Here we go again. From what I've been given so far, hold on tight.
"What are we going to do, Glenn?" Marsha asked her husband. "There's no way the four of us can get by on so little food."
After the earthquake that had so devastated California and the massive hurricane that had almost wiped the southeast off the map, food production had dropped unbelievably. Glenn and Marsha hadn't ever realized just how interdependent things had become. They, as most Americans did, simply assumed that whatever they wanted would always be available. As far as the occasional spot shortages of different items went, especially during time of crisis such as hurricanes and other natural disasters, they went almost entirely unnoticed by them. Although Glenn, being the families bread winner, did notice that when things got back to normal the prices of the goods they had wanted were always higher than before.
Now, after these disasters of such unprecedented magnitude the government was being forced to limit the caloric intake of all citizens of the country. It was better, they reasoned, for all to be a little hungry than for large numbers of people to starve to death. The number they had settled on was twelve hundred calories a day for anyone over the age of fifteen. It was even less for those fifteen and younger.
"Glenn? Are you listening to me? What are we going to do?"
"I heard you. I'm thinking about it."
"Well, what do you think?"
"I think I need to talk with Richard. He will know what to do."
"RICHARD! Are you sure you want to talk with HIM? That man is such a paranoid. I mean look at him. He drives an old car because he says if we are hit with a...what did he call it?"
"An E.M.P. attack."
"That's right. He says that if that happens his car will still run. Because it is old technology. It doesn't have any computers. He has all kinds of things stashed away in his house. From what I've heard he has all kinds of guns and ammunition stockpiled at his house. And all kinds of other things in case the world falls apart. He has medicine, bandages, gasoline, oil and even a ton of..." Marsha's voice trailed off.
"And a ton of food. That's what you were going to say, isn't it?"
"Maybe we should have listened to him while we had the chance."
Marsha thought about it for a moment. It was true, Richard had done a lot to take care of himself and his family in case something ever happened. She knew that because she and many others at church had, had many a good laugh at his expense. Without his knowledge, of course. They didn't want to be rude. After all, Richard was a good man. He was well liked in the church, and had a marvelous bass voice that was beautiful to hear when he sang in the choir. He and Glenn, who had an excellent tenor voice, had sung many times, complimenting each others efforts. Their duets were something to behold. Maybe Richard was someone they SHOULD have listened too. Even if he didn't believe in the pre-tribulation rapture that the pastor spoke of so eloquently, and so often.
"Well, maybe he has something there."
"MAYBE? Marsha, he is the only one I know who isn't going to go hungry for a long time to come. I think he has something that we should have gotten a hold of a long time ago."
"I guess you're right. But what can he do for us now? Do you think he might be willing to loan us a little food? Only until things get better."
"No. I don't think he will. Besides, what makes you think things WILL get better? It's going to take a decade for the south to fully recover, and California will never recover. Large parts of it aren't there anymore. He has been warning people to prepare for a long time. We have talked privately and he has told me that when the day came, what he had was his. If nobody was willing to spend the money, time and effort to help themselves there wasn't anything he could do for them. Not without denying his own family, and he wouldn't do that. Not that I blame him. He warned us. We just didn't listen. No, I think the best we can hope for is some sage advice about what to do now."
"What do you think he will say?"
"I have no idea. But whatever it is, I'm going to do it."
"I don't know if I like that idea, but I guess you are right. He knows what is going on better than anyone else and he IS the one that has the answers. Go talk to him."
It didn't take long for Glenn to walk half a block down the street to Richard's home. He normally would have driven, but with gas at over six, and almost seven dollars a gallon, he didn't want to waste the gas. Besides, walking was good for him. He was a man who was honest with himself. He had been putting on a few pounds lately. The exercise would do him good. It would also give him a chance to think about what to say. Didn't Peter do the same thing when the angel released him from prison?
Act 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
Act 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and [from] all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
Act 12:12 And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
Well, if Peter had to think about what he was going to say, then there was no harm in him doing the same. Glenn walked up to the door and knocked. Soon his knock was answered.
"Hi Glenn. Good to see you. I hope you aren't here asking for food." Richard said to him.
"No, I'm not." He saw a wave of relief wash over Richards face. "I'm here for some advice."
"Glenn, I gave you advice long before this. Why are you here now?"
"Because I'm stupid and didn't listen to you. I'm hoping that now you will help me by letting me know what to do to take care of my family in the days to come."
"No offense, Glenn. But I'm glad you have come to the realization of the truth."
"It was sort of forced on me, if you know what I mean. So do you have any advice for me?"
"Let me see now. Food, that's in short supply. But advice, I just got a fresh load delivered today. Glenn, buy a gun. Maybe two or three, if you can afford it. And as much ammo as you can get. That's my advice."
"Why? And where could I get them? SHOULD I get them? From what I hear the government is about to ban private ownership of weapons."
"Why? That's easy. It doesn't matter what you may or may not have. People, violent and nasty people, are going to come looking for what they want. If you have it, they will kill you and take it. If you don't, they'll kill you for not having what they want. You and you alone have the responsibility of caring for your family. That's why. As to where, I know a few people. Maybe I can convince one or two them to turn loose of a weapon or two. But it won't be cheap. When it comes to the government. What they don't know won't hurt us."
"What do you mean? If you buy a gun you have to register it. The government is going to know I have one anyway."
Richard shook his head. "I'm sorry Glenn. But you have bought into the lie just as much as everyone else has. It is only sales from a store that have to be registered. A face to face sale between two people doesn't have to be registered in most places. So what do you want to do?"
"What kind of gun do you think I should get?"
"Have you ever had one before?"
"I never needed one."
"If you've never had one before, I'd say get a shotgun. It doesn't require a lot of practice to get good with one. It's a kind of point and shoot kind of weapon. Unlike a rifle or pistol, you aren't shooting one projectile. You are shooting a bunch of them. You may not hit your target with all of them, but you are far more likely to hit the target with a few of them, than with a single round from a rifle or pistol, if you aren't skilled with it. That will give you the chance to make a better shot with the second try."
The thought was unpleasant to Glenn. Shooting someone else was something he had never considered before in his life. But he was now beginning to see the wisdom of his friends words. He remembered something he had heard someone else say, years ago.
'A gun in your hand is better than a cop on the phone.'
The words rang true in his ears.
"How much do you think a shotgun is going to cost me?"
"In today's market. A pump shotgun with a box of twenty five shells is going to be about a thousand dollars. Maybe a little less if you get the right seller on the right day, but don't count on it."
"A thousand dollars! What do they think I am? Made out of money."
"Glenn, you could have had that same shotgun a year ago for about one hundred fifty to two hundred dollars and spent the rest on more shells than you are likely to ever need. But that was then, this is now. What do you want to do? If you are serious about buying, I'll make a call or two. If not, well, it's been nice talking to you."
Glenn thought furiously. This would be very hard to explain to Marsha. But it would be easier to explain to her, than to explain her death at the hands of looters to their children.
"How soon do I need to have the money?"
"Not before tomorrow. Maybe the day after. And Glenn, if anyone asks, you didn't get it from me. If you say that, I'm going to call you a liar to your face."
"I understand. I bought it at a gun show about five years ago for home protection."
"That's the idea. Alright. Let me make a few calls and see what I can do for you."
"I'd really appreciate that."
"You're welcome. And thanks for not asking me for any of my food. I must have had a half dozen people here already today and it isn't even noon yet. I'll call you when I hear something."
Glenn turned and began to make his way back home. He had no idea of how he was going to explain this to Marsha. But clearly Richard was right. Even he could see how society was falling apart all around them. There were almost regular reports these days of break-ins and home invasions. And one thing you could be certain of was that when there was a power outage, many of those reports would be coming from the upper class neighborhoods. What he was convinced of was that Marsha would just have to accept his decision. If it were just the two of them, he might agree with her to do without a weapon, but it wasn't that way. They also had to worry about Janie and her sister, Karen. At fourteen, Karen was maturing early and looked older than she was. While Janie, at twelve, was pretty much in the same boat. Although she was still obviously a child. Marsha was just going to have to deal with it.
Glenn was under no illusions about what would happen next, and he was right.
"A GUN! Glenn have you lost your mind?" Marsha was nearly shouting. "We've never had a gun in this house, and I don't want to start having one around now. What if one of the girls gets a hold of it? Someone could get hurt or even killed. Do you want THAT on your conscious?"
"Marsha, think about what you are saying. We already have to take Karen and Janie to school just to keep them safe from some of those people out on the street." Besides the home invasions, on several occasions young girls and women had disappeared on their way to or from school. Out of the six of them, three had been found dead. All of them had been raped. A fact Marsha knew very well. "What if the animals who do that kind of thing come here during the next black out? Do you want them attacked in their own beds? Do you remember what happened in West Hills during the black out they had a week ago?"
West Hills was a rather upscale neighborhood, not too far from them. It was a gated community with private security guards on a constant roving patrol. There had been a black out in the area that lasted all night. By the time the sun came up the next day, four homes had been broken into. Seven people were dead, and another six were severely beaten and left for dead. The guards on duty had suffered a similar fate. All four homes had been rand sacked and everything of value that could be easily carried away, had been.
Glenn never did find out exactly the cause of the black out. He didn't know if it was because of the wind storm they were having at the time, or if the power company had just run out of fuel for their generators. Getting fuel for them had been an ongoing problem ever since the western and southern coasts had been hit. Most of the countries refineries were near the coast for the sake of easier unloading of crude oil as it arrived. Now with the refineries either gone, or so badly damaged it would be years before they would be back in operation, getting fuel of all kinds was a problem, not to mention oil for lubrication.
"Glenn, I know you're right, but I'm really uncomfortable with the idea. We have to keep that thing away from the girls. Promise me that you will keep the ammunition stored separately from the gun."
"No, Honey. I won't do that."
Marsha blew up into another fit of shouting.
"GLENN! We have to do that to keep Karen and Janie safe. Either that or put one of those trigger locks on it, so no one gets accidentally shot."
"No and no, Marsha. Listen to me. If someone comes breaking though the front door in the middle of the night, that is exactly the wrong time to try to load it. And in the same situation, that is the wrong time to be looking for a key to unlock it. If and when we need it, we will need it now, not in a couple of minutes."
"Then how are you going to keep them safe from it?"
"I have three thoughts. First, we keep it on the top shelf in my closet. Way in the back so they won't see it. Second, we just don't tell them about it and act like nothing has changed. Third, when they do find out about it, and they will, I'll teach them what it will do and how it does it. They are intelligent. Once they understand the danger, they won't mess with it."
"How are YOU going to teach them? You don't know how to handle one."
"I'll get Richard to teach me. Then I'll show them when the time comes."
"I guess that makes sense. How much is this thing going to cost us anyway?"
This was the moment Glenn had been dreading. He told her and wisely braced himself for her response.
"A THOUSAND DOLLARS!!! Glenn you HAVE lost your mind. Why on earth should we spend that kind of money on something you will probably never use?"
"Marsha I hope you are right. I hope I never have to use it. But you tell me. Which would you rather pay for? A shotgun, or a funeral or two?"
That thought brought her up short. The idea that not having something to defend themselves when it was needed and the possible consequences of it had never crossed her mind. It disturbed her, more than she wanted to admit.
"I just don't see why we need to have one of those things."
"So, you don't remember West Hills."
"Of course I remember what happened there. But that doesn't mean it is going to happen here."
"It doesn't mean it won't. Better safe than sorry in my book. Or do you want to pay for that funeral?"
"That's not fair."
"No, it isn't. But you know as well as I do that life is seldom fair. Now answer the question."
"You're impossible." Marsha snapped and then turned and walked out of the room.
Glenn let her go without saying anything more. He knew that Marsha would give the matter serious thought, once she calmed down some. She could be emotional at times, but she also had a good head on her shoulders. If she actually thought she had even the slightest chance of winning the argument, she would have never left the room. Instead, Marsha would have done her best to beat him into submission to her will. For now, he went to the kitchen table and sat down with his check book and the bills, to figure out where the money was going to come from. In that way he considered himself lucky. Working for a trucking company, his skills at keeping things moving had kept him employed while many others were looking for work.
Before the night was over, as Glenn expected, Marsha had calmed herself and seriously thought about the idea. She realized that had the people in West Hills been armed, there was a good chance they would have survived. And there was the matter of the advice had come from Richard. Clearly he was more than ready for this situation. If he said it was a good idea, then it probably was. She admitted to herself that even though it was a bitter pill to swallow, there really was no other choice. At least for now.
The next day Glenn went to the bank and withdrew the needed money. He found it odd that the teller eyed him suspiciously and casually asked why he wanted so much money at one time. Instead of telling her the truth, he simply smiled and said,
"Anniversaries can get expensive, but she's worth it."
The teller smiled at him knowingly and told him that his wife was lucky to have such a thoughtful and generous husband. He smiled back, accepted the funds and left the bank as quickly as he could without looking like he had something to hide. Once he got home, he was greeted by Marsha. She made a quick statement meant for only him to understand, since their daughters were at home.
"Glenn, Richard called. He says he would like to see you about something or other."
"Thank you, Sweetheart. I'll go over there in a little bit."
He waited a full half hour before making the trip. When he arrived, Richard greeted him at the door.
"Glenn. Good to see you again. I have some good news for you."
"What would that be?"
"I talked with one of my friends. He says he only needs nine hundred and he will throw in two boxes of shells."
"That is good news. When do you think we can do this?"
"Come in and have a seat. We'll take care of things right now. That is if you're ready."
Glenn entered the house and sat in the living room as Richard went elsewhere for a moment. he soon returned with a pump type shotgun and two boxes of shells for it.
"This is it. What do you think?"
"Richard, I don't know much about this kind of thing. What do YOU think? Is it worth it?"
Last edited by day late; 04-01-2012 at 03:43 PM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
"Glenn, this is a very fine weapon. It has the standard Mossberg type action. Now, I know that doesn't mean much to you, but this type of action is pretty much the standard that all shotguns are measured by. I've seen a man take one of these that was eighty years old, change the barrel to a brand new one and still be able to shoot it. Trust me. You can't go wrong with one of these. I'm forty-five, and I've had one since I was sixteen. But I've never had it give me a single problem."
"That sounds impressive."
"It is. How much do you know about shotguns?"
"Not much. I was hoping I could get a little instruction from you. I don't even know how to load it."
"Not a problem. I'm actually glad you asked."
The next half an hour was spent in giving Glenn the basic fundamentals of the weapon. Richard showed him how you had to turn it over and load it from the bottom. Where the safety was and how it worked. How to work the action, and how to unload it when it wasn't expected to be needed for use.
"Honestly, If it was me, I wouldn't unload it." Richard told him. "You never know when it might come in handy."
"What would you do about kids?" Glenn stopped and for the first time really looked around. "For that matter, where are your wife and kids?"
Richard smiled. "I saw this coming weeks ago. Ginny and the children are with her parents, in Nebraska."
"Nebraska? I never knew Ginny was a farm girl."
"Hey, just because she's from there doesn't mean she's a farm girl. They have everything from truck drivers to bankers out there as well, you know."
"I'm sorry. You're right. My mistake. So where does she come from in Nebraska?"
"Her folks own a farm."
"What? But you just said she didn't come from a farm."
"No, I didn't. I said that there are more than just farmers out there. You assumed the rest. Look, I'm not playing games with you. I'm giving you a lesson in misdirection. Listen to me. A wise man once said that if you are caught doing something wrong, NEVER protest your innocence. Human nature being what it is, they won't believe you anyway. So try to make the evidence point to a lesser crime. Understand me?"
"I'm not sure."
"Think about this. You said before that they may soon ban private ownership of all firearms, right?"
"Okay. So you buy this shotgun and take it home. Two days later they come to ask you if you have any weapons. It is not a lie to ask them to check their registration lists for your name, and then act offended that they are even asking to you about it."
"No. I guess it isn't."
"That's misdirection. It can keep you out of a lot of trouble, without actually lying. Just keep that in mind. Just in case. Alright?"
"Good, because it's time to practice some of that misdirection right now."
"Why is that?"
"Do you WANT to be seen walking down the street with a shotgun over your shoulder?"
Glenn smiled. "No, I guess not."
"Alright then pay close attention to what I'm doing next. Because you will have to do it in reverse when you get home, to reassemble this shotgun."
"Whoa. Why are to taking it apart?"
"Because pieces of a shotgun aren't as long as a whole thing. They can be more easily be hidden in a box or bag."
"Maybe I'm wrong, but this shotgun doesn't look like the barrel is as long as it's supposed to be."
"That depends on how you look at it. The barrel of this shotgun is one half inch over legal length. Yes, it's short. But it is still legal. It's former owner did that to make it easier to use in close quarters."
"Well, as long as it is legal, what else can you tell me about it?"
Richard then showed Glenn how, by removing the butt plate on the shotgun, he could get to a screw inside of it and unscrew it from the receiver. Then he showed how to take the barrel off the weapon and the whole thing was reduced in size to something that would fit into a medium sized box. To reassemble it would just be a matter of reversing the steps he had taken.
Before long, Glenn was on his way with a box under his arm. He hadn't gotten half a block before he was confronted by one of Richards neighbors. The man didn't seem happy.
"Hey! Mister. Can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Are you talking to me?"
"Yeah. Did you just come from Richards house?"
"Yes, I did. Why do you ask?"
"Well, like everybody else these days, we have a problem around here about food. Richard has some things that he isn't willing to share with the rest of us. Now you come walking out of his house with a box of food under your arm. I'd say that's a problem."
Glenn looked at the man. The lesson of misdirection came to his mind at once. "What are you talking about?"
"That box under your arm. It must be filled with food."
Glenn remembered what Richard had said and smiled.
"Food? Well you tell me, does this sound like food to you?"
He shook the box he had been carrying under his arm. The different metal parts of the shotgun banged and clanged together.
"That might be supper if you are a robot or something, but not if you're human."
The man was startled. "What is that?"
"I have some work to do. Richard came up with some things I need. Do you have a problem with that?
"So it's not food?"
Glenn shook the box again. "Really, does that sound like food to you?"
"No. I guess it doesn't. Sorry, Mister. But it didn't seem right that he might be giving food to someone else and ignoring his neighbors."
"Well, I promise you, these metal parts aren't something you want to eat."
"I apologize to you. It was my mistake."
"No problem. Forget about it."
With that piece of successful misdirection, Glenn continued on his way. The man he had met watched him go, and then shook his head. He wondered how he could have made such a mistake. He normally wasn't the suspicious type. Or had he made a mistake at all. Maybe the metal things were in there just for a distraction and he really did have food in that box. He wondered about it as he continued to watch Glenn walk away. He made up his mind and carefully began to follow Glenn back to his house. The coming darkness made it easier to avoid being seen. But he soon realized that he didn't have to worry about that. Glenn never even turned around and looked behind him.
The man watched as Glenn went into his home and then waited a few minutes until it became full dark before getting close to the house, figuring that it would be less likely he would be seen. As he waited he carefully looked over the house. Like most neighborhoods the contractor who had built it had three or four sets of blueprints which he used over and over again. Having lived in the area for years the man was familiar with each homes layout. He knew where the kitchen should be and went to the area where the window would be to have a look inside to see if Glenn was taking food out of the box and putting it away.
When he got there he was disappointed. The lights in the kitchen were out. He knew it was possible that Glenn had already gotten the food into one of the cabinets, but it was equally possible that he hadn't made it that far yet. He could still be in the living room showing off his bounty. While he knew it would increase the chances of being seen, he moved to the front of the home and while trying to remain out of sight from the street. He peered into the windows there and into the brightly lighted room.
He saw Glenn sitting in a chair, talking with a woman that must be his wife. Sitting on the floor playing some type of game were two girls. Well, maybe one of them wasn't so much of a girl any more. She seemed to be more of a young woman, and quite attractive to boot. It was a scene right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Then his eye fell on the box. It was sitting on the floor next to the chair Glenn was in. So, he hadn't put the food in the kitchen yet. But when would he? And even if Glenn got up and did it right now, what good would that do him? Well, for one thing it would give him leverage with Richard. How would he like it if the rest of the neighbors knew he was giving out food to others, but not to them? Surely that would force Richard to share some of his goods with him. He then heard Marsha speak.
"Alright girls. It's getting late. Time to get ready for bed."
"Aw Mom, it isn't even nine o'clock yet. You said we could stay up that late." Karen complained.
"You're right. It's only eight fifty-five. That gives you enough time to change and get your teeth before bed. Go on now."
"Dad, do we have too." Janie asked.
"You heard your mother. Besides tomorrow is a school day. A little extra sleep won't hurt either of you."
"Yes Sir." Both girls answered dejectedly and got up to do as they were told.
Marsha looked at Glenn. "How long do you think it will take tonight?"
"They average about fifteen minutes to do a five minute job. They should be in bed by nine-fifteen."
Marsha chuckled. "I wonder if those two will ever stop trying to push the envelope."
"Not this side of marriage I'm afraid. But I hope they do, once they are married. If not, God help their husbands."
Marsha laughed and then sat in a chair near Glenn and spoke again. The lurker outside then heard something that perked up his ears.
"Is that what I think it is?" She pointed at the box.
Glenn glanced around to make sure their daughters were out of earshot before answering.
"Yes, it is."
"What are you going to do with it?"
"After the girls are in bed, I'm taking it to the kitchen. No point in letting them know anything about it right now."
"I think that's a good idea."
What followed was idle husband and wife chit chat until the girls came back into the room, almost fifteen minutes later as Glenn had predicted, ready for bed. They kissed their parents and said good night, then each one went to their room. Glenn and Marsha waited another ten minutes to make sure they would not be interrupted with what was going to happen next. Then Glenn picked up the box and walked to the kitchen. This was what he had been waiting for. The man moved around to the side of the house once again and headed for the kitchen window. He arrived in time to see the light come on and knew that now he would be rewarded for his patience. The reward was far from what he expected. That was when he met Pete, much to his displeasure.
Pete was a rather independent cat owned by Glenn's next door neighbor. He went where he wanted, when he wanted and didn't care what anyone or anything had to say about it. This was his territory and he knew it. He would do whatever it took to make sure everyone and everything knew that. Most of the local dogs even gave him a wide berth. As the man moved to the window, he stepped on Pete's tail. He let out a yowl, that would scare almost anyone out of their skin. As the man pulled his foot back, Pete went into attack mode. He treated the mans left leg as if it were a tree that simply had to be climbed, sinking his claws through the pants leg and deeply into the into the flesh underneath, several times as he made his way higher.
When the man realized what was happening, he let out an involuntary scream and began to kick his leg to shake Pete loose. However by that time one of Pete's paws found a purchase on his belt and he continued his climb up his torso inflicting more injury along the way, headed for the mans shoulder. Once he had reached his goal, Pete sank the claws of three of his feet into the man and began to claw and bite at his head. When the man turned his face away from the lighting fast clawed strikes, Pete bite down on his ear lobe and held on, which freed up his other fore paw to also use in defeating his enemy. The man screamed again, and despite the pain reached up and tore Pete loose from his body and threw him as hard as he could. Pete sailed through the air and landed in some bushes several feet away. Once he hit the ground, he spit out a piece of ear lobe, arched his back and hissed his challenging war cry.
While this had been going on, Glenn who hadn't even had a chance to open the box yet, picked up a baseball bat he kept near the kitchen door and stepped outside. The man was already moving to get away from the furred fury and never noticed Glenn, until he was stuck across the back with the bat as he beat a hasty retreat. He staggered under the blow but continued to leave the area as fast as he could move. He passed though a lighted area, with Glenn close behind him. Glenn could see blood streaming from the side of his head and stopped. Obviously, Pete had already done a lot of damage. It didn't seem necessary to finish what Pete had started. Glenn returned to the open kitchen door, to find Marsha and their daughters standing there waiting for him.
"Is he gone?" Marsha asked.
"Daddy, what happened? Is everything okay?" Karen and Janie asked.
"I think someone was checking out our home. Maybe they wanted to break in, I don't know. He must have stepped on Pete, and paid for it. He was bleeding pretty badly from his head as he left here. Marsha, Could you get me a saucer of milk, please?"
"Pete. I think he deserves it."
"I thought you didn't like him. You said he was too mean."
"I don't, and he is. But tonight, he just may have saved us a lot of trouble."
Marsha smiled. "I'll be back in a minute."
Pete was still in the yard, and very upset. His low growls left no doubt of that. Glenn knew better than to try to get close to him while he was still in a combative state. So when Marsha returned with the milk, he simply spoke softly to the feline. He called him by name, telling him what a good cat he was and placed the saucer on the ground arms length away from him. He then stood and moved back to the door. Looking over his shoulder as he walked back into the house he saw Pete, gingerly sniffing at the milk to determine what it was. He then crouched down and started to lap at it with his tongue. Maybe these people weren't as bad as he thought.
"Daddy, do you think whoever that was is going to come back?" Karen asked.
"I don't think so. At least not tonight. Whoever it was is going to be needing some bandages and iodine. Pete really did a number on him."
"What about tomorrow?" Janie wanted to know.
"Girls, only The Lord knows what is going to happen five minutes from now, let alone tomorrow or the next day. But when you say your prayers, I think an added request for our protection wouldn't be a bad idea."
"Yes Sir." They said together.
"Alright. That's more than enough excitement for one night. You two get back to bed and try to get to sleep. You still have to get up in the morning." Marsha told them.
"Yes Ma'am." They turned and made their way back to their bedrooms.
Marsha went with them to tuck them in. Something she hadn't done in a long time, at their request. After all only babies got tucked in every night. They were big girls now. After having done that and kissing each of them, she returned to the kitchen to find Glenn tightening the screw that held the stock on the shotgun and getting ready to put the butt plate back on.
"Glenn, tell me something. If you had already had that thing put together when Pete started to attack that man, would you have used it?"
He thought for a moment and answered. "I think so. When all of that happened, it scared me. There is no telling exactly what that guy had on his mind. I was afraid he just might have been after you or the girls. Who knows, maybe both. I'm still afraid of that. I didn't want to say it in front of them, but it is possible he will come back some other time and bring some friends with him. If he does, I'm going to be ready."
It disturbed Marsha to see Glenn like this. The truth of his words disturbed her even more. She didn't like feeling like this. She made up her mind and spoke once again.
"Sweetheart. Don't think I've lost my mind, but I was thinking. What if he, or they come back when you are at work and we are here alone? I think after you finish with that, you need to show me what Richard taught you. Then we need to teach the girls this week end."
Having finished replacing the butt plate, Glenn pushed a small button on the bottom of the shotgun and opened the breach. He slide the barrel into place and began to turn the screw on it which attached it to the magazine where the shells were held.
"I was thinking something similar." He told her. "Only I was thinking tomorrow as soon as I get home from work. There's no point in putting it off. You never know. If anyone does try to break in while I'm not here, one of them might be closer to this than you are. It could make the difference."
"Alright. Tomorrow after work. We'll be waiting for you. Now, show me what you learned from Richard."
By the time the man had returned to his home, his shirt was soaked with blood. He went immediately to the bath room and removed it, throwing it into the trash. He looked at himself in the mirror. He was a sight. While that vicious beast hadn't gotten his face or eyes, the side of his head looked like it had been stuck in a shredder. The scratches were both deep and long. Even as he tried to clean them, they continued to bleed. He finally decided to bandage them as best as he could and hope they would stop bleeding on their own. Likewise he bandaged what was left of his ear. He took off his pants and examined his legs and upper body. Clearly that cat was a miniature monster from hell. It had done more injury to him in such a short time than he had ever suffered in his life. And without looking he knew that he had a large bruise on his back from whatever that guy had hit him with.
He didn't know who to blame for this. Richard for being so selfish to his neighbors, or the man who owned that attack cat. One thing he was certain of is that SOMEONE was going to pay for what had happened to him. But for the moment, he needed to rest and try not to make his injuries bleed even more.
He went to his kitchen and pulled a bottle from the cabinet. A little pain killer seemed like a good idea at the moment. He poured himself a large drink and then gently sat down and tried to lean back in the softest chair he had. His back was killing him. Once he became as comfortable as he could, he began to seriously plan his revenge. The longer he thought about it, the emptier his glass became. Soon he went back to the kitchen and brought the bottle back with him. He didn't feel up to moving around too much. By the time he passed out, half of the bottle was gone.
Last edited by day late; 04-01-2012 at 05:09 PM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
AGAIN I ask that all comments be put on the comment thread.
When he woke the next morning the man who had followed Glenn home felt like he wanted to die. First he groaned, and then wished he hadn't. He really didn't know what hurt more. His head was pounding from the drinking of the night before. At the same time the entire left side of his body hurt badly from Pete's assault on him. Eventually he managed to crawl from his bed to the bath room. He was surprised by the amount of dried blood he found there. Pulling himself up, he reached the medicine cabinet over the sink. He opened it and found the aspirin there. He removed the top and dropped it, by accident, into the sink. The noise it made hurt. He poured out several of the tablets and put them in his mouth. He then filled a glass with water and forced them down before even looking at himself in the mirror.
He couldn't believe what he saw. Even before trying to remove the blood encrusted bandage, he knew that the side of his head was badly inflamed. He managed to get it off without starting too much more of a blood flow. He hated what he knew he had to do next. As gently as possible he began the process of disinfecting his wounds. Hissing in pain from it, and swaying from his hangover, he began to quietly and with great feeling curse Pete for the unwarranted attack. So what if he stepped on the things tail. He didn't deserve this. He decided that once he was finished with Glenn and Richard, that cat HAD to die. Besides, it would be a public service to get rid of such a beast.
At nearly the same rime, Glenn was outside his home taking a look around in the daylight to see if he could figure out what the stranger had been doing, before he left for work. He hoped that the attack by Pete might have caused him to drop something which might give him a clue. However he was having no such luck. That was when Jeff came walking up, with Pete in his arms. Usually Pete preferred to walk, but he had already had to put up with a lot this morning, and Jeff was HIS human. He had to deal with some things because of that. Besides, his feet were wet.
"Glenn. Have you got a minute?"
"Sure, Jeff. What can I do for you?"
"I thought I heard some noise last night. Then this morning I found blood on Pete's front legs and his mouth. I thought something had happened to him, but after I got him cleaned up, there doesn't seem to be a mark on him. Do you have any idea what happened?"
Glenn decided to take a chance and reached out the scratch Pete under the chin. He was amazed when Pete simply closed his eyes, stretched out his neck and accepted the gesture with a loud purr.
"You could say I owe this big fella something."
Seeing Glenn scratch Pete, Jeff said. "Well that's something new. I thought you didn't like Pete. I know he doesn't care for you. Or at least he didn't. What changed?"
"Last night he changed things. Someone was sneaking around the outside of my house. It seems that whoever it was, stepped on Pete by accident. And he didn't like it. He tore into them like you wouldn't believe. Pete had the guy on the run before I could get out the door. I guess you could say he has become my new best friend. Anyway, after what happened, we gave him a saucer of milk as a thank you. He earned it."
"Oh my. I know how bad he can get. Especially if someone were to hurt him. I almost feel sorry for the guy. Do you know who it was?"
"Not a clue. But he shouldn't be hard to find if you look for him. The left side of his head has been sliced to ribbons by my new best friend here."
"Well, I hope you realize you probably have a new enemy too."
The thought took Glenn off guard. "I hadn't thought about it. But you're probably right."
"So what are you doing out here? It looked like you were searching for something."
"I was hoping that Pete made the guy drop something to give me an idea as to who he is or what he wanted. But i don't see anything. I guess this is a wash out."
"Too bad. Well, I hope whoever it was doesn't come back."
"I think Pete has already made sure of that. But listen. If someone was checking out my place, they might be looking at yours as well. I think you should stay on your toes for a while."
"Sounds like a good idea. Thanks for the heads up."
"Thank Pete. He's the one who found him."
"That will take a while. Pete doesn't like baths. But I had to give him one this morning. I'm surprised he is even letting me hold him right now."
"At least he seems comfortable now."
As if on cue, Pete decided he'd had enough of being carried, and jumped from Jeff's arm to the ground to begin the morning patrol of his territory.
Richard was also out that morning. His plan was to begin to get things ready for his move to Nebraska to join his wife and children. He could see that things were getting worse by the day. Richard also felt a prompting that he couldn't ignore. He started to prepare his car to accept whatever he could get into it. He had spent a long time preparing for the time when things would get bad. He now thought that perhaps he had taken it to an extreme. He already knew that he had enough in the way of supplies to fill the car three times over, or more. Now it became a question of which things to take and which ones to abandon.
As he was stripping the car of everything that he figured he would never need again, he noticed one of his neighbors glaring at him. He had no idea why the man had the side of his head bandaged, but by the way he was staring at him, Richard felt like the man blamed him for his misfortune. Why, he felt that way, Richard couldn't guess. Since the neighbor seemed content to simply stare at him, Richard decided to ignore him and continue with the job at hand. At this late date there was no point in getting involved with someone over an imagined problem.
When his wife and children had left for her parents home, Richard had insisted that she take most of the long term storage food and other things with her. The list had also included several weapons and many boxes of ammunition. Now mainly because of his neighbor, Richard decided to pull his car into the garage to do what he wanted to do. Who knew what this guy would do if he saw Richard packing up to leave? No point in giving him advance warning. Once he had the garage door closed, he began to figure out how to remove the back seat to give him more room for the things he wanted to take with him.
After he got the rear seat out, he began to mentally pack it with the things he had. That was one thing he was grateful to the military for. Service persons always learned how to pack a great deal of things into a very small space. They had to learn that. A soldier could pack every uniform he had, plus boots and shoes into a single duffel bag. He soon realized that there would be a lot of things he would simply have to leave behind. That raised a problem. Should he just abandon everything he wasn't taking, leaving it all to whoever found it, or should he find someone who could use it? As he always did when confronted with a problem, Richard prayed about it. His mind immediately went to Glenn. The more he thought about it, the more sense it made.
Instead of packing the car with what he was going to take with him, he packed it with the things he would have to leave behind. There was enough food to last a family the size of Glenn's for anywhere from four to six months. He also put in two shotguns, numerous box's of shells, and as much as he hated to do so, a 9mm pistol along with three boxes of ammo for it and two spare magazines. Once he was done, he got in the car and opened the garage door. Boy, was Glenn going to be surprised.
Richard pulled out of his garage and was taken off guard by the fact his wounded neighbor was still watching him. He couldn't understand it. He barely knew the man, yet he was obviously upset with Richard. It all confirmed in his mind that the time to leave had come, and may have already passed. But he continued on down the street until he reached Glenn's house. He found Glenn just beginning to back out of his driveway and head for work. Richard stopped on the street and jumped out. He shouted as he ran over to Glenn.
"Hold on a minute!"
Glenn stopped the car. "Richard. What's going on?""
