This is going to be a long one but well worth the read, I hope.
Last night I had a dream that could rival Homer’s Odyssey. It lasted all night, I woke up many times from shock and fear (and once to pee) but as soon as I fell back to sleep, it picked up again. It was so vivid I could feel the cold snow, feel the wet rain, smell the smoke of fires, and definitely feel the fear of pain and death and fellow human beings.
I begin the dream as I get off of work at a local store I work at. It is winter, cold, and raining. I do not drive and was going to walk home since I was not able to find a ride. It is currently raining quite hard, so here I am cussing life, waiting for the rain to , hopefully, let up enough that I can walk the two miles home. I was thinking to myself, standing on the store patio near the cart rack, that this rain, watching and listening to it, would be wonderful and relaxing if I wasn’t stranded.
I hear the electric doors open behind me and listen to the cart wheels rattle.
“Hey Lee’s wife, waiting for your ride?” A man says.
I turn and look to him, it’s one of my neighbors. I smile politely and am about to say I don’t have a ride, but quickly hold back for fear of burdening him. Instead I just say I am waiting for the rain to lighten up, then realize I just said the same thing with different words.
“Hell no! C’mon, I’ll take you home.” He laughs that common ‘don’t be an idiot’ laugh.
We quickly run to his car and I help him load his bags before we jump in and head toward home. Not even a block down the road it appears there has been a horrible accident on the freeway and the underpass is blocked off by emergency vehicles.
“We’ll go through to the other side of the parking lot and take the back roads.” My neighbors says.
Everyone has the same idea and it takes a few minutes to get out of the parking lot and on to a road. We go a little farther than the other traffic and take a country road that is not busy. A couple blocks down we come to a cross roads we need to turn left on to get home, but there are cars blocking the intersection.
“What the fuck is going on today?” I say.
“I don’t think it’s another accident.” My neighbor says.
I agree. Men with rifles in their hands and large knives on their hips are guarding the intersection. Two are now walking toward our car.
“Go.” I stutter. “Go.” I say again. “Go! Go! Go!” I finally yell.
My neighbor punches the gas and runs through the road block and tries to turn left but the men, gun fire, and wet conditions cause him to swerve and hydroplane. Our car hits two men head on and my side of the windshield gets splattered with their blood. The car ends up in the grape vines but my neighbor is able to regain control and pull us back on to the road. He drives as fast as he can away from the guns.
“Are they dead?!” I yell. “They’re hurt! Are they dead!?” I am on the verge of hyperventilation.
Before he can say anything, my neighbor loses control of the car again when he hits a pothole at full speed. We end up deep in the grape vines. He tries to start the car but it is dead.
“We gotta go.” He says. “They might be following us and they’ll see the car.”
We get out and start running toward home. It is wet, cold, and the farm land is muddy and slippery.
*I wake up, roll over, think to myself “Damn, what a vivid, scary, dream”, and then fall back asleep.*
I wake up from the bumping of this vehicle. I am in an SUV of some sort. I am with my brother, Joel, and my sister-in-laws, Bri and Louise. I have no idea where Lee is, he was not home when I got there. I think he had probably left work to come get me when the word broke of the attacks. Before phones, media, internet, etc., were all blacked out, news broke of one major attack in each of the fifty U.S. states as well as many smaller attacks across the U.S.. One atomic bomb hit Washington D.C., while air, ground, and water attacks hit the other states simultaneously. Information was spotty but clear, the U.S. is crippled.
My brother and his wife had been near my town when the attacks hit. They came to my house instinctively as did my other sister-in-law, Bri. When we didn’t find Lee there and there was no way to get ahold of him, I gathered up my essentials, diabetes supplies (as I wondered to myself when I would be able to get more insulin after this. Myself and my Type 1 brother will be the first to die), clothes, toiletries, food, a couple of Lee’s swords, and most importantly, my four cats and two dogs. I left a note for Lee letting him know we were headed to the mountain house. Most of my family will be headed there, for sure.
