After the Cataclysm: Outline

Outline for book: After the Cataclysm

Chapter 1: The Escape

This chapter describes the flight of Eric, Big Dog, Martin, Elizabeth and the children from their home in the hills of the city. The scene starts with a hurried departure from their home and a descent down a dark path crossing many roads avoiding many patrols as the group seeks to enter a nearby park that will lead them north from the city.

They are waiting for Martin’s sister, Rebecca, who is a nurse working at the nearby hospital. She is one of the most important and influential leaders in the community because of her role in supporting the health of the community. Rebecca has been actively trying to find a cure for a new disease that has begun to spread through the population of the city. Most of the medicines that were available in previous times have run out and Rebecca has been at the forefront of identifying new and natural remedies for these diseases. Working with her father, Martin, who has been searching for and retrieving plants and materials from beyond the compounds, she has successfully developed cure’s that have at east slowed the spread of this new disease. The disease is manifested through a disfiguring rash that begins with the hands and eventually covers the entire body. As it does so. It brings about gradual madness. But treatment using a key that is made from the infusion of a special tree bark has being successful in stopping the spread of the disease, and eventually of eradicating those areas already affected by the rash.

Because of the imminent danger of arrest, the family has had to leave its home very quickly and without being able to warn Rebecca of their flight. Eric and Big Dog were dispatched to go to the hospital to warn Rebbecca of the family’s flight. This flight will certainly be interpreted by the leader of the enclave, Drucellas, as a betrayal of his leadership. Drucellas is anxious to marry Rebecca, so her rejection of him in favor of a flight from the city will undoubtedly incite him to imprison her.

Eric and Big Dog are able to pass a message to Rebecca, but they are forced to flee when they are discovered by guards. Eric and Big Dog flee through the city and are able to rejoin the escapees as a cross a major road. But the pursuit forces, the small band to abandon their wait for Rebecca and proceed further into the forest.

Chapter 2: The Pursuit

This chapter describes the wild flight that this small band of escapees undertakes. The areas close in behind them and the group must take evasive action as it travels through a heavily wooded area out of the city and into the surrounding forest. During this period, we are introduced to the members of the escaping group. The most important character is Eric, a young boy, that is on attached to any family and has been increasingly getting into trouble with his companion, a very large dog. Leading the group is Martin, a young healer. He is familiar with the route and is leading the group. Also included in that group is Elizabeth, a nurse that has been living with Martin’s family. Martin’s father, an elderly man is also accompanying the group, as are both Fred and David his two sons, aged 12 and 14. The group is carrying heavy packs with camping gear, food and medicine. It is their intent to escape from the urban enclave known as Carthage. This chapter also includes an explanation that establishes the growing conflict between the leadership of the city and Martin’s family. It establishes an escalation of mistrust and hostility that culminates in the attempted arrest of Martin and his father. Since these two rely upon their ability to be able to leave the city to look for herbs and medicines beyond the area under the control of the enclave, efforts by the authorities to restrict their egress threatens their ability to provide for their families welfare.

Chapter 3: The Escapees Camp for the Night

In this chapter the escapees appear to have eluded their pursuers sufficiently so that they can rest up for the night. Having bedded down in the forest and set guards the group falls quickly as sleep. But then an hour or so later the stealthy approach of something/someone is detected and the group is roused and prepares to flee once again into the darkness. But as the stranger approaches it appears that it is only one person or one animal that is approaching. Then all goes silent and the group is left waiting. All at once Martin feels something wet and cold touch his hand as he leans against the trunk of a tree. Surprised he withdraws his hand but then feels the soft fur of an animal. Immediately he recognizes Big Dog and stoops down to pet him. Big Dog wags his tails furiously and slips back out into the dark. Moments later Eric follows him into camp.

