Alone Chapter 6.

Chapter 6. Alone

After the bad weather the town’s main street felt eary which made the whole place feel threatening and very unwelcoming. Carroll and Kathy pulled up in the main street to start searching for clothing. Clothing would be one of those things that would be very hard to make from scratch so they needed to find cloths not only for everyone but also cloths for the future. It was not only cloths they would be looking for, they also needed blankets, sowing supplies, martial and even a sowing machine. The sowing machine would only be of use while they had fuel to run the generator but they might as well make life as easy as they can while they can. They also needed to find foot wear not just for now but for the future taking into account the kids growing up.     

Mark and John headed for the industrial estate where they drove around looking for a truck but had no luck, but they did find a car spare parts supplier were they found a number of useful items including some twelve volt batteries. While searching the second floor Mark looked out a window and spotted a large table top UD truck park around the back of a timber yard next door. They had to cut the chain on the gates to get into the yard and then replace the batteries before trying to start it but the batteries were just about flat. Mark connected some jumper leads from the Land Rover which gave it just enough power to turn the truck over and much it his surprise it started.

He had to repeat the process to get a forklift going so he could load the truck with timber, plywood, chip board and giprock. All these building materials were needed to build extra bed rooms and a bathroom on to the house. With six of them and two on the way a three bed room house was not going to be big enough.

Gail and Lyn had the wurst job as food shops would be full of rotting food and rats but as it turned out it was not as bad as they feared. After seven months everything that was going to rot had rotted away so the shops were not that bad. There did not seem to be any rats about but there was evidence that there had been. May be once the food supply ran out their numbers must of fallen, what ever it was they did not see many. The only food of any use was the tined food so they loaded it into trolleys and wheeled it outside. While searching through one of the shops they found a store room that the rats had not managed to get into. There they found pallets of dried food like soaps that just required the addition of boiling water. They also found a few pallets of paster which would keep for a long time. Everything was well past there use by date but they hoped it would still be alright.    

Mark had never driven a forklift before or a large truck so he was on a steep learning curve. It took some time to load everything and tire it down but before they headed to the next hardware store they went back to check how the others were getting on. Mark drove the truck while John tried his best to drive the old Land Rover.

Mark and John drove to the shopping centre, were they found Carroll and Kathy had joined Gail and Lyn and were pilling up everything thing they had found outside the shopping centre. They needed another pan tech truck so Mark and John headed of to try and find one. They went to the same place that Mark had gotten the first truck all those week ago, it was a truck rental company. They picked what looked like the best one and like before they had to change the battery and jumper lead start it before taking it back to the shopping centre.

By the time they had loaded everything the day was coming to its end so they headed back to there camp site. After dinner they debriefed and organized themselves for the next day. There was still a lot on their list that would be needed. There was some discussion about going straight to the property and returning another time for the rest of the list but no one thought that was a very good idea. Their experiences at Maryville were still fresh in their minds so they just wanted to get what they needed and go to the property. Once at the property they did not want to go back into town.    

After a hard day everyone slept well and were a bit slow to get started the next morning. Mark and John headed straight to a hardware store for more building related products, everything from pluming supplies to corrugated iron. While Gail and Lyn were of to the hospital for medical supplies like antibiotics, creams and pain killers. Carroll and Kathy headed to the garden centre for seeds and any plants that may have survived, like fruit trees and herbs. Kathy would be receiving her first driving lesson today

By mid day Mark and John had the truck fully loaded, covered with a tarpaulin and strapped down, ready for the trip to the property but they still needed to fill it with fuel. So they went looking for fuel, it was not long before they found some in a semi trailer that was parked just out of town at a truck stop. It took about half an hour to transfer it from one truck to the other. They then headed back to the camp site were they left the truck and went back into town to try and find a produce store.

Gail and Lyn had found everything on there hospital list and had gone back to the shopping centre to continue loading the pan tech truck with food and other items.

Carroll and Kathy made a large pile of items outside the garden centre and then headed for the library in the hope of finding some books on self sufficiency, how to make books, particularly, how to make alcohol and penicillin.

