Fiction – Girl Part 8

The girl woke to Rob gently shaking her.

“Sorry, your turn.”

She peeked out of her sleeping bag, the sun hurting her eyes. “Ok, I’m getting up. Were you able to get a hold of anyone on the radio?” she asked, pulling herself out of her slumber, slowly getting dressed and putting on her shoes. As she did, she noticed how much tread had been worn off; they were brand new when she started this adventure. She started offhandedly worrying about shoes in the future.

“No, not yet. We will try at dusk and dawn, that is the normal communication times. We don’t want to keep it on all day, it will drain batteries too much.

With a yawn and a long stretch, she nodded to his logic, and waived a hand toward his sleeping area. He gratefully nodded and set about to getting some rest. *

She grabbed her carbine and pistol, checking both to ensure they were in the loaded condition she left them. Satisfied, she walked out of the camps perimeter and did a survey of the area. Again, satisfied. She found a shaded area where she could do her morning business. A month ago, if you told her that she would have no problem carrying weapons, conducting patrols, setting up a camp, and going to the bathroom in the woods with just a baby wipe and hole – she would have called you crazy. Now, its not even a thought.

The day dragged on as her companions slept. An afternoon meal of trail mix broke up some of the monotony, but not for long. About the time she was going to wake Holly for her shift, she heard the low rumble of a powerful engine, coming somewhere along the road.*

She crept out to where she could see the pavement, but still be concealed by the shrubs and trees that grew in the area. She saw not one, but two well used pickup trucks driving down the old highway. Both had numerous men in the bed, each man heavily armed. Instead of swerving around each stopped vehicle as her group had done, these men stopped and stripped everything from them, including syphoning the gas into one of the big red*drums found in the back of one of the trucks.

She watched for a while and saw a family of two adults and a child up the highway from her start waiving down the trucks. The vehicles raced to them, and one of the drivers jumped out to talk to the family. Moments later, the driver pulled a handgun of some sort, and shot the father in the group. Screaming, the mother and child were tossed in the back of the truck. The father was brutally searched, and after taking what they could, the group took off.

The girl sat motionless. The time between the start of the event and now had hardened her, but no amount of solidification would prepare her for what she just witnessed.*

Moving as quickly as she could, she moved from shrub to shrub and tree to tree, closing the distance from her to the shot man. She stopped frequently and listened for the roar of the trucks returning, voices, or any other sign that the “men” were on their way back.*

She threw herself into the ditch opposite the father who was pumping blood onto the asphalt; it’s rich color staining the road like rust. Her ears were as open as they could be, her breath long but strained and her fingers digging into the wood of her carbine in fear.*

“Ehhhhhhhhhhh…” the man breathed, more his lungs expelling what air it could than any semblance of a word.

Her fear broke and she moved from the ditch, running to his side. He was shot on one side of his chest, a hefty hole in the front and a mess of mangled meat to the rear – both adding to the blood pool in the road in a rhythmic sync with his heart.*

She looked into his eyes, they were a cloudy green, but showed a response to her as he looked back. His body started spasming as he tried to speak “Fa… Fa… Family!”

She ripped off her shirt and stuffed it into the hole in his back as blood started flowing out of his mouth, painting his red goatee a truer shade.

As fast as the spasms started, they ended. She again looked into his eyes, this time, there was no response.

Tears filled her eyes and she bolted. Back into the ditch, back through the trees and shrubs, and back to her camp.*

Rob was strapping on his combat vest as she ran into the clearing. She kept running right into him, burying her sobbing face into the implements of war connected to him on his chest. Rob took a quick look at her; shirtless with just a bra on her torso, blood splattered all over and her hands covered in the drying liquid. He tossed her to the side, behind the log they were using as a bench as he picked up his rifle. He ran up to the Jeep and laid the M1a across the hood, pointed in the direction she had just came from.

Holly laid down next to the girl. “What’s going on, are you alright? Rob thought a gunshot woke him up, and after you couldn’t immediately be found he started going into war mode.”

Rob yelled over his shoulder “How many? How are they armed?”

“Stop” the girl struggled to get out.

“Stop? Stop what honey?” Holly asked, moving a blood-clumped section of hair out of the girl’s face.

“Rob, stop. They are not coming.”

Rob dropped his shoulders, relaxing a bit “What? You’re not being followed?”

The girl had captured enough of her breath to talk, “Yes, I’m not being followed.”

He picked his rifle up off the Jeep “So, what the hell happened?”

As best she could, she recounted the story – the entire time cleaning herself with baby wipes handed to her by Holly.

“Well, this changes things, but not much” Rob said after she was done.*

“What do you mean?” asked Holly.

“Well, we will still move at night – we can probably get to our spot by morning. We just have to be more careful and watch our trail.”

“Did you not hear what she said? There is a child and a woman in the hands of some sadists. We HAVE to help them!” Holly pleaded.

“Yea, I heard her, and yea if we could help without getting all of us killed I would consider it. But, no offense, even if I had two military buddies with me there is no way three takes on over a dozen for a rescue mission. There is primal things going on all over right now – we will help where we can, but live so we can help another day.”

“You’re a coward!”

“No, I’m a realist who is going back to bed. We will have a long night and must be rested.” Rob walked out of the conversation, and did exactly as he said.*

The girl cried herself to sleep, and Holly begrudgingly started her turn at watch.

Everyone was up as dusk settled into dark and loaded the Jeep in silence.

Holly was driving, Rob’s night vision hooked up to his head harness so she could use it hands free. The girl was up front, and Rob was in the back. All of the windows were down so they could listen to the night sounds, especially ones that didn’t belong.

After a few hours, Holly spotted a glow off the road “What’s that?”

“What’s what?” her passengers asked.

Realizing the NVG’s amplify light they may not be able to see, she stopped the truck and passed around the device. Just as it was handed to Rob a scream broke the natural sounds of the night.*

Rob didn’t have to put on the monocular “It’s them, it’s their campfire.”

Holly swallowed, and stared at Rob. He handed back the night vision, hung his head and whispered “drive.”

Holly took back the NVG’s and the girl just stared at Rob. All she could think about was the man on the road and his eyes. Damn him and his eyes, looking, pleading, not wanting to let go.

Another scream broke her from her thoughts.

Rob looked up at Holly, tears going down his face “drive damn you, drive before I get of this god-forsaken car and get us all killed.”

So she did.

They road in silence, each dealing with their emotions in their own way.

Rob had them pull over well before daylight to set up their final camp.

“We are very close, only about 40 miles driving to the spot, only 20 or so as the crow flys. I need to make sure that group is not following us, I need to advise our people that there may be problems, and to be alert. This will be our final camp, and then – hopefully – we can get some much needed rest.”*

After his little speech, Rob set up their radio, and made contact with the groups on-duty radio operator. He briefly gave them the pre-set code for when to expect them, and to be on alert for danger.

Just as two of the three were going to get ready to bed down, a set of familiar, strong engines were heard on the roadway. The whine of breaks, skidding of rubber and unintelligible yelling told the group they were about to have company.*

“Water and weapons only!” Rob yelled in a whisper, grabbing his vest and M1a. “Move!”

After a moment of shock, one girl grabbed a few bottles of water, the other a camelback, and each their respective weapons. Seconds after they heard the trucks, they were all running through the bush, following Rob.

Rob ran them hard, Holly was keeping up, but wincing the entire time due to her earlier injury. After a few minutes, they heard whoops, hollering and gunshots from where they left their Jeep. Irrelevant of this, they kept on running.*

After ten minutes, they slowed from almost a sprint to a jog, and twenty after that, down to a walk.*

“What…What…The hell…Was…That?” the girl stammered out between breathes.

Taking a moment, part listening for pursuers, part catching his own breath, Rob eventually replied; “not sure how they found us, either the radio signal and they pin pointed in, we left tracks on the side of the road, or they have spotters watching the road.”

“What about all our stuff?” asked Holly “how will we survive?”

“Well, I’m hoping they were only after us for our stuff and they are too busy fighting each other over the spoils to worry about finding us. As far as surviving, we will be fine, we just need to get to our group without any extra holes in us. We have water, and only a days hard travel to go – we can live without any food.” * *

They both looked at Rob, expecting him to continue talking.*

He looked at the sun, and started jogging towards it. Without any better ideas, they followed.*

The terrain was hard; they were gaining in elevation, as well as thickness of brush. The lightly scattered trees became more frequent and harder to negotiate. After an hour, the adrenaline was worn off and fatigue was hitting the trio as one would expect from being up all night and spending all morning in physical exertion. They continued on.

After the first hour, they stopped jogging. After the fifth, they stopped walking – instead, they just plodded along; dropping one foot in front of the other. They continued on.

They continued their slow movement for another hour when Rob called for a halt. “No sleeping, lets drink some water and compose ourselves. We have a long day ahead of us.” After a ten minute break, they started walking again. The girl felt like the walking dead, she wanted to close her eyes as she walked, use a rock a pillow, anything to get some relief.*

The elevation steadily rose. They hit an open, rocky area that held a mixture of boulders, trees, and other natural obstacles.

Movement was slow through this treacherous part of their journey; climbing rocks, finding ways around things, and being physically exhausted all played their part.

At some point, when the sun was to their backs, Rob dropped to the ground. “Son of a bitch!” he yelled as he did, grabbing his right leg, and dropping his rifle.

The girl ran to him – as she approached, she heard a sound that gives the creature she soon spotted it’s name; the iconic death rattle. It was slipping away through the rocks, escaping, but the damage already done.*

Rob had a bit of his pants torn, just above his boot. She could see blood and at least one deep puncture mark. * * **

Holly pushed past the girl, started squeezing on Rob’s calf, and in a most unladylike fashion started sucking on his wound. She kept at it, only stopping to spit out mouthfuls of blood and venom. She tore off some of his pant leg and used it to tie off his leg, just above the injury, cutting down on the blood flow.*

Rob was out; either from the venom, blood loss, the days exertion, or a combination of the three.

“You need to go get help, we can’t be far.” Holly said.

“What? No, we all go.”

“He is not going anywhere, and if we try to force him, he will probably die. I need to stay to make sure he does not go into shock, get attacked or get worse. Now, start heading east – if Rob is any indication on what they are like, they will find you long before you find them.”

Rob’s body started shivering, which was all the encouragement she needed.

She started running east, dodging rocks, moving as fast as she could.

It seemed like forever that she was moving. The sun started to set, her shadow growing each minute in front of her. When it was it’s longest, two bushes jumped out at her, each protruding a rifle.

“Halt!” one of the bushes yelled.

“I found you!” she yelled back.*

“Who are you, and what is your business here?” the other bush questioned, folding a hood with weaved in twigs back so that she could see this was in fact, a man.*

She dug a hand into her pocket – each man pointed their rifles at her as she did. “it’s ok, I’m with you.”

“Move slowly.”

She followed their instructions and carefully pulled out the coin she showed Rob so long ago. “We need your help, Rob has been bitten by a snake, and is messed up pretty bad.”*

A third bush came out from behind a tree “boys, put your rifles down – girl, where is Rob at?”

She pointed over her shoulder.

The newest bush pulled a camouflaged tarp off an ATV “Boys, radio it in, I’m taking her to go get Rob – have doc get prepped for a patient.”

The ATV took them within a quarter mile of where Rob was at, in only a fraction of the time it took her to run the same distance. They both jumped off the vehicle, and went looking for their injured friend. * *
**** * *
Rob and Holly were quickly found, and Rob was placed on the ATV to be takin in. In the twilight light, he looked so pale that he almost looked like he was glowing. The girls were told to wait, the driver would be back soon to bring them into the retreat.*

True to his word, the man returned and took each of the females to safety.

For each it was a surreal experience. Holly was set up in Robs quarters for the night while he underwent medical treatment, and the girl was shown her living arrangements once it was determined who she (and her man) was.*

The retreat was a collection of Rv’s, cabins, green houses, sheds, and shipping containers nestled among the juniper and pine trees.*

When she was first shown where she was going to be living, she had mixed emotions. Part of her was grateful that she had a place, but part of her was disappointed with the pair of forty foot shipping containers that were proclaimed “hers”.

