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River
November 18th, 2011, 06:40 AM
This is an excerpt from 'The Family', a short piece in which I ended with room for expansion into a novelette or novel, or perhaps I just ran out of steam and need to leave it lay for a year. The piece is set in the future after a global meltdown of the economy. I got the inspiration for it from actual news paper articles of the last year. After part 1 I do some back story on Marta and Mary, then I pick it up at the camp again.


Part 1

The Family

The cart clattered to a stop.
“Bobby…push and quit star gazing.”
“Why do we have to pull this old cart around for Dad? Why don’t we just leave it?”
Sean knew Bobby was not lazy; it was a typical question for a fourteen year old to ask.
“Because I’m telling you, that’s why.”
“We could go faster without it couldn’t we?”
“Yes we could, but it’s better to travel slow and careful than it is to rush. Look son, I’m trying to teach you, but if you won’t learn you won’t live long.”
Sean paused, stopped and looked back down the hill as Marta and Mary plodded along fifty yards behind them. He took out the binoculars and scanned the terrain, studying every rock, bush and tree carefully. Not seeing anything he hung the binoculars around his neck again on the leather strap.
“We’ll wait here until they get up to us, so rest while you got the chance, it’s going to be sundown soon and we’ll have to make camp off the road.”
The 84 highway was getting rough with deep gouges worn by the ice, wind and rain. There were conifer trees this high up, but when they came out of the mountains it would give way to more than a hundred miles of desert land. He had been over the route back when times were good. Off to the right sat a house, but it was better not to approach it.
Bobby found a rock and sat down on it, but Sean stood while his wife and daughter plodded toward them. Marta wasn’t really his wife, and the girl wasn’t his daughter, he had lost his wife six month earlier and she had lost her husband. He had stopped to help her bury him and Marta and the girl just fell in with him without asking.
She had been no trouble so he had not rejected her, she could cook and she was ready to do her part. Survival was difficult at best, impossible at worst and he knew his son needed a woman figure.
“Do you think it will be better in Washington Dad?”
“I don’t know for sure son, but I think it will be easier to get food as we go up the coast.”
“How you two making it?” he asked as Marta walked up to the cart and sat down where she was on the asphalt road.
“We’re doing ok, just a little slow today, you want we go faster?”
“Naw.. ain’t no use of that, gives me time to scout ahead and it might keep us out of trouble. Are you feeling off today or what? You usually walk faster than that.”
“Sean, I think I’m pregnant.” She whispered it so Bobby wouldn’t hear. The sex had just happened after they got to know one another. It was just natural.
“Well…we’ll just deal with it, not much chance of a baby these days. Too many things can cause a pregnancy to fail out here.”
“I can try to abort it Sean.”
“That’s too dangerous Marta, leave it be and let whatever happens, happen. If we fail to trust God we might as well be dead.”
She knew that he was right, for a while she had wanted to blame God for her husbands death, yet deep inside her she knew that her faith was the thing that separated her from those who would just soon as kill you as look at you, then strip your body of the rags you had on and leave you to the crows and the buzzards.
Fifteen years ago in America you could walk in to any grocery store and buy a loaf of bread or drive to any station and buy a gallon of gas.
Sean Bernard remembered those days very well, he remembered too, when the American economy began to slip. Gas rose to eight dollars a gallon and milk was nine dollars a gallon, now there wasn’t any milk to be had much, and there sure as heck weren’t any gas. A man would be hard put to find anything that would run even if you could get any gas.
The country didn’t even come close to resembling what it did in those days, the highways hadn’t seen repairs in twenty years, the floods took out many of the bridges and the grass, weeds and bushes took over the highways and it seemed to him it happened with blinding speed.
The government promised relief that it knew wouldn’t be coming, the whole freaking world was broke and they knew it all the time. What were they thinking? One disaster after another, hurricanes, earthquakes, river floods, atomic ruptures in the power plants; planes going down because they were wore out, cars and trucks stopping because there was no gas to run them. The ships stopped running because there was nothing to haul and no fuel to run them. The world economy slid and it slid hard and fast.
The government tried to stick its finger in the dam by printing more money, but the disasters just followed one after the other until the economy surrendered with a whimper, then just rolled over and died.
When the economy took its last breath the very old died in their beds without food or medical attention. It wasn’t that nobody cared; it was just that everybody was too busy trying to live off the last gasp of a failed economy to notice they were even dying in those houses.
People got mean and desperate, they marched in the streets, then they ended up shooting each other over the last scraps, then the electrical grid died, the water pumps stopped and the sewers clogged. Small pox came back during the riots and whole cities burned to the ground and the fireman and the police gave up and went home.
The government sent out the national guard and declared martial law, but a soldier don’t have much will to enforce it when he is being shot at on every corner by his own people so the soldiers said too hell with it and they just took their weapons and walked away to try and find a way to survive like anybody else.
The small pox and other diseases did its work on the very young first, and then those that mostly survived were younger than sixty years of age. Guns did their work too until the ammo ran out, which was surprisingly quick. It didn’t take atomic war to reduce the populace to sticks and stones, no it didn’t, it just took a broken modern economy with millions of starving people with not enough to eat.
The girl plodded up next and sat down, she was not Marta’s daughter, Marta had found her living in a house in Wyoming and the girl had gone feral. How she had survived was beyond him, the girl had lost the ability to talk, but she was a good hunter, her senses had been honed razor sharp and she was as good as having a dog, maybe better. The girl would let him know with a series of grunts and growls if she heard or saw anything or any one. Sean guessed at her age being 10 or 11. Now she was part of the ‘family’.
Sean and Bobby had scouted around such ‘families’ all the way from Denver. At the start people had tried to band together, but had learned that it was best to stay in very small units. There were larger bands of men with a few women hangers on, but these women were mostly used as trade goods and mistreated. The larger bands were mostly roving outlaws that were getting fewer and fewer, because they killed one another off over this and that. These roving bands of men would take what they wanted and they killed for the pleasure of killing.
“Bobby, you stay here with Marta while she and Mary rest a little, I’ll go on ahead a ways and find us a place to camp.”
“OK Dad. I think I’ll hunt a little.”
“Ok, but don’t go far son.”
Sean scanned the field of view again, and then started on up the road, he liked the times he scouted, it cleared his head of people. Sean knew he was going about half feral himself by those symptoms and he tried to guard himself against it. You hardly ever saw the pure ferals, they were insane for the most part, lone hunters in a desolate land, but they could be dangerous too.
His eyes took in everything, a burned out house, the rusted hulk of a Buick, the conifers and he looked for anything that might indicate the presence of water.
They had a two day supply of water on the cart, but he wanted to refresh it if he could. He looked off to his left and saw a different color tree. He scanned the bright spot with the binoculars and sure enough it was a willow tree about three hundred yards off the road.
He saw a lone Elk grazing nearby the tree so he knew it would be safe there. The Elk looked up at him, but then lowered its head and kept on grazing. They would camp there for the night. He took out the little hand mirror and flashed it back down the road and saw an answering flash then he sat down and waited for the family to catch up.
Bobby is a good boy, the thought flitted across his mind and was gone, sentiment did not have much place in their lives, it was a leftover from the old days when there was society and comfort, now the only comfort was a place to rest your head and, if you were lucky, something too eat.
As the boy brought the little band closer Sean saw how ragged they all were, the cloths hung off them in tatters, the clothing that they could get was rotting fast and he knew it wouldn’t be long until they would have to make leather clothing. There were a few cattle that had long ago gone wild, but they could be killed with the bows and that would be their source for leather, he thought maybe they would stop long enough to make clothing when they got to Portland, he wondered what the old city of bridges looked like now.
They would have to cross over the Columbia to the Washington side at the dam, so he wouldn’t see Portland at all. They would take the old road around Mt. St. Helens and come out at Camas Washington, then head north bypassing Vancouver, the cities were not safe at all. Sean had lived in this area many years before he had traveled east.
When the people poured out of the cities to find food, they ate the farmer’s cows, and then his horses, then some ate the farmer. The vegetarians yelled for one day about eating the horses then the vegetarians ate the cats. The waters in the west were quickly fished out, but the fish were coming back. Their goal was to try to settle on one of the many Island’s of the inside passage up near the Canadian border, or what used to be a border. Now there were no borders either with Canada or Mexico. The borders were the oceans of the world.

Sean quickly gathered some dry grass and had a fire going by the time the rest caught up. The girl immediately took her rotten quilt, laid down and went to sleep. Sean couldn’t help worrying for the girl, she literally grazed as she went, she would eat leaves, and bug’s…anything that moved.
“Marta, can’t you get her to stop that?”
“I’ve tried, I think she will eventually come round, but she’s been so traumatized it may take a while.”
“It’s a wonder we all aren’t like that, I guess.”
“Dad, look what I caught!” Bobby proudly held the rabbit out for all to see.
“That will go good son, go ahead and skin it out.”
While Bobby skinned the rabbit Sean built a fire, he had come up with a way to make crude matches out of sulfur and other chemicals that could still be had, so he used one of the precious matches. They had some trade goods on the cart and would trade an item every once in a while.
“Hello the fire!” A voice called from the road. “Can I come in? I won’t hurt you, I just want company!”
Sean Grabbed his bow, and Bobby went for the .22 on the cart. “Are you with someone?”
“No, I am alone. I promise on my uncle’s grave!” said the man.
“Your uncle’s grave has no value here mister!”
“I know, his grave had no value in Portland either!”
“You say you are from Portland?” He could dimly see the man standing at the side of the highway in the fast failing light.
“Yes, fresh from there by a few days!”
“Why is it you have no family?”
“I am an arguer of theology and must travel faster than a family can go to spread the word!”
“Come in slow and easy, keep your hands where I can see them.”
Presently the man advanced to the edge of the camp, his hands spread open before him.
“Stop right there where I can search you mister.”
The man stopped while Sean patted him down, “I’ll have the knife until you leave our presence arguer.”
“Well enough, it is just a tool for feeding my self and not for war.”
Mary had awakened and she grunted her displeasure at the mans presence, “Feral huh?” he asked.
“Yes, she is a feral. Come and sit by the fire, but sit over here away from her, your presence disturbs her.”
“Yes, I have seen such on my journey. It is sad.”
“You said you come from Portland. Will you tell us about Portland? We aim to be near there in a few days.”
“Yes, I can tell you about Portland, or San Francisco, or Seattle.”
“I have heard of you arguers, but have never met one. How do you survive and what do you fore tell?”
“We survive by trading Bibles mostly, and we foretell the future.”
“Do you have one? Let me see it.”
The man reached into one of his coat pockets to produce a small but rather ragged New Testament, he handed it to Sean. Marta was quiet as she cooked the rabbit, but her eyes were on the men as were Bobby’s and Mary stared at the man intently.
The fire light was now casting long shadows as darkness had fallen completely. Somewhere a coyote had begun its nightly song as it spoke to the night and the wild.
Sean ran his fingers over the leather binding of the little book, “A beautiful object indeed.”

