Hanging up the phone, Danielle heaved a little sigh. She
was altogether aware that her mom could be a tough nut to
crack, but once she was convinced, she was unstoppable in
getting the job done.
Her mental, next, prompted her to once again
pick up the phone. Trying to contact her best friend,
Shandra, a fellow practitioner, had been unsuccessful on
the net, or on the phone, the previous night.
Two rings, and Shandras cheery, hello,
was in her ear.
Well, hello yourself. Have I got news for
I just read my e-mail, and was going to cast the
bones to see what was going on, but now that were
talking. Whats up?
Like I said on my warning. Total upheaval, for
Relating the details of the previous days
revelations took only a few minutes, and when she
finished, not a sound could be heard from her friend.
Im here Danielle. I was just a little shook
up for a second. Weve known something was up,
but...I guess I just wasnt looking in this
Hey girlfriend, how about casting for what I might
missed in the rush. Then maybe you and Bill can check to
be sure youll be set for a long cold winter, or
maybe several. We can compare notes on what we will have
stock up on, to be ready for it, OK?
OK Danielle, bright blessings.
Blessed be to you.
Danielle made one more, quick phone call to June, the
teenager from up the road a couple of houses, to see if
she would like to watch the store for a few hours.
Danielle knew that if her husband Gary had not been out
of town at a job site, June would be here even if she
hadnt been asked. Poor Gary! He avoided the girl
like the plague, but obviously hadnt been rude
enough for her to get the hint. He definitely went out of
his way to keep her at arms length, not wanting to take
any chances of being caught with her alone in any
situation that these locals would view as,
Heading out to the back pasture, she watched as Pancho,
her Arabian horse showed off for her. Prancing and
snorting, he came over for his usual morning greeting. He
knew it was time for his morning chow, and as usual, made
a big deal of it. Danielle fed him and checked his water
supply, and stopped to feed the chickens and all the
other critters, as she called the various animals under
her care. Fifteen minutes later, she backed her truck up
to her, well used, much abused, tandem axle horse
trailer. It was invaluable when she used it to trailer
Poncho to the various events that she liked to attend,
but was just as vital when she used it to haul bulky
items, as she planned to do today. With the hitch secure,
and all of the lights working, she went to the front of
the shop, and unlocked the door for June who was coming
through the gate at that very moment.
Putting the pre-counted cash drawer into the till, she
told June that she would be back by lunch time, and
headed for the convenience mart just up the road a couple
of miles or so.
Pulling into the small store, she parked by the air hose
next to the old fash-ioned pumps. Putting the nozzle into
the main tank she set it on automatic, and got out her
tire gauge. Working her way around, Old Blue,
as Gary affectionately called her vintage 1971 Chevy,
three quarter ton pickup truck, she noticed that the left
front was down eight pounds in just a week. Her,
Damn slow leak! came out at just a whisper.
For the last month, she had been complaining to Gary
about the leak, but his two tries at finding it,
didnt do a thing to fix it, much to her dismay. If
she had time she would take it to the tire shop. If she
didnt have time today, then she would do it as soon
as possible. Going to the valve that theyd
installed in the rear bumper, she raised the air shock
pressure to an even one hundred pounds. There, that
should help to hold the back of this truck up, no matter
what I buy! Finishing the four trailer tires last,
she went to the gas nozzle and moved it to the first
saddle tank. They only held ten gallons of fuel on each
side, but they more than doubled her total gas carrying
capacity. She went on to check the oil, belts, water, and
everything else under the hood, and by the time the two
side tanks were full, she was ready to pay the bill.
Twelve days be damned! Ill stay ready
til it happens. With these thoughts in her
mind, she went through the door. Hi Red, hows
Glancing up from his outdoor type magazine, he replied,
Just fine Miss Danielle. You sure filled up on gas
today. Are you on your way to the rodeo or
Im not sure Red. I just want to be ready in
case I decide that want to go later on today.
As she handed him the credit card, she knew that Red had
a healthy respect, maybe a touch of awe, and even a
little fear of the pretty young gal from up the road
a-piece, as he often phrased it. In a town as small as
theirs, rumors spread as fast as lightning. She could
almost hear his thoughts as his aura seemed to shift from
one shade to the next. Why, Miss Lizabeth saw
her just the other day, a-doin some kinda
hocus-pocus stuff right out there by her garden!
