Trina was sitting on the floor in the corner of the kitchen right by the fridge and elbow deep in a half gallon of Dutch Fudge Chocolate ice cream with Brownie Bit’s when the power went out.
“Well, crap! That’s all I need, stupid power to go out after all that I’ve been through today!” She didn’t stop eating the ice cream, just carried it with her as she grudgedly began to search the drawers and cupboards for a candle or flashlight. She found two flashlights, neither of which had any working batteries. She did find one lighter that was almost empty and a half a book of matches. Finally, between mouth watering bites of the rich and thick frozen treat; she located a small box of tea light candles that had three left in it. She lit one and placed it on the kitchen table then sat down and finished off the ice cream.
An hour later, the power still wasn’t on and Trina wandered around the house, now stuffing double stuffed Oreos in her mouth since the ice cream was gone. She even went out to her back porch and looked over the town. No lights were on anywhere.
She paused mid-crunch “What the heck? It’s so quiet out here”. She went back through her small but tidy house to the front porch. “There will be people driving around town; they always do that when the power goes out at night.” She sighed loudly and grabbed the half gallon of chocolate milk off the kitchen counter as she walked through the kitchen on her way to the front porch.
Once outside again, she didn’t see any cars or vehicles on the roads. Not one headlight. She did see two of her three neighbors sitting out on their front porches, so she sunk down on the old rocker that had belonged to her great grandma still munching on Oreos and sipping chocolate milk. No one ever came out of Miss Rose’s house.
She must have sat for a good half hour when she began to doze off and still hadn’t seen anyone drive by or even walking. Her neighbors had gone back in shortly after she came out without even a wave her way. Sighing again loudly she went back into her house and locked up behind her.
Her house was small but very well built. It had thick stone and solid oak walls that made heating and cooling relatively cheap for the area. The walls of all the rooms had cedar paneling that made Trina think of the 60’s or 70’s…or sometime before she had been born.
The eight foot fence that surrounded the house was a thick stone wall topped off with three feet of wrought iron work with some wicked looking spikes topping it all off. The fence was built by her granddad about two months after the riots in the
late sixties. The combination of the high porch and iron work allowed her to look out over the neighborhood from the porch.
She loved her home. It was on the very edge of town and on a bluff that looked out over the town and the surrounding valley. She was the last one left in her family. Both her parents were dead, killed in a car crash just four years ago while she was in college. She always regretted never having a brother or sister but her mom had explained to her that after Trina’s birth there were complications and an emergency hysterectomy had been done due to excessive bleeding. Later it was found out that the doctor was to blame and under the influence of illegal drugs at the time. It was only due to the nurses close attention and intervention that both Trina and her mom even survived. And because smaller towns were what they were, no lawyer would take the case and Trina’s parents simply thanked God that they had survived with their lives and got on with them.
This house had been in her family for four generations, built by her great-grandparents long ago; she wasn’t sure of the year right now but she had an attic full of treasured memories and the house was filled with heirlooms that while might not bring a lot of money, did hold a lot of family memories.
Trina herself was about 5 foot 7 and over weight by a good 50 pounds and while she wasn’t really happy with her form, she simply felt that she didn’t have time to go to the gym five days a week. Food was her weakness and she didn’t think she had the will power to give up eating those things she really liked. She liked to believe it was genetic since her mom and dad both had been heavy. “Healthy” was how her mom used to describe them. She had long dark hair that she kept pulled up with a clip and wore glasses that hid her deep green eyes. She was actually pretty but didn’t feel the need to get all “gussied up” like some of the girls she saw.
She didn’t think she was very pretty so did not see the need to try to pretend she was. Instead she worked hard and spent time with her hobby. She loved to write and had literally hundreds of notebooks filled with all kinds of stories. She was able to forget about her worries for awhile when she wrote.
Besides eating comforted her and it was about the only thing that did. And she always managed to sound reasonable about food, like today for example. She was feeling really lousy because after 3 years of hard work and loyalty, she got fired! And for no reason at all! And she didn’t have much recourse because she lived in a “right to work” state and any employer could fire any employee and not have a reason to! So she needed some comforting. Lord knows she didn’t have a boyfriend or husband to comfort her. All her boss would say is that he was giving her an extra hundred bucks and for her to spend it wisely.
Finally after almost an hour of sheer boredom by simply wandering through the house from basement to attic, she put all the junk food she had been eating away and curled up on the sofa to fall into restless sleep.
The night was long and filled with nightmares. Her bad day seemed to trigger the monsters from her past. She had not had them since her parents were killed and they came with just as much horror as they did when she first began to have them at the age of 12.
She woke all blurried eyed and said out loud to herself “Darn nightmares are bad, but not as bad as the real thing!”
Morning light came through the curtains in a watery vagueness and Trina stumbled into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. It was only when she tried to turn on the coffee maker that she realized that the power was still out.
“Well, crap! What the heck is going on; power hasn’t been out this long since before I can remember” she mumbled to herself as she flipped the kitchen light switch up and down then opened and closed the refrigerator. She noticed that things were starting to get warm and looking in the freezer, saw that the few packages of meat and veggies were beginning to defrost. She quickly closed the
fridge again and turned around in bewilderment.
