Life After Death Episode 5

window with rain
Sean walked out to the woods behind the house to get Quinn for supper. His boy had a fort in the trees that he played in some times. He usually just called for him, but this time he wanted to be out there. Knocking on the door, Sean called out, “Quinn, it’s time for supper, buddy.” There was no answer, so he opened the door. Quinn was sitting inside with his back to Sean. “Hey Eskimo,” Sean said, using his pet name from the Manfred Mann song, “Whatcha doin’?” Quinn turned around. His face was white. Reaching out to his dad he said, “Am I dead, dad? Why am I dead, dad? Sean watched in horror as Quinn’s face seemed to melt away leaving only a skull. His reaching hands became skeleton hands. “Why did you let me die, dad? WHY DID YOU LET ME DIE!!!

Sean woke with a yell and sat up quickly on the couch. As tears streamed down his face he put his feet on the floor. With his head in his hands, he cried. “Quinn. Oh buddy,” he sobbed. “I’m so sorry. Clair, Alex. Oh, my beautiful girls. I…I’m so sorry. Grace, oh Grace. Why? Why me? Why was I left behind?” Angus trotted up to him and he threw his arms around her neck, burying his face in her fur. She licked at him and whimpered. “You miss them too, don’t you, you big softy?” Scratching behind her ears he said, “Yeah, ya do.” Sitting back and wiping his eyes on his sleeves, he looked out the window. It was wet with rain. He and Grace loved living in the country. The window revealed their large front yard and the lake. They had always marveled at the changing seasons, watching it all together. He felt so alone. It was an empty, heavy feeling like a ton of bricks on his chest, making it hard to breathe. Angus jumped up on the couch and encouraged him to pet her more. He wasn’t quite alone after all. He had Angus. At that moment, he really felt very thankful for that.

Scratching Angus behind the ears, he shook off the remnants of the dream. Seeing Quinn’s face like that, so vivid and real really scared him. Getting up from the couch, he went to the fridge and downed about half of the water jug. Looking at the bottle reminded him that he was drinking rain water, which definitely had a different taste than his well water. And that reminded him that he would have to do something about the power issue. He was in a dire situation and had no intention of living like a cave man. He wanted electricity and the comforts he was used to, like a shower. Lifting his right arm he smelled his tee shirt. Pretty ripe, he thought. Shaking his head and arms, he cleared his mind. Some kind of solar power would be the best option, but how was he going to make that happen? Then he remembered that a friend had told him about a solar power company in the Minneapolis area. What had he said about it? The company sold solar power systems for home owners. This sounded good, but how was he going to find the place? Without his beloved Google search engine it would be like the proverbial, needle in a haystack thing.

The rain storm subsided and he and Angus went outside. Once again, the rain barrel was full so he dipped out a pail full of water for boiling later. Then he filled the gas tank on the generator and busied himself with other tasks like checking the new garden plants he had put in cold frames. They were looking good. The sun came out and warmed the air. Taking a break, he lit a cigar and sat enjoying the warmth as Angus romped around the yard. Suddenly it came to him. Blaine! His friend said the solar company was in Blaine. He was very happy that that memory had surfaced. It would make it a lot easier to find the company and hopefully figure out how to set up a solar power system. If this place sold power systems for home owners, they should have some kind of instructions on how things hooked up. Unless they did the set up for you and you just enjoyed the power. He was going to have to go to the library and see what information he could find. Going into town and entering buildings was a risky thing to do. Especially the library with all the shelves and places that could conceal a person. He was going to have to go armed. He didn’t like it, but he was going to have to do it.

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Life After Death Episode 2

grave with stones

He spent a long time that day, sitting by the graves. He just didn’t know what else to do. Angus, who was a female Husky, stayed with him. He had always liked the name Angus, and when they got her as a puppy, his wife thought a girl’s name would be better, but he had won her over. The dog wouldn’t care, he said. She would answer to what ever they called her, so Angus it was. She was a good, loyal dog who had loved them all and protected the kids. The kids. My kids, he thought, and cried again. Some time later, it started to rain. A light sprinkle, the kind his wife had loved so much. They stayed for a little while longer and then slowly walked down to the house. Just as they went in, the electricity went out. He went to the basement to check the breaker box and found that nothing was wrong. Upstairs, he looked out the window at the house across the county road. The people there always left their porch light on. Now it was off. Well that’s it he thought. The electric is gone. He and his wife grew a pretty good size garden and liked to can fruit and vegetables so their pantry was pretty well stocked. It was almost April which meant that the garden would need to be started up soon. They always planned ahead and had all the seed ready for planting. Cold frames had already been started and now it would mean more than ever. It would mean he might not starve.

Later in the evening when lights from the lake houses should have been on, it was pitch black. His house was about a thousand feet away from the nearest house on the lake and he could always see them down the road. But there were no lights anywhere. None across the lake either. It proved he was right. The coal plant where their electricity came from must have shut down. Nobody left to run it he supposed. He had a small generator and a couple cans of gas so running a cord into the house gave he and Angus a lamp, and a hot plate they used to make candles with afforded him a hot supper. Angus had dog food. He would have to come up with something better than this or times would get tough. Their water pump in the basement was wired right into the breaker box so he had no running water. They had a rain barrel though so boiling a potful on the hot plate gave them something to drink. He also had plugged the refrigerator into the generator so for the time being they had that. With the deaths of his family so fresh, it was hard to think of much else. But he knew he’d have to get busy figuring out how the hell he was going to live in a world without people pretty soon.

After he ate he did something he had never done before. He lit up a cigar in the house. He liked to smoke them but never in the house, subjecting his wife and kids to second hand smoke. No one around now to tell him any different. Doing something normal like having a smoke, cleared his head. so he stayed up late making plans. Unless he was going to live like a cave man he would need a permanent source of power. Solar power seemed like the way to go but he knew nothing about it or how it worked. A visit to the library was in order. There were a lot of things he was going to have to learn and learn in a hurry. He had Spring, Summer and Autumn ahead of him but the time would go by quickly and Winter would kill him if he wasn’t prepared. He thought he could pick up and move South where he wouldn’t have to worry about cold but that got him thinking about other people. There must be others who survived this thing like he did. Where were they? What would they be doing?

He thought about movies he had seen and books about end times like Stephen King’s, “The Stand.” He wondered what others might do. There could be people who would take charge and become dictator types. There could be religious nuts. There could be people who went crazy from grief and would kill anyone they found. Others might have the same idea of moving South and he decided the best option would be to stay right where he was and prepare for what was to come. so he got out a pen and paper, lit another cigar and went to work.

Life After Death Episode 1

I didn’t like the way I was writing this story so I am rewriting it from a third person perspective. Here is Episode 1 in the rewritten form. Hope you like it.

empty streets

As he placed the last stone, he knelt in the grass and thought about all that had happened. When their youngest daughter first got sick, he and Grace took her to the doctor like any parents would. They arrived to find many parents with children that had the same symptoms; green mucus and a rasping, rattling, painful cough. They had seen the news reports of people coming down with these symptoms starting in Texas and moving North. He remembered now that there had been a South wind for several days after hearing the initial reports.

They had been told at the doctor’s office that it was a virus and modern medicine couldn’t do much for viruses. Take her home, keep her warm and fed, they were told. They had tried essential oils, which seemed to help at first, but she just kept getting worse. Then, their next oldest came down with it. The youngest died two days later. When they called 911 to report the death they were informed that hundreds were now dying and nothing could really be done. “It’s illegal,” the police captain, who they had been transferred to had said, “But you might as well bury your child at home. At least she’ll get buried.” When their second child died, their oldest, a boy, ran off for the woods. He had a fort out there where he liked to play. When his father went to find him the boy said he didn’t want to come home. He didn’t want the virus too. And then he coughed. And coughed again. A week later he was dead as well, but Sean had to bury him by himself because Grace was too sick to help.

He had held her close as she took her last breath, crying tears that rarely came to him. And now his tears wet the field stones that he had placed on her grave. Stones that she had collected from her grandparents corn field to line her flower beds in the front yard. She would have liked this, he thought. The four graves were placed on top of the hill overlooking their property. A nice view of the surrounding countryside and the lake. An eagle flew overhead, her favorite bird. A loon called from the lake. A mournful tune she had often tried to imitate.

They had watched the television news together when a report finally came about a fire and brimstone fundamentalist preacher in Texas taking credit for the virus. A member of his church worked for a military lab in Dallas and had smuggled out the virus in sealed tubes. The whole congregation had stood on a hill top and while singing praises to their God, released the virus to the winds. The T.V. showed him screaming into a microphone about how God had commanded him to bring about the end of times. God’s judgement would soon cover the earth but the true believers, meaning his congregation, would be spared and would see God in heaven. And just as he was reaching his crescendo he coughed. And coughed again, this time so hard that mucus flew into the hand he had covered his mouth with. Green mucus. He stared hard at his hand. The T.V. camera catching it all. He looked into the camera, dropped the microphone and left the stage, the crowd suddenly in an uproar. A member of the preacher’s congregation picked up the mic and said the preacher needed a break for a minute but would be back. The camera panned the audience. Fearful, questioning looks everywhere. Yeah, he’d be back alright.

A month later the entire structure of society had broken down. People everywhere were getting sick. Stores closed, T.V. and radio stations started dropping off the air. Still, reports were coming in on the ones that were left saying that the entire world was infected. Cameras showed empty streets because in the last week of the illness people were so sick, they couldn’t get off their beds. But homes were filled with bodies, the reporter said. And then she coughed. And coughed again. On the last radio station he could pick up the announcer said he was all alone. And finally, he started coughing on the air and soon he was gone. The shortwave radio Sean had, picked up Deutche Welle in Germany. The same story there. Everyone was dying. That radio went dead two days later.

And now, here he was, beside his family’s graves feeling healthy but grieving. Why wasn’t he sick? Why wasn’t he dead? His dog, Angus, lay beside him with her head between her paws. “What the hell, Angus?” he said. “What the hell just happened?”