Mollie's Quest: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 3
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Great read keeping me up past bedtime. Can’t wait to open and read as soon as eyes open. Well worth the time.Kindle Customer
Excellent series! I started reading the first book because I had never heard of a cozy apocalyptic story before... I am so glad that I did. I read through all three books without stopping. They were just that good.Christi
My favorite series... This series is fabulous! I really think everyone should read this series for many reasons. Can’t wait to read the next book!Tammy Trayer
Believe me, you don't want to start one of these books if you're short on time, because you will not be able to put it down or you may like me and binge read one after the other!Phycilla
If you were stranded away from home in a dangerous new world, what would you be willing to do to get back to your family?
Two or three times a year, Mollie Caldwell travels for business. Being away from her Wyoming homestead is both a fun time and a challenge. But this time while on her business trip, disaster strikes, shutting down air travel. No worries. She has a rental car, and driving is an easy two-day trip.
Unfortunately, in this new world, easy no longer exists. Thanks to years of planning and research, as well as some last-minute preparations and a newfound trust in God, Mollie is equipped with the essentials. And she is determined to reunite with her family.
In a world that is drastically changing—not just by the day, but by the hour—Mollie’s quest to reach home is no longer simply a desire. It’s now a matter of survival. Will her provisions and faith be enough? And is her family safe and secure in the small refuge they’ve created?
Mollie’s Quest is the third installment of the Havoc in Wyoming Christian Futuristic series. If you like mysterious apocalyptic events, fast-paced adventure, and plausible situations, then you’ll love this page-turning series.
Download today and discover why readers love this twist on the Post-Apocalyptic genre!
The Havoc in Wyoming series has been described as “Cozy” Apocalypse and contains no profanity, gratuitous sex scenes, or overly detailed gruesome death scenes. However, it does contain conservative family values and references to God, prayer, scripture, and Christianity.
Books in the series and suggested reading order:
- Wyoming Refuge: A Havoc in Wyoming Prequel
- Caldwell's Homestead: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 1
- Katie's Journey: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 2
- Mollie's Quest: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 3
- Havoc Begins: A Havoc in Wyoming Story
- Shields and Ramparts: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 4
- Fowler's Snare: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 5
- Havoc Rises: A Havoc in Wyoming Story
- Pestilence in the Darkness: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 6
- Christmas on the Mountain: A Havoc in Wyoming Novella
- Havoc Peaks: A Havoc in Wyoming Story
- My Refuge and Fortress: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 7
Release date: October 25, 2019
Publisher: CU Publishing LLC
Print pages: 303
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Mollie's Quest: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 3
The roar of the engine makes it difficult to hear anything, except the person sitting next to me. His rather strong coffee breath, combined with the stench of the toilet, has my olfactory system wanting to shut down.
This small plane sports twelve double seats on the right and thirteen on the left. My seat, 13B, is at the very back, right next to the lavatory. I chose this seat on purpose. Most people don’t want to sit back here, and I often have the entire row to myself. Unfortunately, on this full flight, we’re packed in like sardines in a can.
My coffee breath is likely not much better. I take out a breath strip, then offer one to my seatmate. I’m grateful when he accepts.
“Some beautiful country here,” he gushes. “I was up here visiting a friend. He took me to Yellowstone and up in the Big Horns where we did some fishing outside of Saddlestring. Amazing. Just amazing. You live here?”
I nod as he asks, “Vacationing in Salt Lake?”
“No, just connecting on to PDX. I work about an hour and half from Portland.”
“You live in Cody and work in Oregon?”
“Not exactly. I live outside of Prospect, not too far from Cody, and usually work from home. A few times a year I need to work on-site. Been doing it for a while. It works well for my family.”
“Your husband doesn’t mind you being gone?”
“He’s a good sport about it.” I think about this morning’s argument, in which he really wasn’t a good sport.
It started simply enough when I asked Jake, “Do you have the to-do list and a plan for your week?” Things went downhill from there. We ended up in a bit of a tiff—never a good way to start the morning. Especially not good when I’ll be gone for five days.
It ended okay, though, when Jake said, “Okay, Mollie. I’m sorry to be such a bear this morning. I’m feeling overwhelmed, and I do hate it when you’re gone.”
