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Joy's Legacy Chapters 13-14


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It was the darkest that Joy had ever seen.


“Well, great Joy. Now we’re stuck. If we had waited, then maybe we wouldn’t be here right now!” Bethany said, her tone of voice demeaning.


“Waited for what, exactly? Had we waited, we might have had to take all the stuff down the stairs instead of this way.” Allen said.


“Yeah, well, if we had waited, well, never mind. No use in arguing about it now. Man it’s hot in here!” Bethany said, trying to change the subject. Joy smiled, knowing Bethany couldn’t see her. Bethany hated to be wrong, but she hated more to be called on it.


Ed started pounding on the door. “Hey! Hello? Anyone out there?”


“Dad, Dave should be here soon. I sure hope he knows how to get us out though.” Joy said as she shifted her weight. There was no place for them to sit, as the elevator was filled with boxes. She took a deep breath and tried to relax. She shook her head. Normally her eyes would have been adjusted to the dark by now, but it was too dark. She wasn’t a fan of dark or tight places, and she was in both of them now. She was very glad that she wasn’t alone; otherwise she wasn’t sure what she would have done.


“Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beer…” Allen started to sing, and they all laughed. Joy was glad his sense of humor had survived. They all joined in the song, hoping that someone would hear them and get them out. By the time they got to eighty-two, they heard Dave outside of the elevator.


“Joy? Are you in there?” He asked.


“Yup, it’s us, Dave. Can you get us out?” Joy asked, hoping for a positive answer.


“Well, I’m not sure where my tools ended up, and the ones that were in the closet aren’t there. Your Mom called 911, but they said that they would come as soon as possible. They are really swamped right now, and who knows how long it’s going to take. You don’t have any water in there, or anything, do you?” Dave answered.


“No, we don’t.” Ed replied. “Dave, listen. Does the company have a generator? Maybe you can give the building enough power to get the door open.”


“Well, yeah, I think so! It’s in the other building though. I’ll get on that, and if the firemen arrive before I do, then all the better, ok? I’ll also look for some tools over there, just in case. Don’t worry, we’ll get you out of there!” He said, knocking on the elevator door to reassure them.


“Hurry!” Bethany said, knocking back frantically.


“Ok, see you soon,” Dave said, his voice trailing off.


“Eighty-one bottles of beer on the wall, eighty one bottles of beer…” Allen led them in song again.


Joy leaned on the boxes, trying to stretch her back muscles. She pressed the indiglo light on her watch to see what time it was, so that they wouldn’t loose track of how long they were in there for. It was just after ten. She sighed and leaned against the wall. She continued singing with the others, but couldn’t help wonder what was happening to her beloved country. Could that many people really want to hurt them? That many nations? Didn’t they stand to suffer just as much or more than the States did if it went down?


Allen picked other songs for them to sing, trying to keep them encouraged. They tapped on walls and boxes, trying to keep their mood lively. It must be over 90° in here, Joy thought. Although it was proving to be a colder summer than usual, this day had been forecasted to be hot. Several times they had to stop singing, as people would stop and encourage them. There was little anyone could do, so they would greet those inside and then take off.


“Joy, is that you in there?” Joy heard a woman say in a thick Spanish accent.


“Monica! Hi, yes! It’s us!” Joy said. Monica was Dave’s coworker at the apartment complex. She was from Ecuador, and Joy had enjoyed being able to talk in Spanish to her on more than one occasion.


“Oh, you got stuck! I was hoping that no one was in here. I saw George and Dave coming over here with the generator. Poor guys, they had to carry that heavy thing all the way over here. The electric cart isn’t working, so they were not able to use that. Is it hot in there?” Monica asked.


“Yes!” They all yelled at once and then laughed.


Monica laughed too. “Well, I’m going to see if anyone in the other building is stuck, ok?”


“Ok, good to talk to you, Monica!” Joy yelled.


Just then the lights came back on, and the door opened. The foursome felt immediate relief from the heat, as Allen hurriedly stood in front of the door so that it wouldn’t close again. They all filed out to enjoy the light and not being cooped up. It was a lot cooler in the hallways, even though the central air hadn’t been working because of the lack of power.


Juan, Leslie, Ann and Roger showed up and took out all the boxes that were in the elevator. Joy went and stood under the vent, enjoying the crisp, cold air now that it was on again. Dave came in from the front door and smiled at her.


“You are all wet!” he said, brushing a lock of hair out her face.


Joy smiled back as she fanned herself with her hand. “I know! It was so hot in there! How long were we in there?” she said as she looked at her watch.


“Well, I set my timer when the lights went out, knowing that you were in there. And now it’s 10:20am. That’s at least 20 minutes! I’m glad you are ok,” he said leaning in for a kiss.


Joy kissed his lips, glad that she was ok, too. “Where is Victoria?” She asked.


“She’s still upstairs with your mom. Most everything is down here, as everyone kept working, even in the dark. George and I brought the generator over, but I’m glad we didn’t have to use it. But now it’s here, in case it happens again.” Dave said wiping off sweat from his own forehead.


“Ok. Well, I better go up there too. Most of my clothes are packed, aren’t they?” Joy asked. She really wanted a shower now, but wondered if it would be unfair to the rest of the ones that had been caught in the elevator too.


Dave nodded his head. “Yeah. And I wouldn’t trust the elevator. If the lights go out again, we might be in trouble.”


Joy nodded and lifted her head to kiss him again. “I’ll take the stairs, then. Do you have an extra flashlight I can use?”


Dave shook his head. “No, but I’ll go up with you. I want to see what all we are leaving behind. I’m hoping that we can return and get the rest some other time. If not, well,” he shook his head again, not wanting to think about not returning.


They made their way up the two flights of stairs and to their apartment. There were still some family members coming and going with things. When they got to the apartment they were surprised to see all the boxes gone. Joy went to the kitchen and found that most everything was gone, except for her small appliances. Even their tea and other beverages were gone. She looked up above her cabinets to find all of her Mexican decorations gone, and the fake ivies. They packed those too? She wondered. Joy and Dave made their way into the living room to find most, but not all of the books gone. Dave had a large section of computer books that were staying. But all the other office stuff, such as pens and paper were all gone. Pictures, clocks, even CDs. They seemed to have all been packed away. As Joy went into Victoria’s room, She found Liz and Victoria putting her toys in bags. It looked to Joy like some toys were gone, and all of her clothing.


“Hi honey!” Joy said as Victoria came and gave her a hug. “What are you doing?”


“We are packing, Mama! And Grandma said that we are going to go on a trip. I like trips!” Victoria responded, her voice full of excitement.


Joy smiled at Victoria, then at her Mom. “Yup, we sure are, honey, we sure are. You keep packing ok?”


“Ok, Mommy!”


Joy went into her bedroom and found Marie packing the rest of the towels and sheets.


“Hi. Man. It’s hard to know what to pack, isn’t it?” Joy shook her head, looking around her room.


“Mmm…no, not really. I just think, could I use this in Africa? No. Ok, then it stays. This? Yes. Ok, then it goes. Although we did pack all your CDs. We figured with as many batteries as you guys have, we might as well have music. We are taking two of your boom boxes, and leaving the big one. We didn’t bother with the movies. Figured we were pushing it with the CDs.” Marie said as Joy helped her finish putting stuff away.


Joy nodded her head. “I’m glad you are here,” she said, tears threatening to spill over.


“I am too. Oh, come on now. Don’t start that. You are going to get me started!” Marie said, looking away. Joy knew she was feeling the stress of it all, too. She looked around her room and realized that they may never be able to come back. But then, maybe they would. That’s what she hoped, anyway. That this would all be for nothing, and that they would be complaining about all the work they had put into the moving.


Joy went to the bathroom and looked through all the drawers. Most everything was gone, even her make-up. She didn’t use much, but she knew Ann would be happy to have some. Everything electric was left behind, including Dave’s razor. Joy smiled, wondering how he was going to manage without it. Once she was satisfied that everything in the apartment that she wanted was packed, she went back into Victoria’s room.


“You know Mom, we still have stuff in storage. A lot of it is stuff like Christmas decorations, but there are some baby clothes and a few maternity clothes. You think there will be space in the trucks?” Joy asked, helping put some toys in boxes.


“It’s all taken care of, honey. Juan got the keys from Dave earlier, and they took down everything they thought was important to take. It’s nice to see how much we can all get done if we work together.” Liz said with pride in her voice. Joy knew that although this was a hard time for all of them, it was also a special time. It had been many years since the whole family had been together. Especially with all the brothers-in-law.


Joy nodded. “Yeah, we’d get more done if we would stop getting stuck in the elevator!” she said and they both laughed.


“You got stuck in the elevator Mommy? That’s not nice.” Victoria said matter-of-factly, as only a four-year-old can.


Joy smiled and leaned over to give her a kiss. “No, honey. It wasn’t.”


“I’ll be right back,” Joy said, getting up.


She went into the bathroom and splashed water on her face and ran her wet fingers through her long, wavy hair. She pulled it up into a bun, thankful to have it off her neck.


“Joy?” Dave called from the living room.


“Yeah?” Joy answered, walking towards him.


“I’m thinking about taking the car. Maybe your Dad or someone can ride with me, and we can fit more stuff in there. What do you think?” he asked, pulling his glasses off and cleaning them with his shirt.


“Oh, that’s a good idea! Is there enough gas in it?” Joy wondered.


Dave nodded and put his glasses back on. “Yup. I filled it up last time I went out, and haven’t used it since.”


“Ok. I’ll talk to my Dad.” Joy said, leaning into Dave for a hug. “I did not like being stuck in the elevator. It was kind of scary, especially not knowing how or when we were going to get out.”


Dave wrapped his arms around Joy and kissed her on the head. “I’m sorry you had to go through that. We are getting smarter, though! Now we are sending the loads down by themselves and then someone is getting them once they get downstairs. That way if the lights go out, it’s just stuff that gets stuck.”


Joy looked up and gave Dave a kiss on the lips. “That’s good. I better get going to find Dad. He was concerned that we might not be able to travel soon.”


“Ok, I’m going to look around and make sure we have everything we can take. I think there is still room for Victoria’s toys, and Marie even packed a bunch of your decorations. Since there was a bunch of room still in the truck, we let it go.” Dave said, walking Joy to the door. “Make sure you have a flashlight with you, ok?”


“Ok,” Joy said, grabbing one by the door. “See you soon hon,” she waived as she made her way down the hallway.


She went down the steps, glad that they had figured out a way that no one was going to get caught in the elevator anymore. When she got to the elevator area on the main floor, she realized that they were almost done. She went outside to look at the trucks, and saw that there was a couple other people doing the same thing that they were doing, but they weren’t using the elevator. The two U-hauls that they were using were getting pretty full, but Bethany’s still had some space.


“Hey, Dad?” Joy called out when she saw Ed.


“Yeah?” Ed said, turning to see her.


“Dave was wondering if you would ride with him in the car. He thought that it might be good to have an extra vehicle, and we can fit some more things in there, too, if we need.” She said, putting her arm around his waist.


Ed nodded. “Yeah, I can go with him if he wants. I’m not sure that we are going to need the space though. I think your Mom just has a few toys left and then she’s done, right?”


Joy thought for a second and then nodded. “Dad, do you think we should take any electronics at all?”


“I don’t know, honey. Maybe. Maybe we can take a few in the car, like I don’t know, say some of your kitchen stuff.” Ed said, rubbing his chin. He hadn’t shaved since they had left Mexico, and Joy was sure that it was probably getting itchy.


“Ok, I’ll get on that. Should I bring the car around?” Joy asked.


Ed nodded again. “Sure, but make sure you don’t take the elevator!”


Joy laughed as she started to make her way to the underground garage. “Oh, don’t worry! I won’t!”


Joy walked around the building to where the underground garage entrance was. She went through the open garage door, and made her way to their old car, glad to have the flashlight in case the power went out again. She got the car and drove it to the front of the building, and parked it as close as possible.


She saw that the last of Victoria’s toys were being loaded into the truck, and that Dave had come down as well. He was carrying three large black bags.


“What are those?” Joy asked, once she had reached them.


“They are from Dorothy, from 107. She said that she has been meaning to give them to you, and that if we had space, she wanted you to take them.” Dave responded, throwing the bags into the U-haul.


“What are they?” Joy asked, pulling one back to see what was inside.


“I think just yarn and stuff like that. I’m not sure. We can look at it when we get there.” He said as he took it away from Joy and put it back. He stuck out his tongue to Joy in response to her sticking out hers at him.


“Hey Dave?” Ed called Dave from the entrance.


“Yeah,” Dave said as both he and Joy made their way to the entrance.


“I think we need to get going. I’m not sure what they do when the threat level goes up to red, but I would really rather not find out. If you guys want to go upstairs and take one more look around, the rest of us can start getting settled into our vehicles. As far as I know, we all have our stuff packed in the vans and ready to go.” Ed said, pointing at the vans. Joy could see that Juan and Marco were loading up the last of their suitcases.


“Ok, we can send Liz down, and then we can take off. You’ll ride with me?” Dave asked, looking at Ed. “Ok, then, let’s get going,” he continued after Ed nodded.


Dave and Joy made their way upstairs and to their apartment. They told Liz that they were all ready to go, and that she could go downstairs. After she left, Dave, Joy and Victoria went room by room in their apartment, making sure nothing was left that they wanted with them. Most of the walls had been stripped bare, Victoria’s bed was gone, all their pillows and curtains, together with the curtain rods, were also gone. Liz had been able to put away all of Victoria’s toys and blankets. It was strange for Joy to see her home like this. It was theirs, but somehow it didn’t seem like it anymore.


A tear rolled down Joy’s cheek, and just as she was about to say something, the phone rang, making Joy almost jump out of her skin.


Dave shook his head, and went to answer the phone. “Hello?”


By what Dave said, she figured that he had been called on to work, again. He hung up the phone and picked up Victoria.


“That was George. He wondered if I could help take the generator back to the other building.” Dave said, then kissed Victoria and had her stand up on their bed.


“So you are going to help him?” Joy asked, already knowing the answer.


Dave nodded, and brought Joy in for a family hug. This was a special tradition that they had with Victoria every night. She would stand on the bed so that she was almost as tall as they were, and they would all hug each other. Joy held on to her family tight as Dave prayed for them. He prayed for their safety in this situation, and that above all, for God to be glorified and for His will to be done in their lives, whatever that may be.


Once done, Dave leaned down and kissed each of his girls. They left their apartment and started to head down the hall, knowing that it could be for the last time. Halfway down the hall, the lights went out again. Joy rolled her eyes, annoyed that it had happened again, but glad that this time she wasn’t in the elevator, especially with Victoria.


Dave handed the flashlight that he had to Joy, and picked Victoria up to carry her through the darkest part. Once they were at the stairwell and had light from the windows he put her down. They went down to the front of the building, where they found everyone waiting.


Dave told Ed about having to take the generator over, and Ed offered to help. The rest would wait where they were, and then the caravan would start, with Ed and Dave leading the way.


Dave turned to Joy and kissed her softly on the lips. “I’ll be right back,” he said, and then bent over to kiss Victoria.


“Ok, hon. Love you,” Joy said.


“I love you, Daddy!” Victoria said as she took the opportunity to hug Dave. Joy smiled. Victoria was a very loving child, one that would take a hug at any opportunity.


“I love you, too.” Dave said, hugging Victoria tight and looking at Joy.


“I love you, too!” Liz said, jokingly.


Dave blushed and smiled at Liz. “Um, thank you?”


Liz laughed as Dave and Ed took off to take the generator over, and everyone else settled into their vehicles. Joy was glad she had worn shorts and a tank top. It sure was warm. She put Victoria into her car seat, and was glad to see that Roger was going to drive Juan and Ann’s van, and Juan was going to help Bethany with the U-haul. Joy left the van’s sliding door open for Victoria and turned to talk to Liz. Before she was able to say anything, a loud explosion erupted, causing some of the windows in the vans to crack.


Joy turned and laid on Victoria trying to protect her from whatever was happening. Victoria was crying loudly, holding her ears. Once Joy knew there was no immediate danger to her daughter, she pulled back, hoping she had allowed enough space for her to breath.


“Victoria, are you ok? Victoria?” Joy said holding Victoria’s face in her two hands.


Victoria shook her head and continued to cry. Joy leaned in to hug her, and gave her a kiss on her cheek. Joy knew she probably was ok, just scared and shook up, just like she was.


Liz came to where Joy was and after making sure that they were ok, went to see if the rest of the family was ok. Joy got Victoria out of her car seat, and joined Liz.


“What happened?” Joy asked as she approached the rest of the family.


Everyone shook their head or shrugged their shoulders. Victoria clung to Joy, afraid that another blast might come. And it did. It started slowly at first, and then the rumbling got louder. It didn’t take long, but the noise was almost unbearable. Joy held Victoria close, trying to protect her head and ears.


All of the sudden, Joy felt someone grabbing and shaking her arm. It was Allen. He was yelling something and pointing to the other apartment building over the hill, where Dave and Ed had taken the generator. She couldn’t hear him, but as he continued pointing and speaking in Spanish, her heart froze and her stomach felt like it fell to her feet. The sound was closer that she had thought. It was coming from where her dad and husband were.


She took Victoria to Liz, and had her carry her, still trying to protect her ears. Then Joy ran as fast as she ever had in her life towards the building. Allen ran with her, but soon was way ahead of her. Most of the apartment building was gone. It was a long building in a “U” shape, so the ends were still standing, but the center and everything around had collapsed. Joy stood there in disbelief, not knowing what to do.


“Dave!” She yelled as she ran to the building. Allen came to her and stopped her, putting his young, but strong arms around her. “Let me go! Dave! Dave!” Joy struggled with all her might, unable to break Allen’s grasp.


As she stood there, trying to fight Allen, she heard a voice calling out to her. It was Ed.


“Joy! Joy!” he said, running towards her and replacing Allen in holding her.


“Dad! Oh, Dad!” Joy exclaimed, almost falling to the ground. Ed and Allen caught her and held her up. “Dad, where is Dave? Please tell me he is with you. Please, Dad. Please.”


Ed’s face was also covered in tears as he shook his head. “I’m so sorry,” he chocked out, his lips trembling.


“No. No!” Joy yelled as she struggled to go towards the mountain of rubble in front of her. “No! Please. Dave! Dave!” Joy collapsed to the ground overcome by her grief.


Then, as if from nowhere, police cars showed up, as well as a couple of fire trucks. Several people that had survived the collapse where coming out of the edges of the building. For the next few minutes everything was a blur to Joy. Her heart seemed to have been lost somewhere in the rubble. What had happened? Was Dave really in there? Maybe he wasn’t.


“Dad,” Joy said looking at Ed, her face covered in tears. “Are you sure Dave was in there? Maybe he wasn’t. Do you know for sure he was in there?”


Ed held her close. “I’m sure, honey. I saw him go in.”


Joy sobbed on her father’s chest for a while, until a policeman approached them. Joy missed most of the conversation between him and Ed, and was unaware that the rest of the family had joined them.


“Joy? Honey. Joy?” Ed said, trying to get her attention. The officer wants to talk to you. Joy?”


Joy looked up from her father’s embrace, tears still streaming from her eyes. She couldn’t see the policeman very well, but she tried to focus on what he was saying.


“We found someone, Ma’am. One of the residents says that he is an employee here, and also said that you might know who he is.” The police officer said as softly as he could, but yet loud enough for her to hear.


“Is he alive? Is Dave alive?” Joy said, her heart skipping a beat with the hope that her husband might still be alive.


“Well, yes. He is still alive, but he is in pretty bad shape. He may never be able to walk again.” The officer responded.


Joy shook her head. She didn’t care if he never walked again. He was alive! “Where is he? Can I see him?” She asked, scanning the crowd of rescue workers.


“Yes, Ma’am. Follow me,” The officer said as he led the way to an ambulance.


Joy, Ed and Liz followed. Liz had given Victoria over to Marie and Ann so that she could be available to help Joy. They made their way through the crowd of people gathered around them. It was a total chaos. Residents from Joy’s building and from the town homes around them had come out, and the media had been informed somehow as well. There were many rescue workers going back and forth, trying to save as many people as they possibly could. It took a few minutes for them to get to where the ambulance was.


“Joy? Joy!” a woman in the crowd yelled. It was Monica. “Joy, are you ok?” Monica squeezed her way past the people between them.


Joy shook her head. She didn’t trust her voice, and she really just wanted to get to Dave. Monica came over and gave her a hug.


“Excuse me, but Joy really needs to get to the ambulance.” Joy heard Ed say. She turned to look at him gratefully, and let go of Monica.


“I need to see Dave,” Joy said quietly.


A look of realization crossed Monica’s face as she took a step back and allowed Joy to get to the ambulance.


Joy walked to the back of the ambulance with her parents right behind her, Ed’s hand on her shoulder, supporting her. The officer that had come to talk to her climbed into the ambulance, and then helped her up. At first all Joy could see was a man on a stretcher, with an enormous amount of blood coming from where his right leg should be. It looked as if it had been severed from the knee down.


Her heart ached for her husband as she got closer to the head of the stretcher. Joy looked at the man lying in front of her, her heart churning inside of her.


“This isn’t Dave. This isn’t my husband!” She cried.




Re: Joy's Legacy, compiled





Jack turned off the radio, shaking his head. He was half way to Grand Rapids, but decided to pull over. He saw all the traffic going away from the city, and decided that it may not be the best idea to actually go there. He had just lost his wife. He did not want something to happen to him or Luke, and leave the twins without any parents or family at all.


He got back onto the highway and headed towards the nearest exit to be able to turn around. He knew it would be coming up soon, but was shocked when he saw what was ahead of him. The overpass was gone! In its place were just rumbles, with squad cars everywhere, plus a couple of fire engines. Jack recognized Ben’s truck. He approached the area slowly, and pulled over to the side.


Jack got out of his truck, careful not to wake up Luke. “Hey, Ben, what happened? He asked, shaking Ben’s hand.


Ben shook his head. “Can you believe this? Who would want to do this? There are at least two cars trapped underneath, probably people wanting to get to the city. And there were kids in there too…man! I just want to beat the crap out of someone!” He said angrily.


Jack shook his head and looked down. He looked back up, watching the fire department volunteers try to clean up the mess. “Do you need some help? I’ve got Luke with me, but,”


“No, no!” Ben interrupted. “You get out of here. What are you doing out this way, anyway? Were you headed for Grand Rapids?”