“Yes, they are scarce, but I have it up here, and in here.” The man pointed to his head and his chest.”
“I remember when these were plentiful before the people burned them.”
“Yes. Now there are few and a precious commodity indeed.” The man reached into his sack and produced two cans of food which had labels on them. One was peas and carrots the other was corn. “Add these as my humble addition to your meal my friends.”
It was rare to have canned goods with the labels still readable and Sean wanted to ask him where he found them, but it was not polite to ask where a man got his food, so he said nothing.
Marta produced a pan from the cart while Bobby went to work on the tops with his knife. Mary crowded close to watch him open them, her eyes wide while Marta tossed the contents in the pan and sat it on the fire. The fat off the rabbit made hissing sounds as it slowly dripped into the fire below it. Marta reached over and turned the steal spit while the little band waited patiently.
Soon they were eating, Mary grabbed her bowl and receded to the edge of the firelight and watched with wary eyes as she consumed the food.
“Tell us about Portland if you will sir.”
“I will, but there is not much to tell, it is like other cities, the buildings are crumbling and it is very dangerous in them, an arguer was killed while I was there, then they ate him under a bridge. T’was very sad indeed. The cities have many feral’s in them.”
“Why do you call yourselves arguers?”
“Because we argue for peace and caring for others, and we foretell the future.”
“Then you are philosophers also, as well as foretellers?”
“Something like that, yes, but it is only from this book, and not any other.”
“How can you argue from a single book?” Marta asked as she slowly chewed her food.
“My dear, this is the book of life and profound words of wisdom handed down through the ages.”
“How is that sir?” She looked intently at him. “Can it tell us where to find food? Can it tell us of coming weather storms, or where to find clothing?”
The man rubbed his hands together as he held them out to the fire, “No, it cannot, but it foretold of the day you would seek food more than gold.”
The night deepened as the little band enjoyed the company of another and they talked long into the night.
“It is time to sleep.” Mary had dozed at the fire and Bobby’s head was beginning to nod, it was not often they had full stomachs.
As Sean and Marta prepared their bed she whispered “Do you think the man is sane?”
“Yes, I believe he is very sane.” He whispered back to her, “Now we must sleep.”
He laid his hand on her stomach and closed his eyes, Marta took note of that and her heart was full as well as her stomach. She wondered about the life that was forming there.

Cody
November 25th, 2011, 05:48 AM
I read this twice, because I wanted to be able to tell you how I feel about it in a helpful and honest manner.
First I would like to say that post apocalypse stories are among my very favorite, so I was excited to read this. That being said I have two constructive crits.

1.) The opening sounds like The Road by Cormac McCarthy as retold by River. It only starts to feel different once you get into hearing about all of the characters. I think a different opening would help this. I mean, you do open with a boy pushing a cart and being scolded by an older more knowledgeable man.

2.)Some of the dialogue is a little unrealistic sounding. For example:


Sean ran his fingers over the leather binding of the little book, “A beautiful object indeed.”

I don't know anyone who talks like that. Not even remote living, survive by the sweat of your brow, bible huggin' Amish type people talk like that. I decided that for me it was the word "indeed" that made it sound a bit like a high fantasy, dragon hunting, knight shot hundreds of years into the future in order to led the end of day survivors to the fertile coast.

This sentence is also pretty interesting:

He whispered back to her, “Now we must sleep.”

Why is this seed bearing boy so intense sounding even in the sleep night hours?

It's ok for people to have that kind of dialogue if you explain why. For example maybe everyone learns how to read by reading old tattered copies of Beowulf or some other once common classroom staple.

I LIKE THIS STORY AND I HOPE YOU KEEP MAKING PARTS OF IT AVAILABLE FOR US TO READ. I wrote that last sentence in all caps so that you would know I really meant it.

River
November 25th, 2011, 03:26 PM
I read this twice, because I wanted to be able to tell you how I feel about it in a helpful and honest manner.
First I would like to say that post apocalypse stories are among my very favorite, so I was excited to read this. That being said I have two constructive crits.

1.) The opening sounds like The Road by Cormac McCarthy as retold by River. It only starts to feel different once you get into hearing about all of the characters. I think a different opening would help this. I mean, you do open with a boy pushing a cart and being scolded by an older more knowledgeable man.

2.)Some of the dialogue is a little unrealistic sounding. For example:



I don't know anyone who talks like that. Not even remote living, survive by the sweat of your brow, bible huggin' Amish type people talk like that. I decided that for me it was the word "indeed" that made it sound a bit like a high fantasy, dragon hunting, knight shot hundreds of years into the future in order to led the end of day survivors to the fertile coast.

This sentence is also pretty interesting:


Why is this seed bearing boy so intense sounding even in the sleep night hours?

It's ok for people to have that kind of dialogue if you explain why. For example maybe everyone learns how to read by reading old tattered copies of Beowulf or some other once common classroom staple.

I LIKE THIS STORY AND I HOPE YOU KEEP MAKING PARTS OF IT AVAILABLE FOR US TO READ. I wrote that last sentence in all caps so that you would know I really meant it.


Thanks so much for the crit. The language. Yes, I wondered about that myself as to whether is was suitable.
As too the beginning of the story I have never read 'The Road', I heard there was a movie by that name, but I assure you any resemblance to someone else's story is purely coincidental.

I am taking everything you mentioned to heart and will take another look at the story for possible changes, although the start will remain the same.
So, ok, lets continue on with the story a little further.

'The Family' continued.

Part 2
Marta
Marta and Tom Burke had it made, they had a house worth over a half million dollars, a fat bank account and an insurance business he had inherited from his father who had inherited it from his father, the insurance business had been running in Denver since 1902. A real rocky mountain high, then the economy started to slide. The insurance company paid off claims with paper by the wheel barrow load, until there was no more insurance business left.
The people spread out from the cities like locust looking for food and if the farmers tried to hold them back they were killed and in some cases, eaten for their trouble. Like a crimson tide the people rolled over that land until an exceptional hard winter stopped them, then death and disease took over and people starved to death and froze to death by the droves. Come the spring thaw the buzzards and crows had their own rock mountain high. They got what the coyotes and the wild dogs left, then the neighbor hood pooch became dangerous as a wolf and people hunted them for food.
Tom and Marta held out as long as they could, then they left too, and they nearly starved to death on the plains of America before they finally staggered back to their home in Denver. Much of Denver was burned to the ground, people tried to build fires in their houses and the houses burned to the ground, overgrown yards caught fire and more houses burned to the ground, but all they found living in their half million dollar house was a squirrel and a feral cat.
They had locked the house up tight and boarded the windows before they left, and for some reason known only to God, the house was left alone.
They cleaned the house, caught and ate the squirrel and the cat left for a safer neighborhood. Tom left the house the next morning and he came back that evening carrying a calf he had found and killed over his shoulders, he gave the prearranged knock on the door and Marta opened it for him. He dumped the calf on the shiny marbled floored entry way.
“Couldn’t you have taken the head off it?”
“Huh, I never thought of it.”
They took the calf into the kitchen and cut off enough for dinner, and then he hung the rest in the garage where it would stay cold that night.
“How is it out there Tom?”
“Its just down right medieval is what it is out there; maybe we shouldn’t have come back here.”
“We’re eating tonight aren’t we? We would have starved or froze to death if we hadn’t”
“Yeah, I know.”


He looked over at the fire place at the little wood that was stacked there, “I thought I told you to get some wood up today.”
“Wood is getting hard to find Tom.”
“Well darn it cut the neighbors trees, they’re dead, and they are not going to need them.”
“I just never thought to cut George and Anna’s trees Tom.”
“Yeah, I know honey, I’m doing lots of things I never thought I would be doing, but they are gone honey, we have no laws. They would have wanted us to have them anyway.”
“I’ll cut them tomorrow.”
After a hard winter in the house, Marta and Tom left Denver in the spring bound for the Columbia Gorge and points north. 20 miles west of Cheyenne they found a house a little ways off the road. They helloed the house but no one answered, they opened the door and there was a young girl about ten years old curled up in the corner asleep.
Tom walked over to the girl and touched her on the shoulder and the girl came out of it and lit into him with her clawed fingers leaving him bloody, she hit the floor running and ran into the woods a few yards away.
Marta felt terrible about it, but the girl never came back that night. The next morning they split a rusted tin of peas between them.
“We’ve got to wait her out Tom, we can’t leave her here.”
“What are we going to do with her if we catch her?”
“Take her with us; we have to do this Tom.” Marta’s mothering instincts had take over and Tom knew there was not a thing he could do about it, even though it meant another mouth to feed.
“Ok, but I don’t think I can catch her, she’s fast.”
Marta looked at the scratches on Tom’s face and grinned, “I’d say she is a little fast.”
“Then what are we going to do? Trap her?”
“Not that way Tom, I think this is her home, and she’ll come back on her own today if we just wait, I have a little of that old hard candy we found.”
“Do you think you can catch her with that?”
“I think so if we don’t make any sudden moves, we’ll just sit here and wait.”
They sat outside the door of the house and waited until around noon then the girl appeared out of the trees. Her hair was matted with pine needles as she stood in the tree line staring at the house.
Marta held out her hand with the candy and hunger drove the girl to take a step or two, Marta began humming in a soft voice. The song her mother had sang to her when she was little.
The girl looked at Marta, then the candy and then back at Marta. Marta stayed stock still and the girl began inching her way toward Marta and the candy.
It took the girl ten minutes to make the twenty feet, when she got close enough for Marta to see into her wild eyes, she could see how utterly filthy the girl was. Eventually the girl took the candy and popped it in her mouth and her eyes went wide when she tasted the candy. She held out her hand for more and grunted, then made mewling sounds.
Marta fed her the last peace she had then held her hands open wide; the girl looked questioningly at Marta then popped her thumb in her mouth and began sucking it. Marta made motions for the girl to come close, the girl hesitantly stepped closer.
Marta kept humming softly until the girl hesitantly reached out and felt the soft skin on her face, then the girl started mewling again, Marta took her hand and pressed it to her lips and kissed them gently, then the backs of her arms and the girl laid her head on Marta’s shoulder and began crying.
Tom watched in amazement as Marta claimed that girl for her own, “Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” He said softly. At that the girl looked at him a little wildly, but Marta pointed at him and hummed softly.
They fed the girl that night and slept in the cabin, and the next morning Marta motioned the girl to come with them, the girl followed along about ten feet behind.
Two days later Tom took sick and they stopped in an empty house to rest, tom shivered with chills that night and was unable to stand the next morning. Marta bathed his face with water all that next day, but by night fall he was deathly sick and a day later he passed on.
Marta found a bent shovel and began to dig a grave between the house and the road for her Tom, she scraped the hard ground feeling nothing, and her plan was to kill herself and the girl as soon as the dirt was over her husband’s body.
She got the hole about two feet deep, and in her grief she didn’t hear the cart stop on the road or see the man and the boy standing there watching her.
She jumped as the man walked up and gently took the shovel out of her hand and started digging, Marta stood in shock just watching the man dig, the girl had taken off around the house then had come back to stand close to the wall. He got the hole about five feet deep then looked up at Marta and motioned for her to hand him the body.
The man laid the frail body gently on the ground then crawled out of the grave and began shoveling the dirt over him, and Marta noticed then that he was sweating profusely. When he was done he gently patted the mound with his shovel and stood up.
He took off his cap and said, “Is there words you want to say ma’am? I don’t know the proper words.”
“No, there’s nothing to say accept he was my love, my protector and my life. What can I say but that?”

