søndag den 19. januar 2020

Morning Outside the Plane - WfW 15/1 - 6th part

Still using the new Words for Wednesday:
    Constipation          and / or         Snot
     Rivalry                                       Beluga
     Occupation                                Emergency
     Sneeze                                       Qualify  
     Wishy-washy                             Coffee
     Diatribe                                     Butt
For this installment I used: Rivalry. Now I have only one word left. And there's two days: Monday and Tuesday. But I have some words left over from last Wednesday, and mostly the WfW are up somewhere around dinner time at my Tuesday.

The opening of the doors was rather anticlimactic. After a short bout of rivalry, Tom, the pilot, was given the honour. Co-pilot Hank, Allan, Father Paul, Granny T, Henny, Cordelia and a few other people stood close by as Tom opened the door. The rest stood further away, ready to grasp oxygen masks at the slightest sign of danger. A gentle swooshing sound was heard as some of the air from inside the plane escaped via the open door. Then the small group descended to the ground. The brown dusty earth clung to their shoes and while the air was hot and thin, it was breathable.
   They stood squinting in the morning sun, looking at the brown, dusty soil, stretching ahead of them in soft waves.
  "We can survive this." Allan said subdued, "but where are we."
  The Pilot answered. "I do not know. Not exactly anyway. I stuck to the course as best I could, but whether we've reached the airport, overshot it or never did reach it. I am not sure. If you held me up with that infamous baseball bat I'd say we did not quite make it there. We were one hour and 12 minutes from touchdown as we began climbing. We did not stay airborne for an hour after that, but then again. Our speed was greater ... I'm positive we made it home. I saw land ahead, shortly before the Wave struck. By the way the altimeter still shows us at below sea level but not as far below than yesterday,. The air is returning."
  "This tells me that some stretches of sea must be untouched, or at least still filled with water," Hank said. The true lungs of the Earth are not the Amazon forest or indeed any rain forests, the algae and sea weeds are producing most of the oxygen."
  "I just hope 'are' is the right tense here," Tom said.
  "Where would you go, and how." Tm asked Allan.
  "I don't know why, but I'd go east and north. I believe in your not quite making it home, I think, and then north by east will take me home."
  "Home is a strange word to use about this brown desert.
  "My home is where my Mary is," Allan said.
  Hank, the co-pilot spoke up: "I have another suggestion. "We should build some kind of sea going vessel, and then try sailing around. That way we can check if the sea is indeed dead, if there's some bodies of water left, and where the water has gone. And sailing was The means of transportation in days gone by. Land masses and forests divided people, water connected."

"God almighty! Look at the plane!" Allan said. To hear what Hank said he had turned around, and was now facing the plane. All paint had been scoured from the belly and sides of the plane, the landing gear and nose-wheel were missing. The big engines under the wings were missing too, and the wings were blackened around the edges where they had sat. The plane shone as a newly polished coin in the early morning light.
  "The Wave did this?" Tom said and went pale. "If I had not climbed that fast ... or not jettisoned the fuel ... I begin to think we might be the only survivors after all."

