I Dreamt about being home again last night. I swear I could almost feel and smell the clean sheets. It felt like a weekend. One of those mornings when you had a great nights sleep. A familiar smell wakes you. My mom was in the kitchen making her famous biscuits. I miss those biscuits. I miss the strawberry jam. I don’t know what woke me from my dream but it was a let down when I realized it wasn’t real.
I take back the “I’m bored” thing. We held a meeting tonight to discuss what could be done about our missing fuel. The consensus was nothing. Asking for the fuel back wasn’t an option, taking the fuel back wasn’t an option, although two people who shall remain nameless thought we should storm central and take it back. Can you say Matt and Jonas. This was voted down because of the possibility of casualties, on our side. We decided to install a security detail during the night hours. Everyone over the age of 12 would be required to keep watch at two hour intervals. Our resources are few and we don’t need to be loosing anything else. We have strength in numbers and we can protect ourselves when necessary.
At the meeting we also discussed the up and coming festival. Like last year we plan to have a feast, music and games. The Journal club will be putting up fliers to announce the event to the community. Everyone is invited, except for central of course. With luck they won’t grace us with their presence at this year’s event.
“Thanks for coming! Madie said as she welcomed everyone to the meeting.
“I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I only have a couple of things on the agenda today. The Central Bobcats have taken our winter fuel. We need to replace what we’ve lost. I’m looking for volunteers. I need three or four people to travel to Wolf Valley. “
In a display of “I am king of the warriors”, Matt interrupts the meeting by jumping on top of a center table. “Why travel all the way to Wolf Valley? We know where our fuel is. The Bobcats have it.” He raised a fist into the air. “Let’s take back what’s ours!”
The calm silent room broke into cheers of “Fight!. .Fight!.. FIGHT!”
“Wait!. Stop!.. QUIET!” Madie yelled.
“Who hasn’t seen what the Bobcats did to Tony? He’s one of our best fighters and the Bobcats almost turned him into hamburger. Most of us in this room couldn’t fight our way out of a paper bag! You’re all idiots with a death wish! Every one of the Bobcats are twice the size of our biggest man.”
Madie took a deep breath. Her face was on fire. “I know everyone wants to pummel Central and take back what’s ours. I want that too! However, we are not strong enough. Sheriff Kincaid stopped by for a visit. He promised me he would take care of the Central Bobcats.”
Jonas stepped forward in support of his brother. “What’s Kincaid going to do? Slap the Hulk on the hand and say play nice with others?”
Everyone in the room laughed.
Madie quieted the room. “I don’t know what Kincaid’s plans are. He didn’t say but risking the lives of everyone in this school is stupid. We don’t need to fight the Central Bobcats. We can travel to Wolf valley and replace the fuel.”
Marty spoke up “Wolf Valley is nearly 8 miles from here; longer, if we travel around the Red Hyena territory instead of going through it. “
“Look, I know it’s a pain and inconvenient.” Madie jumped up on the table next to Matt. “If it was any other tribe or gang I would say, “Let’s fight and take back what’s ours.”
Why don’t we fight?” Matt said in reply.
“Because…if we fight one or more of us will die. I don’t want to die. Do you want to die, Matthew?”
“Why don’t we vote on it?” Cecelia said from across the room.
“Yes, why don’t we vote on it, Madeline?” Matt said in reply.
Madie stepped away from Matt and throw up her hands. “Fine, we’ll vote.” “Everyone who wants to fight the Central Bobcats in a fight to the death raise your hands.”
Matt, Jonas and a few reluctant others raised their hands into the air. JT counted aloud and wrote the number 6 on the black board.
Madie smiled and cleared her throat. “All those in favor of making a trip to Wolf Valley please raise your hands” Madie looked at the sea of hands and smiled at Matt.
“It looks like I am going to need those volunteers.”
Matt, Jonas and a couple of their supporters stormed out of the room. The meeting continued without them.
There’s trouble in Bear Country.
Scat came running down the admin hall before sun up this morning yelling at the top of his lungs.
“Get up, Get up. They took our fuel. They took our fuel. “
I jumped off the couch and tackled him in the hallway.
“Ok, Ok, Ok, we get the point.” I yelled back.
By this time everyone residing in the admin hall was awake and standing in the hallway. Sleepy eyes everywhere and no one was in a very joyful mood.
Scat tried to squirm out of my hold.
“Tony, …Tony’s hurt. They beat him up.”