The two containers were twenty feet apart, with a brick patio between them. A metal awning spanned the distance, covering the patio as well as the boxes. To the rear of the patio, an outdoor fireplace and rock wall was set, enclosing the patio to the rear. Her disappointment was ebbing away, being replaced with shame at her negative feelings and appreciation for what she was given. The craftsmanship on the outdoor area was superb and quite functional. A collection of counters, tables and chairs completed what she started thinking of as her outdoor living and dining room.

All disappointment was shattered when she opened the first box. The interior had been completely upgraded, it looked like a long cozy cabin. The walls were covered in thin split logs and the floor a dark hardwood with many rugs. There was a bed, sitting area, and desk – all well spread out and comfortable. The roof had a few plastic domes that would bring in light, and a small wood stove was in the corner that would offer heat.*

She started crying, she was to live like a queen when so many other will be suffering – all because her man lover her so much.

The second box was much more mundane, but much more useful than the first. It had wall to wall shelving, completely stacked with gear, food, and supplies. The center of the container was filled floor to ceiling with like items.

As much as she wanted to just crash into her real bed, she wanted to check in on Rob even more.*

Asking around, she was pointed to the medical clinic. The “clinic” was a shipping container as well, but only a twenty footer. She knocked on the door that was framed into the side of the steel, and was quickly let inside.*

Once again, looks were deceiving; the interior was completely set up with a small office and operating/treatment area. Everything was clean, pristine, and organized. *Rob was laying down on the table in the center of the room, eyes closed but breathing steadily.*

Doc stood next to her as she looked down at Rob. “I owe him more than I can ever repay.” She was silent for a moment, fearful of what the answer would be to the next question she had to ask. “How is he doing?”

“He’ll live, but I’m not sure if he will lose his foot or not. I’m not as good a doctor as I’m a dentist, I had to cut away some of the flesh to clean it out. As long as I got it all, and infection doesn’t set in – he has a good shot.”*

“Thank you doctor, let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

He agreed that he would, and told her that there is nothing that can be done for now.

She found her way back to her cabin, crawled into bed, and fell asleep knowing that her man was alive, and was coming home to her.


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Fiction – Girl Part 7

“What is wrong with you?!” the girl was yelling at Rob, after they had moved a bit down the road. “You just killed three innocent people!”

Rob snorted “ha, hardly innocent.”

“What? Hardly innocent? What do you call gunning down people you don’t even know, who haven’t done anything to you, from a mile away?”

“Alright, that’s enough!” Rob shouted back. “Let’s break it down, First, I don’t want to kill anyone, I’m not some heartless monster – I have to live with what I’ve done, I’ll be carrying those mens souls with me for the rest of my life, and ill have to answer for them, as well as every other one. Second, you saw who that was, you know who it was. We have been moving at a pace that would be hard to keep up with, let alone catch up to; you think that guy got his buddies and their guns to come and frickin’ say I’m sorry, no hard feelings? No, of course not, they come looking to extract revenge. Third, we now have an injured person that we must take care of, if it were just you and I, things may have played out different, and we could have outrun them. I did the best thing at the moment, and it’s done – now stop judging me or your on your own, sanctioned or not!”*

She held his gaze for a bit, deciding what she could do – but his stare broke hers and she looked away. “Whatever, let’s just get Holly and get going.”

When they reached Holly, she was trembling and on the verge of hysteria “thank god it’s you! Are you ok? I herd gunfire, then screaming, what’s going on?”

Rob responded “We got attacked and had to defend ourselves, we need to get moving incase there’s more.”

Holly’s wide eyes turned wider, and she started mumbling incoherently. The girl could pick up a word or two in-between the garble, but it made no sense. “Guns… People… Forest… Cave… Danger…”

Rob slung his rifle, slipped an arm under Hollies armpit, reached across her back, picked her up, and got her to hop towards the bike with his help – with her mumbling the whole time. “Deserve… Bloody… Run…”

He got her on the bike, Holly passively reacting to instructions, but not responding to conversation. With her on the bike, Rob grabbed one side of the handlebar, and indicated that the Girl grab the other. Once in position, they started pushing, once again on the move.

After about fifteen minutes, Holly stopped mumbling, so the group moved on in silence.

The silence continued for the next few days, silent meals, silent trails, and silent breaks. Rob and the girl silently agreed that they would be the only ones pulling guard, and put Holly to bed each night.

One morning, the girl handed Holly a breakfast of reconstituted eggs and bacon, with some fresh onions and potatoes cooked in.*

“Thanks.” said Holly, as she accepted the meal.

Stunned, the girl almost dropped her breakfast. “You’re talking again?”

“Yes, sorry, I don’t know what came over me. The last few days have been like a dream, I remember everything, but I had no control over what I was doing. I think the gravity of what has been going on hit me, and I think I need to change with the times. Maybe my mind was making that change?”

Rob was listening to the conversation, and towards the end of the females talk, he started digging though one of the bags attached to the frame of the bike. He walked over and handed Holly the 9mm Taurus that they got off the first group of ambushers the girl and he took out. “It’s time you stop being food – a sheepdog needs fangs.”

She accepted the handgun, and he spent the next hour showing her how to use it; preform a consistent draw from the holster, how to acquire a proper sight picture, how to squeeze the trigger, how to breathe, and how to load/reload the pistol. ****** **

They cleaned up, and got moving. Each break, Holly practiced what she learned, and Rob showed her something else; how to reload one handed, how to break it down for maintenance and how to adjudicate basic malfunctions.

That night, they stopped on a hillside overlooking another town. Fires were burning all over the city, some whole buildings or houses, some camp or cooking fires.*

“Why are we stopping here? We should go around it?” the girl said.

“I agree, but we have to stop. You see that yellow building on the edge of town? That is one of our main rally points, as well as a resupply point. Amongst other things, there should be a car in it that still runs. It’s old, but that’s the point; nothing electric, and no computers to get fried.”

“We should go down now then, what about the fires?”

“Don’t worry about them much, we chose that facility because it’s an old public storage building. It’s made out of cinderblocks and has a metal roof. Fire should not be an issue. Let’s get a few hours rest, and go down in the middle of the night.”

Each of the trio got about two hours of sleep when Rob declared it time to get ready. He had each of them get in their darkest clothes and put a dark green cream on their faces from a tube fished out of his backpack of never ending surprises.*

During his guard shift, while the others slept, he covered all the reflectors and chrome parts on the bike with some black electrical tape. He lubed the joints, gears and chain with some of his gun oil. The final preparation was using some parachute cord to tie down any hanging items, ensuring they will not clang, drag, or get snagged in the bikes mechanics. **

While the other two got ready, he spoke “we are going to do this fast but quiet. The only people up right now are the pros, that’s the good news because professionals are predictable. They will not mess with a group like ours without a reason – and we will not give them one. Follow my lead in all engagements. If we get separated, rally back at the storage facility, it should be easy to find because of it’s yellow paint, even in just moon and fire light. Do not take a direct route to it, work in a circle to see if you are being followed. This should be quick and painless, but be ready for anything.”

The precautions ended up being for naught. The only person they ran into was a fitly drunk man who was persuaded to mind his own business after the three pointed their respective firearms at him.*

The storage facility was surrounded by a black fence, each rod that made up one of the components looked like a spear, thrust upward into the night. Rob went to an old man-gate, and unlocked the padlock that kept it secure by using a key on a chain around his neck.*

“How do you have a key for this place, is one of the members an owner or something?” Holly asked.

“Nope, something much more complicated. When this place was selected, we noticed that this gate was almost never used. We changed out the lock and distributed a key.”

“That’s not complicated, just sneaky.”

“Well it didn’t end there, we had to get a key onto the managers key ring without him knowing, just in-case he wanted to open it when we were not around. The last thing we need is them changing the lock without us being aware. We could still get in, but not as cleanly.”*

“So how’d you do it?”

“Sorry, members only secret, but I will tell you that copious amounts of beer, a pretty girl, and periods of memory loss were involved.” Rob said, as the stopped in front of unit 223.

Rob pulled out the same chain from his shirt and around his neck to use a different key to open the hefty lock that secured the roll-up door to the unit. He lifted the gate from the bottom, and the mechanism made much less noise than they thought it would. He saw their surprise and said “seriously, your shocked? We planned everything under the sun to almost story-like perfection, and you are stunned that we would think to grease the chains and pulley system? I’m kinda hurt.”

With a smile he walked into the darkness of the unit, leaving his companions out in the night.

The two stood outside for a little bit, unsure on if they should follow him in. Moments later he returned, carrying a long, sliding ladder.

“One of you needs to get on the roof and provide a lookout, I don’t think anyone will come upon us at this time of the night, but any noise we make may draw attention.” Rob said as he set up the ladder and leaned it against the building.*

Holly indicated that she would preform the lookout duties, and in doing so was handed Rob’s night vision monocular. She slipped the safety cord over her neck, and shimmied up the ladder to the roof of the building.

Rob quietly called up to her “If you see anyone, don’t call out unless it’s an emergency, I would prefer to keep your presence an ace up our sleeves, so to speak. There are some random rocks and pebbles up there, make a pile – if you see anything, just drop a few over the side and we will get ready.”

The girl followed Rob into the dark storage unit. After her eyes adjusted, she could see that the space was lined with floor-to-ceiling shelves, all packed with storage totes. Each box had markings on them, either in sharpie or a printed out label. The center of the unit was filled with two vehicles, front to back, filling the long space. Each were almost identical; older, boxy, Jeep Cherokee 4x4s with roof racks and associated off-road gear. They were not turned into the almost comical, over-the-top trucks one would expect, but more simple modifications to make them capable and provide the ability to carry more supplies. The one parked in the front was black, the rear; a dark green.*

Rob pointed to some scribblings on the wall, made in chalk. “Looks like doc and wings came through here a few days ago. That’s good to know that we have someone blazing a trail ahead of us.”

“Doc? Wings? I assume the first is your doctor, and the second a pilot? What’s your silly nickname? Snake? Wolf?” the girl questioned.

“No nickname for me, most of us don’t have one. Doc is our dentist, and the best thing we are going to get as a medic. As for Wings, yep he is a pilot – but not that good of one, or they would have been flying.” * *

The girl dropped it, and watched as Rob moved some things around under the hood of the first Jeep. After some time, he opened the drivers door, turned the key, and with a few coughs, the truck started. Rob smiled, and let the vehicle run at a low idle.*

He started grabbing totes and had the girl load them up into the Jeep. She noticed some were marked with dates (later to be found out as the expiration date range of the food inside) some with cryptic numbers (ammunition calibers and quantities) and others with obvious titles such as “medical” or “commo”.*

Rob muscled their bike onto the roof rack, and tossed their bags in the back, on top of some plastic totes. The last thing he grabbed were four Jerry cans of gasoline that he strapped to the roof of the vehicle, with a old green poncho bungie corded around them.

Rob tossed his current combat harness and rifle into the backseat on the floor of the truck. He then opened a locked footlocker found in one corner of the storage space, and pulled out new articles of war. A vest system that looked heavy because of the large, bulletproof plates it contained – in addition to the many rifle and pistol magazines in the various pouches attached to the outside of the system. After donning the vest, rob pulled out a short, but heavy looking rifle with a small scope and flashlight attached.

The girl was impressed, Rob looked every bit the soldier that she knew he was. It also made her miss her man; a large part of him was the military, and he talked about it allot. Before Rob could see she was getting a bit misty eyed, she asked: “What kind of rifle is that?”

“it’s a Springfield Armory M1a SOCOM, in a SAGE EBR stock system with an Aimpoint reflex site.” Rob replied, sounding very satisfied.


Rob’s smile faded. “Oh, never mind, all you need to know is it’s shorter and handier than my Garand. You will be driving, and I will be in the back seat. I may have to fight from either or both sides of the truck, and I need to be able to move as fast as I can.”

“Why don’t you use a pistol, or sub machine gun or something if you want something short?”

