The view of the Earth from the upper atmosphere looked like a large and bright blue ball surrounded by the black coldness of space. It is truly a beautiful sight to anyone blessed to see it firsthand. Flying over the Earth he could see the brown and green continents with their clouds and blue oceans. It appeared that he was over the eastern portion of Africa.
Gradually he descended and saw below and in front of him; a large ungainly gray aircraft. This craft had the appearance of a soaring bird of prey with long thin wings, bulbous nose and a single jet engine over the rear fuselage near the tail. This strange craft weaved left and right and seemed to be hunting. Spotting its quarry in the far distance and taking position from above and behind its intended victim; an unarmed military transport helicopter. The banana shaped twin rotor bladed CH-47 Chinook was flying close to the ground over the dry grasslands of southern Tanzania. On the side of the strangely shaped attack jet, a door opened revealing an array of available missile weaponry. Three of the missiles were large white cruise missiles and six were smaller air to air missiles. One of the air to air missiles extended on a launch rail out of the door. Igniting its motor; the missile shot forward and down towards the unsuspecting helicopter, making explosive contact and obliterating it. The door on the unmanned and windowless attack jet closed as it climbed up, continuing its unmanned hunt over the continent.
Gary was instantly whisked to a familiar place; a news-stand in a large bustling city. Hovering invisibly over the stand the headlines and sub-headings read:
Copter Crash Kills 47 Troops in Africa
10th Crash in 2 Weeks
UN Investigation: Pilot Error
Navy Sub Missing:
West Virginia Overdue and Feared Lost
China Buys Wal-Mart and General Motors
Wall Street Up on News
US Crops Feeding Billions
Food More Valuable Than Oil
Gary’s dream flight then took him down to a sunny sandy beach, where he found himself reclining on a lounge chair. The intense sunshine felt good as he sat wearing swim trunks, sipping on a tall cool glass of ice water as the ocean waves were pounding the beach in a calming and peaceful symphony. Looking over he saw Ruthie playing in the sand near the waters edge. She was wearing a pink two piece swim suit and had sand covering her arms and legs as kids at the beach usually do. Ruthie noticed her Dad and picked up her yellow plastic bucket and shovel, running to her Daddy.
The small whirlwind of a girl immediately hugged her father. “Daddy! It’s so good to see you again. I missed you. Do you want to build a sand castle with me?”
“Sure sweetie.” Gary and Ruthie walked to the waters edge holding hands. Gary looked down at his daughter and picked her up, giving her another big squeeze and kiss.
I love you baby.” They smiled at each other and rubbed noses, Eskimo style.
Father and daughter sat in the sand and started building a castle. “Daddy, you do know that April’s there to help you. Her Mommy and Daddy and Charlie are here with us, they are so nice and Charlie is a lot of fun to play with too. He misses April, but I told him that you would take care of her.”
“So Mac and Molly and Charlie are with you and Mom?”
“Oh yes, there are lots and lots of other people here too.”
“Ruthie, I need your help. I don’t know what to do. We are in this cave…”
Ruthie interrupted her Dad by placing her hand over his mouth. “Daddy, we know where you are…and we are helping you...” Ruthie picked up a handful of wet sand and proceeded to make it into a ball. “..Daddy do you like the beach?”
“Of course I do honey, you know that.”
“Do you like this?” Ruthie took the wet sand ball and handed it to Gary. When he looked at the ball he saw that it transformed into a large beautiful and fully ripe peach. “Go ahead Daddy, take a bite.”
Gary bit into the peach which exploded with sweet and juicy flavor; it was truly the best tasting fruit he had ever eaten. “This is really very good sweetie. You do excellent tricks.” Gary smiled at his daughter and kissed her.
Ruthie jumped up and started to walk away. “I have to go Dad. You and April should rest up and as soon as you can you need to leave. Tell April that I’m sorry I scared her. I love you!”
Gary felt the chill of the nearby stone walls and listened as April slept, her breathing slow and gentle. Reaching over the sleeping April he gently placed a couple pieces of wood on the glowing coals then laid back down and closed his eyes again.
