Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Part One of Three

Many of my current readers followed me over from a well-known writer's networking website. In fact it is the majority of them I have to thank for the success of my blog. However, on this particular website, I no longer actively post or interact within the network, for obvious copyright reasons. Many of my fans are still readers and writers of this website though. And after much consideration and about 20 different emails coming in asking me to participate unofficially, I decided to play along and give the people what they want (LOL).

The website features a monthly writing prompt contest. I was always very active and largely reviewed in these contests but its been about nine months since I last entered one, while I am no longer eligible to enter, a few of my readers asked me to write my own response to this prompt and post it on my blog.

The writing prompt reads: “Write a three part apocalyptic envision of your present real-life. Whether it be warfare or zombies, be sure to include real people, such as family, friends and even co-workers. Take your everyday life and turn it into an apocalypse.”

So without much further delay and bumbling, here is part one:

Jingle! Jingle! Jingle!

Oh my gosh, I hate that dang alarm tone on my phone, but its the only one I won't sleep past. I rustled out of bed and fumbled around until I silenced the alarm.
Ah...Another day in my quiet, content life. I reached over the mountain of covers and turned off the fan blowing cold air directly in my face.

“That's better,” I said aloud.

My eyes wandered over to the empty space beside me in bed. A silent sigh in my brain confirms that Brandon, of course, like he ought to be already left for work at 4:30 that morning. My brain enlightens me with a brief flashback of his goodbye kiss just hours earlier.

I look back at my phone and wake it, eh, only 6:15 a.m. I've got a few minutes. I bundle back up in the covers and unlock my screen. First things first, I text Brandon a “Good morning” text as per our routine. Then I check my Snapchat. Nope, nothing new there. Next Facebook. More of how our alliance with Russia is on rocky terms after some ridiculous crap was brought up and misinterpreted by our current president. Sheesh I hate politics. More garbage, and even a few early morning selfies from my friends down south. I like a few pictures and posts here or there.

“UAV online!” My text message alert tone says as an alert for Brandon comes across my screen and I tap to open the message.

“Good morning sweetheart. It's Friday, let's go fishing today, just you and I.”

I reply back “Okay! I'll bring the boat and cooler.”

“Sounds good, be here around 3. I love you honey, have a good day.”

“Ok, love you too and thanks.”

I exit out of the text message screen. My phone reads 6:30. Well time to get going. I push off the covers, and start my morning scramble before work, all the while making a mental checklist of things to get done before we go fishing this afternoon. I'm dressed and my makeup is done, work bag is packed and I look at the stove clock as I heat up my hot chocolate in the microwave: 6:47. I take my hot chocolate out of the microwave, grab my bags and leave out.

On my 25 minute drive to work, I crank up my tunes and decide to start this Friday out with a little pep: Butterfly by Crazy Town. Suddenly though my music goes silent, signaling an incoming call. I look at my phone and swipe to answer.

My mother's voice floods over my truck speakers, “Hi sweetie! I thought I'd catch you on your way to work!”

“Well you caught me at just the right time Mom.”

“Good, well I've been so busy, I had a minute in between jobs I just wanted to check in on you.” My family back home owns a well-known drywall, painting and remodeling business.

“I'm okay. Brandon and I are going fishing at the coal mine lake after work, I'll let ya know what we catch.”

“That sounds fun. We've been so busy we haven't been fishing in two weeks.”

“That sucks!”

“I know it. Well have you been writing any stories about all this crazy stuff with Russia and their threats.”

“I've wrote a little on it but, you know me I hate writing anything that has to do with politics, and to me this is all just a pissing contest, who has the biggest nuclear bomb.”

“Haha! You know you aren't much of a news junkie for being a news reporter.”