On there way to the produce store Mark and John stoped at a garage for a car trailer which they hooked to the back of the Land Rover. At the produce store they found some things of use but most of it had been eaten by rats. They were very lucky to find some seed corn, wheat, oats and milo that were stored in steel drums. Mark was over the moon to find this as it gave them the chance to grown grain crops which was vital for there long term survival. They then went to the garden centre and loaded everything Carroll and Kathy had collect, from there they headed to the shopping centre to meet up with everyone.

The girls had just about finished loading everything so it did not take long to get everything in the truck and tired down. The girls then headed back to the camp site with Gail driving the Truck, Lyn driving the old Land Rover complete with car trailer and Kathy still learning to drive the camper van.

Mark and John still had a few things on their list so they took Lyn’s Land Rover and went looking for some chain saws, hand saws, axes and a gun. A tool shop would be their first port of call for the saws and axes but a rifle would be more of a problem. After their experiences at Maryville Mark thought it best to have a firearm. They would also need it to put down sick animals and if things were to get bad they might need it for hunting. They found a hunting store in a back street of the industrial estate and soon found a rifle and some ammunition. He also found something that could be useful, some a bows and arrows.

They also needed fuel and lots of it, earlier Mark had spotted a tailer with a tank on it. It was meant for fire fighting but if it was alright it would work just as well with fuel, so they headed back to ware he had seen it. Once there they checked it out only to find it had two flat tyres but the tank seemed fine. John remembered seeing a Land Rover parked near the produce store so they went back there and retrieved two wheels of it and then returned and fitted them to the trailer. They hooked it to the Land Rover and headed to the truck stop and started moving fuel from the trucks parked there into the trailer tank using a twelve volt fuel pump.

It was a slow process pumping fuel from one tank to another and the day was getting away so they had to stop and head back to their camp site. Collecting the rest of the fuel would have to wait till the next day.

Back at the camp site everyone was in good spirits as they enjoyed a meal of varies soaps from that day’s hall. After dinner they all went threw their list and were all happy to find that they had manages to find just about everything, the only thing left to do was to get as much fuel as they could.

The sun came up on a new day, which looked like it would be a fine clear one. Mark and John headed straight down to a near by garage to set up the pump that would be used to get the fuel out of the under ground tank. Mark was driving the table top truck with John driving the old Land Rover with a car trailer attached. The Land Rover looked like it had no driver as John’s head was only just above the steering wheel and he was sitting on the edge of the seat in order to reach the peddles. John had a broad smile on his face as all this was like some sort of boys own adventure.

About half an hour later the girls arrived, Kathy struggling to drive the camper van, Carroll was driving the other Land Rover with a fuel tank in tow. Gail and Lyn were driving the two small pan tech trucks. After filling all the vehicles with fuel plus as many jerry can as they could this rag tagged convoy set off. It would be a slow trip as all the vehicle were some what over loaded and everyone were driving vehicles they had never driven before, they were all well outside their comfort zones.

Carroll was leading the convoy with Kathy and John following, then it was Gail and Lyn and at the rear was Mark, with George and Jen. The convoy were travelling at about forty kilometres per hour as that was about all the Land Rovers could handle. The old table top truck was no speed machine, as it was really struggling to get up some of the hills. At this rate it would take two or three days to get to the property.

As they enjoyed a goremay meal of baked beans for lunch there seemed to be a group feeling that soon things would be just fine. In reality the next year would be very hard with many infrastructure works to do as well as trying to feed themselves. The next twelve months work would be pivotal to their long term survival.

As they set of after lunch Mark spotted some rabbits in the adjacent paddock so he took some pot shot at them with the result being rabbit stew for dinner.

By the end of the first day they were about a third of the way there and even though it was slow going, it didn’t really matter. All the vehicles were running fine and their drivers were starting to feel a bit more confidant behind the wheel. John was the only one who was finding things a bit difficult, his sitting position on the edge of the seat and stretching to reach the peddles was coursing him some pain. Mark tried to jerry rig things by gaffer taping some blocks of wood to the peddles and giving him a pillow to sit on.

