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Thread: Wayside

  1. #1


    Trial Balloon for a Story:


    Chapter One

    I don’t know. I’ve never been a World traveler, so I have little first-hand knowledge what it was like in other countries. Apparently many Third World citizens pulled up stakes and moved to more prosperous countries. More power to them, if they could make it work.

    Why move halfway around the World though, to move from one Impoverished Third-World Country to another?

    That’s what Urik’s father had done though. According to the records, he was an unusually tall man for an Oriental, at 6”3”—and he was half Chinese and half Vietnamese. He moved to Haiti and married a native Haitian lady of unusual stature—The records vary, but she was at least 6’5”.

    And they had little Urik. They didn’t name him “Urik” of course. My sister told me his original name several times when he was little, but my memory of such things is poor.

    At any rate, Urik’s father passed away when he was three years old, and any chance to find out what had drawn the man to Haiti died with him. When Urik was five, his mother died in one of those great epidemics that wracked the island in those days.

    Fast-forward a couple years. Urik is staying in a small Pentecostal Orphanage run by some friends of my sister. Sister was fifty-five and a confirmed old maid. The rules were pretty tight about such things in the US, but foreign children could be adopted much more easily under the right circumstances…

    And the folks running the Orphanage were personal friends of hers.

    And in truth, I don’t know anyone who could have been a more enthusiastic and conscientious parent.

    My sister owned several .357 Magnums and she used a Sword Cane to aid her walking. She had one hell of a right hook—but she felt the little boy that she’d adopted needed some wholesome male influence in his life. That’s how I got to be a full-time uncle to the boy.

    I was older than my sister. I’d liked children once, but the time when I felt that I could have enjoyed mentoring one had come and gone when I was asked to take Urik under my wing.

    Still, how hard was it? I took the wee lad fishing. I had a Stoeger 28 Gauge cut down to 18” barrels, and a youth stock installed. We did the Skeet and Trap thing for a couple years, until I was sure that he was safe in the Field with a Shotgun.

    He went to the range with me, and to Combat Pistol matches. I made sure that he started a Martial Art (First Judo, then Capoeira) early, while he was still pretty flexible.

    We were grand friends as he was growing up, but after high school, came college in another town. He got more interested in girls, than in pursuing manly sports with an old uncle.

    My sister died while he was still in college. I think that I was a bit of an embarrassment to the lad on more than one occasion.

    It wasn’t just the race thing, though that didn’t help. Urik’s Oriental heritage had failed to leave the slightest trace on his face or physique. He looked very Black, and big and muscular enough to be an All-Pro NFL Lineman.

    I’m sure that he got a little tired of explaining how he was adopted into a family of very Nordic type folk…

    Even though his oddball uncle attended a Black Church.

    It was more than that though. He was moving amongst very orthodox Politikaly Korrect Sheeple. I don’t think that he was hypocrite enough to talk bad about Guns, Hunting, Fishing, Pentecostal Holiness Churches, Creationism, etc. But he didn’t need a Neanderthal uncle trying hard to Freak the Squares.

    So we grew apart.

    ******************************** ****************************

    Then the hard times started. I’d been a Survivalist once—but I was in my early eighties. I needed several Blood Pressure medicines. I was on Insulin and Diuretics and Anti-Gout medicine. My eyesight was still pretty good, but it was failing. Everything was failing.

    I didn’t reasonably expect to survive the end of our Technological Society by more than a few months. Hell, I was ripe to go anytime.

    But I still had a nice big fall-out shelter under my small country Cabin. I had Beaucoup long-term storage foods and ample Guns and Ammo—not to mention a grand library. Yeah, like Abraham lamented, I had no kinsman to leave it to.

    Then Urik contacted me. He had a wife and four children of his own. He wanted to make sure that he was welcome at my small farm, when and if the Spritz Hit The Proverbial Phan.

    Then things went to hell in a hand-basket, and Urik, his college-educated wife, his three sons and one little daughter moved in with me.

    ******************************* *********************************

    We went to Church Sunday. Everyone who stays under my roof is expected to make an earnest effort to attend most Sundays. Meetings tend to go way long, so there is no Sunday night service—though I sometimes visit other Churches evening services.

    “It is Churches like that, that hold our people back,” Urik’s wife said.

    She went by the handle “Fa-La”—Rhymes with “La-La”.

    “How so?” I asked.

    I could see Urik cringing.

    “The use of The King James Bible; The Literalism; the Exuberant Manifestations and the Glossolalia; Women in Long Dresses and Big Hats and Functionally Illiterate Ministers…” Fa-La began.

    “O-Kay,” I began. “That ‘E-Litrate’ Minister you’re referring to is a Lawyer. That big heavy-set woman with the Long Dress and Missionary Hat is a Nurse-Practicioner.

    “Exuberant Manifestations? Were you listening? The man was telling us that we’re going to live forever, and spend most of it—minus the little start-up time we spend here—in a Grand and Perfect Place—If you Believe. That is something to get excited about.

    Have you ever seen the fans celebrate a touchdown by their home team? That, my Lady, is Pure Praise!”

    We argued for a while longer, when she picked up a different track.

    “There are going to have to be some changes made around here,” She began.

    “How so?”

    “There are Guns everywhere. They need lo be under lock and key and out of the sight of impressionable young minds,” Fa-La said.

    “I don’t Think So!” I replied, putting special emphasis on the word “Think”. “Kids, gather around.”

    Dale was the youngest. He was six years old.

    “Dudes, it is like: There are Guns around. They are not yours. They do not concern you. Keep your hands off of them. Soon I’ll start teaching y’all how to shoot and how to take care of Guns—and we’ll see about getting you your own Guns.

    “In the meantime, anyone who so much as touches one of my Guns will get a powerful whipping. I don’t hold with a lot of whipping, but y’all have been raised poorly. You have some catching up to do.

    “And I have all kind of ways of knowing if my Guns have been touched—and this applies equally to any hidden Gun you may come across,” I told them.

    Fa-La started to fidget.

    “Fa-La, you and Uric have nowhere else to go. You can stay here. You’ll eat well. We can be very self-sufficient.

    “I can bend or compromise on many things. Say what you want about my Church, or its members—but you and your family will attend Sunday, and any other major occasions that I specify.

    “As far as important rules of Living--Survival—It is my way, or the Highway.

    “You and Uric need to discuss this carefully in private. Make up your mind if you want to stay here,” I said as calmly and forcefully as I could.

    Just to bring home the point, I took the three boys out to kill some rabbits—more than we needed, but enough that each boy got to behead two of them. They wouldn’t go to waste.

    Then all four children and Fa-La got a lesson on how to fry rabbit, make mashed potatoes and milk gravy, while baking biscuits, all on a Wood stove. I didn’t expect them to be able to do it on their own, after one demonstration—but it was a start.

    Monday the children helped me plow with the Roto-Tiller and do some spade work. The garden would need to be a good bit larger to feed so many new mouths.

    In the afternoon, I gave each of the children a .22 Bolt Action Marlin—even the Girl Diane. I covered basic safety and target fundamentals, and we did a bit of shooting. I still didn’t trust them to be safe and responsible, so the Rifles got put up after use—but each child now had a dedicated rifle with their Initials stamped on the barrel.

    I took the two older boys to a small custom slaughterhouse. Few things get rid of squeamishness quite as fast as a job in an Abattoir. Drinking that first pint of Bull’s Blood is an experience as well—sure there is some risk, drinking Blood straight from the Bull. There are some risks drinking Raw Milk as well. As a onetime thing, or very occasional practice, I think that the risk worth it.

    At any rate, the Butcher hired the lads to work part-time in exchange for some meat, and a bit of pocket change.

    ********************************** *******************************

    Fast forward to early November. The kids were all pretty good with their .22s by then. I’d gotten them all Bolt Action .22 Magnums just like their .22s. A .22 is of some use in defending a homestead but a .22 Magnum is noticeably better.

    We stressed long-range accuracy and shooting from barricaded positions. Each of the children also had a Smith and Wesson Model 41—the old .22 Magnum Revolver—with their choice of four or six inch barrels.

    I told them that once the “Balloon Went Up”, that the Revolvers would be constant wear. In the meantime, they were stowed when not being shot on the Range. Couldn’t have wild talk about children running loose around my farm, with .22 Magnum Side Arms.

    Fa-La had lost her job before the family moved in with me. They couldn’t afford payments on their condo, or Fa-La’s SUV. Wholesome food was getting harder to come by, and periodic power and/or water outages had become routine.

    Unemployment—the official Unemployment was hovering around fifteen percent. Violence in the cities had gotten more common—though nothing like “Law of The Jungle” prevailed. Gasoline wavered from just under, to just over seven dollars a gallon.

    Strangely, the whole Nation seemed poised on a Cusp. Most folks hadn’t lost hope. They seemed convinced that better days were coming, and they were willing, for the most part, to try to hang on grimly and wait for better days.

    Things deteriorated slightly, since Urik’s family had moved in with me—but not a whole lot. Thing was, things were already pretty grim. Unemployment rose a point or two. Gasoline was now around seven-fifty or sixty per Gallon. Food prices crept up.

    But as little as I like any Government and despite being opposed to any sort of Public Dole…

    Under extraordinary circumstances, the Government did an excellent job of Triage, Tightening the Purse Strings and holding stuff together.

    Then came the week of Thanksgiving. Food and fuel prices shot up twenty or thirty percent. Hurricanes—big Gnarly Force-Five Hurricanes pounded the Gulf States and States all along the Eastern Seaboard.

    A pretty stiff Flu Virus was already hitting the New England States and working it’s way West and South. It wasn’t any kind of Civilization Ending Plague—though it might have been as bad as the Influenza outbreak of 1917—but it was just one more thing.

    But the thing that really set off the panic was the large number of folks who were told not to come back to work after the Thanksgiving Holiday. Many Businesses had been trying hard to hold it together until the end of the year, had given up all at once.

    ****************************** ******************************************

    Urik was one of the one’s laid off—but he brought some of his work home with him, in a Stainless Steel Briefcase.

    “Uncle, how much do you know about what I do?” Urik asked.

    “Not much,” I admitted.

