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Story Not Quite Eden
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Thread: Not Quite Eden

  1. #81
    Chapter 93


    Krystal Levinson realized that she was looking forward to having company the next morning as she looked out the kitchen window at the road. The growing brush along the sides made it harder to see very far, except farther down the hill where the road curved. She was drying her few dishes when she saw Sybil Orliss walking toward her house. Krystal was glad it was Sybil who was coming. She was easy to talk to and had been a good friend for years. She had time to finish in the kitchen and with a glance at the hallway mirror, got her hair combed and straightened her clothes when she heard the knock on the door.

    "We cooked a wild turkey that one of the kids at the park gave us. I brought some along, since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, if our calendar is right," Sybil said.

    "I had forgotten all about holidays. Being by myself I just go from day to day,: Krystal said.

    Sybil put her container on the table and took off her coat, hanging it on a chair. "I was going to ask you about that. Living alone, I mean. I'm getting tired of being around babies all the time and wondered if you'd consider me living here for company? It's not as easy as it used to be doing daily chores and I thought you could use the help."

    "Well. I hadn't thought about that. It is lonely. I was looking forward to you coming today. I don't really want another man. David wasn't really that much company when he was here. And women are so much better when you need to talk to someone," Krystal said, thinking out loud. "It does sound like a good idea."

    "We could try it for a while and if it doesn't work out, I can go back to live with the other girls. The can use some help, too. I thought maybe I could go over there during the day to lend a hand on days when I'm not teaching."

    "You're teaching now?"

    Sybil said, "Just two days a week, biology and botany to the older kids. They don't like me much, but they do the work and I get paid for it in food. It's a job."

    "Why woudn't they like you? You're nice to everyone." Krystal said.

    "I think they sense I'm different. The boys, especially. They treat me like I'm an ugly old woman. Most boys have fantasies about young women teachers like Jocelyn. I can see in their faces. They know."

    Krystal nodded. She had known about Sybils' sexual preferences for years, so they were comfortable talking about it. She said, "That could make it difficult."

    "Not really difficult. I'm used to being treated like an outsider. It's always been that way."

    "It has to be lonely, though."

    "Yeah, it is. I just got used to it and take my friends where I find them."

    Krystal had made up her mind. "Yes, I want you to stay here, if you will. I think it would be a good thing for both of us. We can work out how we want to do things and I'd feel better having someone else around. Life isn't as secure as it used to be. When would you want to move in? My car still goes, so I can haul your things."

    "I suppose any time. I told the girls I was going to ask you, so it doesn't matter when we do it."

    "You brought fresh food, so let's get it over with today when we don't have to cook," Krystal said. She relished the freedom she felt at being able to make that decision.

    *********

    Richard Dalton sat down and put the headphones on. The scratchy transmission cleared up as he adjusted knobs like he'd been taught by the man from Elizabethtown.

    "This is Rich Dalton, do you copy?"

    "Copy loud and clear. This is Jesse Sparks. Are you folks ready to do some trading again?"

    "Yes sir. Coal, salt and sugar. Have you set prices?"

    "We need old US silver coins or well known gold coins in trade. We are making prices in old dollar amounts and valuing silver coins at 32 times face value and gold at $2,400 a Troy ounce. That's about what they were when the markets shut down. We want $1.10 a pound for sugar, $160 a ton for good hard coal, and iodized salt is still $15.00 for a 25 pound bag. How much do you want?"

    "I'll have to wait until after next Sunday's meeting to tell you. Get back to me next Monday evening about an hour after full dark, okay?"

    "I'll do that. Meet the same place for delivery okay with you?"

    "That's fine."

    "Good! I'll get back to you Monday to set up the deal. Talk to you then. Bye, Richard."

    "Bye, Jesse."

    *********

    Krystal knew she was in a strong position with the gold and silver her husband had left her. She wasn't a vindictive woman, but she still felt like she was due the humility that people offered when they'd approached her about financing the trading with the E-town community, as they called the other group.

    Sybil, ever practical, told her, "It's your chance to get some real good out of all that gold and silver. Think what people will trade for real table salt and sugar! And you've got that good steel building to store it in, too. All you need are some containers."

    Krystal said, "I think maybe Clay Whitaker down the road could find some containers. He finds everything else we need. I'll go talk to him."

    The meeting at the park was a bit chaotic with a lot of plans and deals being made. Krystal found Clay deep in a discussion about what trucks to take to Louisville for the trading. She got his attention and asked him, "Can you find me some containers? Like 5 gallon buckets and barrels? They need to be plastic so they don't rust and spoil the salt and sugar. I'll pay you in silver, or goods if you want."

    "I know where to find buckets, but the barrels may be harder to get," he said. "I'll look when we go to Seymour tomorrow. Might have to go to Columbus to find barrels. I dunno."

    "I want some, too," Patrick Hughes said. "I'll pay you in gold. We have decided to buy some supplies, too. Dad arranged with Ignacio to store it at the mill, so we won't be trying to take your business, Missus Levinson."

    Clay said, "I'll get back to you in a couple days, depending on what I can find. Sounds like something we ought to have around anyway. It'll take a big truck to make it worth the trip, though. Need a couple guys to go along, too. Maybe we can find some other things to make the trip pay better. The roads are getting rough, so we need to make every trip count."

    The discussions went on until it was time to leave, but plans were under way the next morning. Clay, Eddie, and Chris were back well before dark with a flatbed semi trailer loaded with barrels and bucckets stacked inside them. Amounts were hurriedly discussed and settled in time for the radio call that night. Two days later, three trucks made the trip to the steel yard where they had met before.

    **********

    "Thank you Sybil. I don't know if I would have had the courage to do business without you," Krystal said.

    "You've got what it takes. You just needed some encouragement."

    "I needed the moral support. You're just what I needed. Thank you." Krystal smiled at her and gave her a hug. Sybil returned the hug gently, hoping she didn't show too much about her feelings for this woman. Sybil's inner strength was what Krystal needed, so that's what she would give her. Maybe more would come later.

    *********

  2. #82
    Really enjoying this story.
    Thanks for sharing and hope to see more soon.

  3. #83
    Chapter 94


    Along with the barrels and buckets, Clay Whitaker brought back a roll of flat belting and the tools and splicing supplies for it. Those he traded to Ignacio for later credit at the mill. The belting was made for use in round hay balers, but it would work for light power transmission as well to drive machinery in the mill.

    "AH! That is good Clay! This will last a long time. We can use leather when this runs out, but it will slip more. Now we can make the machines run. First, we will do the big lathe. I will use it to make some wood pulleys for the other machines. I did find some glue for making the wood pulleys that is still good."

    "What are you gonna do for glue when the old stuff goes bad?"

    "This should be good for a long time yet. But we can boil hide scraps and make hot glue like my Padre in Mexico did. It will be okay. The leather belts we will lace together and glue them as well. I have done this as a child."

    "After all this work I'd hate to see the mill shut down because we can't make pulleys and belts."

    Ignacio smiled and said, "I have been thinking on this. We plan everything to keep it going a long time. I will train young people for when I am too old. There is much to know about machines and how to keep them running. The Flynn boy, David, he likes this work. There are no girls his age here, so he pays more attention."

    Clay chuckled at that and said, "Won't be long till he finds one. There's a buncha Amish girls that don't have fellas yet."

    "Oh, he has a girl. The young one that works for the doctor. But she is far away so he isn't always thinking about seeing her each night."

    "The boy is not my worry. We need to find and store a lot of the cutting tools. We have a grinder to sharpen them, but they wear out. The steel for cutting tools is not easy to make. It has Cobalt, and Chrome and other metals from other countries. Someday that will be a problem. We can make carbon steel, but it can only cut slowly, or it is damaged. I will show you what we need. Maybe you can find more of them, eh? Then we find a way to keep them for many years, maybe store them in lard to prevent rust."

    Clay looked around the mill at all the things stored inside and said, "You will need more room to store things pretty soon if you keep bringing things in here."

    "That is true. There is a farm down the road that has a new barn with a good floor. I am thinking of using that. We must take the best care of things for when there are no more. I come from a poor country. I know what it is to have little. We must work very hard to keep what we have."

    ********

    Clay kept some barrels and buckets for himself. He planned to buy enough iodized salt and sugar to last his family for at least another generation or two. Benjamin and Gina were more of a couple than he would have liked to see at their age, but there was no stopping that sort of thing. At 14 and 15 years old, they were talking about a place of their own and Benjamin already owned a horse he'd caught and gentled himself. Benjamin was turning into a pretty good carpenter, and Gina had applied herself to learning how Amy did things with food and clothing. She was always talking about the Biology teacher and how plants and animals grow. They were good kids, but they were very close, too close for his comfort.

    Amy knew their adopted children were well on the way to being mates. It seemed like that was decided before they came here. Amy was pregnant again, so she took it upon herself to explain things to Gina. At first the girl was too embarrassed to talk about it, but soon her curiosity overcame that and she wanted to know everything. Gina was mystified, amazed, delighted, and terrified by turns.

    It was in December when their cow decided to have her calf, so Amy and Clay made sure everyone was there to see it happen. The two youngsters got to see the messy process all first hand with sober faces. That turned to delight once the new calf was on its' wobbly legs and nursing, twitching its' tiny tail.

    Gina found her chance the next day when she and Benjamin were doing chores.

    "I don't think I'm big enough to have a baby yet."

    Benjamin groped for an answer to that. He stared at her and swallowed hard. Finally he found his tongue and said, "Uh, yeah. I mean no. You shouldn't have babies until you're ready. It's pretty scary to watch."

    Gina said, "You know what that means, right?"

    "Uh, yeah, I guess I do. We can't take any chances."

    Gina smiled at him and gave him a hug. "It won't be that long. Another year or two maybe, Amy said. I'm pretty big for my age."

    "That's still a long time."

    "Yeah. I was thinking the same thing."

    ********

    Snow began to fall in late December, softly at first, then larger flakes came down thicker and faster one evening. The roads were covered deep enough to make travel a problem, so school was let out until it cleared. Rich Dalton was about ready to turn off the radio and go to bed when it squawked and he heard Jesse Sparks say, "Come in Richard. Richard are you there? This is Jesse. Come in Richard."

    He clicked the transmit button and said, "I'm here Jesse. What's up?"

    "We got company here down south of you."

    ********

  4. #84
    Thank you. Even with cliff. I am loving this story.

    D.

    P.S. Hope your doing as well as you can and focusing on health. Hang in there man, hang in there.

    D.
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  5. #85
    Chapter 95


    Less snow in the Cave River Valley settlement allowed some travel, so Ignacio and his brothers took advantage of that. A couple trips with tractors and wagons and trucks had most of the excess materials moved from the mill building down the road 3/4 of a mile to a tight pole barn with a concrete floor. This barn was huge and looked to be unused. Half the morning was past when they had the truck loads moved into the barn.

    "The snow will blow under the doors and could get things wet," Alejandro said. "Maybe we can find some straw bales or something to stop that."

    Miguel said, "We got straw to put around mi casa from the barn out in the valley. But there is mud by the creek. The trucks would not go there now."

