A Time of Isolation, Chapter 6, Part 1

Two weeks ago we left Saige informing and admonishing the team of their true situation as he saw it. Of course there’s really no way to know since none of them have any experience in the high mountains. If they thought by escaping the primitives that their troubles were over, what he relates to them brings them quickly back to reality. The pressure is on and with as little time left before winter arrives they truly are stuck between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. They’ve survived the primitives at a high cost whittling their numbers down to just fifteen – nine men, and six women. And with this short time period before winter nature can finish what the primitives started.

And so it is with this information we close out chapter 5 and open chapter 6. Here we find them now facing winter, and at the same time looking back to how they found and set up their chosen site to cope with the unknowns ahead of them. And here with the first storm of the season striking them they learn firsthand what they are probably facing. (The Survival Trilogy: A Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, are available from your favorite E-book retailer) And with this brief look to the past chapter and a view of their continued plight is chapter 6, part 1:

As he feared, winter struck hard and with a fury in these mountains that they were unfamiliar with down in the lowlands. It had taken them five days to finally find something suitable to last out the winter that was approaching. Then the work really began and the small group worked from before sunrise to well after sunset. It was hard grueling work and while there were complaints, and many a sore muscle, they all knew that what they were trying to accomplish here would make the difference between survival and death. There would be no in-between here, and in this harsh world they were now living, there would be no forgiveness. There had been little time to really explore the cave they found that would meet most of their needs. Water was close, but not so close that it would draw unwanted animals or people their way. Plus it was partially up the side of a hill so that if the snow piled high they would remain above this snow. It faced at an angle to the prevailing winds so as to keep the winds from entering into the cave and chilling it further. When Stone looked at the cave when it was first found, he felt that it probably was a steam vent from the extinct volcano, and it had vented both vertically and horizontally with the vent hole out the roof being small. This provided a place for the smoke to escape when they built a fire or fires inside the cave. It appeared that in the distant past when this was forming that it blew out the side of this hill placing debris everywhere – giving them ample building materials to wall up the entrance. A few trees also were close further shielding the entrance from sight.

With their group being this small, they could only send out two hunting teams, with each team consisting of two individuals. They had to hunt well away from this area, so if it became necessary, that during the winter they would be able to hunt closer to their camp for additional food. They had completed the transformation before the first flakes of snow began falling. This spurred them on to even greater effort. And if one looked around at the team now they would have appeared to be even more primitive than the ones they had fought. Working the skins into leather for clothing had changed their appearance. Now everyone was in the leather from the game that was also their food supply. While the meat was the main subsistence they also collected nuts and plants to help round out their nutritional needs. This season they could not be selective. Later, if they survived, and with more time, there would be more variety in their foods. Saige, looking at the group working in the camp outside of the cave, as they prepared the meat for drying, reminded him of the holos they would watch in school showing how their ancient ancestors lived and interacted with each other and other tribes. At the time of youth he thought it was fun watching, but since it was all a reenactment anyway it probably was not like what they were being shown. Yet, now he had to admit that the scene he was seeing here was uncannily just like the ones in those holos.

While the opening into this particular cave wasn’t very large – one still could walk into it while standing – it was large enough to admit two abreast. Once inside it opened up with the roof sitting approximately 6 meters above and side-to-side 20 to 30 meters. It appeared that as the original magma and water steam headed for the surface; they stopped here, expanded, before finally blowing out in the two places which became their entrance to the cave and exit for the smoke from the fires. Inside they built, using wood and stone, areas for privacy since they were a mixed group. There were a few offshoots from the main tunnel and while not truly explored there were two on opposite sides and deeper inside that they turned into places to take care of their nature calls. And if someone in the group broke the rules they were placed on the duty of cleaning these areas and hauling the waste outside a safe distance away. Not a job any wanted but still necessary. So if all stayed within their rules then all would rotate through the job with none excluded. In another offshoot they found a large bowl shaped by the flowing lava that they converted into a bath.

Close to the area of the cave, they found clay from which they then began to make pots. While they had no way of firing them to proper hardness what they did produce worked. Fragile yes, and because of this they made as many as time would allow. In some of the larger vessels they had created they heated water for the bath. After all with 15 people in an enclosed area for an extended period of time it could get very ripe. They rigged a couple of skins over the entrance to again allow for privacy and set the rule that if it was closed off then it was occupied and off limits until the entrance again was open. When one used the bath they were also responsible for emptying and cleaning it. They had found that one of the plants up in these highlands absorbed water and left a pleasant scent, so the women collected as much of this as they could find. Stating, “It’s all right if you men don’t mind coming out all wet, but we would prefer to be dry, and the scent from the plants are pleasant too.” There had been plenty of dead wood in the area so they began by working the wood that was furthest out leaving the wood close in for later use if they had to add to their supply. So, while a long way from perfect, what they had created was very livable.

* * *

Pulling back the cover they had over the opening to help keep it warmer within the cave, Saige briefly stepped outside and immediately shivered. The temperatures between inside and outside were vastly different. There was a strong wind blowing, but fortunately he was out of it. It had been snowing now for many days and from the looks of the clouds, which were sullen, dark, and appeared to be heavily laden with moisture, there would be many more days of this storm before it broke. Not used to being inside as long as they had, he began to get what he had heard called cabin fever. While there was plenty of room even with the fifteen of them inside he never had to stay this long without going outside to at least see the sky. Once this storm broke they would have to go get more tar for their torches. They had gone through their supply much quicker than they had planned. He also knew that soon they would need to learn the area they were living in. While preparing for this winter there had been little time to actually explore and map the area. If for some reason the primitives were to come up here they would need a quick and safe way out of the area. There was much that needed to be done and it fell on his shoulders, he and his sister’s shoulders, he corrected himself – since before Shayne had died he made it clear that the two of them were a team and were to lead as a team.

