Amazing Grace –
The El Niño Legend
Carl had been suffering from PTSD for a long time now ever since he came home from the war. His mind is not as sound as it used to be and his paranoia of things around him deflects reality and creates suspicion and caused him to take extra precautions around men and those who were bragging about their survival skills and other methods of machismo that utterly disgusted him and caused him to avoid these types of idiots at all expense.
Thus he constructed himself a solid bunker, sort of a sanctuary where he was void of the negative vibes of society and kept his calmness in check as he removed himself from the madness of the world around him.
Some would have called this extreme in manner or thinking but with the El Nino snapping at the world’s feet in Southern California, there were no regrets in Carl’s heart that he had done the right thing and made himself a sanctuary from the insanity around him.
He was still suffering from the long lasting effects of his PTSD and has snapped a few times over the years. Not snapping at people but rather, snapping at himself for mistakes he made in his life.
A war veteran who escaped the fear of artificial legs and arms like his other comrades in arms, he suffered from a survivor’s guilt that caused him more grief than anyone could ever imagine. He meant to break his anti-social behaviors a long time ago. He didn’t want to prolong the isolation and political condemnation forever. Somehow he got distracted and waited forever.
His faith in his government had faltered. His love for his country intact, he went into survival mode and decided that under all circumstances, he would survive. Listening to his favorite Hank Williams Jr. song, a country boy will survive.
The door was latched with three heavy duty locks. One was a keyed device locking with a special key he had made so no duplicates were available on the market. The second lock was an electronic digital lock that used a code sequence to unlock and the third was a simple and old fashioned deadbolt lock that he had removed from his parents’ house a long time ago and kept as a souvenir to always remind him of them and where he lived as a child.
He had never envisioned being a solitary man. His heart was broken a few times by women who took advantage of his loving nature and broke his heart in pieces because they were immature, self-centered and greedy unlike Carl. Carl was the kind of man who would and has, given his shirt off his back to make someone else happy. His compassion for helping his fellow man was everlasting. A real person with real emotions but he rarely showed them to strangers.
He bundled an extra raincoat and tucked it under his arm. He unlocked the door to his hollow and the sound of the rushing water coming off the sloped landscape was immediately deafening to his ears. Steadying his footing in the red mud clay he was standing in, he slowly locked a single lock behind him and went to find that woman under the tree with her child.
He walked carefully around the rustling water carrying debris and flooding the countryside with stones, gravel and heavy mud caked to anything it could cling to before it was swept away in the littered streams of small rivers.
Walking gingerly, he had to be careful and balance himself as his right knee had twisted and torn a few years ago and never felt the same after the surgery by a woman doctor, who claimed to be a surgeon for the Phoenix Suns basketball team, assured him it would be as good as new once he completed rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Of course, the surgeon was wrong as the knee still snapped over time and although he never broke it like he did before, it was not as strong as he expected it to be. Standing there, in the twilight of the darkness, he searched for the woman and the child under the cover of almost darkness.
Not wanting to startle the woman and child, he had to be sure to approach her in a calm and trusting manner to avoid her panic and fear, as he slowly searched the area near the tree he had seen on his camera and knew she was still very near.
Eyes wide and open, he struggled to see through the pouring rain that was unyielding in force and soaking the landscape into a pool of water standing near a foot deep and rushing by his feet.
Suddenly, he spotted the woman holding the child. He stood there in the dark with eyes of joy when he found her; yet a face of apprehension and uneasiness, as he had to sort out the dangers of this encounter.
Unaware of any other strangers, he approached her slowly. The woman, frightened out of her wits, screamed, “Leave me alone, leave me alone!!!” it was like she was in the middle of a nightmare and she was screaming out loud with an echo following her shouts bouncing off the mountain.
Carl was taken by surprise as he did not expect her to panic and trying to fight him off as he was trying to help her. She was acting very stupidly Carl thought to himself. She made a clenched fist and took a defensive stand like a boxer, as Carl tried to calm her down, hoping for this woman to trust him a little bit more than she did when she first saw him.
It must have been terrifying for her to see a man standing there in the middle of the early evening of the day, where the moon was scarcely glowing through the deep and thick dark clouds of the thunderous rainstorm above and the sun had just set not more than a half hour or so leaving nothing behind but blackness.
She was trying to scare him or beat him with her bare fists. She protectively placed her child behind her back and looked around for a stick or something else she could strike Carl with as he just stood there still. He didn’t want to frighten her any more than she already was, her panic was clear and her fear was real and caused Carl some concern that she might do something weird or unpredictable to harm him.
