Friday, May 25, 2012

Apo-Calypso Chapter 7


Today's entry marks the LAST one I will be posting for awhile. I hope you've enjoyed reading this post apocalyptic novel as much as I've enjoyed writing it and posting it for you. Thanks for reading!

***
Chapter 7

They had scattered like kids at camp to pick the best bunks. Dell got the master bedroom. Paul and Sorrel Bay chose two adjacent rooms each with their own little deck. Sorrel Bay brought Polo Pig into her room and put him on the deck with water and a large bowl of chicken feed. They had a discussion about paper training that pig as soon as possible and in the meantime Sorrel would be responsible for any accidents on the carpet.

Panda opted to sleep on the hanging hammock bed on the deck off the living room.  Just the idea of sleeping out under the stars so high in the sky was like magic to her. This was never anything that she imagined as being possible in the old world. She didn’t run with the rich crowd! No one she knew lived like this.

They had dinner of fresh salad and feta with Greek olive omelets. The fridge was packed with fresh eggs and Panda planned on souffl├ęs, crepes, hollandaise sauces…They ate on the main living room deck to watch the south city burning. 

Here and there, as the fire progressed, they watched other parts of the city have rolling brownouts and eventually as the night progressed, one by one the lights began to go out forever on the south side of town.

*** 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Apo-Calypso Chapter 6 Part 9


*** Chapter 6 Part 9

They entered the penthouse from the garden, into the family room. On this level were 4 bedrooms each with its own on-suite bath and hideaway . An open central staircase led down to the first floor which housed the kitchen, dining room, library, large laundry room,  maid’s quarters and a formal living room that had its own giant terrace with southern and eastern exposure. In a beautifully tiled alcove was the private  elevator. Sorrel discovered it and pointed it out to her father and then went and stood over by the windows while he checked it out. It was clean, and they all heaved a sigh of relief.

Dell was utterly enthralled. She had only seen things like this in Architectural digest.  In spite of the 30 floors of stairs and the risk of a power outage trapping one in the elevator, she felt like this was the safest place in the whole world. There must be hidden treasures like this all over the city; each one a jewel yet to be discovered and explored. But this one felt special, somehow.

Off of the kitchen was a huge butler’s pantry and a large utility room with the garbage chute next to the service elevator and stairs. This was how they moved the furniture in, as it was as large as the ones in IKEA, and it led directly to the basement level and the underground parking. The utility room and butler’s pantry shared a smaller private deck that ran the length and connected to the kitchen deck for breakfast on the terrace overlooking the city. Panda poked her head out to look at the deck and gave a squeal equal to any pocket pig facing an edible delight. 

Everyone skipped over to see what she was so happy about. She was literally jumping up and down and clapping her hands in uncharacteristic giddy delight.

Tucked into the corner of the utility room terrace was a fully contained urban chicken coop, with 3 hens contentedly scratching and clucking softly, happy to see human beings after 4 days and totally oblivious that the world around them had ended. Self-filling water bottles and renewing feed troughs as well as a chicken mister and small dust bath had kept these poultry princesses in fine shape. Industrial sized bags of  chicken feed, crushed oyster shells and Monsanto-free cracked corn were stacked under the overhanging roof, safe from wind and weather.

Dell said what everyone was thinking, “I think we should live here forever and ever!”

*** 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Apo Calypso Chapter 6 part 8


***  
Chapter 6 Part 8

As the sun set in the west, tiny suns exploded into flame all over the south part of the city. Watching it, Panda was reminded of the night sky scenes from Bladerunner, where tall buildings that served as housing and factory combined, let off puffs of lethal flame into the perpetual twilight sky.  It was beautiful. It was also tragic.

“What is making the little explosions, Daddy?” asked Sorrel Bay.

“I’d hazard a guess that it’s the gas lines exploding as the fire goes from building to building,” he answered.

“And the cars going up in a blaze of glory when the fire heats up their gas tanks.” Said Dell.

“A blaze of glory. A Blaze of Glory!” Sorrel liked the sound of that.

