, but highly doubted she would. She had some dried ones in the back that would just have to hold her over until it was time for the mushrooms to grow again!

She had also had a lot of seed from the trips to town that she would plant in the spring in various places but didn’t want to have a formal kind of garden since that would be more noticeable. They said heirloom on them but she had learned from experience, not everything was what it was labeled. She still had her grandparents stash of seeds which she knew would grow if she planted them in the right places.

Since she decided that she would put off leaving and stay in her cave until at least spring, she decided that she would gather more wood today after she went to the clearing to practice with her weapons.

She was still practicing almost every day with her bow and slingshot. Now that was a hard weapon to learn and get skilled at. She grinned at the memory of when she got her first slingshot.

“What is it, Poppy?” I asked excitedly as I spied the leathery thing in his hand.

“Well, I’m figuring that 7 years old is old enough to learn how to work a slingshot properly and so that’s what this is: a slingshot.” Poppy said as he tried to keep a straight face at the look on my face. I was astonished; this was not one of those ‘bought from the store’ slingshots. No, Poppy had MADE me one! Wow!

Poppy then spent all day trying to teach me how to swing the thing and then ducking as every one of my tries went wild.

And I loved how Poppy and I both ran for the woods when one of the shots broke out Granny’s kitchen window! Granny was a hollering something fierce because we could hear her all the way up the mountain! She must have forgiven us because she did give us peach cobbler for dessert that night at dinner. But we did get some serious looks from her and we had to take the window apart and put new glass in. I was a good helper.

After that, I had to practice with my sling way out in the cow pasture where I wouldn’t hit anything. The cows stayed on the other side of the field. It only took me a few weeks until I could actually hit something consistently. Poppy would set up cans on the fence and I got so I could hit them all, and that included reloading, pretty darn quick. By the time I was 8, Poppy had finally let me start hunting with it and showed me how clean the squirrels and rabbits I brought home and he even showed me how to make soft slippers and moccasins. I have to say, I was pretty grossed out using the brains to preserve the skins.

I loved how Poppy never treated me all girly…but always had interesting things to show and teach me. Granny would just shake her head at me and say “I know, sweetie; you’d rather learn what Poppy can teach you. But you are going to have to let ME teach you how to cook - cause we all know that your Poppy burns water!” She would then look at Poppy and wink then give a weird smile. Grownups! Who can understand them?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Five


The beehive was still there and thankfully there were bees! It didn’t look like there was as many as before, but these bees looked healthy and the honey comb was of fair size. Taking her grandpa’s knife out of its sheath, she cut off a small chunk the same way he used to do. She put it in one of the jars she had found. She only took the one piece because she didn’t want to stress the hive at all. Besides, it would be plenty for the salve she wanted to make and with only half the cells full of honey, she didn’t think she was taking too much.

Finally making it back to her cave, she made a small fire and put her smallest cast iron pan on the rack to begin heating. She put everything away except for the jewelweed and the other empty jar she had found. She got out her mortar and pestle, a large bowl that she filled with fresh water from the spring in the back cave and she pulled out a bottle of olive oil she had scrounged up. She poured a fair amount into the pan and began to warm it. Watching it carefully, so it wouldn’t boil; she began to wash the jewelweed in the bowl of water. She then crushed the jewelweed and began to stir it into the oil that she set to the side after it was warm. She picked up the jar and took it back to the spring to wash it as good as she could. After the oil cooled enough, she poured it into the jar, put the lid on it and set it aside. She would let it set for about a week, filter it through some coffee filters she had (which would take forever if she didn’t poke some larger holes in them), and then blend some of it with melted beeswax. She would have to look for some small containers to store the salve in when she went to town the next day. Yeah, she was going to town.

The one trip to town had turned into three trips to town AND had taken longer, AND she had to stay overnight each time. She made sure she hid really well; down in a basement because she thought she kept hearing a plane, which was weird. She also thought she had been spotted once, but no one followed her and she had managed to find and bring back to the cave everything that she was pretty sure she would need without any other incident.

It was beginning to get colder outside and her small back room in the cave was now full of salvaged food and other necessities. She was especially grateful that she had found those special, lovely little pills that she needed for those monthly ‘times’. She had already gone through misery since the event and the Chamomile tea she had found and drank, just didn’t work as good. She didn’t look forward to running out of pills again and never being able to find anymore again. And the dried herbs used for the tea that her grandmother used to make for her had run out long ago. She was constantly on the lookout for them where ever she wandered. But she was having a hard time finding the squaw vine. She had found and was drying the raspberry leaves that she gathered with the wild berries were ripe this past season and she also had found and harvested a good supply of red clover but the squaw vine mixed in with these two always seemed to do the best with helping her, besides the little pills that is. She could always use some yarrow but it was better for other things, like infections and clogged up lungs. She pulled out the Green Pharmacy book that use to be her Grandmothers, since she knew she was forgetting one more ingredient, ah yes, she thought, here it is: ginger. I knew gramma would have it marked! She mentally added ginger to her foraging list. She knew right where there would be some.

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. - Four


The cellar was cool and dusty. There was only a couple of shelves down there with five jars of green beans, two of corn, and a half dozen of some kind of stew or soup; they all looked good, none of the seals were broke. She noticed a couple of bins off to the side and looked inside. There was sawdust in them and she carefully used the axe handle to stir it up and see if there was anything in there. One bin had two dozen potatoes and the other bin had a good number of carrots in it. Looking around, she found a burlap sack hanging on a hook and loaded the potatoes and carrots in it. Tucked into a corner, hanging on a nail, was one of those onion bags with some onions in it that had started to sprout and a woven strand of garlic that was a bit shriveled but there was no mold or sour smell to it. Those went into the bag also.

There was a box on one of the lower shelves that was pushed back, so she pulled it out to see what was in it. It was full of newspaper wrapped apples! Red and Yellow Delicious with a few Granny Smiths! Cool! While they were not the freshest, she didn’t see any mold or bugs on them so she loaded them into the bag also. She was glad she had decided to travel light that day. Her backpack was almost empty, just a first aid kit, some jerky, a lighter and her larger enamel cup that she could heat water in. Of course she did have a water bottle on her too. Her sling hung on a loop that was on her ‘baby bob’ fanny pack and she carried her bow.

If she carried the bag and put the jars in her backpack, she would have to sling her bow over her shoulder so she would have at least one hand free. She was wishing for one of her Granny’s big shoulder bags that she could have slung over one shoulder and shove to the back, but she had left the only one she had back at the cave. And the burlap bag didn’t have any kind of handle at all. She decided to see just how much she would be able to carry and took off her backpack and began to load the jars. With a lot of patience, she was able to fit all the jars half the apples, the onions and garlic in the backpack. Her ‘baby bob’ was loaded with apples as well. She looked all over the cellar and the garage but didn’t find any rope or bags with handles for the rest of the food, so she resigned herself to carrying the now half full bag. She would just have to be extra alert. There was two empty jars that she had also taken in case she was able to find that bee hive and if there was beeswax in that old tree. Finally having everything together and ready to go, she set off again for home by way of the bee hive.

“Lookie here Coon, see those bees?” Poppy asked me.

“Yeah, I sure do…they look like they are attacking that ole tree. What are they doing?”

“Let’s go look and see. But we will have to be very careful not to upset them because if they get mad, we will get stung!”

Very carefully Poppy and I managed to sneak to the tree and look inside a hole that the bees were busy coming and going from. Inside, we could just make out honey combs full of rich honey.

I watched Poppy as he slowly took his big knife and reaching inside, cut off a nice size chunk of the honey filled comb and just as slowly pulled it out and whispered for me to open that large zip lock bag we had brought in my ‘baby bob’. We were both grinning as we made our way out of the bee’s territory and headed for home. Neither of us had been stung! AND we would be having honey on our breakfast biscuits tomorrow!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Three


She continued to watch the compound for a more couple hours, but she felt really uneasy spying on that group because there was one guy that really seemed to be mean, if not downright evil and he looked like he was the one in charge. She carefully began to retreat from the area, noting just where the guards were. She came within about 50 feet of one guard who she might have literally run right into if he hadn’t been smoking. He just seemed to be wandering around. She waited patiently for him to move because she noted that he was walking by some late season jewel-weed and she wanted to harvest some for any winter skin irritants she might get. He finally wandered off and she was able to gather enough to make a nice batch of balm IF she could find some bees for their wax. She did know of a hive in an old tree trunk, but wasn’t sure if the bees had made it. She decided to check it out since it wasn’t too far out of her way home.

Her slightly circular route home had brought her to a house that she decided to check out. She waited for 30 or so minutes watching the place, changing position three times to get a clear view of the whole place. The place had that air of abandonment and she had seen no movement and hadn’t heard any noises. Finally she was satisfied it was as safe as it would ever be to check out the house. She approached from the back by an old chicken shed that proved to be empty. She didn’t know if there had been chickens or if it had been empty before the ‘event’. There were a couple tattered sheets barely hanging on the clothes line that looked like they had been there for at least the past few months. That was a good sign, she thought to herself.

As she got closer to the house, she began to smell a horrible odor and decided to not go in, so she headed toward a small area that looked like it used to be a kitchen garden. She found some carrots and potatoes still in the ground, but didn’t take them because she wasn’t sure if they were safe. Skirting around the garden, she headed to the door in the ground that she had spied while scoping out the place. This door looked like it was heavy and solid; and if it was like the door her grandparents had, she had found the root cellar. Since there was a lock on the outside of the door, she figured it didn’t go into the house like her grandparent’s cellar did. Rummaging around the detached garage on the side of the house, she came up with a pry bar and a small axe which she kept. It didn’t take long for her to pry the lock off of the cellar door and soon she was descending the cool concrete stairs.

“Poppy, why do we have the door that goes outside if we can get in here just by coming down these stairs?” I asked as we descended the stairs into the cellar that were off the kitchen’s back ‘mud room’. Our arms were full of freshly canned peaches to be put away for the winter.

“Well Coon, why do YOU think we would need an extra entrance to the cellar?” Poppy was always answering my questions with more questions it seemed.

“Ok, let me think for a minute…. maybe if we were outside and decided we were just dying of hunger and needed an apple RIGHT NOW; we would be able to come in through the outside door and get an apple before we died!” I was proud of my answer because it totally made sense to me.

