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Ronald W. Hull

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Part 3: Last Man Standing
By Ronald W. Hull
Friday, June 29, 2012

Rated "G" by the Author.

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How to survive when the world comes apart.

Featured in my upcoming book: Verge of Apocalypse Tales

  Sometime during the night, a storm came up, at first blowing soil ahead of it like a major dust storm that the tarp barely kept out of my bed, followed by the front that moved the truck and tore down burned trees all around, followed by intense lightning and hail the size of golf balls that pelted me under the tarp like I was being beaten, followed by tornadoes I heard in the distance raking through with unconscionable sound and fury.  The last insult was the mud that was part of the rain, eventually weighing down the tarp with about a 2-inch layer that fell from the sky. The mud left a mess that was impossible to clean up without water.  Indeed, the whole landscape around me was covered with a brand-new 2-inch layer of mud.  By 10am, the mud had dried up sufficiently for me to drive on it without sliding all around.  Under my tires, the mud became dust and blew up behind the pickup like I was driving on a gravel road.  I continued southward and by late afternoon was crossing the Mississippi on a high bridge that was uncluttered except by a bombed out checkpoint directly over the river.  The mighty Mississippi was merely a small, muddy stream during what was obviously becoming another long, hot summer of drought. I made camp under the bridge on the other side and caught some nice catfish for dinner.  I left the river bottom in the morning because I didn't want to be caught in a flash flood.