    Mateo said, "We can use the tractor and wagon. It will go in the mud. Come on Miguel. We go now." Mateo hastened to his unloaded rig and Miguel followed. The other three drove trucks back to the mill to get the last of the materials, mostly lumber and hardware.

    By evening the mill building was cleaned out of excess materials except for things they would use on projects they were working on.

    *******

    Roscoe told his wife, "Rich Dalton just told me his friends in Kentucky were visited by a some military folks from Fort Knox."

    She looked sharply at him and asked, "What's that all about?"

    "It seems they are trying to locate pockets of survivors and heard some of their radio talk. The Army still has some functional bases around the country, the ones where the commanders had the good sense to lock the bases down and quarantine them. They caught hell for that from DC at first, but before long there wasn't anyone left in DC to gripe about it. Now, they are working with local people to trade what they have for the food they need to keep the troops fed."

    "What are they trading? We don't need military weapons where the outlaws can get them."

    "Oh no, they aren't doing that. They have a lot of preserved fuel and some heavy equipment they are using to get some roadways cleared and things like that. Rich was told there are some bases down in Texas that are trying to find enough people to get a refinery running again, too. There isn't any oil coming in from overseas, of course, but there are still quite a lot of wells in Texas and Louisiana, so they hope to get some fuel going again. I guess there are some nuclear plants that are still up and going down there so they have power. Finding the right people is the big problem."

    Marta said, "I hope they get it done. This country won't ever get going again without fuel."

    Roscoe said, "That's a fact. Well, it doesn't look too good at this time. Most of the refinery people are dead. The Army guys were pretty friendly they said. It seems there is practically no government left, so they are pretty much on their own. They have been eliminating the bandit types as they run into them, Rich said, but most of those run when they see the army coming. Some are going to stay and help those folks in Kentucky with working the farms there, so it seems like a good deal for everyone."

    "I hope so. It's nice to hear some good news for a change," Marta said.

    "It wasn't all good news. The east coast and the west coast of the US had so many meltdowns that they won't be having electrical power or anything else for a very long time," Roscoe said. "There is practically nobody left alive from New York City to somewhere in Virginia, according to the best reports the Army could get. And New Orleans is flooded again. They lost power long enough that some heavy rains and the lack of pumping capacity made the whole area a big lake again. I guess Saint Louis still has a port, but the Gulf Coast suffered a lot for lack of anyone to keep things going after the dieoff. There is some sort of government trying to get started again in Denver, but they don''t have much in the way of either communications or transportation. They are living in some big government facility out there and some more are holed up some place in West Virginia."

    "Hmmph. Well, what good did the government do in the past?" Marta asked.

    "Not a heck of a lot, from what I could tell, but maybe they can get their act together now."

    *********

    As late winter began to loosen it's grip on the weather, more news came in with later reports from the Kentucky community that was now up to several dozen people and had taken over farming a number of old farms there. This year they were growing sorghum for molasses and tobacco for trade both up and down the Ohio River. It seems that the old idea of river shipping was starting to be a bigger business again for certain items, notably coal from West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, some salt and beet sugar coming up from the South where natural gas and electricity was still available for processing them.

    Krystal Levinson's gold and silver became invaluable to her and the community as this trade expanded, and she also found ways to profit from trading local goods for the ones that came in by river. The radio communication with Kentucky group who had supplied us with radio expertise, and with a group upriver near Cincinnati proved a boon to the river trade as well.

    Jesse Sparks called Rich Dalton one evening on the HAM radio and said he had bad news.

    "What kind of news?" Rich asked.

    "The refinery they were trying to start up caught fire when some leaks went undetected and burned to the ground. They lost a couple people and the rest barely got away from it. It looks bad for trying to get any oil products going any time soon. The Army is really upset about this. They are still trying to find anyone who ever worked around a refinery to get enough help together to try again, but it doesn't look good now. The people are telling the Army that the refineries are all old and need a lot of work to be reliable."

    *******


    Chapter 96


    It wouldn't be long until Spring so people were taking advantage of the warmer weather before planting season came around. Isaac Kelley and Zach Felsen had gone to the water mill to see Ignacio about fixing up a couple more windmils they had found. Isaac told the news about the refinery failure.

    Zach said, "That's the worst news we've heard for a while. We were all hoping to get the pretoleum business going again so it would be possible to restart the petrochemical plants. Without all that, there won't be any syntheic rubber or plastic in the future."

    "That is bad news indeed," Ignacio said. "Machinery needs a lot of rubber parts. We need molded rubber parts for oil and grease seals, gaskets and many things. Maybe there are other ways."

    He looked off into the distance, thinking, while the two younger men carried in the windmill parts. As he looked over the gearboxes and their old fashioned leather seals his face brightened up. He asked them if they had been inside the old auto parts plant in town?

    "No, only outisde it a couple times when we went there to salvage some barrels of solvents and stuff. Roscoe knows all about it. He used to work there."

    "Did he say anything about them having presses in the factory?"

    "Yeah. He said he used to work on a press there, but gave it up to farm full time years ago," Isaac told him.

    "Aaah! That is good. We must go see this factory. If they have a small or medium sized punch press, we can make many things with that. I can make the dies for them."

    Zach asked him, "But how would you power it? Those things all run on electricity don't they?"

    "Si, they do. But they can be powered by a belt from a water wheel, too, like the very first ones long ago. Or, a steam engine could run one. That came next."

    "Somebody told us that there was an old steam engine in the old furniture factory in town. They burned their scrap wood in it to power part of their machinery," Isaac said.

    Ignacio began to make tentative plans that would depend on what they found in the two old factories.

