Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Part 3

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

I hope you're ready for more daring do's from Jose, and the rest of the Kronin family. Enjoy part 3 of "Why We Cant Have Nice Things"

Chapter 7

So off we went. My youngest brother, my fiancé, and myself were off to collect supplies and information from the rip-roaring metropolis know as Orr, Minnesota population 303. Remember that one time when I told you that you would be getting the adventure with all the nitty-gritty detail? (see: total poop recall) Well here is where I put my money where my idiocy is. I will assume that for my more astute readers, the fact has occurred to you that this top-secret world shattering plague was only just released the night before our not so fateful trip to Orr. It may have also occurred to my more scientifically oriented readers that roughly 12 hours is in no way enough time for that plague to jump from what I am assuming to be Atlanta, GA (CDC) to Orr, MN. Nor would word of its release have been conveyed to the general public. All that being the case, both of those kinds of readers would not be shocked to pull into downtown Orr, and find it completely normal. Well none of the above had occurred to me, so I, and my party were dumbstruck.

The fact that the town was in a state of neither chicken-with-head-cut-off panic nor brains munching zombie infestation, leads to our second stop in this tour de dumbshit. See… assuming at least one of the two aforementioned states would be in effect, I expected a looting/scrounging type situation. What I got was more of a “did you guys bring any money?” situation. There are two bright spots in this orgy of incorrect assumptions. The first is, no one else had expected or planned for the state of normalcy either. Stupidity loves company. The second is, that when you have insider knowledge of the world’s impending doom, maxing out 8 peoples’ credit cards just doesn’t carry the same level of bowel loosening terror.

So yeah. We had to go back to the cabin to get money. Buying the guns, food, and ammo we needed was much better than scrounging through wreckage worrying about the undead hearing every labored breath I took. We ended up getting all the dry and canned goods the local grocery store had available, all the bait and tackle that was reasonable, and a small armory of weapons and ammunition.

One other thing I was not expecting was the profound sense of guilt I felt. These were, on the whole, good and friendly people, and they had no idea what kind of holy fuck shit storm was coming down on them. I am not sure why I am writing this part down. Maybe it’s to convince whoever might read this that I am not a completely heartless ass hat, or maybe it’s to convince myself. All I can say is that because there was nothing I could do to help shield anyone from what was coming, I honestly figured keeping quiet would give them a few more days of normalcy. It was both the least, and most I could do.

As we loaded up the car with the last of our items, I could see maybe I wasn’t the only one who was having a tough time with this. Both Jack and Charlie were significantly dourer than when we set out. As Charlie went to return the cart I pulled Jack aside, “So… aint that some shit?”

He gave a half-hearted laugh and responded, “Seeing numbers like 99.5% is one thing. Being told to have a lovely day by someone you know will be dead in a couple days… well yeah, that’s some shit.” He climbed in the passenger seat and closed the door.

As the love of my life Charlie returned from her cart return expedition, I asked her, “Hey… How are you holding up?”

She sighed and said, “Let’s just get the fuck out of here.” She too got in the car and shut the door.

“Yup,” I thought. That about sums up my thoughts as well. I got behind the wheel, and we headed back to the cabin.

Chapter 8

Hey sorry for being such a downer in that last section. Who knew the death of most of the world’s population could be such a bummer. Upon arriving back at the cabin, I came to the not-so-startling conclusion that when you give direction as vague as “See what you can do with what we have here,” Not a whole lot gets done. The only noticeable change was Tyrone was outside with a shovel digging a hole. This was must have been a recent undertaking, as the hole was approximately 6 inches deep. Exiting the Blazer, I walked up to him and asked, “So…whatchya got going there?”

“Well, Dad yelled at me, because I wasn’t doing anything. He didn’t see the irony of him doing the yelling from the recliner, but I digress. He yelled so I came outside and started digging.”

“Did you have a specific goal in mind, or was it one of those look busy to shut up the boss kind of things?”

“It started as the latter, but just as you guys pulled up I got to thinking. What do all of the most well defended places in history have in common?”

Jack walked by with a crate, yes, a crate, of ammo and volunteered, “300 Spartans?”

Tyrone shook his head, and said, “That was one extremely specific, possibly exaggerated story, and we have nowhere near that level of training.”

Jack muttered as he walked into the cabin crate in hand, “Speak for yourself…”

Neither Tyrone nor myself had any real idea of what Marine boot camp entailed, but I was reasonably certain it did not involve the myriad uses of spears or bronze swords. I shook my head, and continued, “As you were saying?”

“A mote,” He stated proudly, “or in our case a trench. I’m thinking a regular water supply might be a bit of an issue as we are on the top of a rather steep hill above the only real source available. Gravity can be a real buzz kill.”

As outlandish as it was, I did have to stop and think for minute. As I have already mentioned the only real avenue of attack was from the front. If we hampered that, we could hold out almost indefinitely. “I think you may be onto something there, but I think that should not be our first priority. I imagine that would be a rather timely and labor intensive project. For now, I think we focus on more quick fix ideas.”

“Ok. I get that. What did you have in mind?” He asked quite reasonably.

