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Authors: Theresa Shaver

Home: A Stranded Novel

BOOK: Home: A Stranded Novel
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A Stranded Novel

By Theresa Shaver

Copyright 2013 Theresa Shaver

Kindle 2
nd
Edition

All Rights Reserved

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Cover art by D.C. Charles at Book Graphics.

Author’s Note

Woo Hoo, what a ride! Four books in just over a year and the biggest surprise ever…most of you liked them lol! The reviews, suggestions and all the feedback, good and bad was so amazing and I truly believe it was what kept me going and made me a better writer. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who supported me and asked for more. THANK YOU!

I love this book. It was a pleasure to write and I really think that it could be done in real life because of teenagers. Let me explain…How many parents in the world have yelled at their teenagers, “What were you thinking? You could have been hurt or killed!”
, when they’ve done crazy things? Teens still have that invincible feeling when it comes to their safety because they haven’t been alive long enough to have it scared out of them. They do things and then think about them later. That’s why I think they could rush in and save the day, because they just do it!

This book wraps up just about everything but I don’t want to be done with these kids! So I’m asking for reviews and feedback on another book in the series. I have a
great idea for another book where they have to survive a brutal Canadian winter and a sickness outbreak in their town. You guys let me know if you want more and I will write it! I’ve started a new series tentatively titled 'Endless Winter', about life during a nuclear winter that I’m really excited about. If I write another Stranded Novel, it will come after the first book in that series is published.

Now to the sappy stuff.

My Husband…Ten years and you still thrill my heart when you walk through the door. Thank you for every day.

My Kids…I’m sorry I’m working instead of playing Lego with you. Thank you for understanding and cheering me on. I love you both so much!

My Parents…For bragging about my work to complete strangers and being proud of me. YOU taught me what family means. I love you.

To My Fans…Again, Thank you for spending your hard earned money on an unknown. You didn’t just give me a career. You gave me a dream.

Theresa Shaver

Prologue

Harry Dennison helped his wife, Anna
, up into the wagon seat and handed her up the food basket when she was settled. She gave him a warm smile but he could see the quiet sorrow in her faded blue eyes. As he walked around the horses his own sorrow surfaced. He had come to terms with the deaths of his son and daughter-in-law but now that his only grandson, Quinn, was lost and possibly dead, his will to live had faded. He heaved his grief-exhausted, seventy year old body up into the trailer and patted his wife’s knee before taking the reins and getting the horses moving.

It had been five days since the event that had turned all modern electronics into useless hunks of metal. The first day had been confusing but everyone had stayed calm and the town’s small RCMP detachment
kept everyone in order. By the end of the first day, when people started realizing that the event was much bigger than their small town, it was fear and uncertainty that kept things quiet. A late night meeting of the town’s administration and police had a plan worked out. The residents had woken up the second day to find all of the businesses on Main Street locked and guarded until they could bring everyone to a town meeting. Runners on bikes and the few old vehicles that worked had been sent out to the surrounding properties and farms and everyone was urged to make their way to the community centre for a meeting.

There were many scared people yelling in the center
before they finally settled down and the limited answers people had were given out. It was decided that the grocery store, two gas stations and other businesses would open at reduced hours with strict rationing policies until they could get more news from the government. They sent three of the working cars out to the north, east and south to try and find some answers. Quite a few people in town guessed correctly that there would be no help coming and they explained their thoughts to the others. There were quite a few generators that still worked and they organized water pumping stations around town and powered up the community center. People were advised to make lists of supplies on hand in their homes and anyone who would be short on food could ask for help from the town.

Once most of the townspeople had left the building, a second meeting was held with the main farm owners that had been asked to stay behind. The people in charge knew that they had to plan long term in case help wasn’t coming.
Harry and his neighbours were the biggest farm holders and those people were already dealing with the uncertainty of whether or not their children would be coming home from the class trip to California. Supplies and stock were listed and plans for putting in crops were discussed. Without modern farm machinery, it would be a challenge but they all had at least one piece of old machinery that was still running. If they all came together and planted each farm before moving on to the next, it could be done. They would need labour to be successful but if people wanted to eat in the future, they would have to contribute. There was plenty of animal stock and they made a schedule to rotate butchering to supply the townspeople with what they had available. It was agreed that these plans would be put on hold for three days until the scouts that were sent out came back and reported what was happening in the rest of the province. They made plans to meet again in three days for a full town meeting where everyone would be told the news and the plans to go forward.

