Saturday, August 9, 2014

Part 36

Been a couple of days since I've felt like writing.  Got a rotten cold.  Been in a rotten mood.  I always get a cold this time of the year but its been really hard to deal with this time because apparently Sunny is a germophobe.  Who would have thought it?  She seems like an otherwise practical kind of person.  It has made driving three in the cab interesting ... or not depending on which end of the "ew!" and "gross!" you are on.

It's not like I'm spewing snot all over the place; I am using a handkerchief for pity sake.  And I wash it out every night and dry it so I can start clean the next day.  I don't know what her damage is.  During the day I'm scrunched up on one side of the seat and Sunny is practically riding in Jace's lap.  I offered to ride in the camper but Sunny nearly fainted at the idea of then having to sleep where my germs had been.  Well let me tell you, it didn't exactly thrill me to offer to have my germs where she and Jace have been ... er ... sleeping.  Ick.

First night we stopped in this place called Plover.  It was a little village type place.  There were still people around but they were real standoffish and wouldn't let us get too far off the road.  They set a guard on us.  I could tell some of them were getting a little too interested in what was in the trailer so I made up some story that made it seem like the stuff might be contaminated.

After we got out of there early the next morning Jace tore me a new one shouting in the cab, "You know they could have just decided to kill us or burn us out!  Why would you do something so lame brained as letting them think we were all contaminated!"

Trying to be reasonable even if wasn't I told him, "I didn't.  A couple of them might have thought it was too big a risk but the rest of them weren't bad people and had some commonsense.  They knew I was just BS-ing.  The story saved them and us some grief having to deal with the few of their crew pushing too hard and creating a situation."

Jace ground his teeth and snarled, "That makes absolutely no sense."

I shrugged.  I knew what I knew and there was no explaining it if he didn't want to listen.  "Maybe it didn't make sense to you but it worked."

He snorted, "This time.  But you better not pull another stunt like that.  You aren't the only one here to worry about.  Stop being so selfish.  What would Sunny do if she got hung up in something that went sour like this could have?"

I didn't say it but I think Sunny would do just fine.  She reminds me a bit of a cat, always landing on her feet.

Needless to say Jace wasn't happy with me for a while.  Then he made me angry by saying it served me right to get the cold that started to come on around lunch time of that day.  He acted like I'd done something just to put Sunny in danger and was getting my just desserts.  Then Sunny started up with her germophobe act and I really got a headache.

I've got to admit some of this is my fault.  I wanted Jace for a guard dog ... but I wanted him for my own guard dog.  My problem was that I also expected him to think like a people and not just a dog.  I'm getting more and more certain I'm going to have to break off and make my own way at some point.  I'll hold out as long as I can.  The weather looks to be turning bad and I don't want to have to walk or skate in it the rest of the way if I don't have to.  Seriously bad timing for this cold anyway.  It is almost the beginning of November and the days are getting cold, and the nights even colder.

Last night we didn't get far at all and stopped at this place on the map called Merrill which was just down the road from Wausau.  We are stuck there again tonight.  Why?  Because we finally ran into real military types.  I was in the middle of disposing of a puss brain I had put out of its misery when they just sort of walked out of an alley.  That was a harry bit of explaining.  Now I know how people must have felt when Dad took them in for questioning ... even if you haven't done anything wrong you still feel a little guilty at being caught.  Bottom line though is that they aren't going to try and stop us from doing what we planned, they say it isn't their problem if we want to freeze to death this winter.

After following them back to what they called a holding area we were taken to a building to have things explained to us and for them to asked us some questions.  The guy I got stuck with reminded me of the school guidance counselor.  He was someone I wasn't real fond of since Dad had let slip that Mr. Whorter wasn't all that he should be after hours and I overheard him and Mom talking about Mr. Whorter getting caught in a "sting operation" at some lingerie shop that wasn't strictly a lingerie shop if you catch my drift.

The guy even had a squeaky voice like Mr. Whorter that to me was like fingernails on a chalkboard.  "The only thing Miss Phillips is that we need a record of everyone for recovery purposes down the road.  Think of it like a census; we trying to ascertain how many uninfected people remain in this country and beyond as well as how many of them are US citizens.  We need your name, social security number, and any potential contacts and heirs."

Just cranky enough from my cold to need to act out I told him, "You've got my name.  I can't remember my social security number.  And all my contacts are dead.  And I've never had any heirs.  You can torture me I suppose but you'll wind up with the same answer."

The guy - Dr. Something or Other - gave a small smile like he found me funny for some reason and said, "It's not worth the effort to try and force the information out of you Miss Phillips; too much time and work involved when we have other things to do.  Besides, I highly doubt you've got anything of that much interest for us to ponder anyway.  So, if you'll give me your story we can let that suffice for the other information and be done in just a moment or two. That is what we are doing for most of the children."

I don't appreciate being lumped in with the "children" and was prepared to stick it to him.  But I don't know how he did it; he pulled enough of my "story" out of me that he must have started to believe me and certainly take me more seriously.  He was really scribbling then stopped and called in a transcriptionist and some guy in a uniform.  Every time we got to a name they'd ask me some other questions.  "Do you happen to know what Dr. Hanson's first name is?  Or any of the other doctors?"

"Nope, not a clue.  But Dr. Hanson has a daughter a little older than me named Michelle.  Oh, and there was a medical doctor named Maria Riccardo that was part of Dr. Hanson's team but was actually not bad and stuck up for me in a doctor kind of way when the chips were down."

"Hmmm.  And about Major Jeffries and the other ranking officers you encountered?"

"Look, I was only there a couple of days and we didn't make the greatest impression on each other.  I liked Sgt. Watson but that's about it for the uniform types ... except for Sheriff Berio and his son Lee which I guess might be in the uniform types but not the military type uniforms.  Doctor Riccardo was all right like I said, and then there was this young guy named Cochran though I don't know what rank he held or if he even had a rank, but all of the rest of that bunch are pretty much a blur."

They were also busy typing out all I knew of the names of the people that had been in the same group as me in the city and the names of people I'd run across.  Or the names of people that I knew for a fact were dead and how I knew they were dead.  I didn't know why on earth they wanted to know or how they were going to use the information.  One of them mentioned something about it going into a big, national database for cross referencing to try and prevent insurance fraud of all things.  It sounded like a lotta work for a little return but I let 'em ramble on.

I did learn by closing my mouth and opening my ears that St. Louis wasn't supposed to be cut off the way it had been; that it had been done by a splinter group of scientiests acting on their own based on some wild hair of a hypothesis they had developed.  Sounds just about right with what little I know of the group that took over my town.  I also found out that at some point they'd probably take my "deposition" and use it as part of the evidence to bring these scientists up on charges of insubordination or crimes against humanity or something along those lines.

Last thing I want to get in the middle of is a long, drawn out court battle.  Dad said that they were the worst kind and you never really knew what the outcome would be.  The best cases were cut and dry with some form of justice coming swiftly.  Given all that has happened I'm beginning to wonder if there is just a thing as justice.  You live the best you can.  You die the best you can.  What comes between the two seems to be mostly down to luck.  What comes after is between you and God.

Sunny and Jace had to do their own bunch of talking but apparently not as much as me so they were at loose ends ... which they spent just hanging out with some people their age.  When I got cut loose after being asked a bazillion questions, most of which I could just barely answer, I tried to join them but not being eighteen I got shut out.  I was "too young."  I've probably killed more puss brains than all of those kids put together but that was just not good enough.  It was just like being around Toddie's bunch.  Some things never change.

But that's why we are stuck here a second night.  We are kept separate from the refugee camp.  And those that aren't in the camp proper avoid us like we are contaminated.  Some act like they are even scared of us ... the same way they are of the uniform types.  That makes me uncomfortable.  I heard the way some of the guards talk about the people in the camp; it wasn't very flattering.  They compare them to sheep and cattle, like they don't have too many brains or are at least not smart enough to think for themselves.  One guy said they were so dumb that if someone told them to look up during a rain storm they'd drown.

And the people have to work alot too ... and not on their schedule but as they are told to.  Apparently they've been spending the spring and summer salvaging all of the food, clothing and other things all along the interstate and in other easily accessible places that don't have too many puss brains roaming around.  You don't get to volunteer to go on these salvaging trips, you get drafted whether you want to or not.  And if you aren't salvaging you are working in gardens, or cleaning, or doing whatever you are told to do, when you are told to do it.  Days off are once or twice a month rather than once or twice a week.  And you don't get paid.  You do this so you can earn credits.  These credits are what you use at the cafeteria to eat or to go to the supply house to get clothes or shoes or soap.  There's a library you can use the credits at too but most people can barely keep up with feeding themselves and their family; entertainment isn't real high on the priority list.

Sounds like a hard life.  But I suppose if all you care about is two meals a day and somebody to protect you from the puss brains that always seem to be popping up then it isn't a bad life.  All I know is I wouldn't like it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great story Kathy, very good.