97 - Went inside the preppers' school.


The other day I was clearing blackberry brambles, getting ready to dig another hole in the woods behind the old school. It's not a school anymore, because it's been some kind of prepper fortress for a while now. I'm near where the tether-ball poles are, and I spot these two little gnomes playing, chucking something against the wall. When I see it's somebody's wallet, I shoo them away and have a look. And when I find the drivers' license, I'm shocked to see it's Lee's. I remember that guy. Our kids used to play together sometimes, before he went all in on the prepper stuff. They're all holed up inside this very school for all I know, with all their guns and traps and supplies and whatever. Although preppers tend to quit over time, so maybe not. I wonder sometimes how many are actually left in there by now.

That's when I see the back door to the school's gym is open a crack, there by the tether-ball poles. That gives me a bad feeling from somewhere. Because preppers don't just leave doors ajar.

I go to peek inside, but it's dark and there's an awful smell. And the sound of buzzing flies. I slip in and around the metal shelves with all their cans. Then I see it over by far wall, in just the light from the door cutting the gloom. Three small figures lying on the floor in a row together, and a bigger one slumped against the wall. And there's that dark splatter behind its head, and then I know what this is. Seeing it all, I want to sob, or vomit, or something, but nothing comes. Just that old anguish crushing on my chest again is all I get. So I just back away to the door. And I know my scruples are leaking but I grab a few cans of soup on my way out. We need them more then they do, now.

When I get back outside, the gnomes are gone. The sun comes out and the air is clear, but there's that funny feeling, like how the shape of everything doesn't seem the same as it was just a minute ago, and you walk like you just landed on a new planet or something. But the wind is picking up, and the ring on the end of that tether-ball chain is rattling against the pole. And it sounds like its the only thing in the world. Ching, ching-ching, ching.

Next - 98 - Making waffles by the vans.


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