That’s not REAL panic. That’s cosplaying panic
stimulated by the madness of the crowds.
by Jim Davidson
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
[Continued from Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five Part Six Part Seven Part Eight Parts Nine, Ten, & Eleven part Twelve part Thirteen part Fourteen part Fifteen part Sixteen &Seventeen Title and Art Contest part Eighteen part Nineteen part Twenty]
"Let people who have to observe sickness and
death look back and try to register in their observation the appearances
which have preceded relapse, attack or death, and not assert that there
were none, or that there were not the right ones. A want of the habit of
observing conditions and an inveterate habit of taking averages are each
of them often equally misleading."
— Florence Nightingale
John and Mary
John Kell stood amongst the remaining rucksacks, many of them partly emptied, some of them having been carried away to other parts of the camp. He was in the middle of the oval where the slaves had exercised back when the camp was still being run by the owners.
His ankle still hurt when he tried to put weight on it, but there really hadn't been anything he could have done differently during his parafoil descent. It was one of those aspects of jumping that simply came with the territory. People got injured dropping out of the sky. It was actually something of a prodigy that John's was the only injury from the jump. In his moments of equanimity, John understood all that; in guarding the gear and occasionally pitching in to help, every twinge from his ankle was an aggravation more than it was a pain.
The taping up Ira had done was helpful. Ira had been pretty sure it was only a sprain and nothing broken. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain pill had helped for the first twenty minutes, but then John had lifted a rucksack and put all his weight on that foot, and that was a mistake. Pain shooting up from the ankle convinced him to fall on his ass. After that, John was much more careful. He did more than his share of lifting and moving equipment and helping his team find the gear they needed, but he did it without putting weight on that foot.
Like everyone else on the rescue team, John was horrified watching as Jerry flew their ride home into the admin building. But, as he watched, John would see that one of the engines was dead. After Dick revealed the presence of the owner's whip in the bunker, John gladly assisted Karen, Steve, and Phil in gathering their team and gear for the entry.
A little later, as Bill Samuels, Harry, and some lady he never met drove up with two pickups and a school bus, John breathed a sigh of relief. He'd been concerned about slowing down any group he was to accompany on the way out. He didn't have any time to relax, though, as just then Jake and Eleanor came up with Ira's body and equipment.
Bill hopped out of the huge crew cab pickup he was driving and went straight over to Jake, guiding him to bring Ira's body to lay in the bed of the truck. John was reassured that Bill knew these two strangers, and very saddened by the loss of his friend.
Eleanor approached with one hand holding her shirt up to keep some canned food stored in the makeshift sack it made from getting away. She let down Ira's backpack, which was open at the top. It, too, was stuffed with foods and beverage cans from the guard break rooms in the barracks that she and Jake had finished clearing. John came over and helped her get everything set down and sorted into some of the half-empty rucksacks.
Eleanor said, "Thank you. I'm sorry about your friend Ira. Jake thinks he must have walked into the top floor guard room without clearing the space behind the door. There was a left behind guard there who wasn't in the dog pile on the first floor. The guard killed Ira, and Jake killed that guard. He was a sadist, all the time I was here."
John nodded, and glanced over at Ira's transport. He looked at Eleanor in the eyes, nodded again, and said, "Thank you for bringing him here. When we clear out, this whole camp is going to be levelled by alliance bombers so it can't be used again."
It was Eleanor's turn to nod, and she did. Then she said, "Jake served a tour in Iraq. It was his idea. Well, his understanding. So Ira's body cannot be desecrated on video to hurt his family, Jake said."
Now Eleanor shook her head. It was a crazy sick world they were in.
Jake came over to them. He said, "Bill says you're injured. I'm Jake Willis."
Jake held out his hand, and John said, "John Kell, " and shook hands with Jake. Then he turned to Eleanor.
Shaking his hand, Eleanor said, "Eleanor Jefferson. We're all very glad you folks came in to help us get out."