    “What would happen to my family, if I were to perish—like my father before me?”

    “Gosh, I don’t know son. I’ve tried to teach your children and Fa-La everything that I can about Homesteading, Weapons and Survival. If something happened to you, I’d try to carry on.

    “Thing is, I don’t even quite have a full year’s worth of Insulin, be out of some of my Blood Pressure Drugs even earlier. Anyway, I’m an old man. I could go anytime.”

    “That’s what I know,” Urik moaned in misery.

    After a moment, he continued in a stronger vein.

    “Have you heard about some of the current research into a ‘Super-Soldier Serum’?”

    “You mean, apart from what I read in the Comics?” I joked.

    “This stuff is real Uncle. It’s a cocktail of gene therapies and cutting-edge nanites. The main therapy alters your muscle chemistry. You get about twice the strength, or just a bit more…

    “But your muscle endurance goes through the ceiling—largely because the muscles switch to a direct fat-burning metabolism, and there’s precious little oxygen debt. Think of being able to near-sprint for a mile and a half.”

    He paused momentarily.

    “There are downside side-effects. Subjects need about sixty percent more calories—even when idle. Body craves fat. There seems to be some hyper-activity and irritability…

    “Uncle, this is all very top-secret. Please don’t tell anyone…

    “The ideal test subject that we’re doing the prelims on, is six foot tall and weighs between 180 and 195 pounds. He can do 100 push-ups, Bench Press at least 270 pounds and run a Marathon in under five hours.

    “Most of them are Airborne Paratroopers or Army Rangers.

    “Afterward, they’ll weigh 200-220 pounds—and they will only have two or three percent body fat. They’ll Bench Press 600-700 Pounds. They can run a marathon in less than four hours. Give them a big, high fat meal and a couple hours nap to digest in peace—and they’ll run another sub-four hour Marathon—and do an hour of calisthenics before bed…

    “And as long as they get five good solid hours of sleep per night, they can keep to that schedule indefinitely.

    “All their senses are hyper-acute. Their reaction time is less than half normal. They heal about five times the normal rate…

    And we extrapolate from some of the mice testing, that they should live about sixty-five percent longer.”

    “So? I asked. “A Super Old Man, is still an Old Man—Body systems are all shutting down—you know the drill.”

    “We were concentrating on military applications—but there are indications that the Serum can actually reverse aging…

    “Problem is: About thirty-five percent don’t survive the rejuvenation.

    “All I ask: If I’m gone, and you’re at the end of your life-span, throw the dice—for our family.”

    *********************************** *******************************

    Before the end of January a looter’s .22 Bullet took Urik from this Earth. It wasn’t long afterward that there was a rather limited Nuclear exchange. God alone knows what set it off—but contrary to any Modern Strategy that I ever heard discussed, even hypothetically—in much of the First World, there were many enhanced radioactive bombs used.

    At the end of February, I decided to give the Serum a shot. I was getting weak and forgetful.

    I read Urik’s instructions carefully. The Serum didn’t need to be refrigerated—and so far as they’d been able to determine—it had an indefinite shelf life.

    Standard dose was Fifty CCs delivered to one buttock. Urik recommended that because of my age and size, that I take a Double Dose. They recommended a follow-up shot at one week. I took a double-size follow-up on day three and another Double Dose follow-up seven days later…

    That was also per Urik’s Written recommendation. Eight weeks in, when I was beginning to see changes, I gave myself a Single Dose follow-up. I can’t exactly tell you why. It just seemed right.

    And the change began…


  2. #2


    A little more Stage Setting.

    More Action and Longer Chapters to follow:

    Chapter Two

    I started training again, in Mid-March, fourteen days after the first shot. According to the papers Uric had left me, I didn’t need to exercise to get stronger, but wearing the muscles down, and making sure that they got flushed with plenty of Blood regularly should help speed the process.

    Also, say that I could wave my arm at someone, and make him strong enough to lift a 500-pound Barbell overhead with one hand. Unless and until he mastered the extreme balance and coordination necessary to do such an extreme stunt, he’d be a danger to himself and everyone around him when he attempted it.

    {I’m not sure that a reasonably normal weight man could counterbalance such an enormous mass one handed, regardless of how strong he was…}

    There are many heavy objects in the World, beside Barbells and Dumb-Bells, many far less wieldy—but at least having the mental data from Weights would give me something to extrapolate from.

    Bench Presses aren’t everything—but they’re a good index of overall upper body strength. A serious Strength building program should include Squats, Dead Lifts, Bench Press, some type of Overhead Press and Some type of Rowing.

    Depending on how advanced and ambitious a man is he can add Curls, Neck Work, Shoulder Work and something for the Calves. Grip strength and Forearms are almost a specialty in and of themselves.

    I’d been into some heavy-duty lifting in my youth. I lifted as a Super Heavyweight and weighed Three Hundred Sixty-Five pounds at my best.

    I was a rickety old man when I started training again, but I had a fairly good gym in my fall-out shelter. I had figured that not only was it a very good idea to be in shape when it was time to crawl out into the Post Apocalypse World…

    But a good exercise program would help relieve the monotony in the interim.

    I didn’t have the balance to Squat with any weight at all when I started or even to do deep knee bends without a weight or Bar. I did have a Leg Extension Machine and a Leg Curl Machine—as well as a couple different Calf Machines. I was doing a very few repetitions of the Dead Lift with an empty 45-pound Olympic Bar. I started doing Bench Presses with the same 45-pound empty Bar and Presses Behind the Neck. I could have done a bit more with the Presses to begin with—at least Strength wise—but I was awkward. I didn’t want to endanger myself –or my teenaged spotters.

    At first I started out with the traditional Monday, Wednesday and Friday training routine. Its doctrinaire that muscles need at least 48 hours between heavy training sessions—and I only raised the weight once every week, even when I thought that I could have progressed faster.

    After about five weeks, I started lifting every other day—which only got me an average of one half a workout extra per week. But I also started increasing the weight every workout. At nine weeks, I started working out every day and increasing the weight every workout.

    By the end of the Summer, I was Bench Pressing 365 pounds for three sets of ten. I could have done more—but although I had an electric hoist as a fail-safe spotter, I didn’t want to push things. Besides, I only had three Olympic Bars. Even the best Bars will get bent outa shape with constant assaults with mega-weights.

    I’d Squatted 765 once, in a contest, as a young man. Heavy Squats aren’t as hard on a Bar as the same amount would be if Bench Pressed. I worked up to 600 X 27 Repetitions on the Squat—Those were gym lifts—no knee wraps, no Super-Suit—and never mind “Thighs-Parallel-to-the-Floor”. I went down at least a good four inches lower than Parallel, until my buttocks touched my calves.

    Extrapolating what I could have lifted for a single repetition was problematic. I could do far more repetitions with a near maximum weight than I should have been able to—based on normal human extrapolations. As I say, muscular endurance went up even more dramatically than Strength.

    From Mid-March until September, my weight had gone from 315 to 260. 260 was a very light weight for me, to be doing heavy lifts—particularly at age eighty-six…

    Sometime around Mid-September or Early March, I got way too busy to keep up regular Weight workouts, much less to carefully chart my progress. I probably wasn’t as strong as the average Super-Soldier yet in September—despite being a good deal heavier. I was Stronger and had much more endurance than anyone else that I might encounter.

    But I continued to grow Stronger as time went on. My weight dropped until my body-fat was very near zero—then I started gaining again. I ended up weighing 275, with less than three percent body-fat. That isn’t all to the good. Eight to ten percent body-fat would be better for a number of reasons…

    It isn’t really practical though. I need a bare minimum of five thousand calories per day to prosper and my body craves and consumes fat constantly.

    ************************************ ******************************

    As I have said, the nuclear exchange was curiously subdued. Every state that I ever heard tell, got hit at least in its most populous city, or it’s Capital—Where those two weren’t the same— and in a very few cases, both The Capital and the Most Populous city.

    States along the East and West Coast, as well as the Gulf States got hit harder. Some of them took hits to several cities. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago all took multiple hits. I don’t think any of the other cities took more than one bomb each. Certainly none of the inland cities did.

    But most of the bombs were wrapped with many pounds of radioactive Cobalt, Strontium and Carbon 14. I don’t know how much more dangerous fall-out was created—but when word got out, it spurred the mass exodus from the cities.

    The countries of Central and South America, Africa, Europe, and much of the rest of the Third World absorbed similar attacks. Conspiracy Theorists believe that The Powers That Be planned it—with Malice of Forethought—to drastically lower World Population.

    Maybe so—as with most Conspiracy Theories—There is no way to prove, or to disprove it and it makes little difference in the survivor’s day-to-day struggle to survive.

    Still, most fall-out scenarios were based on the premise that the Missile and Air Force Bases all over the Corn and Wheat Belts would take a heavy barrage of “Pound-The-Rubble” type ground bursts.

    Didn’t happen. Even with the enhanced radiation bombs, fall-out was pretty mild in much of Middle America. It was certainly fairly mild in Eastern Kentucky.

    The mild radioactivity was a mixed blessing. A radiation level that made the Crab Grass glow in the dark might have wreaked havoc on the Ecology. It would have killed a bunch of Innocent Wildlife and Livestock, not to mention Inoffensive People…

    But presumably, it would also have cut way down on the number of Potential Backwoods Mussolini’s too.

    But it didn’t.


  3. #3


    Chapter Three

    A farmer named “Curtis” had driven his big red Ford Truck over to my farm to visit. I offered him Coffee, some Biscuits and Homemade Strawberry Jam.

    “How are you getting by?” He asked, as he enjoyed my largesse.

    “Fair to middlin’, ” I allowed.

    It really wasn’t any of his business—not that I minded him asking—but if word got around how good we actually had it, it could cause envy and all sorts of divers ills.

    “There’s this woman named ‘Petulia’. She’s a teacher at the local High School and she’s a major mover and shaker in the PTA. She’s trying hard to rise to the level of her incompetence, in the wake of the recent catastrophes.

    “Anyway, she’s been trying to get a couple of the nearby towns and counties to form a consolidated ‘Government’. She is quite vocal in her belief that we need to pool all our resources—even if we have to be forced. She says:

    ‘Share and share alike’

    “She also says that we can’t afford to let local farmers use their own judgment which crops or livestock to raise,” Curtis said.

