Today marks the one year anniversary of the disappearance. It passed without fanfare or celebration. It was a day like any other Spring day.
Kyle flew me up to Beaver Island Monday morning. We landed in St. James Bay and tied off at a small private boat dock. Elliot Marshall met us there and I was surprised to find him in a wheel chair. He never mentioned it but really I suppose why should he? I don't introduce myself to total strangers by saying 'Hi, I have Multiple Sclerosis'. As first responder to the scene of a house fire it fell on him to rescue a girl from a second floor bedroom. Not exactly by the book, but what was he supposed to do, let her burn? The closest firetruck was still ten minutes out. She would be dead by then. As a reward for his efforts, he took a bullet in the back. He never did find out why the girl's father shot him since the house collapsed on the man seconds after he pulled the trigger. It does make his survival all the more impressive. Even before the disappearance it was not easy for a wheelchair bound person to get around. But he does not complain.
He led us back to his van, a very well equipped vehicle with a ramp, lift and handicap controls. He does not even have to get out of his chair to drive it. He just wheels up to the steering wheel and a pair of clamps engage on the chair to hold it in place. There was a woman in the van waiting for him. There was a rifle with scope leaning near her seat and I have no doubt that she had it trained on Kyle and I during our introduction. She introduced herself as Meridith and even after we shook hands I got the impression that we were still on probation in her eyes. I imagine that there was quite an argument between her and Elliot over whether or not she would accompany him down to the boat dock to meet us. She seems rather protective of him.
It was a short drive to the hotel they are staying in. It overlooks the bay on King's Hwy. They have power, water and food. We met several of the survivors and they all seemed friendly and in good health. But Elliot tells me their fuel is in short supply. Meridith looked somewhat disapproving at Elliot for revealing this to us. Beaver Island was never heavily developed or populated, so there just was not a lot of fuel on the island. And a lot of what there was on the island was lost to heaters being left on after the islands inhabitants were gone. They are in the midst of setting up a steam generator. The island is about twelve miles long six wide, mostly forested so wood is abundant.
I still have my doubts about how clean the island is of wraiths.
I did come away with a few ideas for trade. I think we could trade fuel for venison and other fresh meats from time to time. Of course I plan on restocking Door Island with deer. We just need to capture some live, make sure they're clean and release them on the island. We can also trade salvaged manufactured items since that is also something they do not have in great supply.
All in all, I think we made the right decision in founding our own community here rather than joining theirs.
We returned late afternoon yesterday. There was a large turnout for our return. Kyle put the plane down in the bay and we were met at the dock by Katherine. I was surprised when she had us submit to a scan with the ultrasound. Mike was even standing by with rifle ready to shoot us if we refused. It was very unnerving and I experienced a certain empathy for those we had subjected to this indignity. But I relented as I recognise the necessity. She pronounced us clean and Mike heaved sigh of relief.
We did mark the anniversary occasion by announcing that we were opening the town of Sturgeon Bay up for settlement. There has been a sudden exodus from the freighter as people have been gone out house hunting.
Many of the old conventional ideas of what make a good home are no longer valid. Instead looking at how many bedrooms, bathrooms and such, we find ourselves thinking in terms of 'how well can this place be defended? Is there anyplace where they can get in? And are there adequate escape routes in case they do get in?' So instead of considering the two story Colonial across the street, Beverly and I are looking at a former business location on 2nd and Nebraska. It has a large retail floor space and a huge garage. The building is of concrete block construction and only has two large windows, those have a heavy stainless steel mesh roll up gates that cover them. The three doors are all heavy steel and it would take a battering ram to get through them. There is plenty of room for us and Dee. I will be installing solar panels on the roof this spring to power the place and a wood burning stove for heat come winter. I will also have to lay in a supply of firewood. It is going to be a busy year.
It will feel strange to live in a separate house again. You get used to the sounds of other people snoring in neighboring rooms, getting up in the middle of the night and muttering on their way to the john (yes I mean you Jewels).
Of course due to events on back on the 9th we postponed our wedding. But we rescheduled it for the 22nd. That will be this Saturday. Beverly is frantically planning and has enlisted the aid of all the womenfolk.
I am beginning to think there is real hope for the future and I think now is as good a time as any to wrap up this journal. As I close the book on this year I realize that there are still so many unanswered questions, but that is life. I will continue to keep a journal but it will be continued in a separate volume. Right now I need to concentrate on my family.
By the way, one other thing I forgot to mention, Beverly is pregnant. She just told me this morning. Have not been able to wipe this silly grin off my face all day.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride