BRAVE NEW WORLD SERIES A Post-Apocalyptic Adventure in the Canadian Forest
Charles W. Bird ©2013
Paul Cormier: For the idea of such an adventure Dr. Robert Vallier, Ph.D.: His input on the construction of this story made it possible.
This story is dedicated to the memory of Colonel Richard Dagget O'Donnel, United States Marine Corps 1937 – 2009 A wonderful friend from my own childhood
It was becoming apparent that things were coming to a head. The government entered into a massive welfare and social reengineering program and, at our urging, our neighbor to the North, The Dominion of Canada, embarked upon the same program. In order to support such an endeavor, both countries began borrowing massive amounts of money, from China principally. The staggering magnitude of the borrowing dried up credit worldwide, creating bankruptcy for many smaller nations. Those nations were unable to repay their debts and their governments collapsed. In order that they might bring stability out of the chaos, The Chinese Government demanded payment on our country's debt, which they were unable to pay. Likewise, Canada was unable to repay any of their loans. When this became known, a run on the banks in both countries dried up all available cash and payrolls, bills and operating funds disappeared, there simply was no money to be had. At one point, just before the collapse, gasoline was going for $65.00 a gallon, any grade! Within a week, nothing was moving in all of North America, food stores were being looted and anarchy prevailed. Both governments were paralyzed, electric power had gone off and the only organizations that were mobile were the military and they began to operate without governmental oversight in whatever manner they thought best. Freedom was lost! This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental and may not be copied by any means without my express, written approval.
I had always been a hiker and camper, so I had all sorts of equipment stored in my basement. My parents had been killed in an automobile accident a couple of years ago, leaving my sister, Janine, and myself a lump sum settlement that set us both up reasonably independent. Janine was a nurse and had a son, Chris.
Since she was a single mom, as Chris got older he and I became good buddies and companions. He had told me a year ago that he thought he was gay, Janine had warned me that he probably would come to me as my family completely supported me when I told them I was gay at the age of 16.
Chris was now 16 and has a special friend, Roger. The two boys were both athletic and avid campers and they had accompanied me many times for camping trips out in the boonies.
With some of the money I received, I bought a new Ford F-150 4 X 4 OFF ROAD pickup and put a low shell camper on it. I invested in an extra gasoline tank for the truck and had the camper shell reinforced with steel beams.
Dad used to take us kids up to the lake country of Canada every summer for fishing and camping, there was a wonderful camp beside a lake where we went to every year. It was difficult to get to and, so far back in the woods, we never saw anyone else there.
It was a great place for a boy, like me, to grow up, completely at ease in the wild country. He taught me how to forage on my own and I would go out for a week or two completely on my own, living on what I could snare or catch on a hook.
My Dad had always taught my sister and I personal reliance and foresight, when things started to look "dicey" about a year ago, I began collecting canned food, clothing and Jerry cans of gasoline that I had stabilized. I had an auxiliary fuel tank installed on the truck that gave me a combined storage of 225 gallons plus the jerry cans!
I got out a set of maps, thinking I might need a place to retreat. On one of the maps, I spotted the campground that my Dad had taken my sister and me on camping and fishing holidays. I just tucked that information into the back of my mind and planned my purchases with that place in mind. Even though future events came at me in a rush, I had been planning for over a year in the event I had to "get outta Dodge"!
Oh, before I go any further, my name is Peter Day and I am single, 37 years old and, as of yesterday, unemployed. My employer laid us all off, he has no funds left to pay us or keep the plant open. I figured that "boogey out time" was almost here!
Janine brought Chris over last night with clothes and as much food as she had money to buy, mostly dried and canned food, soap and other necessities. She knew I had made contingency plans and we had already discussed Chris coming with me.
They were both crying. We sat in the living room of my small apartment as she told me that she wanted me to take Chris and run, she had been told that the military was going to set up roadblocks and declare martial law in the morning. Chris looked at me and said, "What about Roger?" I didn't say anything, I just handed him the phone and pointed to the bedroom.
Janine hugged me and told me that I was a "Good Man" I wanted her to come with us, but she refused, saying that the hospital was short staffed already and she was needed. Chris' Dad had been killed in the middle east, he had been an intelligence officer in the Marine Corps.
Chris came back, crying worse than when he left the room. He said that Roger's Dad refused to let him come with us. I said to him, "Do you love him?" All Chris could manage was a shake of his head, yes.