Jake nodded agreement with that idea. "Bill says we need to help get you aboard the school bus, and get these packs stowed to the back of it. And he says you aren't to help," Jake raised a hand when John began protesting. "Bill said to tell you that's an order. You're to take a seat in the front row and put your foot up so it doesn't get any worse."
John relented. Eleanor came to his side and put her shoulder next to his left arm, which John raised up to rest atop her shoulders. Jake took the other side, and they quickly got John into the bus. There, they met a seventy-year-old woman who was still sitting in the driver seat.
She smiled as they climbed up the steps. "I'm Jane Ellickson. Welcome aboard!"
After that, Jake and Eleanor began hauling the rucksacks up. As they did so, Susie, Peter, Sal, and Lisa came up from various directions to help. It didn't take long to completely clear rucksack central.
Bill came over and assigned Susie to ride with Harry in the other pickup. Peter, Sal, and Lisa would go in the school bus with John. Bill explained that he would stay for the bunker entry team and urged them to get going.
"Harry should lead off in the pickup," said Bill, "And keep your speed down until you get to a road. Load up any escapees you come across, and give preference to the less able-bodied. "
Harry nodded. "No point in going to the airport, so we need to follow the streets out to the intra-coastal waterway, right? "
Bill nodded. "That's right. Take the boundary road east and get on the highway to head through the park. You know where you're going. Susie, if you folks catch any trouble, radio for support, and do what you can. Keep your rifle at the ready."
Susie nodded and smiled. "Won't let you down. We'll get there."
Twenty minutes later they were headed down Pinehurst Road for its junction with highway 70 when they saw a group of two hundred refugees walking across a field toward them. They were led by a young woman wearing a camo vest over a suit jacket. It was Mary Morris.
Harry stopped the pickup, and Jane stopped the school bus. As Mary climbed up to the road level from the field, her eyes rolled up, she fell down. This was Lisa's cue to rush down the steps of the bus with her medic bag.
So it was that an unconscious, feverish Mary Morris was brought up to sit next to John Kell. Lisa and Sal had the seat across the aisle. The rest of the bus and the bed of the pickup truck were filled with as many of the escaped slaves as they could find seats for, and more were seated on top of the bus. Even so, more than a hundred remained.
Harry stood on the hood of the pickup for a few minutes and addressed the crowd. "We're going to follow the roads through to the sea. We'll be going about ten miles an hour so nobody gets thrown off. You don't need to try to keep up, because when we get to our turns onto highway 70, highway 539, and highway 530, we'll stop until you catch up. Okay? There are rescue vessels at the coast. Follow me!"
With that, he climbed behind the driver seat and led the way. Good as his word, he kept their speed to about ten or at most fifteen miles an hour, and stopped after making each turn to let the leading edge of the walking crowd get caught up and around the turn. As they drove along, more and more of the escapees from the camp joined them, until there were five thousand people walking down the road to the sea.
In the schoolbus during the first stop on their long ride, John asked Lisa what was wrong with Mary.
Lisa had just loaded an ampoule of Mary's blood into a complicated device. She looked at John, frowned gently for a moment and said, "She has a fever of 103 Fahrenheit, which isn't dangerous, but clearly her immune system is highly activated. She's breathing a little ragged now. Since the fever isn't too high I'm letting it be, but I've given her several shots of vitamins and other nutrients to support her immune response. While we wait for her test results, can you help me rig this IV bag? I want to get her fluid levels up."
John nodded and the two of them set to work. Soon a saline solution was helping Mary recover from her long walk from the camp. With that done, Lisa took up her portable analyser. She reviewed the results on the screen.
Not wanting to cause a panic, she handed the analyser to John, who read the bad news. It was a war virus, one of the early ones. As he was holding the screen in his lap, Mary opened her eyes and drew a deep breath.
"Uhhhhh!" she said. "What happened?"