Somewhere in Arkansas the next day, while in the mountains, I found a place the fires did not reach and a three-bedroom bungalow that was locked up and abandoned on a lake.  There was food in the house and gasoline available in a tank by the garage and in the area, so I decided to stay there a while and see what happened.  At least the winter wouldn't be as bad as up north, and I could gather enough food to make it through the winter.  At that point I was unsure whether to continue heading south to Mexico, go west to the coast, or east to the coast. That's when I decided to stay, because I was so unsure about my future direction.  Nature made up my mind for me.
I was there about two days when I noticed an enormous cloud approaching from the south.  In all my years of observing storms, I'd never seen anything like this–its surface spread from east to west to the horizon and had a rolled look like a donut on its side, only the side was several thousand feet high.  The cloud was ominous enough to make me think of taking cover in the house.  As the cloud got larger and larger, I parked the truck in the empty garage and then battened down the hatches as best I could before the storm reached me, about four o'clock in the afternoon.  I didn't know it at the time, but I was in for a terrible night of howling winds and trees crashing down, along with pelting rain that drove right through the walls of the house.  At times, the howling got so loud I could hardly stand it and I thought the roof would come off.  A couple of windows broke, and the wind and rain came pouring in.  I didn't sleep at all that night fighting for a respite from the torrent.  By morning, I was exhausted.  When the storm finally let up, the sun came out, and I was able to survey the damage.  The outside of the house was badly damaged, part of the roof was torn off, and the two windows were gone.  I checked the truck in the garage.  The garage had leaked a lot, but my tarp, tied tightly over the truck bed, saved those supplies I had stored there.  I cooked a fish breakfast in the fireplace and contemplated my chances.  Staying in Canada started to look very good as the sun came out and the temperature rose above 100° creating a steamy, rain forest like environment.  It was the first hurricane I ever experienced, and I hoped it would be my last.  I decided to move on.  The house wouldn't protect me in winter in the shape it was.
But moving on became problematic because of all the trees in the road.  I traveled westward through mountainous terrain and only made about 10 miles that day because I had to cut trees off the road.  The gas oil mix in my chainsaw was running low and I wasn't sure how far I would have to go to get it refilled.  I saw a side road with a sign to a state park. After five nerve-wracking  miles, worried about fuel, I saw a welcome center that was made of steel and had withstood the hurricane very well.  There was a huge fireplace for cooking, some solar power that I thought I could get going again, and an artesian well with ample fresh water.  There were several buildings, including a garage with some vehicles and a store of gasoline and fuel oil.  Once again, I found no evidence of violence or bodies.  The people who worked there probably rushed off to their families rather than stay at work at the park.  I didn't know how many more violent storms and hurricanes would be coming my way, but my options in going in every direction seemed to be a rather bleak, so I hunkered down and stayed there.  At my first opportunity, I drove back to that  sign and removed it.  I dragged a log across the park road there, discouraging anyone from coming to my find.  It became a habit to cover my tracks.
The climate change was obvious, and the plants, insects, animals and birds were busy adapting to the circumstances.  There was a lot of lush new growth under the trees and in the burned-out areas, providing lots of food for the survivors like deer, wild pigs and wild turkey.  I had plenty of ammunition, so I began stocking up for the winter by smoking some of the game that I shot and some of the fish I caught in the lakes, now brimming with fish and amphibians.  There were lots of hummingbirds, armadillos, and javelinas–animals that should have been much further south, now moving into the area because of the climate.  Alligators would soon be in the lake.  All in all, it was a pristine paradise only three years after the terrible fires and dust storms.  Nature rapidly repairing itself.  From what I'd seen, humans didn't fare that well, unable to last even a year without man-made food and water.  So much for our superior intelligence.
I spent the next two years there or maybe three, the years began to run together.  I cleared the roads for a hundred miles or so either way and found snowplows that I got going to help clear the roads much quicker than cutting the logs by pushing them out of the way.  Wherever the fires had burned down the forest completely, the only road obstructions were abandoned vehicles and landslides.  Once I worked my way out to four-lane highways, most of those problems disappeared.  I found a lot more bodies and bullet-ridden vehicles, and many burned-out villages and towns, but I found no one alive but still was able to salvage vehicles and gasoline they left behind.  My needs to store things had increased, so I resorted to driving an eighteen-wheeler with everything in it and a snowplow in the front to clear the road of, trees, vehicles, and landslides.  Behind it, I towed an all-wheel drive truck with a full tank of gas for scouting ahead.  The cab of the big rig had a self-contained living quarter with a shower and comfortable bed.  A small auxiliary engine provided power for the small kitchenette and bathroom–an ideal set up.  The trailer contained everything I needed to survive for months at a time.  Vehicles like this were available if they weren't burned or damaged after sitting out for years.  Whenever one would fail I would always know where there was another one I could pick up, locked in a garage somewhere in fairly good shape that I could get started and running again.  I got to be a fairly good mechanic, but couldn't fix everything.  I was a better looter and scavenger, taking the best and leaving the rest.
On one of my excursions, just when I thought I was all alone, I was driving my rig back to my place, about 20 miles on cleared highway from my state park, I came around the bend and a pickup truck came careening my way with two guys in it.  If I'd known they were going to shoot, I would have hit them head on and finished it. I was so surprised to see another moving vehicle, that it wasn't until bullets were hitting my windshield that I realized that they weren't friendly and were using my cleared road to attack me.  I flew by them and went around the next bend.  I knew they were going to turn around and come back, so I slammed on the brakes to the side of the road, jumped out, and ran back to open the trailer doors to get at my arsenal.  I barely got inside and closed the door before bullets were hitting the doors.  I knew I was trapped inside, so I had to act fast.  I picked up the loaded Browning over and under and stuck it out of the crack in the door at the back of the trailer lying down.  As the pickup got within 100 yards and closing fast under a hail of fire from automatic weapons, I leveled the slug at the driver and saw it blow in the windshield at the steering wheel.  The pickup kept coming and smashed directly into the back of my rig.  I barely had time to get out of the way as I fell backward and there was a loud crash.  
I regained my footing and carefully approached the left door of the trailer that was now forced open and looked down to see that the pickup had crumpled when it hit the back of the trailer and both the driver and passenger with guns in their hands were crushed in their seats.  As I was looking down at them, I saw a rifle come up from behind the pickup cab, aimed at me. So, I let go with the buckshot in the Browning, dropped it, pulled out my 357 Magnum  from its holster, fired four shots through the roof and back of the cab.  I saw no more movement, so I cautiously jumped down from the trailer and went around to see if anyone else was in the pickup bed.  There was only one guy.  He looked young, too young, with a scraggly beard.  He had been seriously hurt in the crash, but the buckshot in his forehead killed him instantly.
I felt bad.  Real bad.  Those three guys were the only humans I had seen in five years, and they were dead.  Why?  Why did they shoot at me?  I would've shared with them what I had.  I never killed a man before.  Now I had shot two and killed three in a single day.  I didn't sleep well for weeks after that, trying to think what I could've done to prevent killing them.  I buried that young man by that road.  I couldn't get the other two out of the pickup, so I just burned it and left them.  Every time I drove by that spot, it reminded me.  I had to leave.
And so I started traveling the Interstates, always trying to find people, but not finding any because almost no one survived the three years of hell after the meltdown.  I think it was about seven years out; I was in Montana, when I ran into them.  Survivalists.  I saw smoke up ahead long before I got there, so I pulled off into a little canyon where I could hide my rig as much as possible, and took my scouting vehicle for a spin.  Even then, I had to be cautious.  I decided to wait until nightfall, and then head in on foot.  I parked my ride strategically and packed two pistols and my trusty 30-06 with a scope with night vision.  The weather had been dryer in the West and the only cover was burned-out sagebrush. That night, I had to follow my nose to the smell of smoke, because I couldn't see a fire burning.  Finally, after crawling on my hands and knees for some time, I pulled up the scope and saw two men at the entrance of a dugout home of some kind with the stack coming out of it where the smoke was rising and they were cooking.
It'd been so long since I talked to anyone, I wasn't exactly sure what to say.  But the cover of night was in my favor, so I thought I would call out and see how they would respond.  Figured I could always escape in the dark if it wasn't favorable.
I called out.  “Hello!  I'm sure glad to see you guys.  Haven't seen anyone in a long time.” And then, I shut up.  Didn't want to let them know that I was one or many.  Didn't want to give them too much information.