Soothingly, he tried to calm her down. He was reassuring her that he was a friend and not foe. He tried to get her to trust him enough to allow the words to sink in but her face was filled with fright. Carl said to himself, this was going to be a terrible night.
He told her he was helping her. He showed her his hands that were empty of any weapons or objects that could harm her. He even took back a few steps to show this freaked out woman he was trying to help her with her plight. He didn’t feel like getting hit or shot but he was certain she didn’t have a weapon.
Should he leave her be? How can he convince her to come with him back to the cave? Time was wasting as the rain kept falling and the thunder and lightning was steady and deafening, making talking almost impossible as he kept a safe distance between them while the rain drenched his darkened figure in the now concluding day had turned into night and the rain kept pouring down, making the water the most dominant sound.
He reached out his arm and handed the woman the gesture to come get the raincoat in his hand. Carl said, “if not for you, put it on your child and keep him warm. The storm is not letting up and if you trust me enough to give you shelter for the night, you can move on when the sun comes up and at first light, you can walk out that front door.”
He repeated twice or more, “I won’t harm you or your child, I came here as a friend and apologize for your fright.” Slowly the woman came closer. Child hiding behind her back she shuffled her soaked feet with torn and worn out sneaker kind of shoes she wore, and came close enough to grab the raincoat and wrapped it up around her kid. Carl gave a sigh of relief as he felt he was making progress with this petrified and hostile woman.
Crying, trembling and shaking of the cold wet air and near exhaustion, the woman finally gave in and almost fainted causing Carl to lunge forward to catch her. The kid moved aside as Carl grabbed the limp body and held her up holding her tight.
Slowly the treaded the water soaked landscape and made it down the uneven terrain towards the cave. She was barely conscious to know what was happening and her kid was clinging onto to her for dear life.
Once they made it all the way to the entrance of the hidden cave, the unlocked the door and carried in to one of the nearest chambers he made out to be a bedroom. He put her on the bed and told the child to find some dry clothes he had put in boxes near the door so they can sleep tonight and figure out what they can do tomorrow.
Quietly, he left the room as the woman, sill unconscious and out cold for the night, was hugged tightly by her child at side as the night drew closed and with hopes that for a while they would be safe and alright.
It ended up to be quite a night for Carl as he had an unexpected guest for the night. Being sure she was no zombie he turned out the light to the hallway and headed for his own master bedroom down at the end of the hallway, as he ended up doing what he does every night.
He said a prayer as he fell on his knees and thanked God for his blessings his safety and his life. He had put the plugs of Satan in his ears many years ago as he decided to follow the light. Thinking to not to think at all, he went to the bathroom and took a hot steamy shower.
The rain was so cold, it wrinkled his skin and he knew he should have changed the woman’s clothing but he didn’t know where to begin. He figured he was safer if he just left her alone and if she awakened during the night, the kid would tell her there were clothes in the box, he left right there by the door.
He put on pajama bottoms as he came out of the bathroom. He never wore pajama tops; it was a habit he’d acquired even before he went off to war. His physique was nothing to be ashamed of as he was neither fat nor skinny. He briefly looked into the mirror and saw a reflection of his past drift by as he had put on some pounds since then but always in shape to survive the tests of life.
A small shoulder tattoo reminded him of his high school sweetheart. A name almost forgotten if not for this constant reminder he was wearing to bed that night and all those other times he has endured, since he graduated from high school in Ohio and serving in the army.
Since the cavern was soundproof and untouched by nature’s wrath, the amount of damage done was undetectable and as he took a good solid deep breath, he laid down to fall asleep as he hooked up his CPAP machine and drift away into the rest of the night. Once addicted up to the plastic shaped mask, he fell asleep within minutes and hoped he didn’t dream of the war he fought and tried to leave behind, inside his head.
During the night, the El Nino rains never stopped. The night was drenched as the houses below the man-made mountains were being carried away by the muddy waters of the flooded areas of this valley about fifteen minutes from the coast but inland enough to make it to the city.
The crazy thing about this disaster was the debate between climate change and earthquake theories created by man and the emissions of our global warming trends. All those things that Carl considered hog wash but was smart enough not to ignore the advice to prepare and deliver himself.
What a fool those people were who never prepared themselves for this disaster, what a fool they were for not making plans to go up high and avoid being washed away by the drowning drenching torrents or forceful and power packed rains, coming from the sky.
The night went quickly, the mood was somber and the cave dwellings were quiet. Too quiet for Carl who would have expected the woman or the kid to cause some kind of noise or rumble inside the modernized but hollowed out cavern. Getting up slowly, he headed for the bathroom and as he had just begun to brush his teeth, he heard a loud screaming sound coming from down the hall.
He ran at a quick pace to reach the end of the hallway where the sound came from. His heart was racing and beating quickly as he scanned the rooms for threats or dangers that might have caused this fright.
A dimmed lighted setting to conserve as much electrical usage as possible, he found the woman and child, hugging each other tightly as they stopped and trembled on the sight of Carl’s favorite pet snake, Anaconda, a twelve foot yellow colored with black spots slithering python that guarded the cave at night.
Anna for short, this giant of a snake was the designated guardian of the bunker kept rodents out and strangers at bay until it was deemed to be friend rather than foe.
Carl tried to take good care of the woman and child. It was the right thing to do. Walking back at a more leisurely pace he asked them if they were hungry as he went into his kitchen and made his some of his favorite food – three eggs over easy, two strips of bacon and wheat toast on the side.
Knowing it would be rude not to ask them if they wanted to have breakfast, Carl offered them the hospitality of the entire bunker and showed them where the cold drinks were and any other food they desired. The woman nodded her head in a thankful manner and got up to make them something to eat.
The woman and child were thankful and hungry. Carl told her where the eggs were, the bacon and the bread was already on the counter. He told her to get up off her chair and make breakfast and for the kid as he sat down at the table and peaceable ate his breakfast.
Sitting there quietly, another sound came into the room as Carl’s Rottweilers, Reyna and Axel came in from the bedroom where he slept and joined the rest. For the moment, all was good and Carl explained to the woman that the two dogs were not vicious and were also protectors of the nest and that they were brother and sister from a champion litter born and bred in New Mexico.
The air was quiet as the bacon sizzled in the cast iron pan – the stove was propane fed and as the blue flame was lowered to keep the bacon from burning, the kitchen slowly heated up and removed the overnight dampness that was created by the constant rain outside.
The sizzling bacon spread an aromatic sense in the air that resulted in the two Rottweilers drooling from their mouths. After breakfast, Carl stood up and told the woman she was welcome to stay another day or night.
Sensing they were still a little shy and afraid of the entire scenario that played out the night before, he gave them both some space and walked away a little bit to make an excuse to leave them be for a while and let them relax a little.
He didn’t pry into her business and ask her how she ended up on this side of the mountain when in fact, it was time for him to go outside and check out any damage due to the rain and see if any of his cave had been affected by the rains that were still coming as predicted by the weather forecasters in the upcoming days and nights.
He checked the landscape with its miniature streams and gullies filled with whooshes of water. Every arroyo in sight has water rushing through their chasms and channels as the water was driven by the gravity of the height and sloped landscape that was hiding a man-made cavern out of sight.
Amazingly, not a stone was out of place as he checked his cave so carefully and meticulously examined and inspected. Checking every nook and cranny, even checking under the fallen rocks, Carl made a thorough inspection without any waste of time or effort to allow any weakness in his structure forming.
Coming back into the cave he saw the woman and child doing some cleaning up inside the kitchen. As a gentleman would, he stated that he would do them later but the woman insisted on cleaning up after themselves and thank him for his charity and saving her from the storm outside last night.
Carl, coming in wet from the misty and still concealing wet murkiness that was hanging around like low clouds swallowing the cavern, was wondering if she was all right. Suddenly, a silence fell in the room.
The woman had never introduced herself and the kid. She was a complete stranger. Carl had no idea how she ended up near his hidden cavern and wasn’t going to ask her any questions unless she volunteered to talk about it herself. The silence in the cavern was daunting.
There needed to be a break in the tension so Carl asked the kid if she wanted to watch television or play a game on the big screen television. Reluctantly, the kid said yes after her mother nodded and Carl gave her the directions to the sanctuary room where the TV was.
Suddenly, without a warning, the woman started talking. “The violent attacks were horrible,” she blurted out loud. Taking a deep breath, she began to tell Carl of the horror stories she saw from the day before and how she ended up being stranded up in the mountains. Her description of the zombies roaming the streets in knee deep water was vividly terrifying and frightening.