Lisa was digging through her med kit, so John answered. "You were leading about two hundred people through the fields. Our team leader, Harry Felker stopped our little caravan. We've loaded who we can, and we're taking it slow so those on foot can catch up when we make our turns."
Mary nodded. "Is there any water?"
Lisa brought a canteen and gave it to Mary. She said, "I'm Lisa Angeleno, I'm an emergency med tech. You need to be the only one who drinks out of this canteen from now on. I need your permission to treat you with this injection, please."
Mary drank thirstily for a few seconds. Then she wiped her lips and said, "I'm Mary Morris. I don't mind if you can help me feel better. What is it, and what's it for?"
Lisa now bent to speak closely to Mary and lowered her voice. "It's a specific antigen. We developed it three years ago when the virus you have was first released into the general population. It should help your immune system overcome the virus."
Mary nodded and said, "Okay, you have my permission. " She turned her face toward John and said, "And who are you, stranger?"
John smiled as he looked at Mary's face, watching Lisa administer the injection. "I'm John Kell. I'm part of the team that jumped into the camp you came out of this morning. Up front in the driver seat, that's Jane Ellickson. Across the aisle, that's Sal Mayweather, and right behind us are Peter Lee, Jake Willis, and Eleanor Jefferson."
Mary looked at each in turn and collected smiles and nods. Then she looked up at Lisa who had another piece of equipment in her hands.
"Mary, this device will help me monitor your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse oxygen. If everything goes well, you'll feel weak for a few hours and then get better. If your temperature spikes, I have a test I can run to seek if you're in cytokine storm, and I've got quinolone and zinc to help with that, too." As Lisa said these words, Mary had nodded, so Lisa began putting the gear onto her patient.
After several hours, they arrived at the coast. There, along with a flotilla of sailing vessels, diesel powered boats, and every conceivable kind of craft, was an enormous vehicle, floating just off the end of a very long pier. It looked exactly like a wingless jet aeroplane whose fuselage was mounted on two enormous long pylons, each at least 250 feet long. Its entire length sat well up out of the water.
Helping Lisa with Mary down the stairs, John took one look and grinned. "Well I'll be," he said, "look, Mary, it's a prototype Hydro Lance. Let's see if we can get aboard."
The three of them headed down that pier, with Peter Lee and Sal Mayweather tagging along. The captain of the vessel was standing on the pier at the base of the gangway leading up to his main hatch.
"Nathan Bedford Clarke, folks. When we have a full load of passengers, I'm heading down to Georgia, then up the Savannah River," he said.
John considered this matter. He looked up and saw painted on the nose of the vessel the words "Flying Nell." Then he said, "I'm John Kell, Fifteenth Tennessee Volunteers. I've seen a write-up on your craft here. How fast is she?"
Captain Clarke smiled and said, "She'll make 280 knots on open water. We're fully fueled and we can take 100 passengers. Should be at the mouth of the river sometime early this afternoon."
John looked at Lisa, Mary, Peter, and Sal. "Well, guys, we can get up into the mountains if we follow the Savannah to its source. What do you say?"
Sal said, "I have got to get on a boat that can make 280 knots. That's amazing!"
So they did.
[End part twenty-one, continues in part twenty-two]
Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director. He is the cfo of KanehCN3.com and the vision director of HoustonSpaceSociety.net You can find him on Twitter.com/planetaryjim as well as Pocket.app and Flote.app also as planetaryjim. He appreciates any support you can provide as times are very difficult. See the Paypal link on this page, or Flote.app for crypto options. Or email your humble author to offer other choices. Ask him about Kaneh's IndieGoGo
Was that worth reading?
Then why not:
This site may receive compensation if a product is purchased
through one of our partner or affiliate referral links. You
already know that, of course, but this is part of the FTC Disclosure
Policy found here. (Warning: this is a 2,359,896-byte 53-page PDF file!)<
L. Neil Smith‘s The Libertarian Enterprise does not collect, use, or process any personal data. Our affiliate partners, have their own policies which you can find out from their websites.