I said, "Ok, just hold on, Roger IS going with us. Help me finish loading the truck and we will take care of it." Even with Janine's help, we weren't finished loading everything into the camper shell until after midnight. We both hugged Janine amid lots more tears. We never saw her again.
Fortunately, I had topped off all my fuel tanks and jerry cans two days ago, when the price of gasoline started to go sky high, so we didn't need to find a station open that still had gasoline.
We drove down the street Roger lived on with the headlights turned off. It was lucky that Roger's bedroom was on the ground floor, I told Chris to sneak around to Roger's bedroom window and QUIETLY wake him up. He got a crafty look on his face and hugged me saying, "I knew you wouldn't let us down!"
A while later, two excited boys jumped into the back seat of the truck, holding hands and wearing big smiles! Roger told me thanks, and said, "Peter, I don't have any money and just this bag of extra clothes. That was all I could sneak out without my Father's knowing what I was doing." I told him if that is all he had, then we will just make do.
I drove off headed north out of Buffalo, already I could see soldiers starting to set up roadblock barricades. We slipped out just ahead to the road closure! I stayed off the main highways, taking the back roads as much as possible.
We came to a small rest area and both boys said they needed to relieve their bladders, I did too so we stopped. As I was washing my hands, I heard someone crying and it wasn't my two boys, so I started looking in the stalls. I opened the last one and there was a little blonde haired boy about 6 or 7 years old sitting on the toilet crying.
I knelt down and looked him in the face, he was very dirty and his clothes were ragged and torn and he smelled to high heaven. He looked up at me and said, "Please mister, don't hurt me!"
I was taken aback at that and I held my arms out to him and said, ‘I won't hurt you, what are you doing here?" He replied, "My stepfather threw me out of the car and drove off last night!" Some big boys hurt me and did nasty things to me last night."
At that, the tears gushed from his eyes and he started to tremble. I said, "Here, here little man maybe I can help you" He looked up, his eyes still shining wetly and asked, "Would you, I am terrible hungry?" I picked him up and he flinched in pain, looking in his shirt, I saw his back was covered in purple and green bruises!
There was no way I was going to leave that precious little boy by the roadside now, even if I could have! I washed him up as best I could in the wash room and led him out to the truck. When he spotted the two boys, he flinched and tried to hide behind me.
Chris came over to us and knelt down, "Hey little guy, did Uncle Peter find you?" "What is your name? The little boy stammered, "Calvin, I'm 6. Please don't hit me"
Chris' eyes got big and his face went bright red, "NOBODY is going to hurt you!" Chris wrapped his arms around the little fellow, picked him up and carried him to the truck. "This is Roger, he is my special friend" Chris told him, "And my name is Chris, we are both 16" Chris looked at me with pleading eyes, but it was a no brainer, I had already decided; he was OUR BOY now!
The boys were too excited to sleep after all that, so they were reading the maps for me to tell me what roads to take. As soon as we got rolling again, Calvin fell asleep between Roger and Chris and was dead to the world.
As we got closer to the border crossing, I began to worry, I had my and Chris' passport, but Roger did not have his and we surely had no passport for Calvin. I figured I had no choice but to try to bluff our way through, but when we drove up to the checkpoint, it was completely unmanned and even the lights were off.
There was just a flimsy barricade across the road. Chris jumped out and moved it out of the way as I drove through and then he replaced it. I drove as fast as I dared to get away from the border area, just in case the authorities might try to stop us. None did and about 50 miles in, there was a little diner open at a crossroads.
It was getting daylight so I took a chance and we stopped at a little roadside diner for a bite to eat. We walked in and sat down, an older lady came up to us and said, "Boys, we don't have much food, we are going to close up today and hope things get better. I can get you some coffee and some pancakes with syrup and a couple of glasses of milk, but that is all we have left."
I told her that was fine, we would be grateful for whatever she could serve us. It really was good and there were even a couple of strips of bacon on each plate. Calvin was so hungry, I was afraid he would lick the plate, so I gave him half of my pancakes, which he gobbled down, almost in just one bite!
I felt we should be getting on our way, so I went to pay for our food and the lady told me that it was on the house, they were closing up and she was just glad that they could help us. We thanked them and the boys all hugged her as we said goodbye.
As we continued north, there were Canadian military building barricades on main roads, but we only crossed them, we were still staying off main highways.
Into The Wilderness
We drove most of the day and only got stopped once. It was just a couple of very young soldiers and I convinced them that we were headed to our Grand Dad's place up near Edmonton, so they let us through the barricade and waved us on our way.
