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Monday 25 August 2014

SO Excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A reader just sent me Fr. Chad Ripperger's Introduction to The Science of Mental Health. It is truly a phenomenal book. Thanks, M!

You can get it from Amazon above. Of course, I shall do a series on this book asap.


Novella Six; ADCE; Part Five

Casey whispered, "Let me go on shore and look at this." Joe nodded. He did not mention that although they could see the cigarette tip, they could not smell smoke. Odd.

Joe steered the canal boat over to one side and Casey jumped out. The water was almost level to the ground, so the leap was easy.

In a few minutes, Joe heard voices shouting, "Hey, let me go. No, stop." Joe could clearly here young voices.

In a few minutes, Casey returned with two children, a boy about ten and a girl about eight. Joe could not help but smile.

They were dressed in old-fashioned clothes. Casey bundled the aboard while Joe hitched a line to one of the rusted links on the side of the canal.

"Smoking is not good for you," Joe said. "What are you doing out here in the dark, by yourselves, with cigarettes?"

The little girl spoke up, "Are you good guys or bad guys?" She looked like she was going to start to cry.

Joe said softly, "Good, I hope. Now, what are you doing out here alone/"

The boy spoke, while Casey got Father James and Jamie to come up and join the group.

"Our dad left us here. He drove until the car ran out of gas and this is as far as we got. We came from Canada, Arnold's camp."

Joe looked at Father James. "What happened?" The priest gave the children fruit and sandwiches. They wolfed down the food. "You'll be sick. Slow down," Father said.

Joe interrupted. "Let us all go below. Casey, move the canal boat out again and use the motor, but low. Are you kids really alone?"  The little girl began to cry. "Dad was going to get food for us. That was, maybe, four days ago. He never came back."

"OK, you are safe. Get below."

Casey moved the boat back into the middle of the canal and the rest of the group moved into the bunk area downstairs. Jamie put her arm around the little girl. The children were so cold.

"Here are some blankets. I can make hot chocolate."

The boy continued. "About a week ago, well, maybe six days ago, soldiers came into the camp from the Canadian side. Everyone was taken away, rounded up. We had been out on the lake with Dad in a boat, fishing. Dad pulled the boat into a small creek and under cover with over-hanging trees. He told us to lie down in the boat. For hours, we waited. Then, when it was night, we rowed back to the camp. No one was there, but Arnold's dog. Everyone was gone."

The little girl was crying. "We had to leave Mattie, the dog." Tammy, who was resting in a bunk, said, "I know, I had to leave my cat." The little girl looked at Tammy. Then, she walked over to the wounded woman. "Mattie was brown, with a white spot on her nose." Tammy talked to her about Sampson.

The boy went on. "Dad found a car with a tank full of gas. It has belonged to the Ellisons. He knew where they kept the keys. We took it. Dad said he wanted to take us to Vermont, to the next safe haven. But, Arnold's wasn't safe. So, how do we know the next one is?"

"We are that group," said Father James, and the two children stared at him. "In a boat?" The boy was truly surprised, but also, relieved.

"And the cigarettes?" Joe smiled. The boy squirmed. "Mr. Ellison had them in the car. Dad said to take them for bartering. I wanted to try one, but did not know what to do. I guess you saw the light."

Joe almost burst out laughing, "Well, I think God wanted us to find you. You will be safe with us, I promise. Now, let Jamie help you wash and get some sleep in the bunks."

The little girl, whose name was Naomi, asked, "Why is it so dark? Why is it so scary?"  Father said he did not know, but he would pray with them and after a while, have Mass. The children visibly relaxed. The boy, Thomas, said, "They took Father Andrew." Father James looked at Joe, "Andrew McManus, I know him. I did not know he was there."

Joe said it was Casey's turn for sleep. Father James went up to the tiller and Casey came down and threw himself on the floor in a sleeping bag. In minutes, he was asleep.

"Always can tell a real soldier," Joe thought and he went outside as well. Father James and Joe sat an angles against the back of the boat, Joe at one side and Father in the little seat for steering.

The darkness had not changed. "It was providential we found these children, Joe. Listen, coyote packs, and wolf packs are in this area. we are about to cross into Vermont. The lake is coming up soon."