Werent but an hour or so, and a nice rain came down and broke
that drought that was killing the gardens. Folks just a
few miles on either side of here never got a drop. I
wonder what she does with all that stuff shes
a-growin up there? Oh well, I aint never
heard of her doin any harm, and shes fixed
many a broken critter, and even a few folks that
didnt have enough to pay a real Dr. When Bill Perry
got the pneumonia last winter, she fixed him up with her
herbs and potions in no time. She might be different than
some folks, but her kind of different is good.
Reaching for the card as she finished signing the
receipt, she couldnt keep from quipping, Why
Red, such a nice complement! One last enigmatic
smile, and she grabbed her slip, and headed for her old
truck. She was quite certain that she heard, or felt,
Well, Ill be damned! as she
started the engine and pulled out on the highway.
Town, as the locals referred to it, was the
county seat. Never a real city at any time in its long
history, it was losing ground rapidly, as its youth
migrated to the larger metropolitan areas. She smiled
wryly as she realized that she had fled to the setting,
saying, Money be damned! while they had fled
the area for money and jobs. After two hundred years, it
looked like the place was in for a revival in the
population department. It was obvious that the cities
wouldnt be able to support their populations
without, modern day, high tech support. To survive, they
would have to return to the land. As she approached the
outskirts of town, her face wore a thoughtful pose, as
she thought of all the folks that would survive the
nightmare that was coming to the cities, and the
knowledge that there would be more than enough of them to
repopulate the land around here. So many of the these old
farms the had lain fallow for so long, that it would take
plenty of hard work to make them productive again, but if
they wanted to eat, it could and would, be done. She had
visions of an early twentieth century lifestyle just
around the corner for all of them, and as for herself,
she didnt mind the idea one bit. As a matter of
fact, she had told many people, on many occasions,
I was born a century to late. She would soon
find out if it actually were true.
Smiling to herself, she knew she would have to call Gary.
He was on a construction job about a hundred miles north,
and was working a turn-around job at a big sawmill up
there. He worked very often for twenty-four hours
straight through, while a sawmill was shut down for
When his shift was over, hed hit the sack in his
motel room for a few hours, get up to a lumberjack-sized
breakfast, and go out for another killer shift.
Danielles call hadnt reached him the day
before, but the clerk promised to give him the message to
call home. She left a message on her machine that told
him, Honey, you need to get home as soon as
possible. No one is sick or anything like that, but
Im going to need your help right away. She
would keep trying his room at regular intervals, as he
might never get the message to call her.
Thankfully, her credit cards had a good reserve on them.
She figured that this months billings were going to
evaporate when the wave hit anyway, so she would get what
she was going to need now, and pay things off later, as
she was able. It would be sans cash, no doubt.
Two blocks short of the feed store, Danielle caught a
fleeting glimpse of a real treasure in the plate glass
window of Toms Antique Store. Moving on to the next
side street, she swung the ungainly rig around the block,
and came to a stop right in front of that very same
Sauntering into the store, she avoided looking at, or
going over to the big four burner wood stove that sat in
the window, looking as pretty as the day it was made. She
looked at a couple of small items that would be extremely
useful, very soon now. Setting an old, hand operated, egg
beater, and a small pickle crock on the counter, she
wandered over towards the stove, as if it was the first
time she had even noticed it.
It was even nicer up close! Lifting one of the burner
plates with the small detachable handle, she could see
that the fire grates were just as new as the day it came
from the factory. The oven had a temperature gauge built
right into the door, and when she opened it, she could
see that it was as clean as a whistle, and there
werent any signs that it had ever been scrubbed, as the original factory sheen was
quite apparent. There was a large container on the back
of the stove where she could keep two or three gallons of
hot water. If this stove had been an automobile, it would
have been a Rolls for sure. It was a case of
love at first sight. Now she had to keep Tom from seeing
just how badly she wanted that stove! Danielle knew full
well that no matter what she ended up paying for it, she
would be making a good deal, but it was her basic nature
that insisted that she would make the best deal possible.
Tom was finally coming up towards her from the rear of
the store. She could see him out the corner of her eye,
and yet, she still continued to pretend that she
couldnt see him approach. She had just started back
towards the counter, where she had left the two small
items, when Tom cut her off with his greeting, Hi,
Miss Danielle. Nice stove, huh?