“I guess I could, if sub’s were legal, but they both also only fire pistol bullets. I may have to stop other vehicles from within or around ours, and the big rifle bullets this fires would be much more effective.”

Rob walked outside, and gave a low whistle. Moments later Holly peeked over the edge of the roof. He asked if there was anyone in the area, to which she responded in the negative. After motioning Holly to come down, he had the girl pull out the now supply filled Jeep.

Once she was down, he quickly put the ladder back in the unit, locked it up, and jumped into the backseat, with the girls taking the front.*

“let’s get moving, we need some miles out of the town before the sun comes up. Don’t use the headlights, and take it at a moderate pace. We have extra quiet mufflers on this, so it should not be too loud.”*

The girl nodded, put it into drive, and took off.

The vehicle seemed like magic. After so long of only using leg-powered travel, even low speeds were a welcome change.

They made it out of the town without incident, and were able to suck up the miles for the next hour before the sun started peaking behind one of the mountains.*

Rob had them pull off the actual freeway, slip it into all wheel drive, and get some distance from the pavement. Shortly, they were completely hidden by trees and shrubs, allowing for a safe stop to spend the day.

Each was accustomed to certain camp chores that were now thrown completely off by adding the vehicle, additional supplies, and unknown locations of everything. They quickly adapted and set up a cold camp to get some much needed rest.

Rob volunteered for the first watch. Before the girl went to bed, he asked her for the marine radio that her man had set up for her. She had almost forgotten the ammunition can with it’s electrical components, and gladly handed them over.

Unable to stay awake any longer, she fell asleep in the dawns first light to the sound of Rob trying to raise the other members of his group.

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Fiction – Girl Part 6

Just outside of the camping area, Rob went to the side of the trail and spoke.

“We need to get ground, quickly. I’m going to put on my night vision and lead. We will be going pretty quick, basically a light jog. I’m going to also stick a chem stick in my back pocket. You should be able to see the glow through the fabric if you stay close. I will warn you of anything on the ground, but you are going to have to trust me and keep up, ok?”

“Sure, let’s stop waisting time and get moving” the girl said with a sarcastic smile; both elements lost in the dark.*

Rob donned a head harness so he could use the NVG’s handsfree, slipped a green light in his pocket, slung his rifle, grabbed the bikes handlebars and started off.*

At first, it was scary, running along the road, and then into the forrest on a trail without being able to see anything. Once she started trusting Rob and listening to his random warnings the hard part was keeping up – jogging with a decently packed backpack, a carbine, and ammo is not easy.*

She started droning out and made her mind numb. She concentrated on the dull green light she could see peeking out from Robs back pocket, ignoring the ache in her legs and the burn in her lungs.

After about an hour of this, they took a break so they could drink water and confirm their location. Rob looked over the map and tried to identify major terrain features using the moonlight and night vision. She sucked air and walked in small circles with her hands on her hips. *

“Ok, I’m pretty sure where we are, and we look like we are still on the trail we should be.” He started pointing off in the distance “there is a saddle to the north east, and a peak to the west. If you look here, this is where we are.” He finished, pointing to the map.

She couldn’t see anything, but before she could say something he threw a jacket over her head, and shoved both the map and the chemstick under it with her. His finger was still pointing to an area that looked like any area on a map. She could see the town they stopped in, not too far away, even though they were on the move for some time. She mumbled something about the hindrances of being foot powered, and continued looking. She saw collections of lines, circles, colors and numbers, but this map was not like any she was used to; there were no street signs or highway markers.

She pushed the map and jacket back to Rob. “I can’t read that map, but I trust your navigation.”

“it’s a topographical map, when I get a chance, I’ll show you how to read it. Basically we are on the right path. We only have about another hour of darkness, let’s use it to get more distance.” The last phrase made her legs ache in protest of things to come. As if reading their mind, Rob continued. “Don’t worry, no more running for now – but we will have to keep a good pace.”

True to his word, they moved at a fast walk, eating up the miles. At sign of first light, they stopped for a quick breakfast of raw carrots and a bit of peanuts – which Rob quickly declared with a grin the least “tactical” meal that he could think of.

She thought it nice to get something fresh, the last non-canned vegetable she had was the tomatoes with the family in the park a few long days ago. Her body craved the clean crunch of produce, which was finally being satisfied.

As they munched and crunched, she went over and over in her mind what happened back at the campground. Would she have killed that man if he got close, would Rob have hacked his head off or stuck him in the side like he stated?*Rob to her was a paradox, the guy looked almost like a kid with his boyish features and thin frame. But when he wanted to be, he was as ruthless as a drug cartel kingpin. *As she started her second carrot, she got caught staring at him.

“What?” he asked, feeling her gaze.

“What would you have done if I didn’t tell you to let that guy go, and what did you tell him?” She replied, her curiosity speaking before she could find a polite way to ask the same thing. When he did not immediately reply, she stammered “it’s not that I’m not greatful, I am, I just can’t get it out of my head.”

“If he made a move to hurt you, I would have taken him out and left him bleeding in the dirt. You are sanctioned, I will do whatever it takes to get you to safety. I told him that he owes you his life, but next time, if I ever see him, I will not ask you first, I will kill him on the spot, without hesitation, reservation, or remorse.”

She could not speak, there was a cross emotion of shear terror coming from the fact the man she is traveling with will have no qualms about killing a person and relief that he was on her side, willing to do these things for her. All she could get out was a weak “why?”*

He took this to mean the fact about her being his ward and responsibility. “I have a daughter, she is everything in the world to me. She lives about four hundred miles to the north with her mother. Right now, there should be a member taking her and my daughters mother to safety; they are my sanctioned. I know that the member is doing everything he can for my little girl, and I’m going to do the same for you. In fact, when I look at you, I see her, and know exactly what must be done.*

Tears began to run down the girls cheek. She could not stand the emotions she was feeling right now, everything coming back; the deaths she witnessed, the attempts on her life, her own taking of a life, the uncertainty of where her man was and the thought of a little girl having to endure these same hardships was too much.

Rob, dealing with his own sets of emotions, looked away; silent in his own thoughts.

After a bit, she calmed down, crying doing the age old job of settling one’s nerves and renewing one’s perspective.*

“Ready?” Rob asked.

All she could reply with was a quick, but resolute nod.

They continued moving, traveling over the set of tree-filled hills and into grass filled foothills – here, the only trees being the occasional lonely oak. Rob started to tense as they left the safety of the trees, every crest of a new hill became a tactical operation. Rob would stop them before they hit the crest, give the bike to her, and slowly creep to the top. Once there, he would get down on his belly and low crawl over it. He would scan the area and wave her up once clear.*

On one such operation, Rob took a bit longer than normal, then shimmied back. In a whisper Rob spoke “there is a lone traveler, walking ahead of us, going in the direction we are. There is no cover if they are hostile and we walk up on them. Even though it will give us away, I think we should call to them so we can see their intentions.”

“Sounds good, I’ll move off to that oak there with the bike” she said, as she pointed to a tree about 30 meters off the trail, just below the crest of the hill. “Then you can yell to them, and I’ll cover you.”*

A few seconds later, Rob was back at the top of the trail, and called down below “hello to you on the trail!” The traveler stopped “I am going the same was as you, and did not want to come up on you unannounced!”

“Stop yelling and come down here if you want to talk” a surprisingly female voice said.*

Rob, feeling a bit foolish, did as the woman asked and came down to where she was at. He did not notice any weapons, but did notice some quality gear that she held with ease. In an attempt to seem less hostile he kept his rifle slung in a casual manner.*

When he reached her, he extended his hand “name’s Rob.”

Mimicking his gesture she replied “Holly.”

Rob got a good vibe from her, and did not see her attacking him, so he motioned for his female companion to come down. He also thought the girls presence would help put Holly at ease.*

She came to the other two, pushing the bike down the hill. When she reached them, introductions were made, and Rob continued the conversation. “We are headed east, your more than welcome to walk with us for a bit, if you like.”*

“I think that’s a good idea, at least for the time being. I’m trying to get home, to where my parents are in Nebraska and it’s east of here.”

After a bit more small talk, the group started walking – each step one closer to their destination.
The trio continued on, getting to know one another as best they could under the circumstances. Rob maintained strong noise discipline, so the conversatons were short and quiet.

Holly quickly grew to appreciate Robs way of doing things, but the first time he dropped to his belly to get over a hill there was nothing she could do to stop from laughing out loud.

Rob shot her a stern look, while his other female companion explained the why’s behind the way they do things.

To gain as much ground as possible, they had a walking lunch, and pushed forward without many breaks.

At one of these breaks, Rob asked Holly “hope you don’t mind the pace, it’s just we want to get to where we are going in the quickest way possible.”

“I don’t mind it at all, I too am in a hurry – plus it’s not like this is all that new to me.”


“Going cross country. I’m a marathon runner and ultralight hiker. I’ve got more gear than I normally do, but I’m ok to kick up the pace. If you can.” The last bit said with a slight sarcastic bend.

With a snort, Rob replied “I think we are good with the pace we are at, I don’t want to burn anyone out. Next thing, do you have any way to defend yourself? I don’t know how long you have been up here, but the populated areas are getting quite… Messy.”*

She looked at the firearms that both held and with a shake of her head she said “No, I’m a peaceful person by nature.”

Rob stood up, indicating the break was over. Just as he started walking he said “yea, so are most sheep right before the wolves come.”

The day continued on, the sun passed all the way overhead, and the girl felt more tired than any day in her life. She welcomed the time when a satisfactory camp location was found and they could drop their gear.

Holly worked in an efficient manner, setting up her simple, yet quality gear – demonstrating she was in fact an experienced outdoors-woman.*

After a brief discussion, the girl started making dinner. She mixed elements of their fresh food with their freeze-dried to come up with a pleasant meal. As she was cooking, Rob made his normal survey of their bivouac area and checked their back trail.*

While he was gone, Holly asked the girl “is he always so serious?”*

“Yea, most of the time. But he is a good guy who has the best intentions. He was in the military for a while, and doesn’t take many chances.”

“Well, I don’t think everything is necessary, things are not all that bad.”

The girl told Holly about their experience at the last town they visited, about the attempted assault on the gate, and the way things we being run. She gazed over the details of their nights stay, but said that someone tried to assault her. That Rob had to intervene, and they had to get out of there quickly.

Just as the girl finished the story, Rob returned. “I saw a camp fire off in the distance, maybe a few miles back. We should keep a cold camp tonight.” He looked at Holly “is your gear sufficient to keep you warm tonight?”

“I will, be fine, thanks.”

“Ok, I have a poncho liner I use to get a few degrees out of if I think it will be cold, let me know if you would like it. Also, we run a night watch, will you be able to pull a shift?”

The girl could tell that Holly was going over in her mind a cross between her belief system, and the story of their escape from town. After a few moments, she replied “Yes I can, but I don’t think I could do anything if someone came up?”

“We need the extra sleep, we have been pushing for a week, this day being the longest and hardest. You taking a few hours will help allot, and don’t worry, if you see anything, just wake me up, I’m a light sleeper.”*

The girl piped in “who do you think the camp fire is, other travelers?”*

Rob shrugged his shoulders, “not sure,” then, looking directly at the girl, *”I just hope it’s not someone unfriendly.” * *

She nodded “yea…. me too.”

Holly offered to take the middle shift, and Rob took the first. This was all decided just after dinner because the girl passed out before anything could be discussed.

The night was uneventful, and the travelers got an early start, with the original pair feeling more rested than they have in quite some time.

The day passed on, and just as Rob was commenting on what good time they were making, Holly tripped on an exposed root, twisting her ankle.

After spilling onto the ground, Rob rushed to her. “How bad is it, do you think it’s broken?” He asked, dropping his pack and rifling through it.*

“No, not broken, but it’s messed up pretty good.”

Rob pulled out an Ace bandage from his first aid kit, took off her boot, and began wrapping it around her swollen, red ankle. “let’s rest for a bit, it may just be a temporary thing.”

Holly nodded and the girl said “let’s get the bike ready for her to ride on it if need be, we can each push a side of the handlebar with her sitting on it, and still keep the gear loaded.”