Chapter 4: Crossing Buck Mountain

Needing to put distance between themselves and any pursuers the group breaks camp early and begins to ascend Buck Mountain. This portion of the journey will entail moving out of the forest and crossing a large open slope with visibility extending far back towards the city. There is a danger that pursuers will see a small party and try to catch them. The group is also very tired and Martin’s father has become sick and is no longer able to walk without assistance. In addition the group is carrying a large amount of gear that is slowing them down. Around midmorning as they begin to approach the open area the group gathers to discuss the best strategy for evading capture. Martin is concerned that mounted horsemen will soon be deployed to capture them in addition to bloodhounds. If this is the case then any sighting of their group will likely accelerate the hunt and focus it more narrowly around their intended escape route. It will only take Drucellas a few days to capture them once he has narrowed down their escape route. The group decides that they must engage in subterfuge in order to elude the tightening noose around their flight path.

Chapter 5: Roped Together

After their late afternoon discussion about how to avoid capture the fugitives split up. Martin and Eric begin to read pack the goods that the group is carrying. They carefully select to heavy packs and begin to transfer the food clothing and equipment power of these and replace these goods with some large bundles of brightly colored material but before these are repackaged they attach a rope about 20 feet long between the two packs and drape the brightly colored cloth over the lives at regular intervals, knocking the material so that it stays in place. David and Fred are quickly saddled with these two packs and the line of rope is suspended between the two of them — about 20 feet apart. Once these arrangements are complete the two boys hurry over the open ground. Moving quickly the boys are soon out in the middle of the cleared area and within an hour they can be seen climbing the lower slopes of Buck Mountain. The others elite watch them as the figures become smaller and more distant. Now the group can see them winding up the side of the mountain but from this distance is no longer feasible to see the rope linking the two backpacks with the bundles of colored cloth mangling down between the two boys. From this distance it looks like a party of five or six people ascending the mountain single file. The group encamped along the edge of the forest quickly gathers their possessions and instead of following they turn and begin to descend into the valley and down to the river bank.

Chapter 7: In the Marshes

As the group descends down the steep ravine that opened just below their last camp site, Eric is busy carefully removing all sign that anyone had passed that way. On the other side of their camp leading out into the open Martín was walking out through the earns and into the clear area tramping down the plants and clearly leading signs that of people had passed this way. Eventually both Martin and Eric retreated down into the routine expunging all signs of their passage behind them. Sticking to the Rocky sides of the ravine the group made their way down trying not to disturb the vegetation or leave prints in the loose soil. But Martin was not too worried, he expected their pursuers to pass through the area above them in here early evening with light was already fading. With the tracks clearly leading into the open area and heading toward Buck Mountain it was unlikely that the trekkers would look for a trail heading off in the opposite direction. No doubt the boys would be spotted on the lower slopes of Buck Mountain and all eyes would be fixed in that direction. The group continues to descend in the dark crossing the highway sometime around midnight and by two o’clock the group has reached the small channel that separates duck Island from the shore. Eric pulls Big Dog aside and kneeling down whispers a name in his year. The dog begins to whimper a look around excitedly and Eric leads him to the edge of the water and points across. He lets go and big dog begins to swim across the Channel as quickly as he can. The evening is much progress in getting dark as the dog scrambles out of the water and disappears into the woods on the island. The group settles back into the deep reeds and keeping still remains concealed near the edge of the river.

Chapter 8: Night Flight

High above them Dave and Fred are steadily climbing up a rocky slope of Buck Mountain. Between them 20 feet of rope is stretched and suspended from it at intervals are five or six bundles of brightly colored cloth that nearly touched the ground as the two boys tried to keep the rope taut between them. Ever since they left the shelter of the forest in the late afternoon the weather has been slowly clearing and now the sun is clearly visible far to the west sinking down among the peaks of the Coast Range. From where they stand high on the shoulder of Buck Mountain Fred and Dave could look down onto a vast open expanse surrounding the mountain that stretches eastward for many miles right up to the forest from which their pursuers will likely follow. If this summit one more time as their two packs are silhouetted against the evening sky as they ascend a ridge line along the edge of the mountain. They cannot see if their pursuers have detected them but they’re confident they have been spotted long ago. Slowly the boys can be seen creeping up a knife edge Ridge along the eastern edge of the mountain until eventually they disappear over the shoulder and presumably begin their descent on the north side of the mountain. No sooner have the boys crossed over the ridge then they quickly put their packs down and begin to unpack them. Unknotting the camouflage colored strips of fabric from the rope, the boys begin to assemble the material using long staves that they have pulled from their packs and that now form a framework over which they can stretch the fabric that they carried up between them. As the sun begins to sink in the West in the air begins to turn chill in the gloaming, two fabric birds begin to take shape resting on the rocks high up on the East and Ridge of Buck Mountain. When they are all done the boys stow the foldable packs into their clothing so that nothing remains aside from themselves and the unobtrusive fabric wings. Dave quickly gathers up some dried wood, and begins to construct a fire at the back of a small ravine that opens off the north side of the ridgeline. The fire will be invisible to everyone until they cross the ridge line, then the glow of the fire below them will alert the intruders to the cul-de-sac located just below the ridge-line.