"I need a few minutes of your time."
"Richard, I need to get to work. Can this wait for tonight?"
"I'm afraid not. Look I know this sounds strange, but if you can't stay around, can I have some way to get into your garage and lock it when I leave?"
"I think I have some things you'll be interested in."
"I don't mind. But you're right, this DOES sound a little strange. The door locks on it's own when it closes and will open when you use the remote." He pushed the remote button from inside the car and the door began to slowing raise. "There's another button on the wall by the door that leads inside. When you are ready to leave just pull the car out and then go back inside to push the button. You'll have time to get out before it closes."
"Thanks Glenn. I'll take care of things, I promise."
Glenn looked at his watch. "Okay, I'll see you later. I've got to get moving or I'm going to be late. Marsha should be home in about an hour. She took the girls to school. Bye."
With that he pulled away and never heard Richard's answer.
"Sorry, Brother. I don't think we will see each other again."
Richard pulled the car into the garage, then got out and closed the door behind him. He waited until the door was fully closed and the lights on in the windowless room before getting to work. He quickly unloaded the cans of food and set them on a work bench nearby. He remembered Glenn's safety concerns about his children getting their hands on weapons. Looking around, he found a cabinet where he could store them and the ammunition for them out of sight. Once he was finished he sat down with a pen and piece of paper, he had brought with him, and began to write.
I have received a prompting from The Lord that the time has come for me to join my wife and children. Even after packing my car, I still have a lot of things left over. I have left them here for you to use as you see fit. After all, you are the only one who ever seemed to have any idea of just how close the end times really are, when you came to see me about protecting yourself and your family. I trust you will use them wisely, and not just hand things out willy-nilly to anyone who might ask. If YOU are wise, you won't let anyone know what you have and make sure the members of your family don't either. Not everything is on the counter. You bought something from me a short time ago, more of the same kind of thing is put away in the garage for you to find. I pray that The Lord will watch over you and yours in the days ahead. If you ever get to Nebraska, look me up.
Your Brother in Christ,
Satisfied with the explanation, even though it might be a bit cryptic, Richard left the note on top of the food cans, inside a sealed envelope with Glenn's name on it. He then opened the garage door and backed the empty car out into the driveway and parked it. As he had been told, he went back into the garage and hit the button on the wall. As the door started down, he raced outside and then waited for it to close all the way. When it had, he got in the car and headed back to his home. At least his home for now. He took the precaution of backing the car into the garage, so that it was pointed out in case he had to make a sudden get away. He didn't think that would happen, but you never knew.
Richard recalled a gentleman he had known years before, who had always done the same thing. One day he asked the man why.
"That's simple Richard. I grew up in hurricane country. When one of those storms gets too close for comfort, you have to be able to move out, as in, right now. The time it takes you to turn a car around so you can load it, could be the difference between reaching the shelter and getting stuck in traffic during the storm. I'd rather be safe than sorry."
At this point, Richard had a much better idea of what he had meant. With the back seat gone, Richard had much more room for his supplies. He decided that he would load the cans of gas he had, into the trunk. The remaining cans of food when into the trunk and back seat area. The passengers seat in the front was reserved for weapons and ammunition. His logic being that if he needed the weapons, that would be the wrong time to pull over the car and get them from the trunk. As he was finishing his chore, Richard noticed something. Unlike Glenn's garage, his had a side window to allow light in. There was now someone with his face in that window.
Clearly, someone wanted to know what he was doing. Richard didn't feel like sharing that information. He knew that he was out of sight of the person trying to observe him. So he eased his way along the wall of his garage towards the window. At first his thought was to surprise the person looking in on him, and possibly scare him off. Then his foot hit a baseball bat, long abandoned after his son had gotten too big for Little League, and he had another idea. Richard picked up the bat and continued his movement. Before very long, he had reached a place he considered to be about arms length from the window. He swung the bat for all he was worth. It crashed through the window and slammed the man in the forehead, knocking him unconscious. Fragments of glass were embedded in his already lacerated head, and the man fell like a stone.
Looking out the now useless window, Richard could see that the man he had just hit was the same one that had been glaring at him earlier that day. The one with the bandage on the side of his head. Richard set the bat down and considered what to do next. He decided that the time to leave was now. The car was packed and the tank was full. He never intended to return to this place. He climbed into the car and pulled out. Richard didn't race out of the garage, but he wasn't taking his time either. He only slowed down slightly when he reached the end of the driveway. Then he turned to the west and went on his way. The garage door open and all concern over the man he had hit already forgotten. His thoughts were only on getting to his wife and children.
Marsha returned from taking her daughters to school in time to see Richard turn at the end of the block and head on his way to where ever he might be going. In the back of her mind she hoped he would be back in time for the choir recital the following evening. Richard had such a wonderful voice. She returned home and as usual during the day, parked her car on the street for later use that day. Once inside she spent her time cleaning up after Glenn and the children. For the countless number of times, she wondered how three people who worked hard at keeping clean, in order to satisfy her, could manage to bring so much dirt into the house.
When the cleaning was done, she gave herself a short break and sat down with a cup of tea and the news on the television. To her disappointment, nothing had improved. The President had even been saying something about bringing foreign troops into the country in order to help keep the peace, in light of recent riots over food shortages. But she really didn't pay that much attention to it. She knew that if it was really that important, Glenn would tell her about it and what it meant. The high point of her afternoon, if it could be called that, was when an ambulance came screaming down the street and stopped in front of Richard's house.
She managed to step outside and look down the road to learn what she could. She saw some movement next to Richard's open garage door. Soon after, the emergency medical technicians put someone on a stretcher and rolled him to the waiting ambulance. They quickly put the person inside and started back up the street towards the hospital. Not wanting to appear too curious, Marsha waited a couple of hours before she took a stroll down the road in the direction of the earlier excitement. It didn't take long before she was confronted by one of her neighbors who wanted to be the first to share the terrible news about what had happened.
"Marsha! Did you HEAR? I can't believe what that man did to him."
"Are you talking about that ambulance? No, I haven't heard a thing."
"Oh, it's just terrible. To think I lived just a few doors down from him. That Richard. I hope they put him away for a long time."
"Richard hurt someone? I can't believe that."
"Oh, Dear. He mutilated a man and then ran away like a coward."
"It's true. I saw it myself. That poor man looked like his face had been put into a meat grinder. The paramedics had to take his bandage off to treat him. It looked like Richard even bit off part of his ear."
The comment about the ear reminded Marsha of the night before. And what was this about taking off a bandage so he could be treated? She decided not to raise a fuss. What if the police asked her family about the mans injuries?
"It certainly sounds bad." She agreed. "But how can you be sure Richard did it?"
"It happened right outside his garage and now he's gone. He left his house wide open and everything. If he didn't do it then why would he run away?"
"Well, it does sound bad, but I think maybe Richard should have his day in court before we judge him."
"Oh, Marsha, you always have been a softy. How can you doubt his guilt? You really need to not be so naive."
"Maybe you're right. But I just can't condemn a man on hearsay. I'm sorry but I'm going to have to pick up the girls in a little while so I really must get back to the house. I'll see you later."
"I'll see you. And don't worry. If I find out anything else, I'll be sure to let you know."
Marsha had actually been truthful in her excuse, and was soon on her way to get Karen and Janie. After the excitement of the night before, she chose to leave them in the dark about things. No need to raise the level of their concern any more than it already was. After picking the girls up from school, Marsha was surprised to find Glenn's car in the driveway when she got home. Even more surprising was that he hadn't put it in the garage. Ushering their daughters inside, she instructed them.
"Alright you two. Homework first, everything else later. Go on now. Move."
As they left for their rooms to do school work, Marsha walked out into the garage to find Glenn almost ripping apart everything out there.
"What on earth are you doing?" She asked him.
"Oh. Hi Honey. I didn't hear you get home. Listen, you've been here all day. Did you see this?" He handed her Richard's note.
Last edited by day late; 04-06-2012 at 01:40 PM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Marsha read the note. Then she looked around in the garage to see what Richard was talking about. What she read did not seem to be in agreement with what she had heard earlier that day. The first thing she saw was can upon can of long term storage food. Clearly enough to feed their family for some time to come. Then she asked Glenn.
"What does he mean about, 'more of the same kind of thing is put away in the garage for you to find'?"
"That's what I'm trying to find out." Glenn said as he opened yet another cabinet, and rummaged through it. "Give me a hand looking, will you?"
Marsha began to open everything in reach. When she reached the cabinet where the weapons were placed she spoke to Glenn.
"I think I found what he is talking about."
Glenn walked over and saw the shotguns and pistol, as well as the box's ammunition for them.
"I'd say so."
"Glenn, do you think it is wise to have these many weapons around the girls?"
"Marsha, we agreed that we would teach them how to shoot these things this weekend. How can having more of them be a bad thing? Besides, look at it. There are four of us. We now have three shotguns and a pistol. One weapon for each of us. That sounds like a good number."
Marsha thought about it.
"I suppose you're right, but I don't like it."
"Neither do I. But I would rather defend one of our daughters from the charge of murder, than attend their funeral and hope the police catch the guy who did it."
"I know you are right, But it all seems to be just so barbaric."
"Sweetheart, these are barbarous times. We have to deal with that. If that means we have to do things we usually wouldn't, then we are doing the best that we can under the circumstances."
Marsha looked again at the weapons. The very idea of using them against another person ran contrary to everything she believed in. Still, the wisdom of what Glenn was saying couldn't be clearer. She had asked about what if Glenn wasn't around when needed. But what if she wasn't? Or what if what Glenn had said, came true? The idea that when someone broke in one of the girls were closer to a weapon than she was, didn't please her. It disturbed her greatly. But she wasn't one to see the world through rose colored glasses. She knew the world for what it was, not what she wanted it to be. She decided it was time to just get it together and do what had to be done. And it didn't matter if it was unpleasant. It STILL had to be done. But how to make Karen and Janie understand that?
"You said that we should start teaching the girls about how to safely handle these things today. Is that why you are home early?"
"Yes, it is. But I didn't expect Richard to just give us more of them. Not with the way prices are today."
"He did say that he had extras he couldn't take."
"True, but I'm sure he could have sold them. I'm just thankful that he decided to let us have them."
Glenn reached into the cabinet and pulled one of the shotguns out and checked it to make sure it was empty. That was the first rule of firearms safety that Richard had taught him.
"EVERY weapon is loaded, until you check it and see for yourself. You wouldn't believe how many people have been hurt or killed by 'unloaded' weapons. That's why they call them accidents." He had drilled into Glenn. Now it was time to pass on that knowledge.
"Honey, I'll take these into the kitchen. Give me a couple of minutes to get ready and then you go get Karen and Janie. I'll meet you there."
Marsha just nodded and turned to get their daughters. Glenn Pulled out the second shotgun and checked it as well. Satisfied that was indeed unloaded he set it aside with the other and reached for the pistol. This bothered him a little. Richard had told him how to work the shotgun, but he had gotten no instruction on pistols. As he pulled it off the shelf it was sitting on, a small booklet slid out with it and fell to the floor. Glenn picked it up and looked at it. It was the instruction manual for the pistol. He smiled to himself. Good old Richard, he'd thought of everything.
He decided to leave his self instruction on it for later that evening when he had the chance to have some peace and quiet to concentrate on what he was doing. He folded the booklet and put it into his back pocket. Then he placed the pistol back on the shelf. Then picked up the shotguns, along with a few shells for them, and went to the kitchen. He laid them on the table and covered them with a large towel. Then he went to the window and closed the blind hanging there. He had no idea who had been peeking in before, but there was no point in taking the chance of letting someone know that this household was now armed.
Minutes later Marsha came in with Karen and Janie. Glenn prayed briefly for the wisdom of what to say and how to say it.
"Come in girls, and take a seat. Your mother and I want to talk to you."
"Mom said you had something serious you wanted to say. Dad? Are you two okay? I mean, you're not separating or anything are you?" Karen asked.
"What? No, no, it's nothing like that. Your mother and I are very happy to be together and don't have any plans to change that. This is something different."
Glenn saw a wave of relief wash over the faces of their daughters. He understood their concern. It sometimes seemed that nobody remained married anymore. In fact of all the people they knew, the two of them had been married the longest. Most of the couples they knew were on their second, third and even fourth marriages.
"Girls, your father is right. We have no plans to divorce. I don't think either of us has ever even thought about it. I know I haven't"
"Neither have I." Glenn assured them. "Right now we want to talk about that man who was outside. Your mother and I are quite concerned about what happened. We want to talk with you about taking precautions."
"We do that now, Daddy." Janie said. "We don't talk with strangers. You and Mom take us back and forth to school, and we don't go anywhere without letting you or Mom know where we are going and who we will be with. All that kind of stuff. What else is there for us to do?"
"Girls, I don't have to tell you that things are getting pretty bad out there. You see it for yourselves, and I'm sure that you hear about things from your friends at school. Am I right?"
"Yes Sir." They answered.
"That man who got hurt by Pete. He was sneaking around our house at night. Obviously he was up to no good. But we don't know what he might have been planning. So your mother and I have decided that we ALL need to learn something about protecting ourselves."
"How are we going to do that?" Janie asked.
"With these." Glenn pulled the towel away and let the two get a good long look at them. He saw their eye's grow wide as they realized what they were looking at and what it implied. "Girls, don't get me wrong. I hope no one in this house ever has to use one of these. But sometimes the choice isn't left up to us to make. Sometimes things are forced on you and you will have no other way of getting out of that situation."
"Daddy, didn't Jesus say we are supposed to love our enemy and we are supposed to turn the other cheek? What about that?" Karen said.
"He never said we are supposed to let them kill us. But He also said;
Jhn 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou [then], Shew us the Father?
That's important. because The Father said;
Mal 3:6 For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Now, if The Father doesn't change, and He and Jesus are as one, then Jesus had to agree with whatever The Father says, right?"
They both nodded.
"Well when God gave the Law to Moses, He gave people the right to defend themselves from their attackers. That doesn't mean we are free to go out looking for trouble, but if it comes our way The Lord won't hold it against us when we protect ourselves. That means that Jesus feels the same way. Do you understand?"
"What about the Ten Commandments? they say 'Thou shalt not kill'."
"They say that today. But when they were first written in Hebrew, what they said was 'Thou shalt not murder'. Murder is very different from protecting yourself."
"Oh. I see." Said Karen.
"I don't. Aren't murder and killing the same thing?" Janie asked her sister.
"It's kind of like at school. We aren't supposed to start fights with other people, but if they try to beat us up, we can hit them back. Isn't that what you are saying, Daddy?" Karen asked.
"That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. You aren't to start trouble. You should try to walk away from it if you can. But if you can't, if the other person won't let you walk away, then you can defend yourself. Now do you understand, Janie?"
"Now I get it." She looked at the shotguns. "But it's still scary to think about."
"I know it is Sweetheart. And like I said, I hope it never comes to that. But if someone is threatening, or even attacking your mother or your sister, then you would be justified even in the eye's of God to do what you have to do to protect them."
Karen reached out and started to pick up one of the shotguns. Before even getting it off the table she looked at her father and told him.
"It's kind of heavy. Do you think we CAN shoot them?"
"With a little training, yes you both will be able to shoot them. But before that, there are a couple of things I want both of you to always remember. Every gun you see, is loaded. That is until you check it for yourself and make sure one way or the other. Many people are hurt or killed each year because someone thought the gun was empty and found out the hard way that it wasn't."
"How do you check to be sure?" Janie asked.
"We'll get to that in a moment. There is a second safety rule you have to learn first. That rule is ALWAYS identify your target BEFORE you pull the trigger. Girls understand this. From the moment you shoot, there is no 'I'm sorry', no 'I didn't mean to', no second chances. When you pull the trigger, what is done is done. And you have to live with the results, good or bad."
Karen looked at her father wide eyed. "Dad, you're sounding really serious about this."
"That's because IT IS serious. It is life and death serious, literally. When you pull the trigger if something dies, and it doesn't matter if it is an animal or a man, the one who pulls the trigger is the one who is responsible. That is why you MUST be certain of what you are shooting at, before you do. That brings us to the third rule. Before you shoot, make as sure as you can of what is behind your target."
"Why?" Karen wanted to know. "If you shoot, say a rabid dog, what difference does it make what is behind it?"
"That's a good question. There are a couple of reasons. The first one is, what if you miss? What is behind that dog that you might not want to shoot? The second is that a shotgun doesn't just shoot one bullet. It shoots a lot of bullet sized pellets. You might hit that dog with most of them, but you can still miss with a few of them. But the result would still be the same."
"Alright. Let's review. What is the first rule of firearms safety?"
The girls made him proud when as the review went on the showed they had been listening and repeated every one of the rules, almost exactly. Once he had finished with that, he had them each pick up one of the weapons. Janie, being the smaller of the two was having some trouble with the weight. Then he remembered the shotgun he had bought from Richard with the sawed off barrel. Because of the shorter barrel it had less weight. He asked Marsha to get it from his bed room closet. As she returned, she also made him proud. She had removed the shells from the magazine and the one from the chamber. She left the action open and held it out so he could see it was unloaded and set the shells on the table for him to see. As it turned out the missing section of barrel made all the difference.
Glenn then went through the motions of how to load and operate them, without actually loading them. He showed them how to aim and squeeze the trigger, and not to pull or jerk it. This was followed with instruction on how to work the slide action, so that after they fired the first time they could reload it to fire again. Soon the kitchen was filled with the repeated whack whack noise of the shotguns actions being worked. The noise level increased as Marsha picked up the remaining shotgun and got in a little practice herself. This caused both girls to smile. After all, if Mom was doing it, then it must be alright.
Glenn decided that the noise was getting to be a bit much and had them each take a ten minute practice run on both working the weapons to become familiar with them and reciting the safety rules to him. He got more smiles from Karen and Janie, when he didn't exclude Marsha from the drill. He exacted the same level of performance from her as he did with them. It was Marsha who put an end to the practice, half an hour after it started with an announcement.
"All of this has been very instructional and interesting, But you three have to get out of my kitchen. That is if you want to eat tonight."
"I'm sorry, Honey. I didn't realize the time. Alright girls, I'll put these things away for now, but there is one last thing I want you to remember. NOBODY is to know we have them. There are a lot of people who would think we are kind of strange for keeping guns in the house. I know there are some people who would say your mother and I are bad parents for teaching you how to handle these things. So let's keep it to ourselves. Alright?"
"Yes Daddy," came a two voiced chorus in reply.
"Okay. I think you still have some homework to get done, so go try to get it finished by the time your mother has supper ready. Maybe later we can go over things again to make sure you remember it all. Go on."
The two girls left, chatting and giggling between themselves. For them this was more than just being able to protect themselves or anyone else in the family. This was a major step forward in being considered an adult. Glenn watched them go wondering if they truly yet understood the seriousness of the matter. Marsha stepped up behind him and slid her arms around his waist.
"Don't worry. They are intelligent. It's just going to take a little time for them to adjust to this new responsibility. It's a big deal to them and it did come from out of the blue. Remember when they came in here? They thought we were going to announce a divorce."
"You're right, of course. They are bright enough to handle this. I worry about if they are mature enough."
"Of course they aren't. They are still young girls. But after what happened we really didn't have much of a choice. They are just going to have to grow up a little more quickly than we want."
"That's another thing. Those two should be worried about grades, and maybe boys in a few years from now. Not this. But as you said, what other choice do we have? I can't go to work, stay up all night on guard and do whatever else needs to be done."
Marsha hugged him a little tighter. "You can't do it all. That's why we have to do this. But you should know something."
"Did I miss something else?"
She turned him around and smiled at him. "Just that Karen has been easing me into the idea that she should be allowed to have a boyfriend, and Janie is noticing boys for the first time as well."
"When did all of this happen and why wasn't I told about it?"
"It's happening now and you just were. If it means anything, I'm not supposed to know about it either."
"Then how can you be so sure?"
"There are ways. For example I've noticed that the same young man keeps walking Karen almost to the car, but always leaves her a short distance from the it, to finish the walk alone. With Janie, she and her friends keep looking at certain boys, along with the required whispers and giggles but they aren't getting close yet. That comes next."
"Do you know who this young man is?"
"I heard his mother call him a couple of times when she came to pick him up. His name is Tommy, and I can honestly say I've never seen him at church. Beyond that I don't really know anything. He seems to be nice."
"I think I need to have a word with Karen."
"No you don't. Just let it be for right now. Chances are nothing will come of it, so don't start something that won't do any good for anyone."
"Do you approve of this?"
"Approve of what? A boy and a girl holding hands in public? Not much to get upset about there. They only see each other at school, and I don't think they will try anything there. Besides, we have more important things to worry about right now. Like where do you want to go on Saturday to get a little practice in?"
"Richard told me of a place outside of town. He thinks it used to be an old strip mine. The thing is, it's below ground level with dirt walls all around to stop any missed shots. He said a lot of people go out there to shoot."
"That sounds perfect."
On the following Saturday morning, lessons were learned by everyone. The first one being that none of them wanted to shoot too many times. The kick from the shotguns was more than what was expected, but they could all handle it. At least for a short time. Another one was that the girls were instinctively good shots. Unlike their parents, they accepted the training without question and didn't try to over control the weapon. By the time they left, both girls had out shot their parents, a fact which made them enormously proud. Even if their shoulders did make them pay for it later.
All in all, Glenn and Marsha were pleased with the outcome of the mornings shooting. Once the family returned home, they learned about cleaning the weapons. And Glenn finally became familiar with the 9 mm pistol. He wasn't very good with it, but he now knew what he was doing. Now all he had to do was find a way to carry it without letting the world know he was.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
It was after the week end shooting practice that things began to happen. Glenn wanted to go out and get in some more practice. He was surprised when Marsha, Karen and Janie all wanted the same. In fact the girls were each bragging about how they were going to out shoot the other one. But that was also when he found out the the shells for the shotguns and bullets for the pistol were all outrageously priced, and very difficult to come by. A box of twenty-five shells for the shotguns was over two hundred dollars. And they weren't even buckshot. Still he knew that at close range, it didn't matter. An once of smaller pellets did just as much damage as an once of larger ones if they did not have a chance to spread. A box of fifty rounds for the pistol were more than twice as much.
Still, practice was needed if they were going to become proficient with the weapons. Glenn tallied up what ammunition he had and found six remaining box's of shotgun shells, and two box's for the pistol. He decided that they would use only two of the box's of shells and everyone would just have to do the best they could with that. He limited himself to half of a box for the pistol. One thing was different this time around. Someone had been shooting in the area before they arrived and had left a number of human silhouette type targets at the practice range. He had planned on simply using paper sheets stapled to some T shaped upright posts someone had installed. However the human type targets gave a whole new dimension to the practice. Suddenly it was no longer fun and games, but deadly serious as the reason for the practice was forcefully brought home to them all.
On the way home from the target range he couldn't help but notice that it was a lot quieter in the car than it had been on the first trip. Even at the range things seemed to change the first time someone put a large hole into a target at close range. Everything became much more real to them all. He decided that it was good for all of them, and he included himself in the estimation, to spend some time alone with their thoughts about what they were doing really meant. Once they got home, again he brought out the cleaning kits, provided by Richard, and got everyone started on cleaning their own weapon. The quiet still continued as the cleaning progressed, and remained that way until it was done and everyone went about their normal Saturday activities.
Karen and Janie asked for and received permission to go to the local park to meet up with some of their friends who were known to both Glenn and Marsha. And they received the usual admonition to remain together at all times, to keep an eye on each other. It was after they left that Marsha began to speak her mind.
"Glenn, with what happened today, I think the girls might have gotten a little scared of the whole thing. Do you think we should still keep making them practice like this?"
"Honey, I think it is better for them to think about it all now, than have to make a snap decision about it later. They might make the wrong one."
"I suppose you're right. I mean I know it shook me up a little to look over the barrel of that shotgun and see a human form on the other end. That's a lot different than a simple bulls eye. Lord only knows what they are thinking."
"I hope they are thinking that if and when the time comes they will be able to do what they have to do. And just for the record, it shook me up as well."
"Tell me the truth. Do you really think we, and I mean ANY of us, will have to do it? Shoot someone, I mean."
Glenn took a deep breathe and held it for a moment. He let it out slowly in a drawn out sigh and answered.
"Marsha, you know how I feel. We ARE in the end times, even if not in the Great Tribulation yet. And you know what the Book of Revelation says about the Beast.
Rev 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Rev 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Rev 13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
So it's not a question of if, it's a question of when, and how bad. I mean it will be war."
"Yes I know. I just always hoped it wouldn't happen in my lifetime." She sighed as well. "In a way that scripture you just quoted makes me sorry for those who believe in a pre-trib rapture. I mean how can they believe like that when it was Jesus who said that the Beast will make war with us? He can't make war with someone who isn't there."
"You've got me. After all again it was Jesus who laid it all out in Matt. 24.
Mat 24:29 ¶ Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
It's all right there. In verse twenty nine He says He will return AFTER the tribulation. Verse thirty one tells about the in-gathering of the saints, the rapture or whatever you want to call it. How people can ignore that and believe in a misquotation of the words Paul spoke is beyond me. I guess they just don't do something else Paul said to Timothy. 'Study the word' is what he said. Not just believe whatever your pastor tells you."
"Getting back to the subject, what do you think about the government bringing in all of those foreign troops to help keep the peace?"
"I've heard a few prophecies over the years that warn when America comes under judgment, foreign troops will be brought here at the governments request. After that, things go down hill rather rapidly."
"Considering we've already lost California and most of the South, how much further downhill do you expect?"
Glenn leaned back in his chair. "Pretty far. The New Madrid fault will slip. When it does the earthquake it causes will make the Mississippi River much wider that it is now. Places along it's banks will simply disappear."
"Do you really think that can happen?"
"I do. Back in the eighteen hundreds they had a quake in that region and the Mississippi ran backwards for three days after it. But that won't be the worst of it. There will be nuclear war, an invasion, just plain wholesale slaughter everywhere the invaders go."
Marsha paled. She knew judgment was coming, but she had never really thought about it. What Glenn was saying was almost too terrible to think about. But she knew it would happen. What was even worse for her was that she was seeing the beginning of it right now. And she knew that it would come closer to them. They were among the saints. Satan was starting the war with them and would kill them if he got the chance. If he didn't torture them to death first or enslave them. There was only one thing she could think of to do.
"Glenn, I think we need to start having private family devotions."
"That's probably a good idea. We'll start tonight."
Before anything more could be said, there was a very loud slam bang at the back door, followed by Janie calling out in a voice that sounded terrified.
"MOMMA, DADDY! Where are you?"
"Janie. We're in the living room. What's wrong?" Marsha answered.
Janie burst into the room at full speed. She ran to her mother and threw her arms around Marsha and was holding on for dear life.
"The soldiers! It was the soldiers. Mom it was terrible."
"Janie. Slow down. You aren't making any sense." Marsha said. "What are you talking about?"
"And where's Karen?" Glenn asked.
"That's what I'm trying to tell you."
"Alright. Slow down. Take a deep breathe and tell us everything. Start at the beginning." Glenn insisted.
"We went to the park to meet our friends. We just got there when some soldiers showed up. They started talking over a loud speaker and told everyone that because of the situation, they were closing the park. Everyone had to leave. They also said that public meetings were banned. No more than three people in a group."
"What happened after that?" Marsha wanted to know, becoming more concerned by the moment over her missing daughter.
"Some of the guys from the high school football team were there. They didn't want to do what the soldiers were saying and started to shout at them. Oh, Momma, Daddy, it was terrible. The soldiers started to hit them with clubs and their guns. They beat them until they fell down and then they started to kick them. And they were laughing at them the whole time."
"What did you and Karen do?" Glenn questioned her before she started to become hysterical again.
"We started to leave. We didn't want to get hurt. But some of the soldiers started to chase us and the other girls that were there. I saw them grab a couple of the high school girls and force them to get on the trucks they had. But we ran. They still kept chasing us and I don't know what happened. We got separated and I don't know where she is. I was so scared, I just ran and ran. I don't know what happened to her. If anything did, it's my fault."
Janie collapsed into her mothers arms and began to sob uncontrollably. Glenn looked up from Janie to his wife, only to find her staring back at him.
"What are we going to do?"
"You are going to stay here with Janie. It's possible that Karen got away from them but had to go some other direction to do it. Or maybe she's hiding somewhere. In either case she will come home as soon as she can."
He reached into a drawer and pulled out the freshly cleaned pistol. He put a magazine into it and chambered a round. He then picked up the two spare magazines and slipped them into his pocket.
"I'm going to look for her." He bent over and pulled Janie slightly away from Marsha and said to her. "Janie, I want you to know you did exactly the right thing. You couldn't have stopped those soldiers if they took Karen. Because of you, we know what happened. Now, Honey, think carefully. Where do you think your sister would go if she got away from those soldiers?"
"I'm not sure. I know she was with Holly the last time I saw her."
"Alright. I'll start looking at Holly's house and see what happens from there." Glenn stood up and Marsha was still staring at him.
"Glenn, I know you have to go. But be careful out there. Those are soldiers and you aren't."
"Don't worry, I'm not looking for a fight. I'm sure Karen is with Holly and they are both fine. She's just too scared to go back out onto the street. I'll find her, bring her home and that will be that. You two stay inside and keep an eye out for her in case I miss her and she makes it back by herself. If she does, all three of you stay inside."
Glenn started for the front door and his car. He stopped for a second and said over his shoulder. "Having those shotguns ready, just in case, might not be a bad idea." He then left before Marsha could answer.
Glenn knew that Holly's family lived about half a mile away, and about five or six blocks from the park. He took the most direct route, thinking that if Karen were on her way home that would be the most likely way she would go. He drove slowly so he wouldn't miss anything that might indicate his daughter had passed that way. He made it to Holly's house, and knocked on the door. Her mother, Carol came to the door, a look of panic on her face.
"Oh, Glenn. Have you seen Holly?" She looked hopeful for a moment.
"I was hoping Karen was here with her. I take it you've heard something."
"Glenn, it's horrible. Foreign soldiers have taken over the park. They've been taking people away in trucks. Nobody knows what is happening to them. And now Holly is missing. I'm frantic. I want to find her, but I'm afraid to leave in case she comes home."
Knowing she was a single mother, he tried to comfort her. "I'm looking for Karen. Janie said they were together. I'll keep an eye open for her. You stay here."
Relief flushed her features. "Thank you, Glenn. This means so much to me."
"Believe me, I'm as concerned as you are. If they are still together and free, I'll find them."
With that he turned and hurried back to his car. Once there he searched his mind for all the possible roads, alleys and paths they could have taken under the circumstances. He decided to start with the way that would be the longest for the two of them to get to Holly's home. After that he would work his way back and forth across the area in his search. He started the car and pulled away. It took only minutes for him to reach the farthest point in his search area. He drove down the street, headed towards the park. The streets were virtually empty. He noticed that once in a while he would catch a glimpse of someone peeking out a window at him as he drove by. But nobody was on the street, except occasionally some brave soul would dart across the street for the other side.
As he got within a block and a half of the park everything became more difficult. At the next intersection a soldier in a uniform Glenn knew wasn't American, stood in the middle of the road. He held a rifle across his body and obviously was all business. Behind him, Glenn could see one of the military trucks. It's tailgate was down and he could tell there was movement inside. The two guards near the back of it gave him a good idea what was in the back. Glenn's fears were confirmed as two soldiers escorted a young man who's face was badly bruised and the front of his shirt covered with blood towards the back of the truck.
The man in the road started to step forward and raise his hand for Glenn to stop. For the first time he became frightened for himself. If this man wanted to put him in the truck, could he use the pistol and shoot his way out? Even if he did, how long would it take to track him down? What would happen to his family when they did? As those thoughts and more raced through his mind, the young man behind the guard in the intersection decided he wasn't going to get in the truck. He suddenly spun on his heel and caught one of his escorts perfectly with an uppercut. The soldier went down without a struggle. Taken by surprise the other soldier wasn't ready when the young man grabbed his rifle and instead of pulling it away from him, he pushed it's barrel into his nose as hard as he could. The nose broke and he too went to the ground.
The young man started to run away from the truck to the buildings across the street, hoping to lose himself either in them, or between them. The soldier in the intersection heard the warning shouts of the men guarding the truck and turned to see what was happening. He then gave up all thoughts of Glenn and ran to try and recapture the escaping man. Glenn saw his chance, and took it. He spiked the brakes and threw the car into reverse. He then backed up the street to the last intersection he had come thorough, turned the car around and headed to the next block over. The last he saw of the young man who was trying to get away was when he was clubbed to the ground and then kicked most cruelly, over and over again.
Glenn thanked God for his escape and decided that he would not be getting any closer to the park. At the next intersection he turned away from the park and continued his search. Glenn kept on driving up and down the streets as slowly as he dared, without attracting too much attention for over an hour. He had gotten almost to the far end of his search area, well on the other side of Holly' home with no luck at all. He was really getting worried now. Not only was dark fast approaching, but he was nearing a bad area of town. Muggings, robbery and worse crimes were an almost everyday occurrence. He pulled up to a stop sign and sat there. He rubbed his eyes and asked his daughter.
"Karen, where are you?"
Something hit one of the windows in his car. He looked around and reached for the pistol he had placed between his seat and the center console. He saw nobody.
It happened again. On the right side. He looked out the rear window and saw Karen and Holly standing in an alleyway. Karen had just thrown a third small stone at the car. THAK! He opened his door and got half way out of the car.
"You two get over here."
"Open the doors. They're locked." Karen answered.
Glenn sat down again and pushed the button for the door locks. The girls were reaching for the handles almost before the doors unlocked. They literally dove into the car and Glenn hit the gas even before the doors were closed.
"What happened to you two?"
"We were chased by the soldiers. We lost them but we had to hide to keep from being caught. Oh Dad. I am SO happy to see you."
"Same here. Holly, I know someone who is going to be happy to see you. We'll drop you at home first."
The trip didn't take long, and Carol was beside herself with joy when she opened the door and found Holly standing there. Glenn and Karen were invited in, but said that they too needed to get home and were soon on their way. Glenn was certain he could now relax and so was taken unawares when he rounded a corner and found another soldier standing in the road. He had no choice but to stop.
"You. Where you go to? You should be off road now." His accent was German.
"We're going home now." Glenn told him, as the soldier peered into the car.
"Ja. I see why you go home now. She look good. You go. Leave girl here."
"She's my daughter! I'm not leaving her with you."
"Think you have choice?"
The soldier started to reach for his rifle. Glenn had no choice. He already had his hand on the pistol and he now pulled it up and fired once into the soldiers face. He toppled backwards and Glenn once again hammered the gas.