The boys were badly shaken and were holding on to each other for dear life! I drove around Edmonton rather than through it, I felt there was a lesser chance of being stopped; that was a good choice as we left the last suburbs I could see in my rear view mirror a metal barricade being closed across the road we just exited.
As we crossed another main road, I somehow had the niggling feeling something was wrong. I slowed way down and looked both ways; about a half mile to our right, there was a car alongside the road with the hood up. Since that was a universal signal of car trouble, I turned and drove up to the car.
There didn't seem to be anyone around, so I turned around and started to drive off. Chris screamed, "STOP, someone needs us" "Huh", I thought, "what gives?" I got out of the truck, telling the boys to lock all the doors behind me.
I walked all around the car, it was old and in terrible condition. I noticed it had Mexico license plates. I still didn't see anyone, but I was sure somebody told me to look around, am I hearing things? I peered in the back window and, sure enough, there were two little dark haired boys looking back at me!
I snatched the door open and they both came tumbling out, reaching for my hands and crying. They told me that the car had broken down yesterday and, as their father went for help, soldiers came by and picked him up. He never returned. There was no food and no water in the car and they were very hungry.
I waved at Chris and the boys, they all jumped out of the truck and came running. Like he did with Calvin, Chris knelt down at eye level with these new boys and said, "Hi, guys my name is Chris and that boy over there is Roger, we are both 16. The little guy is Calvin, he is 6. What are your names?" The closest boy said, "I am Ricardo and I am 6 also, he is Rodrigo and we are twins."
There was no way I was going to leave those two little boys alongside a deserted highway, so we all walked back to the truck and climbed back inside. There was some crackers and cheese in the cab and Chris handed them to the twins along with some water. They were ravenous and ate all that we had in the cab.
I started the truck back up and turned around to get back on our road. It looked like I had acquired yet two more boys! Many more and there would be no seats available!
I drove until it was almost dark, and then I spotted a grove of trees that was pretty dense, so we could not be seen from the road. I pulled into the trees and shut the truck down, telling the boys that we would spend the night here. It was late spring and, while the nights were cool, they were not cold, so we just spread our bedrolls out on the pine needles and fixed a light meal before going to bed.
When we woke the next morning, I fixed a quick meal of oatmeal and coffee for us, with milk for the little boys. As I was packing everything back in the camper, I heard a thudding sound and recognized it as gunfire, big guns! I told the boys to get in the truck, we were leaving RIGHT NOW!
I started the truck and backed out of the trees, getting the truck out of 4-wheel drive before driving on the pavement. I was driving faster than my usual speed as we crossed a main highway. Chris, very quietly said, "Uncle Peter, that was gunfire back there, wasn't it?" I replied, "Yes it was and I think we need to get away from here as fast as we can."
It wasn't very far to the turn off that led to the campground and soon we were in heavy trees that would hide us from view. The road was in pretty bad shape and didn't look like anybody had been on it in several years, that was a good sign for us. We came up over a hill and there was the lake spread out before us. I turned the truck off and we sat there in the stillness. There was not a sound, human or otherwise.
I took the binoculars and looked as best I could, there was no movement, no sign of anybody being there at all. I was about to get back in the truck, when Ricardo took hold of my hand and said, "Please mister, there are some boys up the road and they are very scared." I looked at him and replied, "First, Ricardo, I am Peter, just use my name and what do you mean by boys up ahead?"
He just pointed to some trees next to our road. I was a bit skeptical, but I hiked up to the trees and called out, "Is there anyone up here?" A child's voice replied, "Who are you, you won't hurt us will you?" At that, Chris and Roger came at a dead run shouting, "No way will we hurt you" as they both charged into the trees.
I thought if there was a child hiding there and was as young as he sounded, I would wait on the road and let Chris and Roger bring him out to me. I was not prepared for what emerged from the trees, Chris and Roger were each carrying a little boy and there were 7 small boys being led by an older teen boy. Hoo Boy, am I into mass boy rescues now? I figured I should sit down for this; it was going to get complicated!
The older teen came up to me and said, "My name is Todd, all these boys are Cub Scouts and we were on a day hike. Our parents left us off two days ago and we haven't seen them since. They were supposed to pick us up that night, but nobody came. We had enough food for that night but we haven't eaten since. Can you help us."
I later found out that Todd was the assistant Pack Leader of their Cub Scout Pack and he was a Boy Scout himself. He was 16 and very worried about his boys. I told him that there was trouble back in the cities and that we had heard gunfire a long ways behind us. Todd began to cry and said, "What is going to happen to my boys and myself?"
