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TSHTF
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Thread: TSHTF

  1. #41
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    OMG, I love this story. Please keep the new chapters coming. I'm addicted! Thank you!

  2. #42
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    Tim Halloway was pretty resourceful but even he’d had a tough time starting with hurricane Vicky. Once an Army Ranger, he knew how to survive. He was a prepper. Living in Florida there were preparations you do specifically for hurricanes. He had standby generators, one whole house Generac 30 Kilowatt Liquid-cooled and two portable Honda 1000 Watt generators that he could parallel together for twice the output. Ocala was just to the north and west of Vicky’s direct path. He had Hurricane Shutters securing all the windows of his house. He had half the garage devoted to Emergency supplies like water, batteries, food, hurricane lamps. He was prepared for just about everything. Except the category five winds blowing his house away. His garage went with the house. His emergency supplies went with the garage. He barely made it to his neighbors’ house which lost most of the siding and roof but the structure remained. He rode out the storm and then surveyed the aftermath. He was bitter. All that preparation was for nothing. He’d sacrificed, while other people spent their money foolishly on big screen high definition televisions, and fancy new cars he’d taken all his spare money and sunk it into his preps. The preps that were in the garage that was in the house that was blown away. He used to see the big box store trucks delivering new appliances and electronics to his neighbor, Samuel Tremont, and he felt a sense of self-righteousness, he was smug knowing that the chances of a disaster happening were pretty good and he would be prepared while Samuel would suffer for his lack of preparedness. He wasn’t going to share anything, not even a bottle of water with him. He’d tell him the ant and the grasshopper fable and tell him he should have been an ant instead of a grasshopper. Samuel actually worked very hard in his life as an attorney. He also received very good compensation and invested it wisely so while he didn’t prep, the analogy fell apart trying to make him the grasshopper.

    Now the table turned, the disaster happened and it was he, Staff Sergeant and Army Ranger Tim Halloway depending on handouts from someone else. The thing that infuriated him the most was that Samuel gladly took him in and was sharing what little supplies he had with him. The storm passed with a few hours left before dawn and the two of them went out to survey the damage. Using a MAGLITE 4 D-Cell Flashlight, just like the one that had been in his garage, that Samuel lent him he pointed the beam toward where his house should be. It still wasn’t there. Fury welled up inside him. It just wasn’t fair.

    Samuel walked up beside him. “I see your house is gone. I’m sorry. We probably won’t be able to stay in mine either but you are welcome to until they make us leave.”

    Tim gritted his teeth and nodded.

    If only Samuel had stopped with the kindness there. He had to add one last comment. “I have some more batteries under the kitchen sink if those go bad.”
    Tim had a gross of batteries in each size, had being the key word now that they were long gone. Samuel turned to walk back to his house and Tim swung the flashlight as hard as he could catching Samuel on the side of his head, causing a cavern like depression between his temple and his ear. Samuel collapsed immediately probably moving on to where nice people move on to, leaving Tim with this mess. Tim pulled some debris over him to make people think the old man was caught and killed by the storm. He probably didn’t need to bother. Samuel lay under that debris for three weeks before a cadaver dog located him.

    Tim went back into Samuel’s house and gathered up what he could find, another flashlight, only not bloody, and those damned batteries. He found the keys to Samuels’ H2 Hummer and went out to the vehicle. A two-by-four had gone through the rear window and there were dents and dings all over the vehicle but it started right up as soon as he turned the key. Of course he only had a half tank of gas. Had that been his car it would have been full. Speaking of which, he didn’t remember seeing his car. Rather than look for it, he decided the Hummer would be a better choice to try and get out of Florida in. He tried to get on Interstate 75 but quickly abandoned that seeing the cars littering the freeway. He started traveling back roads, through ditches, shoulders, and sidewalks. He drove over more than a few power lines. Several times he had to backtrack because of downed trees. It took him the better part of the day to Branford where he found a car to siphon gas from. He drove on a few miles north of Branford and slept in the car until the next dawn. He managed to make it to the outskirts of Tallahassee but there was a long line on all major roads and especially I10 trying to find refuge there. He spent the night stealing more gas and bypassing Tallahassee finally sleeping in the car at Marianna. He’d had plenty of time to think and his rage over losing at the game of preparedness still reigned, so much so, he still had no regrets for killing Samuel. He thought he’d go to Texas after talking to several people on the road and all of them were headed there. He might hook up with an old girlfriend, Sarah that supposedly moved to the Dallas Fort Worth area. He did notice that people treated him more deferentially seeing him get out of an H2 Hummer than they did when he got out of his three year old Malibu.

    He kind of liked it.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  3. #43
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    Ralph, Doug and Susan along with the rest of the nation watched with anxiety the news from Florida. A kind of numbness set in thinking of the numbers that were being bandied around like hundreds of thousands of deaths. Vicky left Florida eight hours ago and many of the news crews sent in beforehand to report were missing. Many more stations’ equipment was damaged and ruined. Actual first-hand accounts were spotty as no one was allowed into the state. The priority right now was finding any people in dire need of help, the ones that might live if help is provided but wouldn’t last much longer under wreckage or trapped under debris. Anecdotal reports started coming through with reports of miraculous rescues as well as wide-spread looting.

    “That’s terrible.” Susan said. “Looters should be shot stealing from people who have already lost so much.”

    “They probably will be.” Ralph said.

    “The Florida National Guard has been sent in but there are so many spots in trouble and from what I gathered from that last CNN report, many of the Guardsmen have not reported for duty. They are either missing or helping out their own families and neighbors.” Doug said. He repeated the last CNN news for Susan since she’d stepped into the kitchen to make lunch.

    “Seems weird there could be so much misery in Florida when it is so sunny and nice here.” She said.

    They were switching between major network news looking for any new information. They landed on Fox News a few minutes earlier and were rewarded with a news anchor fade away to a local correspondent near Tampa.

    The picture was grainy probably from damage and the sky was overcast. “This is …. For Fox 13.” The report announced his name but it was garbled. He looked like a young reporter, probably trying to pay his dues and had volunteered to stick around for the storm. His head was bandaged he looked to be in shock but was still trying to report. “I’ve never witnessed destruction of this magnitude.” He stammered and coughed a couple of times. “We are reporting using battery power for our equipment; I don’t know how long it will last. We took refuge in the Tampa General Hospital and emerged after the storm had passed. The hospital had a lot of damage and is running on emergency generators. The doctors are evaluating the patients and are trying to arrange alternative care but most of Florida is under the same lack of power with many of the hospitals having similar damage. There is simply no where to send all these patients, not to mention the new patients being delivered to the emergency room and people showing up needing care.” The reported turned as two gurneys with the bodies covered up passed by. He choked up a bit. “Sorry, sorry, I’m a little traumatized by this.”

    A split screen with the network anchor and the local correspondent displayed with the anchor asking “Can you tell us if order has been established there?”
    There was a slight delay and the local said “Not at all. There have been reports of widespread looting and while I haven’t seen any, I’ve heard plenty of gunshots. I don’t know if it is looters, the police, or people protecting their homes. It might even be wild animals as reports from the Lowry Park Zoo indicated several lions escaped when a tree fell over into their enclosure.”

    “Wow, I can’t believe this.” Susan said.

    “Take a good look at it, this could be us, or anywhere in the United States.” Ralph said. “We could have a tornado, a flood, a lasting power-outage and we could be in the same boat.”

    Just as he said that the camera panned a 180 degrees to show a shrimp boat in the hospital parking lot.

    “Okay, maybe not that boat.” Doug said.

    “That’s why we have to prepare.” said Ralph.

    “How could you prepare for that and do you really think we are going to get hit by a hurricane in Paradise?” Susan said.

    Ralph said “Maybe not a hurricane and you can’t prepare for everything. You have to prepare for what you can and put your faith in GOD for the rest. For example if a nuclear bomb goes off overhead, you pretty much don’t need to worry about preparing for that. If an asteroid hits causing an extinction-level-event, you probably don’t have to prepare for that, even bacteria and cockroaches won’t live through that. But what if it is a tornado, a flood, an economic collapse, a military coup? You might have to survive for months or longer before some sort of order is established. That is what you prepare for, the chance for success, the chance to survive.”

    “Looking at all that misery, I’m not sure survival is the best option.” Susan said.

    Another Breaking News story flashed. The three operating nuclear power plants in Florida, Crystal River in Citrus County, St. Lucie in St. Lucie County, and Turkey Point in Miami Dade County were taken off line. Emergency power at Crystal River and St. Lucie was being used to cool the rods to prevent a meltdown while at Turkey Point, units 1 and 2 are fossil-fired so they are providing energy to cool Units 3 and 4.

    “Sure it is. It always is and as your father it’s my job to do everything in my power to make sure you survive.”
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  4. #44
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    Mark wasn’t sure what hurt most, his pride or his back where he hit the pole. The only saving grace was his buddies Mack and Zeke weren’t there to witness Doug getting the better of him. There were his hunting buddies. In fact, many in the town called them the Three Amigos to their face, but he knew many called them the Three Stooges behind their backs. The three usually started drinking before noon and didn’t let up until passing out. Mack and Zeke were coming over in a few minutes to start their daily tradition. The duty kind of rotated to which one of them worked that week to have the money to buy the booze. He hadn’t worked this week, but he did just get his unemployment check. He had four more weeks on it until his ninety-nine weeks ran out. He thought he should just be paid until he found work, not given a time limit but then it was hard to find a job if you weren’t really looking for one. The only decent job he’d ever held was working for Susan father, who always criticized his work and never really liked him.

    A knock came from the front door that had a metallic ring to it. He knew it was Zeke who had been on the Varsity Football team and always knocked using his championship ring. That had been the high-light of all three of their lives.
    He opened the door to let in his two drinking buddies. Zeke nodded but didn’t say anything as he walked straight to the fridge, opened it up and grabbed three beers. He tossed one to Mack and one to Mark.

    “Already got one.” Mark said.

    “Wish you wouldn’t throw the beer, I hate it foamy.” Mack said.

    “Quit whining, you didn’t have to pay for it.” Zeke said.

    “Neither did you.” Mark said.

    This was how their conversations usually went.

    Mack said “I heard your Ex’s new boyfriend kicked your ass.”

    Mark sighed. You couldn’t keep anything a secret in such a small town, especially a butt-whooping like that.

    “He got lucky, next time I see him I’ll kick his teeth in.” Mark was still mad he hadn’t been able to push that rifle from another store back on him.

    “Hey, you been by Ralph’s place lately. He’s got a bunch of workers building something. I think it’s a wall.” Zeke said.

    “No, I don’t make it a point to go by there.” Mark said, lying since he did go by once a week hoping to get a glimpse of Susan. He just hadn’t been by lately.

    “Maybe we could get hired on; I know my unemployment ran out. I could use the work.” Mack said.

    “Yeah right, I’m going to go work with Meskins after I was once the manager of BP, count me out.”

    “How about puttin’ in a good word for us then.” Said Zeke.

    “Don’t have no good words as far as they are concerned, better look elsewhere.”

    “What were you doing out Ralph’s way?” Mark asked.

    “I went out to our feeder to put some feed in it. Venison is about all I get to eat anymore so got to keep them coming to the feeder. Hey, I saw a church out there on County 3355. No one was around. I bet we could get in and out with their air conditioner in just a few minutes. Give us enough to last the month.” Zeke said.

    “Let’s keep that in mind, kind of like a savings account. I was thinking maybe we could hit BP.” Ralph said taking a huge swig of beer.

    “No way, he’s got cameras all over that place.” Mack said.

    “I know how to turn them off. Remember, I used to work there.”

    Zeke said “Yeah but they would record you going in the store so you’d get caught.”

    “I’d be covered up until I disabled them, then I’d let you guys in the back. We could get a bunch of guns and ammo.” Mark said opening the beer Zeke threw him earlier.
    Mack, always thought to be the dumb one, but usually the voice of caution between the three said “Don’t them guns have serial numbers, first one we sold, we’d get caught.”

    “Got that figured out, we’d sell them to Meskins, they’ll pay full price for them and then disappear them across the border, no one the wiser.” Mark said feeling all proud for this ingenious plan. The more the three drank the better the plan sounded.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  5. #45
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    The next day at BP, Doug sat at his desk going through some paper work. He had the television muted and occasionally reviewed the reports all the networks still had going on about Vicky. Florida had been devastated but Georgia and South Carolina were hit hard as well. Martial Law still reigned over Florida and the only ones going into Florida were the FEMA workers and National Guard. An intermittent stream of people were leaving, the lucky ones who only lost everything they owned but were spared their lives. They either salvaged a vehicle or hitched a ride out of the state as there was nothing for them in Florida anymore.

    Sheila came in to Doug’s office. “Doug, turn the volume up.”

    Doug grabbed the remote on the edge of his desk and turned it up, expecting to see more horrific storm stories. Instead he saw the Vicky Breaking News interrupted by another “Breaking News” story. He looked questioningly at Sheila.

    “My dad called me to tell me to watch this story as it would most likely impact everyone in the United States.”

    “The EURO’s DEAD” the screen displayed. The announcer talked about how Greece, Spain, and Italy defaulted on their debt and the talks to bail them out failed. Rioting spread through Europe in almost every city, banks were either having runs or were being looted. Armies everywhere tried to quell the rebellion but there were too many people and the armed forces and police were quickly overwhelmed.

    “I understand that terrible things are happening over there but why would that affect us over here?” Sheila asked.

    Doug answered “Many think that as goes Europe, so goes the United States a short while later. Everything is globally tied together now; isolation doesn’t exist in the financial markets.”

    Chapter

    The combination of the collapse of the Euro and the chaos and turmoil in Europe spread to the United States quickly. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted in the aftermath of Vicky. Starting out at a robust 12287, the Dow fell on news of the devastation over ten percent to less than 10990. Global markets around the world had similar reactions. Then the Euro collapsed. Markets fell another ten percent. Large banks once deemed too large to fail collapsed around the world.

    Demonstrations started on Wall Street protesting corruption in the banking and finance industries. Millions of Americans became bankrupt overnight. The large pool of baby boomers scheduled to retire had that rug yanked out from under them. Immediate layoffs in the United States reached twenty-five percent. Europe ran over fifty-percent unemployed and nearly all of them protesting their loss of livelihood. China’s big real estate bubble collapsed overnight as did their holdings of foreign currencies, especially the US Federal Reserve Note. When China dumped all the FRN’s it was holding the rest of the world followed. The dollar overnight devalued to about 20% of its previous value. Boomer’s whose stock portfolios were vanquished now had most of their cash holdings become worthless. The countries that came after China and Japan in divesting themselves of dollars became extremely belligerent demanding some form of payment. No one would touch US debt with a ten-foot pole. The demonstrations on Wall Street spread to every major city in the United States. Israel and Iran were threatened each other with much bluster and the other fallen Middle Eastern nations were reformed by military powers imposing a dictatorship.