”I know, I had to bury my wife not long ago, but then life goes on some how.”
“Does it?”
“Well, yes it does, it has too.”
“We better be going, my boy and I, we have a long way too go.”
“Where are you going?”
“We’re heading a little north of the Straights of Juan De Fuca.”
“Isn’t that around Seattle?”
“Yes, only we’re going further north to try to stop on one of the inner islands hoping to be able to live and survive there.”
The man twisted his cap in his hand, “We’ll be going now.” And he turned and walked toward the road where the boy waited with the cart.
Marta motioned the girl to come and for no reason that she could think of, fell in behind the man and the boy as they started up the road.
The man looked behind him at them, but said nothing. Later on Marta introduced herself to the man, and then introduced the girl as Mary.
“But we don’t know the girl’s name.”
“No, but everybody should have a name, so from now on, her name is Mary.”
“So it is.” Said the man and they plodded on together.

River
November 25th, 2011, 04:12 PM
Cody, I have been sitting here the last thirty minutes trying to ask myself why I used the peculiar language I did in that story.
I think I was trying to portray how much things had changed in their time 20 years after a cataclysmic meltdown of the worlds economy. Not a good idea? Perhaps so. It certainly gave me food for thought on story construct.
Cheers.

Cody
November 26th, 2011, 12:42 AM
Cody's HUrrahs:

>I like the change in dialogue.
> I like how part two goes back to explain some elements of part one.
> I personally love feral children irls. I'm always looking for more cases to read on 'em. Have you done research on feral children?

Cody's food for thought:
>
I think I was trying to portray how much things had changed in their time 20 years after a cataclysmic meltdown of the worlds economy. How much has our own language changed in the last 20 years? How does language change and what kinds of pressures cause it to change? I think that there is some very interesting background research that can be done to help you create a really authentic sounding dictionary of slang, or new jargon for your people to use. The other thing to keep in mind is a multicultural aspect. Even if all of your characters are white and English speaking, they still may come into contact with non English speaking people, or warnings left in non-English, especially if they are in area's which had been rich in diversity prior the melt down.

>Tom Burke is the name is the name of an actor. I'm not sure how well known he is though. I don't see any point is giving us his last name if he is the one in the relationship who dies.This doesn't seem to be a world in which last names matter. Think back to why we have last names and how last names worked in different cultures at different times. The purpose of last names in ancient china and how they worked there versus how and why they worked with viking explorers. What would be the purose of last names in your world? Will people keep them so they can find family members more easily by word of mouth, will people change them, drop them? This is a world with out paper work, anyone can be anything. Will people who travel together adopt a new name together?

>Eating food from rusty cans can make you sick. Adults, especially adult women, are going to have some knowledge on what makes you sick. It's how we teach our children what not to eat. Even if they are mega hungry they may not choose to risk becoming sick, especially if they have each other to live for. I think that the guy should still die though, that's cool. I wasn't expecting him to die, because he seemed like the main character to me.

All in all this is a fun story to read. You have a lot of stuff to think about to make a world that the reader can get into. I can't wait for more.

River
November 26th, 2011, 01:07 AM
Ok, if you would like we will continue with third part of the story. I end the story on a vague note. We pick the story back up at the camp after a side run into Marta's story and how she came to be in 'The Family'.

Where God Dwells
Part 3
Dawn broke on a cloudy day as Sean looked over to see the man had already started a fire, he shivered in the early morning cold and he crawled out from his covers.
The man sat and stared into the fire saying nothing, “So arguer, where will you be heading today?”
“Where ever the road shall take me.”
“This road can take you many places providing you will live to see them.”
“That is the truth.”
“Can you tell us of our future?”
“You will find what you are looking for.”
“And what is it I am looking for?”
“Others like you.”
“And where will these others be?”
“At the end of your road. What you are to do is important, there is nothing more important than family.”
“But these aren’t my blood accept the boy there.”
“They are your family, without family the world would not survive at all, those who ignore family will not survive, you will see my friend.” The man got up, slung his bag over his shoulder and prepared to leave. He laid his hand on Sean’s arm and mumbled some strange words then walked toward the road in the early morning light.
Sean walked over and shook Marta, “Up, we must be going.” Mary sat on her one cover, Sean doubted the girl ever slept more than a few minutes at a time, the girl stared at him out of eyes gone wild.
They quickly broke camp and were on the road in a few minutes, they would not eat until noon unless they took game, but game was scarce.
Two days later they came to a sign at the foot of Cabbage Mountain, Sean could make out the faded sign that said ‘Wildhorse Casino 200 hundred feet’. He looked in the direction of the arrow and saw the low buildings.
Mary began to grunt and growl, pointing at the buildings, “She senses something out there Sean.” Marta said as she looked off at the buildings in the distance.
“I know.” Sean studied the buildings carefully, but could see no movement, “Could be an animal.”
“I don’t think so from the way she is acting.”
“Dad, my feet are getting bad.” Bobby said as the examined his feet.
“We have to stop a day or two soon, but it is too dangerous here, Mary senses something or someone in those buildings, we’ll have to keep moving along.”