Once the meeting broke up, the farmers gathered in the parking lot. The Andrews, the Greens,
the Mathers and Susan Perry joined the Dennisons. They all had children who had gone on the class trip. With no way of knowing what was happening in the world, they were all very concerned but not yet panicked over the fate of their kids.

Mary Green put her arm around Alice Andrews and gave her a squeeze.

“Sofia got home last night. She said that Red Deer is completely at a standstill just like here. She brought a few friends from the college with her and they said that there are fires burning out of control in parts of the city. The only reason they made it out was because of that old VW Bug that Josh helped her fix up. What if this is everywhere? How are our kids going to survive in California?” she said, the last word with a sob.

Eyes filled with tears as they all contemplated the fate of their children so far away and in a place filled with millions of people all fighting for survival. It was Quinn’s grandfather who broke the silence.

He cleared his throat and said in his gruff, gravelly voice, “Let’s not lose sight of who we are talking about here. Our kids are strong and smart. They are resourceful and they also have help. I’ve known Norma Moore for decades and that woman is prepared for anything. She will have a plan and ensure those kids find refuge. Besides, Alice, have you ever known Alex to give up? She will be barking at their heels to keep them moving to safety.” He made eye contact with all the other parents before proclaiming, “I will bet money that our kids are already out of the city and headed our way. That is if this event has even happened down in the south. We don’t even know if the US has been affected by whatever has happened. Let’s just give it a few days and wait for the scouts to come back with information before we start thinking the worst. We need to deal with the here and now. I like the idea of planning for the next couple months in case this is a long term problem. Let’s get together over the next few days and compare what we have working on the farms and map out how we will do the planting. We all have horses so we should use them to travel and save the gas we have for field work or emergencies. I will hitch up my team to the old buckboard wagon and come around to collect everyone in three days for the next town meeting. We should head home now and get to work.”

Josh’
s father nodded, “I have to pick up a friend of Josh’s here in town and he’s going to be staying with us until this gets sorted out. I will ride over to your place later today, Harry, and we will talk stock.”

The families all went their separate ways with the hope that they would have good news when they came to town in three days. Ron Green and his wife, Mary
, climbed into their daughter’s restored VW bug and drove to the address that Josh had given him before he had left on his school trip. He had explained to his wife what was going on in Dara and Jake’s house and what his son had asked of him. She had immediately agreed that the boy and his mother should come and stay with them.

When they got to the house they were looking for
, they went up the walk and knocked on the door. There was no answer at first but Mr. Green kept knocking until the door was cracked open and he could see Jake’s small face peeking through the crack.


Jake, are you okay?” When the boy didn’t answer him and just stared at him with his big grey eyes he went on. “I’m Mr. Green, Josh’s dad. He asked me to come and check on you and your mom for him. Can I come in?”

The door inched open a bit further. “Is Josh with you? The TV and water doesn’t work. Josh can fix it. He can fix lots of stuff!”
the boy told him.

“I’m sorry
, Jake, but Josh and your sister are still on their school trip so he sent me over to take care of you. Is your Mom here?”

The door opened all the way and Jake stepped back to let Josh’s parents in.

“She’s sleeping. She probably won’t wake up until it gets dark,” he told them while looking at his feet.

The Greens stepped into the house and Mrs. Green couldn’t help but wrinkle her nose at the stale smell of cigarettes and wine. She took a quick glance around and bit her tongue at the dirty dishes and overflowing ashtray on the coffee table.
The four empty wine bottles on the floor had her shaking her head. Next to the table was a long couch and sprawled out on it was Laura, Jake’s mother, and her former friend. She looked horrible with dirty hair and pale skin. She couldn’t match this person up with the friend she used to know. Laura had always had a warm inviting house and she took pride in her appearance. When she and her husband had gotten a divorce and moved into town, Mary had tried to stay in touch and help out but Laura had just seemed to drift away. Seeing her former friend in this sorry state hurt her heart. She wished now that she had tried harder to keep Laura in her life. Turning her attention to Jake, she saw him clearly for the first time. He was wearing dirty pajamas that had food stains on the front and it was obvious that he hadn’t bathed in a few days. Her heart hardened at the sight of him staring longingly at the passed out figure on the couch. No matter what had happened in her life, Laura had two children who were supposed to come first.

