March 17, 2015: Awakening
Our guest woke up and attacked Laura today. I suppose, if we had been thinking, we would have had her in restraints. Somehow, it seemed wrong to restrain a person at death’s door.
The good news is that Laura is OK and the injured woman didn’t necessarily intend the attack for Laura. It seems that the attack was most likely the result of the last thoughts through the woman’s brain when the bullet hit her. Fight or flight … she chose fight and woke up madder than a cat tied in a gunny sack. The woman was still weak from her injuries so Laura was able to subdue her pretty easily. Once she settled down, Laura explained to the woman who we are and that we were trying to help her. That seemed to pacify her but I think we still need to keep a watchful eye out.
The bad news is the woman doesn’t remember much of anything from recent history. She remembers a few things from her childhood, but can’t recall her name or how she came to be at Fernando’s ranch.
I spent about an hour with her and she’s definitely feisty. She’s thankful for our help but she’s not ready to trust us yet. Can’t blame her for that, I suppose. The way things are these days, you can’t really trust anyone … I was going to say, “that you haven’t known for years,” but then I thought of Jake. Let’s just say it’s smart to be a little less trusting here in the new normal than you might have been back before the crash.
The woman doesn’t seem to have lost any brain function. Laura put her through some basic tests while I was there. She can count to 100. She can recite the alphabet. She can speak almost normally. Every now and then, apparently, the left side of her face goes numb and she has a hard time talking, chewing or keeping the saliva in her mouth. Her good eye appears to function normally. However, missing her second eye, her depth perception is off a good bit. Laura thinks her brain will eventually adapt but it could take several weeks or even months.
After I spent some time with the woman, I pulled Laura aside and suggested that we keep her in bed as long as we could. She seems feisty but well-intentioned but there’s no need to turn her loose before we get a good read on her. She obviously has some connection to Fernando. It definitely seems as though Fernando was trying to kill her but things are not always as they seem. I can tell she feels the same way about us. Sure, we’re apparently helping her but we attacked Fernando with whom she had some kind of … relationship, for lack of a better word. Putting myself in her shoes, I might be considering the possibility that we’re just nursing her back to health to pump her for more information about Fernando’s operation. That’s assuming that she thinks the way I do. I don’t think that’s too much of a leap at this point.
We haven’t given her a mirror yet and she hasn’t asked. It’s going to be a shock for her when she does finally see herself. Her left eye socket is closed with stitches. There’s a crescent-shaped chunk out of her skull where the outer edge of her left eyebrow used to be. You can tell when the side of her face goes numb. The left side of her mouth will droop. She’s a mess.
My guess is that she was pretty attractive before she was shot. She’s downright hideous, now. I mean, scare-little-kids ugly. Well, that’s not quite right. If you covered up the left side of her face, I’m sure she would still be good-looking, but Laura’s no plastic surgeon. Her stitch-work is going to leave a nasty scar. Right now, it’s still an angry red and somewhat swollen. Maybe a patch would help. There’s also still a pretty sizable spot where Laura had to shave the woman’s hair to perform her surgery.
What was the villain from Batman – the one with one side of his face burned? Two-Face? A previously handsome guy with one side of his face horribly disfigured. That’s this gal. I hope she doesn’t turn out to be a villain.
In other happy news, we held a funeral for Melody. We hadn’t known her for long but it seemed like the right thing to do.
Joseph and I made a casket for her out of some cedar wood that we had stored in the rafters of the machine shed. The women dressed her up nicely and put makeup on her face. Anders led a funeral service and we all prayed over her grave next to where we had buried her family. It’s the most civilized thing we’ve done for a dead person since the crash. I guess that’s good news.
We left Laura, Terry, Joseph and Heather behind to care for and keep watch over our guest.
Sam and Levi haven’t said much about how they found Melody. Somehow her death seems to have affected all of us more than any of the other recent deaths that we’ve experienced … or caused. Her death just seems like such a horrible waste of a young life. When we found her she was bright and beautiful …. OK, maybe that’s being a bit generous but who am I to speak ill of the dead? Twenty-four hours later, give or take, she had taken her own life.
The new normal is not for the weak of spirit. Something crushed that girl’s spirit. It may have been an ever-increasing weight or a single blow … or a combination of both.
After the funeral, we stopped at Pete’s place. We still haven’t had that pow-wow. Just like before the crash, plans frequently are overtaken by events. There is the important and there is the urgent … and then there are things that are both important and urgent.
I believe it is important that we deepen the relationships across the Union Creek community and that we work toward establishing a rule of law. Are those things urgent? Probably not.
Understanding the truth about the approaching U.N. troops. That’s quickly becoming urgent.
While the women pulled together a meal at Pete’s, the men discussed U.N. strategy.
Interesting how the traditional roles of the sexes seem to be resurfacing. I guess we were all pretty traditional before the crash, but now we seem even more so. We’re not forcing the women to wear long dresses and bonnets or anything like that, but, for the most part, the division of labor has fallen along traditional lines. I wonder what that says about us … or about civilization, in general. Figuring that out may be important, but it certainly doesn’t seem urgent.