    Politicians scrambled because they’d hit the debt ceiling and under present economic conditions there was no way anyone in Congress would put their name on a proposal to increase the debt. President Packard issued immediate withdrawal orders for the fifty thousand soldiers in Iraq and the thirty-three thousand in Afghanistan. Bases were closed in Germany, Japan, and North Korea and the troops were pulled out and downsized to join the ranks of the unemployed.

    The dollar fell further when the Oil Producing countries quit pegging oil output to the dollar. Gasoline rose to the point where companies could not afford to transport the raw materials or goods they needed so more people were laid off. The people left that had a job could not afford to drive to work.

    All cities used to relying on Federal Tax monies coming in started going belly up as the money dried up. Teachers, policemen, firemen, librarians, maintenance workers were laid off. Municipalities went bankrupt overwhelming the courts with their requests to redo their pension plans.

    Unions suffered the worst since their formations. With hundreds of people willing and able to perform for each one of the jobs available Union demands became a joke. Many Unions disbanded as businesses were reluctant to hire anyone belonging to a Union.

    Out of work youth with nothing better to do joined up with protests around the country often instigating violent behaviors such as throwing bottles at the few policemen still lucky enough to have a job. Tensions rose. People died. Politicians promised. Nothing got better.

    Roads fell to shoddy or no maintenance. Water mains broke and instead of repairing them, they were shut off. Electrical grids were being overwhelmed as more plants were being taken offline and the old grids were forced to take more loads. Nuclear power plants were under red-alerts and many had already been shut down as a precautionary measure. Electrical workers spent long hours trying to patch the existing infrastructure.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  6. #46
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    Doug arrived at BP the same time as Ralph. They made small talk, made coffee and took their black beverage into Ralph’s office. After talking over a few details about the upcoming sale, Ralph motioned for Doug to sit down.

    “It’s getting pretty ugly out there. Economy is down. Sales are down. Florida is nearly down and out. Protests haven’t come to Paradise but they were in Dallas and Fort Worth this past weekend.” Ralph said.

    Doug let him continue not sure where Ralph was going with this.

    “I placed a special order over and above our sales merchandise for next week.”

    Doug asked “Is it stuff we need? Our warehouse is pretty full. Since our sales have been off I was going to suggest we start cutting back our stock, at least until things pick up.”

    “We won’t need the space. It’s being delivered to the Compound.” Since identifying the enclosure he was building in his rules they’d both started referring to anything within the walls as “The Compound.”

    “So the big building the workers just finished is where we’ll put the merchandise? How much is coming?” Doug asked.

    “Three 18 wheelers full.”

    “Good grief Ralph, isn’t that going a little overboard?”

    “I don’t think so. Have you been following the news lately?”

    “Yeah, but it’s not like we will collapse tomorrow.”

    Ralph sipped his coffee then said “I talked to a buddy of mine; he was one of my best friends in High School. While I stayed here and worked in my dad’s store, he went on to the Academy. Anyway, to make a long story short, we talk every now and then and I talked to him last night. This is confidential so don’t tell anyone. He told me to expect major changes in our form of government, that the upcoming Presidential election would probably be cancelled and martial law declared nationwide. He couldn’t go into too much detail but he knows I prep. He told me now would be a good time to make sure I have everything I want. I asked him to elaborate and he couldn’t. He said with the forces all being recalled from overseas, they were being deployed in and around the United States, especially on the East and West Coast.”
    “That sounds pretty serious. Do you trust him?”

    “I’d trust him with my life, which is pretty much what we are doing.”

    “I’ve converted half my entire portfolio to cash and spent it all on the contents of these three trucks. It’s a gamble. I had a lot of money but in just a few weeks it is worth less than it was. I took the rest and put it into Gold. Word is that the Government is going to confiscate private gold as a way to try and stabilize the currency. They are also going to confiscate 401Ks and retirement funds as well as what’s left in Social Security.”

    “You sure are connected to know all that. So you took out all your money out and now it’s in prep goods and gold?”

    “Yep.”

    “That’s gutsy Ralph. What if you need money for something and all you have are generators and gold?”

    “Then I’ll barter. That is the system we are heading for, the barter system. I figure money will be worthless in a few weeks or less.”

    Doug looked thoughtful for a second. “Should I do the same?”

    “I would if I were you, what money you have won’t be worth spit soon.”
    Doug trusted Ralph and was already concerned his nest egg he was planning on using to build his own house and establish a life with Susan had lost so much value. “What should I invest it in, gold?”

    “Since I’ve already purchased so much in gold, if I were you, I’d purchase silver. We might need to barter with a commodity worth less than the gold coins or bullion I have.”

    Doug caught the implication they were in this together. “Okay. I’ll go to the bank today and get it out. Aren’t you worried about having enough liquidity to run BP?”
    “That’s another thing I wanted to talk to you about. I want you to stop coming in to BP and take charge at the Compound. We are behind schedule and I just have a gut feeling we don’t have much time left.”

    Doug looked surprised. “I know I’m not irreplaceable and sales are slow, but am I not doing a good job here?”

    “You’re doing a great job my boy, I just need you more at the Compound. I don’t think the store is going to be around much longer.”

    Ralph worked in his dad’s store after graduating High School with the hopes of taking over for his dad. His dad had an unexpected heart attack and while he lived through the first one, the medical bills bankrupted the family and the business went under. Ralph worked two and three jobs until a few years later he branched out on his own and built BP into a large thriving entity. It was a shame to see it wither and die.

    “Oh, when you have the trucks unload, pack it up pretty tight, I’m bringing some of the inventory from the store.”

    Doug walked around the store looking kind of lost. He saw a daily routine as well as the future he thought he would have disappear. He saw Gunny packing up some of the guns from the display cabinets. “Changing the displays out Gunny?”

    “You could say that.” Gunny said. “I’m bringing ‘em with me. I’ll be taking the cabin next to yours.”

    Doug just nodded as if he’d known about that all along and went back to Ralph’s office. “Ralph, when were you going to tell me Gunny is moving to the Compound?”

    “Oh, did he accept? That’s good. I thought he would, but I wasn’t sure. A lot of people don’t believe the future holds for them what I do, but Gunny does. We need to recruit some more people. I’ll go over a list of ideas I have with you tonight. The key is to get the right kind of people. They have to agree to the rules and they have to have some skills we need.”

    “What if they do but their spouse doesn’t or they have kids?” Doug said thinking about Gunny’s wife who was wheelchair bound. She’d had a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down.

    “Everyone works.” Ralph said. “They do what they can.” As if he’d read Doug’s mind he added “Even handicapped and kids, there are a ton of chores to be done, more than enough to go around.”

    Doug left BP at noon with a few items from his office not planning to return. He arrived at the Compound. It looked like the last section of the wall was being finished. The one-foot thick wall stood at fourteen feet high. It was originally going to be twelve feet which Doug still thought was excessive but Ralph increased it by two feet before they finished the form for the first section. The rear section of the Compound backed into a large copse of trees, almost a forest really. Fifty feet on all sides of the wall they were bulldozed or cut down. The wood, traditionally burned in big piles were instead cut to eighteen inch lengths and stacked against the enclosed side of the wall. A well had just been put in, going to a depth of 250 feet. The motor was powered by a huge marine battery hooked up to an inverter and powered by large solar cells on the well housing roof. There was also a hand pump that could manually retrieve water, albeit at a much slower rate. The Compound, formally just land around Ralph’s house started looking like its own little city. A large open walled area roofed with picnic tables and a large fireplace at one end was just fifty feet from Ralph’s kitchen door. Besides the fireplace being able to burn wood, it had the capability of cooking and an enclosed steel wood burning oven for baking. There were steel grills with grates scattered around the open walled building with picnic tables scattered around the outside as well as inside.

    Doug looked around. Instead of parking in his traditional spot under the oak tree, he now parked at his cabin, the A-frame closest to the house. There were nine A-frames cabins built right now. Each had one electrical circuit and one faucet. Ralph also had also put in ten concrete pads with electrical junction boxes and ran plumbing to a faucet at each one. The electrical wires all routed to a red barn like structure with open doors and windows but with water tight walls and roof. The generators were on concrete pads inside the barn. There was one big gasoline powered generator, one medium propane generator, and five portable gasoline powered generators of varying wattage. Next to the barn rose a steel legged tower ten feet in the air holding at the top a 1000 gallon gasoline reserve for the generators and vehicles. Below the gas tank a 1000 gallon silver propane tank sat. Both were filled to capacity. The cold water faucets all routed to the well with a distribution system. The well couldn’t supply that many individual uses so there was a valve system to turn it on for two at a time.

    Doug felt a little strange. Maybe it was fear. If events came to pass requiring all this preparation life was going to end as he knew it. If events didn’t come to pass requiring all this preparation, HIS life was going to end as he knew it. He would have to find a new job, probably away from Paradise, he’d be ridiculed for throwing in with a crazy old coot. He stopped that train of thought. “I’m already committed. No since in doubting anything now. In for a penny, in for a pound.” As his mom was fond of saying.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  7. #47
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    Thank you for the new chapters. Loving this story. Moar please.

  8. #48
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    The Government announced stability measures. One mandated all gold to be held by the government and people would be compensated with cash. Just like the FDR Gold confiscations it was intended to shore up flagging confidence in the nation’s financial capacity. It failed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 issued Presidential Executive Order 6102 that forbid the hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion and gold certificates. They announced the movement of Social Security funds into a general fund replaced by bonds or basically government IOUs. Congress dissolved the debt ceiling deciding the country was in no shape to quit spending money and with the currency devalued the current ceiling limit didn’t mean much. The cleanup from hurricane Vicky now was at an estimated ten trillion dollars, dollars adjusted downwards after the devaluation. President Packard held almost daily televised conferences now announcing one thing or another. He talked in one about FEMA not being able to keep up with demand for its services so in addition to adding a trillion to their budget (on top of the Ten Trillion estimated costs) and many more troops assigned to disaster cleanup duties.

    The NASA program was cancelled. Lucky for the four astronauts aboard the International Space Station, Russia had one more mission launched and retrieved the spacemen before also cancelling their space program. If there was any saving grace for the United States, this wasn’t a national depression, it was a global one. As a result, the International Space Station reportedly would fall out of orbit crashing somewhere into the world in six to twelve months. Several satellites scheduled for maintenance already stopped working.

    Government finally did the unthinkable. Government departments were ransacked, massive amounts of layoff occurred leaving an already overburdened unemployment program devastated, not to mention the food stamps and welfare programs.

    Entitlements started to run out and rather than use fiscal common sense the Government panicked and did the only thing they would do guaranteed to make everything worse, they started printing money. Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Those that did learn from history and knew exactly what would happen when all the money was printed and did it anyway were damned.

    Hyperinflation of the currency system works in the short term for the government helping to avoid reparations of debt but in the long run it destroys the economy.

    The rate of printed money creation approached that of the Weimar Republic in the 1920’s. People in mass started losing the four basic survival requirements, food, shelter, transportation, and security. One in three houses either foreclosed or queued up for a foreclosure in the near future.

    Chapter

    Several weeks went by. Florida still dominated the news. The estimates of several hundred thousand missing or dead tripled. The state was still in shambles and the government resources maxed out. People in Florida that had not gotten out went from shock to despair to anger to rage. Crime ran rampant and anarchy and chaos reigned.

    Susan, Ralph, and Doug sat around the kitchen table with inventory lists and quantities, supply needs, and Compound readiness. They’d just watched a Special Edition News on Florida.

    “I can’t believe there is so much crime. When it happened in New Orleans with Katrina I thought maybe there was just a lot of crime in that part of Louisiana.” Susan said.

    They’d fully incorporated Susan into the mix for the Compound planning.

    “It would happen anywhere, even here.” Ralph said.

    “You really think our neighbors would turn on us.” She asked.

    “In a heartbeat, especially when there is no food, they didn’t plan and they come knocking on the door for help.”

    “We’d help our neighbors wouldn’t we?”

    Doug answered. “Ralph and I have considered all the possibilities. It may seem harsh but a person, who prepared, planned a supply of food to last a year for his family of four could see that food disappear in a matter of weeks. Once the neighborhood discovers he has food, word would get out and people would be lining up. A years’ worth of food would be gone in weeks because you wanted to be compassionate. What about compassion for your loved ones? Your food runs out you will be in the same hat-in-hand boat the rest of the group is in. Isn't the reason you prep to buffer the effects of a bad event for your family? You can't prep for everyone, where would you stop. Five houses down on each side of your street? The block? The subdivision? The east/west/north/south quadrant of your city? Your city? When a store runs out of food in 3 days, what makes anyone think they can make a difference to anyone other than their immediate family or in our case people we have invited into the Compound community. Wouldn't it seem more responsible to at least give a few people (your family) a shot at surviving instead of providing a meal or two for a lot of people and then everyone perishes? If you take the position that you will feed any who need it then you will fail. You might as well not even prep which not surprisingly, a majority of the people when asked this ethical dilemma that took the position they would feed all who needed it were NOT preppers, they were grasshoppers.”

    “Grasshoppers?” Susan asked.

    “You know, Aesop’s Fables, the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper.” Doug said.
    “I don’t know that one.” She replied.

    Doug continued. “The story goes a grasshopper spent all summer singing and playing. The ant was busy collecting food and storing it for the upcoming winter. When winter comes, the grasshopper finds itself dying of hunger and it asks the ant for food. The ant scolds the grasshopper for its idleness. The story taught the virtue of hard work and the perils of laziness.”

    “I can see that but people are not bugs.” She said.

    “Survival is why we are doing this.” Ralph chimed in. “By the way, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something. You love animals and are really good with them. I want you to be in charge of animal care, I have a shipment of animals coming in tomorrow now that the fences and enclosures are finished.”

    Her face lit up. “I wondered what you were going to use those for; sure, I’d be glad to.”

    Ralph hesitated for a second before continuing. “There is just one consideration, though.”

    “What?”

    “They are not for pets; they will be providing us with sustenance one way or another.” Ralph substituted the word sustenance for the word food thinking it would have less of an impact.

    “Oh.” She said. “You know I work for a no-kill animal shelter don’t you?”

    When he didn’t answer and Doug looked away she continued. “What about those animals?”

    “You will have to let someone else take care of them.”

    “I can’t have any pets?”

    “If you can figure out a way to have them be working animals like a sheep dog that helps shepherd the animals or we could have a few cats to control the mice population but understand, we will probably be having a hard enough time feeding the people and the animals we, ah, use for sustenance, we have no place in the Compound for idle mouths.”

    Doug said “Have you heard the modern version of the Ant and the Grasshopper?”

    Both Ralph and Susan indicated they hadn’t.

    He slyly continued.

    “It starts out the same but when winter comes the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. CBS, NBC, and ABC show up and show pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to some film of the ant in his comfortable warm home with a table filled with food.

    America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can it be, in a country of such wealth that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

    Then a representative of the N.A.A.G.B. (The National Association of Green Bugs) shows up on Night Line and charges the ant with "Green Bias" and makes the case that the grasshopper is the victim of 30 million years of Greenism. Kermit the frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when he sings "It's Not Easy Being Green."

    Bill and Hillary Clinton make a special guest appearance on the CBS evening news and tell a concerned Dan Rather that they will do everything they can for the grasshopper who has been denied the prosperity he deserves by those who benefitted unfairly during the summer, or as Bill refers to it, the "Temperatures Of The 80's".

    Finally the E.E.O.C. drafts the "Economic Equity and Anti-Greenism Act" RETRO- ACTIVE to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and having nothing left to pay his Retro-Active Taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

    The modern version of the story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last little bits of the ant's food while the government house he's living in .... Which just happens to be the ant's old house .... crumbles around him since he doesn't know or seem to care how to maintain it.

    The ant has disappeared in the snow. And on the big screen TV, which the grasshopper bought by selling most of the ant's food, Bill Clinton is standing before a wildly applauding group of Liberals announcing that a new era of "Fairness" has dawned in America!”

    Ralph laughed “That’s about right.”

    Susan just rolled her eyes. She was more of a centrist and didn’t care for politics all that much trying to not take either side though she did lean toward being conservative. “So what animals are coming in?”

    Ralph pulled a sheet out from a folder and started reading. “We have six sheep and a Ram, six cows and a bull, a mule (we’ll use the mule to pull the plow if we run out of fuel for the tractor), two dozen chickens and four roosters, six goats two of which are bucks and two are kids, six ducks, six geese, ten rabbits…”
    “We’re going to have rabbits?” Susan said surprised. “You wouldn’t let me have a rabbit as a kid.”

    Ralph said in a low voice “Sustenance.” Susan’s demeanor fell a bit.

    “Anything else?” She asked.

    “Next week we have a bunch of trout and catfish coming for the stock ponds we just built.”

    “I have to go to my job, this is my last day. I’ll be home for dinner.” Susan said, probably said about leaving the animals she loved so much.

    After she left, Ralph said “That was sugar-coating about turning away people looking for food. It might be a lot worse than that.”

    “I know.” Doug said. “But I didn’t want to scare her about it.”

    Ralph went on. “There are a couple of ways we could have prepared. We could have planned to bug out but I figured this was as likely a place to make a stand as any and I’m too old to be a refugee. If whatever the event is happens here then I hope we are at ground zero.” Many people will hunker down and wait for everyone else to die off but that plan has almost no chance of working. You may be able to hide if you retreat by you can’t hide the land it sits on. The Compound will be a target and everyone around, neighbors and strangers alike are going to want what we have. We stand to make enemies of both by denying them a share in our survival. Food is the key resource. People will not be able to get enough food. You will have to have land to grow food and enough food stockpiled to last until you’ve had a chance to plant, grow and harvest that food. We have a pretty secure environment inside these 14 foot walls but not enough room to grow all the food we’ll need. Much of that will have to be grown outside the walls and that will have to be guarded night and say. We will have to plow, plant, and harvest by armed guard, and then retreat with the harvest and make the best use of it, a portion for consumption, a portion for next years’ crops and even a portion to give away if we can after meeting our own needs.”

    “I thought you weren’t too keen on giving any away.”

    Ralph said “There will be things we don’t have that we might want to barter for. There will be security considerations. We might form an alliance with a group in time where we trade. We might be under siege and giving up a portion of our food we’d already allocated for giving away might be a good strategy to placate those who would take it anyway.”

    “I never thought of that.” Doug said.

    “There will be a huge die-off caused mostly by starvation. When the total collapse comes, without immediate restoration of the economy, basically everyone who lives in a city is doomed unless they can take over some kind of farm land and even then, they would have to know how to grow it. There will be the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots will be trying to take it from the haves. People are dangerous. We will be surrounded by starving predators that will be armed and highly motivated. Raiding groups will be formed or small groups of people with the single purpose of surviving and being a have not, they will be looking for the haves. Look at what is happening in Florida. The people that didn’t get out do not have access to food and water. What FEMA is providing is woefully inadequate. People are looting and stealing and doing anything they can to survive. Another example is the Albanian political crisis in 1998 caused by the national lottery scam. Almost everyone in the country procured an AKM from government stocks. Armories were the first targets looted. That will happen here but include sporting goods stores such as BP. That is why most of the shooting department has already been moved to the Compound. Since there won’t be a central authority, people will form their own local groups. If you aren’t sharing with them then they may try to confiscate your goods, you had better be able to protect them or they will crush you. On a positive note, they are not likely to be forward thinking, they did not prep, they did not anticipate the possibilities and they will have a lot of indecision and in-fighting in making decisions, they will squander resources and delay implementing necessary actions like the grasshopper. The may take in refugees from other cities enticing them to join with the promise of food and shelter, but they are not being benevolent, they are trying to increase their power base to the point where they can take what they want. This part has me worried. If that happened in Paradise for example, we would only be able to stave off so many, eventually they could overwhelm us with numbers so we would be forced to either join up with them thus giving them all our resources to dole out as their power structure dictates or perish. We have to build enough like-minded people who will commit to sharing and cooperate and follow the Compound rules to ward off other communities and organizations. We have to expect some form of government army will be formed and at some point we will have to deal with them.”

    “So how do we survive in the long run, if all this prepping is just good for a short time?” Doug asked.

    “We will have to find a way to integrate with the outside community and gradually use the combined resources to defend against bigger threats, kind of an US versus THEM mentality.” Ralph said. “We need to start forming a list of people we think might initially fit into the Compound, also some requirements for people coming in.”

    “Requirements?” Doug asked.

    “Yes, people need to have some skin in the game, otherwise they’ll just bail first chance they get taking some of our resources with them. The initial group in the Compound will be by request and they will be invited based on what they bring to the table, whether it is a skillset or assets. For people showing up after that, we need to have some guidelines if not hard fast rules, like for example, clothing. They will need to bring their own good sturdy clothes. We will have to do the wash by hand and dry on a line. They should have rain gear as well. If they can, bring plain bleach and other cleaners. More people mean more cleaning.”

    “It’d be nice if they brought their own food but if they are seeking to join us, they may have little to nothing to share.” Doug said.

    “In those cases, they will need to have a skill that we can use or we will have to send them on.”

    They should bring their own bedding or sleeping bags. We could double up in the A-frames but after that, it will be floor space in the barn. They can’t bring their pets and it would be better if they had their own weapons, ammo, and fishing gear. We will need people that can hunt and fish for their own food. Weapons and ammo will be locked up and distributed based on need. If they have any illnesses, they will have to have their own medicines. They should come bringing their own soaps, paper towels; toilet paper, trash bags and they should expect there will be a task list with chores assigned to everyone. Regardless of age or if there are physically challenged individuals, almost everyone can fold clothes, dust, organize, keep watch, help cook and clean, wash clothes and hang to dry, sweep floors, and stuff like that. The stronger in the group can hunt and fish, clean the kill or catch and prepare for cooking. The dies will have to be scraped, salted and stretched to tan. We might eventually be using the hides for clothes. There will be gardening except in the winter which would be starting seeds inside in late winter, tilling ground, sowing the seeds, weeding, watering, and harvesting. Then storing the harvest and getting seeds for the next year’s crops. We probably continually need chopping or gathering of firewood so people will have to work if they want to eat.”

    Doug said “Tough times ahead.”

    “There won’t be many survivors. There will be a few people who made detailed and extensive plans ahead of time, like we are trying to do. There will be people who survive by killing people that prepared and stealing from them. Over time, these will become fewer and fewer of these as the downside to stealing from people that prepared is that they are also prepared to defend themselves. They may be successful based on either deception or on overwhelming numbers , but their lack of planning will eventually be there downfall. A three-month supply of food for four people will only last a gang of thirty people for about two weeks so they will need to be constantly moving. Some of the places they attack may only have one or two weeks of food so the gang of thirty will start losing numbers quickly. The last group is more troublesome. They are bullies and their supporters. They are used to taking things from other people. They might be made up of government or city officials and might try to convince people they have to collect all the surplus food in the area so it can be equally distributed to everyone. People who don’t have any food will be all for this plan but the more they collect, the more power they gain since they can distribute it not based on need but cronyism and favors. They will deal harshly with people that do not go along with their plan. They will rely on searches and informants, promising the informant extra rations for exposing the ‘hoarders’.”

    The discussion depressed both of them. Ralph opened a new bottle of crown.

    “Grease the creative wheel, right?”

    “Of course.” Doug agreed.

    Ralph brightened up. “On a positive note, when The Shit Hits The Fan, we will be ready. They just finished the large composting outhouses; we can accommodate up to four at a time now, two in each.”
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  9. #49
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    Very good. Thanks

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    Thank you for the new chapters!!!

  11. #51
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    Thank you so much for sharing your writing talents with us. Excellent story!

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    Loving this story! Thanks so much!
    Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/TheCrochetFarm

    If we aren't showing love, His love, then what are we doing calling ourselves Christians?

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    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
    26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

  13. #53
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    Tim made it all the way to Mobile Alabama before he ran out of luck. He was trying to procure some more gasoline in the middle of the night and he picked the wrong house to do it at. A County Sherriff caught him in the act and arrested him, drove him to the jail that night. The Sherriff ran the plates on the Hummer to discover it was not registered in Tim’s name and he couldn’t contact the registered owner so he brought car-theft charges against Tim. The only problem the Sherriff had was that in three weeks’ time since Vicky ravaged the land, he’d had to arrest dozens more on the same or similar charges as Tim’s. People were filing out of Florida like rats and for some of them that was an insult to rats.

    The Mobile jail is where Tim met Garrison Fordem. If ever there was a low-life it was Garrison, probably why the two of them got along so well. The Mobile jail had six cells with two bunks and one big drunk tank. The cells were all overflowing. One day the Sherriff opened them all up and told them to leave Mobile and not come back. In fact, if he ever saw any of them again he wouldn’t ask questions, he’d just shoot them.

    That solved a problem for Mobile and the Sherriff but it let loose a whole slew of people that didn’t know what to do with themselves. Garrison and Tim decided to join forces and head to Texas. Everyone else just scattered like roaches when the light is suddenly turned on.

    The benevolent release from jail didn’t include the cars either of them had stolen so they started walking down Interstate 10 and they weren’t the only ones. At this point, not many Americans could afford to drive and the ones that could were so worried about all the people on the roads they didn’t pick up anyone. Luckily for Tim and Garrison, there was a rest stop three tenths of a mile outside of Mobile where they stole another car and hid another body. It took several more days to get to Louisiana; they’d stopped in Biloxi for a spell to try their hand at gathering resources. They’d managed to find some houses in Gulfport that must have been vacation homes and they broke into those to take what they could. They’d found enough old and stale food to keep them going but what they really needed was to find items that they could sell or trade. They’d planned on ditching the Ford Mustang as soon as they could and maybe try to get a car that was legitimate, as much as possible anyway considering the stolen goods they’d use to purchase the car was ill-gotten gain. They stayed away from large items like electronics, instead looking for cash, jewelry, and of course guns which they only found a Taurus .357 and it only had two bullets. It was just a matter of time. If not in Mississippi then surely in Louisiana or Texas, everyone had guns there. They’d just gotten to Lake Charles when another Country Sherriff pulled them over. Tim was in the driver’s seat and looking in the side view mirror as the Sherriff cautiously approached with his hand on the butt of his nine Millimeter. Tim rolled the window down while the Sherriff was still a few steps from the driver’s window. He stuck his head out and smiled. “Howdy, officer, what can I do for you?”

    The Sherriff said “Put both hands on the wheel where I can see them.”

    Tim put his left hand on the wheel and then brought his right hand up firing the .357, twice. He hit the officer directly on the right side of his chest and the Sherriff went down hard. Tim jumped out and yelled “Shouldn’t have stopped me.” Tim reached down and took the gun from the Sherriff’s hand. He turned to go and the Sherriff coughed a couple of times.

    “What the ?” Tim looked down and saw through the bullet holes in the Sherriff’s shirt was a vest of some sort.

    “Son-of-a-bitch.” He took the Sherriff’s gun, cocked the hammer back and calmly pulled the trigger. This action accomplished two things. The first was it killed the Sherriff. The second was, it put him in the driver’s seat with Garrison. There would never be any doubt about who was running things.

    Garrison said “You tore him up, you’re the man, I never saw anything like that.”

    Tim just looked at him and said “That’s why you never want to cross me.”


    Chapter

    Doug heard Susan’s car drive up. He’d been sitting all day talking strategy with Ralph so he go up to greet her. He opened the front door, just as she was crossing the porch.

    “You didn’t.” Doug said.

    “Yes, I did.” Susan walked in with a beautiful Australian Shepherd on a leash. The dog had a white front with mottled tannish looking fur toward the back end. It was very alert.”

    “Hello boy.” Doug said and bent over to pet it.

    “He’s a she. Her name is Jessie.”

    “You know what Ralph said about pets.”

    “Got that covered.” She said. “Jessie is a working dog. She already herds any animals you want her to. She was trying to herd kids around the shelter.” She gave him a kiss. “Where’s Ralph, I want to show him?”

    “We’ve been in the study all day. In fact, glad you’re here, we are about to go over a roster for the Compound and wanted your input.”

    They walked into the study, Jessie’s claws clicking on the hardwood floors. Ralph looked up and just rolled his eyes. “That dog had better be able to cook.”

    “This is a working dog daddy, it can help with the animals.”

    Doug said “Don’t worry, if it doesn’t work hard enough there is always that Vietnamese Cookbook, 101 Ways To WOK Your Dog.”

    Susan slugged him and Jessie barked and jumped up and grabbed Susan arm in her mouth. She didn’t bite but she wasn’t going to let Susan hit Doug again.

    “I think I’m going to like this dog.” Doug said rubbing his arm.

    Susan took the leash off and Jessie ran around the room smelling everything. She’d gotten a new lease in life as the no-kill shelter couldn’t was closing in two weeks. With the economy faltering and more and more people out of work they were abandoning their animals or bringing them to the shelter and donations almost dried up. Jessie ran over to Ralph and sat at his feet calmly as if she knew he was the master of the house and had to approve. Ralph begrudgingly started petting her head. Every time he would try to stop she’d nudge him to continue.

    “She likes you, you have a new buddy.” Susan said.

    Ralph just rolled his eyes again but he kept petting Jessie.

    “Sit down, we need to go over a list of people for the Compound.” Ralph said.

    “You know I don’t want to say no to anyone.” Susan said.

    “This isn’t a formal invite, all we are doing is going over the list and ranking them, Doug and I will decide on whom to invite.”

    Doug said “We have pretty strict requirements like they have to be super-models, Sweddish Bikini Team or Bond girls.”

    Susan drew her arm back like she was going to whack him again and Jessie growled.

    “Yep, I like that dog.” Doug said.

    “Maybe I should have gotten the Colley.” Susan directed toward Jessie.

    Ralph held his hand up to stop the banter. “We have only one confirmed, that’s Gunny. He is moving in tomorrow. Let’s talk about some other possibilities. If you think of someone, say who it is and why you think we should include them, like what special skill do they have or what do they bring to the table.”

    Doug said “I think we should invite Sheila Jackson. She is very good at organizational skills which we will need, she is young and healthy.”

    “Anything I need to worry about?” Susan asked.

    “Not at all, I just work well with her and respect her. Doug said.

    Ralph said “You know, I think she’s okay, but do you think being the daughter of the Mayor will be a problem?”

    “I don’t think so; she is pretty independent of him.” Doug answered.

    Okay, what about Herb, since he is the other assistant manager.” Ralph asked.

    “That would be a no for me.” Doug said.

    “Care to elaborate?” Ralph asked.

    “He doesn’t really work hard; he just makes it look like he is working hard. He kisses up and I’ve seen him treat some of the people under him poorly.”

    “I agree.” Said Ralph, but I wanted your opinion.

    Ralph put a check by Sheila’s name and an ‘X’ by Herbs.

    “Anyone else at the store?” asked Susan.

    Doug thought about it for a few seconds. “There are quite a few kids working for us still in High School but I think we should not ask them. We aren’t in a position where we can accept everyone’s family and a high school age kid would expect their parents to be able to come to. This has to be a package deal and everyone we recruit including the families have to add something to the Compound, not detract from it.”

    Ralph said it more succinctly. “No useless eaters, mouths to feed that don’t give anything back.”

    Susan said “How about Jeb Rodd? He is the veterinarian that volunteers part time at the shelter.”

    “Tell us why, or what he brings?”

    “We are going to have a lot of animals to take care of and he could be useful if any of them got sick. He could also use some of those skills tending to any people that get sick.”

    “Good call. Speaking of people getting sick, do either of you know any Doctors we could invite?” Ralph asked.

    Susan and Doug shook their heads. Susan said “Both the docs in this town are about to retire.” Most everyone in town would go to see either Dr. Brown or Dr. Allred if they had a cold or needed tetanus shot but for anything major they’d either go to Fort Worth or Denton.

    Doug said “How about Sean Buckler and Houston Ashcroft? They both worked at BP several summers. They just went in together and opened up a Canoe and Kayak shop taking people on river trips. They do several on the Trinity. They are young, fit, and they don’t have family here.”

    Ralph wrote their names down and put a check by them.

    “How about Tim McCall?” Susan said.

    “The guy at the feed store?” Ralph asked.

    “Yes, he knows all about the different types of food necessary for the animals, what we’ll need to grow, how to grow it, and nutrition and all that stuff.”

    “I can see Ralph picked the right person to put in charge of the animals.” Doug said.

    Ralph nodded in agreement.

    They continue on evaluating many of the people in Paradise.

    They nixed Kevin Pierce, the Chief of Police because he was overbearing and in too thick with the Mayor, John Johnston who automatically was out. The Mayor would do just about anything to ruin Ralph since they ran against each other for Mayor and John won.

    Jake Sorbie, a mechanic in town was out. Almost everyone had a story about how Jake either over-charged them or took advantage of them in some other way like fixing something that wasn’t broke on their vehicle. It was a trust issue.
    Bennett Adams was a no. He was a coach that was charged with illegal practices concerning recruiting outside his district for the football team as well as a host of other ethics complaints. Football is king in Texas and he wasn’t convicted of anything but it was still questionable ethics. That was the joy and the misery of a small town, everyone knew your business.

    Jethro Brown was an automatic no. He was a bully in high school and tried to be a bully around town. He was friends with the three stooges who were also out.

    Marcus Morrison and his family got a check mark by his name. One of just a few black families in town, Marcus not only farmed but ran a booth in the weekend farmers market. His whole family pitched in and was known to be hard workers. They would need some farming expertise to help with the food production.

    Mike Michaels received a check mark. They weren’t sure if he’d even be interested since he ran and owned a very profitable steak house in town called Paradise Cove. They weren’t sure what Cove had to do with it since they were not on a body of water but anytime you wanted to eat at a nice restaurant for almost any occasion you went to Paradise Cove. They could all cook but there was a difference between making a meal and making a culinary delight.

    They said no to Orson Yeager due to his recent two year stint in the Huntsville Prison. No one was sure why he was in jail but it was still a no.

    They agreed to Maureen Martinson. She was a realtor so her value was questionable but they agreed she could probably take care of the housing arrangements of the cabins, tents, RVs, and whatever else qualified as a place to lay your head. Even more valued was her husband Dan “Smoky” Martinson. He was a blacksmith and metal worker. He specialized in making things the way the old time blacksmiths did, without modern tools which might be exactly the type of conditions they found themselves in.

    It was no for Henry Lehman. He was a lawyer. Okay, it was more than that. He was a scum bag lawyer, the kind you would imagine chased ambulances around and handed out business cards.

    No for Salma Black. She ran a resale shop and besides being a town gossip, they couldn’t figure out one attribute she could bring to the Compound.

    It was no for Tricia Elliot. She was working on her third husband. That in itself was not a disqualifier but all three she’d stolen from other women the men were previously married to. They were going to try for a ‘drama free’ zone, or at least try to minimize it.

    No for Mica Venter. Besides for being known to have a klepto problem, she was also a drama queen.

    There weren’t any immediate neighbors to Ralph’s 160 acres. On one side was a thousand acres owned by an out-of-state investor, they weren’t even sure. On the East side was the town city limits. There had been a mobile home park but when John became Mayor, he’d annexed as soon as possible and then used city zoning and eminent domain to make them leave. Most had relocated outside city boundaries south of town. This was another bone of contention between the Mayor and Ralph. The Mayor wanted the annexation to encompass Ralph’s land but Ralph did successfully stop that by lobbying the city councilmen and being friends with the City Manager who was fired right after that. The Mayor had no jurisdiction on the West side of the road that marked the city limits but he still hassled Ralph every chance he got. Numerous permits had been either denied or delayed while BP jumped through hoops since Ralph’s store was in city limits.

    They reviewed different people they knew and checked some and x’ed others late into the night.
    Last edited by dstraito; 03-03-2013 at 09:44 AM.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  14. #54
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    Chapter

    Protests continue now in every major city and most medium sized ones. There was no end to people available to protest as unemployment ran over 50% now. More people were unemployed than had jobs. Of course the dollar devaluation and the hyperinflation didn’t help anyone. Companies were laying off workers, not growing but retrenching, rerouting their expansions to full retreats, closing unproductive franchises and desperately trying to make a profit. Union shops were hit the worst.

    Most companies with Union employees had strict rules about reductions in force; their only out was to close the entire plant to avoid huge negotiated payments to the workers. Unions kept their unrealistic demands for salaries, benefits, and especially their prized pensions. Their demands were indifferent to whether a company made a profit or not and consequently many companies simply closed their doors. The word profit had taken on a negative connotation with most workers, especially the unemployed. The workers held a viewpoint the company should be in business to make the employees’ lives better, not to make a profit.

    Any profit should be spread amongst the workers as it was on the backs of the workers the company made any profits. This communistic train of thought was enforced by the Unions who advertised being advocates for the worker, but in reality they were simply trying to hold on to the power base they had created among the top elite Union Officials. Bribery, cronyism, and outright illegal behavior became a way of life for these elite. They sat on their demands while watching the baby get thrown out with the bath water. Unions started busing in laid off workers to the protests thinking if they stirred the turmoil and conflict the government would step in and make everyone’s dreams come true, after all, the people were entitled. What they didn’t realize or didn’t care about was the government was on the ropes; it was listening to the count at 9 and couldn’t regain its feet. They kept performing the same tried and true tricks that were guaranteed not to work. They raised taxes and boasted about the massive influx of revenue they’d raise. In reality, every time they raised taxes, revenue went down. Rich people deferred their money into tax free investments or hid it altogether. Many rich people lost the ‘rich’ designation like the song from Ten Years After “Tax the rich; feed the poor, till there are no rich no more.”

    Every time revenue went down they’d print more money. Every time they’d print more money the cost of goods and services would go up. It was a vicious circle with no economic tricks left to escape it. Currently there was difficulty making the interest payment on the national debt much less try to pay it off. Public officials resigned in every level of government, seeing the writing on the wall and not wanting to take the blame for what was surely coming.

    Many doomsayers and doom prognosticators held views the end was coming and very near. The reasons ran from the possible to the improbable, from nature’s vengeance in the form of hurricanes, earthquakes, solar flares, volcanic eruptions, pole shifts to brown dwarf stars colliding with the earth or moon or causing an ELE. Many saw the possible economic doom or the possibility of a war with one of the many countries holding worthless dollars as a reward for purchasing our debt. No one really thought the end would be brought about by tired, disgruntled workers with the help of an aging infrastructure.

    Florida still reeled from Vicky’s knockout punch. The nation wobbled from the staggering still rising costs. Mother Nature wasn’t through though. As if to show who the boss was or demonstrate the adage “Man Plans, God Laughs”, a rare storm described by media anchors as “epic” occurred hitting Alaska hard. Flooding occurred along the state’s western coast followed by a high sea surge ten to twelve feet above normal. Strong winds ripped roofs from many buildings and reports trickled in about people missing after being swept into the Bering Sea during the storm. Damage from heavy storm surf and a lot of erosion was being reported.

    National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Oscar reported this epic storm was the strongest in nearly 8 decades carrying heavy snow, rain and hurricane-force winds. Power was out in many communities sending some residents fleeing to higher ground. The storm continued unabated into Washington State and Idaho putting them into alert status as well. The record cold snap put record demands on the Nations Electrical Power Grid at a time when it could least afford it. The grid should have been upgraded or replaced decades ago. The government mantra had been to patch it and keep going since there were so many demands on the taxpayer funds, like all those entitlements. Florida aside from a few backup generators in some businesses had no power. The nuclear power plants were in danger of a different kind of disaster if the cooling rods weren’t kept cool. Texas was on a separate grid and better off than most other states but still in danger of not being able to supply enough power to meet demands. Many people unable to pay their mortgages also had their utilities shut off for the national deep freeze.

    Transportation virtually stopped as did manufacturing. Coal, nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar, hydro-electric and all types of generated power plants started shutting down as parts would break and they could not obtain replacements. Nuclear plants started their shutdown protocols as they started losing their backup power plants making it illegal to operate in case of a disaster.

    GOD wasn’t just mad at America though; every country in the world was undergoing some sort of hardship. Europe was also in a deep freeze. Asia was in the middle of massive flooding and civil unrest as the rest of the world quit buying their goods.

    One would think that would be enough.

    No!

    Anyone thinking of the phrase “The Big One” usually associated that with California and the San Andreas Fault. The big one hit, only it was the New Madrid Fault line which was a prolific source of intra-plate earthquakes in the southern and Midwestern United states. The fault system covered 150 miles extending into five states. It stretched from Cairo, Illinois to New Madrid in Missouri, through Marked Tree in Arkansas. It also covered a part of West Tennessee. The zone had four of the largest North American earthquakes in recorded history with estimates of up to 8.0 all happening between December 1811 and February 1812.

    FEMA issued a report a few years earlier that not too many people took seriously. The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that a serious earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic zone could result in the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States causing widespread and catastrophic damage across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee. Water distribution, transportation and other infrastructure could be drastically impaired. The report went on to estimate 86,000 casualties 715,000 damaged buildings; and 7.2 million people displaced with 2 million of those seeing shelter, primarily due to the lack of utility services. Direct economic losses, according to the report, would be at least $800 billion.

    The report findings were underestimated.

    The Richter scale of earthquake magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source of an earthquake deep within the earth. It is determined by measuring the amplitudes of ground motion on seismograms. Every two units represent 1,000 times more energy and every two-tenths of a unit represents double the energy.
    Like the 1811-1812 earthquakes, the first one started in northeast Arkansas. The second occurred in Missouri both along the New Madrid Fault. The country uplifted and warped. Some areas dropped, other areas rose as much as 20 feet. Large waves were generated on the Mississippi River by the seismically-induced ground motion giving the illusion that the river was flowing upstream. Estimates put the Richter Scale at 8.7.

    Electrical outages along the East Coast combined with electrical outages all along the Fault line. Redundancies failed. Safeguards failed. The grid has automatic routing and can switch outages to different grids. Those grids overloaded quickly. The safeguards in place to prevent overloading failed. Power plants were exploding across the nation. The lucky ones had already removed themselves from the grid for maintenance which added even more load to the few that were left. Layoffs found too many power plants and stations with an inadequate number of workers to handle this emergency volume.

    Just before the earthquake, Unions representing many utilities across the country met and determined they were being overworked and underpaid. They’d started a slowdown or stayed home sick. Power was now out in the Eastern half of the United States and the storm pushing through from the North West took out the West coast and adjacent states. Pleas went out to Texas for help but Texas was running at maximum with the power plants that were already out of service for maintenance.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  15. #55
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    The city of Paradise Texas like most other cities in the nation was juggling lack of funding and a history of ever increasing spending. Most cities and Paradise was not any different, relied on their tax base on property taxes. Occasional bond issues came along for specific needs like schools or roads or other infrastructure but for the most part, property taxes made up the lion’s share of tax revenue. Now with unemployment nationwide over 50% and in Paradise over 60%, tax revenues were down. Paradise had slightly worse employment numbers than the nation because so many people were in ranching or farming and they couldn’t afford the animals, the equipment maintenance or the seed stock for farming. The banks lenient lending practices as promoted by several progressive presidents allowed loans for many people who could not afford them. Foreclosures were at an all-time high. People that walked away from their houses did not pay taxes.

    Mayor John Johnson held a closed door meeting with a couple of city counsel, Robert Greenley and Shawn Preston.

    “We have to turn things around, we are nearly bankrupt.” The Mayor said.

    “You can’t get blood from a turnip; we have lost a lot of tax payers.” said Shawn.

    “Yeah, and we are still sitting on those huge pensions we weren’t able to get the court to annul.” Robert said.

    “So we need to enlarge our base, we need to annex more areas so we can increase our tax base.” John said.

    “We looked at doing that last year; the infrastructure needs we would be taking on by annexing areas outside the city would be enormous. The streets, lighting, water and sewage alone would not justify the additional tax revenue we would receive.” said Robert.

    “What we do is cherry pick. Specifically, we need to incorporate and annex the land Ralph has. He has been making improvements to his property that should make the tax go way up. All we have to do is annex it and have the property appraisal reflect all the additions he has done.” The Mayor said.

    “He can’t have done that much where one person can affect our tax revenue that much.” Shawn said.

    The Mayor answered “Not just him, there are four or five areas around the outskirts of city limits that if we annexed, we could almost achieve enough revenue to get through this next year. That coupled with layoffs. We need to let 6 of the policemen go, get rid of the Fire Department altogether and go to a volunteer Fire Department. We will have to cut our teaching staff in half, get rid of non-essential departments like the library, the swimming pools, the landscaping department that takes care of mowing and cleanup.”

