Chapter 3-- Losses and Gains
The smell of hot coffee tickled Roni’s nose and slowly brought her out of the depths of sleep where the nightmares were of the walking dead. Not being any kind of rational person before coffee; she slipped out of her sleeping bag, sat up and reached over to her bag and pulled out a cup and held it out to Kevin since he was the one who had the pot in his hands pouring himself a cup.
“I see I have another non-morning person to deal with.” he said, laughing softly, as he nodded over in his brother’s direction. Brock was also barely out of his sleeping bag and already held a steaming cup of Joe between his hands and was sipping on it.
“Bless you Kevin” whispered Roni as the warmth began to flow through her from the cup she held.
“You are gonna really love me when I tell you that the showers are now working over there in the bathrooms. As you can see, I’ve already availed myself of them.”
Roni squinted up at him with one eye open, and saw that indeed he looked freshly laundered. That perked her up almost as much as the coffee was. She quickly downed the rest of the cup, handed it to Kevin and said “I’ll be back in ten.” And grabbing her bag, off she went to the bathroom. As the hot water began to ease the aches of sleeping on the ground, she briefly thought about having to ask him later just how he had gotten them working but for now, she was going to get clean!
The three had gotten to know each other the previous night as they ate venison steaks and hot peach cobbler. Kevin and Brock had both been employed at Scaled Composites, a small company at the Mojave Airport and had worked on the Voyager and the new prototype private space ship. Their mom and dad lived in Durango, CO and they were hoping that their two sisters were there already since they lived a lot closer. Their mother’s mother also lived on the farm with their parents.
Last night, during supper, they told many stories about their crazy Gramma, her childhood with 13 brothers and sisters, her remarkable ability to find lost items, and how she loved being a pack rat. But Roni could tell they loved their Gramma especially when they told how she was the one that instilled the love of bugs, lizards, bats, and snakes in them. Roni had to grin when they spoke of all the concoctions their Gramma would have them drink when they got sick. That got her to talking about how her and her sisters had been orphaned at a young age and split up, but how they were able to meet together at Momma Sue’s and how Momma Sue taught them all about the world of plants and healing. She even told them about her window and how hard it had been to make and how it was destroyed.
Breakfast was hot instant oatmeal and more coffee while the three of them decided just how to go about scavenging the campsites.
“I think that we need to check all the vehicles for gas first and see if we can’t find a cooler to put the rest of the meat in.” said Brock, while trying real hard not to stare at Roni.
“Sounds good, what other things do we need to be looking for?” asked Kevin.
“Any canned goods, blankets, tools, and things like that.” spoke up Roni. “But I really don’t think we will find too much that we will be able to use since to me, it looked like whoever did the killings also took all the usable things.”
The three of them did decide to go ahead and get out of the park that day and that they would check the campsites that lay between them and the east exit of the park. They all thought they would feel much better getting out of the park with all the dead. They just went ahead and wrapped up the extra meat as good as they could and hoped they would find a cooler. When they stopped for the night, they would just go ahead and cook and eat as much as they could anyways. They ended up putting the extra gas cans of Roni’s into the back of the jeep, but she wouldn’t part with anything else.
They did manage to find some gas that had gotten over looked by whoever had killed everyone. There was some left in one of the auxiliary gas tanks of a truck that was hooked to a fifth wheel camper. They had just enough to top off the jeep’s tank and one of the extra gas cans.
They also found a cooler that had the lid broke off, but otherwise intact. A couple of bungee cords held the lid down and the rest of the venison fit inside nicely.
The death and destruction in Yosemite Park was long behind them by late afternoon when they stopped to find more gas. They had followed the 120 all the way to highway 6 which they followed into Nevada.
“I hope we are able to get enough gas out of these cars to fill all our tanks up.” Said Brock as they looked around at the three lone cars that were the first ones they had seen in almost an hour. They ended up with a full tank for Roni’s motorcycle and just over three fourths of a tank in the jeep. But their extra gas cans were empty.