Between Pete’s family and ours, we agreed that we need to see first-hand what the U.N. troops are doing. According to reports over the short-wave, most of the U.N. troops are coming from China, across the Pacific Ocean, and working their way from west to east. The closest major city to the west is Denver. Tate suggested that we might want to make a trip to Denver to see what’s going on there. Anders suggested that we target a smaller population center like Ft. Collins or Cheyenne, Wyoming. Any way we looked at it, we were facing a long drive over uncertain territory with virtually no chance of any place to re-fuel along the route.
“What if we waited for them to reach Omaha or Lincoln?” Pete asked.
“That doesn’t give us much time to react,” I countered.
“I can’t imagine them making a bee-line out of Omaha or Lincoln for our area unless someone does something to put us on the map, so to speak,” Pete said.
Heads nodded all around.
“Has anyone heard what Omaha and Lincoln are like these days,” my dad wondered aloud.
Levi, who had been spending quite a bit of time with the short-wave lately, piped up, “From what I’ve heard over the last few days, both cities are under some sort of martial law.”
“The legitimacy of the government enforcing the law has been called into question,” Levi continued. “Disease is rampant. The water supply is polluted. Food is sparse and there are several factions fighting amongst themselves and against the current government for power.”
“Sounds like it’s a mess,” Sam summed it up.
“Sounds like it,” I agreed. “Are we sure we want to wade into the cesspool?”
“Do we have a choice?” Pete cocked his head at me.
“Not really,” I acquiesced.
“If we’re going in, we really should try to kill more than one bird,” Sam suggested.
“Meaning what,” Pete wondered.
“Well, we have relatives that lived near Omaha and Lincoln before the crash,” Sam explained. “We should try to reach their homes to see if they’re still alive.”
“Assuming they’re still alive, we could possibly use their homes as bases for our scouting trips,” Levi picked up on Sam’s plan.
“Possibly,” I agreed halfheartedly. “Frankly, it’s hard to believe anyone has survived this long in the cities.”
“Obviously, people have,” Levi lashed out angrily. “The radio reports confirm it.”
“Those reports …” I began and then let it drop.
“Those reports … what?” Levi was spoiling for a fight.
I can remember being that way myself – ready for a fight at the drop of a hat. Ready to drop the hat if no one else did. I knew what Levi was going through … generically, at least.
“We just need to take those reports with a grain of salt, Levi,” our dad chimed in.
Hearing it from Dad, rather than me, defused Levi’s anger.
“Sure, sure,” Levi nodded. “I’m just saying there are apparently people still alive in Omaha and Lincoln. That’s all.”
“Let’s assume you’re right, Levi,” Pete suggested. “Where are your family members located?”
“We have cousins just outside of Omaha and Lincoln,” Levi replied. “Both of them are Terry’s kids.”
“Paul’s family is on the far side of Omaha and Janet’s family lives between Omaha and Lincoln,” Sam elaborated.
“Getting to the far side of Omaha could be a dangerous undertaking,” Anders offered up. “Perhaps targeting the cousin living between the two cities would make the most sense.”
“Either way, we’re exposing those who go and those who stay behind to considerable risk,” Pete’s son, Tate, chimed in.
Everyone nodded their head.
My mind jumped ahead as it frequently does.
“This is bigger than a trip to the city,” I said. “I’m of the opinion that we need to get the Union Creek community together before we head off to Omaha or Lincoln. We need a stronger, more closely-knit defensive fabric before we pull several able-bodied individuals away.”
“So, the order of business is as follows,” I enumerated our priorities. “Bring the community together, improve our overall defenses across the community and between its residents, conduct a recon mission to Lincoln and/or Omaha, return, hopefully, from the recon mission and lay out a plan of defense as necessitated by intel gathered during the recon.”
“Am I missing anything?” I asked.
“At a high level, I think that’s it,” Pete affirmed.
“Tomorrow, we begin calling on the neighbors, then?” I glanced around the group for confirmation.
Everyone nodded their consent.
“When and where to we host the event,” Pete tossed out the question on everyone’s mind.
“Your place is a little more centrally located than ours,” Levi suggested.
“Let’s go back to our original plan, then,” Pete agreed. “We’ll hold the event here in … let’s say four days. That should give us time to contact everyone.”
“Why don’t we use a concentric approach?” Anders looked around the circle. “We contact those closest to us. They contact those closest to them and so on.”
“That might work,” Levi seemed skeptical. “It sure would be easier if everyone had radios.”
“Let’s put that on the agenda,” I suggested. “We’ll see who already has short-wave equipment and who needs equipment, set up a communication schedule and make that a part of building up our defensive network.”
“Good plan,” Pete concurred and then glanced through the door at his wife. “Looks like the food is ready. Let’s eat.”