Tag Archives: prepper porn

Chapter 31 -Belt Fed Revolution

Dwyer was being very casual about this. “The job comes with a promotion. A big one, too. Congratulations Sergeant.”

Clearly there had been a scramble going on before the meeting. Dwyer pushed sergeant’s chevrons and a name tape toward me. I didn’t reach for either. “How about we restructure this sweet deal ? How about I agree to work on a contract basis?”

Dwyer sat back in his chair and put his hands behind his head.”All right, let’s talk. I can’t force you into this, or more to the point, I won’t force you to do this. I’d rather you were complicit and actively trying to accomplish the mission rather than doing it because you felt coerced.”

At least I had some leverage to work with. Money was worthless so there wasn’t much he could offer me in those terms and I was pretty sure I could feed and care for myself, unlike most of the conscripts wandering around outside this office;still didn’t mean I had to give away the farm. Unfortunately the more I thought about it there wasn’t a lot I wanted or needed. Luckily though my mouth jumped into gear before my brain had a chance to stop it.

“I want a vehicle. Personal use. Jeep Cherokee–oh!– and it has to be a stick.” Dwyer looked to Starke who shrugged.

“Okay we’ll see what we can do.” He leaned forward ready to conclude the meeting.

I let out a sardonic chuckle “Not getting off that easy, Major. I’ll help you with your militia problem, but when I’m done, I’m done. I walk away with nothing more than I brought with me.”

Dwyer’s cheeks puffed up with air as he considered this. I could see Starke watching the Major out of the corner of my eye, but couldn’t get a read on what he thought. Dwyer blew out the breath he had been holding and stood with his hand out “Deal.”

I should have asked him before if he had ever been a recruiter, but I took the chance and shook his hand. Dwyer took a piece of paper from his desk and signed off on the bottom. “Take this to supply. Anything you need, just have them write it here and it’s yours.”

I took the paper and smiled. At the very least I wasn’t going to have to worry about coffee for a while.

****

Starke accompanied me to supply, laughing at some private thought. I didn’t like that, didn’t think it could possibly be good for me, but he wasn’t sharing.

The clerk in charge of supply looked at the paper with wide eyes and waved a hand toward the back of the CONEX box. “Help yourself”.

It turned out there were several CONEX boxes filled with various supplies, some from Wal-Mart, some military issue. I grabbed a can of coffee as the first part of my shopping spree and cackled gleefully. People never learned. I’d have joined the Coast Guard as an E-1 if there had been coffee on offer. Dwyer got screwed.

There wasn’t really much in any of the containers that I couldn’t live without. I took a decent looking compass in a ‘shock-proof’ housing and a small Fiskars hatchet from the Wal-Mart stuff. The real shopping began when I was escorted  into a CONEX box filled with what military gear there had been for the MVDF to salvage.

I took a CamelBak hydration system with an extra bladder and some water purification tabs. I also found a box filled with socks and took several pair. Now I was sure Dwyer had gotten the short end of the stick. A man can never have enough socks.

This particular CONEX box was divided into two sections. I had to pass by an armed guard at the second entrance and  was required to leave my firearms with him before being admitted to the back. I figured if they had wanted to kill or imprison me they could have easily done so by now, so I handed over my revolvers and rifle. It was obvious the guard on the door didn’t share my taste in weapons, smirking slightly as I handed him my .357.

He practically giggled when I pulled out the .500. The Private unlocked the door and shouted into the back “Yosemite Sam, coming through!” I walked through the door after flipping the private off in a dignified manner and was greeted by two more guards armed with M249’s. A row of overhead flourescent’s flickered into life and revealed row upon row of M4’s and boxes of ammunition to feed them.

Although I had used the M16 in my day, I wasn’t particularly fond of the gun as it had always been touchy and maintenance intensive. I was ready to leave when I saw  a weapon case poking out, hidden by one of the guards stood in front of it.  I mumbled an ‘excuse me’ as I pushed between the men in these crowded quarters and was greeted by a glorious sight. Laying inside the pelican case was a custom-built bolt-action rifle. Definitely not military issue. The military couldn’t afford something like this.

I picked the rifle up and held it reverently there in the flickering light of the container. I had only seen weapons like this in gun magazines. The gun was massive, nearly 20 pounds but still felt well-balanced for all its weight. I turned it over and saw the heavy ‘competition’ barrel marked .300 WIN MAG. The stock fitted to it was either an Accuracy International model or a very well done knock off. The case contained a second barrel marked .338 Lapua Magnum and several spare magazines.

Attached to the picatinny rail on the top was a scout sniper scope. I flipped open the lens caps and was rewarded with a glance of a P4 reticle.

In my head I began writing a letter. “Dear Penthouse Forums, I never thought this would happen to me…”

I shook myself out of my reverie and asked the guards where the ammunition for this rifle was stored. They didn’t answer the question so Starke, whom I had totally forgotten had accompanied me yelled at them

“AMMO! NOW! MOVE,MOVE,MOVE!”

The guard on his left jumped and turned around quickly locating 160 boxed rounds of .300 Winchester Magnum and held them out to Starke. “Do I appear to be holding a rifle?! About face, numbnut!”

The guards face was coloring rapidly as he spun around and handed me the ammo with a muttered “Sorry,sir.” I barely heard him. I was busy examining the massive cartridges and not trying to hide the wolfish smile I was sure I was displaying.

To Starke, I said “You guys have a sniper here?”

He shook his head “Don’t think so.”

“Right. You guys can have my .243 and the ammo for it. I qualified expert with my service rifle and was later awarded a distinguished marksman badge…I was scheduled to go to Dam Neck after my deployment to tryout the Designated Marksman course.”

Starke just smiled “It’s yours. Dwyer said take whatever you want.”

I worked the action a few times to make sure the rifle was in good order and walked out of the CONEX box feeling and looking literally like a kid with a new toy. Starke was laughing at me for a while before my perception finally snapped back to the here and now. “What?”

He kept on laughing “Man, I’ve been trying to talk to you for the last 5 minutes!”

“Did I answer you?”

“You grunted once and said ‘uh huh’ a couple of times.”

I slung the rifle over my shoulder and looked at him. “I’m sorry. Did you want to stop and talk about our feelings or are you good?”

“Nah, man I’m good.” he laughed again “So do you want to check zero on that thing or what?”

“Hel yeah.” I started feeding rounds into the magazine.

“Whoa there, cowboy! We gotta get off base first.”

I nodded, not really caring where I shot this work of art only that I get to do it soon.  I muttered “good point” to Starke and continued to load the spare magazines.

****

The delivery area of Wal-Mart was bordered by a small wooded lot. A stream ran through the back of the lot and opened out onto a more densely wooded area. The stream itself was wide, but not deep, coming up to just above my knees as I sank into the soft sandy bottom. I took out my ghillie suit midway across the stream and put it on so it covered me and my ruck.

The detergent-perfume smell of the ghillie suit was anathema to the smells of nature and I needed to get the suit ‘broken in’ once more. I spotted a small copse of trees nearby. The ground beneath the trees was covered with ‘canopy litter’  and I laid down and began to roll over.

Starke thought–from the look on his face–that I had lost my mind and he was going to have to shoot me. I popped up satisfied that the burlap was sufficiently subdued.

I took my ghillie suit off laid it on the ground with my new rifle on top of it. I opened my ruck and got the extra magazines out laying them on the burlap as well. When I opened my ruck I saw John’s bush blanket was still inside. I pulled it out and offered it to Starke.

I laid down on top of the ghillie suit while Starke went off to set up the targets. I placed the recoil pad against my shoulder and cradled the stock with my left arm, placing my left hand on my right shoulder with the web of my index finger and thumb just under and supporting the stock.

The rifle fit as well as any glove I’d ever worn, making contact in all the right places. I reached forward to flip open the lens covers and saw a crisp clear picture. The colors inside my scope seemed somehow brighter and sharper than  those around me.

Starke had liberated a couple of flat cement pavers from the Wal-Mart’s garden section and set one at what I reckoned to be about one-hundred yards. I watched him through my scope as he moved even further down range and set up the second target.

I waited until he returned to insert the magazine and the extra round directly into the bore. Starke laid next to me and pulled out a spotter’s scope while stuffing his ears with small neon orange plugs. I looked over at him and he gave me a thumbs up. I took a deep breath and let it out. As I got to the bottom of my exhalation I heard him say “Send it”.

“Sending” I replied in a voice that seemed quiet even with the ear plugs in. I squeezed the trigger slowly and was surprised when the round was launched downrange. The cement paver turned into a cloud of dust and I felt a strange sense of satisfaction having ‘killed’ the paver.

A few seconds later there was the sound of leaves as though the wind had suddenly come up. Starke was still looking through the scope and laughed. “Nice. You got a nice big sapling to bring home for dinner!”

I looked back through the scope in time to see a tree about 8 feet tall fall entirely to the ground. I adjusted my aim and began trying to set the dope for the other target. From the angle I was at, I didn’t have a clear shot at the second paver and so had to aim for center of exposed mass.

I repeated my ritual and at the bottom of my breath heard Starke say “Send it” again.

I was gently but gradually putting pressure on the trigger “Sending.” I felt the rifle recoil almost before I was aware I’d pulled the trigger fully, but this time there was no explosion of dust.

Starke called out “Miss! High, left.”

I ejected the spent cartridge and slid the bolt home once more “re-acquiring.” I adjusted the scope again and called out “re-engaging”. I heard Starke say send it and didn’t bother to reply as I let off the round.

“Miss! High!”

