Protection and Preservation, Book 10
Chapter 18

It was cold. The land was beautiful but there was a slight wind and a definite chill to the air. It forcibly reminded us that it was winter in this hemisphere! We put on another layer of clothing and explored in the same manner as Wellington. We found no one and no sign of anyone in a long time. "It makes no sense to me. Someone should have survived." I didn't realize that I had spoken aloud.

George said, "It really doesn't make sense to me either. David, what do you think?"

David said, "I can guess two things. First, the virus was more virulent here or the people decided that they would be better off on a bigger land mass. Neither makes good sense for I have trouble believing that no one survived on these islands."

We were on our way back to the airport in a dune buggy driving slowly and watching for any sign of people or anything else. Everything had been eerily quiet since the initial landing at Auckland. I said, "Guys, there are no animals!"

David snapped his fingers. "We haven't seen a dog or cow or sheep. I seem to remember something about sheep on New Zealand. There is something bad going on and I think we need to get back to the Duck now."

We nodded and turned the dune buggy around. David went on the radio and said, "Look for skeletons and be prepared to talk about it later. Everyone, this is David. Return to base now. If you have anything on why people are missing, bring it with you."

It was half an hour before the last couple drove up. David had all the vehicles shackled in Duck. We met in the terminal. He said, "Listen up! Did anyone find any skeletons?" People all shook their heads. "Did anyone find anything on deaths of people and/or animals?"

The last couple in lifted a hand. She said, "We found a handwritten note in a house that everyone and all the animals were dying. The note writer wondered if the virus had mutated and then scrawled off the page."

David said, "Something very bad happened on these islands. We don't know what or where to look. I'm not even sure what we could do if we found more information. We will call to Protection tonight. I want to talk to Doctor George and find out what he thinks. If this is still active, we need to know. If he doesn't think so, then we can make long term plans. If you're not scared, then you should be. Right now, let's not panic or do anything foolish. Let's hear Doctor George.

"Get a radio ready now."

For that, there was a scramble though it was orderly.

We contacted Protection that evening our time. The person agreed to get Doctor George on the radio quickly after we explained the urgency. It only took half an hour for George to come on our frequency. David explained the situation and then said, "What should we do?"

Doctor George said, "First, don't panic. No one has any symptoms. It is likely that any virus or mutated virus is dead.

"Second, you've been on the islands for what, three days?"

David said, "Yes, Sir. This is our third night."

Doctor George said, "Okay. What were your plans?"

David said, "Tomorrow, we would traverse the west coast of the South Island and finish up at Auckland for the night. Day after tomorrow, we would have headed back to Australia."

Doctor George said, "Complete your tour. You may see something yet. Stay at Auckland for three nights. If there are no problems or symptoms, then I think it will be safe to continue figuring that there is nothing to affect you. The virus was world-wide and everyone now alive should be immune.

"The only potential issue is no survivors and no animals. Other than that, we wouldn't worry at all."

Our George said, "Grandfather, we haven't found bones. Is that an indicator?"

Doctor George said, "No, Son. It is curious but bodies left outside for forty years to weather can deteriorate pretty thoroughly. New Zealand has seasons, doesn't it?"

He answered, "Yes, Sir. It's winter now and fairly chilly."

Doctor George said, "Well, sleep warm tonight. Continue with your plan. Just add three more days to your plan. Will that cause any hardship?"

David shook his head and George said, "No, Grandfather. David indicates that we have plenty of supplies."

George talked to his grandmothers and other friends and relatives came on to talk to others. We finally signed off. We all went to bed.

Once ensconced in our bedroll, I said, "David, hold me. I'm scared."

He did and said, "I am, too. However, we are Alina Burrangong and Weeronga Jungay. We have with us Bilyana Pindari. It will be okay. After all, Loorea predicted a family for us and a future for George."

We went up the west coast and returned to Auckland. We topped off the tanks on the Duck and placed our bedrolls in the terminal. Everyone was together and I said, "I don't know about the rest of you but the idea of hanging around here with nothing to do for three days doesn't appeal to me. I have an idea. Let's fly north carefully and find a spot with a beach."

That appealed to everyone and we began to make plans to leave in the morning. We selected Suva Airport on the island of Fiji. It should be far enough north to be warm. I wanted a beach! It was one thousand, three hundred ten miles. We could make a round trip if we were careful about fuel. We hoped to pick up more at the Suva airport.

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