They walked for two more miles and came to what used to be a roadside park, the concrete tables were crumbling, but there was evidence of previous fires, the low trees led off in the distance toward the Columbia River. On the other side of the road was bare grass covered land devoid of trees accept a low bush here and there.
“We’ll have to stop here; if we try to go further we will become too disabled to walk.”
Bobby sat down with a sigh and pulled the hard leathered and ragged boot off his foot, his feet were bleeding. His and Marta’s feet were not in much better shape, Mary wouldn’t wear shoes and hers were in the best shape of the all.
Up to now they had managed to scavenge footwear, mostly off dead bodies, but footwear was getting harder to come by and the rotten leather didn’t last long, it also irritated their feet. They wore rags wrapped around their feet stuffed in oversized shoes when they could get them.
“I’m going to hunt Bobby; you stay here and build a fire.”
“Ok Dad, how far will you go?”
“I have to hunt until I find something; we have to have fresh meat.”
Sean took up his bow with the few precious arrows and walked into the trees to hunt, he had gone no more than a mile toward the river when he heard dogs fighting about fifty yards away. He came to a small clearing and saw a pack of wild dogs fighting over a deer carcass, he knew the dogs were dangerous, but he was determined to have the deer.
“Go on, get away!” Sean shouted at the animals, the dogs stopped fighting immediately and a couple of them took off into the trees, but there were three large dogs that stood snarling at him, not backing down. Sean picked up a rock and hurled it at one of the dogs, hitting him on the hind quarters. The dog yelped and went limping off into the bush.
The other two dog’s backed down and walked to the tree line and stood there growling as Sean advanced toward the Carcass.
He kept his eyes on the dogs as he cut off what he could carry, and then backed slowly away as the dogs moved back in. Soon the whole pack was back fighting, nipping and snarling at one another over what he had left.
He made his way back to the road and breaking out of the bush he saw Mary laying in a fetal position sucking her thumb. He knew immediately that something was wrong when he saw her that way. The cart was gone along with their supplies and he knew Marta would never take the cart.
“Mary, where are the others?”
She just laid there whimpering and mewling, “Mary, you have to tell me, where are Marta and Bobby?”
She stood up slowly, her thumb still in her mouth and with the other hand pointed back up the road.
“Has someone taken them?”
She mewled again with a series of grunts and growls and pointed back up the road again.
He guessed she had sensed an attack and faded off into the bushes. Her senses were tuned as good as any animal. He remembered her reaction to the Casino. He threw the Deer carcass on the ground and with his bow and arrows walked onto the road that led back toward Cabbage Mountain. He hoped she would follow and she did, walking along about 20 feet behind him.
At length the sign again came into view and he cut off the road into the sparse trees. He came to the edge of the tree’s that bordered the old parking lot which comprised about a half acre. He carefully scanned the building with his binoculars but saw no sign of life.
The paved area had cracked with the years and grass had sprung up but he knew he could not easily cross that open stretch of broken pavement without being seen by a sentry, so he squatted down to wait for dark.
He waited, staying stock still until the pain in his legs forced him to change position and he lay down under the tree as the hours passed slowly. He prayed that his efforts would not be in vane.
Darkness came to the land as he lay still, he saw and smelled smoke rising from the large single story building. He knew that many of the Indians would have survived but they would be further back on what used to be the Indian reservation.
Many of the Indians lives never changed much when the economy fell, they went on living as they had thousands of years before the governments had taken their land and so he suspected it was no Indians that had taken them, but a band of outlaws that had established themselves on this part of the road.
He breathed a sigh of relief as clouds moved in and as the night became black as pitch he looked around but couldn’t see or hear any sign of the girl as he left the trees and walked slowly toward the building.
He felt the ground with his feet as he made his way over the broken asphalt and at length came to a wall. He slowly made his way toward what used to be a double glass door and when he got close to the doorway he saw a man about three feet from the entrance standing leaning against the wall.
He carefully knocked an arrow in his bowstring by feel, then aiming at the man he felt the bowstring begin to quiver. He let go the arrow and heard a thunk as the arrow buried itself in the mans throat. The man dropped to the ground making a gurgling sound, he clutched at the arrow a minute then lay still.
He stooped by the body and worked the arrow out of the mans throat shoving his skinning knife along the path the arrow had taken to loosen the head of the arrow.
He then crept toward the doorway where shards of glass still littered the ground around. He stepped carefully so as to not make a sound of glass grinding under his feet, He came to the edge of the doorway and saw a firelight which lit up the building inside. The reflected fire light revealed a large foyer that was about 15 feet wide and two more of what had been glass doors leading into the Casino proper. He crept across the floor to the edge of the next doorway and peered around at a surreal scene.
Slot machines lay along the walls in piles and the outlaws had built a fire in the middle of the floor. The smoke rose through the broken glass of the ceiling.
He saw Marta and Bobby tied to a slot machine, bound at the wrists and ankles, but the next thing he saw made his stomach turn because there was part of a body they had been eating off of hanging near the fire, with two men gnawing on the bones of a human being.
The bile rose into his throat as he fought to breath and he prayed he could kill them. He would have to shoot an arrow and rush the other man with his knife.
Marta saw him and he motioned for her to stay still, Bobby appeared asleep and didn’t steer.
He knocked the same arrow he had removed from the mans throat and stepped into the doorway and let go the arrow which embedded itself in one of the mens chest.
He shrieked with the wildness and fear of it as he rushed headlong toward the man who had jumped up. Adrenaline rushed through his whole body as he neared the filthy and loathsome creature that had once been someone, but was now wild and completely given over to Satan for his demise.
The man slashed wildly at him with a knife and he felt the blade as it struck his shoulder. He grabbed the mans arm and used the momentum to plunge the blade of his knife to the hilt in the mans chest, he struck again and again until he realized the man was dead. He looked wildly around, but there was no one else.