I took a deep breath, and profoundly said, “I have no fucking idea. I need a drink.”

To no one’s surprise we agreed on this point. We grabbed the last of the supplies out of the car, and went inside.

Tyrone made himself a whiskey diet in a big gulp cup that was roughly the size of my head. I, figuring that I may need to do a bit more thinking before the day was out, grabbed a similar big gulp, and only poured 3 beers into it.

“Everybody gather up. I think we have some shit to figure out. “I said upon entering the living room. Once everyone had, indeed gathered, I continued. “So, we learned all this shit went down, and immediately leapt into action. It occurs to me now, that may have been a bit presumptuous. I think first, we should know more about what kind of shit storm we are facing. Jack, do you have any idea what kind of ‘zombies’ we are facing or in what kind of numbers we should be looking at?” I totally used air quotes around zombies.

“What do you mean, what kind of zombies, exactly?” Jack replied.

“Well, are they the more traditional, slow ambling corpses, or are they more ‘World War Z’ types that swarm likes locusts?”

“No idea.”

“Helpful… how about numbers? Was the 99.5% fatality rate a hard number, or were you pulling that out of your ass?”

“Oh, most definitely out of my ass.”

My mom took this opportunity to be heard, “Now we took everything you said at face value… I guess because you showed up with dinosaurs which made everything else, by comparison, easy to believe, but you tell me right now, Jack Andrew Kronin, is there even a zombie apocalypse happening? Or did we just max out all our credit cards for no reason what-so-ever?!?”

The use of the full name really brought the hammer down on Jack, who prior to its use was being flippant. “Yes, it is for sure happening, but I just didn’t have much information about it. The virus should spread quickly, but as far as I saw, there wasn’t much in the way of human testing. For obvious reasons.”

“Right” Sarah said, “They wouldn’t want to accidently cause, oh I don’t know, an apocalypse!” She said that last part while giving me a very pointed glace, which I thought was a bit rude.

“That’s why I said, the reasons were obvious.” Jack said apparently missing the not so subtle subtext of her remark. “I did hear that they projected it to be world-wide in about a month if released.”

“Does that seem awfully fast to anyone else?” Mom said

“Yeah it kinda does,” Charlie responded, “but I imagine they had some kind of predictive model that explained it. I think it’s best to assume they knew what they were talking about. At least until we have more solid information to go on.”

“I agree.” I said, secretly super turned on at her use of the term ‘predictive model.’ What can I say…? I’ve got a thing for smart chicks. Also, she’s my fiancé. I am totally allowed to be turned on by her. Stop judging me. Don’t bother telling me you weren’t. That’s not how the author/reader relationship works. Anywho… “So, what additional, or in this case, corrective knowledge can you give us? Are these the only dinosaurs there were, or should we be on the lookout for a gaggle of rampaging compies?” (The little guys from “The Lost World” that were like tiny reptilian land piranhas)

“Hell no, these aren’t the only ones! Remember when I said these guys were like MEGA NERDS? I didn’t even know the Allosaur was a thing until I met Allie. The guy in charge of that department knew almost as many breeds as your nerdy ass.” He said at me. Not to me, but he seemed to actually throw the words from his mouth directly at my ego. Little did he know; my love of dinosaurs was a point of pride rather than shame. Now that I think about it, however, that may lend more credence to his accusations of nerdom than defense against them. Fuck it! Dinosaurs are awesome and I don’t care what anyone else thinks. He continued, “They had a shit ton of…”

“Language!!” Kayla scolded

“They had a bunch of different breeds.” Jack amended, sufficiently chastised.

“Please tell me they took a cue from the movies, and left out the T-Rex and Velociraptors?” My dad asked.

“Yes, they did get that right at least.“ Jack answered.

Really feeling like I had something contribute to the conversation for the first time, I was quick to add what I knew. “Actually, the Allosaur is a much more dangerous creature. It is kind of a hybrid between the two species. Much bigger and stronger than the comically oversized raptors we saw in ‘Jurassic Park,’ But less bulky, and much more agile than the T-rex. Also, there is evidence to show that the T-rex was more a scavenger than a hunter. No such luck with Allie. This brings up a thought that I should have had earlier… Is that large murder machine outside going to… well… murder us?

“I can, with 100% certainty say… probably not.” Jack said with an odd amount of confidence considering his answer.

“Oh goodness! Then you can consider me reassured as hell!” Sarah interjected.

“They were basically raised by humans, and have been trained since birth. They have even been fitted with saddles, and ridden on multiple occasions. I am not totally sure how this works, but apparently, the DNA splicing in some way, shape, or form included that of a golden retriever.”

I have always prided myself on being able to see to the heart of a matter. Really being able to cut through to the most relevant information. This situation was no exception. “I guess what it really comes down to then is… did you bring the saddles?”

Jack looked at me as if I had shit on the dining room table, and proudly announced that everyone should get it while it’s hot. He did however answer my question. “Yes Jose… I brought the saddles.”

In another moment of brotherly synchronicity Tyrone and I both said, “Nice!”

