Destruction Aftermath, Book 4
Copyright© 2011 by radio_guy
We never saw the Fultondale folk which suited me and the rest of us just fine. We moved our slow, steady way toward Memphis. The road hadn't been an interstate but was up for consideration just before the Day. There was a lot of open ground with no people. Our first night was by the interstate close to Jasper. We saw no one and no signs of farming. Even though we farmed along some of I-20, we had few families along it. What I had learned now was that farming showed and there was nothing here as the fields were going back to a natural state.
The next day, we went by Hamilton and entered Mississippi. The land was beautiful but no recent sign of people. You could see some old houses that were falling down after being abandoned for twenty years. We saw one area that had been hit by a tornado within the last two years or so. The damage was considerable and growth hadn't covered up the rawness of the look. As we closed on Tupelo, we started to scout more carefully. It hadn't been a super size city like Atlanta or even Birmingham but was a regional center. We made our transit carefully though didn't hide our presence. We saw no one and no sign that anyone had been in the area recently. We stopped for the night in a pretty little valley between Blue Springs and Wallerville staying close to the road.
Jim led a discussion about the lack of people in the area. "As I remember, this area never had many people in it. Robert came from here. Before he passed, he told us his trip down was because there were almost no survivors in the area and we had the beginnings of a viable community. He was a good guy with a great sense of humor."
Jen asked, "Dad, what do you think we will find in Memphis and will crossing be difficult?"
He replied, "I think we will find people in Memphis. It was a big centrally located city before the Day. By now, anyone in Memphis will have to move to farming as all the food stores will have been used. That suggests to me that people will be most likely at the outskirts rather than in town. I am more concerned about crossing the Mississippi. It is a huge river and there was a lot of traffic on it before the Day. That traffic might have damaged bridges. When we decided on this trip, heading more west than north was chosen to give us more opportunities to find a crossing. The Mississippi and the Rockies will be the two primary geographic challenges we'll face. I also worry about weather. This area and the area after the Mississippi were known for tornadoes and violent thunderstorms. They're over quickly but the violence of a tornado is not something we want to be a part of. I would prefer to look at it from a distance."
Three days later, we were approaching Olive Branch on the outskirts of Memphis. We hadn't seen people or sign of people though the absence of game suggested that people were somewhere around. We stopped for the night at Red Bank still on the road.
Jim gathered us around and said, "We need to make some choices about routes and how we will travel. We can continue on this road into Memphis and then go west to the River basically like we have been traveling or we can camp somewhere and scout the area and try to check out the bridges and the best route to them depending upon which one can still be used."
"What's your opinion, Dad?"
"I think we should pick a place that we can defend and send scouting parties. There are people around somewhere and I would prefer to meet them prepared and mobile. I am still concerned about the bridges and have thought that the city might not be in great shape either."
We talked it over and finally decided that tomorrow's goal would be to find a safe place. None of us were bad shots or riders but some, like Janice and Bennie, were really good. Roy and Melody weren't in their class but were also quite good. Jen and I weren't allowed though we were as good as Janice and Bennie. George was the prime factor there.
We entered Olive Branch the next day. The build-up was quick. Memphis had spread in that direction following the road. We found a park or old golf course and pulled in there. We could hide in the trees and found a place where we would be hidden yet have good fields of fire if we needed them.
We spent the rest of the day preparing for a possibly lengthy time making sure we had good water for ourselves and our animals. The next day, our two couples would go out separately to search. Roy and Melody would go almost directly west while Janice and Bennie would follow the road into Memphis.
Our maps showed a straight road leading to the west and Roy and Melody would follow that to the River and head north. There was a park marked on our maps and, if it looked promising, we would move there. Both couples were equipped with a HT for each person. We were not surprised to find no repeaters on a scan. Janice and Bennie were to head up this road and follow it through Memphis to the bridges that were shown on the map for I-40 and I-55. They would then meet up with Roy and Melody. Each couple had a HF with antenna if they were out of touch with our base camp. They were to report every two hours and we would man the station continuously. We reported to Preservation on our plans and precautions. It might not have been the best plan but it should be within the capabilities of our group.
Two hours passed and it was time for check in's. Janice came on, "Mike, this is Janice. We're in town. No people and we aren't at the bridge yet."
"Okay, Sis. Be careful."
Melody said, "Mike, this is Melody. Do you read?" Her voice seemed muffled, whisper soft.
"Melody, this Mike. I read you. Is everything okay?"
"No. we're okay but we are looking at a massacre at the park. Janice and Bennie need to be extra careful. We are looking for people and are staying low."
"Okay, do you and Roy need help?"
"Not yet. Janice and Bennie might edge this way after they look at the bridges. Something is wrong. We haven't gotten close yet but the bodies appear freshly killed, not more than three days."
"Melody, this is Janice. Bennie and I are on the way. Stay tight. We will be a while."
"Mike, we will look at bridges later. Don't call us except in an emergency, we'll call you. Janice out."
I explained what was happening to those not close enough to hear. I asked Joyce and Anna to maintain the radio watch while Jen and I pulled more HT's and earplug sets from their storage. We used two simplex frequencies. One for our scouts and the other for our sentries at our camp site. Jen didn't like it but I took one set for myself and started circling our site on foot checking for sign and watching my back. Jim wanted to accompany me but I took Ollie instead. I knew he was good in the woods. We only took pistols and bows and arrows. A bow and arrow sound archaic but it was quiet. Ollie and I were both quite good.
We left the camp quietly and began to move around staying quiet and out of sight even from our camp. After all, someone could be looking across from the other side. We scouted out about three hundred yards around our site in all directions. We saw and heard nothing. Ollie had his radio on our site frequency while I had mine tuned to the other scouting parties' frequency.