Starke chuckled tersely.”You scared the crap out of him though, look he’s trying to get concealed!”

I peered through the scope tube once more and saw that while I hadn’t hit my target I had knocked it over. I could see the impact of the round just a couple of inches high in the tree trunk where the paver had stood.

I started muttering to myself angrily.

“What was that?” Starke asked.

“I said that was the shooter,not the gun.”

He barked out another harsh little laugh “takes a big man to…”

“suck it.” I finished for him.

I took two deep breaths and got the call from Starke again. This time I replied and sent the round downrange. There was less dust this time, but I smiled happily as I watched the block explode sending pieces everywhere.

“How far was that?”

“Little over 600 yards.” Starke was setting up the bipod on my old .243 “Think this can reach down that far?”

“Without a doubt.”

Starke grinned and fed  rounds into the magazine. I was looking downrange through my scope and froze when I saw a herd of deer.  I reached over and tapped Starke on the arm. He looked at me wordlessly and I pointed down range. The small herd of whitetail deer was just beyond the area where my last kill was. Starke smiled and took aim.

I hadn’t been on the bolt side of my old rifle before and was a little surprised at how loud it was. I looked downrange and saw the deer flopping on the ground trying to get up.

I didn’t say a word to Starke as I sent another round to finish off the deer. I looked at him, my anger apparent. Starke hung his head and was completely silent.

I stood and gathered my gear putting on my ruck and my ghillie suit over it. Starke started to say something and I snatched the rifle out of his hands. “Why don’t you go back to base? I’ll go clean up your mess.”

Starke said nothing but set to policing the area and when he was finished headed back toward the camp. I have no problems with killing animals. Everyone knows how tasty they are. I have a problem with people that don’t kill cleanly. I had always been of the opinion it was unfair to the animals to hunt with a rifle and whatever hunting I had done before in my life was with a bow.

I walked down to where the deer lay and shook my head. I’m not exactly a mother-earth-let’s-all-hug-a-tree kind of Heathen, but I apologized to the deer for my compatriots action. I hated to see animals suffer. I pulled out Sweet Louise and set to field dressing the deer. If this one had made it to fall it probably would have been close to 175 pounds, but as it was I estimated it at just under 150.

I cut the liver away from the rest of the organs and stuffed it back in the carcass. I touched my Ka-bar to the heart and was rewarded with a spray of blood in my eyes. I sat there and blinked until my eyes cleared and then removed the heart.

I hefted the deer up in a fireman’s carry and headed back to camp.

****

When I made it back to camp I took the deer to the chow line and gave it over to the cook and asked if he needed me to skin it. The cook, a small Hispanic looking man smiled broadly and shook his head no.

The cook summoned two men from the improvised kitchen to carry the deer away.

“Wait! ” the two men turned to look at me. I couldn’t tell if they were Hispanic or not, so I asked “You speak English?” They both nodded. I stuck my hand out and put it inside the deer “Liver and heart are mine. Comprende? The rest is for everybody.”

The men smiled and assured me they understood and took the carcass away. I heard a murmur rising from behind me and turned to see Major Dwyer approaching. I figured my appearance, bloody face and dirt covered ghillie suit must have caused a stir.

When Dwyer got close enough he grabbed my elbow to pull me aside. Speaking in a low angry voice, he said “That’s not how we do things here!”

“It’s certainly not how I do things.” I said as I tore my elbow from his grasp.  “Do not put your hands on me again unless a fight is your intent.”

He demured slightly. “Sorry. But troops have the priority here. Any time an animal is taken, it goes to the troops and whatever is left over goes to the civilians.”

I calmed myself slightly and spoke in a voice barely above a whisper “That’s great. Tell you what: how about you write that up in a memo entitled ‘How to Foment a Rebellion’. I understand that the troops need to eat, but if you’re not providing for the citizens in your charge then what’s the point of this fight? Pretty sure the Feds could do the same thing for them!”

Dwyer made to reach for my elbow again but stopped himself and beckoned for me to follow him away from the line of gawkers “You do not tell me how to run this base. You want to talk about fomenting a rebellion? What do you think you’re doing?! Based on this little interaction alone I could have you tried for sedition and …” he broke off suddenly

“And executed?” I finished for him.

Dwyer’s face was bright red and a vein was throbbing up on the top of his forehead.

“Well shit, go right ahead. you’ve got me outgunned here. Hey, better yet why don’t you deliver me to the Feds? I’m sure they’d reward you– give you a nice position with even– since you seem to be following their playbook so closely.”

Dwyer leaned in close “I want you gone. Tomorrow morning. Do not come back until you have made contact with the militia groups in the area. Until then, you are to be considered ‘persona non grata’ here. Do you read me?”

Dwyer spun around and left me standing there without another word. I thought to myself I’m probably going to have to kill that man. I snorted with a bit of laughter as I realized I had drawn my .357 and had the hammer cocked.

“Soon.”

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Chapter 25 -Belt Fed Revolution

John got volunteered to help me dispose of the bodies. The show I had put on for the people seem to crystallize things for them and everyone was more or less willing to accept Stephen as their leader. The group he had invited had already taken up residence at his homestead. I heard from most of them that they didn’t really have anything at their houses worth bringing.

Stephen suggested that they send armed patrols to each persons house to get personal belongings, clothes or whatever else could be scraped together the next day.

John and I stayed on until evening and ate a final meal with the group. I kept the goodbyes limited, speaking mostly to Stephen.

“I gotta tell you kid you were born for this. You had these people in line long before I dropped the hammer on those two lightbulbs.” I gestured over to the two small graves John and I had dug.

I stuck out my hand and Stephen took it, grasping it with surprising strength “Thanks, Finn. Y’know…if you ever need a place to stay I’d be okay with you hanging out here.”

I put my hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye. I saw a younger predator looking back at me with the same steely glint in his eyes I had been carrying for years. “Nah, I think you’re better off without me around.”

Stephen knew it too, though his offer had been genuine. We finished our goodbyes and I promised that if I ever headed back this way I’d stop in and see how things were going at Stephentopia as some people were starting to jokingly call it.

John had decided to take his chances on making it to Canada and thus following me.  As we said our final goodbyes and turned, Stephen called out to us “Wait, I forgot somethin’!” He disappeared into his house for a few minutes and came back out with a backpack and handed it to John.

John hefted the pack with a slight grunt “What’d you put in here, a brick?” Stephen just smiled and said “It’s a gift for, Finn.” For a moment the budding leader was gone and in his place was the child I had seen but briefly when we went out to hunt.

We waved goodbye again and started walking. Soon the little farm was no longer visible and I reckoned it had to be closing in on 7 ‘o clock. We stayed near the road walking mostly on the soft shoulder prepared to jump if we saw anything or anyone else.

John was walking behind me by several yards when I suddenly stopped.  I heard John ready his shotgun by clicking off the safety. He called out quietly “What’s up?”

“Dunno” was all I could say. Something for sure had my attention but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The sky was dark enough I could see the stars starting to pop up and even without the moon I could see pretty well. I stood as still as I could once more trying to will my senses to be superpowered if only for a second or two.

“No lights!” John jumped as I exclaimed this.

“What?”  he hadn’t noticed it yet.

“There’s no lights, John. Look around.” I pointed to the northeast. We had been walking along U.S. 31/I-196 looking for Blue Star Highway near South Haven. I didn’t see any lights shining up into the sky which would indicate there was a town nearby.

“Son of a bitch. . . you’re right. I’ve driven this road plenty of times and I know there’s a couple of little truck stops that could pass for a town with all their lights on around here.”  John scanned the area and pointed almost east “there’s something.”

I waved him down into the ditch and unslung my rifle. I could see light, but it wasn’t the usual steady glow of flourescents lighting the sky. “Fire.” I said and handed John the rifle.

“How can you tell?” he asked peering intently through the scope.

“Watch the way the light wavers and flickers. You only get that from fire” John handed me back the rifle “I’ll take your word for it.’

“Rule one, John? It also means ‘I’m always right’ “I heard him laugh but I continued to watch the fire for a moment. I stood up and picked off the bits of gravel that had become embedded in my arm. “With that fire, anyone over there can’t see us. Let’s get going.”

John walked a little closer so he could talk. “So what’s up with the lights then?”

“Power must be off. Could be anything. Someone could have taken out a transformer or there could have been a storm.” I offered these explanations and thought they sounded reasonable, but I had a feeling that wasn’t the truth of it.

As night wore on and the further we walked it remained dark all over. If I had to guess, I’d say the grid had gone down here for some reason. All I knew was I didn’t really feel like approaching any of the darkened towns and asking questions so we kept moving.

We walked on for the rest of the night making our slow and steady progress. When the sky began to turn lighter I started looking for a place to hole up. I saw a house not too far off and thought we’d try there. I had my monocular strapped to my wrist again since we had been walking and I lifted it up to scope out the place. The house looked deserted, but still pretty well intact.

As we approached the house I didn’t see any signs of recent habitation. Either the former owners had cleaned up pretty well before they split or the squatters had decided this place was too far out to trouble with. That was fine by me so I began looking around for a place to enter the house.

All the windows were intact and I didn’t want to break one in case anyone was keeping an eye on the place and give away that we were there. The house was old. I noticed a coal delivery chute on one side and tried to open it. I couldn’t even budge the thing. “Finn, come here!”  I had my revolvers in hand and went around the corner prepared to shoot. John was standing at the back door which was open.

“It was unlocked.” He smiled at me as I holstered my revolvers and walked in past him. My instincts about the place were right as it turned out. The house was pretty well spotless and empty but showed  signs of furniture having been moved recently. The place smelled of antiseptic and I wondered if a realtor had come out and cleaned the house up desperate to try to sell it.

