“I slept within the dirty hotel bed. At my age, this happens automatically no matter the story around me.
I woke the next morning to a loud tong… tong… a church bell. It woke me from my nap. The ‘tong’ was followed by percussion and guitar. It was rock and roll and it was being played the right way, loud.
I dressed and walked the steps to the first floor the music got louder.”
“As we all know, electric power is now a privilege. We don’t always get it. It’s a nice thing that the territory of Detriot is paying for our service in this beautiful theater in the middle of town so I better not get too distracted.”
Erik paced the floor for a moment to gather his thoughts.
“At the front desk of the Brick Hotel sat a gentleman, half my size and girth. Behind him was a crude speaker blasting music. I had to wave at the man.
Brent, a happy-go-lucky young man smiled and told me he did this every morning because the world should hear, he called, Freedom music. Can’t say I don’t agree but I asked Brent what the next steps were in town.
He told me the first night concluded last night. There was so much disappointment because there was no sign of the Terrosaurus.”
“Believe me, I asked him twice to clarify. He confirmed that the wheel and the spikes were set up for the assumption I had made. They were baiting the giant birds and shooting them.”
The audience gasp.
“It’s insane and I told Brent this. He laughed but it was a short laugh. I sensed a don’t push this Erik.
Brent told me since they saw nothing last night the citizens would gather at the church built within the former California Surf Museum around the corner. They pray for protection and luck, which I countered as unwise. Brent’s mood soured, they took this protection seriously, and I felt it wise that I move on out.
I made my way around the corner and toward the former California Surf Museum. The glass front was partial obstructed with plywood. Pasted upon the plywood were flyers and photographs recalling happier days prior to the Invasion.
I grew up in the North East way back in the day. You youngsters will not recall walking to a local, let’s say, liquor store, going to the door and walking in. Buying your bottle of $25 dollar whiskey and walking back out the door.
This days it’s a miracle to find a good bottle of hooch, let alone walk straight into any business.
The Church at Oceanside was the same thing. Armed guards, suspicious questions…
I, as a gruff middle-aged man, approached the guards answered their questions and walked into the entrance.
The Church at Oceanside felt very low key as I walked into the entrance. No one stood nearby. There were dusty surfing displays , surf boards scattered over the floor. The museum part was largely neglected. I followed a dusty footpath to the right and to an entrance built in the wall. The door was almost hidden, if not for the clear signage pointing to this as an entrance. The entrance had a thick wall built within the opening, similar to our zombie entrances. It does a fair job complicating the entry enough to give us time. This entrance lead into the neighboring store.
The room here had been completely transformed into a church lobby. Groups of people milling or standing in groups. I walk in and eyes immediately set on me.”
“Please, don’t let me intrude. I’m just here to observe,” I said in as pleasant a way as I could. Of course that helped little, but it deflected enough to allow me to watch.
“The service started. I expected some singing, praising and instructions on being a better person in a messed up world but this was very solemn. Several older men knelt at the alter as a group of elder whispered to them. The audience, sitting in steel chairs sat silently watching. I took a position near the door, standing.
Once the procession of elders spoke into the ears of the older men they were stood up, helped up. Once stood, the congregation rose and prayed over the men. The elders then ushered the men to the right and out a door.
I began to follow. Limping along the wall at the back of the room. I stopped when I passed a gated room. Curious I stopped, placed my hand on the gate and looked. Within the room was a weapons room. It looked to be the entire towns weapon stash. All the protection the citizens wore yesterday sat neatly against a far wall. The rifles and an elephant gun sat against the wall on the right.
I shifted my weight and the steel gate clanged loudly. The entire room jumped and quickly I had every soul looking through me.
I stood staring back waiting for someone to do something. It was a painful ticking of seconds as we stared at each other. Then this enormous man stood within the front row. He dwarfed every other person in the room. He turned and walked toward me. I watched. My heart beat hard, trying to escape my chest.
Some on the congregation saw this and broke from me.. ie troublemaker and followed this bohemian man.
The tall man approached. He had dark charcoal skin. His face was sickly thin but muscular. He had sharp, blue eyes. His thin, pale lips hiding some larger teeth.”
“Would you like to offer yourself to the flying demons?” The tall black man asked. His accent drenched in French-Creole.
“What are you asking?” I asked, part procrastination, part investigation.
“You have interrupted our offer ceremony. I think you, a cripple, should join the ceremony. It would be an honorable death.”
“I am certainly not a cripple,” I shot back but…”
“Jean Luc, is that you?” I asked as the dam broke and I remembered my old friend.