The sunshine of the beach radiated through her body as thoroughly as an x-ray and April felt the intensity of the rays. The waves pounded the same beach that Gary had just visited. Looking at the blue-green water April realized that she was perfectly tanned and wearing a two piece aqua blue swim suit. At the waters edge a small girl was playing in the sand. The little girl looked over at April and casually started walking towards her.
“Hi April, my names Ruthie, it’s good to meet you.”
“Hello. How do you know my name?”
“I just do.”
“What else do you know about me Ruthie?”
“I know that my Daddy and you are going to leave soon. Do you want to know where?”
“Yes, where are we leaving to?”
“Here at the beach. Do you like the beach?”
“I sure do, will you be here?”
“Of course, silly. Hey, do you want to know a secret? I’ll whisper it to you, but you have to close your eyes and promise not to open them until I say, ok?”
“Ok” April closed her eyes and Ruthie came up and pressed her lips to her ears. “April…” Macs deep voice came out of Ruthies mouth “…your mother and I love you very much. We are all fine, stay close to Gary and above all…have no fear.”
April looked up fully expecting to see her father but saw Ruthie standing over her instead smiling “You have a nice Daddy and Mommy, April. They like my Daddy too.” April knew she was dreaming, but she felt no remorse or anguish at hearing her father speak to her. “Would you like to see a magic trick?” Ruthie asked enthusiastically.
“Ok, hold out your hand.” April did as she was told and Ruthie placed some small objects into her hand. April looked at her palm and saw a grain of wheat, a kernel of corn and a soy bean. Ruthie then said “now watch this” She placed an Encompass chip into her palm with the seeds. April stared at her palm and nothing happened.
Ruthie had a frown on her face and said loudly “It’s not working”
A deep male voice resonated softly behind April “Give it time Ruthie, give it time.”
As April looked at the strange combination in her hand, she saw the seeds change into creatures similar to insect larvae only with people’s faces. The Encompass chip turned into a red and black spotted Lady bug. April smiled at the cute bug and went to touch it with her finger; as she did it reared up on its back legs and bared large pointed teeth and snapped at her angrily. April drew her finger back in shock. The seed larvae then rolled over on their backs; turned black and died. The Lady bug was laughing at April quite audibly. “Ruthie! What’s going on?”
Ruthie put her hand over April’s and everything disappeared. “Sorry to have scared you April, Luca said you would figure it out, he says you are really smart.”
April, starting to wake up, was tossing and turning in anguish of the dream. Her agonizing sleep woke Gary who laid there gathering his thoughts over the past nights dreams. Gary quietly rolled out from under the blanket trying not to wake up April and placed some fuel on the still glowing coals. Finding the stainless steel and soot blackened coffee percolator, which he filled with some water and canned coffee grounds. Taking the metal charcoal grill rack that Farmer John had given him and setting it on top of the fire ring, he let the coffee pot sit, waiting for the end result…morning coffee.
Checking the clothes on the drying rack, Gary found that they were acceptably dry, although the boots were still slightly damp, but wearable.
Gary thought about the past three years and the battles he had fought in; The Battle of Baltimore, The Battle of DC and lastly The Battle of New York. He thought of his men who had died and the men on the other side who also gave their lives. Warfare is the ultimate culmination and conflict of ideologies in which trained men live or die as a result and that to Gary was an almost holy event. In thinking about the past mistakes his government had made leading to these modern medieval times left Gary questioning of the ‘why’ of it all. Not ‘why’ in the sense of a child asking ‘why’ she had to clean her room or ‘why’ vegetables are good for you, but ‘why’ would the UN have such an interest in the US; especially after years and years of trying to bring America down to their third world level. Gary was talking out loud to himself and didn’t notice April sitting up.
“Oh sorry, did I wake you?”
April sat up and had the blanket wrapped around her. “I had some weird dreams last night. You did wake me, but I need to get up anyway.” April yawned and stretched “Ok, Mr. Caveman…where do we do our ‘business’ here?”
“Business? Oh…nature calls, right?” Gary smiled and speaking like a well heeled British butler “Madame, you may find our excellent facilities on the veranda” Gary pointed to the caves front opening. “If however this does not meet your needs; you most certainly can use the Five-Star powder room located directly behind me” Gary pointed to the rear of the cave, behind the drying rack.
