Friday, 25 July 2014

The Catastrophe Theory - Chapter 3 (Deborah Rix)

It's my turn, yikes!
Here is Chapter 3.

THE CATASTROPHE THEORY CHAPTER 3 - Deborah Rix

Jared knew that this was the moment to tell her. But he didn’t. Eve would never agree, and they were rapidly running out of time to argue about a decision that was already made. No, he kept his mouth shut and glanced around the garage.
“I’ll put a pack together for you,” he said.
Eve watched Jared pull down a small black backpack from the top shelf of the metal shelving that held all of Jared’s “supplies.” She wondered at his quick acceptance of her plan, but was too anxious to get moving that she didn’t question him. Eve left him to put the pack together; she knew he needed to do it, so he could pretend he was still able to protect her.
After she’d gone back into the house, Jared sank onto his work stool with a thud and scrubbed his face with both hands. His shoulders dropped. This was the way it had to be, he reminded himself for the thousandth time. He knew much more about Eve’s work than she realized. And he knew her, too. Eve needed to go and do what she could, but she didn’t need Jared and Cassie along to split her focus and put her in danger. He’d just needed to wait her out, let her work past the guilt at leaving them, that was all.
He couldn’t remember when he’d first started keeping his mouth shut around Eve. She’d been to the camp only once, a few years ago, for Family Day, and that was enough for her. So, he hadn’t told her what they were doing up at Adventure Base Camp. Hell, she didn’t even know that he’d bought it with a small group of like-minded friends. Only Cassie knew, and she knew how to keep her mouth shut, too.
He loved that about Cassie, that there was some of him in her because in so many other ways she was just like her mother. Both were smart, decisive, and ready to jump in and muck around, confident they would figure it out. He liked the slow and steady approach, liked to be prepared.
Jared was the Director at Adventure Base Camp, or Camp ABC as the campers called it. To all appearances it was an adventure camp like any other camp parents sent their kids off to for the summer, so they could have some guilt-free, kid-free time. And mostly it was. In the off-season he held Family Days, corn-roasts, and star-gazing weekends. Sometimes he held survival weekends for all those guys that liked to play pretend-soldier. Cassie’s favorites were the Teenage Zombie weekends, where they staged zombie apocalypse scenarios. Jared couldn’t believe how much money he could make from the stupid zombie craze.
Eve knew about all of that. What she didn’t know about was the L.I.T. Program. Leaders-In-Training, just like other junior counselors at every other kid’s camp in the country. Except, they weren’t training to be camp counselors. Some of them were kids of friends or his partners in the camp. Some, he scouted from the zombie weekends after evaluating the teens that had managed to “survive.” Because that’s what this was all about. Survival.
Jared  zipped the package for Eve in the front pocket of the backpack, where he knew she’d find it. He’d slipped in a new map, too.  He glanced over at the galvanized metal trash cans that stood three in a row, lids firmly in place. Farady cages, that’s what they were, innocuously holding the electronic equipment that Jared had so carefully wrapped and placed inside. Time enough for that once Eve had left. He went back inside.
Eve met Jared’s eyes over the top of Cassie’s head as she hugged her daughter. Hard. There was no real good-bye. She was there, and then she was gone. Eve knew if she lingered Jared would try to convince her to stay. Just one more day, he would say.
Cassie felt a lot better, but not quite as good as she pretended to be. This was it, the big IT, and no way was she going to be side-lined because her dad didn’t think she was up for it. Rotten timing to get sick. She was an L.I.T. after all.
“Think she’ll be okay?” Cassie asked her dad.
He didn’t look at her; he stared at the door that her mom had just gone through.
“Yeah, she’ll be okay,” he said.
He sounded as though he was trying to convince himself, and Cassie thought that nothing was going to be okay anymore, but she didn’t say anything.
“You ready?” Jared asked her.
“In a minute,” she answered as she bounded up the stairs, “I forgot something.”
They both laughed, and it felt good. Whenever one of the campers used that line, they knew they weren’t ready at all.
Back in the garage, Jared and Cassie set to work.
“Are you gonna tell me now?” she asked.
“Tell you what?” Jared replied, but he knew.
“How did Doug die?”
Jared remained silent.  He’d looked at his dead neighbor often enough over the past few days, trying to come up with another explanation. He didn’t want to tell Cassie that Doug had an older pacemaker, that it had stopped working when the power went out. Everything with an electric circuit had stopped working. A solar flare would have wiped out the power grid but not every single piece of electrical equipment-- plugged in or not. If it had a circuit, it was fried. Like Doug.
If it wasn’t a solar flare, then this was a man-made event. And if it was an attack, or something that could be explained away, an accident maybe, then Jared reasoned there would have been some sort of military presence by now, hopefully from his own country. But they’d waited. And nothing.
He could still be wrong, it could be something else. But Jared didn’t think so. This, whatever this was, had been done on purpose.
Jared looked at the three trash cans lined up against the garage wall.


Chapter 1 by Joseph Turkot
Chapter 2 by Cary Caffrey
Chapter 3 by Deborah Rix
Look for Chapter 4 by Katie French tomorrow, new chapter posted each day.