All Preppers Are Crazy
Joshua had heard it time after time from his wife Kimberly of twenty-one years, how he and all preppers were crazy. She argued that he spent too much money on things they would never use. Their garage was lined with shelves of Emergency long-term foods supplies, small propane gas containers, blankets, glass jugs of purified water, and anything else Joshua thought they might need in case of a catastrophe. They even had a generator large enough to run their entire home. In the twenty-two years that Kimberly had known Joshua nothing had ever happened. His paternal grandparents had raised Joshua after his parents had been killed by a drunk driver when Joshua was ten. His grandparents had grown up during the depression, having children late in life. They had taught Joshua to be prepared for anything that could happen from financial collapse to a blizzard, a hurricane pandemic, or anything that would spell doom to the human race or at least to their small corner of the world.
Kimberly was raised in a middle-class family that lived in the suburbs of a large city where nothing ever happened. Winter storms, thunderstorms, and an occasional tornado, but nothing too catastrophic. Her family had told her that Joshua was not the right person for her. Her father was a senior partner at a prestigious law firm in Boise, Idaho. Her mother was a school teacher which was one reason Kimberly had chosen to become a teacher.
Even though Joshua had an education in construction engineering and geology, Joshua had been so adamant about being a prepper that he took a job as a travel consultant and salesperson for an emergency food supply company. He was on the road five to six days a week some of the time but mostly three to four days a week. Kimberly was a sixth-grade school teacher at a magnet school that her mother worked at as well.
After four years of marriage Joshua had persuaded Kimberly to buy an old farm in a remote area of the county, they lived. Kimberly had no issue with purchasing the farm since she loved to ride horses and the property had a six-stall barn where she had her three horses. Kimberly loved her husband, but his obsession with prepping was a subject that she found herself being ridiculed for by her family and friends. They had argued over and over about putting in an underground shelter, but Kimberly had finally won the fight. Joshua conceded that there was no need to build a shelter.
It was Sunday morning when Kimberly was woken up by Joshua’s phone on the nightstand. He was always getting calls from his manager that a customer needed an overnight delivery of supplies or something. This morning was no different.
“Hello?” Joshua answered the phone.
Kimberly rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. The conversation escalated as Joshua sat up on the side of the bed beginning to get dressed. Kimberly knew what was coming next. She was peeved that Joshua was being called away again when he knew they had a big dinner planned for that evening. Joshua had missed more dinner parties than he had attended in the time they had been married.
“Sorry, honey. There’s a customer in Idaho Falls that is requesting a shipment of supplies. It looks as if I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks.” Joshua said as he leaned over to kiss his wife.
“Damnit, Joshua, you know we have a dinner party tonight.” Kimberly huffed as she turned away so he couldn’t kiss her.
“I’m sorry, but this is my job,” Joshua said.
“Damnit, Joshua. I am tired of this job of yours.” You are always gone. I feel like a widow.” Kimberly pulled the covers over her head.
“I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you after this. We’ll take a two-week vacation. How would you like that?”
“You know I can’t go in the middle of the school year. Just go!” Kimberly fumed from under the covers.
Joshua grabbed his backpack that he always kept ready to go with clothes and other “prepper” items. He closed the front door depressed that he needed to leave like he was. Joshua wished he could explain to Kimberly who the customer was, but he had signed a confidentiality agreement. He knew Kimberly was over upset with him. He had tried several times to get her to take a position with the company so they could spend more time together. He tried to rationalize his opinion that since Kimberly was a teacher, she could help explain all the different supplies the company carried. Kimberly was beyond skeptical, repeating how all preppers were crazy.
Joshua arrived at the warehouse as ten tractor-trailers were being loaded, overseen by the Emergency Manager of Idaho Falls. The trucks were loaded as quickly as possible. The ten tractor-trailers made up the company’s supply vehicles. Five more rented tractor-trailers were sitting waiting outside the gates to get loaded. The CEO and warehouse manager greeted Joshua as soon as he arrived.
“Have you been watching the news?” His manager, Jack Lambert asked.
“You know how Kimberly is. We don’t watch much TV and especially the news,” Joshua answered.
“Yellowstone has been having an increase in seismic activity in the past forty-eight hours. The ground level at the western side of the caldera has risen eight inches. The USGS is on high alert. They have issued a possible eruption warning,” CEO Harold Baker interjected.
“What are the possibilities of an eruption?” Joshua asked.
“The USGS won’t commit, but some experts are urging residents to get out of the area as soon as possible,” Harold replied.
“The first trucks are ready to move.” The Emergency Manager from Idaho Falls announced.
“Joshua, we want you to coordinate the convoy. Help them set everything up as quickly as possible. Then get back here. We have more supplies being brought in just in case things do get bad.” Harold told Joshua.
“I’ll be calling when things are on the ground,” Joshua said as he climbed back into his old Dodge Ram that he had fitted with a snorkel and oversized tires in case of a flood.