    ******

    Typical for March weather in Indiana, one last snowstorm had to make travel a problem for a few days, but it melted away fast when the sun popped out and a wind from the south brought warmth. Daniel Schmidt was busy sacking up garden seeds for his neighbors and trade was brisk for him. The Amish community already had cold weather vegetable plants started and Amos Scwartz was no exception. He and his wife had moved to the old cabin in Clay had found in the woods atop the ridge during the winter, leaving most of his livestock in the care of his neighbor Jacob Knepp.

    Amos had come to a decision to concentrate on using the fine shop that had been desrted so long ago. He had heard the news that the oil refinery had burned, so petroleum fuels may not be available for a long time, if ever again. He understood that meant that the Amish way of life was going to be the future of what civilization was left. If people had to continue living with little or no modern fuels or electricity, Amos would have no competition from modern manufacturing. He could rely on local business and he meant to make the most of it.

    He had traded a nice heifer calf to Krystal Levinson for a ton of good hard coal that came downriver. It was too muddy to move it by wagon through the lane in the woods to his shop, but he took enough on a simple wood farm sled to get him started. Many trips with the sled had his family moved into the old place and they found it much easier living in the smaller, but very well built cabin there. His wife Delilah loved the place. While the ground was still frozen hard in winter, Amos had moved in enough baled hay and grain to feed his team of horses, a cow and some chickens they took long. He and the kids had cleared off the small brush from a large area for pasture and he had it fenced for pasture and a large garden area. After those necessities and cutting some firewood, he was ready to do some shop work.

    He bought some lumber from Jim Collier and had him rough plane it at his mill. That was stored in the shop building and Amos began to take orders for wood items and some decorative blacksmith work. He began to dig through more of the tools and crates stored in the shop. He had opened wooden crates and briefly looked through them before, but began to take more time with that, inspecting the contents of each more closely. Several were filled with plain steel stock, both round and flat bars of many sizes, each marked what is contained--in German, of course.

    One crate, about 4 feet long puzzled him because it was filled with octagon bars, dozens, maybe a hundred of them, and they were all the same size, not quite an inch thick. They were very greasy and wrapped in dark colored paper. Amos unwrapped one and got his hands covered with the sticky grease. The bar had a hole in the end and was stamped with some letters and figures. Carrying it to the window for a better look, he read, ".45 caliber". He realized what he had then and instantly knew what the long machine was above that crate. It had puzzled him since he first saw it. The crate was full of drilled rifle barrel blanks, and the machine was for cutting the rifling in them.

    Amos quickly understood that the long box atop the machine had the rifling rods and cutter heads, and the odd looking rods with spirals on the outside were the templates to guide the rifling cutters. He left the crate of barrel blanks and dug deeper under the bench. More handmade wood crates were filled with percussion and flint locks, and trigger assemblies, some finished, some still as they came from the forge. He then realized that the old man had MADE that beautiful percussion muzzleloading rifle that he'd found in the bedroom cabinet.

    He sat back on his stool and gaxed around the shop, beginning to appreciate just what he had there. Overhead, stacked in the heavy ceiling beams were 2" X 8" pieces of assorted kinds of wood, about 5 feet long. He wiped his hands clean of grease and took one of them down to inspect. This one was maple, and very heavy. A stroke with his pocket knife proved it to be highly figured curly grained maple, a beautiful piece. Excited at his finds, Amos went to the foot-powered "frame saw", a man powered version of a bandsaw. Sure enough, on the back side of the vertical wood frame hung an assortment of stock patterns cut from thin poplar. It would take a lot of work to saw out a stock from the blanks, but time was less valuable now.

    One crate was too heavy to move, like the one filled with barrel blanks, but this one was larger. Inside was a lever operated press with small dies in it. The book was in old High German, but he could read enough to learn it was for making percussion caps. Many small jars of powdered chemicals were packed in another box, cushioned by wood shavings, once called 'excelsior'. Each was labelled in German, and a small leather covered book was in its' own compartment.

    There was a crate of tong style bullet molds, for both round balls and elongated conical bullets. Amos closed the lids on it all and went inside for lunch. Delilah had the meal on the table and said, "I didn't hear any noise out there. Have you not been working?"

    Amos grinned and said, "No, I have been digging up treasure! We all thought the old man must have had a lot of money but we never found any here. But he didn't save money, he had bought tools and things. I found enough out there to build at least a hundred rifles like my muzzleloader in the bedroom!"

    Delilah's mouth hung open in surprise. "Why would he do that?"

    "Well, he was getting older and making rifles is less hard work than making furniture. It would pay better, too. I wondered why he had so many bars of lead stacked out there. Now I know why, but I'm wondering where he put the gunpowder? He had everything else, even tools and chemicals to make the primer caps. This was his retirement savings."

    Amos found the gunpowder when he began to plow the garden. The team stopped when the plow hit the big flat stone, only barely covered with dirt. It was not a stone, but concrete. It covered a section of huge brown glazed round tile, as used 50 years ago for large drains in cities. This was the first of 8 of them. Each tile was 2 feet in diameter by 3 feet long and set in concrete deep in the ground. The concrete lid was sealed with asphalt to the tile and it was only luck that the plow point had hit the joint and dislodged the lid, breaking the tight waterproof seal made by the asphalt. Each of the tiles he eventually discovered had 120 pounds of gunpowder in each one, in 5 pound cannisters. The cannisters were wrapped with the greasy brown paper and coated with grease to prevent rusting. Amos saw quickly that the old man had put the gunpowder far from the house and buildings because he did not want half a ton of gunpowder anywhere close to the house!