Seeming to notice him for the first time, she replied,
Oh, hi Tom. Sure is a looker. I havent seen
it in here before, whered you find it?
Some old fellow found it in a barn up near
Barklesville a few weeks ago. Hed gone up there
when he found out his cousin died, and he was the only
relative left alive. He asked me to come up and buy it,
so I went over there a couple of days ago and brought it
down to the store.
What do you have to get for it?
Screwing up his face as if he was doing some very
intricate math in his mind, he answered her with,
Well, if Im going to make a pinch, Ill
just have to get seven hundred and fifty for it.
Oh my! I was hoping youd say five hundred or
so. I dont think I can go quite that high. Would
you consider six hundred?
How about six fifty, and Ill get it loaded
Done! You do take Master-card, dont
Sure do Miss Danielle.
Smiling like the cat that ate the canary, she
pulled out from the curb a half an hour later, with her
new stove safely ensconced in the back section of the
horse trailer. When Tom had said seven hundred and fifty,
she knew that six fifty would do, and the game began.
Danielle had the feeling that bartering and bargaining
were soon going to be very necessary life skills, and the
greater your skills, the better a persons odds of
survival would be.
When she had first arrived in this rural southern area,
she was amazed that people still addressed women by their
given name preceded by, Miss. Now, she
realized, that she not only accepted it, she had actually
come to expect it.
Still a block short of the feed store, she eased the
truck and trailer carefully over to the curb. Looking
into the big west coast style mirrors, she saw that she
had taken three full parking spaces, plus a few
additional feet. Not the best of plans in the city, but
she knew no one would mind here, as she was a real live
paying customer, and they were in very short supply in
Tom had told her that the stove needed was a six-inch
chimney, so this quick trip to the local hardware was
definitely in order. Walking in, she spotted Mac, the
owner, working at the back counter and walked down the
very well stocked aisle towards the stovepipe lengths
that were carefully racked on the back wall.
Hi Miss Danielle, what can I do for you
Good morning Mac. I just bought that big wood stove
from Tom. He said you could fix me up with the right
pipes to get it up and running.
Sure can. Thats some kind of nice stove,
huh? Looks like a new one. I was there when they
brought it in the other day and looked it over real good.
It uses a six inch chimney, and Ive got plenty of
that in stock.
While youre taking care of that, Ive
got a few other things to get.
OK missy, I just need to know if you are going to
put the pipe through the roof, or the wall?
I think well put it through the wall, just
below the eaves.
Is it a brick or wooden wall Miss Danielle?
Its wooden. Well put it right through
my kitchen wall where the gas range is located now.
OK, Ill fill your order now that I know what
you need. Do you need a cart or a basket, for the other
items on your list?
Better get me a cart Mac, I dont even know
what all I want to get.
Walking slowly up and down the old-fashioned display
shelves, Danielle would stop every few feet and add
another item or two to the cart. Duct tape... six rolls,
baling wire... five pounds, three big rolls of heavy
cotton butchers twine, two large wash tubs with an
authentic washboard just like the ones they used in the
Zydeco bands just to the south of here. She knew that the
only music that this one would be producing was the sound
of her knuckles as they cleaned their clothes on the
rough surface. A box of twelve bars of fels-naptha soap
completed the laundry department. The ugly brown bars of
soap worked great on a scrub board, and would use them
until she could garner enough ashes and tallow to make
her own soap. With the load becoming too ungainly to
negotiate the narrow paths between the stocks she went to
the counter where Mac was patiently waiting for her.
You sure are in a shopping mode today Miss
Danielle. Ive got this pipe all down on the sheet,
do you want to add this stuff to the tab?
You might just as well add it in. What am I buying
for that stove?
Well, theres; four lengths of six inch pipe,
an insulated thimble, so the wall wont catch fire,
three elbows, a strap steel stabilizer to keep the wind
from tipping it over, and a cap so the weather wont
come down the chimney.
When the grand total had been finally been calculated,
she handed Mac the well used card, and after signing the
receipt, bid him a good day, and once again headed for
the feed store. Driving down main she started to giggle.