A few months ago, he wanted me gone permanently, so I kind of enjoy hearing this. Like most marriages, there was a time we couldn’t get enough of each other. Yes, the new eventually wears off, but for us, it was more. Our trouble started with a phone call. The kind of phone call no one wants to receive.
With my woolgathering, I realize I missed my seatmate talking to me. “I’m sorry, what was that?”
“I said, I’ve been to Portland a few times. Pretty, but it rained each time I was there.”
“Yeah, rain is one of the reasons I no longer live in Oregon. June usually isn’t too terrible, so it should be fairly nice this week.”
“Mm-hmm. I think I was there in February. I live outside Salt Lake City. I love it there. Of course, I thought Cody was really nice too. There are some similarities. You able to garden?”
“We do have a decent garden, but it takes some work. Our annual precipitation is only around ten inches, and with the wind and heat, the moisture easily evaporates. Some crops do better than others.”
He nods in understanding. “Yeah. I guess that’s why Wyoming is cattle country. You raise beef?”
“No. We only have thirty acres. We raise goats, chickens, sheep, and pigs along with having the garden, a small orchard, and assorted vines,” I answer.
“Sounds like you folks are kind of self-sufficient. Smart.”
“Well . . . I wouldn’t go that far. We do what we can.”
“You know anything about Mormons?” he asks.
“Some.” I don’t want to tell him I have used the LDS storehouse many times.
“I’m Mormon, and we’re encouraged to have basic food and water along with savings. We used to be commanded to keep a year supply of food, but that was too hard, so now it’s three months—more if you can. ’Course, some people take it to an extreme and have the old one-year amount, plus do more beyond. I don’t know . . . I kind of feel like anything beyond what’s expected of us is excessive, and maybe even borders on hoarding.”
I stifle a laugh. No doubt he’d think Jake and I are hoarders.
Our home is full of long-term food storage goods, clothing in assorted sizes, and much more. He’d be really amazed if I told him we subscribe to the old-school LDS guidelines in our own life and store a year of food per family member—and not just for the three of us living at home. Our basement resembles a warehouse.
Our little farm isn’t just a farm, but a retreat for our loved ones. With our home, a studio apartment, a bunkhouse, and a cabin, we can comfortably house twenty-eight people, including my husband, ten-year-old son, and myself—even more if we squeeze.
He’d probably really think I’m nuts if I told him about our combination safe room and fallout shelter. But, of course, I say nothing. Admitting to being a prepper and sharing the extent of preps just isn’t done while chatting with a stranger on an airplane.
The short flight passes quickly, and soon I’m at the Salt Lake City Airport waiting for my next flight, watching the people and somewhat paying attention to the news channel.
“Grover, Wyoming, home of last month’s tragic school shooting, is once again in the news. Sheriff Deputy Ray Sandoval was shot in the line of duty. His killer is still at large and there are no suspects . . . ”
What? Grover again? Now a deputy killed? And the school shooting, in Wyoming . . . people said it could never happen here.
The SLC to PDX leg of my trip is uneventful. Since I only have a carry-on, I quickly get my rental car and hit the road. In less than two hours, I’m at the shop. I’ve worked for father and son, Bart and Ben, for twelve years now. When Jake and I decided to move from Oregon to Wyoming, they offered to keep me on as a telecommuter. Working from home over the internet was pretty rare back then, but it was an answer to our prayers.
At first, I was only part time, doing the bookkeeping, payroll, and whatever else they needed. But as the business has grown, so have my responsibilities, to include online marketing, managing our quality system, and more.
I now work full time from home, except for two one-week trips each year when I come back for meetings and an audit of our quality management system.
Even though I’m full time, my hours are somewhat flexible, making sure I’m available whenever the shop is functioning. It’s working well, for the most part, and the pay is quite nice. In addition to a generous base, I receive a commission on work I bring in from my online efforts, plus quarterly bonuses.
The pay has been great for helping Jake and me achieve our personal goals. We try to live carefully and stretch our money as best we can, but we do add in a few fun things when I make a great sale.
The shop is a half hour east of Alto and the nearest hotel. Because of the distance, I usually stay with Ben and his family. I cram a lot into the week I work on-site—appointments with the CPA and attorney, plus an audit of our quality management system are all happening.
When my daughters were younger, they, along with my son, Malcolm, would sometimes join me on my work trips. Then we’d get a hotel and make an event out of it.
