Ever and Always
Chapter 29: The Beginning of The Fall – July 2024

Copyright© 2015 by Banadin

Rick and Marsha went home and spent the next two days talking in circles. Their lives had just spun out of control. They were now puppets of some group within the federal government. They had supposedly gotten away with murder, but the reality was this is the no knock, no search warrant crowd.

There was also the statement that their strange un-aging was, "somebody else's" problem. When would that shoe drop?

It was Marsha who came up with the conclusion. The way she worded it to Rick was, "When all is in doubt, just soldier on."

This just about floored Rick, the last time he had heard that was from a Korean conflict veteran who had been in the retreat at the Chosin Reservoir.

The following Monday Rick called Matt Johnson and told him he, and Marsha would be very interested in joining their group. They were invited to their very first meeting that night at the firehouse.

The only people they hadn't met were Sheriff Steve Linn and County Commissioner Bill Wigle. The others were Judge Mark O'Malley who they knew from the diner, Jack Nelson, who had cheerfully taken so much of their money, Paul Kettler their neighbor, and his wife Mary and local realtor Hope Popule.

They were greeted warmly. Matt started the meeting with the statement; you folks were invited to this group, because Rick knows how to make things happen in a large group and Marsha is a skilled educator. The others of us here know everything there is to know about the Sequatehie Valley.

Rick got a sinking feeling in his stomach.

"Has the mission been defined?"

"What do you mean," asked Matt.

"What is the endgame? You want to turn the valley into a place that can survive the downfall of the United States. Have you defined what that is?"

"Not really, we just know we need to do it."

"I don't disagree, but we have to have definition of where we want to end up. That is our objective. Then we figure out where we are against that objective, after that fill in the blanks."

"Rick that is why you are here; you have cut to the heart of the matter. We had an idea, but no way to turn it into reality. So the first thing we have to do is decide upon our objective; that sounds easy."

Rick winced at those words, "Maybe not as easy as you think. It is a given that you want the people in the valley and their families who can make it back to survive whatever may be coming. The real question is what level of civilization, do you want them to be at when it is over. A pre-industrial farm economy is very doable. Anything higher becomes more difficult."

Mary Kettler spoke up, "We want to live at the same level we are now!"

"Does that mean you want to be able to use your cell phone?" "Of course, I would be lost without it."

"Well then we need to set up an independent phone system as we can't count on the large providers to be there. Then there is the equipment problem. What do we do when a cell phone towers circuit boards get fried? We can keep some spares on hand but there are limits. Want to talk about manufacturing pharmaceuticals? It is one hell of a lot more difficult to keep our current levels going than it appears on the surface."

"Then do we just give up," asked Matt?

"No it means that it will take more planning than you have originally thought and a lot more resources than we currently have available."

"Well at least, we can think. I don't know about the resources," replied Hope Popule.

"Hope no disrespect but fundamental knowledge is needed here. We can think of all sorts of things, but we need real experts to guide us in what can be done. Especially the logistics required."

Rick continued, "Do we have any specialist setting up a cell phone network in the area? If not we have to import one, then there is their family, if any. That puts our headcount up, which in turn puts up our food requirements. It is like what the army faced in the days of mule trains. You had to calculate how many mules you would need to haul your equipment, then how many mules you needed to carry the fodder for all the mules. Don't even get into the math of replacing mules that died along the way."

Matt Johnson sighed and said, "Rick you understand this more than we ever will." Please take over the chair of this meeting. Marsha, we haven't elected a Secretary will you please take that on?"

Rick replied, "Why don't we have a formal motion and vote, that way, there is a clear record of what is transpiring so there will be no sour grapes later on."

Bill Wigle spoke up, "I would like to be considered for the leadership role."

Matt looked around. "Anyone else?" No one made eye contact or spoke up.

"Okay why don't Bill and Rick speak for a couple of minutes of why they should be the Chair and then the rest of us can ask each of them questions, after that we vote.

Rick started to speak up, but Marsha gave him a sharp elbow.

"Do it Rick, they need you."

Rick once more wondered how wives could read minds. He was about to say that he really didn't want the job and that Bill Wigle could have it.

"Who goes first," Rick asked instead.

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