“That is one very good possibility you’ve come up with Coon honey. But now think about this…what if we were in the cellar getting something and the house caught fire. That door could save our lives because we could get out through it.”

“Wow, do you think the house is going to catch fire?” I asked worriedly.

“No, honey I don’t. Your Granny and I try real hard to keep that from happening.”

I started to sigh with relief but Poppy cut that short with his next words.

“Ok Coon, it’s time to get a bit serious for the moment. I want to go over a little plan I have. If you EVER hear me yell “Shawshank”; I want you to get down here and go out that door and run away. I’ll show you this weekend where I want you to run to. But you are NOT to come back upstairs or try to find me or your Granny. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Why can’t I go to you or Granny?” I had asked.

“Coon, the Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies and in a year or so, I’ll let you watch it. But the word Shawshank isn’t a common word and works good as a code word for danger. So if I ever yell it -that means there is great danger…doesn’t matter what kind of danger. I want your word that you will do what I said. Do I have your word?”

“Of course Poppy. I promise I’ll run to the cellar and go out the back door if you ever yell that word.”

Thursday, December 23, 2010

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. - Two


It has been almost two years now and the world had changed dramatically. Gone are the days when kids bullied each other in school and dinner came from fast food joints or the grocery store. Not that Coon really ever lived a life like that anyways. Not on her Grandparents farm. This new world was dangerous and one survived by using their head or their might.

Coon knew there was a farm about ten miles west of her cave –That Place; it was between her and the closest town. They were the ones that she had seen in town and it was clear that they were getting organized and growing in numbers. She began to see people walking around the grounds -all around; with guns like they were guarding the place. At first they were expanded their grounds, with clearing some of the woods for gardens and they didn’t even seem to know what they were doing. For example, instead of just using the dead wood; they first used the downed trees for firewood. They must have realized their mistake pretty quick since she only saw the darker smoke of a ‘green wood’ fire, for about a couple of days. They were learning. She was also beginning to find signs of them roaming around deeper in the woods. Soon they would be wandering near her cave.

She was getting frustrated with that farm. They were just getting too close for comfort. Every time she went out, she was finding it harder to not be seen. Those people were making their land a virtual strong hold! She would spy on them so that she was aware of what they were doing -for her own peace of mind, and just recently they began building some kind of long building. And they had cameras everywhere now. She figured that they had added an extra two hours for her just to get to town. She used to cut through the woods that ran in the back of their property but it was too dangerous to do so now. She had to go way out of the way to go to town. She really did want to go back to the town and see what else she could gather; she knew it would be even harder to bring anything she was able to find back to the cave.

Coon sighed; she would have to really think about whether it was worth it. Of course she could always try to become a friend of the farm.

The morning dawned early and since she was use to getting up early, Coon was outside when the sun came up. It was going to be one of the fine days meant for being outside and doing something. Since she really didn’t want to deal with “The Farm” (as she was beginning to call it) she decided she was going to go in the opposite direction. What she found was another stronghold and she just knew they were no good. This place made her second guess her decision to stay in the area, now she wasn’t sure if she had made the right decision by staying …not that she knew of anywhere else to go; well there was one place but it was far away. She figured that this was where those people were from that she saw kill the others out on the freeway.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

If You Abuse it, You Lose it.

If You Abuse it, You Lose it.


Coon watched the carnage about a half mile away, she made her mind up. She would NOT be joining the 'human race' again anytime soon.

She slowly backed out of her little niche of rock high on the top of the ridge and began the steady loping run that would take her back to her cave, no make that -her home.

Her long strides carried her quickly through the woods and although she had tears streaking her face, she was of sound enough mind to note a deer family of a doe and two fawns, five squirrels, and the lonely twill of an Eastern Bluebird calling for a mate. She realized that the woods were becoming habited once again and a sad smile briefly crossed her face.

The scene she had just witnessed was about 20 miles south and on what use to be old freeway 44, now the only traffic that occurred on it was trouble. One of the many fractions or gangs that seem to be gathering power had just eliminated a rival gang, including the few women and children. She didn’t even want to think about what she had witnessed. She shuddered as the memory of the blood and violence surfaced unbidden. And she kept running.

Her cave was not huge, but it was comfortable…for a cave that is. There were three rooms to the cave and the entrance she used was hard to find unless you knew what to look for. She preferred to climb over the rocks so as to not leave marks in the vegetation. The entrance was small, only about two feet wide and three feet tall, so she stooped over and waddled into the cave. Once inside, she had to make a sharp left about five feet in since there was a tunnel before the cave actually opened up. The ceiling wasn’t high, only about ten feet but there were spots that dipped to four feet and another entrance that was high up but too small for a human to climb through. Not that one would want to since the drop to the floor would at the least, break a leg. This first room was about 15 feet square and inhabited by the few remaining bats that made it through the ‘event’. She was careful to be very quiet and slipped through the dark to the second room. She had the pathway memorized only after many bumps on the head, but that was long ago. She had firewood stacked up in various piles for cooking and warmth.

Now she was in her new home. Here in this back second “room” is where she had set up a crude but serviceable place to live. She had a thick bed made of an old camping cot and blankets that were brought from what had been her home. She had some things that she had scavenged from the closest town but she had seen the armed people from That Place, taking things so she hadn’t gotten much. She hoped she hadn’t left any sign that she had been there.

She had a small cook stove but preferred to use the small fire-pit that she had made under another one of the small vent cracks in the cave. She even had a shelf from the inside of an oven to put over the rocks and use as a base for the cast iron kettle and pans she’d brought from her Grandpa’s home –what had been her home. There was some smoke, but most dissipated through the vent. She had already went topside while dinner was cooking one day, so see if any smell or smoke could be discerned. She couldn’t even find the vent! She didn’t have a problem with rain coming in and she didn’t know why. Also in the room were crude shelves made with some boards and bricks. The shelves were mostly filled with books. But there were some clothing on them also.

She still hadn’t figured out just how she was going to make a door to close off the room yet; so for now, she had a blanket secured to a wooden frame and it was propped up against the opening. She had another blanket on a frame propped up against the opening of last room that held all the food she had and where the small spring came out of a rock into a small pool and then went back out through the rock. She figured it was the spring that fed the small stream about 400 yards south of the cave. She could still remember the first time she had drunk from that small pool of cold water. But she pushed that memory away for now.

She was still crying silently as she lit a small candle that she had ‘liberated’ from the Dollar General in town. That was one of the few places that hadn’t been totally cleaned out yet. She knew that she had to get back there and get as much as she could before the whole town was cleaned out. But she could only carry so much and truthfully there wasn’t that much that she really needed, thanks to her Grandpa.

“Oh Poppy, I sure wish you were here…” she sighed as a long ago memory began to surface…

“Now Coon, just because you’ve been shootin’ this bow for a few years now, doesn’t mean ya get to be all lazy!” Poppy exclaimed as he chastised me for forgetting to care properly for my bow.

I had planned on wiping the rain off of the wood and waxing the string just as soon as we had gotten back but that bratty brother of mine had gotten into my personal belongings and strung my under garments all over outside. I had to chase the bugger down and give him the thrashing he so deserved and then gather up my things! I had just finished gathering everything up and was climbing up the steps to the porch when I looked up and saw Poppy with my bow in his hand and was devastated by the disappointment in his eyes.

“Oh Poppy, I’m so sorry, I was fixin’ to care for it, I promise.” Poppy just handed me the bow and walked back into the house. I sat down on the porch and cleaned my bow for a good hour as the tears flowed down my face.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Something I wrote to never forget and gain strength:

Someone very dear to me was suffering greatly and so I wrote her a simple note which she later told me helped her, so I now share it with you:

to be or not to be a victim

Abuse is a very serious subject. Too many people have been abused, mostly as children. Sadly some cannot get to a place in their lives where they are able to "live" their life.

Little things can set off a memory which can lead to a panic attack, or full blown seizure. There can be crying, anger, hate, violence, self-pity, etc; on the part of the one who has suffered.

Yeah it would be great if humans didn't abuse other humans. If they treated their children with love and respect and dignity. I think a higher power will have to step in and permanently clean out all the perverts in the world.

What can those victims do NOW though? They can refuse to let their abuser control them or have power over them any more. They can choose to live each day according to THEIR terms! Go for their dreams. Strive to be an honorable person. They can press charges, tell a trusted adult if a minor still, find a GOOD therapist (one who won't drug you to suppress the feelings but help you work through them). Help others who are where you've been.

But this is so much harder to do than to say! Just remember ANYTHING that has worth, is worth the effort! Taking back the power over yourself, controlling your own path in your life, and making decisions for yourself to mold yourself into a person YOU want to be....YOU ARE WORTHY!!!!

It's a long hard road. Many slides, bumps, and maybe even a detour or two. But if you get back on that road, strive to stay on it, and have goals that you can reach along the way; YOU WILL WIN!!!!

Each day, choose to be better than the one who abused you.

Each day, take that step towards your goals.

Each day, do not be afraid.

Each day, reach out to one you CAN trust and let that one help strengthen you, give you courage, and guide you to peace.

Isa 41:13 For I, Jehovah your God, am grasping your right hand, the One saying to you, 'Do not be afraid. I myself will help you.'

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New story will begin soon

I will begin posting another story in a couple days! Please leave comments and let me know what you thought of this one. thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Epilogue 2: for those who like me, want a "HAPPY" ending!

Epilogue 2

“NO!” yelled Roger. Then he was being shaken hard.

“Roger, ROGER! Wake up, you’re having a nightmare!” came his wife’s voice.

Frantically Roger clawed through the nightmare towards wakefulness. “Oh my God!” he moaned and then looked into the big brown loving eyes of his wife. “I never want to have that nightmare again! It was about how we met and how the whole family got together but with a very different ending.” He declared and then reached for his wife. Hugging her tightly, he said “I shudder to think I may have never met you if the Big Guy hadn’t been watching out for you.”

“Well, He was, you did, and I’m here” declared Carrie as she softly kissed her husband.



The pouring rain stopped as the small caravan of five vehicles stopped in front of the small farm house that had been hidden deep in a small valley of the Ozarks. The house was well kept but also well used. The small barn off to the right had the same well used but well cared for look. There were flowers growing everywhere and as Sam got out of one of the trucks, he saw there were also many medicinal herbs all throughout the small beds.