    “Aren’t those services needed?” Shawn asked.

    “Minor inconvenience is all. We will weather the storm and come out victorious when things turn around.” John said.

    “What if things don’t turn around?” asked Robert.

    “Then it doesn’t really matter what we do here does it?” the Mayor answered.
    “What about liability, like if someone gets hurt in a fire and there was not adequate support?” Robert asked.

    “That’s not really our problem now is it?” the Mayor answered.

    “Maybe not, but getting reelected might be if we let essential city services go.” Shawn said.

    “I guess we can wait until the next elections but making the city go bankrupt is not going to get us reelected either.” John said.

    “We know you have history with Ralph; you know he won’t go along with annexing his land. He fought us once before on that and beat us, what makes you think we can try this again? And don’t we have to wait for a general election before we can even bring it up for a vote?” Shawn said.

    “Not if I declare a major emergency, I might be able to do an emergency annexation based on crisis conditions. That fool out there thinks he knows what is best for this city but he is wrong.”

    Ralph and John had major issues with each other since they’d both run for Mayor of Paradise. Ralph had more votes and looked like a lock-in for the win but at the last minute, John ran a smear campaign against Ralph and in time, those charges were dismissed as unfounded but in the short run, it was enough to garner enough votes to capture the office.

    Ever since then, there had been bad blood between the two. John tried everything he could to get in the way of anything Ralph asked for. BP routinely needed to get permits for different actions and John instructed the city inspectors to make BP jump through hoops and go an extra mile. BP always complied and unable to stall any longer they always got the permit they needed but not without a lot of extra effort.

    John said “There might be another angle; I’m talking to our lawyer about evoking Eminent Domain and taking Ralph’s land for city use.”

    Shawn said “You know he would fight that, and is that what we should really be doing?”

    “Just you reminder yourself whose side you are on?” John said. “He has been a thorn in the side of progress for years.”

    “Progress or in your side John?” Robert said.

    “What does it matter? I’m for progress and if he is a thorn in my side then he is stifling progress.” John said.

    Robert said “I don’t want to cross him; he has always been fair to me.”

    “Then maybe you have outlived your usefulness in this council.” John said.
    “Uh, if I recall, those positions are voted on, so wouldn’t it be up to the voters to determine that?”

    “If you say so John.” Robert usually caved to whatever John wanted but he was stubbornly resistant tonight. Robert got up from his chair and without saying another word he left.”

    The Mayor said “Shawn, he may be a problem.”

    Shawn said “If he is, we can deal with it. I know who he has been having an affair with, so if we need to, we can use that.”

    “Only if we have to.” The Mayor said.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  16. #56
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    He must have seen her run into Starbucks on her back to the Compound on her last day at work. She bought her Caramel Macchiato and turned to go and he was standing right behind her.

    “Yum, that looks good.” He said with a leer.

    “You wouldn’t like it; it doesn’t have any alcohol in it.”

    “Whoose said I always have to have alcohol?” He was slurring his words.

    “Let’s see. It’s now six o’clock in the evening and you start drinking when, eight in the morning? It’s a wonder you are still standing up.”

    “Quit Bitchin’ at me woman. Is it any wonder I left your ass?”

    “What do you want Mark?”

    “Listen.” He punctuated his sentence by poking her in her shoulder.

    She shrugged her shoulder back like he’d shot her.

    “You’d better start being nice to me; you are not always going to be able to live in that fancy place of your dads inside a nice safe wall.”

    “Why not, whose going to make me move, you?”

    “Nope. Not me. But someone will and then I’ll be talking to you anytime I want to.”

    Something in the way he said that was very threatening but he didn’t make a specific threat.

    She stepped to the side and walked past him. He spun and reached for her shoulder to stop her but she ducked her shoulder down. His drunkenness caused him to not be able to stop the momentum from twisting and he fell into a woman spilling her Flavored Latte. It hit the floor at the same time Susan walked out the door. It was also at the same time the woman started screaming at Mark and making a scene. Susan got in her car and quickly drove away. She was thinking how sad she was to be leaving the shelter but excited to be taking on the lead role with the animals at the Compound.


    Chapter

    The Compound was essentially complete. Ralph, Susan, and Doug spent the week interviewing the candidates that made their “Yes” list. So far, all the people they’d asked to join the Compound said yes. They too had been feeling overwhelmed with everything that was going on. They saw the Compound as a life-vest in a sea of turbulence. They were on the same page as they saw the fabric of society unraveling. They too saw the need for a like-minded community where everyone had each other’s back.

    Gunny moved in and started taking part of the regular strategy meetings so now it was the core of four that continued building this society. Tonight, Sheila was coming over. She did not know why she’d been invited to dinner but she’d accepted. Ralph had mixed emotions as Sheila was the daughter of his mortal enemy, the Mayor, John Johnson. Ralph felt her allegiance when things go really bad would be toward her father and he could not tolerate that division.

    The doorbell rang. Doug opened the door to find Sheila in a bright sundress covered with a sweater. Even though it was January, it was 75 degrees out and Sheila always liked to dress like she was going to the beach.

    Doug showed her in to the study where Susan, Ralph and Gunny were already sitting. He pulled out a chair for her to one side of the desk and took the only other empty chair in the room.

    Susan got up and poured her a glass of wine. What they had to talk about was heady stuff, doom-and-gloom. Agreeing to live in the Compound was a major life change and the invitees also had to agree to abide by the rules.

    After a little small talk, Ralph finally said “Sheila, you have probably been watching the news, you know what is going on, and the nation is dangerously close to a collapse.”

    She nodded her head in agreement but didn’t say anything.

    “You probably saw some improvements we have done to the Com…, well to my land around here. We feel the responsible thing to do would be to prepare for possible problems that might or might not be coming our way.” Ralph said.

    Doug said “We’re impressed by your work, you have a hard work-ethic, you are good at organization, and we think you would be a valid addition to us here.”

    “Us, who is us exactly?” Sheila said. “It sounds like you are preparing for the end of the world and while I think things are bad, I’m not sure they are so bad as to declare the end times.”

    Susan said “We are forming a co-op, if you will. We hope that things won’t turn really bad. Worst case scenario, we all live as a community, nothing happens and in time you can choose to continue or go your own way. But,” She said. “But, if events happen like we expect them to, survival may depend on groups like us, co-ops of people combining their skills and resources in order to survive.”

    Sheila said “What exactly do you expect to happen? I mean, things are bad right now, I’ve seen that we don’t have half the merchandise in the store that we used to. I attributed that to a slow economy, but it’s more than that isn’t it?”

    “Yes.” Ralph said. “There are a lot of things that could happen, the collapse of the economy, wars with foreign countries, and the collapse of our infrastructure. We’ve already seen where the nation’s power grid has collapsed, the hurricane Vicky decimated the nation’s ability to respond to disasters. What we see happening is a collapse, not just economically, but totally, into anarchy, into chaos. When that happens, there won’t be any law, there won’t be any rules. What there will be are groups of people roving through areas looking to take whatever they can from other people. What I expect is that we will have to be a community to survive, we will have to form bonds that make us dependent on each other for our very lives and it will take us all to survive.”

    “Wow. That is a lot to take in. What about my father? What role does he play?”

    “He could not be part of this community. We’re assuming he is going to try to shore up the Paradise community if anarchy comes and would not be willing to follow the Compound rules.”

    “The Compound rules?”

    “Yes, we have adopted a constitution so-to-speak, a set of rules to live by to ensure our survival.”

    “What if I don’t agree to all the rules?”

    “Totally your choice, of course. We want to invite you to be part of the community but it is a community you join with free will. If you don’t join that is your choice. This is a one-time only offer however. Here is a copy of the rules, we don’t have to have your answer tonight, but within a few days.” Ralph said.

    Sheila took the papers Ralph offered. She said “You know, my father still has it in for you, he would probably disown me if I joined up with you.”

    Doug said “He might, and that would be his choice, but we place a high value on you and what you could bring to the community so we are willing to face those consequences. What matters most is the question are you willing to face those consequences? We understand about family and would totally understand if you could not make that commitment.”

    “But if I don’t and things happen and I’m out in Paradise, then I’m on my own right?”

    “Our first commitment would of course be to the people that have joined us. If we could help anyone after that, we would, but understand, resources will be very tight and there might not be anything we could do.” Ralph said.

    Sheila stood. “Okay, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’ll get back with you tomorrow.”

    “Fair enough.” Doug said.

    Susan walked Sheila to the door. “We really are just trying to do what’s right here and survive in the face of overwhelming odds. This is not about a power play between Ralph and your father. This is about assembling the right people together to fight forces that are larger than any one of us.”

    “What about my sister, Emily?” Sheila asked.

    “We talked about that.” said Susan. “Everyone at the Compound would have to have a job, a purpose or a skill that would be beneficial to the community. We would make room for Emily. You and she could have one of the A-frame cabins to share, but she would have a set of duties that she would have to willingly perform and she and you would have to agree to the rules.”

    “Okay then, I’ll let you know tomorrow.” Sheila said.

    Susan walked back into the room with Ralph, Doug and Gunny.

    “Gunny, you didn’t say much.” Ralph said.

    “I’m listening. You want my opinion, ask for it, until then I’m gathering information. I don’t like her family relations.” Gunny said.

    “Nor I.” said Ralph.

    “Sheila is worth of inclusion.” Doug said. “Let’s not rule her out because her dad is an asshole.”

    “Let’s see what she says tomorrow.” Susan said. Gunny left to go to his cabin.

    Ralph went upstairs after saying goodnight. Doug and Susan were left to lock up and put the fire out.

    The two of them sat on the couch Doug put his arm around her.

    She asked “What are we really doing Doug?”

    “We’re trying to survive.” He said, kissing her lips gently.

    “I’m not so sure I want to survive if things go as bad as you say.”

    “Maybe they won’t get that bad. Worst case scenario, we spent a little more time and money than we had to prepare for the unknown. Yes the unknown that we think could possibly happen, but still unknown. Think of it like insurance. You probably pay $1000 dollars a year of for car insurance, right?”

    “Yeah, about that.”

    “To my knowledge, you haven’t used it or had an accident since you started driving, about 13, 14 years?”

    “Fifteen.” Susan said

    “So you have spent $15,000 and gotten nothing for it? You didn’t need it, but you had it in case you did. That is all we are doing here. If nothing happens, then so much the better. But if something does happen, we have carefully considered the possibilities and put this plan together as the best way we know of dealing with it.”

    “Doug, I know you’ve been after me to marry you and I haven’t been ready because, well I just haven’t been. But, I’m not sure I want to start a family under these conditions. I sure wouldn’t want to bring a child into anarchy and chaos.”

    “Marriage to children, you move fast.” He said.

    “I’m serious.”

    “Well, another way to look at it is we would be able to take care of each other, better than anyone else possibly could. If events happen, then we have each other, if events don’t, then we have each other. I don’t see a down side.”

    “You’re sweet, but naïve.” They kissed for a while and then Doug said “I’ve got to go, several more interviews tomorrow.”

    “You could always come up to my room for a while.” She said.

    “No, the one rule Ralph has is for us to be plutonic until we get married, I’m going to honor that.”

    She shrugged “Okay, but if the end of the world happens tomorrow, you’ll never know what you missed.”

    “If the end of the world happens tomorrow, I’ll be with you there in the end, and we’ll end up together.”

    “Goodnight, Doug, Love you.”

    “Love you too, honey.”
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  17. #57
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    Thank you now we all get to await moar lol.

  18. #58
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    The President sat at the conference table, his head cradled in his hands. No president ever faced a nation in such crisis and peril. Vicky stressed the nation’s emergency responses and they were found lacking. FEMA and the responses were woefully inadequate and reflected poorly on this administration. Congress eliminated the debt ceiling and the printing presses had been running non-stop ever since causing the already devalued dollar to be next to worthless with hyperinflation. No one in the nation, save maybe the one percent’ers or the elite could afford the basics in life, the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid, food, shelter, and safety. Protesters once limited to the unwashed liberals looking at the world through rose colored glasses wanting to hold hands and sing Kumbaya, now were forming groups with people unable to find jobs, unable to feed their families. People were demanding that President Packard step down. The good news is, at least for him was the lack of communications and electricity. There were no news broadcasts, cable or network. A small network of Ham radio operators provided some communication but the news was usually equally grim everywhere the radio operators reported.

    Europe, Asia, and the Middle East all had their own set of problems from political and economic strife to downright coups and changes in the power structures.

    Analysts were watching the major players, Russia and China especially. If ever there was a good time to attack the United States, now would be the time to do it. Ninety percent of the nation’s electrical grid was down. Texas had the only working grid and it was being overloaded with rolling blackouts. While Texas had a grid separate from the others in the nation; lack of funding, maintenance and workers made for a low probability of continuous power.

    Even more critical was the middle of the country. The earthquake over the New Madrid Fault caused such a change in the geography and had such a devastating impact on everyone within a hundred miles on either side. The Mississippi river widened from a couple hundred feet to 200 miles from the Gulf to North of Illinois. Estimates were comparable to Vicky’s damage to the number of deaths and injuries along this swatch of destruction. Hundreds of thousands killed or injured and more than a million displaced with nowhere to go. There were no FEMA response teams. There was no electricity. There was no funding. Churches and local communities tried to help where they could but their benevolent acts were offset by increasingly violent bands of thugs looking to take what they wanted. These gangs were made up of former neighbors, church deacons, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters trying to take care of their loved ones the only way they could. The feral gang members were made up of your real bad types, gang members of every race, people you wouldn’t have wanted to see in a dark alley before, now you really wanted to steer clear of them. The veneer of civilization was stripped off and what was underneath was not pretty. President Packard looked up as his aide came in He was delivering communications from the field using the military communications channels but information was still spotty. Many of his administration personnel had already deserted, leaving to try and take care of their families. Many people on the East Coast traveled to work by commuting. There were no commuting trains, planes, buses, or automobiles. The White House was running a skeleton staff. They’d taken the staff that was willing to come to work and converted the White House basements as a survival camp. A platoon of Marines was bivouacked on the White House lawn in a constant state of alert. The White House had adequate supplies and the Marines kept the many protestors from over running the whole area. Several Marines had been shot from unseen guns from the crowd. The response was not measured, it was unrestrained violence. Dozens of people were killed. Packard was thankful communications weren’t working right now, that response alone could have sunk him. He’d since declared martial law for the entire nation but it was hard to implement everywhere. Texas for example still had some electricity and was resisting Government attempts at sequestering their resources. The Texas National Guard was keeping all main infrastructures safe from looters and harm. The Earthquake and Hurricane disasters had most of the nation’s troops trying to help out with rescue and recovery operations, at least the troops that hadn’t taken off to take care of their own families.

    Packard told Charlie to assemble his Generals. There we only two. It was kind of like a reverse coup, instead of trying to take over, they all fled.

