Chapter 6: Marmot

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This is the sixth chapter in this short story series we’re calling Future Flow. Today we return to the Beaver Believers, first seen in Chapter One.



The old fast food place was lined with black caulk sprouting weeds. The bricks were cracked and FOR SALE signs with realtors going back a decade were all fallen down like a bad hand of poker in the door.

“There’s no way the oil’s still good.” Caroline said. They were in the Jeep, driving across the cracked parking lot. The sun was beating down and she hadn’t had air conditioning since her first hot flash half a lifetime ago.

“The oil’s new. This place still has a permit for dumping cooking oil, so people use it.” Marwa said.

“And I guess they pay for it by…” Caroline began right before Dave interrupted her.

“That’s why I just slipped a crypto stick behind that brick.” He said from outside the jeep.

Caroline pulled up next to the cast iron container. It looked like a dumpster and smelled of rancid oil. Set at the back of the blasted parking lot, it looked downright apocalyptic, a charred black box between cracked asphalt and burned tree trunks. They attached some hoses and filters and Caroline hit a switch, pumping the oil out.

“I hope it’s not corn oil.” Marwa said. “Always reminds me of Chicaweiser, but somehow, worse.”

“Oh my. That smell. This one’s lucky, ladies.” Dave said, jutting a surprisingly strong jaw out from under feminine lips.

They sat a second, taking in slow, careful breaths.

“Peanut oil.” Three smiles grew. Good mileage and a smell that was hard to find west of Texas.

“Swamp mermaids, here we come.” Caroline said, when they were done. The acceleration onto the old roads was fast, wind whipping long hair through the cabin, the trio settling in to the long afternoon of edible highs and high temperatures.

An hour passed, then another, three heads bobbing and rolling on the worn out roads, talking about the good old days and the bad old days, strikes busted, skulls cracked, protests broken, watching fascists, money, and pulpits soar higher and higher, fueled by burning the last scraps of the world.

Each road sign had been blown to bits ages ago, and after crossing a dangerous bridge they stopped, pulled into the dry creekbed, in the nook of the road, to lay old paper maps across the top of the hood.

“Dave and I can’t go into town.” Marwa said, pointing to a spot on the road where it crossed into a town called Sandy. “Marmot’s a little ways down the Sandy River.” She said, pointing to the dry river rocks behind her.  

“I got some warrants somewhere in the system and Dave’s papers don’t match Dave.” Marwa said. The map was old, drawn over and over again with oil pencil for places that roadblocks and boundaries had moved around over the years.

“What Church are you?” Marwa asked.

“I’ve got papers for every protestant group in the southeast, and one Catholic ID that’ll work if you don’t look too closely.”

“I was hoping you had something Mormon in there.”

Caroline shook her head. “Sure would have come in handy after I got north of Texas, but they’re a little harder to get at than Shitsplit Missouri First Baptist Church.”

“What’s in Sandy?” Marwa asked Dave. Marwa was digging at her fingernails with the old bowie knife again, and Dave was fiddling with the CB radio in the cab, testing channels and talking to someone.

Dave asked something over the radio, and nodded into his headphones before answering.

“Mormons and Catholics. Split north and south. Hardware’s open if you’re legal.” Dave said.

“Hardware’s open if you’re legal?” Caroline repeated. “You sound like a fucking mercenary, Dave. We’re just going to visit some dipshits from the radio who want people to beat up beavers, not start a land war in Oregon.”

From inside her driver’s seat she pulled out a cigar-style box with a sliding wooden lid. There were grooves for multiple lids, and the one on top right now was marked with a simple cross and a reference to one of the multitudes of religious liberty laws that might keep a cop out of it.

Inside, were handfuls of cash and crypto sticks, and a few manila envelops from churches across the country. Most of them were marked with simple crosses or crescent moons, but with a big of digging she found a battered, dirty envelope with a Chi-Ro on the front.

In that envelope were old parish papers from a Catholic Church that had been flooded twenty years ago in Louisiana.

“Honey…” Marwa said, looking at the yellowed paper. “They wouldn’t let me in with this knife if I showed them those. Dave, see if our gays can meet us up the river with some transportation.”

“I’m very convincing.” Caroline said. “You two can take the guns into the hills. I’ll go to the talk radio station and figure out who’s running these ads.” She put her finger on the farm east of town where the damnable dam-builders were slated to be executed, then drew a line to a recently added ‘x’ that marked the office. “Before the crowd gets too bloodthirsty. What are you two going to do?”

“We’re going to get a ride, we’ll be coming in from the Marmot side of the river.” Marwa said, taking a small clear plastic ruler to the map. “Shouldn’t take us more than about four hours.”

“If we’re still all friends.” Dave said.

“Still friends with who?” Caroline asked.

“The queers in the hills.” Dave said, squaring up his small hips and cracking his neck.

Caroline folded the map and made a last check of their riot tools.

“Well I hope they’re ready. These beaver bashers are probably just some local thicknecks. That, I’m sure, we can handle.” She said, closing the hidden compartment of the jeep and locking it shut before sliding the seat cover back into place. She opened the driver’s door and slid a heavy metal handle into place, a useful breakaway club.

Marwa and Dave shouldered backpacks with broken down weapons and the portable radio. When Caroline and Marwa were young, everything would have been army surplus colors - pixelated camouflage and desert greys, but now it was the tactical grey of old cop gear - surplus or stolen.  

“Look, I really hope we don’t need the guns.” Caroline said, but something about the way Marwa and Dave looked back at her told her they might.

Still, though. She got into the jeep and threw the Catholic papers onto the dash. Opened up the console and chewed down some cannabis gummies to stave off the arthritis . Being around Marwa and Dave had made her feel young - younger by far than she actually was.

Mormons weren’t known for free health care, though, and she didn’t have time to become Catholic. She took a deep breath and headed for Marmot.


“There’s no way the oil’s still good.” Caroline said. They were in the Jeep, driving across the cracked parking lot. The sun was beating down and she hadn’t had air conditioning since her first hot flash half a lifetime ago.

“The oil’s new. This place still has a permit for dumping cooking oil, so people use it.” Marwa said.

“And I guess they pay for it by…” Caroline began right before Dave interrupted her.

“That’s why I just slipped a crypto stick behind that brick.” He said from outside the jeep.

Caroline pulled up next to the cast iron container. It looked like a dumpster and smelled of rancid oil. Set at the back of the blasted parking lot, it looked downright apocalyptic, a charred black box between cracked asphalt and burned tree trunks. They attached some hoses and filters and Caroline hit a switch, pumping the oil out.

“I hope it’s not corn oil.” Marwa said. “Always reminds me of Chicaweiser, but somehow, worse.”

“Oh my. That smell. This one’s lucky, ladies.” Dave said, jutting a surprisingly strong jaw out from under feminine lips.

They sat a second, taking in slow, careful breaths.

“Peanut oil.” Three smiles grew. Good mileage and a smell that was hard to find west of Texas.

“Swamp mermaids, here we come.” Caroline said, when they were done. The acceleration onto the old roads was fast, wind whipping long hair through the cabin, the trio settling in to the long afternoon of edible highs and high temperatures.

An hour passed, then another, three heads bobbing and rolling on the worn out roads, talking about the good old days and the bad old days, strikes busted, skulls cracked, protests broken, watching fascists, money, and pulpits soar higher and higher, fueled by burning the last scraps of the world.

Each road sign had been blown to bits ages ago, and after crossing a dangerous bridge they stopped, pulled into the dry creekbed, in the nook of the road, to lay old paper maps across the top of the hood.

“Dave and I can’t go into town.” Marwa said, pointing to a spot on the road where it crossed into a town called Sandy. “Marmot’s a little ways down the Sandy River.” She said, pointing to the dry river rocks behind her.  

“I got some warrants somewhere in the system and Dave’s papers don’t match Dave.” Marwa said. The map was old, drawn over and over again with oil pencil for places that roadblocks and boundaries had moved around over the years.

“What Church are you?” Marwa asked.

“I’ve got papers for every protestant group in the southeast, and one Catholic ID that’ll work if you don’t look too closely.”

“I was hoping you had something Mormon in there.”

Caroline shook her head. “Sure would have come in handy after I got north of Texas, but they’re a little harder to get at than Shitsplit Missouri First Baptist Church.”

“What’s in Sandy?” Marwa asked Dave. Marwa was digging at her fingernails with the old bowie knife again, and Dave was fiddling with the CB radio in the cab, testing channels and talking to someone.

Dave asked something over the radio, and nodded into his headphones before answering.

“Mormons and Catholics. Split north and south. Hardware’s open if you’re legal.” Dave said.

“Hardware’s open if you’re legal?” Caroline repeated. “You sound like a fucking mercenary, Dave. We’re just going to visit some dipshits from the radio who want people to beat up beavers, not start a land war in Oregon.”

From inside her driver’s seat she pulled out a cigar-style box with a sliding wooden lid. There were grooves for multiple lids, and the one on top right now was marked with a simple cross and a reference to one of the multitudes of religious liberty laws that might keep a cop out of it.

Inside, were handfuls of cash and crypto sticks, and a few manila envelops from churches across the country. Most of them were marked with simple crosses or crescent moons, but with a big of digging she found a battered, dirty envelope with a Chi-Ro on the front.

In that envelope were old parish papers from a Catholic Church that had been flooded twenty years ago in Louisiana.

“Honey…” Marwa said, looking at the yellowed paper. “They wouldn’t let me in with this knife if I showed them those. Dave, see if our gays can meet us up the river with some transportation.”

“I’m very convincing.” Caroline said. “You two can take the guns into the hills. I’ll go to the talk radio station and figure out who’s running these ads.” She put her finger on the farm east of town where the damnable dam-builders were slated to be executed, then drew a line to a recently added ‘x’ that marked the office. “Before the crowd gets too bloodthirsty. What are you two going to do?”

“We’re going to get a ride, we’ll be coming in from the Marmot side of the river.” Marwa said, taking a small clear plastic ruler to the map. “Shouldn’t take us more than about four hours.”

“If we’re still all friends.” Dave said.

“Still friends with who?” Caroline asked.

“The queers in the hills.” Dave said, squaring up his small hips and cracking his neck.

Caroline folded the map and made a last check of their riot tools.

“Well I hope they’re ready. These beaver bashers are probably just some local thicknecks. That, I’m sure, we can handle.” She said, closing the hidden compartment of the jeep and locking it shut before sliding the seat cover back into place. She opened the driver’s door and slid a heavy metal handle into place, a useful breakaway club.

Marwa and Dave shouldered backpacks with broken down weapons and the portable radio. When Caroline and Marwa were young, everything would have been army surplus colors - pixelated camouflage and desert greys, but now it was the tactical grey of old cop gear - surplus or stolen.  

“Look, I really hope we don’t need the guns.” Caroline said, but something about the way Marwa and Dave looked back at her told her they might.

Still, though. She got into the jeep and threw the Catholic papers onto the dash. Opened up the console and chewed down some cannabis gummies to stave off the arthritis . Being around Marwa and Dave had made her feel young - younger by far than she actually was.

Mormons weren’t known for free health care, though, and she didn’t have time to become Catholic. She took a deep breath and headed for Marmot.