“You do that, I’m going to do a quick scouting if the area, make sure it’s safe for us to hang here for a bit.”

Rob went back on the trail they just came up on, and the girl started redistributing the load on the bike to make it passenger-worthy.

After twenty or so minutes, Rob had not returned. “How does your ankle feel?” The girl asked.

“Not so great, I think I’ll have to use the bike.”

“Ok, I’ll go find Rob and we can get moving.”

The girl walked back the way she saw Rob go, and spotted him a few minutes later. He was laying down in the grass, aiming his rifle, and using a stack of sticks to stabilize the barrel.*

The hairs on her neck stood up, and she started creeping towards him. She looked to where he was pointing his weapon; there were three men walking along the path they were on. She squinted her vision, they were in an open area easily six hundred meters away and looked tiny at that distance. One of the men looked familiar, and just as she realized it was the man from the campground, Robs Garand barked.

BOOM! She was still watching the man when he dropped to the ground. Even from this distance she could see he got hit in the pelvis and knew he would not be walking anytime soon.*

The two men with him looked around, clutching their weapons.

BOOM! A plume of dust and dirt peppered one of the men, Robs bullet dropping a foot in front of him.

The man looked up from the damaged dirt just in time to realize he was being shot at, and BOOM! get hammered in the chest.

The third man started running towards tree cover. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Rob followed him as he ran, the first two rounds being clear misses, the third hitting a leg, and the last somewhere in the upper body as he tumbled to the ground.*

Robs first target, the man from the campground was slowly crawling. Behind him was a pool of blood and useless legs. He was digging his fingers into the dirt, trying to get any purchase that provided movement away from the heavy bullets being lobbed in his direction.

BOOM! CLANG! The last round in the clip found a final resting place in the dirt past the man, by way of his neck, almost decapitating him. * * * * **

Rob quickly reloaded his rifle from one of the clips in his vest, and scanned the area, looking for more friends of these three. The girl stood, unable to look away, or make any sound.

Finally she loudly whispered “Rob!”

He rolled to his back and pointed his rifle at her. “Dammit! Stop doing that, I’m going to shoot you someday!”*

Dazed, she nodded “we have to go.”

Rob nodded back “Yep, let’s go get our sheep and get moving.”

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Fiction – Girl Part 5

Walking into the merchant’s area of the town was like stepping back in time. It had only been about a week since the power was taken, but in that week we were set back over a hundred years.

They saw a man selling rabbits, some being butchered right on the spot; something a week ago would have earned you a visit by multiple agencies. A doctor set up a booth with a hand-painted sign that read “consultations” with a list of items that would be accepted. There were a few people*selling fresh vegetables; zucchini, squash, potatoes, pumpkin, eggplant and onions. More than a few booths held trinkets of no relative value, the people desperate to make trades that gave them something they needed. After one such merchant, the pair spotted a gunsmith/gunshop; being the man he was, Rob stopped.

“Morning sir, what’s the going rate for ammo?” Rob inquired as he greeted the vendor.

“Depends on what you want, and what your offering,” he replied. After eyeing Rob’s Garand and her Carbine he continued “I have a few clips full of some good GI 30-06 and a few boxes of 30 carbine soft point. What can you offer for that?”

“How about 5 bucks a round for the ‘ought six, and three bucks per carbine round?”*

“Cash? Well, I don’t know, it may not have much value here soon.”

“True, but it equally may have great value – don’t underestimate the power of a portable barter medium, and cash has worked for years. Also, I took that into account when I offered you the amount I did, we both know that’s over five times what it was worth a week ago.” Rob stated.

“Tell you what, I’ll go out on a limb for you, two hundred and fifty for two clips and a box of fifty soft points.”*

The girl gagged, and was immediately silenced by a hand motion from Rob.

Rob nodded and handed over the cash “Sounds ok to me.” After getting the ammo, stuffing the clips into his chest rig, and handing over the box of carbine ammo to the girl, Rob continued the conversation with the gunsmith.

“What’s been going on here, you all seem a bit prepared and on top of things for an incident that happened only a week ago.”*

“Well, we were lucky enough to have the Colonel, he and some of his boys put everything together right-quick. He said we need to stand for something in this area and came up with safety and commerce. If this goes on for a long time like we think it will, he thinks the town will be best off being known as a safe place to trade your goods. He had us tear up the high school football and track fields so we could put in crops. He even has some military hardware to protect us.” The smith’s face started getting a hard edge to it, as if he realized the potential folly of his loose lips.*

Rob picked up on it immediately “Sir, we are just looking for info to help us on our way, don’t worry about us telling outsiders your secrets.”

Unassured, the man continued in a shaky tone. “Yea, well in any event the Colonel has things in hand, he has over a hundred soldiers, we will be fine.”

“We should get moving, thanks for the news, and the ammo” Rob stated as he started walking away from the booth, with the girl following him.

When they got out of earshot, the girl started chastising Rob “Why did you spend so much on the ammo, we don’t even really need it!”

“I know, but I wasn’t buying ammo.”

“What? It sure looked like it to me, I have the box to prove it.”

“Well, yea, I GOT ammunition, but I BOUGHT information. Do you think I would go to a trade fair and buy ammo from the ammo guy? He will of course be selling it over the price of anyone else. I wanted him to feel comfortable with me, feel like he got one over on me and that he could again if he wanted. The man in charge at the gate looked military, military planners keep critical assets near them, assets like access to ammunition and firearms. I assumed that the man in charge would want his local gunsmith on his side, and provide some more information to him. I figured this has become a military town, which now we know it has. We know that it could be a potential place of trade in the future, and the town is not going to mess around to protect it.”

After the chastisement, all the girl could muster out was a quiet “oh”.

“C’mon, let’s get some supplies and get moving, we need enough for at least ten days.”

“Why ten days”

“Because that’s how long it is going to take us to get to our next rally point, and hopefully a car that runs.”

As they continued through the bazaar, they found a larger area set up for what looked like the remnants of whatever local grocery store was in the area. There were two assigned guards to it, each with an M16 slung over their shoulder and wearing a mixture of military and civilian clothing.

They made*trades for a few canned goods that they figured would stretch out their camping food, while providing some diversity. They got some chili, green beans, mushrooms, pickled peppers, tomato sauce, tuna, and a can of corn beef hash. The items in total cost one silver eagle, and fifty American dollars.

They were able to find a community well that cost only a dime to fill up all their water containers. Doing so made the pair feel much better about their lack of water.*On the way out, Rob stopped by one of the fresh food merchants and picked up a selection of veggies that would travel well and could keep easy to round out their travel preps.

They left the town with only an hour or so of sunlight. It looked like the town kept good order of the primitive camping area just outside the roadblock, so the two decided to set up camp there – and maybe get some information from fellow travelers.*

They picked a spot on one edge of the campground and efficiently set up their respective sleeping gear. Looking around, there was a vast variety of equipment, poverty, supplies, and methods of doing things in each of the other campsites.

They took turns watching their stuff, as the other walked around, trying to find out what they could. When it was her turn to stay back, she set up a hot meal for them to enjoy before going to bed.*

Neither could discern anything useful from their fellow campers, and none met Robs approval as possible traveling companions.

Just as she was turning in for bed, Rob called to her “I’ll wake you in four for guard duty.” She fell asleep to the thoughts of a time where she did not have to pull security.

After Rob woke her for her shift, she got up against her body’s best intentions to make her go back to sleep. There was a chill in the air, so she put on the soft-shell jacket she found in her backpack. When she put her hand in the pocket, she felt something wrapped in paper. She pulled it out, and it turned out to be a note from him, wrapped around two pocket warmers. Excitedly, she read the note.

You would not be reading this unless it’s cold out, so I hope I can lift your spirits a bit with this note. First off, the things this was wrapped around are one time use heaters, save them for when you really need them. I normally don’t like packing extra weight with gadgets, but being cold sucks!

Hopefully you are reading this on a camping trip, if not, I want you to know I love you and will always do what I can to find you – so never give up!*

The back of the note had a heart with their initials in it. To most of the world, he had a tough, almost heartless exterior, but to her he was quite gentle and caring. She slowly started to cry, missing him, feeling sorry for herself when she was startled by a male voice.

“Aww now girl, you don’t need to tear up, I can keep you company if you like” a gangly older man said as he walked into their camp. His tone was anything but comforting, it was almost lustful.*

Her tears dried immediately as she pulled up on her jacket and smoothly drew her Glock. She did not point it at him, but if he walked forward a few more steps, the angle she held would be sufficient for a groin shot. “I think not” she said with a confidence she was not sure she had.*

“I’m just being friendly” the man continued, smiling a toothy grin as he put one hand behind his back.

This was all it took for her to get aggressive, she leveled the pistol at him “In two seconds you’re going to get some company from my bullets, and get really friendly with the frickin’ ground. Walk away or I’ll be finishing this conversation with your corpse.” * **

He was eyeballing her, and she could see that he was figuring out if she had the grit to back up her statement. His hand was still behind his back “That gun is loud, you don’t want to wake the whole campground, or alert the guards. They don’t take to kindly to those who bring gunplay to their safe little town.”

His eyes shifted from their probing stare to a look of shock as a large knife came just inches from his throat, as a man stepped behind him and grabbed his wrist, pinning it into the small of his back. “Well in that case I’ll just have to cut your greasy head off then, won’t I?” Rob’s familiar voice said.*

“What do you want me to do?” Rob asked, looking at the girl.

“Let’s tie him up and get out of here, he may have friends.”*

“I like the idea of sticking a blade in his ribs, And then leaving.”

Shocked at his coldness, she replied “No! It’s not worth it, let’s go!”

Rob shrugged, and dumped the man to the ground face first. He hog tied him with the man’s shoe laces, and shoved a gag in his mouth made of his dirty sock, securing it with some duct tape.*

By this time she had everything packed up for them to get moving. Just before they took off, Rob kicked the man in the ribs, bent over, and whispered something in his ear.

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Fiction – Girl Part 4

“Lookie here little lady, you need to eat your greens so you grow big and strong” Elvis said, his Santa hat jiggling as he talked. “No one likes a weakling, especially now, you need to be able to take care of yourself.”

“hey, hey…” a rabbit quietly said, as it nudged against her shoulder.

She slowly opened her eyes, realized it was Rob shaking her, she was on the ground in the forest, and not at a used tire dealership in Miami with Elvis and a rabbit.*

“Man, you were out.” Rob said as she got herself out of her sleeping bag. “There wasn’t much going on as you slept, a group passed on the road, ex-military types if I had to guess. They were very quiet, spread out well, and moving at night; not many civvies’ would be doing that.”

“What time is it?” She asked, rubbing her face, trying to wake up.

“Not sure, my watch got fried. But I’m pretty sure it’s been half the night. All you need to do is be very quiet, stay in the shadows, don’t make any light, and make sure no one kills me in my sleep, ok?”*

“Got ya, kill you in your sleep, I can handle that,” she said with a smile. “I’ll be ok, I’ll stay up for as long as I can and then wake you to take over.”*

“Sounds like a plan. One more thing, here take this” he said, as he handed her a packaged item, about the size of a large pen. “If something happens where we have to fight, do what you can to defend me until i get up. Then, run into the forest, crack that chem light and put it in a tree near where you end up. It’s an IR light, so I’ll be able to find you with my night vision monocular.”

“Wait, you have night vision? Let me use it for my shift?”

“No, you really don’t need it, it will just kill your natural night vision and drain batteries. I may let you use it someday, but, no offense, you need more training and time before I let you.”

Not quite satisfied with his answer, but without any other choice, she relented and started her watch. It wasn’t really hard, just boring. She counted stars, listened to animal noises, and thought about what she had to do to get to the retreat. She was thankful she ran into Rob, knew that with him she has a much better chance for survival, but his way of doing things are so much harder. “Well, I can do things the easy way, or the right way,” she said to herself, trying to motivate her mind to do the things that will need doing.*

The night dragged on and she was clenching onto her carbine more and more with each strange noise in the wild. At the same time, she was fighting back the overwhelming desire for sleep. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she woke Rob.*

He got up, stretched, indicated he was good to go and that she should go back to sleep – which she gratefully accepted.

