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  1. 1. Welcome back to the Apocalypse, and I hope you haven't quite forgotten us. This was a hard chapter to find a halfway decent end spot for, and a hard chapter to write. We'll see if you think I did a halfway decent job. This is Colin Grey, import from another neighborhood of mine, Founder's Spouse, and reaper child, who is currently our narrator.
  2. 2. Dear Diary, I taught Adrian to talk, to walk, to use the toilet, all the things a child needs to know. I wasn't able to teach my daughters all these things in our struggle for survival, but my grandchildren will not be deprived. I hope.
  3. 3. Our cat Kim died of old age. Tuonela was distraught by the loss. But life continues on, difficult as it is to keep going some days.
  4. 4. Everyone is very involved in raising Adrian except for Timothy. Nothing like a baby to bring smiles back to our faces.
  5. 5. I talked to Timothy. It worried me how little he interacted with Adrian. He told me he thought that Adrian didn't lack for adult attention, and that he would find it easier to relate to his son once he was capable of rational thought, but for now he would leave it to those who liked small children, as he did not particularly care for them. I wasn't happy with that, but there wasn't much I could do about it. Timothy always focused on study and work.
  6. 6. Isis understood when I talked to her about our situation. She'd been very disapointed that there were no schools when she was a teenager and that there was no college, though not as disapointed as her sisters. She was not happy that she wasn't likely to ever get to move out or marry, but with no real estate listed in the paper there wasn't much that could be done. It was obvious to anyone that our house was too crowded.
  7. 7. Timothy reported seeing Hebrides' ghost one evening. He was delighted. The rest of us, except for Proserpine, were just relieved it was Timothy who saw her.
  8. 8. Adrian was such a sweet baby. Too sweet for the world we live in. I wouldn't change him, but I do worry about what he'll face when he's older.
  9. 9. The crowded house is getting on everyone's nerves. Proserpine and Isis actually got into an argument today. The girls never used to quarrel.
  10. 10. Adrian has gotten bigger, and he is very excited about starting school in the morning. I hope that my girls will have the roads safe and the schools reopened in time for him to finish his education. I wonder how much repair the high school needs?
  11. 11. Hecate is the only person who doesn't seem to think the house is overcrowded. Well, she is working long days at her office, so I suppose she doesn't spend enough time at home to notice. Though Timothy worked long hours as well, and so did Proserpine. Tuonela's schedule was more variable, of course.
  12. 12. Adrian plays a lot of chess, or tries to. He's the only family member who actually tries to play, which makes it hard on him if he sits down to the chess board with anyone else. Timothy would play with him if he weren't so busy with work, but I try to keep the girls away when Adrian's playing.
  13. 13. Adrian is genuinely cheerful and cooperative, and happy to help out around the house with the chores. This is his "Adrian, would you please go mop the bathrooms?" face!
  14. 14. He did break the sink washing up--we have such trouble getting enough clean water with just the little cistern, but Isis got it fixed quickly and didn't scold him much. He hadn't meant to, and he did mop up the whole mess without a word of complaint.
  15. 15. The family multiples curse struck again. Timothy has Ash, I have Ginko, and Hecate has Kathleen. We went from a generation of all girls to one of nearly all boys. If I thought the house was crowded before, I was wrong. Now it's crowded. There are ten of us crammed in here.
  16. 16. I finally quit my job and devoted myself to taking care of my grandchildren full time. They needed it. We also no longer had enough bedroom space, so I slept when the triplets were asleep during the day.
  17. 17. Isis and Tuonela really do look so much alike: the difference, I suppose, is that Isis generally tries to keep a cheerful face no matter what life throws at her, and it throws plenty, while Tuonela positively delights in gloom no matter how well things go for her.
  18. 18. Hecate was up for, hopefully, a promotion at work: she'd worked her way up in the store and was hoping to get promoted to management. Tuonela helped her get ready. "On the bright side, Catie, you know, even if you don't get the promotion, at least you didn't sleep your way to the top like that skank you work with is trying to" she said. "Nellie! My competition for this promotion is a guy!" Hecate exclaimed, laughing and finally relaxing a bit.
  19. 19. I took good care of my darling grandbabies so their mother wouldn't worry about anything but her promotion. She had enough on her mind with that.
  20. 20. Besides, they really are darling.
  21. 21. In no time at all they were crawling around the house, getting stuck on the stairs, and generally doing what babies do. Kathleen here, and isn't she a doll?
  22. 22. Ash, and you can see from his face that he's hell bent on mischeif.
  23. 23. And Ginko, who is always eager to learn.
  24. 24. Timothy reported seeing another ghost this evening: this time the cat's. I remember talking to my grandfather's ghost as a boy, and I really do wish we had a ghost like him. Someone who remembered all the family knowledge to diseminate it to future generations. Maybe that will be me.
  25. 25. Most days I'd rather just rest. Maybe play some piano . . . I haven't heard any music besides the childrens' nursery rhymes since college now. Hebrides was an amazing musician, you know. With the state of the house being so crowded, I mostly sleep on the sofa now.
  26. 26. Adrian finally earned his first A+ grade. Unfortunately the triplets and I were sound asleep when he came in cheering. He's such a good child. I try to nap when they do, borrowing Adrian's bed.
  27. 27. Kathleen loves her brothers, a bit clumsily. She reminds me of Tuonela, and I hope she'll manage to be more content with her life than her aunt is.
  28. 28. Her brothers love her right back, of course. Who wouldn't?
  29. 29. I set about getting my grandchildren taught the skills they need in life. Ash was soon up and walking.
  30. 30. Hecate got her big promotion. Doesn't she look happy?
  31. 31. Proserpine has been promoted, she's the Colonel for our local National Guard unit, and she's quite pleased with herself. She says the roads are reasonably safe now, for small groups that are armed or with decent hand to hand skills. We aren't to get complaisant or go out without a buddy, however.
  32. 32. The younger triplets are generally being little handfuls and driving their big brother and aunties nuts.
  33. 33. Their big brother is a teenager now. Still no high school. There are no qualified teachers. I think Isis could, but the school board disagrees.
  34. 34. Tuonela has mastered the skills necessary for her final promotion, it's simply a matter of having seniority and an opening. She's sure the opening is close, she says, as the hospital director has been talking about retiring for a few years now. She's definately ready.
  35. 35. I play some 'cheat' with the girls when I get a chance, but I try to make sure the grandkids only play together.
  36. 36. Tuonela came home from work today with big news: the hospital director had finally retired, and the board had offered her the position! She'd asked for, as a bonus, a big cistern and some plumbing that had been sitting around in a back storeroom being used for nothing. With all the snow we've had, we'll have showers again as soon as we can put it all together!
  37. 37. Isis got into a lot of trouble with the school board over the whole high school qualification thing and got demoted very severely. She's now back to substituting and watching the kids on the playground. Hecate lectured her about it for quite a while. She'd so wanted the kids to go to high school. Let bygones be bygones, I say. There's a school board election in a couple years: we'll just have to motivate the voters to turn out the current board. Shouldn't be a problem once everyone's convinced the roads are as safe as Proserpine says they are. She's got armed patrols out every day.
  38. 38. I think I've gotten everything down in here for Hecate and the children. I wish I'd paid more attention to things. We need to better secure the safety of the streets, to get electricity back, to see if we can do something about this interminable winter, to get plants growing again--my grandfather had a greenhouse, get the newspaper going again, find out what's wrong with the phones . . . the list goes on and on.
  39. 39. Kathleen brought her first A+ to show me.
  40. 40. So did Ash and Ginko. I am so proud of my grandchildren.
  41. 41. Tuonela opened a little store across the street from our house to sell the comp copies of the novels the girls and Timothy had written.
  42. 42. The girls go over together and bond over coffee and grilled cheese whenever there aren't any customers in.
  43. 43. This is Hecate writing now. Father said I'd have to take over recording the family history. He's gone now. He's the only one who ever called me Hecate: to everyone else I'm just plain Catie Griffith.
  44. 44. He handled matters like the gentleman he was: he asked Proserpine and Isis to come out and build snowmen with him by Mother's grave. They thought it was an odd request.
