Joey
By: Jim Bates

This Sci-Fi series has to do with the impact of global warming on one family in the year 2220.
The story so far:

Episode 1 - At the Biodome
We meet Quinn an engineer at a wind farm and his son Matt on a field trip and learn about life in the year 2220.

Episode 2 - The Test
We meet Karen and learn about Quinn and Karen's life together.

Episode 3 -Millennium Microbial
We learn about Karen's job as a biochemist working on improving the world's food supply and meet Jen.

Episode 4 - The History Center
Quinn kidnaps Matt on a field trip and goes on the run.

Episode 5 - The Hideout
Karen visits Quinn and Matt at their hideout and makes a big decision.

Episode 6 - Preparations Are Made
Jen joins Quinn and Karen and Matt and they get ready to escape from the city.

Episode 7 - Fugitives
Quinn and Karen and Matt and Jen leave their hideout and make their way to edge of the city near the Food Storage Facility, one step closer to escaping the World Order Security Police who are looking for them.

Episode 8 - Escape
Quinn and Karen and Matt and Jen make it past the security forces safely only to be confronted with the wasteland known as No Man’s Land.

Episode 9 - No Man's Land
Quinn, Karen, Matt and Jen are forced to cross a forbidding wasteland before they run out of supplies.

Episode 10 - The Mountains
Quinn, Karen, Matt and Jen must find their way through the mountains on their way to what they hope is a better life. But they have run out of supplies. The group is saved when they met Aaron who befriends them and shows them the way.

Episode 11 - Lost
Quinn and Karen and Matt along with Jen are making a life for themselves in the small village of Nedlaw. However, when Matt befriends a dog and follows it, he almost loses his life when he falls into the rain swollen rapids of the Willow River.

Episode 12 - Joey

"So, are you excited?" Karen asked, pouring a cup of tea for her and her friend.

"What? About our ceremony and Aaron and me making a commitment to stay together?" Jen joked, taking a sip of the refreshing blend of chamomile and fennel Karen was known for.

"No. About catching your first fish yesterday," Karen laughed. "Of course, about your ceremony.

Jen grinned. "Yeah, I am. Aaron's a good guy."

"He is. I'm really happy for you." Karen picked up her six-month-old daughter who'd been playing on the floor with a wooden spoon and kissed the top of her head. "Enya is, too."

Jen set her cup down. "Here. Let me hold her." She took the little girl in her arms and gave her a quick kiss. "Wish me luck, little one. This is a big step for me." She bounced the contented child on her lap as the two friends continued sipping their tea and talking.

"You never thought you'd find someone like Aaron, did you?"

"Not in a million years. Living in the city was such a pain in the ass. I was happy just to get through one day at work, get home, have something to eat, go to bed and then start all over again."

"I know. Millennium Microbial. What a place to work. It was unbelievably mundane."

"No kidding. Not to mention that we didn't have long to live to begin with."

"Yeah. Until we turned forty, if even that long."

"The Lifeline."

"What a weird concept."

"What's so weird about being put to death in the prime of your life just to keep the population under control?"

"Yeah, now when you put it that way…not a thing!"

Both women laughed, something they did often, now that they were living in the quaint community of Nedlaw in the valley of the Willow River.

Back in the dark and depressing polluted city, life was one long slog of a day after another culminating when a person reached the end of their World Order mandated Lifelife of forty years. Most people's lives were shorter, with time taken off for "bad behavior," anything not in agreement with the World Order Security Police. Jen once had a day taken off for crossing in the middle of the street. At the end of a person's Lifeline they were unceremoniously put to death in a government run clinic. Then they were turned into compost.

But Jen and Karen along with her husband and son had escaped that fate to forage a new life, a better life.

"So where are Quinn and Matt?" Jen asked, affectionately nuzzling Enya's dark hair. The little girl giggled. "And Joey, of course." Joey was Matt's dog, the brave little terrier who had helped save Matt nine months earlier when he'd fallen into the rain swollen Willow River and nearly been crushed to death under the huge wheel of the grindstone at the mill.

Karen pointed out the window to the foothills rising toward the mountains. "The guys took Joey and went on what they called a nature walk." She smiled. "They love it here."