As I watched in the scope, the two men scrambled inside the opening.  And then I saw one of them come out of the opening with something in his hands.  He lay down on the ground and opened fire on me with a machine gun.  It was the most frightening thing I had experienced since those guys shot at me on the road as the bullets kicked up dirt all around me and I tried lying as low as I could to keep from getting hit.  He seemed to have endless bullets and was going to hit me sooner or later, so I had no choice but to fire back.  I took careful aim for where I thought that he was firing, and fired one shot.  The machine gun fire stopped and he didn't call out, so I must've got him. Shooting that man brought back a memory that wrenched my stomach.  I turned and ran.  I was back by my all-wheel-drive scout vehicle in 5 minutes By that time, I heard the roar of a truck and it was coming up the highway–fast--.and blew by.  I didn't see who it was in the truck, but it didn't matter.  I had to get out of there.  I figured my best approach was to go the other way and abandon my eighteen-wheeler for now.  It was risky, but the only choice I had.  I was too under gunned to confront them.  I got back in my scout vehicle and drove right past the place, the other direction from the other pickup.
I put 50 miles behind me that night and turned south at the next crossroad.  I found a narrow trail off the highway and slept fitfully till morning.  Thoughts of killing that man and them chasing me weighed heavy on my mind. While the GPS satellite had continued working for a long while, it finally gave out about a year before, so I took convenient highways and used dead reckoning to try to figure out where I was.  The signs announcing towns were still up, so I could tell where I was quite often by them.  Another 50 miles south, there was an intersection with a road going east.  I took that.  In the dry West, now drier than ever, many ranches, towns and villages were spared the burning.  I found more supplies here than anywhere I had before.  So I took my pump, and filled up my scouting truck with fresh gasoline from an underground tank at an abandoned gas station.  I took note of a couple of abandoned eighteen-wheelers just in case I needed one.  But I was more interested in getting back to my well-provisioned one.  Finally, two days later, I found it.  Remarkably, the rig was untouched because I had hidden it well off the road, and they didn't suspect I had something like that.  I was so glad to get it started and head back the other direction retracing my tracks back to the place where I got the gasoline and filled my fuel tanks on the eighteen wheeler.
I laid up at the garage where the other eighteen-wheelers were and made repairs.  I found a welder, and, although I didn't know how to weld, I gave it a try and succeeded, with the help of the diesel generator for power, in welding some steel together to make myself some protection on the front of the rig to try to stop bullets from entering the radiator or my windshield.  It took me two or three weeks, but the shop was well-equipped, and I was able to make some reasonable protection from gunfire.  It did make it a little hard to see where I was going though, and I didn't like that.  I kept trying to think of contingency plans, but couldn't think of any way of camouflaging a noisy diesel truck coming down the road where it could be heard coming 2 miles away. The tractor got very ugly with the snowplow on the front and all that steel work.  I just had to improve my chances.  Luckily, having only encountered five people in seven years, I didn't have to worry too much.  Or did I?  I moved on.
California beckoned, so, after wintering near artesian water in Utah, with snow sometimes blocking me in for weeks, I headed south and picked up Interstate 80 over the Sierras.  So far, so good.  Except for the usual, the road was clear.  When I reached California in the spring, I was amazed at how green the landscape was.  There had been much rain in the years since the disaster and all of the fruit trees were in bloom.  I had no trouble finding wildlife and fresh water.  My trusty eighteen-wheeler finally gave out, and I had to replace it with something that had been sitting for seven years or more.  It was getting harder and harder to find equipment that worked and vehicles that ran, as well as gasoline and fuel oil.  Yet, in my mind, I knew where these were from where I had been.  Only I wasn't going back there, so it didn't make any difference.
I drove all the way down to Oakland and found that I couldn't cross the Bay Bridge into San Francisco because there had been an earthquake and the road was too badly damaged for me to go that way.  From what I could see across the Bay, there wasn't much left of San Francisco anyway.  So I turned around and headed north, crossing at the Richmond Bridge and taking 101 north to Oregon.  I was pleased to see many redwoods had survived the fires.  Where they fell on the road, they were impassable. I had to back track and head east to Interstate 5.  I arrived in Oregon in mid-summer and found it overwhelming for all the fresh fruit and berries just growing there with no one to pick them except the bears, which were numerous along with other wildlife.  I spent that wet winter in the Willamette Valley, living off the fat of the land.  But each spring I had to move on, always looking for someone still alive.  Someone friendly that I could join to reestablish some semblance of civilization.  I was beginning to wonder.  The combination of the violence of those early days when every store and warehouse in world was looted and destroyed, when so many buildings in so many small towns showed evidence of being shot to hell by every gun owner that dragged their guns out, either for protection or destruction, and the senseless fires set to produce utter destruction and cover the evidence of violent acts, made me sick.  That's why I couldn't stay in those places very long and only sought out the wild places or vacant places that showed no signs of violation.  They were few and far between.
