What the three man team found beyond the confines of the compound; was puzzling. They might as well, have been in the United States before it was settled by humans. People were gone, the signs of buildings had been erased, there were no roads. The land was forest, prairies, canyons, rivers were the natural barriers they had once been before bridges.
Natural sounds were the only noises. It was surreal and frightening; to the point the brothers were joking about being caught in a time machine. If they hadn't been carrying modern battle weapons with high-tec gear, it would have been hard to have a point of reference.
Venturing out further and further, it was during the middle of the fourth day before they saw their first game. A flock of wild turkeys strutted through the tall grass, stopping to pick up fallen seeds.
Milo was going to take one of the turkeys for food; when he lowered the rifle. "Why am I thinking it might not be a good idea to shoot? That perhaps we shouldn't advertise that we have this type of item, or allow that kind of noise? That is such a strange thought for me to have, what do you guys think?"
"I for one am totally spooked by what we see and especially by what we don't see." Toby was standing with his back to Gary and Milo, as when they paused or stopped, they formed a circle looking outward as a safety precaution. "According to my calculations, and using fifteen to twenty miles a day, we should be in the heart of downtown Raleigh. And there is simply, freaking nothing here."
The grassy meadow held no sign there had once been a city of over five million people situated there. Then the breeze brought the beginning, faint sounds of something. Slowly, the screeching came ever closer as it rose and feel with an intensity that made grown men shiver.
"Good Lord, what is that?" Milo checked the rifle, taking the caps off the scope and going down on one knee, for steadiness.
"It sounds like a dying rhinoceros," Gary got his weapon ready, "do you suppose the zoo's were opened up and the animals let loose?" That was a thought none of them had contemplated.
The terrible, wheezing and torturous sounds were coming closer, when Toby started laughing. Pointing to the tree line across the vast expanse of open grass, a man appeared.
A startlingly large man of color in a kilt, playing the bagpipe with enthusiasm and gusto. The bagpipe was protesting as his large hands manipulated the pipes and his mighty breath filled the bellows.
"I believe he is playing, Amazing Grace," Toby was choking with laughter. "Or maybe that is his funeral dirge, I can't tell."
Seamus MacCleary played himself over to the scouting party, jovially wheezing the red Tarlatan bag that matched his kilt and the tab on his knee socks. His Tam-'O-Shanter was dusty and smudged, but his wide grin was non threatening. His shirt had once been a white one, now streaked with blood, soot and mud.
Toby was the shortest of the Linderman men at 6'2". Then it was Gary and then Milo at a good 6'5". They all looked up to the dark skinned man that must have stood a good solid 6'8".
"Top 'O the morn, too ya, I'm Seamus MacCleary, late of Glasgow, Scotland. Come here to the US to play 'me bagpipes in the band. There seems to have been a fair bit of wind, come upon us. Did you gentleman happen to see it?"
Toby, Milo and Gary introduced themselves, and gave up their hands in a bone crushing shake. Obviously, Seamus didn't know his own strength.
The Linderman's shared a sandwich with Seamus when he declared he was near faint with hunger. "There's nothing east of here towards the ocean, I've been 'a pipe'in meself inland hoping to meet up with people. I figured 'me pipes would let them know I was meaning no harm."
Gary muttered something under his breath, and Seamus roared with laughter. The Scotsman evidently had excellent hearing, which was a wonder, considering his choice of musical instruments.
"Your right mon," the burly pipe player agreed, "she does sound like a dying rhinoceros. Me little pipes sound worse." he chuckled, and all three Linderman men shivered.
"Now, I fair be warning ya, yer the first people I've seen to me eyes . Do ya have a notion of what went on here?" Seamus took in the sight of the three well armed men, and cocked his head sideways, giving them a better vetting than he had done the first time.
"Seamus, do you believe in the devil?" Toby asked the oversized man.
"Aye, I've been skirtin around him for many a year. Why?" he suddenly challenged.
"Our Mother, thinks the devil was in the big wind and he gathered up the souls he had bargained for and took them to burn in hell. And I can tell you, we have no other logical explanation,.......for this." and Toby swept his arm wide.
"I've danced a time or two with the old Sod," Seamus admitted. "I took me religion, when me Mum was on her deathbed. I promised," he said simply.
Milo looked at Seamus, "If I'm reading correctly between the lines here, we three have danced the same dance with the devil. In fact we have a housefull of those that have."
"Humm," was all Seamus said. "Where are ye laddies headed, and would ya be needin company?"
"We'd be proud to have ya come with us," Toby looked at his brothers and got their approval. "But not making so much noise. We travel light, fast and as soundless as possible. We're scouting for people, game and answers."
"Fair enough," Seamus nodded, "I'll throw in with ya."
Amazing Grace on the pipes never fails to give me the shivers, when I hear it.
Where I used to live, two law enforcement officers were killed and the whole county was involved in the funerals.
There is a pipe band that performs at all LE, 1st responder, fire and public service Funerals. They were the most fantastic people I've ever met. Given that they never play at 'happy' events, I don't know how they were so positive.
Pipe'in a soul home is a long standing tradition. I don't blame you Dosadi, that's good music to meet the Lord.
For such a big man, Seamus was fast and quiet when he wanted to be. The group of four moved through the area full of grass and trees, where the city should have been.
The only discord between them, was the fact that Gary refused any position but rear guard. He turned a bland and blank look to Milo and Toby, a mostly fake smile when questioned. It was two days before Milo had a chance to question Gary about his puzzling attitude.
"What gives man, you're acting berky and as leader, you need to tell me now. We all have to be 300% here. Spill."
Gary gave him an oblique look. "Tell me Milo, why do we all look like we do? The Linderman's."
"Because of the fact there hasn't been a lot of food, the physical work is manually more difficult, you exercised the hell out of us." Milo narrowed his eyes. "What are you getting at?"
"Have you noticed Seamus is practically rolling fat? Where is he getting that much food?" Gary was on watch, his eyes constantly darting around the vast meadow in front of them.
"He didn't have any food with him," Milo mused. "He said he was starving, yet one sandwich made him happy. Humm, that is a little curious."
"I don't dislike him," Gary spoke low, "but I don't trust him. Have you noticed he seems to have extraordinary hearing? Despite playing one of the most high pitched 'musical' instruments available."
"There is that also." Milo conceded slowly.
"He doesn't seem to need much sleep. When I'm on guard duty, he's awake as much as I am." Gary mentioned again.
"Well, he may not be totally comfortable with us. After all, there's no people around, and then suddenly we show up, and we are heavily armed." Milo contemplated Gary's observations. "I'll pay better attention, thanks for noticing, and reporting."
Gary simply nodded. He was the down and dirty soldier in the group; and he wanted to stay alive.
Now that Gary had called Milo's attention to the fact that Seamus was a very large, well fed man with extraordinary hearing, Milo kept a little better track of the puzzling man.
Every instance Gary had noted was true, and a couple of other things Milo picked up on. Every morning when the men had silent prayer before eating the meager rations they had allotted themselves, Seamus never closed his eyes and bowed his head.
Milo and Toby exchanged glances and Toby finally asked Seamus to lead the night prayer.
Seamus looked at him with a steady gaze and started quoting from memory. "This be the last half of Joshua 1:1-9. " his deep voice spoke out over the small encampment. "... then thou shalt make thy way prosperous...and have good success..Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whitherso-ever thou goest." Seamus took his face and turned it to the setting sun. "Tis fitting, is it not?"
"Very much so," Toby praised, "I hadn't thought of that passage in a long time, thank you for bringing it to mind." Seamus nodded and continued to look at the sunset.
Milo would have exchanged a glance with Gary, but now, he was certain the big man was keeping close track of the interactions the Lindermans shared between themselves.
"We each have one more meal of the dehydrated cooked beans with protein power," Milo was thinking aloud, "so we really need to watch for game tomorrow. We've traveled far enough we should be close to Virginia, hopefully in the hills, we night find rabbits and perhaps deer.."
Gary spoke up, "Don't count on it, I'm not even finding any tracks." The men glumly agreed. "We may have to turn back and get more provisions."
They had generously shared the food with Seamus, but now they were in a pinch.
The next morning when Seamus came back into camp from his 'personal business' walk, he had four rabbits in a brace hanging from his hand.
God is with them? Jehovah-jireh... He is our provider... Only thing that makes sense to me, along with the blessed pipes, which make a joyful noise... Of course, I'm a very, very, simple man... I'm ready to be corrected when wrong...
God Bless You and Yours, Mrs. Pac! Thank-You for continuing this wonderful saga of the Linderman's!
"Confess with your mouth, that 'Jesus is Lord,' believing in your heart that God raised Him from the Dead, and you will be saved, for with the heart, man believes and is justified, and with his profession of faith, he is saved." Romans 10:9-10.
I can either read God's Word to you, or read it over you. Your choice. Either way, you will meet Jesus Christ. Condition "0," Code Red to Black- ALWAYS. Trump Supporter and Proud Founding Member of The Nowski Brigade- To the Hilt!!!
Seamus entered camp with a solemn expression. "I got lucky, the wee hoppers came right too me." his brogue burred all the 'r's', "I think they were attracted to me growling belly."
Toby laughed and Gary hid a half smile. Milo, hidden in the brush on guard duty more than casually inspected Seamus.
Perhaps the man was telling the truth, but it wasn't very plausible. Milo also kept track of the fact that Seamus watched both Toby and Gary's reaction out of the corner of his eye, while it appeared he was concentrating something else.
To a man, the Linderman's felt that Seamus was most definitely something more than he appeared to be, but for the moment, were accepting him at face value. Besides, no matter how he had procured them, the rabbits were welcome food.
Promptly cleaned and put on to cook, the rabbit chunks simmered with wild onion and garlic in the only cook pot. The slow fire would take most of the day to sufficiently tenderize the rabbit, but they would have good eating for supper.
Hungry bellies responded by growling as loud as Seamus said his had rumbled, and despite the large amounts of water the men consumed, they were cranky and hungry.
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