It still saddened him every time he thought back to that night when Shayne had died, and he was sure it was that way for all of them. He heard the cover being drawn back and turned to see Shellian coming out to stand next to him. Like when he first emerged, she shivered, crossed her arms and hunched against the cold. Wondering why she came out he asked. “So sis why leave the warmth of the cave?”

“Oh I guess like you the cave just seemed to be closing in on me and I needed to get out for even a couple of minutes. I saw you leave and thought this would be a good time to do it since you would be out here. I knew that at least with this storm blowing that you wouldn’t be too far, so there would be two of us, as you have requested, and not just one.”

Shrugging he said. “You got me there. But I was going nowhere except right here and to admit it; I was going stir crazy in there and just needed to step out for a short time. Besides it gave me a chance to see how deep this snow is getting. But I am sure that is not the only reason. I know that Shayne left both of us in charge and with such a small group of us remaining it is not necessarily a difficult task for the two of us. Keeping all of us alive might be though.”

With a sheepish look on her face she paused then said, “Y’ah I guess that’s true. Look with all of us so close in there – I know there’s plenty of room, but you know what I mean. There are nine of you guys and only six of us. It would have been nice if it was a little more equal, but it isn’t. While it hasn’t happened yet, I think these inequalities in numbers are going to be a real problem. Now with winter here in full force we will be forced to be together and if things take their natural course we will be having issues with coupling. And for example take Sorrel, she’s a big flirt and I don’t think she would be interested in settling for any single man. And she is the type that would enjoy seeing jealousies arise over her. Then there is Sabryn, quiet, strong, and not interested at least outwardly in any man. At least outwardly . . . although I suspect she secretly has someone in mind. At this moment I really do not know. With me as one of the leaders I am not confided in as much as I would like. But also being female I know what I see and . . .” Shrugging again and looking into her brother’s eyes. “And I could talk about the other three, but their stories would be similar.”

“What about you? I noticed that you did not mention anything about your feelings or the direction they are taking? I know for a fact that you have been drawn towards Saar.” Seeing the reaction of Shellian he said. “Now don’t you deny it! So far he has been oblivious to any of your looks, but I haven’t been your brother all this time without learning how to read you at least a little.”

Looking down at the snow covered ground before answering Shellian then said. “Okay I am sweet on him, but that’s all. Is it that obvious?”

“Probably only to me, since like I said, I know you. Otherwise it would appear to be just a leader’s interest in someone under him or her. But you are right. I have only been thinking about surviving this winter, learning as much about this area as we can and trying to keep all of us safe. I hadn’t even considered the coupling aspect, and, my gosh, that would mean that you or I would have to perform the ceremony if two of them really wanted to become a couple.” Now it was his turn to look down before continuing. “Hey sis, I had enough on my mind before you threw this one at me. Thanks a lot.”

Smiling she said, “You are welcome of course. But again with so few women that will mean that some of the men will be without and that could further the problems. And no, I am not suggesting that we all start sleeping around and spread the wealth here. All I am saying is that eventually there will be coupling and that will lead to some uncomfortable moments. Oh, by the way, is there one you are especially sweet on? I mean, I usually catch that with you as much as you have with me, but so far I haven’t.”

“Are you kidding? I’ve been so involved in trying to keep us alive and together, such a thing hadn’t even entered my mind. In fact it probably wouldn’t have had at all if you hadn’t brought it up. I guess I can see why Shayne wanted both of us to lead. Hey I don’t know about you but I am starting to get very cold here and my feet are numb. Shall we go back inside before both of us become icicles?” He could see she was beginning to shiver.

“Of course, I am freezing, but I needed to bring this up because I could see what’s coming, and saw that you did not. Now lead us back inside where it is warm. But remember, if you set a rule such as always a team of two, when any leave the cave, then it applies to you too.”

As he pulled the material away from the entrance he whispered. “Yes mother.” and with that they both laughed and returned to the warmth of the cave.

* * *

Winter has arrived, and with the fierceness of the storm it has forced all of them to remain inside. Eventually “cabin fever” pushes Saige outside with Shellian following a short time later. With all that has kept Saige busy he is unaware of what Shellian brings to his attention, and all the problems this can entail. And she also reminds him of one of the rules he has just broken. Finally the cold and the storm drives both back inside with Saige making a final comment as we close out part 1. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

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If You’ve Done it, There’s a Code

This week I take a break from A Time of Isolation, and do a post that is kind of fun , unless, of course, one of these codes applies to you personally. I’m sure every country in the world that have medical facilities have their own sets of codes that must be used for patients – shortcuts to keep diagnoses organized. This one, of course, is a set of International Diagnosis Codes (ICD-10 to be exact).  Part of the problem with any of these code systems is they change, and most of the time when the changes takes place there isn’t a general announcement stating anything about the changes, the announcements go out late, or the information never reaches the ones responsible for submitting the paperwork. Still for the ones who deal with these codes and if the codes they are using have been changed, then any paperwork submitted under the old codes will be rejected, and at that point the claims must be resubmitted with the corrected or new code.

Most of the time, as a layman, one would think these codes would cover all the known diseases, and probably the common accidents that brings one into the emergency room, hospital, or the doctor’s office. Yet the list presented here, which is way short of all that there is, will show you how far these codes actually go. And as the title says: If you’ve done it, there is an ICD-10 code for it. Again, what is here is used internationally. Still I suspect there’d be a similar code set used, even if it’s not this one, no matter where you live and it might be fun looking them up:

Y93.D            Activities involved arts and handcrafts

Z99.89          Depending on enabling machines and devices, not elsewhere classified

W55.41XD   Bitten by a pig, initial encounter (Lucky here, since pigs or hogs will eat you.)

