I woke up early this morning. I didn’t sleep very well last night. I kept thinking about what Tony said to me yesterday. By the way he is now avoiding me. I tried to talk to him this morning but he wasn’t interested in anything I had to say. To get my mind off things I went to the plaza to see if I could find another pair of shoes. No shoes, but I did run in to a kid with a very well trained dog. They were doing some amazing tricks and entertaining the crowd. The dog listened so well. And then a couple of central goons showed up. They enjoy causing trouble and as usual they did. They started tossing trash at the dog and pushing around his owner. I wanted to see the dog eat one of them. They would have deserved it. Unfortunately, the dog was well trained and didn’t attack but he did display an impressive display of I am going to eat your heart out if you don’t leave my owner alone. With help from the crowd the central goons crawled away in disgrace. I can feel trouble in the air. The Central Bobcats continue to make life difficult. I heard that the hulk is recruiting goons. I need to organize a meeting with the town leaders to see if we can do something about Central. Unfortunately, people are getting more and more afraid. People like to look the other way when it doesn’t involve them. I have a feeling this is going to involve the whole town soon.
I feel so bad. No one told Tony that Scat was missing. I was updating the bulletin board in the admin hallway when Tony asked me where Scat was. I just stood there and stared at him. I finally told him that I was sorry. Scat had been missing for days. I tried to explain to Tony why we think Scat left. That he left to find medicine and that Jonas and Matt went looking for him. Tony was so angry that he yelled at me for being irresponsible. He said I should have been more reliable and that it’s my fault if Scat is dead. I don’t blame him for yelling at me. We should have told Tony that Scat was missing sooner. Scat was not my primary responsibility. He just appeared on our door step one day, dirty and hungry. Tony became is big buddy. Tony is the one who took care of him. This is going to sound stupid but I honestly didn’t realize that I should have been taking care of Scat’s needs while Tony was ill. I just assumed that everyone took care of everyone. I have a tremendous amount of responsibility around here. I try to make sure that life around Bear Country runs smoothly. Most of the time it does.
The Journal Club has finished with the flyers for the up and coming festival. Evan, and J.T. have done a wonderful job again. It amazes me how creative they can be. They will be distributing the flyers around town today. The festival is the one time of the year when everyone gets together and has a good time. We forget about our sorrows and pain and enjoy ourselves. I am a little worried about the Central Bobcats. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they don’t cause any trouble. Sheriff Pete is working on obtaining people for security of the festivities. It is going to be a challenge for him. He is asking for help from around the community.
I heard Lisa practicing her guitar this morning and singing. She has such a beautiful voice. She usually tries to sing happy songs but sometimes you can hear a little sadness in her voice. She keeps the sad songs to herself. No one bothers her when she goes to the roof to sing and play. I am not sure if she knows that we can still hear her up there. It’s her place of solitude, so we leave her alone.
It rained all night long. I love the rain. I seem to sleep well when it rains. It is going to be a busy day. I promised Casey I would watch the baby a little while so that she can take care of herself. She is the cutest baby. I hope Casey gets to enjoy her for a long time. I am not so sure I would want to take on the responsibility of having a baby. There are so many things to worry about. Babies don’t seem to do as well as they used to. No medicine. there is limited things you can do when they get ill. No one talks about the things that can go wrong. I wonder if Casey worries about the baby getting ill. I would worry.
I saw Tony up walking around a little while ago. He was heading toward the showers. It’s a good thing because he was starting to smell really bad. If he had been severely ill for much longer it was going to be a challenge to get people to sit with him.
I forgot to take my journal with me yesterday. I went for a walk ,a long walk. Went by my old home and someone was living there. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It has a very homey feel. I wanted to run up to the people living there and say “get out this is my home.” I didn’t, I just stood there. I stood there for a long time until my stomach said It was time to eat. I said goodbye to my home and went looking for food.
Update, Tony is getting better. He is still sore and bruised but he isn’t dead. This is a good thing because without him Bear country just wouldn’t be the same. As for Scat, he is still missing. I am beginning to think we will never see him again. It has been days and he is so little.
Madie had not been to her old neighborhood in years. It felt odd to be back. Most of the houses were broken beyond repair but not hers. She stood hidden behind a pile of trash across the street watching the new owners of her childhood home go about their day. Had they changed things? Were her dad’s tools still in the shed? Was her mom’s sewing machine still in the corner in the kitchen? Did her parent’s bodies still lie beneath the blue tarp in the back yard? Oh how she wished she could run up to her old room and fall upon the bed.