I tried California for a while, drove down into the Southern part, and then across into Nevada.  Las Vegas was like the rest of civilization–destroyed.  So I crossed the Hoover Dam on the new bridge.  I couldn't have gone that way if the highway was still at the top of the dam, because Lake Mead had backed up behind the dam and was flowing over the road on top after the lower sluice gates had become blocked with debris that floated down the Colorado from all the destruction up river.  All that water was strange, because as I traveled south towards the Sonoran Desert, I found that it was gone, replaced by a developing Southwest Sahara desert, devoid of anything but an occasional oasis of palms.  Lake Havasu was as far as I got.  The dam must've been out, because there was no water in the lake.  The Colorado River just flowed on through.  It was only April, I think, but the temperature in the city was 120° and the air conditioning in my truck couldn't hack it, even at night.  The town hadn't burned and was only partially destroyed, but no one could live there in the conditions that existed.  I turned around and headed back past the Grand Canyon, high tailing it through the Four Corners, and, blocked by landslides in the Rockies, turned around and drove back north to where I'd been three years before.
This time, I approached from the west, trying to remember exactly where that place was where I was attacked.  I came up over a rise and saw it, about three or 4 miles distant.  I immediately hit the brakes, trying not to let my downshifting send a signal from my exhaust.  I backed the rig up over the hill–tricky with my scout vehicle behind–and turned around. In about 10 minutes, I found a place where I could hide the big rig behind a hill and drove off the road to that spot.  I waited until dusk, and drove to within about a quarter-mile of the place.  I could still see up ahead in the growing darkness with my headlights off.  I drove off the road and down into an arroyo that ran under the highway.  A good place to hide my scout truck except for one thing–a flash flood could come along and any time from rain that took place miles away.  I took my chances. I had to hide it.  From there I walked, and eventually crawled, through the sagebrush until I was within one hundred yards of the opening in the hillside.  There was no evidence of anyone moving in my night scope. And then I saw it.  A skeletal body lying on the ground with what appeared to be a machine gun in its hands.
I rose to my feet and approached cautiously.  The entrance to the underground bunker was pretty badly shot up with what looked like 50 caliber machine gun bullet holes.  The body was of the guy I shot some three years before.  No one had buried him, and I quickly learned that the place had been deserted about the same time.  The heavy steel door was left half open.  When I looked inside with my solar rechargeable flashlight, the quarters were small and it didn't look like there were any provisions still stored in the dingy, crowded underground bunker.  The wood stove hadn't been used, either.  It became painfully aware that the bunker held either just those two guys I saw or a small family.  I found some photographs scattered on the floor and saw a lovely family of a mother, father, and small boy fishing at a lake somewhere.  I went back outside and spotted something in my flashlight that was disturbing.  A rock covered grave with a wooden cross.  I approached it and read the description written on the cross. “Our Loving Courageous Son, Josh Bender, 12.  May He Rest In Peace.”  There were no dates on his grave.  They had lost track of the calendar.
So that's why they fired on me.  They had been attacked before and their son had died fighting. So, it was a woman that drove wildly up the road that night.  I vowed to myself right then that I wouldn't fire at anyone unless I couldn't escape and knew what I was fighting.  I couldn't sleep many nights after that thinking that I may have disrupted a family that only fired on me because they were scared, just like me, because their bunker had been attacked.  I couldn't get those huge bullet holes in the bunker doorframe out of my mind.  And what those 50 caliber bullets had done that poor boy's body.
I found the roads east becoming less able to travel.  Landslides and washouts were everywhere.  Backtracking and taking other roads became the rule rather than other options.  Three years had made a big difference in the wildlife.  I saw wild horses.  I saw herds of buffalo.  Every night I heard wolves howling.  Stranger still, I saw monkeys, elephants, lions and tigers, and other animals and birds not native to North America.  I surmised that they were escapees from zoos and wildlife ranches specializing in exotic animals.  Big predators like lions and tigers probably survived because they ate the bodies of all the dead.  As time went on, I found fewer human bodies and more evidence that bodies had been eaten and the bones strewn about. It became very dangerous for me to sleep on the ground, so I stuck to the comfort of my truck cab.  What with the heat and accompanying drought, the storms and the hurricanes, the nature of North America was changing and so was its animal population.  The hunters and hunted always existed, but the players were more in tune to dryer, hotter climates, with occasional floods.  Most of the North American herbivores migrated further north to escape the heat and drought.  Road kill became quite common. I always stopped to pick up what I had hit.  Fresh meat was always welcome.