    The Army general and the Air Force general came in, both looking tired and worn out.

    “Status gentlemen.” Ordered the president.

    General Armis, the Army general went first. “We are at about 30 percent readiness in the field. There are requests coming in from every city in the nation for help.

    There is a sense of despair from all the tragedy but after despair comes anger. People are getting very angry out there. We are having a hard time mobilizing because of the lack of energy and the looting. People are stealing everything that is not nailed down, selling scrap for pennies on the dollar which isn’t even worth pennies.”

    “Spare me the editorial, Armis.” Packard said. “General Chance, what is the status of our military readiness.”

    “We can’t take care of our infrastructure and internal problems much less deal with other countries. We have stopped all foreign aid. We are not sure of the status of many countries as there are ongoing coups occurring. The good news is; Russia and China are busy dealing with their own problems. Not that we won’t have to worry about them in the near future but right now they are struggling for control of their own nations.

    The briefing finished. It was much the same as the status from the last ten days, chaos, anarchy, and an almost total lack of control. The president often had thoughts of running away from all this just as much of his staff and military had done but he had nowhere to go. His supporters were chaffing at the bit for him to use executive powers and this crisis to push many of their radical causes such as the redistribution of wealth from the world’s elite to the poorest peoples in all nations. They wanted to stop industry, stop capitalism because of the effect it has on the environment. These leftist radicals would stop all industry and have millions; maybe billions of people die to save a few obscure species. They would welcome the collapse of the United States as the number one abuser of energy, of the environments, and of the wonders of the earth. The people of power that put him into office were making demands that he implement some of the radical programs that would further their errant causes. He’d imposed Martial Law over the nation and was in the process of deploying troops. They’d already rounded up many people that were breaking laws and put them in FEMA camps. They also rounded up many people from their opposition even though they weren’t breaking the law and put them in the camps. It was thought to reduce the opposition’s numbers, further enabling the enactment of their agendas. Several conservative congressmen were missing.

    President Packard’s wife came in. “What are you gonna do about this mess?” she asked.

    “I’m doing what I can.”

    “That’s not enough. We can’t even leave the White House because it’s not safe. I want to get out. I want things to get back to normal.”

    “I think everyone wants that, but it will take time.”

    “You’re the damn President, if you can’t fix this then who can.”

    The aide came in but didn’t interrupt. Packard took that as a chance to escape his wife’s fury and said “I’m sorry, dear; I have an important briefing to attend.”

    His wife turned and stormed off, unhappy with his impotence.

    He turned to the aide. “Yes, what is it?”

    “The generators are nearly out of fuel. We haven’t been able to get the supply trucks through so we may be out of power in a couple of hours.”

    Packard heard enough bad news for the day. He pointed his finger at the aide. “You. Do not let that happen. Send out some soldiers if necessary but get that supply truck here. We are the friggin’ White House; we don’t run out of power, other people run out of power.”

    The president was still ranting as the aide fled to do his bidding.

    The president walked to the window. He saw tents around the lawn, soldiers shoulder to shoulder at the fence, all armed with M16’s, 45’s and hand grenades clipped to the vests. He looked at those soldiers and wondered about their degree of loyalty. Even though there were snipers on the roof and secret service everywhere, it wouldn’t take much to line him up in their sights and squeeze off three rounds. He’d thought about going to Camp David but he decided he needed to be the face of the nation; he needed to put on a good front of hope for Americans and a fierce front for America’s enemies. He didn’t want to do this anymore. His Chief of Staff was of the far left persuasion and was pushing for him to make military incursions into all areas of the country and take over, to make things as they want them. His Chief figured Americans would be thanking him in the end but there was a hard-cord conservative group that would end up fighting him and the Chief was advocating their outright slaughter. They either go along or the world doesn’t need them. Packard had studied history before and he knew where this was headed. Millions of people would die in this philosophical battle as had under Hitler, Mao, and Stalin and in the end, they failed. They were not able to hold things together, so why would it be any different for him?

    He sat at his desk. The top paper waiting for his signature was the dissolution of Congress and the Supreme Court. For a crisis of this magnitude it reasoned business couldn’t be done as usual, instead, they needed a streamlined process to get America back on its feet. While being able to communicate that to the nation via the standard channels was out, they sent evangelists to all corners of the nation to spread the word that he was doing everything possible to bring back the economy and jobs and that other areas of the nation were in a recovery (a lie), and that he would relinquish his powers as soon as things got better.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  19. #59
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    The only problem was things weren’t getting better. The disaster areas still reported many missing and the dead were constantly being uncovered. Water sources were tainted and people started reporting getting cholera type symptoms, there weren’t many doctors around to actually diagnose it. People that had been on African missions knew what to look for and could easily diagnose the diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and the accompanying dehydration that could be severe. More people than not, didn’t know why they were irritable with sunken eyes, a dry mouth, extreme thirst and dry and shriveled skin with little or no urine output, low blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat. They simply died because there was no medical help available. Streams were polluted with dead bodies and bacteria from raw sewage.

    Besides cholera, the flu was making the rounds and almost no one received flu shots this year. The CDC was busy trying to help and respond to the hurricane and earthquake crisis and did not have adequate time or funding to develop the flu vaccine. There must have been several strains of flu going around, the symptoms would vary. Some would be a twenty-four hour variety of fever, aches, chills, and tiredness. Some would last for more than a week. Some would kill. In a normal year there might be between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations. This year the deaths already were over a half million and the season was far from over. People were worried that the H5N1 avian influenza or bird flu would start an epidemic or maybe it would be the H1N1 Swine flu. So far it was suspected there were both but hospitals triaged their patients and flu like symptoms usually were at the end of the line compared to heart attacks, complications from the hurricane or earthquake disasters like buildings falling on you and general violence and mayhem like gun-shots and knife stabbings from people trying to take something away from someone else. Hunger made normal people act up. Infections became a huge factor in people dying. Small scratches and infections without antibiotic treatment ravaged the population. People not current with the tetanus shots were succumbing to tetanus or lockjaw. They wouldn’t even know until their neck got stiff, they had difficulty swallowing, their abdominal muscles got stiff and they started having painful body spasms. Of course by then, it was too late. Animal attacks were up as many domesticated animals lost their homes due to either the disasters or people unable to take care of them and giving them up. Rabid animals became more frequent.

    The CDC had published a tongue-in-cheek report on what you need to do before zombies roamed the earth. They were actually making a point about hurricanes or pandemics or whatever disaster and they published a prep guideline of the types of supplies you should have from water, food, medications, sanitation and hygiene, clothing and bedding, and first aid supplies. Unfortunately with the zombie reference, most people didn’t take them seriously and were now becoming zombies, wandering aimlessly through their affected areas look for food, water, and maybe medical needs.

    Diabetics couldn’t get their insulin anymore. When they ran out they died. Diabetes required well-balanced meals, monitoring blood sugar levels and the proper dispensing of medication. Low insulin levels caused high blood sugar that often resulted in a diabetic coma. There were other medical needs.

    People that needed their high-blood pressure medicine.

    People that needed medicine to control high cholesterol.

    People that had heart conditions and needed their nitro pills were instead having angina and heart attacks.

    People ran out of Epi-Pens or epinephrine and were dying from bee stings.

    Asthmatics ran out of inhalers and their throats tightened up and their airways closed leaving them unable to breath, they died. This was a nation of people that believed in medicine.

    There were a whole host of people on psychotropic drugs to regulate their behaviors, perceptions, mood and cognition. Without these, other people were dying as the stress levels brought on by disasters coupled without a medicine they relied on led many people over the edge into full psychotic episodes.

    People ran out of oxygen and died like the asthmatics.

    Old people were especially vulnerable. If they had anything like food or water it was easily taken away from them. Many died trying to protect whatever precious item they had, others died from malnutrition and dehydration. This was no longer a politically correct world; people in wheelchairs couldn’t get around. People no longer had a place to go for dialysis. Fathers and mothers deserted their families unable to cope with the pressure of not being able to provide and watching them die slowly.

    Fathers and mothers were killed trying to protect their families from the scourges walking around. People used to their daily Starbucks Frappuccino Blended Beverages instead had a hard time finding any water and a harder time knowing what to do to filter out the impurities. They would get so thirsty they would come upon a creek and fall to it, drinking in the life-sustaining fluid, regardless of what was upstream and what bacteria or illness it might contain.

    Family members were displaced many not being with their family as the disasters hit so they tried to do what they could to locate the missing ones. They would often travel, even against orders from the local law enforcement enforcing curfews to their homes only to find them gone. There were many orphans whose parents were at work while they were in day care. The day care might have survived while the work site didn’t. There were many parents gaunt and sad looking unable to find their kids. They were at work and their kids were at day care. Their work survived, the day care didn’t. They didn’t want to go on but they didn’t know how to quit.
    Many people did know how to quit. Faced with these overwhelming loses, despair, desolation, with little or no hope for the future many took their own lives. The lucky ones found some pills and were able to go to sleep for good. The next were the ones that had or found a rifle or pistol and were able to dispatch themselves where it was over with quickly. Many jumped from what was left of buildings, unable to go on. You had to wonder whether or not they changed their mind before they hit.

    Many people turned to religion for solace. Not only did some churches have soup kitchens setup but provided counseling and a small measure of hope. The churches were rapidly overwhelmed though and their resources depleted within days either from the massive demand or from roving bands of people that took from the churches what they were trying to give to the needy.

    Cities rapidly dissolved into the base needs driving the people to frenzy, causing people to start looking around for their needs and eventually when those city resources were all used up, start branching out to the suburbs.

    People’s homes were raided. Their food, water, preps, guns, ammo and anything that looked like it could be used to barter for the next meal were stripped away like locusts in a wheat field. If they were unlucky they were left alive only to die slower from starvation and thirst. If they were unlucky they were killed because the gangs didn’t want revenge seeking people trailing after them. If they were really unlucky, they had atrocities done to them and were left alive, albeit damaged beyond repair.

    The cities started emptying out, partly from people leaving looking for resources that could no longer be found in the cities and partly from mass die-offs from disease and turmoil. Typically the ones that made it out of the cities were the stronger, the harder, the meaner and the ones without a compunction keeping them from taking whatever they wanted. Many of these fleeing urbanites actually thrived. Their base, crass needs now knew no legal boundaries. Now, when they took what they wanted, there was no law enforcement to stop them.

    In Texas, many were headed to Paradise.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  20. #60
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    Gunny came into the house where Ralph and Doug were going over their inventory. “Mayor just drove up, has the Chief of Police with him.”

    Ralph walked toward the gate at the front of the Compound.

    The Mayor parked by the front gate. Both the Mayor and the Chief stood at the gates. “You gonna let us in, Ralph.” The Mayor said.

    “I don’t reckon I am.” Ralph said.

    “What do you want?” asked Doug.

    The Mayor continued looking at and talking to Ralph. “You know, I can order you to let me in.”

    “Not really, this is not city property.”

    “We are going to declare Eminent Domain and it will be.”

    Ralph pulled out an official looking document and handed it to the Chief. “I thought you might try something like this so I have an injunction from the State Attorney General keeping you from Eminent Domain or Annexation until a full hearing has occurred.

    The Chief looked it over. “Looks legit.”

    The Mayor said “There are other methods to get our way.”

    The Chief’s right hand traveled toward the Taurus .357 in his holster.

    Gunny racked the shotgun making that well know Hollywood sound that strikes fear into people.

    “I’ll be back; it’s only a matter of time.” The Mayor said as the Chief of Police slowly withdrew his hand.

    “You do that.” Ralph said.

    The Mayor and the Chief got in the car and slowly drove away.

    “How did you think of getting an injunction?” Doug asked.

    “I didn’t. It is a worthless piece of paper I printed off from a document I made up, but they don’t know that. With the communications down, I don’t figure they’ll be able to validate it one way or the other, at least not for a while.

    Gunny said “I know that type of person, the Mayor won’t stop. You will have to watch your back.”

    “I always do with him, no change there, but you are right, we need to start assigning security shifts around the clock. There was a rough looking crew that passed by yesterday. They were scoping us out and either decided we would offer too much resistance and moved on or they catalogued us for future reference.”
    “How many were there?” Doug asked.

    “There were about ten, maybe more if some held back. Ten were all I could see through the scope.”

    “I’ll pull the shift tonight.” Gunny said. “We can organize rotations tomorrow.
    So far twenty people agreed to live at the Compound and they were all here. Word was trouble was starting to find its way in town. Stores ran out of supplies so there was no food or water. People were starting to branch out to neighborhoods looking for or taking what they wanted after they were turned away from the city. Sheila told them her dad had ordered the Chief and four of his men to go door-to-door and confiscate people supplies. He gave them a paper receipt for what he took and said to come to the city where everything would be distributed equally. They took the worthless paper and when they went to the city warehouse where the supplies were supposed to be stored, it was virtually empty. There were rumors the Mayor stored most of the supplies somewhere else for his own use but no one dared voice those rumors. Martial Law was declared nationwide to be enforced by local law enforcement in the cities, sheriffs in the unincorporated counties, aided by National Guard and State Troopers. So far all they’d seen was the locals led by the Chief.
    Sheila had greatly disappointed her dad, the Mayor by agreeing to live in the Compound and follow the rules but she’d told her dad she felt safer there.

    The Compound “core four” was Ralph, Doug, Susan, and Gunny. They were the decision making body. Sheila moved in next, followed by Jeb Rodd, the veterinarian, and then Houston Ashcroft and Sean Buckler that owned the Canoe and Kayak store, then Tim McCall from the feed store.

    After they’d settled in, Mike Michaels and his family along with Maureen and Dan Martinson and son Roscoe, daughter Trey and daughter Alicia.

    Several people from town saw those people moving and found out where they were moving to. They followed them and were stopped at the gate. They’d asked to live in the Compound as well as it sure beat the arrangements that the Mayor was providing. Basically the in-city arrangement was you give me what you have, then you go back to your homes, you defend yourselves, and when you really need something, just try and come and get it. People already saw the writing on the wall, yet they had no choice. The town of Paradise was the only support they would get, no matter how limited.

    Doug organized limited excursions going through town. They limited them not only because of the finite amount of fuel but because of the ever growing hostility of everyone outside the Compound. The last trip, in the Chevy pickup a couple of volunteers took to look around town almost didn’t make it back. They’d run into Mark, Mack and Zeke who were carrying their rifles. Mark stood in front of them in the middle of the road and told them to stop. They’d backed up quickly but not before Mark shot a round through the engine. They barely made it back to the Compound as the engine seized. They abandoned the Chevy a block from the Compound gate and ran inside just as the three stooges came driving up.

    Chapter – Ralphs Welcome Speech

    Weeks went by. More people requested to join the Compound but most were sent on their way with only a few accepted. The Compound contained 38 people currently. If necessary, it could hold more people, less comfortably but 38 managed ok. Ralph called a meeting for everyone and stood waiting at the Gazebo for the last few people to show up.