Last edited by day late; 04-11-2012 at 12:12 PM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
As they sped away from the scene of the shooting, Glenn was trying to see in all directions at once. Surely the gunshot must have attracted attention. He watched his mirrors for some sign of pursuit, but none appeared. He saw no sign that anyone came out of their home to see what was happening. He didn't understand it, but was grateful for it. What he didn't know was that the frightened people in the homes nearby, didn't want to know what was happening at first. It took several minutes and the lack of further firing for them to look out their windows to find out what was what. On the other hand, other soldiers close by had heard only one shot and they assumed one of their number had to teach one of these upstart Americans a lesson. With the lack of additional shooting, they weren't concerned at first.
It was when the soldier didn't check in half an hour later as he was supposed to do that they began to wonder. They went to look for him, knowing the area where he was supposed to be and they came across his body. It had been stripped of all weapons and equipment, but there was no way of knowing who had done it. It enraged them. They sought permission from their superiors to raze the entire block to the ground, but were denied. Those in the higher ranks knew that some losses would occur. One man was an acceptable loss. They did, however, grant permission for the homes in the area to be searched for the missing weapons and equipment. If the home owners objected they were free to deal with them as they chose.
What followed started as a terrorizing tactic by the foreign troops, and ended in a blood bath with heavy losses on the soldiers side. The troops had falsely assumed that these Americans would meekly submit to their desires and offer little to no resistance. They hadn't counted on the fact that many of them were armed, and the American belief that a man's home was his castle. The castles were defended, and there were more armed Americans than there were troops. By morning the entire patrol was lying in the street in the same condition as the first man was. Dead and stripped of any kind of weapon or equipment that might be of value. Most of the men sent to re-enforce the patrol were lying right next to them. The rest had pulled out before being wiped out. There was no doubt, the resistance movement had begun.
All of that happened much later that night, and at the moment Glenn was trying to calm himself, drive and calm Karen all at the same time.
"DADDY! You shot that man."
"I think he's dead."
"He probably is. Not many survive a bullet in the head."
"But...I mean should you have done that?"
"Karen, he wanted to pull you out of the car and send me down the road. If he had done it, who knows what would have happened after that. Sweetheart, I love you, your sister and your mother more than you know. I couldn't let that happen. Do you understand?"
She paused for a moment. "I guess so. It's just so...shocking I guess. I mean you hear people say things like they will do anything to protect their family, but it's something different to see it happen."
"It's something different to do it. Karen will you reach in the glove compartment? There are some napkins in there. I need one."
She complied with the request.
"What do you need this for?"
"I think I have some of his blood on the side of my head."
They remained quiet for the rest of the trip home. As they pulled in the driveway, Glenn pushed the button to open the door and pulled in. Happy to be home, Karen opened the car door and started to jump out to run inside the house. Glenn stopped her.
"Wait. Don't do that."
"Why not? We're home."
"Karen your mother and I decided to take some precautions after Janie told us what happened at the park. I imagine that right now your mother is on the other side of that door with one of the shotguns. I think it best to let her know we are here before trying to go in."
"Oh. I guess your right. I didn't know."
"Just hang on for a minute. Let me close this door."
Again Glenn pushed the button and the garage door slid smoothly down. They got out of the car, and Glenn saw that there was some of the soldiers blood on his door and streaked down the side from the wind as they drove. Then from inside the garage he called out loudly.
"Marsha! I found Karen. It's just us. We are coming in."
From inside he hear someone shout back at him.
He elbowed Karen to the side and slowly opened the door.
"It's just us." He said, and then when he saw Marsha lower the shotgun, he stepped aside and let Karen into the house.
The reunion between mother and daughter was joyful, full of tears and filled with so much talking that nobody could understand a word that was said. Glenn happily stood aside and watched it all. Soon Janie also came and it started all over again. Shortly the girls were talking between themselves. The conversation was at the 'where did you go' point, but hadn't reached the 'what happened to you after that' level yet. Marsha looked at Glenn and was beaming with happiness, until she noticed a large spot of blood on his left shoulder.
"Glenn. Are you alright? You're bleeding."
He looked at where she was pointing and decided to just tell her.
"We had a little trouble on the way home. That isn't mine."
"What kind of trouble?"
"A soldier stopped us and wanted to make Karen get out of the car. I didn't let him."
Marsha's eye's grew wide at the implication. "Is he..."
"He is. He didn't leave me a choice. I did what I had to do."
Marsha moved to him and put her arms around him. "Thank you."
"Let's not talk about it. Honey, I need some towels or something that you aren't going to need any more."
"I have to clean some more of this off the car. He was kind of close."
"I'll be right back."
As she went into the house to get something for Glenn to clean the car with, Marsha directed the girls into the living room where they sat and continued to talk about things. She returned with more towels than Glenn needed and with a knowing look, but not a word, left him to his work. Glenn returned to the garage. He partially filled a bucket with water, soaked one of the towels and began to clean the side of the car. He was careful to get everyplace that the blood had been blown into such as the gap between the door and the side of the car. It took about half an hour and when he was done, he removed his shirt, picked up the bloody napkin from inside the car and bundled everything together. He emptied the bucket and placed the items in it. He planned to burn them later so there would be no trace of what had happened. When he went back into the house Marsha told him that supper was almost ready.
"Honey, if you don't mind, you and the girls go ahead and eat. I need a shower."
"Alright. I'll keep it warm for you." Was all she said.
Glenn went into the bed room and finished undressing to take his shower. His thoughts were on what had happened, and wondering if he would be caught. If he was, what would happen to Marsha and the girls? Would they be punished as well as him, for not turning him in? The water was warm and inviting when he got into the shower. He knew he had spent a long time in there, thinking and praying about what he had done. It was some time later that he realized Marsha was knocking on the door and the water was now stone cold, even though the hot faucet was turned all the way up.
"Glenn. Are you alright in there?"
"I'm fine. I just got a little distracted."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Dear. I'll be out in a minute."
After getting out of the shower Glenn dressed and went to the kitchen. As promised, Marsha had kept the food warm for him. He only picked at it and ate very little. Eventually he went into the living room to join the rest of the family. Janie was still trying to get every last detail from Karen about what had happened. During the conversation Glenn could hear, off in the distance, the sound of gun fire. It was coming from the area where he and Karen had been stopped. He wondered if the people in that neighborhood were paying the price for his actions. A short time later he announced that he was going to go do some reading in the bed room and left them. He laid down on the bed and picked up a novel he had been reading last week. Two hours later he couldn't remember a single word of what he was supposed to have been reading and realized he had started the same page over four times now. He gave it up and went back to the living room only to find he was just in time to tell his daughters good night.
Janie came over to him first. She hugged him tightly and kissed him, then she said,
"Thank you, Daddy. Thanks for bringing Karen home. I feel much better now."
"I'm sure we all do, Honey. Off to bed and sweet dreams."
She smiled and left for her bed. Karen came to him then. She kissed him and held him much more tightly than she had done in a long time, and for much longer. Finally she pulled back and looked him in the eye.
"Thank you Daddy. I...Well, I...Just thank you, I don't know what else to say."
"Say good night, and that will be enough."
"Good night Daddy."
She followed Janie. Marsha came to him and she too held him for a long time. When she spoke it was softly into his ear.
"Are you going to be alright?"
"Eventually, I guess. It's just hard to get used to the idea. Especially with THAT going on." He nodded at the noise coming in from outside. "I hope I didn't cause that. Other people shouldn't have to pay for what I did."
"Glenn, you didn't cause this. Not anymore than the rest of us. After all, we are all sinners. And you told me just this afternoon that Satan will make war on the saints. We just happen to be in the first battle. That's all. Sooner or later it would have happened anyway."
"I guess you're right. But it's still hard to listen to it happening."
"I'll tell you what. Let's make an early night of it. We'll get a good nights sleep and you will feel better in the morning."
"I hope so. Alright, I'll be in after I get the lights."
They went to bed, and Marsha held him long into the night. Eventually they rolled apart and tried to sleep. Marsha did go to sleep shortly, but Glenn tossed and turned for a long time. Whenever he closed his eyes the last moment of the soldiers life played out in his mind again and he was wide awake once more. Finally he got up and put on his pants. As he started to leave the bed room Marsha asked him.
"Going somewhere without me?"
"Only to the couch. There's no point in both of us staying awake all night. Besides, don't you know? You're stuck with me. I'm not going anywhere without you."
he smiled at him in the dark. "I know. But it's still nice to hear. Good night and try to get some rest."
Glenn went to the couch in the living room and laid down. He thought of how blessed he was to have Marsha and their daughters. Of how he really WOULD do anything for them. Tonight had proved it to him as well as everyone else. He heard how the sounds of gun fire had died down and hoped it was over. Rolling onto one side he prayed.
"Father, I know I only did what I was supposed to do. You gave us the right to defend ourselves against evil men. But Lord, now I need Your peace in this. Help me to live with what I have done. In Jesus' name. Amen."
With that he maneuvered into a comfortable position and soon drifted off to sleep. The next morning Glenn was surprised to find that he had slept until almost nine o'clock. Obviously, it was too late to get to the Sunday morning church service. He wondered why Marsha or one of his daughters hadn't wakened him sooner. He figured that Marsha wanted him to sleep as much as he could given the restless night he had just been through. He didn't really mind because they could always catch the service that afternoon. As he roused himself he wondered why it was so quiet. It wasn't just the lack of sound coming from his family. Even the noise from outside seemed to be nonexistent.
He got off the couch and made his way to the kitchen. The smell of coffee pulled him along and helped to bring him to life. When he got there he was surprised to find Marsha sitting at the table, with her back to him and with a small radio. She was wearing a set of headphones. He couldn't understand why she was doing that. If she didn't want to wake him, she could have always watched the television in their bed room.
"Good morning." he said to her.
She turned and answered him. An odd expression on her face.
"Good morning yourself. Were you comfortable?"
"Eventually. What's going on? why didn't you wake me in time for church?"
"There is no church today."
"What? Of course there is. It's Sunday, isn't it?"
"Yes, it's Sunday. You didn't sleep that long. It's because of last night. The entire city is locked down tighter than a drum. From the reports I've been hearing, it may be the entire state."
"Locked down. Why?"
"From what I've heard there was a lot of trouble last night. Not just around here either. People don't like being told what they can and can not do. It was like the entire state exploded last night. There have been gun fights all over the place. A lot of people were killed. From what I hear, most of them were the foreign troops."
"You're kidding me. Let's see what they are saying on the T.V."
"There is no T.V. When I got up I turned it on to check the weather. Every channel has the same sign on it. It says that because of civil unrest they have turned it off to try to get people to calm down. It also says for information we have to listen to the radio's emergency channels. It turns out that those are the only stations on the air. The radio is saying that all citizens should remain indoors, for their own safety, until they can get things under control again."
"I don't believe it."
Marsha stood, unplugged the headset and told him. "Listen for yourself. It just keeps repeating the same message over and over."
She pushed the radio to him and went to the counter. She poured him a cup of coffee and added just the right amount of sugar for his taste. She stirred it and placed it next to his hand. Then she sat down next to him. Glenn listened intently. Marsha was right. Everything was shut down for an indefinite period of time, due to the lawlessness of the night before. The report went on to say that a number of 'peace keepers' had been ruthlessly killed during the night, even while they were trying to help the American population by restoring order and that until civil order was restored all civilians were required to remain off the street and indoors for their own protection. No mention was made about the young people the 'peace keepers' had been beating into submission and loading onto trucks or what had become of them.
"I notice that don't say what started the trouble, or when they expect it to be over. And there's no mention of what happened in the park yesterday. Do these people think they can just waltz in here and do as they please without people fighting back?"
"It would seem so. There was an earlier report saying something about how what happened is the fault of 'American troublemakers'. But they took that one off the air about an hour ago and this one has been on ever since. They do occasionally say that the broadcasts will be updated every few hours and that people should listen for more information at those times."
"This is not good." Glenn shook his head. "Where are the girls?"
"In their bedrooms. I told them that you had a hard time sleeping last night. They didn't ask why. Then I suggested we should skip church this morning to let you sleep and we would go later." She paused to take a sip of her own cup and then went on. "It seems like I'm asking this all the time these days. What are we going to do?"
"I think the right question is what are THEY gong to do? You know that they can't allow something like this to go unpunished. Especially if they started it. Throughout all of history occupying armies have acted that way towards the people they are trying to control. They start something and then stomp on anyone who tries to resist them as a lesson to the rest of the population. They use fear to maintain control."
The radio made an odd beeping sound. Marsha told him.
"Listen they always do that before an update."
"How do you know? How long have you been listening to this thing?"
"Since four o'clock. You are the only one who couldn't sleep. Shh, listen."
A man with a very pleasant and smooth voice came on the air. He first announced that the following was an update of the Emergency Peace Keeping Broadcast System. This was followed by an announcement that 'due to the valiant efforts of the greatly outnumbered peace keeping forces many of the previous night rioters had been captured. he went on to say that there would be a special television broadcast about the rioters shown live on the air in half an hour. All citizens were required to watch at that time, for educational and informational purposes.
He went on to say that since these people had been captured while committing crimes against both the state and the peace keeping forces, the formality of a trial would be forgone under the articles of the current state of emergency. He reminded everyone to turn on their television at nine thirty for education and informational purposes. Then the radio went back to the same recorded message again.
Wondering what it was all about, Glenn, Marsha, Karen and Janie were sitting in front of the television at the appropriate time. The sign on the screen flickered and then faded away. In it's place was a picture of a large mass of people. Glenn guessed the number at about fifty. They were inside a fenced enclosure, just milling around. The same smooth voiced announcer came on doing a voice over on the scene.
He first stated that these people were the ones who had been killing peace keeping forces the night before. Glenn could hear what sounded like real sorrow in his voice when he said that it had been hoped that the peace keeping troops would be welcomed for the help they had so generously tried to provide, but it was regrettable that there were always a few bad apples in every barrel, and in the future anyone caught attempting to kill or injure a peace keeper would be dealt with in a similar fashion. The moment he stopped speaking machine guns on two sides of the enclosure began to fire. Fenced in, with nowhere to run or hide and caught in the deadly crossfire, they all went down in minutes. After the last one fell, the firing continued for several more seconds as the bodies were raked by more fire to ensure none lived. The screen flickered and the sign returned.
Stunned at what they had seen the family sat there. All of the women began to cry and Glenn spoke to himself.
"Now we know how they plan on using fear."
Last edited by day late; 04-11-2012 at 05:41 PM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
In the weeks that followed the televised 'disciplinary action' events swung as widely as a pendulum. For a few days the soldiers encountered no problems in what they did. But they had also gotten orders to back off of the civilian population. The higher ranks didn't want, and in truth could not afford, a repeat of the night of rioting. Not until more men arrived to bolster their position. The loss of that many men in one day again would endanger their mission of pacification. As for the civilians, things went from bad to worse, although at first many of the children didn't think so when the schools were closed until further notice. It was determined that the gathering of so many people, even just to pick up their children, was a hazard to the troops. Who knew what they might be talking about?
Another thing that they found uncomfortable is that while they were allowed on the street during the day to get what food they could find, they were subject to being stopped and forced to identify themselves, their destination and their purpose for going where ever by soldiers at any time. It didn't take long to realize that the more attractive women were stopped more often than men, and their addresses written down for 'security reasons' they were told. But the women doubted what they were told by the leering faces of the troops. Many of them gave false addresses because they had 'accidentally' left their identification documents at home. While the temptation was great to take these ladies in for 'questioning' they still had there orders, and the soldiers where more afraid of their superiors that filled with desire for women.
But things could not remain quiet forever. In a matter of a few days the foreign troops started to push their luck. They began to believe the 'discipline' had the desired effect and the Americans wouldn't dare to raise their hand against them again. One night four of them, serving in the same squad together, went to the address given to one of them by one of the women that had been questioned. She wasn't there and didn't live there, but a father and son were. They father was a veteran and they were also armed. The squads luck was made even worse because the mans neighbor was one of his brothers in arms from the service. Both of them were peaceable men, but not naive. They had always understood that things COULD happen in America and were prepared for it. Even if they did have to bend the law a little.
Things started to go badly before the four soldiers even knew it. The sound of their vehicle attracted the attention of the man, his son and their neighbor when it stopped in front of the house. By the time the first soldier started to beat on the door demanding entry, everyone was holding a weapon. Rather than opening the door, the father shot through it with a very illegal AK-47 set on fully automatic. The soldier standing on the other side of the door went down at once. The other three had spread out a little to make sure the woman they wanted didn't get away. That saved them from the first shots fired. One of them sought cover behind the son's small car parked in the front yard to the right of the front door. The other two went to the left to get out of the line of fire.
The one who went to cover behind the car popped up and sprayed the front of the house with bullets. The round of buckshot that hit the car and shattered the windows, fired by the son, made him drop down again. But it also told him where some of the fire was coming from. He moved to the other end of the car and again jumped up just enough to fire a burst into the house where the shotgun blast had come from. The boy didn't have his fathers training and had remained where he had fired from the first time. The upper part of his body was also exposed. He was hit and went down. Hearing his son cry out in pain, and knowing what that meant, the father was enraged. He opened up on the compact car, raking it from one end to the other. The powerful rounds passed, first through the car and when they reached him, though the soldier.
The two men who had gone the other direction decided to move around to the back of the house to gain entry from behind their attacker, while their comrade was keeping him busy in the front of the house. They found the man's neighbor who was coming up between the houses to try to out flank the soldiers attacking his brother in arms. He saw them first, and fired, and like his neighbor, with a fully automatic AK-47. They never had a chance.
Once the shooting was over, both men did what they could to help the son who's injuries were serious, but not life threatening. After that they threw everything they could quickly reach into the soldiers vehicle and fled the scene, thinking that one of the peace keepers vehicles would be more likely to be able to slip out of town than either of their own vehicles. They were right. None of the guards around the town gave it a second glance. In less than an hour and a half the were out of town and out of sight.
Since what the soldiers were trying to do was on their own time, they weren't missed until the morning formation. By the time their bodies were discovered, as usual, their weapons and equipment had long since disappeared. That was reason enough for another educational lesson in discipline. By noon that day everyone had been informed, by radio, that there was another lesson to be broadcast on television.
The foreign commander of the area decided to lift a page from the Israeli handbook on dealing with terrorists. At precisely noon bulldozers began to obliterate the now vacant homes where his men had died. The officer on the scene decided that if two homes was a good lesson, four would be a better one. He ordered the bulldozers to knock down the houses on either side of the object lesson. His reasoning being the occupants did nothing to help his men. It didn't matter to him that they had not been evacuated. A family of four were crushed to death in one home, and two more people were killed in the other.
Confident that he had given the Americans a lesson they would not soon forget, he stood in front of the destroyed homes admiring his handiwork. It was a mistake. Weapons captured from the dead soldiers the night before opened up on him from three different directions. He never had a chance. As soon as he fell, the fire was directed at every other soldier in sight. The troops fell back in a most disorderly fashion and once finding some kind of protection got on their radios and called for tanks to come in and clear out the strong points fire was coming from. The metal monsters soon rolled in and began to fire on various buildings as directed by the men on the ground. They did manage to blow down two more homes, but the problem with tanks is the amount of noise they make. The clanking treads were heard long before they arrived and the places the shooting was coming from were emptied of people just as they came into sight.
What was more unfortunate for the tanks was that one of the men they had come to kill, was himself a former tanker. As such he knew that once the men were inside the tank and 'buttoned up' their range of vision was reduced to what could be seen through the periscopes. It was a seventy per cent loss of their range of observation. He also knew the strengths and weaknesses of the vehicles. He quickly mixed gas and motor oil together and poured the mixture into a bottle. He put a rag in the mouth of it, soaked the rag with more of the mixture and lit it. He darted out of his hiding place when the tank was between him and the ground troops. Then threw it onto the tank right over the heat vents provided for the engine. The mixture burst into flame and rained down on the engine, stopping it instantly. It was now just a burning road block, and would not move again under it's own power. The crew inside knew that if things got hot enough they would either be
cooked, or possibly blown up if the shells for their main gun cooked off. The bailed out at once. Two of them made it to safety. The others were gunned down.
The battle lasted all through the night and into early the next morning. One more of the three tanks that came was also set alight. This time the ammunition did cook off and the metal beast came apart at the seams in a huge explosion. The Americans gave a good account of themselves, but it couldn't last. Without leadership and co-ordination in their attacks and counter attacks it was only a matter of time before the end came. During the night, more re-enforcements were brought in. They cordoned off the entire area and the slow bloody process of searching the area, house by house, was begun.
They were quite meticulous in their operation. House by house and even room by room the entire area was swept clean of any resistance. Without leadership and direction, each home was on it's own as far as defense went. Isolated and without anyone to call for help they were doomed. Any person found within six feet of a weapon was shot on the spot. It didn't matter who they were. Men, women, children and in one case an old man who had been confined to a wheelchair for the last several years, were all treated alike. Any woman who was not near a weapon and reasonably attractive was taken away for 'questioning' and very few of them were ever seen again. The men, children, older persons and the women rejected by the troops for whatever reason and all of those not involved with the fighting, were herded together in the street and marched away to the high school football stadium. There they were kept under constant guard until their fate could be decided.
A special 'educational' broadcast was made that evening. It showed a view from a helicopter of the area. At least fifteen homes had been burned to the ground, blown up by the tanks or by men with high explosives. The announcer was quite sorrowful to tell the peaceful citizens of the town that another eight peace keepers had lost their lives in this unwarranted fighting. He was almost as sorry to say the twenty or so 'misguided' Americans had been killed, but it couldn't be avoided, once they had started the battle against the unprepared and innocent peace keepers. However he was very happy to tell everyone that since the citizens that had been removed from the area, for their own safety, and had nothing to do with the combat, were being released to return to their homes as a sign of good faith that there was only a desire to help the unfortunate American people recover from their troubles. The report went on glorifying the efforts of the peace keeping forces and pleading for an end to the unwarranted resistance.
Marsha turned off the T.V. before the announcer could say any more. She turned to Glenn.
"I wonder how long they are going to keep up that nonsense."
"Remember what Hitler said? Tell a big lie, tell it often enough and sooner or later the people will believe it. I expect we are going to be hearing this kind of thing for a long time to come."
"Glenn, you and I both know we are going to end up trapped if we stay here. But for the life of me, I don't know what to do."
Since their daughters were now expected to help with defending the family, the parents decided to include the girls in their planning sessions. They felt the younger ones had a right to know what was going on, but the more serious matters they continued to keep to themselves. At this time one of them spoke up.
"We could go and live in the woods." Karen offered. "We've been camping before."
"Sweetie, you've gone to the church camp every summer for years, I'll admit that." Glenn said. "But that was in cabins with cots for sleeping, hot showers, and cooks to make your meals. The kind of camping we would have to do to stay away from these soldiers is something totally different. It means living in tents and sleeping on the ground. Hunting and fishing every day just to get enough to eat. Fighting with bugs ALL the time. We just aren't ready for that."
"That sounds like it would be kind of fun." Janie said.
"Janie, believe your father. It might be fun for a week end. But how would you like not to be able to have a bath when it gets too cold? You would have to build a fire, heat water and then wash yourself all over with a wash cloth. And you wouldn't have any privacy to do it. It would be done in camp where anyone could see you." Marsha told her.
"Ewww. That doesn't sound fun at all."
"It wouldn't be." Marsha turned to Glenn again. "Where do you think we could go?"
"It would have to be a small town, if we can get out of this one. One so small that they won't bother with it. But I don't know where that might be. And we still have to get out of here."
"Will it really be that hard?"
"Count on it. Nobody is allowed on the streets after dark. During the day you have to have a pass, which we can't get, and a very good reason for leaving town. We don't have one of those either. Even if we did, from what I've heard they don't allow families to all leave at the same time. About the only way we can get out of here is to sneak out. But I don't know how we can pull that off without taking too big of a risk with our lives."
"Then we are trapped."
"Not trapped. It's just that our departure has been delayed until The Lord sees fit to get us out of here. I'm trying to have the patience to wait on His timing. But one thing is for certain, we need to be ready to jump when the chance comes."
They all jumped when a loud knock came on the back door.
"I've got it." Marsha said. She stood, picked up her shotgun and headed for the door. Glenn heard her ask.
"Who is it?"
A voice answered, but he couldn't make out who it was or what they said. But it seemed urgent. He did hear the door open as Marsha said,
"Get in here."
Footsteps were coming towards him when Marsha called out.
"Glenn. It's Mike. He wants to talk to us alone."
He looked at his daughters. "You heard your mother girls. Would you mind leaving us alone for a while?"
"Sure Dad. Come on Janie. We'll find something to do in my room."
As the two of them left, Marsha and Mike came into the living room. Mike was a sight. His clothes were torn and dirty. His hair was dis-disheveled, and he clearly needed a bath.
"Mike, you look terrible. What happened to you?"
Instead of answering Mike had his own question. "Have the 'peeks' been here?"
"The P.K.s. You know the peace keepers."
"Oh. I never heard them called that. No. They haven't been here. Why should they come here?"
"Did you hear what happened last night?"
"We heard. It's been on the radio and a broadcast on the T.V. Even without them, it was kind of hard to miss. I bet they heard it in the next state. They said that eight more peace keepers were killed."
Mike gave a wry smile. "Eight! More like twenty eight or thirty. We really gave them something to think about last night." He swayed from exhaustion.
"Mike, why don't you sit down before you fall down?"
"Thanks. I'm kind of tired."
"I'll make some coffee." Marsha said and left for the kitchen without waiting for an answer.
"Mike, what's going on? They showed on the T.V. that they were turning loose anyone who wasn't fighting with them."
"Maybe some of them for show, but they were killing them last night. They killed my neighbor. He wasn't doing anything. He believed in live and let live. Then a tank blew up his house with him in it." He gave another smile. "But Joel made them pay for it. He came out of nowhere and hit them with a Molotov cocktail. You should have seen that thing burn."
"Mike. Why are you here?"
"I need a place to lay low for a while. No, I'm not asking you for a place to hide. I know you have a family to care for. Besides I have a place to go. But it's been a long night. I can't get to my hide out without getting some sleep. Can you put me up for a little while?"
"That depends. Were you followed?"
"No. I'm sure of that. I lost them hours ago. Otherwise I wouldn't have come here."
"Alright. You can sack out for awhile. But before you go, I think you should take a shower as well. You LOOK like you just got out of a fight. If you try walking down the street like that, they are going to pick you up in no time flat."
Mike looked down at himself. "Yeah, I guess you're right. It wouldn't hurt me any."
"Coffee's ready." Marsha announced as she came back into the room. "I hope you only take sugar. We don't have any cream."
"Actually, I take it black. Thank you very much." Mike accepted the cup and sipped it. "Oh, that's good. I needed it."
"Honey, Mike wants to take a nap before moving on. He's been up all night. Do you think we can do anything with his clothes to make him more presentable before he leaves?"
Marsha gave Mike the once over by eye before answering He was not only dirty, but the shirt and pants both were ripped or showed signs of having been too close to a fire..
"Yes. We can burn them. There's no way anyone could make them acceptable. But the two of you are close enough in size, I think he would fit into some of yours."
"Really, I don't want to put you out. Just letting me rest for a while is enough."
"Right. That way you can go to their detention camp freshly rested. Forget it Mike. Marsha is right, your clothes are a mess. We'll find something for you while you sleep. Now finish your coffee and we'll get you settled in for a couple of hours."
“I appreciate it. Thank you.”
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Glenn took Mike to Janie’s room, since the girls were amusing themselves in Karen’s. He apologized for the décor, but Mike was so tired he didn’t care. He collapsed on the bed and was soundly asleep almost before his head hit the pillow. Glenn noticed a pistol stuck in his waistband, at the small of his back. He gently removed it and checked the weapon. It was set on fire instead of safe, and the magazine had only three rounds left in it. Glenn could smell the scent of freshly burned gunpowder. Obviously Mike had been in the thick of everything the night before. Glenn placed the weapon on the night stand next to the bed and eased his way out of the room.
He stopped by Karen’s room and explained that their guest had to take a nap, and asked that the girls keep the noise down to allow it. They agreed, but Karen had to ask.
“Dad? Isn’t it a little strange that he is taking a nap here?”
“Normally it would be. But times aren’t normal. Mike’s house was damaged in all that fighting last night. He was up all night and needs to get some rest before he moves on to another place he says he has to stay.”
“Oh, that poor man. Losing your house like that must be terrible.”
“I’m sure it is. I want to thank you two for keeping it down for a while.”
Glenn left them and returned to the living room, where he found Marsha going through some of his clothes.
“Planning on getting rid of Mike as soon as he wakes up?”
“No. Not at all. But I was thinking about what he was wearing when he got here, and I thought that he needs something a little different when he does go. You know, something that isn’t the same, but he still doesn’t look out of place.”
“That’s a good idea. I’m sure it will help him get to where he’s going. One thing I should mention. He needs a shirt that is worn outside the pants, not inside.”
“The shirt tail will cover the pistol he’s carrying.”
“I see.” Marsha paused for a moment. “Glenn, talking about Mike’s leaving reminds me. We still need to get out of here before things get worse.”
“I know. Let’s see if we can come up with something.”
They spent the next two hours trying to figure out a way to get their family out of the danger zone. The conversation was interrupted only once, when Marsha took the clothing she had picked out into Janie’s room and left them on a chair next to the night stand. It didn’t take long for them to realize that leaving by any of the main roads leading out of town was out of the question. First of all, they would need a pass, signed by the local commander, to be allowed to leave. To get the pass they would need a very good reason, which they didn’t have. There was also the fact that to insure anyone leaving town returned, they had to leave the majority of their family behind. An entire family could leave only if two or more of its members had skills the government needed elsewhere. That simply wasn’t going to happen in their case.
The next option was trying to sneak past the guards at the check points. That was unwise to even try. Some people had tried and paid for it with their lives. That risk was unacceptable to them. The next thing that came to mind was trying to leave after dark and on foot. That seemed to be something they might actually be able to pull off. But even that had problems. First of all, if they were spotted by the guards or by one of the patrols that constantly roved around at random outside the city, they would never be able to outrun them. Then again, supposing they could slip by the guards and patrols, they had heard stories about modern day bandits roaming the countryside. Being discovered by them would be as bad as being caught by the guards. In either case, Glenn was sure to die and the women would be taken for purposes that they didn’t want to talk about. They were growing ever more frustrated and concerned when they heard a voice.
“If you guys want to leave town, maybe you should ask me.”
Mike! When did you get up? Are you feeling alright?” Glenn asked.
“A lot better than when I got here, that’s for sure. Thanks again. I needed the rest. I found these clothes on a chair. I hope they were for me.”
“Of course. I wouldn’t put Glenn’s clothes in Janie’s room.” Marsha told him. “I hope they fit.”
“They’re fine. Thank you. Now why would the two of you want to get out of town, besides the obvious reasons of course.”
Glenn looked into the palms of his hands and spoke softly. “You could say that I’m the one responsible for all this trouble.”
“Remember how all of this started? On the day they took over the park and started rounding up people, Karen and Janie were down there. They had to run for it. Janie made it back, but Karen didn’t. I had to look for her. I finally found her and we were on our way home when a guard stopped the car. He ordered her out and me to leave. I wasn’t going to just hand over my daughter to one of them. So I shot him.”
“YOU shot him?”
“Right in the face. We got out of there and I’ve been expecting them to come breaking through the door ever since.”
“I’ll be. I would never have thought you did that. But listen, Glenn. You aren’t responsible for what has happened. They are. You have a right to defend your family. If he didn’t try something you wouldn’t have shot him.”
"No need to thank me. It's true." Mike studied them for a minute, and then spoke again. "Glenn, just how far are you willing to go to get your family out of here?"
"As far as I have to go. Why?"
"There are ways out of town that you two haven't thought of. I know, I've been out of town a few times since it was locked down."
"You have? How did you do it?"
"There are ways. The easiest is also the most expensive. You bribe the guards. But I'm here to tell you they aren't cheap. And the more difficult things get, the more it costs.Do you have anything to give them? Gold? Jewels? Forget dollars. They won't accept them."
"No. Nothing like that. We were doing okay before everything, but we aren't not rich."
"Then we have to do it the hard way. But let's pray it's not too hard." Mike hesitated. "Glenn, I have to tell you. It is possible, and even likely that you WILL have to pull that trigger again. You should be ready for that."
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
See what I mean about being messed with? Not all of chapter eight got posted. Here's the rest.
Glenn looked at Mike. “If it comes to that, I will be. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to go looking for trouble.”
“I’m just letting you know now that it is possible. I’ll tell you the truth. I wouldn’t make this offer to just anyone. But we’ve known each other from church and elsewhere for some time now. I trust you. So I’m going to have to trust you not to let this information out. A lot of people want to get out of town, but I wouldn’t want all of them at our hideaway spot. Know what I mean?”
“Well, I can see your point. If someone is just going to sit around crying ‘woe is me’ and expect others to take care of them, that wouldn’t be good. You want people that will be able to carry their share of the load.”
“Then in that case yes and no. You don’t know what I mean. Glenn, the only people that are taken to our spot are Christians. I know you and your family are believers. That’s why I’ve made the offer. But if you weren’t, I wouldn’t have said a word about it.”
“I see. So everyone at this place is a Christian?”
“They are supposed to be, but I have to tell you I have my doubts about some of them. You and Marsha will have to make your own judgments on that score. I’m sure you will agree we are in the end times. We can’t afford to make mistakes. Those get you killed, or enslaved.”
“Mike. What happens if someone did make a mistake? I mean if you find out that someone at where ever you are isn’t a believer?” Marsha asked.
“It all depends. We do try to convert them. To show them that the only true safety is in Jesus Christ. But if they deny The Lord, and refuse to accept Him, well we have to solve the problem ourselves.”
“Meaning you kill them.”
“Marsha, you can’t knowingly let a spy learn all of your secrets and then wish him a pleasant trip home. He will report you, get a reward for doing it and maybe even lead the enemy right to your camp or whatever. It’s a matter of self defense.” He looked at Glenn again. “How about it, Glenn? Could you do that? Act preemptively against someone you know will betray you?”
Glenn thought about it.
“I don’t know.” He said. “I mean it’s one thing to act to keep your family safe, but to be an executioner? I don’t know if I could do it. Does that rule us out for inclusion into you place?”
“No. That’s the way most people feel when they get there. If you had jumped on the opportunity, THAT would have disqualified you. We need people who think things through. We don’t need a bunch of hot heads ready to shoot anything they see as a threat. But I want you to think about something while I’m gone. That guard you shot on the first night was a direct threat to your family, right?”
“So how is someone who will turn you in to the authorities any different? He’s still a threat to your family, he just didn’t pull a gun on you. He will let someone else do the dirty work. Like the drug trafficker who lets others sell his poison to your kids. He’s just as guilty as the dealer who sold it.”