We are packed tight into this vehicle and driving back streets because the main streets are gridlocked. We will need to take the main roads at some point, though, because the mountain house has few options of approach.
Everyone in the vehicle are on high alert, keepings eyes and ears open for anything bad. We see all manner of aircraft flying the skies, some American, most unidentifiable. We hear gunfire in the streets and country. Fires rage out of control all over the cities. A couple of times we hear massive booms and feel the shockwaves of bombs in the distance.
We are terrified.
After hours of trying to figure out how to get through the gridlock, we decide to change course and go to the Auberry house.
The drive there is easier, but still takes us nearly a day to arrive.
As we approach the long driveway to the Auberry house, across the street we see our brother, Glenn, waving us to him. Why would he be at the property across the street from his old house? We follow his instructions and pull in to the small property with a single wide mobile home on it. He shows us to a spot hidden from the road to park.
Once inside the mobile home we are able to talk. Myself, Joel, Louise, Bri, Glenn, his ex-wife, Buffy, and their son, Cody are all crammed in to this two bed, one bath old run down tin can with my dogs and cats. The larger property with the very nice house Glenn built with his own two hands has been taken over by a group of “freedom fighters”, Americans who have gone rogue and take what they see fit from their own fellow Americans in order to fight the bad guys. In reality, these are just assholes out for their own, stealing anything they want from anyone who can’t fight back.
Are we going to try to get the house back? Are we going to try to get to the other mountain house on the other side of the valley, where the rest of our family is, hopefully? We have no weapons other than kitchen knives and the two swords I brought.
“What about Ruth, Nohemy, Dean, Wade, and everyone else that don’t live in our valley? How are they going to get to the mountain house? How do we even know they’re alive?” I start crying.
“And my family.” Bri is already crying.
“We need to get to the mountain house first. It’s where everyone would go first.” Joel states plainly.
“It’s where everyone would go first.” Glenn nods. “From there we’ll know who’s missing.”
“Where is mom?! Is she at the mountain house?! Where is my mom?!” I cry as I look terrified at my brothers.
“She was visiting Ruth and Nohemy.” Joel says with a strained voice.
The worst place for her to be when this happened. The farthest she could be from the mountain house.
We set up a watch schedule so no one can sneak up on us. It doesn’t take long for people to start snooping around, looking for safety. We turn everyone away that asks for shelter. We just don’t have room. It gets physical with a couple of them, but no one gets hurt.
Not much more time passes before, during Cody’s watch, we see a group of freedom fighters walking down the long driveway of Glenn’s nice house. We become alarmed when they approach our tiny home and surround us. We gather our few weapons and hunker down.
“OK, get ready to run. Get to the cars and get out of here, quick.” Glenn says as he trades me his butcher knife for my Samurai sword.
“He’s going to distract as many as he can so we can get away.” Joel says.
“No!” Both Bri and I cry.
“You can’t do that!” Louise cries.
“Don’t worry, I got you, too.” Cody says as he stands beside his dad.
“no.” I can barely say through my sobs.
“Go, now!” Glenn yells. He opens the front door and steps out.
All but Glenn, Buffy, and Cody, escape through the back door and have to fight two bad guys before we reach our vehicles. We hear gunshots and yelling, but don’t see anything until we are driving past the front of the home. Glenn is lying dead on the ground, his face gone from a shotgun blast. There is blood smeared on the door of the home, a lot of it. We have no idea what became of Buffy and Cody.
I cry for my lost family. I also cry for my cats I had to leave behind. My dogs are still with me. We drive toward the mountain house, not knowing if we’ll be able to get through. Three hours later we have made it to the correct side of the valley and now are blocked by gridlock. There are people honking, yelling, shooting guns, outside their vehicles screaming at God. Some vehicles have been abandoned on the road.
“How are we going to get through this?” Bri asks.
“We are going to have to hike it.” Louise says.
“Should we try to get to Chris and Trish?” I ask. They are closer and also out of the city. Their home could be safe.