W61.62XD   Struck by a duck, subsequent encounter (Retaliation by ducks against duck hunters?)

W55.29XA   Other contact with a cow, subsequent encounter (Obviously from this there must be multiple ways a cow can make contact, other than by phone.)

V00.01XD   Pedestrian on foot injured in collision with roller skater, subsequent encounter (So whose not paying attention?)

Z63.1            Problems in relationship with in-laws (I suspect this can cover a multitude of situations or sins.)

V91.07XD   Burn due to water skis on fire, subsequent encounter (Really? I’d personally not expect this, especially since one normally skis on water or snow. After all fire and water don’t mix very well.)

W22.02XD  Walked into a lamppost, subsequent encounter (I suspect this one is on the rise with the use of smart phones.)

V95.43XS   Spacecraft collision injuring occupant, sequela (A traffic jam in space, or is it something else? Anyway who’d have thought?)

V97.33XD   Sucked into a jet engine, subsequent encounter (This really does make it seem that the victim doesn’t have an elevator that goes to the top floor.)

As you can see from this very short list it covers a multitude of situations that one would never consider, or maybe with some of the codes there is proof of the stupidity of man. I suspect there are many bazaar injuries that could be added to this sample list, and some I’m sure could make us laugh. Still if it has happened to someone there is a code for it. God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Published in: on July 23, 2016 at 7:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Time of Isolation, Chapter 5, Part 4

It has only been a short time that they’ve been in the lower areas of the Sacred Mountains and already they’ve come close to losing one of the team. More through luck than skill they avoided the danger and continued across the desolate broken land of scattered broken boulders, ice, and very little vegetation. As they continued to follow the game trail it simply ended where no one could continue, which could have trapped them if that unknown predator returned at that very moment. It was at this time (obviously) they realized that something had changed in the past making the animals change their route, and in their haste they missed it. Retracing they finally locate the new trail and when they finally reach the river, stop, taking in the quiet beauty that lay before them. And it is here, once they cross this slow and wide portion they plan to spend the night before continuing deeper into the Sacred Mountains.

Each turn, each climb to a higher elevation reveals more. More of the beauty, more of the dangers, and more of the changes when comparing their present with their past. It is now obvious to them that they have gone beyond the reach of the primitives by the reaction of the wild herd beasts. And from the way the herd is spread across the meadow lands the scouting team can tell the herd seems to be unconcerned about whatever the predator is that attacked the team in the broken land they just vacated. (The Survival trilogy: A Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, are available from your favorite Ebook retailer.) And it is with these thoughts and here where we pick up the conclusion to chapter 5:

It had been a peaceful and a quick night. While they posted guards and rotated them often, the rest slept hard and deep from exhaustion caused by the days of being continually on the run, having to be forever vigilant, fighting and trying to stay ahead of the enemy. The plan had been to be back on the trail by sunrise but it was midmorning before they were moving again. Now they hiked through knee-high grasses that were curing in the late summer, early fall. They suspected that both fall and winter would come early to these higher mountain ranges. So they knew their time was short and they needed to find a place where they could winter. It needed to be found soon, because they would have to gather foods and such to carry them through winter, and right now they had little. While this place that they were leaving was nice, it was open and would probably be buried deep in the winter snows and would not be a good place to stay. So they moved on, both to put more distance between themselves and the primitives, and to find better shelter.

Once across the meadow the trail began its climb out and head deep into the mountains. As they continued to climb the trees began to thin out and eventually disappear all together. Although higher up they could see scattered alpine trees. Looking back across the landscape they could no longer see anything but the mountains. The place they had left was as if it had never been. Now all that was visible was the surrounding rugged wild mountains that may have never seen anything like them. Saar commented to no one in particular. “This surely is beautiful, but I sense very dangerous. None of us have ever lived in such an area, and I being the doctor for this group am worried, as I have no access to anything I am familiar with. I know nothing of the plants, and our equipment that we had to abandon, had the facilities to allow me to manufacture medicines, as I needed. Now – now I don’t have anything at all. It really is a worrisome thing.”

Saige didn’t say anything, as he had no answer. Instead he nodded in agreement. There were many things that they did not have, and would have a desperate need, before winter arrived. The major question running through his mind was, did they have enough time left before winter, and would they find the necessary shelter to get through what he suspected would be a harsh winter? With these thoughts weighing heavily on his mind he really did not see the beauty that now surrounded them. He had been pushed into this leadership role before he might have wanted it. He had known that Shayne was working with both he and his sister to be his replacements some day. But that was to be far in the future, not under the duress that had led to he and she, now leading this ragtag remainder of their civilization. He wondered idly if other cities had gone dark. He suspected that possibly, was the best answer.

Again remembering the history that had been taught, there had originally been eight families that established the first cities. In the intervening time the cities had expanded to the known thirty. But with at least five now gone that he knew of – which included theirs – that had reduced the number to twenty-five. At least the original city was well hidden and purposely never placed on any of their maps. While most of the maps that existed were kept in the ruling hall he was sure that one might have fallen into the primitives’ hands, making it easier for them to locate the rest of the cities. But he really had no proof, since most of the cities existed in similar lands, this alone could be enough, giving the primitives a place to consistently search out for additional hidden cities. Yes it now was painfully obvious that they had become too complacent, too comfortable, and ended up with too much belief in their advantage of technology over the primitives. They were now paying a hard price for such stupidity. Should they have reached out a long time ago and tried to establish some type of relationship with the primitives? Well it hadn’t been attempted, so maybe the result would have been the same. Now it appeared that the primitives were bent on destroying all that they could find. Why? Again he had no answers, just speculation, and with nothing to support that speculation he may as well be spitting into the wind for all the good it would do him.