Harold and Jack watched as Joshua led the convoy out of the loading area. As soon as they were out of sight, the next batch of trucks backed into the loading docks to get loaded. Idaho Falls had spent millions of dollars over the years to build an elaborate bunker shelter system outside of town with tunnels leading from the town hall and school. They had contracted Joshua’s company to oversee any possible inevitability of a catastrophe of any type. They had built the shelter four feet below the surface of the surrounding landscape. The land sloped away from the shelter with man-made ridges on three sides of the shelter.
Joshua called Kimberly’s phone, but she refused to pick up. He turned his radio to the emergency broadcast system channel, but there was no mention of the possibility of the Yellowstone eruption. He called a friend at the USGS in-between calls to Kimberly.
“Hey, William. What is the news on Yellowstone?” Joshua jumped straight into the conversation.
“It’s not looking good. The National Guard and Reserves have been mobilized along with local and state authorities but what we are seeing is an eruption within forty-eight hours, if we are lucky. The park is being evacuated, but it’s the high point in tourism, and the locals are balking at the disruption. We have over forty thousand tourists in Yellowstone today. If it blows, there is no way to get them out.” William replied.
“Are you certain of the eruption?”
“Nothing is for sure but all signs are showing an eruption is imminent. We have been having seismic activity for some time now, but they are getting worse every hour. We are having about ten an hour now. A range just reported a herd of buffalo was found dead in a valley north of the caldera from poisonous gases.”
“Thanks, William. Keep me up to date if you can.” Joshua terminated the connection and tried to call Kimberly again
Kimberly had enough of Joshua’s obsession. Little did Joshua know; Kimberly and her parents were at that moment setting up a sale of all the supplies Joshua had stored. Within hours of the word going out that there was a sale on supplies at Joshua and Kimberly’s farm. Hundreds of locals were descending on the farm paying little or nothing for all the contents of the garage. Within hours, Joshua was pulling into Idaho Falls as the last of his survival supplies were being carried away. Even the generator that had been set up to power the house had been loaded onto a flatbed trailer. The solar panels were slowly being removed from the roof of the house and barn along with the battery bank, inverter, and all the system’s equipment.
Joshua supervised the unloading of the trucks and storing of the supplies in the shelter as he continued to try to call Kimberly. The air filtration systems were set up and tested. The water filtration was tweaked for the nearly sixty-five thousand occupants. Each section of the shelter was broken up into units and groups with a group captain. Each group captain reported to the unit leader who in turn reported to the Emergency Manager. The Emergency Manager reported to the town Mayor and Council. The Police chief and his deputies were responsible for law and order.
It was daybreak the next day when Joshua saw the arrival of the next five trucks as the first ten trucks returned to the warehouse. It was as the first of the five tractor-trailers was being unloaded that a 4.0 earthquake hit Idaho Falls. The people started to panic as they began to rush to the shelter. With more citizens, the unloading of the trucks went reasonably quickly.
“Hello?” Joshua answered his phone as it rang without looking at who the caller was.
“Joshua, it’s coming. We just had a 4.0 earthquake, and the next one looks even bigger.” William told Joshua.
“How soon?” Joshua asked as William dropped his phone.
“Now!” William screamed as a loud thump sounded from the phone. Crashed and objects breaking echoed over the phone before it went dead.
“William?” Joshua asked as his phone rang again.
“No, it’s Kim. What’s happening? We just had a huge earthquake.” Kimberly sounded shaken.
“Yellowstone is erupting. The earthquakes are first and are intensifying. I lost contact with William at Yellowstone.” Joshua told his wife.
“What do you mean Yellowstone is erupting?”
“Get to the garage. The walls and roof have been reinforced. The air filtration will protect you once the ash begins to fall. You’ll need to stay inside for a few weeks or until I can get there.” Joshua told his wife.
“What does he mean, Yellowstone is erupting?” Joshua heard his father-in-law in the background.
“Your parents are there?”
“Yes.” Kimberly shyly replied.
“Good. Get everyone into the garage. There’s plenty in there for ten people for six months.” Joshua replied
“Oh my god!” Kimberly screamed as Joshua felt the next shockwave.
A 5.5 earthquake hit the area. Joshua lost his footing as he fell to the ground. The speed the earthquake was traveling meant it was a surface quake. The loud noise was deafening as Joshua tried to cover his ears. To ride out the aftershocks.
“Everyone, into the shelter!” Joshua yelled as the sirens from town blared.
Most of the town was already inside the shelter, but stranglers were coming in. Joshua found his phone where he had dropped it when the earthquake knocked him to the ground.
“Kim, are you there?” Joshua screamed into the phone.
“I’m here Josh.”
“Get your parents into the garage. The worse is coming.” Joshua said as he watched the plume of ash as it rose into the sky over Yellowstone.
“Joshua, I sold everything. We have nothing left.” Kimberly sobbed into the phone.
“What do you mean, you sold everything?” Joshua asked, disbelief in his voice.
“I was so tired of your doomsday attitude that my parents came down and we sold everything. There is nothing left, just what we have in the house.” Kimberly cried as she watched the plume of ash shoot skyward.
“Get everything you can from the house. Tape up all the windows with the black plastic sheets I have,” Joshua began.