I thought for a while and then asked him, "Do you think you would like to join us, there is a campground down near that lake over there and that is where we are headed?" He looked at me and said, "Do we have a choice, I think not. Will you allow us to join you?" Again, there was no way I was going to abandon children all alone. NO WAY! So, I said, "Come on, lets get some food in you all and find out who you are, follow me"
We walked back to the truck and the Twins had already scrounged up some more crackers, cheese, fresh fruit and milk. They had it spread out on the tailgate. There was something odd about those twins, but now was not the time to explore that. We all ate a light lunch and then I started loading boys into my truck. I am sure glad I bought the 4 door model!
By stacking 3 boys to a lap, we got everyone loaded up. I closed the tailgate and put the truck in 4-wheel drive. The road was very bad, it was rutted and overgrown. It was almost more than my truck could handle, I didn't think we had to worry very much about anyone finding us back here!
We came to a fork in the road and I remembered that the campground Dad had taken us to was to the right, so we bounced and bumped for several miles before we came upon a built up campground, with new buildings all in good repair! WOW, what have we found!
There was a large main building and several smaller building that looked like garages or storage buildings. There were antennas on the roof of the big building that looked like some kind of radio installation and there were solar panels on all the roofs with electric wires going to all the buildings. I drove up to the front of the big building and shut down the truck. The place seemed empty, but everything was in good repair.
We all piled out of the truck and stared at the buildings. From the weeds and debris that had accumulated, nobody had been in those doors for at least two years. There were no notices or signs on any of the doors, so we were unable to tell who had built them. Roger pushed on the front door and it swung open, so we decided to at least look around.
The first thing I noticed was that it was not an ordinary door. The outside was wood, but it was a metal door fitted in a metal frame. I looked closely at the outside of the building and discovered that it was all metal made to look like wood! We walked in and discovered an entrance way that was built like it was to have a guard sitting there.
As we went further in, we found that it was completely furnished, it has a full industrial sized kitchen and there were 9 large bedrooms, six in the main part of the house and another 3 in a wing that could be closed off. Downstairs there was a great room, a large industrial sized dining room, several offices and a big locker. It was dark, so we didn't bother to open the locker, it was probably a storage room anyway. So we thought!
Chris found a door that was labeled "Basement." I told him to get the flashlight out of the truck so we could explore. When he returned, the first thing we did was to look in the "locker". WOW, were we surprised.
First, there was a big circuit breaker in there labeled "Battery Bank" and it was in the OFF position. Out of curiosity, I threw the breaker into the ON position, immediately lights came on all throughout the building! There was a board with keys hanging on it, all labeled with building numbers and names. One key ring said "Basement" so I took it and we tried it in that door labeled Basement. It opened up immediately and there was lighted stairs going down I asked Todd if he would watch all the boys while Chris, Roger and I explored the basement, he agreed to do that.
So, off the three of us went, down into the basement. When we got there, there was a huge bank of industrial batteries on racks, with a control board that had two indicator lights on. One was labeled, CHARGING" and the other was labeled, "BREAKER ON" That answered the question of what the solar panels were for and what the breaker we closed upstairs did!
There were two locked doors, one had a label "ARMORY" and the other "OBSERVATION ROOM" Chris wanted to open the Amory first, so he tried the keys on the BASEMENT ring until he found one that would open the door. To our amazement, it was exactly that. There were guns, rifles, boxes of ammunition, several boxes that were labeled "EXPLOSIVES" and more labeled "GRENADES". What had we stumbled upon, a war zone?
The best we could guess is that it had all been built by some paramilitary survivalist group and that they had become trapped by the government and were unable to get to their hideaway.
We entered the room marked "OBSERVATION ROOM" and discovered racks of manuals along with a dozen television screens. I turned one on and saw my truck parked in the front yard. I then turned on the rest of the screens and was faced with scenes from all over the campground and also out at where the road forked to come in here! I turned them all off, to conserve battery power and started looking through the binders on the shelves.
I found plans for all the buildings. It showed a huge walk in freezer in one of the outbuildings, a generator room, underground fuel storage, another battery bank and another armory. I started looking around the rest of the basement and in a side room were racks upon racks of canned foods, liquor and boxes of dried staples like sugar, flour and food mixes.
Walking back toward the stairs, Roger noticed another control panel that was labeled "GENERATOR". So after reading all the labels on it, I pushed the "START" button. Nothing happened for a couple of seconds, the panel on the battery bank changed color and a lighted sign lit saying "ON GENERATOR" and additional lights came on throughout the building.
