What day is it?
Sam stood triumphantly at the mouth of the cave. it had taken her hours to remove the remaining rocks that had kept her safe yet hidden from the outside world.
All that she had known for the last year was buried up there, on Sawbuck ridge.
It was almost spring when Me Ma, Jim bob and our old hound dog Rufus decided to hole up in the Sawbuck Ridge caves of Kentucky when the pandemic hit.
People were actin crazy, goin from holler to holler stealing folks chickens and robbing them for everything they had.
Jim bob; Ma's beau told us we should hide up in the caves till the trouble passed, he had a little shack way back up there with a working still and fresh water stream where we wouldn't have to worry bout nobody bothering us. it was stocked with berries, apples and sugar enough for about four months of moonshining, and Ma had just made Jerky from a big buck we had bagged, so we knew we had enough to eat on for a while.
We went up in them caves on March 9th 2020.
When the sickness first came it was real slow moving, so slow that lots of folks didn't believe it was a real thing, so they went on about their business acting like nothing was wrong, but then it happened, its like one day everybody got sick, people started falling out dead on the streets all the schools had to close, the grocery stores ran out of everything! toilet paper, bottled water and all the ready made food, the Hospitals were turning people away, the Police, the Fire department and the Ambulances would not even respond to calls! people started panicking, they looted everything, gas stations were robbed and set on fire the whole world seemed to have went plum crazy.
I was Seventeen when this all started, I was supposed to be enjoying my senior year of high school, I was supposed to be partying and preparing for Prom and Graduation, I was supposed to be going on dates and getting ready to go to college in the fall. instead, here I stand on the precipice of forever wondering if it is safe enough to come out now?
When we first left the Holler for the caves I was excited, I figured I could make the best of a bad situation, I knew we would be isolated, but I really didn't understand what isolation meant. I figured I could Work on my drawing and learn how to crochet. I was sure I could find enough to do to beat back the boredom. boy was I wrong.
Ma had always been the outdoorsy type, she could hunt and fish with the best of them and she could dress out a deer by herself and not waste an ounce of meat! but she was nearing sixty now and done raised seven young'uns, me being the last of them. my Pa had died from consumption when I was just a little baby , so I only knew him through stories and photographs. but what was impressed upon me was that no matter what, he never gave up on anything or anybody, even as he lay dying his thoughts were on us, not himself. I love my daddy. I miss my Ma.
We must have been in the cave for about three months when Ma started coughing, at first we reckoned it was from smoking tobacco, she had smoked since she was eleven but she quit it when we came into the caves, so we figured it was a side effect of her quitting, but not more than two weeks after that her lips turned blue and she couldn't breathe anymore, she died and we buried her up on Sawbuck ridge.
Jim bob, not to be out done died five days later and I prepared his body as we had prepared Ma's. I buried him at her side he was seventy.
I was all alone in the world except for old Rufus, and wouldn't you know, that old dog was not staying behind when his papa and mama had gone to the great beyond. I buried Rufus this morning.
After Burying Rufus, is when I decided that I'd had enough of the caves, I was going to climb down that ridge and see what has happened to my small Kentucky Holler, I don't know if the sickness is still around , I guess I'm going to have to take my chances, all I know is that I don't want to be alone anymore.
Walking through the holler is surreal, its like time just stopped. there are abandoned cars littering the highway, everything is overgrown, the trees are beginning to bud. The prairie grass is chest high and dense, the birds and squirrels are chirping and chattering wildly, the faded shutters on the dilapidated houses are warped and leaning at strange angles, there are no people no voices, no smell of firewood burning on a warm hearth, no laughter no music, no nothing. Only the twittering of the forest creatures. Sam trudged through he holler peering through broken windows, creeping through empty houses praying to see a familiar face or hear a familiar voice.
Eventually she arrived at the front door of her old house, emotionally exhausted and unsure of what to do next she opened the door and stepped inside.
The house was cold, stuffy, and covered in a layer of dust thick enough to leave footprints on the floor as I walked. it was early afternoon and the winter sun was at its highest point in the sky, casting long shadows across the room. I needed to know what day it was, I had attempted to mark the days in the cave but had stopped counting after Ma and Jim bob died, there was too much to be done and I was the only one to do it, so I focused on surviving instead of wallowing in self pity. but when Rufus left me, I could no longer stand to be there. With tears staining my cheeks I climbed the stairs to my old bedroom where there on the nigh table, was a picture of my Father smiling through a coal caked face, his bright blue eyes doting on a newborn Samantha Jane Whitmore, the date on the photo was July 21, 2003.
also on the night table was an old digital watch, and it was still working! it was 2 pm and it was 7/21/2021
At that moment I knew that no matter what happened, I was going to be ok, My daddy, even in death never gave up on me and I would not, with breath in my body give up on myself I will survive, even if I am he last person on earth.