“Moving on,” Charlie said “So, we don’t really have any information on the Zombies, we know the plague should be in full effect sometime next month, and we know these dinosaurs are some reptile dog hybrid.”

“Well genetically speaking, they are actually more bird than reptile.” I interjected.

“Joe, I love you. You know that right?” She said back.

“Oh, of course I do sweetie. I love yo-“

“Good… now shut the fuck up you fucking nerd.”


“As I was saying. These are the things we know. So, what is our plan of attack and or preparation?”

As simple of a question as it was, no one had a comprehensive answer. I’m not sure if you, my most astute reader, have picked up this little tid-bit, but we are kind of a by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of family. It serves us well amidst chaos, but when having time to plan things out ahead of time we tend to shit the bed.

“Well,” I said into the silence, “We have food. Do we think it’s going to be enough to get us through the winter?”

Mom stepped in to field this one. She had the most experience in estimating the food intake of multiple people. (She did a short stint as a lunch lady) “We are pretty well set for most things. Meat is going to be the thing we will need the soonest. It doesn’t keep well, and eating not, but jerky for months on end does not sound fun.”

“That should be easy enough to fix.” Tyrone said, “There are plenty of deer in the woods, and fish in the lake.”

“Yippy! Venison as a primary food source. All my dreams have finally come true.” I said with the classiest amount of sarcasm possible. I really hate venison. “I’m good with jerky and fish for the most part.”

“You’re going to have to develop a taste for it my boy.” My dad said. “That is going to be the most plentiful source of meat from here on out.”

“HA! I told you!” Tyrone said, “All this time, when we discussed the apocalypse” (As young men of a certain age are want to do) “I told you we would be eating venison. ‘I’ll just find cows’ you said. Idiot!”

Well… when the man’s right, he’s right. “Touché.” I said in a conciliatory tone. “You got that one right, but I was right about the dinosaurs!”

“Yeah… I really didn’t see that one coming” He said

“Back to the discussion at hand.” I swear to God it’s like herding cats with these people. “So, food is, more or less, covered. Our location assures that the zombies probably won’t be an issue for a while. Dad how are we on power?”

“The generators run on diesel fuel, and Harlan built a big barn with what looks to be almost 100 drums of the stuff.  As long as we aren’t stupid with it; we should be good for a while.” Harlan is the, aforementioned, buddy of my dad’s.

“Any specifics on what, ‘a while’ means?” I asked

“It will take about 15 gallons per week to run. Estimating the winter to last around 30 weeks, we will need 450 gallons which is roughly 9 of the 50 gallon drums per winter. If your estimate of about 90 drums is accurate we should be able to last about 10 winters. That assumes, of course we use none in the spring, summer, or fall. Not very realistic, but it gives us a rough idea,” said Kayla of all people. Every eye in the place stared in dumbfounded disbelief.

“How? … when? … not that I am doubting your numbers,” I stammered out, “but how do you know that?”

“One of my friends’ dad worked at the power plant in Becker.” (Another city in Minnesota. As before… look it up) “He had backup generators at his place, and told us about them once.” She replied

“If, as unlikely as it may be, both he and we survive this, I owe that guy a beer.” I said

“Harlan also has a 1,000-gallon propane tank the looks to be about full. That should help with cooking and the like. We need to use that sparingly, as I don’t think we will be able to get a refill… ever.” My dad finished.

“Check and check.” I said “Food, power, and defense are all set to go for now. The only other thing I can think of that needs to be discussed is, to put it simply, the end game. We need to have a long-term goal in order to start laying the ground work for it. Are we going to stay shut-ins whose only concern is our day to day survival? Are we looking to eventually seek out other potential survivors to start rebuilding society? Is our goal to slowly, but surely thin out the zombie population? Thoughts?”

Sarah spoke up. “I, for one am a fan of holding up here indefinitely. I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure, but as a doctor visit is a little out of the question, I’m pregnant. Hold off on the congratulations for the moment!” She said, seeing that we were all gearing up for a lengthy ‘OMG that’s so great!’ ‘How far along are you?’ ‘Have you thought of any names yet?’ kind of tangent. “So, Kayla and I are both going to be giving birth, which kind of puts a damper on any adventuring for us. That being the case, I am a proponent of the ‘Get your house in order’ course of action.”

“I agree. In this case, the needs of the few outweigh the need to the many.” My dad said, using this as a perfect time to squeeze in a star trek reference.

“Agreed,” I said. “I must admit. This briefing was much more helpful, and certainly more comprehensive, than I expected from this rag-tag bunch of lovable misfits. I’m gonna get a beer.”

“It just goes to show, you don’t always need an engineer or a medical doctor to get through the apocalypse.” Tyrone said.

Outwardly, I smiled and nodded. The family had a long and tough road ahead. Tyrone’s optimism and good cheer were vital in this case, and I was not going to be the one to point out sad-faced facts just now. As I turned away and walked into the kitchen, however, I grimaced, and gave the wooden door frame a subtle and worried knock.

Submitted: April 29, 2017

© Copyright 2022 Wally Birch. All rights reserved.

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