Charlie jumped up barking out the window, “There is someone in the path!” my son Chad called out, holding his shotgun ready. We all went to the windows to look, “Does anyone know them?” he said. I looked closely at the Asian family walking down the path, I didn’t recognize the woman or child but the man I did, he was my favorite bank teller Joe, back when the world was normal, back before the ‘New Normal’ took over.

“I know him” I said

“Who is he?” my husband Sam asked curiously

“Our teller, don’t you remember? Even when he saw us outside the bank, he called us by name?

“Oh ya, are you sure it’s him?” asked Sam

“Positive, let’s go out.”

“Wait, we are doing this according to plan” said Chad. He was a grown man now with a family of his own, but we had raised him with skills to adapt and survive in any life the world handed him, especially  the New Normal, which Sam and I had always known was coming. We weren’t fanatical dooms-dayers, just practical and ready to flee the city to our safe zone, if it ever happened, and it did. Sam and I walked out on the porch with Chad behind us aiming the shotgun at the trio in the path, “STOP!” bellowed Chad.

“Please don’t shoot! We aren’t here to cause trouble” Joe stammered “Please we just need a place to rest for the night, we thought this place was empty” he gestured at his wife who was holding a small child. They looked weak and scared, his wife had tears slipping down her cheek. “Please don’t hurt us” she squeaked.

“Charlie, circle” Sam said, and Charlie bounded his 170 lb body off the porch and circled around the trio, sniffing, he then ran back and sat at Sam’s side.

 Joe wiped his eyes a little, to clear the dust, cleared his throat “Sarah? Is that you?”

“Yes, Joe it’s me”

“Oh thank goodness, I was so scared when I saw guns.” He hugged his wife “Sarah, you know I would never hurt anyone, can you please let us rest for the night, then we will move on”

“We all have to vote on it Joe, it isn’t just my choice, give us a minute okay, just sit in the chairs there by the fire pit and we will be back”

“Thankyou” he said, and they moved towards the chairs as we went back in the cabin.

“How well do you know him” Chad asked

“Not well at all, only seeing him at the bank and on the street”

“That’s not much to go on”

“Well he was polite and friendly to everyone, not just me, or rich well dressed, to Everyone” I said “I never once got a bad feeling around him, and Charlie didn’t either.”

“How about they use the Bunkie for a few days until we find out where they are headed?” said Sam

Our daughter-in-law Kendal spoke up “It doesn’t look like they have any supplies, and I bet the child needs a diaper change, I vote yes” she said strongly while holding our granddaughter who was not much older than Joes child. We all voted yes on a temporary stay, Kendal got a few supplies together for the child and I got a small meal, jug of water while Sam got a bucket with warm water, face cloth and a towel, Chad of course was still standing guard watching them like a hawk. Sam, Chad and I exited the cabin and walked towards them. You could see the relief in their faces and a few more tears from the woman.

“I can’t thank you enough” Joe said “This is my wife Cathy and our son Nathan”

“Nice to finally meet you, Joe always talked about you.” I said “Our policy is not to let strangers in the cabin, but we have a small Bunkie out back you are welcome to for the night, here are some supplies, follow us”

“Oh my god thank you so much, I gave Nate the last cookie we had, I didn’t know what we were going to do” Cathy said

We all walked around back to the 300 sq ft Bunkie behind the house.

“Its not much, but it has a bed a table and chairs, it is dry and safe. There is also a little closet with a compost toilet if you need” I explained.

“It’s PERFECT, thank you again” Joe said

“You guys settle in, get some rest, you are safe here. I will be back before dark with some blankets and stuff, we can talk then.” I told them, and my family and I went back to our cabin. As we were leaving Nate was already into the small bag of toys Kendall had packed him, and Cathy watched him with a mix of joy and sadness.

Back at the cabin we began our discussion. “We can’t make any decisions until we know their plans.” Chad stated

“True, but we can talk about scenarios so we can all be on the same page for which ever the outcome is.” I said

“I worry about how safe they would be out there, a toddler, no supplies, defenseless” Kendal spoke as any new mom would.

“What if they have no where to go?” I said

“What if they are useless drain on supplies” Chad said “Mom I know you have a big heart, and Kendal I know you worry about the boy, but come on guys, we knew there would be a lot of people in their position, we can’t save everyone.”

“That’s right, everyone saw the same signs we did, they chose not to prepare” Sam said, “Our concern is for us.”

“But we have plenty” Kendal said

“Kendal, we planned to take in family only, what about when your parents make it here, should they do with out, because we take in a lot of strangers?” Sam said

She put her head down, hugged Kristy and softly said “No” you could hear the worry in her voice, that her parents had fallen into trouble, since they still hadn’t shown up.

“Okay, well lets just see what they have to say, before we decide what to do with them.” Chad said, wanting to change the subject when he saw Kendal was worried “Lets get supper”

After eating we cleaned up and got a few more things together for the visitors. Chad, Kendal and Kristy went out to the fire pit, Sam, Charlie and I went to the cabin to give them the supplies and ask them to join us. We knocked on the door, after a few moments Joe sleepily answered, “Hello, come in please”

Charlie ran over to Nate who was just sitting up on the bed beside his mother who was still sleeping, he jumped up on the bed making Nate laugh and startling Cathy.

“We would like you all to join us at the pit” Sam said

Cathy crawled past Charlie and Nate who were having a toddler doggie conversation. Charlie was used to little humans because of Kristy, and he was gentle as could be with his size. “I’m sorry I was so tired” she apologized

“No need, I feel bad waking you, here we brought a few more things.” I said, handing her another blanket, and some snacks for the evening.

