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"The Ending Begins" -> (11 skipped) -> "The Ending Begins: Chapter 13" -> "The Ending Begins: Chapter 14"

The Ending Begins: Chapter 15  by OriginalSim
   I ended up staying 2 weeks. I was torn between helping a dying man prepare for his son's future and seeking Jilly. I don't regret my decision. Jim was the last of a golden breed of rough-cut gentlemen. I could no more turn him down than my own father.
  The first thing we did was scavenge the farm for anything that might be of trading value. A lot of it was useless as far as practical matters went – old, rusted wagon wheels with a minimum of ancient wood attached; rusty-beyond-repair tools. We almost felt like thieves, later, selling them as antiques to willing buyers who didn't have the sense to realize that these ornaments would do them no good in a matter of months.
  Jim had already cleaned out his meager bank account, so we ended up with a lot to work with. I wrote up a list of useful items – much as I did for myself before I left Goshen – and we all headed off on a three day shopping spree.
  We all worked hard – I was surprised that Paul worked as hard as he did. He was a quiet kid, not much given to teenager rebellion or slacking off. All in all, I was proud of all we accomplished. We fixed up the stove, added the shower to the inside of the bathroom and did dozens of things that Paul, and Jim, for as long as he would live, would be able to use to survive in a world that was changing drastically.
  We also found a secret that Jim didn't even know about. Probably built by his great-grandfather when fear of local Indian raids prevailed. We found a passage from the pantry off the kitchen, into the crawlspace/basement under the house down some stairs and into the barn. There was some storage space here that they could use to hide commodities of the future – things that, eventually, modern day raiders would want. Lanterns, hand crank battery chargers, food in airtight containers.
  When it came time to say our goodbyes, there wasn't a dry eye around. Jim broke out some liquor and we all toasted our future – me finding Jilly; they living a hard, but somewhat comfortable existence. Just as I was about to take off, Jim stopped me.
  “Hey – I told you that you could have anything here you wanted. That goes double, now.”
  “All right, then. Here's what I want. I want you two to live as long as you can. How's that?”
  We all gave a forced chuckle. Not one of us could say how long we were going to last in this fluid time. Adapt or die seemed to be a rather fitting motto.
  “We'll try. And you find that woman of yours, hear?”
  “I'll do my best. Take care. If I'm back this way, I'll stop by, okay?”
  “You and Jilly are forever welcome here,” said Paul, surprising Jim and I. 
  As I headed west once more, I was overcome with an intense feeling I couldn't then, nor can I now adequately express. All I knew was that Jilly was alive, but somehow hurt. It was a mixture of hope against hope that she was alive and anger that I couldn't be there to protect her. I wrote it off as my subconcious telling me to quit wasting time and find her.
  I tromped the gas: no need to heed any speed limit signs. I drove for hours and hours, camping where I could and then driving more. I decided to go through Wheeling, West Virginia. Surprisingly, there was a place to get food. It wasn't much as far as food went, but I did learn of what to expect on my way west.
  Ohio was passable up to Columbus, after which it was rumored to be a no-man's land. On the way there, it wouldn't be a picnic. Roving bands of hungry gangs were looking to steal anything they could get. A few 'forts' were built up where one might safely stay for the night and get food – maybe trade some goods. Apparently, people slipped into the 1800's mode all over again without much thought about it, other than survival. The owner of the food stand suggested I'd lose my car long before I got to Zanesville. He offered to buy it then and there, but I thought I'd risk it. I needed to cover as much ground as possible: to get to Jilly as fast as I could.
  I didn't make it to Zanesville. I did manage to get close, though. Somewhere near Cambridge, on Interstate 70, I ran across a booby trap going 85 mph. It was some rough cut spikes, covered up in a devious manner. All four tires went. I skidded and slid and bounced off the road into a muddy, water filled ditch, which managed to absorb the impact somewhat. I was dazed, shaken and cut and bruised. But I was alive. I'd have to pedal a bike from now on. But at least I could still see Jilly when it was all over.
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  'The Ending Begins: Chapter 15' statistics: (click to read)
Date created: Jan. 30, 2008
Date published: Jan. 30, 2008
Comments: 1
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Word Count: 949
Times Read: 473
Story Length: 22
Children Rank: 3.6/5.0 (5 votes)
Descendant Rank: 0.0/5.0 (102 votes)