Day two of they slow trip to the property. Which they all hoped would become their home for the foreseeable future. They were all in good spirits as the kilometres slowly tick by as it seemed like they were safe for the first time in the last few weeks. There was something about empty towns, empty streets and empty shops that made them all feel vonerable so to be on the road and away from empty streets and buildings made everyone feel securer.

It was an uneventful day where they just drove alone at a sedate pace slowly covering the kilometres and with every kilometre they were getting closer to their destination. For Mark it felt like coming home after a holiday, but he could not help worrying about how things would be at the property. They made good time and set up camp in the same spot that Mark had on that first night, just down the road from the camping area were Mark had found died bodies. A lot had happened in a few weeks which made him think about how things were way back when he embarked on twelve month living alone and what might have been if he had never taken part in the TV show.

The rabbit population seemed to have ballooned so it was rabbit stew for dinner again but the mood at that night’s camp site was decidedly down beat. With everyone driving alone it seems they all had too much time to think and the reality of their situation had sunk in. They all realised just what lay ahead of them and the consequences of getting things wrong could be dramatic. There was not a lot of conversation around the camp fire that night, just the niceties like, ‘thanks,’ or ‘goodnight.’

Their third day on the road would be their last before arriving at the property, if all goes well, in the mid afternoon. At the lunch break the decision was made to leave most of the vehicles at the property boundary. As the track from the property boundary to the house was very narrow and with just about all the vehicles being large and high or towing trailers plus everyone being inexperienced driving these vehicles it would be best to leave them at the boundary for now.

The fuel trailer was uncoupled from the Land Rover and everyone would travel the rest of the way in the camper van and Land Rover. Mark would come back for the rest of the vehicles the next day. As they drove along the track into the property Mark felt a great deal of relieve to be home and safe. He did feel a bit overwhelmed with what would need to be done over the next year or so but for now it was just great to be home. Mark was driving the Land Rover with Carroll following, driving the camper van.

As they got closer the track emerged from bush type country to open farm land and they all got their first sight of where they would be living from now on. Mark stoped, got out and looked out over the property with a broad smile on his face. George jumped out of the back of the Land Rover and started running towards the house, Mark got back in and drove the rest of the way to the house.           

George was running around barking as they pulled up outside the house,  everything looked just as Mark had left it. Everyone got out of the vehicles and looked around, Mark said, “make your selves at home, I’m going to check out how the chooks have got on without me.” But before he did he reached into the back of the Land Rove and removed the cat carry cage, placed it on the ground and opened the door. Jen walked out with her tail in the air and followed Mark and George as they walked towards the chook pens.

Carroll opened the front door and went inside followed by Gail, Lyn, Kathy and John. Carroll who had become the cook of the group headed for the kitchen while everyone else explored the rest of the house. Everything seemed to be neat and tidy with no evidence that any animals had gotten in. Carroll got straight down to working out what they would have for dinner by checking out the food store.

By the time Mark returned everyone was relaxing in the lounge room.

“How are the chickens,” asked Carroll.

“Just fine, they need a bit of a clean out and some have gone broody, which is a bit late in the season but a good thing.” replied Mark.

And then went on, “sorry things will be a bit cramped until I can build some extra bed rooms.”

“Now, now, none of that, said Carroll, “we will have no talk about things to do with surviving tonight, that is for tomorrow, lets just relax and be grateful we are alive and safe. We can talk tomorrow about all the things we need to do etc.”

“I’ll second that, all in favour raise your hands” said Mark.

Everyone’s hand shot up.

“Motion carried,” said Carroll.

It must have been the stress of the last few weeks catching up with everyone as they all headed for bed straight after dinner. Carroll in the camper van, the kids in the spare room with Gail and Lyn in what was Marks room. Mark slept on the lounge with George in front of the fire while Jen slept at Marks feet under a blanket.

The next day would be a busy day moving and the vehicles from the boundary to the house as well as a meeting to go through what could loosely be called, ‘the future.’

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