She looked at him quizzically, her hair tossed form the nights sleep. “Are you always such a smart-ass this early in the morning?” April smiled and moved to the rear of the cave, taking the blanket with her. “Just don’t look, ok?”
Gary laughed “I guess this is more of the woman’s prerogative, right?”
A high pitched voice sounded out for the rear of the cave, “EWWWW…there’s a dead deer in here! Gary this is gross!” April found the partially carved doe Gary had shot a week or so ago.
Still talking like the butler “Ah, Madame I see you have found lunch.”
“Shut up” April said with a sing-song tone, as she finished her ‘business’ and scooted up to the fire.
Gary, chuckling from the deer discovery, turned serious “We need to make plans for leaving here. I don’t think that we’ll be able to last very long after this storm breaks.” Gary looked down at the fire and pushed some half burned sticks into it. “I figure that when this storm breaks, they will send everything and everyone out to track us down. I know I would if I was in their position.”
“How can they find us in here?”
“Look, even though we are inside this mountain, the opening still will let out heat and the contrast between the heat from inside here and the cold of the snow will give an infra-red signature. All they will do then is to fire a few of those Hellfire’s…and we’re done for.” Gary looked up at April “Any thoughts as to where would be a good place to go?”
“Yeah, the beach.” April offered
Gary’s eyes opened wide as April spoke. “I’m thinking the same thing.” Gary had not told April of the dreams he’s had. “You said that you had some weird dreams last night, tell me about them.” The coffee was percolating rapidly now and Gary moved it off of the flame to allow it to cook fully.
“Well, I met your daughter Ruthie last night.” April waited to see Gary’s reaction; there wasn’t any. “Anyway, she said that we need to leave here and come to the beach.”
“Was that all she said?”
“No.” April thought for a moment recalling the events. “My Dad spoke to me and said that they are alright; he said that I should stick close to you and not to be afraid. It was really comforting to hear his voice, I’m glad they are in a good place.”
The coffee was ready to drink. Gary took the tumblers and filled them with the hot brew. He handed one to April who took the cup with both hands. “Starbucks it’s not, but caffeine is caffeine.”
April continued her story after taking a sip of the steaming liquid. “Ruthie showed me a magic trick”
“Ruthie used to love it when I did stupid magic tricks. Especially the quarter behind the ear trick” Gary reflected and chuckled at the dumb trick.
“Anyway, Ruthie put some seeds in my hand and they came to life and had people’s faces. Then she put in one of those Encompass chips and it turned into a cute Lady Bug, which tried to bite me. The seeds that came alive then died; and the Lady bug laughed at me.” April paused for a moment “The Lady Bug was terrifying.” She looked at the fire trying to find meaning to the dream.
“Hmmm. I had another dream last night too. Ruthie also said that we need to leave and go to the beach.” Gary looked at April as they shared a deja vu moment. “Ruthie also did a magic trick for me, with mine she turned a ball of sand onto the most beautiful and tasty peach I have ever eaten.” Gary thought for a moment, and made the logical decision. “Ok, so we head to the beach, and the beach where Ruthie is alluding to has to be down south somewhere because it was very warm.” Gary rubbed his chin; processing the information.
“So, have you made other decisions in the past based on these dreams?” April asked
“The dreams I’ve had have been mainly events of the past…it’s weird I know. But I have been shown how we got to our present situation…I mean the United States. Yesterday, before I met you, was the start of clues for the future.” Gary paused then added “I’m alive today because of the dreams and the voice that sometimes speaks to me.” Gary paused for a brief moment as Aprils eyes opened at his mention of hearing voices “Look, I’m not mental or anything, at least I don’t think I am…but I have heard and obeyed this voice that gives me direction.” Gary shrugged his shoulders and hoped that April wouldn’t think that he was crazy.
“Ok…you’ve heard voices and we both have had strange dreams…” April paused as she thought it through for a moment “…so, let’s look at this logically. You and I have been brought together…”
“You think that we’ve been brought together…intentionally?” Gary commented
“…Yes I do…” April stated “…now here we both are in a cave and need to go down south to a beach somewhere. Ruthie gives you a peach, which is good, and she gives me seeds which are bad.” April thought for a moment “They say the best peaches come from Georgia, right?” April again thought “I’ve got some friends in Kings Bay, Georgia.”