“Josh, we sold everything. The only food we have is in the kitchen and freezer. We sold everything else.”
“Why would you do something like that?”
“I never believed anything would happen. I was so mad at you and your obsession. I called my dad, and they came down. We sold everything. We have nothing left.”
“Try to get what you can into the garage. Once, I can get there I will. The blast is almost on us. I have to get into the shelter.” Joshua said as he barely made it into the shelter as the massive blast doors slid shut.
It was six weeks before Joshua was able to get out of the shelter. It still wasn’t safe, but he had to get to Kimberly. Against the advice of all those in charge and the pleading of the townspeople, Joshua had to try. He packed what he could in his Dodge that had been pulled into the garage of the shelter to protect as many vehicles as they could. The townspeople showered Joshua with as much as they could spare before saying goodbye,
The landscape was covered in over three feet of ash. Joshua had to stop to clean out the snorkel air flow continually. It was slow going as the ash obliterated any sign of the roads. The sky was dark from the ash floating in the air. Radio reports were spotty, but it seemed that the caldera hadn’t completely erupted as expected but still spread ash around the world. Many places were slowly returning to normal, but the Midwest US remained covered in ash and debris. A westerly wind had blown the ash westward, covering the Midwest to California and even Hawaii. As far away as Japan felt the effects but most of the ash had fallen and the Pacific Ocean. It would be years if not decades before the world returned to normal. Canada was hit hard as was Mexico. Hundreds of millions were reported dead.
It took Joshua a week to make it back to the once fertile farmlands outside Boise. The devastation was unbelievable as he traveled. The ash had slowly lessened the further away he got from Idaho Falls until it was a few inches deep. Road crews had been out plowing the ash from the roadways as the National Guard had checkpoints set up. Once they saw Joshua’s ID, they warned him that the area had been hit hard outside the city.
Joshua pulled up to the farm at midday to see that the old farmhouse roof had collapsed. The windows were all knocked out, presumably by the earthquakes before and after the eruption. The barn had somehow caught on fire and was now mere ashes amongst the volcanic ash. The garage was the only building intact.
Joshua pulled up to the garage door noticing that the wind had made piles of ash against the walls of the building. Joshua climbed from the Dodge, retrieving a shovel as he started towards the side door. For an hour he shoveled the ash from about the side door, far enough so that the wind wouldn’t cause another ash drift.
Slowly, Joshua pried the side door open, fearful of what he would find. Once the door opened, the sunlight shone inside the garage. There against the walls were the empty shelves. The spot the generated had been, only had a faint mark where it had sat. The air filtration had left a hole in the side of the garage, and ash had piled up into the garage where the hole now was. Joshua looked about to see a mass propped up against the furthest wall.
Fearful of what he would find, Joshua slowly walked towards the bundle. Reaching down with shaking hands, he took hold of the ash-covered blankets. Pulling them back, layer by layer, Joshua was surprised to find just a bundle of blankets.
A noise behind Joshua brought him around towards the garage door. Kimberly, his beloved, unbelieving wife, stood in the doorway. Her parents stood behind her as a neighbor stood further back.
Kimberly rushed into Joshua’s arms. She pulled down the mask she was wearing to keep the ash out. Kimberly reached up and pulled Joshua’s mask down as well. She began kissing him until he started coughing uncontrollably. Blood spurted from his mouth as he sank to his knees. Kimberly grabbed him before he hit the floor.
Joshua woke up in a strange bed. An IV was in his arm, and an oxygen tent was over him. He could barely see Kimberly and her parents as they spoke with a man in a lab coat.
“I’m sorry. He inhaled way too much ash and toxic gases on his way here. Idaho Falls radioed and said he was in perfect health when he left. He must not have taken precautions on his way here. If it is any consolation, Idaho Falls said if it wasn’t for his delivery, the townspeople would not have made it.” The man in the lab coat was saying.
“Will he recover doctor?” Kimberly asked.
“His lungs are too damaged. It’s a wonder he made it this far. He’s suffocating.”
“How long?” Kimberly’s father asked.
“I don’t know how he’s made it this long. Not long.”
Everyone turned as Joshua began to cough. Blood splattered the oxygen tent as he coughed. His lungs were on fire, and he couldn’t catch his breath.
“Joshua!” Kimberly rushed to his side as she grabbed his hand, covered in bandages from the blisters he hadn’t noticed before.
“How,” Joshua asked weakly.
“The Thompson’s. They bought a lot of the supplies you had. They saw it coming and got to us before the ash cloud covered everything. They built a shelter after you convinced them.” Kimberly told him.
“They said you had sold them the shelter.” Kimberly’s father finished.
“One of the best,” Joshua said just as a bloody cough fit racked his body.
“I’m sorry. I love you, Joshua.” Kimberly said.
Joshua smiled at his wife as his eyes glazed over. Kimberly held onto his hand well after the doctor unhooked the IV and shut down the oxygen tent.
About the Creator
Prior Service, saw the Berlin Wall dismantled and the aftermath of the Gulf War/ Desert Storm/ Desert Shield. He has drawn upon his unique views of life and science fiction to bring together an alternate reality of excitement.