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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rowan's Journey- from the beginning

I had some inquiries about the beginning of the story. So here is Rowan's Journey from Installment one to installment five. Look for Installment six soon.

Here is the first installment of the story....Keep checking back to see what happens next...........
Rowan awoke to a familiar feeling. Something she had not felt in over a decade. Her mind raced to find the right word, “Earthquake! It’s an earthquake. Crap! get the baby.” She rolled out of bed and crawled to the where her three year old was sleeping. Swooping him up, Rowan hunkered in the doorway and waited for the shaking to stop. There was something different, something wrong about it. Rowan realized that there was noise, terrible awful noise. Earthquakes have a unique sound, and this was not it. Then it hit her, she lived in Iowa now. They don’t have earthquakes in Iowa. Possibilities ran through her head. “Meteor? No that’s stupid” she thought. “Nuclear Bomb. No way, no bright flash, and we would have been pulverized.” What was it? She kept asking herself, what was it? The baby was screaming. Rowan did her best to calm him. Even at three Joshua was a very verbal child and he was asking questions. All she could muster was an affirmation that everything would be O.K. The shaking subsided and the noise faded some. Then she could hear screaming and people yelling “call for help”. Sitting the boy down she said, “Stay right here, Mommy is going to look out the window.

She did her best impression of an Army crawl over to the window. Carefully she drew back the curtains and peaked out. Adjusting her eyes she peered down the street. It was a plane crash. She could not believe what she was seeing. A house was crushed under the plane and flames were raging all around it. People were stumbling about and trying to get away from the burning wreckage. She could smell the burning fuel and wondered if it was safe where they were at. She picked Joshua up and grabbed her cell phone. Nothing! It was dead. “Damn” she thought I forgot to plug it in last night. She picked up the land line. It was dead as well. She thought the plane must have taken out the phone lines. There were no lights either. No electricity at all. Rowan contemplated her next move. Something told her to get out and away from the burning jet fuel. There were broken power lines and worse broken gas lines. It could not be safe to stay there. There could be an explosion. She would take Joshua and go to his Dad’s house five miles outside of town. From the looks of the neighborhood this was not going to be an easy task.

Installment 2
Joshua was crying and it took Rowan a few seconds to realize she was holding him just a little too tight. Reassuring him Rowan rocked him and said, “Everything will be O.K. Mommy is here. We are going to go to Daddy’s house.” Joshua perked up and agreed. Then in the sweetest voice he said, “Don’t worry Mommy I take care of you. I a man.” Rowan couldn’t help but smile. She gave him the task of gathering up his favorite toys and loading them into his Bob the Builder back pack. While he did that she grabbed a few pieces of clothing and shoved them into a bag. The scene outside seemed a little calmer now. She was no longer worried that the gas line would explode. If it was going to happen it would have already happened, was her line of reasoning. It was still the safest option to evacuate. Plus the furnace was off and it was the dead of winter. The other house had a wood stove. After she threw some toiletries in the bag too, she grabbed Joshua and headed to the door. It took what seemed an eternity to get their snow clothes on. Rowan wanted to make sure they were bundled up because she had no idea what lay in store for their five mile drive.

As they left the house Rowan locked the door behind her. This was something she rarely did, and it seemed odd for a brief moment. In the driveway sat her little blue Prius that she was so proud of. Once Joshua was strapped safely in his car seat she turned the key. Nothing, the car did not start. Rowan could not believe it but her perfect little Prius was silent. She looked around the neighborhood and noticed that no cars were moving. There were people walking down the street will suitcases and personal possessions. Out came the words, “What the hell?” which ignited a flurry of questions from the back seat. Rowan tried again and again but the car would not start. Rowan laid her head on the steering wheel and sighed. There was no time to break down, but at that moment she almost lost it. Then she looked at the garage door. She whispered, “could it?”