“Oh?” He said with raised eyebrows.
“I had a history teacher in school that I made very close friends with. Just last year she moved to Kings Bay Georgia. Her husband is in the Navy and is stationed there. We’ve written each other a few times and she says that if I want to come down I can. I understand it’s beautiful there…with sunny and warm beaches” April paused as the dots were starting to connect.
“OK, so we go to Kings Bay. I do have to tell you that Kings Bay, Georgia is the last place I would intentionally want to go. Any military base has to be crazy with security and troops. I don’t think I would be a very welcome guest, if you know what I mean.”
“Well, you say that this has worked out for you in the past, right? So, why would this time be any different?”
“Maybe you’re right.” Gary thought for a moment rubbing his unshaven chin. “Ok, so let’s figure out how we are going to get there. Any thoughts?”
April scrunched up her eyes and thought “Well, you got me. What are you thinking?”
“The only person I know outside of you and your fam…” Gary paused as he didn’t want her to be upset her again “…I mean, I know you and Farmer John and I once met the owner of a Feed Store in town. I had some help from him a while back.”
April who was sitting next to Gary, scooted closer and touched his arm “It’s ok to talk about my family…I know they’re ok, and I’ll deal with it the best I can.”
Gary looked at her and nodded “Ok, sorry I didn’t want to...”
He was cut off as April moved even closer and kissed him. She put her hands on his face and said softly “It’s ok.” Pausing as she picked back up the previous thought. “So, Mr. Johns helped you? I’ve known him since we moved here. Everybody in this area knows Mr. Johns. He’s a nice man.”
“Yeah, Will Johns, he owns the Feed Store.”
“Gotcha…Ok, so we go see Mr. Johns and I guess we’ll play it by ear from there. Now, we should figure on what to take and what to leave. We might not be back here for a while…if ever. I am a firm believer in being prepared so lets get our stuff together now and then we can decide when would be the best time to leave, alright?”
April nodded, comforted with the plan that was unfolding, and secure with the man she was with.
Gary stood up and groaned from his still sore and aching muscles. He slowly bent over, stretching his legs and groaned “I’m getting too old for this stuff.”
April chuckled, got up and slapped him on the butt as she walked past and headed to the clothes drying rack.
The best formula for Gary to think through something or to work something out in his mind was to do a menial task. He took the pot of stale beans he had on the fire before he met April and her family and mixed it with a little water to wash it out. The front door felt much heavier than last night as he had to really put some effort to move it against the stacked snow. When the door was removed he peeked out and saw, in the early morning light, over a foot of pristine white snow. “Wow…April you should check this out.” Gary could feel the warm air escape as the cold winter air flooded into the shelter.
April came over to the entrance and stopped short of looking out.
Gary reached his arm around her and pressed her by his side, and they both inched towards the doorway. The snow was falling in torrents, covering everything with its pure white coating. “Beautiful…isn’t it?”
April smiled nervously “Yeah it is…I just wish we weren’t so high up.” Gary let her go and she turned and retreated back inside the cooling cave.
Gary went out on the ledge, tossing the mass of beans and rice from the pot, then standing outside in the brisk air, he took care of his other business, making some yellow snow. It felt so refreshing outside, yet he knew that when the snow stopped, this area would be a death trap for them. Thoughts of their situation came to him as he stood outside. The fear of losing someone who was quickly gaining a foothold on his emotions, clouded his mind. The last thing he wanted was to drag April into something where she could get killed…that would be too much to handle.
“Hey, would you mind closing the door?” the feminine voice inside the shelter called out, interrupting his thoughts.
He smiled and said softly to himself “Women…never changes does it?” His dark thoughts vanished and he closed the door moving back to start cooking another pot of beans and rice, mixed with some nicely aged venison. Placing the pot of water on the fire Gary went back to the doe and started to shave some of the meat off of her bones. Guesstimating enough for two people he placed the venison and red dried beans into the pot and closed the lid.
April had finished getting herself together as best that she could with what little she had to work with. Gary, sighed as he saw just how naturally beautiful she was. He also noticed his tooth brush set out along with the wash cloth and soap. Taking the hint, he stripped down to clean up and brush his teeth.