After completing this task Dave now joins Fred peering over the crest and down the southeastern face of the mountain. The boys take advantage of the last evening light to peer across the open expanse to the southeast and there below them they can now spot their trackers advancing swiftly on horseback – no longer bothering to look for their footprints fading in the gathering dusk. Clearly the horsemen are confident that they will find the party on the other side of the mountain. No doubt they think they might yet to be able to surprise them in the dark using the mountain to cover their approach. Peering out from the rocks the boys can now clearly count 20 horsemen and behind them more men and dogs on foot. They watch the mounted troops ascend to their ridge as the light fades. As the last of the sun’s light fades in the west the boys turn to go. The men on horseback have dismounted, but are still coming on – now no more than a few minutes from the ridge the boys occupied in moments earlier. The high mountain silence is broken only by the sibilance of the passing evening’s breeze as the warm air from the eastern valley ascends the slope and carries two camouflaged birds aloft. The mountain peak and the sky above it are dark when the horse men crawl over the ridge-line and begin to look for the refugee’s campsite.

Chapter 9: Birds of a feather flock together

It was nearly dark when Big Dog reappeared on the opposite bank. Eric caught sight of him angling in and out with trees and occasionally looking back up the river as if you were expecting company. Eric peered up a darkening river looking at trees overhanging a water the clayey wall that had been carved out the reverse seasonal rises and falls. In the river where stumps and the occasional log floating down clumps of reeds bound to shallow shelves along the edge of the river bound at the waterway. But nowhere could Eric detect the presence of a human. The channel seemed as deserted as a prehistoric gravesite. And yet there was big dog clearly waiting for something to happen and unafraid to show himself in this strange place. Eric chuckled to himself, “Now where is James Watson? He’s not going to sneak up on me again!” Eric turned and giving a low whistle he got Martin’s attention. “James has arrived.” He announced even though he had no idea where he was. Moments later James rose silently from the water shielded by the shadows just a few feet from where the men stood.

James ferries the refugee group across the river to the island. Once on the island he guides the group deep into a labyrinth of canals and little islands. After 10 minutes of walking he quickly uncovers two canoes and the group continues on paddling down the dark waterways. The sides of the canal formed deep mud inks dropping down from the trees to the river below. In places there is a shallow beach that runs along the base of these mud embankments and at this point a wide muddy beach extends into the shallow portion of the river. Abruptly James grounds the canoes on the muddy embankment and quickly begins to gather firewood from the nearby forest – dropping it over the embankment down onto the flat below. “Prepare to make a fire”, he calls down. “Below this embankment!” and he points directly below him. Martin and Eric quickly comply. Within minutes a small blaze is illuminating the narrow beach and the trees hanging down over the canal. But in the middle of the canal a large expanse of sky can be seen as stars begin to appear in the darkening night sky. Situated below the embankment of the river the roaring blaze is invisible to anyone in the forest above. It is only visible from the isolated canal and from the sky above.