She was thinking of Garys shock when he found out
she was ready... Ready to put him to work, that is! Still
chuckling at her little funny, she backed into the
loading dock, and went into the sliding doors at the back
Stepping lithely aside and nodding a curt greeting to a
burly fellow with a large bag of horse pellets on each
shoulder, she made her way inside the cavernous building.
Stepping over and around the inevitable clutter, she
picked out the path of least resistance through it all,
and soon was safely leaning against the back counter.
Howdy Miss Danielle. Are you headed for the
Not today Jake. I just brought the trailer with me
for supplies. Im going to need quite a few, and I
really dont want to make more than one trip if I
can get around it. You should have heard Pancho carry on,
when I left with the trailer and he wasnt in
Ya know Missy, I think those critters can be more
spoiled than a kid. My dogs carry on to no end if I try
to go fishing without them. Somehow they know if Im
going fishing and not to the bank, even if everything for
the fishing trip is already stowed in the truck!
Youve certainly got that right Jake.
Its kind of uncanny, isnt it?
It sure is Miss Danielle. Now, what can I get for
Well, Ive got a list as long as your arm.
Maybe if you work on the big stuff, I can fill the seed
Its a little early for doing seed orders
Lets just say I want to be sure that
Ive got them when I need them.
OK by me Missy, we just got some of that new ultra
sugary, honey and cream, hybrid sweet corn in
I know its probably great stuff Jake, but
every seed that Im going to buy will be non-hybrid
stock. Hybrid seed wont make viable seeds from the
mature plants, so they wont do. Im looking
for, American Heritage, type seeds that I can
get new seeds from, when I do my harvesting, to use the
Knowing her reputation, Jake couldnt help but ask,
Are you onto something special, Miss
Seeing his concern, she quietly replied. Jake, I
see some very big changes coming soon. Very soon, as a
matter of fact! A wise man might just be inclined to
stock up on the necessaries, you know what I mean?
Nodding somberly, Jake took his part of the list, and
went to the back to start filling it.
Wow! She must be serious. Four hundred pounds
of chicken feed, and as many of scratch! Six hundred of
rabbit pellets, sweet feed, oats, and on and on, and then
some more items on the back of the paper! She would be
lucky to get all of it home in just one trip, even with
the trailer. Miss Danielles enigmatic, big
changes, must be some very serious business indeed!
Hed have to get his brother to deliver the thirty
tons of baled alfalfa hay from his barn. Willy grew it on
his property, and would deliver any order over ten tons
to any location in the county for free.
More than a little tuckered out, Jake returned to the
counter to find it covered with small paper bags of
seeds. Each was carefully labeled with; the type of seed
it contained, price per unit, and the contents
weight. There must have been forty or fifty of the little
bags sitting there, ready to be tabulated.
You sure dont waste any time.
Like I said Jake, maybe thats something that
we aint got a whole lot of left, before the manure
hits the spreader.
How much do you figure weve got left,
Well Jake, it isnt chiseled in stone or
anything like that, but I figure weve got ten or
twelve days to get ready, at the most. You need to think
of putting up what youll need to live on for a long
spell, and start thinking about keeping warm. It might be
a good idea to pretend that an old friend from Alaska is
going to come for a visit, and hes bringing Alaska
Sure will do that, and thanks for the tip, me and
my family appreciate it.
If I were you Jake, Id do my shopping before
I told the world about this. Let the others do their
shopping in the towns down the road. Youll be
sorely needed here at the store.
You could almost see the gears turning between his ears,
as he mulled everything over while he was reaching for
his nearly antique, soon to be fried, solar powered
calculator. As he reached for it, the thought crossed
Danielles mind, Most people dont even
know their times tables! I wonder if Tom has one of those
mechanical adding machines over there in that antique
store? If he does, Jake better get over there and lay
claim to it. Hell be in big trouble when his
Jake methodically entered every bag of seeds by entering
the price per unit times the amount, and followed that by
penciling it into the right hand column on an invoice. He
then looked up the prices for the tack and other supplies
that she had set on the counter, in his big hand written
reference book, and followed that by adding in the feed
costs that he copied from the list that had been stapled
over the counter.
It took him fifteen minutes to tabulate the bill, and he
whistled softly when he finally got the total.
Twenty three hundred dollars and thirty nine cents!
He smiled wryly as she handed him the credit card.
Dont figure these cards will be worth much
real soon now, from what you just told me.
