Destruction Aftermath, Book 4
Chapter 12

Copyright© 2011 by radio_guy

Bennie has written of our experiences in Phoenix and the loss of one of my mothers in-law. Jen took her mom's loss hard. Even George had a hard time getting her to smile for days. She would curl up next to me each night and softly cry as she remembered her mother. Louise was not really a fighter and was trying to see if she could help a wounded man when he killed her. The Marauders left us sadder but stronger in numbers of people with the addition of their captives and Jam's people.

Jam told me his story and I will recount it here in his words.

I am Jam Henderson. After the Day, my surviving commander, Colonel Harriman, and I decided to maintain our base at Dugway. Jim came to visit and we got along well. After he left, the Colonel sent me to Preservation to check out their situation. When our party returned to Dugway, my story really starts and on a sad note.

Both the Colonel and his wife were sick. They had been outside too much and the sun got to them. However, there were infections which worsened and they passed away within hours of one another. Pursuant to the Colonel's stated wish, I became leader. The infection that killed the Colonel and Mrs. Harriman was more though. It was a virus of some kind and was a killer. We lost many good people who couldn't be replaced. All our radio operators died, both couples. We could operate but did not know much about the technology and, as soon as there was a problem, we were off the air. We decided to leave Dugway because it was difficult to farm and we feared the sickness. We loaded up and left. We contacted Bobby and Marcie but they declined to join us. We haven't heard from them since.

We traveled south looking for a warmer climate where we could grow crops. We started south with trucks and two tankers full of fuel along with plenty of weapons. We headed for Las Vegas thinking to go into California where there was a lot of farm land before the Day. We made it to Vegas without incident.

It was dry, very dry. Power was out and we quickly realized that the city was not viable. We moved on to the Hoover Dam and the lake to get water and try to find some cool spots. Water was available but not much else. We had brought a lot of fuel but couldn't run the air conditioners all the time even though we needed to do so.

We missed the ability to talk to Jack and the people at Preservation. They had a great deal of information and engineering knowledge that we could have used. We found some good spots but, for the most part, it was hot and dry. I knew we had to move on before we ran out of gas and will power.

We did move on headed for California with the hope that we could find and farm some good land. The desert from Las Vegas into California was tough. We made the trip but one of our trucks overheated and had to be left.

We came into Barstow and continued down I-15 toward Los Angeles. It had only been a few years since the Day but we were running into road problems with large cracks in the roadway. There were mountains all around us and the road got steadily worse. As we were coming into the Devore area, the quake hit.

Even though we were not going fast, every vehicle skated all over the road. One of our tankers jack knifed and was hit by two of our large trucks hard. It toppled over and the trucks slid with it. The tank burst open and gas began to run out. A spark ignited it and soon the entire area was engulfed in flames, the six people in the tanker and trucks were burned alive. The other tanker left the road and rolled over. The men inside got out and ran. One of them was hit by another truck as it skidded by killing him. We think so because that tanker's gas began to leak and the fire from the first lit it off. One other truck was caught in the fire and didn't get out. It all happened in a span of seconds. The rumbling stopped and all was still and quiet except for the roar of the flames and the moans of the injured.

After getting my truck under control, we got out and began to help the others. My truck was the only one that had escaped without damage. I asked Carlos Jones and he explained that he grew up in California and had been through quakes before though none as bad as this one. We pulled people out of trucks and away from the threat of fire. The road had a tilt that it hadn't had before and was now downhill in the direction we had been going more than before. We moved people off the road and onto the side away from the middle and side with the fires.

After getting the people free and tending their injuries, those lightly injured or who had just been shaken up, went to their vehicles and moved them away from the danger of fire. We had my truck undamaged and two others lightly damaged. The rest all had some noticeable damage that affected their ability to be driven from flattened fenders and cut tires to damaged front ends. We could fix some of this but gas would now be an issue.

We assessed our situation and slowly moved into Devore. It took a number of trips to carry the injured as we limped the supplies and other trucks into town. It had suffered some damage but there were some houses that were useable though without power or water.

After performing what repairs we could, we had ten trucks left but not enough fuel to fill all the tanks. We were faced with cutting supplies or people would have to walk. We would cut supplies as many people were injured and some of those ten trucks were not all that road worthy.

We decided to wait a few weeks to learn the area and loot some more supplies. Carlos explained about fault lines and he and I began to look around for any lines that would tell us what area was most impacted. We round a line running almost north to south but didn't know if it was on a known fault or not. It really didn't matter. Over the few days after the big quake, we felt a series of repeated small quakes. Carlos said that aftershocks were normal. What worried me was the tilt of the land where we were located. That was very pronounced and new.

It had been a week and we had put it to good use working on vehicles and getting healed of the minor injuries inflicted during the quake. There were a number of broken bones that would simply take time.

Instead of mid afternoon, this one occurred at mid morning. The ground started shaking again. It was at least as bad as the first one, maybe worse. The house we were using as a hospital for our most injured, collapsed completely and a crack appeared in the ground on either side of it. On one side, the ground tilted even more. I saw Carlos vanish into the crack screaming as he fell. No one wanted to be inside a building but we went in and checked on all our people. No one survived in the hospital including our one doctor. Our remaining medic was with the lesser injured when the quake occurred, and suffered a broken arm. We lost two more trucks and one mechanic who couldn't get out when the shaking started and the truck fell on top of him. We wanted to get away and get away now. We couldn't go back and a quick look at the map while people and supplies were loaded, suggested that dropping down to I-10 and then heading east would work. We loaded everybody and everything we could and started out.

We did not go fast. Everyone was scared that another quake would hit and moving at any speed could be fatal. We took it easy all the way down toward San Bernardino, Redlands, and I-10. It took a while but we made Palm Springs before stopping to take it easy and try to do something about gas and food. We had felt tremors every day and wanted to get to a place where the "terra was firma." Firm or not, it was dry in Palm Springs. I had been worried about food and gas and now added water to the top of that list. We began to ration water shortly after starting out. It was hot and sunny. You dried out quickly when out in the sun. Wearing a hat was not optional, but a necessity.

We had one more hard shake while in Palm Springs. There seemed to be no other result but we all felt queasy in our guts and unsettled in our hearts. None of us were used to quakes and didn't know what we should expect in any real way. I talked with my lieutenants. One of them said that he had read that California was a place on borrowed time and that it might become part of the Pacific at some time. We decided that moving further east would be a good idea. We talked about our lack of measuring devices that would help us understand what might or might not be occurring. Jack, the lieutenant, was worried that the ground might ow be below sea level now or that a tsunami might be coming our way. We had no way of knowing.

Finally, the question was either to try to move east or to send a scouting party in that direction. No one was interested in checking west. If trouble were coming, we couldn't do much except go east. We debated whether to move all or try scouting. Looking at our highway maps, we determined that Blythe, close to the California/Arizona line, would be our next stop. We were running short of water but it was about one hundred twenty miles.

We gathered everyone and told them that we would target Phoenix or east but our first stop would be Blythe. We scouted through the area for water, food, and gas. We had only enough gas to make it to Blythe with all vehicles. Our best thinking was water for three days and food for seven. Water was the paramount worry. No water was reaching Palm Springs and we weren't sure where our next water supply might be. No one wanted to stay and look any longer. Fear was setting over us as we viewed our circumstances. We had thought California would be our solution and it wasn't at all.

We left the next morning and made Blythe without incident. We had pulled into town and another strong shake made the Hummer in which I was riding skitter across the road. We didn't lose any vehicles but remained worried. There were too many quakes for there not to be some changes to our west and we felt that none of them would be good.

 
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