Journal Entry: Monday, August 3, 2020.
By the first week of June, we’d already ferried most of our personal stuff up to the cabin. I used the rest of my gas in Bertha to take her home and put my bike into her big trunk to ride it back down the mountain and around town. It’s stupid, I know, but I just couldn’t bear to leave Bertha in Norrisville. I wanted her up on the mountain with me even if she never ran again. The work van that I’d used to bring the girls’ dresser and chairs in I didn’t mind leaving in town.
Clyde reminded us to keep our comings and goings up the mountain hush-hush; not because the town’s people didn’t know I lived on the mountain, but because he didn’t want any of the newcomers knowing about Yellow Top and possibly telling others. We are fully aware that sooner or later troops or whatever from Draken’s EP will arrive in what’s left of the US to begin setting up his ‘global humanitarian aid and reconstruction’ plans inside the US, which will include what he calls “humanitarian centers” for those who oppose him on any level. These will eventually morph into killing centers once his infamous “mark” is fully rolled out. Even now, friends and family are betraying those who are Tribulation Christians. Scores of believers worldwide are already being murdered by those who have fallen under Draken’s great delusion that they can become their own gods.
We already know that, at the midpoint, Gulden is going to roll out the ‘mark’ system that will track all commerce. This mark will be able to geo-locate anyone anywhere; so, before then, he’ll have to have places set up to – well, let’s just ‘tell the truth and shame the devil’ as Grandma used to tell me whenever I was stupid enough to try to lie to her – he’ll have concentration camps set up; that’s what they really are; prison camps for those who will refuse the mark or for other insurrectionists. The fewer people who know about Yellow Top the better. It’s not Brigadoon; Yellow Top can be found, and likely will be. Still, we aren’t going to make it easy for them if we can help it, by God’s grace and mercy.
So far, the crops are growing well. We’ve already begun harvesting: gathering tomatoes, beans, lettuce, squash, peas, and other crops. The women, led by Izzy, have begun canning, dehydrating and such. We’ve gathered peaches, blackberries, apples, and figs which the ladies are preparing as best they can without sugar, using honey or molasses. In short, we are gathering and prepping as much food as we can. Clyde never forces anyone to work, but he’s been very clear that those who don’t won’t share in the bounty. Those who choose not to work will not be fed.
We’ve had about 50 or more people leave, wanting to go back to bigger cities; most of these we know only by sight. These are the ones who have fallen under Draken’s spell. They have bought into the lie that very soon the EP will restore order to all cities when the EP begins the new roll-out of a truly cashless commerce.
Will does his best to warn them every chance he can about the coming mark and the consequences of taking it, but these are the ones who want the easy life they once had. They have hung their hopes on the illusion of a return to normalcy so much so that they will gladly embrace the lie of the Antichrist and will willingly forfeit their eternal destiny when the time comes – betraying all of us in the process if need be. All in all, there are less than 400 people left in town now, if that many. The sanctuary at New Hope becomes emptier by the week.
In the news, smallpox is ravaging the entire continent of South America. In our country, just about everything west of the Mississippi is in dire straits. New York has become a vermin-infested killing field; and in Canada, the same strain of superflu, or one similar to what struck here, is plowing through Ottawa, British Columbia, Montreal, and Winnipeg and is threatening other cities. Cases of typhus, cholera, even leprosy, are devastating Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and France. These and the evil mixed-bag of other once eradicated diseases have crossed the English Channel into Great Britain as well.
Food production worldwide, including the West Coast and the heartland of the United States, is desolate and beyond hope. Hundreds of thousands in America alone are literally starving, as is the entire world, as the black horse of famine gallops across the earth. It worries me for our crops at Amos’ farm. Hungry people – no, starving people will do anything, and Draken will certainly use that to his advantage. This is yet one more reason that it’s very close to the time for everyone to prepare for his own household or group of survivors as we are doing. Our being able to keep the town together and keeping Norrisville invisible is nearly at an end. Clyde, Mitch, and Will have done all they can to prepare those still here for that eventuality; we all have. Many have told us how appreciative they are for what we and the girls have tried to teach them.
Not all who are leaving now are those who have fallen under Draken’s deception. Many others, like us, are preparing to head out to other places; some have already headed south down into South Carolina and rural Georgia, while others have headed further up into the mountains of Tennessee or maybe even Kentucky before the weather turns, taking with them what provisions they can carry, not wanting to wait on the rest of the crops. Our dear friends Grant Owen and Carter Grant have both decided to head up further into Tennessee. After Clyde’s talk to us the night of the Cookout, both our friends decided that they wanted to move out now while the weather held.
