I lay still for what seemed too long and then gently reached for Molly. In the quiet, the rapping noise repeated. I checked the chamber and headed quietly to the front door. All the blinds were down, between the double-pained glass, so I couldn’t see anything. This was a bad idea, but I wasn’t sure how to remedy that. I padded in my bare feet back to the bedroom and lifted the blinds, just a little. (Note to self-do not walk around barefoot. If someone broke the window glass, I would get cut.) I could not see anyone at the front door. I nearly shot the window when the rapping happened again, this time behind me. I tried to wade through the waves of fear that pounded in my ears as I walked slowly toward the sound at the opposite window. Lifting the blinds, just a tad, I peered out into the yard. The scary noise was a harmless woodpecker in the bird feeder. The flood of relief brought stars to the edges of my vision. I quickly set Molly on the table and laid flat out on the floor, fighting the urge to give in to the faint. The next sound was a ferocious growl. I couldn’t stop the laughter that took me. I had forgotten to eat dinner the night before and my stomach protested loudly, rumbling and grumbling like a bear. When I finally stopped laughing, my stomach muscles hurt and I had to wipe tears off my face.
I wish I wasn’t alone. The thought took the glee out from under me, quick as a lick. I rolled over on my stomach and pushed myself onto my feet. I made the bed because that’s what civilized people did. Then I checked the perimeter, opened blinds, and scanned the horizon. To the north, I wasn’t certain if that was a cloud that I saw or smoke. Time would tell.
I opened the fridge and pulled out the leftover salad to eat. It would spoil the quickest, so down the hatch. While I pulled the container out of the fridge, I scanned the rest of the food in the dark cavern that used to keep my food from spoiling and I quickly closed the fridge door. I didn’t know how long the fridge would stay cold. I figured three days at most. I made a list of the food and then a meal plan for the week. I had three large coolers in the garage so I set them up on the garage table and got them ready to store some of the food. The garage would stay cold so maybe this would work. On a whim, I pulled the ice tub out of the freezer and put the ice into a couple of big Ziplocs. I didn’t want the ice to melt and flow down through the freezer. This ice would become drinkable water.
What I really wanted now was a hot cup of coffee. I didn’t want to waste fuel for a luxury, though. I thought maybe I could cold brew a cup, so I pulled out the coffee bags that we used for camping and let several of them sit in a large mug of cold water. It was worth a try. I opened the blinds to let in light and heat from the sun. Just then I heard a real knock on my door and a yell from one of the neighbors, “Hello, the house!” I fairly ripped the door open.
“Are you guys okay?” I asked before he could say anything.
“We’re good, Marie. Are you?”
I stepped back to let him in. Our neighbors have always been a good support system for us. This was Kenton, or Ken as we called him. His wife Marcy and four small children lived just across the road. I shook my head, “What the heck?”
“Right?” He shrugged. “We saw it coming, though.”
“Michael?” Ken asked.
“He was due to fly in today.” Michael, my husband, was away on business on the east coast. I had been forcing myself not to think about how far away he was, but Ken’s question let loose the floodgates.
Respectfully, Ken stood by and waited until I finished crying my eyes out. “He’ll be ok. He and I talked about this a lot. And,” he laid a friendly hand on my arm, “he wasn’t flying when it hit.” This was a good thought and I took heart.
I nodded. “Can we all meet here later today? After noon maybe?”
“That’s what I thought, too. I’ll round them up.” He paused. “Do you need anything?”
“No, thank you. I’m going to go haul water from the creek and set up my bug-out bag.”
“Good! Take your firearm. I’ll see you later.”
That one moment of human contact both soothed and tore me up. But I couldn’t dwell on it. I had things to do. My coffee worked okay, but it was weak. That’s okay, I consoled myself. The caffeine would either help me get stuff done or make me almost shoot out a window again. We would see.
The morning proved productive. I hauled water, listed all my food stores and water stores, set up my fold-up wagon, and began to gather my bug-out items. I had a good hiking backpack, which would hold a lot. But how to pack put me in a quandary. There was always the possibility that I would have to leave the wagon and make off with only the backpack. I laid everything out on the bedroom floor in sections and pondered my options. This bug-out collection would be all of my worldly possessions if I had to make a run for it. I left everything on the floor and went to the garage to see if I could start up the Jeep.
The Jeep started, no problem. I stood beside the old faithful car and simply breathed. Maybe, I reasoned, if I had to bug out, I could drive the Jeep. On the other hand, maybe I would need to push through pasture land and the Jeep would not make it through fencing. And it made no difference if I didn’t know how to open the garage door. I looked up at the handle hanging on a rope from the garage door opener mechanism. I assumed all I had to do was pull the rope and it would release the door. There was a lock on the side of the door, so once it was released, I could lock up.
Back inside, I finally decided on at least one task for my bug-out items. I pulled a shoulder bag out of the closet and began to set up a first aid kit. Two boxes of Ziplocs sat on the bed while I worked, large bags and smaller ones. In order to keep the items dry in the rain, I would need to enclose many of them in bags. In addition, some of the liquids might leak and the baggies would keep the mess under control. The words of a former Bible Study teacher surfaced, unbidden, at that thought. “Control is an illusion. There are three things you can’t control, circumstances, nature, and other people.” Okay, but sometimes the illusion of control was necessary for motivational purposes. So, I scooped the Band-Aids out of their box and stuffed them into a bag. By the time I was finished, the shoulder bag was full. I was inordinately happy about this. I had quite a stash-everything from Band-Aids to scabies medication and homeopathic virus remedies. I even had blue hospital gloves. I added a pair of scissors and a small flashlight and stuffed the bag into one end of the wagon. Then I headed for the front door. I could see the neighbors arriving.