The lake was at the end of the canal. They had been traveling almost twenty-one hours. Joe had let Father sleep for six hours. Casey would have less. Joe had not slept.

"This lake, is it deep enough to sink this boat? A boat left on a shore, or at the side of the canal, would be noticed."

Father answered, "Yes, I thought of that as well. All we need to do is open the drain holes and make more holes. We can first, of course, take all the necessary stuff off and pack the knapsacks. I have a small portable acetylene torch as well to make holes." Joe nodded. The entire journey would take at least another hour.

"How deep is the lake, Father?" The priest moved the tiller slightly. "No one knows, but this boat will not be noticed, especially in this darkness. Years ago, someone scuttled a small sailing boat in this lake and no one ever saw it again."

The hour passed quickly. Joe knew he would not get any sleep until they got to the old cabin. He could handle a few days without sleep. He had endured worse in Iraq.

"Well, I am going to take a very short cat-nap." Father said "Fine, but there is one more lock, you know. Coming up in about ten minutes."

Joe nodded. "I'll get Casey up to help."

to be continued...


I have been doing a little study on the word "wormwood" in the Bible. It has levels of meanings. I am not interested in futuristic interpretations, and, as a warning, we Catholics are not to do one to one correspondence with the symbols in Revelation and future events. The Catholic Church has done interpretations on these symbols. To read more into those than what Holy Mother Church allows is sinful pride.

However, I am interested in the translation from the Arabic and Hebrew, לענה (la'anah), which means "curse".  Before I expand on that theme, let me quote the Catholic Encyclopedia.


(Hebrew la'anah.)
Wormwood, known for its repulsive bitterness (Jeremiah 9:15; 23:15; Deuteronomy 29:18; Lamentations 3:19; Proverbs 5:4). Figuratively it stands for a curse or calamity (Lamentations 3:15), or also for injustice (Amos 5:7; 6:13). In Apocalypse 8:11, the Greek equivalent ho apsinthos is given as a proper name to the star which fell into the waters and made them bitter. The Vulgate renders the Hebrew expression by absinithium, except in Deuteronomy 29:18, where it translates it amaritudo. It seems that the biblical absinthe is identical with the Artemisia monosperma (Delile), or the Artemisia herba-alba (Asso); or, again, the Artemisia juidaica Linné. (See PLANTS IN BIBLE.) 

Wormwood as a curse is more in keeping with the struggles one sees in the lives of people who are trying to become holy. Curses are real and deadly. The Hebrews knew that a cursed family experienced bitterness, wormwood.

Curses come from anger, hatred, the occult, witchcraft and Masonry. Those who are under curses try to be good, try to become holy, but can feel, can sense something holding them back.

Bitterness is families can be the result of years of unforgiveness and resentment. Old grudeges not set aside can cause a life of bitterness. I have seen this is some families.

Often, these families have been literally bogged down by wormwood.

Daily Mass, Adoration and monthly, if not weekly, Confession, can change a life of bitterness into one of fruitfulness. But, it takes work and focus.

If one suspects wormwood in a family, seek out an excellent priest. Join the Auxilium Christianorum.

God is stronger than all evil. But, one has to choose life, not death, sweetness, not wormwood.

Novella Six: ADCE; Part Four

Joe prayed for a diversion and he got an answer. Six youths with Molotov cocktails attacked the police about half a mile up the street from the armored cars. "Go now, " he said to Jamie, Casey and Fr. James, who would go out at the maintenance door, into the back alley, to the canal, about twenty minutes to the west of the apartment. Jamie and Tammy had been instructed to leave their cell phones in the apartment, and Fr. James had left his at the rectory. Casey had "lost " his at the coffee shop. He had temporarily bought a new pay-as-you go with cash, but left that in the street in the opposite direction of the apartments. Joe had kept his for a reason. All trusted his military sense.

The three left quickly while the police fought with the six youths up the street. Shots were fired. Tear gas spread over the sidewalks. Joe took out masks for Tammy and himself. "Tam, I am going out for seven minutes exactly. If I am not back in that time, leave the same way as the others."

Tammy looked at him with teary eyes. "And, Sampson?" Joe smiled. "Take him with you in your arms, no cage, but if he wants to go, let him go."