Both men, we knew, were highly skilled outdoorsmen. Both have the skills to survive if the Lord allows. Grant Owen’s family owns a cabin tucked up in the hills of Tennessee near Mt. Mitchell. Grant had always had in the back of his mind of going back into the hills when the time came that the town was failing. Carter, having done all he could at the farm, and missing Mike and Eva, turned the running of the farm over to Clyde and Orson Jet Reese to look after the rest of the crops and the animals for as long as they’re able. Cindy Lane, her father and brother, along with a few other townspeople – Annie and Kevin Johnson, and Tim and Sandy Waits – decided to join them. They all left about a week or so after our last cookout at the girls’ house.
Before they left town for good, the group spread the word that they were all going hiking and camping up in the woods behind Lickskillet Road so that no one would think much about their leaving or their prolonged absence. Along with all their camping gear, they were also loaded down with as much food as they could carry. I knew that Carter, and Grant especially, could live off the land. Kevin Johnson and Tim Waits had been part of our outdoor survival classes, so they had some experience under their belts too. Both were fast learners; and with Carter and Grant along, they would only become better themselves. I hated saying goodbye to them, especially to Carter and Grant with whom I had become fast friends. All of us had grown to love and respect these people who, after the rapture and our salvation, have become family to us. However, since we had all been praying for God’s guidance, we knew that He was directing them just as He was directing us. So with great sorrow but also greater hope, we said goodbye to them and parted ways, knowing that, come what may, we would be seeing them all again in the coming kingdom.
In Neo-Babylon, Draken’s commercial hub, through which all global e-commerce will soon be routed, is nearing completion. Gulden’s Temple of the World is almost finished too. It’s comical to us who know these demonically empowered megalomaniacs for who and what they really are; we find it hilarious to watch the current pope bowing and scraping before Gulden in the same manner he had always expected everyone else to bow and grovel before him. Although they work closely together because the RCC is still very much front and center in the new global religion, it’s plain as day to us believers that both men hate each other’s guts.
In Jerusalem, the two witnesses never seem to tire. They stand on the Temple steps and cry aloud day and night, quoting scripture regarding Jesus Christ being Israel’s Messiah. No one dares to mess with them. After the first instance of immolation in May, Draken tried sniper fire and had even ordered an RPG to be launched at the two men. The two witnesses didn’t even break stride. The sniper spontaneously combusted where he was hidden; and the one who launched the RPG? Well, the grenade went straight back and took him out. So Moshe and Elias keep right on preaching, and so far, none have dared try anything again.
Journal Entry: Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Things in Norrisville are winding down. Mitch, Trail, Will, and I have been busy getting our last loads of goods: Mitch’s computer stuff, and the few things left from the clinic ready to be hauled up to Yellow Top. It’s a surreal paradox to be hauling 21st-century technology in a 19th century mule-driven cart.
Will is torn about what to do about the Church. He’s still trying to hold Sunday services, but almost no one is coming now; and since August, we’ve cut the town meetings altogether.
The guys and I, along with Chief Little-John, rode our bikes back up to Yellow Top and stayed a few days cutting firewood at our place and his, stacking mine into the shop at the cabin to be ready when the cold weather comes. God has been gracious in that, so far, the sixth seal has not yet been broken. We’ve gathered all the crops, and Izzy and the girls have worked tirelessly canning, drying, and preserving our food. Some of the corn we’ve kept to let dry so we can grind to make cornmeal. With so many already gone, our portions are more than we expected. Our supplies of flour, shortening, and salt are limited – particularly salt, so Izzy has been keeping back as much as she can. Sugar has been gone, although thanks to Izzy, we have plenty of molasses, and about 8 quarts of sourwood honey.
We’ve been worried about the animals at the farm: Balaam the mule, Flossie, Amos’ milk cow, and his chickens in particular. At one of the last town meetings, we divided Amos’ flock of hens among those who were interested in getting some. Out of Amos’ flock of 25, our household got 15 good laying hens. The others were divided up among Jet Reese and a family who planned on staying and wanted a few of them. The Ritter household took five hens, all they wanted, and Jet Reese kept 5 hens to stay at the farm with him.
Mitch, Trail, Chief Little-John and I spent almost a week at the cabin building a fenced area out back of the cabin near Grandma’s side garden patch where our birds would be safe. Within that area, we also built a nice chicken coop. On one of the last few runs up the mountain on the buckboard, we loaded the hens and our portion of the chicken feed, more bales of hay for Balaam, and took the birds to their new home. I knew keeping the flock safe from coyotes, foxes, and bobcats was going to be a challenge, but by now, Izzy and the girls had decided to stay on the mountain till we could all get there. I knew Izzy could handle a gun as well as I could, and she was planning to teach the girls how to shoot. Once I get there, once I’m home, I plan on teaching Sarah how to use the bow that Clyde and Mike had given her last Christmas. We had plenty of guns and ammo, so we felt okay leaving them there until we could all get home for good.