Dont worry Jake, Ill see its
covered one way or another.
He knew of several people right off hand that depended on
her potions, teas, herbs and other skills, and figured he
might be on that list in the near future. Why, even
sheriff Brownlee swore by those herbs that she gave to
him to put in his steamer to relieve his terrible sinus
problems. He claimed that nothing else worked so well.
She was also a trained veterinary technician, and that
was going to be a real asset to the area too.
Nodding his head sagely, he said, lets go see
how much of that stuff we can get loaded up.
Danielle and Jake, along with the assistance of two
strapping boys that appeared to be big enough to eat hay
themselves, soon had the whole affair loaded into the now
squatting truck. It actually looked as if it was trying
to go airborne. The headlights were angled up so sharply,
if it had been dark, she could have used them to spot
raccoons in the tops of the trees on her way home.
You sure that old truck will get you home?
Dont worry, Ill take it slow and
Glancing over to his brand new truck, she commented,
That sure is one very pretty truck.
Why thanks Miss Danielle. Me and my missus just
Jake, that stuff we were talking about isnt
going to do that new truck much good at all. You might
want to start looking for something older that
doesnt have all that computer equipment on it. You
get my drift?
Yes Miss Danielle. I sure will do that, and thanks
One more thing. Do you think your brothers
boys will load that hay into my barn? Ill give them
each thirty dollars cash for doing it.
Im sure they will, but if there is a problem,
OK. Ill put the cash in a plastic baggie just
inside the door on the hook. That way if Im not
home, they can just pay themselves, and stack the hay.
Id sure appreciate it if they could pull those last
dozen or so bales out before they stack the new bales in.
That way I can use the older ones first. If it gets too
stale, Pancho just picks at it. Like we were saying a
little bit ago, more spoiled than a little kid.
Aint it the truth! Ill tell those boys
to take care of that for you, and where to find their
pay. You just be careful on your way home, OK?
I will Jake. Good luck finding that truck, and
please say hi to the missus for me.
Sure will. Thanks again.
Jimmy knew in his heart that his neighbors and the rest
of the people he knew had no reason to believe anything
he might tell them about the approaching wave, so he just
gave up on the thought of trying to help.
On the other hand, Danielles neighbors respected
her, and her knowledge. Her abilities were well known
locally, and although there were plenty of skeptics
around, many would heed her warning which she figured was
about to spread like a brush fire in a, Southern
California, Santa Anna wind storm.
The trip home took twice as long as the trip to town. On
three separate occasions, huge logging trucks, loaded to
the limits and beyond, went around her at speeds that she
didnt even want to try to calculate. The draft
created by their bulk and speed seemed to try to toss her
around ever harder every time one of the wind-blasts hit
her overloaded rig. Buffeted severely by the third one,
while just a mile from her house, she gave an audible
sigh of relief as she finally swung into the east drive.
Pulling in past the shop, she backed the trailer in,
between the pasture fence, and the store wall. Pulling a
large plastic tarp out from behind the truck seat, she
soon had it secured over the load in the back of the
truck. The weather forecast said there was a slight
chance of rain, but she wasnt going to take any
chances on any of her supplies getting ruined by any
rain, slight or otherwise. She hadnt had to live in
this area very long to figure out that it could be bright
and sunny one minute, and very wet the next.
Hi Miss Danielle.
Turning back to the shop, she saw June standing by the
corner with a handful of white oak strips in her hand.
Hi yourself. It looks like you been busy.
We havent had but a couple of customers since
I opened, and Ive cleaned the whole place and swept
the walks too, so I thought Id make up some
supplies for you to put together when you found some
Thanks. You know thats the hardest part of
doing my crafts. Once Ive got what I need, I can
really go to town on it.
They both turned at the sound of tires crunching on the
gravel drive. The horn honked twice and Gary waved to
them as he made the turn and headed for the shops
Hi Hon. Boy, you sure are a sight for sore eyes!
Climbing a little stiffly out of his sub compact car,
Gary gave his, most favorite person, an
endearment he sometimes liked to tease her with, a big
hug and a kiss. Hi yourself! Whats the
Lets go get a big mug of apple mint tea, and
Ill fill you in, OK?