First, grass, and then trees, begin growing up through cracks in gravel, asphalt and concrete.  Except in the desert areas of the West and the areas where drought was persistent, gravel roads became quickly impassible, even with a snowplow in front of my big rig.  Asphalt roads were beginning to get overgrown, but they were mostly still passable except for potholes and washouts.  Concrete highways and interstates lasted the longest.  I grew ever more restless and covered what was left of the lower forty-eight in the years I had left on those highways.  In time, it became hard to find suitable vehicles that I could still get running after batteries had sat for ten years or more.  Tires also became a problem.  I found changing tires, even in truck shops, daunting.  When their computers detected a problem, late-model trucks would quit running.  I found myself seeking out older models that did not have computers.  With the older models, I sacrificed the plush living quarters in the cabs.  Even my trusty smart phone that hadn’t conveyed a call in years quit one day.  The solar charger was long gone, and the crank charger was onerous.  Let's face it, entropy was happening and there was nothing I could do about it.
After about ten years or so of being on the road and finding no one, I came to the end of the road.  My days of riding the big rigs were over because even the Interstates had become nearly impassable.  I tried the rivers for a while, but boats were hard to come by and batteries and fuel even harder.  Inoperable locks, beavers, storms and floods only made traveling the rivers dangerous and difficult, alone.  As my scavenging lifestyle continued, finding any viable packaged food from before the meltdown became less and less possible.  I had to constantly grow and gather my own–staying in one place during the growing season to gather a crop and then moving on to where I would spend the winter.  All things made before by men were being gradually eroded to nothing.  While I could always find some things, like guns and ammunition, that survived the test of time quite will; others, like clothing, became harder and harder to come by in a condition that I would what to wear.  Especially in wintertime, I found myself making fur parkas and boots.  These items that I made myself were far warmer and more waterproof than the ones I found in stores.  There was fast approaching the time that I would have to leave most of man's possessions behind.
So, I had come full circle.  I was back traveling on foot carrying a pack on my back.  I holed up wherever I could and had to barricade myself every night.  I still followed the roads, because, while they were overgrown, they cut through hills and mountains and still had viable bridges across rivers.  The animals soon found the roads good for travel, too, and began to run trails through the brush that grew up through the cracks.  One day I was on a path well worn by animals in the middle of what used to be I -75 north of Indianapolis, walking north, when I came upon a lioness leading a pride that I didn't see until they were only about 10 feet away.  I had to act fast, because the lead lioness stopped moving when she saw me, but circled a bit and appeared as though she was going to pounce.  I pulled the 357 Magnum and leveled a shot between her ears and she jumped back from the flash and the sound.  And then she turned and ran along with all the other lions down the path I was taking.  I didn't want them following me and sneaking back around to attack me later, so I followed them down the path and whenever I saw one of them, I leveled a shot right over their backs.  Within a half hour they had left the road and I didn't think they would be following me, but I kept one eye over my shoulder until I found a safe place to hole up in the night.  In this case, a culvert where I blocked both ends with pieces of metal I found that would alert me if any lions tried to come in during the night.  I didn't sleep much because I slept with my rifle with a flashlight tied to it just in case they came.  Thankfully, they didn't.  And it didn’t rain.  I decided to head further north, hopefully leaving the lions and tigers behind.  For the most part, wild animals avoided me.  Some of them may have been pets in another life and not afraid of humans like the wild ones seemed to be as long as you had a thunder stick to scare them.  That was as long as my bullets would hold out.
As I traveled further north, I kept running into water that was blocking my way.  I became quite adept at building rafts to carry my pack across the lakes and rivers.  The parts of the cities and towns that had not burned were becoming quite dangerous because of all the wild animals that had moved in.  Still, those places protected me from bears and lions that liked to hunt at night.  I wasn't sure about tigers or whether Siberian tigers had moved into where I was going, but I had no choice.  Without someone to cover my back while I was sleeping, I was always in danger sleeping in what had become, a quite tropical or desert, lower 48.