The disposition of the other animals was a much harder decision. Orson Reese, whose nickname was Jet because he used to fly F4’s in Vietnam and afterward flew Falcon jets for FEDEX till he retired, said he’d stay at the farm and tend to Flossie and Balaam for as long as he could feed and care for them. He said when the time came that he was no longer able to care for them or feed them, then he’d put them down as quickly and gently as he could. Amos’ old collie Molly had died peacefully in her bed several months ago, so that was a blessing. Jet made it plain that he wanted to remain at the farm. Working all this out was both a blessing and a heartbreak. Sometimes it feels like the sorrows will never end, even though we know that we are having to endure all this by our own reckless foolishness.
Oh, how we long for this time of judgment to end! How we long to be in the kingdom! Oh Lord, sometimes the death and loss is more than we can bear! Please give us strength to remain faithful no matter what.
Those who are going to be moving up to Yellow Top with me are the six of us – our gang, along with Izzy, Will, and – guess, what Journal? – even Clyde! We thank God that Rod was able to talk Clyde into stepping down and coming with us. I still have trouble believing he got Clyde to agree. What my emotion-filled diatribe couldn’t accomplish, Rod’s level-headed, practical reasoning did. As the town dwindled, even Clyde could see that there wasn’t really much of a town left to hold together.
We keep trying our best to talk Rod Weaver into coming with us too, but he says that he would rather stay in town till the end or until he dies, whichever comes first. It was Rod who finally talked Clyde into ‘retiring’ again and letting himself, Rod, oversee the ghost town that Norrisville is quickly becoming. Rod told Clyde that the rest of the police force which consisted of himself, Jim Casey, Bill Rogers, and Leroy Whitten, could manage a ghost town by themselves.
We’ve had 3 more deaths in town. All were elderly; and as far as I know, all were believers. Pete Grey cremated them and said that unless we had other mass deaths like the superflu, he could manage with the crematorium. Pete had become a believer too which was such a relief to us. Our little town now has less than two hundred and fifty people with more here and there still leaving. Those who are staying are those who’ve lived their lives here, and have decided that Norrisville is where they will remain until the end. Pete himself said that he and a couple of his friends would be staying, but moving farther out into one of the abandoned houses on Lickskillet Road – the very house where we found Sarah’s bike, almost a year ago, as a matter of fact. They’re moving now before the cold weather sets in since that home has a woodstove they can use to heat and cook.
Finally, the day came when we were ready to move up to Yellow Top for good. We didn’t have to worry about anyone asking us where we were going because almost no one was around to ask. This morning we left for Yellow Top – all of us, except for Will, loaded up and climbed onto the buckboard. Will said he would bike up a few days later and join us. He wanted to destroy all the town records that had the names and addresses of everyone in town; the records that Vera and Amanda had so meticulously kept. He said he’d awakened during the night with that laying heavy on his mind. As soon as he did that, he said he’d close up the Church, and bid the town of Norrisville goodbye. Chief Little-John was out at the farm helping Jet get squared away. He planned on biking up to his home in a few days.
Clyde hitched Balaam to the buckboard. The last load was our three bikes along with Sarah’s. Mitch, Trail, and I climbed into the wagon, and Clyde took the reins as faithful Balaam headed up the mountain one last time. Near noon on Tuesday, October 13, a beautiful, crisp autumn day, a year and ten days after I’d left my cabin on Yellow Top Mountain, I was finally going home.
Journal Entry: Sunday, February 28, 2021
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17 KJV.)
“And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up” (Revelation 8:6-7 KJV).
In the early morning hours, right after we made it home to Yellow Top, God shook the world. I’ll describe what happened as best as I can, though these months later, my pen still shakes in my hand as I write.
It began deep in the mountains of New Zealand when the sixth and seventh seals of Revelation were opened. The sixth seal began with a chain of earthquakes and volcanic events that literally rocked the earth with a shaking and violence so vast, powerful, and fast that, by the end of it all, whole mountain ranges around the earth had been moved out of their places and islands sunk beneath the waters. Even the atmosphere was ignited on fire as burning ash, smoke, brimstone, burning vegetation and animal and human debris literally blotted out the sun’s light altogether in the places hardest hit. This will likely not subside for many months, maybe years; and which, even now, still diminishes the amount of sunlight even where we are in our area of the Carolinas that was spared the worst of the earthquake activity.
In an instant, we were plunged back into the 1800’s. For the next nearly 20 weeks, we no longer had working electricity. I’m not sure how long it may be before we get normal use back, if we ever do. This is what we eventually learned from the satellite imagery that was available on the deep web:
At 4:00 AM Thursday, October 14 Eastern Time, 9:00 PM October 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand, the earth began to shake.
Deep in the mountains of the South Island, the quake began spreading rapidly at nearly 8,000 miles per hour into the North Island. The event that began quickly intensified to a momentousness unable to be charted because the strength and intensity – the sheer magnitude – was off the Richter scale of any event that has ever been recorded. There has never been a measurement for the sheer immensity, power, and cataclysmic destruction of an earthquake with the severity of this one.
As the path of the quake traversed the North Island, it dove deep into the ocean floor, curving inward towards Australia, following the Coral Sea and causing great damage, including mega-tsunamis along the eastern coast of Australia. The islands of Indonesia, including New Guinea, were inundated. The growing seismic threat raced along the ocean floor towards the Philippines, causing untold devastation and setting off other earthquakes as it went, causing multiple tsunamis as it sped on, crossing Taiwan and heading for mainland China. Still, the momentum kept building. The entire peninsula of Korea was slammed, bringing to a halt the bloody and seemingly endless conflict between North and South Korea. The behemoth earthquake induced tremendous flooding over parts of the lower coasts of Japan.
The increasing intensity continued northeastward to the far eastern parts of Russia but bypassing Kamchatka, heading into the Bering Sea and on into the mainland of Alaska.
In Southern Alaska, above the Aleutian range, the path of the moving quake made a dramatic turn to the south, following the land mass coming down the Coast Mountains of Canada and heading south towards the United States, following the Pacific Ring of Fire.
The increasingly powerful seismic detonations then crossed the border into the already devastated Pacific Northwest, setting off the Juan Defuca fault and triggering massive volcanic activity at Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood. It continued moving into Oregon and further down the already obliterated California coastline, causing even more volcanic eruptions, bursting open magma chambers previously unknown.
Within the western United States, the unthinkable finally happened. The already destabilized Yellowstone super caldera eventually blew and took with it almost the entire western half of the United States and as far eastward as Des Moines and Chicago; as far south as Flagstaff and Albuquerque. This in turn set off the New Madrid Fault Zone. As horrifyingly destructive as the Yellowstone caldera was, it was the devastation along the New Madrid Fault that literally split the continental United States in half, making the gigantic Mississippi River even bigger with the influx of other rivers, streams and tributaries. The greatly expanded Mississippi has become the dividing line between the new eastern and western halves of the former United States.
The domino-like destruction continued on into Central and South America from Colombia down the western coast through Peru and Ecuador, along the entire coast down to the southern tip of Chile, completing the unprecedented destruction of the Ring of Fire, thus carving a swath of annihilation and carnage that is breathtakingly massive in scope. The entire topography of the earth has changed, while the instability continues.
Of course, it was months before we understood the full enormity and scope of the destruction of this truly global earthquake event and the attendant volcanic activity that tore across the planet like the ripping of a seam in fabric and causing untold devastation and incalculable loss of life, even setting the atmosphere on fire with pyroclastic ash, liquefied earth, along with the bloody debris from millions and millions of atomized creatures, both human and animal. The skies rained blood and brimstone for months as the sunlight was darkened. When reports began to come in many months later, we learned that what was left of America’s governing body, along with those of the other nations most severely hit, hid out in DUMBS (deep underground military bunkers), cowering there and calling on the rocks to protect them from what they instinctively knew was the very wrath of God.
Up on Yellow Top, once the shaking began, we hunkered down as best as we could. We had put old Balaam in the barn, along with the chickens. We didn’t get too much shaking, thank God, although we did get several hard jolts. Our biggest threat was the ash and air quality. Trail had us wet bed sheets and put them around the bottoms of the doors and window sills. He made us all stay inside for a week with only short excursions outside twice a day to do our best to shield the barn from the worst of the ash, and to feed Balaam with what little we had laid in stock for him on his trips up the mountain. We also had some feed for the chickens. We lost three of the hens, but, praise God, Balaam and the rest came through about as well as we did.
We took turns on our excursions out two at a time; and while out, each ‘team’ would gather wood for the fireplace, and a bucket of water from the creek which we would strain and boil. We always went out with our faces covered with wet bandanas or masks, and stayed out no longer than 15 minutes at a time, or shorter if we could, the first two weeks. After two weeks, the air had cleared enough that we could stay out for longer periods of time as long as we wore masks or wet bandanas around our noses and mouths. We made do as eventually the air where we were began to clear, praise God, although the amount of daily sunlight we get now remains diminished and likely will from now on. Clyde was with us when the quakes began, but it was a month before we learned what happened to Will, Little-John, and to Norrisville.