April had set out the two remaining sandwiches and a cut up apple for breakfast. The two sat cross legged on the sleeping bag, finishing the last of the leftovers.
“You’re quiet, is there anything bothering you?” April asked
Gary shrugged his shoulders as opening up his inner fears was something he wasn’t used to. “I don’t know, I just have some concerns, I guess.”
After a long pause “Us…and our situation.” There it was, out in the open.
“Ok…so what about ‘us’?” April had aligned her heart with this man, and wanted nothing more than to be in complete harmony with him.
“Well, for starters…you and I …well, we have a big age difference.” Gary looked at April “I’m a lot older than you and…”
April shook her head as if someone caught a small child doing something dumb, and smiled “Gary, I know there is an age difference…and I really don’t care.” She paused and looked him squarely in the eye. “It’s YOU that I’m interested in.”
He sheepishly nodded and accepted her comment
“Look, I’ve always had an attraction for older men…I guess I like their maturity and stability.” April sighed “When I first met you, you were dirty, smelly and well...looked like you came out of a freight trains box car. There you were standing with all of your guns; you had a strength and confidence that I haven’t seen before.” April paused again as Gary grinned at her. “Anyway, when I cut your hair, you looked into my eyes and they sparkled…I don’t know how to say it…your eyes were full of life…I think it was at that point when I fell for you…” They smiled at each other “…and I must say…you clean up nicely.”
Gary chuckled and understood
“So, what else is bothering you?”
Gary looked up and said “Getting you into this situation…” he paused then continued “…and seeing you get hurt.”
April closed the distance between them, sitting next to him “Gary…honey…you saved my life.” She said as she threaded her arm through his, placing her head on his shoulder.
“You saved my life too.” Turning he kissed her on top of her head.
April looked up surprised “How did I save your life?”
“For the past three years, everything has been a blur or fighting and dying. When I came to this valley I was at the end of my rope…I had lost everyone and everything that was dear to me. I had been here in the cave about a month and was really depressed. I thought that I would just go out with a bang, if you know what I mean.” He paused as April understood the suicidal symbolism. “Well….it was about that time when I started having these dreams. When they started to come, I got really angry…it seemed that wherever the source of these dreams came from, they wanted me to know something. I found that my depression faded as time and winter wore on.”
“So do you think that the dreams are Providential?” April questioned
“Yeah…I do think that ‘Someone’…God or whoever…is giving me a view that no one else has.”
“So, how did I save your life?”
“By coming into it…” Gary couldn’t think of any other explanation. “…you have given me a hope and desire to live and continue in this life…like no other.”
April smiled and hugged him tightly.
The cave darkened as the light from the fire in the fire ring was dying down, however the flame between the pair ignited, and they took full advantage of it. April and Gary lay down under the fleece blankets, holding, caressing, touching, tasting and kissing each other passionately…and finally uniting to become one.
The events from yesterday left the two physically and emotionally exhausted, and their love making left them both sexually spent. Falling asleep in each others arms, both were satisfied and confident in their newfound love for one another.
The bright white sand cooked beneath the direct rays of the sun. April casually strolled along the beach and was holding hands with Gary. They both noticed each other at the same moment, and smiled at the dream rendezvous. The sounds of crunching sand and fast feet turned them both around as Ruthie ran up and inserted herself in between the pair, grasping both hands.
“Hi sweetie…how are you?”
“Oh, I’m good Daddy” Ruthie excitedly stated “Hi April”
“Hi Ruthie…are you having fun today?”
“Oh yes, I’ve been looking for she shells and playing in the waves…I love the beach, don’t you?”
“Yes I do…did you find any shells? By the way, they’re called ‘sea’ shells, not ‘she’ shells.” April knelt down to Ruthie’s level, amazed at her vitality and youthful natural beauty.
“I found lots of them…” Ruthie pointed to a yellow plastic bucket near the waters edge “…we have lots of pretty sea shells here. “ She said smiling at the correct pronunciation of the word. Ruthie then hugged April around her waist looking up at her in an unspoken gesture children use to be picked up.
April picked up the light child and they both smiled at each other.
“I’m glad that you finally found my Daddy.” Ruthie said
“I am too Ruthie.” The three of them joined together in an impromptu group hug.
“The snow will stop soon…don’t let the bad men get you, ok?”