“I’ll have to think about that one.”
“Fair enough. I have to get going. I’ll be back in two or three days. You guys need to be ready to travel by then. You’ll need good shoes or boots, a few pieces of clothing, not a lot, as much food as you can carry and any weapons and ammo that you have. Oh, and as many canteens of water that you can round up. This is subject to change, but right now I’m thinking of taking your car as far as we can, and then we walk. Understand?”
They both shook their heads.
“Alright. I’ll see you in a few days.”
With that, Mike left the house and started walking calmly down the street.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
It didn’t take long for Marsha and Glenn to take Mike’s words to heart. Within a half an hour they were going through the house looking for long unused back packs, canteens, Glenn’s belt knife and anything else they thought would be of use on a cross country trek. It had been a long time since they had used them. The last time either of them could remember was when the family had gone on a back packing vacation two years before. With the noise they were making Karen and Janie were made curious and they came out of Karen’s room to find out what was happening.
“Girls, we are going to be leaving town sometime in the next few days.” Glenn told them. “We don’t know exactly when, but we need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
“How can we get out of town?” Karen wanted to know. “They are guarding every road in or out.”
“We don’t know.” Marsha told her. “And it’s actually better that way. You can’t accidently tell anyone what you don’t know. Girls, we are going to have to travel light. You can’t pack everything you own into a suitcase and try to take it with you. I want you to each pick out two or three pairs of pants. No skirts or dresses. Also pick out four shirts and a jacket. And bring at least four pairs of socks and an extra pair of good walking shoes. Also don’t forget your underwear.”
“That’s ALL?” Janie couldn’t believe her ears.
“That’s it.” Glenn told them. “Besides, you are going to be carrying everything in a back pack. Trust me. After a few miles even that will seem like too much. Now where are your packs and canteens?”
“I keep mine in my closet.” Karen told him.
“Then go start packing. And don’t forget to fill your canteen. What about you Janie?”
“My pack is in the garage. I’m not sure where I left my canteen. Is this for real?”
“It’s very real.” Marsha assured her. “Get your pack and get started. Do you have any idea where your canteen is at?”
“I think I left it with my pack.”
“Then look for it while you are getting the pack.”
She turned to do as she was told.
“I guess we’d better get back to it. Glenn, why don’t you finish finding our packs and canteens. I’ll start trying to figure out what food to take, and how much.”
“You’ve got a deal. But pick out more food than you think we can carry.”
“Because, too much food is like too much water. Over time it is a self correcting problem.”
“I guess you’re right. I didn’t think about it that way.”
“Anyway, what we can’t carry we can leave behind, or maybe Mike can give us a hand.”
“Okay, I’ve got this. You find the packs.”
Because of Janie’s comment, Glenn remembered that he and Marsha had in fact left their packs on a shelf in the garage and he went to get them. When he arrived, he found his and Marsha’s packs on the floor and Janie was standing on a chair reaching into the back of the shelf.
“What’s going on?”
“Hi Daddy. I saw my pack behind yours and Mom’s, so I pulled them down for you.” She finally grabbed her pack and pulled it out. “I see your canteens and belts up here. Do you want me to get them?”
“As long as you’re up there you might as well. What about your canteen?”
“I don’t see it.”
“Alright. You take your pack and start putting clothes aside to put in it. I want to check what you are taking before you put them in the pack. I’ll see if I can find the canteen.”
“Okay.” After handing down the canteen belts, Janie threw the pack over her shoulder and left for her room.
Glenn climbed up on the chair and looking for the missing canteen in the back area of the shelf. He didn’t find it. After he climbed down from the chair he began an earnest search of the entire garage. He still wouldn’t find the missing canteen. Glenn knew that he could give Janie one of his canteens, since as a precaution he always carried two. But that would leave them short one canteen. While it wasn’t much, it could make the difference. After half an hour of searching every place he could think of, Glenn gave it up and went back into the house. He was resigned to doing without the extra canteen, and hoped it wouldn’t be needed.
Glenn put the canteen belts over one arm and carried the packs on his other shoulder as he made his way back inside. He stopped in the kitchen and looked at the food piled on the table. Marsha had taken him seriously. There was more food there than all four of them could carry, even if they didn’t have any clothes in their packs. Much of it was the long term storage food given them by Richard. He shook his head st it and decided that they would have to sort it out and trim the pile down later. He went to their bed room and found his with picking out the clothing they would be taking.
“We found the packs and our belts, but Janie couldn’t find hers. I guess we’ll have to find something she can use for a belt and she can carry one of mine.”
“She has hers. I found it in the hall closet when I went to get one of your jackets. Now, you tell me. Do you think I should take these boots, or the hiking shoes?”
“Wear the boots and pack the shoes. There’s no telling how far we’ll have to walk when we leave.”
“I already have another pair of shoes packed. Okay the boots it is.”
And so it went for the rest of the day and into the next. Glenn checked the clothes their daughters were planning on taking and found that they didn’t quite understand the situation. Karen had selected pants that were durable, but brightly colored. Janie had made a similar mistake. Her pants were the kind of color that would blend in with the out of doors, but the material was far to light and even delicate to withstand life in the wilds.
“Karen, if you expect to hide in the woods, those red pants are going to be a dead give away. Your clothes are going to have to match your surroundings. Janie, you got the colors right, but these pants are going to be ripped to shreds in no time.”
“We can get more if that happens. Besides, these pants are cooler than my jeans.”
“Get them where? There aren’t going to be any stores for you to shop at out there. What you take with you is what you are going to have. Whatever you take is going to have to last you a long time. And remember, those pants may be cooler, but when the weather gets cooler you are going to wish they were thicker.”
Glenn soon found he was spending more time trying to make sure everyone was doing what they needed to do, than getting himself ready. He left off his shepherding of the family and gave serious thought to what he was going to need. Packing the clothes was quickly finished and he turned his thoughts to other things. He didn’t want to leave any of the weapons or ammunition behind. But, at the same time he didn’t want to be seen walking down the road with three shotguns in plain view. The answer was to take them apart as Richard had done when he bought the first one and slide the pieces into the packs, distributing the weight as evenly as he could. Each person would have to carry as many of the shotgun shells as they could. So he divided them into four equal piles and threw away the boxes. The pistol ammunition he carried by himself, since he was the only one who would have a need for it. Then he tackled the problem of the food.
Marsha had done well by selecting mostly the long term storage food. Being dehydrated it took up less room and yet more food could be taken with them. But how to transport it? He solved the problem once he had figured out the it wasn’t entirely having too much food. A major part of the problem was the containers it was in. The cans made for easy storage. But each can had at least some space in it that was simply empty space. He decided to open the cans and pour the dried contents into plastic bags. The he squeezed as much air out of the bag as he could flattening them, marked on each one what was in it and sealed them tightly. He soon found he could get two or three of the bags in the same amount of space that one can would take up. That worked for a lot of the food, but he still had to transport them. Looking around, he found a large cloth bag with a draw sting closure. He found that the bag would hold quite a number of the new food containers. There was still a problem with the weight, but by rotating the bag among them it shouldn’t be too bad. He was surprised when Marsha showed up with a bottle of bourbon in her hand and slide it into his pack. Glenn and Marsha weren’t the drinking type, although they would from time to time have one.
“Why are you bringing that?”
“You never know. It just might come in useful. After a hard day protecting us at where ever we are going, you just might want one or two drinks.”
“Alright, but I think it’s too much weight for too little return.”
The work continued the rest of the day, and into the next. But eventually all four back packs were ready to go and an amazing amount of food was stuffed into two cloth bags with draw sting closures. The entire load was going to be quite heavy, but divided among four people it wouldn’t be too bad. And as Glenn had said, too much food and too much water were self correcting problems. Every meal and every sip of water would lighten the load. It was hoped that the load wouldn’t become too light, too soon. As promised, Mike showed up again in the afternoon of the second day. He looked much better than he had the last time they had seen him.
“Afternoon, Glenn. How soon can you guys be ready to move?”
“What time is it? We’re ready now.”
“That’s good. But we need to wait for it to get a little closer to dark.” Mike reached into a bag hanging from his shoulder and pulled out an old instant picture type camera. “You remember me asking if you had anything to trade so the guard might look the wrong way at the right time, don’t you?”
“Yes, but we still don’t have any gold, silver or jewels.”
“I know. But think about it. You know you’re going have to abandon your car, so why not use it for a trade to get you and yours out of here?”
“It never occurred to me. I guess you’re right. It’s pointless to just leave it sitting on the street for anyone who wants to just take it. Are you sure it will be accepted?”
Mike smiled. “You have to understand Glenn. These soldiers are poorly paid. To make up for it they are allowed to keep some of the loot the steal. To their officers that car is going to look like loot, not a bribe. It will get us through the lines. If the soldier can hold on to it or not, that isn’t our problem. That’s up to him. And this IS America. Once they are off duty these guys want to go out and see if this country is all they’ve heard it claimed to be. Having a car to get around it is a big help.”
“I really like that car, but if it will make the difference, then trade it.”
“Good. I’m going to take a couple of pictures, if you don’t mind.”
The time before they left seemed to fly by. Glenn had parked the car in the garage, for both privacy in what they were doing and to protect it. Now the car was loaded and everyone was in it as they backed out of the garage and headed down the street, shortly before curfew. They were soon a couple of miles away when Mike directed Glenn to pull over and stop the car. They all got out and as they went into a house at the edge of town, Glenn handed Mike the keys. Once inside the home Mike lead them to a room with a trap door in the floor. They entered it and found themselves in a well lighted tunnel leading away from the town.
“From here on out you guys stay quiet and follow my lead and we just might get though this night in one piece.”
They tunnel wasn’t very long, but it seemed to go on forever. They reached the far end and entered a small room. Mike warned them.
“I’m turning off the light so we don’t give away the exit to anyone that might be nearby. Remember, stay quiet. Hold hands so we don’t lose anyone”
The lights went out and a door opened. They all crept quietly out of the tunnel and found that they were in the woods just outside of town. It was getting dark and they had to depend on Mike knowing the way. As they continued through the forest they suddenly heard what they hoped they wouldn’t.
Mike whispered to them. “God is with us. I know this one.” Then he called softly into the night. “Hans my friend. It’s me.”
“Yes Hans. Where are you?”
A figure stepped out of the shadows, a rifle held at the ready but not pointed at them. “What are you doing here?”
“My friends and I wanted to take a little walk. Outside the town.”
“This is not allowed. You know this.”
“Hans, Things are not good in town. You know that. My friend here has two young daughters. He wants them to be safe, along with their mother. You can understand that, can’t you?”
“Ja. But you are not to be here. I must report this.”
“But you don’t have to report us.”
“Why would I not?”
“Because we can make it worth your trouble to be blind for a few minutes. Haven’t I always taken care of my good friend Hans?"
“How you do this?”
“A car. And it’s all yours if you just don’t see us.”
Mike held out the pictures he had taken. Hans took them and looked at the car. “Is same place?”
Mike held out the keys. “With over half a tank of gas. If you have vision trouble for the next few minutes.”
Hans looked at the pictures again and took the keys. “Eyes hurt for two minutes. Go.”
They were all on their way again as Hans thought about where he would go on his fist road trip.
Last edited by day late; 04-19-2012 at 10:17 AM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Once leaving Hans behind, the group made good time. Even in the dark they managed to travel almost ten miles going cross country and staying off the roads. There were a few mishaps along the way, and before the sun came up, Glenn and Marsha were mainly the ones who were carrying the bags of food. However, Mike did help out from time to time. Karen and Janie by that time were doing their best to simply stay on their feet and keep moving. And keeping on moving is something they had no choice about. When the girls complained that they were tired and wanted to rest, Mike would give them no more than five minutes and then have them on their way again. By daylight, all four of them had scratches and bruises from the night’s trek. They were all grateful when Mike called a halt, near a road and told them that they must now wait.
“Mike, why are we waiting here?” Glenn asked.
“We’re waiting for transportation. When you decided to go, I contacted someone outside the town. He should be here soon. Then we go to the place I was talking about.”
“You mean we get to ride some?” Janie asked tiredly.
Mike smiled at her. “You get to ride the rest of the way. But it won’t be the most comfortable ride you’ve ever had.”
“At this point, I don’t care. It will be good just to get off my feet for a while.” Karen told him. “Daddy, you were right. This pack weighs a ton.”
“I did warn you.” Glenn answered. “Mike, how long would you say we have?”
“I’d guess about half an hour. Why?”
“These ladies COULD use a break.” Glenn turned to his wife and daughters. “You heard the man. Why don’t you ladies strip off those packs and have a seat?”
“I’d love too.” Marsha said. She then set down the food bag she was carrying, pulled off her pack and sank to the ground. She was immediately followed by Karen and Janie. For his part, Glenn dropped the food bag he was holding on to and leaned against a tree.
“I didn’t know it was possible to make that kind of distance in pitch black darkness.”
Mike grinned at him. “Be happy I was taking it easy on you. Sometimes we have to make twice that far in half the time.”
“TWICE as far!” Glenn couldn’t believe his ears. “Who are we?”
“The people you are going to be staying with. Glenn, you said you would do whatever you had to do to protect your family. Now I’ve taken you at your word. So I might as well tell you straight out. In the future you will be called on to do all kinds of things. Don’t ask me what, it all depends on the situation. But for right now, it’s best if you don’t ask too many questions. Just go with it and trust me. After all, you guys ARE out of town and still both alive and free. Not everyone who has tried to get where you are standing can say that.”
“I suppose that’s true. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful, we all are, but tired as well. We’re not used to this kind of thing.”
“I’m sure. Just take it easy until your ride gets here.”
The family did just that. Marsha reached into her food back and pulled out some sandwiches made shortly before they left. They and some water is all that breakfast consisted of. Still, it was amazing just how good such a simple meal could taste when someone was as hungry as they were. The sandwiches quickly disappeared and they sat quietly waiting for the promised ride. It was forty five minutes later that Mike alerted them to an approaching truck. It was a large flat bed type of truck, with large amounts of produce piled on the back, stacked between side rails that were at least a foot tall.
“Your ride is here.”
“Are we supposed to hide in the vegetables?”
“Just wait for it. You are in for a surprise.”
The truck pulled over and stopped. A tough looking man stepped down from the cab. Clearly he was a man who had spent a great deal of time in the sun, and judging by the scars on his hands, he was a man accustomed to hard labor. He walked over to Mike and shook his hand.
“Brother Mike. I’m glad to see you are on time.”
“Well Brother Tim, we couldn’t have these folks just wandering around out here.”
“Tim this time, huh? Alright, I guess that will do.”
“How are we doing on space?”
“That depends on how many you have.”
“Four. We have two adults and two teenagers this time.”
“That’s going to make it a bit tight. Maybe the man should ride with me. I’m not expecting any more pickups today.”
“You’re the driver. Come on, I’ll introduce you.”
The men walked to where Glenn and his family were hiding in the bushes. Mike called them out and spoke to Glenn.
“This man is Brother Tim. That’s not his real name, but you don’t need to know what that is. He is the one who is going to take over from here. You need to do what he says, how he says and when he says it. We aren’t expecting trouble, but these days you can never tell. So just follow his lead and everything will be just fine.” He turned to Tim. “Let’s get them loaded up.”
“Right. You folks come with me.”
Tim went to the back of the truck, followed by everyone else. When they got there, Glenn didn’t see how they could hide in the back of the truck. It was packed full of all kinds of vegetables.
“Are we hiding inside that pile?” He asked.
“Nope, under it.”
“You mean we have to unload all of that and then bury ourselves.”
“No. We have special arrangements for you. Watch this.”
‘Tim’ reached out and grabbed a piece of wood on the back of the truck. It looked like all the rest of the wood on the bed of the truck, but it was different. He pulled outwards on it and it swung smoothly out on a hinge. There was a clicking sound and then it stopped. Next ‘Tim’ took hold of one of the upright pieces of wood and began to work it like a pump handle. Slowly the bed of the truck began to rise, revealing a hidden compartment under the food above. He continued to work the handle until the opening was about a foot high. He stopped and put his head inside the opening.
“Folks, I’m sorry, but you are going to have to share some space with a few more people like yourselves. You need to bunch up as tight as you can so we can get everyone in there.”
The noise of something moving could be heard from the narrow space. Something, or someone, was obviously moving around inside. ‘Tim’ turned to Marsha, Karen and Janie.
“Ladies, if you please. Take those packs off and squeeze inside here. It’s going to be tight, but there is enough room for all of you.”
“What about Daddy?” Karen asked.
“There isn’t enough room for all of you. He’s going to have to ride up front with me. I figure if we get stopped, I can claim that he’s a farm hand. I can’t do that with you. Even if I did, anyone at a road block might decide that he wanted you more than I did. And they have fully automatic guns. Please, climb inside.”
Marsha didn’t hesitate. She began to crawl though the opening, to make certain it would be safe for her daughters to follow. The space was indeed tight. There was barely enough room for her to get in. Once there, she found herself looking at a man and woman with two boys. She guessed that the young men were about the same ages as her daughters, and they all looked as concerned by the developments as she was. She murmured an ‘excuse me’ as she wiggled in as close as she could get, along with her pack, to leave as much room as possible for Karen and Janie. Soon the girls had also climbed in. The confines were quite close. ‘Tim’ spoke to them.
“Okay, I’m going to seal this up now. I know it’s tight, but it’s the best we can do. Try to get comfortable and don’t worry. It will take a while but we should be able to get you where you’re going without any trouble. Watch your heads and feet.”
He pulled his head out of the opening and began to close it. Once the hatch was all the way down, he pushed the piece of wood back into place and securely locked the hatch shut. He them looked at Glenn and said,
“Help me rearrange these vegetables. We don’t want someone noticing anything unusual about the way they are positioned.”
The two men arranged the vegetables so that there was no sign that the floor under them was hinged or had ever moved. They walked over to Mike.
“I’ll be back this way in a few days, if you need me.” ‘Tim’ told him. “Give me a shout if I’m needed sooner. You’re sure these four are alright?”
“Yeah, they are. They helped me out when it wasn’t safe to do so. Right after the most recent trouble.”
“Good enough for me. I’ll see you next time.” ‘Tim gave a wave of his hand and headed for the truck cab.
Glenn held out his hand. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“Then don’t try. Just make yourself useful when you get where you’re going. That’ll be thanks enough. God be with you.”
“And, with you.” Glenn and Mike shook hands and ‘Tim’ leaned out the window.
“We’ve got to get moving.” He said.
“I’ll be right there.” Glenn answered and went to the passenger’s side of the truck. He climbed in and before the door was closed, the truck was moving. Glenn started to try to strike up a casuel conversation with ‘Tim’ only to be cut short.
“Look, I’m sure you are an alright kind of guy. I don’t mean any disrespect, but the less I know about you the better. I have to travel this road all the time. If I get stopped and they start asking questions, well, I can’t tell what I don’t know. Understand me?”
“Sure. I get it. Thanks for the ride anyway.”
“No problem. If Mike says you’re okay, then I trust him. Now listen, there’s a chance we might get stopped along the way. If we do, you just play along with me. Chances are they will just be guards looking to pick up something for their own pockets, if you know what I mean. A truck loaded down like this one is easy pickings for them and they know it. Don’t resist them and don’t argue with them. They will just take some of the food and then let us go. But just in case, are you carrying?”
“A gun, of course. Do you have a way to defend yourself?”
“Oh. Yes, I do have one.”
“Well, keep it out of sight and let’s pray you don’t have to use it.”
“I’ll pray for that.”
“Good. Now, no offense but, keep quiet and let me drive.”
With that ‘Tim’ turned on a CB radio and started listening to any information it had to offer. Glenn knew that there were certain code words used by truckers. ‘Smokies’ were the highway patrol for example. However much of what he heard was meaningless to him. About the only slang term he heard that meant anything was when he heard on broadcast that spoke of a number of ‘peeks’ that were gathered on another road and stopping any and all traffic. The trip was well into it’s second hour before ‘Tim’ spoke.
“Looks like trouble ahead.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a road block. There seems to be only a couple of them. Keep that gun ready, but out of sight. I might be able to talk our way through it. If not, you may have to use that thing.”
Glenn swallowed hard and pulled the pistol out of the pack between his legs. He checked to make certain there was a round ready to fire and then stuck it in his belt and pulled his shirt tail out over it. When the truck slowed to a stop, ‘Tim’ leaned out the window with his best stupid friendly grin and spoke to one of the men.
“Afternoon, Sgt. What can I do for you?”
“What you have in truck?”
“Just what you see here. I got a load of produce to take to the loading station. It’s the latest from our county to support what you guys are doing to help us.”
“I see. You are telling me there is nothing hidden under the food? Like guns, maybe.”
“No, Herr Sgt. I don’t run guns. A fella could get hurt doing that. I got a family I want to get home and see. No, there are no guns on this truck.”
“We see about that. Get out and unload.”
“Unload? Herr Sgt. Do you know how far behind that is going to make me on this trip? Your officers wouldn’t like to be kept waiting.”
“I’m Sgt. Don’t care about officers. They get best of everything. Now get out and unload.”
“Herr Sgt. The officers don’t always get the best.” Glenn offered.
“What this man mean?”
‘Tim’ was startled by Glenn and had no idea of what he was talking about. “I guess he means that maybe your officers don’t get as good of things as they think. Isn’t that right?” He hoped Glenn would take the hint and keep quiet.
“That’s part of it. Herr Sgt. It’s a hot day isn’t it?”
“My friend and I think so too. And we need to get this produce out of the sun as soon as possible. Otherwise it might spoil. Now wouldn’t you and this other man like to relax a little? Maybe sit in the shade and just be yourselves? Maybe even have some of that best we were talking about?”
“What you mean?”
“I’m talking about this.” Glenn reached into the pack and pulled out the bottle of bourbon. “Kentucky bourbon. The best there is anywhere. It’s ten years old and it’s unopened. Do you think that maybe this would keep us on time for our delivery and you and your partner a little cooler in the shade? Or should I just give it to the officer at the unloading dock when we get there?”
The Sgt licked his lips. He’d heard about this stuff. It was supposed to be pretty good. And why should the officers get the best of everything? He walked over to Glenn’s door and reached up for the bottle. Glenn handed it to him and he checked the seal to ensure himself the bottle hadn’t been opened. Sometimes these Americans treated them like fools. An opened bottle could be nothing more than colored water. He verified the seal was intact, and spoke to ‘Tim’.
“Okay, you can go. Next time you come here, bring more of this. And we work deal.”
“I certainly will, Herr Sgt. Thank you.”
The truck pulled out and was soon well down the road.
“You know what you’ve done don’t you?” ‘Tim’ asked Glenn. “From now on I’m going to have to bribe them with booze. That’s what you’ve done.”
“Sorry, I thought it would help.”
“It did. But now I have to find a source for more liquor in the future. Well, we got though, that’s the important thing. Just don’t surprise me like that again, alright?”
“You’ve got it.”
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Once past the road block they continued to travel for another hour or so. Considering that they were trying to avoid being seen, Glenn wasn’t surprised when they turned off the main road on to a little used back road. What did surprise him was when they stopped in what looked like an abandoned ramshackle town in the middle of nowhere. The buildings were all in need of new paint and a few could have used some repairs, but all in all they seemed to be sturdy enough to be used for shelter, just long abandoned.
“We’re home.” ’Tim’ declared.
“Here? I thought we would be out in the woods somewhere.”
“That’s what everyone else thinks too. They have helicopters and trucks combing every piece of forest between here and the Mississippi. They have found a few camps. There’s always a fight when they do. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but people always die either way. So we hide our people here. Help me with the back, will you?”
Together they began to move some of the produce on the back of the truck and then ‘Tim’ opened the latch and raised the bed of the truck to allow the passengers out of their hiding place. Karen and Janie were the last ones in, so they were the first ones out. Both of them started to stretch their sore muscles as soon as they got out. Marsha was next, and told Glenn how she felt.
“I was beginning to think we would never get out of there. I am so sore from staying in the same position for so long.” She looked around and then back at Glenn. “Where are we?”
“ ’Tim’ says we are home.”
“This is home?”
“Yes it is, but don’t let the look of things fool you.” ‘Tim told her. “This used to be a nice little mining town. These buildings may be old, but they will stand up to winter’s cold and winds. And they aren’t too bad in the summer either.”
“I thought there were going to be other people here.” Glenn said.
“There are. But we’ve learned it isn’t wise to move around too much outside during daylight hours. You never know when a plane or helicopter might fly over. And vehicles have passed though from time to time. So we try to stay out of sight. That way they hopefully won’t know we are here.” He smiled. “We’re almost becoming vampires or something, only coming out at night. It’s just the opposite as it is in town.”
“So where is everyone? I don’t see anyone.” Karen asked.
“Trust me little lady. By now about half the people here already know what you look like. The rest will find out tonight or soon enough anyway.”
Unexpectedly a voice came from behind them.
“James! Good to see you. How much of this is for us and who do we have here?”
Glenn turned and saw a man in jeans and a red checked shirt, looking like he had just stepped out of a Hollywood movie about the old west. He seemed friendly enough, with a pleasant smile on his face. He also gave every indication that he was as tough and hard as his smile was friendly. But the pistol belted to his hip was unusual. Glenn turned back to the man who had brought them to this place.
“Yeah. That’s the real one. Now that you are here it doesn’t matter if you know it.”
“Why did it matter while we were traveling?”
“If something happened and we got separated and then you got caught, you couldn’t give them my real name. It was for my protection.” He turned back to the man on the porch. “Hi Axel. This time it’s all for you. I’ll pull around to the storage shed in a minute. These folks have been vouched for by Mike.” He waved his hand at Glenn and his family. “These others were vouched for by Ira. I trust both of those guys, so these people should be okay.”
“Well, knowing them and knowing you, that’s good enough for me.” He stepped off the porch and offered his hand. “As you folks heard, I’m Axel. I’m sort of the unofficial mayor around here. Welcome to ‘Hideaway’. That’s what we call it.”
“Good afternoon. I’m Glenn and this is my wife, Marsha and our daughters. This is Karen and this is Janie.”
“I’m pleased to meet you.”
The other family was Travis, his wife Rose and their sons Lee and Steven. James was about to pull the truck around to the storage shed, as he called it, when Glenn also climbed in the truck, after telling Marsha “I’ll be back in a few minutes. See what you can find out about housing.”
James looked at him questioningly.
“I promised Mike I’d try to be useful. Or do you insist on unloading all of this by yourself?”
James smiled at him. “Glad to have the help. And I’m glad to see that you believe in working your way, not just expecting someone else to do it for you.”
“You know what The Bible says;
2 Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
I’m kind of fond of eating. It makes the day a whole lot better when you have a full stomach.”
“Well you might end up with more than you asked for.”
“I’m not afraid of hard work.”
“That’s not what I meant. Wait until we get there.”
James pulled the truck down the road a short distance and around behind a barn like structure. When he got there, he tapped the horn twice, and the doors in front of him opened to allow the truck entry. Once he was inside, the doors were closed and lights came on. The two of them got out and James introduced the man who had opened the doors.
“Glenn, this is Bill. He kind of takes care of our storage area here.”
They shook hands and Glenn said,
“Pleasure to me you.”
“Same here.” Was the reply. “James! Did you get everything we asked for?”
“It’s all here. Let’s get the food unloaded first.”
The next little while was spent getting the produce off the truck and into storage bins. Glenn thought it was a lot for the few people he had seen and asked about it.
“There are more people around here than you have seen. Plus we here in Hideaway help some of the people who live around here, but not in town. In turn, they watch our backs and let us know if they see anything unusual.” James told him.
“And that has kept us out of hot water more than once.” Bill added. “Have we gotten to the important stuff yet?” He asked James who was standing on the truck handing food down to the other two..
“Just now. We had to bury it kind of deep, just in case. And yes, I got everything on the list. But don’t ask me how.”
“What is this stuff you’re talking about?” Glenn wanted to know.
“Do you remember me telling you that you might get more than you asked for? Well, buried under all this food are a bunch of medical supplies. I told that guard I wasn’t running guns. But I didn’t say anything about medicine, bandages and other such things. Here, take this but don’t drop it. There are a number of bottles in that box. We don’t need to break them.”
“I’ll be careful.”
Soon, like the food, the medical supplies were off loaded and stored away for future use. Glenn and Bill talked casually while they worked. Glenn learned that Bill and James weren’t kidding when they spoke about being on good terms with the local people had helped them out more than once. On two occasions someone had come into Hideaway just minutes before a peace keeper convoy passed though. Both times the people managed to clear the streets before they were seen, which was why it was decided to stay off the streets as much as possible. There was one other time when word came to them almost too late. Thinking quickly James picked up a rock and pulled out his pocket knife. He pounded the point of the blade into one of the rear tires and flattened it. Bill and others thought he had lost his mind. There was now no way he could get the truck out of sight or run for it. But he knew something they didn’t. When he had been picked to do the job of transporting things to the warehouses used by the peace keepers a special license plate had been put on the front of his truck, along with a sticker in his windshield. These identified him to the peace keepers as someone who worked for them. It didn’t give him a free pass though the road blocks, but they did tend to simply wave him through the road block.
In this case, one of the trucks in the convoy pulled over and an officer got out. James was already clearly working on getting his flattened tire changed, so there was no need for conversation. The officer called for some of the men on his truck to climb down and give James a hand in changing the tire. After all, he had a load of goods that certainly was wanted at the warehouse. Aiding with the delivery just might earn him a few points with his commanding officer. With the extra help the job was soon finished and all the men got back on the truck. It quickly pulled out and was hurrying on its way to catch up with the rest of the convoy.
One thing that Glenn noticed was that while Bill was happy they had avoided detection by the peace keepers so far, he seemed to believe it couldn’t go on much longer. And he was also not happy about always having to hide whenever a vehicle came into view. The lack of freedom and this life in and of its self was wearing on him and it was beginning to show. Once the job was done, James led Glenn back to where his family was waiting for him and they talked along the way.
“So, what is it with Bill? He seems to be kind of down on this whole thing.” Glenn asked.
“He lost his family. As a matter of fact, he lost everything. He had the big home, nice cars, he even had a couple of boats. But since the PK’s came, he doesn’t have any of that. They killed his family. They stole his property. About the only thing he had left was his life. He ran for it. He’s been here ever since.”
“But that doesn’t explain why he seems to be so down on just trying to stay alive.”
“You’re right. I think he just wants things to be like they were before all of this. He hasn’t accepted that things will never be the same ever again.”
“I guess we all want that.”
“True. But not everyone expects it to happen. Sometimes I worry about him.”
“I can see why. Do you worry about me?”
“I don’t know you well enough yet. But so far, I’d say no. You jump in and help even when you aren’t asked and you still have your family with you. You don’t have the reasons Bill does. But don’t worry. I’ll be keeping an eye open.”
When Glenn returned to his family he found that they had already been assigned to a place to live, by Axel. That pleased him, but what was less than desirable was the fact that they would be sharing some facilities, such as laundry and toilets, for awhile. At least until something more permanent could be worked out. As it turned out, Marsha quickly evaluated the situation and volunteered herself and their daughters to aid in kitchen duties. The girls protested that they knew little to nothing about cooking which Marsha answered in her usual, practical way.
“You have to learn some time, and this seems as good as any. Besides, even if you can’t cook I know you can wash dishes.”
Not surprisingly, Lee and Steven wanted to help out in the kitchen as well. But Travis put a sudden stop to that.
“You boys aren’t going to have time for that. I imagine that there are a number of better uses we can put your talents too. Gathering both wood for fires and food for people seems like a good place to start. Or am I wrong, Axel?”
“You are quite correct. So far we have over thirty people here and they go through a lot of both in a short time.”
“How can I help?” Glenn asked.
“What did you do before this?”
“I don’t know how much use it would be, but I worked for a freight hauling company. I was in charge of deciding who took what where and when.”
“Did you also decide how long those trips would take?”
“Because that could be useful to us. We need to figure out when these convoys are likely to come though. That way people can get outside and move around some. People are starting to feel a little closed in. You know. They are getting cabin fever. Knowing that they can get out every once in a while would do them good.”
Glenn immediately thought of Bill. “I’ll be happy to help any way I can.”
“Good man. Why don’t we see about getting you settled and then get things worked out?”
The two families ended up sharing a four bedroom home. Axel also asked for a list of what they had brought with them. Everything from food to medicine, before he left. Karen and Janie weren’t so sure that it was a good idea, but Glenn reminded them.
“Think about the early church. They had to do something similar.
Act.2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common.
If they did that, then what makes us think we are any better? It’s a new world and everything is changing. I’m sorry to say, not for the better.”
By the time Glenn met up with Axel again, he had a list of what food they had brought and a list of their weapons, along with the amounts of ammunition for each. Clothing, he figured, would not be something that would be shared. He was surprised when Axel came to him almost at once and asked for his help.
“Glenn, we have manifests from some of the convoys that haven’t made it to their destination. I was hoping they might help in determining how often the convoys would be coming through.”
“They might. The problem is that those things usually only refer to that particular convoy. The good news is that it will tell us how long the trip was supposed to take, and the route.”
“What if you had a lot of them?”
“It would help to establish a pattern, in more ways than one.”
“What do you mean?”
“People are creatures of habit. If they send out a convoy, say every Thursday at 12:00 and it is carrying wounded men to an evacuation point, then you don’t want to go after that one. But if the convoy at 1:00 is carrying food, weapons, or anything else you might need or want, then chances are they will continue to do that until they are convinced that you know their schedule. That’s when they will change it.”
Axel smiled at him. “I’m glad I found the right man for this job. We’ll give you everything we have and a list of what we want. Then you can tell us where and when to find it. Does that sound okay to you?”
“It sounds fine.”
Before the night was over, Glenn was neck deep in paperwork, and loving it. At one point Marsha came to him to interrupt and she insisted that he help in bringing food back to their new home, since what food they had brought was added to the pile used for the general good of all. Bill was in charge of handing out the parcels of food and seemed to be alright, But Glenn did notice that some things that were of higher quality seemed to always be spoken for, yet nobody came to claim them. It caused him to become as concerned as James.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
It didn’t take long for Marsha and her daughters to become quite at home working in the communal kitchen. The girls were at first relegated to washing dishes, but when it was discovered that they did indeed have at least some cooking skills, they were put to work preparing food. It turned out that the two of them loved the job. It was very satisfying to them to be able to turn raw ingredients into meals that were actually tasty. And they never suffered from a lack of compliments, especially from Lee and Steven. Marsha was happy to see them becoming actively involved in a positive way, but still kept her eye on what seemed to be young couples in the making.
