The story of a small town getting cut off, and the difference between being remote and being isolated. It was in part inspired by a prompt about people being cut off, and the idea of “Under the Dome” by Stephen King, which I never read, but had described to me years ago.

No one was worried when the small bridges around town washed out, it was a common enough occurrence. No one was even that surprised when the storm took down the phone lines, wasn’t the first time after all.

The day the main bridge crumbled under the continued deluge of rain, we all began to worry. There was no longer any way in or out of town, and with no signal up in these parts, and dial up Internet, we had no way of calling for help.

Even then though, the worry was low. The rain couldn’t last forever ,and when it let up someone could take a boat out to the nearest town and get help that way.

The rain didn’t stop though, it just kept going, and while we were high up enough we didn’t flood, it wasn’t safe to send for help.

I was a doctor at the time, and it took everything in me not to join in on the gossip. My questions, while relevant, would only cause panic. I had enough medical supplies for a pretty good duration, in part due to the coming winter, but I knew that Mr. Harrigan hadn’t gotten her delivery of winter non-perishables yet. So the question I had, the most pressing one of course, was how long until we ran out of food.

It was a question that everyone started asking a week later, when the power went out. After 4 hours a crew of us went around to the local stores as usual and collected the refrigerated goods to cook on the firehouse gas stove, but we didn’t have the regular party haul that we were expecting. In fact, due to the low capacity, we took the freezer items as well, and we looked at each other in silence and started to wonder what people’s home freezers were looking like.

Three days later I got my answer ,when we had the first riot over food. I used an embarrassing amount of my winter supplies patching up minor injuries, and in the end the town council decided that a boat would have to be sent, safe or not.

Eddie Gallager volunteered, and a group of us watched him sail off. Two days after that is was Pat Thomas. Then it Jonas Sully, followed Brett Spire, followed by Claire Metas. With each new launch and no word back, hope dwindled.

On the 40th night, the rain stopped. The holly rollers went bat-shit. I guess we should have been building an ark. Two days later the first supply boat showed, with line repairmen, food, and news of our missing compatriots.

Pat, Eddie and Claire would be back in a dew days, held on account of the weather. Eddie’s boat had bit it, but he would be coming back on Jonas’ craft. Jonas, who along with Brett, was in the hospital, from injuries sustained in the trip. They would be released in a week or so, and had agreed to make the trip back together in case of a relapse.

All in all it was good news, no one died, the bridge was rebuilt, the lines rehung, and then 43 people in our town for 200 packed up and headed out. I am not ashamed to admit that I was among them. The isolation had seemed like peace until it was no longer voluntary, and my yearning for the remoteness was washed away with the main bridge.

The town didn’t falter though, the story of the exodus following the biblical rain made headlines that went nationwide, and the population soon doubled. It’s strange, where some of us run away, there is always someone else running towards that same situation…


Escape from Reality?

This one is the story of Grace Harrow, who lives in isolation following a pandemic which keeps her from leaving her home. Follow Grace as she struggles with the question of is this happening, or is it all in her head, and the choices she makes along the way.

There comes this moment in isolation that you start to wonder if this is happening. Has the world really gone crazy, or have you. For me, it was five weeks into the two week lock down that I started to wonder.

For the first three weeks I lived on what I had in the house, but when we got word that it was going to be extended again I put in a huge grocery order on-line. Mostly perishables, and I took the boxes and boxes of jars I had collect for the sole purpose of canning and got to work.

I think that was my first hint it might not have been real. When the groceries were delivered by a woman, no mask, that had no problems accepting cash from my bare hands. She didn’t carry sanitizer, and seemed to think that I was crazy for my goggles.

Week 5 I got my second delivery, this time contact-less, and I looked out at all the people on the street, laughing playing, and I wondered. What was going on? Was this happening or in my head? I didn’t know who I could call , what would I even say, I think I am going crazy, is there a pandemic or is it in my head?