  45. 45. They hadn't even finished building the snowmen before they found out why. Proserpine told me about Father and Death's conversation. We didn't realize he could chat with Death--he'd told us we were related to Death, but it never quite seemed real to me before, not like being a green alien freak is. "Hello, Uncle." "Hello, Nephew. I see you aren't surprised to see me." "No. I could hardly be unaware that my time was up, could I?" "I suppose not. Your father is waiting impatiently for you." "And my mother?" "No . . . she is not yet dead." "I see. The beauty of the multiverse." "Yes, isn't it? Which means that you live as well, of course."
  46. 46. "But not here anymore. Is Miss Bee around?" "Yes. She's prepared to down a bottle or two with you." "I don't recollect her being much of a drinker." "Two sets of triplets will do that to one." "This is true. I could use a drink myself, if you please." "Of course. It's traditional, after all."
  47. 47. "Shall I be able to see my girls here?" "We have widescreens." "Wonderful. I hope you also have proper beds. I'm so very tired." "You won't be anymore. In fact, there's something I'm hoping you'll be able to help me with . . ."
  48. 48. We were all devestated. And puzzled. Father and Death's conversation was so odd, and he hadn't asked about Mother at all.
  49. 49. We all coped in different ways. Adrian adopted Kai the cat.
  50. 50. My older sisters got old and grey. Proserpine still runs the national guard and kicks scums' butts regularly. There are no jails, so . . . well, I think she roughs them up, or has her 'strong young men' do it. If she doesn't, well, I don't want to know.
  51. 51. Isis is . . . coping. I have Father's notes on what to do at the next school board election, and Timothy is trying to write a unified code of laws for the Islands. I hope we can get it all sorted out to get her to reopen the high schools. It's quite safe enough out there now for the teens to go to school. It always was, really, even though people thought it wasn't. It's not like they'd be in any more danger than the children were. People can be so stupid.
  52. 52. Nellie is still unhappy and still practical. Oh, she enjoys running the bookstore, but she had to quit her job and she swears she's never gotten anything she really wanted out of life. Brat. Like she doesn't have three boyfriends chasing her around the shop.
  53. 53. My children are adorable, responsible, and even occasionally polite. Ash never can get his hair to lie down smooth--he must have gotten something from Mother, even though his aren't not as bad as his brother's curls. Kathy does her hair just like Isis and Nellie, and Ginko has the same curls as Adrian and we keep them just as short. I'd never have admitted this to Father, but I'm so glad none of the children got the green alien skin. I think it's better that we all forget the weirdness in our family tree.
  54. 54. They're also all rebellious teens now. This does not bode well for family harmony. I really miss the days of sending them out to school already, and with only Nellie to keep an eye on them, well, I really wonder how bad of an influence she'll be. Ginko back there in the shorts is my little geek. Ash is the most responsible of the lot, and Kathleen, heaven help us, just wants to have fun. I don't see any way that's going to end well for her.
  55. 55. Nellie, thus far, has surprised me. She promised the kids that if they got really fit she would take them over to the bookstore and open it. They all got right to work on that. And Kathy has declared a love for working out that surprised us all. Miss I-Just-Want-To-Have-Fun thinks working out is fun. Maybe this won't be quite so bad as I feared.
  56. 56. Kathy in fact worked out so long and hard, past the time her siblings had quit, that she got haunted by Kim's ghost. She was terrified and Ginko wished it had been him. He's jealous that he hasn't gotten to see a ghost yet.
  57. 57. Kai, our new cat, of course needed training, and we've been working hard on that. I wonder how the fireflies survive in this weather. Also how Kai learns anything when up to her neck in snow, and why Isis won't put on flippin' boots and coat before going out. She's going to freeze to death one of these days, and then changing out the school board won't do us any good at all.
  58. 58. Timothy had a big argument coming up in court and he could be found practicing in front of the mirror or anyone who would listen at all hours of the day or night.
  59. 59. I still think he's the sexiest man alive.
  60. 60. Nellie keeps the kids busy working out. You know, I thought she'd be awful with them--she's such a pessimist--but honestly, she's been great.
  61. 61. Adrian loves to meet new people and he loves talking about his favorite food. I suppose it's because Proserpine always cooks. I don't know if he's ever eaten anything else. He's really looking forward to going to the shop as soon as everyone is in good enough shape.
  62. 62. I sat Adrian down today to explain what Father thought about our world. He exploded. I'd never have expected it of him: he's so nice.