Tammy hugged Joe and he left. She did not watch him go. In seven minutes, he was back. "Are you ready?" The police had shot all six of the youths and were moving back to their ground around the armored cars. "Yes, and I decided to let Sampson go on his own." Joe gently touched Tammy's arm. Joe told her to go downstairs to the kitchen and wait by the door. Tammy did as she was told. When she got to the door, she heard an enormous blast. Then, another blast. She was confused, but grabbed Samson and when Joe ran down the stairs, they left the apartment, ran to the back door, into the alley and down the side road to the canal. They were running in the dark, but a huge explosion lit the sky.

"Get down." Joe pushed Tammy to the ground by the side of the canal which jutted up against a small house. Samson finally wriggled out of Tammy's arms and ran away. "Don't worry. Animals have sense."

For a few minutes, Joe shielded the prone Tammy he has pushed into the grass on the side of the canal, then he said, "Go", and the two scrambled down some old stone steps to be level with the water. They ran along the side, then walked, moving west. They saw no one, but heard the sounds of sirens in the background. Moving quickly, the two reached a small bridge and crossed to the other side. Within twenty minutes, they were at the boat. It was dark, but Joe could just see the other three inside.

"Get down, all of you." They obeyed. For several minutes, they all laid on the floor of the canal boat until Joe gave the all clear word. "Use oars". Father James and Casey pushed the boat out from the moorings, and into the center of the canal. Jamie and Tammy stayed on the floor. After about a half hour in the dark moving north and then east, the two women could hear Joe chuckling. Father tended the tiller in the back of the boat.

Although they were afraid to talk,  the women's curiosity was too much to fight. "Joe, what did you do?"

Joe whispered. "Bombs, in the cells."  Tammy looked surprised.  Joe continued, "I put them in the cars. Sorry, ladies, I used your phones and mine. Nothing will be left of them or some other things."

Surprisingly, the entire trip out of the city went without a hitch. Joe passed out arms to all at this point.  But, just as they were entering true countryside, near the first lock, Joe saw movement on the shore. He had a large light, but did not want to use it. He crept up to Casey on the starboard side. "Do you see that?" He asked quietly. Casey grunted, "It's a cow." Father was in the back, still steering.

The cow followed the boat's course, and Joe thought this was not good. He knew, however, that if they tried to get rid of the cow. they would draw attention to themselves. They were entering the lock and wanted to get through quickly. Thankfully, they cleared that first hurdle and move up the canal, almost silently.

The cow moved off the side path bordering the canal and turned towards a field to the west. Then, the group heard a horrible sound. Coyotes. A pack attacked the cow. The men pushed the canal boat forward. Tammy thought of poor Sampson. Maybe the cat was safer in the city.

After two hours with oars, and moving through two more locks, Joe suggested using the motor. Also, he asked Father to say grace for a quick dinner. Hours had passed since they left the city and they were now in countryside marked only by old farms here and there, all dark, all silent.

After four hours, Father James said Mass and consecrated five Hosts. The two women said rosaries while clearing up, when suddenly, Joe yelled, "Get down". There on a small bridge about 200 feet away, several people were standing and pointing at the canal boat. They began to yell, "Get it. Hey, here, down here."

About seven people began moving from the bridge to both sides of the canal, three on one side and four on the other. One fired a shot into the window of the kitchen. Tammy caught the bullet with her leg.

"I'm hit. Oh." And she fell on the floor. Joe shot back and hit the man with the gun, who fell into the water with his pistol. Joe then turned to the other side, where some men, two, were trying to get onto the boat. Then, one jumped, and missed. Shouts came from both sides, "Back off, back off. We'll get more help."

All five thugs left moved away into the darkness."Get the engine going full speed." Joe ordered, then he went down into the kitchen. Tammy was crying and biting her lip until it bled. A bullet had scraped her left leg, but did not go into it. Joe gave her some pain killers and tended the wound.

"Jamie, stay down on the floor with her. And wrap her up so that she does not go into shock. Give here more of this if she needs it."

The two women remained on the floor. The three small lights of the kitchen had been turned off by Joe when the trouble started. "Keep in the dark, " Joe whispered.

He went out to Casey and Father, who was steering the boat. "Use your weapons if you have to..." He said sternly. He could hear, in the darkness, men calling. "Father, I think the next bridge is about an hour away, am I correct?" Father James answered, "Yes, and it is, thankfully, full of holes. It would be hard to use it, especially in the dark."

