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Thursday, December 16, 2010

(6)The Retreat - By Northern Raider

Is it me or is it getting cold in here thought Steve to himself as he realised he was suddenly shivering, Why has the damn heating not kicked in?

Steve wandered through the nursery shed to the heater control panel, flicked at the light switch to brighten up this normally dark corner but the light did not come on.
Pulling out his EDC flashlight he peered at the heating controls and realised they were not working, in fact they were not even illuminated. At that he headed for the door.

Strolling across the yard he realised that the house lights were not on, “Bugger” he said to no one in particular, “not a power cut I hope”.

Before he reached the kitchen door he heard the familiar sound of his own diesel engined Land Rover coming up the track and clattering across the bridge crossing the stream that crossed between the farmhouse and the main road.  He could not see the vehicle as the access track and main road was deliberately screened by trees and shrubs so the house could not been seen from the road by passing traffic. A mix of coniferous trees, Ivy, Rhododendrons and other plants of a thorny nature like fire thorn was deliberately planted years earlier when Steve first bought the place.

Soon as the 4x4 came round the corner Steve could see his partners face and it was looking distinctly worried, The vehicle rolled to a halt right where he stood and his partner hopped out.

You won’t believe this” said Beverley  there’s a huge great rolling power cut spreading from all the main cities of the south east, outwards and across the whole damn country. The lights are going out across Britain and according to the BBC on the truck radio the rest of the world is as well.

Steve paused for thought for a moment or two then said “Right we will play safe, I want you to go and get the kids from the play group and bring them home, I will switch over to the diesel genny until the power comes back on, after I have done that I will try and find out more.” and with that Steve dismissed his partner from his mind knowing she was fully capable of assessing the risk herself.

As he strode towards the generator shed he noticed Bev heading back to the truck after collecting her favourite pump action 410 shotgun and her own farm issue PMR which she new had the range to reach back to the farm from the village school.

Steve checked the oil and coolant  on the generator then pressed the starter , within seconds the diesel / bio diesel generator hummed into life and settled down to a steady 1800 RPM. From there he checked the immediate use diesel tank and noted it was totally full. His young son Tom clearly took his duty seriously in ensuring the retreats back up genny was kept topped up from the  hidden  twin 500 gallon tanks out the back of the shed.

Five minutes later Steve was running up the extension aerial for the Eton world band radio and listening for news, what he heard left him very worried. Spreading blackouts across the world, little or no useable news from governments was all he could ascertain. Just local news from radio stations that had their own back up generators and what they had to say did not inspire him.

From what he could make out that the lights went out at about 3.30 pm just as the winter sun slipped away, reports of looting rapidly followed as frustrated commuters and opportunist thieves became ever more aggressive in the growing darkness.   People it was reported were trying to flee the city by any means possible after only a few hours of darkness.  According to Five-Live there were no street lights, shop lights or homes illuminated except for candles. Traffic signals were out as was the power for the London underground. They reported that because of some minor crashes and acts of street robbery all buses were being withdrawn. The Metropolitian Police reported that all patrolling officers had been withdrawn to be deployed on “Special Duties” but no one knew what those duties were; only it was pitch black outside and there were no cops on the streets and no public transport.

30 minutes later Bev returned with Tom and Jordan and she had news “Steve from the bypass I could see towards the town, It was ablaze and in more than one place, Oh and you could see the headlights of the cars on the motorway were not moving either. A delivery van was coming through the village and the driver asked if I knew of a back road into the town, because all the main roads were blocked”.

Suddenly Steve’s cell phone chirped once to announce a message awaited him. He was surprised the system was still working; he knew it could not last long if the cell systems back up power supplies failed.

Checking his phones inbox he noticed that in fact he had two text messages, both had the same brief two word messages , they simply said “AB”  and on reading them Steves blood ran cold.  “Bev the messages are from Dave and Nick in the Mutual Support Group they both say AB”.
The mutual support group was set up by Steve and six other survivalists about 5 years previously; they all cooperated in survivalist planning and preparations. On an average of one or two weekends a month the group would gather to plan, practise, train and prepare to survive local, regional, national or global disasters, be they man made or natural.