    “My, My! She is proposing Socialism with perhaps a touch of Fascism thrown in for Leaven—and a bit of Populism for a rare garnish. How Special!” I said.

    Now when I was younger, I would have said things like:

    “Over my dead body!”

    Or made some rhetorical threats toward Miss Petulia, that were in all probability anatomically impossible…

    Like threatening to shove both her arms up her…

    But age had taught me to play my hand close to my chest.

    I trusted Curtis, as far as I trusted anyone. Thing is, even when you trust, its best to keep things “Need to Know”. If someone managed to snitch me out, I wouldn’t have any friends on the Suspect’s list—not that I had any real friends.

    We talked a bit more, and then Curtis asked, “Do you have a CB?”

    “Yes,” I cautiously admitted.

    I didn’t add that my station had unusual range and potential broadcast power—though I’d yet to make use of the power. Up until recently, not antagonizing the FCC had been a legitimate consideration.

    Besides, why clog up the airwaves for no good reason? If you wanted to talk to someone on the west coast before the collapse, why not use a Telephone?

    “How about HAM?” Curtis continued.

    “Yes, “ I answered—almost mournfully. I hated to give away so much.

    “Well if they come, they’ll probably come by my place first—I’m closer to town. I’ll give you a head’s up,” Curtis said.

    Curtis and I exchanged Frequencies and Code Phrases. I gifted him a three-pound can of Coffee and a jar of Jam. He said that he had plenty of Sugar for his Coffee.

    That was the day after Thanksgiving—what they used to call “Black Friday”. I never spoke to Curtis face-to-face again. I spoke to him only once, over the Radio.

    With the Jackboots over-running the crude defenses he had put around his farm, he managed to get a message to me.

    I honor him.

    That was the nineteenth of December.

    ********************************** **********************************

    I called my family together.

    Solomon was six years old now. His sister was eight and Marcus was twelve. They all had the scoped Bolt Action .22 Magnums that I’d given them. I’d fitted them all up with nice medium-sized Moderators, and they’d sighted them in using the Partial “Silencers”.

    You couldn’t mask the super-sonic whine of the .22 Magnums. That being so, there was no crying need to bulk the Suppressors unnecessarily trying to totally contain the muzzle blast—but I’d lowered the sound signature a good deal.

    “Guys, I know that you’re too young for this—but life isn’t fair,” I told them.

    “If they take our food, we may very well starve to death. If they take our Guns, life won’t be worth living…

    “Really, what is life worth without Guns? You know that they only allow one Dog per farm. Which three Dogs do you want to see Gunned down before you? And if the one they let us keep is a male, they’ll castrate him on the spot—right in front of God and everyone.

    “I read onetime, that if they issued every soldier in the Army one cartridge, and if every soldier one shoot one enemy with his one bullet…

    “The war would be over. I’d really like to think that I can count on each of you to take down one client apiece, right at the beginning. That may not win this Battle, but it sure will discourage the daylights out of them, right at the beginning.

    “Stay under cover. Don’t expose yourself—but every client that you satisfy after the first, is Protein for us,” I said.

    “Protein? Are we going to eat them?” Diane asked, while wrinkling her face.

    “No, ‘Protein for us’ is an expression—like ‘Good for the Home Team’ or whatever,” I explained.

    I sent them to their firing positions. Since the Clients would be directing most, if not all their fire at the House, the hidden firing ports should be safer. If the firefight lasted long enough for the Spider Holes to come under fire, there were escape tunnels.

    Boaz was Sixteen years old and he’d been training fairly extensively with a Bolt Action .223. He could hit harder, and penetrate body armor.

    “I’m counting on you son,” I told him, while briefly putting my hand on his shoulder.

    Given Fa-La’s longstanding dislike of firearms—though her Husband’s death had caused her to radically re-evaluate—and the fact that she was old enough to be a good deal harder to teach…

    I hadn’t tried to make a Long Range Marksman out of her. Nonetheless, she stood watch with a Combat Ready Mossberg Pump in 20 Gauge—Ghost Ring Aperture Sights, Youth Stock, Pachmayer Recoil Pad, Pro-Ported Barrel and a Screw-In Choke carefully regulated to throw the tightest possible patterns with the Handloaded 20 Gauge Shells with 13 Buffered, Plated “1” Buck—along of a pinch of #6 Shot (Also Buffered and Plated) in each shell.

    “Are you fully on-board with this?” I asked her.

    She shrugged.

    “What other course is there?” She asked rhetorically.

    A couple Humvees with about twelve dudes between them pulled up front. Uniforms varied, but they all had the big shiny Brass Stars that I understood that the High School Metal Shop was turning out for them.

    I walked out to meet them with my Scout Rifle hanging muzzle down, diagonally across my back.

    No way to get it into play quickly? Perzactly! I wanted them to notice that. I wanted them to be complacent.

    They were trying to finesse their way in. Doubtless they had more “Soldiers” on call—just around the nearest cover, maybe 500 yards south of my mailbox. But they wanted to do this without bloodshed, if at all possible.

    Like the “Hagakure” by Yamamoto Tsunetomo says:

    “Cowards theorize with the idea of staying alive firmly in mind. “

    They figured that folks, who just might surrender to a Squad of men, might be intimidated by a full Platoon.

    I figured that taking out a Dozen Clients cleanly, at the very beginning, might destroy the other’s morale. Cutting off a smaller group of clients, and dealing with them separately is called:

    “Defeat in Detail.”

    “Put you hands up, and kneel on the ground!” one of the newly minted Laws commanded.

    I raised my hands above my head. I shot too much IPSC in my youth. “Hands up” is a Combat Ready Position for me.

    “Get on the ground!” He shouted. “This is your last warning.”

    As I kneeled, they all relaxed considerably. But even as I went down, my right hand swept the long black leather drover’s coat away and I grasped the butt of my Stag Handled Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum—eight and three-eights inch Barrel, Nickel Plated…

    My first Gun—Made before Smith adopted the Gay Little Keyholes. Made back when the chambers were still counter-sunk and the Barrels still pinned. Made back when the “Dirty Harry” movies caused demand and prices to soar to ridiculous heights.

    Maybe not the best choice for a quick draw—but the long Barrel was far less a hindrance than many would have you believe. Anyway, if I was going to my first Gunfight at the age of Eighty-Six, I wanted my first Gun there with me.

    I shot the bossy speaker right above the bridge of his nose. None of these clowns seemed to be wearing body armor—their torsos were too slim—so I quickly Double-Tapped two more, center chest.

    One probably doesn’t need to Double-Tap with the mighty .44, still…

    Anyway, my training went too deep. Realizing that I was down to my last cartridge, I made another quick headshot. Four down with six shots, at a range of maybe four or five yards—that wasn’t at all bad—not in a true Gunfight.

    I holstered my empty Revolver, and drew one just like it from my left side, left-handed.

    I looked around. Perhaps surprisingly, there was only one client left and he was down on one knee, with blood gushing from his chest. I gave him a headshot. Then I climbed to my feet and sprinted for my cabin. The follow-up squad would be mere seconds away…

    Boaz was in the small tower—a ten-by ten structure rising a story higher than the two-story house—built to be a look-or or sniper post. He took out a couple drivers and a couple vehicles before they got close enough to dismount.

    With a dead driver and an Armor Piercing .223 through the engine, the two SUVS weren’t likely to move, and their occupants took cover behind the vehicles as best they could, while Boaz picked them off one-by-one…

    But there were other vehicles and other clients. They skidded to a stop behind the two Humvees that we’d left driver and riderless.

    I’d have been at maximum advantage in the tower with Boaz, but there was no time to climb three flights of stairs in the midst of a full-frontal attack.

    I fired from a hidden firing port well away from any windows. There were twenty clients out front—not counting the ones still alive under Boaz’s Withering fire. Apparently they had raided someone’s Armory—Sherriff’s or more likely, National Guard or Reserve. They all had M-4s and they piled on the firepower like they had plenty ammo.

    Apparently at least some of them knew about Fire-and-Maneuver Drills. Twelve of them showered the house—and the tower—with automatic fire, while eight of them advanced.

    I needed Claymore Mines, but getting ahold of any before—or after—the Nuclear Exchange would have been expensive and problematic. But I’d gotten a huge bunch of .22 LR Barrels and Barrel liners over the years.

    Sawed them all off at thirteen inches and chambered them. Didn’t assemble my “Cartridge Claymores” until after the collapse. Didn’t want to get into trouble with the BAT-Fags.

    If you make the mistake of putting a Transistor Radio Battery in your pocket with a .22 Rimfire, the brass cartridge can bridge the Terminals, since they’re only a half-inch apart, and explode.

    That’s with a 9-Volt Battery. My Batteries of .22 Barrels had 80-Volts DC flowing through the primer-end.

    As the hapless advancing clients raced toward my home, two bricks worth of .22 LR—Emplaced Enfiladed on both sides—Tore through them. None of them survived.

    In the meantime, the three younger children had managed to take out three of the support firers and Boaz had finished off the last of his stragglers and was turning his attention to the one’s firing on the house.

    I had one .22 Claymore left, that was bearing peripherally on the Firer’s position. It only had 200 Barrels and it was set to shoot low, parallel to the ground, at knee to ankle height. I fired it.

    It wounded two of the attackers in the legs bad enough to cause them to collapse.

    They were down to three effectives when they tried to surrender. No quarter asked; No quarter given. I didn’t need them telling their bosses exactly how we’d beaten them. They threw down their weapons and raised their hands—which made them very easy targets.

    I set up a row of wooden stakes about three hundred yards from the house, and posted each Raiders Skull on a post—Vlad the Impaler would be proud. Psy-Ops, don’t you know?

    Fortunately the ground wasn’t frozen and I buried the bodies in a mass grave.

    I hated the idea of wasting perfectly good material. Nonetheless when I’d drained the gasoline, the oil, took the batteries and anything else that looked useful…

    Then I broke out the windows; filled the inside with brush and other flammable refuse and set them afire…

    All except for one Humvee, I contrived to half bury it—upright, engine in the dirt—to mark the mass grave.