Someone had just spoken to him and because he had been so deep in thought he did not hear at all. Looking to his side he saw Shellian looking at him questioningly. Smiling he said, “Sorry Shellian, but I was lost in thought. I for one was not expecting to take over the leadership so soon.”

Nodding her head in agreement she said. “Yeah me neither. But I simply asked you about that plain area we had crossed yesterday. What do you think caused it to be that way? I mean if you look at either side it is heavily forested with many plants and meadows and such. But that area was bare of anything that was living, other than that predator that we really never saw.”

“I really don’t know. Maybe you should ask Stone since he is our geologist and plant specialist. But my guess would be that sometime in the past that there was a flood through that area. It’s the only explanation I can come up with that could create such a place as that. But, I for one am glad that it was only one day’s travel to get across. I really wouldn’t have wanted to spend the night there, as cold as it was during the day, and then give those predators another shot at us.”

She shivered at the thought, “I have to agree with that. All I saw was a flash and in that brief flash the impression was that it was huge and extremely quick. It left me wondering why just the single attempt. I mean it appeared to be something that would have had no problem in coming back and attacking us again.”

“I don’t know, but my guess is that it had been following us for some time, waiting for the right moment to make its attack, and when it failed, and thanks to the stars that it did, it felt that we would be alerted. Since it did not know what we could or could not do, it may have decided to go after something else. Again not knowing what it even is, I know nothing about how it lives, hunts, or anything at all. So once again it’s just a guess on my part.”

“Thinking that it might have been following us for some time just sends chills through me.” Pausing briefly before continuing, Shellian said, “I mean any one of us could have gone out to take care of nature’s call, been alone and vulnerable and then could have been attacked and taken away and no one would have had any idea what had happened. I doubt that there would have even been any real sign left behind for even out best tracker to figure out what had happened.”

“Very true, but at least now we know that they exist – even though I would guess that we would have little defense against them. Just not enough is known. So let’s just hope that they roam and hunt in that plain and are nowhere else.” He then looked at what they were hiking through at this moment and then said. “Not to change the subject but this area is absolutely beautiful. How long have we been climbing? Sorry I really haven’t been paying attention, just too much on my mind.”

“Really? I would never have guessed oh brother of mine.” She answered sarcastically before continuing. “I could see that, but it probably isn’t a good thing. I mean we all need to stay alert for dangers – after all this is all unknown to us.”

There was no argument for that statement. Yet it had been very difficult not to become deep in thought. There was so much that was unknown behind them and definitely ahead of them. How could one plan at all when he did not even know what question to ask? Looking around the area they presently were hiking through, it was a mix of alpine plants and scattered trees. While the soils looked rich it was also quite rocky. Looking closer at some of the rocks, which were exposed he realized that they were volcanic in nature. His conclusion from that observation was that the mountains they presently were in probably were extinct volcanoes. There sure had been no signs of such activity in this direction as long as he could remember, and as far as their history books spoke. All they stated was quote, “There is a rugged mountain range to the north, which has been little explored.” Well, these mountains were going to be explored now – not by choice but by necessity. The air was beginning to take on a chill as they continued along the trail. The breeze definitely had a bite to it. Looking up they could see that in the far distance that there still was snow and it was obvious to them that it probably never melted. Presently they had no clothing that would keep them warm in such an area so they would have to avoid it if at all possible. But the trail continued to wind through the sparse trees and continued its upward climb. Off to the west they could see where a cliff line developed and slowly the trail was working itself towards this cliff edge, eventually reaching and then paralleling it. Looking over it had to be at least 300 meters straight down. It was a dizzying height, and with nothing there to prevent one from falling, it had been difficult getting close enough to even peer over the edge. When they approached the edge they could hear the roaring of a great amount of water, and looking ahead they saw the beginnings of a waterfall dropping over into the abyss, crashing with a roar far below. The trail was heading directly towards it.

When they finally reached the top of the waterfall they could see that the amount of water going over the edge was tremendous. The river, and it had to be called a river, was at least 40 meters wide at this point and was moving rapidly. There was no safe way to cross it. Like the plain they had crossed the day before, the river was filled with boulders and the water crashed and bounced around these obstructions giving the appearance of anger from the water trying to move these obstructions out its way. There was a heavy mist coming off the water and it cooled the air to almost freezing. It sent a shiver and chill through them and they had to withdraw beyond the mist and find a place out of the wind and in the weak sunlight to warm themselves. Where the light touched the mists, rainbows formed throwing vibrant colors into the air. Here close to water they took their midday break. Saige called a brief meeting to find out how all was doing and what their next move should be. Up until now it had been flight, but with the final flight from the primitives behind them they now needed to find a semi permanent camp area and the sooner the better. They were in trouble and he knew it. It was late in the season here and looking at that snow on the higher peaks let him know that once winter set in they were going nowhere until spring thaw. “Okay all, we have been doing nothing but running, fighting and reacting to what has been happening to us. There has been no time for planning except for what the situation dictated at the moment. Now that our first danger is finally behind us we now have a greater one ahead of us. We need to be looking for a place to wait out the winter. And while I am not an expert on the weather it is obvious to me that winter comes early here and probably stays late.

“If you look at our food supplies I doubt that we have enough to last out the next ten days let alone a winter. Plus we have no shelter or clothing or anything. What the primitives could not do to us down there, winter up here could. So in the next few days we need to be finding that shelter. I suspect that this mountain and maybe the whole range of mountains here were volcanic at one time. We do not have time to build anything even if we had the tools to do it. So we need to find one of the many caves that volcanoes create and then start working hard on preparing it for a winter stay. That means building a wall at the front of the cave to help insulate it against the cold, put together enough firewood to both keep us warm, and to cook by. I suspect that we will be having a fire going all the time. If that is the case think of how much wood that will require. Then we have to face the real problem, even if we solve these first two – food. So we will have to be sending out hunting parties to bring in meat. Then it will have to be smoked and cured so that it will last the winter. And again like the firewood we will need a lot of it since there are fifteen people here. At least with the skins, from the animals we bring in for food, we should not be lacking for materials to make clothes.

“Now when you think about it there are so many small details that will be necessary to accomplish that I have only covered the big ones here and now. You have to think about sanitary requirements, utensils, sleeping areas, bedding, and on and on. We do not have a lot of time to do this so once we find our spot we will all be working from dawn to past dusk. Sleeping I do not think will be a problem.” Looking over the group he could see that what he had just passed on to them had them worried. Like him up to this point it had been just survive another day, avoid the primitives and continue moving. Now they had to change their mindset and begin to set up something more permanent.

* * *

While they haven’t reached their destination, a location to spend the winter, much has been on Saige’s mind. And once they break he passes on to the team what he believes they still face. And what he tells them is sobering to say the least. Again time is against them, and with the unknowns, which are huge, he really doesn’t know if there is enough time available to them to get done what must be done to survive this first up and coming winter deep in the Sacred Mountains. And with this we close out chapter five. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

A Time of Isolation, Chapter 5, Part 3

Have they finally reached a point where the primitives will no longer be a problem? While this may be fact, although with the brief encounter with the primitive hunters it is an unknown, and with the lateness of the season their troubles are far from over. Yet finding this cave will give them a moment to catch their breath, and maybe relax – something that hasn’t been available to them for what seems like forever. Still they realize this cave is not a place where they can remain. And with this knowledge we will pick up the story from this point.

Yet, with the close encounter with the primitive hunters they are well aware of the danger of accidental discovery. If discovered by one of the hunting parties they know they will have to destroy them. The scouting team also realizes that by doing this there would be a great chance of a war party entering the forbidden area to hunt them down, once the dead hunters are discovered. And with their numbers down to fifteen they would have no chance. (The complete Survival trilogy: A Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, are available from your favorite EBook retailer) And with this introduction is part 3:

They remained in this area for two days before continuing on to find a more permanent location. In that time they had killed one of the grazers at night so as to minimally disturb the rest. Then they jerked the meat over small fires, packed and divided it among the members, and attempted to hide any trace that they had been there. Still they knew that with the amount of time that they had spent here, that it would be nearly impossible to completely wipe out any sign. The scouting had produced a couple of promising possibilities, and they knew that they needed to go deeper and higher into these mountains. So the decision was made to take the rougher route they had discovered. Guessing that if the primitives found this camp that they would assume that the ones they were following would have taken the easier and more obvious route out of the area. To help further that impression, half of the remaining members worked up that trail leaving easily followed tracks, before backtracking, and heading down the actual trail, which first dropped down into a canyon with high narrow walls extending up and out of sight, immediately placing the entire team in deep shadows. From the narrowness of the gorge and steep sides it obviously was an area where the suns rarely reached with their warmth and light. The chill was immediate and penetrated the warmest of clothing that they were wearing. The time they had stopped had given them the respite to be able to make small repairs and get a little extra rest, something that had been rare, having to actually lift their spirits. Now instead of feeling dread, and impending doom, or death, there seemed to be an uplifting, and anticipation of what lay ahead of them. Now instead of being just one step ahead of the next fight, ambush, or accident, they had time to be careful and to plan. Yet with all that lay behind them, they had become much better at living in the wilds. Even though their numbers now were less than one-third of the original group, in many ways they were stronger, more cunning, and with their abilities tested to the limit, their confidence in what they could do, became very strong. Now with the additional time, hiding their trail should overall be successful. They had to disappear, as if they had never existed. So now was the time to accomplish that. The previous campsite would be the last the primitives should find; it was time to become ghosts, spirits, and find that place to begin the offensive against their enemy. But that was still sometime in the future; right now they were very much on the run with no home or no real destination.

Eventually the canyon walls retreated, opening up to a broken land. It gave the appearance that sometime in the great past mythological giants had been angry and were throwing large boulders around. There was very little vegetation here, and ice was everywhere making footing extremely treacherous. If one did not consciously concentrate on his footing he found himself on his behind quicker than he could react, and it hurt. Yet the animal trail they were following continued to wind around and through both the ice and broken land. This trail had to be going somewhere, as there was absolutely nothing for grazers to eat here. Yet at this very moment it was not obvious. At midday they finally stopped and ate a cold meal. And cold was an appropriate description, as their breath came out in great white clouds. Even though the suns shown down on them there appeared to be no warmth and the breeze that was blowing through this empty land cut right through them leaving them to find the lee of the boulders hoping to have them at least block some of the wind. Looking out across the landscape from their limited view, it appeared that this flat valley just went on forever. At this point they did not know if they would completely cross it before dark. But each knew that they did not want to spend the night here. As cold as it was now it would be deadly at night. That made this meal stop one that was very short and then they were on their way once more.

