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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 4 , by Christopher Young

Gomer goes for Sam

OK, listen up. This is Commander Gomer. Just cause I'm out of the military, don't wimp out, and think I've gone soft. I'm still in charge, here. I got my fill of that sloppy writing, and so this chapter, I'll take charge. Sigh. Besides, since my truck just burned down, I've got to find something to keep me busy for a while.

Commander Gomer strode purposefully out of the map room, and went to talk with Faith. Faith shrank a bit when I walked in. Such is good. The girls ran over for hugs. More hugs! Well, that really cramps my commander approach. I put up with the attention for a couple minutes, and then turned to Faith. The moment of truth. Faith decided to cut to the chase. "Yeah, the world collapsed, and you got to use all your emergency shit. Happy, now, asshole?"

Ignoring the insult, I asked if she had brought along all the bug out gear that I had left, when I moved out. No, she'd got a new boyfriend and wanted all memory of me out of the house. The tent, camp stove, bottled water, lantern, flash lights, all of it. Went out with the trash. After that big argument, where I insisted that she put 10% of her paycheck into survival equipment, and she insisted that I quit that nonsense, and get more cable channels. That's when I moved out. The last of a long string of battles.

Chris figured it was time to change the subject a little. Faith's girls were in the living room romping and playing with my three kids. Heather was in the kitchen trying to stay out of sight. But at the same time be able to hear every word. Might be time for dinner. Chris signaled Heather with the sign for "EAT!" and Heather nodded.

"Late lunch!" Heather called from the kitchen. Chris knew the girls would be starving by now. my kids hardly acted like they heard. Well, no surprise. I do keep em well fed. Just stayed in front of the television. Savannah and Bobbi nearly fell over each other on the way to the kitchen table. Faith had to remind them to wash their hands and faces, first. When the girls got to the bathroom, they looked in the mirror, and were amazed how dirty they were.

Heather had a wide assortment of food on the table. Faith asked where to sit, and I pointed out three chairs. Late lunch was much like regular lunch, but that the three starving civilian  females ate most of the food. Faith was astounded when Heather got a couple Pepsis out of the refrigerator. Nice and cold. 

Right after "late lunch", Chris and I went to the map room. Some quick calculations, we figured four hours to get to Sam's location. That is, if the local indigenous personnel aren't too much trouble. If the road were clear, and we avoid the cities. We mapped out a route that would likely be clear. With  Chris's  official looking fire department vehicle, we could take the Southern Tier Expressway most of the way. And then go south, down some country roads. It would be maybe four hours. Figure arrival time 8 PM if everything went well.

"Well, shit, we're down a vehicle. Any ideas?" I asked. Sam was walking, and Brenda said their car was burned up. Guess that leaves the Blazer, and Faith's mini van. "Van! That's it!" Chris exclaimed.  "Ernie is watching my van, back at the trailer." We looked at each other, and a light bulb came on. That's the other vehicle we'd need. Now, to  plot a different route, stop by and get the van.      
Time to load up Chris's Blazer, and get the show on the road. I left some last minute instructions with Heather. And once again reminded Faith that she had best get with the program, and start thinking like a survivalist. Faith tried her best to be meek. But there was a twinkle in her eyes that made it clear that Heather had taken her out to the back window, and shown her what was behind the shed. Damn, can't trust them women.  

Time was an important issue. The afternoon was passing, and Sam would be out in the wood with a broken leg. Sooner is better, when it comes to medical extractions. No way to know if Sam was losing blood, or going into shock.

We decided to travel light. Pack up Chris's Blazer with enough supplies for three or four days of food, and only the minimal camping gear. The schedule and plan would be immediately changeable, depending on Sam's wants and needs.

I left some instructions with Heather. The usual security, but be sure to call on the cell phone every hour. And if the cell wasn't working, to make do until they heard back. Keep the HF band radio on at all times, on the arranged frequency, in case they were within range.

Faith was fast asleep on the sofa, the stress had worn her out. The five kids had gone outside, and invented a game which involved throwing rocks at trees, and keeping score. They were good for a couple hours. As an after thought, I got went to Faith's purse, where she had left it on the counter. Got out Faith's keys. Twisted the apartment key off the ring, and put the key on the ring in my pocket. Chris watched me do this, but said nothing.

Chris went to the back of the Blazer for one last quick equipment check. Hefted the two gas cans, to make sure they were full. Yep. I got in the passenger side, wishing I was the one doing the driving. That Ford would have been the nuts for this kind of thing. With the optimized fuel injection, and high flow exhaust headers. We'd have enough horsepower to pull a semi with a full load. And the Ford four wheel drive can't be beat. We rolled down the driveway.

Just as Chris was turning right onto the road, I started to think out loud. Trying to organize thoughts about why the world was in such a mess. And organize the intelligence Chris and me had.

