Study Guide

Alas, Babylon Chapter 7

By Pat Frank

Chapter 7

  • Electricity, refrigeration, running water—all of it, now gone. Things are about to get bad.
  • A few days later, the Braggs are almost out of water. Water...that's kind of important, right?
  • Randy frets for a second before realizing that the solution is right under his feet—literally. He can tap into the same Artesian water supply as the Henrys.
  • He and Ben Franklin head over to the Henrys' shack and enlist their help.
  • When they arrive, Preacher Henry, father of Malachai and Missouri's hubbie Two-Tone, is riding a donkey and plowing their small field.
  • Connecting his plumbing to the well is "the hardest work Randy remembered since climbing and digging" in the Korean War (7.59).
  • As hard as it as, Chez Bragg is once again furnished with running water by the end of the day. That's a valuable thing.
  • The next morning—the third day since the nukes fell—Helen is horrified to discover that Randy stored a metric ton of meat in the freezer. It's completely thawed, but somehow still good.
  • Not wanting to let these good eats go to waste, they decide to throw a dinner party. They'll invite the Henrys and McGoverns, along with Admiral Hazzard, Florence, Alice, and Dan Gunn.
  • Randy heads into the city to grab some supplies, including salt to preserve some meat. By now, the town is almost completely empty.
  • So is the grocery store, for that matter. Randy creeps into the stock room, hoping there might be a bag or two of salt sitting somewhere in the back.
  • Instead of salt, he finds Pete Martinez, who's tweaking out. And he has a gun. Tweaking Guy + Gun = Bad News.
  • Somehow, Randy convinces Pete to trade a bag of salt for two hundred dollars, despite money being utterly worthless in the apocalypse.
  • On his way home, Randy visits Dan at the medical clinic. Randy is shocked to find Dan's office torn apart and, even more horrifying, Dan's former partner lying dead on the ground.
  • According to Dan, a couple of addicts ransacked the place looking for drugs. When his partner refused to give them the goods, they got incredibly violent.
  • Randy is worried for his friend, so he demands that he stay at his house. It'll be much safer there.
  • That night, at the party, a new broadcast comes through the radio. And it's a big one: an announcement of which parts of the country have been deemed "Contaminated Zones" where "it is forbidden for people to enter" (7.135).
  • The entire state of Florida is a Contaminated Zone. That doesn't bode well for our heroes' chances.
  • Over the next few days, our ragtag group extends the Artesian water well to Admiral Hazzard and Florence. That's nice.
  • On the sixth day, the inn where Dan Gunn was staying burns to the ground. Glad our guy got out.
  • On the ninth day, Lavinia McGovern dies due to complications from her diabetes. They do everything they can to save her, even driving to a distant hospital, but they can't find any insulin.
  • The next day, Dan and Randy decide to make some moves. Dan will talk to Bubba Offenhaus about burying Lavinia, while Randy will talk to the McGoverns about moving in with them.
  • Bill McGovern is devastated. He feels worthless having not been able to protect his wife.
  • Randy convinces Bill to come along by telling him they'll need his skills as a mechanic to survive. He'll be Malachai's assistant. A demotion, true, but the benefits are great.
  • After some time, Dan returns with bad news—Bubba is sicker than a dog. He might even have radiation poisoning.
  • Without any other options, the four of them dig a hole in the McGoverns' front yard and set Lavinia to rest.

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