This time, she was awoken by the smell of hot tea, instead of a fictional rabbit.*

“Good to see you’re up, I hate to be a taskmaster, but you need to get yourself packed up as soon as you can so we can get moving. There have been more groups passing, and we need to stay ahead of as many as we can” he said, as he handed her a canteen cup half full of hot tea. “Drink this and get ready, we’ll eat breakfast on the trail.”

“Ok, let me get cleaned up, would you mind helping me pack up, I will be ready faster if you do?”*

“When I come back, if you still need it, I will. I’m going to rebury the revolver and ammo, we are good to go weapon wise, but that can change in a second. I will feel better knowing this is here if we drop, lose, break or get our other weapons confiscated.”

She yawned and nodded at the same time, motioning that he get going.*

She was much quicker than she thought she would be. Baby wipes substituted for a morning shower, and after a quick tooth brush meeting, she began packing her stuff. Everything was packed in a few minutes, she even had the time to empty her garbage bag mattress and strap it to the back of her bag.

While she waited for Rob, she lightly oiled her carbine, as well as her Glock. When she was clearing her pistol, she realized that she was four shots down because of her altercation on the bridge. As she was topping off the magazine from the box of SXT hollow points found in her bag, Rob walked back into the camp.

“Ready to roll?” He asked.

“Yep, why don’t you strap your backpack to the bike and we can take turns pushing it?”

Rob nodded, and after a little effort balancing everything out, they were on their way.*

Rob started out just like they did the previous day, he kept a good pace and conducted listening halts along the way. After an hour, they switched positions, and she led, tried to imitate what he did when he was in front of her, while Rob pushed the bike.*

She was finally able to get down some breakfast while leading; walking a bike loaded down with a few large backpacks was not the most optimum dining situation. As planned, she had a few lemony ration bars and washed them down with the remaining water in her second to last bottle. They decided to have the bars one meal a day to stretch out the freeze dried and other foods. Rob explained the possibility of appetite fatigue, (where the body will mentally will it so you cannot eat something, normally if forced to consume the same bland thing over a period of time) and this was a method to combat that possibility.

While munching along, they both heard some rapid gunfire somewhere in front of them in the distance. The two exchanged looks and continued on.

A little while after breakfast, she conducted her first listening halt; she took a knee, mimicked Robs hand gesture, and scanned the area. She had read somewhere that if you cancel out one of your senses, the others get stronger, so after her visual survey, she closed her eyes and concentrated her listening over the area in front of her. It worked. She picked up faint talking up ahead, not too far from their position.

She motioned to Rob and wrote in the dirt on the trail “voices” with an arrow in their direction.

*Rob nodded, walked their bike and gear behind a bush and rejoined her on the trail. He got right next to her ear and said “let’s get off the path and see if we can identify them.”

They moved amongst the trees, and up the hillside that was next to the trail they were on. Both moved slowly, watching where they placed each foot, careful not to make any noise. Suddenly Rob grabbed her and pulled her down to the ground, behind some roots. She let go a short squeak as one of the roots jammed into her tender side.*

Once again at her ear he said “I saw one of them, he is in the trees watching the road. He is only about 100 feet away.”*

They both shimmied up so they could see both the road and the man Rob already spotted, while minimizing the chance of being spotted. Down on the road they saw two men going through the belongings of three dead people, all recently shot. The man on the hillside looked to be an overwatch, protecting the ones below. It didn’t take a military tactician to figure out what happened; all the men were on the hill, ambushed the people below, and killed them for their belongings. She moved over to where she couldn’t see the carnage and barely withheld emptying her stomach.

Rob moved back to her “I didn’t think people would start raiding so soon. We need to eliminate this problem; they are in the way, and will only continue hurting people.”

Forcing back bile, she slowly nodded her head, knowing that he was right.

He continued “I’m going to move to where I can ambush them down on the road. I need you to move behind the guy on the hill. Once I start firing, he is going to react, that will be your chance to put him down, ok?”

Once again, she nodded. She was not sure she could shoot a person in the back, but was starting to understand how rules were beginning to change, and she needed to change with them.*** **** ***

He started moving down the hill, as she moved up it, and in short order, both were in position to take out the men. After a few minutes of her waiting, loud gunfire erupted from below and she could see the men get shredded by the heavy bullets of Rob’s Garand. She had no idea his rifle could fire so fast, almost as soon as it started and before she had time to react, she heard a sharp “twaaaaang” noise from down below – signifying Rob was out of ammo.

The man she was watching swiftly sat up from his position, putting his rifle to his shoulder, looking for a target. Deathly afraid, she said in a low voice “put down your rifle.” The man either did not hear her, or just ignored her, and continued to scan the trail. Louder this time, she repeated “I said, put down your rifle.”

He undoubtedly heard her this time, and swung his rifle back up towards her. Closing her eyes, she squeezed her M1’s trigger once. After a few moments, she opened her eyes, half expecting to be shot herself, or the man over her with his rifle pointed at her head. What she saw was worse than she thought it would be, the man was shot through the throat, and most likely with his spine severed. He was moving his eyes, staring at her, but his lower body was still, unable to read the messages his brain was trying to send.*

She ran down the hill as fast as she could, the man’s dying eyes following her.

The girl was blindly running when she startled Rob, who shouldered his Garand and pointed it at her as soon as she burst through the trees near the trail at the bottom of the hill.

He quickly aimed away from her. “Dammit! I almost shot you!” he started yelling. “Why the hell are you running down here on me like that? What are you thinking?”*

He suddenly looked concerned, “Are there more,*are they following you?” He took a knee and started scanning behind her.

She started throwing up uncontrollably, and Rob understood what was happening; he did the same thing when he had to kill his first combatant in Iraq. He let her be for about thirty seconds and started throwing the non-ventilated backpacks into a pile. Looking up at the girl, he said “I understand what you are going through right now, and you need some time, but we don’t have it. We need to get moving in exactly one minute, less if we can. Someone may have heard our fight, maybe these guys’ friends, maybe some authority figure. We need to move; go get the bike, I’ll take care of this.”*

Wiping her mouth, she nodded and went for their mechanical pack mule. She stopped for a quick swig of water to clear out the foul taste, retrieved the bike, and trotted back. She saw Rob shoving things he took off the dead bodies into a half filled blue daypack. He did not even seem to be looking at what he was doing, just stripping the dead men of anything valuable as quickly as he could. When she got to him, he took two of the backpacks, and slung them on the bike’s handlebars. He handed her a non bloody pack and indicated she put it on.*

Without a word, he stood up with three new rifles slung on his back, grabbed the handlebars and started running.

She kept up with him and they ran for a few quick minutes. He suddenly grunted, getting her attention and pulled off the trail into a secluded spot.

They stopped, breathing hard, each looking outward for threats. None materialized, and the two started relaxing as their bodies cut off the flow of adrenaline, fear, and other biological chemicals designed to make man – or woman – the ultimate survivor.*

Time continued to pass and the forest sounds were full of natural noises, and none unnatural.*

Rob said “let’s take a break here for a little bit and go through what we got. I think we should take anything that will assist in getting*to our retreat, create a charity bag, and bury anything that we could need in the future, but is either too heavy, extraneous, or incriminating to take right now. You keep watch, turn your mind off to what happened, we can deal with it later. The only thing you need to concern yourself with is the fact we need to live through this to feel about it later.”

She nodded and he began taking contents out of the bags, separating them into like piles. There was an ammo pile, a weapons pile, a water pile, a water procurement pile, a food pile, clothing, shelter, fire, broken or destroyed, and so on.

He took the backpack he had her carry, and after relieving it of it’s contents, he started filling it back up again. He called it the “charity” pack or the “bait bag”, depending on how it gets used. He put in something from almost every pile, excluding*weapons and ammo. The bag did get food, clothes, socks, water, and other goodies.

Rob looked at the rifles he grabbed, two of the three were basically useless. One, an older lever action, took a round through the stock, near the trigger well. It was good for replacement parts, but in their current situation it was just a dead weight liability. The other was an AR-15 patterned rifle, with a broken hand guard and a bent gas tube. He did not know if it was from a bullet, or a fall, but in either case he could not use it. He split the lower and upper receiver, and pulled the whole bolt assembly – being a good bit of spare parts.

The third rifle was a pump-action in 30 Remington that Rob first confused for a shotgun. The limited use and obscure ammo made this rifle a prime candidate for a cache – his Garand would live to fight another day.

He was able to procure two pistols; a 9mm Smith and Wesson Sigma that came with a bad reputation and a huge trigger pull. The second being a Taurus clone of a Beretta 92. Neither was particularly desirable, but could possibly be used in trade. The Sigma got cashed and the Taurus got taken. **

As he went through the piles, he put some of the items into his personal pack, and handed some things to her if she wanted them to do the same. He placed the remaining items that neither took into a heavy duty trash bag, hid it among some of the tangled roots of the oak tree they were using for shade, and covered it with dead leaves as best he could.

Marking the location on the map, the pair was ready to go. They both wanted to get as far away from the incident as possible, each for their own reasons; one a tactical decision, the other emotional.*

They continued on without incident for quite a while, taking turns pushing the bike and taking point. A few more days past, and they continued to eat up the miles when they saw a small town in the valley below them.*

A long time ago when the bug out route was established, this town was designated to be used as a gauge on how the rest of the world was fairing after coming out of the wild. It could be observed and passed, or observed and entered, depending on the situation. Being relatively off the beaten path, they should not be suffering the same impact as a larger area.*

The pair stopped and Rob pulled out some binoculars so he could observe the town. There were a few people milling about, all armed with rifles. There was a roadblock and a bypass setup at the edge of the town with multiple men manning it. There was a primitive camping area set up across from the roadblock, whose purpose became apparent when the first large group came up to the blockade. After halting the group, some words were exchanged, the party got in a circle as if discussing something. They split up, two of the members walked up to the townsmen and were let in, arms and all, while the remaining went to the camping area.*

During their observation, they learned quite a bit about the town. They would let in groups of two or less, but everyone had to go to the center of town where it looked like a trading area was set up in the park located there. They would let people come in armed, but expected everyone to be on their best behavior. They had some security that was not immediately obvious because a group of about fifteen men tried to breach the roadblock. The half dozen men manning the roadblock fought back, but unseen snipers made quick work of the assaulting force from unseen vantage points, with clear fields of fire to any piece of obvious cover. The perimeter of the town was protected by fences, sandbags, and debris between the houses, making it difficult for someone to sneak in.*

“We need information and supplies. Our water is running low, and our food could use some variety.” Rob said. The biggest problem they had was a natural spring that was on the route, designated to be a water point, ran dry at some point, and the two had to start rationing their water. If they did not get the back up bags from the first cache, as well as the few canteens from the ambush, they would probably be pretty thirsty by this point.

“I think you’re right, obviously the world is not back on track, but this is a semblance of civilization and order. Let’s go see what we can find out, and get from bartering,” she said.*

They walked down to the town, and up to the roadblock. When they were thirty or so meters out, a loud voice called “Halt! State your business.”

Rob replied “We wish to trade and get information about what has been happening over the past few days. We took refuge in the hills and have been out of touch for a little bit.”

“Do you have family or someone that can vouch for you in the town?”

“No sir, but I assure you we will not cause issues. We do have some trade goods, as well as someplace to go; we are not refugees looking for asylum.”*

The voice chuckled “bBy, you answered every issue that I may have. We will let you in, but there will be a toll.”

The hairs on Rob’s neck started standing up, whenever someone mentioned toll it could be something small, or downright thievery. He knew they were in no position to challenge whatever was requested, and because he mentioned trade goods there could be an interpretation that they were rich. Slowly, he said “What sort of toll.”

“Nothing huge, a real silver quarter, five centerfire or ten rimfire rounds each. If you don’t have any of that, something equivalent.”

Rob relaxed “Will you take cash?”

“No, sorry. Some of the merchants inside will, at crazy rates, but we need something that is going to have use or value for the long term.”

