Monday, February 24, 2014
Is This Thing On?
Looks like the Net is back up, finally. We managed to survive the week, although I was starting to get a little loopy with Net-withdrawal this weekend. Mrs. Fetched managed her TV-withdrawal somewhat better. Working was difficult; I had to go in twice instead of once last week. I think we came pretty close to just shutting down work for the week, with the power going up & down all day. At least there was enough uptime to keep the laptop batteries charged. I’m not sure if the execs are keeping up with what’s going on down in the cube-farm or the shop floor, but if they are they’ll probably shut the place down if it happens again. The kids helped a lot — they’re into everything when they’re not at school, poking around and marveling at how nice it is to not have to wear their jackets in the house (including bed) — so I spent a lot of time introducing the new inmates to the free-range insane asylum. They’ve each had their first motorcycle ride, in 20-degree weather, and both were grinning around chattering teeth afterwards. Their favorite place in the house is the living room, even when the TV’s off, because it’s always warm in there. They’ll read, doodle, or write (Serena wants to write plays like Shakespeare, of all things) when the power’s off. They’re really good about getting firewood, too.
Over the weekend, I got the phone call I’d been expecting: they found the parents. The surprise (to me) was, one of them was still alive at the time. Someone caught them trying to steal gas in Atlanta, guns were drawn… then fired. The women stayed down, but it didn’t do them much good in the end.
The police interviewed the survivor (Kim’s mother, judging from the last name) at the hospital — she was able to tell her story before she lost consciousness for the last time:
We were sharing a house up north — [Serena’s family] moved in with us when their house caught fire. We ran out of firewood a few days ago, just at the wrong time… it was either leave or freeze to death. We’d been saving up gas in case it came to that, and we’d pooled about 30 gallons. We had 20 in the trunk, anyway, and we were hoping to make it to Sarasota. We knew we wouldn’t make it on what we had, but we had some ration coupons and we were counting on buying some along the way. That didn’t pan out too good.
We got to Georgia, and there was a blockage of some sort on I-75 around Dalton [turned out to have been a tanker hijacking gone wrong —Farf] so we headed east on 52, hoping to find a way south. We still couldn’t find anyone who would sell us some gas, and we decided we’d have to steal some. We dropped off the kids at some farm, in case there was trouble — I guess that turned out to be for the best — and found a highway going to Atlanta. You know the rest.
I asked the cop if there was going to be a funeral, and she said “We just cremate them. No marker. They’re at the morgue through Monday.” Something told me I should do something — after all, they’d left me their most valuable possessions — so I hopped the commute bus to the MARTA station and took the train downtown. I found the morgue, told them who I was and who I was there to see (off), and they led me to the right place. Much to my surprise, someone was already there — a black man, praying. He looked familiar, then I realized…
When he finished his prayer and looked up, I asked him, “Aren’t you The Prophet?”
He smiled. “Some call me that.”
“So why are you here?”
“The Lord has called me to minister to those forgotten of man, for He has not forgotten them. Did you know these unfortunates?”
“No. They dropped their kids off at my place, before… this.”
“Then the Lord has placed a great responsibility on your shoulders. But He does not give us a task without giving us the tools to accomplish it.”
I nodded. “The kids have actually been a big help this week. I just need to know if I should tell them about…” I gestured to the body bags.
“They must know the truth,” he said, “but not right away. If they ask, do not lie, though — the Lord abhors lying lips.”
“Right.” I pulled the pictures I’d taken of the kids out of my shirt pocket. “Here’s their pictures. I thought… I don’t know, I thought maybe I could tuck each one in their mom’s bag, but I don’t know which ones are which.”
The Prophet smiled and took the pictures. “Turn around. If asked, you can honestly say you saw nothing.” I did what he told me, and I heard quick zipping noises, the rustle of paper, and two more zips. “Done. Now join me here, and we will provide a poor service for these forgotten ones.” He went through a funeral sermon, I said a few words about the kids, and that was it.
“They came to a bad end,” I said, as we stepped into the warmer hallway.
“Truly. But we honor their lives the best we can. That is the highest calling of anyone.”
“At least their kids will be all right. As long as we are.”
“And that is the highest honor you can give their parents,” The Prophet said. He stopped me and put a hand on my shoulder. “May God bless you and keep you. We both have long roads ahead of us, and none of us are righteous, ‘no not one,’ but we can rely on our faith — and Whom we have put our faith in.
“Our nation will be broken like a potter breaks a faulty pot, and many will not live to see it restored. There will be war, and rumors of war, and neighbor will be pitted against neighbor. And there will be those who see that their neighbors want not, and there will be peace. But He will watch over you, as long as you remain under His loving gaze. Go forth, and show God to those who need Him most.” He turned away, leaving me gaping like a fish. I think I got it all down, what he said… I hope I did, anyway.
Then again, John remembered a whole book and wrote down his Revelation. If he could do that, surely I can remember a few paragraphs.