    From then on, we always had at least one lookout in the tower at all times.

    I hoped that they wouldn’t send more—but I couldn’t guarantee it.


  4. #4


    Chapter Four

    After the December Rout—as it came to be called—The Cooperative left us alone for a while.

    Some people joined their group and a few left it. Sad to say, most of those who left had to leave many precious belongings behind. At least they left wiser—at least one might hope.

    But the whole Organization was much more voluntary and open than it had been intended to be, and the Cooperative’s Officers couldn’t ride nearly as roughshod over folks as they’d have liked.

    And the failure of Petulia’s “Equity Wardens” to successfully assimilate Wayside Farm was a big part of Petulia’s failure to fully institute her flavor of totalitarianism in her little corner of the World.

    My little farm and the six folks—eleven now, since we’d hired a few hands—had become a symbol of Resistance.

    “Remember The Alamo!”

    Only our “Alamo” had successfully repelled all boarders and inflicted one hundred percent casualties on the Clients.

    Now almost three years after the December Rout—it was September—Comrade Petulia and her Henchmen were coming to a Rubicon of sorts.

    People had died of Starvation. They had died of rampant violence—we’d stood off Raiders over a Dozen times—though thanks to excellent Planning, Good Alertness, Fortuitous Circumstances and most importantly, the Grace of God…

    The raids had amounted to little more than Security Drills for the folks at Wayside Farm (Folks were starting to call the Farm after me.)

    We added over a score of Skulls to our row of Stakes—now each stake was steel, ten feet tall and set in concrete—and we hadn’t lost anyone. Others hadn’t fared nearly so well though.

    There had been Plagues: Influenza, Cholera, and a vicious killing form of Rubella. There were New Mystery Sicknesses that weren’t exactly Plagues—but folks were dying of them piecemeal, here and there—like nothing seen before.

    All of our medicine hadn’t reverted to what was available to the Sick, Wounded and Infirm during WWI…

    Though scarcity meant very few got the full benefit of “Modern” Medicine, the full weight was certainly brought to bear on a selected number of folks who seemed to be harbingers of New and Delightful Scourges.

    Thing was, things were starting to settle down. The population had fallen enough to reach a new equilibrium. The desperate motivation to resort to a vicious “No Survivors” form of brigandry was largely gone. The worst and most active of the brigands had been dealt with…

    And folks had adjusted and settled into their new reality.

    Comrade Petulia’s grip on her flock was loosening. Folks were beginning to question how necessary The Comrade and her Equity Wardens were.

    If she really wanted to consolidate her position, there were a half-dozen farms that hadn’t been assimilated and like Hitler had said about the Sudeten Land, each Farm was a Potential “Dagger” pointed at the Heart of the Cooperative.

    Wayside Farm was a bit further away—and by no means the biggest or heaviest armed—But we’d become a Symbol.

    I don’t know if Comrade Petulia had read Machiavelli in any great depth—but I had. I’d read Che Guevara—Never mind the Man’s Politics. I’d read Clausewitz and Jomini, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Thucydides, Jeff Cooper, Mao Tse Tung, Sun Tzu, Myamoto Musashi…

    ..…Books by a whole lot of folks.

    I had spies in the enemy’s camp. They assured me that Petulia was shrewd enough to realize that:

    A.} A War would legitimize the “Martial Law” footing that her style of rule required,


    B.} That taking out Wayside Farm—Preferably cleanly and with minimal Casualties on her side—right at the very beginning—would be the best Psy-Op imaginable for her cause.

    Someone among the Cooperative’s Officers had had wit enough to read and Understand Ragnar Benson’s book “Breath of The Dragon”—a book about homemade Flame Throwers.

    Flame Throwers, curiously enough, have never been anywhere nearly as tightly controlled by Law as Firearms have been.

    To the uninitiated they would seem an almost invincible weapon—but consider.

    It is impractical to pack much more than about seven seconds worth of burn into a packable man-carried Flame Thrower. Range is definitely limited. Under fire, there is a definite tendency for the Flame Thrower to explode and immolate the Flame Thrower user.

    Ah, but to defend a fixed position…

    There is no real limit to how much Napalm you can have standing by.

    It isn’t hard to get 400 to 500 yards range with one.

    It can be much more protected than a portable Flame Thrower.

    And even a Modern Tank is vulnerable to a full-out Napalm Attack.

    Vehicle Mounted Flame Throwers kinda fall between the two extremes in both usefulness and vulnerability.

    Word had it that when Comrade Petulia took her Equity Crusade on the Road, that she planned to make heavy use of Vehicle-Mounted Flame Throwers. God alone knew where she came by all her Sure-Gel, to turn all that Gasoline (and I suppose Kerosene and Diesel) into Napalm—but she must have felt that she had an at least adequate supply on hand…

    …And fuel source to drive the big trucks that carried the Flame Throwers.

    Word was that she had six already to go, mounted on what had once been Fire Trucks—O the irony—and an indeterminate number of smaller rigs.

    Of course I had dug trenches, and reinforced their steep sides with concrete block walls and I’d put in a bunch of those obstacles that look like giant children’s jacks—some of concrete, some of scavenged telephone poles and some of Railroad rails—to further obstruct vehicle access to the buildings.

    I had a couple of my own homemade Flame Throwers on tap too—but they were a less than ideal solution. If Petulia’s Flame Throwing Trucks were close enough to torch; they would be close enough to torch back. And our Torch operators would be vulnerable to Flame attack—most things are—but particularly sitting on large reservoirs of napalm.

    And Petulia would have at least six big Flame Throwers, whereas I’d only have two. Besides, while I was magnificently indifferent to the prospect of roasting Equity Wardens, the idea of having my people roasted distressed me a great deal.

    The thing is, although people can be remarkably reluctant to accept facts and rationale’s that indicate that the best strategy is to go to battle and put their bass on the line—people are always reluctant to risk good fish—for this battle I had over one-hundred able-bodied fighters who’d decided that their best long-term strategy was to help us repel Petulia’s attack on Wayside Farm and not to be taken down piecemeal.

    I had a reasonable outline of Petulia’s strategy—an all-out attack on Wayside Farm, along with simultaneous attacks on three of the smaller, closer farms that wouldn’t be so hard to crack—presumably.

    But I’d strengthen each of the smaller farm’s fixed defenses and added about a dozen well-armed defenders to each one. Wayside Farm’s defenses were bulked-up with over thirty-five new defenders as well.

    It all looked good on the face of it. Give Petulia a big bloody nose right off the bat and presumably she’d go running home to cry and pout. Once she’d sorted herself out, she would never be in as advantageous a position to try the same sort of strategy ever again—plus the lingering Psychological effect on her followers.

    But I knew better. If I had several spies in the Cooperative and I had over a hundred local Farmers turned Warriors in my forces—it stood to reason that Petulia had at least one spy among my men.

    If she was willing to go ahead with her pogrom despite my preparations, she had something up her sleeve…

    I had something up my sleeve too…

    ************************************************* *************************

    Like a favorite Preacher used to say:

    “It is not how many that you can count; but how many that you can count on.”

    I had myself and Boaz and Marcus with me, along with eighteen carefully selected men.

    I’d buttonholed each man singly. They were men—actually, two were women—that I trusted completely and who’d suffered losses to the Cooperative…

    But my judgment has never been foolproof, particularly about people.

    To join my miniature “Gideon’s Army”, one had to pass several tests: a three-day fast, forty-eight hours in a hillbilly sensory deprivation room, and several interviews to weed out any traitors.

    There were interviews on a Polygraph—for what it was worth—interviews while the interviewee was drunk on good whiskey, interviews while the subject was on one of the new truth-serums that Urik’s employer had been testing (and most preliminary tests seemed to indicate that the serum was highly effective), and interviews with the subject high on LSD.

    Then once they were passed and vetted, they were locked down until the rapidly approaching day.

    My strategy was hardly ingenious, though I reckoned that its implementation would be a total shock to Petulia and Company.

    I’d read of it many times in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels that I’d read as a boy.

    Instead of sitting around like a Lump on a Bump and waiting for Petulia to arrive, we intended to ambush her column at several strategic points along the way…

    And since we only had twenty-one men, we meant to absolutely minimize risk and casualties to our side. We also planned to use dirt bikes to race cross-country from one ambush to another.

    With any luck, Petulia’s troops would arrive at Wayside Farm with at least a third of their men gone, half their machinery and a significant fraction of their Ammunition expended.


  5. #5


    Chapter Five

    I watched Petulia’s Expeditionary Force march out of Equality. We had several small radio-controlled aeroplanes fitted with the “D” cell-sized television cameras. The picture was black and white, grainy and a bit wobbly. Nonetheless what I saw caused butterflies to materialize and start propagating wildly in my stomach.

    Petulia had the six converted fire trucks and over a score of various support vehicles. Evidently spray paint wasn’t in short supply in Equality, because all the vehicles were a uniform flat black.

    It was the Infantry that gave me the quivering fantods though—over four hundred men. They all had the navy blue BDUs with black pockets that had come to be associated with the Equity Wardens. I don’t know where she found the uniforms or material to make them…

    The troopers all seemed well shod, and most of them carried either old M-16s or the newer M-4s. They marched well—though I might question the wisdom of marching in formation on the way to a battle.

    Obviously, I couldn’t get all that data from a few low-resolution videos—but I had several other sources of info.

    Seven miles isn’t a terribly long march for well-trained soldiers, but I had my doubts about how far Petulia’s troopers could march on the way to a battle, without losing some zip.

    Food was in rather short supply. Troopers walking, running and marching several miles daily need noticeably more food than soldiers sitting around.

    Having large numbers of soldiers loitering around though, is a sure incitement to massive insubordination, even if it doesn’t lead to full-scale insurrection and mutiny.

    My spies told me that Petulia’s soldiers marched regularly. Ammo was available, but there was none to fritter away, so the Equity Wardens spent time each day diligently dry-firing their weapons.

    Somewhat surprisingly, the Wardens also practiced Martial Arts almost every day. Petulia used them as labor on some of her public work programs—but only half-days— and regularly but not invariably. Gave her troopers some exercise, kept them occupied and helped get some of Petulia’s projects done.

