Ozark Retreat - Part II - Chapter 4 thur Epilog


Ozark Retreat - Part II - Chapter 4

Joshua brought the sails down and secured them and then got behind the wheel after Patricia moved. She went down into the cabin and brought out life preservers for both of them. Joshua put his on and then started the Mercury. He put it in gear, but just let the engine idle. He wanted to be able to head into the swell, no matter from which direction it came. But they never felt a swell.

The crews of both the Elite and the Giuseppe weren’t sure they would get the ships under power and moving before they touched bottom. But the Gulf quit withdrawing and began to edge back, but not with a swell they were expecting.

Not one to take a chance, Captain Bainseborough-Smith ordered both ships out to sea at full speed as soon as they had way. People on shore ran for the gangplank of the Elite when the public address system was activated and warnings rang out. If it was a tsunami they had no high ground to run up on this stretch of coast.

When the crew saw the last person close board the ship they pulled up the gangway. Other people began to show up, but the Captain ordered the gangway kept up. Those still coming from the gardens headed for the small fleet of boats tied up to the shore.

Several noticed the water was slowly rising up the shore, but there didn’t seem to be anything but normal wave action. It was just that every wave went a little further up the beach. The small boats all began pulling away from the shore, the last one waiting for the last person to get to it.

Both ships and all the boats were well clear of the little harbor when everyone felt a strange sensation. It was like they were going backwards, with the ship tilted slightly. But they weren’t getting any closer to the shoreline. In fact, the shore was receding from them rapidly. It was only when people saw that the water had crossed the nearest small rise and the ground kept going underwater that they realized that the water wasn’t just moving on to the land. The land itself seemed to be sinking.

A bridge crewman looked at the radar display and let out a yelp. The coastline was disappearing at a rapid pace. Very soon they wouldn’t be able to see it and the ships were not moving that fast yet for the shore to be disappearing. The boats were well out ahead of them, being able to accelerate much faster than the ships.

The ships had a radar bearing on Joshua’s boat and both ships and the boats headed in that direction. They rendezvoused with him and then stopped dead in the water to wait out whatever was happening. Though, like Joshua, everyone kept engines at idle, ready to engage and meet the tsunami wave if it ever developed. It didn’t all that day or the next one.

The Captain kept everyone apprised of the radar reports. When the land fell off the display, the ships and boats began to head back north. Cautiously. Keeping just within radar range of the land for a little while. Then they couldn’t keep up with the submersion. There was some fear that they would run aground, but they kept going, the small boats in advance, watching the depth of the water with their depth sounders.

They began to see all sorts of items in the water as they continued following the receding shoreline. That included bodies. Dozens at a time, at times. Others singularly. Always bodies, never survivors. They steered wide around two new volcanoes that were building in their path. It took several days to reach the new shoreline.

There were people at the shore when the cruise ship approached. When asked where they were, those on shore told the ship’s residents that the nearest city was Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Just to their east.

After the shock wore off, the locals objected to having 500 plus additional residents. The Captain decided to go west, on a whim. It was a good decision. They traveled until they found another, very new, safe harbor, at the edge of the Missouri Ozarks, near the submerged city of Doniphan . They put down new roots, figuratively and literally. New late season gardens were planted, and the surrounding forested hills were explored and the bounty that was available utilized. They began to make contact with the locals.

The Elite survivors settled in for the long haul. Again.

Ozark Retreat - Part II - Chapter 5

Brady Collingsworth, with his wife and son, were leading the small convoy in their highly modified Suburban. Brady’s and Star’s adopted daughter had stayed behind to keep their garden going. Behind them were two heavily laden U500 Unimog trucks. Next in line was a ten-wheel tanker truck with diesel and gasoline. Behind the tanker came an assortment of old and even older pickup trucks. Every vehicle was pulling a trailer of some kind, just as heavily loaded as the tow vehicles.

If looking close, one would see that every person was heavily armed, with the exception of little Joshua Brady Collingsworth. There had not been any major problems with bandits in and around Branson for over a year, but Brady was not one to take chances. They were going into new territory, for them.

They had started from their retreat compound northwest of Branson, Missouri, picked up US 65 going north and cut across on highway F to Walnut Shade, where they picked up US 160 going east. That was the limit they’d gone in their earlier explorations. From Walnut Shade east was new territory for them, post war.