“Thanks mom, and I write the news, big time news like that just doesn't really appeal here in these small towns where I live. These Yankees don't care about nobody but themselves,” I ended in a chuckle, this could quite possibly lead into a discussion with how her and I get all roweled up how the culture here is so different. I moved here to Illinois about nine months ago after a series of events. Being in a different place and almost five hours away from home wasn't always easy. But I'm happy and that's what really counts.

“You still there sweetie?”

“Huh? Oh yea! Sorry mom, I'm here!”

“Okay we'll I'll let you go. Don't be texting and driving. Have a good day I love you.”

I roll my eyes, “I won't Mom and I love you too.”

The call ends and my tunes resume. By time I exit off the interstate and parallel park next to the newspaper office I'm jamming to Children of the Sun by Billy Thorpe.
I get out of my truck, grab my purse, laptop bag and thermos full of hot chocolate and push through the heavy office door. I begin my normal morning work routine, plugging in my laptop, organizing paperwork and stories that need my attention for the day and clocking in.

Before I know it I've lost myself in my work and I look up at the clock to see it's 10:30 a.m. I decide to take a bathroom break and stretch my legs.

When I return to my desk I begin busily typing again, when I notice my phone light up out of the corner of my eye. I wake up my iPhone and it says: Brandon (4) Missed Calls, Brandon (7) Text Messages.

What the heck, he never calls when he's at work, nor have I ever seen seven consecutive text messages from him. Instantly my mind floods with panic, I can't seem to unlock my phone fast enough to read what they say. I type my passcode with shaky fingers and my screen unlocks and I touch the text message emblem and read the following messages from Brandon:

“Babe turn on the news now!”

“Did you just see that happen live?”

“Babe are you there? Please respond”

“They just bombed Washington D.C., New York, Seattle, looks like they're going for major cities in every state.”

“Holy shit, they just hit Chicago! Are you watching this shit?”

“Kayla, leave work now, I'm coming home now! Springfield was hit. I hope you are okay. I love you.”


My heart was pounding so loudly in my ears by now that I couldn't hear the gasps of everyone in the office around me as they were all gathered in the corner watching the one small corner television. I turned as everything seemed to be moving in slow motion as I watched news updates and news anchors talking frantically about Russian bombings all across the major cities in the United States. Apparently the Russians decided to take matters into their own hands and hit the eastern seaboard with an EMP which disabled many electronics and form of communications, next while the military was left scrambling they rushed into our airspace and began the biggest attack on one nation anyone alive today would ever witness. While footage was playing of the U.S. Military fighter jets shooting down many of the Russian jets, bottom banners were listing states and their cities that had been bombed one by one. I should've been running to my truck to make it home but I had to wait and watch to know if my family had been hit. In Arkansas they listed Little Rock and Fayetteville. My family there was safe. In Illinois they listed Chicago and Springfield, which I already knew and in Missouri they listed Jefferson City and St. Louis...

“God, no, please no!” Everyone turned and looked at me as I didn't even realize I had screamed aloud. My dad works in St. Louis in a tall skyrise hospital, near the arch. Without another word and not really knowing what I was doing at all, I grabbed my stuff in a hurry and ran outside into my truck. As I was leaving town to jump on the interstate back home I noticed everything was still, the town seemed dead as people stood on street corners huddled around phones and peering through windows at diners' TVs. What in the world is going on.... I felt I was going to shock as everyone else was watching one of the world's greatest nations get sucked into a brutal war.

Suddenly my phone rang, I answered it, “Hello?”

“Thank God! Kayla! Are you alright?” It was Brandon.

“Yes I'm okay.”

“Good, are you heading home?”

“Yes, I'm about 20 minutes away.”

“Okay, I'll be pulling in the drive in about five. We've got to get out of here Kayla. We need to go somewhere rural, they won't bomb the rural areas.”

“Not only that, survivors from Springfield are going to flee into these smaller towns.” We only lived 25 minutes away from Springfield.

“I know honey, listen I know we are all kind of in shock, but just keep it together okay? Everything is going to be alright.”