When Malcolm alone joins me, we still stay with Ben’s family since Malcolm’s friends with Ben’s son, Liam. There’s probably a slight hero worship going on over thirteen-year-old Liam. Liam’s a very good sport about it, but I know he’s always happy when our visits end.
Clarice, Ben’s wife, always tries to make my stay as restful as possible, doing little things to spoil me. Their hospitality takes a lot of the discomfort out of traveling. My biggest trouble when staying with Ben and Clarice is the terrible cell phone reception I get.
Because of this, Jake and I try to talk when I’m in the office, and we can usually text when I’m at Ben’s house. Sometimes I can even get a phone signal if I hold my phone up in the air, stand on one leg, and do a jig. Just kidding about the jig. I’ve tried; it didn’t help.
Thursday, Day 1
My week has gone well, and Jake and I have done the best we can to keep in touch. We take a few minutes to talk each morning and again at the end of my day, using the office landline. Then we text our goodnights before bed.
The main event of my on-site work, the audit of our quality management system, is happening today. Shortly before we wrap up, the secretary calls me to the reception area.
“Mollie, there’s a call for you. I told him you were in the middle of something, but he insisted it was important and would only take a minute.”
“Sure, I can take it. Jim’s doing his paperwork, so I’ll take it in the production room. Which line?”
“Parked on line one.”
Even though I usually work from home, with today’s technology, I’m still well-connected to the office, with my phone from home tying into the office phones so I can make and receive calls under the company umbrella. It’s a pretty slick setup and really makes things easy. As such, I’m used to receiving many calls in a day, so this is nothing unusual.
“Good afternoon, Mollie Caldwell. How may I help you?”
“It’s Brad. Don’t hang up.”
I suck in my breath. I want nothing more than to slam the phone down, just like I’ve done the last four times he’s called. Instead, I say, “I’ve asked you not to contact me.”
“I know you think you can put me off, but you can’t. I’m not going away.”
“You are going away. I want nothing to do with you,” I hiss.
“We have unfinished business.”
“We have no business. Goodbye.”
“I want the truth. Tell me now, or I’ll show up on your doorstep.”
“I’ve told you, you’re wasting your time. What you think you know is . . . it’s wrong. You’re mistaken.”
“I’ve seen pictures! I know what I’ve seen.”
“We are done. Do not contact me again.”
“I wasn’t lying about showing up on your doorstep. I have business in Wyoming. It’s not even out of my way to show up in Bakerville.”
He knows I live in Bakerville?
“Leave me alone or I’ll contact the authorities.”
Now I do slam the phone down. My mouth is dry, and tears are threatening to spill over. I can’t believe Brad’s contacting me. And, if he’s still the Brad I used to know, he wasn’t lying about showing up on my doorstep.
I shake my head and straighten my shoulders. I’ll deal with this when I get home. I’ll finally talk with Jake about it, and we’ll make a plan together.
“Mollie?” the receptionist hollers. “Jim’s ready to finish the audit.”
After we finish the audit, we cut out of work early—Bart, Ben, Clarice, and Liam are treating me to dinner at an upscale restaurant in Alto.
Even though I pack light for these trips, I include a semi-nice outfit since dinner is a tradition when I visit. While I have the nice outfit, I left my jewelry bag at home, so I’m completely without accessories. Not a big deal at all, but it’s slightly annoying.
My “nice” outfit is a knee-length sleeveless dress in midnight blue with white birds and leaves. The wrinkle-resistant jersey material makes it a wonderful item for travel. This basic dress can easily go from casual to semi-dressy by changing out the shoes and accessories.
Of course, my lack of accessories means I’m somewhat limited in how dressy I can be. I decide to add gold, small-hooped earrings and an oversized scarf in off-white with a gold thread. I’ve found, even in summer, airplanes are often chilly when inflight, and a large scarf makes me much more comfortable. With the scarf tied loosely around my shoulders as a shrug, gold earrings, and ballet flats, I decide I don’t look too bad.
I wear my dark brown hair in a pixie cut and give it a little extra styling gel to add some height on top. The brown has a nice sheen to it since I’m only a week past my last color job. Without the color, I sport patches of gray. Sometimes I’ll try to go without dying and let the natural color grow in, but the gray, while not terrible, seems to have a mind of its own and grows in oddly. For now, I’ll stick with the fake color.