“Well, it’s only about another hour to my friend’s house. We should have enough.” said Roni as they finished gathering all the gas. “And we may just find some more cars on the way.”
“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m starving.” Said Kevin “Let’s go ahead and get us something to eat and rest for a bit.”
“I know I could use some more coffee, I’m needing a caffeine jolt in a bad way.” said Brock.
“Ok, that is a good idea, I’ll need my strength also because my friends tend to be a bit paranoid and we may have to convince them we are friendly.” Roni said in a teasing tone.
After a quick, but nourishing meal, complete with hot coffee, thanks to a small can of sterno; the three loaded back up and headed back up the road. Roni was taking the lead since she knew where the cut off was to her friends house.
About 30 miles down the road, Roni began to slow down. They hadn’t seen any other vehicles at all. Kevin and Brock could see that she was looking for something in the south side of the road. They watched as she pulled off onto a faint dirt road that was barely visible and the guys wouldn’t even have seen it if she hadn’t pointed it out. Roni waited as the guys pulled up next to her in the jeep.
When Roni lifted her visor, Brock could see right away that she was worried. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I’m not sure, there usually is a log that lays across the road…that log right there as a matter of fact.” she said as she pointed to a long log at least seven feet long and about half a foot wide. “That log is ALWAYS across the road.” Roni got off the bike and walked over to the log. She bent over and ran her hand over the farthest end of the log. When she stood back up, she had a wire in her fingers.
“This is supposed to be hooked to an early warning alarm system with a bell at the end. It has been cut. I think we need to stash the jeep and bike and walk in very carefully and be ready for anything. You guys don’t have to go with me, but I have to check on my friends. Lana is pregnant and I reckon she is due in about a week. If everything was ok, they would have already fixed this.”
Brock and Kevin looked at each other and then Brock said “Where do we stash the vehicles?”
Roni gave them a relieved smile and said “Follow me.” She then got on her bike and got back on the road and led them to a small rest area that had another faint dirt road that led off the back. They only drove about 15 minutes and they were in a very small clearing. They parked the jeep and bike next to each other. Roni went off into the brush for a moment and came back with a bundle of camouflage netting. She just grinned and the guys didn’t even ask how she knew it was there.
After covering the vehicles, they decided what to take. Roni took her backpack with the first aid kit in it and her gun and whip. She asked the guys if they wanted the guns that she had taken from the creeps who broke her window and they said no, they had their own. She kept them in her pack. They all took water bottles and then set off. Roni took the lead and followed a small game trail. They ended up going into a canyon and climbing the back wall of it. She stopped at the top, crouched down. Brock and Kevin joined her and they all caught their breath. Kevin let out a low whistle as the three looked down into the next canyon.
It would have looked like the Garden of Eden itself, if it weren’t for the dozen or so dead bodies laying around the yard.
“Oh my God, that is Marcus there on the porch. And that one over there by the Ford Truck looks like Lana’s ex husband- Eddie.”
“What ever happened, it looks like it is over and we should get down there and check it out. But still let’s try to be quiet and quick.” said Brock. And the three of them went down into the canyon as quietly and quickly as they could. When they got to the yard, they checked each body as they came to it, they all were dead. It looked like the gun fight had just happened that morning. All three had their guns drawn and ready to fire. Roni climbed the steps to the front porch and checked Marcus. He was also gone. She headed into the house.
“Lana!? Tracey!?” she hollered. Tracey was Lana’s and Marcus’s four year old daughter. Kevin and Brock came in right behind her and together they cleared the first floor and then headed upstairs.
“Lana!” Roni called again and she heard a small whimper coming from the master bedroom. She quickly went in and stepped to the side scanning the room. Tracey was there by her mothers side on the bed, crying. There was blood all over the bed.
Tracey cried “Aunt Roni, help mommy! Please.”