Jack nodded as Ben continued, “Well, I’d really suggest not going. I mean, especially with Luke. I’m sure it’s not as bad there as it is in the bigger cities, but I just wouldn’t chance it. People’s tempers are running high, and even in this smaller city they are having problems. The few gangs that they have are trying to take advantage of what is happening. The police have their hands full, and they are starting to ask people to just defend themselves. You have a good place where you are, but I hope you have some way of defending yourself there, too. I think things are going to get pretty bad.” Ben shook his head. “You know, the terrorists may be doing quite a bit of damage, but I think we are actually destroying ourselves. Gangs are intimidating people into staying in their homes, or giving them up all together. This area is generally not a bad place to live, but you should see how hard it is to get people to cooperate.”


“Has everything really gotten this bad so fast?” Jack asked, disbelief in his voice.


Ben nodded. “Oh, yeah. And it’s not just at the city level, either. At the national level, things are getting pretty heated up, too. The President has had to declare martial law in some of the big cities, like New York and Dallas, TX. People here are worried that it will happen soon all across the country. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation, for sure. I have no idea how bad the Twin Cities is, but I hope Rebecca’s family is ok. I know she was pretty worried about them last night, and now there have been more and more reports about even apartment buildings being attacked. It’s just crazy.”


Jack shook his head again. What was happening to his country? It seemed like it was falling apart at the seams. Ben told him that even in the Senate and the House of Representatives that the politicians were loosing their tempers. The Republicans and Democrats were blaming each other, and not getting anything done in the meantime. Washington was beginning to be a place of chaos, as well as other big cities like it. Grocery stores were being looted, and several people had died in stampedes. It didn’t help that the electricity kept going off, even though crews were working around the clock to keep it on. On top of all that, the tension at the border with Mexico was about to explode. The riots were escalating to the point that they did not only have to call the National Guard in, but also the Army. Mexico’s president was claming that the US was trying to invade Mexico, and that is why he had the North Korean Army there as well as the Chinese Army. The US denied these claims, saying that there was no reason for the hostility, and that it was just defending itself.


The gap between the Democrats and Republicans was more than just the surface, though. The Democrats were introducing bills to pass laws that would restrict the use of guns, claiming that half of what was happening was because of private ownership of guns. A lot was being done by the terrorists, like destroying hospitals and overpasses; but most of the real, lasting damage was being done by the people themselves. Republicans argued that if you took away the right to defend oneself, it would create a bigger mess still. Jack shook his head again, and rubbed his whiskers. He could see how taking the guns away might seem like a good idea, but how would the average person defend himself if they didn’t have any? Should they all depend on the government to protect them? Jack didn’t think so.


“Any idea who is doing all this, Ben?” Jack asked, all of the sudden very tired.


Ben shook his head and frowned. “That’s the thing. They can’t pinpoint the enemy. No foreign government is taking responsibility, but all the attacks have been done by it seems each country in the world. I mean come on! Even Canada and Mexico have attacked us. And Britain! So much for being our allies! The President doesn’t know whom to blame! We can’t go around bombing all the frikin’ countries in the world, but it seems to me that all the countries in the world have united against us!”


Jack could tell his friend was very upset. And, well, he should be! Jack knew that he himself would be more upset, but right now, he felt that he really just had to keep his mind on providing for his family. With Carol no longer here, he had his hands full, and loosing his home didn’t help matters at all. He wondered if he should still go to Grand Rapids.


“So you don’t think I should go into the city, huh?” Jack asked his friend.


Ben shook his head. “No, not unless you really have to. What were you going to get anyway? Could you get it at one of the smaller towns?”


“Hmmm, maybe,” Jack responded. “Do you think Cohasset’s furniture store would be open? What about the Co-op there? You think it’d be open on a Sunday?”


Ben nodded his head. “Yup, everything is open. Everyone is trying to sell as much as they can, but they are only taking cash. You have any?”


Jack shrugged as he looked around to who was there. He really didn’t want to worry about people knowing that he had money. “Some.”


Ben nodded. “Well, I better get back to work, or they’ll think I’m slacking,” he said as he shook Jack’s hand and patted him on his back.


Jack patted Ben back, grateful for his friendship. He knew he had leaned heavy on him the night before, and he was grateful for all the support that Ben had given him.


“You know that you are always welcome to come and camp out at my place, right? Especially with the way things are going.” Jack said, looking at Ben’s eyes.


Ben nodded thoughtfully, his blond, curly hair blowing in the wind. “I may just take you up on that, buddy. I’ve got a bunch of camping gear, and we may just be able to work things out. It really is crazy in town. The Mayor is loosing her patience, and they said that she may declare Martial law here herself!”


“Ok, then. I’m staying at Seth and Rebecca’s place for now, until I can get a place of my own. I’ll tell you more about that later. You better be getting back to work, slacker!” Jack laughed, surprised at the fact that he could.


Ben smiled at is friend. “Ok, ok, if you insist. Don’t be surprised if I show up then, ok?”


“Alright.” Jack said as he waved and turned to leave.


He climbed back into his truck and made an illegal turn, knowing that under these circumstances no one was going to care. Now he realized why it seemed as if everyone was heading away from town. He headed back down the road, looking at Luke lying next to him. He was still fast asleep. He took the exit to the small town of Cohasset, glad that he had taken Ben’s advice. Even here things seemed a little on the eerie side. There seemed to have been no damage to any of the buildings, but the people were walking around town with their guns and other weapons, not even bothering to conceal them. They didn’t want anyone to mess with them, and Jack certainly had no intentions of starting anything himself.


He made his way to the only small furniture store in town, glad to see that Ben had been right and it was open. The store belonged to Mr. Johnston, an old friend of Jack’s dad. Jack woke Luke up, and they walked into the store, hand in hand. To Jack’s surprise, there was no one in there but the owner.


“Hi, Mr. Johnston. How are you today?” Jack said shaking the old man’s hand. Mr. Johnston and Jack’s father had been friends growing up.


“Well, not the best, Jonathan. No business. Seems like no one is really interested in buying furniture when the end of the world is approaching.” Mr. Johnston sighed, shaking his head. “It’s really getting bad, isn’t it, Jonathan?”


Jack smiled at the use of his name. Only his parent’s closest friends called him that. “Yeah, it really is. But on a good note, I’m here to give you business!”


“Well, that’s just great, Jonathan! What can I do for you?” Mr. Johnston said happily, raising his arm and gesturing at the small store. He normally only sold what he had, but he also would have catalogs and put orders in for people.


Jack looked around, as Mr. Johnston talked to Luke. Luke was still not talking, Jack noticed. He left the pair, and went around, sitting on some of the couches. They only had two or three of them, and Jack couldn’t afford any of them. He shook his head. Well, that was quick! Now, about beds, he thought to himself.


He went and looked at the beds. Not much for options here, either, but Mr. Johnston did happen to have a crib and a bunk bed with mattresses. This was a good find! He also found a Queen size bed that he decided to get. He would have to figure out what to do about another crib later. Jack also found some small living room tables, and decided to buy those instead of a dinning room table that would have taken more money than he had on him. He figured they could all eat on the floor, and that the kids would love it.


He approached Mr. Johnston and Luke, and made his purchases.


“I’m so sorry about your loss, Jonathan.” Mr. Johnston said quietly, glancing at Luke.


Jack nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Johnston.” He didn’t want to talk about it anymore, especially with Luke there.


“I saw you trying out the couches. Where you looking for one of those too?” Mr. Johnston asked.


Jack nodded. “Yes, but it’s going to have to wait. I’m more interested in having a place to sleep on.”


“Well, son, why don’t you take that blue one there? The one that looks like it was made with jean material?” Mr. Johnston pointed at the one Jack had liked the best. He must have seen me linger on it, Jack thought.


“Nah, that’s ok, Mr. Johnston. The beds and tables will be just fine.” Jack declined the offer.


“Look, Jonathan. Let me do this for you. I need to ask you a big favor, but I need you to say yes to the couch first.” Mr. Johnston insisted.


“Uh, ok. What do you need, Mr. Johnston? Is there anything I can help you with?” Jack asked, concerned.


“Well, Jonathan, as you know, I’m old. Ever since I lost my wife and Eric, I have had to care for Bob and Andrea by myself. I have a feeling that I’m not going to last too long through all this, and I wonder if it came down to it, would you be willing to take care of them? I know I’m asking a lot, especially after what you have just been through, but I don’t know who else to turn to!”


Jack held his hand up and shook his head. “No need to say more, Mr. Johnston. How many times did you save my Dad’s butt at war? You were like a brother to him, so then you are like an uncle to me. You are going to be just fine; you’re not that old! But if something were to happen to you, you can rest assured that I will take care of your family the best I can,” Jack said, putting his hand on Luke’s shoulder.


Mr. and Mrs. Johnston had been blessed with two boys. The older one, Eric, had died in a tragic accident with his wife, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Johnston to care for their only daughter, Andrea. Bob was Mr. and Mrs. Johnston’s youngest son. He was about Jack’s age, maybe a little younger. But his mind was much, much younger, about ten years old or so they said. He was a nice guy and Jack enjoyed his company. Andrea was also nice, especially if you compared her to the regular teenagers of this day. At 14, she was cute, but not too concerned about how she looked. She was a regular tomboy, and loved to play with Luke. These people were like family to Jack. And with all the help he was receiving, he wasn’t about to turn someone down.


“Thank you, Jonathan, you have no idea what this means to me,” Mr. Johnston said, his eyes filling with tears.


“Well, let’s just hope that this doesn’t get any worse,” Jack said, shifting his weight. “I hope that whoever is in charge of what is happening just stops or can be stopped. It’s all kind of like a nightmare, isn’t it?”


Mr. Johnston nodded, putting his old hands on the counter. “Yup, and I have a feeling, if my gut still steers me right, that we are headed towards a lot more trouble than we’re in now.”


They made the final transaction, which came out to just over $2000, including taxes. Jack knew he was getting a pretty good deal, but decided not to argue about it anymore. He paid for it in cash and Mr. Johnston got Bob to come out to the store to help Jack load everything up. Bob was a strong man, but Jack had to show him what he wanted him to do every step of the way.


They got everything strapped on the trailer, and just when they were about to leave, Mr. Johnston came out with a couple of simple dinning room chairs.


“Here, Jonathan. I want you to have these, too. They are for your babies. Now don’t go making fun of my gift, you know I’m not good at this stuff. And don’t even think about turning them down. They don’t cost that much, and you will offend me if you do.” He said, in a voice as mean as he could muster up.


Jack suppressed a laugh. “Ok, Mr. Johnston. But no more gifts, ok? You have done more than enough for us.”


The older man came and patted Jack on the back. “Ok. Now you take care of these little young ones, you hear?”


Jack nodded. “Good to see you again, Mr. Johnston. Maybe you could bring Bob and Andrea out to see the twins some time soon.”


Mr. Johnston nodded. “I’d like that, Jonathan.”


Jack and Luke took off, after Mr. Johnston gave Luke a warm hug. Jack thought he had seen a slight smile on Luke’s face, but he wasn’t sure.


They made there way to the Co-op next. So this is where everyone is, Jack thought to himself. Jack slowed down in front of the store long enough to know that this was not the place to go into, at least not with Luke anyway. As they passed the front door, Jack heard what he thought were two gunshots coming from inside the store, and he stepped on the gas peddle. Unfortunately, there were cars in front of him so he couldn’t go any faster then they were going, and the car in back of him wasn’t going anywhere either.


“Luke, son, can you look under the seat for a coin I dropped?” Jack said, trying to sound as casual as he could.


Luke looked at his father confused. He was never allowed to take his seat belt off!


“It’s ok, Luke. Just this time.” Jack nodded.


Luke carefully took his seat belt off and got down on his hands and knees as he looked for a coin that was probably not there.


Jack looked at the cars around him, frustrated. How had he gotten into this mess? He should have probably never have come out at all, he thought.


Just then the driver of the car in front of Jack got out of his vehicle. Jack looked at him confused. What was he doing? He was going to create a bigger traffic jam by stopping! The young man, dressed in black, approached Jack, making Jack’s hairs on the back of his neck stand up.


“Hey, man,” the young man said, taping on Jack’s window.


Jack slowly rolled down his window, feeling about as stupid as he ever had. He couldn’t believe he had put himself and his son in danger. There was no hiding Luke now. Jack saw the young man’s eyes look at Luke and caught the smirk on his face.


“What’s up?” Jack asked, hoping he sounded tougher than he felt. This kid was no match for Jack. If there was to be a fight and it was fair, that was. But Jack knew that this type of situations were never fair. Why hadn’t he at least brought his Colt Combat Commander? He should have been carrying it on his lap, ready for anything to go wrong. Jack mentally kicked himself as he glanced in the passenger side mirror and to his horror, saw the driver of the vehicle behind him get out of his car and approach Jack’s truck from the other side.


“Well, we heard that you had to get rid of some cash,” The first guy said, his grin revealing a gold front tooth. Jack noticed out of the corner of his eye that the other guy was standing outside of Luke’s door.


“Cash? What cash? I don’t know what you are talking about.” Jack said innocently. He didn’t want to push these guys, especially not in front of Luke. But he didn’t want to give up his money that easily either.


The young man with the gold tooth laughed a loud, fake laugh, and looked across at his buddy. “Can you believe this guy?” he asked, his face suddenly turning serious as he opened his jacket to reveal a chrome plated snub nosed revolver.


Jack looked at Luke, who was sitting on the floor of the truck, silently taking it all in. He wished his son didn’t have to see this. Jack went through his options in his mind as quickly as he could. He could try and fight the guys, and possibly hurt himself or even Luke. He couldn’t afford to do either. He could try to escape, but they had cornered him in pretty good, even though they were in a very public area. No one seemed to be paying attention to what was happening to them. Or, he could just give up the money he had left over. He really didn’t want to do that, but seemed that next to putting himself and Luke in more danger, it was the safest option.


“What is it that you think I have?” Jack answered trying to buy time, his face flushed with anger.


“Mula, Man! And quite a bit, from what I heard. You’ve been working hard and earning lots of money at the logging place. Now hand it over!” The second guy responded.


For a second Jack was confused. Then, just as quickly, he figured it out. These guys weren’t after him! They must of thought he looked like somebody else, and were taking the opportunity to rob him. Jack put his hands on the wheel, wanting to keep them visible, not wanting to provoke the robbers.


Then, Jack saw his opportunity. The oncoming traffic had stopped, and if he was quick, he could get out of this situation without him or Luke getting hurt. He took his foot off of the brake and stepped on the accelerator, making Luke bump his head on the seat. As he turned the wheel a sharp left, heading in the wrong direction, he could hear the guy with the gold tooth yelling.


“Ow! You son of a b***ch!” he swore, holding his right foot up, hoping hopelessly on the left one before falling over. The second man backed away from the trailer just before he suffered the same fate, and then ran over to see his buddy.


Just as quick as he had made the left turn, Jack had to make the right turn. He saw Luke being thrown around a little, but was hoping it wasn’t too bad. He made it back into his lane, the trailer barely missing an oncoming car, his horn blazing.


Jack looked into the side mirrors, hoping that the guys weren’t following him. They weren’t. The first guy was still on the ground, holding his foot, and the other guy was trying to help him. Jack looked at Luke, who looked scared, but ok.


“You okay, Luke?” Jack asked.


Luke nodded quietly, his eyes as big as saucers.


“Ok, how ‘bout you sit back up here and put your seatbelt back on?” Jack said, patting the seat next to him.


Luke quickly got up and strapped himself into the seat. “I’m sorry Luke. It was probably a mistake to come. Should we go back to Mrs. Rebecca’s place now?” Jack asked Luke, rubbing his small head.


Luke nodded, and put his little hand on Jack’s. Poor kid, Jack thought, what was I thinking? He’s probably still scared just from last night, and now I had to go and put him in this situation. They made their way back in silence, each deep in their own thoughts.


Jack thought about what was to come, and if he really was prepared for it. There really was no way of knowing, as he didn’t know if this was the worse or if there was yet more to come. He sighed, and looked at his meters. I should get some gas, he thought, thinking that the small Mom ‘n’ Pop gas station closest to where he lived should be ok to stop at.


It was. He hadn’t gone past much traffic, and it all seemed to be heading towards the city, not away from it. It seemed like everyone wanted to get stocked up for what was to come. He’d have to thank Mr. Bodaway for giving him a heads up, and being able to go to Duluth before everything started to get this bad. Jack shook his head. It couldn’t get possibly worse than two dumbos trying to rob him in plain daylight!


He got his gas, and even some extra in the containers he carried with him, the whole time Luke standing with him. The boy seemed scared still, and Jack wanted to make sure he could keep an eye on him in case something did happen again.


They went in to pay for the gas, and Jack almost wished he hadn’t gotten any. The small gas station didn’t always advertise how much gas was going for, hoping that people would be desperate enough to pay whatever they were charging, within reason, of course. But at $3.50 a gallon, Jack felt they were gouging him. He had known the previous owner quite well, but then they had sold the place a year ago to a man named Sam, and his wife. She was known to flirt a little with Jack, and he avoided coming here as much as he could.


“What? Come on! Look, just last week you sold me gas for $2.20 per gallon. You’re charging me more than a dollar more than what it says at the pump now! Why the hike in price?” Jack asked the owner of the store, upset.


“Well, Jack, you know as well as I do that things seem to be going to hell in a hand basket. Have you watched the news lately? What they are saying may not mean anything to you, but it does to me. Have you heard that other countries are refusing to trade with the US? That includes oil. And oil makes gas, and a heck of a lot of other things. So I’m charging a little more. If I were you, I’d buy more containers and get more gas. This is only going to get worse and who knows how long it’s going to take to get better. Besides, if you treat the gas, you can keep it for quite a while, and then use it up if nothing does happen, and things get back to normal.” Sam replied.


“And I suppose you would be happy to sell that to me, too.” Jack said, resignation in his voice.


“Well, I just happen to have some! Now look, I’ll make you a deal. If you buy 10 containers for gas, the gas and the stuff to treat it with, I’ll give you a 6.5% discount.” The man said smugly, leading the way to get the supplies.


“6.5%?” Jack asked. “That’s just enough to pay for the taxes on…oh.” Jack saw what the man was trying to do. Somehow he had figured out a way to still get full price and not have to pay the taxes on the income. Jack wondered how he was able to do that, and how long he had been doing it for. “No, thank you, Sam. I will buy the supplies, but I will not be part of anything illegal.”


“Suit yourself, Jack.” Sam said, handing the containers to Jack. “But pretty soon it’s not going to matter anyway. The States will cease to exist as we know it, and it will be every man for himself. You better own a gun and know how to shoot, or you’ll be toast. I’m going to head over to Grand Rapids soon and buy more for myself, once Stephanie gets here. And maybe we’ll even close up shop and go to Duluth to do some shopping. We are going to need more guns and ammo than what we have, that’s for sure. Things are going to get real ugly, man, and quick. Murders, raping, robbing-”


Jack looked down at Luke. “Luke, why don’t you go pick some candy over by the register?” he interrupted Sam. “Maybe even some ice cream? Get one for me too, ok?” He asked as Luke nodded and then headed to the front of the store.


“Sam, I’d appreciate you not talking about such things in front of my son.” Jack said angrily. “He’s been through a lot in the last few hours, and he doesn’t need to hear about all this.”


“Well, maybe he needs a reality check, Jack,” Sam retorted. “His mama isn’t going to always be there to protect him, and he’s going to have to learn to protect himself.”


Jack felt as if he had been kicked in the stomach at the statement that Carol wasn’t going to be able to protect Luke. He felt like punching Sam in the nose for the pain he had just caused, but knew that there really was no way of him knowing that he had just lost his wife. He took a deep breath and tried to calm down. The last thing he needed was to get into a fistfight with the owner of a gas station.


“I’ll take it from here, Sam, thank you.” Jack said coldly.


Jack got the rest of the containers and brought them to the front. He paid for everything, including the treatment of the gas, the gas itself and the ice cream that Luke had picked out for them. Jack didn’t say much to Sam as they left, and he didn’t make Luke say anything to him either.


It took a couple of trips to get all the stuff back to the truck, and after eating the ice cream, Jack filled up the rest of the containers with the pre paid gas. He was loading up the last ones, when he heard someone coming up behind him. He turned around quickly, not wanting to be taken by surprise.


It was Stephanie, Sam’s wife.


“Well, hi there, Vet! How are you doing today?” She asked, tossing her hair back and batting her eyelashes. Jack was amused that she didn’t even try to hide the flirting, even though they were both committed to other people. Well, Jack had been, anyway.


“Hi Stephanie,” Jack said, barely glancing at her. She was wearing tight shorts and a tank top that allowed her pierced belly button to show. Her dark skin contrasted under her blond hair, showing her love for the sun. Too much love, Jack thought.


“So, what have you boys been up too?” She asked, grabbing hold of Luke’s cheek between her thumb and her fingers.


Luke pulled away and went to stand behind his father. “Oh, are you shy?” Stephanie asked, her voice dripping with syrup.


“Well, we were just leaving, weren’t we Luke?” Jack asked, lifting him up into the truck. Luke scooted over to the passenger’s side of the truck, quickly buckling himself in.


“Oh, that’s too bad. Care to come in for a glass of cold tea?” Stephanie asked Jack, her eyes asking much more than that.


“No, no. Thank you. We better take off,” Jack said, getting into the truck himself and quickly closing the door before Stephanie got a chance to come and stand by him, blocking the door. It had happened to him once before, and he wasn’t about to let it happen again.


“Ok, if you are sure,” Stephanie said, disappointment in her voice.


“Yup, gotta keep going. See ya later!” Jack said, rudely starting the car and taking off without giving her a chance to respond.


When they were almost at Seth’s place, Luke broke his silence. “Papa?”


Jack almost jumped in his seat, surprised that Luke wanted to talk. “Yes, Luke?” he asked quietly.


“Will I get a different Mother?” Luke asked innocently.


“Uh, I don’t know Luke. Why do you ask?” Jack asked shocked that his son would ask such a question.


“Well, Miss Stephanie told me once that she wanted to be my mother.” He said, a little panic in his voice.


“Miss Stephanie said that to you?” Jack asked looking at Luke. As Luke nodded, Jack continued. “Well, son, if you ever do get a different mother, and I’m not saying you will, it won’t be her. I’ll guarantee that. Ok?”


Luke nodded and looked relieved. “I miss Mother.” He stated simply.


“I know, Luke, I know.” Jack responded, and they made the rest of the trip in silence.





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