    Amos removed one cannister and smeared some of the grease from it around the edge of the tile so he could seal it back up again, keeping moisture out. Lifting the heavy lid was all he could do, but it had cast-in grooves to lift it with, so one man could do it. The garden would have to move over a short distance. Amos felt wealthy. He would have to work to collect on his fortune, but it was there for the earning. With no new guns or ammunition being made, eventually what was on the shelves in stores would run out and there would be a market for his muzzleloaders. He might be able to build only one rifle a month, or it might take him 2 or 3 months, depending on how nicely finished he made them, but he would have a steady income as long as he wanted to work at it. And there was always furniture to build, too.

    ********

    Isaac began to work on getting the old steam engines they had retrieved from the Elnora display. He knew now that they would be used as long as they could keep them running. He was thankful for Ignacio's abilities as a machinist and spent some time talking with him about the possibility of casting aluminum to make repair parts when needed.

    Zach spent some time with Rich Dalton and Pietro Muntii talking about the water powered grist mill south of town. It was a long way to get there, about 10 miles, but the mill had been restored not many years ago as an antique site. It offered some possibilities for grinding grain and doing other work, and it wasn't that much farther away than going to their new mill site.

    Rich had heard more news from Jesse Sparks down in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The military men were helping out a lot, but there were a lot of problems with them trying to set up a 'chain of command'. The locals didn't like that at all and were ready to tell them all to leave. Jesse said they needed the help, but he was worried the arguments might come to blows, or worse.

    Pietro told him, "It happens every time the military gets involved. I saw it in my country when they took over the government. No good will come of this. Nobody has to be boss over a whole community, we only need leaders to do what needs done. If the military comes here we should send them away."

    *********

  6. #86
    Chapter 97


    Jesse Sparks had more news from time to time, most importantly that the military had decided they had to assert their authority and take over the Elizabethtown community "in the name of National Security". That lasted about a week, until they figured out they didn't have anyone who knew how to manage a farm, let alone preserve food, care for livestock, or the other hundreds of things necessary to keeping food production going. Farmers are an independent lot by nature and collectively decided to simply hand over the whole works to the Army. The Army managed to lose several new calves and eat most of the available chickens before they figured out where eggs came from. It was planting time and nobody in the Army had a clue how to go about it or where to plant what, let alone how to do it.

    A bargaining sesson was held and the Army decided that being polite had worked out much better for them than being harda$$es. A new agreement was reached, whereby the Army would supply what fuel and other assets they could provide in exchange for enough to eat, and otherwise leave the community alone. Jesse said this was not arrived at easily, but after the Army learned they would soon starve otherwise, a begrudging accord was established.

    Two other communities in Kentucky and one just across the state line in Tennessee made it known that anyone in uniform would be shot on sight. The Army didn't believe that until they tried it and got convinced because whenever a soldier got out of his Hummer to pee, he dropped dead of long range lead poisoning. The shooters were never found, despite all manner of high technology at the Army's disposal. The Army's numbers were not that great to begin with, and they lost about 20% of their troops before they learned their lessons the hard way.

    Apparently, Fort Knox was the only base in the Midwest that had survived with any significant number of troops. Large Air bases and other installations, some of them hardened to a great degree, were infected and most of them died to the last man. Government offices fared even worse. Less than 1% of the original government personnel survived and those were all ones who were off duty for one reason or another.

    Nobody seemed to mind very much. Government all became local from the beginning of the die-off. The communities of survivors remaining after the 3rd year were all small and very compact, having been friends, families, and close neighbors who figured out fast how to cope. A small group in the Smoky Mountain National Park settled in Cades Cove, a restored pioneer settlement above Gatlinburg and was doing well with a water mill and pre-industrial level technology. Similar settlements became stops on new trade routes being established mostly along the major rivers. These were located first by radio, then word-of-mouth.

    The population had continued to drop even in the 3rd year until some stability returned and people figured out how to live and get what they needed. One of the most important needs and the hardest to find was good medical care. Doctor Anthony Van Derver found himself overloaded with patients and had trained Melanie Draper in medicine as fast as her young mind would absorb it. She studied late nights in his medical texts and spent long days assisting him treating patients from as far away as Cincinnati, Ohio and some from near Evansville, Indiana. They came by every means of conveyance, from pre-electronic diesel trucks to horse drawn carriages and river boats. Even some troops from Fort Knox made their way to his expanded clinic, but they were careful to wear civilian clothing and drove civilian vehicles.

    "We need to get more alcohol from the boys down at the park," Michelle told the doctor.

    Tony said, "See what they want to trade for it. Our little barn is getting very full of trade goods and we need other things from them, too."

    "Yeah, I'm going down there tomorrow to see two pregnant women for their check ups. I'll ask about some more of those nice glazed pottery jars, too, and some beeswax to seal them." Michelle asked Destiny Alexander, their new office girl, 'Would you make a note of that for me and see what Melanie might want there, too, okay?"

    Destiny nodded and said, "I know she wants some of those slings and and the good wool blankets that Esther Kelley has been making. They are so much warmer than the synthetic stuff and she needs more for the new rooms we added."

    Michelle was happy. She not only had the man she wanted, she really loved her work and Tony had declared her to officially be a Registered Nurse just last week. He had gone to a lot of trouble to have Alena Muntii make a lovely certificate in beautiful calligraphy. Her husband Pietro had made a nice frame for it out of cherry wood. It hung above her desk along with her diploma from indiana University. Michelle felt like she had some real security at last. There was no shortage of work for them, that was certain.

