.....The Prologue to my next story. Comments appriciated. . .....RVM45 ..... Prologue </FONT></FONT></P><P><FONT size=5><FONT face=[/IMG] There was a time that I didn’t have much effect in the World. Nothing depended on me, and no one looked to me for leadership. Most people would have called me a loser back then. I had never lived any other life; so I didn’t realize just how blessed that I was. Apparently God never planned for me to live my whole life that way though. The Bishop watched a show on TV about Cauldera eruptions. He said that right then, the Holy Ghost started moving him to prepare for one. He was skeptical though. The Scenario the show had presented had predicted a catastrophe so all embracing and so bleak, that preparation seemed beside the point. The Bishop decided to follow a time-honored tradition. He set out a fleece. He called his key Elders together, and asked them if any of them had any Survivalists in their congregations. Elder Howard was my Pastor. He thought very highly of my abilities, even though I’d been trying to get him to appoint me a Minister for several years—without any conspicuous success. The Bishop summoned me to Louisville. Now although I’d heard the Bishop speak, and I’d even shaken his hand a couple times; I couldn’t claim that we’d ever met. I hadn’t a clue what he wanted to talk about. All Elder Howard would tell me was that I wasn’t in trouble for anything. Of course, I didn’t have to go, but I was intrigued, if nothing else, so I went. I was an ex-Survivalist—emphasis on “ex-“. The predicted Socio-Economic collapse hadn’t came anywhere near on time. I lost a large part of my Gun collection to a burglar. I never really felt like starting another battery. It was too discouraging. Then I had a minor scrape with the Laws. It wasn’t a felony, praise God; but it made it difficult to impossible to get a carry permit—at least without beaucoup bucks for a liar…er, lawyer. So I picked up a Gun every now and again, when the price was right and the spirit moved me—but I wasn’t preparing for anything. I’d never ceased to think about survival preparations though. When I discovered survival forums online, I had come to realize that my own preparations had been very shallow and incomplete—though undoubtedly better than nothing. I think my main survival prep was arguing the imminent and inevitable collapse of the Hive. I seemed to think, quite unconsciously, that the more people that I could convince, the sooner and more certain the collapse would be. Someone might question why I wanted the collapse. I felt that a total collapse was a very efficient, perhaps the only way, to cut the Gordian knot of rules and restrictions multiplying everywhere. I also believed that if government ever collapsed, that surely this time around everyone would go to some pains not to let another government take root. We could nip each new attempt at tyranny in the bud—so to speak. It turns out that I was naïve on any number of counts. What can I say? I was young and ignorant once. Now I’m only ignorant—but hopefully a bit less ignorant. The show that the Bishop watched hadn’t been terribly specific. They’d said that the ash-clouded sky might mean no Summer anywhere on Earth, for two or three years, with temperature rising gradually thereafter, although the long cold might have jump-started another ice age. Even an ice age would be warm compared to the first few post Cauldera years. Artic weather? Does that mean here in Middle America? Certainly. Does it mean Artic weather on the Equator? I hope not. Things look pretty bleak for life on Earth, with the whole world an ice ball from pole to pole. We agreed to make some simplifying assumptions. We would try to prepare for two years of Artic winter, followed by three or four more years where little or no food could be grown. Although much worse scenarios were possible, ours was about the worst case that we could possibly hope to survive. Building a few shelters and stockpiling enough food to keep a fair-sized group of people tolerably warm and well fed for six years wasn’t exactly child’s play. It gets worse. You have to look at the larger picture. Could bees; earthworms; ants and flies survive such a long Winter? Possibly, but I rather doubt it. Agriculture would be very hard to practice without them. Would any trees survive? While it is conceivable that a few small burrowing rodents might survive, certainly no livestock or draft animals would survive without human intervention. Life without draft animals would mean perpetual drudgery. Life without animals would mean no meat; dairy; eggs; or leather. Without weeds ready to rapidly advance on all four points of the compass, followed eventually by forests, a small enclave of spade cultivating, brush pollinating survivors would rapidly be washed away by erosion—not to mention that they’d soon miss firewood and lumber. Long-term survival called for forests. Forests demanded a certain minimum diversity of life. In short, what we needed was a minimalist form of Ark. It would need to house many more people than Noah’s Ark, and it would have to shelter them far longer. We didn’t need pairs of everything, but without the assurance of Devine intervention, we’d need way more than a pair of the breeds that we did decide to keep. Secondly, we had to make provision to protect what we had, or someone would snatch it away from us very early on. Thirdly, while we couldn’t hope for complete secrecy, we really needed to stay on the good side of those fun-loving fellows who burned Waco down and shot half of Randy Weaver’s family—just for chuckles. My main solution was multiple use compounds. The Church could use a Summer camp for children. It was a good thing, in and of itself. The Bishop was wealthy in his own right, and could put the squeeze on other