We went through all the cabinets and closets downstairs and found nothing. I set my ruck on a counter and pulled out my tactical L.E.D. flashlight and clicked it on using all 350 lumens to explore the basement.

There were boxes in the basement, but they contained nothing useful, being filled mostly with dishcloth’s and other kitchen items. Satisfied with my exploration I went up the stairs and put my ruck back on. John had been standing watch in the kitchen where we had entered and I jerked my head toward the stairs “Come on.”

“Finn?” Fuck. I didn’t like that tone.

“What’s up?”

John was pointing out the window so I moved up beside him. I couldn’t see what he was looking at so he moved and I stood where he had been. I saw a patch of gray that looked weird. It got weirder seconds later when the gray patch resolved into a man. I raised the monocular and looked out.

“What’s going on?’ John hissed.

I stood there looking until my brain found a working gear. “Well I’ll be…”

“You’ll be what? Hanged? Arrested? Dipped in shit?”
I picked up my rifle and adjusted the eyepiece to maximum magnification. “It’s a scout. . .”

“A scout? A boy scout?” I dropped the monocular prepared to smack some sense into John but I saw he was being serious.

“Not a boy scout. MVDF if I’m not mistaken” I could see that didn’t mean anything to him, so I explained “Michigan Volunteer Defense Force. Sort of like the National Guard but just for Michigan.”

I moved to the living room and its larger window and watched the scout for a while. Eventually he disappeared. I kept scanning the wooded areas near the house looking for his mate but I couldn’t see anything out-of-place. I don’t know how long I waited but I eventually gave it up.

“Okay, John, go on upstairs and get some sleep. I’ll take the first watch.” I could see he was tired and I didn’t mind being awake right now. Why one scout? Where was the other one? Or for that matter where was the unit he was scouting for?

I kept watch until about 1400 and went up to wake John.  “while you’re on watch if you see anything–even if it’s  animals running–anything that doesn’t look right, get upstairs and wake me.” He nodded “Oh and try not to silhouette yourself.”

“That a gay joke, ’cause I don’t get it?”

“Don’t stand in front of the windows if you can help it. Definitely don’t stand in an open door.” I yawned “just try not to make yourself a target to anyone with a rifle and decent eyesight.”

I headed upstairs and closed my eyes, but my thoughts kept turning over. Maybe the scout had gotten separated from his mates. Maybe he wasn’t a scout at all, just someone lost and trying to get to a fortified position. As I pondered the situation I actually managed to fall asleep.

A short time later John was kneeling beside me, shaking me by the shoulder. “Get up!” he said in a stage whisper.

My eyes were open and I was instantly awake. “What’s happening?” I asked as I stifled a yawn.

“He’s back!” John pointed at the window.

“Who? The scout?” I doubted it was the same person, but the fact that there was another one was enough to pique my interest.

“I saw him a few minutes ago, but I couldn’t tell what was happening. It’s that one from earlier, coming back this way.”

I let John lead the way downstairs and Ito the window he’d been standing at. It took me a few moments to spot him even with the gray BDU’s he was wearing.

“The fuck?” I said to no one in particular. John thought it was directed at him.

“I know! He’s been sitting there for a while” As soon as John stopped speaking I heard it. The sound was as familiar to me as it was to John. A diesel engine changing gears. John looked at me wide eyed.

The typical reactions in this situation are fight,flight or freeze. Maybe add freak out in some cases.  I saw the vehicle, a gray painted APC of some sort. I wasn’t really up-to-date on my military vehicles and this one didn’t look American. I started having a flashback to Red Dawn. Russians? But if it were Russians why would they be wearing the MVDF insignia?

“Fuck it.” I took out my S&W .500 and made sure it was fully loaded and did the same for my .357. I was going to add a new category to fight-flight-or-freeze.Confront like a man. “Gimme the shotgun, John.”

John looped the shotgun on over my extended arm and stepped back. “I’m going to go out there and talk to them. If I don’t signal you after a bit, get out the window and hide yourself. I’ll keep them busy for a second or two.” John nodded and gathered up all his supplies and stood ready. “I’m leaving my ruck here. Carry it down to the basement and hide it as best you can. If you hear shooting wait for a few hours and come back. If you can do it safely, you can have my ruck.”

I stepped out the door and headed off to meet the scout and his friends.

Chapter 24 -Belt Fed Revolution

I couldn’t remember having had this much fun in ages. Certainly not since gas became crazy expensive. Only the truly wealthy drove for pleasure now, but here I was, ripping through this field, the 33 inch tires on my Cherokee tearing up the ground flinging mud helter skelter. The young woman on the seat next to me was certainly enjoying this. She cried out “Look!” and pointed through the windshield to a pair of bobcats we had disturbed.

I tried to turn the Jeep toward the bobcats but the snow was everywhere and I wasn’t getting a lot of traction. I got us pointed in the right direction and hammered the gas pedal. It was too dark to see properly so I flipped on all of the off-road lights turning the Jeep and the area surrounding it into a small pale blue sun. Motörheads “Ace of Spades” was blaring away on the radio in an infinite loop.

From the passenger’s seat area I heard the sound of a belt buckle unlatch as she leaned over and kissed me on the neck. The song on the radio seemed to get louder in anticipation.

I woke up to near total darkness, my interior voice laughing and mocking at the same time.

Oh sure, it’s not because there’s a chick in your Jeep. That’s all normal. Uh huh. You know it’s not real because there’s a radio. Even your dreams are pathetic.”

I couldn’t really deny what the voice said. My dreams were kind of pathetic, but those were old world dreams. As meaningless now as dreams of dragons.

 There was a candle lantern near my bed, but my eyes were well accustomed to the gloom so I didn’t bother with the light.

I could see a familiar lump at the end of the bed. My ruck had been placed there with my boots lined up next to it. Someone had been busy while I was asleep. My BDU style pants were placed on top of my ruck and neatly folded along with my shirt. They even smelled clean.

I got dressed silently in the dark and sat down to slip my Cadillac’s on. For the first time in a while I  felt pretty decent. My back wasn’t bothering me, my knee hadn’t had much of a chance to complain yet and if my pants were any indication I had even lost a few more pounds. This end of the world stuff wasn’t too bad then.

I tried to sling my ruck, but as I grabbed one of the straps it became immediately apparent that its weight had almost tripled. I thought Stephen might have crawled in there, but chided myself and mumbled into the darkness “He’s far too tall”.

I reached into the pack and pulled out something anyone familiar with military surplus could identify immediately. A spam can. I couldn’t see what caliber it was, but given the guns I carrying I was pretty well assured I didn’t have anything that could chamber the contents of the spam can. I reached into one of the pouches on the back of my ruck and grabbed my little wind up flashlight.

I pressed the button and was rewarded with a watery light from the three LED’s. I couldn’t read the language, but  important stuff was plain. 7.62 something. Mosin? Kalashnikov? I shrugged and pulled the spam can out and laid it on the bed. There were two more in my ruck and I removed those also.

I wasn’t hearing sounds in the house so I assumed everyone else was still asleep. I made my way outside so I could get a fix on the sun and figure out what time it was. I opened the front door and saw Stephen sitting in a plastic Adirondack chair. His head moved slightly at the sounds I made and I knew that he was awake.

Propped up next to him on the arm of the chair was what I took at first blush for some AK variant, but it didn’t look quite right. The stock and foregrip were aftermarket polymer, but the length of the foregrip and barrel gave it away. A Romanian PSL. I had always admired these rifles and this one looked to be in fine condition.

“G’morning.”

“Morning, Stephen. Nice stick you have there.”

He smiled appreciatively. “There’s coffee. I made it the way my dad showed me, but I don’t know if it’s any good.” He gestured toward a blue metal carafe on a table with some coffee cups.

I said my thanks and grabbed up the carafe. It was still hot and I didn’t think it would be polite for me to use it as a coffee cup, so I settled for one of the small ceramic mugs and took a seat.

“Got some people comin’.” Stephen said and pointed toward a small two lane track that was probably a lot of fun on a snowmobile. I leapt to my feet and went inside, grabbing my .243 and hoped the lighted reticle scope still had some power.

I ran out and dropped down to one knee behind some concealing junk in the yard. “Um. . .  ” Stephen began “I invited them.” I looked back at him. Damn kid. He had this cool detachment thing down far better than I did. I looked through my scope anyway and saw people shapes at about 1500 yards.

Stephen held the PSL out to me. “Thought I might offer you a trade. My dad’s PSL for that.” He pointed at the rifle I held. I handed over the .243 to Stephen so I could examine the PSL. I pulled back the bolt and to my surprise a live round leapt out of the chamber. I grabbed it before it could hit the ground and examined it. Oh yeah. I was smiling inside, holding this familiar cartridge, running my finger around the odd rim that was part of its designation. 7.62x54r .

“Well as much as I appreciate the offer, Stephen, I’m kind of trying to travel light.” I winked at him before I realized he probably couldn’t see the expression in the faint light of dawn. “I can’t hump all that ammo around, unless you want to throw in a pack mule.”

He looked a bit disappointed, but handed me back my rifle without protest. “So who’s coming?”

“Couple of the neighbors. I went out last night and talked to ’em while you were sleepin’.” Stephen pulled the magazine from the PSL and reinserted the round I had ejected. “Some of ’em are in pretty bad shape already, so they were happy to come. Johnson’s tried to follow me right then, but I told ’em to wait an’ come  later.”