Ron
Green explained to Jake that he was going to stay with them for a while until things started working again and then sent him to get dressed and pack a bag full of clothes and a few toys he wanted to bring. When Jake had left the room, he looked at the passed out woman on the couch and then turned to his wife with a look of disgust.

“We need to try and wake her up. I’m not carrying her out of here in that state.”

Mary nodded and went to the couch and tried to rouse her former friend. After shaking her and yelling at her she gave up.

“We could throw
water on her but right now I’m afraid I might say some ugly things to her. How she could do this and leave her child alone to fend for himself infuriates me. From the way Jake responded, this isn’t the first time she has done this. Let’s just leave her to sleep it off. We will write a note and leave it on her cigarette pack. She can find her way out to our place or we can check back with her in a few days when we come back to town. I don’t even know if she would realize that he is gone.” She huffed out a frustrated breath and went in search of pen and paper.

Mr. Green went down the hall to help Jake pack and couldn’t believe that Dara had been dealing with this
. The weight on that girl’s shoulders must have been huge. Now that he had seen firsthand what the situation was in this house, he was even more proud of his son for trying to take on some of that weight.  He was so frustrated with the whole situation and he kept thinking that if he ever saw Jake and Dara’s father again he would be hard pressed to not punch his lights out for leaving his kids to deal with this on their own.

After leaving the note where it would be impossible to miss
, they took Jake out and got him into the car. They left the town without seeing another working vehicle.

The next two days were tense and
stressful for all the families. They rode horses over their properties to plan with each other and make schedules for planting and butchering. They all hoped that things would clear up before they had to implement them but after the second day they all saw that it would have to happen if they wanted to feed the town and their own families. By the time Harry Dennison drove his wagon over to pick them up for the town meeting, the tension was overwhelming. Once everyone had been picked up, they rode in silence, each consumed with the thoughts of their children so far away and the fact that their farms were going to become communal property to feed the town.

Everyone was surprised to find a roadblock set up on the outskirts of town. Three men, one
police officer and two men from the town were manning it with shotguns and rifles. They waved the wagon through and explained that there had been a lot of people from the highway and city walking into town and they were trying to keep a handle on who was coming in. They had sent everyone to the community center and it was starting to look like a refugee camp.

The town had changed in just the few days since the last meeting. All the dead cars had been removed from the streets and there were more people out. They were all walking towards the community center and there were more children this time. As the days had passed without
official outside help, parents became more and more concerned and they kept their families close.

Harry noticed a man standing against a lamppost. He was rough
-looking and stood out as he was one of the few people not walking towards the meeting. It took him a minute to place the man. The sneer on his face made it click. Hank Morris. Harry didn’t know him personally but he knew the man had a reputation as a troublemaker. He had heard that Hank ran with a rough crowd and that he was a frequent visitor to the town’s drunk tank. As the wagon passed him by, Hank took a last drag on his smoke and tossed it down onto the street before turning and walking in the opposite direction as everyone else. Harry shook his head and was thankful the man wouldn’t be at the meeting to cause problems.

The parking lot of the center was filled with people and there were tables set up with food and water as well as a table that held huge coffee urns
with electrical extension cords running back into the building. People were lined up at these tables and Harry saw that there were many that looked exhausted and filthy. Refugees from the highway or cities had walked in to the town and were just looking for a safe place with food and water. He frowned at the numbers and sighed. They would have to find a way to feed them.

There were more than a few horses
already grazing in the enclosed playing field beside the center so they got theirs unhitched and led them over to the others. As the group approached the main doors, they got into line and saw that there were administrators with clipboards taking down names and addresses to form a census of who was still in the area and who would need to be fed in the coming weeks. After giving all of their names and household numbers, the entire group declined to be put on rations. They all had plenty of food on the farms and many had cellars with food that had been canned on top of the livestock.

BOOK: Home: A Stranded Novel
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