The roads were rough in places, not having had much, if any maintenance since the War. The convoy traveled slowly for that reason, as well as security concerns. So far, thankfully, no major bridges had been out. They stopped early each evening to make camp. Two or three people would hunt in the surrounding forest, to add to the stock of food they brought with them. Most stops the hunters would come back with two or three squirrels or rabbits, or both. Occasionally a few ducks or pigeons. On the third day Brady got a deer.

Brady had the most luck bringing in game. When hunting he carried a Heym Model 37V vierling. A double barrel twenty-gauge with .308 and .22 Hornet rifle barrels under the shotgun barrels. It had been his wife’s father’s. He could take anything with it efficiently that he ran across.

They didn’t worry about game laws any more, just conservation. There had been a time, right after the war and the ash fall from Yellowstone that game had been nearly non-existent. But the game from other areas began to migrate to the area after a couple of years had passed. They had been careful not to over hunt their local area, to allow the game to become well established.

It took them almost a month of slow traveling on US 160 to reach their destination. As has been said about many roads, US 160 was long and winding.

The destination was the new coastline they’d heard about through the amateur radio operator network that had developed after the war for the survivors of the war to maintain communications. A much smaller network now, after the Yellowstone eruption and then the Great New Madrid Subsidence that had turned the Gulf of Mexico into the American Sea, the network had reported that the eastern edge of the Ozarks was now the northwest coast of the inverted-V shaped new sea.

Brady and the members of his convoy could attest that it was a fact. If they hadn’t stopped short, they would have run right into it, since US 160 dipped into the water and disappeared. They were just west of where Doniphan, Missouri used to be. What was left of Doniphan was now under fifty feet of water.

When Brady cleared the last ridge before the sea he stopped in awe. Some of it was the sea itself. The rest of it was the fact that a small flotilla of ships and boats were moored and anchored in a small harbor that now existed where US 160 ended.

“I can’t believe it,” Brady said. “A cruise ship and tanker. Has to be some that were in the Gulf or the Caribbean when the balloon went up.”

“It sure makes me feel batter about Daddy,” Star said, holding up Joshua to see the sea. “If one cruise ship survived, maybe Daddy’s did too.”

Joshua waved his arms and gurgled. He’d seen enough of the sea. It was time to be fed. Star took care of that as Brady led the convoy down the incline. He saw a suitable spot and had the vehicles pull up behind him and park, just off the road in an open area.

People were running from the ship and the surrounding forest to meet them. Several of Brady’s group began to lift weapons, but Brady waved for them to put them down. The only sign of a weapon was the over-and-under shotgun a man near the edge of the forest held.

“Who are you and where’d you come from?” asked the first person to reach Brady, who was standing by the front corner of the Suburban.

“I could ask the same thing,” Brady said, as his hand was shaken violently by the first man. Others gathered around.

“Perhaps we should take the visitors to visit the Captain,” said another man. He exuded authority. The rest of the group opened up a lane toward the boats on the shore. “He can hear the story and then give an announcement.”

“I’m Brady Collingsworth,” Brady said, taking the man’s hand with it was offered.

“I’m Lieutenant Robertson, of the Cruise Ship Elite. I’ll take you to see the Captain.”

“Is there a place we can set up camp?”

“Sure,” Lieutenant Roberson said. He waved a hand toward the tree line. “Anywhere over there.”

Brady turned back to his group, now gathered about the vehicles. “Hang loose and set up the camp,” he told them. “I’m going to meet with this group’s leader.” He stuck his head in the open window of the Suburban. “You coming?” he asked Star.

“No. Still feeding the baby. Get the story and then tell me. And look out at that blue trimmed boat coming in. Daddy wanted one like that at one time.”

“Thought about him a lot, lately, haven’t you?”

“Yeah. I miss him. I hope he is okay.”

“If he is as resourceful as you, I’m sure he’s okay. I’ll be back in a little while.” Brady turned and went with the Lieutenant.

When he returned a shy hour later, the camp was all set up. The group was well practiced, from the weeks of travel. “It’s incredible,” Brady told the assembled group.” He told the story, much the way that the Captain was telling people aboard the ship about Brady’s group.