“Understood, I have five pre-65 dimes for the two of us. I am going to reach into my pocket to get it, ok?

“Yep, just don’t do anything fast. Or stupid for that matter.”

Rob paid the toll, and the two were let in without issue. He was surprised to see a Browning fifty caliber machine gun hidden amongst the sandbags and cars that made up the roadblock. He assumed it was not used in the witnessed defense because either rounds are limited, or they knew they could fight them off without it’s help.

“Walk up the main street here to the park. Do not take any side streets, stay after dark, or even think about setting up residence. If you have a problem with a merchant, figure it out; we may get involved, but chances are we will side with our townsfolk. Understood?” The man behind the voice instructed, as he collected the toll. His demeanor placed him as military, but was not in uniform.*

Rob nodded and led her into the town.

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Fiction – Girl Part 3

Note on the astrixes (*) in the story – I posted this directly from my iPad, and they got thrown in for some reason, just ignore them.
The girl could not peddle for long. The paved road quickly turned into a service road that turned into a fire road, that turned into a trail, that finally turned into an overgrown path. She stopped, strapped the backpack to her bike, and began to walk her impromptu wagon as best she could in the direction she was heading.

During this time, she was passed by a few hikers, all heading out of the city and not towards it, but not nearly as many as she thought she would see. All were loaded down with gear, and about half visibly armed. The passing each time went basically the same; she would hear them, move off the trail, putting the bike and pack in-between herself and the path, with her hand casually on her pistol. The person or persons would move quickly past, hands on their own firearms (if available), provide a curt nod and keep moving.

She put plenty of miles along the trail when she decided to take a quick lunch break. It consisted of three spoonfuls of peanut butter (the jar with the strange note of “calorie dense” scribbled on the side in sharpie) and a bottle of water with a crystal light peach tea packet mixed in as an afternoon treat. The packet was held onto the bottle with about two feet of electrical tape, carefully wrapped upon itself. Her boyfriend was the most calculated man she knew – the tape was like that for a reason, so after pulling it off to get to the mix, she replaced it in the exact same manner. After finishing the drink, she noticed that she only had two more bottles of water from her original eight; the six in the backpack, and two on the bike.*He gave her the means to purify more water, but she needed to find some so she could.

After lunch she traveled on, and in about an hour arrived to the location on the map listed as “RP-3”. She was not sure at first if she was at the correct location, but she noticed a tree with a circle spilt into five sections, with numbers in two of them spray-painted on the trunk in hard-to-notice brown. She pulled the challenge coin out of her pocket and rotated it until she saw the number sequences line up.

“Nice coin you got there” said a voice from behind her.

She spun with a gasp, pulling her Glock as she did.

“Aren’t you supposed to be discreet with that thing?” he said as he flipped her an identical coin, completely ignoring her weapon.

She attempted to catch the tossed object, but fumbled between it and the polymer pistol.

As she picked it up, he threw on a militant looking backpack and picked up an old rifle that was leaning against the tree next to him. It looked like her carbine, just bigger. He was dressed very similar to her, in earth tones with a button up shirt unbuttoned, concealing weaponry. In his case, the shirt was not doing as good a job because he had on a chest rig with numerous pouches.*

“So you must be his sanctioned?” the man said after he took back his coin.

“His what?”

“Sanctioned, each member can identify a person that the MAG will help in a time of crisis if needed. We identify them by those coins.” he replied as he pointed to the coin in her hand. “I’m Rob” he said, moving the rifle to one hand and extending the other to be shaken.*

“You’re Rob?” the girl said in disbelief, “I didn’t think you existed, he talked about you a lot, but I never met you…”

“Yea, we have a strange relationship, your boy and I. After serving together in the Army, we only got together for MAG stuff. It’s not that we don’t get along, we just both had busy lives.”

He looked around a little bit, and continued. “Let’s get going, we need to get some more miles before nightfall. I want to reach the cache point tonight so we can pull the supplies.”

“The what?” she said, sounding a little more dense than she wanted to.

“Look on your map, the green dots are cache points; places where we have prepositioned supplies for events like this. Look in the margin, you will see GPS grid coordinates for each exact dot so you know where to dig. Hopefully he told you about the rule of two?”

Her reply of a blank stare encouraged him to continue. “Every hand written number on this page is two less than what it should be in reality, and I mean every number, and it cycles past zero. Meaning if the number is 479 the translated number is 691. It’s not a sophisticated code, but should defeat most people.”

“Got it, thanks” she exclaimed, holstering her pistol and grabbing her bike. “Shall we continue?”

Rob walked in front of her and set a quick pace, occasionally stopping for a few minutes and throwing up a clenched fist as he did. She asked him what he was doing on the second stop and he whispered “listening halt”, as if she had any idea what he was talking about.*

They continued on in this fashion until they got close to the first green dot on the map, their stop for the evening and the cache point.

He pulled out a GPS from one of the pockets on his chest and walked around in a few large and progressively smaller circles, until he stopped over a bit of ground under an old oak tree. He picked up a stick,*started marring the soil, and slowly digging. As he did, he threw to the side bits of junk; a tin can, a few nails, and other stuff. “We bury metal crap over our caches on the off-chance a treasure hunter runs across it with a metal detector,” he offhandedly said to the girl as he worked.*

When he got a foot or so down, he hit something hard and tossed away his stick. He reached down, cleared away some of the dirt, and pulled on the green handle of an old fifty caliber ammo can. With a bit of tugging he was able to free the can from it’s grave, and handed it to the girl.

As he cleaned off his hands, she opened the can. It was packed full with supplies; mainstay water packets, Coast Guard approved survival rations, a two person mountain house *freeze dried entree, a heavy duty garbage bag, some 550 cord, and fifteen hollow point 38 special rounds vacuum sealed in a bag with a small revolver in a leather holster.

“Everything a girl needs for a night out on the town.” Rob said with a smile.*

“Haha, a night out in the woods maybe.”

“This place looks like a good place to set up camp, we can move away from the path, and get some cover from the elements from one of those trees.”

The girl nodded and they began getting their stuff out. Rob helped the girl put up her simple tarp shelter, using a few sticks as tent poles. He had her fill up the trash bag with leaves and grasses so she could set it out as a mattress over her sleeping pad.*

He moved with practiced ease, just throwing out a pad and bag, without the need of a shelter.*

With those tasks done, the two quietly chatted as the sun set.

“I haven’t seen many people, where do you think they all are? I would expect an outpouring from the city.” the girl said.

“You have to understand that most people are probably realizing the gravity of the situation today, if not tomorrow. Most really don’t know that something is wrong. We have about another day to get as far ahead of them as we can before they start into the countryside. Some will take longer than others, but even if it’s only a percentage, you’re talking hundreds of thousands of people in these hills.”

“That makes sense, I think if I didn’t have the notes and instructions I did, I would still be at home, not knowing what to do. Do you think it’s getting more dangerous, should I carry my rifle like you?”

“You have a rifle?” Rob said, surprised
*** *
“Well, an M1 Carbine, I have it rolled up in that towel” she said, pointing to the blocky towel strapped to the back of her bag.*

“Yes, I think that would be prudent, given what’s going on. Do you have any extra ammo.?”

With a smile, she move back her shirt tail to reveal the three dual pouches, and then undid the wrapped carbine to show the two on it’s buttock as well. “How much ammo can you carry on that chest rig thing you got?”

“I’d hardly call this a chest rig, wait till you see what I have at the retreat. This is an old chinese ammo carrier, I got it for like 5 bucks off the internet. To answer your question, it holds 80 rounds in clips for my Garand. Each of the pouches can hold two clips, and I’m using five of the seven for ammo. The other two are for my GPS and radio.”

“Thats pretty slick, but aren’t you guys like big gun guys, what’s up with the world war two stuff?”

“Oh, no one *is a bigger gun guy than your man, he easily has as many as everyone else in the MAG combined. But in a situation where there is still the possibility of law and order, you want to be in compliance of the law. You want to appear as unthreatening as possible, but still not look like a target. For me, this Garand is more than satisfactory – it looks like an old hunting rifle, but I could stop a truck with some of the black tips I carry. A barrage of 30-06 is no joke.”

The girl laughed, Rob’s last line was something she would hear from her boyfriend; it made no sense to anyone but a firearms enthusiast. It was said so nonchalantly that he expected anyone to follow without question. “Well, on that note, let’s get some dinner and go to bed?”

“Sounds good, you cook I clean?”

With a smile and a nod, the girl set up her Jet Boil (in about half the time as she did previously) and started on preparing the two person chicken stew entree that was found in the cache. When she was about to open a pack of Mountain House corn, Rob handed her a ramen packet from his backpack and said “throw this in with the stew, I have a few of them. They add a little flavor, a little bulk, and I just like my freeze dried stew with ramen – it stretches it out.”

She put away the corn and concentrated on preparing the meal. Rob picked up his rifle and left the camp site after informing her he was going to go on a short patrol around the perimeter, as well as check the trail for signs of use. She was to start eating after the food was ready, he would be nearby, but would eat after her so she could keep watch.*

She quickly ate, the preverbal torch was passed and he sat down for his share while she tried to keep watch, not really knowing what she was doing. After eating, Rob buried the food wrappings and started rubbing sandy dirt on their utensils. He then splashed them with a little bit of water to knock off the dirt and they were totally clean with only a quarter of water she would have wasted.*

“Time for bed?” she said, posing the statement as a question.*

“Yea, I’ll take the first watch and wake you in four hours, you do four, and then I’ll do another two or so so you can get a little more rest.”

She did not think about setting up a watch, but she trusted this man’s judgement way more than her own. She agreed and crawled into her sleeping bag. The garbage bag mattress felt like a kings bed*compared to the concrete tube she slept in the night before. Feeling safe, fed, and comfortable, she quickly fell asleep to the sounds of uninterrupted nature.*

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Fiction – Girl Part 2

After deciding that the drainage tunnel was to be her home for the evening, the girl started going through the backpack of stuff he had left for her.

Using the small battery-less light, she went into the first outer pocket, the same one she happened to find the light she was now using. She removed two small cloth bags, one jingled like spare change, the other seemed a little bit stuffed. She opened the change one first.

It held numerous sandwich bags – each with a different denomination of coin, a bag with a wad of cash, a single American express gift card worth a hundred dollars and another note. She started looking at the coins through the clear plastic bags. Why on earth did he stick old dimes and quarters in here? There was even a second bag of quarters that she inspected after the first, this one containing ones minted in the last few years. Another bag held a few very small gold goins, about the size of a dime each – there were only five of them.

Puzzled to no end, she decided to read the note.

Everything in this bag is money, some worth more than others. I will start in order how you should use it and it’s worth.

Amex: Use this first, depending on the event some places will take this over other forms of payment. It is really good for automated payment locations, like gas stations.

Cash: Use second, if stuff is really bad don’t worry about paying more than something is worth with cash, it will soon be worthless. Use the smallest bills you have to.

She stopped reading and looked at the wad, it was about 350 bucks in bills ranging in denomination of 1 to 20 dollars.

Modern quarters: you have ten bucks in quarters from the last few years. This is if you are in a situation where you need to make a phone call, pay a meter, or get stuff out of a vending machine.

Old silver coins: the silver American coins that are minted pre 1964 are no longer currency, they are a commodity, they are 90% silver. The value is hard to say, but will go up as things get worse. For ease of math, figure 10-25 times the face value if you were going to buy something. After people stop accepting cash, they may take silver or gold for what you need.

Gold: those are 1/10th fractional eagles, each worth about a hundred or more dollars, use them sparingly and for big items. The value will only go up.

That was the end of the note. She stuffed everything back into the cloth bag except the cash and prepaid card; those went into her pocket. She opened the second bag and it had sandwich bags as well, but with some aluminum foil, and it’s own note:

This bag has a headlamp, some batteries, and a steri-pen water purifier. The aluminum is for EMP shielding, (im not sure if this was needed or not, but better to be on the safe side,) save it and use it for cooking, signaling, or any other use you can think of. Save the bags, you can use them to hold water or collected fruits, berries, nuts, or other stuff you find along the way.