    They had added on four new rooms to the back of the house that looked more like a hospital than a home. Clay Whitaker, resourceful as always, had located and moved hospital beds and much more equipment to outfit the new rooms that Eddie and his crew had built during the mild winter. Two of those rooms were occupied now by new mothers. The older manually operated hospital beds made it look like a hospital from 50 years ago, but it was state-of-the-art now. Clay had also come up with industrial sized stainless steel laundry facilities, now all converted to mechanical operation and powered by a small steam engine, and the boiler provided steam to sterilize everything they washed. One of the younger boys from the park came down every Saturday to tend the boiler and operated the laundry for them.

    Clay had been busy finding equipment for the new dental clinic down the valley, too. He and Eddie Grimes had built a room addition to the farmhouse where Joceyln worked as a dentist aided by the other women that lived there. Sylvia Collier had gotten some opium poppies to grow finally last year and with the help of her daughter in law, the chemist, they had produced some very acceptable and badly needed anaesthetics and pain medications, much to the relief of her patients.

    Rich Dalton had learned from Roscoe Beam that there was a capped natural gas well, drilled some 40 years ago, and located in the hollow behind Jacob Knepp's farm. Rich and Isaac Kelley had been researching all they could learn about how to put that well in service. Jesse Sparks had a friend in the E-town community that had done work on gas wells and offered help. Together they were hatching a plan to tap this well and build a glass making facility. The well head was still in good condition and had valves in place to operate, but the well had been too far away from existing pipelines to commercialize it when it was drilled. It had been left for future reserves along with several others in the surrounding 6 counties.

    Marty Edelston assured the men he could design a suitable furnace for them and had Clay searching for materials. A man from the Evansville area who brought his wife to the clinic for treatment had experience doing glassblowing, but had given it up for better paying construction work in the past. Now he planned to move to the valley when they got a furnace and building put together. High quality silica sand for glassmaking was available near Mauckport on the Ohio River, some 40 miles to the south, but there was enough scrap glass around that he thought they could work with it for many years before they would have to start from scratch making new glass.

    Andrea Collier, Kevin's wife, was setting up a chemitry lab in an empty home next door to Jim and Sylvia Collier's farm. She kept Clay lookingfor obscure chemicals and equipment she would need to do analytical chemistry so she could assist Albert Harris' wife, Anita, in compounding standarized herbal extracts. Ignacio assured the women that he could build a tiny press to make pills, having made some dies for that in the past. Andrea had worked closely with Doctor Tony on what he needed for future medical needs and was doing research on how to make the various drugs. She was being paid by the doctor who had more trade goods than he knew what to do with. Nobody understood better how much their community and others depended on Doctor Tony than he did. He was teaching Melanie as fast as he could as his replacement, but he worried over what he did not know of medical specialties and also realized in this less secure new world the risks to human life were many and varied, his life included.

    ********

  7. #87
    Chapter 98


    It had been a long journey over 2 difficult winters, but Keith was nearly home. The sight of the old Kennedy bridge across the Ohio river was welcome, indeed. His biggest problem had been finding shoes as he wore them out, since he was a big man and he wore out shoes pretty fast travelling. It was easy enough to find food for the first year, there being leftovers everywhere, and likewise with camping and hiking equipment.

    He had given up on driving as being too risky after twice being shot at on the road and hit once in the leg by a mangled bullet that barely made it through his truck door. He had to treat that wound himself and considered himself lucky to find what he needed at pharmacies along the way. The long periods of watching and waiting around cities and small towns had extended his journey time by months, but the risks to travellers were many. He had determined that the plague had burned itself out after almost a year camping in the the mountain hunting retreat, but it took more time to plan a route and find what he needed to start his trip.

    Keith heard the trucks coming from far away and dived for cover back into the car he had slept in the night before. From his vantage point in the restaurant parking lot he could see the trucks headed south over the bridge he'd crossed last night. There were 5 big trucks in the convoy, all running slow and keeping an interval between them, clearly with some destination in mind. Once they were gone and the sound had faded, he listened again for half an hour, but heard nothing but nature's sounds. he gathered his pack and the game trailer he pulled and set off northwest again.

    That evening he heard the trucks returning back the same highway he was following. He wondered where they were going. Surely, if anyone could have survived this long it would be people in the sort of community where he had grown up. The closer he got to his childhood home, the more he wondered about the fate of his family and friends. If they had not survived, he wanted to be in this area anyway. He understood it and knew how to live there much better than he did 1,000 miles to the south where he'd been. He longed to see his parents again, but tried hard to keep that from becoming an obsession that was more than likely unrealistic. Still, he knew it was impossible to not hold out hope that they were still alive.

    By noon the next day he was 15 miles north of the river and out into farm country again, although now it was overgrown like the rest of the country he had travelled through. He kept to the state highway now, making for easier travel pulling his game cart. He was hauling about 100 pounds of food, water and supplies so he didn't have to stop and scrounge for things so often. The trailer was attached to a military web belt around his waist. That kept his hands free and the quick snap release on the belt meant he could unhook from the cart in an instant and dive for cover if necessary with just his rifle and backpack. He'd had to do that once when a gang of ruffians near a city had attacked him, probably just for what he carried. He'd shot two of them and ran for it leaving his baggage behind. It had taken him a week to replace his stuff, but that was better to leave it than to die so some idiot could steal what he had.