wealthy contributors. We built a Summer camp for the church. We just built it way bigger and stronger than it needed to be, with a weather eye to using it as a retreat. I designed the five barracks; cabins; dormitories—whatever you want to call them, in the shape of regular pentagons. People aren’t used to five-sided buildings. I figured it would make it less obvious exactly how much square feet were inside. The first floor of each dorm was Earth sheltered to about mid-chest height. They were billed as being large enough for eighty-eight campers each—which they certainly were. However, the bunks could be arranged to accommodate almost twice that number comfortably. Each dorm building had a basement—not a drippy ugly swamp of a basement, but a nice basement. Each building also had a sub-basement. The five pentagonal dorms were laid out in a fairly large pentagon themselves. Here’s the good part: each basement and sub-basement was connected to every other basement and sub-basement by a system of twenty-four foot wide, two story tunnels—with occasional connecting stairs between basement and sub-basement tunnels, and access to the surface. There was way more square feet of tunnels than there was of dorms. Much of the tunnels were intended as emergency quarters too. There was a big two story pentagonal building in the center of the dorm pentangle—with a sanctuary big enough to seat twelve hundred people. You guessed it; it also connected to every dorm by dual level tunnels. There was a big rectangular garage building for necessary grounds maintenance, and so forth. It had a very well equipped and stocked tool room. Then there was a barn for the ponies and goats. It was rectangular too. Both the garage and the barn were Earth sheltered and connected to the rest of the superstructure by tunnel—though the tunnels, while sound—were a bit less elaborate. It helped a great deal that many church members had their own construction companies. They gave us many breaks in price, and helped keep a number of unique features at least semi-discrete. I decided early on that it made no sense to wrap all our baskets around one egg. Phase two was setting up a number of smaller satellite retreats. I wanted them far enough away to spread the risk somewhat, but I wanted them close enough to actually put some assistance into “Mutual Assistance Groups”. Ideally, that meant no more than ten miles. Twenty was the very outside limit. Imagine trying to cover twenty miles in Artic conditions… Eventually though, we had fellow travelers as far as a couple hundred miles away—though if things ever got really bad, we probably wouldn’t be able to do more than lend moral support over the radio. Our efforts also made a lot of “spade cultivate, brush pollinate” operations viable, because with us around, there was always hope for improvement. My second grand idea was for a small group of investors to buy a dairy farm. They’d install a dorm, small houses, or whatever on the place. They’d do shakedown occupations for a few days occasionally, but leave the day-to-day management of the farm to a manager. Several groups of our churchmen set up retreats like those—and in the end, several non-church affiliated groups followed suit. The only way that I can explain it is to assume that our Bishop wasn’t the only one warned by the Holy Ghost. The Church of God in Christ plays a very large role in the history of the PE (Post Eruption) era. My memoirs will almost certainly make more sense if I devote a few words to describing the Church. The Church was founded in 1897, and chartered in 1907. Bishop Charles H Mason who led the Church during its formative decades founded it. It was one of the Holiness Pentecostal Churches that resulted from The Great Pentecostal Revival that happened in Los Angeles, back in 1906, at the Azousa Street Revival. The Church has always been all-inclusive, and there have been white members from the beginning—but historically it has always been a black church. In our Church, Minister is a position between Deacon and Elder, though closer to the latter. One generally has to be a Minister at least three years to be elevated to Elder, though the Bishop appointed me an Elder at our second meeting. He put me in charge of the Summer camp Ministry on paper, and in charge of a great deal more, in fact. Missionary is a position for women—roughly equal to Minister. Women don’t become Elders in the Church of God in Christ. “Church Mother” is another position. They are addressed “Mother So-And-So”. The only other Position we have is Bishop. Since scripture doesn’t specifically authorize the offices of Archbishop; Cardinal; Pope; etc., we don’t use them. It means that higher up the organizational charts, you see several Bishops aligned one above the next. One final peculiarity- in common with many other black denominations the Pastor’s wife is addressed and referred to as “The First Lady”. (A Pastor is an Elder with at least one congregation under his control.) Here’s my place in the scheme of things. I’m white. I wear my hair down around my shoulders—contrary to Church by-laws, at least back then. I didn’t mind dressing up; but I wouldn’t do the tie trip, or the tucked shirttail thing. Then I dressed in solid black whenever possible. I also firmly believed in Eternal Security, contrary to the doctrine of the church, and I was never shy about defending my theological positions. My Pastor told me that we could skate around the tie and tuck issue. He insisted that I quit wearing black- said that it would cure my depression. He never once asked me if I’d consider abandoning my black wardrobe an acceptable price to be rid of depression (No). He never debated theology with me, but he seriously did not groove on my hair. That’s what had kept me on the slow track to the ministry for so long.