The foursome, which made their way to Janet's parents, stopped on the way at a bookstore, which had the door wide-open. Inside, a young man in a baseball cap was eating muffins and an Italian soda.
"Hi, guys. Nice to see some people. All food is on the house. Help yourselves."
Dan answered first, "Thanks, we could use some food. Should we help ourselves?"
The young man waved a hand in the direction of the small eating area. "Help yourselves."
The four made up some Italian sodas. They found a pot of cold coffee and some chocolate croissants, lemon muffins and Danish rolls. The four did not realize how hungry they were until they began to eat.
Dan was the appointed leader of the group. "What's your name?" The young man answered, "Levitt, yeah, I know it is a last name, but my dad was a famous author and well, I got stuck with this. Where are you heading?"
Dan answered, "We are walking to one of our relatives. Why are you here?"
Levitt took off his hat and mussed up his hair as if he had a nervous habit. "Well, someone stole my car during the night. and I live in the suburbs with my parents, so I can't get home. I figure I may as well stay here and see if one of my brothers comes looking for me. Who knows? Do you know what happened? I sleep upstairs now and then in a small apartment, and stayed overnight last night. This is crazy."
"Volcanoes, 69 of them, " mumbled Jimmy between bites. Levitt looked at him with wide eyes. "Wow, is this crazy? I mean where and how do you know? I guess that explains the dust."
"That explains the dust," said Janet, who was still wearing a mask. "We are scientists from the seismology lab."
"Wow, " Levitt sat down next to Jimmy at the largest table in the small cafe. "This is really bad. I suppose California is gone."
"We were told as much, but we honestly do not know much more than you do." Dan did not want to hurt Janet with references to Dave.
"Wow, I wonder what will happen next?"
Jimmy finished his cold coffee. "Nothing. The sky will look like this for a year."
"Wow, " Levitt apparently could not say much. Then, he added. "My brother is a prepper, but I use to make fun of him."
Dan smiled. "Well, I hope he forgives you. You will need him now."
"Yeah, he lives out somewhere and has a cabin full of stuff. Maybe I should go there."
Dan looked at Levitt. He knew Mason's cabin, but did not want to share any information. He was beginning to think one could not trust unknown people.
"Where is his cabin?"
Levitt scratched his head. "South Carolina." Dan said nothing. Jimmy said, "If I were you, I would go as far south as possible. But, wait to see if someone will come for you."
Just then, a Chevy truck pulled up in front of the bookstore. Levitt yelled. "Bobby, hey Man. Am I glad to see you."
It was the prepper brother. Levitt ran out and hugged his brother. He spoke to them for a minute. Then, Bobby came in.
"Hey, guys, I shall take you to the house, but then we need to get going. It is dangerous."
Dan looked at the others. "OK, great, the girls are tired." The men bundled into the back of the truck and with Levitt and Bobby squeezed the two women into the front. Janet gave directions. Bobby took back roads and in ten minutes, the foursome were at Janet's parent's house. Bobby did not say much. He was intent on his plans. "I am glad to get Levitt. I have seen some bad stuff." He stopped. He did not want to scare the women..
At the house, everyone got outside and just stood there in silence for a while. The house was quiet. But, they four waited to say thanks to Bobby and Levitt
The brothers got back in the truck and the four waved the two goodbye, knowing full well they would never see them again.
Life seemed so strange. But, there were some good people left.....
to be continued...