I had been trying the past hour to get some sort of signal on my ham radio. I haven't heard from anyone outside of Lookout Mountain in months. I had no idea of what was going on in the world since the Death times that fractured our nation and blacked out our communication. Daddy had been fighting in Tennessee with the Sons of the South since last year. We get a letter or message every so often from places like Monteagle, Murfreesboro, and Nashville pushing the black shirts back north.
I helped Mama fry our fresh eggs that my little sister, Jezemeah and baby brother Ezekial gathered that morning and churn the butter from the milk I got myself from our cow Minnie. Everyday we ate the same- bread, butter, eggs, and apples, fresh or dried depending on the season. In the winter we got to eat ham and bacon for breakfast. Mr. Ider helps us with smoking meat. he worked at one of those living museums before the Death Times and was widely sought by our county for his knowledge. Good thing Mr. Ider was our neighbor 6 acres down our trail. We also know Mr. Ider really likes Granny and likes her 25 acres and 3 horses more.
We sat down on the old rickety table from the old Ikea in Atlanta. mother smacking Ezekial's hand as he began to take a bite of his bread.
"Prayers first ya'll! We need to take the time to thank the Lord for our blessings in these dark times!"
Momma and Daddy grew more religious since the Death Times and when we ran from Atlanta. We were lucky to have our Granny's retirement property here on Lookout Mountain. She and Papaw loved the outdoors. They bought up a lot of land on the mountain and a farm in the valley not too far from Mentone, AL. Granny taught us shooting, farming, and fishing. We survived better than most. Soon more refugees began pouring in. Some rented land from Granny. She was the lady of Mentone and she knew it!
After we told God that he was Good and thanked him for our food we finally got to eat without getting smacked. Of course when myself, and older brothers Hunter and Gareth were little mom would throw a granola bar at us before piling us into a car so that she wouldn't late for Zumba. I don't think we ever prayed except at funerals or when one of us were sick.
"Annie hurry up, I really want you to be on time to go to school on time." Momma was fussing again. I liked to look out the window and see the beautiful mountain view and get lost in thought to what lay on the other side of them.
"Why can't we just set up a school here? Mentone is too far away!" It was about an hour walk!
"There are real teachers in Mentone, refugees from Emory. I want you to learn something. It will go back to the old ways again someday you know," she nodded as she said that like always as she swept the tile floor. She missed her old tablets and computers and mostly her Twitter. Jezemeah and Ezekial never knew of those things. I believe that was what her faith really was in.
Jezemeah and I walked to Mentone while Ezekial stayed with Momma. He would spend the day messing up the house while Momma tidied up. She used to have a couple of servants, who were the starving refugees from up north, but they were unreliable workers and didn't even know how to fish. They also refused to pray to Jesus insisting there wasn't a God. Momma wouldn't have that attitude in her house.
We finally got to our schoolhouse hidden in the woods outside Mentone. I handed Dr. Foster some silver pieces and some apples from our orchard to pay him for his school. When I walked into the room, however, the American flag was no longer up on the board and a man dressed in a strange military uniform sat at the teacher's desk in front of the school house. He was talking some foreign language to a chubby lady who was also in a strange uniform. It sounded like Russian.
"Dr. Foster, what is going on?" I whispered to the skinny, tall old man. I noticed he was pale and sweaty. He held Momma's apples tight as if they were diamonds. He took the pieces of silver and began to swallow it and walked away in shame. Jezemeah began to cry. I hugged her. I heard footsteps behind me and turned around. My friends Nash and Desiree' were there holding their silver and apples in their hands with a surprised look on their faces.
We all stared like idiots until the foreign woman in the uniform came to the door.
"Velcome, I vill be your new teacher! A real teacher!"
She held Jezemeah's hand, "Darling do not cry! Go sit with your classmates!"
"No!" I said, "she will stay with me!"
I turned around and ran as fast as I could to the nearby forest dragging Jezemeah with me, crying as I ran. I heard Nash and Desiree' behind me.
"Stop!" I heard the soldier yell. He started yelling at the soldier teacher and was talking on a phone looking thing. (I hadn't seen one of those in 5 years!)
We all ran as fast as we could to a cave we knew of in town. Granny called it a "bugout shelter" and now I knew why it was needed.
When we got to the bugout shelter Granny, Garret and Hunter, Mr. Ider and my friends from school Julissy, Meg, Gordon, and Chris were there. Also, Garret's friends Big John and Eddie were there.
"Honey! I am so glad you came here! The Rooskies didn't faller you here?"
"Of course not."
"Jezemeah, come here sugar!" Granny said to my sister. She picked her up and sat on a rock and cradled my baby sister.
I walked to my peers who were busy making arrows.
"Garret, what is going on? What is happening in Mentone?"
"There has been a Russian invasion which doesn't make sense. Apparently the Commies took it back over and invaded us from Alaska."
"Wow, I bet the 1980's are laughing at us now! I thought Communism was dead and gone?"
"I haven't heard any news since Daddy's last letter. That was last August. He said there were Chinese, not Russians."
Red headed Meg spoke, "Yeah, my cousins down up in Tennessee said they heard Chinese on their radios, so I was always afraid of Chinese. Me and Momma even took up studying Chinese characters."
"Hey, Annie, did you see how terrified Dr. Foster was?" said chubby sweet Julissy. "He looked so sick and pale, so defeated. The other adults in Mentone looked so scared. I went by Mr. Johnson's grocery store and it was closed, and I saw Mrs. Johnson and Taylor and Drew out in the back crying. The old church is packed. I sneaked out and came to the bug out shelter like we used to do when we skipped school. I guess I came to the right place."
I looked at Gordon. "Gordo, you are the only one who actually lived in Mentone. What happened since Friday?"
It took Gordon a minute to stop making arrows. He looked up with tears in his eyes. "They came last Saturday, the Russians. They defeated China in the third World War. They defeated our Sons of the South in a bloody battle in Kentucky. Nashville went red in June, Murfreesboro soon after. Chattanooga went in August and naturally came South west. A Son of the South betrayed us. They found our secret cities and towns in Appalachia." He cried some more. Julissy wiped one his tears with her finger. Gordon usually pushed her away. This time he didn't care.
"Mentone went last Saturday, they rounded up all of the adults and took away their guns. Me and Big John came here, our Bugout cave. I know Miss Coleen keeps guns here. Miss Coleen is my Granny.
I was surprised that Granny did yell at us for using her Bugout cave for a hangout place. I seriously never thought we would ever need to use it.
While us young folk talked, I noticed Mr. Ider staring into space looking sick and weak. Alabama hasn't lost since 1865. We were about to lose again.
Momma and Ezekial came to the cave not long after. She brought our hunting dogs, and carried our emergency packs in a hand cart. Jordon Ider, Mr. Ider's nephew was with them. I guessed that Granny sent Jordan to get mother.
"Emma!" Granny cried out. "Did you see Rooskies?"
"No, none where we are yet."
"Did you bring the guns?"
"Jordan's got em."