The Hunter knew that he was luckier than most. The lower level of his dwelling had some heating from a natural gas stream that fed a small flame. There was some hot water, but still, it was not enough to prepare food or maintain warmth necessary for to soothe his sick mate or her elderly mother. The storm had been devastating, and there was no fuel or warmth to be found.
He remember the tales of a device, hidden somewhere in the land of his fathers, which could magically provide heat for his home and to cook his food, and could even provide entertainment for the long hours of isolation. This land was a half-day’s journey to the south. Maybe the storm had not been as bad there, and it would also be possible to find fuel. The Hunter prepared his beast of burden for the trip noting that it, too, needed sustenance, and was not likely to survive the journey without more food. Regardless, he set out.
The trails were obscured with debris from the storm. The Hunter and his ride picked their way cautiously, trying to avoid other travelers who might also be searching for food and fuel. Eventually, the paths cleared, and The Hunter came upon a place of commerce that appeared to have heat and light. He was able to buy food for the mule, but only after waiting for others who had been there before him, and not without some argument from other travellers. The price was exhorbitant, but he knew that he must pay or abandon both his mount and his quest.
The shops were buzzing with activity, but most were searching for the same thing. While no heating fuel for the home could be found, The Hunter did find several of the mystical crystals which would enable him to provide light and to communicate with those beyond.
As he journeyed southward, the ice diminished. By mid-day, he reached his homeland, and began exploring the abondoned dwellings left by his father. There seemed to be light and fuel here, and The Hunter pondered bringing his family back to his childhood home. In one hidden corner of the stables, hidden, and wedged behind various implements, he found the device for which he sought. After much wrangling, he was able to load the device upon his beast, and set off toward the frozen north and home.
The Hunter was hungry, and knew that his family would be hungry, too. He stopped at an inn for food, hoping to find some he could also take back. In this strange land, the patrons were unfriendly, and themselves weary from the storm and its after effects. The proprietress did not speak his language, but after much discussion and gesturing, he was able to obtain some meat, bread, and potatoes that would survive the journey home.
His village and dwelling were still dark, but there were signs of activity. The Hunter arrive home to find his mate was feeling better, and pleased at the prospect of more warmth and warm food. The device was placed into position, but its function eluded The Hunter. Finally, after several muttered curses and incantations, the device came to life with a roar.
Alas, the magic seemed to be missing. the device was able to provide some warmth, and a hot meal for the afternoon, but it was not sufficient. It seemed that even it, too, would need even more fuel, with more journeys out to seek it. Its roaring was constant, keeping all families in the village on edge. The Hunter thought back to the land of his fathers, where there was light and warmth. He made the decision. He would return, this time taking his wife and her mother.
The second journey did not seem as arduous. Along the way they were able to find another inn for the evening meal. This one was much more welcoming, and gave needed respite for the remainder of the trip.
Settled safely into warmth, The Hunter reflected the childhood spent in this dwelling. He had lived here as a child, then again as a young adult, shortly after his family had moved further south. Memories came flooding back as he wandered through the rooms.
However, something was amiss. Some evil spirit lurked, and was taking its vengence on the physical world. His mate became markedly worse, and he himself felt flushed and weak. Fighting and urge to give into the spirit, he decided to retrace his steps to the last village through which they had passed, hoping to find a talisman or potent charm to ward off the evil.
His beast of burden was as tired as he, but they made the trek, finding the village. The place where he thought to find something to fight the evil spirits was itself an evil place, full of strange beings wandering without purpose, giving of their goods to fill a hunger that would not be quenched. The Hunter fought against his revulsion, and purchased a strong talisman from the merchants, guaranteed to repel that which had possessed his former home.
Once again, the trek was made southward. The Hunter returned to find his mate concious, but very cold. Together, they chanted the incantations necessary for the talisman, then fell into a deep sleep under its protection.
We awoke in the cold. My alarm had gone off an hour early, so I tried to find news of school closings on the radio. No such luck. Even waiting until the time I normally awake, I couldn’t find anything but foolishness on the radio. I was frustrated that I couldn’t log onto a computer or even see a television to get news of closings. Finally, I was able to radio Barry, who informed me that school had been closed and that I should go back to sleep. I felt bad about waking him.
By that time, Mrs. Wright had gotten up. I tried to use the grill to warm up some of yesterday’s coffee, but that didn’t work. At least I was able to cook some toast. I had my camp stoves, but they didn’t want to light, and I soon gave up. At least we had natural gas logs downstairs, and hot water aplenty.
Laura, it turns out, was very ill. The cold had upset her sinuses, and her head was hurting terribly. She collapsed back in bed. Once showered and dressed, I decided to go for my dad’s generator in Gray Court. I figured it would make things a bit more comfortable, at least downstairs.
Last night we had seen lines forming at gas stations that had power, so I was a bit worried when I saw that the truck was almost empty. I didn’t know how far I would have to go to find fuel.
Tree were still down everywhere, and traffic lights at major intersections were out. I finally made it through the chaos of Haywood road onto the interstate, with just a bit of swerving on icy spots. I passed several traffic accidents that further slowed traffic, even in the interstate.
As I travelled south, the storm seemed to have been less damaging, and more places had electricity. I was hoping that stores in the Fairview Road area would be a bit less hectic. I stopped at Walmart, fought the lines for gas, and loaded up on batteries and matches, but couldn’t find any fire logs.
At Gray Court, I found the generator and was able to get it onto the truck without too much trouble. My parents had heat and electricity – something to keep in mind should things get bad in Greenville. There were a couple of limbs down, but nothing like the damage in our yard.
On the way back, I stopped at McDonalds, hopinng that a simple hamburger would make Laura feel a bit better. The place was in chaos, and to make matters worse, the woman behind the counter seemed totally illiterate. I have never heard such course language from someone who is supposed to interact with the public.
I brought the burgers back, and we set everything up with the generator in the basement. The blasted thing didn’t want to crank until I cursed it a couple of times. It still seemed uncomfortable, and the little cube heater wasn’t providing nearly enough warmth. We managed to make a pot of coffee, which helped considerably. Just a few hours of running the generator cost us almost half a tank of gas. It was clear that if we stayed here, I would be running back and forth trying to find fuel, with very little return for my efforts. We decided to spend the night in Gray Court, where we knew there was power.
Once again we stopped at Fairview Road, this time at Applebees for a nice, relaxing meal. We got to the parents’ house, turned up the heat, then went on a light drive towards Laurens while the house warmed up.
When we returned, we watched a movie, but the smell of gas was overpowering. I was afraid something was wrong, and Laura said she thought we were showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Even though it was late, I decided to drive back to Simpsonville and buy a CO monitor. Even if it showed that there was no problem, at least I would sleep easier.
Walmart at 11:30 PM is full of weirdos. Some were out completing the Christmas shopping, pushing multiple cartloads of junk I couldn’t imagine foisting on a kid. Oh well, to each his own. I find the monitors, I needed and got out of there as quickly as I could.
I found Laura awake and sitting in the cold. She had turned off the furnace and was sitting in front of oven to stay warm. We checked several locations with the monitor, and everything seemed OK, so we finally turned the furnace back to where it needed to be and returned to bed, exhausted.