We all trouped back upstairs to find the rest of the boys. They had gone exploring and found another storeroom stocked full of canned meats, vegetables, a rack of spices and condiments, more liquor, barrels of flour and sugar, boxes of powdered milk and powdered eggs.
All the bedrooms had beds covered in plastic with the bedding in sealed plastic bags. Chris had found the shut off valve for the water system and had turned it on, we had water at the faucets and flush toilets! There was an indicator light on in the kitchen labeled "Hot Water Heater ON", so we even would have hot water.
The manual I read down in the basement mentioned a fuel storage tank that held 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel and a 10,000 gallon tank of stabilized gasoline. I assume that they are all full.
I called all the boys together in the great room and said, "This is not ours, but it looks like whoever owns it will not be coming anytime soon, so I propose we live here. There seems to be plentiful amounts of food and things we need, plus I brought food with us in the truck. Since there are more bedrooms than we need, let's shut off the wing and just live here in the main house." They all shouted agreement and everyone worked to bring our belongings into the house from the truck.
One of the things that worried me was clothing, we had twelve boys for whom we had no spare clothing. About that time, Calvin came running into the room with an armload of jeans, shirts and a jacket saying excitedly, "Daddy, can I" and then he clapped his hand over his mouth and said, "Uhhhh, Peter, I am sorry" and hid his face in his hands. I knelt down and uncovered his face saying, "Calvin or any of you boys, if you want to call me Dad or Daddy, just do it, it's OK with me."
Hoo Boy, I was suddenly covered with attacking boys, even my nephew, Chris, started calling me Dad! By that time Calvin had calmed down a bit he continued, "Daddy, there is hot water upstairs and a bathtub, may I take a bath and get rid of these nasty smelling clothes?" I looked at the older boys and asked if one of them would go with Calvin to make sure he is ok. Todd said he would go.
I went to see where Calvin had gotten the clothes and found a room filled with clothes, shoes, underwear, socks and even jackets all labeled as to size! From small children to adult sizes! What a treasure we have stumbled upon, I prayed the owners did not show up any time soon. I didn't know it then, but we had fallen heir to a wonderland which the owners never came to collect. It was to serve us well for our lifetimes!
We Settle In Our New Home
It didn't take us long to settle in and begin living in our new home. Chris and I started putting a nice supper together with Calvin and Oscar helping. Those two did a surprising good job. They both told me that they liked to cook. And more, Oscar said he liked to grow his own food too. Well, maybe we can find him some seeds, a fresh greens salad does sound wonderful!
We fixed a canned ham with sweet potatoes, green peas, some canned pineapple for a salad with grated cheese over it and canned peaches for dessert. After all we have been through, it was a meal fit for kings!
It was getting late and we were all tired and rung out, so the three bigger boys took all the little ones to the big bedroom upstairs and, while they were bathing, the big boys made up enough beds for them all to bed down. Tomorrow or the next day, we will sort out who sleeps where.
The three older boys took another bedroom that had three single beds in it and they weren't very long after the little guys that they were as sound asleep as logs! I sat up for a while, reading the manuals that we found in the basement. I had mixed myself a drink, I am not much of a drinker, but one once in a while is enjoyable.
The more I read, the more I was amazed at what we have found, there are some more firearms lockers yet to be located, a laundry room with washers and dryers, more food storage rooms that apparently are filled with supplies, a small machine shop, a flat bed truck and several small 4-wheel drive vehicles, an observation deck on the roof and equipped cabins across the lake. All the building here are connected by underground tunnels.
There was also a garden area and a small tiller to plow it up along with a supply of vegetable seeds! I was going to have to tell Oscar about the last, when I THINK I heard, "We'll do it Daddy" I was already having suspicions that there was something weird with the Twins, little was I to know just how weird it was going to get!
The next morning, after breakfast, we all decided to go exploring. We found a boat house with several kayaks in it, including a big one that would hold 6 people! We found the gardening shed and a storeroom stocked with all kinds of garden seed. As soon as he spotted those, Oscar started planning!
He conned Todd into running the tiller for him and, by the time they were finished, it looked like he had nearly an acre tilled! As it turned out, we would wish he had tilled even more. Oscar cut stakes and laid out his rows and the next morning he started planting seeds, row after row after row.
