Ten hours passed and Mason returned without Father. Father Gibson would not be coming back for quite sometime. But, Mason had a huge package under his arm, something wrapped in paper.
"A short-wave radio with an independent generator...Father Gibson had two in his old rectory, where we stopped on the way. It has been vandalized, but this was in the attic."
Mason set up the generator which was run on propane gas. Within a short period of time, he was getting a signal. Then, crackling sounds, and then, amazingly, a voice.
Mason asked Brandy to turn down the gas lamps and sit next to him. This is what they heard: "Radio Free America On The Air" with a woman's voice speaking.
But, just as they were about to listen to some type of broadcast, someone pounded on the door. Mason reached for a revolver.
"Brandy, go into the back room by the window. If I shout go, leave." Brandy nodded. She knew better than to argue at a time like this.
Mason went to the door. "Who is it?"
A weak voice answered, "Jimmy, with Janet. Hurry."
Mason unlocked the three locks and Janet stumbled in with Jimmy leaning on her arm."He's been shot."
Mason helped the two in and re-locked the doors. Brandy came out of the back room and quickly assessed the need. She put a kettle on for hot water.
"We had great luck finding two great guys get us to Janet's parents' house. All was fine for one week and then, we were invaded by thugs. Janet's parents were killed outright. These guys had guns, and we did not, at least not with us. We were eating at the time. It was horrible."
They strapped us together and bundled us into a car. I do not know why they did not kill us. Two stayed at the house and the third one took us to the river. Needless to say, they dumped us in, all tied up together."
Brandy was weeping silently.
"I managed to get out of the straps and saw Janet floundering. I could not see Carrie anywhere. It was dark by this time"
"Stop talking, " demanded Mason. "You can tell us later."
"I can finish the story," said Janet. "I am a good swimmer and found my way to the shore with Jimmy, but we lost Carrie. We waited laying low to make sure the one thug was gone, and then we looked for her for about two hours."
All were silent.
Janet continued, "We dragged ourselves to a closed cafe by the river which used to be a nice place. There was no food but lots of water and pop."
Mason bandaged Jimmy's wound. There was no bullet in the wound.
Janet looked at the ground, "I am afraid there was a dead man in the pantry in the back, but all the food was gone. Then, we heard the strangest thing-a television came on. It was eerie."
Mason took out some whiskey and wine left over from the small wedding party and gave it to the two.
Jimmy continued, "We could not believe our eyes. There, on Fox, as if nothing had happened, was the Speaker of the House stating that the President and the Cabinet had been killed in an earthquake.
The Speaker said as the others were dead that he was next in line, but had deferred to a new leader, a real genius who would help bring peace to the ravaged country. We felt like we were watching a movie. This was, well maybe a month ago."
"Then we decided to go to Base Two to find Adam. That took awhile. And, just as we were about to go into the secret place where we thought he was, we saw military police coming down the road. We had nowhere to hide really, until Janet had a brilliant idea. Play dead, she said."
So, we smeared ourselves with mud and laid down under two trees, partially covered with leaves. Man, I was scared.
The police had no dog, thank God and one muttered something but the others said they had to keep going to the 'station'. So we laid there for ages."
Jimmy coughed and drank some wine. Janet took up the tale.
"We laid there for about an hour and then continued to Adam's. Of course, he was not there. And his place had been ransacked and destroyed. I was desparing, thinking we had lost another friend, when we saw a weird sign on the wall like a 'Home Sweet Home' sign from the 1950s. I went over to it, as it was crooked on the wall and when I straightened it up, a note fell out. "Gone to Mason's"
Mason looked shocked...Of course, they had not seen Adam.
Mason and Brandy glanced at each other. Would they have to deal with another death?
Jimmy began to talk about the television in the cafe. "It was surreal. The news came on. A reporter was in Washington talking about all the dead Congressmen. Then, he said that the Secretary of State noted that a new leader would be announced in two weeks after discussions with Canada and Mexico on a new united America, created because of the "geophysical problems" as the man said.
Jimmy began to fall asleep. Mason took him to his bed. Brandy helped Janet to a made-up day-bed, the camp sofa.
After a half-hour, Mason suggested using the shortwave again to get news. He knew in his heart that the news was merely propaganda....He decided to listen anyway.
to be continued...