Currently editing this. Ignore for the moment.
"The Dead Don't Swim"
A tale of the living dead
Off and on Thursday and then again all day Friday, little motor boats ferried members of the Rand family out to Goose Island, located in the middle of the Willamette River between Eugene and Corvallis. For more than 100 years, generations of Rands had been meeting here in mid-August for one big family event before the children went back to school and the adults found themselves swamped by a variety of harvests upon the family's 2,000+ acres of crop fields, nut groves, and fruit orchards.
There had been repeated inquiries from a number of family members about whether or not this year's get-together should be cancelled. What the Press was calling The Living Dead Virus
had been spreading across Africa and Southeast Asia for weeks, and -- although the CDC denied it -- there were rumors that Canadian, Mexican, and American hospitals seeing cases of the virus as well.
Robert Rand had scoffed at the very idea of the virus. Ideas
of the virus, plural
. First, that there could even be a virus that could kill a person and then bring them back to life. Second, that that undead
person would then become some sort of cannibalistic animal that would chase down, attack, kill, and eat
another person. And finally, that such a virus would have reached the United States and the government would be hiding that fact. Robert Rand had been, was now, and always would be a die hard supporter of the Government -- Federal, State, and Local -- and he just didn't believe -- refused
to believe -- that they would hide such important information from the People.
" he'd posted on the Rand Family Facebook page. (Actually, Robert's granddaughter and social media guru
, Bernice, had composed the post. Robert barely knew how to open the internet, let alone post to it.) He (or Bernie
, to be precise) had continued the posting, "I'll believe in dead cannibals when you all show up for the reunion, die, and eat my face off. See you all August 21st."
With the passing of Robert's father, Leroy, late last year, Robert was now considered the new patriarch of the Rand Family. At half past his 55th birthday, Robert was far from the eldest of the still living Rand children. He had a brother who was pushing 60 and a sister 2 years older than that. But Robert was the only one of Leroy's children still working the farm, and anyone who knew anything about Leroy Rand knew that if you didn't work the farm, you barely family anymore. There had been a great many tense moments over the decades as one after another of the Rand children chose to pursue careers off the land: one had become a doctor, another a lawyer, another still a rock and rock drummer. Each was always welcomed back to the farm, of course, and each was not only welcomed but expected
to attend the annual reunion. But when it came to who was the Big Cheese -- in charge of the farm, the reunion, and anything else having to do with the estate -- all knew that if you didn't put in your 70 hours a week here, you didn't count.
As the Big Cheese, Robert had said that the reunion was still on. Despite that, the turnout was significantly smaller than normal. To be honest, Robert was happily surprised to see the attendance number reach three digits. His father had always been the real draw
for many of the family members over the decades. Leroy had always been beloved, and Robert knew better than to expect the family to find him as lovable and adorable as the Old Man.
And particularly after the reading of the Will this past June. Leroy had been, in Robert's opinion, very generous in leaving $50,000 in cash to each of his 8 children or -- in the case of the two who had passed away before him -- to the children of those dearly departed off spring. Of course, Robert himself had been left the estate, valued at more thanand event that left each of Leroy's been reviewing his Last Will and Testament every September for decades, ever since the first of his seven children decided to leave the farm and go off to find other directions in life. So, if you wanted to remain in the Will, you at least
attended the Goose Island family reunion in August, to keep your name and face fresh in the mind of the aging Robert Senior.
The Will -- and thus the estate --- had been dealt with six months ago, and those affected by its contents had already learned whether or not they were to benefit from Robert Senior's
passing. So by the time the first motor boat was ready to transport its first passengers out to the island, Robert Junior
already had a good idea about who was going to come and have time with family and who was going stay home and pout. Back stabbing, money grubbing traitorous leeches
, he had thought many times about the latter group.
His thoughts weren't a whole lot better about those who passed
because of the growing virus scare. Cowards. Ignorant cowards, afraid of their own shadows.
As it would turn out, though, that second group's fears would in fact come to be realized. Before they'd finished pulling the weeds from the horse shoe pits or gathering the past year's fallen branches for the bon fire, smart phones and tablets -- which had been hidden from Robert after his declaration that they didn't belong on Goose Island -- began going crazy with Emergency Broadcast warnings, tweets, emails, and notifications from a dozen other social media apps and services.
The Living Dead virus had reached not just the United States but Oregon
, too. A multitude of reunion activities ended, and the 100+ Rands who had come to the island all gathered to discuss the situation. Over the next couple of hours, things would only worsen: the Governor would announce that she was mobilizing the National Guard; the airports, train stations, bus stations, and other forms of group transportation would be shut down; and the interstate freeways and major highways would be closed and monitored by local law enforcement. A State-wide, dusk to dawn curfew was instituted with a set of guidelines put in place to allow citizens to inform Authorities about situations of which they should be aware, namely signs that the virus had reached their homes.
The motor boats that had delivered the Rand family members out to the isle had begun doing the opposite, taking them back to their cars parked along the far bank. Robert begged all in attendance to stay put. "Right now this is the safest place where you can be."
But most either wanted to get back to their homes, friends, and not-currently-present family members; while others felt they had a duty to help with the situation, such as the handful of emergency responders who had come from the Rand family line. The last person to have arrived for the reunion had shown up midday Saturday, and by midday Sunday the population of the island was down to just 30.