There was something about this area that felt haunted – as if they were continually under observation. But, it was a silent cold world. No sounds of birds, or the scurrying of the small animals or any movement other than they, giving the appearance that there were no others here but them. Yet as they worked their way deeper into this frozen land their alarm continued to rise. Saige could see it in all of them as each member continued to search the area with their eyes, trying to locate some unseen danger. He could feel the short hairs on the back of his neck rising up, yet like the rest he could find no source to this sense of being watched. He had to admit that this barren landscape, one totally lacking in any vegetation, still had too many places for a predator to hide, surrounded as they were with the piled ice and scattered boulders. If one were able to get up high enough this area overall would appear to be flat. What had happened here to cause this? Looking ahead the wild animal trail continued. Even the trail seemed to pass by areas that would have been easier, it was like the animals that traveled here were sensing and avoiding something threatening.

As the day progressed, and there was no let up in the tension, they found that their nerves were raw and all of them were on the verge of panic. The strength of the feeling could not be denied by any of them. But there was no source that any had found. Just what was going on, what was causing this sense of dread? Unconsciously they had picked up their pace just wanting to be away from this place. Finally needing to break they stopped to catch their breath. Seve standing next to one of the large boulders bent over to get something out of his backpack when something huge, white and extremely quick flashed through and missed grabbing Seve because the animal had expected him to remain standing. With a roar of frustration it was gone. All were standing where they were, frozen in position from the shock of the attack. No one had seen it, and only for a brief moment had it flashed by. Disbelief hit them at the speed of this predator – something that size shouldn’t be able to move that fast. Then Saige yelled. “Grab you gear and run down the trail now! We have to get out of here; we have no defense against whatever that was. I don’t want any of us here when it returns. And who knows if there is one, there may be others.” Quickly they put their packs back together and started trotting out. Now they would again not be able to rest until they were completely away from here. It still was shocking as the speed of this predator. Guessing from the brief glimpse he figured that it was twice the size of any one of them.

“Anybody get a look at whatever it was or can identify it?” Saige asked. There was no answer, just the sound of heavy breathing and feet hitting the ground. He knew from the history of the cities that none of them were located in these mountains so this predator could be completely unknown to them. It may also be another reason why these mountains were off limits to the primitives, except their holy men. But there had to be more to it. Even a beast like whatever this one was could be hunted down with enough hunters. Still what if they had a tendency to run in packs? Now that would be scary. A herd of grazers could be wiped out in an instant of time. He hoped they were solitary. As the adrenaline burned away there came an awareness that once again with too little sleep and too little to eat their reserves were being used up and if there was no respite their bodies would finally just quit and refuse to move.

Looking ahead it appeared that they had much too far to go to get out of this haunted ice and boulder covered plain. Looking back he could not even see where they had entered the area. Then turning back around he saw the group stop and was standing and with the clouds of breath coming from the group as they caught their breath. Catching up he stopped quickly. Before them was a chasm cut by a fast flowing river. Here the trail just stopped. Looking desperately around he wondered if the game trail just ended. But that did not make any sense. Did they miss something in their desperate flight to this dead-end? One thing for sure if the beast decided to attack again they had nowhere to go. “We must have missed something. There has to be branch off of this. We know that the grazers do not make these trails that lead to nowhere. With whatever that is behind us we have to search as a group. I do not want any of us separated or alone. We cannot lose anyone. We barely have enough members alive and healthy to be able to survive.” They carefully backtracked for a distance, and then returned to the edge; finding nothing – yet there had to be something. What had they missed? “Anyone see anything?” Saige asked. All he could see was the shaking of their heads. Looking down at the ground and closing his eyes he thought hard. There just had to be something they had missed. He suspected that at one time that the trail probably had a passage over the river here and that it collapsed. But the trail still showed use so the grazers had to have found a way around which meant they had missed something. “Okay let’s do this, let’s split the team in half. No I do not want us to separate. We need all of us together if we have to face that thing again. I want one half to concentrate on one side of the trail and the other half to search the opposite side. Now let’s do it.”

It took a while, time they had not to waste, but eventually in an area where they least expected it they found where it branched. There was a place where one side dipped away and another split boulder sat in the middle of this dip. When one first glanced at the boulder the split did not appear to be large enough to allow passage between. But upon closer inspection they found tuffs of hair clinging to the sides showing that the grazers had gone this way. The soil here was too hard to leave any tracks or show any depression, but once through to the other side of the crack the trail became obvious. He wondered what had happened to the original pathway across the gorge and how the grazers had located this alternate route. The direction it ran did not seem to lead in the direction that they needed to go. In fact it appeared to head back from where they had started that day. But they stuck with it since there were no other options, and eventually as the level of the trail continued to fall it then made a sharp turn and dropped steeply down. They now could hear the rushing water in the distance and knew that now they were heading directly towards and probably at level with the river. Now the question was, did it end at the river or was there a way across at this point? With a ridgeline blocking their view they could not see anything of the surrounding area at all. In fact as they had dropped down into this area they once again had walls rising up on both sides of them. If the primitives had been here they would have been trapped since there was no way up the sides and only back the way they had come or forward towards the unknown. Again it was deeply shadowed and quite cold so they continued to press forward towards the increasing sound of the flowing river.

Saige was working the rear guard when the leaders turned a corner and just stopped. And as others reached the same point their reaction was the same. Curious he pushed forward and found that his reaction was just as the rest. Before them the area opened up and there was a large open alpine meadow with numerous trees dotting the area. Off towards the area where they had been stopped by the chasm lay a huge waterfall that had not been visible from above. Sweet smells wafting off the grasses and alpine flowers were quite pleasant and for a short distance the river was wide and slow before narrowing again and heading off over another precipice. Here in the distance and across the river they saw grazers with their heads down and a few looking in their direction. They showed some curiosity but did not have the stance of ones ready to take flight. After seeing nothing threatening these few that had watched them returned to their grazing. Shellian commented, “I think this might be a good place to camp for the night. From the reaction of the grazers I don’t think we have to worry about whatever that was, that attacked us up there on that ice and boulder strewn flat land.”