I cradled my rifle in my arms and sat down on a tired looking deck chair to drink my coffee and wait for the guests to show up.

****

Before Stephen’s neighbors began to arrive I went in the house and woke John. I wasn’t expecting trouble, but I’d rather be on my feet to meet it if it came our way. John was definitely not a morning person. I had to wake him two more times before I left him to stumble through getting dressed.

Stephen was talking to an older couple when I stepped through the door. Conversation stopped and I found all eyes on me, or more likely on the rig I was wearing and the gun I had slung over my shoulder.

The stragglers were coming in at this point so I waited for them to arrive and enjoyed another cup of coffee. Stephen was willing to give way too much for my rifle. I’d probably have traded him for a pound of coffee, but I wasn’t going to mention that.

Only a couple of them carried weapons. I had to wonder at that. Michigan wasn’t exactly known as a gun-shy state, but the few decent people I had seen lately with the exception of Stephen and his clan, weren’t exactly loaded for bear.

When everyone, including John was present Stephen began to hold a meeting. I stood up and introduced myself.

“Morning folks. I’m Finn” I smiled and nodded at the few that made eye contact “This is John.” John still grouchy stepped forward and offered everyone a sullen wave before collapsing onto one of the chairs.

“What’s yer part in this?” One of the neighbors, asked an elderly man with forest of stubble covering his face.

“Nothing, honestly. I helped Stephen out with a problem he had and he’s given us room and board for a couple of nights.” I waited for a further challenge, but the old man seemed satisfied.

The rest of the meeting was all Stephen. He made it clear to those assembled that John and I were temporary guests and we would be leaving soon. I offered what help I could as they discussed logistics and started making plans. More coffee was prepared and I helped myself. I figured it was a fair trade for the work I had done.

I made it around 11 am when the meeting broke for lunch. Stephen was a sight. He began working people individually while they ate, doing his best to swing them around to his way of thinking about issues they had argued over.

After lunch was over people wandered around and examined Stephen’s steading. Stephen let them look around but he wasn’t showing all his cards yet. I had seen him call a couple away from the barn and engage them in conversation as a distraction. I didn’t like the predatory looks on some faces but I chalked it up to people hard pressed to survive, seeing things they desperately needed.

I listened in on some conversations while doing my best to look like I was doing anything other than eavesdropping. I heard some talk I didn’t like, but I kept it to myself for now. The meeting resumed eventually as meetings tend to do. I was largely tuned out, watching a hawk circle on a thermal in the afternoon sun.

“Well, no offense Steve” My attention suddenly focused on the discussion “But I don’t think you’re exactly cut out to be our leader! ” I stood up at this point deciding to interject on behalf of my host. Stephen shook his head when he saw me stand, so I merely crossed my arms and stood there.

“This is my farm. You want to live here? Eat my food? Then you follow my rules. Don’t like it? You ain’t gotta stay.” I rubbed my chin and tried to hide a smirk. This kid was setting the standard for being the big boss. “If you don’t want to follow my rules, you’re welcome to go back home, but know this: once you leave, you’re out. I ain’t gonna take you in when you run outta food or can’t get water. We have to work together now, if we’re going to survive.”

The old man who had challenged me earlier spoke up “The boy’s right. Fer what it’s worth I wouldn’ta invited most of you here if it was my place.” He picked one of the troublemakers out “Dave, we all know you and your lady friend like that Metha-amphetamin shit.  What ‘re you bringin’ to the table Here?” My .357  in hand, I wordlessly  shot Dave in the head across the circle of those gathered. He slumped to the ground his head nearly falling into the small firepit we sat around.

There were screams and someone started crying. The old man looked at me gape-mouthed. Stephen just stared at me.

“Consider that express rehabilitation.” I picked a round out of my pocket to replace the one I had just fired. “Trust me. You don’t want or need people like that in your group. If you want to make it through this with half a chance everyone here needs to be healthy and willing to work.” I wasn’t telling Stephen that Ol dead Dave there was one of those I had heard talking about what they could take to sell.

I looked at the woman who had been standing next to Dead Dave and took aim once more. I fired and she flopped to the ground a few feet away, dead, but making a weird low-pitched whining sound with her last breath. I looked each of those still gathered in the eye. “You’re welcome. People say that. Usually after others thank them for the favor they’ve just received?” The old man laughed and spat “He’s a dirty fucker anyway! ” That was close enough to thanks for me.

“You can also consider that a statement on how serious is your situation if you’re in doubt of your hosts word.” I looked around and saw shocked faces still doing their immitation of a goldfish. “My name is Finn Arngeirr Sigurdsson. I killed these people. I’m happy to leave my fingerprints and a DNA sample if that will make you feel better, but trust me–no one is going to come along to punish me for that” I gestured toward the two bodies.

My ears were ringing a bit from the .357 but I heard the old man’s wife ask “What’d he say?” The old man flapped a dismissive hand at her and replied ” He said he’s some sorta Viking.” he looked at the two corpses “he was right about them at least. He did us a favor.”

The old man stood and offered me his hand “Thanks much Mr Viking.”

The old-timer didn’t see me roll my eyes at that as he retook his seat.

Stephen restarted the meeting after my little display and smiled as he asked “Anybody got any questions?” This kid was a natural.

Chapter 18 – Belt Fed Revolution

The bodies at the bottom of the hill had been stripped clean of what people considered valuables. The contents of the cars had also been tossed down the roadside. I noticed a lack of tire irons and other things that made good weapons of opportunity. Mostly there was windshield wiper fluid, jump leads and the randomness that makes up people’s second homes. One item of interest was a roll of burlap three feet wide by 50 feet long. I grabbed this up along with a couple of empty water bottles. Everything else was junk including the bodies.

John was stripping the shirt off one of the larger males and using it to make a pack. A snappy one liner ran through my head but I dismissed it and left him to his task. I crouched at the bottom of the ditch waiting for John to finish collecting the things he thought would help him, all the while I kept scanning with the monocular.

The quiet no longer bothered me. It no longer bothered me mostly because there was little quiet. The sounds just weren’t the sounds I was used to hearing. Red winged blackbirds–highway birds as I thought of them for their insistence on gathering in the median–were calling out to each other soliciting mates and warning off rivals. Combined with the ravens and other birds in the cornfields around us, the birdsong itself was a screen to most noise. Hel, it was deafening.

I looked out to the ravens in the field and apologized for interrupting their meal. My hand went to my hammer beneath my shirt and I called out to the ravens asking them to remember my name to the All-Father. I thought about that for a moment afterward and realized I might not necessarily want Odin as my battle buddy. Instead I thought of my grandfather and my uncle and hoped they were watching with approval.

I looked up and realized John had been standing next to me for some time. I cursed myself again for my less than sterling situational awareness. “Ready?” I asked as I stood. “As I’ll ever be. I didn’t find much on them, but I took what I thought might help.” He dug into his pocket and withdrew a piece of blue metal “Found this too. I needed a knife.” He unfolded the blue metal into what I thought of as a carpet knife. He had a lockblade knife that was fed with razor blades that could be replaced when they wore out. I nodded my approval as I turned it over in my hand. “Find any blades to go with it?” He smiled and held out his other hand which contained a small plastic case of refills.”Sweet.” I said and handed his knife back to him. “Aww, you too!” I raised an eyebrow at him as he let out a laugh. Good to know he had found a sense of humor again. We would need every mental tool at our disposal to make it through what our lives had become.

****

Our march didn’t have much more to go. Lucky for me as I didn’t think I’d be able to do the marching. The copse of pines turned out to be a bit farther away than I had thought and I was still trying to determine whether or not the fact that it separated two farm fields was a good thing. As we got closer I saw that among the pines were some scrubby little deciduous trees mostly young boxwood  and elms. I wished I’d bought some Real Tree camo; I would be almost invisible here with it.

I chose a spot amongst the leafy trees that had clustered together and dropped my pack there. My back thanked me for it with another twinge of pain. I grabbed my scavenged burlap and begin to unroll it. I used my Ka-bar to cut the burlap into strips and after a bit of rummaging in my ruck I came up with a small sewing kit. I cut the burlap into a few long sections which I left intact and began sewing the smaller strips onto it. John watched me with something approaching fascination.

“Well,well, if it isn’t little Suzy Homemaker lost in the woods!” I laughed at his joke and continued sewing. “Well?” he looked at me as if expecting an answer to an unasked question. “Well what,John?” “What are you making, Ms Homemaker?” he chortled. I stared at him until the smile left his face. “The proper term would be a ‘field expedient ghillie suit’ ” I replied and added “Jackass.” He continued to look puzzled. Fuck him, I thought. It’s not my job to educate the whole damn world.

I kept working on the suit and test fitted it to see if it would cover my ruck when I was wearing it and how far down it would hang. Eventually I came up with something resembling a poncho that covered me almost to the knees. Satisfied with this I gathered up some of the local plant life and began adding it to the suit. When I was satisfied I laid back against my ruck and closed my eyes. “Uh, excuse me?” Well that was nice. I had closed my eyes for about ten whole seconds. “What, John?”  He wasn’t trying to hide his exasperation. I appreciated that since I reading facial and verbal cues wasn’t a huge strong suit for me. “What do you think you’re doing?” I sat forward and looked up at him. “Sleep, John. What I am trying to do is called ‘sleep’. You are on watch and I am going to lay my ass here and rest for several hours.” I tossed the burlap to him “While you are not busy patrolling the perimeter, try to make yourself a ghillie cape, or frilly ghillie dress. Whichever moves you.”