    Ralph held both hands up palms facing outward. “Greetings everyone. This is our first group communication. You all agreed to the rules and you knew what you were signing up for by being part of the Compound. I’d like to remind everyone why we are here and why we are doing this. Since you are here, you must agree that it is safer here than in the general populace of the world. Even Paradise can’t withstand the ravages of a society in chaos. There are going to be many, many forces against us, overwhelming odds and for that we have planned. We have joined together as a community to take care of each other, to watch each other’s backs. We have to follow the rules as agreed upon however. Failure to follow the rules will most likely result in you being asked to leave the Compound. The rules are made for our ultimate safety and survival. No going outside the Compound alone. No fighting amongst ourselves, one of the core-four which is myself, Doug, Susan, and Gunny will remediate all disputes. No stealing or lying will be tolerated. You can do no harm explicitly or by omission of action that will harm anyone or anything in this Compound. The only way this works is if we all pitch-in with chores and tasks necessary to sustain us. We are only as strong as our weakest link.

    We have a variety of skills here and I expect everyone here to not only do their core job but to learn one or more other jobs as well. We can share our skillsets where we all become more valuable Compound members. This is not a democracy, rather but an autocracy. This is absolutely necessary and by the fact that I organized and planned it, I own the land and paid for most of the supplies you all will be sharing I retain absolute authority. We will all share here, but we will all contribute and work here as well. Those that don’t contribute as well as they can, will get a warning. After multiple warnings they may be asked to leave.”

    Ralph paused for a second to look at the faces in the audience, making sure there were no confusing looks or dissention.

    “Relationships here are by mutual agreement. That means both parties agree they are in a relationship, then they are. If either party does not agree then they are free to do what they want to as long as it does not involve someone else’s relationship. I’ve seen communities wrecked because of petty jealousy and raging hormones. This WILL NOT happen here. If you don’t resolve any differences you have with each other the issue will be brought to me and my decision is binding. We will work hard here and if we have time, we will play hard. We will have training, entertainment as I’ve already talked to a number of you about teaching classes or playing music for us on the instruments you play. It might just be possible for us to ride out the chaos America is going through right now and will go through in the near future to not only survive but to emerge stronger. Please bring to my attention anything you think needs to be discussed. Everyone please stay for the Gunnies presentation on Security.

    “We have freedom of religion here. You are free to believe whatever you want. What you cannot do is to impose your religion on anyone else. If they believe different or don’t want to hear about what you believe they have that right.

    We have freedom of speech here but if what you say causes dissent or conflict, you may be asked to take your free speech outside these walls where I’m sure you will NOT have those same freedoms.

    We do not recognize anyone’s authority here but our own. We are sovereign. Especially any authority from Paradise. I’m not sure about the rest of the United States but I suspect Paradise is not on their radar screen right now.” Ralph stepped down the three steps and Gunny replaced him at the top.

    “Thank you all for coming today, not that you had a choice.” Gunny said with a slight smile.

    “Today we are going to talk about Compound security, what it is, why you need it and the hard and fast rules. For example, NO ONE goes outside the Compound without an armed escort. Why, you might ask? Very simply, we have items in the Compound that people on the outside would want. They will resort to anything including but not limited to kidnapping, killing, and breaking in to get what they want. We have it, they don’t. We cannot allow another group to get leverage on us by taking one of us and holding them ransom say for all the food we have or medical supplies or whatever else they are looking for. If we allow that, then in a short amount of time, we will be them, we will be without the items we so carefully saved for our survival.

    We will have to have shifts for security; we can’t all sleep at the same time. The shifts will not only patrol the Compound but will take turns in the tower.”

    The tower was in the Center of the Compound. It was thirty feet in diameter at the base. The tower rose to fifty feet where it was five feet in diameter for the top platform. Cross shaped openings allowed maximum visibility and minimum exposure. Below the top platform was another platform with evenly spaced cross shaped openings. The cross shape allowed a weapon to be adjusted up or down, left or right, and was only 3 inches wide at any portion.

    “We are fairly self-sufficient in the Compound, but there will be times we have to venture outside. You must camouflage yourself. At all times you must treat the outside as a hostile environment as if there are people waiting there for you to emerge. You will be at your weakest outside these walls. Look at the shapes of the things you are wearing or carrying. In nature there are no squares or straight lines. Break them up with strips of camo cloth in shades of brown and green. Cover your weapons with camo paint. Dull anything that shines or could reflect such as metal fasteners, buckles or chrome. Don’t wear jewelry as it could reflect light. If you wear eyeglasses, keep them hidden by a low-brimmed hat or take them off unless it is absolutely necessary. Keep in mind your backlight. Is the sun or moon behind you and where you are headed? A silhouette shows the outline of the human form and the equipment it is carrying. The shape of the head and shoulders of a person are unmistakable and a attract attention. If possible break up that silhouette with the use of vegetation like thick handfuls of grass tucked into your shoulder straps or added to your helmet. Do not wear colognes. Most people that have spent time outdoors get finely attuned to the surrounding smells. They will be able to detect body orders, cooking, scents from colognes or soaps with fragrances; they will be able to smell machine oils. Keep quiet. Boots can squeak. Cleaning kits or magazines can rattle in your ammo pouches. If you forget and leave your radio on someone can talk over it at a most inopportune time. Be mindful of unanticipated coughs or sneezes and talking. Sounds can carry for long distances, especially at night. Learn the hand signals to replace talking and if you have to talk, whisper. Double check each other for proper stowage of your gear, slings and other noisy equipment before you move out. Do not wear colors that are rare in nature. Blend in with the natural vegetation. Check and change your camouflage regularly. Leaves could dry out and expose skin. You could have vegetation but move from the forest to open fields which would stand out. The most important color that needs camouflaging is that of human skin so use the G.I. camo sticks that come in your kits. Remember, being a good marksman with poor camouflaged is not as good as being a poor shot that is well camouflaged. Next week we will have a presentation by our resident Blacksmith, Dan Martinson.” Gunny stepped down from the gazebo.

    Ralph stepped back up. “This is a new beginning for all of us. Do any of you have any questions?”

    Lucy Daniels, a history teacher at the Paradise High School timidly raised her hand.

    “Yes, Lucy, go ahead.”

    “Well, I’m glad you made a spot for me and my husband, but you make it sound awful bad out there. I fear we won’t be able to hold out against all the bad people.”
    Ralph said “I think we all feel that way Lucy and not all the people out there are going to be bad people but good and bad alike, they might choose to take from us what they need. We are holed up in our Compound armed to the teeth against city people who would normally never leave their houses or pose a threat to us. People are going to envy us, they are going to fear the unknown, and our methods must remain unknown to them. I know many of you have friends that are not part of the Compound. We aren’t saying you can’t be friends with them, only that you do not share what resources we have at the Compound or any of our schedules or routines. If I was to give any advice, it would be to not allow fear to fill you but hope. If it is our time to go then there won’t be anything we can do about it anyway, but if it’s not, then we can make it past this burdensome time in America’s history and come out on the other side, ready to start again. Lastly, I think you would have more to fear by NOT being in this Compound, than you have to fear for being part of it.”

    The town librarian Mrs. Smooty raised her hand. “I know we can’t feed everyone, but what if someone really in need comes to our gates and really needs help. We can’t just turn them away.”

    Ralph nodded as if in agreement. “There probably will come a time when men, women, and children stand before us at the gate and beg our mercy, our food, our water. In the Dallas Fort Worth Area, there are over six million people. You would agree that we couldn’t feed all of them?” Mrs. Smooty nodded in agreement.

    “Paradise has a population of over 800 people. With our current food and supplies and the 38 slots for people that have been allocated for, those reserves would last approximately one year. Maybe a little more if we supplement them with hunting and if our well continues to run. If we took in just half of those, our supplies would be gone in a little over a month. We would be defeating the very purpose we initiated this process for; we would not be taking care of each other and our loved ones. That doesn’t include the people from Bridgeport, Decatur, Denton, Springtown, Justin, Keller, and Fort Worth that might wander by here. The most dangerous people will be the non-survivalists, those who have not made provisions for surviving; they will be a mortal danger to us and are not to be let into this Compound without clearance from one of the core four. Don’t we have a duty to ourselves to give us the best chance to survive as possible? In fact, we have a social obligation to our family and community to survive and the non-survivalist is simply a poor and irresponsible citizen.”

    Mrs. Smooty said “I understand, but what if we could grow crops, and have more than we need, couldn’t we share some of it.”

    “The first maxim of farming is to “Feed yourselves first. After plowing, sowing the seeds, harvesting the crops and processing them, we put away what we think we will need to feed us until we can grow the next crop. Then we take maybe ten to fifteen percent so for seeds for the next years’ crops. We must put aside a reserve in case of a disease, drought, mildew, rat infestation or some other event limits the food we have. But yes, if after all that if we have any extra, we could possibly share it with people in dire need. Remember, we are survivalists because we are optimists. Some people say we are pessimistic but a fireman is a fireman, not because he believes everything will burn, but because he believes much can be saved. Doctors don’t believe in death, they believe in life, and a survivalist believes that life and freedom can be saved, if people of good will are prepared.”

    All she said was “Thank you.”

    Ralph stepped down and milled about with the Compound members. Most conversations we various scenarios that might or might not happen and how this new life was both frightening and exciting.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

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  22. #62
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    President Packard liked to think he achieved the Office of Presidency based on his qualifications, popularity, and views. In the back of his mind in the dark recesses he could not totally put away the truth that he was bought and paid for. He came to the office with virtually no accomplishments. He’d only been in the Senate for two years and he won that election after manufacturing some dirt on his opponent so ran virtually unopposed. He still held the record for the most campaign money for a single candidate and there were no pretenses of where it came from even though he tried to distance his thoughts from that. Unions, leftist organizations, and a myriad of community groups created and funded specifically to launder the money and put him in power. He never met with his benefactor, there were at least six degrees of separation between them but if one was to describe the relationship, it would be puppet and puppet master.

    Packard was privy to some of the conversations of what the conspiracy groups would call “the Elites”. The recent disasters were warmly received. It sped up their plans and eliminated the need for a false flag operation. The rich not only wanted to collect all the world’s assets and power for themselves, but wanted to thin the world population so it wouldn’t pose such a threat. In their view, not only were there too many people for the earth’s resources, there were too many people to control. The magic number was arbitrarily chosen to be around 500 million. Given the world’s population of seven billion people that translated to a genocide of 6.5 billion people.
    Packard just couldn’t get his head around it. His wife wondered why he was so distant lately but this really messed with his mind. He wanted out but knew there was only one way out and he was not going to choose that. Current methods being employed were unsustainable and exploitative international development which leads to massive hunger, starvation, and famine worldwide, the fomentation of war and military procurements throughout the nation’s leading to millions of deaths worldwide, and finally the creation and spread of infectious diseases leading to global pandemic, plague and pestilence on an unprecedented scale. Other methods included the build-up and use of nuclear, chemical and biological agents, the poisoning and contamination of the planet’s food and water supplies, the introduction and use of deadly pharmaceutical drugs in society, weather modification and the triggering of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis through electromagnetic psychotronic weapons, both on Earth and in space, the promotion of homosexuality to limit population growth and spread the deadly AIDS virus, forced sterilization in countries such as China and more.

    As President he knew about some of these but many were dark programs run by non-existent corporations of ghost agencies. Monsanto was in full deployment mode with genetically modifying certain crops. Ostensibly to increase resistance to pests, it had side effects like sterilizations. He was aware of the HAARP program which was the ionospheric research program in Alaska. HAARP stood for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program and was a joint research venture funded by the United States Air force, the United States Navy, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the University of Alaska. The project was started way back in 1993, with the aim of analyzing the ionosphere, in order to assess the potential of developing it to further enhance the radio communication and surveillance technology. A high power radio frequency transmitter was used to excite a specific portion of the ionosphere for a temporary period. Many conspiracy theorists held that the research project is basically a directed-energy weapon, a weather control, and an earthquake induction device in disguise. They didn’t know how right they were.

    The internet was a wonderful thing but sometimes it allowed too much freedom of information. Another correct theory called sterilants chemtrails held that chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for purposes undisclosed to the general public in clandestine programs. He wasn’t going to confirm what the chemicals had in them as well as being able to affect the weather if they wanted to.
    The mandatory vaccinations such as Gardasil was a program that was unraveling. Vaccines used to be for the benefit of mankind, smallpox, chicken pox, whooping cough but now they were being used by the elites for the purposes of depopulation. Originally to protect against HPV Gardasil caused a noticeable increase in autism, strokes, paralysis, tics, and other unwanted symptoms. Congress tried to make this vaccine mandatory but thanks to the internet, the adverse effects were becoming too well known.

    The previous century was by far the bloodiest in human history. Hunger, famine and disease took billions of innocent lives. World Wars I and II along with the despotic regimes of Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin and Hitler reaped record levels of death. It was estimated Hitler killed between twenty and twenty-five million people. Stalin killed between twenty and sixty million people. Mao killed between forty and seventy million people. More recently, the killing fields of Iraq have taken the lives of more than two million men, women and children this past decade from foreign and economic intervention. More than four million people have been slaughtered, mutilated and massacred recently in the Congo. Factor in the unrestrained build-up of weapons of mass destruction in the world, especially in the Middle East along with the desire and willingness to actually use them and it’s no wonder people are seeing the Apocalypse of World War Three becoming a virtual inevitability. The death toll of World War III would eclipse all previous wars in scale and magnitude.
    With the millions of deaths worldwide with all that happened in the United States and the rest of world, Packard couldn’t believe his benefactors were impatient. They wanted their agenda to move at a faster pace.

    “So many dead, so many dead.” Kept echoing through the President of the United States head and much of the blood was on his hands. He wanted out, but that was not to be.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  23. #63
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    Susan had never been so busy. At the no-kill animal shelter there were mostly cats and dogs. Sometimes someone would bring in an animal they found like an owl or duck with a wounded wing but mostly cats and dogs. Here at the Compound her main focus was to make sure the animals remained healthy, keep the breeding programs going, and administer the food, water and any medicines they might need. There was so much she had to learn. She was really grateful that Jeb Rodd accepted the offer to join the Compound. He was the veterinarian where she’d worked and even though he was only out of vet school a year, she’d already learned a lot from him. Jeb was about six four, broad shoulders tapering off to a fit waist. His hair was a bit unruly but that is because he didn’t care that much about his appearance even though he was very good looking.

    Susan was getting to learn about their Brahman cattle they had. Ralph chose them based on their high tolerance to heat and natural resistance to many parasites. They looked pretty scary with that hump and their horns but they were considered a maternal breed. She did keep her distance from the bull though. They had sheep mainly for meat and wool but they were going to try and utilize all of their animals and not waste anything. By products could be obtained from the intestines, horns, hooves, fats and fatty acids, wool and bone. They could use the Manure as it was high in valuable minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium carbonate.