Glenn set to work on the captured trucking manifests. While each one said nothing about other convoys, such as their departure time or destination. He was able to begin to work out a schedule of which convoys carried what, when they would leave and what route they would take to get to where they were going. That information was given to Axel who passed it on to others who would ambush certain convoys, while allowing others to pass without incident. By doing so the amount of supplies in the storage shed began to increase and everyone in Hideaway and the surrounding area benefited. That fact helped to convince some of the local people who had been sitting on the fence about the sudden and unexpected community of Christians that had sprung up, to decide that maybe these people weren’t as bad as the government was making them out to be.
Bill was both happy and upset at the same time. He was quite pleased at the increase in goods available for distribution. But it also reminded him of everything he had lost when the peace keepers had shown up. He became rather melancholy over the situation and found himself longing for all that he had once had. He remembered how when he was still in his home, he and his family had never lacked for anything. He had done very well in the stock market before it collapsed. Even after that he still had enough set aside to hold them through tight times. If everything had stayed normal, he could have gotten through the trouble quite well and been ready to start all over again when things got better. But many people weren’t as prepared as he had been and they began to riot. When that happened, coupled with the shortages caused by natural disasters and the ongoing war, the President had asked for the peace keepers to come in and that is when things went bad for him.
The first problem for him was when the banks closed. The announcement had said it was just a temporary measure to prevent a complete collapse of the financial system. It proved to be a very long temporary measure. He had trusted that even if the banks failed, his deposits would be paid back by the government. He had also thought it unwise to keep very much money at home. What if someone broke in and stole it? That was what the FDIC was all about, wasn’t it? It didn’t turn out that way. When the banks closed he had close to a million dollars securely deposited. When they did briefly reopen, the ‘new dollar’ or ‘Amero’ as it was called was worth less than ten cents on the old dollar. The media was very reassuring that the difference would be made up by lower prices on everything. It didn’t work out that way. Prices on everything went up, even after the adjusted values. Bill went from being fairly well off to someone who could just barely get by, at least for a while. But with the stock market no longer doing business and it was necessary for him to find a real forty hour a week job. But a job of any kind was in short supply. It made him angry, but it was worse for the people who had been depending on welfare and other government programs. They had been the ones who had started the rioting in the first place after their payments had been either cut or eliminated. Now they went on a total warpath. They honestly believed that the government owned them something simply because they had been born in America. Many of them had no real job skills, and therefore no chance at getting any of the few jobs that were available. Those went to people who could actually produce something instead of sitting back and getting something for nothing.
Bill’s situation was little better than those who had been on the dole. While trading in the market he had been seen as a productive member of society, with the market gone he found he had no skills as a salesman, laborer or any other trade that might be useful in such hard times. People he had considered friends before now, closed the door in his face. He had no real assets to be used to gain more wealth, and no skills to make that money. Maybe he used to throw nice parties, but those days were gone and everyone had to look out for themselves. He soon found out that he was alone in the world with no help and fewer prospects. That was when things got worse for him.
The peace keepers needed places to stay. He had assumed that they would be put up in local hotels and motels. Indeed, many of the common foot soldiers were, but their officers and their staffs needed nicer accommodations. The nicer areas in every city and town they occupied were considered to be just that. Bill came home one afternoon, after looking for some kind of job to find his wife and children sitting on the curb out in front of their home. When he learned that they had been evicted from a home that they owned outright, he became angry. Bill went storming towards the front door, with the intent of informing these people that they could not throw him out of his own home. He never made it to the door. The guards on the property clubbed him to the ground and into unconsciousness long before he reached it. When he woke up, he hurt all over and was a half a mile from his home, lying in a ditch. He struggled to his feet and started for his home. He wondered why his wife and children hadn’t done anything to help him as he made his way back there.
When he finally arrived, the guards were now at the edges of the property and would not allow him on to it. Wisely he didn’t try to force his way into his home, but he did demand to know what had happened to his family. He didn’t like what he learned.
“Those people? The woman is now working for us. Soldiers need comfort when far from home. The children are helping with the recovery. They now work for state. You move on, or you will work for state.”
Bill was furious over the implications. “You can’t do that. Where are they? I demand to know.”
“You demand nothing. We in control now. Go! If not, we find a way to make you go.”
That was the last time Bill saw his family. At first he wanted to kill every one of the peace keepers he could find. But he had no weapons and no training on how to accomplish his desires. He wandered for some time until he happened to run across a man he knew from church. He wasn’t really a believer, but the church was a good way to maintain social contacts and to get leads on information that could prove useful in playing the markets. The man brought him to Hideaway with the understanding that he would have to prove himself useful if he wanted to stay. He found that his organizational skills served him well and he was placed in charge of distributing the food and other goods as they came in. He soon found that besides being trusted by those he gave things to he could also keep some of the better items for himself. That presented another opportunity and an idea.
Everyone knew where the local road blocks were positioned. Bill knew that the guards at those road blocks could be bribed. They were also ready to make deals, as long as they got what they wanted out of it. They became even more so after their convoys were occasionally attacked. They knew that any information they could turn up about those responsible could lead to promotion and maybe even a choice of duty assignments. They soon got to know Bill. He always had something to trade, and usually he just wanted information about his family. They could easily lie about that and he would never know.
In his trusted position, Bill could be missing for hours, or even the occasional day at the time, and not be missed. People assumed that he was out obtaining more supplies. He always came back with more than he left with. It also allowed him to ask questions about his family. Finding them and rescuing them was foremost on his mind at all times. The trust people showed him was a weakness in the defense of Hideaway that he exploited. He did manage to convince himself that what he was doing didn’t harm anyone, and whatever it took, it brought him one step closer to finding the members of his family and getting them back. In his mind, he wasn’t hurting anyone. Not really. Everyone in Hideaway and the rest of the country for that matter were already on short rations. While the amount he used to trade for information and help in getting his family back might be a lot for one or two people, when it was spread out over the amount of needs of thirty plus people, it came to almost nothing. And he was in a position that made such shortages disappear.
That was where the problem of Glenn came in. He could tell not only when the convoys were coming through but also just how much they were carrying. That information made it harder to secure the supplies he needed to get the information he wanted. If Glenn said there were sixteen sides of frozen beef on a truck, they people expected to get their share of sixteen sides of beef. Not fourteen or fifteen. He knew he would have to get Glenn on his side. To make him understand that he wanted his wife and children back. But that would be difficult to do when Glenn still had his family with him. But Bill was nothing if not patient. He was willing to take the time if that was needed to get his family back. One day he pulled Glenn aside for a private word during the usual duties of the day.
“What do you need Bill?”
“I needed to talk with you about something. Specifically about our supplies.”
“What about them? I thought we were doing a lot better, now that we have an idea of when the convoys are coming through.”
“We are. And that’s great. But I wanted to talk to you about how much we are getting from the convoys we raid.”
“Well, I can’t decide how much they are going to send on any particular convoy, you know. I can only say how much is likely to be there.”
“And THAT’S what I wanted to talk to you about. Listen, Glenn. I haven’t spoken about it very much, but they have my family. I want to get them back. I’m sure you can understand that.”
“Yes. I know what you mean.”
“Well, you see, that’s my problem. If you tell everyone that there is so much of this or that in these convoys, then the people here at Hideaway expect that much to be divided between them. BUT, if you were to fudge the numbers by just a bit, then I would have something to use for trade. I trade stuff for information on my family. I mean really. If we get sixteen sides of beef, but you only report fifteen, then I can do a deal to try to get my family back. You do understand, don’t you? I mean you are a family man. What would you do to get your wife and daughters back?”
“Well, I’d do just about anything.”
“So would I. But I need something from you to help me. It isn’t much. I just want you to kind of fudge things a little. The extra things that you don’t report will help me get my family back. It’s not like we are going to be cheating people. But that extra will help me do what I have to do.”
“Bill. That would short everyone in Hideaway. How can I do that?”
“Glenn, how can you let my family suffer? Look I know it’s hard. But I’m asking you to please give me the means to get my family back. I already know where they took my wife, and I have a good idea where my kids are at. You can’t stop me from trying to save them.”
“Bill, have you talked with Axel about this? I’m sure he would be able to do something to help you.”
“Do what? Glenn, he is too religious. ‘Everything for the body of Christ’ is his motto. He isn’t worried about my problems. He doesn’t care about yours either. He just wants to sit there and lord it over everyone. If something is going to happen it is going to have to happen with people like us.”
Glenn’s mind was in a whirl. Most of what Bill was saying made sense, but it seemed totally wrong. Especially the part about Axel trying to control everyone. He didn’t want Bill or his family to suffer, but how could he favor Bill over the rest of the people in Hideaway? His very soul seemed to be torn. He prayed for guidance and waited for a moment before answering.
“Bill. I want to help you. I really do. I can’t imagine how you feel. But I can’t make everyone suffer for your benefit. It’s just too much to ask. Whatever deal you may have made or be thinking of making, you are going to have to find something else to trade for the information you need. I’m really sorry, but that is the way it has to be.”
“Trade something else? Like what? Those soldiers are on rations as short as ours. Food, booze and women are the only things they are willing to trade information for. Do you have any of those that you’re willing to let me trade?”
“No, I don’t have any of those to trade. We need the food, there is almost nothing in the way of liquor, and nobody is about to trade their women. None of the women want to be traded. And I wouldn’t trade in people no matter what. I’m sorry, but you have to find something else to trade.”
“Well, thanks for nothing, BROTHER.”
Bill turned and walked away from Glenn absolutely fuming. His mind was churning. Trade something else? What was there to trade? What could get him in good enough with the peace keepers that they would give him what he wanted? He went to his home and sat down with a bottle. The more drunk he became, the angrier he got. He started to think to himself about what had happened in Hideaway. What had these people ever done for him, except put him to work for THEIR benefit? Nothing! That was what. Now that he had finally asked for a favor, and the one that meant everything to him, this is how he was treated. Then it came to him. He DID have something to trade. The location of Hideaway. That should certainly be worth his wife and children. There were over thirty people here and his wife, children and he only came to five. It sounded like a good deal to him. These people had been raiding peace keeper convoys for weeks. The peace keepers were very interested in finding out who was doing it. Maybe even interested enough to give him want he wanted.
For his part, Glenn had always felt there was something not quite right with Bill. Maybe the loss of his family accounted for it. It certainly could, he knew. He could even see how Bill might go behind the backs of everyone in Hideaway to get them back. But there was no real proof of it. In the end he decided to talk with Axel.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Glenn could tell that Axel was concerned by the look on his face, once he had finished telling him what had happened.
“I always knew that Bill was a little unusual. I guessed having your family taken from you would do that. But I don’t like the idea that he lied to us about it.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Well, he never actually said his family was dead, but he led us all to believe that. Now, not only does he believe they are alive, but he is also trying to get them back. They might be alive, I don’t know. But he has been less than honest with us about it. We might have been able to help him.” Axel paused and thought about it. “That would explain why he has never wanted to go out on a raid with us. I mean if he were caught or killed, it could go very badly for them. The question is how far is he willing to go to get them back?”
“Do you think he would do something to the rest of us to get them?”
“I’m afraid I do. You know what is written in the scriptures.
Mar 13:12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against [their] parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
Mar 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
I’m concerned that is what is happening here. Bill will betray us for his own purposes. I’ve sometimes wondered if he could endure to the end. I’m afraid we are about to find out.”
“What do you plan on doing about it?”
Again Axel paused to think before speaking. “Glenn, I can’t tell you to do this, but I am going to ask you.”
“How long ago did you speak with Bill?”
“It was about half an hour ago.”
“Then I’d like you to wait for another hour or so and then go back to him and tell him you changed your mind. You are going to help him by doing what he wants you to do.”
“Why would you want that?”
“I hate to say it, but I’m going to give him enough rope to hang himself.”
Glenn thought of the implications of the statement.
“You would condemn him for trying to get his family back?”
“No. But I have to condemn him for betraying the people of Hideaway for his own purposes. If that is what he is doing. He could have come to me. We might have been able to find a way to accomplish what he wants. But he hasn’t trusted us to do that. In fact, he lied to us about it. He wants to do it on his own. And we don’t know what he might have planned to get what he wants. Which means, that he may be lying to us about other things. Look at what he has asked you to do. He wants to involve you in his deceptions. Look, if he is innocent, then all can be forgiven. We might even still be able to find a way to get his family back. But if he is going to do something that endangers all of us, then that can’t be allowed. Do you understand me?”
“I guess I do. You’re right. The good of us all comes before the good of any one of us.”
“That’s not quite true. The good of us all comes before the good of one of us, but the good of the one is always important. Sometimes it’s the most important. Jesus was only one, but He was THE most important. It all depends on the circumstance. Know what I mean?”
“I guess so. I’ll have to think about it.”
“Do that. When do you plan on talking to Bill again?
“I think about an hour or so, just like you said.”
“Alright. Let me know what happens.”
Glenn went home to spend some time with his family before he went to see Bill. What he didn’t know is that while he had been talking with Axel, Bill had been making his own plans. Even as Glenn and Axel were talking, Bill was working on a map of Hideaway. He tried to show the location of every home and every place that might be of interest to the peace keepers. His first attempt was less than satisfying and so he crumpled it up and threw it in the direction of the trash can. It bounced off the rim and rolled across the floor, un-noticed. He began again and ended with similar results. He wanted everything to be at least close to the right proportions on the map. He had to be certain that if the map was used by pilots, their targets would have to be clearly identified. His problem was that he wasn’t a very good artist and even he could see that his attempts were highly inaccurate. He wished there was an actual map of the area, but the town was so small it showed on existing maps a just a small black dot. With each failure he became more frustrated. That increased both his anger and his determination that this would help to get his family returned to him, if he could just get it right. The last thing he wanted was for any of these people to escape and track him down. If that happened it would put his family in even more danger than they were in now. He knew these people would pretend to be his friend and then stab him in the back at the first opportunity. He knew that, because that’s what he would do.
Glenn had told Marsha, privately, what Axel wanted him to do. At first she was concerned that it could lead to trouble.
“What trouble could there be, sweetheart? I’m going to tell him exactly what he wants to hear. If anything Bill is going to be grateful. There won’t be any problems.”
“I suppose so. I just think that if that man is dealing with the enemy, he can’t really be trusted.”
“Oh. You mean like James?”
The brought Marsha up short. There was no doubt that James dealt with the peace keepers all the time. He had to deal with them to drive his truck and deliver supplies.
“Well, that’s a little different. They need him to do a job. They don’t need Bill.”
“They didn’t need me when I made a trade to get us through the roadblock when we first came here.”
“But you were with James. That made the difference.”
Glenn thought about it. “You do have a point. If we had been on our own I don’t think they would have let us through, bribe or no bribe. But I’m sure everything will be fine. As I said, I’m giving him what he wants. He can’t get mad at me for that.”
“You just be careful, all the same.”
“I always am.” He glanced at his watch and said to her, “It’s been about an hour. I guess I’d better go. When do the girls get home?”
“They should be here any time. The kitchen closed a little while ago. All except the night crew.”
“I guess I’ll see them when I get back. I shouldn’t be long. I’ll see you.” He got up, kissed his wife and left the building. As he stepped out front he heard a chorus of,
He looked and found Karen and Janie making their way home.
“Where are you going?” Karen asked.
“I have to see a man about something. Why don’t you two go in and join your mother?”
“Daddy, could I walk with you for a minute?” Karen asked.
He smiled. “Let me see now. I get to be seen walking around with a beautiful young woman, sure, it will be good for my reputation.”
Karen smiled and walked up next to him.
“Tell your mother what’s going on. We’ll be back soon.”
“Okay Daddy.” Janie answered and went into the house.
Glenn and Karen began to walk towards the storage area where he expected to find Bill. They chit-chatted about nothing for a while, then Glenn asked his daughter about it.
“What’s on your mind, Karen?”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because you don’t usually want to take a walk with me unless there is something is bothering you. So what is it?”
Karen smiled shyly and answered. “Do you remember Lee?”
“Yes, I do. He was in the truck that brought us here.”
“What do you think about him?”
“I don’t really know him well enough to have an opinion. I’m guessing this is important to you, so what do you think about him?”
“I think he’s really nice. He’s always respectful to me and to his parents. I kind of like him.”
“And you want to know if I’m going to object if you two should start seeing each other, is that it?”
“Actually, I was more worried about Mom. If you say its okay, then she won’t object.”
Glenn was amazed at how younger people were such good judges of character. At least when it came to their parents. She was quite right. If he gave his approval, Marsha would trust his judgment and go along with it. If he didn’t, she wouldn’t either.
“Karen, I already told you that I don’t know him well enough to have an opinion about him of any kind. But I trust your good common sense.”
“So I can see him?” Her voice sounded hopeful.
“Slow down. I didn’t say that. But I’ll make you a deal. You bring him by for supper some time and let your mother and I get to know him a little better. After that, maybe, but maybe not. I won’t make any promises just yet. Does that sound fair to you?”
“I think you’re being stuffy about it. He’s really a nice guy.”
“Maybe so, but that’s part of a fathers job. Let your mother know when you want to bring him by. Then we’ll see about it.”
“Okay.” They walked in silence for a short way and then Karen spoke again. “Daddy, why are you carrying a gun?”
“It never hurts to be prepared.”
“Can I see it?”
“I thought you had a shotgun.”
“Yes Sir. But I’ve never had the chance to handle a pistol before.”
Glenn realized she was right, and decided that she knew enough and was mature enough, she could be trusted with the weapon. He pulled it from his belt and before giving it to her, he issued a warning.
“Be careful with this. It IS loaded. What do you want to know about it?”
“How does it work?”
“A lot like your shotgun. You aim it and squeeze the trigger. You don’t jerk it. That will cause you to miss any target more than a few feet away.” He twisted it gently as she held it. “This switch here is the safety. In this position it is safe. But if you move it to the other position, where you can see the red dot, then it is ready to fire. It is semi-automatic. Not like your shotgun. With the shotgun, every time you shoot you have to pump it to make it ready for the next shot. With this pistol, every time you pull the trigger it automatically reloads it’s self and is ready to fire again.”
“That seems like a good idea.”
“It is, under certain circumstances. But it is also a tremendous responsibility. Just like with your shotgun, once you pull the trigger the thing is done. There is no ‘I’m sorry’, there is no ‘I didn’t mean it’, there is no ‘it was a mistake’. Once it’s done it is done. You don’t get any ‘do-over’s’. What is done is done and then you have to live with it. That’s why you MUST make sure there is no other choice before you pull the trigger. Do you understand me?”
“Yes Sir. I think so.”
“Well, let’s hope you never have to find out.”
During their conversation the two of them had drawn close to the storage area. They entered together and Glenn began to call out for Bill. He received no answer and began to look around to find him. Karen separated from him and went to the other side of the room, also looking for Bill. Glenn came across several crumpled pieces of paper lying on the floor. He picked up one of them and opened it to look at it. The crude map he found and the markings on it shocked him. Clearly someone was mapping out Hideaway, and had made several attempts at doing so. But who, and why? Who seemed obvious. It had to be Bill. But why would he do this? He wondered about it as he continued to look for Bill. Glenn reached an open area near the far end of the building. He stepped out into it calling out as he did so.
“Bill! Where are you? It’s Glenn. We need to talk about some things.” There was a noise behind him and Glenn turned. Bill was standing there with a sawed off double barreled shotgun in his hand. It was obviously illegal before all weapons were outlawed.
“What do you have to say to me? I thought you already had your say.”
“I thought about things. I understand how you feel about your family. Maybe I was a little judgmental. Maybe I was a little harsh. I thought maybe I should help you.”
Bill pulled up the shotgun and leveled it, pointing in Glenn’s direction. “I think maybe you’re a little late. You said to find something else to trade. Well, I did.”
Glenn raised the crude map in his hand. “I guess that would explain this.”
Bill glanced at it. “I should be more careful. But you’re right. I’m trading all of you for my wife and kids, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Bill, think about what you’re doing. You don’t even know if they will keep their word.”
“You think I’m stupid? They get the map AFTER I get my family. We will all be together in a safe place far from here by the time they get here. But now, I have to make sure nothing happens to stop me. Say goodbye Glenn. You get to meet God now.”
As Bill raised the shotgun to fire it, Glenn saw the muzzle flash of his pistol a fraction of a second before he heard the shot. The bullet grazed Bill’s chest and slightly spun him around as the shotgun went off. The blast missed Glenn widely, and Bill recovered enough to turn towards the place the shot had come from. Again he started to bring up his weapon, and two more shots came in rapid succession. Both hit him in the center of the chest. Bill staggered back a couple of steps and then fell onto his back. Glenn rushed to him and stepped on Bills arm as he feebly tried to shoot one more time. He pulled the sawed off weapon from his hand and looked at Bill.
“Maybe you WERE a little stupid.”
Bill spit at Glenn, choked and breathed his last. Glenn heard footsteps behind him.
“Daddy? Is he…”
“Yes. He’s dead. Thank you. You just saved my life.”
“I didn’t want too. He didn’t give me a choice.”
Glenn took the pistol from Karen’s trembling hand. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Remember that.”
Before they got to the door of the storage building, James, Axel and several other men burst in. All of them were armed.
“It’s over. Bill is dead.” Glenn shouted at them.
“What happened, Glenn? I asked you to talk with him.”
“Take this.” Glenn said as he handed over the map. “Let’s sit down. This is going to take some explaining.”
Karen clung to her father as he told them about what had happened. To her credit she managed to keep from crying as Glenn told how she had saved him from certain death. Axel listened to every word. He looked at the map and knew the truth. Standing he gently placed his hand on Karen’s shoulder. He spoke softly.
“Thank you. You saved us all tonight.”
Last edited by day late; 05-14-2012 at 06:45 AM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
After the incident with Bill, a number of things happened. A complete check of all of his property was made. Besides the maps, other things were found. It was obvious that while he had been trying to gain information and the eventual release of his family, the ‘peeks’ had been pumping him for information as well. They had wanted any information that might give them an idea of where and when the next attack on a convoy would take place. Bill hadn’t been privy to information about when, but by simple logic he had been able to deduce where the attack would take place. He had learned enough to know what areas certain groups were operating in. Given the chance to pass that information along to the ‘peeks’ they would re-route the convoy. Papers that were found in Bill’s home indicated that the next attack wouldn’t be avoided. It would be met with overwhelming force. The next three attacks were immediately called off.
There was also a treasure trove of information for Glenn to go through. There were all kinds of schedules, manifests and other materials found. Glenn spent the next three days, almost without a break, pouring over them. He couldn’t believe what they seemed to say to him. In a way it was too good to be true. In another it portended evil tidings. He finally decided to take the matter to Axel.
“Axel, we need to talk about these convoys.”
“I thought we already did. We’ve called off a number of raids based on what you’ve told us. Are you going to say that you were wrong?”
“No, nothing like that. But I keep running into things that hint of a massive movement of the things they’ve looted from us.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m seeing references to so kind of transfer of everything they’ve taken to an embarkation point, in the near future.”
“Embarkation? What do you suppose they mean by that?”
“Honestly, it sounds to me like they are leaving for some reason. AND they want to take everything they can with them.”
“But why would they want to leave? They’ve got it pretty good here. There is no real armed resistance to them. They can do almost anything they want and get away with it. Why do they want to leave now?”
“I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that they are saying everything has to be ready to go within a week or so.”
“Glenn, excuse me. I need to talk with some people. But stay close. I may have some questions.”
“Go ahead, I’ll be here.”
Axel left the room to make a few calls, if you could call them that. In truth, the calls were ham radio messages to other resistance groups. The transmissions were always very short and always on different frequencies. Basically each one was the same message, requesting a meeting of representatives of all the groups. Every group agreed to send at least one person to the meeting. Axel soon returned to Glenn and spoke with him.
“Glenn, I wanted you to stay in case anyone had some questions. So far they don’t. But we will be having a meeting here in Hideaway in two days. I’d really like it if you could manage to be there.”
“Call me any time. I’ll be happy to do what I can.”
Glenn had cause to regret that statement two days later when the meeting was held. There were several representatives from different resistance groups from all over the state. They sat and talked about the information Glenn had provided, as well as things that certain members of the different groups had come up with on their own. Combining the information, it soon made a clear picture for all of them to see. The ‘peeks’ were getting ready to leave. And they were leaving in a hurry. Why they wanted to get out, no one could tell, but there was no doubt about the exodus.
“So what are we going to do about this?” Axel asked the group.
“Let them go. If that loot is the price to get them out of here, then I say let them have it and be gone.” One man answered him.
Another objected. “Wait a minute. You want them to take our food and whatever else they can lay hands on and just walk away? Forget that! That stuff belongs to US! No way, I’m going to turn a blind eye to them stealing all of that from us and getting away with it. I say take the stuff back, or burn it so that no one gets it.”
“ You don’t really believe we can get all of that back, do you? They have tanks, artillery and air support. We’ve got nothing to go up against that. Do you want to lose a lot of good people trying to regain STUFF? Let them have it and go away. We can always make more.”
“Right. We make more and then they come back and steal that as well? No way! I say teach them a lesson while we have the chance. Then they won’t come back.”
“But they are leaving! They won’t be back.”
“Why not? They got what they wanted the first time and without any kind of a real fight. There is nothing to stop them from doing it a second time, except us.”
“Oh, come on. They are leaving. They’ve gotten what they want. Why would they come back?”
“Folks!” Axel called out. “I think we have come to the main question. That question is why are they leaving, and what are we going to do? Are we going to allow them to steal whatever they want, leave here and get away with it? Do we just consider that as the price of getting rid of them? If we do, what is to stop them or someone else from doing the same thing again? If we do that, then we have to decide right now just how much can we afford to lose and how many times can we lose it. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I don’t like that idea at all. I say we take back what is ours, or at the very least we deny it to our enemy.”
The room broke out into increasing levels of argument, both pro and con about what should be done. In a couple of cases it looked to Glenn as if there would be a fist fight before it was over.
“Brother Axel, I’d like to have a word if I might.” An older gentleman said.
The room, which had started to get loud in argument, quieted as the old man spoke. Brother Henry, as he was known, was well respected by all. When he spoke, his words carried a great deal of weight.
“Please, Brother Henry, take all the time you need.” Axel told him.
“Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a serious matter. Both sides make good arguments for their position. But if my years have taught me anything, it is to always take the long view of things. That is what The Lord does. He lives forever, so naturally His view is different from ours. As it is written,
Isa 55:8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
So what does all of this mean? Frankly, I believe that if we stand aside and do nothing, then others will see us as unable or unwilling to defend ourselves. That by its self will invite something like this happening again, or worse. Some might say that the government wouldn’t allow it. After the rape of our land by these so called peace keepers they could never let such a thing happen again. I don’t believe that. The government invited these people here in the first place. Those people, both the peeks and the ones in the government who invited them here, have a total disregard for this nation and its people. I am convinced that certain members of our government, possibly most if not all of them, have received kick backs, bribes or whatever you want to call it, from the loot that has been stolen from us. We cannot look to them for help. We must depend on ourselves and the grace of Almighty God for help.
As to the matter of why they are leaving, I suspect that we will soon be attacked and invaded. I believe that, based on prophecy. Both Biblical prophecy and modern. These rats are trying to get while the getting is good and take everything they can with them. Brothers and Sisters, if I’m correct, we are going to need everything that these people want to steal from us and more besides. That being the case, can we afford to let them take it? I say we cannot. I say we must seek The Lord to be certain of what to do, but for myself, I’m certain what He would want us to do. Can I ask that we all knell before Him now and seek His direction?”
Everyone went to their knees in prayer about what to do. More than half of them were also trying to remember the last time Brother Henry had been wrong about anything. The prayer was short and followed by some time for silent individual prayer. Once it was over, they were all of one mind. It was decided that there was only one thing to do. The reclaiming their stolen property must be done.
What followed was a discussion of how to best accomplish what they now wanted. The choices came down to two. They could mount an assault on the buildings that held the stolen property, or they could go after the individual convoys as the traveled towards their respective embarkation points. The idea of hitting the main storage area had been considered in the past. Photographs of the area had been taken and studied. To no one’s surprise the well hardened site was simply too well guarded with tall fences and razor wire on top for any attack to be seriously considered. That left only the second option of going after convoys as they departed the storage facility. But that also presented problems. It was certain that each convoy would be as well guarded as the enemy could manage. That would mean a minimum of automatic weapons and explosives. And there was also the chance that the convoys would have the bonus of air cover.
It was decided that there was no way to mount an attack on all of the convoys. The probability was that three or four routes would be taken to transport the loot out. Once the first convoy on any route was attacked, they would doubtless radio for help, or a warning not to take the same route. The only chance would be to wait until each individual convoy was located in an area of the most vulnerability and try to take them out before they could radio back about the situation. Ideally all the attacks would take place at the same time, but there was no way that they could think of to accomplish that goal. Glenn was called upon to provide what he could to the discussion.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid that what I have to say isn’t going to help matters. From the information I have seen, there is only one embarkation point, but that is the extent of the good news. We know where they are going, but from my years in the trucking business I can assure you that even if they planned it that way, not all of the convoys will leave at the same time. There are always problems. Trucks break down or take longer than expected in fueling up for the trip. There might be problems during the loading of the trucks. The best expectation I can give you is that the exiting convoys will be staggered. This gives them two advantages. First not everything is placed at risk at the same time. Secondly, as you have already discussed, if one convoy gets hit, then they will probably have the chance to warn following convoys of the danger. And that’s even if they are wiped out.”
“Brother Glenn.” Brother Henry spoke up. “Is there any way we can know which truck or trucks will be in radio contact with their base?”
“It would most likely be the one, or ones, with the most antennas. But with cell phones and other types of communication devices these days, I can’t guarantee that.”
“But you say it is most likely that truck or trucks, in some cases.”
“Yes, Brother Henry. I do. Back when I was both young and dumb, I realized that any car with more than one antenna could be an unmarked police car. That was one way I managed to avoid getting into trouble.”
“And WHAT were you doing back then?” A voice called from the back of the room.
Glenn smiled. “I was doing like all young men do. Getting into things I shouldn’t have.”
A knowing chuckle ran through the room. The voice answered him.
“I just wanted to know if you would be honest about it.”
“Brothers and sisters, I believe that Brother Glenn here has given us our best chance of pulling this off.” Brother Henry said. “When we hit these convoys there must be three targets that are the first ones taken out. The lead vehicle must be stopped to prevent them from moving ahead. The last vehicle must likewise be destroyed to prevent them from escaping back the way they came. Their communications vehicle is also a priority target to stop them from calling for help. I can’t tell you how to do that in each of your areas. I don’t know the lay of the land. I would suggest that the first convoy through be allowed to get a long way from help before any attack is made. If you are successful in stopping them from radioing for help, the next convoy will roll blindly into the trap. If you are not, then they are just that much further from getting any help. That gives every one of our people a better chance at doing what we have to do. Are we agreed on that?”
The assent of all present made it clear that everyone understood what was being suggested.
“Very well, in that case, according to what Brother Glenn has told us, we have two days to make everything ready. Remember, we are talking about multiple traps laid out over a large area, with the last one sprung first. Returning to your areas tonight and getting started would be a good idea, I think. And may God go with you all.”
The meeting broke up after that. Axel singled out Glenn and walked beside him as they made their way home.
“Glenn, I hope we can count on you to be there when this thing happens.”
“ME! Axel, I’m not trained for this kind of thing.”
“Very few of us are. Only about ten percent of the general population are veterans. And out of that number less than ten percent are trained and experienced in using weapons in combat. I’m not trained either. So can we count on you? I have heard that you have pulled a trigger before.”
“I didn’t have a choice then.”
“We don’t have one now, either. And to do this we are going to need everyone we can get, trained or not.”
Glenn thought about it. “Just make me a promise.”
“If I can. What is it?”
“Karen has also pulled the trigger, but she is still having nightmares over it. I don’t want any of my girls involved. That includes Marsha.”
Axel smiled. “I don’t believe that a woman’s place is on the front line. She should be able to defend herself or her family if she has too, but it is the man’s job to fight the wars. Sexist, I know, but that’s the way I was raised.”
“So that’s a promise?”
“In that case count me in. I don’t know how well I’ll do, but I’ll give it my best.”
“Good man. Now if you’ll pardon me there are a few others I need to talk to tonight.”
Glenn went into his home, wondering how Marsha and the girls would take this news.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Glenn sat on the slope of the hill, holding his rifle with sweaty hands and wondering if he had made the worst mistake of his life. He was no soldier. What in heaven’s name was he doing here. Sure, Axel had given him an easy job. All he had to do was protect Hicks, the man who was charged with setting off the explosives which would blow up the lead vehicle in the convoy. What could be safer? They wouldn’t be shooting at them. The enemy wouldn’t even know they were there until after the explosives had gone off. After that all they had to do was wait for the shooting to stop. So why was he so scared? Barry, the man at the switch looked at him.
“What’s the matter? You scared?”
“Yes. And I don’t mind admitting it.”
“Good. At least you’re honest about it.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’d rather have a man tell me the truth about being scared than have someone lie to me about how brave he is.”
“Well, then you should be happy with me. Because, I’m scared spit less.”
“Don’t worry. We’re okay.”
“I hope so.”
Glenn’s mind went back to the time he had to explain things to his family. The speculations of Brother Henry seemed to have the most effect on them all. He was amazed at how Marsha took the news. Since this whole thing had started it was as if he was married to an entirely different woman.
“Glenn, you be careful out there.”
“You’re not going to object?”
“Honey, do we really have any other choice? If Henry is right about an attack and an invasion, then he is right about needing those supplies. If he is wrong about it, we still need those supplies. Winter is coming and we won’t be able to start a garden or anything like that. It’s already too late in the year for that anyway.”
“You’re right. I’m just surprised that you are taking it so well.”
Marsha smiled and embraced him. “That’s just bravado. I’m more frightened for you than I can say. But that doesn’t change things. We have to have the supplies and there is only one way to get them. So you be careful out there. I don’t want to have to break in a new husband.”
He hugged her a little tighter. “It’s nice to know my value.”
“You know better than that.”
“I do. Make sure Karen and Janie stay close. I hope everything goes well, but you never know. If the peeks figure out what’s going on and if Bill got our location to them, they may decide to hit this place. In that case, you’ll probably have to move fast.”
“I’ll keep them from wandering off. I’ll even sit on them if I have too.”
“That’s my girl.”
Glenn’s musings ended as he heard vehicles approaching.
“Here they come.” Hicks told him. “I hope you’re right about the communications truck.”
“I do too.”
Glenn looked at the road below them. He prayed that the driver of the lead truck didn’t notice their marker on the side of the road. True it was only a log, chosen because it would look like something that would be there naturally, but it was something new to that section of road. If the driver traveled this road very often, he might notice it. If he didn’t, once the truck reached that point, Hicks would set off the explosives buried under the road by tunneling in from the side. Once they were detonated, the last vehicle in the convoy would also be blown up. Then men on each side of the road, firing down the slope would rake the communications truck. Hopefully, before they could send out a signal. The truck rolled forward without slowing down.