After Madie’s parents died, the gang activity in the neighborhood increased a hundred fold. At night, she hid beneath her blankets and prayed the monsters on the street wouldn’t discover she existed. Most of the homes in the neighborhood were vacant, abandoned by their owners fleeing the pandemic. In an attempt to eat, Madie broke into homes. The scraps left behind in the kitchens eased her hunger pains. Life was treacherous; she had to be careful because people fought and killed for a single stale potato chip.
Street gangs picked clean the houses in a matter of weeks. The need to eat forced Madie to extend her search territory. By then the Red Hyena gang had established dominance in the area. Traveling alone was extremely dangerous. Most people traveled in the company of friends or fellow gang members. Madie had neither.
It has been a long day. Matt and Jonas have still not returned with Scat. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Scat is doing fine and that he didn’t get caught by the Central Bobcats. Tony was his best friend, is his best friend. Speaking of Tony, he is still recovering. We are still taking turns looking after him. He is not taking in a lot of fluids but his color is improving slightly. We held elections today for Sheriff. Sheriff Pete will take over as the man in charge of security. He has started looking for people to fill the deputy sheriff positions. I need to put a Thank you in the Bear News for everyone that helped out in the middle of the night.
Now for some good news. Casey finally delivered her baby. Her labor lasted for days. She was in labor, then she wasn’t, she was in labor then she wasn’t. I felt bad for her because she was in constant pain. Everything turned out fine in the end. Mom and baby are doing well. As soon as Casey is up to it we are going to have a naming ceremony. The ceremony usually occurs about two weeks after the babies birth which will put it around the end of the month.
After the world governments through the world into chaos, surviving the madness was nearly an impossible struggle. Death was everywhere. Attempting to survive alone was practically a death sentence. The smart ones quickly joined a tribe or a gang and made alliances.
Madie never considered the children living in Bear Country a gang, although by definition a gang is exactly what they were. Madie considered everyone living in the school her extended family. A loud, annoying and sometimes dysfunctional extended family.
It was easy to distinguish one local group from another. Your clothing, your hair and your tattoos let everyone know your affiliation. The Red Hyenas wore black and sported red Mohawks. The Central Bobcats wore gray and kept their heads shaved. The Blue Monarchs wore black mini-skirts and walked around with giant blue wings in their hair. Nearly everyone that lived in the school displayed a bear tattoo of their own choosing. The tattoo gave everyone a feeling of pride and unity. Madie sported a bear tattoo on her left shoulder.
In the beginning, the pavilion was a blank space with a couple of tables and a few chairs. As the years passed, the area evolved into a sacred chapel, a place of inspiration. The children covered the walls and pylons with pictures, banners and posters of bears. It wasn’t unusual to find someone sitting alone in the center of the pavilion praying or meditating by candle light. As Madie waited for her friends to arrive, she walked around the perimeter admiring the decorations. One newly placed poster in particular caught her attention. She stopped to stare at its uniqueness and beauty.
Madie greeted everyone with “Good afternoon”. It didn’t take long for the vacant pavilion to fill with people. The empty chairs filled first. By the time, everyone had arrived there wasn’t a vacant seat left. Late stragglers sat on the floor.
Madie jumped on her milk crate and gave a loud whistle to quiet everyone down. The room dropped to a dead silence.
“Thanks for coming,” she said with a smile. “Is everyone ready to elect a Sheriff for Bear Country? “
The first birth Madie ever witnessed was a horrific tragedy. The event left her scarred. The streets of town resembled a war zone. Populated by rats the size of a house cat, the park where she played as a child had become a landfill of dead bodies. Like a wild animal, she scavenged for food; to help ease the pain in her stomach she sometimes stole food from the hands of others.
At night, Madie found a place to hide but never in the same place twice. Sleep didn’t come easy; she hated the dark. Horrible monsters lived in the dark.
Almost daily, the local tribes and gangs committed senseless brutality. Dragged into the street the soon-to-be-dead always kicked and screamed. Their cries for help and mercy ignored. Afraid for her own life, Madie hid, closed her eyes, covered her ears and prayed she wouldn’t be next.
On this particular day, Madie was exhausted, tired and hungry. The Red Hyenas were hunting and Madie was their prey. Already caught but released during a game of cat and mouse, she ran into an alley and hid in a crawl space. From somewhere in the damp darkness, she hears a young girl say “Help me, please!”
Madie’s first reaction was to flee but she couldn’t the Red Hyenas were in the alley. “Shhh…Be quiet!” she begged in a whisper. The girl answered the pleas for quiet with moans of agony.