In late November, around the time of what would have been Thanksgiving, if we had been able to celebrate it, we finally learned how Norrisville fared. For the most part, Norrisville made it through the great shaking fairly well. No one died from the earthquake itself, although kind old Bleeze Martin died from a heart attack, and Lila Pruitt died a couple of weeks later from complications of COPD. It was one of life’s ironies that Miss Lila, someone whose lungs were already at risk, made it through the superflu epidemic that took so many lives, unscathed, but succumbed to the ash-filled air.
What we felt here in Western North Carolina, although a truly unsettling experience for those of us who have never been through a quake before, was really not as bad as it could have been. There was some damage to some of the older buildings in town; and out on Amos’ farm, poor old Flossie, Amos’ milk cow, panicked, broke out of her stall and ran out into the night. She fell into a hole and broke one of her hind legs. Jet was forced to put her down.
There were quite a few rock slides caused by the earthquake. The road up between Norrisville from Old Mill Road and below Chief Little-John’s house was blocked by two large rockslides consisting of several large boulders and rocks from slides that pretty much occluded the road in two places. There’s no way we will be able to get the buckboard or Balaam down the mountain and back to the farm. I guess faithful old Balaam is part of our Yellow Top family now.
The road below the Chief’s house and my cabin on Yellow Top also sustained a good deal of damage from falling rocks and boulders. The only way back to Norrisville is going to be on foot and doing some climbing over rocks and boulders, many that are still quite unstable. It appears that we really are cut off for the foreseeable future.
We learned all this from Chief Little-John who had been caught in town on the night of October 13. He had been helping Jet Reese cut some wood at Amos’ farm, planning to bike back up to his place along with Will the next day. Little-John told us that on the 14th, he and Will had planned to bike up as far as John’s house, spend the night there, and then bike on up to Yellow Top the next day, but the quake hit during the early pre-dawn morning.
On November the 20th, Chief Little-John finally showed up at my cabin; he’d hiked the entire way. He was exhausted, covered in dust and ash, and was as agitated as I’ve ever seen him. When we opened the door to his barrage of knocking, we knew instantly that something was wrong.
“Clyde, harness up Balaam, but don’t hitch him to the wagon; you boys come with me. There’s been an accident. Do you have any rope and extra blankets?” asked the Chief. I nodded as Lilly and Sarah ran to gather blankets and their medical kits. Mitch and I headed to the shop to gather rope.
“Trail,” said Little-John, bring your medical bag.”
“Do you need Sarah and me too,” asked Lilly?
“No. The ground is still not stable. There are rocks that are not safe. Rock slides are still happening, although most of the bigger boulders have already fallen. Still, the mountainside is not stable. We’ll be enough. Just prepare a bed and have your own medical kits ready. Sterilize what equipment you have. You will likely have to do some suturing, and probably set a badly broken leg,” said Little-John, turning to go out the door.
“Is it Will,” asked Byllie? “Is he hurt?”
“Will is…alright,” replied Little-John, pausing cryptically.
As we made our way down the mountain, us walking, Clyde leading Balaam, we could see small rock slides here and there, and in one curving part of the road not far from Little-John’s house, we spotted a rock the size of a wing-back chair, poised, seeming to defy gravity, hanging onto the side of the mountain over the road. It was precariously balanced and looked ready to fall. We prayed all the way down to where the road was completely blocked by rockfall just about a half mile below Little-John’s place. Here, the Chief stopped us and said,
“He’s down here. We were making our way over the rockfall when I guess the smaller rocks around a big rock there shifted or something. I’m not entirely sure what happened. I had already gotten over, but…”
His voice trailed off. Looking over the side, we could see a man lying face down about six to eight feet below us. The big boulder that had stopped him from falling almost two hundred feet down into a ravine had also apparently knocked him out. It was obvious by the sickening way his right leg was skewed that his leg was badly broken.
“There’s going to be no easy way to do this,” said Little-John, “but I think with us all, we can get him up. Clyde, put one of these quilts across Balaam’s back. We’ll use the rope to tie him on once we get him up.”
We secured the rope to Balaam, and with Little-John and Trail acting as anchors, I fashioned a slip knot in the other end of the rope. Mitch and I made our way slowly and carefully down the short distance to where he lay.
“Okay, Mitch,” I said, “after we turn him over, we’re going to put the rope under his arms. The slip knot will cinch, and we can help guide him up and over while Balaam pulls. Trail and Chief will act as anchors for us and help us guide from above. Thank God, he’s not that far down.”
“Bobby,” Trail called down to us, “he’s got a fracture of that right leg. Try to straighten and secure that leg first before you try to turn him over. Go as slowly as you can but you’re going to have to straighten that leg as best as you can before you turn him. Afterward, use one of your belts to tie his ankles and the other belt to secure his thighs – not too tight, but tight enough to stabilize him. Try to keep his head from bouncing as we pull him up. Take your time getting him ready. We risk internal damage or a spinal injury as it is, but we’ve got no choice. Just do what you can. Give me the high sign when you’re ready for Clyde to move Balaam,” said Trail.
