Yes I know it's been a long time since I worked on the Fiction part of the blog. It was suppose to be a Winter gig and as many of you know as this Winter closed in I had a big project thrust on me and so the Fiction took a back seat for a while.
However I couldn't leave Doug and His family hanging out there. That just didn't seem right. So here is a short finish to the Doug, Ellen and Amber quest to get back to Doug's family farm.
Spoiler alert....they make it :)
Doug Part III.
The fire crackled and popped in the old wood stove set against the Eastern wall. Doug looked around at his childhood home in amazement at just how small it seemed to him now. Amber was sleeping on the old threadbare sofa under so many blankets you could hardly see them move when she shifted under their weight.
Ellen and Doug's mom, Norma, were in the kitchen while Doug's father Richard, Rich for short, was out forking hay to the few head of cattle that remained on the farm. In a few hours Doug and Rich would go out and start threshing a few more of the wheat sheaves that were stacked in the old barn. The was no fuel to run the combine so hand threshing and willowing was all they had left. Rich and the neighbors had cut the wheat by hand and tied them into bundles then transported them to the barns by horse drawn wagons and small tractors until the fuel ran out.
After passing through the Northern suburbs of Kansas city the trip, which took them almost a month to complete, got steadily easier. The next few days after witnessing the attack at the crossroads Doug had been even more determined to keep off the roads. It took them almost another week just to make it a scant 20 miles but after crossing I-35 Doug had seen a familiar exit sign for a small two lane highway he knew would lead him to within a few miles of their destination. As they turned and began traveling more North the land opened up and the houses began thinning.
The fields became more easily traveled but the rivers and streams became more of a problem. Even the simple ditches turned into mighty canyons that could not be crossed on foot. However farmers needed to get to their fields and if one looked there was always an old, rutted dirt track to follow. Keeping out of sight now became almost impossible as well but those who would prey on others also seemed to disappear. They were approached on numerous occasions by armed men but had always been allowed to pass. On several occasions they even been offered some food or over night shelter but were always strictly warned not to attempt to stay.
Towards the end of April Doug, Ellen and Amber stumbled onto a farm field he recognized as belonging to the family of his first grade school girlfriend Denny, As Doug remembered it that was short for Denise . An average sized farm less than 12 miles from his own families land. Before Doug and his family had made it halfway across the large wheat field Denny's Father and Brother were already watching them from the yard of the farm house they cautiously met them at the field edge with guns leveled but quickly lowered them once Doug identified himself.
The three of them spent their first night in a warm house in months, listening to the stories and tales of how the locals, names Doug still recognized, had fared. That was the first time Doug had heard of the rebellion down South that had went on before the final collapse as well. Oh there had been rumors but nothing Doug had ever heard officially. The rural areas had all begun to form local militia units now. There was actually a loose communication line set up between most of the rural counties and pledges of mutual aid if needed. So far the rural areas had managed to put a quick end to any looters or bandits that came into the countryside but the areas around the larger cities and towns were still dead zones in many places. Rumor had it that things were much tougher the further South one went because the forested areas were harder to control. As things stood right now the rural areas had a big advantage but no one knew what was going to come next especially with Spring finally coming on in earnest.
They were finally home but the future was far from certain.