Sam helped John and Bobby get Jane’s wheel chair out of the back of their truck, closing the camper shell tight in case it began to rain again. The brothers made sure Jane was comfortable in her chair as Sam went back to his truck and helped a very pregnant Rhonda out. Naomi and Nick were getting out of their Jeep Cherokee along with Mollie and Renee and Roger was getting out of his truck. Gloria and her twin boys brought up the rear and quickly caught up with the group as they made their way to the front porch of the house. An old woman met them with a curious smile on her face.

Sam took the lead and began to introduce everyone, then turned back and said “We sure hope we have the right place. Please tell us that you are Sally Madison.”

The old woman replied “Yes, I’m Sally Madison.”

The group all sighed in relief and in unison. Sam got a big grin on his face and said “we are all friends of Carrie’s. Actually we all were complete strangers until we each met Carrie and now -through her, we’ve become great friends, family even; and so we would love to see Carrie and let her see just how much she touched each of our lives. You have a remarkable granddaughter, Mrs. Madison. Can you call her for us?”

Sally Madison looked the group over carefully but could see no hint of malice in any of them. “Come with me” she said and then led them off the porch, down a small well worn pathway, and into the very middle of the flower beds. She then stepped aside and the group could see a small headstone. “I’m sorry but Carrie was killed by her mother’s boyfriend almost a year ago in New York.” Sally sighed and turned towards the small headstone; “I’m thankful that her mother allowed me to bring her home.“

“NO!” yelled Roger.

A Place to Call Home -Eighteen


Carrie had taken the habit of keeping an eye out for small pebbles that she could use in her wrist rocket. She used up hundreds as she would practice each evening after finding a good camp site and each morning before she left. She also took to fastening it to her fanny pack so it was within quick reach. The fanny pack had an outside zipper pocket that she would slip her extra pebbles in since she kept small stainless steel “beads” in the handle and only practiced with the rocks.

Carrie also found a long straight stick that she was using for a walking stick. It had been gnawed on both ends by a beaver (or two) and was slightly thicker at one end than the other. She had come across a bunch of them her first morning after leaving her new brothers, but most of them were either too long or too short. She found three that were a comfortable length (just slightly longer than she was tall) but two of them were just too thick. She loved her walking stick. It was perfect and sure did come in handy with all the “ups” and “downs” she was walking now that she was in the hills.

It was two days after she left her brothers that Carrie found she had strayed too close to “civilization”. She had been listening to the radio and so knew that despite the NSA and UN’s martial law; the unrest across the country seemed to be escalating to proportions that were beginning to stink of some kind of “behind the scenes” influences that kept stroking the fires, so to speak. Carrie was no dummy and figured out pretty quick that these newest rashes of riots were different than the previous ones.

First of all, churches were being burnt down at night at a rate of 20 or more each night. And it seemed that no denomination was spared. Large Catholic Cathedrals along with the newer ‘mega’ churches were being set on fire just as often as the small town Baptist and Methodists churches.

Also, the government was finding out that people were simply not going to turn over their food resources or their guns. All the major camps that the government had set up for collection of goods and arms were not getting any resources turned.

Carrie was only hearing about the larger cities and towns although there had been some mention of local troubles as she would move through different areas.

It was late afternoon when Carrie heard the first scream. She froze. She hadn’t realized she was by any place that people were around, so she carefully made her way towards where she thought she heard the scream. Carrie found herself coming up on what looked like a small farm. The first thing she saw was a fairly large barn and then a couple shed like buildings, all of which looked in need of some paint.

Staying well within the tree line, Carrie quietly made her way all around the fenced in area until she found a place she could easily squeeze through the barbed wire. She could now hear some yelling going on and see one person sitting out on the tail gate of an old Ford pickup truck.

Carrie looked carefully all around her to memorize the various brush and trees. She then made sure her knife was secure on her arm and also the one she had inside her right hiking boot. Carefully and quietly, she found an older tree with a nice place to hide both her backpack and fanny pack. Taking only her knives and wrist rocket, she made her way to the space in the fence and slipped through. A woman was now crying and every few moments, Carrie could hear her yelling NO!

Before making her way to the Ford, Carrie knew she had to be sure there were no more people outside. It looked to her that the guy was keeping guard and after a few peeks into the windows, Carrie counted only two other guys in the house. They were busy harassing the woman in the kitchen, who was attempting to fix what looked like sandwiches in between the pinches and slaps from the two men. Their threats of ‘punishment’ were very clear even to Carrie. This treatment of the woman fueled Carrie’s anger.

Knowing that surprise was her friend, Carrie slipped up to the far side of the Ford and she readied her wrist rocket so that when she made a soft “pssst” sound and the man turned toward her, she was able to let ‘er rip! ZING! Right into the left eye socket of the man went the small steel ball. Before he even realized he had been hit, Carrie had her knife out and jumped the final few steps to his side and had the knife slid between his ribs and deep into his heart. She was surprised that he didn’t make a sound. Carrie had a half a second of doubt but realized that if that man had been a good guy, he would not have been out there while the other two were inside having their sick kind of fun with the woman.

The man had a handgun and a shotgun that had been sitting on the tail gate with him. Carrie picked up both and checked them, yep they were loaded. She was suddenly very aware of the knowledge she had gathered from her brothers just a few days previously. And VERY thankful. Carrie took a deep breath and steeling herself as she sent a word of prayer up for strength and guidance to do what must be done to protect the woman. Her Gramma’s words echoed through her mind “it’s our responsibility to protect the innocent”.

Quickly but as quiet as possible, Carrie made her way up and on the porch and slipped into the house. She knew by peeking in the window, the front room could not be seen from the kitchen because there seemed to be a small hall way between the two. She made her way towards the hall and could still hear the woman who seemed to be getting angry with all the manhandling she was receiving. But she couldn’t really make out what the woman was saying since the men kept laughing. Easing to the kitchen doorway, Carrie noticed she could see the glass window of the stove and microwave and that they were reflecting almost the whole kitchen. The two men were now sitting at the small kitchen table and one of them had the woman pulled to his lap. Both the men were eating sandwiches but having their mouths full, did not stop them from talking nor did it stop the man whose lap the woman was on, from pinching and groping her. He was sitting farthest from the kitchen door way, on the far side of the table and if Carrie were to step into the room, he would be facing her.

The woman just happened to look at the stove and noticed something not quite right. There was a reflection in the glass into the hall way. She looked up at the microwave and saw a small face and a shotgun.

The man she was sitting on groped her breast hard and she squealed and tried to slap his hand away.

“I like my women feisty but not too feisty.” The man said as he pinched her. The woman glanced again at the reflection and saw the face slowly nod.

Since she only had experience with the shotgun, Carrie carefully tucked the handgun in the back of her pants after making sure the safety was on. She knew she would only get one good shot off so taking a deep cleansing breath she raised the shotgun as she stepped around the door.

As she came around the door, the woman squealed again and managed to jerk herself out of the man’s lap just as his head caught a round from the shot gun. The second man didn’t really get a chance to register what was happening before his head also met a round from the shotgun.

The woman had scooted across the floor so she was well out of range and Carrie walked over and held her hand out to help her up. “Hi I’m Carrie and I got the one outside also, so unless there is another bad guy hiding somewhere, they are all dead.”

“Thank YOU!” the woman gushed out and then she ran out of the room into the hall way. Carrie followed her as she went to the long string hanging from the trap door to the attic. Fascinated, she watched as the woman pulled the door down and pulled out the steps until they hit the floor.

“Matthew, Morgan! It’s ok, you can come down now, Mommy’s ok.” After a few moments and more words of encouragement, Carrie saw two small faces appear in the opening of the attic. Twin boys, no more than 8 years old, showed signs of intense relief as they saw their mom at the bottom of the ladder. They were down that ladder and in their mom’s arms before Carrie could even blink.

The woman hugged her boys tightly and then turned back to Carrie, “My name is Gloria and these are my boys, Matthew and Morgan and I want to thank you so much for saving our lives.”

Carrie blushed as she said “Ma’am, I did what any good person would do. And I had some help from the Man up there” as she pointed upwards “if He hadn’t helped me, I’m sure things would not have turned out so good.” Carrie hesitated a moment and then added “why don’t you take your boys back into one of the bedrooms and I’ll …..clean up.”

“No” Gloria said, which surprised Carrie “we live in a new world and my boys are going to have to see just how ugly the old world was so that they will make our new world a better place.” She then turned to her boys and knelt down to their level “I love you boys more than life itself and if there was any way that things were even just a bit different, I would spare both of you this……situation. Our lives have changed. And even though it was not by our choice, we are going to have to live in this new world we find ourselves. So boys, despite your young age, you are about grow up a whole lot in a very little amount of time. There are some dead men in our home, they were very bad and Miss Carrie here helped to protect us by killing them. So together, we are going to clean our home and make it ours again. And then we are going to do all we can to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

The two small boys straighten their shoulders and dried off their faces with their hands, it was clear that they no longer would be small little boys.

Carrie spent four days with Gloria and the boys. She helped them bury the bodies way out in the middle of the woods and clean up the house. She also gave both the shotgun and the handgun to Gloria and with some of the ammo they found in the truck; Gloria and the boys learned how to shoot both. They had removed everything of value out of the truck, which wasn’t much. There was the ammo and some tools. Carrie found some drugs in the pill form, stashed up under the seat but they ended up flushing those. They also drained most of the gas out and Carrie stayed with the boys while Gloria drove it far from her home and walked back. If Carrie knew how to drive, she could have driven Gloria’s truck and followed but neither wanted to keep the truck around and felt it would take too long for Carrie to learn.

Carrie did try to call Jane but only got her answering machine, so she left a brief message with Gloria’s number on it along with plenty of doggie slobbering sounds for Beautiful and Duke.

The rest of Carrie’s trip was spent well away from any people and she learned many new edibles. While there were times that she didn’t have any meat for her meals, she had gotten into the ancient habit of gathering any edibles she saw as she traveled so she was well fed.

It was three weeks later that Carrie was walking up a small dirt driveway that made a couple twists and turns and found a well worn house with an old woman dozing as she sat in a rocking chair on the porch.

Carrie was so scared, she just stood there close to steps as she waited for the woman to wake up. It wasn’t a long wait.

“Carrie? Dear sweet Carrie? Is that you?”

Carrie ran up the stairs towards her Gramma with open arms! She was HOME!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Place to Call Home -Seventeen


Carrie ended up staying the next day and night with the brothers. They let her recharge her net-book and they even taught her how to shoot the shotguns.

