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Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s Story #178 Stuck at Flower’s place in Baker City, OR. #TEOTWAWKI #SHTF #WROL

June 12, 2016

Reaching the kitchen safely, I pause a moment, guaranteeing that the pin is fully seated in the fuse of the ancient Russian RGD-5 (Ruchnaya Granata Distantsionnaya) frag grenade. Satisfied, the old, olive-drab grenade safely joins its comrades hanging on my Vietnam-era LBV.

This grenade is one of the last of our Russian army surplus grenades collected from the wreckage of the old Dodge truck. Iain and I replaced all of the old electronic proximity fuses with good old-fashioned Russian-made, Soviet era mechanical timers.

The mechanical fuses are significantly older, in some cases more than 50 years old. Mechanical fuses are better than trusting 30+-year-old Russian electronics powered by a non-replaceable lithium-ion battery.

Setting a grenade electronic proximity fuse for the minimum of three inches, sounds good in theory; in reality the usual three-to-five foot error radius renders electronic proximity fuses worthless indoors.

Some of the old Russian electronic grenade fuses have gone peculiar as well. It is better not to trust the old wonky Russian electronics as I have watched some of them detonate unexpectantly.

I grab some breakfast, in this case some hot Labrador tea, and some kind of hot biscuit like thing. I avoid eating any kind of meat while I am with Flower’s clan. The reason I avoid meat here, becomes obvious as some hunters return from the field carrying several large dead rats, as well as a couple of sorry-looking rabbits.

Meat is far too precious here, one of the reasons that Iain has threatened dire consequences should anything befall our animals. They did not even have a stable here until Iain insisted that they build one if they wanted to trade with us. Not eating an animal was something foreign to Flower and her people.

I take my food and join several people sitting in the communal eating area, which might have once been the cafeteria for this old school. Obaba, the clan lector is reading to those who care to listen. I do not know the full story of how the tiny, ancient Japanese woman came to join Flower’s clan, but she is the only clan member that can read.

Sitting in her usual place at the end of the hall, Obaba is reading an old National Geographic magazine. I understand from previous visits that Obaba’s room is stuffed to near bursting with every kind of magazine, book and newspaper.

She supposedly has almost the whole collection of National Geographic magazine. I wonder if Obaba was in the old world a hoarder, someone who collects so much shit that their house is stuffed to nearly bursting with it.

How the hell Obaba kept nearly everyone from using her precious books, magazines, and other printed paper goods for a fire is beyond me. Why Flower and her clan tolerate the bespectacled, stooped little Japanese troll is also beyond me.

While sipping tea and nibbling on my cold, tough bannock biscuit. Iain marches in, dressed in his snug-fitting Levi jeans, and long-sleeved plaid shirt. His shirt is tucked into his pants which are held up by a very thick black leather weapons belt. Black leather Vietnam-era jump boots clomp on the cement floor as he ducks into the kitchen.

Iain reappears moments later with a mug of steaming tea, a bowl of some kind of gruel, and a bannock biscuit. As he sits across from me, Iain’s sword bumps into the bench with a loud, resonating whack.

A tuft of chest hair juts out at Iain’s throat over the hem of his US Army issue ECWS thermal underwear. A brown leather shoulder holster straining to stretch around his torso, holds the old Ruger Super Redhawk .44 magnum underneath his left arm. Iain is minus his usual P90 and US Army Vietnam-era OD green LBV.

As if reading my mind, Iain answers my question. “I left them with red-head whom I had to wake up. Stupid kid that was supposed to be watching the hallway disappeared. His relief was trying to find him when I came out of our room.” I shrug at Iain and continue eating.

Iain digs into the bowl of meat-laced porridge with gusto. “After eating that shit, you are not kissing me until you brush your teeth,” I tell him pointedly. He just grins lopsidedly at me, and continues shoveling food in his mouth.

For a man that eschews silverware, Iain is remarkably tidy eating with just his fingers. I asked Iain once why he hates silverware. He replied that only barbarians used tools to shovel food in to their mouth.

We eat in silence for few a minutes, with Obaba droning on in the back ground. She is reading a multi-page story about a Finnish exploration team on a Greenland glacier finding a whole, frozen Megladon.

I think we have that particular National Geographic at home. Iain loves sharks in particular the Megladon. Despite being somewhat damaged and only 42-feet long, the 24-ton male Megladon was both quite a find and a source of great pride for the Greenland scientists.

The ancient shark resided in a specially built freezer in Greenland. Once one of the most popular tourist destinations, I wonder what happend to that old shark after the world ended. I bet that the emergency generators eventually failed, and the priceless ancient shark eventually rotted away until only its teeth were left.