  "More cake and brandy, anyone?" Henny asked. The optimistic stewardess carried a tray. loaded wit cake and glasses and smiled at them.
 Allan accepted both, and so did Tom. "Cheers!" Allan said extending his glass "To survival!"
  "To survival!" the others echoed.
  "Could we get to the luggage hatch, father Paul asked. "I'd like to see if there's anything left down there.
  Tom and Hank unlocked the hatches to the cargo bay. They did not open smoothly, and much tucking and yanking was necessary to make them open, but finally they could get in. The suitcases were charred, blackened and frayed, and Allan feared for the contents. Father Paul, Allan, Cordelia, the two police types, and the hurting young man, who asked to be called by his real name, Robert instead of Ronny, made a human conveyor belt and transported all suitcases out onto the brown soil. Father Paul found his sturdy looking, brown and well used suitcase. Coffer he had called it, and it was a true treasure chest. Cookies, chocolates, candy, edibles of all sorts and kinds.
  Allan opened his suitcase, and the pressure proof crate was still good as new.
  "What's do you have in there?" Tom asked.
  "A white Zinfandel from the year our eldest daughter was born. It's still intact - much to my surprise. I was going to join a party at her place when I arrived. Then small gifts for my grandkids, books, candy and such. Something for my Mary as well. And then the usual stuff: clothes, notes and books for a boring conference. Not really good for anything now."
  Everybody came down from the pane and began opening their suitcases, checking for treasured belongings or chosen gifts. In all very few things had been broken or toasted.
  "Don't you have anything packed, Tom." Father Paul asked.
  "Not much, toothbrush, clothes, some money, a snack or two. It's up in the cockpit," Tom answered. "I was only going to have a stopover for 36 hours before flying back home again. Most of that time I would have spent sleeping, eating and working out. Traveling becomes routine you know. Just a job."
  "And now my job is finding Mary." Allan said. "I think ..."
   " I think," Tom said, "that we have to stick together, or at least in smaller groups. No man should face this great unknown on his own. But I have a suggestion."
  They all gathered in a loose group with the captain, Allan and Hank in the middle.
  "OK," Tom said, "I suggest we send out scouting groups, not now, tomorrow, but let's agree upon the groups and their mission now."
  Most of the group nodded or in other ways indicated their assent, and Tom continued: "Hank, you and two or three more could go east of here. Allan you and a couple more go north, Henny, could you lead a group going south," She nodded, and Tom continued: "Robert would you care to take a group west?" He also nodded.  "We have a compass for each group, still in working order. Try to find water, walk for two or three hours - until the sun is at its highest  - then return back."

to be continued ...

lørdag den 18. januar 2020

Two Hills 1 - WfW 15/1 -5th Part

Still using the new Words for Wednesday:
    Constipation          and / or         Snot
     Rivalry                                       Beluga
     Occupation                                Emergency
     Sneeze                                       Qualify  
     Wishy-washy                             Coffee
     Diatribe                                     Butt
For this installment I used:Beluga. 
Back to Mary and company.
"Actually," Minna said as we ate breakfast next morning. "As we're all still alive, oxygen must be produced somewhere and distributed even thought there's no wind."
"And I'm feeling better today," I added. "Its cooler for one, there might be a bit more oxygen in the air, or I might just have accustomed to the lower oxygen volume."
"Not this quickly," Sally protested, Those Tour de France riders go to altitude camps for weeks to reap the benefits. The oxygen contents must have increased somehow."
"Sowing something to eat and building a shelter must be our prime priorities, then," Ben said.
"Yes. Should we split up, or work together, that's the question," Minna said
"Safety in numbers versus efficiency," Pete said.
"Safety is of no, or at least of very small relevance," I said. "We have seen nobody at all, but us, and we would be likely to hear any and all moving in the world long time before we saw them. I vote for splitting up,"
"Brawn versus brain," Pete said. "I mean ..." he said as everybody looked at him. "Mary and the kids, and Jill as well, would be of less use than Minna, Ben, Sally, George and me, when it comes to carting off trees." He drew a deep breath. "Mary, Lil'George, Janet, Gregor and Jill could surely plant a great garden in the time it took us to gather timber for a house. Or for some houses."
"We'd need some brawn as well," I said smiling. "I'd like the beds to be hemmed by stone, and there's digging to be done. But we're not weaklings. Let's get to it"
"Just a sec." Jill said. "Are you going to plant the garden on top of that hill?"
"Yes, I said." I'd rather be carrying water by the bucket all summer than watch the plants rot."
  "Talking about water. How far is the sea really?" Lil'George asked. "I'd bet we could catch some fish, if we wanted to."
  "I bet you're right," Minna said. "Fish could have survived. At least some of those ugly, deep-sea ones. But first we got to build a house and plant some veggies."
  "Yes how far?" Ben asked, more rhetorical than really a question. "If I am right, we should be as much in the middle of this island as possible. If this was ... Uh, what ... a week ago, I'd say 20 kilometers in any direction but due West. Now, I don't know."
  "A calendar," Jill said. "We need a calendar." She looked at me. "Mom, you normally lug around a diary, do you still do that."
  "Yes." I answered. "But I must admit, I have not been writing. Tonight," I promised. "Now It's sowing time."
  I opened the box and looked through the seed bags. We can plant radishes, corn, all the roots, carrots, turnips, swedes, parsley root and so on. Lentils and broad beans as well. I even purchased a bag of Beluga lentils. All these should sprout and grow in the colder, shorter days. I do not know much about grain, I admitted. Neither when they can be sown, how to do and so on. I bought a lot of different things, even bird seed." I said smiling, "but what will come from planting them, I have no idea."
"You're a genius, Mary! Hemp, buckwheat and quinoa are a big part of bird feed, and they are a source of essential amino acids ... those we cannot make ourselves." Pete's knowledge on all things health-related was impressing. "But they'll have to wait, They can't tolerate sub-zero, or even a bit above-zero temperatures."
"I'll keep them warm," I said.