Bobby had a wrist rocket, better known as a slingshot, which Carrie got really good with. It had a hollow handle that he filled with small but solid balls that were bigger than bee bee’s but still small enough to fit quite a few in the handle.

Later that afternoon, they were on the back porch and he gave it to Carrie since he hadn’t really used it in awhile.

“You can have this, for those times that your snares don’t work or if you see a turkey or pheasant for dinner.” Bobby said.

Carrie was touched “thank you so much!” and then she startled them both by giving him a big hug!

John spoke up and said “if I give you the hammock, do I get a hug too?”

“Really?” exclaimed Carrie and she gave him a hug also.

“Well now that I got a hug, guess I’m gonna have to give you the hammock.” John said and they all laughed. The hammock was one of those cheaper ones you can find at Wal-Mart that is just made up of the cording and ties to the trees on each end. Or in this case, a porch post and an eyelet hooked to the house. The thing packs down to about six inches and would fit into Carrie’s pack.

The boys also gave Carrie some deer jerky that they had made from the last deer they had got. It was very tasty and she asked “this is great, how did you get it so tasty?”

“Secret family recipe. Can’t tell ya.” John said straight faced.

“Yep, you have to either be family or we’d have ta kill ya if we told ya.” Added Bobby.

Carrie got very serious and with something like hope in her eyes, she declared “I’d be honored to be your sister.”

Now the brothers were taken aback because they had been kidding around but they could see that Carrie meant what she said.

“Well then our sister you’ll be then!” declared Bobby “But we are gonna have to some kind of ceremony to make it real.”

And so with a toast made with shot glasses full (for the boys) and only half full (for Carrie) declaration of family was made and the beginning of the Hudson-Madison clan was forged.

“Now that I’m your sister, I get to ask for a favor.” Stated Carrie.

“Oh no, already the demands begin!” joked John.

Carrie laughed and said “seriously I have a dear friend in New York that I haven’t spoken to in a few weeks, would you mind if I gave her a call?” She then gave her innocent look and the boys laughed and couldn’t say no.

“Hi Lady Jane, I’ve got some great news! I’ve got two new brothers! Their names are John and Bobby Hudson!” Carrie burst out as soon as Jane answered the phone.

“Wow! It seems like your trip is going great. I’m glad to hear that. I’ve been worried, it’s been awhile since you’ve called but I’m glad you’re ok.”

“Oh yeah, I’m just fine.” And then Carrie proceeded to fill Jane in on all that had happened the past few weeks and her plans for continuing her journey.

“I’m a lot closer now, Lady Jane; I figure just a little over a month, and I’ll be in Arkansas. I think I am going to have to go more off road though due to all that has been going on. I’m just west of Lexington, Kentucky so I have about 700 miles to go.”

The call was coming to an end when Lady Jane asked Carrie to hand the phone to one of the brothers.

“Please don’t yell at them, ok?” begged Carrie.

“Oh no, I won’t, I’ll be very polite, I just want to thank them.”

Carrie handed the phone to Bobby who had the ‘misfortune’ of sitting closest to her.

Carrie couldn’t hear what Jane was saying but she could hear what Bobby was saying “yes ma’am”,” no ma’am” and “yes ma’am” and then finally “I sure will ma’am, it was nice talking to you too.”

Once off the phone, Bobby looked at Carrie then at John “she’s our sister alright and I think we even got a new mom thrown in the deal.”

The evening passed too quickly for all three and when the brothers woke up the next morning, Carrie was already well on her way. They found a note on the porch where the hammock had been.

My dear brothers, John and Bobby,

Thank you so much for all that you’ve shown and shared with me these past two days. Little did I know that this trip I am on would bear such wonderful blessings. I’ve gained some great friends and now two great brothers.

Someday soon, I hope to have a home to call my own and I would love to have you come and visit. As you know, I’m headed to find my Gramma’s but however my trip ends, I will always consider you my brothers and never forget you and I will be sure to keep in touch with you!

Until we see each other again!

Love, Carrie!

Carrie traveled for another good week until things again went bad in the country. The black outs were now more often than not and this had the citizens in an uproar. Carrie had been listening regularly to the news since that is all that was on. There wasn’t much music anymore because of the blackouts. Only talk radio was on and it only came on once an hour due to them having to use a generator most times.

“….has recalled all the loans made to the United States during all the major bail out bills during the past year. The President has been in negotiations for more time to repay all the loans and has signed an executive order allowing the IRS to withhold an extra 30% in income taxes out of all checks. This will go into effect next Monday. In order to cover these extra taxes, many citizens are dropping their insurances and all savings plans. Many citizens have quit their jobs or have been laid off. The unemployment rate has risen to 44.7%, the highest ever recorded.

In other national news, the crime rate has doubled just in the past five days and many businesses are closing down due to loss of profits and vandalism. There also has been an increase in people hoarding food. According to Executive Order number 10998; all farms and food sources are now under governmental control and no hoarding is allowed.

Also due to the increase of lawlessness, the President has called into effect Executive Order 11310 and has ordered that prison camps be set up to contain those who are being arrested for unlawful acts.


Again the president has had to declare martial law and it will be strictly enforced and all offenders will be effectively dealt with. No one is to be out from 6pm to 7am. All officers of the NSA have been ordered to use deadly force, no exceptions.

Centers will be set up as soon as enough food and goods are gathered for distribution. All centers are expected to be operational within the next two weeks. The government would appreciate everyone to bring all excess food and goods to these centers for fair distribution to all. Anyone caught hoarding will be dealt with severely and will not be allowed to receive any food or goods.

Due to the current flu strain that is ravaging the world, all should be wearing surgical masks and making sure they are washing their hands frequently. Anyone needing masks or sanitizer gel, can pick them up when they bring in their excess food and goods at the centers….”

Carrie finally turned off the radio. She decided she was going to have to travel deeper into the country side and stay totally away from town, especially big ones.

That night she poured over her maps and knowing she would not be able to make a straight line due to having to cross rivers and highways, she felt she was able to make a fairly straight path. She figured she could cross them during the day so she would not be shot if found during the night. She attempted to make sure her path would cross the rivers by bridges. But she also knew she would be tweaking her path as she went. There would be fences to climb and areas to go around.

Her fire was small that night and as soon as she cooked the small squirrel that she had killed with her new wrist rocket and she even tried to cook some fiddle heads she had found. In her cup, she heated up some water for tea, and then when she was done, she banked the coals so she would be able to use them in the morning for some more tea before she set off. That night she laid awake in her hammock for a good long while watching the stars. She didn’t know if they were so bright because of the area or if it was because there were not so many lights on in the world that night. She counted five shooting stars before she fell asleep.

Carrie enjoyed walking through the country side and made good time. There were plenty of back roads that Carrie followed even though she was not actually on the road. She spent a lot of time looking for plants in her book, since it was getting well into spring, actually summer now that she thought about it; she was finding many different flowers. She hadn’t had the nerve to try any mushrooms that she had found but she did find morels a couple of times and roasted those over the fire. They were pretty good. One thing she found a lot of, was cattails. She did have fun pulling them up, cleaning them, and roasting them. She really wished she had a pot where she would be able to try making a stew with the edibles she had been finding. She decided to keep an eye out for something she might be able to use. She was finding a lot of places where people just seemed to dump things.

She was missing her new friends….and brothers, though. This was something new to her and she wasn’t sure exactly how she should be feeling. When she was real young, there had been a lot of love in her life. From her dad and Gramma and even her mom was somewhat loving. But the past five years were simply too harsh and demanding and had scorched her heart. She hadn’t thought she would be able to trust anyone again. Her mom had pretty much devastated her and left no real hope that Carrie would be able to find anyone she could trust or love. Carrie wasn’t a fool and knew she had been very blessed and she thanked God every day and night for allowing her to travel safely and find so many she could trust. She also knew that things were really getting bad in the country and sooner or later she was going to run into trouble.

It was just two days later that Carrie did run into trouble and she wasn’t too sure how to get out of this one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Place to Call Home -Sixteen


Having her right arm grabbed didn’t stop Carrie from swinger her left fist. And it was only after she connected to a hard stomach and the whoosh of air; that she realized it was Roger who had a hold of her.

“Why in the world would you scare me like that?” She demanded in a hushed whisper.

Roger struggled to catch his breath but did not let go of her arm. He held one finger up on his free hand and managed to croak out “Dang you hit hard.”

“Well it serves you right, sneaking up on me like that and grabbing me.” Carrie declared.

“You were gonna leave without saying good bye!” He complained.

“I left a good bye note for everyone. And I think you know why I preferred to not be alone with you…like we are right now.” She saw the gleam come into his eye “Oh no you don’t!”

But oh yes he did. A quick but firm kiss on the lips and then he stepped back…out of her range.

“Good bye for now. But you can be sure you’ll see me again someday.” Roger said and then he went back towards the house.

“So long … for now.” Carrie whispered to his retreating back with a grin on her face.

Later that day, Carrie was making good time and was long out of town; Roger and his family were talking about Carrie and Roger remembered the phone call she had made that first day. Checking his cell phone, he found that the number was still on his recent dialed list. He called it.

Traveling went well for Carrie for the next three weeks. She was making good time and finding out of the way places to camp at night. She had stopped twice to replenish her food supplies and she still had a pretty good amount of cash left. She was being as frugal as she could. She had hit a good stride, staying off the main roads and had even taken a ride from a couple of people. Only women though and they had to have a good vibe to them. She turned down many rides.

She would listen to the radio quite a bit. And so was aware of what was going on in the country and world. She knew that the martial law had been lifted and that the issue of turning in all guns had been sent to the Supreme Court who was due to issue a ruling within the next few days. Speculation was running wild with many people still protesting on both sides of the issue.

The rolling brown outs had turned into black outs and this has caused many to close up stores and other businesses earlier than usual. This left the streets emptier than usual and allowed Carrie to slip through the towns in the evenings or early mornings with no trouble.

But it wasn’t in a town that she found herself in trouble. One morning she was actually following a short cut on one of her maps, and totally by accident happened to run into a small illegal still operation. Carrie didn’t see anyone around and was curious about the still. She had heard about them from online, even read some of the sites where they were described as being used for an alternative fuel. However, she didn’t think this one was for fuel and then she ended up dawdling a tad too long.