Mitch and I eased ourselves down, feeling small rocks and scrabble shift under our weight. It seemed like an eternity before we got to the boulder that had kept him from going over the side of the mountain. My heart was thundering in my chest from fear of causing him further injury and pain, and the equal fear of that boulder letting go, sending Mitch and me plunging 200 feet down the side of the mountain with only rocks and trees to break our fall – and our necks.
It took us several minutes to get his broken leg as straight as we could get it. Trail told us not to move him until we stabilized the fracture. It looked like the big long-bone of his right leg between his knee and ankle was broken for sure; I couldn’t remember what it was called – the tibia, I think. I caught my mind wandering; and what on God’s earth does it matter wondering what the correct name for it is now anyway, Bobby? Get your head together and get in the game.
The leg, much to Trail’s relief, was a clean break and not a compound fracture with the bone sticking out of his leg. When we moved the leg, he groaned deep within his chest even though he was unconscious. The pain must have been horrific. Doing this made my insides feel all loose and shaky. I looked at Mitch and saw that his face was the color of cottage cheese, so I guess he was feeling the same way I was.
This is going to be a nightmare, I was thinking. Help us, Lord.
Finally, we got his hips and ankles as stable as we were going to get them. Trail handed down a large bandage and told me to slip it around the fracture and tie it in the back of his leg, but not too tightly.
“Okay,” I said to Mitch, “on the count of three we’ll turn him over. You stabilize his head and upper body and I’ll do my best to keep his hips and legs straight and stable; and Mitch? Please, for goodness sake, buddy, be careful. It’s a long way down! Are you ready?” I asked. He nodded, swallowing hard.
“Okay then; here we go; one…two…three…”
As gently as we could, we turned him over and looked down into the face of someone we’d never seen before. This wasn’t Will.
“What the… Who is this?” I stupidly hissed at Mitch who was obviously as clueless as I was. For a second, the shock of knowing we were hanging off the side of a mountain, risking our lives for someone we didn’t know, made me irrationally angry with the Chief, but God promptly convicted me of that attitude. Whoever he was, he’d been with the Chief, and it didn’t matter anyway. He was a human soul, maybe lost and needing a Savior.
“Alright,” I called up to Trail, “we’re ready. Tell Clyde to hoist him up slowly.”
I could hear Clyde urging Balaam forward gently as our injured man began to move upwards. Mitch and I, bracing ourselves sideways and pushing up with our feet, were using one hand to try to keep the injured man stable and our other hand holding onto roots and rocks as handholds, praying out loud that God would keep us from grabbing onto a loose rock or root that would give way and tumble us down the mountain. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, but was in reality only about 15 minutes, we got him up and over the side. Then Mitch and I felt the strong arms of Trail and Little-John pulling us up onto the blessed flat safety of the blacktop.
In a testament to Trail’s professionalism and his tender heart, he didn’t miss a beat when he realized that this man wasn’t Will. The only indication he gave was a momentary widening of his eyes. I, not being a professional anything, looked at Chief Little-John and asked,
“But where is Will?”
With infinite sadness, he pointed downward about 5 yards to the right of where we found this man… and about two hundred feet down.
There, at the bottom of a deep ravine, we could see the body of another man. By the unruly shock of dark hair and the lanky length of his frame, we knew this was the body of our pastor, friend and brother, Will Farrell. It was clear that he was dead. His neck, obviously broken, lay at an unnatural angle; and his poor body was… well, let’s just say that there could be no doubt that Will was finally Home – for good.
Mitch stood at the edge of the road, shocked and shaking. Although all of us had grown to love Will, it was Mitch who had gotten closest to him. They were both on the same intellectual level, and both had enjoyed working with computers and communications.
“I know, buddy,” said Trail, gently putting his big hand on Mitch’s shoulder. “I know. But we’ve got a severely injured man here that you and Bobby just risked your lives to save. You know that Will, if he could speak, would be the first to tell us to take care of this man, whoever he is. Let’s go. I’ve got an injured patient to care for. Alright, let’s lift him guys – all together now and very gently onto Balaam’s back. Bobby, you and I will keep his hips and legs stable as we lift him. Keep his legs tied together. We’ll tie him onto Balaam good and sturdy so he won’t roll. Chief, you and Mitch walk on one side, head and foot. Bobby, you and I’ll walk on the other. Among us, we will keep him steady,” Trail said. Then he prayed,
“Lord, you know that Bobby and Mitch risked their lives to save this man, whoever he is. Will You please keep him alive till we get home to the cabin, and bring him back to health if it be Your will? And please tell Will we’ll see him by and by. Amen.”
