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  • Anita Tosh

Beth Chapter 5


(Beth and Carl heard steps outside their tent.)

We didn’t dare unzip the door to peek. Carl soundlessly pointed to the one small ‘window’ and pulled back the flap just a sliver.

One of those freaky robot dogs was out there. This time a camera was where the head should have been.

It continued on down the trail.

Great.

Where do these pictures go? How long do we have before something else arrives?

Carl’s thoughts were aligned with mine. “We don’t know how long we have. We better pack up and move to a safer place. I’m sorry, honey. I know you feel crummy and we’ll need to leave our bikes here and use our backpacks. Do you think you can carry anything?”

Walking was not what I wanted to do. Sleeping was pretty high on my list of things to do, but for now that was impossible.

Carl got our backpacks and supplies and we repacked everything we could. I tried not to be melancholy but it wasn’t working. My head throbbed and we were leaving behind even more than before.

As we packed we heard the drones buzz by. “Wait, how many minutes apart are the drones?”

Carl looked at his watch and made a note of the time. He recorded a few intervals and began muttering, “Five minutes, two minutes, four minutes. There’s no way we can travel on the bike trail anymore. There is no telling when the next drone will come."

“I think God must have sent that robot dog here just in time for us to get to a safer place,” I said.

Carl took the heaviest part of our load. “I sure wish we could take the wagon,” he said. With a sigh he held out his hands to me. “We better pray.”

I took his hands. I could hardly focus. I had heard stories when just the Name of Jesus did miracles so I just said “Jesus, Jesus” as Carl put voice to our needs.

Our tiny tent and all that we would have to survive was on our backs.

I took one last look at our beautiful new bikes, and turned to follow Carl.

We hadn’t gone very far when I began to sweat. ‘Just keep putting one foot in front of the other,’ I told myself. ‘That’s all I need to do.’ The world began to get a little fuzzy around the edges. I reached out to Carl and missed. Then everything went black.

The next thing I knew Carl was splashing water on my face. “Babe! Wake up!” Then he was holding my head up and pressing a bottle of water to my lips. “Drink!” After I drank he leaned back with a sigh, “You scared me half to death!” Suddenly he turned his head to the side and his eyes widened. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”

I blinked and he was back, and very excited. “I found the perfect place! God is so good!” He continued talking as he removed my backpack. “Just beyond that rise there’s a little deserted shed. There’s room for us and our stuff. No bright green tent to give us away!” He scooped me up and began walking. I rested my head against his shoulder.

“Here we are.” Carl kicked the door wide and carried me inside. It wasn’t quite the ‘over the threshold’ picture I had grown up thinking about.

There were some interesting smells in this dark and dinky place. Rat poop, and old oil, assaulted my nose, but there was room to lie down and we would not be seen. So, in our circumstance this was a castle.

Carl fetched my backpack and was busy arranging things as I drifted off. Now and then I heard him moving around, but quickly drifted off again.

When I finally awoke, I had to pee. Carl was right beside me. He saw I was awake and whipped out the thermometer.

Beep. “Your fever is back up again.” He offered me a water bottle. I took a sip and whispered, “I have to pee.”

“I’m ready for you!” Carl rose and crossed the room saying, “I found this old paint can we can use for, uh, that, and we don’t have to go outside in the daytime. Look,” he demonstrated, “It even has a lid!”

“Um, thanks.” This was a whole new world. “Could you help me up, please?” I felt dizzy and weak. Carl helped me balance and I quickly returned to lay down.

I slept.

When I next awoke, Carl was again next to me. That was comforting.

“Hey sleeping beauty, it’s about time you woke up. Here, drink some water.” He handed me a bottle. “And, I have a surprise for you. Do you feel like you can eat something?”

I wrinkled my nose and shook my head. He looked crestfallen.

“Well, how about some chicken broth? Could you drink that?”

“I’ll try.” I thought about it. “Hot chicken broth? How do we have that?”

“Remember that cool solar cooker thing someone gave us?”

I squinted and shook my head. My eyes might be opened, but the brain was not engaged.

Carl picked up a bullet shaped thing about a foot long. He unscrewed the top and poured steamy broth into the top, like a thermos.

I woke up a little more and took a sip. “Mmm, this hot soup feels good going down.” I finished the cup and went back to sleep. A cold wind whistled in through the planks and I began to cough.

The next day Carl put a mustard plaster on my chest. This helped a little, but I was still a mess.

I was supposed to be asleep when I overheard Carl praying, “God, I don’t know what else to do. Beth is in your hands. Please heal her. In Jesus’ Name.”

I began coughing and coughing and I needed to spit. After getting rid of that stuff I felt much better. Thank you Jesus. My cough was gone, my fever was gone, I only felt a little weak. And I had an appetite. We added instant rice to the chicken broth and some freeze dried chicken pieces. That helped me feel stronger.

We began to make plans.

“I don’t want to rush you,” Carl said, “It’s late already. I think we should rest tonight and tomorrow, and if you feel up to it, we can leave tomorrow night.”

“Sounds good to me. Where are we going?”

I am guessing that San Francisco and Oakland are gone, so we’ll head toward the central valley. There’s a lot of open area between here and Sacramento. It may be the safest route.”

I nodded. There was something I wanted to ask, but wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

“Carl, do you think… do you think my family,” my voice cracked and I couldn’t finish the question.

He put his arms around me and said, “We have to believe God kept them safe.”

And I thought he was the new Christian.

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