Our latest installment of the Greater Fort Worth Writers’ Round Robin, The Ultima Storm, comes from Treasurer, Claire Hickey. We hope you enjoy where Claire leads us in the story.
“We’ve got transportation” I said as I approached the ramshackle porch with peeling yellow paint.
Zoe and Sera looked up from their conversation as I climbed the squeaky steps towards them sitting on an old swing that was somehow still swing-worthy. The metal chains were dry as a bone sounding like fingernails on a chalkboard and irritated the hell out of me.
Sera sat up at the sight of me.
“He’s checking the bikes we found in the barn to make sure they will run.”
“We’re going to ride bicycles the rest of the way?” an incredulous Sera stared at me.
Before I could correct her Zoe looked at me like I had sprouted naturally purple hair.
“She can’t ride a bike all that way while pregnant. At least I don’t think she can.”
“No—motorcycles. There are two old motorcycles in perfect condition in the barn. Caleb is checking the sparkplugs, clutches, brakes to make sure they are roadworthy.”
“Motorcycles? Do you and Caleb know how to ride them?” said a skeptical Sera.
“Yes. Both Caleb’s and my grandfathers rode in motorcycle clubs back in the 90’s. They kept their bikes and we learned from them.”
To Sera, “And one has a sidecar you can ride in” and, smiling inwardly, “Zoe, you will have to ride with me.”
Her lips started to smile and one eyebrow lifted just a hair as she turned her head away from me. Another wave of electricity rippled through my body once more at the thought of her arms wrapped about my waist as we traversed the chaotic countryside.
“How much further?” Zoe’s husky voice turned back to me with some concern.
“We started out at four hours away and stopped at about three and a half. If we can still go sixty miles an hour it will be just another thirty minutes. Most likely there will be debris in the road which will make the trip longer. Still have plenty of time to get to the shuttle before it takes off though.”
At this point we heard the sound of the kick-start and rumble of ancient bikes come to life. The ladies sat up, startled.
“What’s that?” – In unison.
“Motorcycle engine” the sound turned me around and led me in the direction of the barn once more.
“How’s it going?”
“These BMW’s sure live up to their reputation” said an excited Caleb like a kid who got what he wanted for Winter Feast Day and continued,
“Man, my grandfather loved riding these things. Once you get your hands on them you’re hooked.”
I thought back at the irony of the situation.
“I remember my grandma telling me that lots of relatives were ashamed that she married a biker.” I laughed. “I don’t think anything I learned from the so-called ‘respectable’ family members will help us much to get to that shuttle right now.”
Caleb chuckled in agreement and said,
“While I was working and looking around I noticed what could be trap doors in the floor. If so maybe there’s something in them that would be of use to us.”
The musty scent of ancient wood and dirt filled my nose as I walked over the creaky floorboards then kicked away dried earth and old stale hay. The rusty handle was in plain sight so I reached down and pulled hard expecting resistance which sent me flying backward and onto my backside. The open door slammed against the floor with nary a squeal. Crawling over I peered in, found a switch and flipped it to the “on” position.
Light filled the underground space that seemed to be a root cellar complete with shelves filled with foodstuffs and other survival gear. By this time Caleb had seen me skid backward and was at my side to help but instead of a hand up he gazed into the light too.
“What the hell is that?”
Our eyes saw what our brains would not. We both climbed down the ladder and into an oasis of supplies. Bottled water, military-grade food rations, dried fruits and vegetables, old-timey flashlights with batteries, waterproof matches and more filled floor to ceiling shelves. There were saddle bags for the bikes so we each grabbed one.
A worried female voice called down to us,
“Caleb?! Drake?! Are you okay? What’s going on? What was that loud bang? It’s starting to hail again!” Caleb and I stopped for a moment to listen to the frozen ice from the sky make a racket on the barn roof like we were under a popcorn popper. Then the husky voice said,
“What is this? A cellar? Sera, you stay here, I’m going down.”
Zoe’s endless legs descended the ladder; her face not at all surprised at our find.
“Ahhh, a Hoarders hiding place. We call them Joseph’s Storehouses. I knew there were other sites besides the one I came from but don’t know where they all are.”
“Hoarders?” Caleb thought of the deserted farm house and condition of the homestead.
“There isn’t anybody here. Is Sera okay?” he asked.
“I’m up here Caleb. I’m okay. Just worried at the crash sound that came from the barn.”
Zoe continued to Caleb,
“They may be in another hiding place on the property or gone somewhere else – Hoarders usually keep the stores separate from where they live in case they are found.”
Surprised, I declared, “Found? I didn’t think there were enough of them left to be chased after by the A. A. R. P. anymore” Though not religious myself, I think people should be able to believe as they like long as they don’t try to stuff that crap down my throat.
To me she asserted,
“The ‘Thought-Police’ are alive and well and won’t stop until all the Believers are dead or re-educated.”
Confused now, Caleb said, “A. A. R. P.? Thought Police? What’s that?”
“American Anti-Religious Police. They are against any kind of belief in any spirituality and force everyone to believe as they do. They claim it’s best for the world in order for everyone to get along but what they’ve done to my family and others is right out of the Inquisition” Zoe explained with disgust in her voice.
With sarcasm I said, “I hope they don’t mind if we partake of their goods. It shouldn’t take us long to get to the shuttle but I believe in planning for the worst.”
“So do they” said Zoe with husky filled sarcasm right back at me. Then, a little softer,
“They won’t mind. It’s here for whoever needs it. Take as much as we can carry.”
Caleb grabbed a couple more saddle bags and we filled all four with food, water, matches, flashlights, and batteries. I went further into the cellar and found an old Hope Chest filled with hand grenades, explosive grade putty, charges, wire and claymore mines.
“Hey! Come see what I found.”
“You really think we’ll need these? Do you know how to use explosives?” asked Caleb. I was just about to answer that we would leave the putty and charges when Sera called down,
“I do. My mother was a Loizeaux. They were experts in demolition for over three generations before the laws were changed and they weren’t allowed t…..”
Quiet filled the hole in the barn floor and Sera was gone. With fear in his voice now,
“Sera! Sera! Where are you?!!” as Caleb ran to the ladder he began to climb. The future mother appeared at the opening once more.
“I went to close the barn doors. Someone’s here. Their cars and trucks look official. What do we do?”
I followed Caleb up the ladder and we peeked through the scum covered window. They wore uniforms I had ever seen before. They also had weapons locked and loaded.
About Claire Hickey
Claire loved to write as a child but didn’t really start until 2009 with her blog Thoughts and Observations of an Incipient Scribe. She also has a column, Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul with the Communities @ The Washington Times since 2010. Claire is also working on a novel loosely based on the life of her Sicilian grandmother and hopes to have it published in the not-too-distant-future. In addition to writing she can be found spending time with family, friends, listening to music, or any one of a number of activities that involve creativity and fun.