Lohbado wandered in a daze, after a bomb knocked him off his feet, a near miss, during his escape from the renegade compound outside Yamaville. Yamaville remained intact after the nuclear explosions. Life was somewhat stable. The city looked the same. But the inhabitants had been altered. Intense fears and phobias hit people who had previously been calm and secure.
Strange weather patterns added a sense of malaise. During a cool day, a warm current of air sometimes flowed through the city, reminding people of those deadly blasts of radioactive wind, which took place during the nuclear war. Unpredictable, sudden storms roared across the horizon with increasing frequency. Lohbado joined a group of ex-grovelers, those who had been expelled from the Holy Hive or who resigned from the Grovelers Group.
A group of ex-sinners composed the Grovelers Group. They felt that if they repented hard enough, they would be spared nuclear annihilation. They believed the Apocalyptic War was God’s way of punishing them for their sins. Lohbado had violated at least four of the Ten Commandments and had ignored the Five Suggestions: when money loses its value, invest in gold and silver; when people get into a selling panic, don’t sell; a bottle of beer or glass of wine a day is good for you; buy a motor vehicle before stricter emission standards come into effect; get plenty of rest and learn the smile of success.
During the food shortage, Lohbado stole a May West cream cake and a Schwan apple pie. When being sheltered from enemy troops, he committed adultery with a woman whose husband was out fighting. He worshiped several gods, rather than focusing on just one god. And when a spy came to arrest him, he lied about his status. Thus, he committed the sins of worshiping other gods, stealing, lying and committing adultery. He joined the Grovelors Group in order to repent. After a few sessions of Groveling, his knees got sore and he no longer had a bad conscience, so he quit and joined the Goo-goo Underground.
The Goo-goo Underground devoted itself to the overthrow of the Arrogant Leech, who was putting together an army of worms on the pretext of policing the world. The Goos knew direct confrontation with the Leech would fail. They were no match for the Leech and his worm army. They needed cosmic help, from local spirits. Only Oogah, Oorsis or the Great Nomroh could help the Goos overthrow the Arrogant Leech.
The Arrogant Leech was son of the famous billionaire, Titus Bludzuker, owner of Happytime Antidepressants and inventor of the Zee-Smart Bomb, a small programmable explosive able to track down and kill specified victims, while leaving furniture and architecture intact. Mr. Leech’s ambition was to capture and control the world supply of honey and the manufacture of mead alcohol. A vicious parasite had wiped out sugar beets and sugar cane, forcing food producers to rely on honey as the preferred source of sugar. Bees became a precious commodity, creating quite a buzz on the stock market and stinging those whose sticky fingers made it difficult for them to let go at the crucial moment.
Members of the Goo-goo Underground decided to brave the way through the Plains of Radiation to Bear Temple and Brewery, where they hoped to make contact with Oogah, and Oorsis, Grizzly Bear spirits of Rock Hill.
A few words about the bear spirits: Climate change disrupted the migration of wildlife. A group of grizzlies moved to The Plains of Radiation, a treeless area of rolling gravel, scorched earth fenced off by the Department of Regulation. Roaming bandits regularly cut down the fence so devotees of the sacred region could make contact with the spirits. Spirits inspired inhabitants with courage to continue living on the damaged planet.
Grizzly mutates looked like grizzlies, but developed the ability to walk upright for up to a hundred paces at a time. The dexterity of their front legs and paws improved to an almost human level. Such bear creatures were able to use basic tools, such as the hammer, axe, screwdriver and drill. Within the fenced region, the bears built a huge temple out of rock and salvaged lumber. Inside the temple, they brewed mead, a honey-liquor. The bears irrigated a flat region of dung to create a meadow and then were able to raise bees. They gathered wild berries and used the yeasty qualities of bear drool to induce fermentation. Devotees of the Great Nomroh would drink mead and then recite the alphabet in cryptic sequence, while making unusual sounds and surprising movements.
One of the greatest challenges for the Lost Wanderer is the ability to focus. Radiation damage to the brain caused frequent drowsiness and agitation. Waves of thought would take over, usually mental bickering about some minor insult or misunderstanding, followed by a heavy, sleepy feeling. As a result, Lohbado was only able to do fifty percent of what he had been able to do before the apocalypse. At first, this was quite frustrating. He woke up with plans and ambitions, but was forced to let them go as he got out of bed, his head spinning, short of breath and chest pains. Seeing a doctor was out of the question. The medical system had collapsed. Only top administrators, business people and government officials had access to health care. Lohbado had no choice but to simplify his life into a series of easy to accomplish steps. Multi-tasking was out of the question. He could no longer work overtime or skip lunch. He required a full eight-hour sleep each night in order to make it through the following day.
The Goos prayed that a rain would wash the worms on to the sidewalk, rendering them harmless. The worm army was composed of jealous hordes of people. They were jealous against the Alphabetoots who sat around studying the alphabet all day long instead of making themselves busy. The Alphabetoots sold good luck alphabet cards, love incantations, astrological projections and abecedaries.
The jealous hordes were also jealous of each other. Each worm felt he or she was doing more than his or her fair share of work and viewed other worms as being shirkers, slackers or malingerers. Some worms were jealous of the crumbs on the lips of other worms. Some even envied the contents of other worms mouths. Rather than encourage each other, they seethed with barely repressed rage and spread harmful gossip and malicious rumors. The Goo-goo Underground found confidence nourishment from the great mother and decided to free the worms from the can, which had contained them for so long. But first, they had to subdue the Arrogant Leech, which will be described in the next episode.