"Well, keep an outlook. Casey, use the rifle if you have to before they get to the bridge."

Casey agreed.

Joe went back downstairs and stared at Tammy. She was "out". "Good", he said. "The pain meds will make her sleep. Are you OK, Jamie?" Joe was thinking of his promise to take care of Jamie on pain of death he had made to Derek. "I'm fine." Joe looked at her gun. "You know how to use this."

Jamie whispered, "Yes," but she really did not want to do so. She sat on the floor holding Tammy in her arms. She prayed.

An hour passed. The bridge with the holes loomed ahead in the dark. It was painted white. Joe could make out about seven men again. He laid down in the bow of the boat. No one could see him. Three of the men had weapons. He aimed at the closest one's right hand. He waited. A shot rang out just over Casey's right ear. Joe shot the hand of that assailant. Then, another shot whizzed past Father James at the tiller, in the back, and hit the side of the boat. "Amateurs." Joe muttered,and shot that man, who fell through a hole in the bridge. The rest scattered, but two went to either side of the canal and ran alongside the boat. One person shot again, and just hit the chimney coming out of the kitchen. Joe responded.

All ran away. Father James stood up and prayed over the water where four men had ended their lives in the two skirmishes. Casey moved over to Joe, who was standing up. "I did not expect this."

"I did. People will panic in this darkness and steal anything. There are four more locks and four more bridges. Father, go into quarters and get some sleep. I shall take over the tiller. In two hours, Casey it will be your turn to rest."

Father came over and blessed Joe. "I am tired. But, I want to be with Tammy when she wakes up."

At the next four locks, nothing happened. Once, Joe saw lights being carried in the distance. No one approached the canal for hours. Strangely, there was not one light in the sky. And, there were no stars. A cover of cloud pressed over the area still. Joe could hardly make out hills, or trees, or fields.

"What do you make of this darkness, Joe?" Casey asked. Joe had passed sandwiches and juice over to Casey. "It is not smoke. It is weird. I do not think the army or any of the forces could make this."

"So, what is it?" Casey felt nervous as if he knew the answer. "It is something other worldly, Casey. It is not natural." The darkness lay like a blanket over the entire area, maybe over all the United States. There was nothing chemical about this darkness. Joe leant back against the back of the boat and thought.

Then, he saw, in the distance, the lit end of a cigarette. "Casey," he whispered. "Get ready." Casey fingered his rosary in one hand and a pistol in the other. Joe held onto the tiller with his left hand, and quickly cocked his rifle in his right hand. He watched the small, red fire on his left. He had a strange thought. He wondered what Derek was doing at this time.

To be continued...

Novella Six: And Darkness Covered The Earth; Part Three

Part of the key to Casey's plan involved bribery. He carried all the money, almost a quarter of a million in various bills. He had been taking money out for months, and closed his account just before the banks closed, and the ATMs went down.

Money may or may not be worth anything, but Casey knew the hearts of men could be swayed by money. He also had the women give him all their jewels. Jamie turned over her engagement ring immediately. "No, wear it for now. I'll let you know when I need it." Casey kissed Jamie on the forehead. 

In the small group, an order of roles had been arranged months before this day.

Joe was the natural and appointed leader. He had the weapons and the experience. Casey was in charge of the cash. All jokingly called him "the Bankster." Tammy was in charge of the bug-out bags and the camo clothes, and Jamie was in charge of Father James, who was to be protected down to the last "man".  Jamie, of course, Miss Organization, had helped Tammy with the stuff in the bags, but her duty was to be the shield and guard for the priest. Father, of course, was to be the spiritual adviser and confessor to the small group, and when they reached the safe haven, if they did, Father would say Mass for all who has made it there. Others knew where to go months ago.

No one was thinking that far ahead at this time. One of the odd ways to get away, planned by Casey, was the old canal which cut through the old city. It ran north-south, in one direction and east-west in the other,and had been built as a connection to the old large canals. In the summer, vacationers rented canal boats and traveled north the sixty to seventy miles of canal into a smallish lake bordering Canada, or south about two-hundred miles out of the state at an angle into Vermont. At this time of year, boats would be rare and the group knew they could be obvious from the narrow canal to the shores, especially when going through the many locks. They had practiced a run both ways last summer, taking a holiday together. Casey and Joe voted for Vermont, but Jamie and Tammy had voted for Canada. Father James was the deciding vote for Vermont.