“Here we go.” Hicks said and pushed the button the set off the bomb.
The lead truck was blown into the air and in half at the same time. The front section tumbled down the road several yards before coming to a stop right in the middle of it. The back half flipped over in the air four times before slamming into the truck behind it. The driver and the man next to him were killed before they even knew what was happening. In less than a second, the last truck was also blown to bits. With no way ahead or back, the convoy was trapped. Gunfire erupted as planned from the slopes on each side of the road. The truck carrying the radios was riddled with holes in moments and burst into flames. Soldiers poured out of the trucks and sought whatever cover they could find. Unlike their attackers, these men were professionals. In moments they established impromptu strong points and were effectively returning the fire coming at them. It seemed to Glenn that there was no way to break their hold on the convoy and its contents.
“We’ve got to do something.” Hicks said.
“I’m open to ideas.”
“Cover me. I’m going down there.”
“We are supposed to stay here.”
“I’m the one with the explosives. We have to get close enough to use them. Let’s go and stay low.”
Without waiting for an answer, Hicks picked up a bag containing several homemade bombs and began to work his way closer to the enemy. Glenn gripped his rifle tighter and followed him. They managed to avoid detection as they got closer to the first strong point. They stopped in a low spot behind some short brush and Hicks pulled out one of the explosives from his bag.
“In case something happens, you’ll have to take over. Pay attention.” He had pulled a can from the bag. I had what looked like a shortened sparkler sticking out of it. He then took out a lighter. “Light this and wait for it to burn down a little. Don’t wait too long. Then throw it. The sparkler will set off a black powder charge inside. That sends out a bunch of ball bearings mixed in with the powder. Watch carefully.”
Hicks lighted the sparkler and when it had burned a short way, he stood and threw it at the group of soldiers. It landed amongst them and to his credit one man bent down to grab it and get rid of it. It exploded as his hand closed around it. The strong point was eliminated. The two of them moved towards the next group of soldiers through the hail of gunfire. They once again ducked into a piece of cover and Hicks pulled out another can. He lighted it and prepared to throw. As he stood, a bullet hit him in the hip and he fell, dropping the can. It bounced and rolled to Glenn’s feet. He scooped it up and threw it for all he was worth. In the back of his mind, he was amazed and how quickly he could move. He dropped to his knees to check on Hicks.
“Take over.” Hick said to him, handing him the bag and lighter. “I’ll be fine. GO!”
Taking the things from Hicks, Glenn took a quick look over the rise in the ground they were behind. He was surprised to find the strong point had been taken out. He had been in such a hurry to get rid of the bomb, he had paid no attention which way he had thrown it.
“Stay down. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” He told Hicks.
Hicks nodded and said nothing as he held onto his body to try to stop the bleeding. Glenn moved to the next group of enemy. Oddly enough one of the soldiers in this group almost did his job for him. The soldier was obviously aware of the loss of the other two groups of his comrades. Keeping a special eye out he spotted Glenn as he once again dove into cover preparing to use his next bomb. The soldier pulled out a hand grenade and pulled the pin. Assuring himself of Glenn’s location, he threw it. Unfortunately for him, the grenade fell short and began to roll back down the slope towards him. It exploded about halfway down. Shrapnel from it injured some of the men around him but left him untouched. He bent over to try to help the man closest to him. He was putting pressure on the man’s wounds when he felt something bump into his foot. He barely had time to see the can before it exploded.
There was only one group left to deal with. Knowing they were now not only outnumbered but even with the semiautomatic weapons being used against them they were out gunned. But they were professionals. Instead of surrendering, the tried to fight their way out of the trap. They used the abandoned trucks for cover as they made their way to the closest section of woods to them. Glenn figured out what they were doing and moved to intercept them. He also did his best to stay out of sight by using the trucks as cover. He looked around the front end of one of them and saw the enemy starting to make a break for the woods. If they made it, the fight would be far from finished. He stepped back behind the truck and pulled out one of his last two cans. He ignited it and waited for the fuse to burn a short distance. He stepped out to throw it and one of the soldiers saw him. The man fired his rifle from the hip as Glenn threw the can. The bullet hit him in the left shoulder as he threw the can with his right arm and he fell back behind the truck. As he hit the ground, he heard the explosive go off. Suddenly everything got quiet.
Glenn lay on the ground and held his shoulder. He felt the blood seeping between his fingers and wondered how bad it was. Then he wondered how he was going to explain this to Marsha. That was the last thing he remembered before he passed out. The next thing he knew, he was in a bed and Axel was standing over him. Axel had his head bandaged.
“I thought I told you to stay with Hicks.”
“I did. He couldn’t stay out of it. How’d we do?”
“After you started your one man war, the other convoys we ran into were no challenge at all. It seems they wanted the first one to be the strongest to eliminate any resistance.”
“The other convoys? How long have I been out?”
“About twenty four hours.”
“Was I hit that bad?”
“No. But the doctor thought it best to let you rest for awhile. Would you like to see your family?”
“That would be good. But I was wondering about something. If you don’t mind me asking, what did you do before all of this?”
Axel grinned at him. “Me? I was a janitor. I told you not everyone was trained for this. We’re all just doing the best that we can. I’ll send them in.”
Axel left him and Glenn slowly sat up to try to find a more comfortable position. His shoulder hurt, but the pain was manageable. He considered getting out of bed and into a chair, but before he could Marsha, Karen and Janie walked in.
“You better stay in bed, Mr. Hero.” Marsha told him.
“Don’t move, Daddy. If you want something we’ll get it.” Karen said.
“Yeah, we’ll take care of everything.” Janie offered.
“I’m sure that doesn’t include going to the bath room. Thanks girls, but it’s not that bad.” He smiled at them. He then spoke to Marsha. “What’s this ‘Mr. Hero’ nonsense?”
“That’s what they are saying. You were a virtual one man army. You attacked several places where they were holding out all by yourself. They say you saved quite a few of the men on our side by doing that.”
“I was doing what Hicks told me to do, after he got hit. Have you seen him by the way? How is he?”
“He wasn’t hurt that bad. The bullet glanced off his hip bone and came out. He was walking around before they brought you back. More of a flesh wound than anything else.”
“Good. I’m glad it wasn’t serious. Do you know how badly we got hurt?”
“I’m told we lost a couple of men, but mostly it was a matter of them being wounded.”
“That’s good I guess. I mean not losing too many. Losing none would have been better.” Glenn then thought of something. “How do you know so much about what happened?”
“Axel told me. He figured you’d have questions about it. Do you have any more?”
“Just one. Can I get something to eat? I’m starving.”
Both girls answered at the same time. “I’ll get it.” Together they ran from the room.
Marsha moved to Glenn’s good side and sat on the bed next to him.
“So what happened to being careful out there? You weren’t supposed to be a hero.”
“I didn’t intend to be one. But when everything started, Hicks went charging down that hill and I was the one who was supposed to look after him. I had no choice but to follow. Then things just went a little crazy. I’m sorry, Honey. I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
“It sounds to me as if you went a little crazy.” She reached for him and cuddled his head in her arms. He liked the feeling. “Just try not to do anything like this again. I told you I’m not ready to break in a new husband.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m not going to be doing a lot for a while, and you are stuck with me for life.”
“Good. Now do you want to rest some more?”
“I think I’ve done enough resting for now. What I’d really like is to get out of this bed and into that chair. I’m getting stiff just laying here.”
“Let me help you.”
But the time Karen and Janie returned, Glenn was in the chair with Marsha at his side and they were talking about what to do next with their lives. Should they remain in Hideaway or go somewhere else? Perhaps they could even go back home now that the peeks were leaving and there was little to worry about now. Karen gave her father a sandwich, neatly cut in two. Janie handed him something of a surprise in the form of a glass of iced tea, one of his favorite drinks.
“I cut the sandwich in two so you can us only one hand.” Karen told him.
“And I brought you this to wash it down with. Do you want a straw to drink it so you don’t have to pick it up?”
“A man could get used to this kind of treatment. Relax girls. I’m not an invalid. I just have a hole in my shoulder. And it’s not even the right on. I’ll be fine.”
“We don’t want you to overdo it too soon.”
“Girls, your father is right. We don’t need to baby him.”
“But he deserves it.” Karen protested.
“Yeah he’s a hero.” Janie added.
“I’m no hero girls. I’m just a man who did what he had to do.”
“That’s not what everyone else says.” Karen said. “They say you were great.”
“Yeah. They say you were really brave.” Janie said.
“Scared to death is what I was. I could have gotten myself killed. Thank The Lord that you still have a father.”
They looked slightly disappointed at his words but said nothing. They didn’t want to believe he could be scared of anything. Seeing their expressions Marsha spoke up.
“I’ll tell you what, girls. He can always be your hero, even if he doesn’t believe. Now, why don’t you give us some alone time?”
They smiled at Marsha and left them alone.
“I hope I never disappoint them after this. It might scar them for life.”
“You won’t, I’m sure. You haven’t disappointed me.”
“That’s good to hear.”
They continued to talk while Glenn ate his sandwich. He had just finished eating when Karen re-entered the room. Her face was very serious.
“Mom, Dad. You have company.”
She stood aside and Axel walked in. He too was quite somber.
“I’m sorry to bother you this late, But You need to know.”
“We’ve been nuked. And the first reports say we are being invaded from the east and west. Looks like Henry was right.”
Last edited by day late; 05-21-2012 at 07:42 AM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
“I’m afraid so. We’ve lost New York, what was left of L.A. and a few other cities. That includes Washington D.C.”
“What about the invasion?”
“With all of the disturbance in the atmosphere the radio reception is spotty at best. But it seems that the Chinese are coming ashore on the west coast and the Russians on the east. We can’t be sure, but it sounded like someone is storming the beaches in the southeast, around the Gulf of Mexico and coming up through Texas. There also seems to be some trouble in North Dakota.”
“Lord help us if you’re right. We’re surrounded.”
“Maybe so, but we aren’t defeated. I’m hoping that by tomorrow the static in the radio will clear up and we can get a better idea of where we stand. I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you all of this. And after what you have already done, I sure hate to ask this. But once you heal up some, can we count on you again?”
Glenn felt like he had been hit with a hammer. This was unbelievable. No sooner was one enemy gone than more of them showed up. And these ones were obviously intent on taking over the country without the pretense of trying to help.
“Sorry Axel. I was thinking.” He looked at Marsha. “I don’t see where we have any choice.”
“I don’t either.” She sighed. “I guess the old saying is true. We can’t go home again.”
“Alright, Axel. As soon as I can move around without this thing bleeding, I’ll be back on duty.”
“Thank you. I’m sure it will be to both of our benefit. Excuse me, but I will leave you all alone, and take care of some business.”
When they were alone as a family again Karen let her feeling be known.
“I don’t think this is fair, Daddy. You just got hurt and now they want you to go out and fight again? It’s not right.”
“Karen, they aren’t expecting me to do anything right now. Yoou heard Axel. They understand I need to heal.”
“But Daddy, haven’t you already done enough?” Janie asked.
“Girls listen to me. How can I expect other people to do what is my responsibility? Namely, looking out for you three. Not only would that be selfish but it would go against what God said in The Bible.
1Ti 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Is that how you want God to see me?”
“No Daddy. But it still doesn’t sound fair to me.”
He smiled at them. “Girls, whoever told you that life is fair was a liar. Besides, we are Christians. That automatically means that Satan is going to cause us trouble. That’s not fair either. But that’s the way it is. Remember what else is written.
Jhn 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
So we have to expect some unfairness in our lives. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Both girls said they did and left the room to talk things over between themselves.
One of the good things about the peeks being gone was that the people of Hideaway no longer had to restrict their outside movements to the hours of darkness. They could also take the heavy coverings off of their windows and get a little light into their homes. Glenn took it easy for the next few days, but did go out to enjoy the sunshine a couple of times a day. He was astonished by the way the people there treated him. It seemed everyone there wanted to shake his hand and thank him for what he had done. Marsha was also surprised by the number of gifts that were delivered to their home. For two days running, she didn’t have to cook at all because of the amount of food they were given. Often the comments were rather short and to the point.
“Marsha, my husband, John, said that your husband saved his life by what he did. Now I know you must have your hands full taking care of him and your lovely daughters so take this and don’t complain. It’s the least we can do.”
Glenn was also amazed at what was brought to them. He spoke with Marsha about it one evening at supper.
“Sweetheart, I don’t remember you ever making lasagna that tasted this good before.”
“I hate to admit it but it isn’t mine. This came from Mrs. Rollins and her husband.”
“Really? Well I have to thank her next time I see her. This is really good.”
“Do me a favor when you do. Get the recipe from her.”
In the weeks that followed, with no more need for Glenn to puzzle over the trucking manifests, he found himself at loose ends and ended up spending a lot of time in what was called the radio room. Someone had brought in a ham radio set up and some others handed over short wave receivers for the general good of the town. Several people, both men and women, sat and listened to them for hours each day. One of the things that helped out was quite a few of them managed to pull out and dust off their old high school Spanish and were able to understand many of the transmissions coming from the southeastern part of the country. Unfortunately, while they knew what was being said, the military code terms being used were a complete mystery to them. Axel sought out Glenn and spoke with him about it.
“So that’s the problem, Glenn. Do you think if we give you English translations you’ll be able to figure out what they are talking about?”
“I doubt it. This is completely out of my line. Sure some things might come through for me. For example if they are talking about a need for some kind of liquid, then might be talking about gas, or they could be talking about water. My guess would be it depends on where the calls are coming from and how much they need. If it’s really large amounts, then they are most likely talking about fuel. I mean it seems to me that things like tanks probably measure their fuel consumption in gallons per mile. But that would only be a guess.”
Axel scowled. “I was hoping for better news than that. Do you have ANY ideas on how we can figure this out?”
“Do we have any veterans around here? It seems to me that they would be your best bet. They may not use the same code words, but they are familiar with the concept.”
“Yes we do. I don’t know if any of them have experience with this sort of thing. I’ll check into it. Thanks for the idea, Glenn.”
As it turned out three men were found who had an understanding of the strange world of talking in code. Two of them were former Army infantrymen and the third was a retired Marine gunnery sergeant. The gunnery sergeant made things a little clearer for Axel.
“Well Sir. That man you said you talked to, Glenn wasn’t it? Right, well Glenn is right and wrong. You see a code word could mean anything. The Native American code talkers during WWII used words for different things. If one say asked for a box of potatoes what he really wanted was hand grenades. They called them that because a grenade is about the size and shape of a potato. A chicken hawk was a fighter aircraft. But he is onto something. You can make a good guess by noting how much of whatever they have asked for is used and how quickly. Say they ask for large amounts of tequila, and they are on the move, but there hasn’t been too much fighting lately. You can bet they aren’t going to be having a party. But since they haven’t used up much ammo, then they are probably talking about fuel. Things like that.”
Within days, a much clearer picture of what was happening along the Gulf coast and in the State of Texas began to emerge. And it wasn’t a pretty picture. Besides the Russians invading the east coast and coming down from Canada into the central plains, the combined forces of Cuba and Mexico had come ashore all along the coastal areas in the Gulf of Mexico and up through Texas, Arizona and Southern California. To top it off, the Chinese had invaded all along the western seaboard, from San Diego to Seattle. On every front resistance was weak at first. The invaders made good progress in the first few days. However after a short time they learned the painful lesson offered by Admiral Yamamoto to the Japanese government during WWII. He had warned them not to invade America. If they did they would find a man with a weapon behind every blade of grass.
The civil populations weren’t trained soldiers for the most part, but they were defending their homes. That made the difference. They also had two other advantages. They knew the local terrain and used it to their advantage. Many of them also knew a number of veterans and turned to them for help. The former soldiers were ready and willing to provide that help. The invaders progress slowed as the resistance stiffened, and soon it became a bitter slug fest on all fronts. Both sides took heavy losses, and the advance ground to a near halt. What made things even worse for most of the invading forces was that winter would soon be upon them and men and machines didn’t operated as well when they were half frozen. Any serious advances would have to made soon, or wait for better weather, possibly in the spring.
During that time Glenn healed from his wound and as promised, reported for duty. While he had always been an active man, Glenn found out that he wasn’t as young as he used to be. In the evenings he would often return from his training bone tired. Marsha would insist that first he eat and then she would help massage away the soreness in his muscles. Only to repeat the same thing on the next day. He also learned that he had indeed married the right woman. Marsha helped him immensely during the first few days of his training. She and their daughters made him realize exactly what he was doing all of this for. As such things go, after a couple of weeks of hardening Glenn found that while he enjoyed it, the massages were no longer necessary. He woke in the morning wide awake and ready to go. He was honest enough with himself to admit that before this he would be lazy about getting out of bed and take his time about getting started on the day. That was no longer true. In about a month Glenn had lost fifteen pounds and felt better than he had in a long time. He had also found that he actually did have shooting skills that he never knew he possessed. With enough practice on the firing range that had been set up, he could hit a soda can at seventy yards without a scope, eight times out of ten. He began to feel a confidence that he had never known before.
He and Axel were sitting in the communal eating area one evening when the retired gunnery sergeant came to Axel.
“Sir. I have news for you.”
“What is it?”
“Sir, I mean no offense, but perhaps this is for your ears only.”
“Sergeant, this is Glenn. He has already proven himself. He proved himself in the first battle of the convoys. What you say to me can be said in front of him.”
“THIS is the man?”
The Sergeant turned to Glenn. “My apologies, Sir. I didn’t know it was you.”
“No offense taken.”
The Sergeant turned back to Axel. “ Sir, We have picked up some transmissions that suggest we may be seeing some action very soon.”
“What kind of action?”
“Sir, the enemy is unhappy with the lack of progress they have made so far. It appears that they are going to mount an operation behind our lines in order to break the stalemate.”
“Do you know what kind of an operation it is going to be?”
“As you know sir, they use code words for everything. But based on what we know and what we can guess, it looks like they are going to make a massive parachute drop behind our guys on the line and hit them from the rear.”
“THAT’S disturbing.” Glenn said.
“Yes it is. But it gets worse. We believe that the drop is going to happen well behind the lines. So far back that, they just might fall into our laps.”
“That’s even more disturbing.” Axel said. “Do we have any idea when this might take place and how many there will be?”
“It looks like they will be dropping in within days or week at the most. We don’t have an exact drop point. However it looks like we are going to be going up against four or five companies of men. All of them battle hardened veterans. It will be bloody, no matter what happens. Even if we do nothing, they will kill everyone in sight. That’s what they do best.”
“Then it seems to me that the best thing we can do is to provide a warm reception for them. Break up their formations and make the drop ineffective.”
“Sir, I agree with you. If we hit them hard enough and do enough damage, then they won’t be able to mount an offensive behind our guys on the line.”
“I see. Sergeant, if you were planning this drop, where would you put your men down?”
“Sir, there is a large open area to our northeast. I could put at least three companies in there without a problem.”
“You said we were facing four or five companies.”
“Yes Sir. But I wouldn’t put all of my men into the same drop zone. You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket.”
“Very well. Try to find out where the other companies will drop so we can warn our people. Now, Sergeant, will you take the responsibility of setting up our defenses?”
“Yes Sir. But we have to move quickly.” He looked at Glenn. “Sir your presence would be helpful. If for no other reason it will inspire the men.”
“I can’t say I’ll be happy about it, but I’ll be there.”
The Sergeant smiled. “None of us want to be there. But we’ll all be happy to have you with us.”
It was two days later that Glenn found himself once again crouching in the brush, nervously gripping his rifle. This time he wasn’t waiting for the sound of approaching trucks, but approaching aircraft. He had been assured that this time things would be different. Men hanging from parachutes had a difficult time firing back at their attackers.
“I understand that.” He had said. “But there’s going to be an awful lot of them.”
“Yes Sir.” The Gunnery Sergeant had answered. “But thanks to the things the peeks left for us, we can make sure they will get worse than what they can give.”
He knew that was true. Besides the fully automatic weapons that had been taken from the dead men, some of the trucks had contained other weapons that were even more powerful. They had been blessed that all three of the veterans knew how to use them.
“Sounds like they are almost here.” The man next to him said. He smiled at Glenn. “I’m glad you’re the one next to me.”
“Don’t be. The last time the man next to me got shot.”
The planes came in rather low. They wanted to stay under the American radar. But they still had to be high enough to allow the men jumping out of them time for their parachutes to deploy. At about eight hundred feet, they achieved both. Glenn didn’t know that so many planes would be needed to drop this many men. It worried him, but he tried not to show it. The first planes were allowed to drop their men, in order to lure the rest of them in. Once the men were floating down, the next wave of planes came over. That was when the anti-aircraft missiles were brought into play. Of the four planes preparing to drop men, three were knocked out of the sky. The fourth took a hit and banked away from the drop zone to avoid any further attack, taking the parachutists with it. Three more waves of planes came in. Since they were already committed to the drop and their commanders were harsh on men they felt had failed in their duty, they had no other choice. More planes were brought down and before long smoke from fires started by the crashing planes began to obscure everyone’s vision.
Of the three companies of men committed to the drop, most of them either went down in the planes that brought them or never got the chance to jump as pilots seeking to save themselves broke formation and headed for home. The men who actually had the chance to jump fared no better. Many of them were killed before they ever reached the ground. The ones who did make it found that the entire area had been targeted by mortars, which began to rain from the sky even before the last of the planes had left the area. In all, the fight didn’t last half an hour. By its end, only sixty or so men were taken prisoner. The rest lay dead in the field.
Last edited by day late; 05-21-2012 at 07:10 PM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Over the next several weeks things, both good and bad, happened. But it took some time for the people of Hideaway to realize that things they thought of as bad were actually good for them. After the humiliating loss of the attempted parachute drop, the Russians were even more determined to put men behind the American lines to break their lines on the northern front. They simply had to make their way to the Mississippi River. To do that they had to get men behind the lines, just like the Americans and British did to the Germans in the Normandy invasion. And like the Normandy invasion their plans were disrupted by the weather. A massive snow storm, which was early for this time of year, blew in and grounded all aircraft on both sides. In this case the weather didn’t clear for over a week. When it did The Americans were ready before the Russians were. Their airstrike knocked out most of the transport aircraft they were planning on using for the next air drop. The Russians had no choice but to call off the attack.
The people of Hideaway didn’t see the blessing while they were trying to dig out of the snow, and while trying to stay as dry and warm as they could at the same time. Most of the homes had very good fireplaces. But it didn’t take long for Glenn to tire of breaking ice off of his fire wood before bringing it into the house. When he tried to start a fire with the wet wood, it was always difficult, and smoky. Once the fire started, it took time for the fire to get hot enough to dry out the wood so it would burn properly. By that time everyone was ready for bed and the house was still cold. It was Travis who made the suggestion that changed things for him.
“Glenn, why don’t you bring in some wood and let it dry out from the day before you want to start the fire? “
“What happens after I use that?”
“You use the wood you brought in to dry while you enjoy the fire you made today. Just plan ahead a little.”
“That’s a good idea. Thanks.”
Once he dried out enough wood to get a good fire burning, the problem of not having a warming fire went away.
Two other benefits were the increase of food stuffs, spices, and other items which improved the standard of living for all. The other was the supply of heavier weapons that could be used in their defense, such as the mortars, anti-aircraft missiles and automatic weapons used against the paratroops. One thing that proved to be unexpected was when the Russian prisoners were delivered to the American troops near the tri-state boarder of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Of the sixty who started the march, fifty seven made it. Two died from their wounds and one more was killed trying to escape.
“What do you mean you have Russian prisoners? They haven’t made it that far south.” The Captain said.
“Sir, in case you are blissfully unaware of it, and you seem to be, there was a parachute drop behind your lines two days ago. These guys are the only ones left.” Axel told him.
“How did you get them?”
“We knew they were coming. Why didn’t you?”
“We haven’t had any kind of intel about this.”
“I can’t help that. Now, do you want these prisoners or should we just shoot them right now?”
“You can’t do that. They might know something.”
“I don’t care about that. These men are a threat. We make it our business to eliminate threats. What do you want me to do?”
“We’ll take them. Where are you guys stationed?”
“We’re civilians, defending our land. Do you have any more serious questions or are you just going to waste more of my time?”
“How can we contact you?”
“You don’t. We will contact you.”
“Because, we take care of our own. We don’t know you, so we don’t trust you.”
“Okay. I can understand that.”
“Good. Now, where do you want them?”
The American forces took the prisoners, and spent a lot of time asking them questions. Sometimes very forcefully. Not all of the information was that exact about movements and plans. But as with a jigsaw puzzle, each little piece led to something else. As a result four planned attacks by the Russian forces were repelled and turned back. The Russian commanders were very unhappy. Five of their ground commanders were shot to prove their unhappiness and the price of failure. Some thought was given to making examples of the pilots that had left the drop zone before allowing the men in their planes to jump. Two things saved them. The first was they did save the men who would have otherwise dies or be captured. The second, and far more important, was a shortage of pilots of all kinds.
Another thing that occurred was the snow storm that blew in unexpectedly form Canada. It played havoc with the people of Hideaway. Glenn woke one morning to find five feet of snow blocked his door. He thought of trying to dig his way out from the front door, once he got it opened. Opening it wouldn’t be a problem since it opened inwards. Marsha put a stop to that.
“Glenn! You are NOT going to open that door and start shoveling.”
“Marsha, how do you expect to get out of here before spring?”
“Tell me something. If you open the door and go to work, where are you going to put all of that snow?”
“We’ll have to put it in this front hallway until I can get an opening cleared.”
“Right, and you are going to keep the door open and bring who knows how much snow inside for a couple of hours before we can close the door again. No. I won’t have it. There is no point in all of us freezing while you clear the doorway.”
“Then what do you expect me to do?”
“Go out one of the windows on the second floor and shovel from the outside, of course.”
Glenn admitted her plan was better than his and did as she suggested. He drew the line at trying to clear the walkway to the street.
“Marsha, there are no snowplows around here. That street won’t be clear again until this all melts. I’ll make a ramp leading up to the surface of the snow, but I’m not killing myself for something that is useless.”
In this case it was Marsha who had to admit his was the better idea. What neither of them knew was that the storm was a blessing in disguise, because it stopped even more Russian battle plans before they got started. The Russians knew about fighting in snow from centuries of experience. They also knew when such fighting should not be done. Attacks were called off and plans changed. Eventually it was decided to try to just maintain the lines as they were, until better weather conditions came along. All along the northern front and in much of the eastern front, the war came to a standstill waiting for better conditions.
And so it went for most of the winter. News eventually reached them about the Great New Madrid earthquake, which had wiped out Cuban and Mexican forces that were fighting their way up the Mississippi River basin. They were all at first happy about it. Then it was pointed out that when the quake happened and the Great Lakes began to drain into the Gulf of Mexico, many hundreds of thousand, if not millions of Americans had died from drowning along with the invaders. There was no celebration over the matter. Instead a prayer service was held for those Christians who had died on both sides. After the service was over Karen spoke to her parents.
“I guess I have a better idea of what Jesus said.”
“What do you mean?” Glenn asked her.
“I never thought about the fact that there are Christians on the other side. I think that is part of what He meant when He said;
Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
I mean I know we should pray that they would become Christians and stop this war, but I never thought about the ones who already are Christians. I guess I just thought that they wouldn’t be involved in making war on us.”
“Honey, sometimes they don’t have a choice. If they don’t do what their government tells them, then their families pay the price. It’s a hard choice to make.”
“I suppose so.”
The war went strangely for both sides. The line wavered but remained about where they had been from the start. It seemed every time one side would make an advance, the other would counter and drive them back. Thousands died on each side. The Russian forces had every possible technological advantage over the Americans. Yet the Americans always found a low tech way around the Russian equipment. For example it was discovered that simple Mylar blankets would defeat the high tech heat sensing equipment. This lesson was learned by the Russians at a high cost. The first three times they tried to move forward, assured by their commanders that there was no sign of enemy activity. Their mistake was learned when convoys rolled into an ambush without any clue the Americans were there. Their equipment showed nothing, and then suddenly they were surrounded by angry Americans that were heavily armed. They had popped up out of hiding places, covered by the Mylar blankets, and opened fire on the advancing Russians. In spite of all their technological advances, tanks were still very vulnerable to bottles filled with a mixture of gas and oil with a lighted rag stuffed into the end of them. Once the glass broke and the resulting flames spread, the men in the tanks were more than anxious to leave the burning death trap. Very few of them escaped from the tanks or the rest of the vehicles.
Everyone was happy to see spring draw near. The Russian and Chinese forces were busy drawing up battle plans for the final annihilation of America. The American forces were glad to be in a situation where they could deliver punishing blows to the enemy and hopefully drive them from the country. The civilian population was happy at the thought that farms would soon be back in production and they would finally be able to get fresh food. Everywhere, people were sobered by the number of friends and associates that had died from cold, from hunger or disease during that hard winter. It seemed only the northern portion of the Rocky Mountains had escaped really heavy snow that winter.
It was a beautiful early spring morning. There was still snow on the ground, but the temperature was climbing, day by day, and soon everything would start to become green again. Glenn was in the communications room when word came through about the tsunami. It had been caused by a massive volcanic explosion in some islands in the eastern Atlantic, at a place called Cumbre Vieja. A portion of one of the Canary Islands had slid into the sea after an earthquake. Sea water poured into the magma chamber of the volcano. After the resulting explosion, the Canary Islands simply weren’t there anymore. The wall of water that slammed into the east coast of the United States, some six hours later, had been over three hundred feet tall and moving at over six hundred miles an hour when it hit. The Russian forces that hadn’t made it much further than the foothills of The Smokey Mountains. Their base camps and supply depots that were near the coast for ease of re-supply were largely washed out to sea by the wall of water that reached hundreds of miles inland. The remaining soldiers couldn’t possibly stand in the face of the vengeful Americans.
Before long they were no longer a threat. The Russian forces along the Canadian border also had problems. They had come close to breaking through the American lines and making it to the new banks of the Mississippi River. But with their allies along the east coast who could no longer help them, they were vastly outnumbered and out gunned. To make things worse, there had been an attempt to break the American lines in the state of Montana. The attack was beaten back with very heavy losses by Russian forces. With every loss they suffered, the Russian forces would supply the Americans with more and more weapons as they took them from the Russian dead. They continued to grow stronger. On top of that, problems back in mother Russia made it necessary that they withdraw from the conflict. Suddenly, after months of war, the entire east coast and northern border were secure. But the damage was massive. The numbers of dead were beyond counting between the war and the tsunami. It was admitted early on in the reconstruction that the final number would never be known.
Things on the west coast and along the Mexican border were quite different, and very confused. The Chinese hadn’t made it very far into The Rocky Mountains. The Mexican forces were divided between caring for the people that had been injured or displaced by the tsunami, and trying to take back the lands they had lost to America more than one hundred years before at the battle of San Jacinto. Their efforts might have been successful if the Mexican coast hadn’t been hit with the same tsunami that had so devastated the American east coast. With Mexico’s attention divided, American forces started making progress in taking back Texas and Arizona. The Chinese knew they were in trouble, but when a volcano in Kamchatka exploded, much like the one in the former Canary Islands, they evacuated as many of their men as they could. Weapons, vehicles and equipment was left where they were in favor of making more room on the ships for men. For the first time in a long time Americans started to have hope of winning the war. No one expected the changes that occurred with the arrival of the ‘Space Brothers’.
The new American government, which was adopted when most of the old one was destroyed where Washington D.C. was nuked, welcomed the aliens with open arms. In the beginning the honestly seemed to want to do nothing more than help the country. They freely offered assistance in food and medical aid to all who needed it. All anyone had to do was show up at one of their many ships or their widely dispersed aid stations and ask for the help. Many people did go to them. It took some time before stories began to circulate about the people who had gone to them for any kind of help were different in some way. The most notable change was in their increasing lack of concern for anyone except themselves. The changes in behavior happened almost at once to those who visited the space brothers for any kind of treatment. For those who simply accepted food, they took longer. While there was no discussion of the matter, the people of Hideaway stayed as far from the aliens as possible. But that didn’t stop people from talking about them.
“Daddy, what do you think about these visitors from space?”Janie asked Glenn over the supper table one night.
“What do YOU think?”
“I don’t know. I mean its so Star Trek. But I always thought that we would contact them in the future.”
“But do you think they are who they say they are?”
“Who else could they be?”
“Honey, didn’t you pay attention to your mother and me? Didn’t you learn anything in Sunday school?”
“What do you mean?”
“These creatures aren’t visitors from space. They have always been here. They are fallen angels. They want us to believe that they are something different.”
“Why would they do that?” Karen asked.
“To stop us from believing in Jesus Christ. If they created us, then The Bible is nothing but fairy tales. Remember this girls. Satan doesn’t have to get you to worship him to make you go to Hell. All he has to do is stop you from worshipping God. That’s all it takes. Remember what Jesus said.
Mat 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
The last thing I want is for Jesus to deny me. What about you?”
“Uh…No. I don’t want Him to do that either.”
“Then the answer is easy. Just trust The Lord.”
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
“Daddy, how can you be sure they aren’t really from another planet?” Karen asked.
“Do you remember what it says about Jesus in the Book of Hebrews?
Hbr 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].
Hbr 10:11 ¶ And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
Hbr 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Think about it Karen. If Jesus died here, then how could people on another planet know about it? How could they be saved?”
“I guess they couldn’t know. But does that mean you don’t believe in life on other planets?”
“Define what you mean by life. Microbes and even cells are life of a sort. I’m fairly sure that Heavenly beings may well exist on other planets. But microbes don’t need salvation. Neither do Heavenly beings. Only man needs salvation. That’s why Jesus died here. There wasn’t anyone else to die for.”
“But, what about the space brothers?”
“As I said. I believe they are fallen angels, nothing more.”
“But how can you be so sure?”
“Do you remember what God said about Solomon? God said he would be the wisest man that ever lived then or now. Solomon said,
Ecc 1:9 The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun.
Think about that. If, nothing that hasn’t happened before isn’t happening now then we need to be ready for anything. The lies Satan has used before, he will use again. Now these creatures claim to be gods from another planet. But if nothing is new, then they have made that claim before. So the question is when. The answer is in the chapter of Genesis six. There were giants in those days. They must have seemed god-like to the people of that time. So the people listened to them. But Jesus said,
Luk 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
That means that if they fooled the people back then with this kind of thing, then they will try the same thing again. As much as I hate to say it, why not do it that way? It worked so well last time that God sent the flood to get rid of the evil.”
“But, what about all of their technology?” Janie asked. “I mean that must prove that they are from another planet.”
