I hope you enjoy the tale; it's very short, so it should be an easy read. Comments are always welcome. Perhaps we'll even come up with an idea or two to make this into a novella.
Four years, three months and four days. That’s how long Matt and Betsi Jones had trained for this exact situation. Long and hard they had prepared for the day that almost everyone knew would eventually come. The day the lights went out and SHTF. Matt and Betsi were well prepared for all this.
Fifty-one months and four days they had trained. Three to five mile runs morning and evening. Long weekend hikes with 50-pound packs. Sit-ups until their abdominal muscles screamed. Weight training until their arms burned and begged to stop. Swimming sessions that lasted for hours.
One thousand, five hundred and fifty-six days. That’s how long they prepped for the exact moment. They had saved money and bought extra water, extra food. They did without movies and instead bought lightweight balanced weapons. They drove older cars so they had extra money for thousands of rounds of ammunition. They used coupons for everything so they could afford their top-notch survival gear. Matt and Betsi had done without for so long because this was a time they knew they could and would survive.
Twenty-six hours. Twenty-six stinking, measly hours. That’s how long before the SHTF for Matt and Betsi. One day and two hours was as long as all their training, all their saving, all their preparing carried them. Twenty-six lousy hours.
One thousand, five hundred and sixty minutes. The exact amount of time Matt lived after the lights went out. Matt and Betsi spent the first twenty-four hours preparing for their nine-hour journey from Rochester to Newberry. Newberry, Michigan, at the far eastern, remote, desolate end of the Upper Peninsula. Newberry, their safety and refuge. Newberry, where their small cabin full of food and supplies quietly awaited their arrival. Newberry, a place Matt and Betsi would never see again.
Two hours and ten minutes. That’s where Matt’s journey in this new world ended. His trip with Betsi lasted 130 minutes. The last 130 minutes they would be together until the promised eternity brought them back forever. If Betsi had known, she would have just sat back and enjoyed Matt’s last minutes on earth. She would have studied his face, his now hardened features. She would have reminded him on a minute-by-minute basis how much she loved him, just how special he was to her. But time doesn’t allow for rewinds.
Instead Betsi sat in the passenger seat of their 2002 Jeep Wrangler watching the road in front of them, carefully, intently. They had traveled this exact path many times. They knew every twist and turn, every hill and dale this road had to offer. Still, Betsi watched, closely. She watched for the trouble they knew they’d find. The trouble they hoped they’d beat by leaving so soon after the start. But two hours and ten minutes into their journey trouble found them.
A simple roadblock manned by six lawless men was their undoing. The blockade was strategically set just after a severe ninety-degree turn in their road. A turn that brought their vehicle speed dangerously low, less than 15 miles an hour. A turn that allowed the pirates to block them in from the front as well as the rear.
Before their vehicle was even stopped Matt had his weapon at the ready. He jumped from the driver’s side and drew a bead on the group in front of their tenuous position. Betsi watched, not breathing. Matt knew what he was doing, he was well prepared. It wasn’t until the gunshot came from behind them that Betsi even knew there were more in the rear.
Matt dropped to the ground, his last breath spent. A single man walked up and kicked his now lifeless body signifying Matt’s death for all to see. The group of ten now closed in around the idling vehicle. Betsi scrambled for her weapon but knew it was already too late. Her door torn open, and the bandits ripped Betsi from her sanctuary. Taken from the only man she had ever loved. Taken from a world that offered some safety, to a world that had none.
One single moment in time. It was just one heartbeat. One second; one fraction of a minute. Joe stared down, hidden above on the ridge twenty yards from the murder. He had only stopped to relieve his ready to burst bladder. He had seen the roadblock from above, the trap awaiting some poor unsuspecting traveler. He knew it would be trouble for someone but not for him. Now he stared at the scene - the gunman, the dead husband, the screaming woman, the rough group. Joe frowned and shook his head ever so slightly.
He’d been walking for six hours. He still wasn’t sure where he was going, where he should be going. He just knew he had to get away from trouble, trouble that would follow when the SHTF. This was the exact trouble he’d wanted to avoid…desperately. But one single moment in time had changed all that.
Jesuit Brother Joseph Clower rose slowly from his secluded squat. Business was at hand, business he knew he had to attend to promptly. This is why God had sent him to this place, at this exact moment in time.