Yes, it has been a while. To say life has been hectic in the mundane world would be a lie. However, I’m working to get back on schedule. So, enjoy the next chapter of Vortex.
People poured in from all over the valley. Some had lost houses, equipment, livestock or family. Others were fine. Nanny directed people and no one disobeyed. Food salvage was still a high priority. Sadie spent most of the next few days cooking or feeding people. When she finally got the chance to lay down, it was in a room packed with babies, women and children. Her bedroom had fourteen others sleeping in it.
She woke to the sounds of others getting up and figured it would do no good to try and hide under the covers. Walking down the hall, she could smell coffee and cinnamon. For the first time in ages, she felt hungry. When she entered the kitchen, Sadie didn’t know whether to laugh or smile. In the middle of the serving line, in an apron covered in roses, was Ken.
“Good morning, Sadie.”
“Morning Ken. Fine apron you’re wearing.” She couldn’t help commenting.
“Yeah. It’s what I get for sassing off this morning. Aunty Gem slapped me down pretty hard for being a…” He turned to the woman beside him. “What did you call me Aunty?”
“A pig! Muddy, lazy, and eats everything with no disregard to anyone!” said Aunty Gem, who was about ninety and barely came to his waist. She thumped him with her elbow.
Sadie laughed. “This smells so good.” She took a plate of food and moved off to let others in.
“Bout time you felt like eating.”
Sadie looked up to see Kirsty sitting down next to her with a plate.
“Yeah. Don’t know if it is all the work or maybe I’m finally use to being pregnant.”
“Well, by the time you get use to it, the baby arrives.” Kirsty smiled and dug into the eggs on her plate. Sadie smiled and ate as well.
“Mind if I sit with you?”
Sadie shook her head no, as Ken sat down sans apron and with a plate piled high with food.
“Think you have enough there?”
“No. Nanny said take what I want and offer you some too.”
“I took a full plate!” Sadie pointed at it with her fork.
“According to Nanny, you should be ten pounds heavier. So have some of this ham and potatoes.” Ken moved some of the food to her plate.
Sadie started to say something, and caught Nanny shaking her finger from across the room. She closed her mouth. Instead, she started eating.
“Want to come with me out to the far end of the valley?”
Sadie looked at Ken. “Why?”
“Well, because we both need a rest and Nanny wants someone to look and see how people faired. It’s a half morning’s ride.”
“On the bike? I don’t think…”
“No, in the wagon. Nanny’d kill me if I put you on a bike right now.”
Sadie nodded. “Okay. When do we leave?”
“As soon as the two of us finish this.” Ken pointed at the plate.
Sadie sat on the seat of the wagon, which was filled with essential supplies and a picnic basket. No one had heard from that end of the valley, so Nanny and the uncles wanted to make sure that if there were troubles, that they could be attended to quickly.
“Take this hat! You’ don’t want to turn into a beet!” Kirsty handed a big straw hat up to Sadie.
“Thanks! I don’t know what happened to mine.” She’d last seen it during the storm.
“Oh. It um… well, Nanny put what remained of it on the scare crow in the garden.”
Sadie turned to where Kirsty pointed. On the head was a scrap of straw and ribbon that she recognized as her hat. “Oh…”
“Yeah. Have fun!” Kirsty winked and then headed off.
Ken kept the horses moving at a quick pace while the weather was cool. As they moved farther south, they could see where the tornado had touched down. Broken buildings, scoured earth and damaged crops littered the landscape. They pulled up to groups of people and checked to see how they were faring. Where needed, they handed out supplies from the wagon. Only one farm had been really damaged so far.
“Do you think it will be like this all the way down?”
“I hope so Sadie. We’ve had these storms a few times and either you’re okay, or things are bad. So far, things have been okay.” Ken moved towards a huge tree. He pulled the wagon into the shade. “Figured we’d eat here.”
“Alright.” Sadie got the picnic basket out and a blanket while Ken dealt with the horses.
“What did they pack us for lunch?” Ken dropped down next to Sadie.
“It looks like potato salad, ham sandwiches and cinnamon cake left over from this morning.”
“Good. I’m starved.” He grabbed a sandwich and began to eat. Sadie joined in. They finished and laid back to relax for a few minutes.
“I… I was angry with you and I think I need to apologize a little.”
“No, I was the one in the wrong. Instead of apologizing, would you give me a second chance?”
“Like let me live with you? Sleep with you? Make gentle love to you?”
Sadie looked at him and nodded. She leaned over to kiss Ken, and his face met hers.
“I got to admit that I’ve been so horny, that I can barely stand to walk some days.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t think pregnant women got horny!”
Ken laughed. “Oh damn! You need to get out more.” He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. Sadie pulled back a moment later, flushed. “If… if it were just a bit more private, I’d…”
Ken nodded and then helped Sadie pack up. They were back on the road ten minutes later.
Ken stood on the wagon, looking across a landscape that should have been full of people, animals and crops. Instead, it was a chaotic mess. Buildings had been reduced to piles of splintered boards. The smell of rot and death hung in the air. “You sure you want to get down?”
“Yes.” She tied her handkerchief over her nose and pulled on her gloves. “We gotta see if anyone is alive.
The farm was the last one on their list. After lunch, they’d seen very little damage, and were shocked when they rounded the rock outcropping that ‘gated’ this farm. They’d pulled up in what should have been the center yard and began hollering for people. After a minute, they began moving through the farmyard. Dead animals were bloating in the sun. A few chickens were running around and a goat cried out from a corral.
“Anyone here?” Ken cried. He hadn’t seen any human bodies and hoped that people were just inside somewhere. He turned when he heard a noise. “Sadie, did you hear that?”
“Yes! Over there!”
The two of them ran towards a downed tree. Under it was a door. Ken knelt down. “Anyone in there?”
“Yes! We’re trapped! Help us please!”
Ken turned to Sadie. “Get the wagon. We’ll use the horses to pull this off the door.” Sadie ran. It took her a moment to get the two horses moving, but she managed. It took Ken less time to unhitch the team and rig a strap to the tree.
“Haw!” he yelled to get the horses moving. Sadie stood back, and watched as the tree began to shudder and then move. No sooner did the tree clear the door, then it opened and people began to pour out.
“Thank the gods! We’ve been stuck!” said one tall man.
“Been in there for five days!” said another man.
Children and women poured out until there were nearly twenty people standing around thanking and blessing Ken and Sadie.
“Never thought that tree’d be a problem.”
“Never gonna do that again.”
“Damn, everything is gone!”
“Mama, where’s our house?”
Sadie and Ken moved the wagon with the help of the men and began to unload supplies that Sadie had originally thought daft to cart all the way south. As people began to organize and clear space, a cry came from one wrecked house. Everyone went running.
Sadie turned away when she came up to where everyone was. A man’s legs protruded from the remains of a house. The men began to uncover him.
“I’d hoped he’d gotten to the other shelter.”
“Heave!” The men lifted part of a wall, and then stopped. Under the wall, were two children and their mother. All were just barely alive. The men quickly carried the survivors over to the wagon. Sadie and the women spread out a quilt for them. One ran for water and the oldest woman began to check them for injuries.
“Mostly dehydrated,” she said. Dripping water into their mouths brought them back to consciousness, coughing and sputtering.
The mother came to first. “Thank you,” she whispered, her voice harsh and dry. Soon the two children were awake. Sadie fed them bites of the cinnamon cake and sips of water while others began to make sense of the disaster.
By the end of the day, a pile of shattered wood and dead animals was burning off to one side. Salvaged furniture and belongings were piled under a tree. Two other dead bodies had been found and were awaiting burial under sheets off to one side. Across the yard, women were cooking on a wood stove that had been hauled out from under the wreck of a house. Sadie sat with the children while the rest of the adults worked. She’d protested, but was groused at by Ken until she sat. After a bit, she realized that he was right. The best thing she could do was keep ten or so children occupied so their parents could work.
That night as she curled up in Ken’s arms, she sighed and relaxed for what seemed the first time in weeks. She could feel his erection pushing against her ass.
“Not now. Just my body wanting to cash a debt I can’t pay. There will be time later.” He curled around her and they were asleep in minutes.