After a few minutes of silence, Joel speaks up. ” Gather what you can carry. We head for the mountain house, it’s more remote and most of the family will go there.
We hike as far off the road as possible, sometimes it is not possible to avoid at all, but we do our best to avoid other people. There is no way to know who is safe and who will try to kill you for a cracker, or some fresh water.
We walked nearly non-stop for fifteen hours. We all would have cheered and cried once we arrived at the mountain house, but we were too tired and pained to do anything but fall on the soft carpeted floor and sleep.
Chris and Trish were there with their kids, so we had made the right choice to avoid their house. My foster aunt, Maria and her kids were there. My sister-in-law and nice, Karen and Lili, were there as well.
“Where’s Dean?” We all asked.
Karen and Lili cried as they explained that Dean had fought off a couple of bad guys who were trying to take them. The two women got away, but Dean… they didn’t know if he was alive or a prisoner.
Not long after we arrived my brother, Wade, and his wife and kids arrived.
“Too bad we tore down the cottage, we’d have more room for everyone.” Karen said as she hugged each of her family members.
“Has Lee been here?” I had been too scared to ask about my husband.
Lili nodded her head no.
I looked to Joel and Louise, “Where are your kids?” Why had I not asked until now?
“Mine are with their mom, Jordan is with his dad.”
We all sat and discussed who was missing, where they could be, and if we should go look for them. We decided to give it a couple more days since the missing lived farthest away and may be on the way still.
Skip ahead a couple days. It has been decided that myself and my brother, Wade, will head south to try to round up the missing family members. We start out in a car, then park it in some high brush off the road when we hit the gridlock and can’t use it anymore. Then we hike down the mountain. Our trip is wrought with bad people, avoiding gunfire, fires, and heavily populated areas. there are times when we are able to take a vehicle for short distances, but most of the time we have to walk. Then, in a strike of luck, we come across a motorcycle dealership. It has been sorely looted but we find two scooters in the maintenance shop. We ride mostly easy from there.
We stopped by my house to check for Lee but it looked as if no one had been there. Next we headed to Paso to check Dean’s home, maybe he had gotten free and went home. He was nowhere to be found, either. We then headed farther south to look for Mom and our sister’s and their families. Lori and her family were not at home, hopefully they were on their way to the mountain house.
We had made it now to Murrieta, we went to Nohemy’s house. The neighborhood was in a riot, just like most neighborhoods everywhere we had been. There were three cars parked out front of the house, we hoped this was a good sign. We pulled our scooters right up to the front door and knocked hard.
“Nohemy! It’s us, let us in! Nohemy!” We both yelled. We kept looking over our shoulders, the rioters didn’t seem to care about us, yet.
The door opened and Jason let us in, quickly closing and locking the door behind us. The scooters came in with us.
“I am so glad to see you guys!” Nohemy cried. Jason, Troy, Mike, and Mom chimed in.
“Mom! You’re here!” I cried and hugged her.
We hugged and then we told each other everything we knew and experienced from the beginning. Nohemy told us they had been locked in the house all this time, too scared to go out because of all the attacks and also because the rioting in their neighborhood was so, so, bad.
“Where is Kevin?” I asked.
Through tears Nohemy explained that Ruth and Kenny had taken Kevin and Kenny’s son, Jayden, to the zoo on the day of the first attack. No one has seen or heard from them.
“I will go to the zoo and look for them.” I said.
“We will both go. You guys stay right here until we get back, then we will all head up the mountain together.” Wade said.
We drove our scooters down to the zoo. The parking lot was half full of vehicles. We entered the park and began looking for our family. We hadn’t been looking very long when we walked into the eating area and Kevin popped out from behind a hot dog stand and waved for us to come to him.
We ran over to him and found Ruth and the others with him.
“We need to get out of here now.” Ruth said.
“Someone is letting the animals loose.” Kenny said.
“OK, let’s go.”
We all moved together quickly and left the park. There was no way a car could be driven in this city, so we found bicycles for our newly found family members.
This is when I woke up for good.