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Dawn's Early Light

Chapter Text

Prologue

I don't know where to begin really, it feels like so long ago. Maybe the best way would be how I even got here in the first place? My name is Josh, last names don't matter anymore. When I was twenty six, I had it in my mind that I was at my prime and not going anywhere fast, I decided to take a much needed vacation from work... hell, from life... I have always been hard on myself, never good enough for me, then at twenty three I hurt my back... two bulging disks, one blown disk, and sciatica. So this dream vacation I wanted to take was crazy for my condition. I took it anyway, starting the last full week of June and ending on the weekend of the second week in July. I was going to backpack from the New Mexico/Nevada boarder to Las Vegas, and if time allowed I'd walk back out. Just to say I could and did. Then my vacation was held up and I left that Wednesday night and finally got to see Las Vegas from a ridge maybe a days walk away. It was the fourth of July, "What a night to remember." I said to the wind. watching the fireworks around the city, and drinking a bottle of whiskey, I remember looking at my watch and found myself fixated on it, nine pm on the dot. Its all gone now, my family, my wife, everything that makes the world go round. From what I can gather from few people I meet, no one really knows what happened. War, earthquakes, asteroids, aliens, terrorists or all hell finally broke loose. One guy I met in a settlement called "Aurora," said he saw a giant chicken attacking Dallas Texas, why did all the crazies survive the end? Really, a giant farm animal, I should have asked the man what medication he was using at the time, or if he still had any. I woke up on the fifth of July and Vegas, Vegas was nothing more than a hole in the ground. No rubble, no bodies, no ash, nothing. I slept like a bear in that cave, so Vegas going out with a bang wouldn't have woke me. I don't even remember going in to a cave honestly, I hardly remember finishing my whiskey. Staring at that empty bottle makes me madder at myself for drinking anyway. But I keep it, it reminds me of the way it used to be for some reason, and hell for all I know it saved my life, who else did I owe thanks to for pulling me into that cave aside from drunk Josh? It is October now, winter is creeping up on me again. I don't really have much, our house was destroyed and in ashes, and your car was burned out. One of the crisis plans we talked about was to leave markings to show where we have been, apparently we were once again on a different page than each other. I think its safe to say your all gone, but this time I waited. I found my way to a relatives house, one that wasn't beyond repair. I've been keeping this journal, might keep me sane. Or maybe if I loose it, it would find its way back to you. Maybe we will meet and I'll just let you read it. The only problem is that well, it is the only paper I have left and you know I think better on paper. So some of the projects I've done are scribbled in here, so letters to home are few since I have to plan out things to help surviving become less, difficult.

 

 