Carrie could tell by the look in the eyes of a couple guys that walked into the small area, that she was gonna be in some big trouble if she didn’t think fast. Especially since both of them were carrying shotguns. So drawing on the advice of her dear Gramma; Carrie did the last thing the two men expected her to do.

“Howdy!” Carrie said with a big grin. “I was hoping someone would come by. I need some help.” And before the two guys could say anything, she continued “see I’m traveling through and was hoping to be able to do a bit of fishing and hunting to help feed myself. I have these small snares that I learned about on a website but I’ve never actually tried to set them before I set out. Earlier when I tried to set them, about two miles or so back that’a way” Carrie pointed towards where she had come from “I just couldn’t get the hang of it. And since I’ve not come to any place to fish, I figured I’d try the snare things again. Do you guys think could help me?” Carrie took a deep breath.

Now the two fella’s had curiosity written on their faces, but the anger was gone and Carrie didn’t think they were going to get violent.

“WELLLLL lookie here John, we’ve got us an intruder……one lookin’ to hunt on our land.”

“I got eyes in my head, Bobby; what are we gonna do about it?”

Carrie thought briefly about running but realized that like most predators, running would simply set them off and she wouldn’t be able to run fast with her pack. So she had to figure out how to make them NOT predators.

“Really sirs, I mean no harm. I really do need some help with the snares, it’s been a while since I had a hot meal and I was hoping to snare a rabbit for supper. I didn’t know I was on your property and I do apologize. I’ll leave and look for somewhere else to figure out how to work the snares. I know I should have done that before I left, but I ran out of time and had to leave in a hurry.”

Bobby and John seemed kinda shocked, it may have been because no one had really ever spoken so respectful to them or said so much so quickly or it may have been that they had just realized that Carrie was a girl.

Oh crap! Thought Carrie, but she kept her cool and decided to appeal to a higher authority so she quickly sent up a prayer for help and guidance and a plea for knowledge on how to best handle this so she wouldn’t end up in an unmarked grave after being raped.

In the very act of praying, an idea came to her; THANK YOU!!! She shouted mentally upwards and then she again began to speak.

“I’m sure you two nice men are very busy and I really shouldn’t impose on you, and I am sorry that I’ve managed to upset you. I really didn’t mean any harm. If you could show me how to set the snares, I would be more than happy to share anything caught. I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to skin a rabbit and cook it. And I think I can also help you.”

Bobby spoke up “what do you think you can help us with?”

John also said “yeah, you’re just a little girl. Maybe in a couple years we could work us out a trade.”

Carrie blushed but was a tad relieved that they viewed her as too young and so she kept that in mind. “Well, I have some good notes on making fuel and I noticed that there are a couple things you could do to your still to make it more efficient.” She walked over to the still and ignored the stiffing of both John and Bobby, “like right here, you have a short pipe here, I think they call it a column or some call it a cracking tower; but if you were to make it taller, it would make the alcohol purer and be a better fuel. I tell you, I definitely see the wisdom of making your own fuel; gas prices have really gone through the roof, they are even higher than when Bush was president. And having a pure form of alcohol will give you better gas mileage. Can I show you my notes?” Carrie finished by putting an attempt at compete innocence and a hint of eagerness to please on her face.

It was the ‘purer alcohol’ that pushed the guys over to her side.

“OK, we’ll look at ‘em” John said.

“Great!” said Carrie and she walked over to them and stuck her right hand out “and my name is Carrie, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” And she shook the hands of two very surprised men.

Carrie had found some pictures online about three different types of stills that she had saved, so she pulled out her little net-book and in no time at all, had the folder she had set up on stills open and began going through the saved documents. She found the pictures and opened them. (http://www.homedistiller.org/types.htm)

“See here is kinda what your still looks like, with the shorter column,” she said as she pointed to the first pictures. Then she scrolled down and pointed at the last pictures “this is what you want for a purer alcohol, see the longer column?”

Both John and Bobby read through the short article, taking turns since the screen was small and they had to lift it closer but by the time they were done, they both were nodding their heads.

“Yeah, that will work.” Said Bobby.

“We even have what we need around here,” John looked around “we could get this fixed up in no time at all. We even have a batch ready to distill.” John walked over to a five gallon bucket that was filled with a fermented mixture. “Which is why we had come down here to begin with.”

Carrie grinned big.

“Do you have anything on here about converting engines to run on homemade alcohol?” John asked. Because while they were really not making an alternative fuel, the guys were not stupid, they just had not really thought about making their own fuel and it sounded like a good idea.

“Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure I do because someday I want to buy a jeep and convert it so I can make my own fuel also.” Carrie took the net-book back and searched through her files. She knew she had saved something from Mother Earth News, ah, there it is she thought and opened the document. (http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/me2.html)

She totally had them hooked now and they gladly showed her how to set snares and even showed her a few places she could place them that were not too far away. The afternoon passed with the still being rebuilt and producing its first batch of 95%+ proof alcohol. The guys had taken turns copying the notes from a few different documents that Carrie would pull up on her net book. They found that the pot they were using was a good one, solid stainless steel. And their water source was from a small spring on the property. They had hooked up a garden hose and so there was a constant gravity flow that cooled the condenser.

Carrie had a blast and helped them every step of the way, loving the fact that she was actually DOING what she had read about. They remade the ‘cracking tower’ and also found a better way to rework the condenser so that the water flowed over it more evenly and instead of it dripping on the ground, they rigged up some piping to divert back into the small creek that the spring fed. It made the area a lot less muddy.

She also learned that the two men were brothers who lived together now that their mom had died. They owned about 100 acres, of which she had stumbled onto the ‘back 40’ of and actually were making moonshine in their still for some extra cash. The still was their first attempt at making one and they had simply used the plans they had gotten from one of their friends. They hadn’t dared make a still while their mom was alive, she would have tanned their hides. John was the oldest at 25 and Bobby was younger at 23. They actually were pretty nice but they had been having some trouble over on the other side of their property with teenagers going out into one of the fields and partying and leaving a mess.

“You know, since you are making fuel, your still is legal. But you might want to check into all the laws of this state about it.” Carrie said.

John got thoughtful “well how ‘bout that, we’re legal, Bobby.”

Bobby snickered and said “don’t know what I’ll do, never been legal before.” Both men laughed.

Carrie’s net-book battery finally died that evening but the brothers had finished copying all the notes they wanted. Carries snares had netted two fat rabbits and since the still was on a propane burner, they decided to make a small fire, well away from the still, and roast the rabbits for supper. Bobby took off for awhile and came back with some potatoes and fixin’s for a salad in a small cooler. They washed the potatoes with water from the spring and after poking holes all over them, wrapped them in foil and stuck them in the coals of the fire, turning them every so often.

It was late when they shut the still down. They ended up with a nice batch of alcohol. The brothers sipped a bit and after they caught their breath, gave the thumbs up. Carrie’s eyes watered just breathing in the vapors of one of the bottles. The brothers had a small glass coke bottle, just 12 ounces, that they filled and gave to Carrie.

John said “you take this because you helped us make it and who knows, you might be able to use it for trade.”

“Well, I also could use it if I get a cut or scrape. I don’t have any rubbing alcohol and I think this stuff will kill any germs!” She laughed as she accepted the small bottle and carefully wrapped in one of her bandannas after making sure the lid was tight. She tucked it in the middle of her pack so that her clothing helped to protect it.

They were just finishing up their meal when Bobby wondered out loud “where are you going to sleep tonight, Carrie?”

“Well, if you guys don’t mind, can I just camp out here? I’ll leave first thing in the morning and won’t leave a mess.”

John thought for a few moments and then said “we have a hammock strung up on the back porch of the house, why don’t you sleep there? It’s gotta be more comfortable than the ground, even with your small bedroll. Besides there are a lot of snakes around here and I don’t think you’d like to wake up with one in bed with you.”

That of course led Carrie to tell them about the two skunks she woke up with once. But it was settled and Carrie softly swayed to sleep later that night in the hammock.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Place to Call Home -Fifteen


Nick and Roger left after breakfast to see for themselves how the town was doing and to check on the store. Mollie and Renee showed Carrie all their treasures since school was closed for the duration of the rioting. The local news reported that the sheriff was confident that the town would be back to normal within just a day or so.

Naomi declared a “girls day” with happy squeals from Mollie and Renee. At Carrie’s confused look, Mollie and Renee proceeded to explain to her what a “girls day” was.

“Ok a girls day is when the girls get to make all the plans and decisions. We basically get to do whatever we want.” Mollie began.

“As long as it’s legal” piped up Renee.

“Right. Sometimes we spend the day pampering ourselves with facials and manicures and just all those kinds of girly things. Sometimes we get to take our ‘Mad Money’ and go shopping for silly things.” Continued Molly.

“But sometimes we decide to do really cool stuff, like go 4 wheeling or hiking.” Added Renee.

Naomi cut in with “since Carrie is our guest, why don’t we let her decide what we will do today. We may be hampered because of all the foolishness going on out there; but there are plenty of things to do right here.”

“I don’t have any idea at all. You guys will have to decide. I’ll just go with the flow.”

So the rest of the day was spent doing a myriad of “girlie things” and Carrie had the time of her life.

Later that night, Carrie grabbed a moment to herself and pulled out her Gramma’s letters.

13 March 2002

Dear Carrie,

Don’t worry about your old Gramma, I’m doing fine. I got a clean bill of health from the doctor yesterday which is why I’m sending you this letter. My heart will still be going strong for years yet.

Your prayers were heard, dear. And thank you for them. Always remember that God will hear prayers that are sincere and come from a pure heart. It’s all about the heart-a-tude. We may mess up, but He will forgive us if our heart is right by Him. And it’s always good to pray for others. Don’t forget we have to work in harmony with our prayers also. It doesn’t do much good if we pray for help and then don’t help ourselves as much as we can. He fills those gaps that we can’t.

I’ve got lots of plants started for the garden; the green house is pretty near to over flowing. I think I’m going to have to give some away or make the garden bigger.

I had to kill a coyote last night; he was trying to get to the rabbits. I couldn’t let him. No one should let an innocent one get hurt if they can stop it. We have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Mrs. Henders sent over some of her famous strawberry jam for you. It’s in the cupboard waiting for your next visit. And you better sit down for this; she even sealed the recipe in an envelope and made me promise to not open it. She is passing it on to you dear. I know, I’m shocked too. Aren’t you glad you are sitting down?

