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Vaxdemic Chapter 12

talexratcliffeOct 31, 2021, 10:42:42 AM

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Chapter 12

I finally got to return to my windmill. Not that the situation has improved very much. I was able to keep things I hook up to it from burning out by running the windmill through a battery first. The only problem is if I don’t disconnect the battery before it’s over charged, I fry a battery. The battery idea fixes the problem of no wind but I’m still contending with the idea of too much. I’ve also gone back to the houses with solar systems in hopes of finding some answers. There is a box set up between the panels and the house but I still can’t find the manual for it. Given how rare these boxes are I really don’t want to experiment with them, so I keep looking for the manuals.

Ruth pointed out that a lot of modern RV have solar panels. Maybe I could find some answers there. The RV lot is next to the tractor store. I’ve been reluctant to head that way lately. It’s right on the edge of the city, beyond it is the collapsed bridge, blown up by the rural folks who made their opinions about visitors clear. I’m always a little worried I’m going to get sniped. I’m also worried about wild animals since there is nothing but forest on the other side of the highway. I don’t tell Ruth any of this, I don’t need her thinking I’m a coward.

I set off on Wednesday to see if I could find answers. I left Abby with Ruth and Rusty. She’s in heat and has been really annoying to deal with. It’s also been a major chore keeping Rusty away from her, though I suspect Ruth isn’t really trying to stop it. The last thing I need while trying to study is a whiny dog begging for attention. After checking my supplies, making sure I have books, and hooking my phone to the trucks charger so I can take picture I set off.

Traveling is a lot more work than it used to be. It’s been at least four months since everything stopped and road cleaning was one of those things. The thing about cleaning the roads is, it’s not something you think about till it’s not happening. My city liked to have medians with a row of trees running it’s length. While the leaves were cleaned up long ago, apparently trees also shed sticks. These mix with the general litter of an uninhabited city and you can drive for blocks and not see pavement.

There are also a lot more animals. I thought most animals hibernated in the winter, or maybe they do and since it’s now March they’re waking up. Either way I have to drive slower because of deer, foxes, wild dogs, and turkeys just waking around. Ruth told me I should try to shot some of them and she could teach me how to clean them so we can have fresh meat. I was appalled at the idea, at first. Our canned meat supply is starting to run low. I often find myself looking at a running turkey and thinking it may be worth a try.

The trip to the RV dealer takes about 20 minutes longer than it would have if the roads were clear. This place is feels fairly untouched. Everything is a little grimier but it’s almost like they could still be in business. After a twenty-minute detour where I acquired the keys, I started my search. The Dealer has four RVs I’ve run across with Solar panels. I go to the biggest one, My logic is it would be the one closest to an actual house.

Well RVs are not houses. They’re a lot more complicated. RVs do come something my house doesn’t, manuals. I was almost shocked at the amount of joy I felt at seeing those simple black and white instruction manuals. I sit down on the installed couch and started to read. RVs are strangely stuffy and hot even in the relative cold of early March and it didn’t take long before I had to open the windows and door. This it turned out was a huge mistake.

Somehow after seeing all those animals and thinking how good they may taste it didn’t register to me that there were animals that may share my thoughts. Large, toothy, hungry animals. At least this wasn’t a thought until I saw the cougar climbing the steps into the RV. It looked almost as surprised to see me, and for a moment we just stared at each other. It lowered it’s head and hissed. Slowly I got up and started backing away toward the table I had laid my gun on. The cougar followed me further into the RV.

My hart hammered as I reached for the gun. Suddenly the cougar pounced. I had enough time to grab the gun and hold it in front of me. The collision with the big cat knocked me over. I moved the gun as best I could to block the claws and teeth. I tried to fire but the trigger wouldn’t pull. After a few seconds I realize I left the safety on. The cougar bit and scarred the gun and it’s claws worked furiously to get past it. I reached for the safety and one of the big claws found my hand. I screamed but somehow found the presence of mind to turn off the safety and pull the trigger.

The loud noise scared off my attacker. As soon as I could I leapt up and shut the door to keep the cougar out. It took a moment to realize I had left a small trail of blood from where I was tackled to the door. My hand was bleeding a lot more than I was comfortable with. I had read about some basic first aid in the Pocket Ref I had taken from the engineer’s office and dressed my wound to the best of my ability. Since I had no bandages at hand I had to use my shirt and tear a strip from it. I knotted the makeshift bandage tightly. My hand still worked even though it hurt like hell. Maybe the wound wasn’t so bad.

I needed to get out of here. I stuffed the manuals into a backpack I brought with me and thoroughly checked through the windows for the cougar. I didn’t see it, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. With my gun raised I made my way out of the camper. The area was quiet as I made my way to back to the truck. The RV I had chosen was on the far side of the lot. There were lots of places for the big cat to hide.

I made my way from RV to RV, doing my best to check everywhere I could before moving on. It took almost ten minutes but the entrance to the lot came into view. I parked just outside the gate. My hand throbbed as I pivoted this way and that. There was only one RV between me and the entrance. I made a dash for the truck.

I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I immediately turned and fired. The cougar jumped back and ran a few feet away. I continued to run for the truck, glancing back to see if it was chasing me. After running a few feet from the gun shot the cougar doubled back and started chasing me again. I turned and fired again. I saw the small game load I had loaded in the shot gun pepper the cougar’s flank. It let out a strange growl of pain and stopped chasing me long enough for me to get in my truck.

The beast turned to look at me as I sat in my vehicle. The way it looked at me still haunts me. It’s like it was saying, “this is a long game, and we’re just at the beginning.” I started up the truck and drove away, keeping an eye on my new enemy. It watched me go and turned to lick it’s wound.

The whole drive home my hand throbbed in pain. Red started to show through my makeshift bandage. By the time I got home and Ruth took a look at my wound, the bleeding had stopped. She cleaned it as well as she could and wrapped it in some bandages, she’d had me stock pile months earlier. I thought that was the end of that. I was wrong.

The wound got infected. I remember thinking of cuts getting infected as something minor. You took some antibiotics and got better. That didn’t happen. My whole arm was sore by the end of the week and I ended up bed ridden for three days. Ruth made sure to clean my wound and wrap it in fresh bandages every twelve hours. I thought I was going to die, but after three more days my fever broke. After another two I started to feel normal again. Two weeks after the scratch I was finally back up and walking around. The wound is still a little crusty but it’s not hot to the touch anymore and the swelling is gone. Ruth tells me it will likely scar, but after the two weeks I’ve had I’m just glad I didn’t lose the hand. I hope those manuals are worth it.

Bob Stackey

March 16, 2021

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