As the garage door swung up there was “the beast” with its grill smiling back at her. The “Beast” was her ex’s 1985 Toyota 4Runner. It had been converted to be fuel injection with a carburetor and an old points ignition system. It was rusted, old and a source of contention between them for years. She had asked, begged, and demanded he get rid of it. He would not. It just sat in her garage forcing her Prius to be parked outdoors. It irritated her every time she had to clear the snow off her car. Rowan just knew that her ex kept it there now just to get at her. It also gave him an excuse to come around whenever he wanted to. She slid into the garage and into the front seat. She let Joshua sit in the seat next to her just for now. Finding the spare key in the middle console she started it up. It had trouble turning over at first but then finally roared to life. She could not believe it. The damn thing started. Rowan thanked God for unanswered prayers and apologized to the beast for all of the mean things she ever said about it. Rowan looked at the gas gauge. It still had half a tank of gas. It was plenty to drive five miles. As much as she had hated that vehicle before she loved it twice as much now. That old ugly rusted piece of junk was now the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. The engine sound was like music to her ears.
Installment 3
She slowly pulled out of the garage and parked next to the side door to the house. For some strange reason Rowan was relieved that they could not be seen from the street. She felt a need to be careful and not draw too much attention to them. She got the car seat out of the Prius and installed it in the 4Runner. Having extra room now, Rowan decided to get some more things from the house. They went into the kitchen and Rowan pulled the extra grocery bags from underneath the sink. Trying to keep Joshua and herself calm she asked the toddler to load a bag full of cans from the bottom cupboard. As the boy worked Rowan cleaned out the cupboards and loaded all of the food into the SUV. She also grabbed all of the food from the refrigerator and freezer. Over the last six months Rowan had become a bit of a prepper. She had been watching Glen Beck and following a few different stories on the Internet. Something about having extra things stored away made her feel safe. She had started buying extra food and stowing it away in her bedroom closet. She had saved up enough food to last two adults six months and enough water for two or more weeks. Rowan set her son to task and he was loading up his little radio flyer wagon with bottles of water. Some of the food was in a Rubbermaid tub, which Rowan now realized was way too heavy to move. Filling every bag in the house, she loaded every bit of food into the Fore Runner. They were almost ready to go and at the last minute Rowan grabbed the extra blankets from the closet and two sleeping bags. Ready to leave the house now, she took one last look around and sighed. She had no idea how long it would be before they would come home.

Rowan strapped Joshua into the car seat and buckled herself in. Joshua’s Dad’s place was not that far away but she had no idea what they would find on the road. It was a great property just outside of town and was surrounded by 150 acres of farm land. In the back there was a small stand of trees with a pond. The property itself had a large outbuilding, an old well, and a vegetable garden. The house was a ranch style 3 bedroom 2 bathe home. It was bought at auction and completely remodeled, including a small apartment in what used to be the garage. There was a wood stove, a fourteen gallon reverse osmosis water reserve in the basement. It was off city utilities and used a propane tank that was kept full always. The place was a pretty good start to self sustainability. Not yet off the grid but with great potential for it. The home also had sentimental value, as it was the house Joshua was born in.

As they pulled out of the driveway Rowan realized the Prius was blocking the driveway. She thought about trying to push it out of the way but decided just to drive through the yard. As she drove down the lawn people started to look at them. Rowan noticed all of the cars just sitting in the driveways. Her next door neighbor asked how she got the car started. Rowan shrugged her shoulders and yelled it just started. There were people walking down the street with suitcases and wagons full of personal belongings. The road was clear though. Because of the early time of the morning no one had been up and moving before the plane crashed. As they got farther away from their neighborhood Rowan noticed that the power was out all over town. There were smoke plumes all over the place. The sun was coming up over the horizon and as they crested the hill Rowan gasped for breathe as she counted at least ten other plane wrecks around town. What could have possibly caused this? Rowan felt a stir of panic well up in her. Joshua asked, “what a matter Momma?” She tried her best to cover her reaction up. “Nothing baby, Mommy is just trying to wake up.” Rowan decided the best option was to take the highway around town instead of trying to go through the streets that now looked filled with people. As she drove down the on ramp it was almost unnatural how deserted the road was. There were no cars, no people, and no movement what so ever. At first the drive was smooth then Rowan saw the small plane down in the middle of the highway. It was one of those Cessna type planes, a four seater. The landing gear was gone and it rested on its belly off kilter on the road. It was blocking both lanes. The cabin door was open and Rowan did not see anyone moving inside. She was not sure what to do. She could only think of getting Joshua to his Dad’s house. They would be safe there. Wouldn’t they be? Rowan put the car in neutral and pulled the emergency break. Rowan had to lock in the four wheel drive on the tires. Once the tires were locked in place, she shifted into four high and drove off the road onto the center- median. The vehicle seemed to have no problem driving through the thick brush. Then she saw the landing gear lying across the brush. Rowan had to drive all the way to the other side of the highway. She felt strange driving the wrong way down the road but had no other option. After they had cleared the wreckage she got back onto the right side of the road. She contemplated unlocking the hubs but decided she would rather leave it in four wheel drive and go a little slower than to have to get in and out if they needed to used it again. Just in the short time they had been out Rowan could tell that something big had happened. She had no idea what it was, but it was BIG.
Installment 4
The rest of the drive went smoothly. On the off ramp a few car were stopped and abandoned. The Forerunner cleared them easily. The road to the house was deserted. As they drove past the junk yard it took on a new personality. The colors had long faded, dusty yellow, drab green, all looking ghostly. The light glinted off the windshields, at least the ones that were not broken yet. Rowan noticed a small plume of smoke rising from the center of the mass wreckage of cars. There was old Murphy the junk yard owner cooking something over a fire in the middle of the mess of metal. Rowan could smell the smoke and what seemed like bacon. She had seen bacon cooked over a fire while camping. Her mouth began to water as she suddenly realized how hungry she was. The excitement of the morning had kept her mind occupied. Now as she smelled the fresh smoking aroma of cooking bacon, she was almost ravenous. She glanced over at Joshua and noticed that he was playing with his chrome airplane, like he had done so many times on his way to his Dad’s house. The sound of fake propellers was vibrating on his lips. Rowan smiled and for a moment forgot about the dire situation they may be in. Rowan wondered for a minute if Murphy was his first or last name, she had no idea.