Joe had purchased a boat and stocked with two months supply of fuel, blankets, clothes, meds, food and ammo for six people. He was not sure the plan would work, but there were two possible safe havens established at either end of the canal.

One was just over the lake into Canada, a medium sized camping ground full of Catholics, who over the years had bought sites there. The camp grounds was run by Arnold Mead, an old Navy man and one with a special gift of discernment, as well as a great sense of humor.

Captain Mead only had one stipulation for those buying camp grounds. One was that the owners to be had to be practicing Catholics, and two, as he did criminal checks on all of them, they had to be willing to pay for the check, and do it. With children in the camp, Arnold adopted the role of the commander of safety. Twelve families were already there with about ten children. They wanted Father James to join them. But, the group vote had pushed the decision to go to Vermont, which became a sign to all. Arnold and company would have to do without this particular priest. All this had been decided about three months before this day of darkness.

The so-called safe haven in Vermont was much less organized. There was no Arnold and no camping facilities. There was no lake, no propane gas, no septic tanks, nothing but trees and small openings in the trees. But, the advantage was that Father James owned the property. He, as an only child, had inherited it from his parents. On one small plot of flat land was an ancient log cabin. Once, there had been a working well, but a stream did fall from some hills onto the property and a small pond held this water. The water was good, clean, cold. Sometimes fish found a way into the cold pond.

Jamie also had wanted to go to Arnold's because the campsite was closer to F. D., where Derek was stationed, at least for now. She knew that her reasoning was not completely objective. She sighed just once, and then, plunged into the new plans for Vermont with a passion.

Of course, the most dangerous part of the plan was getting out of the city. Once at the canal, one had to take a chance of boarding the canal boat and then chugging up the canal, or even quietly using side oars. Danger surrounded each step, but try they would, for the sake of Father James and future Catholics. The Church must carry on, and this little group of the Church Militant had determined to set up a chapel wherever they stayed.

Now, as Joe looked out the window at the armored cars, he noticed a hole in the barriers. Two blocks on the right, barriers had been pushed aside and not straightened. He watched the police carefully. Once in awhile, one would leave the group and move through the hole into complete darkness. After many minutes, even a half-hour, the man would return with boxes. Supplies? Lunch? Joe watched.

Jamie and Tammy had changed into camos. Two reasons had been suggested by Joe for this garb-one was to confuse soldiers into letting Jamie and Tammy by at a distance, and, second, because camos did work to a point. Father James was offered camos at first, but decided on civies. He said he could never pass as a soldier, and right he was. He looked and acted like a professor of philosophy.

Casey worn normal street clothes, dark jacket and jeans and Joe wore camos. He felt at home in his old gear

Now, the plan was to watch the movements of the police to try and find both the time and way to escape the apartment block. Joe noticed that some guys from downstairs, two known to the women, had tried to leave with bug-out bags and were forced back in. No one was hurt, but all were virtual prisoners.

Joe wondered why the police were not doing door to door searches. Then, it dawned on him. They had no reason to search. The populace of the city were all the enemies now. All were under curfew and martial law.

to be continued...

Novella Six: And Darkness Covered The Earth; Part Two

Jamie's phone made a tweeting sound. It was odd the phone company was still working. She looked down in the dark at the green screen. "One month" It was from Derek.

Joe was looking out the window at the streets. Hundreds of people had poured into the darkness about two hours after they had come to the apartment of Jamie and Tammy. But, the police had herded everyone into vehicles or forced them to go indoors again. Some young people threw stones, but the police responded with tear gas. Now, the streets were empty again, except for the police.

"Derek better be careful. Send him a text not to text." Joe spoke firmly. Jamie answered. "I just did. We know now and he does not have to text again. He won't."

One month. One month of terror and military rule. It was all planned. The intercom buzzed. Joe asked, "Are you expecting anyone?" Jamie and Tammy shook their heads. Casey said "Tammy, answer it, but remember we are not here."