The steri-pen purifies water with UV light, there are instructions rubber banded around the device.

The headlamp is helpful for two reasons; one, it can keep your hands free while you do things that require light, and two; it has a red LED low light feature, it can save batteries, preserve your night vision, and is harder to see from a distance than white light.

The last sentence chilled her spine and she frantically looked up towards the entrance of the tunnel. It was not that dark yet outside to matter much, but she bet that in half an hour her little hand held light would have cast a beam out of her shelter, letting the whole world know where she was. She turned off the light, found the batteries in the bag, set up and turned on the headlamps red LED.

She looked around the tunnel and grabbed various cans, bottles, and other bits of trash. Then, she placed them in the entrance so that anyone coming in would trip on them, hopefully alerting her in the process. She found a long 2×4 that had somehow drifted to her location during a past storm, and wedged it across the opening, about waist high. Unrolling the sleeping bag attached to the bottom of the pack, she folded it over the wood. Now her contraption would not only slow down intruders, she created a barrier to whatever light she was producing.

Not having eaten all day besides the bagel in the morning, she noticed that she was beyond starving. Looking through the pack, she found a tan bag, about the size of a loaf of bread in the main compartment. The word “cooking” was written in sharpie on the outside. She opened it up and found everything she needed to get one of the many freeze dried meals that were stuffed everywhere in the backpack prepared, mainly a Jet-Boil water cooking device. She remembered when her boyfriend got the thing, she thought he, like so many times before, wasted money on the thing, only to tuck it away somewhere. Apparently it was tucked away for her use. He even showed her how to use it, once again her mistakingly thinking it was his excitement of a new “toy”. Also in the the bag was another water bottle, this being the sixth she found distributed throughout the pack.

As the water quickly boiled, she selected her entree; beef stroganoff. While it was not her favorite, it was something familiar. After eating, she cleaned everything up and repacked her pack if she had to go quickly. She left off her sleeping bag, headlamp and M1 carbine, which was in easy reach.

It was fully dark outside, she could see the glow of fires off in the distance, but felt no fear of them in her current shelter. She set up her sleeping bag, rolled up her outer shirt, stuffed it into a tshirt to make a pillow, and laid down for the night. It took a while to go to sleep, but sleep she did with the sounds of a city dying lulling her into slumber.

For the circumstances, she slept surprisingly well. Waking with the sun not shining yet, just providing a light dawn glow, the girl readied for the day. After getting fully packed, she wanted to get moving and into the park before too long. Her body resisted the demands placed on it, but she pushed through as she led her bike to the tunnel entrance. Stopping for a moment, she looked both ways into the aqueduct, to see if there was anyone else using this route. Satisfied she was relatively safe, she stepped out, swung her leg over the bike, and began riding.

The channel took her into the park, but she could not stay on it forever. She found a spot with a bank she could traverse and moved to the top. She was in the area of the park that was still maintained, and not considered “wild”. There was a small bathroom building, a parking lot, a large open area, some picnic table, and a huge polo field. The field surprisingly held at least a dozen tents in various locations. There were people milling about, including a few children, so she felt a little safer with their presence.

It was a risk, but the girl knew this was probably going to be the last time in quite a while to get such a comfort, so she headed to the building that held her affection – the bathroom. Walking her bike, she approached the building and noticed the door was wide open. She entered and said loudly “is anyone in here”? no one responded so she pushed her bike into the small bathroom and leaned it against the wall. She dropped her backpack next to it and pulled out the small hygiene kit from the pack, as well as one of the bikes water bottles. She spent a few moments in front of the mirror, inspecting the bruises and cuts she endured the previous day. While they were definitely painful, none appeared to be permanent. She took some enjoyment in brushing her teeth, washing off some of the dirt, and using one of the baby wipes to clean up. With that done, she moved her gear into the handicap stall to use the bathroom. The toilet was used and due to the lack of running water, could not be flushed. Luckily it was not that bad, and better than the bushes to the girls way of thinking.

She finished up and went outside. There were a few young kids, about eight to twelve years old hanging around the building. All were looking at the old-style gum ball machine with distant eyes.

As discreetly as she could, she took out the bag of modern quarters from their sack and put one of the coins in the machine. The kids looked at her with expectant grins, and after a quick nod from her, the youngest cranked the handle. They were rewarded with a huge blue ball of sugar.

The girl, in turn placed a quarter in the machine for each of the other kids so that they all could have their own. As the last one ran away with their prize, the girl heard a stern masculine voice behind her.

“I saw what you did for our kids”

She slowly turned around, her hand moving to her belt line. “I meant no harm, they looked like they wanted a treat.” As she was finishing her statement, she was all the way turned around, and faced with a bear of a man, easily six foot six, and over three hundred pounds.

“Oh, of course not!” he said with a big grin that melted away the harsh exterior of the man. “I wanted to thank you, and offer to share some of our breakfast with you.” The girl hesitated for a little bit, that the man rightly picked up on as apprehension “Don’t worry about taking food from someone’s mouth. From the way you’re decked out, I’m sure you know what’s going on. We unloaded our fridges as soon as this happened into coolers and onto game carts for the travel up to here. Our families have some horses stabled over behind the polo field here, and we are planning to bug out through the park to the north west. We don’t plan on taking the coolers that far with us, so we are trying to use it up.” the man said in explanation. With a smile and wave he said, “c’mon, let’s go get some steak, eggs and tomato slices – best meal you’re going to find in the city, I guarantee it.”

She couldn’t help but trust and like the guy, so with a nod she followed him over to the camp.

He introduced her to his wife, brothers, and associated family members. All thanked her for the sweet gestures on behalf of their respective children.

The man’s barrel of a wife was humming slightly as she whipped up the best smelling food the girl had ever smelled over a few simple camp stoves. Just as the man stated there were steaks, a pile of eggs, and some sliced tomatoes that had some sea salt sprinkled on top of them.

When the chow call was made, she noticed that two of the men stayed at opposite ends of the camp, and did not come in for breakfast – each with a rifle slung over their shoulder. This prompted her attention to the fact that everyone had a weapon of some kind attached to their body, even the man’s portly wife had a shoulder holster with an automatic pistol.

It did not alarm her, it just made her more aware of how unaware she actually was, and that this family would probably be just fine on their journey.

The breakfast was better than she anticipated. The woman was able to coax the best flavors from the simple ingredients used and it just tasted fantastic.

After breakfast, the group quickly and professionally started dismantling their camp. The girl thanked everyone for their hospitality, and wished them well on their journey – which was returned in kind. She gave a hug to the man’s wife and filled her hand with quarters as a way of final goodbye.

She jumped on her bike and started into the park.

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Fiction – Girl Part 1

This is a story I wrote initially to get my girlfriend (now my wife – she is the “girl” in the story) more interested in preps. This is in partnership with the story “boy”.

As an interesting note, I wrote the whole thing on my iPad’s note section…


The sun shone through the blinds into the girl’s face, waking her from a deep sleep. A small smile was quickly replaced by a feeling of horror, as her eyes widened and she rolled over to look at the small digital clock next to her bed. It was blank.

“Oh crap!” she muttered, while throwing the comforter off her and she jumped out of bed. Picking up the clock, she followed the back power cord back to the wall and found it still plugged in.

Tossing the now worthless device onto the bed, she picked up her cell phone to check the time. She pressed the familiar button with a little green phone on it, expecting, like countless times before, that the screen would light up provide a communication portal to the rest of the world. This time, she she did not get what she was expecting; she got nothing.

She held the power button down for a few moments, once again, nothing. The charging cord was plugged in next to her bed, so she tried that. Nothing. Thinking to herself that while she may be late for work, at least she has a good excuse and story, so it should be ok. Stumbling into the bathroom, she flicked the light switch on the wall, then rattled it up and down after no light was produced on the first try. Her first thought was that it was a power-outage, and wondered if the shower would work. Turning the knobs in the shower, she was rewarded with the flow of Luke-warm water. Quickly undressing, she got in, enjoying the feeling of the water on her back as it washed away the remaining sleepiness.

That’s when the water reduced itself to a trickle, and then stopped completely.

“Can anything else go wrong this morning!” she yelled to the now slowly dripping faucet.

Feeling less than satisfied, she got out of the shower, dried herself off, and got dressed.

With damp hair, a dry cold bagel, a luke warm Red Bull, and a bad attitude, the girl walked to her newly leased VW Jetta, figuring she could just go to work and explain everything. She pressed the button on her key fob to unlock the doors of her vehicle and once again she had to do it “the old fashioned way” and unlock the door with the key manually. After getting in and turning the ignition it produced the same results she was experiencing all morning. She gripped the steering wheel and dropped her head into the center of it, breaking the morning silence with a weak “beep”. Her heart and mind were moving at a rate much faster than she was used to in the morning, partially from frustration, and partially from her wanting to figure this out. Mentally she kept coming back to things her boyfriend would talk about from time-to-time; she mostly would tune him out or humor him, but not really pay attention. Too bad he was in Texas on a job, and her phone is not working, or she would ask him about it.

She went back to a conversation they once had, it had scared her a bit at the time, but he seemed very serious, so she listened.

“Babe, I need you to pay attention to what I’m telling you, this is important.”

“I am listening, I can do two things at once you know.”

“I know you can, but I don’t want you to mix up what I’m saying with what they are cooking on Top Chef.”

“Fine” she said with a huff as she turned down the show and tossed the remote next to her. “Pleeeease continue.”

Ignoring the little tantrum, he did just as she requested. “Ok, like I was saying, anytime something happens where you might have to leave the apartment, you feel uneasy about something, or I call you to do so, I need you to grab this backpack,” he said as he held up the hard-framed backpack he picked up with her one day when they stopped off in a Bass Pro shops. At the time, the idea was to get her into backpacking, but that fizzled out as life and responsibilities got in the way.

He continued “there is stuff in here that can help you, no matter what the situation. To help you along, I want you to pay a little more attention to what’s around you, watch the news a little more, look at the sky, watch people, stuff like that – can you do this for me? ”

“Of course I can,” she said, giving him a slight smile, but having no idea what he was talking about. “it’s just like how you took me shooting, and at first I was scared, but now I’m pretty good and know what I’m doing.”

“Exactly! I’ll explain what’s in here, and why I’m having you do this later. Let’s just take this one step at a time.”

She took her head up off the steering wheel, got out of the car and looked around. The first thing she noticed was that it was quiet. Really quiet. There was no noise coming from the major freeway only a few blocks away, and there was no subdued hum from the power transforms over her head. Looking down the street, she did not see any cars moving, but there was one about a half a block down stopped in the center of the road. She looked up for a few moments, there were a few birds, but for the time she looked there were no planes. There was evidence that there was a something at some point because she saw contrails that mysteriously curved slightly down and then just ended.

After grabbing her stuff, she went back in the house with full intentions of finding that back pack.

It was not that hard to find, it was leaning against the wall, right behind a big, old army backpack that her boyfriend sometimes used. She noticed right away a folded yellow piece of paper under one of the exterior straps. Pulling it out and immediately recognizing the handwriting, she started reading.

If you are reading this you are either cleaning or something bad has happened and I’m not around. If its the first, give me a call and I can tell you what this is all about. If its the latter, do not worry, I have everything setup for you to be ok.

If there has been some sort of natural disaster, go to page 2
if there is rioting, or other local violence, go to page 3
if you have been warned of a nuclear attack, go to page 4
If the power is out, your phone does not work, and your car does not start, go to page 7

She stopped reading and started getting mad. She knew what this was, this is some game, a trick he is pulling. Get her to be more involved in his “preps” as he calls them. How else would he know exactly what happened to her unless he planned it?

No, he couldn’t have done this, he was in Texas, and the stuff she saw outside was beyond even him. She skipped to page 7.

Bad news, we most likely have been EMP’ed or hit with a powerful solar flare. In either case, things are going to get nasty quick. Basically no more power for a while, maybe forever. This means no more food deliveries, no more water that has to be pumped in, no more phones to call the police or fire department. Things are going to get savage and you need to get gone.

