It was either a five gallon container of water or a five gallon container of gasoline. Her dad was a prepper and she frankly didn’t care to find out which it was. Standing in the driving rain under a leaky eave wasn’t what she had in mind for her afternoon, but here she was nonetheless. The backyard looked like a desolate campsite for a family of four, not some retirees dream. He always overdid his hobbies, though the prepping had moved into the realm of paranoia the last couple of years.

With her father in the hospital indefinitely, Eloise had to tend to the house. She mistakenly assumed starting in the yard would be easier. The inside was a vortex of papers, found objects and obscure books on the coming apocalypse. He read voraciously but only on a very limiting subset of topics that served to send him further and further down a twisted illogical hole.

She stepped out from under the eave and went back towards the patio doors. Her toe strap caught on a metal ring jutting out of the mud and she fell on her backside. She stood up, mud-splattered and angry, and then bent back over to pull on the ring. As she struggled with it, she could see the outline of a hatch or some kind of a lid. She took a deep breath and flung it open, revealing a reinforced hole in the ground full of at least a dozen Army surplus ammo boxes and two long cases she knew to be guns. “End of the world, my ass,” she said.

© 2021 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

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