    It was also an object lesson in how the lower “castes” lived and a major incentive not to screw-up and be forced to join them.

    She used them as a Police Force. They took part in a lot of “Bang-Bang” War Games and they had frequent pep-rallies.

    I’m not sure that I could have done a better job of keeping them combat-ready, were I in Petulia’s position.

    I had hoped that she might load them into buses or semi-trailers to drive them to Wayside Farm—then we could have taken them out in wholesale lots. She hadn’t chosen that way though—Protein for her.

    The Wardens hadn’t gone more than a quarter mile past the Equality city limits, when they dropped the parade field nonsense and went to tactical marching formation. Apparently the marching in formation was a Psy-Op for the Cooperative’s citizens.

    ************************************************ **************************

    We hit the column two miles from Equality.

    We had a number of Law Rockets that someone had managed to scrounge. They were old, past their expiration date and ineffective against modern armor. Petulia’s ersatz War Wagons were nowhere near being true armor though. The main problem with the old LAW Rockets though, was how few we had.

    Boaz and Marcus had both turned into exceptional Snipers. I could hit what I aimed at. The others were all well within their effective range when we opened fire.

    The three of us all had suppressed .308s. We took out three of what we hoped were key players and then I keyed a radio signal for everyone to join in.

    Of course, the sonic crack would have been audible, but we hoped that it wouldn’t galvanize the troops anywhere near as strongly as an unsuppressed Gunshot. When the others opened up with their unsuppressed weapons an instant later, it quickly became moot.

    “Decimate”—a curious word and concept. Most folks think that it mean something like eighty-five or ninety percent casualties.

    “Deci”—Ten, “Deci—“ Means ten. Very few Armies in the real World will keep fighting when the casualties get anywhere near ten percent—though exceptions, like the Three Hundred Spartans are duly noted. An Army that goes home with ten percent casualties is basically rim-wrecked.

    With twenty-one skilled shooters firing from ambush, I hoped to decimate Petulia’s Infantry right from the get-go.

    I aimed at the lead fire-truck driver. I centered his upper torso and squeezed off a round. I followed up just long enough to see him start to crumple and his vehicle start to wobble, when I broke off to key the microphone to signal a general attack.

    Should I add that my eyes were clearer? Usually I favor a 1.5x Scout Scope—but today I’d went with a 4x conventional scope. But my eyes were already about 1.75x—even if I’d used no scope at all.

    That means that my effective magnification was around 7x…

    It was more than that though. My nervous system worked marginally better at several junctures, but the net effect added up. The folks who developed the Serum were uneasy about messing with the eyes much…

    But my nervous system was faster and more efficient. The brain is a major component in the nervous system. My brain was much better at sifting through the often-overwhelming amount of optical data that flows through the optic nerve.

    But it is kinda irrelevant. A twelve-year-old with Coca-Cola lenses on his glasses could have hit the fire-truck driver at that range…

    And then again, it isn’t irrelevant. I was ninety-nine years old. Without the Serum, they’d have had to carry me to my position. Without the Serum, they’d have had to keep reminding me what I was there for.

    But without the Serum, I’d have been blind or probably dead—So the other factors would have been irrelevant.

    I concentrated on finding targets once I’d sent the signal for everyone to join in.

    Looking for key personnel is okay at the beginning of an ambush. Once the trap is sprung though, its time to go for pure numbers.

    I centered a shot on the small of the back of a fleeing trooper. Even as he fell, I sighted in on a Warden who seemed to be frozen in place. I didn’t try anything fancy. I shot him once, center chest.

    There was a Warden who’d found some fairly effective cover behind a big oak log, perhaps two feet in diameter. He seemed to be ponderously slow when he poked his head out to fire though. I shot him through his head.

    Finally, there was a Warden crouching behind a big truck tire rim. His leg was exposed though. I shattered his kneecap. I know the theory about wounded, but I want kills to my credit—not maiming—insomuch as it’s possible.

    He might have bled out anyway, as he wallowed about clasping his ruined knee and bellowing in pain. But I shot him again center torso.

    Then I sent the signal to retreat.

    It was only later, in the after action reports that I found out that we’d shot fifty-three wardens at the first ambush. We’d blown up two of Petulia’s big fire-trucks and disabled a third.

    A half-dozen smaller vehicles were either blown up or ruined in the conflagration following the two big fire-trucks exploding. Thirty some odd Wardens had been burned when vehicles exploded a few killed outright, a few more incapacitated completely, but most of them walking wounded, still able to march and fight—but definitely impaired to some degree.

    I’d carefully instructed everyone to save the LAW Rockets for the big trucks—but there were misses. People got all enthusiastic, and wasted a LAW or two on a small truck—or in at least one case, on a small congregation of Wardens.

    It happens.

    We were also supposed to fire all the LAWS at the first ambush. We’d never have a clearer shot and I didn’t want my people to have to carry the extra weight to the next ambush—but seven of them didn’t get fired.

    Boaz and I raced to the next ambush site. It was a poor site for an ambush, offering very few advantageous firing points for the ambushers—which was why we selected it.

    Boaz was situated almost six hundred yards away. He had a twenty-five pound .375 H&H Magnum that we’d built for really long-range shooting. It had an 18x scope. It had a forty-four inch barrel. It was tripod mounted for maximum stability and it was suppressed.

    I was about three hundred yards away, with the same suppressed Remington 700 and 4x scope that I’d used earlier—but I had a kill-switch.

    I got the idea for the .22 LR Claymores reading about the Holland Hail-Organ that they used in South Africa—except that I couldn’t get the C-4.

    Mining this stretch of road with .22 Rifle Barrels, or even appropriate Smooth-Bored Barrels would have been prohibitive. And it would have burned many precious bricks of .22 LR Ammo.

    Black Powder was though. Three-inch diameter Iron Pipes were. Nails, nuts, bolts, washers and bits of wire were.

    Crude Black Powder Blunderbuss Cannons were easy to improvise.

    No sane fellow would have stood next to one of our half-vast Cannons and touched it off…

    But there was no good reason not to fire them remotely, from a safe distance.

    Screw a threaded cap on the rear of the pipe. TIG Weld it all around. The first eighteen inches is carefully built up with layer after layer of MIG Wire welded on—then the first couple feet are reinforced with a cement sleeve.

    It only has to fire once in it’s career to do its duty to God and it’s Country. Even if it did explode, there was at least some hope that it still might inflict some casualties on our Clients.

    And how was it fired?

    Yes, I’m sure that some are dying to know…

    There was a very small hole in the base—just enough to allow a heavy-duty insulated Copper Wire through. The current passed through a small mass of steel wool at the base of the Black Powder charge…


    There were over one hundred of the disposable Cannons on each side of the road, over perhaps a quarter mile length—hidden and rigged for remote detonation.

    The Wardens had been marching over five miles—with full packs—and riding the adrenaline rush that comes of having Bull’s-Eyes on one’s back. They were starting to spread out.

    Never Mind…

    I touched off all the Cannons at once and slew perhaps fifty or sixty with one massive volley—talk about “Decimating”.

    When the Wardens broke for cover, on either side of the road, there were a few well-placed Elephant Pits with needle-sharp eighteen-inch pungi stakes lining the bottom. There were also a few ten–pound test monofilament lines, suspending fishhooks at eye-level.

    The pits only claimed about a half-dozen. I think several Wardens got fishhooks to the face but I don’t think that anyone lost an eye. I can’t say that I regret it…

    You know how they say that it’s all fun and games till someone gets an eye put out? Putting a Clients eye out definitely proves that you’re serious…

    But deliberately putting a Client’s eye out disturbs me in a way that merely killing him never could.

    Still, if the Clients would stay home and stop trying to attack me and mine, I wouldn’t have to contemplate maiming them.

    The pits were mostly a Psy-Op though.

    The next time they were ambushed the Wardens would hesitate momentarily to run for cover—fearing more pits and fishhooks. The threat is almost always stronger and more effective than the execution.

    I shot three scattered troopers and got on my bike to head to the last ambush site. The last site was little more than a half-mile from our home. Boaz had instructions to stay and take targets of opportunity as long as there still were targets of opportunity and it was safe for him to do so.

    ************************************************* *********************

    I’d thought that with such heavy loses that Petulia might call off the attack.

    No such luck, radio chatter and my scouts and spies indicated that she intended to press through to just out of rifle range of the Wayside Farm defenders, camp for the night and wait for massive reinforcements in the morning.

    The woman was a mental case.

    It took them over three hours to get a few vehicles working and restore some semblance of order and discipline and resume their march.

    The last ambush was nothing special—a classic “L” shaped attack. My snipers were instructed to take two or three Wardens out and then retreat when the Equity Enforcers got up a successful counterattack. We hadn’t lost anyone all day and I hated to start so late in the day.

    But here was those seven damned leftover LAW Rockets and folks desperate to protect their homes.

    I only got two Troopers at the last ambush—fully intending to take my own advice.

    Some of our people though, were determined to put their last seven LAWS to good use. They took out Petulia’s last fire-truck and two other support vehicles. At least one of them must have been cram-jammed full of ammo, judging from the way it sounded when it exploded…

    And we lost three of our effectives and had another wounded.

    I sat and glumly watched the rag-tag remains of Petulia’s force dig in.

    Word was that one of the small farms had been over-run, but most of our folks had escaped unscathed. The other two compounds successfully routed their attackers.

    Petulia had called off the attacks on the smaller farms in order to focus all her forces on Wayside Farm.

    The survivors of the over-run farm divided up and reinforced the other two farms just in case. With some time to prepare, they were digging-in deeper, piling up the sandbags and generally making their nut harder to crack.

    My forces were also digging in a bit more—though we were about as prepared as we could get.

    Word had it—from generally reliable sources—that Petulia stood ready to send another expedition twice or perhaps three times as large as the first—though without the big flame throwers.

    Where on God’s green Earth was she coming up with so many soldiers, weapons and materiel?

    There were rumors that whole sections of the country were still under the control of the Old Central Government. They were rumored to be silently supporting local Warlords like Petulia—letting them do all the work, all the bleeding and all the heavy lifting—in the process of consolidating independent areas into small city-states or even mini-nations, worth going to the trouble to annex…

    And after the Caligula games of Megalomaniacal would-be Conquerors like Petulia, even the most Jack-Booted of Thugs would seem a wholesome relief.