Chapter 1
The Beginning

*"Yesterday on a supply run I saw some deer. December is coming fast and its getting cold. Since I cant find enough gas for the generators I'm going to need to get fire wood. I don't even know how much to gather. How many meds I need or what kind, lamp fuel, food, a vehicle and some ammo. I’m sure there is a library in town so I can find some books on growing food, electrical work, that kind of thing. Going into town to get these makes me nervous, I don’t like the idea of being so vulnerable. I’ve been alone for three months since the fall of well, every thing. I had made it home and started over to some extent, I’ve seen things no one should see. After seeing things like that, I get nervous on the road, hunt or be hunted, kill or be killed."* As Josh walked through the woods he heard a rustling in the brush. Drawing his nine millimeter from it's holster, he prepared for a fight. Memories return of a day where the sun was setting and a mountain lion ambushed him from atop a cliff. He had made him into shoes and gloves so what ever was following him had better be ready for a fight. "Alright you, come out of the brush damn it!" He swore to his stalker expecting the worse. He clinched the gun, breathing slowly, He could feel the adrenalin pumping in his veins. As he stood ready to fight, a doe walked out from the brush, plump and full, ripe for dinner. Then he saw the beasts breasts, she was a mother, full of milk and well fed. Her youngling walked out, still not fully accustomed to walking. He could use the meat, but not these two. Continuing on his way, he filled a pouch with berries and his pockets with stones for his slingshot. Out here you have to do what you can to survive, conserving ammo is just one of them. A small bird, rabbit or any small game can be killed using a slingshot. Nuts can be harvested this time of year but its best to let them sit until around the middle of November. He found the pouch in an abandoned settlement in the Chihuahua desert, it looked handmade, not store quality. He had always felt that something made by hand would last longer than something of store quality. This one obviously belonged to a young woman, her name was sewn into either side of the bag, Lilly. He didn't want it to go to waste so he kept the knitted bag and added fur to it in places, if he was going to keep it, it had to look a bit more manly of course. He wanted to reach the car dealership in town before sunset but with the bugs eating him alive and his low energy it was going to take longer than he anticipated. *"The last meal I had did not have much meat to it, a rabbit I'd bought in a town called omega. It was a fair town to trade in, but it was more of a religious place. It was centered around a big church, the town that remained in-tacked formed the rest of the town. Like most cities now days, it had walls made from salvage and timber. The church had monks and nuns, it often took in orphans and either found them local families or brought them up to join the community or church. That was a week ago. Now I'm fighting starvation and can't think straight. All of the wildlife seemed to have reverted to a more migrant life style since the fall, staying in one place long enough to eat the food they can find and move on."* "Should I stay here? What if your alive and looking for me? maybe I should find a heard of deer and follow them like native tribes used to? Maybe I'll stay here, maybe start over. Did the entire world end, or just America? What about the nuclear power plants, why didn't they explode? I haven't heard from anyone, did everyone else die off? Am I the only human left? Where are you? Maybe I'm over thinking this, can you over think doomsday? When was the last time I spoke to someone other than myself? Does my breath smell? Do I smell? What is a bad smell for the end of days? Am I talking to much? Your not talking to much. Thanks, that's reassuring, now I'm crazy? No..." He said to himself as he had finally gotten his mind off reality, he's brought back. A sign on the ground bent like it had been run over. It is bent over toward town. "I got company." He muttered, examining the treads in the road, they were deep truck tires, diesel fueled, these trucks have a load on them. He could vaguely remember hearing someone say diesel burns slower than regular gas, so a convoy of diesel trucks in the middle of nowhere makes sense if your traveling. The town wasn't all that far from his house by car, if he had one. Five miles walking takes a wile, but its doable before night fall. He kept running a list through his mind. "Building supplies, a truck, meds and maybe some books to help fill me in on things I'm not sure of." With strangers near, he decided to walk the rest of the way in the brush. His bag was red so he would be an easy target, the best way to keep from being seen was to hide the bright colors. To blend in like the animals do. He rolled the bag in the mud and through some leaves and dirt to make it blend. After camouflaging his bag he continued on to town, snacking on some berries he'd gathered. Earlier in the year he'd found plenty of wild plants that produce food, and started growing some. He transferred them from the woods to his doomsday homestead in plant pots to make it easier to move them around. Trees were another story, plant the seed from the fruit and wait. Growing food really isn't an issue here but keeping it from bugs and animals is the hard part. On his way to town, he moved slowly, moving in the brush like the deer do. Walk a few steps, stop and listen, walk some then stop again. The thought of being alone in the woods was creepy, then add in all the dangers of the newcomers and predatory wildlife haunted his mind. Being alone for months, its only now October, it felt like forever since he had company. You would see people in towns but not out and about like he was. If you do, you may trade or cautiously walk on by. He'd finally made it to town, on the edge he hid in the brush just off the road observing the town, looking for movement. "My new neighbors." He muttered. they claimed the community center as their own. Fully automatic weapons, sniper rifles, a eighteen wheeler with a fuel tank on it, a school bus, an RV, an ambulance and a greyhound bus, fire barrels and patrolmen littered the area surrounding the building. "No more than ten I think. Man they seem welcoming, what a bunch." Josh dared not linger to long, so he moved on into town and took notice of the sun setting. He would not make the dealership by nightfall so he chose a nearby truck parked in front of a home, four doors and a empty bed, not a newer model so there weren't to many computer parts. He only knew a few things about mechanical work so an older model but not a rust bucket was the best he could ask for. He rummaged through the house and surrounding