John threw the burlap back at me “Look, I’ve about had it with the damn gay jokes, okay? And what the hell do you mean you’re going to sleep? Shouldn’t we be moving? I mean I don’t know about you, but I…” That was as far as I let him get. I leapt to my feet, my revolver came out and landed barrel first against his forehead knocking him backwards a bit. “Not a democracy, Johnny. This is what I am doing. You don’t like it get gone, but don’t you open your mouth to utter one single word of complaint.” I looked at him to see if I was cutting through his line of bullshit to the part of him that did the thinking. I thumbed back the hammer on the revolver and took aim at him. “This is the last time I am going to have this conversation. Say anything other than an agreement or goodbye.” I walked forward and pressed the revolver to his forehead. For a moment I saw a glimmer in his eye that was telling him to grab the 9 millimeter and meet me and his death like a man. I wasn’t conscious of how much pressure I had on the trigger but we were reaching the point of no return. John just stood there looking bewildered. I dropped the revolver and decocked it.

John stood there rubbing his head. I apologized mentally to my grandfather who had always told me not to point a gun at something I wasn’t going to kill. Although in fairness to myself,I thought, I would have killed John. He relented and held up his hands in surrender. “Okay. Sorry, you’re in charge Mr Stalin” he thumbed away a trickle of blood from where I had bashed him with the gun’s barrel. “But if it’s not too much trouble, would you clue me into the plan?”

I dropped back onto my ruck and holstered my revolver. “I’m going to sleep for a few hours. Then I’m going to wake up and let you sleep. It’s called standing watch.” I made a the motion of a man walking with my fingers “you are going to keep an eye on things while I sleep. If anything looks wrong, you will wake me up and I will go kill it.” I pointed up at the sky “and when it gets dark, we will start moving so as not to make ourselves huge, and in your case flaming, floating,dancing targets to anyone with eyes”.

I closed my eyes and pulled the impromptu ghillie over my head. “And” I said as I kicked out my legs to relax “I’m in charge. I get to make the gay jokes. When you’re in charge you can pick something about me and make jokes about it.” I folded my arms over my chest and swatted at something flying near my face. “And by the way? You’re never going to be in charge.” He threw something at me and I chuckled. I was just able to reach my holster with my hands across my chest as they were, so I drew it out and held it in my hand as I faded off to sleep. As I did I thought I heard John say “We’ll see about that, fuckstick.”

Chapter 16 -Belt Fed Revolution

We drove in silence for a while until John’s nature got the best of him and he began talking again. Most of it I could apply my active listening skills to, by nodding my head and giving non-verbal encouragement. Amazing that people pay to learn how to do that. 

I answered a few questions, keeping answers brief and giving yes or no responses when possible. I didn’t really like to talk about myself. I didn’t think anything about me was that interesting and the bits that were I felt it best to keep to myself.

When I couldn’t evade I tried to misdirect. It was clear John wasn’t going to let go asking me about what I did for work. I wanted to say “What does it matter?” but I could tell he was in a fragile state of mind yet and I might need him as a meat shield soon, so I tried to keep him engaged.

“I used to read a lot of books” I offered in an attempt to change the subject. John’s brows knitted together and his head tilted sharply to one side. I was going to have to pick up some treats for him next time I stopped. “Most of the books I read,at least the fiction ones were about the apocalypse” John laughed at that. “Yeah, I know” I continued “Anyway, most of those books all talked about how highways were choked with cars and bodies of people fleeing from whatever had caused the collapse.” It was early morning sometime– still dark out– and I reached down and flipped off the Jeeps lights to make the point.” I guess most of those guys weren’t thinking of an ‘apocalypse’ where people were too broke to bother dragging their cars out to block up the highways.”

The change in light wasn’t a huge one. Without using the Jeep’s “off-road” lights the illumination coming from the headlights was best described as anemic. We cruised along at 55 mph never needing to dodge any cars simply because there weren’t any. John seemed content with that bit of attention turning to look out the window as we drove.

“It’s not cool you know.” John said interrupting the silence of several long, glorious minutes.

For those few minutes he was quiet I forgot he was there.I almost swerved off the road when he spoke. “What’s not cool?”

“Changing the subject. I’m just trying to get to know you, y’know? I mean fuck sake, it’s not like I want to get in your pants if that’s what you’re thinking!”

Honestly it wasn’t. I was thinking as I always did of my grandfather. You got to know him by being around him, not through interrogation. All through my adult life, more like since I had turned twelve, I dreaded the “what are you doing” conversations. Every adult I met would ask “so, you’re in school right?’ No. I run a company that provides protection to foreign dignitaries and VIP’s overseas. Of course I’m in school; I’m 12. Now can I get back to my video game?

This of course turned into a “what’s your major/what do you do for a living” conversation as I got older. For that brief time I was in the Marines I really enjoyed not being asked that question. Everyone knew what they were doing and nobody cared what anyone else was doing so long as they didn’t get blown up near them.

I closed my eyes and took my hands off the steering wheel as I accelerated, willing the Norns, those weavers of fate to snip the thread of my life and save me from having this conversation one more time. When it was clear they weren’t going to oblige me, I sighed and said “I was a social worker, by profession.”

He scoffed “A social worker? You?” he laughed “Okay, go on, pull the other one.’

“It’s true” I said a bit defensively, already regretting my decision to open my mouth.

He cast a skeptical glance my way “Why would you want to be a social worker?” I favored him with a look of my own “You’ve known me for all of a day and you want to start making judgments about people? Really? That’s where you want to go with this?” He considered this for a minute and then started laughing like a kid who’s just heard the word ‘boobies’ for the first time in his life. “Well you have a point there, Mister Finn.”

The sun had just started to break the horizon to the east casting a pale purple glow in the inky sky overhead. I saw a blue sign on the road side that said there was food and gas up ahead and decided to risk it. I looked back to John and told him to get ready just in case.

****

I let the Jeep coast up the off ramp wanting to make as little noise as possible. the Jeep sat idling as I looked around. Nothing looked immediately out-of-place. I was even getting used to there being no other traffic to deal with, but something just felt off. I thumbed back the hammer on my revolver and kept scanning. I had just about decided that I was being overly paranoid when I saw some reflected light coming from the roof of the gas station I was going to check out.

I put the Jeep in gear and it jumped forward causing the big off-road tires to chirp as it did. John looked panicked but was keeping quiet. At least he’d figured out that much. I was short shifting the Jeep as I entered the on ramp trying to build speed as quickly as I could.  The rear window exploded behind us as I put it into 5th gear and an instant later I heard the rifle’s report. The inline 6 was screaming now as I stood on the gas, the Jeep doing the best it could to gain speed. I turned to look at John “You okay back there?” He nodded and kept looking behind us for signs of pursuit. Well if nothing else, I thought, I figured out how to make him be quiet.

We were down the road about a 1/2 mile when John finally asked “What in god’s name was that?!” “A warning.” I chuckled a bit. “I saw the shooter’s scope. He gave himself away–intentionally I think–and gave me a second to react.” John took a drink of water and spat a bit out the window. Combat dry throat. He was adjusting pretty well.

We had gone almost 10 miles when the Jeep started to sputter. The fuel gauge was reading empty. I pulled over onto the shoulder and got out to get one of the Jerry cans out of the cargo area. As I came around the back and popped open the lift gate I noticed the trail leading back toward the town. I dropped to my knees muttering a curse and hoping this wasn’t what I thought.

My fears were confirmed as I examined the skid plate that covered the Jeep’s gas tank. Two good-sized holes had sprouted there with drops of precious gasoline hanging on to the ragged edges of the metal. I had my rifle in hand and started walking back toward the town before my words rang in back in my head. A warning. That’s exactly what it had been. Anyone that could hit a moving target like that could have hit me just as easily if there had been a shot. If I approached on foot, that’s exactly what I would be giving them.

I turned back toward the Jeep, John’s constant chattering finally cut through my anger. I stared at him until he quit talking. “Get in the Jeep.” I was glad I didn’t have to repeat myself. I think I would have shot him if he didn’t obey.  I looked through my supplies for something I could plug the holes with. I ended up cutting the rubber floor mat and rolling it as tight as I could then jamming it into the bullet holes. I wished for some plumber’s putty or even some JB Weld, but I didn’t carry anything like that in my bug out bags.

I emptied the last Jerry can into the tank and got back on my knees to look at the skid plate. It took a few seconds, but eventually I saw the gas begin to seep out. I cursed some more as I got behind the wheel and hoped that the Jeep would fire. The engine cranked uselessly for about 5 seconds before it roared back to life. I floored it. I got up to speed as quickly as I could and began issuing orders for John to start getting pieces of gear out of the cargo area. We made it almost 30 miles before the Jeep started coughing and the fuel gauge was again reading empty. The engine died and I put in neutral, coasting until we lost all our momentum.

I put the Jeep in gear and got out, taking my bug out bag with me. I wished now I had kept the .338 Lapua. I’d love to show it to the sniper that killed my Jeep.  As I gathered the things I thought I would need and doing the math in my head about how much weight I could carry I began to sing softly Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”.

The words of a long ago drill instructor came back to me at this point. The only easy day was yesterday. I slung my rifle and started walking.

Chapter 15 -Belt Fed Revolution

The truck stop was about the same as we left it. My Jeep had remained intact and at first glance I didn’t see anything missing letting me breathe easier for a few minutes. I unslung the .338 and tried to hand it off to one of the truckers. “Well now, that’s fine Finn, and nice of you, but I can’t just let you give this up especially considering how you helped us out.” He told me to wait a second and took the rifle back to his rig. I turned to John and prepared to make my goodbyes.

“Well, ” was as far as I got before John cut me off. “Look, Finn–uh, I’m sort of S.O.L. here now that my truck is done . . .” he looked at me as if expecting I would know what to fill in here. I obliged with “Yeah?” Somewhat uncharacteristically for John he looked down at the ground, embarrassed as if he’d been caught stealing apples off the neighbors tree. “Well, I don’t have anything keeping me here and I was kind of hoping I could, you know . . .” I didn’t. Mentally I was trying to cut to the chase so I could see what he was after, but the closest thing I could figure is he was getting ready to pitch me a time-share in Florida. It had been a kind of long day. “Shit. Look man, I want to go to Canada, okay? I don’t have a truck anymore and I could use a ride!”  Ah, there’s the chase I told myself.

“John, it’s not that I’m against offering a hand in help, but . . .” I tried to think of a nice way to say ‘I’m done here’ but kept coming up blank. ” My Jeep is packed full. I really don’t have room for a passenger and, well. . .” John looked at me inquiringly “I’m kind of done here . . .” Even in my time as a social worker and all the hard luck stories I’d heard I’d never actually seen a grown man give me the puppy dog eyes. Damn it. I love dogs.

I was grateful to be interrupted by the trucker to whom I’d given the rifle coming back with a gift for me. He held out the little black rectangle along with a whip antenna and a 12v power cord. “This little CB won’t let you hear us on our sideband models, but you may at least be able to get some news from folks out there.”  I don’t really know what it means to feel happiness, but relief and gratitude seemed to be good substitutes that most people translated that way. “Thank you. I hope this won’t leave you short?” The trucker just laughed “Naw, man. You gave me that rifle so I can reach out and touch someone just as easily. Fair trade!” We both had a laugh at that and shook hands before parting company.

I had almost forgotten John was waiting for me. I turned around and saw the same heartsick look a dog gives when you scold it for chewing on the linoleum. “Fuck me runnin…yeah okay. Let me go see if I can move stuff around. But I’m not going to Canada. You can ride along with me as far as my gas holds out.” John dropped his salvaged belongings he had carried back from the truck and shook my hand pumping it vigorously. I was worried if he kept this up my arm might literally be ripped off and no way was he driving my Jeep. I took my hand back, somewhat forcefully. “You need to go talk to your buddies here and see if they have any gear they can spare you.  See if anyone’s got some shoes you can use” I lifted my pant leg to show my Cadillac’s, a pair of leather jump boots, my only other souvenir from my time in the Corps.  I pointed at John’s thin soled shoes that the other truckers seemed to favor as well. “We have to hoof it and those aren’t going to last for more than five miles.” John disappeared and I went to sort out the Jeep, shaking my head as I went.

***

I had finished sorting out the Jeep, mainly by pushing stuff over the back seat into the cargo area when John returned. He gave me a very detailed map of Michigan and for himself a few spare cans of food and a couple of bottles of water. No one had any shoes to spare for him.

I got in the Jeep and reached back to open the rear passenger door. John, puppy like stood at the front passenger door looking at me expectantly. I returned his look, waiting for him to get the not too thinly veiled hint. I pointed at the back door and told him to get in. “Why do I have to sit in the back?” he was whining.

“Because I keep the gear I need next to me so I can get at it in a hurry. And because if we meet any unfriendly types, I expect you to take my shotgun and send them off to meet their gods.” I was getting pissed. “Suck it up, Nancy. It’s this or get out and you take your chances here.” When it was clear I wasn’t going to give in, he shut the door and took my shotgun wedging it between his foot and the floorboard.

I let out the clutch on the Cherokee and swung around sticking my hand out the window to wave goodbye to the few truckers that came out to see us off. I didn’t really like the idea, but I got on I-196 to head north. I knew there was a big state park up that way, but it was far enough away that I hadn’t bothered to look at the map just yet. I figured at best if the roads stayed clear and I didn’t have to stop I could make about 200 miles with the gas I had on hand. I hoped that would be enough since I planned to get off the interstate as soon as possible and push my luck with state and county roads.

John caught a case of the ‘Chatty Cathy’s’ as I drove and began telling me his life story. For the most part I ignored him and kept scanning the road for signs of trouble. I was half listening to John, waiting for an interruption in the stream of verbal diarrhea that was flowing out of him when I noticed something he had kept repeating. “John?” He stopped and tilted his head at the sound of my voice. Guy had to be part beagle, I swear it. “You keep saying partner. Are you gay?” He laughed and slapped the back of my seat “You’re pretty quick there! I think I only said my ex-boyfriend’s name about 100 times!” I looked at him in the rear view “Given the fact I killed several men today and am still a free man, I don’t think I need to tell you things have changed.” His head tilted to the other side and I wished for a rolled up newspaper.

“Of all the things I could possibly spend time caring about, your sexual preference is near the bottom of that list, but I’m not everyone else. Get me?” He looked puzzled for a moment “What do you mean?” he asked.  “John, there are no more police as far as I can tell, no courts, no lawyers, nobody is going to come to your defense and make others treat you as an equal. Dig?” the puppy dog look was replaced with one of indignation. I stopped him before he could get on his verbal bike and start in on me “I don’t care. Who you screw is your business as far as I’m concerned. But also as far as I’m concerned who I kill is my business; I’m guessing there are a whole bunch of folks out there think the same now. Mommy isn’t going to come around and make everyone play nice. I’m not saying don’t be who you are, but maybe dim the light a little, yeah?” John sat back against the seat and stared out the window in silence. Apparently I had gotten through to him.

I took the map and began looking for a place to get off the interstate and find my way to a side road. I knew a fight was coming. Now, hopefully, John knew as well. People weren’t going to be “accepting” like they had been when they had the possibility of legal sanctions facing them. “John?” Silence. I pulled out my hammer from beneath my shirt. “You see this?” He looked at it and nodded. “This is Mjolnir, John. The hammer of Thor.” I pressed on. “I’m a Heathen, as in not Christian.” Huffily “And?” 

 “I don’t advertise it, John. I’m still going to be a Heathen and worship the gods and my ancestors, but I don’t go around telling people–usually– because they grew up with things being a certain way.” He nodded slightly so I continued “Remember how Jews and Muslims were treated here? Well, how do you think people are going to react to this? People want homogeneity. Everything needs to be the same or the thing that’s different needs to be removed. Last thing I want now is to get my ass burned at the stake or beheaded or whatever people are going to do to those who are different. There’s a fight coming. If there’s a fight, let’s win.”

I couldn’t tell if I had reached him. I put the hammer back under my shirt and John sat back and returned to staring out the window.

A short time later I heard him say mostly to himself “Let’s win.”

Chapter 14 -Belt Fed Revolution

I left John and his friends to bury their dead while I looked after my injuries in the cab of his truck. I hadn’t taken any significant damage a few cuts and scrapes mostly, but  my knee was swollen to about grapefruit size.

I jerked awake with a curse sometime later when John opened his door. I barely knew these people and here I was asleep. Great situational awareness, I chided myself silently.

John pulled shut the door with a deep sigh. “Well this rig has had it. Looks like we’re gonna be walking back. You up to it?”

I shook my head and told him “Not even close.” He grinned at that.

I got out onto the road as gingerly as possible. My knee wasn’t hurting enough to slow my walking anymore than it normally did. John and I took point while the others dragged along behind moving at their best speed.

“So. Want to tell me what that was all about?” I kept scanning the roadside for late arrivals to the dance.

“We’re all owner-operators for the most part” he began. “We own our rigs and contract to haul loads. The burned out truck belonged to a friend . . . Jenni.”

I nodded “And?”

He stopped and turned toward me. “And nothing. She was a friend. She didn’t deserve that!” He stood staring me directly in the eye. Brave man. “Look, whatever you were doing you apparently weren’t getting the news. You know how much diesel costs? Did you know we have been running in convoys for a couple of years to avoid shit like this?!” He struggled a bit and lowered his voice “Jenni an’ me an’ a couple the others have been running together most of that time when we could.”

He told me the rest of the story. Jenni had been at the truck stop along with him and the rest of his group for quite a while, waiting for a contract. Most companies realized the potential for hijackings and had done their best to make sure several rigs went out together to ensure security. This last run, Jenni’s contract had been the only one on offer and knowing the risks she decided to take it as it brought her close enough to home that she could deliver her load and get herself gone.

“Well that explains the weaponry.” I was still carrying the rifle I had used, a .338 Lapua Magnum, at the end of the fight. I’d given the AR to John for him to deal with. I wanted nothing from the dead.

“You don’t know the half of it” he spat the words out as though they came with a sour taste “for a while it wasn’t too bad; we had police coverage. Escorts sometimes too.”

I had to concede I didn’t spend much time on the highways since my Jeep wasn’t really cut out for it. John continued “Yeah, you and most people. At first it seemed to be random, but then it became clear. Trucks hauling food were targeted most often. Sometimes the drivers lived, but not often. Most people think Detroit is a ghost town, but that’s not entirely true. It’s a war zone.”

John told me that for a while Detroit and Flint were delivery zones that only the bravest would attempt. Lansing and Saginaw were  just as bad but truckers could usually count on escorts into and out of the cities.

“For a while we had drones running piggyback to our convoys.  I was in line with a bunch of other trucks once running up I-75 when out of nowhere there was just this big fireball up ahead of us. No one knew what was going on, but when we got to it, there was a bunch of smoking wrecks. Cars and people.”