    It had sounded like Bull-Spritz to me—but now I was beginning to wonder.

    The ambush strategy wouldn’t work again in the morning—though we could harass them with sniper-fire the whole way.

    But all our best sites had been given away—and all of them had taken at least several days to prepare. I was short three of my special forces. We’d used all our LAW Rockets.

    Things just sucked all over.

    But I was angry—and at ninety-nine years old, I wasn’t afraid to die.

    But I was also tired and running close to empty.

    I sent for Fa-La. The list of stuff that I asked her to bring me raised several eyebrows.

    Fa-La brought loaves of home-baked, Whole-Wheat Bread. She had four cans of Spam, Buttermilk, and over a pound of home-churned Butter.

    She toasted two thick slices of the Bread for me, piled each one high with Butter, and then used half a can of Spam to make me a Sandwich. By the time I had finished it she had another Sandwich waiting.

    After three Sandwiches, I decided that I’d had enough Bread—B Vitamins, Carbohydrates and Fiber is all right, even helpful to me in moderation—but its Fat that my metabolism—especially my muscles—crave.

    I ate the rest of the Spam and perhaps half the remaining Butter—all washed down with plenty of Rich Buttermilk.

    I let my food digest for a couple hours before I lay down. I had time for almost a five-hour nap by the time they woke me up at midnight as I’d instructed. I took the time to eat a much smaller high Fat Meal while I studied still photos that our tiny drones had taken of the Cooperative’s Bivouac.

    At two hundred and thirty-five pounds, I was stronger than the Strongest three hundred and sixty pound Strongman that ever lived. I could execute maneuvers that would delight and confound an Olympic Gymnast or Parkour Champion. My muscular endurance was completely off the scale in any human terms.

    My eyes had about three times the light-gathering power of a normal human’s…

    To put that in perspective, a Dog has about eight times the light-gathering power of a human, and a cat has over eleven—but my brain was much better at mining data than a cat or Dog’s brain is.

    I had two distinct and parallel senses of hearing—one was my old biological hearing, restored to the sharpness of a young child’s hearing, and multiplied times a hundred and fifty percent—1.5x…

    The nanites had also built me a solid-state sense of hearing that heard lower and far higher tones than human could. In the human spectrum; it had 7.5x the Volume and almost four times the tone discrimination of a human’s.

    The best way to explain the extra tone discrimination—its like a normal human hears in “Black and White” but I hear in “Color” (Not an exact analogy, since human’s do have some pitch awareness…)

    And there are powerful little Computers interwoven with my biological Brain, to help me interpret all the extra sensory input from my ears…

    My neural impulses travel a bit over twice the speed of a Human’s…

    That can be over-rated. We’re talking about cutting a few thousandths, or at most, three or four hundredths of a second in certain reaction times. It is generally no more than a thin Razor’s Edge advantage—but it is an advantage—and it compounds some other advantages.

    I didn’t know what kind of Psy-Op that I could pull o the sleeping Wardens. I might do nothing but get myself killed…

    People often talk about being slain defending the best within one, as if it were a bad thing.

    “Earth and Sky Last Forever;
    “Old People are Poorly Off;
    “Do Not Be Afraid.”

    “It is Always a Good Day to Die.”

    I meant to push my newfound abilities to the limit, and see what I could accomplish or die trying.


  6. #6


    Chapter Five

    My plan was simple. You see variations of it all through literature and cinema. I was going to infiltrate the Warden’s camp. I meant to take a few heads—then hopefully get away clean.

    Then we’d wake them all up. Not only should that scare the beejeebers out of them and rim-wreck their morale, but it would also cost them the better part of a night’s sleep. Those little advantages aren’t to be despised.

    Thing is, in the real World it would take someone with the agility of a Gymnast and an Olympic Decathlete paired with the ability to move as quietly in the dark as an Apache—or a Ninja.

    I was weighing about two hundred and forty pounds then. I still hadn’t come into my full strength nor had my weight stabilized…

    But I’d become something that was very bad news for the Wardens.

    I skirted the perimeter of the camp. In places, they had the standard three strands of Concertina Wire—two side-by-side and a third course piled atop the two lower courses, like a pyramid.

    It wouldn’t be impossible to leap so high, nor so broad—especially in the almost new Running Shoes that I was wearing.

    Thing is, I’d have to broad-jump about twelve feet and be high enough in the middle of the jump to clear the nearly five foot high middle section…

    Then I had to land silently on rather poorly scouted ground and be damned sure that I didn’t turn an ankle or wreck a knee doing it.

    Yes wellah… I believe that I could have done it but I chose to go a less dramatic way.

    They didn’t have enough Concertina to enclose their whole camp. With as many of their support vehicles as we’d taken out, they were lucky to have any Concertina at all.

    That raised another nagging question: Why did they have any Concertina at all? Why did they have picks, shovels, barb-wire and field telephones? Why were they all set up to dig in and lay siege?

    Nothing that I’d seen or heard about Petulia indicated that she was any sort of military genius. She didn’t seem the type to burden her minions with plenty of “Just-in Case” type munitions and every indication was that she expected her invasion to go off like clockwork…

    At any rate, I studied the fence. I didn’t pick a section that looked noticeably easier to clear than the rest—those might have been left as traps for the unwary.

    I hadn’t yet consciously decided to begin, when I started a hard brief run at the portmanteau barricade of barb-wire and debris. I hadn’t planned to showboat or anything. That wasn’t the point of my mission.

    Nonetheless, I changed plans at the last possible instant and turned a perfect forward flip in the middle of my vault—why I cannot say.

    I landed lightly on my feet and did a forward roll-through to absorb some of my forward momentum.

    I was dressed in black from head to foot. It was that new miracle fabric that totally absorbs every single photon of light that falls upon it. With no reflected light at all—and even the blackest conventional black reflects a good deal of light—I would appear to be nothing but a perfectly flat silhouette when viewed from any angle—and some of the silhouettes wouldn’t look even vaguely human.

    Movement kinda spoiled that effect to some degree. A brain could resolve a constantly shifting two-dimensional silhouette into some sort of crude three-dimensional image.

    The only silenced weapon that I had was a .32 Caliber Walther PP. I never liked the idea of sacrificing even a half-inch of good rifling to thread a Suppressor.

    My little Walther had a custom barrel that extended about three-quarters of an inch beyond the end of the slide and it was threaded externally. The little Walther was nickel-plated and had Stag grips—as do most of my Pistols and Revolvers.

    I never seem to like things the easy way. I like the .32 ACP as a hideout or small game round—but I dislike the .380, except as a super compact Revolver round.

    I love the Walther PP, but strongly dislike the Walther PPKs and PPKSs.

    I really don’t care for the idea of internally threaded barrels for suppressors—and having external threads fitted generally means extra work and expense…

    Hence I only had one Silent Pistol.

    There was a fellow named “Rickman” who lived in the area though—and he owned all sorts of exotic weaponry.

    Rickman had given me a .45 caliber Mac 10 along with a very modern state-of-the-art wet suppressor. I’d always wanted a Mac 10 and I was grateful—but I seriously didn’t groove on the Parkerized finish. Given time, I could have contrived to have both it and the suppressor tube bright Nickeled—but there just wasn’t time.

    There really ought to be a word for Gun-Like Objects that just miss being Guns because they don’t have a shiny finish (Handguns—subdued finishes are somewhat more acceptable on long Guns…)

    Be that as it may. The Mac wasn’t a true Handgun, so I didn’t think that I’d be seriously compromising my principles packing it.

    Anyway, Rickman was a constant tinkerer. He fretted a lot about inconsequential increments.

    Ordinary .45 ACP Military Ball features a 230 grain jacketed ball round at 830 FPS. Almost any hand-loader or factory load improves on that somewhat—though even Military Ball is a proven man-stopper.

    Once I purged my mind of nonsense about the Hollow-Point Placebo, I used to load 230 Lead Round Nose to 1000 FPS. Lead Round Nose is marginally, marginally better on soft targets than Jacketed Round Nose. An extra 170 FPS gives it a noticeable increase in “Zip-Pity-Oo-Dah”, and I’ve always found that somewhat hotter rounds function a bit more reliably.

    Rickman had gone way beyond that. He had some custom bullet molds made, to cast 260 Grain Lead Truncated-Cone bullets and he loaded them to 1000 FPS from his 1911A1 and his Macs. It hit harder. How much harder, I don’t know.

    He’s also had some Teflon and Nylon inserts made to quite the sound of the action working. The racket of a fully suppressed Mac is surprisingly loud.

    I meant to get in and out without using a Firearm. If I was discovered, I had two minds about the Mac…

    I could use it naked and contribute to the general mayhem and confusion, or I could use it suppressed to keep a lower profile—not give away my precise position so much.

    I quickly threaded the suppressor onto the Mac---guess that means that I’d made up my mind. I was bothered once again by the lack of a bright smooth finish—though if the suppressor had been bright, I’d have masked it with a suppressor stocking.

    I’d worked in a slaughterhouse several years in my youth. Some people will have you believe that taking off a head is a task for a strong man and a thick blade.

    Nonsense! The typical Kill-Floor Butcher can behead a big Bull in only a few gentle cutting strokes, with a Knife only slightly more robust than a Filleting Knife. You should see how easily they remove a Bull’s front legs.

    Though I had a Big Bowie—and a Short-Bladed Katana with me {Some Wazikashi have longer Blades than some Katana. A Katana always leaves room for both hands. Some Wazikashi also have room for a two-handed grip though. Call my Sword a Longish Wazikashi if you will—Won’t hurt my feelings…} I was doing my wet-work with a Butcher’s Knife.

    I quickly collected a half-dozen heads. It was time to fade quietly…

    Then I decided to improvise. I pitched the duffle over the fence.

    I had eight hand grenades. Five were the newer baseball type. Three were of the older pineapple design. Were they still using pineapple grenades in Vietnam? I don’t know. Maybe the pineapples went all the way back to Korea.

