Prologue

I’m not sure exactly what day this whole thing started. I never watched the news. I was a kid doing my own thing. I didn’t care what was happening around me as long as I could spend time with my friends. I remember my Dad saying how sad it was that a mother of three small children had died from the flu. Then someone else died, then someone else and then quarantine. Life fell apart after that.

We were told to stay in our homes. Stay away from other people. Don’t go out in the streets. Doctors were working on a cure. People panicked, they left town to get help from other hospitals. This was a mistake. Soon the news was filled with stories about epidemics, people dying by the hundreds, then the thousands.

My dad was a part of the homeland security team. He was working with the town government trying to keep things under control. Unfortunately, his efforts and the efforts of others didn’t help. The virus continued to spread. The death toll continued to rise and soon bodies began to pile up on the streets. It was awful. Our entire town smelled like death.

My mother died first. My heart hurt so bad. I wanted to die. My father was already sick. I could tell his heart was broken too. He died a couple of days later. I laid on my bed and cried for a couple of days hoping death would take me too. The only thing that took hold of me was hunger.

Children were left to survive on their own. Death prayed on the smallest children. Babies died in their cribs. Toddlers starved to death because they couldn’t get out of their homes. The older children began to ban together and form tribes. The Bear Tribe was formed when about a dozen children and I moved into the Bear Country High School on Lafayette Blvd. We survived but life wasn’t easy.

I have always wanted to be a writer. I think my Dad bought me my first journal when I was in the 1st grade. I have kept a journal ever since. This is my story. The following journal entries are a brief view of my life.

Madie Beartri

Start with Journal Entry 1

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Diary Entry 20

We have taken refuge in the cave. Xu and Palesa claim it is the safest place to be at the moment. They are doing a fine job at trying to keep people calm. I think my adrenaline level is off the scale. My heart feels like it is beating a thousand times a minute. Tony is so brave if he is afraid he isn’t showing it. The meteors continue to fly across the sky by the thousands. Several meteors ranging in size from marbles to baseballs have fallen in and around the Sequoia Tribe village. We were lucky that none of the meteors fell directly on any of the huts. Tony and I barely missed being obliterated from existence when one of the larger meteors fell and struck the ground in front of our hut. It was the first hint in the middle of the night that something was terribly wrong. The explosion was so loud that everyone in camp was knocked out of their beds. We gathered up our things as quickly as we could and went to the cave. There are fires everywhere. For several hours the meteors have been hitting the ground. It sounds like bombs exploding. Everyone is afraid. I am having my doubts that this cave is truly a safe place to be. I think I am feeling closterphobic. If a meteor hits the right spot we could be entombed here.

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Diary Entry 19

The rain finally stopped in the midmorning hours. We did not have to retreat to the cave. The skies are clear again. Mud puddles are everywhere. The children are enjoying the mud puddles to the dismay of their parents. There isn’t one child not covered in mud from head to toe. Bath time this evening should be interesting. I can understand their attraction to the mud. I couldn’t resist standing in one of the puddles myself. There is something undeniably fun about squishing mud between your toes.
The creek is significantly wider and deeper. All the smaller children were asked to stay away from the creek. Tony and Xu were fishing earlier. They both had to jump into the creek and retrieve a toddler that accidentally got caught in the fast flowing water while trying to retrieve a ball. The child is fine. A little water logged but fine.
Meteors continue to fly across the sky in amazing numbers. They have been flying across the sky all day. They look like little fire balls. It is no longer cool to see them fly across the sky. It is a little scary. Xu and Palesa held a meeting today. I think they are worried. I am worried and I know Tony is worried. Neither of us can remember every hearing about meteors of this size pacing by the earth. I wish the library trio (Marty, Gretchen and Cecelia) was available. They would know where to do research to get information. I have a feeling they would say something like “The last time meteors of this magnitude and numbers hit the earth the dinosaurs died out.” Scary thought.