She went out to the front yard to look around and see if any of her neighbors had any information about when the power would be back on.
The first thing she noticed was the smoke coming from downtown. It looked like there were at least a dozen fires going. And the smoky haze had a strange tint to it. She looked at the three houses that shared her street and didn’t see anyone at her neighbor’s homes. She turned around to head back into the house when there was a bright flash that out shone the weak morning sunshine. Trina jerked and fell into the door post.
“What the heck?” she said as she began to turn back around carefully. “That light felt like it went right through me…..Oh MY GOD!“ she began to yell out loud. Whipping around she searched the Horizon and finally THERE -the top of a huge cloud could just be seen far to the south.
“We’ve been nuked! No Way! Oh my God –oh my God- oh my God!!! They’ve hit the air force base. Oh my God….think Trina! Think! That’s got to be about 45 or so miles away…. Crap, what do I do? I’ve never ever thought I would be in a situation like this.”
She ran back into the house and began trying very hard to not panic. She didn’t succeed very well.
Finally since she was beginning to lose her mind, she forced herself to simply stop and think.
“Ok, think Trina. Somewhere I read that a nuclear bomb would have radiation for many miles. So I need to find a safe place to stay until the fallout is gone.
Ok…..basement? Well, that will have to do since I don’t know anyone with a fallout shelter. Basement has no windows and I can go into the part that Gramma used to call the root cellar…it’s a bit deeper into the ground and I can close all the doors.”
“I’ll probably need to be down there for at least a few months. So I need food and water…..the well is down there and the laundry room so I should have water covered… Ok…let me drag all the food down there….”
Trina spent the next 15 minutes taking all the food from the kitchen downstairs to the root cellar. That was after she spent 30 minutes looking for something that would light the way. She finally found an old Coleman lantern in the garage that her dad had. She also found four of the small bottles of fuel that it used. She snagged the small hibachi grill that was by the lantern. She didn’t hesitate to take the cooler to put the food from the fridge in.
She then drug the mattress off the bed that was in her childhood bedroom because it was the only twin mattress in the house. She hadn’t slept on it since her parents died. She had moved into their room to feel closer to them. She then gathered up blankets and pillows. She figured she would need something to eat on, so she gathered up some dishes and dish soap from the kitchen.
After she was downstairs she tried to think what a day down there would be like. Then it hit her that there might be more things in the garage that she could use and why did she NOT look in those totes that her dad used when he went hunting while she had been in the garage?
“I have no clue if I’m being radiated right now….Oh God! Why can’t I go faster?”
It felt like it was taking her forever to get things together. She was breathing very hard and her heart was pounding. The sweat was beginning to drip off her face and her shirt was wet with it. She was suffering from the exertion and the anxiety.
Someone must have been looking out for her since no fallout was by her home yet. The wind was blowing in a southerly direction but there had been another nuclear bomb that hit about 120 miles north of her so fallout was on the way and she had only about another 20 minutes before it hit her home.
Back in the garage that was right off the kitchen through the small coat and mud room, Trina went to the two totes that her dad had always taken with him when he went deer hunting. Pulling one off the shelf, she set it on the floor and opened it up. Inside was what looked like a sleeping bag and pad and some kind of coffee kettle and what Trina thought must be what her dad used to call a “mess kit”. But there were also matches and two flashlights. She dug through the top things and found some batteries. She flicked one of the flashlights on, no light shone. She changed out the batteries, crossed her fingers mentally, and tried again: light shone. She closed the tote but kept the flashlight out and carried it to the basement steps and went back for the other one. Fearing she was almost out of time but not wanting to drag useless junk downstairs, she quickly peeked into the second tote. It looked like more fuel and some box thing. “Could that be a camping stove?” she thought. She immediately decided she would take it downstairs. Back to the stair well she went with it. Before she went down for the last time, she again walked around the house making sure all the windows and doors were locked up tight. Then she drug first one and then the other tote down into the place she planned on staying for a while, closing the basement door behind her. She wanted so bad to take some books or at least some notebooks and pencils with her but she knew she would waste all the batteries and fuel to have light to read and write by. She made sure she would not be tempted by taking them. She knew that her will power was not that good.
Once she was in the basement, she took her time and began to organize her supplies in the root cellar. She decided she would eat the things from the fridge today and tomorrow. Before she closed herself into the root cellar, she decided to look around the basement for anything she might need. She found a couple empty five gallon buckets and a box of black trash bags, “I guess I can use these for a toilet” she thought. And she found a roll of duct tape. “Wasn’t there something about taping up doors or something the government was saying a couple years ago?” She took the tape and went back up the stairs and taped all around the door.
“I don’t know if that will help, but it makes me feel better…I think” she said to herself.
Once inside the root cellar, she organized all her supplies. She had the other five gallon bucket full of fresh water from the sink by the washer and had decided to only go out in the basement to refill it. Thankfully she had grabbed the calendar off the kitchen wall and in one of her dad’s totes was an old fashion wind up clock. She decided she would keep track of the days using these. In the bottom of the second tote were five boxes of food that looked like compact meals.
All together she figured she had enough food to last her the two months if she only ate one small meal a day.
“Well, I always talk about going on a diet, guess this time I can’t cheat! I’ll either have to do it or die!”