Cataclysm: Survival in a Barren World
by Robert F. Lundrigan Genre: SciFi Fantasy
The story is told from two points of view. The Clark family finds themselves seemingly alone on a barren planet while an alien named Pzx is in charge of the fleet looking for a home. She is under orders but would prefer to communicate with other beings. This is a tale of the struggles of both of them as they seek to survive in a barren world.
Bill wakes at the crack of dawn and gets things ready for travel without waking the others. As he leaves the main gate he stops to look in on the ranger booth but no one is there. Somebody has left a uniform, complete with shoes right there in the middle of the floor of the small cubicle, and the cash box is open and filled with money. He shrugs his shoulders at the strange condition but leaves the price of a campsite rental for one night on the small counter and drives on. Soon he is out of the Mammoth Cave National Park land and on the entrance to the
highway that leads towards Nashville. There hasn’t been a single car or truck on the road so far but, now that he’s on the main drag, there’s bound to be traffic.
He looks both ways and there’s nothing coming in either direction. “I know that there’s light traffic in the south as compared to the north, but this is ridiculous,” he mutters to himself just before he sees the two cars overturned in the ditch beside the road. He stops and gets out to investigate. There’s nobody in the cars but there’s clothing
scattered about in both of them. He gets a terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach. The road is straight and flat affording good visibility. There’s no traffic in either direction. He waits for five minutes and nothing shows up. Something is wrong, terribly wrong.
He climbs back into the driver’s seat and proceeds slowly towards Nashville. He sees more and more overturned and smashed vehicles along the way but investigation always reveals the same thing - No people in evidence but there is always clothing scattered inside of each vehicle. There’s even watches and jewelry in some of them. His
head is beginning to pound. None of this makes any sense. He turns on the radio to get the news, to find out what in the hell is going on. All he gets is the shoosh of the open airways. He scans the band over and over but either his radio is broken or nothing is being broadcast. He turns on the CB and gets the same shooshing sound, nothing more. “Oh my God,” he shouts. “What is going on?”
His shout wakes up the rest of the crew and they find him sitting in the driver’s seat shaking like a leaf. “Dad, what’s the matter?” asks Marty. “Are you alright?”
“There’s nobody out there,” is all that he can say.
Diana is the first to notice the smashed vehicles alongside of the road. She shakes Bill and he snaps out of it. He tells them what he has found, or has not found. The details are enough to numb them all into a sort of semi-shock but Bill decides to press on towards Nashville until they at least come to a McDonald’s or someplace where he knows that there are always people.
For a while they stop at every empty vehicle to investigate but it’s always the same. They soon learn that it’s useless to stop, and keep going until they come upon a sign that tells them there’s a Burger King at the next exit. When they get to the exit ramp there are several smashed vehicles and an overturned eighteen wheeler blocking the way. The restaurant is nearby so they leave the motorhome and walk. There’s no sound except the sound of a soft breeze murmuring through the trees, and there’s no movement save for that moved by the same breeze, and when they start walking, the sound of their footsteps are like drum beats. The parking lot of the Burger King is nearly full of cars and the big yellow and red signs glow with the electricity that’s inside them.
“Looks like there’s somebody here. The place is open,” shouts Mike as he dashes on ahead followed by Marty and the girls .
When Diana and Bill get to the top of the ramp the children are on their way back, their faces as white as new fallen snow. There is shock in their eyes. “All there is inside are piles of clothes but no people. All the lights are on and there’s even Whoppers ready behind the counter, but there’s nobody anywhere,” says Debbie. “Oh, my God! What is happening, Daddy?”
“I don’t know, honey. I don’t know.” He takes a sobbing daughter into his arms, feeling helpless and confused.
They go into the restaurant where Bill notices on the small computer above the counter that the last order was taken at five-thirtyeight PM. “Whatever happened must have happened at about five-thirtyeight last evening,” he tells them, pointing to the screen.
Robert F. Lundrigan is a certified member of APICS and former Manager of Materials at General Electric. A native of Massachusetts, he graduated from Lowell Institute in Mechanical Engineering and later attended technical and creative writing workshops at Harvard. He has helped several companies as a consultant to improve profits by using the theory of constraints, with great success. Bob has written numerous articles for professional journals, this is his second novel.
My granddaughter, Amy, was pregnant with her second child in 2011 when her doctor told her that the baby needed to be aborted because its heart didn't develop properly and was only half a heart. Her own heart was broken but she was determined so she went to a specialist at Boston Children's Hospital, a place where miracles are performed every day. It was a long hard pregnancy with less than one percent probability of survival, but Amy was determined. When the proper time arrived the surgeon took the baby by ceasarian section and within the first hour of its birth performed a life saving open heart surgery on the tiny heart, followed by two more open heart surgeries before little Sammy was two. He never ate solid food until he was three, but was fed through a plastic tube directly into his stomach. It's a miracle beyond imagination, but little Sammy is a happy, healthy little guy with a smile for everybody he meets. To know him is to love him. I am donating all proceeds I receive for Cataclysm to "It's My Heart, New England", a charity to help the children and families of CHD in non medical ways. On June 24th of this year there will be a family walk and picnic at Endicott Park in Danvers Massachusetts. For details go to walk.itsmyheartnewengland.org. Sammy will be here and so will I. Here's a picture of Sammy sitting amongst a former years picnic tshirt :