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Diary Entry 18

Tony and I spent the morning fixing our hut to help keep out the wind and rain. We also added a canopy off the front and reinforced the sides. The hut sprung a leak over my bed last night. I think the fates don’t want me sleeping in my own bed. I tried to move my bed away from the leak but the hut is too small. It didn’t matter which direction I moved my bed. I was forced to crawl into bed with Tony. It’s not so bad he is pretty cuddly and doesn’t snore. If he objects he hasn’t mentioned it to me.
It has rained on and off all morning. The clouds move in and then they clear away. The sky looks dark over the far mountains. I think a big storm is moving in. Palesa said if things start to look bad we will have to move to the cave. I didn’t know we had a cave. Palesa said she would give Tony and I a tour as soon as her chores are done.
The meteor showers continue. I think the meteors are getting bigger and brighter. There was another light show last night before the clouds moved in and it started to rain. I am certain I saw a meteor fly across the sky when I was down by the creek earlier today. I didn’t know it was possible to see meteors during the day.

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Diary Entry 17

I hate being afraid. I hate irrational fear. I woke up in the middle of the night to thunder and lightening. I hate thunder and lightening. I tried to be brave and ignore the storm by hiding under my blankets but I couldn’t. Every time the lightening lit up the sky and the thunder clapped I nearly fell off my bed. I think I have a fear of being turned into a French fry. Tony never moved. He just lay there in his bed next to mine sleeping as if nothing life threatening was happening. I crawled into bed with Tony. He didn’t seem to mind. Actually I don’t even think he noticed I was there until I had stolen all the blankets in my attempt to hide from Mother Nature.
It has rained most of the day. Thankfully, the rain stopped a couple of hours ago and I am no longer drenched to the bone. There is almost nothing worse than being cold and wet for hours on end. The only thing good about the rain is that everything smells good afterward.
Tony is becoming a very skilled hunter. He spent most of the morning out in the rain with several of the other men trying to catch something big enough for dinner tonight. I spent most of the morning attempting to keep the fire going.

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Diary Entry 16

It took me most of the morning to wash and remove the ants from my bed linen. Those little ants were so tiny it was almost impossible to see some of them. Just a little note wet ants are harder to remove than dry ants. I hung everything up to dry and then cleaned the hut to make sure there weren’t any tiny stragglers hanging around.
There was another meteor shower this evening. It was so very cool. This shower lasted a lot longer than the one the other night. The meteors were larger and brighter this time. I was expecting a couple of the meteors to hit the ground with a loud boom. Tony said they all burn up before they hit the ground. Some times he can be a know it all.
I was holding little Kinsey, one of the smaller children during the light show. Kinsey is so cute she reminds me of one of those little statues you used to find in the Hallmark stores back before the virus. I can’t remember what those things were called. Kinsey fell asleep before the light show ended so I laid her on my bed. Don’t lay small children on your freshly washed bed linens. She peed all over my clean bed. Tony offered to let me share his bed again but asked that this time I didn’t wiggle around all night. I thought of saying that I wouldn’t have had to wiggle around all night long if he hadn’t put ants in my bed but I was afraid he might make me sleep on the dirt floor. So I said “Thank you” and jumped into my side of Tony’s bed.

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Diary Entry 15

Tony and I slept in the same hut next to each other in separate beds. At least, we did until someone decided to play a joke and put a couple berries in the center of my bed. I didn’t realize the berries were there until I started to feel the ants bite me. I jumped out of bed and stripped naked. I was trying to get all the ants off and prevent further biting. Tony thought my little ant dance was funny. I didn’t think it was funny and when I get the chance Tony is going to pay. Tony swears he did not put the berries in my bed but I have my doubts. I had to remind him a couple of times yesterday not to eat in the hut.
The ants were very tiny but they left a couple dozen welts on my legs and abdomen. I made Tony share his bed because mine was inhabited by a colony of ants. I told him if he laid one hand on me during the night he was a dead man. I think he knew I was mad. He was a gentleman all night long. Neither one of us got much sleep. The ant bites itched and stung. I couldn’t get comfortable. I tossed and turned most of the night. Palesa gave me some salve to put on the bites this morning.