    Rickman said that he had too much to loose, to dabble in illegal weapons before the collapse—but nonetheless, he knew people. He knew people who knew people. Many of his contacts survived. He assured me that my grenades had been quality checked, random sampled—And as much as anything is certain in an uncertain World—they should be good to go.

    I’d dipped the grenades in superglue and then rolled them in finely powdered magnesium until I had a quarter-inch layer of magnesium—for good or ill.

    I quickly pulled each pin and rolled each grenade it a different tent, using a bowling motion. I got rid of all three pineapples and three of the apples, and then I covered my eyes.

    Just as the last grenade went off, I dropped to one knee and started firing short bursts from the Mac 10 at the milling survivors. Originally I’d meant to hose the host with four magazines worth of Rickman .45s, before retreating…

    But with my speeded up neural impulses, I found it quite possible to fire three-to-five shot bursts even with Rickman’s hot reloads driving the action at close to 1200 Rounds per Minute.

    It wasn’t exactly aimed fire, but it wasn’t anything like Spray-and-Pray either.

    I emptied six of the 32 Round magazines into the panicked Wardens. Rickman had assured me that he had a wild excess of magazines, so I left each empty where it lay. I loaded my last magazine into the Mac 10 and prepared to leave. I rolled my last two grenades at the fence and covered my eyes again. It blew me a nice exit—though without my enhanced night vision, I’d have had to go much slower to watch out for leftover wires or whatnot.

    Once my people knew that I was out, they shot multiple magnesium flares over the campsite. Thirty people tried to snipe at targets of opportunity for almost two minutes then we stopped.

    After perhaps twenty minutes, several spotlights come on. They were shielded from direct fire from the camp. They were not to illuminate the camp…

    They were to illuminate the six heads that I’d had mounted about thirty yards from the entrance.

    “Go home Dudes, before y’all end up as skulls on stakes!” I shouted over a massive PA System.

    The first dozen times my message played, it sounded normal—then the technicians started playing with the Bass, Reverb and other stuff. They feed in feedback and fiendish cackling and everything else that they could imagine to make my warning sound uncanny and spooky.

    I sat down with Boaz and a few of my lieutenants.

    “From the photographs we took, they were down to just over two-hundred men when we broke of the last ambush,” Boaz said. “We know that you took out around fifty and we may have killed another dozen or two during our ‘Mad Minute’.”

    “We’ll hope that persuades them to turn around and go home—but I wouldn’t count on it, “ I said.

    Just then we were interrupted as Marcus stormed into the room.

    “Boaz! Uncle Wayside! Mother says to come quickly!”

    ************************************************** ** *****************

    When I came into the room they were trying to stanch the flow of Blood from Dale Solomon’s throat. He wasn’t going to make it, but the fact that he was still alive, still conscious and able o flash me a “Thumbs Up” sign as I walked into the room testified that it had been a Hiss-Poor attempt at an assassination.

    Dale’s sister Diane laid cold and dead on a cot not two feet away.

    “What happened?” I demanded.

    “One of our defenders was a mole. He tried to take over one of the Flame-Throwers to turn it on the compound. Dale Solomon was on duty and his sister had taken him a hot meal. Most of the others were out taking part in your attack on the Warden’s camp. If she hadn’t happened along and got a couple shots into him, and tripped the security alarm, he would have succeeded.

    “As it was, he stuck to his Knife and stabbed her multiple times in the abdomen, even as she kept shooting,” Fa-La said.

    “Fa-La, I’m sorry, “ I began.

    “Don’t be sorry. You didn’t do it, “ Fa-La said.

    “I regret that it happened. Petulia is responsible for this. More people will die tomorrow…

    “Its not quite two A.M. now. I believe that I still have time to pay Petulia a visit before sunrise. Maybe taking her head will put a stop to this nonsense. If not, it will still bring me extreme satisfaction, “ I said.

    “Let me do it, “ Fa-La said. “You’re needed here.”

    “Fa-La, you don’t have the training. You’re not a Super-Soldier. Of all the folks here, only I have a prayer of succeeding,” I said.

    “If you fail, then I’m going to attempt it next, “ Fa-La said.

    I went to my room to gather some gear. I also had a full course of Super-Serum laid out, already loaded into syringes and a photocopy of Urik’s instructions.

    I had never been one to place all my baskets around one egg. I had several caches of the Serum and even a recipe for more, that I’d extracted from some of Urik’s wildly disorganized notes.

    “Fa-La, if you truly mean that, there is more than enough Serum here to change you. There are very few casualties with the young and healthy. You don’t have one foot in the grave, like I did—but you’re no longer truly young either.

    “Very little data on how the Serum works on Females, though I know it has been used successfully.

    “It is gonna take at least three or four months to work—and for you to have a ghost of a chance of taking Petulia’s head.

    “If I die, if the attack continues and you all are over-run, you have to escape. You have to survive long enough for the Serum to work…

    “Use one of the escape tunnels. Go to one of my hidden retreats. Survive. Survive and plan.

    “Do think twice about using that Serum though. It gives with one hand and takes with the other. I’m not sure that I’d recommend it to anyone.

    “Keep that kit with you, and on your person, at all times.


    I left her with that. I learned later, that she’d given herself the first injection before I was out of sight—but that’s a story for later.

    I’d ride a dirt bike to within about a mile of Equality, and then infiltrate on foot. I knew where Petulia’s Palace was…

    I had a fair idea where her living quarters were inside.

    I might live…

    Or I might be cut-down like a Mad-Dog or a Fanatic—but as the Hagakure says, Dying like a Dog or a Fanatic isn’t all that bad a way to go…


  7. #7

    6 Stuff Comes Around--Big-Time

    Chapter Six

    They had built a fence all around the town—but it was way too large a perimeter for them to guard properly. In fact, there were any number of hidden entrances used by spies, black marketers, reckless youths and what have you.

    Many outsiders had kept a careful watch on the city, and when the leadership of the Resistance more or less fell to me, I had access to much of the hoarded data and I’d studied much of it.

    I went in through a faux storm drain. A construction crew had put it in, right in front of God and everyone, even as they built the fence.

    The construction workers were all part of a crew that predated the rise of the collective by twenty some-odd years. They weren’t going to narc on whoever had ordered it. Both sidewalk supervisors and unwanted comments and criticism about Petulia’s Public Works was vigorously discouraged…

    And so I had a nice entrance all prepared for me.

    I’d left Rickman’s Mac 10 behind—though since he’d given it to me, I guess that it was my Mac 10. There’s only so much that one man can carry—especially if he has to move fast.

    I had two short-bladed Katanas, mounted for “over-the-shoulder-draw” like some sort of Animae Hero. But a Katana can put someone down fast and silently, if one knows how to use one. This is even truer for someone with over twice the strength of a normal human—no, make that over twice the strength of the very strongest human.

    Years ago I read a review of the Ruger AC-556 in “Soldier of Fortune” magazine. It was a Ruger Mini-14 with a 13” Barrel, folding stock and three-shot burst option.

    The review said that here was a weapon that a largish man could pretty much conceal under a suit jacket, and that it had the firepower to not only get one into trouble, but to get one back out of trouble.

    I’m not at all sure that is true about the 13” Ruger AC-556, but it set me on a decades long search for a weapon that truly fit that description.

    The KBP 9A91 came close, but it would have been a Class III Weapon in America, due to the short barrel. Lengthening the Barrel would have watered down it’s appeal—though as an Assault Pistol it wouldn’t have been half bad—three-quarters bad, perhaps, but not half.

    The modular close-range Sniper Rifle on the same action—The VSK 94 was also a pretty Gun.

    At any rate, I’d built an “Assault Pistol” with a 13” Barrel to take the 7mm BR. It used thirty round AK Magazines cut down to hold twenty-four rounds. Yes, I could have used twenty round AK Magazines, there were a few around, but the twenty-fours were “just right” (like Goldilocks’ middle bed).

    After the collapse, I’d fitted it with a folding stock. I’d also replaced the Flash Suppressor with one of Rickman’s state-of-the-art Wet Suppressor—or as I was using it, a Moderator.

    It was only about three and a half inches long, and about an inch and a half in diameter—since the Flash Suppressor was almost two inches, it didn’t add much length. It was one of those “Flashlight Battery” Suppressors that the Cognoscenti used to sneer at, when they saw them in films (Though it was a bit bulkier than a “D” Cell.)

    That was before new designs and above all, better Wetting Agents truly made “D” Cell Suppressors come into their own. That suppressor would totally muffle a .45 ACP. On a 13” BR, it didn’t even totally eliminate muzzle blast, but it sure lowered the profile greatly…

    And if I were still playing the game with human ears, it would have spared them a lot of abuse. My organic hearing was much more resistant to loud noises, but beyond that, it would regenerate.

    The electronic hearing running in parallel—though so much more powerful—simply didn’t give a spritz about loud noises. I still hadn’t gotten over cringing a bit at loud noises. I’d been born with extra sensitive ears and loud noises had always hurt.

    Think a moment about the 7mm BR—from a long Pistol Barrel, it gives performance in the same general area as the 7x57 Mauser. It is not quite as powerful, of course—but close enough for government work.

    I had my two 8 3/8ths Inch S&W .44 Magnums, My Silenced .32 Walther PP, a Scrade “Sharpfinger” for a header, and my Western Bowie. Never go anywhere without a good Bowie.

    The streets were largely deserted. There was a curfew, and many Wardens had gone with Petulia’s Expeditionary Force.

    There was a catch though. Closed circuit television cameras monitored selected intersections, and other key spots. The Wardens could watch from shelter and strategically intercept curfew breakers.

    I knew about the cameras. I also knew that there were twenty or thirty dummy cameras for every real one. And I simply didn’t have the time to be too circumspect.

    I moved quickly. I had my ultra-black clothing and I’d donned a long flowing ultra-black cape. I hoped that on a grainy black and white monitor, I might pass for a shadow or a momentary glitch.

    My luck held out till I was almost within a stone’s throw of Petulia’s combined home and headquarters—what had once been a grade school, with twenty-four classrooms. The huge rooms and extra-wide halls suited Petulia’s
    Notion of her importance.