“Sssshh, please they’ll hear you!” Madie peeked into the alleyway. The hyenas were fighting amongst themselves as they searched for her amongst the garbage. The lead boy wasn’t happy Madie escaped.
Fearing the hyenas would hear the moaning and cries for help, Madie crawled deeper into the darkness and demanded the girl be quiet. “Please! Shut up!” What she saw terrifying; blood was everywhere and the smell nauseating.
Please…oh please, help me!” The girl cried as she reached for the blood-covered infant lying in the mud.
Madie stared in horror and scooted back against the far wall. She prayed in a whisper, “please don’t let the baby cry, please don’t let the baby cry!” If the baby cried, the Red Hyenas would find her.
Several hours later, Madie ventured back out into the alley. The girl and her baby both died in the dark.
Afraid and drenched in body fluids, Casey knocked on Madie’s door around 2am. Attempting not to panic or look worried, she woke Gretchen, and Cecelia. The three of them changed Casey’s clothes and put her into a clean bed. After reassuring Casey, everything would be fine; Madie woke Evan and JT and sent the boys on an errand to find a mid-wife. The boys returned in less than half an hour with a girl named Lizzy.
By mid-morning, Casey was in hard labor. Her screams of agony resonated through the halls of the school. Madie put on a happy face and reassured everyone, Casey and her baby would be fine. She kept the fears swirling around in her head to herself. She had seen tragedy. She knew what could go wrong.
There were moments Madie feared Casey wouldn’t have the strength to push her baby into the world. With every contraction Lizzy, Gretchen and Cecelia would yell, “Push Casey… Push!”
At 3:07pm, the baby arrived. After a few slaps on her butt and a rough rub with a towel, the tiny infant let out a loud wonderful cry.
Tony is getting worse and Scat is missing. I couldn’t find him anywhere this morning. He didn’t show for breakfast. His bike is also missing. He is too little to be out in the city alone. If he is caught by the Central Bobcats it could be disastrous. Lisa took over sitting with Tony after Scat. She said he was obviously upset and mentioned something about finding medicine to help. If I thought medicine was available I would have been the first person to go and find some. Unfortunately, finding medicine for even the common cold is just not possible. The pharmacies were emptied out long ago. You can occasionally come across something to barter but there is no guarantee that what you are bartering for is actually in the bottle. The only time medicine appears on the market is when some desperate soul is trying to save a dying loved one. People have been known to sell their soul for medicine and it turn out to be nothing at all. Some awful concoction someone has put together. Matt and Jonas volunteered to go and look for Scat. I would have gone but I have things that need my attention here.
Dressed in over-sized clothes she found discarded on the streets, Sam was “Queen of the gutter-rats”. The girl could locate, find and steal anything.
“Ssshhh!! “ Sam raised a finger to her mouth. “Stay behind me, don’t make any noise.”
“Are you sure this is a good idea? The serpents will kill us if they find us.” Scat asked as his eyes darted from one side of the rubble to the other. He had only been inside the mall plaza once before and things didn’t end well for his two traveling companions.
“Do you want medicine for Tony or not?” Sam inquired as she squeezed between the rubble.
“Yes… Are you sure there’s not a safer place to steal from?”
“Nope, quit being a baby.”
“I’m not a baby!” Scat said in protest.
“Sssshhh! Be quiet. If I die, I swear I’m comin back to kill you.”
Scat followed Sam as closely and quietly as he could. He tried to remember the direction they were traveling thru the corridors just in case he needed to make a quick escape.
The Pharmacist dealt in hard to find drugs and other deadly concoctions meant to kill. Most of the drugs he dispensed were to junkies looking for an escape from their sad lives. Sam knew the Pharmacist also had a supply of expired antibiotics. She also knew where he kept them but first she needed a diversion.
Scat coughed over and over again as they exited the building. “..you started a fire in there. We could’ve both died!!”
Sam rolled her eyes as she tossed Scat a bag of pills. “You’re welcome…I hate to steal and run but I gotta be somewhere else.”
Scat tucked the bag of pills into his shirt. “Sam wait! Thanks!”
“No problem…hey, meet me at the park at sundown. I know where there’s candy for the takin.”
Scat waved goodbye and ran toward his bike hidden behind a plaza dumpster. He didn’t notice Xavier’s goons looking for prey until it was too late.
Xavier enjoyed the thrill of cage fighting but his collection of combatants and practice kill was quickly diminishing. Replacements were needed. Scat was a bit small but size didn’t matter for the warm-up rounds