Ok dear. I’m going to get this in the mail. And no I still don’t have that ‘internet thingy’ and no email. Those things are for you young ones. Besides you would have to show me how all that works.

Much love and hugs,


Carrie went back out to the kitchen where everyone had gathered since Roger and Nick had finally gotten back. There was a stack of boxes in the den from the store. They were talking about it looked like someone had tried to break in to the store sometime that previous night but despite the effort, the store was still secure. They had gone and tried to talk to the sheriff but no one knew just where he was since he had been roving the town attempting to restore order. And it seems like once he brought out his shotgun and put two men in the hospital; order seemed to slowly begin to come into focus for the town. The national news also seemed to be talking about how well the new NSA was in quashing the riots and how martial law was expected to be lifted by the end of the week.

Naomi brought up the subject of what Carrie was going to do. She, in her ever so loving yet demanding way; ‘suggested’ that Carrie stay with them until martial law was lifted and order restored so that she would at least have a better chance of having less trouble on her way.

Roger volunteered to drive her to her Gramma’s and Carrie turned white at the suggestion, knowing she really did not need to be alone with Roger anymore! So she politely turned Roger down on his offer but did accept the offer to stay until the end of the week, which was three days; but made no commitment to stay any longer no matter if the martial law was lifted or not. But she also insisted that she carry her weight.

The next three days flew by as Carrie learned a lot that week and while she attempted to steer clear of Roger, it seemed like his oblivious family was just as intent to throw them together. She ended up helping him cut and stack firewood, reopen the store, and since the girls were still not able to go to school; Roger ended up homeschooling them and Carrie.

Carrie got her time in with the girls and taught them some of the things she had learned online about self defense. And while her ways were not perfect, they were effective. Mollie and Renee took it upon themselves to practice on Roger who became paranoid with his sisters stalking him all the time. They became fans of Carrie's knife holder and between the three of them fashioned holders for Mollie and Renee.

Carrie was definitely developing feelings for Roger but kept them to herself since she knew she would be leaving again really soon. She was ruthless with herself and squashed them down. Roger however, was not cooperating.

Friday evening, after dinner; Carrie slipped outside for some fresh air. While she was very comfortable around the family (with the exception of Roger and only then due to raging hormones); sometimes she still felt the need for some alone time.

She had taken to going to back corner of the back yard and looking off into the surrounding hills and watching the stars come out. She had been there for only about 15 minutes when she heard someone coming, thinking it was Mollie since Mollie had come out there to watch the stars with her for the last two nights, she didn’t turn around. But she was surprised when she felt an arm slid across her shoulders in a sideways hug and when she opened her mouth to protest, Roger slipped a Linden’s truffle into her mouth.

Thoroughly bribed by the chocolate, Carrie allowed herself to feel the warmth of Roger’s arm and they both stood there and watched the stars come out. Carrie savored the creamy chocolate slowly and tried to concentrate on that instead of the increasing of her pulse.

After the last bit of chocolate had melted, Carrie turned to Roger and started to say “Thank….” But was cut off by him once again kissing her. But this kiss was no soft and gentle kiss. This was a kiss of a man who was staking his claim on his woman. Now Carrie felt like she was the chocolate truffle that was slowly melting.

Finally Roger allowed Carrie to come up for a breath of air; but before he could kiss her again. She managed to get out “this really is not a good idea…..I mean….you kiss good, but we should not be kissing…. I’m going to be gone soon and I really don’t have time for …….oh my God…you do make me feel so good…………..but, really…..” Roger shut her up again.

Who knows what may have happened if Naomi hadn’t taken that moment to call outside from the door “Roger? Did you find Carrie? Roger!”

Carrie blushed in the starlight and pulled herself away from Roger. She was so thankful that the shed hid them from the sight of Naomi.

“Yeah mom” Roger hollered back “we are coming right now.” Roger than said to Carrie “you go ahead, I’ll be in….in a moment or two.” Carrie fled to the house. Her mind was made up, it was time to go!

She was in the girls’ bedroom when Roger came in and was confronted by his mom. “Just what do you think you are doing?” she demanded in a hushed but serious tone.

Roger straightened up and said “I’m going to marry her someday Mom. No doubt about it.”

“That may or may not be; but you’ve no right to her right now! She’s only 14 years old and you are 18. The age difference won’t be a problem when you are older but it IS a problem right now and I won’t have you messing with that girls feelings.”

Roger did have the grace to looked somewhat abashed but he insisted “I will not do anything to harm her. I really have fallen for her. But I’ll keep my distance, for now.”

Later that night as Carrie and Mollie were talking in bed, Carrie told Mollie that she was leaving in the morning. They talked about many things and promised each other to stay in touch. Since Carrie didn’t know what her address would be, Mollie wrote down her address and phone number. Carrie slid into her packed and ready bag. All she would have to do in the morning was change real quick and put her sleeping clothes in her backpack, slip on her shoes, and go. She even had her tooth brush ready so she could also just slip that into her bag after she was done brushing her teeth. Her water bottles were full and she had enough food to last at least a week and if she was careful, two. She especially loved the beef jerky that Roger had insisted she pack.

“Mollie I want you to know that I feel so blessed to have gotten to know you and your family. I think of you as the sister I never had.” Both girls cried over the loss they knew was coming but each encouraged the other to do what they knew was the right thing to do.

“I’m going to miss you so much! But I know you have to go find your Gramma! Gramma’s are special. And I promise to do my best to keep practicing the things you taught me until I can flip Roger before he knows I’m there!”

Both girls giggled at the picture that came to their minds. Renee slept through it all.

The next morning, Carrie slid a folded piece of paper on the counter in front of the coffee maker since she knew that is the first place anyone in that house went to because the rule was -first one up makes the coffee; and then slipped out of the house. The eastern horizon was just barely beginning to lighten up.

She had just slipped around the corner of the garage towards the road when someone stepped out of the shadows and grabbed her right arm.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Place to Call Home -Fourteen


Carrie wasn’t able to go back to sleep but she did feel somewhat better after her shower so she wandered back into the kitchen after she got dressed in clean clothes. She could hear Nick and Naomi talking to Roger “I don’t want you going to sleep for awhile. I don’t think you have a concussion, but I don’t want to take any chances. With all that is going on in our town; taking you to the city would be even more dangerous and it’s a long drive.” Naomi was saying.

“I’ll stay up with him.” Carrie volunteered “I don’t think I could go back to sleep anyways.”

Naomi nodded her head “That would be fine” she said and she got up hugged Carrie warmly and gently and her and Nick went back to bed.

Roger turned the TV on low to one of the news stations that were on all day and night. Then he turned to Carrie “now that all the excitement is over, thank you for not listening and saving my life. Dad said that he found a van parked down the road a bit so he put the guy in it. There was no sign of anyone else. He thinks the guy was from Mollie’s school. She had been having some trouble with a guy who was coming on to her pretty hard. I didn’t get a look at the guy, so I’m not sure if it’s the same one. And dad doesn’t want to have Mollie ID him.” Roger sighed heavily. The TV caught their attention with news of all the riots.

…rolling brown outs will begin today in an effort to conserve energy as the coal plants that failed to meet the new standards are being shut down. As we know, the new standards were passed unanimously after the coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee during the Holiday Season of last year. The effects of the spill are still being evaluated and the company has declared bankruptcy due to the tremendous number of libel and civil suits that are being filed against them.

Only a fraction of the coal plants have been able to comply with the new standards. There are also the hopes of the lack of electricity will help to quell all the riots.

The President has canceled his press conference that was scheduled today at 2pm. No word of any rescheduling.

In other news, the major of New York City has declared a curfew that will extend as long as it takes to quell the rioting. Anyone on the streets from 6pm to 7am will be arrested. If any resistance is given or if someone attempts to flee, officers have been told to use lethal force. The governor of New York has given his support for this action and is expected to expand marital law for the whole state later today. Many other states are also expected to declare a curfew. This has many wondering if the President will declare martial law. ..

Carrie sighed heavily. This would really affect her ability to travel since she didn’t know if she would always be able to find a safe place to sleep before 6pm. Sometimes she had to walk through the night.

Roger heard her sigh and asked “What’s wrong?”

Carrie looked at Roger and explained “well, if the curfew goes into effect nationwide, it’s going to really mess up my trip. I don’t know if I will be able to find a place to stay each night that is safe, by 6pm.”

Roger looked thoughtful “you said before you were headed to Arkansas; how much further do you have to go?”

“I’ll have to go get my maps to get the exact miles but I figure I’ve got about 900 miles left to go. Although I’m really not sure since I’m trying to stay on smaller roads.”

“Well, maybe you should think about staying put for a few days and wait for the authorities to get these riots under control.”

Carrie cocked an eyebrow and quipped “you sure you don’t want me around so I can save your butt again?”

Roger smiled and said “well, there IS that.” Then he added “was that unearthly scream that I thought I heard, really you?”

“Oh yeah it was. My Gramma taught me that if you are going to step into trouble, announce yourself in a way that takes the enemy by surprise. Plus, I’ve learned that it gets the blood running in me but can freeze the blood in others.”

Roger got a silly grin on his face and said “could you get me something to drink? Please?”

“Sure, what do you want?”

“Actually some coffee, it might help me stay awake.”

“You mean my charming personality is putting you to sleep?” Carrie returned.

Roger almost managed to look horrified and Carrie laughed as she got up and began to fix the coffee maker for coffee. “How do you like your coffee?” she asked.

“Like my women, strong and sweet.”

Carrie laughed as she pulled creamer out of the fridge and got the sugar bowl down from the cabinet above the coffee maker. She liked how things were in the kitchen, right where one would think to look first. Coffee cups were hanging on small hooks under the cabinet next to the coffee maker. While she waited for it to finish up, she couldn’t help me watch Roger as he was watching the news.

If only I was a few years older, my my he is hot! Even with the lump on his head. Oh well, maybe it’s a good thing I’m too young for him, especially since I hope to be living almost 1000 miles away soon
. Carrie’s mind wandered as she thought about Roger and her Gramma.