  The reason we lost power was Muslim extremists had destroyed well over 85% of the electric generating capacity of the USA. They have also destroyed millions of homes, business, switching stations and substations across the country. A medium yield neutron bomb has taken out most of the Feds in DC including the President and VP, The military has declared a coup and are arresting most federal representative for treason.
 SubPac has launched nuclear strikes against China for their part in the attack on the US and the US coasts have been declared off limits for all foreign flagged ships. AirPac has steamed the aircraft carriers, and surface ships of the fleet are maintaining a 200 mile corridor off the coast. The US forces abroad have all been recalled, we have withdrawn from the UN and ousted all UN representatives. The UN has offered "help", but our military has declared any movement of UN
troops to our shores will be considered an act of war. Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel and South Korea maintain diplomatic ties, the rest of the world declares the US
in violation of UN sanctions. Now the shoe is on the other foot. We're the ones being sanctioned by the UN.
  Most of the country is in a state of unrest, rioting and looting. The federal troops are busy patrolling. Local law enforcement is required to turn over any prisoners to the Fed. FEMA has quickly and quietly been releasing Muslims, but keeping all other prisoners and truck drivers in old military bases, schools, and any public building that can house prisoners. Also they were starting to fill the FEMA prison camps which had been built. About 600 such camps. Presidential Executive Orders have been issued, and the nation is essentially a dictatorship. But who is the dictator? No one really knows.
  All States have activated their National Guard units. Most Air National Guard units have been reassigned to ground forces, the exception being in the southwest, where air units are providing air patrol of the border. Most units in the border States have been assigned to maintain border security.
  In several northeast States, the Governors have issued gun confiscation decrees.

  Yet unknown to us, the director of FEMA had ordered that all privately owned vehicles would now be confiscated for use and redistribution of goods for the welfare of the people. Not just semi trailers, but all passenger cars and light trucks also.

  Overall, the situation is grim. The stores are all closed, and there is no hope for resupply. At least until the manufacturing can be restarted. The Fed and local governments were doing nothing useful in terms of crime control.

And typical of the state of the Nation, the situation was grim for Sam, also. He was out of water, and down to two pain pills. The river was too far down for him to get any more water by hiking down the bank. Well, only thing left to do was to stay in the shade and wait it out. Sam wondered how his family was doing. Brenda said that Emma had made it home safely, but Sammy his oldest son was still unaccounted.

At this moment, at Bill's ranch, Connie was fixing dinner. The time was about 4 PM, and she knew the kids would be busy playing. They would also be hungry. The kids came in, Madison had her make up set under her arm, but didn't look like she had any make up on. Jade was certain not to have any make up on. Well, she must have washed her face some how. Or maybe they got bored with make up, and decided to throw rocks into the river or something like that. No matter.

Connie went to the kitchen counter, and picked up the small but powerful FRS walkie talkie. She looked out the widow, and keyed the mic. Told the boys they had best get in for dinner, it was on the table.

The squawk of the radio was exactly what was needed to stop Bill's laughing fit. He finally regained some composure, and began to breathe again. Bill had made the mistake of looking at Dave again, and the make up. Well, time for early dinner. They decided to leave the look out post for an hour or so, and go back into the house. The two men shouldered their rifles, and started the 200 yard walk down the trail to the house.

At about 4:15 PM, Brenda also decided it was time for an early dinner. She went in to the house, and opened the refrigerator. The smell of warm food came out, but fortunately none of it was badly spoiled. She got out the last of the meat, and decided that since the power was off, she'd have to clean out the fridge, and leave the door open. She looked around the kitchen, and finally found a chair to put in the opening of the refrigerator, to keep the door from self closing. At least it would not get moldy, she thought. A shame to lose the refrigerator, though. That was so important. And the ice cubes were good in the hot Ohio weather. And also a shame to lose the air conditioning. The house did get so hot in the summer.

Brenda opened the door, and called her grand daughter in from the breezeway. The blond girl looked up from her coloring book, smiled, and unsteadily got to her feet. She toddled along the edge of the couch, using one hand to keep her balance. Brenda met her at the door, and picked her up. A big smooch on the forehead brought a smile.

About half hour drive from my retreat, we entered the town where Faith used to live. There was a truck with several National Guard soldiers standing around. Wondering, if they were the same ones that talked with Faith earlier that day. They waved, and Chris waved back. The truck looked official. Out of town, they approached  the apartment where Faith lived. "Pull in here, please." I said. Indicating the apartment where faith lived. Chris pulled in, and we got out of the truck. Chris turned off the motor and followed. I marched up to the door. The key worked, and I took point to recon the apartment.

"What are  you thinking" Chris asked. "Just to check and see if there are any useful supplies we might need, or want to pick up on the way back" I replied.

The refrigerator was empty, except for some ketchup and pickle relish. The freezer was empty except for a couple of ice cube trays with water still in them, and a package of breaded fish sticks that really smelled fishy. Chris took an empty cardboard box, and used it to prop open the fridge door, and then opened the freezer all the way, so that it would stay open. He took the box of fish sticks, and threw it into the trash. Wrapped the trash bag, and took it out to the trash toter.

Coming back into the house, Chris felt good with himself. Saved a lot of damage, because the rotting food would not stink up the apartment. I near to bust out laughing. "Like anyone is going to  pick up that trash, d'uh." Chris whapped himself on the forehead. "d'uh!!" Well, at least the raccoons would eat good.

The apartment was neat and tidy, like Faith always kept it. The TV and DVD sat in the corner of the living room along with the stack of DVDs. Minus the ones Faith had brought along. The kitchen had the dishes lined up neatly in the dish rack, and a rack of silverware neatly washed and standing at the end of the dish rack.

Chris tried the water faucet, and was surprised to see cold water come out. He let the water run for a few seconds, and then started to fill the containers he could find. Pitcher from the cabinet, and then rinse and fill the soda pop bottles that Faith had left. I took the moment to head upstairs. 

To be continued. Don't miss the next exciting episode of Firestorm, next week. Keep your computer tuned right here for more exciting drama.

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