I was still worried about someone coming to either claim our new home or to take it away from us by force. I remembered the observation room in the basement and also the deck on the roof. In checking the deck on the roof, it was a true observation deck with a post for a telescope, which we found in a locker, rests for binoculars, also found in a locker and a communication system between the observation deck and the observation room! We also found rechargeable hand held radios and an electric megaphone.
We all sat down that night and agreed that we should maintain a minimum watch for intruders.
The weather was becoming warmer as spring started to turn into summer. The seeds that Oscar had put into the ground soon sprouted and it looked like we would be having fresh vegetables soon to supplement the food from the freezers. The twins, Ricardo and Rodrigo continued to amaze us all and I was becoming suspicious that telepathy really did exist. It was scary; sometimes they would answer my questions before I had ever asked them!
We continued to watch for intruders from the government and we were ever ready to hide, but nobody seemed to be interested in our little community. One warm afternoon as we sat ready to eat a light lunch, the twins became silent and then Ricardo said, "Someone comes, they are not a danger." Despite this, Chris gathered all the boys and Todd took them to the hideout while Chris, Roger and I went to the top deck to see if we could spy who was coming.
After a short while we spotted a man and a boy floating slowly in a canoe headed directly for our buildings. While we watched, they beached the canoe and walked directly towards us and stopped in front to the house. The man called out, "Do not be alarmed, Ricardo and Rodrigo told us to come here"
Talk about weird, had I not already been suspicious that the twins had some sort of power; I probably would have been frightened out of my skin! Very cautiously I leaned over the railing and replied, "Who are you and what do you want?" The man responded, "I am Henry Ammons and this is my son Jacob. We operate the small sawmill up on the creek and we heard Ricardo and Rodrigo call to us to come here."
Chris ran down and got the twins to come up to the top deck. When they got there, Ricardo called out, "You came, thank you!" I thought, "What in the world" Just then Rodrigo turned to me and told me that they were good people and meant us no harm. It was past being strange but there was not much I could do but ask them to join us for lunch.
Henry related how they had been both dreamt the same dream that Ricardo and Rodrigo wanted them to come to the camp. He told us that his wife, Jacob's mother had died the previous year and when they discovered that all the residents were being rounded up and taken away, he and Jacob, who was 12, decided to hideout at the sawmill. Since they were both good hunters and had considerable stocks of food, they had been doing ok until they were called to come here.
At that, both twins jumped down the stairs and brought their new friends up to meet us. Since the "cat was out of the bag", so to speak, Chris went down and brought up all the other boys who now comprised our family. There was enough food to share and we learned that there was a lot of equipment at the saw mill that would benefit our camp, like a small water turbine generator that could supply electricity to the camp from the creek just over the ridge from us. That would certainly extend our fuel supplies and still supply all our needs.
Henry told us he was 41 and was very happy to find people he could talk with as it was getting very lonely up on the creek at his sawmill. He walked around the camp with me as we explored what things we could bring down from the mill to make life here at the campground better. As the afternoon started to turn into evening and it was getting dark, I suggested that they spend the night here and we would take the truck back up to the sawmill and bring his things down to live here, since it would not make good sense to try to maintain both residences.
He agreed and Calvin brought us each a drink and asked what we wanted for supper. I hadn't even thought about that, to be honest, I was becoming captivated by Henry and I saw that he showed interest me, also. I thought, "What is going on here"? Just then, I heard the twins giggling – "Oh, oh, are they playing matchmaker?" They bolted down the stairs, making tracks to somewhere scarce!
Dinner was a pleasant affair, all the boys were on their best behavior and they all assisted in cleaning up afterwards. Chris showed Henry and Jacob the electronics setup and how we can observe all parts of the area. Henry was quite impressed with the armory and when we got to the machine shop he was like a kid in the candy store!
It started to get late and the boys were yawning, so I decided it was time they were in bed. Jacob asked if he could sleep with Calvin, I sure didn't see any reason why not so all they went running off before anyone could change their minds. Lester and Fred were the next to disappear and Steve and Oscar were on their heels.
That left the 8 and 9 year olds; as I turned around, all four of them were headed up the stairs! Just Henry and myself were left standing in the room staring at each other. I told him there was room in my bedroom or I could open a spare room for him to sleep. He stood there for a few moments thinking and slowly replied, "Maybe we can make it together?"
I was momentarily stunned and then, I am sure I heard a pair of twins giggling. I thought to myself, "What is going on here?" Anyway, dawn comes early in the far north, so we decided to make a night of it. We went up to my bedroom and I washed up, brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. Henry did the same and came to the other side of the bed.