I  prompted him occasionally with a nod or grunt. “National Guard had to come out that time to clear the road.” He laughed angrily and shook his head “Last time I delivered to Lansing it was a real convoy. Had two Hummers up front and one at the rear to take us in. After we made our deliveries a bunch of the locals swarmed the Hummers and opened fire on the police that had blocked off streets for us. A real belt-fed revolution right there.”

As we walked I got the low down on everything that had been happening–or at least reported–around the country. Truckers were switching to some highly modified cb’s and running communications in a way that would have made the military jealous. From what I heard, Michigan wasn’t even the worst of it, we had just managed to keep a better lid on it than other states.

John agreed “Most people wrote Michigan off as a loss when ‘Government Motors’ went tits up the second time. Can’t blame ’em for that. If I didn’t own a house and business here I’d have gone to Canada. Hell, if I can get a ride that way I still just might!”

I asked John if he knew anything about Sleepy Hollow and he laughed. “The words ‘smoking crater’ mean anything to you?” he paused a moment to wipe the sweat from his eyes. “Some of the militia types decided that if the government couldn’t handle things they could.” 

We decided to take a break and let the rest of the group catch up. John offered me a bottle of water and I drank it gratefully. “From what I got, two different militia groups pretty big ones, too, tried to take Lansing. Unlike the military though these guys didn’t have any worries about opening up on civilians.” I knew the type: the ‘destroy it to save it’ mentality was a dangerous road to travel and even if you succeeded you lost.

“Anyways, the government didn’t like people poaching on its territory and they fer sure didn’t like the idea of armed citizens ruling anything. The feds sent in regular army troops to handle it. Real experienced types you see. Guys that had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and even some private contractor types that worked in Liberia and other fun vacation destinations.” The group shared a laugh at this. We were a Third World nation now, a ‘fun vacation destination’ as John had so aptly stated.

“Problem was though, these guys were used to fighting foreigners who had some training. The militias didn’t play by the same rules. Even worse they didn’t adapt quickly.” John pointed to one of the other truckers “Bill here, he saw it up close, right?” Bill nodded and took up the story “I lived in Laingsburg, aways from the park yer talking about. I was out with the wife and stepson looking to do some fishing there and suddenly it was like we walked onto a movie set. A bunch of pickups with guys in the back went flying past us. They’us all painted up military style, but they didn’t look military, y’know? Some of ’em was too fat and their guns was different. Old looking things, y’know?”

“Military surplus?” I offered.

Bill nodded his head vigorously “Yep. And huntin’ rifles too! Lot’s of those little things” he pointed at the AR pistol John had “but a lot more looked like somethin’ you’d get from Wally-World.” he laughed at his witty remark “anyways, they’us about 5 trucks filled with these boys and they was tearin’ ass headin’ to the park. I never heard anything like it before. With all the noise I almost didn’t hear the chopper come by, but no mistakin’ the sound of that gun; like a bunch a pissed off hornets!”

‘We pulled off the road and waited for a few and then Char–my wife– told me to get us home. And believe me brother I stepped on it!” He took a breath here, a look somewhere between sadness and confusion on his face “I kept one eye on the road and on the rear view when I saw it. Them boys had somethin’ more’n guns. That chopper got lit up like the Fourth-of-July!’ Bill must’ve lived down south for a while as he pronounced it ‘Joo-lie’. “Well me’n, Char an’ her boy made it back to the house okay and it couldn’ta been more’n 5 minutes before I saw this fireball. Had ta been a couple hunnert feet high, come from over by the park.” He imitated the explosion with his hands and the appropriate noises. “Then for the next hour’r so we could hear gunfire. That went on for a coupla days before it was over. Don’t know for sure who won.”

We started back again for the truck stop. I heard from all the drivers the various stories they had, either seen or heard over the CB.

America was done. We were just putting up a good front hiding it from the rest of the world.

Chapter 11 -Belt Fed Revolution

There was the sound of my front door being bashed to splinters followed by the furtive steps of people rushing up the stairs into my bedroom, then shouting a series of instructions at me as my hands were bound behind my back.

I woke up with my heart beating a heavy rhythm. Being a sociopath means not having feelings as such, but there are a few that extend beyond emotions and tap into the hard-wired primal core of man. Fear and anger will reach out and touch me as easily as a sappy commercial will reach out and touch an ovulating woman.

“The fuck?” I asked into the darkness of my bedroom. What was I doing waiting here? I don’t want to go to prison. Especially with things out in the free world getting so dangerously close to total collapse.

My feet had begun moving even before I finished telling myself that prison was not where I wanted to be. I certainly wasn’t going to stand still and make myself an easy target.

My house was essentially empty save for the few pieces of furniture I hadn’t been able to get rid of, making my flight time that much more speedy. I grabbed the loose boxes of ammunition left in the house and tossed them into the Jeep along with the remainder of my food.

My heart was pounding now from the frantic exertion and fear of capture that my brain was insisting was imminent. As I carried another load to the Jeep I glanced at the clock. Just a bit after 1600. I steadied myself and closed my eyes trying to will my hearing to superhuman proportions. Save for my suddenly slowing heart rate I heard nothing. No sirens, no furtive movements out in the driveway, nothing other than bird song which had been growing ever louder.

I forced myself to calm down; I looked out at the curb where the two bodies remained wrapped in the tarp.  The police were not coming.

Even though I felt relatively safe now, I still continued to pack my things into the Jeep. I opened the cabinets for one last look to see if there was anything I hadn’t grabbed. Several small orange see-through bottles confronted me. My medications. There were several psychotropics of varying strength I had been taking for the majority of my adult life.  Fluoxetine, Thioridazine, Haloperidol and Alprazolam. I looked at the bottles for what seemed like an eternity before closing the cabinet doors.

I didn’t bother to close the door to the house as I left for the last time.

***

I took off in no particular hurry. I had done well enough to get out of the house with my skin intact I figured it was best not to attract more attention by driving like a mad man. I chuckled at my own joke. How else could I drive?

Interstate 94 wasn’t too far from my house and it seemed like as good a way as any to get out of dodge. I could count on both hands the number of vehicles I saw travelling on the interstate.I drove for several miles before I  saw a truck stop that looked like it would provide a decent place to hole up for a little bit. As I parked my Jeep among the other vehicles I noticed I wasn’t the only one that seemed to be enjoying a change in lifestyle. I saw a family of four crowded into a Honda Accord, complete with their belongings which included a large flat screen TV.

I guess I couldn’t fault them too much. I think everyone still thought things were going to get better.

I took a shot and pulled out my tablet hoping the truck stop had a Wi Fi connection I could tap into.  Luckily free Wi Fi was still available. I opened up the WRSA page and scanned through the news they had there. Apparently the government had unleashed a swarm of drones in hopes of controlling a crowd that was marching on the Federal Reserve. A picture on the “legitimate” news service I used showed the Eccles building in D.C. with a compliment of armed troops at the front of the building.

A picture of the crowd showed more than a few carrying what appeared to be rifles interspersed among the protest signs. A check of other blogs confirmed that people in the crowd had been firing on some of the low flying drones.

I checked the local news to see if I had been mentioned. I saw what was keeping the police tied up. Apparently a group of locals had lain siege to the county courthouse in an effort to overthrow the local government. A splinter group had broken off from them and taken out their frustrations on the local Internal revenue Service offices. I decided I was safe enough for now and stretched out in the Jeep to work on my plan.

The way I saw it I could use the Jeep as a base if I could find a place that looked secure enough to take up residence. I didn’t really relish the idea of trying to make a truck stop my home so living in the Jeep long-term was just out. I pulled a map of the state out from above the visor and began to study it.

My plan, such as it was, left a lot to be desired. Michigan has almost 100 state parks and one of them was about to be my new home. I tried to figure how much gas I would need to get the ones that looked like they would be good for foraging and hunting. Gods but this felt dumb. I paused for a moment to have that conversation we all have with ourselves about how serious we are in pursuit of less than wise decisions.

Apparently I was going through with it.

Sleepy Hollow State Park was going to be my new home.

Gods help me.

Chapter 8 -Belt Fed Revolution

The speedometer on my Cherokee tops out at 85. Right next to that there is a little skull and crossbones. I swear it came from the factory like that. For my Jeep, I was flying approaching 75 mph. After I’d gotten myself bandaged up it occurred to me that not only had I not seen police headed toward the gas station en mass, I had not heard so much as a siren.

My shotgun was across my legs as I hurried to unfold the stock as I drove. The police might be busy elsewhere, but I was free and I was going to make it plain to Mr.Friendly that I don’t so much as appreciate being ambushed or having my Jeep shot up.

Approaching the gas station from the angle I was travelling allowed me to see it from a fair distance. I pulled off to the side of the road and grabbed my monocular from my little everyday carry bag I kept in the glove compartment. I scanned the gas station. There weren’t any people visible. Even the bored looking cashier I had seen before appeared to have gone–and who could blame her–after the failed ambush.

I tossed the monocular onto the passenger’s seat and put the Jeep in gear. As I approached the embankment I’d leapt only moments before, I dropped the Cherokee back into four-wheel drive. This time I crawled over the embankment nice and slow. The lights were on in the gas station, but I couldn’t see anyone inside. I pulled right up to the door leaving only room enough for me to get out.

Inside the store I looked around for any signs of a fight and saw none. I tried to listen for movement or voices calling for help, but between the sounds of the coolers running and the various other machines idling away all I got was a kind of white noise.

Behind the counter there was a door that lead to a break/stock room. The door  had a small window in it, but the window had long ago been painted white to match the rest of the interior. I knocked on the door and waited for a response. I placed my ear to the door hoping to hear something, anything, so I could gauge whether or not to open fire or just try the handle.