Once the fires blazing a small group of gathers around the warmth and begins to prepare some food. Within a few moments James has produced a haunch of meat from his canoe and soon it is roasting over the fire. Night birds fly overhead as a hunch small rodents in the forest. From between the trees a narrow highway at night sky can be seen with her brilliant stars illuminating the firmament. But even as they peer heavenward they’ve become aware of a large shadow sweeping across the open sky blocking out the starlight is it swoops over the river. And then it is followed by another dark shape waling across the night sky before swooping in between the trees and gliding silently down the river before coming to a stumbling rests on the mud bank before them. And right behind the first dark shape the second of the two gliders with two night birds comes sweeping in along the river only to settle quietly behind its partner a mere 20 yards from the fire. Moments later Fred and Dave come to join the group around the fire.

Chapter 10: Hidden in the Bulrushes

In this chapter the refugees rest at the home of James Watson and deep within the labyrinth of Sturgeon Lake. James is home resembles a giant beaver lodge a huge heil of logs and mud and rocks under which he has constructed an elaborate home that is invisible from above. Complete with an underwater entrance in a series of tunnels extending into the forests this hidden redoubt has served James for 30 years during the worst years of the refugee wars. Martin has met James many times over the years because he is the hidden lord for this region of the river. Nothing happens on the Columbia River below the confluence with the Willamette that James does not know about. In fact nothing much happens on the Columbia in this area without a direct approval of James. Martin and James have met many times on the banks of the river and occasionally a little bit further afield, but this is the first time that Martin has visited James in his liar.

On the mainland the group detects much activity, but no one ventures on to the island. The marsh area is heavily infested with wild pigs who have long gone feral and are know to hunt humans that stray into their habitat. Few people have evaded these dangerous beasts, except James with whom they have long since formed a bond – as evidenced by the daily feeding of the piglets that the group witnesses. James introduces them to wapato. And finally he provides them with a curious craft ingeniously disguised to resemble a floating patch of reeds and flotsam. James also provides them with a curious glass stone that he assures them will guarantee safe passage from Chief Concomally. This great chief controls the next stretch of the river, and if they wish to find a safe haven it will have to be beyond the reaches of Drucellas – and that means in the lands belonging to the Chief.

Chapter 11: Adrift

in this chapter the refugees launch the bull rush boat. Hidden in the underwater compartment of the boat, the group begins to float slowly down the mouth of the Gilbert River and into the Columbia. Even though it is a foggy day and visibility is low on the river the fugitives can hear the sound of engines coursing up and down the river. Drucellas has unleashed his minions to find the fugitives and he is leaving no avenue unchecked. The group has no way to control the progress of their craft except for a hand turn screw that acts like a very slow propeller. This means of propulsion has the advantage of being entirely invisible but it lacks any ability to deal with a heavy currents or achieve any speed above that associated with floating lily pads. But then again that is what this craft is supposed to resemble nothing more than a loose collection of jetsam and flotsam. And the rest of this chapter describes the groups nearly out of control meandering progress down the river to the old riverfront in the town of St. Helens or what remains thereof.

Once arrived in the crumbling waterfront of St. Helens Martin slips over the side in the fading light of that day. Martin begins to reconnoiter the lower levels of St. Helens. His first impression is terrifying. He nailed to the front of a building is the body of a man. Carved onto a wooden board and hung across the top of the decomposing carcass are the words, “You are no longer in Portland; intruders will be crucified!”

Martin decides to sit in the middle of the square and call out for Chief ConComally. He does this even as night falls – calling into the night air every 5 or 10 minutes. Nothing occurs and eventually Martin tires. Just as he is about to curl up and fall asleep he is roughly hauled to his feet…

Chapter 12: The Long House

Description of an Indian village of long houses. Discovery of the defensive network protecting the Chief domains from the intrusions of outsiders, especially Portland attacks. Introduction of the Northwest Indian fables. Discovery of the Native American shrine. Smoking kinnick-kinnick with Chief ConCommally who discusses the emerging trade along the lower Columbia. Word arrives of the intrusion by Drusellas horsemen, and how they were trapped in a ravine and burned alive. Only one escaped to provide a warning that should others follow they too would end up face down on the forest floor. The group learns of secret routes leading past the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia providing crucial linkages with the tribes upriver. ConComally talks about the mountain tribes that have been detected. One such group defends the headwaters of Scappoose Creek denying passage to anyone that seeks to reach the Tualatin Valley by way of the Nehalem River. They are said to live in a long abandoned railroad tunnel that cuts under the summit of the pass. Chief ConComally has established contact since they pay tribute to the guardians to be allowed to pass over the summit of the pass.