“Thankyou” she smiled “You are an angel”

“Okay, we will be out there, come out when you are ready” Sam said.

Around the pit everyone sat as the toddlers played together in the sand, there was no fire burning to attract strangers, and it was still light enough to talk. Our typical gathering at the pit Sam and Chad had their guns at their sides, and Kendal had her cross-bow, our plan was if trouble erupted when we were out, I grab Kristy and head for the cabin, while the others defended until we were all back inside, this time was no different for the safety protocol, we just had a few more bodies around.

Sam spoke first “So Joe, where are you heading? Do you have family near by?”

Joe sat up a little “We don’t have a plan, it all happened so fast.” He paused, a little dazed in disbelief. “We don’t have any family, here, they all live in Korea, we came here 7 years ago, just after we got married.”

“What do you do besides banking?” Chad said, not wanting to beat around the bush.

Cathy spoke up, “I am a florist, actually we came here because I love to grow anything, and in Korea there is no land available.” Her comments pleased Chad who continued to ask her questions.

“What things have you grown?”

“In our back yard I have” she paused sadly “Had, a garden full of vegetables and two fruit trees.” She paused again, “But the neighbours raided it and our house, everything I had canned is gone, they didn’t leave one thing for us” tears welling up in her eyes. Joe reached over and touched her shoulder gently, “It’s going to be okay, I promise” she looked at him “I’m scared” she whispered.

After an hour or two of discussion, we found out that not only did they have gardening knowledge, but in Korea Joe was a paramedic, and Cathy had been a seamstress. We took a family vote and invited them to stay, their skills would be a huge asset to ours. They gladly accepted, Joe agreed to learn how to use the guns and bows. We set out all the rules and protocols for each situation we may encounter, one in particular that I don’t think they fully believed we would do until it happened a few weeks later. We were all outside, going about our chores, when Charlie alerted us strangers nearby, Cathy, Kendal and I took the kids in the cabin, two men approached. Our men and Charlie stood on the porch armed and ready, Charlie had a low growl emanating from him.

“Stop!” Chad bellowed

“Hey man relax, we are just passing through” one said

“Not on this land you aren’t, you have 2 seconds to turn around” Sam said as they all raised their guns

The second man pretending to turn, was reaching behind his back, the first man was doing the same, without hesitation, both Sam and Chad fired, killing both men instantly, inside the cabin Cathy screamed, I turned to her and took her shoulders, “Cathy, Cathy, stop, they had to”

“Why, oh my god, why?” she cried “Joe!” she picked up Nate and ran out to Joe who was standing in shock, gun still aimed but unfired. I followed her, Chad lowered Joe’s gun and took it from him, Cathy grabbed onto Joe, they looked at Sam and Chad with fear.

“We told you in the beginning this might happen” Chad said bluntly as he walked off the porch to Sam and Charlie who were at the bodies. They rolled them over revealing a handgun in each of their waistbands. “It was them” Sam called.

“Them?” Joe asked

I explained “A few days before you arrived, two masked men with handguns attempted to rob us and probably kill us, and who knows what they would have done to Kristy. We shot at them and told them we don’t give second chances, don’t come back, they laughed as they walked away, we knew they would be back.”

“What would you have done to us if we hadn’t done what you said?” Cathy asked

“If you were a threat, then the same thing, except Nate, we would never harm an innocent child.”

“Just make them an orphan, right?” Joe said

“Yes, I know it sounds evil, but times are different now, think how much worse it is going to get, there are going to be a lot of scared, hungry, violent people, we have to protect our own, can you do that?”

Cathy handed Nate to Joe, walked toward Sam and Chad “Its time I learned how to shoot.”

August 25, 2020 16:19

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Philip Ebuluofor
15:07 Sep 04, 2020

Shooting, new normal. I dectated about three new normals there. Including host knowing it will happen in advance. Presentation ok.


Rhonda Allen
13:01 Sep 05, 2020

Hi Philip The new normal I was referring to was the lifestyle. As for predicting, -people have been predicting this end time senario for a long time (eg Y2K) it just hasnt happened yet. athsnks for your comment.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Yes No
22:49 Aug 29, 2020

Hiya Rhonda! Your story was so attention-grabbing that I was tense and on the edge of my seat while reading it! Your use of simplistic prose is similar to enabling the shortest amount of words to deliver the utmost amount of impact, and not just with a gun ;) I enjoyed how your characters weren't typical or cliche and had their own moralistic values about protecting their family without hesitation even if was at the cost of someone else's life. However, concerning the same issue, I feel like your usage of adding a pacifist charact...


Rhonda Allen
10:38 Aug 30, 2020

Hi Deniz, thank you for your wonderful imput. I loved that you mentioned simplistic and weren't typical or cliche, (this is my writing style- which is not cliche haha- I do not follow typical rules) Most of my stories are created to cause readers to think about what would they do in a situation, rather than telling them what to think. My intention for bringing in the semi-strangers into this story, was to set the scene; that no matter how we think we will act in a situation, there will always be something come up that could change it. In t...


Yes No
10:47 Aug 30, 2020

Your welcome, and great job in taking criticism so well!


Rhonda Allen
14:44 Aug 30, 2020

I take helpful opinions as perpective not criticism. As a writer I know not everyone will like my work 100%, the same as I dont always like things I read, but I also love the fact that there is a diverse world of opinions and imaginations. Have a great day, hope to talk to you again.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.