  Armed with sticks, branches, stones and lids from crates and cooking utensils we attacked the soil on one of the hilltops. The strange, brown substance that covered the ground as far down as we could dig, offered very little resistance to our impromptu tools.
  "I'm afraid this will wash off and carry seeds and sprouts away with it." I said. "Let's try clearing a bigger area, and see what's down there. Or wait a bit. let's try something else." I filled a biggish bowl with the brown substance and asked Gregor to pee on it. He produced, and the brown substance floated on the liquid. I waited, agitated the container, stirred with a twig, waited some more, and finally the stuff began soaking up the liquid and falling to the bottom. It also shrunk until only less than a third of the bowl was filled with some earth-like substance.
  "Minna!" I called, as I saw her and Pete carrying a log up the nearby hill, where we had decided to build a house. "Come and have a look." Minna came. And listened and looked. "Puffed soil," she declared. "The heat did this. It will wash off in the rain." Well, let's make pots for seedlings, then" I told my eager helpers.
  "No." Pete said. "You all come and help carry and hold rafters for a shelter".
  "Why," Lil'George asked. "Veggies are important."
  "Look up," Pete pointed in place of answer. " Clouds!"
Lil'George made a round O with his mouth, and almost ran to the lumber place. Ben had brought along his box of selected carpenters' tools. Even thought a goodly part of them were of no immediate use due to being electrical, many of them came in handy for the cutting down and debranching of trees. 
  The rest of the short day we worked like busy ants, carrying trees and trying to make a place to weather the oncoming rain. We made a platform, just big enough to hold all of us, with stilt legs going as far down as we could make them go. A low ceilinged place for us and on the second floor an even narrower space for all our stuff. Then a roof made out of thinner branches, topped with sheets and a tarpaulin on top and fastened down the sides as carefully and solidly as we could.
  "The winds used to come from the West." Ben said,
  "Yes or from the South," I said. "The opening should be towards the north. That is if winds after the Wave behaves as those before."
  "I don't see why not," Ben retorted, "but so far we have had none."
  "This will have to do for tonight," we all agreed.

  When we sat eating in the semi dark. I pulled out my diary and found the last entry.
  "My last entry was on February 15. It reads: Sunrise 7.39, Sunset 17.10, crisp and clear. Today I went to Jill's. Preparing for party tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing Allan again."
  I paused, wiped my eyes, drank a sip of the not so fresh water and continued. "February 16: The world ended. We survived at Joe's farm."
  "Who are 'we'?" George asked, "Shouldn't you write down our names."
  "Yes, true," I said. "Spill it!"
  "Jill and George Robertson 36 and 37 years old, with children George Junior 11, Janet 6, Gregor almost 3 and June 6 months," George said.
  I looked at Pete and Minna, who spoke "Pete and Minna Smith 25 and 28 years old. Brother and sister in-law of Ben."
  Ben said: "Sally and Ben Smith, 21 and 23. Ben is a carpenter and Sally a seamstress."
  I wrote all this down and added James and Linda, Caretakers. "James and Linda. What was their last name?"
  "No idea," Jill said, and Pete and Minna just shook their heads.
  "Former occupations would be great," I added. " Minna?"
  Minna answered: "Pete, Accountant and Minna, Paleontologist."
  "Jill, housewife and bookkeeper for George, Salesman," said Jill, but you knew.
  I smiled, added my own name: Mary Bandas, 62, Teacher,  and continued: "February 17: We moved to the ex-waterfall, James died, and was buried by the waterfall. February 18: We prepared for our walk out. Linda wanted to stay behind. February 19: We walked here. Where's here, by the way?" I asked.
  "In the middle of somewhere," Jill said.
  "On two hills." Sally added.
  "Two Hills, that sounds nice, Good name." And Two Hills it was. "February 20, today. We built a stilt hut in Two Hills, Clouds arrived."
  I closed the book and put it back into my backpack. It was almost totally dark now. We still did not like using our candles too much. We did not know how long they had to last us, and we did not want them to use any more oxygen than necessary.

fredag den 17. januar 2020

Morning in the Plane - WfW 15/1 - 4th Part

Still using the new Words for Wednesday:
    Constipation          and / or         Snot
     Rivalry                                       Beluga
     Occupation                                Emergency
     Sneeze                                       Qualify  
     Wishy-washy                             Coffee
     Diatribe                                     Butt
  For this installment I used: Constipation, Wishy-washy (of which my spellchecker does not approve), Diatribe and Qualify
  Back to Allan in the stranded plane

  Allan awoke to the tantalizing smell of freshly brewed coffee. As they drank and ate more sandwiches, Allan told them of the story and of his wish to set out into the world to find his Mary.
  "This must qualify as the most wishy-washy diatribe I ever heard!" These words came from the young man, looking as if he hurt all over. The one who had suggested pine trees as a safe landing spot.
  "Wishy-washy," the plucky granny said. "Just because you're a censored young whelp suffering from constipation, it's no reason to berate other for dreaming big."
  "Allan here is onto something," the pilot admitted. "What's the use of sitting in this plane, eating gradually more stale sandwiches and possibly die miserably from hypoxia or hunger."
  "Can we get at  our luggage," the priest added. "By the way, I'm Father Paul, a Franciscan. I was on my was home, and my coffer is filled to the brim with edibles given as a gift from a community in Idaho, for an American-style Valentine party. Hunger won't be an issue for days to come."
  "No, but water will, and oxygen as well," the co-pilot said. "Haven't you noticed how hot it is in here? The heaters shut off with the rest of the equipment, but the thermometer in the cockpit shows a roaring 106 degrees. The water in the tanks will be off soon and harmful in a day or two." 
  "Let's vote," the pilot rose. "all in favour of opening the doors raise their hands.
Alan, father Paul, Granny T and some of the other passengers raised their hands. The co-pilot, Henny and her co-stewardess slowly raised theirs as well, and then more and more of the passengers.
  "OK, you can take them down. And those against?" The hurting youth, a family of five, an elderly, sickly looking man, and two men looking for all the world like English police officers, raised their hands. Then two more on the third row, and a softly crying lady. "No more?" the captain asked. "25 voted for and 12 against. Let's get it over with." 
  "Wait," the crying lady said. "Won't the Americans, or the Australians, or somebody come and save us."
  "Dear lady errr ..."
  "Cordelia," the crying lady said.
  "Dear Cordelia," the captain began again. He cleared his throat, opened and clenched his fists and then continued in a rush: "There are no Americans, neither Australians, Russian, Chinese, ... you name it. I've been fiddling and twiddling the radio most of the night. It's battery-operated, and ... well I did get a carrier wave, some statics, but no speech, not even the dots and dashes of old. Nothing but silence all around the globe. And now even the radio has died." He looked at Cordelia, and then at all the other passengers. "Even if somebody did survive, and I'm almost certain somebody did somewhere. We can not be the only ones. Submarine crews may have survived for instance. To the point," he said, once more clenching his fists. "These survivors are in the self same predicament as we are, and they are not going to come and help us or anybody else sometime soon, if ever." 
  "I did not realize this," Cordelia said. "I vote for leaving as well then."
  "That makes it 26 for and 11 against leaving,"
  Then the hurting youth jumped up, brandishing a baseball bat. "I'll kill you. You're not going to kill us all, I'll get you first."
  "Yes and then!" the captain said. "Are you going to squash us all one by one using that bat?" 
  "Yes one by one by one. I was going home to my sweetheart. We were going to be married, and now you're going to kill me before I even have a chance of seeing her again."
  "Ronny!" father Paul called softly. "You could hurt someone with that bat. How do you think your Lisa would greet the news that she was going to marry a murderer?"
  "Me, a murderer. It's the captain here, what's a murderer and that old man with his wishy-washy heroism."
  "Didn't you listen to what Allan said," Father Paul asked. "He is going to look for his Mary. He's not counting on dying, no?"
  "I sure am not," Allan said. "Mary is as fine a wife as I ever could dream of. I would never let her down. If your Lisa is just half as good, you're one lucky young man." Allan could not stop smiling, thinking of Mary, and that smile made something break inside Ronny.
  "You had your chance, Mister" he sobbed. "I never had one. And Lisa even less. I'm sure ... no I'm not sure of anything anymore. Padre, you better take that bat before I hurt someone, or myself." He sat down on the seat, a picture of dejection and desperation.
  "Where does your Lisa live?" father Paul asked, taking the bat from the young man's hand.
  "In the countryside somewhere, she was visiting an aunt and uncle. I have the address here in my pocket."
  "We'll try and find her," father Paul said. "Henny did I hear something about a cake and some brandy?" I sure could use some before we open those doors.

torsdag den 16. januar 2020

Traveling 1 - WfW 15/1 3rd Part

Still using the new Words for Wednesday:
    Constipation          and / or         Snot
     Rivalry                                       Beluga
     Occupation                                Emergency
     Sneeze                                       Qualify  
     Wishy-washy                             Coffee
     Diatribe                                     Butt
For this installment I used: Occupation. Still many words left. I aim to publish a chapter a day until I either save or kill off my brave couple.

  We trudged on through the dry, dusty brown landscape. We did not see anything or anybody all day. No birds, no insects, no nothing. The whole world was quiet, hot, brown down below and hazy blue above.
  The children soon tired from walking, actually we all did. We had blisters, sores and cramps before long. And it did not take long for the children to pull off their shoes. The ground was hot and the ubiquitous brown layer was soft, without sharp edges. Soon we all followed their example. Our pace was atrocious. We looked for a place to rest, but one place looked just like another, brown dunes with stumps of trees and stone and boulders. Sometimes an old dry stone wall was preserved, Often only partially, but once we walked
along a wall for a long stretch. We rested there, with out backs to the wall. We were all still numb, the children were subdued, only the baby was making loud noises. After the midday rest we trudged on. We took turns telling funny or momentous happenings from our past occupations to make the time pass faster. It slowed us down further, but we were able to go on.
  Ben told us about how once, years ago as an apprentice, he was building a house for a costumer, who then made up his mind to have it re-built in another wood. Instead of chucking all the wooden parts, Ben carefully pulled down the house, and put it up somewhere else for another customer. And number one had been angry as a wasp upon discovering the replica house. We all laughed at the man's outrage.
  Then Minna told of her one real big discovery. We all laughed at her disclosure. Her big discovery was a minute insect, encased in amber an named after her. We stopped laughing almost simultaneously as we realized that there were no more insects.
  Near evening, as the shadows grew long, we discovered that we stood at the top of a hill, all around us the terrain fell away from us in soft curves. Towards the West, in front of us lay a shallow, bowl-formed shape and behind this even more, but lower hills stretched.
  "This is high ground," Minna said.
  "It is as good as anyplace else." Ben agreed. I turned slowly to the right,
  "And I think that the dark smudge over there are the remains of a forest," I said. "I suggest, we go there, we can return here to build later, when the water rise, if it should get that high. But right now trees are a must for us. We ate a piece of cake each and trailed our travoises down the  hill, over what clearly had once been a river and uphills towards the woods again.
  We were exhausted upon reaching the edge of the forest, all the trees were deciduous and quite dead.
  But further in the forest seemed to darken, and we hoped to find some live spruce or pine trees the next day.

onsdag den 15. januar 2020

On Board a Plane 3 - WfW 15/1 - 2nd Part

Still using the new Words for Wednesday:
    Constipation          and / or         Snot
     Rivalry                                      Beluga
     Occupation                                Emergency
     Sneeze                                       Qualify  
     Wishy-washy                             Coffee
     Diatribe                                     Butt
For this installment I used: Sneeze, Butt and coffee. 
We're still in the plane with Allan. 