I’ve often been told I don’t look my age and was still being ID’d into my midthirties. Now, two months into my fiftieth year, I think I definitely do look my age but work hard to stay active and defy the aging process as best I can. It’s not that I’m in denial; it’s more that I plan to keep my health as long as possible.
God gave me a physical body, wonderfully made. I realized I owed it to Him to care for it. Plus, I was getting the dreaded middle-age spread. Yikes.
At only five foot two, I’m short. I try to focus on my health and aim to be strong, as opposed to skinny. I make a point of having some kind of physical activity as part of my day—aiming for forty-five minutes to an hour of dedicated movement each day. It’s not always easy!
At home, caring for our small farm is a workout in itself. In addition, I shoot for a daily form of exercise, preferring yoga, walking, and kickboxing. I’ll also add in Zumba and yoga classes at our community center when my schedule permits. We like family fitness through hiking and backpacking during the summers and skiing and snowshoeing in the winters.
Last fall Jake, Malcolm, and I started taking a self-defense martial art called Yongmudo. What a workout! I like how it uses some of the kickboxing moves but takes it all a step further.
We started learning Yongmudo specifically for the self-defense aspect of it. We had no idea the workouts would be so intense, or that there was a smaller community within the greater martial arts community.
We have two classes a week and also practice at home—noncontact sparring with each other to sharpen our skills. Noncontact is the key. Sometimes we’ll accidentally connect . . . never a good thing. We’ve even had a few private classes with our Master, specifically to hone in on the defender skills. Yongmudo is a great close-in style and uses technique rather than strength, making it very effective for smaller, slighter framed individuals like Malcolm and me.
This week, while working away from home, I’ve still managed to get in some form of exercise each day. I’m not what people refer to as a “natural athlete,” and if I’m honest, I’d rather skip exercise all together. But I’ve found daily physical activity helps me in many ways—not just combatting the effects of age on my body; I sleep better and think more clearly. Plus, I’m preparing for my first 5K over the Fourth of July, so I can’t afford to take the week off.
Even though I don’t look too bad for our dinner out, Clarice looks amazing. She’s tall, at five-ten, with the body of a dancer: very lean and willowy. Ten years younger than me, she’s able to maintain her physique without effort. Yes, I’m jealous regular workouts and paying attention to my diet are necessary to keep me from ballooning up.
Tonight, she’s wearing the quintessential little black dress. It’s a beautifully fitted wrap style with three-quarter length sleeves and a tying sash belt. The lightly flared skirt falls to a flirty hem ending just above the knee, showing off her shapely, long legs. Four-inch stiletto, black suede, open-toe heels with a single toe band and an ankle strap complete the look. Yeah, I’m suddenly feeling a little on the frumpy side.
We try a new restaurant in town, which is quite nice. The wait staff is attentive, and the food is wonderful. They each order steak. We eat a lot of steak at home, usually elk or venison, so I order the oysters. Amazing.
After dinner, Ben, Clarice, and I are relaxing in their living room. Since I’m heading home tomorrow, we’re getting the last of our visiting in and planning for my next trip. I’m returning in October for a marketing event at the Portland Convention Center. We have the TV on in the background while we make our plans.
“So, I think we should order embroidered shirts this time to help with marketing our company,” Clarice says.
“You really think we need that?” Ben, ever mindful of our bottom dollar, asks.
“I think it’d make us look more professional. Remember the last thing like this we went to? Most of the companies had matching shirts.”
“I thought we looked fine. Mollie had us all wear black shirts. It was close enough.” Ben shrugs.
I’m making notes on my computer and look up when the conversation halts. Clarice is staring at the television, a look of horror on her face. Ben, oblivious, is looking at his phone. I turn to the TV screen and see the ticker across the bottom of the screen.
PLANES CRASH WHILE LANDING AT LAX, JFK, AND ORD
“Ben,” Clarice says, nudging his arm.
“Hand me the remote. I want to change to the news station.”
“Oh no,” I say.
Ben stares at the TV for a moment before grabbing the remote and switching the channel.
We’re quiet, dumbfounded, until Ben asks, “Where’s ORD?”
“Chicago, I think. I think he said Chicago,” Clarice answers.
“Was Jim flying into LAX?” I ask Ben.
“Uh . . . I don’t know. I know he lives out of LA, but I’m not sure if he was flying into there. Man, I hope it wasn’t his plane that went down.”