"And they love being together," Jen added.

Karen took Enya in her arms, "Yeah, they do. This has been good for both of them. Just what Quinn wanted."

"And more?" Jen asked pointing to Enya.

"And more," Karen grinned.

Suddenly, the sound of rumbling thunder caught their attention. Karen got up and went to the door of the small cabin and looked out over the valley to the mountains to the west. A wall of dark clouds was boiling over them and heading their way. Fast. Lighting was flashing like a strobe light.

"Looks we're in for some wicked weather," she said turning to Jen. "Might put a damper on your ceremony. No pun intended."

Jen laughed. "None taken. We've got the rest of the day until six tonight when it starts."

Karen turned to watch the approaching storm. "I'm getting a little worried about Quinn and Matt, though. They should be home by now."

"Where'd they go on their nature walk?"

"I think they were heading up Sandy Creek."

"That's on the other side of the river, a couple of miles away. They've got Joey with them, though, so they should be okay. Right?"

"Yeah…" She was going to comment more but instead said, "Oh, shit."

Jen hurried to join her at the door. "What?"

Karen pointed. "Something's wrong."

Jen took one look. "Damn."

Racing out of a grove of trees and crossing a small field on a dead run was Joey. He was all by himself, Quinn and Matt nowhere in sight. He ran up to where the two women were standing, slid to a halt and began barking frantically. Then he ran a few steps back to where he'd come from, and then ran toward them and then back, barking the entire time. Clearly, he was agitated and trying to get the two of them to follow him.

Jen turned to Karen. "What do you think?"

Karen gave Enya to Jen, grabbed her rain jacket and started putting it on. "What I think is those two guys are in trouble."

"I'm coming with you."

"You can't," Karen pointed. "I've got to go look for them, and I need you to stay with Enya."

"No way. I'm coming with. Let's drop her at Shellie's house." Shellie was a single mother who lived nearby. Her son and Matt went to school together and were good friends.

"Good idea."

While Jen got ready, Karen bundled up Enya and then knelt down and put a leash on Joey. "Take us to Matt, boy," she said to him. "Help us find Quinn."

Joey barked once in acknowledgement and trotted off straining at his leash, Karen and Enya and Jen following behind. They hurried to Shellie's cottage first.

"I'll be glad to take Enya," she said, her face showing her concern. "I'll get a hold of Aaron and we'll get some help organized."

Karen hugged Shellie. "Thank you so much." She kissed Enya, handed her over to Shellie and said to Jen, "Let's go!"

Joey was leading them across the wooden footbridge that spanned the Willow River just as the skies opened up and it began to rain. A downpour was more like it, one like they'd never seen before. Thunder boomed, lightning flashed all around them, and Quinn and Matt were out in it. Karen's heart was pounding in her chest. Where were they?

After crossing the bridge, the two women turned to their left and began sprinting as fast as they could toward Sandy Creek with Joey on his leash pulling them along. Then, as if to make matters worse, the rain began increasing in intensity. In moments they were drenched.

***

Two miles away in the bottom of a steep gully, Matt cradled his father's head in his lap. "Dad! Dad, can you hear me?" Blood was running from a gash in Quinn's forehead into his eyes and Matt was struggling to wipe it away, fighting back tears. He had just turned six years old and was getting to be a ‘Big boy,' as he thought of himself, but other than keeping the blood out of his dad's eyes, he didn't know what else he should do. One thing he did know, instinctively, was that he had to do something. And he had to be strong.

Quinn groaned and blinked a few times, starting to come around. "W…Wa…What happened?"

"You slipped and fell down the hill, Dad," Matt said, wiping more blood away. "I…I think you cut yourself."

As Quinn slowly moved his head back and forth, clearing his vision, the events earlier in the day started coming back to him. Yeah, that's right, he had fallen. He and Matt had decided to take a hike before Jen and Aaron's ceremony, mainly to get out of the way of the final preparations. They crossed the Willow River and followed it until they met up with Sandy Creek, a narrow tributary that flowed from the glaciers high in the mountains. At Matt's urging they'd followed the creek into the foothills looking for wildflowers and watching for wildlife.

When Quinn had seen a huge bird soaring above them, he'd pointed it out to Matt. "Look. Look at the big raptor. It's an eagle."

Matt looked up, spied the bird and said, "That's so cool, Dad."

When he had stepped back to give Matt more room to see, Quinn had slipped on some loose gravel, lost his footing and fallen off the trail, tumbling down a steep slope, rolling over and over before finally coming to rest at the bottom of a gully. He might have been all right except that he'd cracked his head on a boulder on the way down and smashed his face into the trunk of a dead pine tree once he'd come to rest at the bottom. Then he'd passed out, only coming around when he recognized Matt's voice.

"I'm starting to feel a little better," he said. Quinn knew he had to try to ignore the pain he was in so he could take care of his son. "I'm going to try to…oh, oh." He was trying to sit up when the world started spinning around and around making him so dizzy, he almost got sick to his stomach. "I think I'd better keep lying down."

Matt helped his father lay back and then leaned over him and gently brushed the hair out of eyes. And some more blood. "Dad, you just rest." He took the cork out of an earthenware water container and held it to his father's lips. "Here. Drink some of this. You'll feel better."

Quinn drank thirstily. "Thanks. I needed that. You're a good helper." Then he looked around. "Hey, where's Joey?"

"He was worried about you. I could tell. Like I was. So, told him to run home to Mom and bring help."

Quinn had trouble believing a dog could be that smart, but who was he to argue? Right now, injured like he was and not able to help himself, anything was better than nothing. "You think he understood you?"

"Oh, yeah, Dad. Joey's real smart."

A crack of lightning overhead made them both flinch. It was followed by booming thunder like someone pounding on a kettle drum. Fast moving black clouds began rolling over the nearby mountains, and in a matter of moments rain drops the size of small stones started hitting the ground. And them. Splat. Splat. Splat.

With his dad's head still cradled in his lap, Matt bent over him to use his little body to offer protection from the sudden downpour. It didn't help. In a minute they were both drenched by the cold rain. Then it started to hail. Quinn began shivering and so did Matt. They held on to each other but the cold cut through them like a knife. They were trapped and unable to escape and could do nothing now but hope that by some miracle Joey could find help and bring people back to rescue them. Until that time, though, all they had was each other.

***

Thunder shook the ground and lightning lit up the sky. Rain fell in sheets whipped by gusting winds, pelting Karen and Jen in their faces like steel pellets. Neither women had ever seen such a storm. Then pea sized hail began falling, battering them on their hunched shoulders and coating the ground.

Karen pointed up Sandy Creek toward the foothills and yelled to Jen above the wind, "Quinn said they were heading that way." She wiped the rain from her eyes. Some tears, too. "I'm worried. It's dangerous for them to be out in this storm."

Just as she spoke Joey broke from the leash and took off at a dead run along the side of the creek, splashing through puddles and kicking up tiny bits of gravel and hail.

Jen didn't hesitate. "Let's go!" she yelled.

The two of them took off at a sprint after the little dog, a cacophony of thunder was booming all around them, drowning out the thumping of their beating hearts. It was tough going fighting their way up hill. The terrain was rocky and the loose gravel and stones under foot made walking hard on a good day and were even more treacherous now by being wet. Brown, murky runoff flooded toward them from further up in the hills and with every passing minute the storm seemed to intensify as the howling wind buffeted them with horizontally driven rain. At least the hail had quit.

Joey ran ahead, stopped and ran back to them and ran ahead again, encouraging them to go faster. Sometimes he ran out of their vision but always returned. He gave the women hope.

Karen was beside herself with worry. She and Quinn and Matt had gone through too much for something horrible to occur that would put an end it all. She couldn't let that happen. As if reading her friend's thoughts, Jen yelled above the wind, "Don't worry, we'll find them."

Karen slowed to catch her breath. "I just don't know where they could be. Quinn mentioned coming up the creek but he didn't say how far."

Jen wiped water from her face, trying to see ahead, but it was impossible. Rain was pouring down like a waterfall. Hail started falling again and was pounding them. Their range of vision was only about fifty feet.

Suddenly, up ahead they heard the frantic barking of Joey. Jen pulled Karen along. "Let's hurry. Joey's up there. He must be trying to tell us something."

Karen mustered all of her strength and off they ran toward Joey, hoping they weren't too late

***

When Joey saw Karen and Jen coming toward him, he leaped into the gully and slid down to Matt and Quinn. The women ran to the edge and looked. About thirty feet below them, Karen saw Matt bent over his dad but neither of them was moving. Joey was at their side, desperately barking and licking at Matt, then nuzzling Quinn, then back to licking Matt.

Quickly, she slid down the wet slope, taking in the scene the instant was at the bottom. Quinn had a gash on his forehead with blood seeping out of it, mingling with rain water. There was also a scrape on the back of his head. Matt appeared uninjured but was very cold. He shivered when she picked him up. "Mom's here, honey," she said, hugging him before handing over him to Jen who had slid down right behind her. "He's really cold, but other than that I think he's okay. Check him out and see what you think."

"I'm on it." Jen and Matt were close friends. She cradled him to her chest for a moment before laying him down to check his vital signs, bending over him to keep the rain off. Thankfully, the hail had stopped, hopefully for good. "Hey there, guy," she spoke softly trying to be calm. "I'm here. You're safe now. How are you feeling?"

Matt opened his eyes to a blurry world. He turned toward where the voce was coming from as his vision began to clear. When he recognized Jen, his face lit up. "Aunt Jen," he grinned, hugging her. "Boy am I ever glad to see you." He pointed. "Is Dad okay?"

Jen looked at Karen who was administering to her husband and asked, "Karen, how is he?"

Karen had ripped a piece of fabric from her shirt and had used it to clean the wound on Quinn's forehead. She was now working on the one on the back of his head. "The scrapes aren't too deep. I think he's going to be okay."

When he heard their voices, Quinn began to regain consciousness and tried to sit up. "I'm okay. Ow!" He stiffly lay again. "Well, maybe not. My head…it really hurts."

Karen turned to Jen. "He might have a concussion. We'll have to be careful with him." To Quinn she said, "You just rest for a little bit." She picked up one of the water containers and opened it, holding the rim to Quinn's lips. "Here you go. Drink this." Quinn gratefully did.

It took over an hour to get Quinn and Matt up out of the gully and then down from the hills toward the village. On the way they met Aaron and a search party sent out by Shellie. By the time they got to Quinn and Karen's cabin everyone was soaking wet and bone cold.

Jen and Aaron helped Karen start a fire and soon the little cabin was nice and warm and toasty. They all put on dry clothes, even Jen and Aaron, who borrowed some of Jen's and Quinn's. Matt and Quinn sat by the fire with Enya and Aaron while Jen heated some potato and vegetable stew and cut up thick slices of Karen's bread in preparation of a warm and filling meal. Karen busied herself setting the table and trying not to berate Quinn. But she couldn't help it.

"Quinn I can't believe you were so clumsy out there. You've got to be more careful."

"I know." I'm sorry. And he was. "I'll be more conscientious next time."

Matt chimed in, "When can we go back, Dad? I want to see that eagle again."

"When your mother says it's okay," Quinn said.

He looked at Karen, who winked and said, "You've got that right, buddy." Then she smacked her forehead. "Wait a minute. What about the ceremony?" She turned to Jen. "I'm so sorry. I forgot all about it."

Jen smiled at her. "That's okay. Me and Aaron have been talking. We're just happy this all worked out as well as it did. We're going to postpone it until later. That'll be the best thing to do. Plus…" she paused as the little cottage shook with a loud crack of lightning exploding nearby. "This is a pretty wicked storm."

"You sure?" Karen asked.

Jen looked at Aaron who nodded and smiled back at her. She said, "Yep. It's all good."

Joey stood up from his spot next to Matt by the fire, yawned and stretched before laying down again. Matt hugged the little terrier and said, "I'm so happy I have Joey. I think he saved us."

Quinn looked at Karen who looked at Jen who looked at Aaron. Everyone was smiling and nodding their heads in the affirmative. Quinn grinned and looked back to his son and said, "You know what, I think you're right. Joey's a real member of the family now."

Close by the fire the little terrier stayed sleeping, but wagged his tail slowly, as if heard what was being said about him. And he agreed with every word.

To Be Continued…

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