I decided on the latter method and shouldered my shotgun as I eased the door open. A mostly naked pair lay on the floor, one male, one female. The male was missing a large portion of his head and had an equally impressive chunk torn out of his chest. What was left of the dead guy looked like the security guard I usually saw here. He had a small tattoo on the inside of his bicep that read “De Oppresso Liber” contained in the sigil of the Special Forces.

The girl was just unconscious which  I found that out when I gave her midsection a little kick and she replied with a soft “oof”. Oops. I turned and grabbed the phone next to the cash register and dialed 9-1-1. Four rings later a recording picked up and advised me that someone would be with me shortly. I lived in a town of about 12,000 people. The county itself only had about 170,000.

How could the police be that busy?

I held on the line for about 5 minutes when a sound behind me snapped me out of my reverie. The cashier was starting to come around. I folded up the stock of my shotgun and slung it over my shoulder and behind my back so the girl wouldn’t be alarmed. I held the phone out to her and waited for her confusion and screaming to subside. “I’ve called 9-1-1. I’m on hold. I’m going to go now though…are you ok?” Cashier girl didn’t respond with any words I knew, but she reached for the phone. “Can you speak?” I asked her “Hablo Ingles? Sprechen sie Englisch?”

She nodded and found a word I recognized. “Yeah…” her sobbing continued, reminiscent of a child who just got a spanking, but she took the phone and held onto it like I’d just tossed her a life-preserver.

I stood up and as I did my shotgun swung forward and I watched her recoil from it.I let the gun hang from its sling and held up my hands to show I hadn’t suddenly changed my mind and decided to kill her.

I walked around the counter and went to the doors, still straining my hearing listening for anything resembling the high-pitched wail of a siren. I gave it a couple of seconds before opening the doors and getting into the Jeep.

I was pulling away from the station heading back toward my house and had gone about a 1/4 mile when I finally heard a siren. I don’t know if it was headed for the gas station or not, but for the sake of whatever family the green beret had left behind, I hoped it was the police.

I got home only a couple of hours after I had left that morning. It felt like it had been an entire day. I decided that I’d stick to putting in resumes online for now. At least until the gash in my head closed up a bit. I collapsed into a chair in my mudroom and realized I was still holding onto my shotgun.

I figured another few minutes of wall gazing wouldn’t hurt anything so I did that. I sat there staring at the wall until eventually something cut through the white noise of my thoughts. Smoke. I smelled wood-smoke. I stood up and limped over to the door, my knee suddenly stiff, almost like it was made of stone.

Looking out through the curtains I saw my neighbors house across the street with thick black clouds roiling up from the backyard. In my opinion there is only one response that one should give when dealing with neighbors. The non-committal grunt. Sensing that wouldn’t really serve me in this situation, I grabbed my cell phone and headed outside, punching in 9-1-1 as I went.

Once again I got several rings and a computerized prompt to hold on the line. The neighbor that belonged to the house was standing out in the street with a beer in his hand watching the blaze. I couldn’t remember his name to save my life–I always thought of him as Fucknut and his wife Mrs.Fucknut–I called out to him “you all right?” Sometimes the social worker in me just can’t shut up. The old codger turned around and smiled at me “Oh, I’m just dandy” he said as he took a pull off his beer. “Bankers decided they was gonna take my house; well, they’re welcome to it” at this he cackled and turned back to watch the blaze.

Chapter 7 -Belt Fed Revolution

I woke up Monday without the benefit of my alarm clock. I was ready to get moving and hopefully pick up something in the way of work, even if– like those fleeing from the south– I only came away with rumors.

I turned on my tablet and opened the browser. I was greeted with the headline Israel Declares War. Apparently the Israelis had enough of their various neighbors and decided that the best offense was a good offense. Details were sketchy but apparently Tehran was the first to go through means of what appear to have been commando style raids followed by similar attacks in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. It wasn’t unexpected by anyone of course, but the fact that the Russians and the Brits jumped in behind Israel certainly was.

I drank my coffee and read about the British (mainly) along with a few squadrons of Russians leading bombing missions against Iran and the economic impact this was bound to have on the rest of us. Our President so far had remained neutral and had not committed any forces in support of Israel, but I was sure that would be coming. More importantly I wondered where the aggressor countries were going to get their oil from to fuel their machines of war since they had begun attacking the source.

Ah well, that’s why I’m not a politician. I’m sure they’ve all thought this through and have a solid plan in place. I grabbed my cellphone and chose the GasBuddy app to see if the effect had been immediate. I was surprised to see that the price had only risen 60 cents overnight. I added a couple of things to my “to-do” list for the day which included filling up one of my 5 gallon Jerry cans and getting some more ammo for my 12 gauge.

I rolled out of the house looking my best. I had polished up my wingtips and was even wearing a tie as I hopped into my Jeep with a handful of resumes. I settled behind the wheel and glanced down to make sure my little 9mm pistol wasn’t printing against my clothes. Satisfied that I looked more or less like Joe Average, I set off.

I was surprised to see no line at the gas station when I arrived. I pulled up and waited for the guard to come check me out. I nodded a greeting to him as he approached and called out “Morning” in as friendly a manner as I could manage. This was a new guard I was unfamiliar with. I glanced toward the station to see if everything was okay and judging by the bored look on the clerks face it was.

The guard approached me and I saw him switch the safety off his AR as he came toward me. This guy didn’t look like the typical ex-service type gas stations loved to hire. He didn’t even look much like an off duty police officer for that matter. The guard was unshaven and his BDU’s looked like they had seen better days; days when washing machines existed. He was wearing what I liked to call a “shoot me” holster strapped to his leg which sported an enormous, shiny Magnum Research Desert Eagle.

I waited as Mr.Friendly (his BDU’s didn’t have a name tag and I didn’t think Mr.Cheese Burrito–which he appeared to have smeared into his BDU’s was a name he was likely to endorse with much enthusiasm) ran my card through to see if I could afford to fill my 5 gallon gas can. After Mr.Friendly handed me back my card and finished chewing my ear off with all his good-natured banter, he waved me through to a pump and then stood near the back of my Jeep while I filled the can.

I tried to engage him a bit, by pointing at the Desert Eagle in his shoot me holster and asking if that wasn’t a bit much for the job considering he had the AR and enough magazines to take over a small town. He grunted at that and stood there looking bored. I left Mr.Friendly to carry on with his impersonation of a detached bad-ass and finished attaching my Jerry can to a secure mount in the cargo area of the Cherokee.

As I was closing the liftgate, I heard Mr.Friendly mutter “Damn it” under his breath and turned to look in his direction. I saw a group of rough lookers heading our way. I ignored my first reaction which was to draw my own weapon and stand defiantly waiting for them to approach. This turned out to be a good idea as he lowered his rifle and waved them on.  As soon as his hand went into the air, my ass went into the driver’s seat.

The Cherokee fired up and I put it into first gear and took off. Mr. Friendly obliged my reaction by stitching up my Jeep with a well-aimed burst that luckily did little damage. As I was rolling forward I had the presence of mind to reach down and grab the lever that put my Jeep into four-wheel drive as I was sure the gate on the other side of the gas station probably wasn’t going to be opened for me.

I aimed the Jeep up an embankment next to the guard shack on the other side of gas station and gunned it. If you’ve never owned a Jeep you might be mistaken in thinking I took off like a lit rocket. The truth is, a Jeep will go anywhere. It just won’t go fast. I hit the embankment at around 15 mph hoping that the slightly oversize  tires would climb it without digging into the curb and sending me flying end over end.

I guess I picked a good angle to try as my Jeep bounced slightly as it popped up over the embankment, its straight 6 cylinder engine roaring as I still had my foot on the gas. I checked my rearview which was now set at an odd angle and saw the group lead by Mr.Friendly running after me. I hit third gear and headed out onto the largely deserted road as the Jeep’s tires squealed in protest at being treated like speed rated tires on a sports car.

As I continued to accelerate I readjusted my rearview mirror and saw the group stop in the street. Apparently Mr.Friendly had forgotten his rifle could cover the distance between us more easily than his feet could. A fact for which I am duly thankful.

As I reached the Jeep’s top speed of 65 mph I caught a glimpse of blood on my mirror. I looked down at my shirt which had a lovely red blotch covering most of the right side. I couldn’t feel any immediate pain and all of my systems seemed to be functioning so I continued driving, hoping to catch sight of a cop car.

A quick scan of the road revealed no traffic to speak of and nothing that resembled a cop car, so I decided to put the Jeep in neutral and let it coast as I grabbed a quick look in the visors vanity mirror. There was a gash in my forehead that ran from almost my hairline to my eyebrow. I relaxed a bit knowing scalp wounds and their propensity to bleed which wasn’t life threatening.

I found a likely spot where I could pull safely off the road and grab my bug out bag.I pulled the bag forward into the front seat and relieved it immediately of the most important thing it carried right then, a semi-auto shotgun. I jumped out of the Jeep and tossed the bag on the hood. As I stood there fumbling things out of the bag so I could get the QuikClot on my scalp wound, I noticed a chunk of hair and a pretty impressive spurt of blood on the roof. Apparently Mr.Friendly wasn’t a good shot at all. It looked as though I’d done all this to myself as I dove into the Jeep’s drivers seat and smacked my head on the little rain gutter that ran the length of the Jeep’s roofline. A walk around the vehicle revealed Mr.Friendly’s only hit, a broken tail light.

I repacked my bug out bag and tossed it into the passenger’s seat as I carefully got back in the Jeep and headed back the way I had just came.