Tammy stood in front of the little screen. The camera had been broken by vandals months ago, but the microphone worked. "Yes? Who is it, please?" Tammy tried to sound natural, "Fr. James", was the garbled answer.

She pushed the button to open the door and within minutes, a priest was walking through the apartment door. "Father, are you alright?" Jamie saw his scared face and dirty black cassock. "It was stupid of me to leave in a cassock, stupid."

"Well, we have clothes for you here, you know." Tammy said quietly.

Father James opened a small cases. "I took all the Consecrated Hosts from the tabernacle. We must consume these, now. Are you all in the state of grace?" All said yes, but Casey.

"OK, Casey, let us go into the next room and I shall hear your Confession."

A few minutes later, a humbled Casey and Fr. James came back into the kitchen. Father said some prayers, in Latin, like those before Communion in the Mass and all four received the Hosts.

The five remained quiet and prayerful for a half-hour, then Jamie spoke up. "Father, come upstairs and wash and change. We are all going soon and you, of course, are coming with us. "

"I locked the church up. I hope they leave it alone." No one said anything. Looters were already smashing windows on the main street, fighting with police. No doubt the Catholic Church would be virtually destroyed.

Father returned looking like a college professor in a rather old sweater, and chinos. He was even wearing a wedding ring. "Well," he joked, as the women looked at it, " I am married to the Bride of Christ." They all smiled.

"Get down, now." Casey yelled. A long beam of light came into the windows where the women had pulled open the blinds. It pierced the darkness like a sword, sinister, bluish white.

All five had laid on the wooden floors, flat, and Sampson had to move from its place under the table, as Casey pushed Father there. The light swerved around the rooms for about five minutes and then disappeared.

"Were you followed, Father?" They all stood up. "I did not think so." The priest sounded apologetic.

"It was probably just routine, Casey, " said Joe. "But, now we know where they are..."

Joe stood to the side of one window. He could see three armored vehicles with lights on about a quarter of a mile down the street. Several men stood around the tank-like machines. One was smoking.

"I would love to hit him," Joe said. "You are no longer a soldier, Joe," cautioned Father James.

"Move away from the window and let us all go upstairs and sit on the floor between the bed in Jamie's room and the upstairs veranda doors." Joe spoke, as an ex-Marine, he knew they all knew who the leader of the group was, and they all followed him upstairs. Even old Sampson followed, as if it wanted to be with people.

"Can't we at least take him into the country, " whined Tammy. "He won't be eaten there."

Joe spoke quietly, "Let me think about it, Tam."

to be continued....

Novella Six: And Darkness Covered The Earth; Part One

Tammy reached over to turn off her alarm. She thought she had overslept, but the green numbers stared out of the darkness, 5:30 am. Pulling her covers around her, as the room was still chilly from the falling temperatures, Tammy turned on the bedside light. It was dark, too dark. "Must be a storm," she murmured. She half listened for the shower, as her roommate was usually up before her feet hit the cold floor.

Sampson rolled off the bed. Tammy's old cat, big and fat like a stuffed sausage, slept at her feet, as it had for ten years. Tammy walked over to the window, as Sampson waddled out of the bedroom, down the wooden stairs, to find out if Jamie had set out breakfast.

Jamie always fed Sampson before making coffee and taking her shower. She was raised on a farm and the animals were fed first, then the family.

Tammy heard the shower. "Jamie must be running late," the younger woman thought. Tammy pulled the blinds and looked out over the grass boulevard in front of her apartment. It was pitch black outside, unnatural, creepy. She reached over and turned on the radio. Nothing. She looked at the plug. The plug was firmly in the socket.

Tammy then shuffled over to her computer and turned it on. The weather was on her desktop.

When the computer came up, the Network was down. "Blast it," she muttered. Tammy slipped on her robe and matching slippers and crept down the wooden stairs to the kitchen. Sampson was eating and did not bother to look up at her.

Tammy's phone was on the counter, next to the television. As she turned on the television, she also turned on her phone. A text came up on her home page. It was from Derek.

"Told u this wd happen. Off to FD." Tammy felt chilled and sick. She looked out the back window into the patio. Such blackness she had never witnessed.

The television screen had a message. "Signal not found." As the message bounced about her blue screen, Tammy looked at her phone again. The Net was down on the phone, but there were three texts. The last was Derek's. The second to the last was from Casey. "Gone to SC. Plan B."