By the time Brady had finished the telling, people were streaming off the ship to meet Brady’s group and get some of the story first hand. Brady’s group felt the same way. Introductions began as the basic story was embellished with personal accounts by those in both groups.

“I want you to meet the Captain,” Brady told Star, after going over to the Suburban. “He’s a remarkable fellow. Been keeping this bunch going and prospering since the war.” They were walking toward the ship and Star’s attention was drawn to the blue trimmed MacGregor 26 as the man and woman aboard finally disembarked. There was something about the man that looked familiar.

“I’m sorry. What did you say? I was distracted,” Star said, turning back to Brady.

“I was saying, the Captain has been keeping this bunch going and prospering since the war.”

“I heard that part,” Star said, with a smile for her husband.

“Oh. Yeah. They were just starting out on a world cruise from New York when…”

Brady saw Star go pale. “New York? It can’t be!” She whirled around to look at the man and woman walking up to them. Quickly she handed little Joshua to Brady and began running toward the man and woman approaching. “Daddy! Daddy! Is that you?”

“Precious?” Joshua asked softly. Then he was running toward Star. “It is you!”

Brady walked over, dumb founded, as several other people gathered around to see what the shouting was about.

Star was in Joshua’s arms, laughing and crying at the same time as he swung her around and around. “I knew it!” Joshua said. “I was sure you were alive. I’ve been so worried about you.”

“And I you. Put me down. I want to introduce you to someone.” Star took little Joshua from Brady and handed him to her father. “This is Joshua Brady Collingsworth, your grandson.”

“Grandson? You’re married?” Joshua stared at the baby.

“Well, no ceremony, but in our eye’s and our group’s eyes, we are,” Star said. “This is Brady. My husband.”

Joshua cradled little Joshua in his left arm and shook Brady’s hand. “It looks like you are taking good care of my Precious. Thank you.”

“She doesn’t take much caring for. She’s been a big part of our group’s success. And we call her Star.”

“Star?” Joshua asked, looking over at his daughter.

Star blushed. “Long story. It doesn’t matter. You can still call me Precious.”

“I guess I should introduce you to Patricia,” Joshua said, noticing Star’s eyes flicking toward the woman standing just to the side and behind him.

“This is Patricia. She’s my wife. The Captain married us.”

“What happened to Sue?” Star asked.

A grim look crossed Joshua’s face. “Another long story. We didn’t last long together after the war started. She got off with a bunch of the others at Savanna.”

“Savanna is on the hot list,” Brady said.

“I know. We’re part of an amateur radio network. They’re keeping track of things.”

“We’re in it, too,” Brady said.

“Small world,” Joshua commented.

Brady looked at Star and then Joshua. “I hope to tell ya’.” He laughed. “Oh, yes. I have something you might want back.” With Star and Patricia talking, Brady took Joshua over to the Suburban and brought out the vierling case.

“My vierling! You saved it.”

“Yes. Star brought it along. I’ve been using it hunting. Great gun. I’m sure you’ll want it back.”

Joshua began to shake his head. “No. No, I’m a fisherman. You keep it and use it. And then pass it down to your son. Something like that should be a family heirloom.” He looked down. Little Joshua had fallen asleep.

“Why… Why thank you, Joshua. I will do as you suggest. Thank you.”

Ozark Retreat - Part II - Epilog

It didn’t take long for Brady’s group, with the cruise ship residents’ help, to erect the two steel Quonset style buildings they dismantled in Branson and brought with them.

Brady and the Captain talked again. It wasn’t difficult to hammer out a mutual aid agreement. Brady’s group, and the other retreat groups in the MAG would trade fresh produce and meat to supplement the ship’s gardens. They would also arm several of the residents, just in case more trouble developed, and as an aid to hunting. One of the first animals to make a comeback had been feral hogs and razorbacks. The shotguns the ship had weren’t doing that well on them.

The residents of the ship would provide frozen seafood to the MAGs, if a semi with a reefer trailer could be found. Brady told the Captain that it wouldn’t be a problem. Brady had already found three. Two were being used for refrigerated storage at the retreat. The other would be used for the round trips carrying food between the areas. If they could find a fourth, they would just swap filled trailers each trip. They would split the fuel usage.

As the weeks passed, and then months, the populations of the ship and the various Ozark retreats merged and inter-married. Life would go on.

Copyright 2006

Jerry D Young