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Diary Entry 14

Sometimes the days you are expecting to be long and boring turn out to be something else entirely. I spent the day keeping the smaller children occupied. I didn’t want this particular chore but Palesa said it was my turn. I asked if I could change chores with someone else. I would be willing to gather wood and get rid of the garbage. Palesa smiled at me and said NO.
So I spent the day with the little ones. At first I had no clue what to do to keep them occupied. I tried just letting them play but they kept arguing with each other over the littlest things. I tried making up stories off the top of my head but my brain wasn’t working so well. The stories were boring and putting me to sleep. The children were bored as well. I couldn’t keep their attention. Suddenly an idea hit me in the head. Actually, it was a pinecone thrown by one of the children that missed its target but an idea is an idea.
I introduced my little friends to the pinecone people. Before it was midmorning we had an entire village outlined in the dirt with rocks and populated with pinecone citizens of every shape and size. Our city continued to grow thru out the day. We kept having to clear more land so that we could outline more buildings, bridges, roads, and lakes. By mid afternoon we had help from several of the older children and most of the tribe seniors.
Am I good or what?

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Diary Entry 13

Tony and I were out of bed early this morning. I have been sleeping so well. I think it is the constant fresh air I am being exposed to. Tony was getting ready to go hunting with the men when Palesa stopped him in his tracks and said that she had a different chore for the both of us today. Tony was a little disappointed but he didn’t argue. I think Palesa is trying to match make. She thinks she is being sneaky but she isn’t. Palesa sent Tony and I grocery shopping today to collect berries, mushrooms, wild onions and hickory nuts. It was our chore for the day and I enjoyed it. Palesa drew a couple of nice pictures to show us what we were looking for. It was a fun adventure if you don’t include the invasion of ants that attacked Tony while he was up one of the trees and the large spider that climbed up my arm while I was picking berries.

You should have seen Tony climb the trees. At first I was thinking we were going to return to the village without the nuts but after a few tries Tony actually made it up into the trees. Palesa told us not to collect the nuts off the ground (she made sure we understood this point) because they were usually rotten and often contain more insects than the nuts still on the trees. The berries were pretty simple to collect and Palesa said as long as we picked only the mushroom she had drawn we wouldn’t pick anything deadly. She suggested we didn’t sample any until we returned to the village just to be safe. It has been a very good day.

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Diary Entry 12

It has been a fun day. The longer I am here the more I think this is the perfect place to live. I was sitting on a log near the creek thinking about life when Palesa came up behind me and wanted to know if I wanted to see a wedding ceremony. Oh course my answer was “yes”.

The Sequoia tribe has an interesting way of finalizing wedding vows. The ceremony was actually quite beautiful. The bride and the groom were lovely and looked so happy. Like our wedding ceremonies back at Bear Country there were lit candles, a lovely speech, songs about love and blessings. Everyone gave the happy couple a blessing of happiness even the smaller children. At the end of the ceremony the couple stripped naked, jumped into the waterfalls and bathed each other as everyone cheered them on. It was very sweet and a unique experience to watch.

After the ceremony Palesa asked me about the ceremony Tony and I had. She was just curios about how my world handled weddings. I had to tell her that Tony and I aren’t married. He is my friend. A couple of times he has been more than my friend. We have a bond to each other but we aren’t married. Palesa was a little surprised. She said the way we act toward each other she just assumed we had made a life time commitment. Maybe someday Tony and I will make a lifetime commitment to each other but for now I am still hurting over the death of Yates. Tony has made it clear that he loves me but he understands that I need a little time.

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Diary Entry 11

I am enjoying my stay. I think I could stay here forever. The Sequoia’s have a simple life but it is a good life. Everyone shares everything. Everyone has chores. No one fights. The small children run around play and act as if they don’t have a care in the world. Palesa is an inspiration. She has so much energy and a good heart. I watched her mend hurt feelings when one of the smaller children couldn’t keep up in a game of keep away. All the children go to school. Palesa said that everyone learns to read. Story time is one of the highlights of the day for the younger children.

Tony is enjoying his hunting trips with the men and has been helping Xu with the mending of shelters. I think he is enjoying his time here also. I love the evenings out here. The stars are so bright. Last night we say a meteor shower that lasted more than an hour. One of the smallest children brought the meteors to our attention. It was so cool. The children all giggled in delight every time they saw a bright light fly across the sky. Tony and I also enjoyed the show. When we were certain the show was over the smaller children were sent to bed. The evening hours are so peaceful.

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