For the next three hours, before the rest of the house woke up; Carrie and Roger talked and drank coffee. Roger told Carrie about his dreams getting into medical school and become a top surgeon. One who takes into consideration the spiritual aspects of the patients and not just view them as paycheck. Carrie thought that admirable and so confided in him about how she hoped her Gramma was still alive and would take her in. She told him how she never really set any dreams or goals for herself but now that she had listened to him and seen what joy they gave him, she would think about setting some.

“Everyone has to have dreams, Carrie. They are what give us hope for a better future. They help to shape our lives so we can stay focused on the important things. “

“I’m beginning to see that. I just never really had time to think or plan on anything except getting to my Gramma’s. I always figured that I would figure out what to do next after I got there and seen if she was there or not.”

Roger took Carrie’s hand and looked deep into her eyes, “you will come up with some great dreams and goals, I’m sure. And I hope that you don’t forget me…I mean us.” He smiled.

“Hey now, you need to quit looking at me like that, I’m too young for you.” Carrie said as she tried to remove her hand.

Roger just grinned and then before she could say another thing, he reached over with his other hand and gently placed it at the back of her head and pulled her to him and placed a gentle kiss on her lips.

Carrie was momentarily stunned. Is it the fourth of July, cause I’m seeing and feeling some fireworks!

Roger himself was surprised with the amount of heat he felt. He pulled away and said softly “I don’t think you are too young, I think you are an amazing woman. Thank you for saving my life.”

Carrie was blushing with embarrassment and emotions that she never had felt before. Both were saved by the entrance of Naomi.

“Oh that coffee smells wonderful!” She declared as she swept into the kitchen and poured herself a big mug. “Ah, tastes wonderful too. Roger I know you can’t boil water, so Carrie must have made it. Thank you Carrie.” If she noticed the discomfort of her son and guest, Naomi didn’t comment on it.

“You’re welcome, can I help you with getting breakfast ready?” asked Carrie, hoping for the distraction from what had just happened between her and Roger.

All morning she was kept busy so she really didn’t have time or energy to think about the kiss or the guy she had killed.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Place to Call Home - Thirteen

warning: extreme violence


Later that night, Carrie was still feeling overwhelmed. So that is what it’s like to have siblings. She thought. All evening, Naomi had been trying to feed her, Roger’s sisters: Molly and Renee had been talking almost non-stop asking her all kinds of questions for which they never seemed to wait for the answers. Molly the oldest, was 14 and Carrie immediately liked her. Molly insisted that they would forever be dear friends no matter who went where. Carrie couldn’t find any reason to not like her or disagree with her.

Roger and his dad, whose name she found out was Nick; mostly stayed in the living room watching the news and talking about the store. With all the females in the kitchen, the guys felt outnumbered anyways and mostly wanted to stay out of the way.

Now Carrie was in the bottom bunk of Molly’s bunk beds listening to Molly slightly snore. Renee had given up her bed to Carrie and was sound asleep on a pallet on the floor. They simply didn’t listen as Carrie had protested and tried to sleep on the pallet herself.

Carrie prayed and gave thanks for again being protected and privileged to meet another such wonderful family. She asked that someday she would be able to invite them all to her home and asked for wisdom in deciding how to proceed to what she was hoping would be her new home. She also asked for blessings on all the wonderful people (and dogs) she had met, again twins for Sam and Rhonda, and her Gramma alive and well and wanting her. And a special thanks for allowing her to live another year. She hadn’t told anyone but it was this day that she was now 14.

Sleep came quickly and easy after that.

Carrie abruptly woke up. Her heart was pounding hard. Did she hear something? What was it that had woke her up? She could still hear Mollie and Renee breathing. But Carrie just had an awful feeling something was wrong.

There! There it was again!

She slid out of bed and pulled on some pants and shoes. Her bag was packed and ready to go but she left it there. She did strap on her knife and pull the sweat shirt sleeve back over it. She eased her way out of the bedroom and relying on her memory of the house, made her way to the kitchen and den. She didn’t see anything but could hear something. It sounded like it was coming from outside.

Making her way around the island that separated the kitchen and den, she eased to the door that led to backyard. She peeked through the curtains, still not seeing anything; but the night was dark with no moon. She could see stars so either the moon had set or it was a new moon.

I guess I should be keeping track of those kinds of things. She thought.

The sound was between a creaking and grinding. Like someone was opening a door with rusty hinges that rubbed against the doorframe. She couldn’t see any out buildings except part of the garage.

Wait! Was that someone in the yard? She saw a shadow ripple across the back of the yard. A shadow among shadows; but it was movement. She looked up at the trees; they were barely swaying so she could rule out the wind.

She checked the door, it was locked up tight. She was just beginning to unlock the door when a hand touched her shoulder.

Gasping, she whirled around and pulled her knife.

Roger jumped back and just missed being sliced!

“Hey” he whispered loudly “it’s me.”

Carrie sighed in relief and apologized as she put her knife away.

“Someone’s out there, I heard them.” She began “At least I think there is. Some noise woke me up.”

“Me too.” Roger said as he moved to the window and peeked out.

Just then they both heard the noise again.

“Look, it’s not safe for either of us to go out there half cocked. Let me go wake up my dad and then we’ll go check it out.”

Carrie nodded her head and kept watch out the window as Roger silently ran through the house to get his dad.

She felt pretty good that he had said “we’ll” because she figured he was including her in it. She found out she was wrong as soon as Roger and his dad came back into the den. Both had shotguns and with a firm “stay here”, they slid out the door.

“Well! If that don’t beat all” she whispered while she frowned. She then slid out the door herself.

She had watched Roger and his dad split up and each go one way around the house. She briefly wondered if she should wake up Naomi; but decided it would take too much time. She went the same way Roger had gone since that is where the noises were coming from.

Hearing a grunt, she hurried to catch up. As she came around the corner, she saw Roger laying on the ground and a figure standing above about to swing a baseball bat down on him.

With a loud shriek of fury, Carrie again for the second time in 10 minutes whipped out her knife and but this time she plunged into the back of the attacker.

Pulling it out just as fast as she had plunged it, she jumped on the back of the attacker and grabbed his hair with one hand and went for his throat with her knife. All her anger came out and went through that knife. A primal instinct of a woman who was protecting someone she cared about. Carrie didn’t know it but she became a woman that day, not just a 14 year old.

Roger was trying to get up or roll over and not succeeding very well. Carrie jumped to the side as the attacker fell to the ground holding his throat, trying to gasp for breath.

Nick came around the corner to see Carrie bent over trying to help Roger up and the last breathes of the man who had hit him over the head. Roger was bleeding from the head also.

Carrie saw Nick and said “hurry, Roger is hurt bad. That guy hit him at least twice and I can’t hold him up.” Tears began to fall from Carries eyes. Nick grabbed up his son and carried him into the house. Carrie followed.

Nick was hollering as he came into the house for Naomi, who he failed to see was already in the kitchen. Moving quickly, she grabbed a first aid kit out of one of the cabinets and began to minister to her son. Her face was white but her hands were steady.

Nick went back outside with Carrie on his heels and together they finished looking over the place but didn’t find any more intruders. Carrie kicked the corpse as they went by it. They did notice that the intruder had been attempting to pry one of the bedroom windows open. It was one that was in Mollie and Renee’s room. That is what had woke Carrie up.

Nick sent Carrie back into the house to get cleaned up. “I’ll take care of things out here. No one else needs to see this” he said as he gestured to the dead man.

Carrie nodded and looked down at herself and realized that she had blood all over her. When she went back into the house, Roger was more awake and aware and softly talking to his mom.

“Well, all I can say is that I’m glad you have a hard head Roger!” Naomi said “otherwise those blows would have knocked your brains out.” She sighed heavily then gently kissed his cheek. “I swear your sisters will sleep through world war III.” Naomi then looked over at Carrie, “Honey, thank you for saving my son’s life tonight but maybe you should go get a shower and change. Come on with ya, I want to get those clothes in the washer before all that blood sets.” And with those words, Carrie was ushered into the bathroom and as soon as she had her clothes off, Naomi whisked them away with a promise of bringing her a robe just as soon as she got those soaking.

Carrie ran the water as hot as she could stand it and then stayed under the soothing spray until the shaking and the tears stopped. She didn’t even hear Naomi come in and leave a long warm robe on the back of the door.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Place to Call Home - Twelve


The bathroom door was thick, but if she pressed her ear to it, she could just make out the confusion and yelling outside. Once some tried the door but gave up when it didn’t open and they banging got no response from inside.

Totally baffled by all the goings on, she wondered if it was rush hour or something. Then she remembered the speech the president was giving when she turned off the radio. She pulled out the radio and wound it up, slipping the ear piece into her ear.

Static was all she heard. She spent a good half hour trying to get a station to come in but finally gave up. She figured that the radio waves couldn’t get through the walls of the bathroom. The bathrooms were sandwiched in between a large walk in cooler that held all the “coldest beer in town” and what might have been the office.

Carrie pressed her ear once again to the door and didn’t hear anything. Thinking that maybe it might be safe to venture out, she sent a prayer up asking for protection and wisdom and quickness if she needed to lock herself in again. Then she turned the bolt and stepped out of the bathroom. She didn’t see anyone, but the place was a mess. She made her way to the front counter and noticed that the closed sign had been flipped to the outside. She tried the door, it was locked and it needed a key to unlock it.

Well, maybe there is a back door. She thought. And so she started to make her way to the back and thinking that no one was there, she didn’t know who was startled more, herself or the guy who had his head in a closet and was bringing out a broom and dust pan.

They both shrieked at the same time and the guy almost lost his grip on the broom. The dust pan went flying and landed on the wall. He stuck the broom out in a defensive position and pretty much yelled “who are you? How did you get in here?”

Before he could swing the broom at her, Carrie spoke up “I’m sorry, I was in the bathroom and then there were so many people, I’m sorry, I kinda freaked out and so locked myself back in there. I’m sorry, I’ll leave…really, I’m so so sorry….I don’t mean any harm.”

The guy could see that the young ….was it a girl? Yeah, it was a girl…was shaken. He felt a twinge of guilt for scaring her.

“Ok, ok. Look, I got to get this mess cleaned up and there is no way I’m unlocking that door right now. I’m thankful that the glass is bullet proof. That was a mean crowd; I thought for sure they were going to tear me apart. This isn’t your fault. Heck I wish I could have hid.”

“What happened?” Carrie asked.