Tony is our engineer. He lives in the basement. He has been my friend(sort of) since before the world turned upside down. We didn’t run in the same circles but we had several classes together. He always asked my opinions on homework assignments. I used to wish he would ask me out on a date. Unfortunately, he was dating a cheerleader. He isn’t very sociable these days but he is very good at fixing and maintaining what ever we break.
I ordered Scat to stay put in the admin hallway and grabbed some muscle. When I say muscle I am referring to Matt and Jonas. We headed toward the basement.
The basement was a mess and Tony was slumped against the far wall holding his stomach, bleeding from his head, and his left eye was swollen shut. Tony made an attempt to open his good eye as soon as he heard us coming. He adjusted the way he was leaning against the wall and let out a cry of pain.
“I tried to reason with them.” Tony spit out a mouth full of blood.
“They took all of our fuel. Oh Geez! I hurt.”
Tony said it was Central. I honestly was not surprised. They have been giving us trouble for ages.
The Central Bobcats were from the East end of Lafayette Blvd we lived on the west. We were rivals in football, basketball and volleyball. Our bands competed against each other in competitions before the world was turned upside down. The big difference between central and us is that we are not a bunch of thieves and bullies. The leader of the Central Bobcats is a former high school wrestling champ. He is mean and leads by fear and regularly has his goons beat up people for fun. The kids call him “The Hulk” after the comic book character. He doesn’t barter for what he needs. He has his goons take what he wants.
Matt and I leaned over to help Tony onto his cot. I told Tony he shouldn’t have tried to stop central from taking what they wanted. Just then, Scat ran up behind me holding a first aid kit.
Scat is such a tiny little guy. I yelled at him for leaving the admin hallway. He gets into more trouble.
Scat glared back at me. “Tony didn’t try to stop them. They beat him up afterwards.”
I looked at Tony and he just nodded in agreement.
At that moment, Matt and Jonas both blew a gasket and started ranting a raving about getting even. Love these guys but they get hot under the collar fast and don’t always think things thru..
We have some big guys in Bear Country but we are not a match for the goons at Central.
I Finally found a new journal to write in. I found it at the plaza. I paid a hefty price. But I desperately needed something to write my thoughts down in. You would think that a person living inside a school building would have access to paper. Not in this school. Except for the stash the journal club keeps under lock and key, the only paper in this school is the student records. This paper of course is already written on and serves no useful purpose to me.
Not a lot to tell about Bear Country except that things have been quiet for weeks. I am a little bored. Actually really bored. Everyone is off doing there own thing. I was hoping maybe I could get someone to play a game of cards. Spades perhaps. It is a fun game but no one was interested. I even asked the library trio Marty, Gretchen and Cecelia. Day in and day out they sit in the media center and read. Surely, they could use a diversion. They weren’t interested. Marty said they were doing research. This sounded somewhat interesting so I asked if I could help. They all three looked at me and in unison said “No”. Before I knew what was happening they pushed me out of the media center. And they locked the door. Those three are a wealth of information. A little odd and secretive and they are rarely seen alone but they can be very helpful at times. I am only a little hurt that they didn’t want to play with me. Oh well, their loss.
The agriculture club is trying their best to supply us with a variety of fruits and vegetables but an unfortunate accident with a bug infestation has damaged much of their crops. In an effort to keep us from starving to death the agriculture club has asked for volunteers. They need people to help with the crops that are left. I will be spending much of my time next week helping in the fields. Oh joy!! It’s not that I mind helping out. I just hate manual labor. Better to help now than to starve later.
Tribes from all over the city and countryside had gathered to trade at the Market Plaza.
The building was run-down and dilapidated but many of the shops on the inside were still used for commerce. You entered the building at your own risk. It was well known, a weapon and fighting skills were necessary or you didn’t come out alive.
The less adventurous shopped through the rows of tables and kiosks lining the parking lot. There was an assortment of well-worn and used items available for trade. Occasionally, a shove or accidental push put people at an uneasy truce.
The putrid stench of gutter-rats filled the parking lot. Expert at retrieving items of value from the pockets of anyone within an arm’s reach, the little thieves were out in abundance. They stole in well-organized packs. Their sad dirty faces and filthy fingers made even the most deviant of people cringe.
Beware of disturbances. Misdirection is a favorite tool of the gutter-rats. An overturned table, a girl on the ground or a crying baby should be avoided at all cost or you risk losing everything you own of value. Experienced shoppers secure their belongings at the first hint of trouble. Onlookers, and the less experienced provide help; in the blink of an eye, everything of value snatched from their pockets by the cunning thieves.
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.