The chief explains that they have secret contacts into Portland and that they are able to communicate into the city. Martin arranges to have a message passed to confederates in the city to let his sister know that they’ve managed to elude capture and that they will arrange to rescue her.

Chapter 13: The Trolls

In this chapter of the fugitives and travel into the mountains with their Indian hosts. High up in the hills above the Columbia River and they stay with an old Indian woman who lives in a broken down old log cabin. Surrounding the cabin are a dozen goats that serve as livestock and as her protection. The group is nearly attacked as they approach her cabin by a big Billy goat. Only a last-minute intervention by the old woman prevents them from being knocked down by this irascible old beasts. The old Indian woman tells them legends about the area and about the rebirth of the Indian spirits. She also serves as a go-between to meet with the trolls. Late that night there was a knock on her door in the short swarthy men enters. Martin and Eric engage Grogan in conversation and learn about how the trolls came to inhabit this ancient rare road tunnel. They agree to compensate the trolls for the right to traverse the valley, but Grogan invites them to visit their tunnel tribe.

The next morning Martin ascends to the ridge top above the cabin. Fog is swirling all around as Martin reaches the top of the ridge. An old logging road extends along the top of the ridge and terminates at the very edge of a bluff — just what Martin was looking for. He unpacks his backpack and extracts the camouflage material in the backpack itself is quickly disassembled and reassembled into a series of long poles over which the skin is draped. 20 minutes later a camouflage to hang glider rests on the old logging road as Martin peters into the fog swirling around the hillside and sweeping up over the point on which he is standing. Somewhere down below him Eric and big dog are descending with Grogan into the Scappoose Creek watershed. Grogan will show Eric the path leading over the pass and there they will part company with Eric returning eastward to meet Martin as he leads their little party up from St. Helens.

Martin runs down the logging road and launches himself off the end of the logging road sweeping down over the young forests banking tightly to the left to avoid an enormous stand up ancient Douglas fir trees. He can barely see what is coming since the blog is still quite thick. Once he glimpses of a Highland pastor and the broken down Howells of the old Indian woman. Then it is behind him and the warm thermals are carrying him aloft. As he rises he can see Buck Mountain off to the south and miles and miles trackless forests extending in all directions. But he wheels and turns east and below him a land drops away into the basin through which a mighty Columbia flows. He turns toward the rising Sun towards the warmth of the day and climbs out over the broad valley surrounding the Columbia River. Wave below him he can see the few remaining houses and settlements around the St. Helens.

Chapter 14: Into the tunnel

In this chapter he escaped these climbs up the Scappoose Creek Valley passing several well protected compounds and several others that appear to be deserted and possibly to have already been looted. The group proceeds up the Scappoose Creek Valley through the little community of Chapman Landing. The next day they meet big dog who rushes into their camp very agitated and extremely glad to see them. Big Dog appears to have been grazed by a bullet and his back leg is bleeding from the wound. But Eric does not appear and big old is anxious for the others to follow him. Eric is then rescued from one of the armed compounds along the way. The perimeter of the compound is guarded by Lamas that rush them when they climb the fence. Eventually Eric is rescued in the group moves on. That night they are visited by Grogan. None too soon, as the first light brings an attack by the friends of Eric’s erstwhile captors. With Grogan’s help they are able to flee into the tunnel where they find rubble that extends all across the tunnel entrance – clear up to the ceiling. Grogan slips into a corner, where a ravine folding to the debris. Near the back end of the tunnel an old metal lies embedded. Grogan deftly lifts the cover and slips inside. Quickly the rest of the group manages to slip through the hatch and close it quickly before the compound militia charges into the gloomy tunnel.