I went to bed that night with a stomach full of deer liver and onions, the heart sauteed with carrots, I shared with Starke and his crew who provided me a Guinness Extra Stout to wash it all down. It had been ages since I’d had a drink and I must have been somewhat dehydrated to begin with as the one beer made me drunker than I can ever recall being.
Sleep was fitful. I had dreams of my old life. I dreamt of being late for work and behind on paperwork. For some reason my dream self found this all terrifying, but on waking I had trouble recalling why such things would be of concern. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and sat up in a small tent. I couldn’t remember having crawled into the tent the night before or who might have been displaced by my lightweight self crashing here.
At least I had remembered to take off my boots. I rolled out of the little tent and fished out a pair of my new socks and laced up my Cadillac’s. I needed water, but wanted coffee. It occurred to me I should have checked to see if the CONEX box with the Wal-Mart stuff in it had a French press. I’d sold myself too cheap.
As much as I felt Dwyer’s policies were unfair to the civilians under his charge, I didn’t feel like sharing my small hoard of coffee with them and given Dwyer’s edict of the previous day I wasn’t sure what my status in the camp was. Things weren’t nearly as bad as I expected.
Patrell came by as I was getting my ruck sorted and handed me a small leather pouch. He took one look at me and started laughing. “Rough night, bro?”
“Hel if I know. I slept through most of it.” I replied as I opened the pouch. Inside was a key and a piece of paper. The key had a stylized Ram’s head logo on it which I regarded with some puzzlement. The slip of paper was a small hand drawn map with details on how to access a cache of gasoline stored nearby and a warning not to use more than five gallons.
Patrell saw my confusion and pointed over toward the Wal-Mart parking lot “I got sent out to find your little request. Hope you like it.” I looked in the direction he pointed and saw a 2001 Jeep Cherokee, black with tinted windows and sporting a small lift.
“Foo-ken A, man.” I smiled impressed with his choice “You want a cup of coffee?” Patrell as it turned out went around prepared for situations exactly like this and produced a small camp coffee pot and and a bottle of water to cook it up with. We walked over to the Jeep and Patrell set up a small cookstove on the macadam and set the water to boil. This kid really did come prepared.
We stood about silently for a bit watching the water heat up. “Hey!” Patrell almost jumped at my sudden exclamation “This thing got a radio?”
Patrell looked at me like I was new to the century. “Yeah man, it’s got a pretty kickin’ system too. I mean, not as nice as my ride back home, but y’know, nice.”
I grinned at him and asked “I don’t suppose in the effort to get stuff out of Wally-World the CD section was touched was it?”
Patrell shrugged “hell if I know man. Why, you needin’ your country music fix?”
“Eat a dick.” I told him as I proceeded to look in the Jeep. There was a knock-off maglite secured in the rear. I snatched it up and took off at a run. Patrell fell in behind me.
“The hell’s so important man?” he called out as we ran for the store.
“Gotta have some tunes!!” I said and laughed as I trotted up to the open entrance.
Dreams really do come true.
I didn’t spend a lot of time looking through the music offerings, but I came up with a winning soundtrack pretty quick. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Sabaton and much to my surprise Amon Amarth’s ‘Fate of Norn’s’ album. I may only be driving a few miles but I fully intended to rock the entire way.
I started the Jeep, the familiar inline six engine making the right sounds as I put it into gear. I chose Amon Amarth to go in the CD player first and selected ‘Pursuit of Vikings’ as I left the parking lot. The sound system was set up for bass heavy music, but with a bit of fiddling I managed to get it to produce the sounds I wanted.
The Jeep had a nearly full gas tank and a happy Heathen behind the wheel. Now came the part I was dreading. I had to come up with some sort of plan to find the militia group Dwyer was interested in and in the process not get my head blown off by the same group.
I switched CD’s to listen to Sabaton’s ‘Forty to One’, which seemed entirely appropriate, a song about a small force of Polish soldiers holding off the German Wehrmacht in World War II. I drove the Jeep in the same way I would have driven mine, which was to say slowly as I got on the freeway to go the few miles to the town where the militia was thought to be holing up.
I hadn’t come up with much of a plan, but I thought if the briefing I’d received from Dwyer was accurate I might do well just to try and get spotted. The exit to the town was approaching and aside from being one of the few vehicles I saw on the road, I thought maybe doing something to get myself noticed might be a good plan.
I slowed as I approached the exit ramp and coasted over into the breakdown lane. I was checking for hostiles, but more importantly for my purposes, I needed to get a look at the terrain. The area next to the off ramp looked manageable so I shifted into four wheel drive and did something I’d always wanted to do. I drove off into the little area just to the right of the breakdown lane. Once I’d hit more or less level ground, I floored it.
This Jeep wasn’t as near like mine as I would have preferred, but in typical Jeep fashion it performed without a problem. I accelerated hard, causing the ground– which usually only saw the occasional riding mower– to be torn up, mud flung everywhere. I turned the wheel hard over and did a couple of donuts and did my best attempt at a hill climb toward the areas that ran next to the road.
I stopped when I felt one or more of the tires leave the surface. I’d decided that I’d had enough fun for now and proceeded to slowly climb up out of the little pit.
I made it back to the shoulder and got out to admire my handiwork. I had managed to cover the Cherokee with a good thick coat of mud. I nodded and muttered to myself as I walked around the vehicle checking the tires “Field expedient camouflage? Check!”
I hadn’t heard anything from the town and while I wasn’t exactly sitting there with a pair of Big Eyes I hadn’t seen any potential hostiles checking me out either.
Okay genius, what now?
Time for plan B. I climbed back into the Jeep and cranked up the sounds. I chose my favorite song by Iron Maiden. ‘Run to the Hills’ and drove into town.