Walking towards the house, Danielle turned to ask June if
she would mind watching the shop for another hour or so,
and saw the girl staring wistfully at Garys
receding back. While Danielle was making her verbal
inquiry, her mental, dream on girl, was
nearly as tangible as her audible question.
Two mugs of his favorite tea, and nearly an hour later,
Gary said, Wed better hit it, if what you say
about December 23rd is right.
Thats what the Mayans said, but did they know
the worlds rotation was slowing down? Id
rather get everything done, and then sit back and watch
the action unfold around us.
Gary was going to see if he could get Bill Watson, the
neighbor from across the street, and his two teenage boys
to come over and help him unload the truck and the horse
trailer into the storage half of the shop building. It
had taken Gary, Bill, and the two boys, two full weekends
last month to replace most of the fence around
Bills pasture, but as long as the labor was
reciprocal, it got things done that one man often couldnt handle, and he didnt feel
as if he was putting them out by asking for help.
Danielle was heading out of the drive, as the boys were
walking across the high-way to where Gary was standing by
Dads gone to town Gary, but well give
you a hand.
Thanks guys. Maybe hell be back when the
really heavy part of this job needs doing.
Gary wanted to have all of the help that he could muster
for the stove-moving job. It was going to be the last
thing to unload, and he wanted to put it onto the back
porch so that it would be close to its final
resting place when they in-stalled it the following day.
He hoped that Bill would be back before they reached that
stage of their labors.
Gary figured that he and Danielle could move it into
position as long as they didnt have to do any
actual lifting. He didnt do any measuring before he
made that assumption, but he should have.
Danielle was going to visit the three veterinary offices
that were located within a forty-mile radius of her home.
She was well known to all of them, and they often sold
her the supplies that she used on the farm for her
animals, and also the ones that were brought to her. The
vets knew that she would treat minor ailments, but refer
serious matters to them. Many of the locals would often
destroy an animal not knowing that it was something that
could be taken care of by a vet.
The animals were better off, the vets were too, and she
could often save her neighbors a lot of expense that they
could ill afford.
She had already made her mental list of the items she
wanted; suture kits, medicines, injectors, gauze and
tape, and anything else that she might need. At the same
moment that her front tires hit the pavement, Gary yelled
to her, Dont forget the anesthetic!
She gave him a wave and a big smile in response.
Leave it to Gary! While fishing with Bill and
the boys last summer, he had sunk a big four ought fish
hook, well past the barb, right into his left forearm.
His face was ashen when he came through the front door.
Danielle took one look, and after seating him at the
kitchen table, went for her, kit. After a
couple of one half cc injections of xylocaine around the
hook, and a few minutes to let it take effect, she
splashed the area with tea tree oil to act as an
antiseptic, and pushed the point right through the other
side. She asked him, Are you doing OK? At
about the same time that he nodded yes, she cut the end
of the hook off with a heavy duty pair of wire cutters,
doused the remains of the hook that was still protruding
from his arm with more of the oil, and removed it by
pulling it back through the same path it had made when it
went in. Two small adhesive bandages with the gauze
sections liberally dosed with more of the natural
antibiotic oil completed the impromptu surgery.
His only comments were to thank her, and exclaim to his
closely watching fishing partners, Im sure
glad theres a doctor in the house!
Needless to say, they were all very impressed, and the
stories of her abilities in the medical department went
up another notch in the tri-county area.
Obviously, this event was sufficiently traumatic to make
him remember to ask her to get some extra anesthetic. He
knew for sure that lots of this item on hand was
definitely going to be, a good thing.
With her card in hand, she bought what she could from
each of the offices, without being too demanding. All
three of the practices wanted her to work for them, but
she just couldnt stand the, money
thing, as she called it. Unnecessary procedures,
and one thousand percent mark-ups were a way of life. She
knew that a lot of animals suffered and died, because
their owners couldnt afford to save them, and she
chose to be part of the solution, and not to be part of
the problem. Danielle remembered working for hours on a
neighbors hunting dog that had tangled with one of
the big boars that haunted the swamps to the south of her
place. The next morning she had found three fat laying
hens in an old, battered wooden crate on the shady side
of her shop. Putting the chickens into her coop, she
returned the crate to its rightful owner that afternoon.
Yes, some of these folks were more than a little bit
afraid of her, but when the chips were down, they all
knew where to turn. She had a compassion for life, and it
showed through like a beacon in the night.