As they rounded the corner of road Rowan could see the house in the distance. A feeling of relief washed over her. As they pulled into the driveway she noticed the white Toyota Camry was gone. The house looked empty, dark, and cold. Rowan got Joshua out of the car and looked around the property a little. It looked like no one had been there in a while. Joshua’s Dad, Wade, must have been in town at his girlfriend’s house. Rowan shuddered and thought about how much she hated his new girlfriend. She hoped that Wade would make his way back to the house soon. The guy that lived in the apartment out back was gone as well. No one was there. Rowan found the key that was hidden under fourth rock to the right of the door. The air smelled unusual. The smell of smoke and something burning in the distance tickled her nose. The smell of fresh Earth made her feel calmer. They went in the house and surveyed the room. Everything seemed normal. The air was crisp and Rowan knew the first thing she needed to do was start a fire. The wood stove was cold. Wade must not have been home in a couple of days. She felt a weird sense of concern for him. As much as she disliked him now, she would give anything to have him home with them. Rowan grabbed a couple of logs and started cutting them down into smaller pieces. She had a good stack of feather sticks, kindling, and scrapings. The fire lit up pretty easy and Rowan was thankful for the warm glow of the fire. The red, yellow, and orange flames were soothing. Joshua asked where his Dad was and she reassured him. He sat in his Mom’s lap staring at the fire. They sat there for a while just settling in.

Rowan checked the lights. There was no electricity. The stove was electric so Rowan got out the cast iron pan and set it on the wood stove. In the fridge there were some pieces of Salmon. The fridge was still cold but she could tell the food would not keep long. Rowan decided to cook up as much of the food as she could to help it last longer. She also got out the cooler. The ice cubes were just starting to get wet as the melting process was beginning. Luckily Wade had a thing for ice so there was quite a bit of it in the freezer. Rowan filled the cooler and put as much of the perishable food in there as she could. The smell of salmon, olive oil and garlic filled the house. By this time Rowan’s mouth was watering. Joshua had been snacking on a banana. They also drank large glasses of milk. They feasted on a savory meal of Salmon, Cous Cous, and fried leafy greens. It almost felt like a normal day.

With their bellies full they unloaded the car. Joshua piped up, “How long are we going to stay here? When is my Dad coming home? Can I watch TV?” Rowan once again reassured him, but in her heart she had no idea what to think. Rowan set herself to task and made a list of priorities of things to do. She checked the water and it was off as well. There was enough for the time being with the fourteen gallon reserve in the basement, the water she brought from home, the water heater, and the Jacuzzi filled to the brim. Rowan was thankful at that moment that Wade was too cheap to chlorinate the whirlpool. The house was warming up. They had candles lit but the house was pretty bright from the sun flowing through the windows. Wade did not like curtains so most of the windows were uncovered. Strangely enough Rowan felt at home. Being there made her feel safer in some way. She got Joshua distracted playing with his toy tool set. She slid into Wade’s bedroom. It crossed her mind that she had not been in there in over a year. Dropping to her knees in the far corner she found the loose board. The wood squeaked and she pride up the floor board. Wade was a bit paranoid, but at this moment Rowan was happy to see the shiny blue metal of the pistol and shotgun. She had picked on Wade for as long as she could remember for hiding his guns under the floorboards, but as she lifted the weapons from there hiding place, she once again said a prayer of thanks. She loaded both weapons and put them up out of Joshua’s reach. As he worked on his carpentry skills, Rowan sat on the couch looking out the window, watching for any sign of movement in the distance. You could see for miles down the road. Nothing moved except the various streams of smoke lifting straight into the sky. It did seem that the fires were dying down. It almost looked like any Sunday morning out in the country. Rowan sat contemplating and wondering what to do.
Installment 5
Rowan woke up with a jerk, pain shooting up her neck. She had fallen asleep on the couch staring out the window. She must have twisted wrong when she was startled awake. Glancing over she saw Joshua sound asleep on the other couch. He was curled up with his blanket holding his little airplane. Rowan could never understand how he could snuggle with a cold piece of metal, but for Joshua it was like any soft stuffed toy. Once she looked around the room Rowan began to wonder what the noise was that caused her to jump. There was nothing noticeable at first glance. She stretched and cracked her neck. The pop sounded loud in the quiet house. The room was starting to feel cool again so she threw some more wood on the fire. The noise came again. It was obviously outside, sounded like it was out back in the big garage. Rowan did not have a good view of the outbuilding from where she was at. She grabbed the pistol and walked to the front door. Hesitating she was unsure if she should leave the boy sleeping in the house to investigate. What if something happened and he woke up alone? Rowan quickly grabbed the shotgun instead.