    I heard the squad of Wardens scurrying to set up a hasty ambush. I’d seen blind guys on television echolocating. They can do amazing things, though everyone doesn’t seem able to make the system work.

    I’d been struck by the idea how handy such a skill would be, even for a sighted person—coon hunting, groping one’s way down a dark corridor or what have you.

    Over a third of the brain is devoted to sight. When someone is blind for a while, all that idle processing power goes to processing other sensory inputs—largely auditory. It doesn’t handle auditory cues nearly as well as it would if it were designed for that—but it is something.

    That’s one reason that simply closing one’s eyes or even living with a blindfold for a few days doesn’t necessarily show one a blind person’s World.

    Building up a reasonable map of the outside World with sonar is more data-processing intensive than doing the same things with light impulses—that’s one big reason that Dolphins have such surprisingly large brains.

    Now sometimes parts of the brain can learn more than one task. I can’t categorically say that no sighted human could ever truly master echolocation. I never did though…

    And get right down to it—although the echolocating blind perform prodigious feats, for blind people—the World map they work with is rather grainy.

    I had 7.5x the volume sensitivity of a normal human, over 4x the tone discrimination and varying degrees of sensitivity to sound frequencies too high and too low for human ears. Beyond that, I had a small network of tiny computer chips woven through the auditory potion of my brain, interconnected to billions of neurons that gave me sonar-processing power that a Sperm Whale would envy.

    Even my body’s sensitivity to vibrations, many at far too low a frequency even for my augmented hearing, was grist for the auditory processing center.

    But nonetheless, that was the very first time that I “saw” with my ears.

    I had a three-dimensional map of the Wardens up ahead. It’s impossible to describe. I could sense their major bones, the hollow where the lungs were. I sensed their weapons as big solid silhouettes. I could feel their breathing and their pounding hearts.

    As I stepped into the killing zone, I already had a plan. I already knew where each Warden was. It was like shooting a match course that one has practiced many times.

    They were only many—seven to be exact—while I was one. I had shot all of them at least once with my 7mm BR Carbine. It was the strangest thing seeing the whiteout each shot caused in my sonar World. Each whiteout followed by an extremely detailed picture that followed in the wake of each shot.

    Five of the Wardens were greedy enough to be satisfied with one center torso shot. A couple of Warden’s weren’t as greedy and needed at least two—though at that point, I double tapped each of them, so they ended up with three. My sonar warned me which two were frugal long before an ordinary human would have known…

    And even so, I was shot twice by one of the frugal Wardens. The shot in my right deltoid was through-and-through, inconvenient, but nothing but. The one through my lower right gut was more problematic.

    I couldn’t have moved at all well with a vest resistant to Rifle bullets, they’re way too heavy and stiff—but I had a IIA vest on. I’d always figured that the energy lost, when a Rifle bullet penetrates a Pistol-Proof vest is all Protein for me—but I can’t prove it.

    The .223 bullet that went through my IIA vest hadn’t exited. That was good at the moment, however much probing and poking that it might occasion in the future—should I survive. Only having one hole for my rose water fluids to drain out of made my tactical position somewhat better.

    I knew that I could only afford to lose so much of my rose water fluids before I became ineffective. My blood only clotted a few percentage points faster—ten or fifteen percent faster—than a human’s.

    I put on a hasty pressure bandage and gave myself a combined painkiller and stimulant in a quick IV Injection.

    My ears told me that there was another squad of Wardens waiting for me, should I turn left. There were none to my right. I turned right.

    The ground floor windows were all barred. But I had climbing ability to make a Ninja or a Master of Parkour jealous. I was up and in a second story window faster than it takes to tell.

    Can’t tell you if it caused my wounds to ache. The Serum had cut my pain sensitivity in half. Then I was focused, full of Adrenaline and Morphine and Amphetamine—and I was still chewing a mouthful of Coffee beans, like some folks chew snuff.

    I was halfway down the hallway, when I met two guards. I knew they were coming before they rounded the corner of the hallway. I met them with a sword in each hand. I gave them a quick “one-two” and two heads fell to the floor before they could shoot or even shout.

    I sheathed my right-hand sword and continued down the hallway.

    Petulia’s headquarters weren’t that heavily guarded. She relied on fences, gates, a few armed guards and the conviction that it was highly unlikely anyone would dare.

    I dared much.

    I slipped into Petulia’s bedroom/command center. It had been the School’s auditorium. It was old and small enough not to have stadium style seats. The seating area was flat and that’s where Petulia kept her main court.

    The stage was surprisingly large—it had doubled as a basketball court at one time—as had the seating area. The stage was the Girl’s Gym and the Seating area had been the Boys.

    An addition had added a less makeshift Gymnasium, along with a Shop, Science and Home Economics Room, shortly before the school had been moved elsewhere. The building had been more or less empty for thirty years—though being almost centrally located in the town. That is, until Petulia took it over.

    I slipped into the darkened room, keeping to the shadows. Petulia sat staring at a row of computer monitors and chain-smoking. That is a factoid about Petulia that never got out. I never dreamed that she was a smoker—what with all her high-minded reformism.

    Either quite a few of her minions also smoked or Petulia was exceptionally diligent with her meditations. I have never smelled such a heavy reek of tobacco smoke, either before or since.

    I’d seen pictures, but I’d never seen Petulia in the flesh. She was in her early sixties, fairly well preserved, just a little plump and very busty. She wore a great deal of make-up and a pink dress that reached to her mid-thigh.

    She turned her eyes upon me. They absolutely danced with furious insanity.

    “So you’re Wayside, “ She said. “You think that you’re so bad, because you’ve been injected with the Serum.”

    She hawked and spat a big ball of green phlegm on the floor.

    “You aren’t the only one to be injected,” She hissed in rage.

    I didn’t know how she knew that I was a “Super Soldier”. Though if she’d met up with someone who’d given her a shot, then that explained much.

    She obviously hadn’t been injected for very long, or she wouldn’t look so long and shop-worn. Once the Serum had totally transformed her, she could probably chain-smoke every waking moment without having the telltale phlegm problem.

    She grabbed up a long Foil type sword—a real weapon, not a Fencing Iron, and a matching dagger. I’d heard that she had a strong aversion to Guns—guess that didn’t apply to weapons in general.

    At that moment, I was dead tired. My body might be augmented beyond easy belief, but I still felt my years deep down somewhere. As I say, Petulia couldn’t have been metamorphosing long…

    But right then I wouldn’t have cared if she’d had tree times the strength of a male Gorilla and the speed of a striking Cobra. I just wanted to end this tedious affair quickly.

    I batted her Foil out of her hand contemptuously with my Katana. Then I dropped my Katana and stepped in close. I got a good arm bar on her left hand and took her dagger from her.

    I pulled her close, as if to kiss her, and ran her own dagger deep into her lower bowels. I watched her face. There was absolute total surprise at first—then pain, extreme pain.

    I twisted and turned the dagger, still in her bowels, viciously and she cried out.

    “How do you like that?” I asked her contemptuously. “It hurts, doesn’t it? Maybe you should have been nicer to folks. I could have taken your head off easy enough with my Katana, but I wanted to share this with you. Think of it as a prelude to hell.”

    I gave the dagger one more twist and the after a few seconds, her eyes glazed over with death.

    There was no real reason to, but I cast her dagger across the room where it stuck into the wall. I took my Scrade and took her head. Just as I stood up with Petulia’s head, the curtain separating the stage bedroom from the command post seating section flew open.

    A naked woman with a Ruger Super Blackhawk confronted me.

    “You killed Me-me, “ she screamed.

    Fortunately for me, she was either a rather good shot or lucky. At a distance of about twenty-five feet, she shot me three times right in my IIA bulletproof vest. If she’d hit me in my head, in a leg or even in an arm with a .44 Magnum, I might have died right there and my saga ended.

    Instead I drew my own .44 Magnum and put a round right through her cranium.

    A second woman came out of the bed, this one a mere teenager and still wearing a bra and panties.

    “What is this, a freaking Clown-Car?” I had time to asked myself before she started begging.

    She had both arms over her head.

    “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! I’m not armed, “ she wailed.

    By this time, my patience was nonexistent.

    “Do you know what I call an unarmed enemy?” I asked her.

    She wrinkled her brow in deep thought, frantically searching for an answer that might spare her.

    I thought of Dale Solomon giving me a thumbs-up as he lay dying. I thought about Diane lying dead and Marcus and Boaz and Fa-La left to carry on in spite of their grief. I thought about all the brave defenders most of them still alive, but too many dead.

    “I call them ‘Easy Targets’,” I told her.

    Then I shot her right through her sternum, centering her bra strap. I only shot her once. If she could survive that somehow, she was welcome to.

    I recovered my Katana and Petulia’s head. I broke off an old wooden flagpole and mounted Petulia’s head on it.

    I was too tired to fight anymore. Everywhere I went though, Petulia’s minions parted like the Red Sea and let me through without violence. They opened the main gate for me and let me pass.

    I was maybe two miles farther down the road, stumbling from the loss of Rose Water Fluids, but unwilling to abandon my trophy…

    Some of my people picked me in a small truck and drove me the rest of the way. Someone—whether friend or erstwhile foe—had gotten on the radio and told my people of my situation.

    I reluctantly surrendered Petulia’s head and the flagpole to Rickman, though I insisted that it was only a loan. Then I passed out and it was time for some surgery and a few pints of blood transfusion.

    Rickman took Petulia’s head and went out to talk to the Equality Army under a flag of truce. None of them were all that enthusiastic about attacking my compound anyway and with Petulia out of the picture they simply faded away.

    I’m supposed to heal over five times as fast as a human—but all the transfusions of human blood, while it saved my life—interfered with my superior healing.

    My healing rate wasn’t even quite three times normal until my body had fully replaced the human blood with my own super blood. In my weakened condition, that took awhile. The upshot was that I was bedfast for over a month—and in the meantime Fa-La had been through some of the worst and most painful of the transformations with no one to encourage her.

    {I had little pain or depression, but many do.}

    I’ve often wondered how that altered all of our fates.


  8. #8
    Last edited by antik; 07-11-2012 at 12:04 AM. Reason: wrong thread

  9. #9
    GREAT STORY very good can we have more


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