Part of their view was blocked by the rooftop penthouse wall that took up most of the southwest corner of the building. Panda started to poke around to look for an entrance on this level rather than going back downstairs and through the halls to the front door. Walking around to the north side she followed a tiled walkway all the way around between the guard railing and the building wall.  At the juncture of the North and West walls was a little garden gate. Passing through it she entered a private garden terrace that was outside the French Doors of the second story master bedroom suite of the penthouse.  She followed the windowed wall all the way around to the south corner, where, turning it, she found what she had longed for: the perfect rooftop garden.

All along the southern wall of the rooftop penthouse was a raised bed and pot garden containing every herb and savory you could grow. Miniature fruit trees, even two avocado trees in huge glazed pots lined the railings. Cascading strawberry pots were overloaded with ripe berries and the lettuce bed was ready to be harvested. Perfectly staked tomatoes of at least 5 varieties at a glance were ripening in their pots.  The solid plate glass wall of the southern exposure windows reflected the last light of the day and Panda stood there to enjoy it as the rest of the gang rounded the corner of the building to join her.

Taking a look at the well tended garden, Paul told Sorrel to run back to the garden gate and put Polo outside. No sense in letting that pig root up the entire garden if left to run amok. “We’ll get a water bowl and food out there for him until we are ready to leave.”

*** 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Apo Calypso Chapter 6 Part 7


*** Chapter 6 part 7

The top floor of the Wells Fargo Building held executive suites with offices that were as elegant and spacious as a New York City high-rise apartment. The CEO quarters held a bedroom, on-suite bathroom as well as small kitchen and dining room, lined floor to ceiling in dark paneling and bookshelves. Both Dell and Panda were delighted to get a look at the way the ‘other half’ lived. Were it not for the 29 flights of stairs and the risk of power outage and no elevators, Dell would have wanted to spend a night or two camping out in this dive.  Panda put it into her mental file of ‘perfect hideout getaway locations’.

As well as the executive suites there were also office suites, reception areas, board rooms and elegantly appointed waiting areas. In an alcove flanked by expensive pampered potted plants was a coffee kiosk. Imagine that, they had their own private Starbucks! An abandoned sandwich trolley, looking and smelling a little worse for wear, sat waiting for patrons in the adjacent alcove filled with what had once been fresh salads, fruit compotes and gourmet sandwiches.  Paul grabbed an apple and handed Sorrel Bay a banana to munch on from an attractive display of whole fresh fruits.

They were 2/3rds around the perimeter of the hallways when they found the stairs that led to the rooftop.  Leaving the remaining penthouse apartment in the far corner of the building to be explored later, they went up the stairs through the door which had been propped open with an office chair.

“Wow! That’s convenient!” said Dell, munching on an apple of her own. They had all discussed how the rooftop was no doubt accessed via the elevator but without some kind of override key, they would not be able to use that way. They were counting on stairs or even a private elevator in one of the penthouses that would give them rooftop access. Panda was hoping for a rooftop garden on automatic water sprinklers.

What they found were the remains of an office party. A dozen charming wrought iron patio tables and 2 dozen matching chairs sat in the middle of the wide slate patio, each one decorated with an expensive and wilting floral arrangement. And everywhere were the obligatory piles of human ash complete with jewelry, shoes, wallets, purses, and office name tags on a string or pocket clip. A traveling bar was set up at one end and at the other end, looking like a disaster zone, was the toppled remnant of a large trestle table laden with food and cake, utterly trashed and destroyed.

“Oh Yuck it smells like pig shit over here!” said Dell, oblivious to having cussed in front of a child. As they turned to her to remonstrate, the sleepy head of a piglet in a bow and a polo shirt rose out of the debris and oinked excitedly.  Obviously meant for a gift for the party recipient, the pig seemed none the worse for wear having eaten high on the hog for 3 days, no doubt drinking whatever it could find from the melted ice buckets and buffet table pans once holding orange juices and smoothies on ice.

Sorrel Bay was beside herself with joy as the tiny piglet came up to her and liberally covered her hands and face in snotty enthusiastic greeting. “Oh DADDY! Can we keep him? Isn’t he sweet?!”