Finally, I reached Lake Superior again.  I wintered in a large boathouse with several boats in Ashland.  The small islands offshore hadn’t burned and looked like white mushrooms when the snow came.  They were a rich source of food and firewood for me.  That winter I had a reoccurring dream.  My dream was that nuclear power plants around the world were leaking cooling water and going into meltdown.  I knew that meant there would be a lot of radiation in the air and I wasn't sure if my dream was true or not.  All the more reason to head further north to try to avoid any radiation circling the globe in the prevailing westerlies in the northern hemisphere.  I worked all winter on the boats and finally got one of them running.  On the first calm spring day I set afloat with a powerboat pulling a sailboat and a rowboat for safety.  I didn't make it across that night, but I followed the North Star that was clearly visible and made the North Shore by the middle of the next day.  I stayed there for a few days, using the powerboat as my home while I tried out the sailboat with little success at sailing.  I powered west along the North Shore until I came to a place where I found more fuel and another unburned boathouse.  I also found canoes and kayaks.  Just what I would need for my trip further north.  Once again, I chose a fold down kayak and could make portages in three trips.  I also found more guns and ammunition that I was sure I would need if I ran into bear, moose, wolves or Siberian tiger.  I was pretty sure I was out of the current range of the tropical lions and tigers, pythons and anacondas, alligators and crocodiles, and other nasty critters that now occupied further south.
I was amazed at how much the burnt over forest had regrown in the years since I first crossed the Boundary Waters.  The old portage trails were grown over and I had to hack my way through with a machete in many places.  The heat and the renewed rains had caused a burst of growth the area had never seen.  There were also tree species that had not been there before, like oaks and sycamores.  I didn't arrive at the lodge until mid-August.  There was no time to grow much, but I put  in a little greenhouse garden and began gathering what I would need for winter.  The place had lots of evidence that bears and tried to break in, but the barbed wire had been a good deterrent and there were plenty of bloodstains to prove it.  Inside the place was pretty much as I left it except for an infestation of squirrels, bats, and rats that I had to eradicate before the place was livable again.  After some fiddling and rewiring, I got the old wind generator and solar panels working and was glad to have power that I hadn't had since I left Lake Superior.  It was almost beginning to look like home.  
As I settled in for winter that started at the end of August, I marveled at how I'd been traveling all these years without getting seriously injured in falls or stepping on rusty nails.  That's why I say I'm lucky.  Any other person would have been long gone with a minor infection that couldn't be treated. I was now immune to about any bug bite that you could think of; my skin was leathery and tough.  I was lean and mean.  In my late 40s and in top shape.  I could walk 40 miles in a day carrying a 70-pound pack, and do it day after day.  But I was ready to settle in for the winter.  Kick back and take it easy.  It was great to be somewhere that hadn't been devastated.
I shot a moose with my Browning over and under. I always kept it near as a bear deterrent.  When the moose presented itself at close range, I put the slug through its lungs and had enough meat to last the winter.  I supplemented that with ruffed grouse, squirrels and rabbits that I snared along with fish and frogs that I caught to provide a good variety of protein.  I was surprised when I snared pheasants.  It gave me some idea of how much the climate had changed.  Still, winter came on with a vengeance with deep snow and bitter cold.  I was pretty much cabin bound for the remainder of the winter until April when it turned warm again.
It was during those long hours of winter, my first winter back, that I began this.  It is now another 20 years and I am growing tired and older.  My bones ache and I'm not sure how many more years I'll be able to gather enough food for winter.  My flour was full of weevils when I got here and it's long gone.  I still have a few seeds but my garden is less productive every year.  It's still getting hotter and has become almost tropical.  Tropical animals, like alligators and pythons I've seen in the lake.  I'm sure there are others like me in the northern climates around the world that have survived.  Only I never had a wife or child.  And I've given up hope of ever having one.  I hope someone, somewhere, is having children and teaching them how to survive.  Maybe they'll find what I've written here.  Maybe not.  It looks like I'm the last man standing.
 
Fifty years later…
 
 
An expedition of Laplanders, working in collaboration with the Inuit Nation, and in satellite communication with the Kiwi Nation, came across the lodge during their survey of suitable living places further south from their territory that wasn't contaminated by fallout from the many meltdowns of nuclear power plants.  They found this story and the man who wrote it, his skeletal remains in bed.  They concluded that the man had died some twenty years before in his 90s in his sleep from natural causes.

 

 

       Web Site: Ron's Place

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Reviewed by Annabel Sheila 7/3/2012
OMG! This left my stomach in knots! Very WELL penned, Ronald...you're a great storyteller!

Anna
Reviewed by Vivian Dawson 6/29/2012
Truly Amazing is your story!!!
*Ron*
And I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!!!

Lady Vivian
Reviewed by Jane Noponen Perinacci 6/29/2012
Wow! Too wild considering I was up all last night studying the Georgia Guidestones. Whoah!! I've got goosebumps! Great writing!!

Love ya!

Jane
Reviewed by Budd Nelson 6/29/2012
Ron,
a great story, more please.
Budd


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