“Honey, they want us to believe they are gods. So why do these so called gods need technology? Speaking of Star trek, the Captain asked of an alien in one of those movies, ‘Why does God need a starship?’. Didn’t the One True God create everything from nothing? They can’t do that. To create what they call people they need all kinds of equipment. Our God doesn’t. So how can they be any kind of god? What they want to do is to stop us from believing in Jesus. The best way to do that is to first make us doubt Him. After all, if they can show us enough technology that do all these marvelous things, they can put a seed of doubt in our minds that maybe God isn’t all He claims to be. And that leads back to the question. Why does God need a starship?”
Glenn could see that his words were making their daughters think about things in a new way. It made him both happy and sad. He was happy, because the questions showed that they were growing up and beginning to think for themselves. It made him sad because he wondered if he and Marsha had done as good of a job as they had hoped. How could these two be so easily deceived by these creatures? He comforted himself with the knowledge that Adam and Eve had both walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden, yet they had been deceived. He made it his purpose in his mind to make sure he was more available for questioning by the two girls.
He also noticed that Karen and Janie weren’t the only ones with questions on the matter. Nobody in Hideaway was ready to welcome the space brothers, but some weren’t ready to reject them either. It caused some degree of tension in the community. Little did he know that all of the doubts that everyone might have had would soon be brought to a head. And it would happen largely because of two old friends. Or at least one old friend and a former enemy.
Since the war started many electronic devices in Hideaway stopped working because of an EMP burst in the upper atmosphere. With the defeat of the Russian, Chinese, Cuban and Mexican forces Glenn’s services as a sort of analyst were no longer in demand. He found himself doing all sorts of things around the community to make himself useful. He was by no means a mechanic, but he did know which end of wrench to use. He was no plumber, but he could still snake out a drain and on one occasion helped to put in a new septic tank on one of the homes. He began to realize that while he might be a jack of all trades, he was certainly a master of none of them. That was lead him to be in the garage area working on one of the vehicles that had been knocked out by the EMP burst. He and the man who actually was a mechanic were in the process of replacing the various electronic parts on the car when he heard James arrive in his truck. He knew the truck had been in a sheltered placed when the burst hit. That was why it was still running. Glenn knew that James had stopped by to either drop off more supplies, or more people that were in need of help, so he continued to work on the car, trying to learn as much as he could. He almost jumped out of his skin when unexpectedly something warm and furry rubbed up against his leg. Looking down, Glenn was astonished to find Pete rubbing against his leg and looking up at him.
“Pete! Where on earth did you come from?”
“He came with me.”
Glenn looked up to find Jeff standing in the door, smiling at him.
“JEFF! What are you doing here?”
“Hi Glenn. I came in on the truck with Jimmy.”
“Jimmy? Who’s Jimmy?”
“He’s the guy who was driving the truck. Don’t you know him?”
“I know him. But his name is James.”
“James? If his name is James, why didn’t he tell me that?”
“Protection. If anything happened and the two of you got separated and you got caught you couldn’t give them his real name.”
“Oh, I guess that makes sense. So have you been here since your family disappeared?”
“Pretty much. It took some time to get here. But we’ve all been here since then. So, what’s been going on with you?”
Jeff looked embarrassed. “Glenn, to tell you the truth, things weren’t as bad as they could have been, thanks to you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well after you guys abandoned your place, I kind of broke into it. I mean, you left a lot of good stuff there. Food, tools, clothes and other things. I figured you weren’t coming back, so I took them. I mean I thought it was better that I get them than strangers,”
Glenn was surprised at Jeff’s honesty. “Well, I guess you’re right. I’m glad that our stuff helped out a friend instead of a stranger. Forget it. If we haven’t missed it by now, we won’t miss it.”
“Don’t worry about it. But if our stuff helped you out, what are you doing here?”
“Your stuff helped me.”
“I don’t get you.”
“After I was sure you weren’t coming back and got into your house, I found a couple of Bibles and some other religious stuff. There wasn’t any T.V. or radio, so I decided to read that. You know, just for something to do. Well, the more I read, the more I became convinced that what I was reading was true. I became a Christian. At least I think I did. I haven’t been baptized or anything, but I believe.”
“Jeff, I’m glad to hear that. And remember one thing. That thief on the cross next to Jesus wasn’t baptized either, but because he believed Jesus said they would be together in paradise that same day. I think baptism is important as an outward sign that you do believe, but I don’t think it is required. There have been a lot of death bed conversions. There have been a lot of battlefield conversions. In both cases the people never had the chance to be baptized. But if their conversion was true, I can’t see The Lord denying them in Heaven just because of that. Not after what happened at the crucifixion.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. I guess you’re right.” Jeff paused like he had something on his mind. He decided to go ahead and say it. “There is another reason I think you’re right. I had a little run in with those aliens.”
“You did? What happened? HOW did it happen?”
“I was sitting in the park reading one of The Bibles I found at your place. I mean I was just sitting there on a bench, when these two guys from that new government agency showed up.”
“What new agency?”
“They call it the ‘Agency For Interstellar Co-operation’ or something like that. Anyway these two …cops, I’d guess you’d call them, showed up and started giving me a hard time about my reading material. They wanted to know how I could believe in a centuries old story book like that. Now here’s the funny part. I told them I didn’t know what to believe. I’d only recently found the book and was just kind of checking things out. When I said that, their whole attitude changed. They stopped antagonizing me and became almost sympathetic. Like they were talking to someone with a mental problem or something.”
“What happened then?”
“They insisted that I come with them. They wanted to take me downtown and meet someone who would set me straight. At least that’s what they said. Glenn, you DON’T want to go downtown these days. A lot of people who do are never seen again. I told them it wasn’t necessary, but they kept pulling me to their car, and I never thought it was a good idea to argue with someone wearing a badge and a gun. So, I went with them. When we got there they put me in a room with several other people. We were all scared, I have to tell you. After a little while, one of those aliens walks in. He starts to talk with us about how we shouldn’t believe in The Bible or other religious texts. I have to say he/she/it whatever it was, it’s hard to tell, was very persuasive. I remember it said,
‘These books you call holy are simply stories we left with your ancestors when we had to leave. We knew that humankind needed time to grow and mature before you would be ready to accept the truth. We left these stories behind so that your forefathers and mothers could grow and learn that there is something beyond what you can see. Now that you have matured enough to accept us, we have returned to help you to see what we have done for you.’
‘What have you done for us?’ one of the men present asked. ‘You say you made us and then run off and leave us on our own. That doesn’t make sense. No parent has a child and then just leaves them.’
‘My son, you must understand. This is not the only planet with life. There are many others as well. We must tend to all of our children throughout the stars.’
‘I’m not buying it. The Bible and Jesus make more sense than you do.’
Glenn that was when I noticed something. At the mention of the name of Jesus, that alien flinched like he’s been hit. And you know I had just been reading how demons and evil spirits can look great to us. And this one WAS beautiful. But then I remembered something for some reason.
2Cr 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
2Cr 11:15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
And this thing obviously didn’t like the name of Jesus. Then I remembered something else.
Mar 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
It just kind of added up for me. This alien was trying to play God, but didn’t like to hear His name. Something was obviously wrong. I mean if this guy was telling the truth, why did the name of what they say is a fictional character bother him so much?”
“Jeff it bothered him for the same reason you are thinking. They are not visitors from space. They are demons and evil spirits trying to get us to stop worshipping God.”
“You don’t have to convince me. They already have. There was one person there who stood up to him.
‘This fellow here is right. The Bible and Jesus make more sense than you do. And I for one will not give up believing in Him, no matter what you say or do.’
Glenn that thing changed when he was challenged. He only said,
‘Then we must change your mind for you.’
He signaled some guards and they took both of those men away. We never saw them again. Then he looked right at me and asked me.
‘What do you believe?’
I told him the truth as it was at that time. I said,
‘I really don’t know what to believe.’
He actually smiled at me and told me.
‘Believe in what I’m telling you. Those books are just children’s stories, fairy tales and the like. At least your mind is open to more than what you have seen there. That means you are almost ready for the truth. Go home. All of you go home and think about what you’ve heard here today. When the time is right, we will welcome you into our family with open arms and great rewards for those who do see the truth.’
Then they let us go. The cops kept The Bible I had been reading. They said I wouldn’t need it any more. They even took me back to the park and left me where they found me. I went home and spent the rest of the night reading one of the other Bibles I found in your house, behind closed doors and windows. By morning there was no doubt in my mind about these things. That was when I started trying to find a way out of town.”
“Well, I’m glad you made it.” Glenn looked down again at Pete. He was sitting calmly at his feet, looking back. Glenn reached down and picked him up. He held Pete against his chest and began to scratch him under the chin. Pete closed his eyes and enjoyed the attention. “I’m glad this big fellow made it too. I still feel like I owe him one.”
“I still can’t believe he let you touch him, let alone pick him up. He doesn’t like many people.”
“Well, he’s welcome to come by my place anytime he wants. Speaking of places, do you have somewhere to stay yet?”
“We just got off the truck. I haven’t had a chance to find a place yet.”
“Then come with me. You need to meet Axel. He’s sort of like the mayor around here. I’m sure he can fix you two up with something.”
“Lead the way.”
Axel was found, and was very happy to see Pete.
“Tell me, Jeff. Would you have a problem with us putting Pete to work?”
“Work how? There isn’t much he can do.”
“Oh, yes there is. You see recently we’ve been having a problem with mice getting into our food stores. We also happen to have a nice little empty bungalow right next to the storage area. I’m thinking of turning that over to you, and Pete here can earn his keep by reducing our rodent problem. What do you say?”
“It sounds like a good idea to me.” He took the cat from Glenn’s arms. “What do you say Pete? Are you ready to become a first class mouser?”
Pete looked at Jeff, and then he looked away, as something caught his eye. He jumped down and soon was chasing around the room. He came back a short time later with a dead mouse in his jaws, and the feeling that he was going to like it here. Jeff laughed.
“I guess we have an answer.”
“Come on then.” Axel told him. “Let’s get the two of you settled in.”
They left for the bungalow with Pete following just in front of them, as cats will do, with his prize securely held in his teeth.
Last edited by day late; 06-04-2012 at 01:11 PM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Jeff and Pete settled into their new home almost at once. Pete was convinced he had died and gone to heaven. There were plenty of mice to be taken care of, and he enjoyed every minute of it. Before long, Jeff became concerned as Pete began to gain weight. It wasn’t long before Jeff discovered that Pete really didn’t want to be fed every night. He knew why, but was worried that Pete might lose his appetite for mice. But he needn’t have worried. And even if Pete had his fill of mice, the pesky creatures helped to keep his hunting instincts sharp. Sometimes Jeff would find three, four, and even more quite dead mice laying on his door step every morning. It didn’t take him long to figure out that these dead rodents were actually a tribute to him from Pete. It was his way of showing his appreciation for his human.
Pete wasn’t the only one who appreciated Jeff. Since he was the only one with face to face experience with any of the aliens, everyone wanted to know every detail of what had happened to him. Before long he was finding himself center stage at every town meeting he attended. At first he enjoyed the attention. However, after a few weeks of this he began to tire of the endless questioning. Finally he turned to Glenn for advice.
“Glenn, how many times am I going to be expected to tell the same story? I mean people find different ways to ask questions, but they are always the same questions, no matter how they are asked.”
“Maybe you’re looking at this the wrong way, Jeff.”
“What do you mean?”
“Instead of always TELLING the same story, why don’t you write it down? We can have it copied and then pass out the sheets so people can read it for themselves.”
“Do you really think that would help? I’m pretty sure people will still think that I either forgot something or I’m holding it back for some reason.”
“I’d say that depends on two things. The first one is how it is written. The second is how you respond to the questions that come after that.”
Jeff considered it. “How would you answer them?”
“I’d ask if they read the paper. If they have, then you just tell them that all the answers you have are already there. If not, give them a copy of the paper, and tell them that is all you know.”
“Do you really think that will work?”
“It should. But even if it doesn’t, you haven’t lost anything.”
“Alright, let’s give it a try.”
The statement was written up that day, on an old fashioned typewriter. It went into great detail about how the alien had been so very pleasant and persuasive. It had an answer for every question that was asked.
“So tell us the truth. If your people really did create us, then why didn’t you help us as we ‘matured’ as you call it?”
“Have you children of your own?”
“My wife and I have two of them.”
“Have you ever seen one of your children about to make a mistake and did nothing to prevent it in hopes they learned from the experience?”
“Well, yeah. I remember one time when our son was just a little guy and he was pulling on a curtain like it was a bell rope. He just kept jerking it. I knew that curtain rod would come down. But it was made out of aluminum and was very light. I knew it wouldn’t hurt him even if it did hit him. So I sat back and watched. Sure enough the rod came down, and he was completely covered by the curtain. It didn’t hurt him, but he never jerked on it again.”
“That’s a precious story. We too value the teaching of our young. In this case, you are our young. It has been much the same with us. You had to learn on your own. If we stopped you from pulling on th curtain, you would not have learned that the curtain rod can come down on your head.”
“Maybe so, but people have died because you didn’t do anything. I knew our son wasn’t going to be hurt.”
The alien being smiled at him. “But we see things differently than you do. You consider death to be the end of things. We know better. There IS another world after this one, to which we all go. The problem each of you have is to decide if you want to be with us, who have aided you so much and offer more, or if you want to stay on the side of the various gods you have and count on them when they have done nothing for you.”
“If that’s true, then how can you say that you are the creators? There must be something in that spiritual world that is above even you.”
The creatures smile broadened. “Again, we are not like you. And in some ways we are. Both you and we have a physical existence and a spiritual one. The difference between us is that we can pass from one to the other as we will. You have almost reached a point where you are ready to ascend to a new plane of existence where you too will be able to do this and much more as well.”
“What kind of more?” A woman asked.
“There is so much more. You will never again have to worry about accumulating wealth. You will have no need for it. You will get everything without even asking for it. You my lady, will never have to think about growing older and losing your beauty. You will always remain the same age. You will have a new spiritual body that doesn’t grow older. And these are just the beginning of things. There is much more awaiting you.”
“That sounds good.” Another man said. “But what about people like those Christians that left here a little while ago? They aren’t going to change their minds. What happens to people like them?”
A look of sorrow came to the face of the creature. “As parents, sometimes you have to discipline children. Just as you who see the truth in what we tell you shall receive your reward, they too shall receive theirs. But it won’t be the same. I’d rather not talk about that. What waits for them is nothing like what awaits you who choose to believe in us.”
Glenn interrupted the writing to address what the space brother had said.
“You know Jeff, I once heard someone say that there are three really good ways to lie. The first is to tell the lie, but do it so convincingly that no one doubts you. The second is to tell just enough of the truth mixed in with the lie to make it believable. The third is to tell the whole truth, but tell it so unconvincingly that no one believes you. I swear these things are masters at all three ways.”
“I can see what you mean. Look at that last part. ‘What waits for them is nothing like what awaits you who choose to believe in us’. I noticed they don’t say exactly what waits for either group.”
“That’s just it. They are telling enough of the truth to be believable, but not the whole truth. I feel so sorry for those people who have swallowed the whole thing. They are going to be in such trouble. But there will be nothing that can be done for them after the fact.”
“Well there’s more to tell. Let’s get on with it. I’m tired of answering questions.”
The writing and revelations continued.
“If you guys are our creators, then why all of this technology? That doesn’t seem likely. I mean why would a god need it?”
“As I have said, we live in two worlds. One is physical and the other is spiritual. In the spiritual world none of this is necessary. But when we pass into your physical world, things are different. If we were to use our spiritual power in your world, the consequences would be more than you can imagine. We don’t wish to harm our children. So for your sake, we don’t do that.”
“Can’t you keep bad things from happening if you are so all powerful?”
“We could, but as your man, known as Isaac Newton once said, for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. Let us say that we stepped in and stopped the plague that happened during your middle ages. Would you have learned the need for cleanliness? Would you have learned that rodents, like rats, could spread disease? Or would you have continued as you were without advancing toward your ascension?”
“You could have guided us.”
“But then what would you have learned? It is you who had to mature so that this time could come. If we interfered then you would have learned nothing. And we would not be here now. Ready to aid with your ascension.”
“So when does this ascension happen anyway?”
“Once there are enough of you to make it possible. You have free will. That was given to you. But you must choose to follow one path or the other path. While there are so many who follow the other path, that of religious belief without proof, then you are not ready to ascend and move to the next higher level.”
“Is there anything we can do to help it along?”
The being almost grinned. “Yes, there is. You must make sure that there are no people who cling to their outdated beliefs. Only then can we help you more than we have already.”
“Why is that important? Why not just let people believe what they want to believe. If they miss out, that’s their problem.”
“It isn’t like that. It is the power of people who are ready to accept us that makes all of these things possible. Those who stubbornly cling to these beliefs diminish that power and limit what we can do. I wish I could explain better, but it is one of the spiritual things you will understand later.”
“What if they don’t want to give up their beliefs?”
“Then it is up to you. You can convince them, or you can make sure they aren’t a problem that is in your way. I can’t tell you what to do, you have free will. But you must choose. I can tell you that as long as there are those who will not accept what we are telling you, then no further progress can be made. And that is especially true of the Christians and the Jews. Their beliefs borders on the fanatical. Many of them will never change their mind. What you do with them is your choice. But in one of the stories we left behind it says that he who is not for us is against us. Perhaps you should all consider that.”
“I don’t get it. Most of these people haven’t done anything bad. Why should we do anything against them?
“I didn’t say you should. I said that further benefits will be delayed as long as they resist us.”
“So what are you saying about people with religious beliefs, whatever they may be?”
“I am saying that as long as your some of people refuse to accept us, the amount of help we can give is limited. After all, you DO have free will. As long as your people do not accept us, then there is only a small amount we can do for you. But let me ask you a question. What have any of the gods your people worship done for you lately? We have given you food, medicine, medical help and even technological help as well as many other things. What have they done? They have done nothing. Ask yourselves that and then decide what and who you want to believe in.”
“What if most of us follow you, but some don’t? I’ve got some friends who I know will never accept you. They are good people. They wouldn’t hurt a fly, but they will not believe anyone but their God created mankind.”
“The amount of aid we can give is directly linked to the amount of faith your people have in us. The more who believe, the more we can do. The more who doubt, the less we can do. It is one of those spiritual things you will understand later. But for now, that’s just the way it is.”
“Are you saying that we need to get rid of the Christians?”
Once again the creature flinched at the name. “The one who you are talking about came from a place called Nazareth. Why don’t you just call him the Nazarene, as we do? That is much less offensive to us. What you do with the followers of this Nazarene is up to you. But as long as they refuse to accept us, we cannot give much more aid than we have. And the ascension to a higher level of understanding cannot be reached as long as they continue to deny us. It all comes back to free will. If all of you aren’t ready to accept the truth, then we cannot give it to you. Your rewards will have to wait until there is a universal acceptance of us.”
“Sounds to me like we need to get rid of the Christians, or make them see the light.”
“I can’t tell you what to do. I can only say that while there are other benefits waiting, they can’t be given while there are those who resist our help. We will not force it on you. You must ask for it and prove yourselves worthy of that help.”
The writing went on for a long time. What Jeff supposed would be a page or two turned out to be fourteen pages. As Glenn read each one, any doubts that he might have had were permanently erased. These things had such a way of so twisting the truth that he couldn’t believe it. He simply could not accept that people would be taken in by such obvious lies. Unfortunately, he was wrong. Many people outside of Hideaway, including ones that claimed to be Christians, believed what they were being told. The evidence of the technological marvels they were shown helped to convince most of them.
At first, Jeff thought that the statement would have to be copied on the same machine. But Glenn set him straight.
“We don’t have any computers. But what we do have is a working generator and a copy machine. We can have this done in a very short while.”
Glenn was right. It didn’t take long to have Jeff’s statement printed, but at fourteen pages per copy it took a lot of paper to get it done. Still, Jeff was surprised when they had been made available to the people of the town, the questions dropped off to almost nothing. Peace and quiet returned to his life. However one of the benefits to the whole affair was Amber. She had the same questions as everyone else, at first. But the day after the statement was made public she found Jeff walking towards his home and stopped him.
“Jeff, can I ask you something?”
“Hi Amber. I hope it’s not about the aliens. Didn’t you see the statement that we put out?”
“Yes, I saw it. I read it too. It was very enlightening. I wanted to ask you about something else.”
“Oh, sure. What can I help you with?”
“You can help me eat supper tonight. Say, about seven o’clock.”
“SURE! I’d be happy to help.”
“Good. I’ll see you then.” She turned to leave and found Pete coming up behind her. She stopped and before Jeff could warn her about him, she bent down and gently stroked him and then scratched him between the ears. Amber looked at Jeff and said, “Beautiful cat you have here. I like him.” She stood up and went on her way. Jeff walked up to Pete and picked him up.
“What is it with you lately boy? You seem to be becoming almost human.”
Pete looked back at Jeff and head bumped him in affection. Jeff had brought him to a place where there was lots of food, and many people who appreciated him. Not like where they had been before this. Back there he had to prove who was on top. Here everyone already knew it. Pete liked that. Now if there was some way to make his human understand that they were being watched.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
Glenn was the first to realize that something wasn’t quite right. He had gone out to do a little hunting one day to provide some fresh meat for the table. While there were many game animals, both large and small, in the area he wasn’t having any luck. He was distracted by Jeff’s report. It seemed clear to him that even if the aliens hadn’t yet asked for the total elimination of Christians, it was only a matter of time. With all of the help they were offering to a war weary world, it seemed equally obvious that their request, when it came, would be granted by the governments of the Earth. Each one seeking to gain an advantage in alien technology over the other nations in the world. Each one believing that if they could gain the upper hand first they could subjugate the rest of the world and gain favor with the space brothers for their own benefit.
It was sad really. It seemed that nothing ever changed. Greedy and powerful men tried to manipulate everything to their own ends, even now. They actually believed that they could control these beings without knowing that they were the ones being used for an even darker purpose. He sighed to himself and took comfort that so far the people of Hideaway had remained hidden from their enemies, both physical and spiritual. Suddenly he spotted the first movement in the brush he had seen. It was small and low on the ground. As he readied the shotgun to shoot he hoped it was something larger than the many squirrels that were in the area. He stepped next to a bush and quietly waited.
Before long a good sized rabbit hopped into sight. He wondered how long it had been since he had tasted rabbit stew. It had been a long while, that was for certain. There range between him and the rabbit was short he knew. But if he was both careful and lucky he might be able to shoot him in the head and save most of the meat. He sighted as best as he could and squeezed the trigger. His aim was accurate. Because the range was close, the pellets didn’t have a chance to spread out very far. The mass hit it mainly in the head, and due to the closeness the animal was propelled into the brush by the impact. Glenn smiled as he walked over to get it. It was a quick clean kill and with apparently little or no damage to the meat. He couldn’t ask for better. Glenn went to the brush where the rabbit had been knocked into and parted it so he could look down and find his next meal. He was shocked by what he found.
He hadn’t seen how the undergrowth had been crushed while on the other side of the bush. But what was the most amazing was the size of the foot print he found. At first he couldn’t believe it. It was just too big to be a foot print. But there was no mistaking it. It was what it was. Glenn reached down and picked up the body of the rabbit and hurriedly headed back to Hideaway. Axel and others needed to see this.
Glenn stopped only briefly at his place to drop off the rabbit. He quickly apologized to Marsha for not cleaning and butchering the animal and hurried off to find Axel. He found him in the towns meeting center which also served as an Impromptu city hall. James and Jeff were also there and he insisted that all three return with him to the woods.
“Glenn, what’s the rush?” Axel asked.
“I don’t want to say. You guys will think I’m crazy. But you HAVE GOT to see this to believe it.”
The four men went to the site of Glenn’s find and each had a look.
“Glenn. This is not good.” Axel said. “My foot is about ten inches long and I’m only five foot nine inches tall. I’ve seen plaster casts of what they claim are foot prints of ‘big foot’ they were about sixteen inches long and those things are supposed to be about eight feet tall. But THIS! This thing has got to be close to two feet long. It’s probably a little more. That would make the creature that made it twelve to fourteen feet tall.”
“Have you noticed the toes?” James asked.
“What about them?” Axel wanted to know.
“There are six of them.”
Axel gave the print a second and closer inspection. James was right. There were six toes. He looked at James.
“I think I know what you are thinking, Axel. And the answer is yes. I believe we are now dealing with what Jesus was talking about.” James offered.
“Look. I’m a new Christian, so I don’t know. What did Jesus say about this?” Jeff asked.
Glenn answered. “Jesus said,
Luk 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
In Genesis it says that before The Flood there were giants. There is some evidence that those giants were cannibals. They also had six fingers and six toes. Just like this foot print. Since these are the end times, those monsters are reappearing now. It looks like one of them has started checking us out.”
“And that means, we are in for even more trouble.” Axel finished.
“I’ll say.” Jeff answered. “So what can we do?”
“Years ago, I listened to a short wave radio program, and later an internet broadcast about these times. The host is a man name Steve ******. He is a good Christian man and an excellent watchman on the wall. He wrote books about this kind of thing. These things may be monstrous, but they are still created beings. That means they have weaknesses. Those weaknesses can be used against them.”
“What kind of weaknesses?” Jeff wanted to know.
“For one thing, large amounts of smoke make them giddy. Kind of like, they are really drunk. One other weakness is copper. For some reason it is poisonous to them.”
“So what do we do? Lure them into a bonfire, then shove them down a shaft of a copper mine?”
James smiled. “That might work, but I think we need a more practical solution. Snow storms don’t always show up when you need them. And sometimes bonfires can get out of control.”
“Okay. So what do we do?”
James looked at Axel. “Did we pick up any smoke grenades when the peeks left?”
“We have quite a few. I just didn’t see any use for them and had them put in storage.”
“I think we have a use for them now.”
“I think you are right.” Axel said.
“Okay, hold on. You guys have lost me. Can one of you tell me what you are talking about?” Jeff was getting frustrated.
Glenn had walked away from the group while they were talking. Now he had something more to speak about.
“Guys, I think we have even more trouble. Take a look at this.”
The men converged on Glenn.
“Take a look at this.” He said.
They found themselves looking at a recently abandoned camp site. It was clearly evident where tents had once stood. There was also a small ring of stones, inside of which there were ashes of a fire in the not too distant past. There were also other signs of recent habitation. Such as foot prints that were more of normal sizes. It was clear to Glenn, Axel and James that whatever this creature was, it had human companions.
“So how do you know this wasn’t made by this thing, whatever it is?” Jeff asked.
Glenn reached down and picked up a cigarette butt. “I don’t think those things smoke. This was left by a man. That means whatever it is he has human helpers with him. Plus the fact something that size would never fit into a regular sized tent like they set up here.”
“How can you be sure they are together?”
“That.” Glenn said pointing at another of the monstrous foot prints. It could be clearly seen that one of the normal prints was inside the larger one. “It sure looks like they are traveling together to me.”
“I guess you’re right. Why do you think they are out here in the woods?”
Axel answered. “They are watching us. Let’s face it, a thing that size walking down the street would attract a lot of attention.”
“But why are they watching us?”
“Think about it.” James told him. “Whatever made these prints has to be demonic. Remember what The Bible says. There were giants in those days. It also says that as it was in the time of Noah, so shall it be. Everyone in town is a Christian. The way things have been going lately, and Jeff you should know this better than anyone with them claiming to be our creators, it’s only a matter of time before we are going to be hunted down and either imprisoned or killed. That’s why they are watching us. They are making plans for the future.”
Jeff gave up his hopeful protests. “I wonder how much time we have.”
“Probably, not much.” Axel told him. He then turned to James. “What kind of patrols do you think we should have and how many in each patrol?”
“Small ones. Maybe two to four men in each. But we should have multiple patrols out at the same time. That way if one patrol gets wiped out, the other can report back on what happened.”
“That’s going to take some training.” Glenn offered.
“Okay. You guys are losing me again.” Jeff complained. “Why should one patrol report back that another has been eliminated and not help them?”
“In a word, numbers. If one of our patrols runs into something they can’t handle or escape from, another four men aren’t going to make any difference. If they try to help, they will just die too. Then we will have no warning at all. They could wipe us all right off the map.” Axel said.
Jeff thought about it. “Alright, I guess I understand that. But why send out patrols at all? We know they are here watching us.”
“Do you want them to just show up unannounced with who knows how many men and how much firepower?” Glenn asked him.
“No, I guess I don’t. What do we do when they come back?”
“We protect ourselves.” James told him. “If they give up, we get rid of them. If they don’t, we get rid of them more permanently.”
“You mean kill them?”
“Only if we have too. We’ll give them the chace to give up. Either way it will work out to our advantage, as long as we win.”
“How do you figure that?”
“Being caught is embarrassing. It will make them think twice about coming back. If they never return home, that will make the next ones uneasy about coming after us, because they won’t know what happened to the first group.” James said.
“What about the giant?”
“I have plans for him.”
“What kind of plans?”
James sighed. “Jeff, I like you, but sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions.” He looked at Axel. “How many men do you think we are dealing with?”
Axel began to look the camp over carefully. He checked the area where the tents had been set up. Then he poked around the area of the fire. He picked up and examined several cigarette butts, and then tossed them back to the ground. He stood up and looked at James.
“No less than ten I’d say. Maybe a couple more.”
“How did you figure that?” Glenn asked.
“The areas flattened by the tents tell me that each one could hold up to four men. I learned that much by camping with the Boy Scouts. There are three of those areas. There are three different brands of cigarettes being smoked by them. One brand was smoked more often than the others. So either two men smoke the same kind or one of them is a chain smoker. In most groups of people only about twenty-five to thirty percent smoke. Add it all up and it works out to ten or twelve men, plus that thing.”
Glenn stared at him. “You learned all of that by being a janitor?”
Axel grinned at him. “You pick up some things after you’ve had to clean up after a few parties.”
“So what do you think is going to happen next? Will they attack?”
“That’s unlikely.” James said.
“How can you be sure?”
“I spent some time in the Army.”James told him.”Ten or twelve men in a situation like this, are usually a recon team. Even with fully automatic weapons there are too many people in Hideaway for them to make a successful attack. Too many of us would scatter and get away. I’m sure they will want to get all or at least most of us. And there is the chance we would fight back and put a hurting on them instead.”
“I guess that means we can expect them to come back with some of their friends. How long do you think we have before that happens?”
“I can’t say. But when you think about what Jeff has told us, being a Christian isn’t illegal, yet. But it probably will be soon. Once that happens it won’t take them long. Until it does we still have a chance of stopping it. They will just keep an eye on us to make sure we stay put.”
“So why aren’t they still camping here?”
“Staying in one place too long increases the chance you’ll be discovered. Besides, I imagine something as big as that thing with them has to eat a lot. They can’t hunt around here. We’d hear the shots. That means leaving the area until they get enough to eat and then they come back.”
“Axel, how long would you say they’ve been gone?” Glenn asked.
“The ashes are stone cold and show signs of being a little windblown, as well as the foot prints. I’d say they’ve been gone a day or two.”
“Well, one thing is for sure.” Jeff commented. “Even without the giant, we’re going to need more men.”
“And with the giant we are going to need a very good plan. I say we head back to town and start figuring out what we are going to do.” Axel told them.
The trip back to Hideaway was a quiet one as each man pondered his own thoughts. They never even talked about it, but all of them went to the town center with Axel. He sat in a chair in his office, and invited the others to do the same.
“Gentlemen, I don’t see a problem with getting enough people to handle the normal men, but this giant is bound to make some of our people think twice.”
“I don’t doubt that. I’m already having second thoughts myself.” Glenn said. “I mean think about it. A twelve foot or taller cannibal. That’s enough to give anyone the willies.”
“I understand.” Axel said. “But can we count on you?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there. The way I see it, things aren’t going to get any better.”
“Glad to hear it. I wanted you to take charge of some of the men. They respect you.”
“Axel, I hate to burst your bubble, but I’d like to have Glenn with me.” James said. “We will handle the giant. The rest of you take care of the normal men.”
“I can’t do it all by myself. Besides, I already know you have the nerve.”
“Glenn. If you have any objections, now is the time to say it.” Axel offered.
“I guess not. Someone has to do it.” He looked at James. “Are you certain of that nerve part?”
“Positive. It took guts to do what you did before. You just don’t know how far you’re willing to go yet.”
“I guess we’ll find out.”
The talk continued for a short time before the men went their separate ways. James collected an even dozen of the left over smoke grenades before he and Glenn went to his place. Once they had arrived, James began the ticklish process of unscrewing the tops of the grenades and removing the handles and attached blasting caps that ignited them. Then he began to construct a fuse that lead from grenade to grenade. Glenn asked what he was doing.
“This is what we can a ‘daisy chain’. What it does is set off these grenades one after the other. It will do the same thing with explosives, but that’s not what we are after.”
“So what are we after?”
“Large amounts of smoke. Remember what I said before. If we get enough smoke, that giant will be disoriented. That will give us the chance to take our shot.”
“Why don’t we just shoot him first and be done with it?”
“It’s not that simple. Regular ammunition has little to no effect on these things. You have to use copper.” He picked up a shotgun shell and held it out. “This is what we need.”
Glenn looked at it. It seemed the same as all the other shells he had seen. “What’s so special about this one?”
“The average shot shell has one ounce of lead pellets. I removed the pellets and put in pieces of pure copper. THAT will get his attention.”
“So how is this going to work? And what am I supposed to do?”
“You are going to deliver the smoke. I’m going to take the shot. If anything happens to me, then you take the shot using these rounds.”
"Copper jacketed rounds, I got it."
"NO you don't. The rounds MUST be copper, not copper jackets. Just copper."
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
“It’s a one ounce solid copper slug.” James answered.
“Where would you get something like that?”
“I made them.”
“How? And for that matter, why would you make them?”
“You used to be able to buy them before all of this. But now, well, I made a couple of molds that would hold one ounce of copper. Then I melted whatever copper I could come up with. I used wire from electronic equipment, tubing from air conditioners and freezers and even pennies made before 1982. Then I weighed them to make sure of the weight. If it was right, I loaded them into shotgun shells. If they were too heavy, I trimmed them down a little. If they were too light, I melted them down and tried again.
As to why, you know what The Bible says. There were giants at the time of Noah. So they WILL be here again. I also told you about Steve ******. He knows some things about these creatures. Copper is poisonous to them. And with these things, we need every advantage we can get.”
“I won’t argue with that. What am I going to do?”
“You get to distract him.”