The plane sloped gently towards right and front. It was miraculously not broken, the doors and windows still closed and airtight. The captain came out from the cockpit, followed by the co-pilot and were received by sitting ovations. The Captain took the megaphone from the stewardess and spoke: "You are free to un-fasten your seat belts and take off the masks, but please stay in your seats. There's a thing or two I'd like to test. I'll tell all you all I know. And, dear Henny, could we please have some coffee, the thermos are still full and there's no reason to let it turn cold."
  Laughter were heard from several places. The stewardess rose and with the aid of her co-stewardess, a youngish timid girl, and some of the passengers in the front rows, coffee was soon distributed to all aboard. They all gathered in the front rows. It was a small pane to start with, Allan remembered his surprise when he saw the size of the plane, Cross Atlantic flights was connected to jumbo jets in his mind. Many of the seats had even been empty. Maybe it was one of the less traveled days a year.
  The captain spoke again: "I do not quite know where to start."
  "At the beginning" someone suggested.
  After a bit more laughter, the captain said. "Not a very bad place to start. First of all, I'm not a hero, it was chance, luck or whatever that made us survive. First item: We flew towards that wall of fire not away from it. I had a warning from the airport. I do not know whether they said 'go up' or it's no use to go up'  before they fell silent. I decided to climb ... as far and as fast as possible. We had a saying, 'you can get over it' when I trained. It was in my mind. I used up almost all the remaining fuel. But a plane does not fall like a stone, like everybody likes to think. Even without any fuel, a plane will drift downwards for a long, long time. As I saw that wall of fire coming towards us, I jettisoned the rest of the fuel. I imagined it would then be a matter of  just gliding, trying to estimate how far we had come, and how high we really had gone. And how far til somewhere to land of course. But then the problems began. All the instruments stopped working. I landed with my butt-sense really." Again people laughed. "The altimeter tells me we're at or even below sea level. I do not believe this to be true. The plane fell, not like a stone, but at least like a log during some of the descend. We had gone very high, but we did not spend very much time descending. I suspect that the wall of fire has consumed the air outside. I am grateful for this brown, level ground. The plane did not break. Now I'm going to test my theory. Normally, if we open the doors on the ground, air rushes in, because even if the cabin is pressurized, it's not at ground pressure. I suspect the air to rush or at least seep out of the plane when I open the small emergency hatch. And I'll close it immediately if I'm right." He let action follow words. They did not hear any sound, but the pilot pulled the hatch shut. "Yes, the pressure is lower outside. Not by much, but it is. I have no idea of the pressure inside here either, all that going up and down, the systems doing some weirdo things, the masks pumping oxygen into the cabin, and all that. As the systems have all closed down, there's only the oxygen still in the tanks available to us."
  "I suggest shutting off most of the masks, then," the granny said.
  "They can't be shut off, the controls are all gone," the pilot said.
  The granny rose, bend over the tube to one of the masks, and secured it with a piece of string. "Like this," she smiled.
  "Shut down three out of four masks," the co-pilot said. "That should be sufficient."
  "Let's have something to eat," Henny the stewardess said. "everything, even the end of the world, looks better when you're not hungry." She rose, and again helped by eager hands the plane fare was distributed among passengers and crew alike.
  "This is the lunch normally reserved for first class passengers and crew members," she said smiling, "but I have an inkling that such distinctions are not worth a sneeze anymore." They all munched at the surprisingly tasty sandwiches and drank more coffee.
  "What do we do now?" the co-pilot asked.
  "Sleep, I'd suggest," the pilot answered. "The sun is about to set, we're going to try to make our bodies fit the time zone here fast, Plus sleeping is going to save energy and oxygen. And we're exhausted. Well at least I am."
  They all found a place to sleep in the plane, as creature of habit still, they chose mostly to sleep in the seats they had occupied during the flight. The priest offered to say an evening prayer and most listened and many joined in the final Amen. Allan slept fitfully during the dark hours. He kept dreaming about Mary and their children. Kept seeing them, but not being able to get to them. As he lay awake in the dark he wondered whether this meant that they had all died, or that he was never going to find them. Or maybe it meant nothing at all.
  As the Sun rose Alan had come to a decision. He wanted to try to travel to the place, he was sure Mary and the family had gone to. If the world was really totally barren and dead, he would do as a man in a science fiction he once read. The spacer returned from the Moon after someone pushed the red buttons, the Earth was barren, sterile, no air, no nothing left. He was all alone. That space pilot had opened the hatch and walked as far as he could, hoping to be the seed to new life for Earth. Alan was determined to do the same.