Using every skill at her disposal; cards, mirror, bones,
and the aura of the world around her, Danielle guided
them all through the topsy-turvy world they now occupied.
Their first summer in the year 1 p.w.,(post wave), as
they all had begun calling it by common consensus, was
short and cool, but their gardens did quite well in spite
of it all. The season was far too short to grow corn or
sweet potatoes, and peppers and tomatoes were also out of
the question. The root crops did much better than they
usually would have, as the normal southern Arkansas
weather was just to hot for them. The broccoli,
brussels-sprouts, and other cabbage related items would
have won blue ribbons at the county fair, if the world
had been as it once was.
Gary had designed and built a device to slice the cabbage
for the big barrel of kraut they planned to make.
How much clearance do you need to cut that cabbage
Those few words ended up giving him a headache before he
finished the job, as her reply of, Why dont
you design it so I can use it to slice the beets and
other vegetables too? You know what I need. Four or five
different settings would be nice.
Without a single audible word, he went back to the design
phase at the kitchen table. The finished product was
nearly as good as anything that could have been purchased
in a reliable hardware store back in the 1800s.
They were learning as they went, as no other choices were
The salt was invaluable in the actual process of packing
the cut cabbage into the barrel for the next years
supply of sauerkraut. The barrel to the right of it was
filled with salt pork, and the two of them would be used
together for many delicious meals. Jimmy had claimed that
he just couldnt eat kraut, but soon learned that
you could get used to any kind of food, if you got hungry
enough, and necessity dictated that they couldnt
afford to eat cafeteria style.
Danielles herb gardens did even better than they
had done in the pre-wave years. She harvested basket
after basket of culinary and medicinal herbs. Some were
dried some were used fresh on the table, or put into her
canned foods. Gary always raved about her bottled
spaghetti sauce. He loved to say, Its to die
for. It invariably got a chuckle out of the whole
group. The elixirs and other medicines required the use
of alcohol to steep the vital essences from the plants,
and the dozen or so bottles of one hundred proof vodka in
her closet, were strictly off limits to the rest of them.
It would have to last until she could get enough grain to
make her own supply of, medicinal, alcohol.
If it went well, they might all be allowed a bloody mary
or two on a New Years Eve that was yet to come.
On Danielles fortieth birthday in May of 2 p.w. She
had looked up from hanging laundry to see a jet contrail
in the otherwise totally blue sky, overhead.
Hey, everybody! Come look at this!
They all stood there, shading the bright sun from their
eyes with their hands, watching the jet streak across the
sky towards the west, not quite believing their own eyes.
A small, single engine plane had come over a couple of
times in the past six months, but they knew that it
didnt require any chip technology to fly, while the
craft they were watching now probably couldnt stay
in the air without its advanced computers.
Dad, how did they get their hands on chips that
were still viable?
Now thats what Id call the sixty-four
thousand dollar question, and Im obviously, not
going to collect the cash. Your guess is as good as
Ellen couldnt hold her tongue any longer, and
quipped, My girlfriend in Arizona told me she was
working on something called a, RAD-HARD, chip
for the government that would be used to stop EMP damage
if we ever had a nuclear war, or for use on spacecraft
that might get too much radiation. I wonder if they might
have perfected it, and stockpiled some of them before the
Little did they know how close Ellen was to the actual
truth, Seed chips had been built that would
help in case there was a disaster. They would help to
reestablish a new chip technology by being programmed to
run the equipment that would, and did in the past,
produce the worlds technology. It would take a long
time to get the infrastructure all up and running again,
but the opportunity was there. They had been stored miles
underground in specially insulated containers, then they
were jacketed in copper mesh sacks that were grounded to
the bedrock with eight foot long drill steels that had
been cemented into place with a special conductive
cement. The last step in the process was to suspend them
from the tunnel walls by pure copper straps that would,
in theory, shunt any energy into the surrounding rock
before it could cook the circuitry in the chips. The
entire affair was supposed to work on the same principle
as any ordinary lightning rod. Three-inch thick steel
doors blocked the alcoves that had been blasted out of
the tunnel walls for the storage areas. It had all been
done with thermonuclear war, and its resulting EMP bursts
in mind, but it was just as successful in thwarting the
galactic tsunami that had over-whelmed them all. Entering
the crypt had been a daunting task. Without power, the
one half mile vertical descent on the emergency system,
and the three miles of horrific heat that had accumulated
in the mine tunnel leading to the alcove was hotter than
a sauna. The mine was actually right at one mile deep,
but the mouth of the deep shaft was nearly four thousand
feet high up on the edge of a tall precipice. They were
worried that the water level would rise, if the huge
pumps ever stopped, and to avoid the threat of submersion
they went to a place just above the level, about a half
mile above the bottom of the pit, that was used to remove
the millions of tons of high grade ore that came from the
old mine. The haulage tunnel exited the mine in the
valley below at a processing facility, but it was no
longer stable enough to allow the crew to enter the mine
from that direction, as the roof had caved in at several
different places. Some deep mines arent extremely
hot unfortunately this one was a killer. Many men had
died from the heat down there, and without the cooling
air that had once been forced through the hundreds of
miles of tunnels and shafts, the spray painted sign on
the wall of the deepest level that proclaimed,
Hell..15 FEET, with a down pointing arrow,
wasnt very far off base.