He was a little red-faced, but said, "This is a first for me" as he climbed into the bed. It may have been my imagination, but I am sure I heard more giggling as the day's endeavors claimed my consciousness. The next morning, Henry was snuggled up to me, I didn't want to embarrass him, so I cautiously slid out of bed and went for my morning absolutions before heading down to the kitchen, where I found Calvin and Oscar already starting a gang breakfast.
They even had some coffee started, so I started making the rounds waking up the boy gaggle and got them headed for the kitchen. By the time I got to my room, Henry was up and getting dressed. He looked at me, got very red in the face and told me it was the best night's sleep he had since his wife died. I'm gonna get those twins, I hear that giggling again!
Breakfast was buffet style and the cooks, Calvin and Oscar, were working hard to keep the platters full until everyone had their fill. As soon as everyone had eaten, we all brought our plates back and put them in the dishwasher while the cooks cleaned up the utensils and cookware.
In almost no time everyone was ready for the day's adventure going up to the saw mill. It took almost two hours to get up there, the road was very bad. That is probably why the police didn't bother checking to see if anyone was up there.
Henry had me back the truck up to a large metal building and he hopped out to open a sliding door. There on the floor was a large wooden crate that held a complete water turbine/generator unit that had the label 40 kW stenciled on the side. That would more than take care of our electrical needs without having to burn precious fuel. We looked around, it was like a hardware store, there were parts and tools everywhere, many of them looked brand new!
We soon had the truck full of machinery and tools and Henry said that we can always come back for more if we need them, so we headed back to the campground. It would be a long, slow trip as we had a heavy load. I wanted to be back before dark, I didn't think it a good idea to advertise our presence by using headlights in the dark.
We finally got back to the campground and unloaded everything out of the truck before supper was ready. That evening was a repeat of the night previous, complete with twin giggles. Henry and I, along with Chris, Roger and Todd played with the boys for a while. I found out that Henry was as ticklish as the boys when Calvin went to work on his ribs while Todd held him down.
As soon as everyone began to unwind, Henry and I started them marching towards a bath and bed. With that many boys, 15 all told, plus Henry and myself, it took a while to get everyone cleaned up and ready for bed. It had been a long day and by the time I had finished giving each boy a good night kiss, Henry was already in bed and asleep.
I brushed my teeth and slide in bed beside him, before I could say anything, he had slid up next to me and had thrown his arm over my shoulder. Darn, that giggling was getting louder and louder!
Over the next several days we found a suitable place for the generator and it took all of us a whole day to manhandle it into place. Todd made the suggestion that he take the boys over to the houses and they haul back everything that can be moved in the truck. Even if it didn't look like we could use it, almost anything could be taken apart for its pieces. Henry agreed that it was a good idea, so the next day, while he, I and Chris were digging a ditch for the wiring and plumbing in water pipe for the turbine, Todd and Roger drove the truck around the lake and all the boys helped clear out everything movable from the houses. It took both groups three days to complete our tasks and it was with a sigh of relief when Henry threw the breaker on the generator and all the light flickered on. The savings in fuel alone made the whole effort well worth it. We had a family Pow-Wow that night after supper to decide what our next actions were going to be, the summer was fast ending and we needed to be ready for a cold winter.
The creek was an all year stream, so all we needed to do was erect a cover over the turbine and generator to protect it from snow and ice. It was a completely automatic unit, so it needed little supervision.
Henry suggested that we pull old dead trees over the fork of the road that leads to our campground and make it look uninhabited. That sounded like a good idea to all of us, so the next morning we all got out with our tools and covered over the road. If we had to get out or we needed something from the saw mill, there was an old logging road that went from behind the campground, around the end of the lake and into the backside of the mill. It was all overgrown and cannot be seen, even from an airplane.
All this took us several weeks and, by the time we were finished, the nights were beginning to get cold and the leaves were turning to their fall colors. It was getting near time to button up for the winter. We put all the snow covers on the windows and brought in the telescopes from the roof deck.
Chris and Henry tested all the furnaces and heaters to make sure we would have winter heat and they drained all the outdoor water piping so it wouldn't freeze. Oscar took a gang of helpers and harvested all the remaining vegetables from the garden. He froze some and some he let dry hanging upside down in the storeroom. We would have garden food all winter long thanks to his hard work.
One night, early in October, Ricardo and Rodrigo woke up screaming "Daddy, Daddy – they are coming"! I woke with a start and stumbled into their room with Henry right behind me. I sat on the bed and held Ricardo while Henry did the same with Rodrigo.