He sunk to the floor as weakness took over after the rush of adrenaline and fear had done its work, and then realized he was sitting in amongst body parts and he shivered and forced himself to his feet.
Bobby was awake, “Dad! I knew you’d come!” Marta, its Dad!”
Marta looked at Sean with dull eyes that had seen to much as he cut the ropes that bound them hand and foot.
When the ropes were loose she stood up and held him tightly as Bobby stood watching him with awe.
“We have to get clear of this place Marta, he said as he gently pried her arms loose, “Let’s go son. Let’s get her out of here.”
“Ok dad, I was really scared.”
“I know you were son, I was too.”
He led Marta passed the two men he had killed and out the door into the fresh air, there was still no sign of Mary as they walked across the parking lot, the moon had come out and the previous clouds were gone.
Marta still said nothing as the broken concrete picnic tables came into view. There was no sign of Mary; her blanket still lay where she had left it.
Shawn gathered some dry grass and tucked it under some sticks then struck one of his precious matches to light it. The dry grass caught immediately and blazed up with light and warmth. Marta huddled by the fire as Shawn threw on more wood.
“Where’s Mary?” Marta asked. It was the first words Marta had spoken.
“I don’t know, she’s out there somewhere.”
“This time I was glad she’s a feral Sean, she sensed them coming and went off into the bushes before they could catch her.”
15 minutes later Mary slowly entered the firelight and looked around then rushed into Marta’s arms. Marta held her tightly and Shawn tucked a blanket around the two of them, then he lay down to rest beside the fire by Bobby.
He awoke an hour later as the sky was turning pink in the east. He surveyed the camp, Bobby was still asleep and Marta and Mary slept huddled together under the blanket.
He got up quietly and began to build up the fire, adding more dry grass and sticks and the coals that were under the ash caught quickly.
He found the Deer meat where he had dropped it and cut off thin slices, he had no pan to put it in as the pans had been on the cart so he cut a spit from green tree limbs and soon had the meat cooking over the fire.
Marta awoke and eased Mary’s arms away and stood up and for once Mary did not awaken.
She came over and sat down beside him, leaning against him, the tears flowing freely.
He put his arm around her and let her cry, he knew she needed that. At length he spoke, “I have to go back after the cart honey. I’ll leave Bobby here with you.”
“Don’t go back there Sean, that is an evil place.”
“I know, but we have to have the supplies, we can’t make it to the head of the gorge without them. I have to go get them.”
“Be careful Sean. You’re hurt!” She saw the blood on his shirt.
“Its ok, it’s not deep.”
“let me take care of you Sean.”
“Ok Marta.” He looked at her with endearment and wonder in his eyes as she began to tenderly clean the wound the best she could with a piece of the old clothing she carried in her pockets.
When the sun was up about an hour he walked back out onto the road that led back to the Casino and in an hour he came back to that miserable place. He found the cart with the supplies inside the foyer of the building, one of the wheels were bent a little, but without a backward glance he pulled the cart back toward the camp.
When he arrived back at the camp the girls and Bobby were sitting waiting to go. He knew they wouldn’t get far that day because they were already tired from the night before, but he wanted to put as many miles from that area as he could before they stopped again. There was only the sound of the cart as they journeyed on with the sun beating down in the clear skies of eastern Oregon.
They rested at noon, finding shade under some trees by the side of the road. The road was getting rougher where the asphalt had buckled and given over to the grass seeds and tufts of grass and bushes in the asphalt made the going rougher than it had been previously.
They walked until about 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the heat until they came to a bridge that ran over a gully, the gully had running water that made it’s way toward the Columbia river a half mile away.
They cut off to the right and made their way down what had once been a dirt road that led to the creek below and made camp.
Marta opened two of the cans and they had what Bobby called a ‘surprise supper’, they boiled some of the Deer meat that was already going ranked in the heat of the day and had a stew with corn and green beans. Sean knew that those old cans of food would soon start to be poison; he was surprised that they had lasted this long.
As they sat by the fire Marta spoke suddenly, “Sean, I don’t know whether I want to live or not.”
“Many have committed suicide, but I don’t think it is the right thing, I don’t think God would be pleased with it.” He looked at her intently.
“But is there a God to be displeased?”
“The arguer said there is, and he read from the book that he claims is the word of God to us.”
“How do we know that is the word of a God to us? Why doesn’t he show himself to us if there is a God?”
“I think he does, you are a good woman, Bobby is a good boy, Mary is a good girl and we have met others on the road who are good, I think that is where God is, in the good hearts, there are bad hearts also and I do not think God is in them, but he would if they would let him be in them.”
“The arguer says we will find what we are looking for if we do not lose heart.”
“And what is it we are looking for?”
“Others like us where we can protect each other and live in peace.”
“Those men would have killed us and eaten us, where was God then?”
“But you can see their end; they didn’t live to eat you.”
“If you had not come and killed them they would have.”
“Yes, but they didn’t, my arrows and the point of my knife were their fate.”
“Sean, if there are good men left in the world I hope they are like you.”
“We’ll speak of your ordeal no further, you will live and not die, and you will be happy. Promise me you will not take your own life.”
“I promise you I will not take my own life. My life is in your hands my love.”
“And in Gods hands?”
“And in Gods hands.”
Night fell gently on the land as the tired little band found rest by the side of a creek in eastern Oregon after the fall of man and God dwelt in the hearts of men, women and children in that desolate place.
The next day they came to a highway sign that read. ‘Umatilla Army Depot 5 Miles’ and under the sign was another scrawled in poor hand, ‘Radiation Hazard pass through quickly’.
They passed through quickly until they found another of the same signs, then they made camp and lay down to sleep by the fire.
The Wolves, the coyotes and the wild dogs prowled the land for their food, but they staid at the edge of the fires light that dotted the land where men dwelt and God dwelt in them.
The end