  63. 63. I hope he doesn't sulk for too long. He's got some major plans for what he wants to do with his life, and I don't think . . . I don't think he's suited to running our family after me. He hasn't got the patience--not that I do either, but I learned from Father how to fake it. He didn't.
  64. 64. Proserpine swears she knows every recipe in the book by heart--but she's still not going to cook them. Just grilled cheese.
  65. 65. Kathy has become a fitness nut, her siblings report.
  66. 66. Nellie says she's just as fit as, or fitter, than the kids. Proserpine agrees that she could take them out safely, once they're ready. It's not like the shop's so far away, just across the street. We can see it out the windows.
  67. 67. Kathy, of course, was the first of the trio to be fit enough to meet Proserpine's exacting standards. Adrian was already there, but then he has several years advantage over them.
  68. 68. Tim won an election and became Judge. It's a largely ceremonial position since there is no proper law enforcement, but he's settled several suits at least. Maybe one of the children will do something about the lack of police.
  69. 69. We had few enough moments together, as a family, but now it seemed like things could relax a bit. Except, of course for that school board election.
  70. 70. Kathy, who didn't care so much about school, played chess all day with Adrian, who did, in order to keep his mind off of the election.
  71. 71. I celebrated my birthday quietly at home, and we got the news of the new board members. It was, quite possibly, the best birthday present ever.
  72. 72. The very next day Isis was able to reopen the high school. That's Melody with her--one of Proserpine's proteges whom she'd brought home with her from work. Nice young lady.
  73. 73. Working as a Judge, Tim now has more time to spend with the boys. They like having their dad around more.
  74. 74. They weren't so happy about homework, but they all got it done.
  75. 75. Kathy wasn't happy about homework either, but she did just as well as her brothers. They all knew they needed to get their grades up as fast as possible so that the first moment the phone lines came up they could call up the University and apply.
  76. 76. My Tim's not as young as he used to be, but he's still a fine looking man. He's going to stay busy, he says, learning everything he can about life, now that he's retired from being a judge.
  77. 77. Kai, the cat, is doing well at her career as well. You'll see her in kitty food commercials, assuming you have electricity. As we don't, well, we haven't seen them. But we're told she's quite famous.
  78. 78. Timothy's making good progress on his goal, and the children are making good progress on theirs.
  79. 79. Now the truth has come out about why the kids were so eager to get back to school. They talked other kids into riding the bus home with them. Here we have Lily and Lilac Botany, some sort of very distant cousin or something I suppose. I don't recall hearing Mom or Uncle Hal mention them ever. They're twins.
  80. 80. The other young lady who came home was named Coriander Botany. She seems very old for her years. Then we got a dialtone on the phone and I had to interupt the boys.
  81. 81. So my babies all left for college: Ash mailed me pictures. Adrian is still annoyed about the whole 'apocalypse' thing.
  82. 82. If Kathleen dressed foolishly, well, I suppose that's to be expected from someone who does silly things like juggle coffee mugs in her spare time. Ginko is just as much my little geek as he's always been, and Ash is still Ash, practical and pragmatic. He promises to write often, as the mail is still reliable.
  83. 83. End of chapter: You forget who tub-pirates in the Apocalypse. "Colin, drat it, others need the bathroom!"--Sunny "Stupid simmer."--Colin So: lifts so far: Hebrides: Culinary Colin: Athletic Kim: Pet Service Isis: Education Proserpine: Military Tuonela: Medical Hecate: Business Timothy: Law Kai: Pet Show Business
  84. 84. Tuonela's Place: bookstore for the purpose of a) getting Tuonela out of red and b) feeding Proserpine cheese. Both purposes were served, and also getting Adrian happy enough to drink elixer and stay young until Tuesday. Stats: Adrian: 9/2/10/8/6 Popularity/Grilled Cheese, LTW 5 Businesses. Ash: 9/2/10/8/6 Family/Pleasure, LTW Marry off six kids. Ginko: 9/2/6/6/5 Knowledge/Popularity, Media Magnent. Kathleen: 7/10/10/0/6 Pleasure/Popularity, 50 first dates. Yes, I'm forgetful and Ash is a clone child. Adrian and Ash have the hobby of sports, so it's fitting that Adrian has grown up in sports gear so far. Kathleen's of course is fitness. Ginko's is still unknown.