Still taking in the scenery Saige paused thinking that they really needed to continue, but there was very little daylight left and he had to admit that there was every sign that she was right. It very well could be that the predator that had attacked them only roamed the area that they had just left. There definitely was something about this particular area that lent itself to relaxing. He had to admit it was almost an idyllic scene. “You may be right. There’s not much daylight left and we have no idea what’s ahead of us. And I have to agree that we are probably not going to find anything better.” Then coming to a decision he said. “Yes, let’s do it – but first let’s move to the other side of this river. The last thing I would want to happen is for us to get stuck on this side if the river suddenly increased because of some rain that we wouldn’t be aware of. Shellian, once we are across, signal camp. Then once its set up we’ll get together and see what the others feel and how we should continue.”

* * *

We all are gifted with a sixth sense. And this sense is probably no more than the known five senses gathering information on a subconscious level but not having enough information to identify what they are sensing, leaving us with an uneasy feeling. A feeling that tells us something is wrong but we haven’t a clue as to what it is. Or the feeling where we sense we are being watched yet there doesn’t appear that there could be any way such is correct. Still the scouting team, as they cross that broken and cold stretch of land, could sense something wasn’t right, only to have it confirmed by the failed attack. Then, with the day heading towards its end, they finally leave this cursed and desolate stretch of land and find a place where they can spend the night. And it is here where we end part 3. Next week we continue with A Time of Isolation and part 4 of chapter 5. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Blog Extra – July 4th, Looking Back

Personal Opinion and Thoughts:

It is July 4th, or what is known as the Fourth of July in the USA. The official date where the colonies declared independence from England 240 years in the past. First off I’m providing a link back to last year’s post, and stating that if anything it has gotten worse and not better. This is also an election year on a national level, and in many ways a critical one. In my  opinion we as a nation are fighting to remain a free country, and one who is governed by the laws of the land or what is called the Constitution of the United States of America. At this very moment it appears that the biggest law-breaker to these basic rights and laws is the government itself. Still let’s look back through the link to my thoughts last year: https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/4th-of-july-just-another-day/

If you are one who followed the link back, there really is little that I can add. It is the fervent hope from the common citizen that what we had can be found once again. And while the celebration of our independence is important, as we continue down the road we’re presently traveling it is a hollow celebration as the government continues to break the very laws of the land, and push us so ever closer to becoming the new USSR.

May America return to her roots and become what she once was. God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

A Time of Isolation, Chapter 5, Part 2

An early lesson is what they have been left with as the remnant of the scout unit withdraw from an area they thought might be safe. Just because something is forbidden doesn’t mean there will some who will ignore such things and do it anyway. (After all, if everybody obeyed the laws we’d have no crime.) Think about it. In many ways when were we growing up we had a tendency to push against the ultimate authority we knew at the time – our parents. We’d attempt to wear them down or play one against the other to get past that particular restriction, whatever it may have been. And for many it continues into adulthood, that magical place, as a child, you thought would be a great place to be. It seemed to be a place where one could do what one liked. It was a place where the rules were made, and the adults seemed to have the power, the money, and the freedom to do and go where they liked . . . That is until we became one.

So the remnant of the team abandons their present plans and push ever deeper into the Sacred Mountains hoping they weren’t seen during their withdrawal. Now completely into the unknown they only know they must head deeper and higher into these mountains where the dangers from nature are unknown and just as deadly as the ones they were familiar with back in the desolation or desert. So we open this week’s post with us discovering, right along with them, the unknowns before them. (The complete Survival trilogy, A Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, are all available from your favorite EBook retailer.) And for your reading pleasure is part 2:

Hours later they worked their way along the edge of a high mountain meadow. The air was cool, crisp, and very clear. From here they could see the valley below that they had escaped, and the one with the dead patrol located at the only path through the area. Yet its distance was great enough that the details of the area could not be discerned. They then hiked around a small outcropping and the view was gone. Here they found that once again they were dropping down into a large ravine, and once there they remained in it, as it appeared to be running in the general direction they wanted to go anyway. He finally pulled in the trailers and ran scouts out ahead, as he felt that they were probably far enough up into the mountains that finding a viable trail and a place to stay for this night was of greater importance. He could see the fatigue in each and every step all of them were taking. They needed a stopping place – one that would provide a respite for them. It would only be one night, but it would be something that none of them had had in a long, long time. As they continued to push his mind started drifting back on their history, as they knew it: They had been taught that they had become separated from the ones they now call the primitives at least a millennium if not many millenniums in the past. From what he could remember there had been a great war and their people had found the desolate as rarely traveled areas and began the process of setting up their cities – using the technology to hide them from the rest of this crazy world. At the time they all had been on equal footing, but it could be seen by the ones who established the cities, that it would not be that way for long. The fighting was destroying everything and once it had finished its destructiveness then the survivors would be starting over. Yet, at this present time, it had appeared that these descendants had learned very little as they continued to fight among themselves.