They did not normally use codes of secret phrases as it was all too easy to forget or mix them up. In most cases normal English was fine for most communications, except for one scenario IE a Global social collapse (cause irrelevant) for that situation they adopted the code word used by the fictitious characters in the famous survivalist novel Alas Babylon by Pat Frank. When they sent out the signal AB it meant they feared for their and their family’s safety and were declaring their intentions to Bug Out ASAP. This meant Dave, Nick and their families were gathering their Bug Out kits, Extra food, fuel supplies and kit and heading as agreed to Steves farm.

Steve said to Bev  “ You have better get the hot water on and make up the beds in the guest lodges we have friends coming and they may be hurt or traumatised when they get here to”………..    Before he could finish Steve heard another engine grinding his way up the track and by the sound of it, it was struggling with the incline.
“Tom… Crossbow NOW…. front bedroom,  Jordan go with him. Bev get your 410 out of the Landy and get over near the kennels, stay out of sight until I call you or you hear shooting.”

Steve stepped across the kitchen threshold and reached above the door where his own crossbow was hung, bolt in place but uncocked. As he pulled the sheepsfoot cocking lever back and readied the cross bow a big silver VW van burst into the yard, he was kneeling and aiming before it stopped.

The passenger door of the van cracked open and in a flash out shot a totally demented Jack Russell Terrier closely followed by a flustered woman.

Steve instantly recognised Mary the wife of Nick who had texted him the AB message.  “Mary you stupid bloody cow” shouted Steve “You know you are supposed to radio in or phone from the bottom of the hill.

Mary just looked at Steve and growled “The phones are out and YOU don’t have your damned radio turned on, and Nick is in the van he’s hurt.”

At that she headed towards the drivers door where Nick was trying to climb out of the cab.

Ten minutes later Nick, Mary and dog were in the Kitchen, Bev treating a quite badly beaten Nick and making tea for everyone. Nick explained he was driving home after a trip to Windsor when the lights started to go out and local radio stations along the way reported that the power failures appeared to be total, affecting every system.  By the time he was passing close by Ripon he realised that something big and bad was happening, he could not phone Mary but texted her and gave her the AB message. By the time he reached home 40 minutes later Mary had all the BOBs, boxes and bits n pieces Nick kept ready to be loaded into the van. After a quick check and topping up his fuel tank from his spare stocks kept in the garage he was ready for leaving. That’s when the problems stuck.  Nicks neighbour had often talked with him about survivalism and preparations, he had expressed a willingness to become part of the community but like so many other people he had never actually gotten round to doing anything practical, Until now.
The Neighbour saw Nick loading up and quickly realised what was going on. He came over to where Nick was and asked Nick if he could spare some diesel and food as he did not have even enough in his car to leave the town. Nick told him “No, sorry what I have is what I need to get Mary and I to the place we have set aside”.

Immediately the neighbour had suddenly head butted Nick then kicked him violently to the floor before trying to snatch the van keys from him. He probably would have succeeded but for Mary who was just making Nick a quick hot drink before they left.
As soon as she saw the attack happen she grabbed the kettle of boiling hot water, ran out and threw it into the face of the neighbour. That stopped the attack dead, the neighbour staggered off screaming and she helped Nick up into the van. She only paused to lock the door, go to the utility cupboard and turn off the gas and electricity, before grabbing the dog and following Nick into the van.

After a late night of fixing Nicks bumps and scrapes, talking about the crisis and over reacting two or three times to noises outside the motley crew of survivors finally slept.

Just after 8AM the next day the other families began to arrive, by car, on foot, and on cycles, with two on a quad bike and trailer  who rode cross country  for over 55 miles along the Pennines, the last two were filthy and exhausted but reported that from Sheffield to Barnsley it was total chaos, violence and anarchy.

By noon everyone was settled in kit cleaned, vehicle checked and stored and supplies offloaded.  Dave’s  collection of Eight large portable solar panels were most welcome as they could be used to recharge lots of batteries, power radios and even run a couple of 12 volt lights, energy much needed in the coming weeks.

During the afternoon the women and kids cooked all the meats that were in the freezer, all the open eggs and flour and mixed fruits were converted into cakes and sealed away in wax paper.

The men folk reeled out a few hundred yards of barbed wire and trip flare wires in the hedgerows by the main road before setting to work on the little wood and metal bridge that crossed the stream on the only access road. With a few chipped nails, a bit of sweat and swearing after 40 minutes the timber decking was lifted from the bridge and the steel supports totally wrapped up in barbed wired.

With the preplaced supplies of flour, wheat, pasta, long grain rice, cooking oils, tinned fruit and vegetables , added to this was the  rabbits, chickens, goats  and miniature pigs, in theory they would be self sufficient for at least a year. And with the stream and land they had enough soil and water to grow crops in the spring. Mary had brought with her a fair sized collection of seeds that she hoped would provide food next year. Steve only wished he had finished making a carp pond, but it was too late for now.

By day four the solar panels had been set up on the south facing roof, more radio aerials set up. A wide band scanner was constantly monitored in the kitchen by the girls for any and all news. They cut even more wood for the Aga which could be easily converted from coal when it runs out to wood burning.

Being only 8 miles from the sea and the area being abundant in surface coal as well as wildlife the survivalists at the retreat had the means, teamwork and will to wait out the fall of society and hopefully to slowly reach out to other survivalist communities and rebuild a life for themselves.

As the world grew dark mans inhumanity to man flared up as forecast, the cities became Necropolis’s with the lost and dispossessed fleeing leaving only the feral gangs to fight among themselves for ever declining supplies. In Europe ethnic and nation tension rose up again as the various cultures and races fought not only for survival, but also to settle old scores.  In Asia just about everyone turned on everyone else with the exception of the subsistence farmers and fishermen who carried on as before, as if nothing has happened.  It took only a few weeks for Africa to go silent, no one knows what happened in the Dark Continent that had in the last ten years seen tribal warfare, droughts, civil war, epidemics etc.
 In Britain the followers of socialism waited in vain for salvation from the government. The supporters of diversity, multi culturalism and appeasement of religious extremists died at the hands of those they tried to help.  The Irish, Scots and Welsh lashed out at any English people they could find as historically the English were to blame for all their problems or so they often thought. Accordingly the English retaliated in a way that would be remembered by the smaller nations for generations.
 In America as forecast the Americans went out with a huge bang. As soon as the lights went out the gangs like the Bloods and Crips kicked off with street warfare, the Hells Angels attacked the Satans Slaves. The white rednecks tried to dominate the blacks but it just spiralled into total chaos. Blacks, Hispanics, Asiatics and Whites all took full advantage of their right to bear arms the carnage was terrible. The gun obsessed paranoia that had fuelled American fears for years finally broke though.  Some boarded themselves up in their homes and businesses shooting at anyone who came by while others headed out of town heading for their vacation homes.
Hundreds of thousands had the same idea of grabbing a gun, and sleeping bag and heading off into the boondocks to live off the land. Sadly the country boys, survivalists, farmers and native Americans etc did not want the AR15 carrying urbanites roaming the backwoods and wiped out most of the migrants who could not survive in the new world.  Up in Canada where more moderate attitudes prevailed the disaster stuck home but not as quickly as south of the border but eventually they too descended into chaos and anarchy. 

As America destroyed itself thousands of Americans tried to force themselves onto the Canadian communities in vane. Of course the Canadians could not contain or absorb the fleeing masses from the south so they took the only option available to them. They retreated north leaving a scorched earth policy behind them. The American arrivals found only destruction and desolation in Canada and died in their thousands from the advancing winter weather.

No record is known of the fate of the thousands who tried to flee south across the Rio Grande into Mexico and its neighbouring states, but its believed that many old scores were settled and many Americans perished.

One day at a time became the mantra of those who survived those initial long nights, but preparedness not paranoia would be the foundation of all future cultures.

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