Patting Chief Little-John on the shoulder, Trail said, “We’ll wait to hear the story after we get him home and taken care of. The girls will want to know too. Okay Clyde, we’re ready.”
Same Journal Entry
As we made our way up to the cabin, Trail told us what we needed to do.
“First thing we need to do,” said Trail, as we slowly wound our way upwards toward the cabin, “is to clean that head wound and assess, as well as we can, whether or not he’s suffered a catastrophic head injury. Bobby, after we get him into the house, you and Byllie go find one of the tarps, then clear out the whole area of the great room. Put the tarp down first, then layer a couple of quilts to put him on. We’re going to have to clean his wounds and set his fracture as best as we can, and try to determine whether or not he has any internal injuries.”
When we got home, I ran in and told Byllie what to get. She and Izzy went to gather the stuff we would need. I moved the furniture and cleared out a large space in the middle of the room. As the women prepared the area that would be a makeshift exam area, I went back out and helped bring the young man inside.
I was never more proud of all our women than at that moment. From the instant they all saw it wasn’t Will, they did just as Trail had done; they noted that he was a stranger, but never mentioned a word. They all got to work. Sarah and Lilly had already sterilized suturing needles, tweezers, hemostats and other stuff I don’t know the name of. They had gathered suture material, gauze, Betadine, and everything they thought might be needed. When we got him laid down, Trail told each girl what he wanted them to do. Izzy and Byllie went to put clean sheets on the bed for him in my bedroom which was downstairs.
“Lilly, you cut away his trousers; Sarah, you take his vitals” Trail began, “then we need to assess his head injury. It’s obvious he’s concussed and he’s going to need some stitches over that left eye. First, we’ll see about that head injury. That, and any possible internal injuries worries me most.”
I sat back and watched my best friends and the woman I love as they worked. I was seeing them from an entirely new perspective – as the professionals they are. I was a little awed at how they each worked together, like a well-oiled machine. Sarah took out a pen light and checked the man’s eyes, looking for signs of closed head trauma. I watched, amazed, awed, and proud as Sarah the nurse took over.
“BP is 118/72; Respiration steady at 15; pulse strong and steady at 68; Temp is 97.4. Pupils are equal and reactive; no obvious signs of a subdural hematoma. He does have a reaction to pain. I think we may be in the clear there,” said Sarah.
“Excellent,” said Trail. “His vitals are in better shape than mine are.” Trail palpated the guy’s abdomen. “There doesn’t seem to be any indications of internal bleeding, no swelling or obvious signs of internal bleeding,” he said. Praise God, but that’s no guarantee that there’s not internal bleeding. Okay, while he’s still out, let’s get his forehead cleaned and sutured and set this fracture. Sarah, you clean and suture his head; and Lilly and I will start on the leg. Izzy, can you help?”
“I can,” replied the ever-unflappable Izzy. “I already found some wood ta make splints with, and I found some foam ta use as padding. Let me measure the wood by his good leg. Then I’ll go out and cut the lengths right.”
“Izzy, give me the measurements and I’ll go cut the lengths of wood for the splint,” I said. “I know where everything is.”
After about an hour and a half, he was stitched up; his leg set and splinted as best as they were able. He was moaning but not fully conscious. Once they were finished, I had them take him into my bedroom which, besides being downstairs, had its own attached bathroom. We got him settled and left him to rest. We all took turns sitting with him until he fully regained consciousness a few days later. One of the nurses or Izzy stayed with him during the night.
“If he gets through the first twenty-four hours with no signs of head trauma or any signs of internal bleeding, then that’s a good sign, although I won’t be fully confident until he’s gone a month with no signs of a closed head bleed,” said Trail.
“I’ll take the first watch,” said Izzy. “Bobby, I’ll make a pallet on the floor and sleep there tonight in case he wakes up and needs anything. You girls go on up to your rooms and get a good night’s sleep; you men turn in too.”
“No need for that, Izzy,” Mitch spoke up. “Bobby’s got a cot and mattress. I’ll set that up for you ladies to use until he comes around and Trail gives the okay for him to be on his own at night. Bobby, we’ve got the mattress that was going to be Will’s in the great room you can use. You can bunk in here with the rest of us guys.”
After the stranger was settled in and we’d cleaned the great room, we all sat by the fire and looked at Chief Little John.
“I’ll tell you what I can – what I know – which isn’t as much as you might think.” he said.