homes before the sun set and he lost light. He tried to reserve any batteries for when he would need them and from the small haul he got he would not in need of a flashlight. A glow stick that recharges with sunlight, a solar powered flashlight with a radio, a shaving razor, scissors, and a .308 caliber rifle with three boxes of ammo and ten in the two magazines, two thermal blankets, a quilt for a king sized bed, some socks, a bottle of hot sauce and some canned vegetables with some home canned potatoes. His mouth began to water as he studied the jar, "I hope they are potatoes, they look like eggs, I could use a large french fry with double patties on a sesame seed bun right now, I miss the junk food." Packing up for the night, he took notice of a bag of chips on a refrigerator. "Oh baby, even if your stale I want you. Corn chips, they may be the last ones ever again, and I got them." Trying to hold in his excitement was to hard, "Score! They are the last of a kind for all I know." He tucked them into his bag, nestling them between dry cloths in a trash bag, to cushion them from being crushed. "I'd hate to ruin an early Christmas." He said getting in the truck and laying his bag easily beside him in the passenger seat, buckling it in like precious cargo, he lay the rifle in the seat pointing into the floorboard and tossed a trash bag with his findings inside it in the back seat. Then he headed home, taking the long way to avoid the strangers. As he was driving down the road, he saw a coyote and couldn't help but to think of him as dinner. Pulling over to the side of the road, he quietly opened the door and stepped out using the door to stabilize the .308. Taking aim he squeezed the trigger, dropping the coyote where it stood. *"Now I have dinner, smelly, but still food. After field dressing the animal I wrapped the meat in its fur skin and loaded him in the truck. When I finally made it home I put a slab of meat on the fire to cook in the fireplace, I had set up a smoker outside that got smoke from the fireplace via trapdoor style tunnel fed into the chimney through a hole I knocked out. The meat I couldn't eat sat in the smoker, the skin on a rack by the fire drying out."* The cloths he wore when it happened, the fall, were ripped and tore. He had to replace them, so the skins he got from the animals he hunted are made into cloths and blankets or trade for supplies. He resembles a wild man, bearded, long curly hair, dirt covered body, animal skin cloths, mountain lion hide boots with the rubber from a pair of shoes crudely sewn on. Laces up the front tied tight to his leg so it is like a second skin. Deer hide pants some cowboy had on him as he lay dead, birds picking at him. Josh had taken the corpses' pants, gun, knife and just about everything that wasn't beyond cleaning or repair. The copse looked as if he died of a nasty infection on his back...Or so it seemed, the corpse was to destroyed to tell. He must have ended himself, the bullet to the head took him most likely. He cut off the beads and fancy feathers. Josh made fishing lures with them or traded them off. Tailors pay for clothing or fashion items, others may use them like he had. Josh had a beanie that covered most of his head to his ears. Some cord around his biceps to reduce blood flow to help with muscle pain in his arms. Doctors were rare now, he had to make due, solve problems on his feet, fast. Restricted blood flow helps reduce some information. This coyote will be part of a new shirt he had been working on. Eyeballing the skin he pray for the spirit to rest in piece. "Always thank the animal for providing you with its body for food. ALWAYS respect the animal." He said as if talking to someone who was not there. "You have never eaten until you've had to go a week without food then finally eating dog meat without seasonings. I am not a plant expert so wild herbs as seasoning is beyond me." He continued the conversation. "I do grow herbs inside the house, thyme, cilantro, rosemary...anything I find seed for." He said sprinkling dried thyme and rosemary on the steak then drowning it in hot sauce He let it finish and stuck some canned potatoes in another pan of rendered animal fat. He had kept a jar for fat since his cooking oil ran out. Potatoes sliced to chips then fried, and steak. As he began to draw his knife to cut the steak the radio scanner started getting static. He stopped, frozen, waiting for something...anything that he heard got his attention. "Hello, is someone there? I need help, some raiders took me from my people. I'm all that's left. They killed every one. Please, they have big guns. Ten, maybe twelve men. Help me? We are camping at a community center in some small woodland town. They've got me in a bus, and one of the men keeps looking at me funny. Help, please?" He sat there thinking, running the distress through my mind. "How the devil can you save her with twelve men, and unknown firepower?" Josh got up, putting out the fire with a bucked of ashes and covering the meal with a metal pan and the embers. He grabbed a sheriffs duffle bag and opened it, loading the shotgun and pistols. He put two knives each in his boots. Two .45 caliber revolvers on his waist, two 9mm pistols in holsters fashioned to a vest. The .308 slung over his shoulder, his pockets filled with throwing knives. A cloth face mask and a belt around his waist with pockets filled with ammo and knives and tear gas grenades. He knew the community center pretty well so he didn't feel to terribly worried. "I'd need to get close to the bus and if she was there, sneak out and not be caught. But, nothing goes as planned." He said grabbing his shotgun and a bag of drum style magazines. "I don't tolerate raiders, or rapists, or slavers. I don't want to kill, but they probably wont give me a lot of choice." He said, unsure of how this will end. He took the truck he'd found that day, loading his gear in the back seat. He thought he would make a distraction to stop them in their tracks by blowing up a vehicle, "No there may be resources on them." The sniper towers they set up would have snipers busy trying to find him. Maybe taking out a sniper tower with a claymore molotov combination? "This one man army stuff is going to kill me." He grabs some claymore and home made Molotov cocktails, then after loading his bag down with these 'safety measures' he stops and asks himself, "Why risk my life for some girl? What is the point?" "Its the right thing to do, your crazy. Your going to die." Josh turns to the door grabbing a bag of fire crackers and turning the door knob, hoping it wouldn't be the last time. He turns to the truck and began walking to it, swallowing the fact he may die for some girl. Or was this something more? Vengeance, justice, a death wish? He muttered to the emptiness, "Here comes your knight in leather armor."