“It was that stupid announcement by the president that has all the folks riled up. They are out spending like fools so they can hide in their homes and …as one guy said…hold out against them ...well excuse me, I won’t repeat what he called them…the UN forces and that new NSA. It ain’t right them trying to take away guns from folks, it’s our constitutional right to bear arms and the real people of this country are not taking the threat lightly.”

Carrie didn’t know what to think. She had never really had any kinds of guns in her life and now that she thought about it, she was glad her mom didn’t have one.

Carrie decided that since she really didn’t want to go back outside until she figured out what to do, she would make nice with this guy. Sticking her hand out, she said “My name is Carrie.”

The guy shook her hand “mine is Roger.”

“I don’t suppose you could use some help? Could you?” Carrie asked.

“May as well, I don’t think it would be in the best interest of either of us to go out there. They didn’t really mad until I turned the pumps off. They were just filling up and driving off! Lord knows just how much gas was stolen.” Roger shook his head sadly.

They worked steadily for two hours cleaning up the mess that the people had made. There was a lot of waste but a surprising amount of things that had just been knocked around or off a shelf.

“Thank the Lord they didn’t get into the back store room.” Roger said “Then we would have had a bigger mess.” The store had just received a delivery about two hours before the president had made his announcements but Roger hadn’t had time to begin to stock anything, so he had just locked up the store room and worked the counter. Mornings were pretty brisk anyways since many stopped in for morning coffee and gas. He usually did the stocking in the slower afternoons.

“How long have you had this place?” Carrie asked.

Roger scratched his chin, which was in need of a shave. “Well, my dad really owns it. I’m working here during the mornings and afternoons and then take online college courses. Man, dad is really gonna be mad.” He looked thoughtful for a moment and then said “I wonder why he hasn’t called?” He walked over to the counter and turned on the small TV that was up on a small shelf. “It don’t have cable but the local news should be covering something about all this.”

“….has grounded to a halt with all the riots.

Well Bill, things are even worse in the bigger cities. UN forces have combined with the new NSA to control the swelling protestors.”

A pretty young woman was speaking to a man who looked like he was in a war zone.

“You’re right Olivia, but these protestors have quickly turned into looters and there are no UN forces here to help control the crowds. Local authorities are doing their best but these are their friends and families and so are hesitant to use force. Most shop owners have locked up and quite a few are pulling out their now illegal firearms to protect their property. So far no arrests have been made that we know of but I’ve heard a few gunshots.”

“Bill you be careful out there. What is happening behind you?”

Bill turned from the camera as Roger and Carrie watched horrified as a pickup was seen speeding towards Bill and the camera. Well it looked like it but the truck was really headed for the store next to where the reporter was standing. The camera turned and followed the truck as it plowed into the store front. Above Carrie could read the sign that said “Allen’s Gun Shop”.

Roger turned down the TV and pulled the phone over; he hit the numbers but then frowned. He clicked the hang up button a couple times and then said “It’s dead”.

Digging under the counter, he pulled out a cell phone and hit a couple numbers, “I have my Dad on speed dial, but don’t ever tell him that.” He said. His attempt at humor didn’t quite work. Carrie gave a sick half smile.

“Dad….yes yes, I’m fine…no … the shop is all locked up……yes, I’m fine, I swear…..what? …oh, ok….. but dad…….DAD! There is this girl here, she got locked in by mistake……………no, well, now I know who she is….ok ok…geeze……………..well, I don’t think she has anywhere to go really……..” Roger moved the phone from his mouth and asked Carrie “do you have somewhere to be?”

“Nowhere that I can get to fast or easy. I’m on my way to Arkansas.”

Roger put the phone back to his mouth, “Dad…..Dad! what’s going on? She is? Well, we both know how mom is……………….ok, that’s good I’m glad they made it home from school…….ok. If she will, I will. Ok dad, yeah yeah, I love you too…………………..yes I heard her, tell mom I’ll be careful……and yes, I love her too…..ok, see ya soon.”

Roger closed the small phone and looked at Carrie “Well, my dad thinks I that I should drag you home with me like some Neanderthal and not give you a say in the matter. He thinks things are going to get really bad and wants me to lock this place up tight and head home. But I’m not your boss and from the looks of things, you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. But you are welcome to come with me. I do have a couple bratty sisters who love to bug me. They are 12 and 14 but basically they are pretty cool. Don’t tell them that I said that, I’ll never live it down.” He said with a grin.

Carrie didn’t know what to do. She had already taken two chances with strangers and while so far, Roger had been very nice; she didn’t want to kid herself and think that she would be blessed by every stranger she met.

“I’ll tell you what,” Roger began “there still is some clean up to do and I have to close the shutters across the windows. They are from before we had the bullet proof glass and are a pain in the butt to close. But if I don’t, my dad will have my hide.” He looked at her and could see that she was hesitant to go with him, so he continued “and you can just think about it while we finish up. Besides you’ve helped me and so my family and I really owe you at least dinner or something.” He flashed her his most honorable grin.

Carrie rolled her eyes and laughed at him. “You are really silly. I can see why your sisters love to torment you. Ok, let’s finish up and I’ll think about it.”

Roger was right, the shutters were a pain in the butt and it took both of them to get them locked down properly. Carrie was plum tuckered out when they finished up. They were back in the back room where all the cleaning supplies and a small break area were. This is also where the back door was and Roger’s truck was parked right outside.

“I’m not sure what Dad is going to do about this place and what’s left in it. Maybe things will die down and we’ll be able to open again in a day or two. If not, I’m sure we’ll come back and clean it all out.” He looked at Carrie “Well, have you decided? I promise I don’t bite. And don’t forget, we owe you.”

Carrie replied “If you would let me borrow your phone for a minute, I really need to make a call. And then we’ll be even and if I could buy just a few things for my trip, I’d be much appreciative. But I really don’t want to be a bother to you and your family. So I’ll be on my way.”

Even Roger could tell that the girl was exhausted. “Ok, I understand. I’ll tell you what. Here’s my phone and while you make your call, I gather up what you need. Just tell me what you are looking for. You pretty much know what we have left here but we do have a bunch of stuff in the back, here follow me.”

They both walked back out and down towards the bathrooms. At the last door, Roger found a key on his key ring and unlocked the door. Inside were two pallets of goods still saran wrapped. Using a box cutter off of a nearby table, Roger cut the saran.

“Look, even if you left right now, you would have to go through town and it’s still a mess out there. Not really a good place to be right now.” Roger began, as an idea formed in his head “if you don’t feel comfortable going with me to my home, what if you were to stay here? Would you feel safe here?”

Carrie looked shocked, “No, I don’t want to be here by myself if someone wanted to break in. If they want in bad enough, they’ll get in.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right. So actually you’re only choice …your safest choice…is to come with me. But we’ll get you stocked up first.”

Carrie felt like she had just been somehow bamboozled into going with him. She laughed, shook her head, and said “ok, I’ll go with you.”

“I knew you couldn’t resist my charm.”

Carrie picked out the few things she knew would fit in her pack and tried to pay for them, but Roger insisted that it was nothing compared to the help she had given him that afternoon.

She then remembered that she still had his phone in her hand and while he set the alarm, she sat in his truck and dialed Lady Jane.


“Hi Lady Jane, it’s me Carrie.”

“Oh Carrie thank God you are ok, where are you? We’ve been so worried.”

“I’m in a little town, and don’t worry; I’m fine.”

They chatted for a few minutes and Carrie got her all caught up on what had happened since she had last talked to her. Roger had gotten into the truck and they were on the road. He listened to Carrie’s side of the conversation and didn’t feel a bit guilty eavesdropping.

“Yes, Lady Jane I’m being careful; although I am right now riding in a truck with an almost complete stranger, he seems nice enough.”

“You give him the phone right this minute, I want a word with him.”

“Ok, sure” Carrie smiled as she handed the phone to Roger “she would like to speak with you.”

Carrie could hear every word that Lady Jane said to Roger, she was speaking so loud. All Roger was able to get in was a “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” and “of course not ma’am” every once in a while. He was almost pasty looking when he handed the phone back to Carrie.

Carrie looked at the phone like it was a snake, Roger shoved it in her hand. “Hello?” Carrie began.

“Carrie dear, I know it’s none of my business but honey you really have to be less trusting of strangers. This Roger though does seem to be an ok guy. Just please promise me you’ll be careful, ok? Duke and Beautiful DO want to see you again someday and so do I.”

“Yes ma’am. I would love to see you guys too. I’ll be careful. I promise. Please give Duke and Beautiful lot’s of hugs and rubs for me, ok?”

“You’ve got it. And Carrie, I know about Sam and Rhonda, do you mind if I give them a call and let them know you are ok?”

“Oh, I don’t have their number. Could you please? I would appreciate it.” Carrie wondered how she had found out about them but didn’t really want to ask. Adults seemed to just know things sometimes.

“Of course dear. Now you call me again as soon as you can ok?”

“Ok, I will. Thank you Lady Jane. Bye for now.”

“Bye bye sweet heart.”

Carrie closed the phone and handed it back to Roger. “Thank you” she said.

“No problem, it’s the least I can do.”

The rest of the ride was quiet and both were deep in thought wondering what tomorrow would bring.

Roger and his family lived outside of town so they didn’t run into anyone causing trouble and made it there in about 15 minutes. It would have taken longer, but Roger was a little heavy on the gas pedal.

As soon as he pulled into the driveway, the front door was thrown open and what looked like a small army poured out into the yard head for the truck. Carrie didn’t get out. Roger hopped out and was smothered by someone who had to be his mother. She was the picture of what Carrie had always thought a real mother would look like. Apron around her amble waist, hair swept up into a bun on top of her head and a bosom big enough to smother someone…kinda like she was now doing with her son. Just when she thought Roger was a goner, he was released and two girls began to pull on him from both sides like they were trying to tear him in half.

Carrie could hear him insist that he was fine and then before she knew it, his mom was at her door and opening it. Immediately she began to cluck over Carrie like a hen with a chick and before Carrie could even defend herself, she was gently pulled out of the cab of the truck and being smothered herself. Roger’s mom must know exactly how long to hug because just when she thought she was going to die, she was released.

“Why you are just a young one! Poor thing, you look like you’d blow away in a good stiff wind. You just must come into the house, I’ve got supper ready. No, I’m not going to take no for an answer, you just come with me, I’ll make sure you are taken care of….” Carrie was carried away in the whorl-wind who insisted she call her Naomi.