Even if you suspect this has happened, follow these instructions:
1. Get your M1 Carbine and Glock 19. While inside the safe, open the ammo box with the number 8 painted on it, use everything inside. Stop reading, do this now.

Stunned at the details, and without a reason not to, she did just as was written. Quickly identifying and opening can 8 she found a stiff belt in her size, three double-mag pouches (with loaded 15 round mags) for her carbine, a belt slide holster for her pistol, and a duel mag pouch with loaded magazines for the same. The carbine mag pouches were just like the WWII replica ammo carrier on the butt-stock of her little shooter, but this time she noticed the opening on the backs that allowed them to be carried with her belt. After figuring out how it all worked together, she threaded the weapons accruements onto the belt and put it on. Everything but the holster was placed generally on her left side, so she could get to their contents quickly, with the proper hand.

Feeling a bit more secure, the girl continued reading.

3. Get a pair of hiking pants, 4 pair socks and underwear, 3 tee shirts, a bra, and if it’s cold include the plastic bag under the backpack. Stuff everything in the main compartment – I left some room for you.
4. Go back to the safe and get ammo can #10, it’s one of the smaller 30 cal ones. Open it and pull out the zip lock bag on the top that has some maps in it, close the can quickly, and put the whole thing into your back pack.
5. If I’m out of town, follow the map immediately. Yes, start now. Take the mountain bike by the stairwell and be careful, someone will try to take it from you.
6. If I’m in town, but not at home, start filling anything you can (like the bathtub, those bins that have miscellaneous stuff in them) with water if there is still pressure. Lock all the doors and windows, do not let anyone in, and be on the lookout for fires. If I don’t get home in 3 hours, start on the maps course and wait for me for two days at the point marked RP-2. If I don’t show up there, get to the final spot.
7. A word on the map. Reference It only when you have to, the rest of the time have it on you, preferably stuffed down your pants. Do not let anyone take it, the final location is in code, but supply and rally points are not – protect this!

She opened up the zip lock bag and the map it contained. It had numbers, colored dots and other markings that to her made it more confusing and just a big puzzle. After a couple of moments she could see that the general flow of the data was to the north for a bit and then almost directly east. Inspecting the other contents of the bag there were some more instructions in her boyfriend’s familiar chicken-scratch handwriting, and a large coin with markings like that she had never seen. One side had crossed old looking pistols that reminded her of something that would come out of the colonial times. Set behind the pistols was the silhouette of a pine tree. The other side was split into five sections, with strings of numbers in each of them. After spending a moment looking at the coin, the girl read the first page of the note:

Can #10 notes
Electronic communications stuff and batteries – it’s all wrapped in bags covered in copper mesh in a bag covered in aluminum foil that’s in a bag. This should protect it from the EMP’s effects. Do not use this stuff until you really have to and you’re sure whatever caused the EMP is done doing it’s thing and won’t come back. Keep the stuff in the can, it’s there to protect it.

Radio – it’s a marine channel radio, you really should not be using this legally. If you’re reading this, I don’t care about the legality, use it! It is pre-programmed to the channels you will need.

Batteries – I don’t know if an EMP will knock out the charge in a battery, but I stuck them in the can anyways. I streamlined all your electronics to require AA or CR123’s, so that’s what’s in there. There is a small solar charger that you can use to recharge some of them.

Coin – This is a challenge coin. It is used to identify people who will help you and you can trust. If you need to show it, do so discreetly. If someone shows you theirs, do what you can to help them.

She tucked everything back into the bag, and managed to shove it into her pocket. The note said leave now, and she was actually thinking about listening to it. Everything did look planned out, and she did not have any better ideas – but were things as bad as she thought?

The girl put on one of her more loosely fitted button up shirts, but left it unbuttoned and untucked. It did a good job of concealing her pistol and ammo carriers, while still allowing access. She walked out to the street, and took another look around. Off in the distance she counted three dark smoke columns, one quite large. A few people walked past her, all in a hurried gait. There was still no traffic on her street, the car down the way was still sitting there, and it was still deathly quiet; until a barrage of gun shots echoed through the air, not more than a few streets over.

The girl instinctually ducked and started moving back towards the relative safety of her dwelling, with a hand on the grip of her pistol. Moments later more gunfire erupted, even closer this time as she saw two youths jump a nearby fence and shoot over their shoulder with small automatic handguns. She slipped back inside without anyone seeing her, fully convinced of the seriousness of the situation.

She quickly changed into more comfortable, but durable clothes. Everything she was wearing “he” picked out and bought her at some point. She offhandedly noticed that it was all in earth tones, and felt that this was not accidental.

Not ready to openly carry a firearm, she rolled the M1 Carbine into a towel that did a pretty good job of concealing the fact that she was armed like a world war two NCO. The rolled up gun got strapped to the top of her backpack after following all of the other instructions that she was given, and filling the remaining space with some other items she thought she might need. She actually had to cut what she wanted to bring down considerably for her pack was close to full with the items that were already placed in it. Not wanting to take anything out that he put in for her, she just sacrificed a bit and dropped some personal belongings.

Finally she was almost ready to go.

She looked at the map and saw the first place it instructed her to go to was a large park on the north side of the valley. Calling it a park was almost an insult, it held the title of the worlds largest wilderness area inside a city’s limits.

On any other day, it would take about 20 minutes to drive to. She had no idea how long it would take on a bike, lugging around a backpack that weighed about a third as much as she did.

She grabbed the bike from outside, checked the tires, and filled the two water bottles from one of the dozen gallon jugs they had stored under the sink. With these tasks complete, she hefted on her pack, and rode out into the street.

Very quickly she realized that she made the right decision, and that things were definitely wrong. For the first twenty minutes or so, she did not see any moving cars. She did see quite a few in the street, rammed into things, or in strange formations where it appeared the driver lost complete control of the vehicle. One of the worst accidents required her to slow down and walk her bike around the multi car wreckage. As she did her heart dropped as she saw the mangled bodies inside more than one of the autos, all obviously beyond help. There were people running about, but not as many as she expected. They all looked like they were carrying something, and by their body language she doubted that they were the owners.

The first running vehicle she saw was an old beat up truck that held all the implements one would need to be a professional gardener. The magnetic sign on the door told her that was exactly what they were. The driver puttered past her slowly, and yelled at the girl.

“Hey, where are you going with all that stuff, do you know what’s going on?”

In between tired breathes she yelled back “just getting out of town, no, I’m not sure what, happened.”

“You must know something, or else you would not know to get out of town, tell me what you know!” the driver screamed, angling the truck a bit as to cut her off.

Just as she was going to scream, yell, or try to avoid getting hit, the windshield of the truck exploded into a hail of glass as a man on the sidewalk shot into it with a shotgun. She could hear the man pumping the gun multiple times in between blasts. The truck veered away from her and towards it’s assailant, running him down before crashing through a fence. She didn’t wait to find out what happened to either of the men, she just started peddling as fast as she could, trying to get space between her and the situation.

After a few minutes of peddling, she pulled off the street and drug her bike into some bushes that were next to the road. Dumping the bike and backpack on the ground behind the foliage, she started shaking uncontrollably and sobbing into her hands. She stayed this way for a while, her body and mind shutting down while trying to understand everything all at once. Eventually she pulled one of the water bottles off the bike’s frame, took a long drink, and started washing her face. As she sat there she heard more and more gunfire; some close and some far, but all rapid and violent.

She felt better and more clear headed than she had in a long time. She thought of her parents, and was glad they were back in the old country during all this. Their family is a rural, self reliant bunch and she knows they are better off with them than in a suburban house in the middle of a big city.

Getting back on the road was easier than she thought it would be. She peddled on, but was twice as wary of her surroundings. While sitting, she looked over the map and saw a set of railroad tracks that went in the direction she wanted for quite some time, so she decided to head for those.

She got to the tracks without incident. There were more and more fires catching blaze, and getting out of the city was seeming like a better and better idea. She saw the cause of one, and she presumed many other fires: a large commercial airliner.

The scene of the wreckage had nothing on even the highest budget Hollywood movie. There were bodies, luggage and shrapnel everywhere, and that was what was not on fire. One of the large jet engines was missing, but the other was slowly spinning, burning and even fanning the flames in front of it. A row of small suburban houses were decimated; it looked like the finger of God swept through and removed all traces of them. The cost of the pilot-made runway was not only the lives of everyone on the plane, but most likely anyone in those structures.

The girl traveled on, her bike eating up the miles as she followed the compacted earth that made up the service road that ran next to the train tracks. Occasionally she had to leave the relative safety of the fenced tracks to cross a city street, but she did so quietly and quickly.

She knew she could not stay with the tracks much longer, and she wanted to get out of the city before nightfall. The chances of her making it through the night unmolested were slim to say the least. Mentally bringing up the map, she envisioned her route; cross one more street, go about half a mile and cut into the dry aqueduct that runs out of the park.

She stopped for a few minutes before leaving the dirt road and moving onto the paved one. She checked her gear, drank a little water and stretched her legs. Feeling a little better, and sufficiently rested, she turned onto the city street.

The half mile was quick and easy, she passed more frantic people, but no one hostile. When she got to the bridge over the aqueduct, her heart sunk a little bit; there was a razor-wire topped chain link fence blocking her from easy access to the concrete channel. She looked around for a bit, there was a patch of dirt that ran down to the bottom, but it was an easy fifteen feet down from where she could get to it.

She looked to the far side of the bridge, and noticed a group of four men walking towards her.

“Hey lady, where did you get that bike?” one yelled across the open area as a greeting.

“We are tired of walking, that bike could sure help us out!” another joked, eliciting laughter from the others. As he did, he pulled a knife from his back pocket.

She thought quickly, fight or run? I have guns, but so might they… Run!

She pitched the bike over the edge of the bridge, where it fell two stories before crashing on the sloped dirt and tumbling to the bottom of the aqueduct. She jumped on the railing of the bridge, just past where the chain link barrier ended, and began shimmying on the non street side of the railing, using the fence for support. Each foot she traveled removed a few feet of vertical space below her if she had to jump.

The men started running towards her as she kept slowly moving. When they were about a dozen feet from her, she looked down – it was only six or so feet; she dropped. It was a hard landing, she tried to roll with the fall, but ended up smacking her left arm on a rock which caused her to scream in pain, while her backpacks contents dug into her, knocking the wind out of her. She looked up, the men were trying to do her same technique, and were moving onto the railing.

“Bad idea honey, making us chase you. Now we may have a little fun with you before we take your bike – and down there, no one for sure will be able to see us.”

While on her back, she pulled the Glock on her hip and triggered off four rounds into the concrete bridge, right below where the man was trying to get past the fence. He jumped back and dropped to the ground, losing all the distance he earned chasing her. The others did likewise and dropped to the pavement.

She told herself that she missed because she was shooting only one handed, out of breath and her throbbing arm threw off her aim. Not because she was not willing to harm someone to defend herself. In the future looking back, she still could not definitively answer that question.

She got up and ran down the embankment as best she could to her bike. She picked it up and gave it a quick look over. Besides a few scratches, dings and dents, the bike looked fine. As she jumped on, she looked over her shoulder, the men were nowhere to be found.

Not one to take chances, she peddled as quickly as she could for a few minutes, enduring the pain it caused. After a while, she was sure the men were not following her, and began to relax. She pulled into an eight foot drainage tunnel that happened to be dry so that she could evaluate the extent of her injuries.

Moving well away from the entrance, she dumped all her gear and took off her over shirt. Using a small grip-wind flashlight that was in an outside compartment of the backpack, she assessed her damage.

There was already swelling and a slight color change on her arm, just below the elbow. There were scratches and discoloration on her side, and various cuts in numerous other places. Her body ached like hell all over the place, with fatigue throughout her muscles. Grabbing a headband out of the bag, she moistened it with a little bit of water, and touched the cooling cloth to her bruises, and began slowly washing her cuts. After applying some bandaids from a mini first aid kit, she looked out the opening of the pipe. The sun was setting and it would be getting dark soon.

She would not be getting to the park tonight.

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Welcome to Freedom Hold Ranch

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