Paul sighed and rubbed his forehead. “A pig in a polo shirt, huh? I’ll have to think about this.”

Sorrel, who knew her animal husbandry, said, “Daddy this one is too small to just turn loose to forage for himself! He’s just a baby!” 

Paul knew he was beaten on that argument hands down. It looked like he had just acquired a sewage disposal plant of his very own. “Well get him some water from the bar over there, honey. He might be a little dehydrated.”

Dell walked with Sorrel to help open water bottles so the pig could drink its fill. It really was the cutest little bugger, fitting perfectly in Sorrel Bay’s arms and not struggling at all!  

Panda exchanged a long look with Paul. “It’s a good thing that it was a tiny piglet. Anything full grown would have eaten through all this food and available liquid 2 days ago.”

Paul, contemplating the imagined spectacle of finding a dehydrated, suffering and nearly dead full grown pig on this rooftop, realized he was going to have to make some serious decisions about how to protect Sorrel from the constant shocks to come as they moved through their new world. No matter what he did, she was going to run up against death, decay, suffering and sorrow again and again. But letting her accompany him into unknown territory was the only choice if he didn’t want to leave her behind alone waiting in the car, or in an alcove, or in a million waiting rooms across the city to kick up her heels while he was forever scouting out the lay of the land. Perhaps she would just grow up immune to all of it? It was, after all, going to be her ‘new normal.’

“What do you want to name him, honey?” asked Dell.

“POLO!” said Sorrel in a decisive tone. “Polo Pig!” Everyone got a good laugh out of that.

Moving upwind of the food mess and pig manure odors, Paul and Panda walked to the edge of the roof and began to check out the city. It was late afternoon and it would not be long before the sun was setting. The view was breathtaking, the air crisp and the visibility was incredible.

Scanning the horizon, Panda let out a gasp and pointed wordlessly toward the southwest part of the city. Dell and Sorrel, pig in tow, joined them at the rail to see what she was pointing towards.

There, in the distance, South Sacramento was on fire.

*** 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Apo-Calypso Chapter 6 Part 6


*** 
Chapter 6 Part 6

Paul got down on one knee to be level with S. Petting her hair,  he told her to look only at him and not at the grisly scene. Dell suggested she and Sorrel could go look at the museum until Panda and Paul could clean out one of the elevators for their use.  Sorrel nodded her approval for this plan and grasped Dell’s hand to walk away. Panda and Paul exchanged a look of resigned sadness touched with horror and went to look for some kind of broom and dustpan.

Of course colossal bank buildings don’t just happen to have a broom and dustpan propped up behind the reception desk.  After poking down side hallways and around corners they found a utility closet which was of course locked.  They finally found a good push broom and industrial dust pan in the kitchen of the restaurant. There were also rubber gloves and bar towels to tie around their mouths and noses to keep them from inhaling any of that human ash. Then there was the added problem of where to dispose of the skull and bones and debris. Just dumping it out the front door to bump into later on their way out did not seem wise, so Panda got several bus tubs from the restaurant and carried them, full of bone fragments and personal effects, into the dumpster out behind the restaurant.

They cleaned out 3 of the elevators that had the most fragments and visible bone pieces and decided to call it quits. There was just something about constantly having to sweep up after the dead that was grating on the nerves, and nobody really liked investing time and energy in doing a lot of it.

Retrieving Dell and Sorrel from the museum shop, who came laden with silk scarves, beaded jewelry, several picture books and some little games of the quality only found in upscale museum stores delicious enough to slaver over, they finally loaded onto the swept and purged elevator to the 30th floor. 

*** 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Apo-Calypso Chapter 6 Part 5


*** 
Chapter 6 Part 5

Dell and Sorrel tore through the IKEA on wings and wheels. They filled two huge shopping carts with linens, dishes, down comforters, storage containers and pillows. Sorrel was in charge of gathering all the numbered papers with the bin and aisle number on them for the big ticket items that would need to be assembled. 

Dell was going to get the IKEA Ektorp sofa and loveseat and two armchairs as well as 2 chaise lounges that she could picture flanking the large windows that looked into her back yard from her den. Depending on the size of the truck they could rustle up, she thought she might enlist Panda and Paul to load up the floor models with new slipcovers so she had that much less that needed to be assembled at home.

She told Sorrel to pick out a bedroom comforter set for when she came to stay in Dell’s guest room.  This tickled Sorrel no end and since she had already demonstrated such good taste when helping Dell select curtain panels, Dell knew she would pick out just the thing. At the end of the whirlwind spree they ended up with baskets heaving in front of the cinnamon bun and hot dog station at the back of the store near the loading dock.

Dell looked at the 3 day old hot dogs on the little heated rotisserie display case and thought they looked delicious and just about ready to eat, just like the dogs at the movie theatre. The cinnamon buns were another matter; rock hard and inedible. 

She tossed out one tray that had been removed from the oven but not put on display and got into the freezer for a fresh batch. These buns were all pre-made and just needed 10 minutes of baking. Easy as pie! They were coming out of the oven just as Panda and Paul came down through the lobby having thoroughly enjoyed their rooftop foray of the solar array. They all sat and had hot dogs and cinnamon buns before loading 3 large truckloads of fabulous IKEA merchandise and driving to Dell’s.

***

The Anderson’s thoroughly loved Dell’s house and Panda’s too. Paul approved of the neighborhood because of the power grid but warned that there would be risk of flooding when the levees broke from lack of maintenance in the not too distant future. Dell rolled her eyes and Panda informed Paul that she and Dell had already discussed this issue at length. 

“Why don’t you guys just get a boat and park it in your driveway?” suggested Sorrel Bay.

Everyone laughed and agreed that this would be the best get-away plan ever in the event of a water emergency. Dell discussed getting a huge sea cruiser with all the comforts of home and Panda made a mental note to raid a camping and outdoor equipment store for a very good inflatable raft to add to her emergency gear.

Although the goal was to go get Panda and Dell’s stuff from their old houses, free those yard pigs at Dell’s for the last time, and to begin to get settled into their new neighborhood, they decided to take a detour from the plan and head to the Wells Fargo Center with Paul and Sorrel Bay to get a good look at the city from on high.

The Wells Fargo Center, at 420 feet tall, was the highest building  in Sacramento. Although hardly a skyscraper, it had the best view from the upper floors of anywhere in the city. With 30 stories, 13 elevators, a basement and 2 sub-basements  including a huge glassed atrium on the first floor and housing the Wells Fargo Historical Museum,  there was so much to explore and poke around in. 

Panda really wanted to get down to the sub-basements. What could be down there? That might be exciting!  Dell and Sorrel wanted to poke around in the museum gift shop for treasures and everyone agreed it would be worthwhile to tidy up the Il Fornaio restaurant and forage for a delicious dinner for later. But first, to the upper floor to explore for an opening onto the roof.

Although there was no public observation deck on the roof of the building, all buildings had some roof access and with no security to stop them, they were pretty sure they could find a way onto it. Panda had her good binoculars and Paul was betting on several of the corporate offices having telescopes by their windows.  It was just human nature to have a telescope in a high rise. But even without that, the view would be spectacular to the naked eye, with a full panorama of the whole valley and both rivers.

Sorrel skipped ahead and pushed all the call buttons for the double bank of elevators in the lobby, as she and her Dad played a game of guessing which elevator would arrive first. When the middle elevator went ‘ding’ and the doors slid open, Dell let out a terrific scream and everyone stepped back in shock. Sorrel scrambled to get behind her father and Dell clutched onto Panda who turned her face away.

The elevator—in fact all the elevators—were knee deep in ash, bones and even a human skull. Panda shuddered in horror at the thought of the people, racing to get downstairs and out into the sunny pavilion steps, who had been incinerated inside the elevators together when their DNA time bomb set itself to zero. Perhaps because there was no sunlight whatsoever, or for some other unknown reason they would never know, the bodies did not completely go up like a torch leaving only ashes behind. It was truly a scene from a horror movie as door after door of the elevators opened to reveal more piles of bone and dust. 

***