    The winter had finally given up and would persecute him no more. There were swelling buds on the trees and lots of wildlife everywhere. He preferred to trap game to eat, but it made for slow going. The noise of even his .22 rifle was enough to draw people from who knew how far away. That evening he set out a series of 6 wire snares and his two steel traps along a small creek where game trails ran to it. In the morning he was rewarded with a fat rabbit in one snare and grilled it on a green stick for breakfast and made some pan bread with corn flour he had pounded out himself with a couple big rocks. Any commercial flour he found now was all past being usable, but there was corn in many granaries along the way, and wheat, too. Keith preferred the corn for more energy and he liked the flavor. He had seasonings and some lard he had made from a wild pig he'd shot. The lard would keep for a long time so he had taken the time to find a big skillet and fry out a lot of it that he poured into a big plastic jar he'd emptied of commercial salad dressing. Wild game had little if any fat, and he needed fat for the energy and the nutrition.

    The rabbit was tasty and he liked the corn cakes, too. He treated himself to some dessert, putting a big dollop of strawberry preserves on the last corn cake. The preserves were long out of date and tasted stale, but there was enough sugar in them to make them keep forever, he thought. He dearly hoped his mother had survived, not only because he loved her, but also because she made the best strawberry preserves he'd ever tasted. He cleaned his eating utensils in the creek and dried them hot over his tiny campfire to sterilize them, then got on the road again.

    ********

    The radio spit a noise and Austin Mills' voice said, "We got company coming down the road. One man. Seems like he's just passing through, but why out here? You copy?"

    "Copy, Lookout. I'll send some help to come in the trail behind you," Dylan said. He called to Roscoe who relayed the message on another channel to Eddie Grimes who was on reserve duty that day. Eddie took off at a loping run through the trees and over the ridge to the guard lookout position. He remembered that this was the same spot where he'd been caught by Melanie what it seemed like a lifetime ago. It was only about 300 yards from his place, so he got there in just a few minutes. When he came up on the lookout post he slid into place and asked Jack Alexander, "What's up?"

    "That guy down there. He stopped to rest for a bit , but he's moving again, staying on the road."

    "Okay. You know the drill. Let me get in position and I'll wave at you, then you can call to him."

    "Gotcha."

    A minute later, Austin called out, "Hello there! You lookin' for somebody, or just passin' through?"

    The bearded man looked up in the direction of the voice, not seeing anyone and said, "I came to check on my folks. I grew up here."

    After some conversation, the 3 you men walked toward Roscoe Beam's farm. They had radioed ahead that the man was no threat and walked up the lane. Eddie yelled at the house, "ROSCOE! You want to come see this guy?"

    Roscoe looked out the window and didn't recognize the man in the faded jacket and floppy hat and beard. There was something familiar about his walk, though. He took hs time going down the lane to meet the three young men. When he got within a few steps of them the new man stopped and said, unbelieving, "DAD?"

    Roscoe's heart fluttered and he couldn't move a step. He looked hard at the face and said, "KEITH?"

    The grin was unmistakable. The two men grabbed each other in a bear hug and cried for a long time.

    *********


    Chapter 99


    "No, sis didn't make it," Keith said. "She had just called me from the hospital where she worked right before Atlanta burned. There was nothing left of the hospital. I was up in the mountains at a hunting lodge my friend's dad owned, 200 miles north. He was in town getting supplies and never made it back. I had a battery powered TV and radio and figured out after a week that I had better stay put. I was there for almost a year before I dared to leave. This guy's dad had a lot of freeze dried food and stuff stashed up there. It was a retreat for his family and had all the comforts of home, but they never got there."

    Marta's eyes were still dripping tears. She couldn't speak as she bit her lip, but just sat beside her son and hugged him tightly.

    ********

    "Doc, I'd like to introduce my son, Doctor Keith Beam," Roscoe said. "I was hoping you coul dfind a place for him to work here."

    Anthony gaped and stared at the young man. "He's a DOCTOR?"

    "That's right sir. Served my residency in Atlanta. I specialized in internal medicine and surgery at the hospital there in the critical care unit. Call me Keith."

    The men shook hands and the smile on Tony's face was exuberant. "This is so great! We need you so badly! Come, sit down. This is my wife and nurse, Michelle, and this is our P. A., Melanie Draper. You are SO welcome here!"

    *******

    As years passed and the community grew, the tiny school slowly turned into a small town college, teaching medicine, chemistry, physics, botany and civil engineering. A productive pharmaceutical facility produced medicines, mostly plant based, and the small clinic grew to be a hospital, bringing much trade and more residents to the community. A government consisting of 5 county councilmen provided a framework for the future. There were slow advances toward some use of natural gas and oil, but would continue to work on power from water, steam, and animals as the country began to slowly lift itself out of what had come very close to being a new dark age.

    ********

    THE END

  8. #88
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    State of Jefferson Sierra Mountains
    Posts
    4,348
    Excellent story Patience. Thank you so very much for writing it and sharing it with us. Prayers said for a complete recovery for you.

  9. #89
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    On the Rock
    Posts
    851
    That was wonderful! I am sorry to see the story come to an end. I hope that you will take care of yourself. I will keep you in my prayers.

  10. #90
    A wonderful story and hopeful end. I thank you and wish you well during your troubles. I will hope for a good outcome for you. It is all in Gods hands.

  11. #91
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    East Central WI
    Posts
    596
    Thank You, Sir! A most excellent teaching story and one which gives me hope for the future!

    ... and Patience, prayers are still going up from here requesting your healing!

  12. #92
    Great story Patience! I do like happy endings. Thank you, and may you have good news also.

  13. #93
    Thank you so much! that was a really good story!

  14. #94
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    South East South Dakota
    Posts
    302
    What an excellent story patience. Thanks so much. I will be re-reading, you may be sure. It was very generous of you to take the time and trouble to post/finish writing this work, especially under your current circumstances.

    I wish you well in your recovery.


    Cat

  15. #95
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    331
    Wonderful story, Thank You!
    I didn't really bounce Eeyore. I had a cough, and I happened to be behind Eeyore, and I said "Grrrr-oppp-ptschschschz."

