The Plan. It wasn’t all that complicated because the options weren’t all that varied. We had the half-track, a limited supply of fuel and a limited supply of food. The goal was to travel until we reached some place we could call home and try and salvage until could adapt our way of life to the new weather patterns.
With a rather blank face Donovan looked at me and asked, “That’s the plan?”
“That’s the plan,” I told him.
“You’re kidding me.”
That’s when I noticed the tick in his left eye. “Why? Why?! That’s …”
I’d had months of practice heading one of his blow ups off. “If you’ve got a better one I’d like to hear it. The Major left all of the fuel she could, and a little more besides, while still leaving them a cushion to reach their assigned bunker. No matter which way you cut it we don’t have enough to reach even the nearest bunker. If it isn’t the fuel, it’s our food supply; we have enough for nine months if we are careful and ration it out … and if we find a way to cook it. We’ll use all of the self-heats before we get some place. We …”
“All right … all right, that’s enough. I get it. Have you got a direction picked out?”
“As I see it we’ve got some things that limit our choices. I was going to lay it out and then get your input since you were in on the original planning.”
He rolled his eyes and asked, “Were you now?”
I ignored his sarcasm and just continued, “Yes I was. Even if we had the fuel we know that there was an impact in the Gulf so the far south is probably out. The big Atlantic impact has taken out the entire East Coast. All of the seismic activity makes the far west so not the direction I want to go either.”
I’d finally tickled Donovan’s natural born adventurer gene and he came on board with The Plan. “Recent data suggests the New Madrid fault let go. Anything around the Mississippi River is going to be suspect. Something you may not know … I don’t know how much Chandler was allowed to tell you but I wasn’t informed until about a month ago … areas around nuclear plants, missile silos, ammo dumps aren’t too healthy to be around either.”
“I heard the rumors but no one ever confirmed them. How many of our convoys have to travel through areas like that?” I asked since I hadn’t been privy to any of the routes as each was considered “top secret.”
“Only the first convoy was sure to have to go through rather than around one of those areas. They also were going to run into the Yellowstone basin.”
“But … why, what … are they crazy?! The seismic activity? Didn’t it set Yellowstone off?”
“Doesn’t look like it. Not that I understood all of the scientific gobbledygook but they said when the West Coast went it somehow drained the tension off of Yellowstone, possibly even draining the magma chambers. No one is even sure if there is any geyser and hot spring activity right now.”
“But … Colonel Mackey, the others …”
“Let it go, they had other options and they made their choice.”
“Other …? OK, OK, whatever, I guess I can’t do anything about it now. But where does that leave us?”
“It depends. Where’s my gear?” I pointed to his packs. “In the top there is a plastic covered map in a bag with some other stuff.”
I opened his pack and then brought him what he’d asked for. We estimated the distance our fuel would take us. Using our location as an approximate center point we drew a circle. Then we began to block out areas that were undesirable for one reason or another.
There wasn’t much room to head south or southwest because of the fuel and impact that had happened two hundred miles away. Southeast wasn’t good either. That left a narrow cone encompassing northwest to northeast, but not really far in any of those directions. The stark reality tempted to overwhelm me. It tested my faith. But when faith is all that you have to hold onto your grasp it stronger than if you have a lot of stuff pulling you in other directions.
“Emma …” Donovan stopped, shook his head then turned away. I was almost afraid to leave him. He’d spoken of making a choice. I couldn’t take his weapons out of the tent without insulting him further than my laugh already had so I just sat and waited.
He finally turned and looked at me, “I want an inventory of the food.” I handed it to him. “I want one for the equip …” I handed that one before he could finish. “Dang brat,” he muttered … but loud enough so that he was sure that I heard. “Now I want out of this tent to see what kind of mess you’ve gotten us into.”
Even ignoring his crankiness his demand was easier said than accomplished. I was in good shape – hard work will do that – but I’m short and Donovan is not; he also outweighs me by quite a bit. We just managed it with the only injury a knot on the top of my head where he cracked his chin before I could catch one of his stumbling falls. Outside the tent I propped him up with a crutch. He barely managed a hobble but he was under his own steam.
He looked at the half-track and then at me. “You loaded this by yourself?”
He snorted and then said rather grudgingly, “Wouldn’t think a squirt like you could have pulled it off. Looks good. The cab should already be sealed since this is one of the salvage vehicles. Is this one of the ones that the heaters was souped up in?”
“That’s what Chandler said. I figure we could add some cushion for you leg and … “
“What? What did I said now?!” I finally burst out getting frustrated.
He sighed again, a sound I was beginning to hate, and then scrubbed his hand across his face. “That the john over there?”
“Yeah, I’ll give you a hand and …”
This time he growled and then stomped … well, hobbled … off to take care of things. I’d been trying to give him as much privacy as I could while he’s been recuperating but sometimes that was impossible. I can’t believe they call women the more sensitive gender. He can act more irritable and contrary that I do at my most hormonal and that’s saying something.
I determinedly ignored him, even when I heard him slowing stumping back. Then he slowed. “Emma …”
I turned, took in his gray face, and just managed to run and catch him before he did a full body slam face plant. I’m not completely heartless, I kept my mouth shut until we got him back in the tent and down on the cot. His breath slowed down and the color came back in his face before he said another word.
“You see this? You see? I’m going to be nothing but a burden. But I’ll be @#$%&! before I let you go wondering off on your own. We’ve got forty-eight hours and then we are heading out, that’s it, no more than that. Understand me? And I’m going to make your life a misery to pay you back for this.” And then he went to sleep.
Quite a way to announce his choice but if that is what it took for him to find his fight then so be it. I can put up with his “making me miserable.” Actually I think he should have said make me crazy because that is what he has done for a fact. I’ve been ordered this way and that so much that I was beginning to question which way was up. But we are all packed and as prepared as we can be. Actually we were packed yesterday but we both needed another day to prepare for whatever lies ahead of us mentally. I dug out this spiral notebook from the supplies and I’ve been writing all day. When I finally put this away all I’ll have left to do is read my Bible. It can’t be coincidence that I’m in Isaiah 41; if ever there was a day when I read the words “Fear not for I am with you” this would be it.
Donovan hasn’t made any more nasty comments about me reading my Bible. I usually go off to do it so it doesn’t upset him. It does for some reason though he hasn’t explained why. When we’re completely square again I intend on asking him, but not now; something tells me this isn’t the time.
First thing after waking I’ll pack the tent and we’ll be on our way. I hope it isn’t hypocritical of me to be scared. I wish I could ask Donovan if he is scared but our friendship never went that direction.