But something had changed, if only partially. They still fought, and they still killed each other. But now somehow they had become more organized, and he suspected it was under one charismatic leader. Then the primitives had discovered the cities and as each one was found it was conquered, destroyed, leaving ghosts and ruin in their wake. Coming back to their present situation, once they were able to establish a place where they could rest and be safe, then they would need to find out who this leader was, and how they could eliminate him. And do it before all of the cities were no more. It appeared that, more than likely, this time the destruction would be complete and all would be brought down to the level of the primitives. He suspected that once this new leader, who seemed to be bringing many if not all the tribes under his banner, died that no one left within the leadership would be strong enough to hold the alliances together, at least that was the hope. He knew that their long-term goal was to eliminate this unknown leader who had brought so much destruction down upon them. But obviously their short-term goal was to survive long enough to be able to get around to that other goal.

The ravine they were in took a sharp right turn then began a steep uphill climb. Here, there were exposed boulders that they had to work over and around. He began to wonder with the depth of the ravine why there was no water running in it. While it was late summer, almost fall, the area here showed signs of plenty of moisture, and this was a large ravine showing much water flow. Again, continuing the uphill trend it returned to its original direction. In the distance they could hear what sounded like a lot of water flowing. It was time to exit this place, so he signaled them to leave and with much exertion, as the sides were both soft and steep they finally stood above the ravine. Ahead of them and shadowed, it appeared that just around a bend in the distance there looked to be a hint of a waterfall. Then as they got closer it was now obvious why the ravine had been dry. The roar of the waterfall now was deafening, and the volume coming over it was surprising. But they could not get any closer, as there was a growing lake between them and the falls. There had been a landslide, which had blocked the flow of the water down the ravine. From what they could see it would be a while before the water level reached the top of the landslide. But it would and then go over the top and break the dam causing a flashflood taking anything and everything that would be in its path. The sight was both breathtaking and very dangerous. They had been lucky that it was still holding. If it had released while they were traversing that ravine they would all have been killed.

The scouts reported in saying that the area around the falls was impassible, and that they would have to work more to the east and around this area. They said that there was another animal trail that was even more precarious than the last one they were on. But it was good enough to use and that it would take them to the top where they all could see the beginning of the falls. That there was another alpine meadow complex before it became a broken land once again and that there was a shallow cave where they probably could finally break. It was partially hidden by the vegetation and if one did not look directly at it, one could very easily miss it. With that information, they followed the scouts finding the description they had given about the animal trail was well understated. He wondered how the animals had even formed this. There was a number of times where in the past shale had slid off the mountainside above the trail and added to its precariousness. They used a rope and tied everyone together so that if one of them slipped and fell it would not be to their death. There was a couple of close moments when some of the shale that they were walking on slipped and fell down the mountainside over the edge and then it seemed like an eternity before they heard it hit the mountainside far below. No doubt about it, if one of them fell they would not survive. When they finally reached the meadow complex all were breathing very hard and were shaking from the ordeal. In fact as he wiped his forehead he found sweat. It surprised him since the area they presently were in was cool. He hoped that they could avoid having to hike that trail again. Going up was bad enough, but going down would be worse. This increased his respect for the two scouts, since not only did they climb up this trail twice, but had to descend to find them. He had to admit he for one was glad it hadn’t been him.

Once everyone had caught their breath, the scouts led them across three large meadows then against a rise just before the rough country started. At first he did not see anything at all, but the scouts just kept going and suddenly what he thought was shadow became the entrance. Turning to one of the scouts Saige asked. “How’d you ever find this thing? I mean I was following you and you were making a direct line to the entrance, yet until just now I did not figure it out.”

Smiling he said, “It wasn’t me, it was your sister. She said that something just did not look right about that. I said, nah it’s just shadows. Again she said no, not true. Look it is too dark to just be shadows. Come on, we need to investigate this. And so she dragged me up here to look, and as you can see she was right and I was wrong. We did a quick inspection to make sure nothing was using it for a home, and then once we confirmed that, came back to get you. Good timing too, since we are almost out of daylight. I checked and there is a good supply of dead wood and the cave’s location is such that it will not be visible at all unless you walk right up to it. So while not perfect by any means, it is the best we have found. Also scouted for tracks of the primitives and no sign that they have been anywhere around this area. I think we are probably the first to be here. Water isn’t real close but not so far away to be a burden. I think also from the reaction of the grazers that they don’t see us as a threat – another sign that the hunters have not been here to lead them to fear us.”

“I guess you’ve answered all of my questions even before I could ask them.” Looking around he could see the rest of the team moving inside of the small cave and briefly disappearing from sight. Then shaking his head he continued. “I just wish that we had more time. We need a place that we can remain for longer than overnight. Much of our clothes and equipment are in need of repair or replacement. And I must admit like any other male around here seeing our women with less is always exciting, but at the same time it is not a good thing that our clothes have worn that thin. Without that equipment that we had to abandon, and I do hope we hid it well enough from discovery, there is no quick and easy way to do the work we need to accomplish, or repair or replace the items we need.

I guess it is time to chance it and take an extra day, if for no other reason than we need the recovery time. On top of it all we have been on the run and really have no idea of where to go from here. So we need to send out scouting parties and find the best way out of here. While I don’t necessarily want to disturb the grazers, we need the meat and time to prepare it for the trail. The grains that we borrowed from that last settlement will only last so long and will not sustain us like meat will.” Then pausing and looking around in the failing light he said, “Enough on this we need to get things moving before it becomes too dark to see. Besides I need to talk with Shellian and thank her for this discovery.” He then turned and went up to their new temporary camp and joined the rest of the group.

* * *

Exhaustion is the way as they work deeper into the Sacred Mountains. Because of Shellian and what appears to be her gift they plan on spending the night in a hidden cave. One that only she saw. Even though this will be a place where they can be safe, it is only a temporary respite. Maybe it will be a location where they can catch their breath, do some necessary repairs, take stock, and catch up on some desperately needed rest. Next week chapter 5 continues with part 3. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

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