Jim’s been our auditor since we started this quality system almost ten years ago. To think he might be on one of the flights that crashed . . . I struggle to keep from crying.
As the male newscaster continues, the female sitting next to him breaks in. “Paul, we’re receiving reports of a fourth crash. This crash is at Dallas/Fort Worth. Again, within the last few minutes, planes have crashed while attempting to land at Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy, Chicago O’Hare, and just minutes ago, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airports. We’re still confirming the DFW crash but believe this information to be accurate.”
“It certainly sounds like a planned attack,” Ben says.
Clarice and I nod in agreement.
“Mom, Dad, I think there was some kind of plane crash,” Liam yells down from his room.
“We’re watching it on TV,” Clarice answers.
Liam comes into the living room and sits down near his mom; she hugs him close.
There’s no word of survivors from any of the crashes. It’s likely each plane had at least two hundred people on board. I’m still thinking of Jim and praying he’s okay.
My text indicator goes off. It’s Jake. He’s trying to call me but can’t get through. I run upstairs to try connecting from my bedroom—no success. We settle on texting so I can watch the news at the same time.
Clarice switches around to a different station and sees a ticker indicating all planes are being grounded. With an average of over three thousand flights in the US per hour, it’ll take some time to get everyone on the ground.
Unfortunately, there’s another crash as a plane is coming into Miami. We watch the news for a bit longer before finding out the LAX crash originated in Atlanta. I breathe a sigh of relief it wasn’t Jim’s plane.
Five plane crashes in just over half an hour. The crashes were at five of the busiest airports in the US. All flights originating and landing in the US have been grounded. I pull out my computer to check my flight. I’m sure it’s canceled for tomorrow but check anyway. Right now, it’s showing as delayed.
Clarice turns to me. “I’m sure you won’t be able to fly home tomorrow. You know you can stay as long as needed.”
“Do you remember how long air travel was grounded after 9/11?” Ben asks.
“Only a couple days,” Clarice says.
“Yeah, but this could be different,” Liam offers. “How are they crashing the planes? Are they using rockets? It kind of sounds like they think it’s rockets. They’d have a hard time preventing rockets from crashing planes.”
He’s right. There isn’t anything I can do about this mess. I’m going to get ready for bed and then try to reach Jake.
I’m getting dressed when Clarice knocks on my door and says, “Mollie, there’s more trouble.”
I open the door a crack, poking my head out, as she says, “We were watching the news in our room. There’s been an explosion at the airport in New York, separate from the crash. They think it was a bomb, possibly more than one. Do you want to come down to watch?”
I definitely do. My phone rings, causing me to jump. Jake. I’m surprised he got through.
“Give me just a minute, then I’ll be down.”
At my hello, Jake says, “There’s been an explosion, or maybe even multiple explosions, in New York.”
“Clarice just told me. I was going to go down and watch the TV. Is anyone claiming responsibility? Surely everyone knows this is related.”
“It seems they do. Oh, they’re saying the president’s going to speak in a few minutes.”
“With my plane canceled, I wonder how long they’ll remain grounded if it’s missiles being shot. How do you defend against that?”
“I have no idea. I think you should keep the rental car and drive home tomorrow. I don’t like you being there with all of this going on. I’m glad you took the suitcase, the get-home bag, with you before. You may need it. I’m calling Doris after we hang up to see if Malcolm can stay with her while I run into town. I’m going with Plan A.”
“It’s a good idea,” I agree. “What about the children? Katie is so far from home.”
“I think we should encourage them to do their own Plan A. I feel like these are simply terrorist attacks as opposed to our country being under attack, you know? What do you think?”
We spend a few minutes talking about the kids, implementing our Plan A, and how cliché it is that I’m away from home right now. Then, Jake surprises me by offering to pray together.
As we hang up, I think about Jake’s prayer. I love that he remembered to include our girls. My four daughters are grown adults with lives of their own. Some people would classify them as Prodigal Daughters. While none are off doing wild and crazy things, only my youngest, Katie, has a close relationship with God—to the point of even talking about doing mission work.
At one point, all four of the girls had something similar to Katie’s ardor. Then my first husband died. I ended up in a bad place and stopped going to church. I’d take the girls, dropping them off and going for a coffee, then pick them up when they were done. I know this has a lot to do with where my children are with their own spiritual walk. The guilt doesn’t do me any good.
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