Once everyone had left, Axel knew who he had to talk to about this. He had decided against sending out too many patrols in an effort to alert the townsfolk about the return of the creature and the people with him that were watching the town. He reasoned that the more people looking for them, the greater the chance that their efforts would be detected. He needed smaller units, or even individuals to keep the possibility of detection to a minimum. After praying and asking for guidance, he knew what had to be done. Vernon was a local who had lived in this area for many years. He had married and raised three sons in these woods and hills. They had not only survived even under the harshest conditions, they had made a good life for themselves. If anyone knew how to see without being seen around here, it was Vernon. On top of that, he was truly a man of God, who knew the entire Bible almost by heart. He would know why what had to be done, needed to be done. Now Vernon stood before him, and he had already explained the problem when Vernon spoke.
“Well, my boys will do whatever I tell’em. And from what you’re saying, it sounds like it’s time to take a stand either for or against The Lord. I sure ain’t going to stand against Him. Neither will my boys.”
“So you’ll keep an eye out for us?”
“That depends. We could use a few things first.”
“First of all, the water around here ain’t so good as it once was. Me, and the boys carry them Camelbaks. Each of them holds a liter of water. We could use some of that filtered water you all got here in town.”
“That’s not a problem.”
“Secondly, iff we spot these fellas, we can’t just run back down here into town and take you and your men back out there. They might move or see us coming. If they move then we’d have to spend time finding them again and hope they don’t spot us looking for them. So I need two radios, set on the same channel. I’ll hold onto one, you keep the other at all times. Can’t tell when I might call you.”
“I can arrange that. Is there anything else?”
“Well, we’re running a little low on double ought buckshot for our twelve gauges. I figure about twenty five rounds ought to do us nicely.”
“Is that it?”
“In that case, done, done, and done.” Axel held out his hand.
Vernon took it and they shook. That was all that was needed for the deal to be complete. But once it was done, Axel held onto Vernon’s hand. When he couldn’t pull his hand away, Vernon looked questioningly at Axel.
“You guys be careful out there.” He said.
Vernon smiled. “Always. There are critters that will eat you if you ain’t careful out there.”
Axel smiled and let him go. It was half an hour later the Vernon, Travis, Craig and Bill showed up at the community center. Axel was there waiting to greet them.
“I’m glad you guys made it. Your water is here waiting for you.” He told Vernon.
“Thank you. Boys, fill up them canteens. We may be out for awhile.” He looked at Axel. “What about the rest of it?”
Axel held out a radio. “This is set for channel twenty-one. Mine is set for the same. I also brought two more for your sons. And I decided that you underpriced yourself. Here’s thirty rounds of double ought.” He held out a box full of shotgun shells.
“Well my thanks to you. How soon do you expect them fellows back?”
“They left yesterday or maybe the day before. So, what time is it?”
“I understand. Keep that radio close. We just might be talking soon.”
The Camelbaks were soon filled and the four men were on their way. Each of them had some food with them and they were accustomed to going for long periods with little more than the water and food they carried with them. The four of them headed off into the woods surrounding Hideaway. The men traveled over an hour in silence before Vernon brought them to a halt.
“Travis, I want you to head up the hill from here and keep a sharp eye out. If you see anything, I want to hear a Whippoorwill.”
“Craig, you are the best in the low lands and thick brush. You head down hill and if you see anything it’s a bob white. Got it?”
“Alright, Bill and I will cover the middle portion of the hill. If we should see something, you will hear a dog bark. In any case, if anyone sees anything, you give warning and pull out. I’ll call into town and we’ll get help up here to handle it. Make no mistake, boys. There are going to be too many of them for us to handle on our own. Our job is to give warning to the folks below and wait for help. Then we nail them. Travis, Craig, Bill is going to be close to me. So you two take these extra radios. Don’t use them unless you have too.”
“Yes Sir.” All three answered.
“Now boys, I’m serious. Ya’ll be real careful out there. Any one of you gets hurt and your mother ain’t ever going to let me live it down.”
All three of them grinned at him. They knew he was telling the truth, but they also knew he wouldn’t forgive himself. He just didn’t say it. Travis and Craig headed off to their assignments while Vernon and Bill separated themselves on the side of the hill from where they expected the enemy to come. It was still early and they all knew that they might have to spend the night. Having spent much of their lives in the wilderness, the thought didn’t bother them in the slightest. For them it was just another walk in the woods. Once in positions of their individual choice the men sat down to wait. They sipped their water sparingly and pulled something to eat from their packs, while they waited for what was to come.
Axel walked into James place, and spoke with him and Glenn.
“Well guys, it’s happened.”
“What’s happened?” Glenn asked. “I didn’t hear any shooting.”
“Not that. I heard on the radio a short time ago that the government has outlawed religion of all types. They claim to have proof that we were not created by God and so all religions are now banned. That means we can expect trouble at any time. Are you guys ready?”
“In about two minutes.” James answered. “I just need to finish hooking up the ‘daisy chain’ on these smoke grenades and we’ll be ready to go. What about the rest of them? How many do we have on our side?”
“A little over two dozen are set to go. There would be more, but some of them can’t be reached right now. It’s you two I’m worried about.”
“Well, don’t worry. Glenn and I have a plan. We’ll hold up our end of the stick. Just make sure that the rest of them keep the regular men off of us while we take down that long walker.”
Axel smiled. “Are you kidding? The rest of them are hoping they don’t have to face that thing. They are going to do whatever it takes to give you two the privilege.”
“Good.” James said. I hope they all have fully auto weapons.”
“They do. The peeks left a lot of them behind.” Axel looked at Glenn. “You look worried.”
“Axel, anyone in a situation like this who says they aren’t worried is either a liar or a fool. Of course I’m worried.”
“How did your wife take it?”
Glenn’s mind went back to the discussion he’d had with Marsha.
“Glenn, are you sure about this? You are just a man, and that thing is supernatural. Do you really think you are going to have a chance?”
“Honey, it’s not just me. James will be with me.”
“Alright, but two men against a supernatural monster. The question still remains. Do you really think you have a chance?”
“Sweetheart, you know what Paul said.
Rom 8:31 ¶ What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us?
I don’t think that The Lord wants this thing to win against His people. We have Him on our side. So the real question is, does he stand a chance?”
Glenn came back to the moment. “She isn’t happy with it, but she understands what is going on. She doesn’t like it, but what choice do we have?”
“If it means anything, I don’t like the choice either, but you’re right. We must stand. There really isn’t any other choice, except give in to the enemy.”
“I’m not going to do that.”
“I knew James picked the right man for this job.”
Suddenly the radio at Axels’ side squawked to life.
“Axel. Are you there?”
“I’m here, Vernon.”
“We have company. There’s about ten of them plus a big one.”
“Meet Craig where those two creeks meet at the bottom of the hill. He’ll bring you to me. You guys move fast, but stay quiet. Got me?”
“I understand. It will take about fifteen minutes for us to get there.”
“Make sure it ain’t longer.”
“You got it.” Axel turned to James. “Are you ready?”
It actually took only ten minutes for the men of Hideaway to gather at the appointed place. As the men assembled, Craig stepped out of the brush and spoke to Axel.
“Are you guys ready?”
“We’re just waiting for you.”
“Then let’s go.”
Craig turned and went back into the brush. Axel signaled the men with him and they all followed him into the woods. They traveled more than a mile, being as quiet as possible during their movement. Nobody said a word and everyone made as sure as possible that none of their equipment made a sound. They soon reached a point where Craig called a halt. He then gave a call that sounded for all the world like a bob white quail. Then they waited for a short time. Not far away the sound of a dog barking came to them. Craig signaled Axel and they all move forward. In less than one hundred yards they found Vernon waiting for them in a small clearing.
“Glad you made it.” He said to Axel. “They are coming from that way.” He pointed down a trail. “They should be here in ten minutes or so. You need to have your men spread out on both sides of this trail. Make sure they don’t shoot each other.”
“We’ve practiced this kind of thing. They’ll be okay.”
“Alright. It’s your show. Spread them out and stay down.”
It took two minutes for the men to spread themselves out in a V formation. That way everyone who fired a weapon was shooting into the V and not at each other. James and Glenn were at the point of the V, waiting for their enemy to appear. When he did, they were repulsed by the sight. The creature was at least thirteen feet tall. His body was a grotesque thing that was man like in the fact it had the usual number of arms and legs. Nothing else could even be considered as man like. Its behavior was equally grotesque. In its hand was what looked like the hind quarter of some large animal. It was possibly a deer. It was raw, bloody and uncooked, yet the creature munched on it as if it were a small chicken drumstick, bones and all. As it entered the clearing, it took one last bite and threw the rest into the brush.
“Wait for it.” James whispered to Glenn.
The creature advanced with normal men following him, and when James thought he was close enough he told Glenn, “Now”.
Glenn lit the fuse to the ‘daisy chain’ and began to ready himself for throwing it. The half dozen smoke grenades had been bound together and a cord tied around them. Once the fuse was ignited, Glenn whirled it in a circle off to his side. Once he had reached a point where he felt he had enough momentum, he released it with a quick fervent prayer that his aim would place the device where it needed to go. The clustered grenades landed three feet from the creature, bounced twice and rolled to a stop at its feet. Smoke began to pour from the canisters. That was the signal for the men of Hideaway to open fire.
With smoke pouring into the clearing, the men with the monster being blinded by it had no way to know where the shots coming at them came from. Unfortunately for them, the muzzle flash from their weapons told the men of Hideaway exactly where to direct their fire. In the middle of the chaos, there came an unearthly giggling. The creature seemed to be laughing at the entire thing. It stepped partially out of the smoke and move towards James and Glenn. The other men saw what was happening and began to fire at the creature. The lead bullets seemed to have no effect on it at all. The monster reached into the brush and grabbed one of the men. As he struggled to get loose, the thing laughed at him and then threw him as hard as he could against a rock outcropping that was nearby. The damage caused by the impact killed him instantly. The creature laughed again and moved towards James, who was now standing to get a clear shot at him. As he pulled the trigger of his shotgun, the creature backhanded him. The shot hit the monster in the right shoulder, and he obviously reacted to it. James however was sent flying though the air and crashed into some trees that were close by. He fell to the ground and didn’t move. Glenn knew it was now up to him.
Glenn pulled up his shotgun and aimed as the thing looked in the direction James had flown. When the monster turned to look at him, Glenn pulled the trigger. The solid copper shot slammed into the head of the thing and it dropped to the ground. Glenn worked the action of the pump gum and aimed once more. The thing was down, but not out of it yet. He fired a second time. He found out later that while his first shot had hit the thing in the head, it hadn’t penetrated the thick skull. The second shot, now on a more stationary target, did break through the bone and went into the brain. The monster hit the ground and stopped moving. Glenn was pleased with his work, until a loose round fired by one of the men fighting with the thing hit him in the side. He went down and cursed himself for not being more careful while the fight was still going on.
It didn’t take long for everything to be over. None of the men with the creature survived the encounter. James actually did survive the abuse he suffered at the hands of the thing and before anything else insisted that its head be cut off before they could claim any kind of victory.
Later that evening, Glenn lay in a bed next to James. Both men would survive their wounds, but they would both be laid up for awhile. Glenn awoke slowly and looked over at James.
“Are you alright?”
“The doc says I have three broken ribs and two more that are cracked. But otherwise I’m as fine as can be. The tree I hit didn’t break my spine, although it should have. But I’m not like you.”
“What do you mean?”
“While you were out your wife came in. I don’t think she is happy with you.”
“Oh. Thanks for telling me.”
“Well, just a heads up. Here she comes again.”
Glenn looked around to find Marsha walking into the room. James was right. By the look on her face it was clear she wasn’t happy.
“Hi, honey. I’m glad you came. How are the girls?”
“Don’t you ‘Hi honey’ me. I told you I’m not ready to break in a new husband. What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking that I didn’t want you and the girls to have to face that thing.”
Marsha stopped her tirade and thought about it. “That doesn’t give you the excuse to scare us to death.”
“I’m sorry, Honey. I really am. I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
Marsha broke down. “Oh, YOU!”
She fell on him and threw her arms around him. She was so very proud to have a man like him.
Pete sat on the porch of his new home. Jeff was inside with a woman of his kind. They seemed to be having a good time. That was good. She even liked him. That was good too. Pete felt very happy. Not only were the watchers gone, but he had found a lady cat. That was weeks ago, and now she was busy making a place for the kittens that would soon be born. In spite of the trouble, life was good for him. He hoped that his human could find the same contentment. After all, there were a lot of mice around here.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
James only spent a few days in confinement before the doctor allowed him to return home. As long as he promised to take it easy for the next six weeks or so and come in for regular checkups. Glenn on the other hand had internal injuries, and so the doctor reasonably thought that keeping him for a week or so to observe him and make sure that he wasn’t going to have any medical complications. It was during this time that a few things happened.
Once Glenn had returned home he realized that somewhere along the way after his first battle where he had been proclaimed a hero by his daughters, he had slipped back into the role of just being ‘Dad’, and he liked it. Now, stories circulated about how he had been the one to actually put the demonic beast down, and once again his girls promoted him to the rank of hero. As he followed the doctor’s advice of plenty of bed rest, Karen and Janie couldn’t do enough for him.
“Girls. What are you trying to do, smother me with affection?”
“We just want you to get better, Daddy.” Karen told him.
“Yeah, Daddy. We don’t want you to take any chances.” Janie added.
“Ladies, I’m either lying down or sitting in a chair. There isn’t much I can do to hurt myself. And the doctor did say that I need ro get up and move around a little now and then to keep from becoming too stiff.”
For her part, Marsha at first also spent time hovering over Glenn. But with age comes experience and she knew that to prevent him from getting worse, he needed to move around as soon as his injury permitted. That didn’t stop her from being at his side with her arm around him when he did move from the bed to the chair, but as time went on she provided less and less help as Glenn got better. As he recovered and began to move around outside from brief periods of time, he found himself embarrassed by the attention he received for the people of Hideaway. Once more he found himself treated as a hero, when that was the last word he would have used to describe himself. He protested, at first. Telling people that it was James who was the real hero. After all, it was James who knew how to deal with the demonic beast. But time and again he was told that while James may have had the knowledge, and even made the attempt to kill the beast, it was Glenn who put it down. That was enough for them.
It was during Glenn’s recovery that Jeff and Amber announced their intention to get married. Seemingly with Pete’s approval. He was in Ambers arms when the announcement was made. While Pete did appear to be accepting the friendship of more people than he used to, he was still particular about who those people would be. If approached by someone who he didn’t care for, he would usually stalk off as if insulted. The ones he could tolerate would be granted the pleasure of his presence. But only Jeff, Amber and Glenn were allowed to pick him up.
After Glenn had begun to take short walks outside the home when the most important thing happened. He was visiting with Jeff, discussing the upcoming marriage. As they moved down the street he heard something he hadn’t heard for a long time. A helicopter was in the air, and it was getting closer. They looked up together as it passed overhead. They watched as it suddenly swung around and headed back towards Hideaway. It came in low and passed slowly overhead. Both men, as well as a number of the townsfolk who came outside to find out what was going on got a good look at it. It was so low that several people could see a man inside taking pictures of the town below them. It was Jeff who made the first comment.
“Glenn? How fast can you move?”
“I can make a slow walk. Why do you ask?”
“Did you notice the emblem on the side of that thing?”
“I saw something that looked circular, but couldn’t really make out anything else.”
“That was the same emblem the men were wearing when they picked me up for reading The Bible in public. That chopper is from ‘The Office of Interstellar Co-operation.’ And that can’t be good for us. We need to find Axel.”
Jeff needn’t have worried about being the only one to recognize what the helicopter was and who it came from. It turned and made yet a third pass over the main street in town and someone began to throw handfuls of paper out the window. Jeff grabbed one of the leaflets as they fluttered to the ground. It was an announcement. One they had been both expecting and dreading. It read,
To: The People of the North American Region of the North American Union.
Subject: Restoration, Reclamation and Repopulation of the North American Region.
Be It Known,
The recent war has left much of this region in utter chaos with much damage and destruction. It is the desire of the government and in the best interests of the people of the region to begin reclaiming what areas that can be reclaimed, and to begin work on restoring this region to its former greatness. This is not a job that the government can do on its own. The assistance of all the people in the region will be required. Persons who are not currently working to provide necessary means of support to the region will be required to report to the nearest government facility to be assigned work that best suits their individual skills.
Those who are currently working in areas such as farming, trucking and construction are to be exempted from reporting, since those skills are already in high demand and they are providing invaluable service to the people of the North American Region. Those with skills that are not in such high demand will be expected to accept whatever assignments they receive, learn whatever skills are required and travel as necessary to accomplish the task of rebuilding. Transportation for said persons will be provided.
We shall not be alone in our efforts to recover. Our extraterrestrial visitors have graciously offered to provide assistance to us in this noble endeavor. They will be able to help with medical and nutritional needs. They will also agreed to provide such equipment as they feel we, the People of Earth, are able to learn how to master.
Let it also be known that they have offered to help with the repopulation of this great land. This offer has also been accepted by the government. All women of child bearing years, who are not already mothers, will report to the nearest government facility for assignment in this repopulation effort. By using the help of our friends from space, the normal time of gestation is dramatically reduced to a matter of a few weeks. Once the children are born, it will not be necessary for the host mothers of these ‘Star Children’ to raise them to adulthood. Our friends shall raise the children for you, and they shall become fully mature in a matter of months. Thereby they too shall be able to assist with the reclamation process. It is estimated that by using these methods the recovery of the entire region can be accomplished in less than ten years. Women who have already given birth are not required to assist with the repopulation of the region, but any who wish to step forward and help with this patriotic endeavor will be welcomed, as long as none of their previous children have any kind of genetic mutations.
The Visitors have also offered to defend our region while the recovery effort is proceeding, making it unnecessary for the people of our region to maintain weapons for their own defense. Therefore all weapons captured during and after the war will be surrendered to the nearest government facility.
It is recognized by the government that they will not be able to handle the expected influx of patriotic people who will come to aid in this work, all at once. It has been decided that each Directorate of the North American Region will be notified when they will be allowed to come in to their nearest facility and begin helping in this great work. The map provided below will show where the nearest government facility to you is located.
Director for the North American Region, North American Union
After reading it, Glenn looked at Jeff.
“I don’t think they’ve missed a trick. They want to make the men slaves and breed with the women. Just like The Bible says.”
“Where does it say that?”
“In the Book of Genesis it says,
Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
That’s where the giants of Noah’s day came from. The fallen angels mating with our women. They did it before and God had to destroy the Earth. I guess they figure since He has promised to never send another flood, this time they can get away with it. On top of that they say we will be protected from attack, so there is no need for us to hold on to any weapons. Without weapons, it is impossible to protect yourself or your family. They say no one will attack us. But I think we will need to protect ourselves from them.”
“But why would they want our women? They aren’t even from this planet, or so they say.”
“They’re not from Earth. They are supernatural creatures. But think about it. If they are fallen angels and they can remove all men whom God created from the planet and replace them with creatures of their own creation, then God isn’t in charge. If God isn’t in control, then they will not have to spend eternity in Hell. That gives them a lot of incentive, don’t you think?”
“I’d guess so. If I knew I was going to Hell, I’d do anything to avoid it.”
“That’s exactly what they are doing.”
“At least Amber is safe.”
“Jeff, you need to read that thing again. It doesn’t say wives are exempted. It says mothers are. Unless you and Amber have already started your family before your marriage, she is at risk. And unless the two of you start a child on your wedding night, she is still at risk. They want women, period. They don’t care if they are married or not.”
Later that day, Axel called for a meeting of the townspeople that night. Everyone attended. Nobody was comfortable at the turn of events. Axel called the meeting to order.
“Friends, I think that it would be a good idea that before we begin tonight, that we offer up a prayer for guidance and discernment about what we should do. Pastor, will you do the honors?”
The local pastor rose from his seat and asked everyone to kneel. He then lifted his voice towards Heaven.
Those who serve the adversary seek to cause us to stop believing in You, The Father. Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. They have outlawed You, oh Lord and expect us to follow their lead. Lord, we who are here reject them and their evil ways. We know whom we serve, and will not be moved. We ask You, Father, to guide us in our minds and our steps as we follow only You. Let The Lord arise, and His enemies be scattered. This we pray in Jesus’ name.
With a, “Thank you, Pastor.” Axel once again took center stage. He turned to the people of Hideaway and holding up one of the leaflets, he addressed them.
“Friends, this is why we are all here. I think it is obvious that Satan is beginning his final push to take over the Earth and everyone who lives here. I’m sure you have all read this thing. You know what he wants. All real men are to become his slaves. All real women are to be mothers to his genetic abominations, just as they were seduced into doing before the flood. I think we all know that refusing to do as this letter requires will result in our deaths if he has his way. To me, the question is simple. Will we bow down before the evil one and do his bidding to save our lives, or will we stand for the one true Living God? I cannot speak for you. But for me the answer is equally as simple. I would prefer to die standing for The Lord, than live under any circumstances without Him.
You have appointed me as leader of this community. I have told you what is on my mind. So now I have to ask. What is on your minds? Will you stand with me, for The Lord, or will you choose another way?”
With a single voice the letter was condemned by all.
“I am blessed tonight.” Axel told them. “I;m blessed by being surrounded by so many true believers in The Lord. I was going to ask for any who disagree to come forward and state their case.”
“AXEL, you done said what needs to be said. Why do we need anyone else to speak? You go ahead.” A voice called from the crowd.
“Thank you. I hope you feel that way in a minute. Friends if we stand against the enemy, he WILL come against us. That means unless we are ready to die, we must be ready to meet him and make his people die.”
That meeting was what led Jeff to be sitting in the woods, along with ten other men that evening. Axel had gotten a report from Vernon that a group of men were heading towards Hideaway. There seemed to be only six or seven of them, but they were not approachable by Vernon and his sons due to their location. Even if they had been, they still outnumbered the four men and were better armed. So Jeff and his comrades sat waiting for them to show up. From the direction of their approach there was only one route they could take and the men of Hideaway had spread themselves across the path at its narrowest point. If they continued towards Hideaway, they would have to come through this area. Jeff wasn’t feeling comfortable. He had only been married for twenty-four hours. He didn’t want to have his honeymoon interrupted like this. But there was little choice. He had bid Amber farewell and promised to be as careful as possible. After all, he didn’t want his new bride to become a widow so soon. Or not at all if he could help it. But sometimes things had to be done. Sometimes risks had to be taken. Jeff was so caught up in his thoughts that he jumped when something pressed against his ankle.
“PETE! What are you doing here, boy? I told you to stay with Amber.”
Another of the men looked at Jeff. “Do you really believe that cat understands what you’re saying”
“Of course he does. He just doesn’t always listen to me.”
“Well, if he listens at all, you better get him to go home. Things could get unhealthy out here.”
“Pete. Did you hear that man? This isn’t a good place to be. You need to get home and look after Amber. Go on now. Go to Amber.”
Jeff pushed Pete away from him in the direction of Hideaway. Pete took a few steps and then stopped to look around. Then he turned and calmly walked in the exactly opposite direction, and disappeared into the brush.
“Yeah. It sure looks like he listens to you.” The man said.
“Pete has his own ways of doing things.” Jeff said defensively.
The men sat in silence for another five minutes. They heard nothing and were beginning to think they had been sent on a wild goose chase. Suddenly there was a massive crashing and thrashing in the brush just ten yards to their front. Jeff recognized Pete’s war cry, which was followed by a man’s screams. Suddenly a man in body armor burst from the bushes. The right side of his head and neck were bleeding badly as he ran into the open. Pete was securely mounted on his back, with his claws deeply imbedded in the Kevlar he was wearing. The man stumbled and fell. Pete launched himself into the air so as to not be caught under his victims’ body when he hit the ground. He hit the ground four feet away and instantly vanished from sight. Three more men broke into the opening and moved to their injured comrade. That was all that was needed. The men of Hideaway opened fire. The body armor they worn would have saved their lives, had it not been for all of the other bullets that hit them.
With four of their number on the ground, including the commander of the operation, the remaining three men turned to run. They soon found another squad of men from Hideaway who had been attracted by the shooting. They joined their fellows in the afterlife.
Jeff was searching the bodies for whatever information he could find, when Pete rubbed up against his leg. He looked down a scratched Pete between the ears.
“Thanks, Big fella. We didn’t even know they were there.”
“Hey Jeff. Do you think he should join us on all of our patrols?” The man who had criticized Pete before asked.
“I guess you never had a cat. They do as they please. We just have to put up with them.”
Last edited by day late; 06-20-2012 at 07:59 PM.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
There were several more incursions attempted into Hideaway during the time that Glenn was recovering. None of them were successful. Axel was both glad and disturbed. He was happy that the enemy had been turned back at every attempt to get into the town or attack it. He was disturbed because he knew that by defeating all attempts to enter Hideaway, they were attracting unwanted attention. Military commanders didn’t like it when their men didn’t come back from a mission. That made them send out more men to find out what happened to the first ones, and so on. But what other choice did they have? If the enemy, who had made it clear that all Christians would be imprisoned, forced to abandon their faith, or simply killed, made it into town, then Hideaway was through.
At first their local pastor had asked for daily prayer meetings on the matter. That evolved into a constant ongoing prayer session which was handled in relays by the townsfolk. At any time day or night three or more people were praying for Gods protection of the entire town. Many of the women sent special prayers for protection against forced impregnation by the fallen angels masquerading as aliens, for themselves and their daughters. Marsha, Karen and Janie made it a point to attend these prayer services. It soon became a subject of conversation at Glenn’s home.
“Daddy, I don’t want one of those things growing inside of me.” Karen said one evening. “I mean it must kill the mothers to have a giant growing inside them.”
“I’m no expert Honey, but I don’t think it works that way. After all, how many women would want to have those children if the other women died giving birth?”
“Not many I guess.”
“I think you’re right. I believe the children are born normal size, but grow unbelievably fast and equally as large. Which sounds an awful lot like what the so called space brothers are offering to human women, doesn’t it? But don’t get me wrong. I don’t want you to be a host mother to one of those ‘star children’ either. I think that would be one of the worst things that could happen to you. And I will die before I let those aliens get their hands on you or your sister.”
She smiled and hugged him. “Thanks Daddy. I knew you wouldn’t let that happen to us. I feel sorry for anyone trying to do it while we have you to protect us.” She sobered for a moment and went on. “What if something happens to you? I mean how long do we have until they would want us, if you’re not here?”
“They said the minimum age was sixteen. That gives you less than a year. Janie has less than three years. But don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere.”
“What about me?” Marsha asked, jokingly.
“Well, you are already a mother. So you are safe.”
“But I can still have children.”
“In that case, they can have you, over my dead body. Not before. And besides, you know how to shoot. You’re even better at it than I am.”
“True. But it’s still nice to know that you are willing to make sure I don’t have to shoot.”
“Not while I’m alive.”
“That’s why I love you.”
Similar conversations took place all over Hideaway. The results were always the same, no matter who was speaking. Jeff gave such assurances to his new bride, Amber.
“Honey, none of those things are going to touch you. I will make sure of that. If they even scratch you, they will be dead before you start to bleed. I promise you that. And even if they get me, you still have Pete. And you know how ornery he can get.”
She smiled at his joke. “If I didn’t have you, I’m sure Pete would protect me. But you know there is another way to make sure that they don’t want me.”
“And that means?”
“Why don’t you put Pete outside and we go to bed?”
Pete wasn’t happy about being pushed out into the night. Not that he really minded. Some of the best hunting he had ever had took place at night. But he really didn’t plan on hunting tonight. He wanted to stay inside with his people. Still some allowances had to be made for men. They had ways that were a complete mystery to him. He shook off his insulting treatment and wandered off into the darkness. He was sure he could find something to eat, and who knew? Maybe the female he had met had given birth by this time. She would need something to eat to provide milk for their young. Pete wanted them to grow up strong. The day would come when they would have to defend their own territories. And anyway, while it didn’t look the same, or feel the way it had before, he was sure there were now more watchers out there. Since this was his territory, he needed to know for certain. Sometimes the same lesson had to be taught more than once, and he was just the cat to do it. Pete quietly slipped off into the bushes.
Over the course of those few weeks, the local doctor spent much of his time either giving pregnancy tests, or talking to people about the subject. In his frustration he went to Axel.
“Look, I’m happy to do what I can for everyone. That’s why I got into this business in the first place. I like helping people. But it would help me a lot if we could make people understand that twenty-four hours is not enough time to tell if a woman is expecting or not. It takes weeks before there are enough changes in the body to register on a test. While I’m talking to these nervous ladies, there are other patients with real problems that need my help, as in right now. I can’t waste all my time on women wanting to avoid what these things want to do to them. I’m sympathetic, but I can’t spend all of my time on them. I need your help. Please, if you can do anything to get them off of my back, I’d appreciate it.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Once again the copy machine was put to work. A statement was printed up explaining about testing for pregnancy. It was made clear that the first and best sign of it was in a woman’s monthly cycle. If that was not normal, then see the doctor. If it was, then there was really no need to see him. The load on the doctor was reduced, but still women came to him. Not for testing, but for counseling. They no longer wanted to know if they were with child. They wanted to know how was the best way to ensure that they would be expecting when they next came to see him. To his surprise, quite a number of young ladies that he knew weren’t yet married or even old enough to be married, wanted answers to the same questions. The doctor understood that they may not be considering marriage, but they were old enough to bare children. That mean they would not be given the chance to find a husband before becoming a mother. They too wanted to avoid that, by whatever means necessary.
In most of the cases the doctor felt fine about offering advice. But in some of them he was quite conflicted. It was one thing to advise a young eager couple the best timing to use to become a family. But to give such advice to young unmarried ladies, some of whom he knew had warm loving families and some he wasn’t so certain about, that was something else entirely. Especially, when some of them, he felt, were much too young to be concerned with such things. These were strange times indeed.
After so many attempted raids on Hideaway, Axel suddenly found himself with an entirely different concern. All of a sudden the attempts stopped. He didn’t understand why. He was equally concerned about the lack of over flights that had been made by helicopters recently. They too had ended. It didn’t make any sense. The enemy knew where they were. They had certainly lost enough men trying to enter the town. Why they had never launched a real full fledged assault on the town was a mystery to him. And now there was nothing. It made him very uneasy. He had been in contact with other groups. They had all pledged to come to the aid of each other as needed. Yet no calls ever came. The question was why not? The entire area had suddenly become very quiet and he didn’t know why.
James had healed enough to once again begin running his route. He was also surprised by the way things were going. He would arrive at a loading dock with very carefully forged papers stating exactly what he wanted to get. But for reasons he could not explain, the men on the loading dock read things that he knew weren’t on the papers and provided everything he wanted and more. And at a time when everyone had to face a virtual inquisition, time after time he was overlooked for questioning. On the one time anyone raised any questions about what he was doing, he didn’t have to say a word. A sergeant looked closely at his papers.
“Three hundred pounds of frozen beef, eight fifty gallon drums of dried vegetables and three pallets of women’s clothing, that’s what you’re after? Now why would you need all of that?”
Another man looked over the sergeant’s shoulder. “What’s the matter with you Sergeant? Can’t you read? This load is for the hospital over in the next county. That’s where the space brothers are doing the repopulation thing. They have to feed those women something. Load him up and let him go.”
“Yes, Lieutenant, by your order.”
James knew his paperwork didn’t request anything like that. He had hoped for only one pallet of clothing and nothing more. But he was wise enough to say nothing and even lent a hand in getting everything on the truck quickly and secured firmly. The Lieutenant signed something on the clipboard and handed James the paperwork.
“You better get a move on, trucker. You don’t want that meat to melt and get spoiled. I’ll call ahead to the gate so they don’t delay you.”
“Yes Sir. Thank you Sir.” Was the first and only thing he said.
“Don’t thank me. You have all the right paperwork and you’re helping to get things straightened out again in this country. We need more like you. Now get moving.”
James had to wonder about it all the way back to Hideaway. There was no reason for getting out of the loading dock area without inspection. Just as there was no way such a mistake about what he was asking for could have been made. Yet here he was, on the road with more than he could have ever hoped for. He gave up wondering about it and spent the rest of the trip singing hymns.
Marsha was having a different problem with Karen.
“Mom! You know what they want to do to us. Why shouldn’t I marry Lee? If we have a baby, then they won’t take me.”
“Karen, you are fifteen years old. For Christians marriage is a life time commitment. I’m sorry if this upsets you, but you are too young to understand what that means. What if he isn’t everything you want in a man? Are you ready to spend the rest of your life in a bad relationship? THAT’S what we are talking about. You can’t do something like this just to avoid those things. Your father and I will hide you or do whatever it takes to keep you away from them, until you are old enough to make a decision like this.”
“I think I’m old enough now.”
“Karen, I know you do, but you’re not. I’ll tell you something I’ve never said before. When I was your age, I felt the exact way you do now. His name was Allen. I just knew he was my forever after man. Well, your fathers name is Glenn. I was wrong then. I don’t want you to make a mistake like I almost did.”
“YOU were wrong. That doesn’t mean I am.”
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re wrong. But either way another year or three won’t make a difference. If he truly loves you, he will wait. If he doesn’t, it’s better to find out now. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“I understand, Mom. But how can you know that someone better will come along?”
“Because I trust God. If Lee is the right one for you, then the two of you can wait. But if he is or isn’t, the right man will come along sooner or later. I know it may seem impossible, but remember what God said.
Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
God will bring the right man at the right time. Just trust Him, no matter what.”
As James made his way back to town, he couldn’t believe how many times he was waved through check points and road blocks. There was no way that these people could possibly allow him to make it through with so little trouble. As he pondered the matter while he drove, one scripture came to his mind over and over again.
Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
He couldn’t argue with that.
Axel spent many hours worrying about the safety of the people of Hideaway. After a long time trying to figure out why the people in the town seemed to be invisible to those who wanted them dead, so badly, he remembered what God had said.
Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
He soon stopped worrying.
Pete made his way to the top of the hill. He knew there was someone watching them, even if his human didn’t. He was going to show this watcher just who was in charge in this place. He came out of the brush and found a foot. It was much larger than he had ever seen before. He looked up at the body it belonged to. This one was very large. He stood well above the trees on either side of him. He didn’t seem threatening, despite the long flaming stick like thing belted to his side. Pete took the chance and rubbed up against his foot. With the size of this ‘human’ Pete didn’t even come up to his ankle. Not that the size difference meant anything to him. The being looked down at Pete, and smiled at him. Unheard by anyone else, he spoke to Pete.
“They have proven themselves faithful. They are now protected by The Most High God. Go home, little one. I will stand watch.”
Pete head bumped the foot with a vocal, “Mrrr” and turned back towards Hideaway. Things were looking up as far as he could tell. His human would like that.
Once again we have reached the point where I will go no further, for reasons I have stated before. At this point, I can’t say if there will be a book seven. Let’s just wait and see what The Lord wills.
Have you ever noticed how 'good enough' usually isn't?
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