Tammy knew what that meant. Why did Casey know something was up and why did he not tell her? Maybe there was no time.

Tammy felt like she would throw-up. She took a soda out of the fridge. She looked at the third text.

"P assassinated. On to the group." Tammy sat down in one of her bright green chairs. Jamie always made the kitchen homey in the morning is this apple green kitchen, all retro and spanking clean.

The last text was from Joe. She knew what this meant. They had been talking about the crisis in California just two nights ago at Costa Coffee. Joe had warned her. "Someone will do something stupid," he said. And, they had.

So, all the guys had deserted her. Joe was off, Casey gone, and Derek called up from the reserves. Man, so fast, so fast.

Jamie called down, "Hey did you see the blackness outside? No lights anywhere. Power outage, again." Tammy slowly got up and stood at the bottom of the wooden stairs. She called up the staircase, "Yes, Jamie and the guys are all gone."

Jamie appeared at the top of the stairs with wet hair, drying it with her white towel. "All three, gone?"

"Yep, check your phone to see if you have texts. There is no television and no radio. A blackout."

"I did not think it would happen this soon, " mumbled Jamie as she went into her bedroom for her phone.

"Yep, one text from each one, but the Net is down."

"Hold on while I get dressed, Tammy." Within minutes, Jamie, looking like a model, perfectly dressed for work, was standing in the kitchen reaching for coffee.

"One from Joe, which is mysterious. One from Derek, who is called up, and one from Casey, who has bugged out."

"I hate that, " Tammy cried. "Bugging out without telling us." Just then, the intercom buzzed. Jamie answered.

"Hey, we are here, Casey and Joe, let us in." Jamie looked over her shoulder at Tammy as if to reprimand her for her lack of faith in friendship. She pushed the buzzer and in two minutes the two men were at the door. They were dressed for traveling.

"There are police everywhere. We only got past because Joe knows two of the guys."

"Derek has been called up," said Jamie, while Tammy gave both men a short hug. "Boy, am I glad to see you. I am scared, I admit it."

"Well, it is scary. Martial law, blackout and no traffic. All cars are being stopped. Some of the highways are shut down completely. Do you have anything to eat? We have been up all night, talking." Joe was rummaging through the fridge. "Help yourself to anything you can find. Today was shopping day, so there's not much. How did you know?"

Casey spoke first, "I can't tell you. I knew last night and phoned Joe, and he came over after taking out all our money. The ATMS are empty. He got to the bank ten minutes before closing and lied, saying we were moving." Joe and Casey, as brothers, shared accounts, although they lived at different addresses.

"Luckily, we could take out most, but not all. The banks have limits. We went back to the ATMs this morning on our way and every last one was shut down."

"Great," said Tammy, "And I only have about forty dollars in my wallet."

Jamie spoke up, "I had a premonition four days ago and over the last several days took out my max each day. I have two-thousand."

Joe smiled. "My psychic sister," and he beamed. "Well, it may not help, but between us and Tammy's widow's mite we have quite a bit but we need to talk about the next step. As the bridges are closed and the highways, which we anticipated, we have to take country roads, all the B roads, if we can get to those. There are not enough police or highway patrol to cover all of them. We have a plan."

Casey interrupted, "Let us eat first, before the electricity goes out. Look there are four dinners in the freezer. Nuke those and make more coffee. please, Jamie."

She did and Joe noticed she was dressed for work. "Silly girl, you look like a model and we have to be walking miles today. You will have to change." The four ate in silence and watched Sampson curl up under the table. "We can't take him, you know." Casey spoke quietly.

Both young women looked at each other. They could not speak.

"OK, here is our plan," Joe interrupted the sad thoughts on purpose. Then, as suspected, the electricity went out and the four were in the dark. "Should we use flashlights now?" Jamie was practical, as ever. "No, save those. We can just see each other and we can hear each other.. So, listen."

Tammy interrupted this time, "Before we start, do we have time for a rosary?"

"Absolutely," answered Casey, and the four prayed...Jamie reminded them, "Please, let us pray for Derek." Joe put his hand on Jamie's shoulder. Derek was her fiance, and now he was back at F.D.

to be continued...