“After the quake,” Little-John began, “I stayed with Jet Reese out at the farm. He had to put poor Flossie down after she panicked and broke out of her stall. For the first week we couldn’t go outdoors for long; the ash was too heavy. We knew poor Flossie was out there somewhere, but we just couldn’t stay out long enough to look for her. Finally, after about five days, we were able to stay out long enough to really search for her. We could hear her bellowing and knew she was nearby but getting weaker. We finally found the poor old girl out past where we buried Mike. She’d broken her hind leg. There was nothing to be done but to put her down.
“I stayed at the farm with Jet till I guess the third week of November, helping him get settled, then I biked into town to see how everyone was doing there before heading home. Turns out most everyone left there was okay except for Mr. Martin and Miss Lila. I met up with Will a day before I was going to leave. I thought he might have already come up here with y’all, but he told me that he’d decided to stay behind one more day, then the quake hit in the early morning of the day he’d planned to leave. He told me that he’d met a new friend who’d just come into town a couple of days ago. Will seemed really excited for me to meet this new guy; said there was something special about him and that he was going to be bringing him up to the mountain to meet all of you.
“I met the young man just before the three of us left to bike up the mountain. I’ll be honest; I wasn’t thinking about big rock slides, although I should have been. I expected we might have some blow downs or small slides, but I just never thought that the bigger boulders might have let loose or that so many of them would have fallen. Anyway, when we met, Will introduced me to his new friend. He said his name was something that sounded to me like ‘Yor-ee’ or something like that. I didn’t quite catch the name, and I was a little embarrassed to ask him again. It was a name I’ve never heard before. The man had an accent but I couldn’t place it. He seemed to be a pleasant fellow. He laughed a lot, but as we got further along on our journey, it was becoming harder going, so we didn’t talk much.
“We found the first rock slide about three miles up past Old Mill Road. After scouting out the blockage, we knew that it wasn’t going to be possible to bike around it, and we didn’t feel that trying to haul the bikes up and over was feasible or safe. Besides, we now knew that there might well be more than one slide we might encounter. What we decided to do was to hike up to my house, spend the night there, and then come on up to your cabin, Bobby. We did pretty well until we came upon that last big rock slide not far below my house where you found him. This one didn’t look any worse than the one we’d crossed earlier, so I told them I’d go up and over first and give them a hand.
“I got over fine and was turning to help. Both men were coming up side by side. At the top, Will, on the outside, slipped or the rocks shifted, or he lost his handhold, or something happened. The upshot is that Will lost his balance. I think the other guy reached out to try to catch Will’s hand, and they both went over. Both men fell. It happened so fast that it took me a second to realize that they’d not just fallen, but had gone over the side. I scrambled down to where the new guy lay. A big boulder had broken his fall or else he’d have ended up where poor Will did. I looked further to the right and saw Will at the bottom of that big ravine. I knew by his broken neck and the other… visible injuries that he was dead. This poor guy here was knocked out cold, and I could see that his leg was badly broken. I wasn’t sure how badly he was injured but I knew I couldn’t get him up and out by myself, so I came and got you. The rest you know. I’m so very sorry,” finished Little-John, quietly.
Clyde put a hand on the Chief’s shoulder and said,
“Ya done all ya could, Chief. There weren’t a thang ya coulda done to stop young Will’s fall, an iff’n that boy in thar makes it, it’ll be on account o’ yore an everybody here’s quick thinkin’ an’ hard work – and the Lord’s mercy. Young William went Home to th’ Lord a faithful pastor, jest like he wanted to be. Fer Will, the worst is over. We kin rejoice in that.”
I sat with my arm around Sarah whose face was buried in her hands as she silently wept. Lilly and Byllie sat on either side of Mitch, holding his hands as they all silently wept.
How on earth can we cope with this much pain and loss, I thought numbly. Lord, it never seems to end – the pain and loss never end! Oh, Father God, help us!
We persuaded Chief Little-John to stay with us for a few days. Earlier in the day while we were gone, Izzy and Byllie had put together a huge pot of homemade vegetable soup into a big cast iron kettle that had belonged to Grandma. It was simmering over the fire; the huge pot hanging on one of the two pot cranes that Grandpa had installed so long ago so she could cook in her fireplace. Izzy went into the kitchen and made two big pones of cornbread in cast iron frying pans using what was surely the last of the buttermilk we would ever get now that Flossie was gone.
And so, that huge pot of vegetable soup and hot cornbread became our Thanksgiving feast. After this meal, so different from our Thanksgiving dinner last year, Trail led us in a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s tender mercies and for allowing us to know and be a part of our dear friend Will’s life. As we thanked our Lord, we celebrated the Home-going of our friend and brother. We also prayed for the young man who lay recovering in my room. As we were soon to find out, he was indeed a special person. He turned out to be every bit the surprise Will had hinted he would be.
TO BE CONTINUED