It was a tale that was repeated over and over after the torrential rains drowned the city and all that surrounded it from the flooded roadways on the coastline to the highways that were washed away or covered with deep mud from the mudslides rolling off the mountains.
Taking a deep breath and adjusting the wrinkled clothes she found in the bag by the door, she drew another breath and stated, “I lived about six blocks or so away from the mall where I shopped at the Albertson store. I was headed there to see if they had any more cases of bottled water and batteries for the upcoming storm.”
“There was a liquor store located across the street and people were lingering around the front of the store and the parking lot by Albertson was crowded. It seemed everybody was out getting supplies for the emergency and I wanted to get as much drinking water that I could find before the storm really got bad.”
Choking on her words, she said, “I didn’t want to risk running out of stuff so I loaded up the SUV with supplies and food to keep me over when suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge wave of water came down the street sweeping everything in its way down the road as it was powerful and undoubtedly the result of the heavy rains we were getting in the valley, with so much flooding so many places.”
“I tried to steer the SUV to the side of the road but the water was so strong, it carried the SUV and many other trucks and cars down the road like matchbox toys and as I was trapped in the SUV with my six year old daughter.”
“It seemed the elevation of the rushing and torrent aquatic rainmaking was rising creating fierce rushing metal crushing streams now forming into a lashing flowing body of water down the streets like a raging river. It was getting bigger and took the cars trapped in the flowing water, down the hills and into the chasms of the water filled valley as the creeks had overflowed and the rivers were all rising.”
Finally introducing herself as Heather Chase, the woman was still shaking as she told her story. “I saw dead bodies floating and animals and people drowning around me. I couldn’t do a thing as I was trapped in this giant water slide downhill and picking up speed rolling with the landscape and growing.”
“I was wearing shorts and sneakers and the water was rising up to the windows of the SUV.”
“I was frozen with fright and panicking, screaming for help, nobody heard me and I was completely helpless. As the SUV was floating with the rushing waters, I saw underwater zombies popping up and reaching out at me trying to grab me.”
“I saw some of these blood covered slow moving human shaped mindless zombie like creatures trying to climb onto the SUV and fall off with the raging currents pulling them down and leaving them somewhere underwater.”
“I was being ripped from the streets and rolling with the water bobbing like a boat hoping that the SUV will remain above water and stay afloat. Truly, I was scared to death as this nightmare ride took me down the road for miles as the water followed the interstate highway that had turned into a river. I remember this well but I could clearly recall being ripped and dipped like a human bobber on a fishing pole line and I didn’t know where we would end up but suddenly, the level of the rushing water subdued dramatically and the flooded water was /low enough to stall the movement leaving me stuck in the mud somewhere close to here.”
“Around me were slow shambling kind of moving zombies staggering and being lost in the middle of nowhere. The mud was so deep, they couldn’t move well but they were standing there upright in the mud looking like statues and acting like scavengers, guessing they were looking for people to eat. Covered with blood on their hands and faces, they were inclined to bite those unfortunate bodies floating down the highway as the flood was subsiding.”
Heather took a deep breath and continued to tell the horror story as she explained that the last thing she wanted to do was to provoke them and draw attention to herself and her daughter. They knew if they were spotted to be warm blooded beings, they would turn into instant prey for the animal like zombies who were plentiful and rather than dying, walking in the water.
Barricaded inside her SUV, Heather sat there still and motionless, until the zombies passed her car and let her be. She told of an invasion of hundred in the bloody hordes and how they all seemed to be headed back to the area where she came from as if they were attracted to the mall area, where mass victims laid there helpless and severely injured and likely die from their wounds unless they are found by the emergency medical teams out searching for survivors.
Visibly shaking, Heather told Carl there were no signs of cops, no law enforcement and no medical EMT’s available to help those wounded. It seemed the world had been abandoned and nobody was around to help the survivors.
She added she looked for cops who were supposed to keep the peace whenever disasters strike or in this case, the valley flooded quickly from the El Nino created superstorms and rising waters.
She said everyone she saw looked dead or almost dead. Some were dismembered and bleeding profusely and many were infected. This invasion of zombies was something she hadn’t been prepared for and if your know anything about struggling people against infected people who in turn became these senseless or mindless zombies.
She mentioned the mall and how it was full with people when she left. The zombies hitting the mall would be horrible as it left the people helpless. The worst place a person can go is crowded places and some ended up there because of the rain, seeking shelter and falling into the hands of these swarming zombies. She told Carl, “I suspect no person could get out of there alive.”