There was a long silence. “Brandon, St. Louis was hit.”

“I know, I wasn't going to say anything until you got here.”

“What if-”

“No stop! He's fine. Do you hear me? Stay with me. He's fine, you are fine, we are all just fine.”


“Stay on the phone with me Kayla.”

“I'm here,” I said as I could hear him rustling around in what I assumed was the house.

“No cops are going to be checking speed right now, if anything they might lock down the interstates, I want you to go as fast as you possibly can, but be smart, I want you here in one piece.”

“Okay, what about Dan and Brittany?” I accelerated to 96 as the governor on my truck hit the back wall and wouldn't allow me to go any farther. Our friends Dan and Brittany were vacationing on the eastern side of the country somewhere in Rhodes Island.

“I don't know babe, I can't get my calls to go through over there, I'm assuming it has to do with the EMP that happened over there.”

“What about your parents?”

“My dad is fine, he's in the Ozarks with the rest. I haven't heard from my mother, but I'm sure she will call soon.”

“Oh.” I just couldn't find many words. I was staring blankly into the road keeping my gas pedal hammered and listening to Brandon hurriedly pack things in the house, when I finally saw it.

“Brandon! Step outside?”

“I am outside, I'm loading my truck, why.... Oh wow.”

I was just about five miles from the Farmersville exit where we lived when the billowing clouds of smoke signaling the destruction of Springfield reached viewable heights.

“Do you see it?”

“Yea I see it. Honey please tell me you're close?”

“Yes, I can see the exit.”

“Okay good.”

“Wait there's flashing lights up there.”

“Okay, slow down and see, try to exit safely.”

I slowed my speed as I neared the exit to home, thankfully just after the exit was a big road block with semi trucks and police cars,with the words “Interstate Closed” spray painted on the trailers of the trucks.

“The interstate is closed to Springfield and it looks like they are moving in a roadblock to block the south entrance onto the freeway as well.”

“That didn't take long.”

“Yea.” I took the exit as fast as I could and came over the interstate on the overpass and finally made it to our driveway.

“I'm here” I said and hung up. Assuming we would load my truck too, I backed in beside Brandon's truck, cut the engine and ran inside.

Brandon met me in the kitchen, we hugged furiously. I had tears welling in my eyes, this was all just so sudden, this day was planned out so differently in my head. I still hadn't even heard if my daddy was okay.

“Kayla? Hey? Babe? Come on now, stay with me here.”

“I'm here, I'm okay. What?”

Brandon held me at arm's length and said,” Grab everything important, citizenship documentation, vital records, all of your diabetic supplies, guns, pillows, blankets, clothes, jewelry take anything and everything, because if we ever make it back here, everything may be gone if looting happens from this mess.”

“Ever make it back here?”

“Well I'm sure we will honey, its just a precaution, I'm sure they've got Springfield locked down. But just in case okay.” I knew Brandon was just trying to keep me calm even though he was expecting the worst.

“Okay” a tear escaped and rolled down my cheek, I turned so Brandon wouldn't see.

I busied my way around the house, in the bedroom I grabbed two pillows and every blanket I could find.

 I was always a big fan of survival movies and TV shows, so I began assessing everything I packed as how it would benefit our survival. We had always jokingly fantasized about if something crazy like this ever went down that our emergency plan would be to gather and meet on my family's land in the Ozarks, not to mention his family was already there. So everything to me was a question of living life off the grid? Does it help or hinder?

I took only survival appropriate clothes. For keepsake and possible currency I packed my jewelry. I grabbed a few precious items, books and documents. I packed every single diabetic related supply I could find. I even packed my makeup and our toothbrushes along with other cosmetics and first aid supplies. I wasn't sure why I grabbed my makeup, but I knew it may come in handy for more than just a pretty face.

Brandon was finishing loading his truck when I had just barely filled my back seat. I stopped him and asked,” Fishing gear, did you get it?”

“No, we have guns.”

“You can't shoot fish, and what happens if we run out of ammo? What happens if hunting becomes scarce?”

“Good point, I'll finish here and pack it in the bed of your truck.”

I nodded and carried on. I grabbed my stack of 20 or so non-plastic reusable shopping bags and figured I should start filling them with nonperishable food items from the pantry. I cleaned out the cabinets from everything I thought would keep. In the fridge I packed my insulin in a cooler with all the ice I could fit. I even grabbed a few things like jam and syrup, these things would keep regardless if they were cold and they'd be good for blood sugar lows.

I reserved a bag that I packed with a few hard plastic cups, plates, bowls and some pans for open fires. I added some silverware and rags. It wasn't my intention to wash dishes in a creek, but I would if I had too, so I packed soap too.

I walked to the pantry and grabbed the big 5 pound bag of sugar I had just bought to supply all of my baking recipes. In my normal uninterrupted life, you could find me in the kitchen every evening baking or cooking up something delicious. Lost in my thoughts, I bumped into Brandon...

“Ouch, uh sorry.”

“It's okay – Babe why are you taking sugar?”

“You can pack it into wounds to stop bleeding.”

“You're crazy, you know that?”

“Crazy, but I remember important things.”

Brandon shook his head at me and smiled, he was trying his best to keep a positive air about this whole crazy thing. I finished packing and joined him outside. He had the trailer with his motorcycle and few things strapped to it hitched to his truck and he had already backed my truck into the garage and was hitching the boat.

“I said fishing gear, not the boat ya lunatic. Besides won't these trailers weigh us down, what about fuel? It's not like we can use the convenience of the interstate.”

“I've got it covered, no one is at the station in town, I'm going to go pick up a tank I saw earlier in a field and we are going to fill up everything we can find with gas. And you never know when a boat or motorcycle may come in handy or maneuvering. If it comes to the point we have to leave either behind then screw it, because if it gets that bad, insurance companies won't be in existence either.”

I smiled, but swallowed hard, this may sound funny but this was shockingly some “real world shit”. We were actually living Red Dawn the movie out in real life and it was terrifying... or at least it seemed it was headed that way, we hadn't seen any real proof of the government or nation collapsing other than the interstate being locked down as a precaution. Yet here we were probably going to be the first people to help it become chaos as we were going to still hundreds of dollars worth of fuel.

“Ready?” Brandon stood face to face with me holding two folded up pieces of paper.

“Yea... Whats that?” I gestured towards the paper.

Brandon walked towards the hood of my truck and opened them up. Both were identical copies of the state, both had identical highlighter markings on roads. “This is the route we are going to take to your family's land in the Ozarks. I talked to my dad, he's going to meet us there. While we are driving you need to get in touch with the rest of your family and see if they are going to meet us there as well.” He continued talking but I wasn't really hearing what he was saying, it hadn't dawned on me that I hadn't heard from anyone in my family since my Mom that morning. And her being the worry wart she was, why hasn't she called me - “In case we get separated.”

“What? Separated?” I asked in confusion.

“Look I don't plan on it, but no one ever plans on their country getting bombed and having to flee their homes. But if we get separated between rally points I marked on our maps, we plan to meet at the next checkpoint and wait there for 24 hours unless trouble arises, the ultimate goal is to make it to our destination in one piece. This may be easier than I'm anticipating or it may get really nasty with law enforcement and who knows who else.”

“Oh. Alright I got it.” I snatched my map up in a hurry. I leaned in and kissed Brandon on the lips, for what I hoped wouldn't be the last time.

“Alright babe, follow me to the gas station.”

I nodded, climbed in my truck and started the engine and followed him out of the driving, watching our little home get smaller and farther in my rear view mirror. I really hoped this wasn't goodbye forever. I really hoped that life would return to normal and this was all just a bad dream or a big scare that the U.S. Government could contain and push back. I hoped with all my might that everything would be alright.

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