I tried to keep in normal, kept my gaming schedule, continued my virtual meet ups, and a part of me wondered if I was insane. There was a history of schizophrenia on my mother’s side and I was starting to suspect that this was how is started.

The problem I faced was simple and yet incredibly complex. If I was having a break with reality, then my senses were lying to me, and I couldn’t trust anything I heard or saw, in which case I had no way of verifying that this wasn’t real, and I was essentially trapped like this.

If I were sane, that this is happening, and I have not way of verifying that, because things would seem just as real as if I were insane, because of the reasons I already stated. There was quite literally no way to be sure what was going on.

If I had close friends or family, they would have come to visit me if this were not real, because there was no lock-down, and they would have already helped me seek assistance for my delusions. As it was, my parents were long dead, my foster family cut ties at 18, and I had moved hours away from my home for a job, that went remote working a year into my contract, and I didn’t have the funds to go back.

So I was here, alone, and maybe insane, so I did what anyone would do. I started keeping a journal. For three long years, I kept the journal, documenting this, my questioning of my sanity, the noises I heard in the night, all of it.

Then I spent a year alternating between rewriting it the third person giving the main character a different name, editing it, and journaling my continued experience, now directly in the third person. When I was done, I sent it to an agent, two years after that it was published. Six months later the second “installment” was edited and sent off. It took another two years to publish, and it was only after I sent out the third installment that I finally got the courage to look up my first book, and read the reviews.

I knew it was somewhat popular, based on the royalties, but I was overwhelmed by the amount of feedback on my favorite bookkeeping sites. I read about 20 before I read the one that made my call for an emergency appointment .

“Author Grace Harrow spins a story about a woman questioning her own mind. Though the story is compelling and well written I find it a bit hard to swallow that someone could live three years thinking there was a pandemic going on in todays world. It is however an interesting take on modern society, showing how the increase in reliance on convenience and technology has led to a world where someone could live for years without any in person interaction, and the impact that kind of isolation has on the human brain.

The one flaw I find with this, and maybe it will be answered by the sequel that has been announced, is that we never find out if the main character Kathy is actually mentally ill ,or this is an “alternative present” where the world is plunged into a pandemic like the Spanish flu of the 1920’s. With one sequel in print, and another teased, it’s likely that we won’t find out for some time to come.”

It seems I finally had my answer, nine years and three books of isolation, a world famous author, and I was in fact, just crazy.

This is actually a short story of a book I tried to write for Nanowrimo a few years back. By a few years back I mean like in 2015, before I had any idea that we would actually have a pandemic. In the book it did end up being real, but based on modern events I decided to take the alternate route in the short story.

In Dreams

Today’s work is a challenge response to many challenges, and I think it turned out better than I expected overall. This is the story of a person who wants to get away from it all, and dreams about their ideal home. I don’t want to spoil it, but if you have read any of my other work, like usual, there is more than meets the eyes here.

In my dreams I own a log cabin in the woods, secluded and peaceful, where there are no nosy neighbors with prying eyes, and eavesdropping ears.
It wouldn’t be that big, a single room with an old fashioned wood stove, and kerosene lamps, no ever present buzz of electricity to ruin the moment.
I wouldn’t need a bedroom here, no closets, nothing to hide, just me, the land, and whomever I might bring here when the mood strikes.
No more pretending to want to spend nights in overpriced restaurants or overcrowded theaters, with girls that have more air in their heads than brains.
In my perfect little cabin in the middle of nowhere, I could paint my own soliloquy in red, and no one would ever have to know that this is who I am beneath it all, because here I would be free to be me.
I breathe in the rich scent of coffee wafting from my cup, pulled from my reverie by the muffled screams coming from my closet, and I sigh, knowing that for now this is as close as I am going to get to that kind of serenity.

If you want to make it creepier, read it again while listening to “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison which has creeped my out since I watched blue velvet in a college class.