  16. #96
    Thank you, patience. Please keep us updated on how you're doing. You and your family remain in my prayers.

  17. #97
    Great work and may GOD heal and Bless you

  18. #98
    Thanks to all of you for the kind words and prayers. It's a really nice bunch of folks here! I hope to spend more time visiting now that the rush of medical attention is over for while. I have time on my hands, not being able to work in my shop at present due to fatigue. So, writing and visiting here is nice way spend some of that time.

  19. #99
    Great story. Thanks for sharing.
    You're still in our prayers. Please keep us updated.

  20. #100
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    1,314
    Thank you so much for this fine story.

  21. #101
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    East Central Texas
    Posts
    4,242
    What a wonderful story, thank you so much. Godspeed to you and yours as you work on improving your health. My Father also experienced that nearly 30 yrs ago. Hang in there!

  22. #102
    Thank you, Patience ~ you have a true gift for writing, and I am grateful that you have chosen to share it with us!

  23. #103
    Patience, I love, love love your stories and always sad when they come to an end. Hope and pray that you will have a miracle healing and live to be an old, old man. I learn so much from your stories. God bless.

  24. #104
    Great story and great writing. I enjoyed it so much. I hope to find other stories that you have written. Thank you very much!

  25. #105
    Fuzzy,

    I have written 5 novel length tales here--Dirty Money, Transitions, From the Bottom Up, Told Ya So, and this one, Not Quite Eden. Just search the story topic here.

    Glad you all liked it! I appreciate the comments, positive or otherwise. A good critique is worth a lot.

    Jerry

  26. #106
    Thank you so verry much for sharing your gift.

  27. #107
    Quote Originally Posted by patience View Post
    Fuzzy,

    I have written 5 novel length tales here--Dirty Money, Transitions, From the Bottom Up, Told Ya So, and this one, Not Quite Eden. Just search the story topic here.

    Glad you all liked it! I appreciate the comments, positive or otherwise. A good critique is worth a lot.

    Jerry
    Ha! I've already read all those stories, but never paid attention to who wrote them. Thanks again, 5 times over!

  28. #108
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    3,351
    Thank you so much, patience, for the great story with lots of ideas and suggestions and information!!!

    I'll have to check out your other stories, but I'm pretty sure that I've read all or most of them...just didn't pay much attention to the author's name. (I'm so embarrassed!!)

    You are still on my prayer list. Hoping and praying that your health improves.........
    "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
    Proverbs 3:5-6

  29. #109
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    151
    Wonderful story, really learned so much from you. Thank you very much.

    You are in my prayers. All the best !

  30. #110
    Fantastic writing patience! I loved this story.......you are a truely gifted writer. I'll be reading the rest of your offerings here.........its' been a long time since I've been able to visit the members story section and I'm so glad I finally took the time to do it. You are in my prayers as well!

  31. #111
    patience what a fantastic story I just found it a couple of weeks ago, and read more of it every chance I got. What a treasurer trove of information and ideas you gave to us in this story. You are truly a gifted story teller. Thank you for sharing that gift with us. I am sorry to hear of your illness and have been praying for your healing since I found out about it. I pray knowing that miracles happen every day and that Gods thoughts are higher than ours and that our prayers are answered in his time and His will. In being a christian one put's there trust in God through faith and through that faith we know that this world is just the beginning not the end. Again thanks you for all of the time and effort you put into this story.
    Wayne

  32. #112
    STJ,

    Thank you. Hope it helps someone along the way.

    Life has it's problems for me at this time, but nothing lasts forever, and I know who holds tomorrow.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XcTNjmy1m4

  33. #113
    Quote Originally Posted by patience View Post
    STJ,

    Thank you. Hope it helps someone along the way.

    Life has it's problems for me at this time, but nothing lasts forever, and I know who holds tomorrow.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XcTNjmy1m4
    Amen to that, you are in our prayers.
    Wayne

  34. #114
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    15,056
    Just found your Eden story 4 days ago and had to finish it over Christmas to find out what happened - so many ways it could have ended, but that was the best and most positive. I enjoyed your spontaneous "conversations" among the characters as a way of informing the reader of what needed to happen and how things worked, rather than a more technical explanation in a lecture form.

    I do hope you are feeling stronger with your treatments - in my experience with our Naturopath, sugar is absolute bliss to a cancer cell (my son works at a Cancer hospital and they inject & trace with sugar for marking cancers) and anything which makes the body more alkaline (such as baking soda) is anathema to cancer. Plus getting rid of all parasites which cause acidity, yeast, & candida is a base for improving health. Going off wheat (the extra protein in the newer wheat is too hard for the body to work to digest and can cause chronic imflammation) has helped us tremendously - we indulge occasionally when we eat out. Hope this is in line with what you are doing and might help. Oh, and lots of water with real sea salt for flushing out the bad guys.

    Again - a wonderful story, well worth re-reading if only for the entertainment.........but far more than just that.
    True North Strong and Free

  35. #115
    Laurane,

    Yes, I'm doing a lot of what you said. Lots of herbs and now taking DCA = sodium dichloroacetate. Canadian research shows that this simple chemical can change cancer cells back to normal. Otherwise, not looking too good. I have retained fluid from leakage into belly cavity and had to have it drained--1.7 liters of it! Felt like I was 8 months pregnant and I am male! Now have complications from that drainage with fluid leaked into my groin area. This is a latter stage cancer symptom, so it worries me a lot.

  36. #116
    Keeping you in my prayers...

  37. #117
    Bump

  38. #118
    GOOD STORY

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