It's Thanksgiving Day. Billy, Beverly and Pastor Tom have worked their tails off to prepare a fantastic feast for the occasion. Really, everyone else pitched in too, but those three were really the driving force behind it. I would have done more but everytime I try to do anything more strenuous than walk across the room Katherine scolds me.
It has been a solemn feast but I think despite the hardships, the others are starting to see that we can make it and that we do still have much to be thankful for.
Scratch's death was a blow to morale but we did gain another two people. They came in while I was down in the hole. Kyle and Jeanette Wilson. They are no more officially married than I am officially Dee's father. And there is a third Wilson on the way. In about three months. It would appear that the two of them met quite soon after the disappearance and took their duty to the continuation of the species to heart.
Katherine performed an exam shortly after their arrival and pronounced mother and daughter in perfect health. The expected arrival of a little one has been a tremendous boost to our spirits.
Both of them are New York City natives. Jeanette was born and raised on Manhattan Island and prior to 99%+ of the world population checking out with no forwarding address, she had never been off the island for more than a day trip to visit relatives in Queens. She's an architect and at twenty seven she was already studying to get her Masters of Architecture II degree. Kyle is a lawyer, specializing in fiduciary law and but he is also a pilot that used to fly as a hobby. Though he seems to have worked very hard to rid himself of it he still has a bit of a Bronx accent when he is agitated. There is a twenty year age difference between the two.
They have really had it rough though. In early May there were twelve survivors in their group. But they are the only ones of their group that made it out of New York.
Manhattan Island has a population of over 2.1 million people as of the 2020 census. We have estimated that between .01 and .1% of the world population might be left. Billy gives an overly optimistic figure of one percent and Katherine, our resident Pessimists Club President, insists it's closer to the .01 percent. So depending on who you believe there should be between 21,000 and 210 people left on Manhattan Island. I've split the difference and am leaning towards .1% leaving about 2100. It's a relatively small island but very densely packed.
It still has a large population but a population of wraiths.
Kyle put it like this. "Back in '93 my parents and I lived in a shitty tenement in the Bronx. Place was fucking infested with cockroaches. You would walk into the kitchen at night flip the switch and what looked like black and white marble counters would come alive, thousands of roaches would flee the light and when they were gone you would see that the counters were actually white, well except for the little spots of bugshit they leave everywhere. What you call wraiths are like that some places in New York."
By the mid June they were down to eight. The first was lost to appendicitis, then another fell down a flight of stairs and broke his neck. One died from food poisoning. One was beaten to death by another man (not a member of their group) for the crime of foraging for food in his territory.
It was becoming obvious by this time that they could no longer stay in the city. Jeanette put in that they could no longer walk past a bodega or market without holding their breath. There was plenty of water and food, but no sanitation. Rats were suddenly everywhere, worse than ever before. Fires were raging in spots throughout the city. And there was a growing sense of dread in the group, especially at night.
This got my interest as I noticed the same phenomena. None of the others seem to have mentioned this, but they were from small towns and farms. Now that I think of it Jewels did mention that during his trip to KC to find his daughter and grandson.
Their first encounter with a wraith resulted in two deaths. That was on June 21st. Probably the fact that they were a larger group had kept the wraiths away at first, but as their numbers dwindled they seemed less of a threat. The morning of June 22nd saw them packing up to leave.
The heavily congested streets were bad enough before, but now they were virtually impassable. Even a motorcycle or bike were often impossible to maneuver around. The subways were impassable. When Kyle mentioned the possibility of going through the tunnels he and I both shuddered. I wonder he read "The Stand" by Stephen King too.
By the time they reached the Tappan Zee Bridge they had lost another member of their party. The Tappan Zee was the closest intact bridge left to the west side of the Hudson. A large commercial cargo plane had taken out the George Washington Bridge. But to get there they had to get past the fires raging in Upper Manhattan. I remember reading once that with not one to stop them, fires would roll across Manhattan Island for 5 years before there was nothing left to burn. At the Henry Hudson Parkway Bridge an older woman wandered from the group, climbed the chain link fence and threw herself into the river.
Kyle said "As heartless as it sounds, we decided not search for her. If she truly wanted to die then that was her decision. I would not let the few survivors we had endanger themselves in a vain search for her. It would have put us all out well after dark in an already dangerous situation."
He looked a little ashamed but Jeanette gave his hand a squeeze and he continued on.
Once over the bridge they took refuge in the Simpson Memorial Living Christ Church. I think it's interesting that our two groups have routinely taken refuge in churches. But a church is often referred to as a sanctuary. I'm sure that Pastor Tom has some theories on that too.
There was an argument between Kyle and one of the other men of the group and he left with another woman. She came back the next day severely injured telling of another attack by the wraiths. She died of her injuries. That was the last straw for the remaining third member of their party. He left saying he'd had enough and was going the fuck home. Kyle and Jeanette made their way to a small airport where Kyle kept his vintage Cessna 210.
They have been hopping from from small airport to another looking for survivors. The scanner on the plane eventually picked up my original broadcast. They landed at a Lees Summit Municipal. Kyle said he learned after the first few tries to avoid larger airports as there were usually at least one or two planes down on the runway. That also happened to be the day after I changed my radio message. Once they heard that the left the KC area and headed south. The camped a few weeks before hearing my broadcast from the radio in the Uni. They waited until weather cleared and here they are.
Things are really starting to look up I thing, but what the hell do I know. Everytime I think things are looking good, shit hits the fan.
But it's Thanksgiving, must keep a positive attitude.
Back to the Feast. And a feast it was too. Wild turkey, venison roast, a couple of rabbits and a goose were all on the table. Candied yams, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and a cheesy corn casserole, cornbread and fresh butter. For dessert, pumpkin pie and ice cream. And I almost forgot the cranberry sauce. This was in following the Nash family tradition left in the refrigerator and forgotten about. Of course all the fruit and vegetables were canned and the potatoes came from a box.
Tom led us in grace and each one of us in turn told of one thing that we were most thankful for this year.
Pastor Tom was thankful that God had seen fit to keep him here for those that would need him.
Mike thanked God for helping him to escape from the monsters. I'm pretty sure he did not mean the wraiths, but he did not elaborate.
Jewels was thankful for a well placed box van and a finicky Ford tractor.
Katherine was thankful for her kid brother's scraped knees and bloody noses. I would love to hear the story behind that.
Billy expressed his thanks for Katherine's ability to stitch him back together.
Beverly wanted to thank God for her ability to remember the tiniest details when they mattered the most.
Kyle and Jeanette were thankful for making it out of New York and finding each other.
I'm thankful that I didn't jump
But Dee was thankful for ALL of us even the ones that aren't here anymore. Especially Scratch.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride