Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chapter 10

After significant delay, I've finally gotten back to this story.  This is the last chapter.  I'm going to edit the entire thing a few times before I call it finished, but I'm not going to edit every blog post with edited versions.  If anyone is interested in the complete, edited, finished final copy contact me through facebook or other means.

Chapter 10

First the man led Clarke and Louis into the city hall, where a welcoming committee sat. Topeka had not been nuked. Their buildings and infrastructurewere intact, but everyone was dead. Some country had, for some reason, aimed chemical weapons at Kansas. Wanda, the mayor, lamented the pristine buildings full of goods that could not be accessed. “Doesn't mustard gas, or whatever, dissipate over time?” asked Clarke.
Wanda didn't know. An old timer that introduced himself simply as The Veteran said that they didn't know what the places had been hit with, so they didn't know how long it would take before Topeka was safe. Or if it would ever be safe.
Next a man and a woman addressed Clarke and Louis. This meeting had clearly been practiced. The man spoke first, pointing to several specimen jars on a shelf, “We kept track of animals that ventured into Topeka. We collected several that died at various intervals after leaving Topeka. Someone should be able to analyze them.”
The woman cleared her throat and took over, “Our daughter, Cindy, was studying chemistry and one of the University of Illinois campuses. It was near the middle of Illinois, but not near Springfield or anything very big. They're supposed to have a pretty good chemistry program there.”
Everyone in the room stared at Clarke and Louis expectantly. Wanda realized it might be a little unnerving, so she spoke up, “We'd appreciate if you could help us, after coming all this way. I can understand that you might need some time to think it over. Gretel, can you pu them up at the hotel for the night?”
Clarke and Louis were treated to a generous dinner and a spacious room with a stocked fireplace. Several bottles of wine had even been sent up to their room. “I guess they really want whatever is in Topeka, “ Clarke mused. “Yeah, they must love that orange stuff,” replied Louis. They talked about it for a while. Champaign, Illinois was much farther than they had traveled so far. They had, however, nothing but support from each new town they came across. The car was in good shape.
“You know,” Clarke thought out loud, “We did tell Emma we'd check out Ames, Iowa for her husband if we were in the area.”
They made their decision and had a toast to celebrate.

The townspeople stocked the car up with supplies for the long journey and cheered as the two drove away. They had a real plan now, not a vague notion of what happens after college, not driving to a randomly chosen small city, but something concrete. “We're on a mission from God,” Louis stated, after they sang along to The Blues Brother's soundtrack. Louis and Clarke were on the road, looking for a way across the country. Their story had begun.
It was a bright day, and how could it get any better?

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