I finish my tea and biscuit. Pulling out a piece of dried ginger, I stick it in my mouth like a tooth pick. The dried ginger is good for my stomach which has been troubling me. “What is the plan for today Iain,” I ask as we leave the table together.

“Well, I want to check on the bee hives that I gave them last time, and see how the knotweed, buckwheat and red clover planting went. Then I want to look at their black powder production, and see if they followed my directions. After that, we start unloading the wagon and horses and then start trading. Why?”

“Oh, just wondering what is going on today and how long we are staying.”

Iain takes me gently by the shoulder, leading me outside into the courtyard where he gently sits me against the wall in the sunshine. The sun feels good, and although it is still cold, the sun warms my face.

Iain kneels beside me. “Ruth, I know you do not like it here, but we could use some kind of trade. As time goes by, we are starting to run out of items. My bunker was well stocked, but some things we need. We are going to have to either figure a way to make it ourselves or trade for it.”

I sigh, damn the man for being so reasonable! “I know, but I always feel like I am being sized up for my trade worth when we come here; like what is my value to them, rather than as your partner.”

Iain gently cups my face in his ginormous, callused hands. “Ruth, I would never trade you for anything, not even my life.”

He kisses me lightly on the tip of my nose, I make a face at him. “Bastard, go brush your teeth.” Iain walks over to where some clan members are digging in the courtyard. I wander around the area.

The enclosed area might have one time held playgrounds, but sometime in the past the entire area was paved over with asphalt. Cement walkways and sidewalks line the courtyard. Since our last visit Iain has had the clan start breaking up the asphalt, tearing it out revealing the dirt underneath.

Once revealed from years of hiding underneath asphalt, the soil is worked, readying it for seeds. The top three feet of dirt is removed, sifted and then put back in the garden. Looking at the various things sifted from the soil, I wonder what the items would tell us if they could talk.

Other than small rocks, most of which are kept either for cooking or for sling ammo, several slightly interesting pieces of garbage lie in the bucket. Carefully, so that I do not cut myself, I stir the garbage pail with a rusty screwdriver.

My stirring reveals numerous alkaline batteries of almost every once common type. A few mangled toy jacks lie scattered among the refuse. I wonder if the jacks are old enough to be lead, but doubt it. I know Iain is a master at spotting lead, so I will tell him. We are always on the lookout for a source of lead.

Seemingly out-of-place in this drab world, half of a bright red and green translucent super bouncy ball still glitters despite its dirt encased granular face. Lying against the side of the bucket, the half of a ball makes an odd hollow sound when struck by the screwdriver handle. How the marble-sized ball was torn in two, and how it came to be buried in the courtyard we will never know.

Some of the work around Flower’s compound reminds me of the kibbutz my elder uncles ran. I watch as a few of the younger clan members empty chamber pots in the gardens, and I wonder if my upset stomach might be from more than nervousness.

Two clan women help move Obaba outside. Sitting outside in the sun in the courtyard Obaba now is reading from an old Dean Koontz paperback book that is nearly falling apart. Over her arthritic knuckles, I can read the author’s name, but I have no idea which book she is reading since the late Koontz was rather prolific.

I have a read a few Koontz books and they were OK. I am surprised that the few paperbacks the clan possesses survived, as this clan and nearly every other survivor has burnt anything they can get their hands on.

Iain is talking to some of the clan men, mere boys really, about getting charcoal for the black powder production. There is just not that much left here in the ruins of Baker City that will burn.

Iain and I discussed at length bringing coal from Centralia, Washington. Unfortunately, Centralia is too far, and shipping something as simple as a wagon load of coal presents more logistics that this small clan can handle.

As the morning progresses and warms a little more, I decide to strip down to my street clothes. Leaving my weapons and harness near at hand, I stretch and manage to get most of my yoga poses correct. I cannot really shut my eyes, because some little clan asshole will steal my weapons in a heartbeat if I give them the chance.

Red-head finally emerges near noon and joins us in the courtyard playing with some of the children. I see Iain holding a lengthy conversation with several, very pregnant women. I wonder what the discussion is about?

Most of the women, are girls really who are probably no more than 14 years old. I next see Iain taking a look at several children and for some unfathomable reason is particularly interested in twins. What the fuck is the man up to?

I decline a midday meal, deciding to nibble on disgusting reconstituted peanut butter and MRE cheese spread on stale, chewy MRE crackers, all washed down with some horrible grape flavored MRE bug juice. As I am rinsing my military issue canteen with water purified with two Portable Aqua Tablets, Flower emerges with her entourage in all her queenly grace.

With a furious look, Flower heads straight for me surprising the shit out of me. I quickly check my weapons. Pulling my Galil around to the front, I very obviously flip the safety off my rifle with a very audible clack. I suddenly notice that it is completely silent in the courtyard.

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