The group of intrepid volunteers broke the seals, and
brought the treasures out of that shaft without losing a
single man. Some of the conventional chips were scrap,
but the advanced RAD-HARD variety, were still OK, and
they would be enough to start anew. Within a decade, the
world would recover. Hopefully, mankind would replenish
its technological stockpile, so deep in the ground, once
more. After all, recent experience had just shown that,
one never new what the following day might bring.
Obviously, in the long run, they would have to devise
some type of technology that would be impervious to the
waves of galactic energy in the future. Hopefully, the
five hundred or so years until the next one might be
expected to hit, would be a sufficient time period to
accomplish that vital job.
If the four survivors standing in the small garden had
known what had been sacrificed by so many, to send the
jet on its mission, to show as many people as
possible that some technology was re-emerging from the
disaster, they would have been aghast.
Early in the spring of the year 3 p.w., Danielle had a
vision of splendor in her mirror. Out of the mist that
covered the surface, she glimpsed a beautiful field that
literally brimmed with natures bounty. It was a
cornucopia of such abundance that her heart was filled
with joy at the sight.
That afternoon, they started up her old pickup truck for
the first time in over three months, and headed for Bill
and Shandras place some thirty miles to the
southwest. Most of the signs of the preceding bad years
were now gone. They had been partially erased by Mother
Nature, and the clean up crews that had finished
disposing of the bodies that had littered the
countryside. True to her prediction, many pieces of
previously abandoned farmland were now producing modest
amounts of crops to the ministrations of ex-city folks.
They had made it this far, and that was no small
The two Wiccan practitioners were overjoyed to see each
other, and soon were comparing notes on perceived,
Sitting on the front porch swing, Bill and Gary lazed in
the almost warm, spring sunshine.
Gary commented, I never thought to much of those
two messing with that Wicca stuff, but I think wed
be history by now, without them.
Gary, Ive thought the same thing for a long
time. I really was far less than enthusiastic when
Shandra started to learn those Wiccan things from
Danielle, but now I think I might try to see if they will
show me a few things about it.
Maybe we both should talk to them about it,
A couple of hours later, the girls came out on the porch.
Their happy smiles were a confirmation of a bright future
for them all.
Back at the farm, Ellen and Jimmy were also sitting on a
porch swing enjoying the beautiful day. Looking over at
her husband with a radiant smile, Ellen commented,
You know what, Jimmy, Danielle was right after all.
This is a good life.
As Jimmy was about to answer in the affirmative, he heard
the sound of a vehicle approaching from the west, down
the usually quiet rural highway. It slowly came closer,
and he could see that it wasnt the kids returning
from Shandra and Bills place. At about the same
time that he recognized the beat up old truck, the horn
sounded, and a skeletal old hand snaked its way out
of the side window, and gave them both a cheery wave. It
was nearly out of sight by the time that he had recovered
enough to tell Ellen that it was the truck of his