Cody
November 26th, 2011, 01:48 AM
>I paused at


“But these aren’t my blood accept the boy there.”
“They are your family, without family the world would not survive at all, those who ignore family will not survive, you will see my friend.”

You whacked us in the face with the whole message of the book..

It's almost insulting to have that kind of an after school message thrown out into the open in that way.

It's beautiful if you want to have the whole story be about fictive kin and what family really means etc, but you don't have to hit us with that line, we get it from reading. The whole show don't tell thing you hear from teachers.

> Some right hand sided paragraph indentation might help to make your work more readable.
> The ending with them having god in them is just the same as The Road ending. The road was a book , they later made a movie about it. You should read the book it's very good. It's a quick easy read, because of how the author writes.
> Also this girl is kind of a tramp, her husband just died didn't he? she's moved on pretty fast. Mourning period much? I wonder what God would have to say about that.
> I understood part one, I liked how part two was a flash back to explain how they all met, Part three goes right where part one left off? Things did not transition well to part three.
> I think it is great that you got the whole story out there, because now you can do a little house keeping on it. I really think that better paragraphing will make this more readable and get you more feed back. There are some people on this site who give great advice, if you made your piece look less messy I'm sure they would comment.

> the family and god in man message is adorable. t is the kind of short story that a lot of people would love to read with just some housework.

River
November 26th, 2011, 07:01 AM
Cody,
Thanks for the feed back. Sorry about the lack of white space, the forum setup seems to take the white space out when you copy and paste from Microsoft Word and makes it a head ache to read.

Message? There is no message, I simply spun a yarn around the question..what might it be like twenty years after a global economic melt down?

I don't know if its kosher or not to give a link to your book in this area of the forum, but in this case I think it might be and you can go here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/89326 to read the story with white space if you like.
The book is free to down load.
Again, thanks for the interest in the story.


>I paused at



You whacked us in the face with the whole message of the book..

It's almost insulting to have that kind of an after school message thrown out into the open in that way.

It's beautiful if you want to have the whole story be about fictive kin and what family really means etc, but you don't have to hit us with that line, we get it from reading. The whole show don't tell thing you hear from teachers.

> Some right hand sided paragraph indentation might help to make your work more readable.
> The ending with them having god in them is just the same as The Road ending. The road was a book , they later made a movie about it. You should read the book it's very good. It's a quick easy read, because of how the author writes.
> Also this girl is kind of a tramp, her husband just died didn't he? she's moved on pretty fast. Mourning period much? I wonder what God would have to say about that.
> I understood part one, I liked how part two was a flash back to explain how they all met, Part three goes right where part one left off? Things did not transition well to part three.
> I think it is great that you got the whole story out there, because now you can do a little house keeping on it. I really think that better paragraphing will make this more readable and get you more feed back. There are some people on this site who give great advice, if you made your piece look less messy I'm sure they would comment.

> the family and god in man message is adorable. t is the kind of short story that a lot of people would love to read with just some housework.

Cody
November 26th, 2011, 10:35 AM
Oh man I like the picture you made for the cover. Did you draw dirt around her mouth?

Kevin
November 26th, 2011, 05:14 PM
Sorry, no critique here, just some observation. Your story made me think...

Anything you do, there's always a message. Art, writing, whatever, is a reflextion of you, the creator. Your ideas come with it. It's coming out of you, out of your creative head. You can't help but infuse it with your ideas. Some of these ideas are original, others come from outside sources and have been accepted by you.

That said, "post-apocolypse" has become a genre, like sci-fi, or vampires. As people "play" around with these stories types a certain amount of collective agreement, or "rules" start to accumilate. As you think about it, your bound to come up with the same conclusions as others regarding what things would be like. I mean that in a "post-apocalyptic world" there are certain givens, such as, that people would have to find food , and that they would have to salvage things they find from the "before" times, or else accumilate "skills" that hunter gatherer societies had, like using bows and arrows. These are things that just make sense. Otherwise, the story is just not believable.

So, what makes your story stand out, unique..? (for me, my own work, that's a toughee)I think your story is more about relationships than survival skills.