She slowly opened the front door and stepped out onto the porch. Looking into the sky, Rowan tried to gather what time it might be. It had to be at least two O’clock. Joshua usually took a nap at three but this had been an unusually tiring day. Rowan crept cautiously towards the big metal out building. It seemed secure but there was a small opening at the right bottom corner of the huge sliding door. She stopped a few feet from the door and listened. At first all she could hear was the pounding of her own heart. “Get a grip Rowan” she scolded herself, breathing in a deep breath of clean air. The air smelled more normal now. There was no sting in her nostrils from burning jet fuel. Rowan grabbed hold of the door handle and slid it open wide so she could see in. There appeared to be nothing in there. She was happy to see the big red truck though. It was a towering 3 ton Ford 350. It was a diesel. Rowan wondered if it had fuel in it. Then a snap sounded from the back corner of the building. Rowan yelled in a commanding voice, “This is private property. I have a gun and I will shoot. Come out of there.” Nothing moved. “I SAID COME OUT NOW”, still she heard nothing. She glanced towards the house and contemplated high tailing it back to the safety of lockable doors. Then she heard a sound like a scratching. It must be an animal. She felt a little relieved but then wondered what kind of animal it could be. She slid soundlessly closer to the corner and kicked over a stack of empty crates Wade had been saving for some project. At that moment a masked bandit bared its black claws and white teeth, screeching at her. Rowan screamed and put a shot gun blast through the roof. It was that damned raccoon. That creature had gotten great joy out of tormenting Rowan the last few months that she lived there. She thought it had been long gone. Here he was though acting like Rowan was the invader. Rowan pointed the shotgun at the beast and was about to pull the trigger when she heard Joshua screaming for her from the porch. The Raccoon ran past Rowan and out the open door, scampering off into the field. Rowan didn’t dare take a shot in that direction. It was too risky with the house in the background. Rowan yelled to Joshua, “It’s O.K. baby, it was just that awful raccoon.” She temporarily secured the sliding door and went back to the house.

The boy was rubbing his eyes and still looked red faced as they went back into the house. After holding and rocking the boy for awhile, Joshua took it in stride. Again taking up his crusade to save the animal, Joshua started explaining all the reasons why it was a good idea to keep it alive. In Rowan’s mind that menace had been carrying out a well planned attack on her ever since she interrupted him snacking on the apple trees three years ago. Anyone who says a raccoon is a stupid animal has never met a raccoon. This bandit has been stealing things, leaving land minds around the property, and specifically messing with Rowan’s things. It would poop on her car but never on Wade’s. One time Rowan had left a book sitting in a lawn chair when she went inside to get a drink. When she came back the terrorist had urinated on the book and chair. For a moment this made Rowan laugh as she recalled the huge argument her and Wade had because he had said she couldn’t prove the Raccoon had done it. It would get into the garbage, mess up the lawn furniture, and eat the vegetables out of the garden. Rowan had been out voted two to one last year to stop trying to kill it. Rowan once again conceded and promised Joshua she would not shoot the offender. Rowan opened the door and shouted, “O.K. I am sorry. I call a truce. I won’t try and hurt you anymore. Now if you would please not pick on me anymore that would be great. We need to work together if we are gonna get through this.” She closed the door to see Joshua as pleased as punch that he had negotiated an end to the war. It was good to see him smile. Rowan felt silly for the display but in her heart she knew the words were more for God than for the raccoon. She was feeling scared and alone in protecting her son and she couldn’t waste energy on some grudge against a furry foe.

Rowan felt hunger pains. All of the excitement had left her feeling drained and in need of food. She cooked up some hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. The meal tasted surprisingly good. It is amazing how good boring food can taste when you are super hungry. Rowan let out a big sigh and filled a plate up for Rascal (as the masked opponent had come to be called by Joshua). Rowan quickly put it out on the picnic table, “There a peace offering. Friends O.K.?” She grabbed some more wood, went inside, and locked up the house tighter than a vice. Of all the things she hated because of the break up, Rowan now felt a weird sense of comfort and support by having her nemesis still around. It gave life a sense of normalcy for the time being.


sel said...

Thank you so much. Waiting eagerly for the next chapter.

balanceinfo said...

Thank you for the encouragement

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