All the rest of the boys had heard the commotion and crowded into their room. Ricardo was crying in my arms and kept saying, "Daddy, Daddy the bad men are coming, the bad men are coming." When I got him calmed down, I asked him what bad men do you mean and he told us, "The bad men with guns".
I felt that sleep was out now for us all, so we made some chocolate and everyone cuddled up with blankets in the main room downstairs. Some slept, some didn't and by daylight we were all as jumpy as cats.
After breakfast we decided that we would man the computer screens to watch the video cameras 24 hours and have someone with binoculars watch the houses across the lake for any movement during the day. This went on for about a week when Chris shouted up from the computer room that there were trucks moving into the housing area.
Since the sun was behind us, there was little danger of anyone spotting a sun glint off the binoculars, so we all watched carefully as a large group of uniformed men entered each house and carried out all the furniture, appliances, even the glass out of the window frames and stacked everything on flatbed trucks. They had it all completed in a single day and then they drove off. We never saw them again and they never spotted our campground or the road that led to us.
The Winter of Our Endurance
After the military left us, peace returned to our lake and we continued making final preparations for winter. We opened up all the tunnels that connected to each building, brought in firewood for the woodstoves and made sure there was nothing left outside that could freeze and be damaged.
It wasn't long before the first snows hit us with an icy blast and the outdoor temperatures plummeted. We were cozy and warm inside and we knew the snow would keep any intruders from reaching us until at least next spring. With all these young boys cooped up, we needed to find a creative diversion to keep them occupied.
One evening, we were all sitting in the main room reading or playing board games when Jake asked how to spell a word. It hit me like lightning; we needed some schooling for these boys!
The room vibrated with protest, but Henry agreed with me, so schooling it was! Chris was in charge of the boys 6 to 8, I would take the boys 9 to 10 and Henry agreed to tutor Todd and any of the boys who seemed to be far advanced in their respective age group. It didn't take very long to discover that our giggling mind readers, Ricardo and Rodrigo were in a class by themselves. In some things, they were more advanced than either Henry or myself.
Chris, who had some college level courses in mathematics and computer science, was hard pressed to keep up with them in those things! Thus our days went, we held classes from 9 am until 1 pm and then, after lunch it was time for chores and cleanup AND playtime.
During the playtime, the boys were allowed to do anything they wanted, so long as it did not hurt anyone else or damage equipment or the house. The weeks rolled by in quick succession with reading skills and math making gains by leaps and bounds. Our boys were definitely all on the high side of the learning curve!
Christmas was upon us before we were ready for it, the little boys were desperately hanging on to Santa but in their hearts they knew the truth. Henry and I were determined, however that it was going to be a Merry Christmas. We had become a Family in the truest sense of the word. Henry and I were becoming a couple as were Roger and Chris. It didn't seem to bother the boys that we were all men, in fact, the only ones who even noticed, besides ourselves, were the giggling twins!
Calvin and Oscar outdid themselves for Christmas Dinner; there even was pumpkin pie for dessert! They had prepared a canned ham and we had veggies from our garden that had been put up in the freezer. Hot biscuits and frozen butter went with the meal, along with mashed potatoes made from dried potato flakes. For desert they came up with ice cream and a variety of toppings, we were stuffed.
The winter seemed unusually cold and for two weeks between Christmas and mid-January the outside temperature never rose above 00 F! We were somewhat concerned about the water turbine, but it never caused a bit of problem then or anytime later.
By early February the temperatures had eased slightly, although they remained lower than normal. One night about mid-February, the twins again woke us all up screaming that something terrible was going to happen. As before, we were quite concerned but in that weather there was little we could do.
Each day that passed we became less concerned until one calm and clear night, it was very cold, Ricardo said, "NOW DADDY, NOW" in a terrified voice. Not knowing just what to expect, we all climbed up to the observation deck to look around. As we stood looking, Bobby shrieked, "LOOK, LOOK THERE" and he was pointing to the south. As we looked in that direction, our horror arose as out from below the horizon, two huge bright orange mushroom clouds rose towards the heavens. Henry screamed, "DON'T LOOK – COVER YOUR EYES" as he pushed the boys to the deck.
We heard no noise and there was no blast where we were but the awful knowledge that there had been at least two atomic bombs set off south of us, probably Edmonton, was more than we could bear. With heavy hearts we carried the boys downstairs and we spent the remaining hours of that night in somber thought and tears with the little boys cuddled on our laps, quietly whimpering.