    From the pigs, besides the obvious bacon and pork roast they could make insulin for the regulation of diabetes; values for human heart surgery (though probably not at this compound), suede for shoes and clothing and gelatin for many food uses. Swine by-products are also important parts of such products as water filters, insulation, rubber, antifreeze, certain plastics, floor waxes and more. There was a litter of pigs just six weeks old that were adorable and she had a hard time thinking of the animal by-products with these cuties.

    Jessie went everywhere that Susan went and she was fun to watch as she chased the sheep into tight-knit groups. That would be a skill that would probably come in handy but right now; Jessie looked like she was just practicing.

    She spent a lot of her time in the barn which of course where most of the animals were. In one corner a Calico cat she hadn’t gotten around to naming yet had five kittens curled up asleep lying against her. The Calico was brown, black and white with amber eyes. “You better teach them to be mousers or you are on the menu.” Seeing those cute kittens brought out her soft side and she just wanted to pick them up and hold them but she restrained herself. Jeb told her to not get too friendly with working cats or they won’t do their job right.

    The show quality Boer goats were neat to look at except for their eyes. She thought goats had demonic looking eyes. One of the main reasons the goats were there was for the meat and milk, and from the milk, goat cheese. The female, Jeb taught her was a doe, the mail a buck, the young were kids and a castrated male, a wether. Female goats were sometimes called nannies and males sometimes called billies.
    She would probably have the hardest time viewing the rabbits as a food source. In many parts of the world, rabbit meat is considered a delicacy; it is white, find-grained, and delicately flavored. It is easy to prepare and can be used in many recipes. Their rabbits were New Zealand Whites because of their hardiness and size. Unfortunately, America has a preoccupation with animals that are cute and New Zealand Whites were very cute. On the outside in the front of the barn were a series of rabbit hutches with wire mesh bottoms. Below the hutches were frames filled with soil and Red Worms. The rabbits fertilized the worms; the worms digested and made for a very fertile soil that could be used in their agricultural endeavors. Of course besides eating the rabbits, their skins could be very useful. Seeing one hutch with the white furry mass Susan suddenly thought of a good luck rabbits’ foot she’d had as a kid that was dyed green. “Not too lucky for the rabbit.” She thought.

    On the side of the barn, they had a 40x20 foot area totally enclosed with chicken wire with chicken coops against the barn wall. The chickens were Leghorns, though originally from Tuscany, Italy, they were imported to North America in 1853. They were known (according to Jeb) to lay 250-300 eggs per year with a superior fee-to-egg conversion ratio.

    The geese had the run of the place and usually hung out by the catfish pond.
    One thing Susan was glad she didn’t have responsibility for was the bees. They had a beekeeper for that and the bee colony was outside the Compound. It was a risk to maintain the bee yard outside the protected area but everyone was glad they did. Besides honey, the bees were instrumental in pollination and helping the plants and crops to grow.

    It was easy filling her days with the animals. It was hard work for sure, working 12-14 hour days. There were tasks to do and she hadn’t learned to delegate very well but she was getting better at it. What wasn’t so easy was after the work, when she had time to reflect what was going on in Paradise, in Texas, in the nation and the whole world. Surely it must be near the End Times. Homer Watkins operated a ham radio and lived a few miles over and although asked to join the Compound he did not agree. He came to the Compound every couple of days with a report and what he was hearing from across the nation wasn’t good. Anarchy was everywhere, millions dead, martial law and increasing conflicts, and other countries going through the same issues. Homer fired up his generator every day for one hour and communicated with his radio buddies worldwide.

    She wasn’t sure why she couldn’t commit to Doug. Sure, she had a rocky first marriage but a lot of people got married the second time around and everything was fine. Doug was everything she wanted in a man, he was kind, thoughtful, caring, handsome, and her dad even liked him. Her doubts centered more on herself than on Doug. What if the problems in her last marriage were her fault? What if she brought problems to Doug that he didn’t deserve? What if things didn’t work out and we are stuck in this Compound for a long time?

    He was far too busy coordinating activities and tasks right now but it wouldn’t be long and he’d want to have the “serious conversation” again, the same one they’d had twice already and it always ended with her turning him down. She decided not to borrow trouble and wouldn’t worry about it until she had to.

    She was going to have to tell Doug and her dad that Mark threatened her the day she moved into the Compound.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  24. #64
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    Tim drove while Garrison slept. They left Lake Charles and the body of the Sherriff he’d gunned down in cold blood. They had to weave through the abandoned cars and every gas station, restaurant and store were closed due to lack of electricity. The car approached the outskirts of Beaumont where he saw a gas powered sign announcing the rolling blackout scheduled for the area would be from eight pm to eight am the next morning. It was 7:50 pm so he pulled into the first station he saw. There was a long line of people in the gas line when a man in a QuickieMart uniform came out and told them there was no more gas and it didn’t matter anyway because the electricity would be turned off in eight minutes. Most of the cars left but two. One guy made a show of lifting his hood and messing with his engine. Tim drove around to the side where he could see the rear of the building and the front at the same time.

    “Wake up Garr.” Tim said.

    “Huh, what.”

    “Wake up. We are going to rob this guy. Looks like he just sold a lot of gas so he must have a lot of cash.”

    The lights cut off right then. Not just the store lights but the lights on the island, the street and everywhere else as far as you could see.

    Garrison said “What’s going on, why’d the lights go out?”

    Tim said “Sssshhhh. A sign said they would. Look for the guy coming out the back door.” He had his hand on the door so he could jump out quickly.

    From the front of the store a light came on and then went off and they saw the man working on his car open the car door, retrieve something and shut it quickly. They could barely make him out in the starlight as his silhouette walked down the side of the building from the rear.

    “Wait a minute.” Tim said.

    “What is it?” Garrison asked.

    They watched the silhouette walk around to the rear of the store. They heard a door open as if the bottom was dragging on concrete and then the dragging sound followed by the door closing. They couldn’t see very well but the silhouette standing beside the door pointed something at silhouette that just came out the door. One silhouette shouted and then raised whatever was in his hand and hit the other silhouette. One of them opened the door scraping against the concrete again and both walked inside.

    “Quick, get out now.” Tim said.

    He got out of the car carrying the Sherriff’s .357 and flashlight and went over to the back door. Garrison followed him. “What are you going to do?” he asked.

    “Sssshhhh. When they come out I’m going to take whatever he took. He’s gonna do all the work and we get the profits, not a bad job eh?”

    “What if he has a gun too?”

    “Then he’s dead.” Tim said coldly.

    Tim heard someone shout out “No, don’t, please.” He heard a thunk followed by the sound of something sounding like it hit the floor. He heard footsteps approach the back door. Just as they were even with the door he shouted “Freeze” while turning the flashlight on in the guy’s face.

    You never saw someone more startled. He threw his hands up in the air and dropped his tire iron but held on to a bag in his hand.

    “Drop it.” Tim said.

    The guy let go of it. “Who are you guys, cops?”

    Tim asked “What did you do to that guy?”

    “I’m not saying nuthin.”

    Tim pulled the hammer back with an audible click.

    “Ok, I hit him with the tire iron. Don’t you have to read me my rights or something?”

    Tim said “Don’t move or you’re dead. Garr, go check on him.”

    Garrison had a little one cell AA flashlight and he moved around the guy in the door and proceeded down the hall.

    He came back a minute later. “The dude is dead, man.”

    Tim still shining the light in the guy’s eyes said “How do you feel about that?”

    The guy was nervous but obviously had a problem with authority. “Don’t mean nothing to me, how am I supposed to get by.”

    “What’s your name?” Tim asked.

    “Steve. What’s it to ya?”

    “What’s your full name Steve?”

    “Steve Winslow.”

    “We aren’t cops. Now I have a choice here. I could shoot you down like a dog. Or I could maybe see my way into letting you join us. Which one do you think I should do?”

    “Join you in what?”

    “Now does that really matter, considering the alternative?”

    “No I guess it doesn’t.”

    Tim lowered the light and pointed it past Steve toward the inside of the store. “Let’s see what else we can get.”
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  25. #65
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    Doug and Ralph closed the door to the study. Every evening they would go to the study and review the activities and tasks of the day and what needed to be done in the near future. Twelve and fourteen hour days were the norm and even though dog-tired at the end of the day, there was a satisfaction to getting things accomplished.

    Ralph poured the standard crown for both of them. They rationed it to one glass per evening so sipped it very slowly to make it last.

    Doug said “People are doing their tasks and they are working hard but I think some of them are getting a little testy. Long days, no distractions.”

    “No distraction are a good thing, a distraction means something bad is happening.”
    “Not necessarily. I think we need to start playing music in the Compound. It could be a pleasant diversion.”

    “We have the speakers for announcements. Those Altec-Lansing speakers were fidelity quality but I’m sure not everyone agrees to the same kind of music.”
    “I talked to Smokey’s son and he said he would be glad to DeeJay, after he gets his chores complete. He said he’d take requests and rotate the music so everyone gets a chance to listen to what they like. He has an MP3 player with a 100GB hard drive and over 60,000 songs.”

    “Let’s do it.”

    Doug went on. “I borrowed our office projector. It worked very nice on the wall last night. We should start doing a movie night once a week. I had the wall painted white and it makes a very good 10x8 screen.”

    “What are you doing, turning this place into Club Med?”

    “No, I’m trying to make everyone as comfortable as I can here, we don’t know how long we will be here. You know what they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

    “As long as Jack gets his work done, I don’t care.”

    “We have several people that tell stories quite well. We are also going to have a story session going a couple nights a week. People can choose to attend or not, their choice. They are meeting around the fire pit over by the Gazebo.”

    “If they have a fire every night they will have to go outside the walls to cut more, what we have now is for cooking and heating.”

    “We have people making soaps, candles, and cleaning products and they are each mentoring one person so they will have a backup in their specialty. Smokey is going to pick an apprentice for blacksmithing.”

    Ralph said “There is one more thing we need. I put all my thoughts and effort into preparing for disaster in a physical way and I think we have done pretty well.”
    “What did we forget?” asked Doug.

    “I forgot to plan for our spiritual needs. We need to remember the Sabbath and keep faith in the Lord now more than ever. We need to include stories from the Bible in our story telling sessions for any that would like to hear it. Personally, I’d like to have Church on Sundays but I’m not qualified to preach. I was thinking we could start hearing stories in which people of faith live through adversity like the Exodus, the Stories of David, Joesph, and Job, Daniel and the lion’s den, or the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego. I like the message that believers have often been tested by trials, but that those who keep the faith have endured. Maybe we can recruit a minister to fill that need.”

    “That’s a good idea. Maybe Susan has some ideas on that.”

    “We already asked the Minister of her church but he declined saying he needed to server where people need him the most.”

    Someone knocked on the door.

    “Come in.” Ralph said.

    Gunny walked in. “We have a family at the gates that are asking to see you. I think they want to join the Compound.”

    “Did you tell them we aren’t taking any more people until we see how the numbers we have work out?”

    “There are a couple of other factors. It is a Mexican family. The man said his name was Jose Garza and that he’d worked for you last year.”

    Ralph said “I remember. I liked him, he was a hard worker. You said there were a couple of things. What else?”

    His family is with him, two sons and two daughters and it appears they have all been roughed up, maybe beaten. He said three guys in town stopped them as they were passing through and when they didn’t have anything those guys wanted they just started hitting them.”

    “Three guesses as to the three guys.” Doug said.

    Ralph got up. “Let’s go talk to them.”

    They walked to the front gate. Even though it was dark there were solar lights on all the paths and a solar panel and inverter to provide power to open and shut the gate as well as light it at night.

    Jose was being propped up by his wife. His four kids stood behind them.

    Ralph typed in a code in the keypad and opened the gate. Doug rushed out to help Jose and put his arm around Jose’s shoulders. They led the family in and immediate closed the gates. They took them to the kitchen were the remnants of dinner was being put away.

    Ralph talked to Penelope who was putting the food away and she brought over six plates with food and a loaf of sour dough bread that had just been baked hours earlier. She also poured them tall glasses of cold water.

    The Garza family was famished but they went for the water first. After eating and drinking and many gracias from every family member Doug and Ralph took Jose into the study and closed the door.

    “Gracias, Senior.” Jose said again.

    Ralph said “What are your plans?”

    “I planned to take my family back to Mexico. We were in Oklahoma and it has taken us three weeks to get this far. I heard things are not much better in Mexico. We were hoping you might take us in until it gets better, we’d work very hard for you.”
    “We are not really taking in more people right now. There is a whole town full of people in Paradise that have either asked to come join us or they will be asking us when the collapse gets worse.”

    “I have nothing to offer you senior, other than the hard work of myself and my family.”

    “Why don’t you go into the kitchen and get some more food. Let me talk to my partner here.” Ralph said.

    Doug helped Jose back to the kitchen and returned to the study.

    “Partner, I like the sounds of that.” Doug said.

    “I’ve come to think of you as a partner, no, really, more like a son.” Ralph mused. “So, what do you think, give them some bottle water, send them on their way.”

    Doug said “I know we can’t take everyone on, not even very many, but this seems like a real nice family. The people in the Compound have been working hard, but I bet they don’t hold a candle to these folks. I guess what you said about prepping spiritually really hit home, I’d like to help these folks.”

    “I’m glad you said that, I feel the same way. Jose did a very good job for me before and I too like him. I’m glad to see you are starting to think of your spiritual side.”
    “We still need to make this conditional. I know there are some people who are bias and might not want to share with Mexicans, especially ones that are not in the United States legally. Better than in town though, there are people that would do far worse than that, in fact, did. I bet the three stooges were responsible for their beatings.”

    They walked into the kitchen and told Jose. He was overjoyed and wept. They told him it was conditional but it was as if he didn’t even hear those words he was so happy to have his family out of harm’s way, even if only for a little while.
    “Doug will show you to a tent where you and your family will stay. The Cabins are all full right now but the tent has a kerosene heater if it gets too cold and the bathrooms are fairly close by. Rest up a couple of days and then we will put you in the rotation to work.”

    “Si, yes, senor, we will work very hard for you.”

    Doug went to bed feeling a little better about things, like they might not have helped the overall situation in the United States, or even Paradise, but they helped when they could.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  26. #66
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    Dallas reportedly was up smoke, literally. Arsonists were setting neighborhoods on fire to make people flee their homes. They would rush in and grab what they could from the house before it was totally engulfed in flames. Many of the arsonists were consumed by their own fires. More and more people were either homeless from the chaos or from choice. Many chose to try and travel outside the city to points unknown. Most were woefully unprepared with no bug-out bags or kits containing travel survival supplies. Most couldn’t navigate the wrecks and ruins of previously abandoned cars or if they could, they didn’t think ahead enough to have a full tank of gas so they abandoned their vehicles as well. People out in the open didn’t fare well as they were picked off by opportunistic thugs or roving gangs that were out to steal anything they could from anyone that had anything. The fires were not being put out as the infrastructure was effectively down. What started as roaming blackouts became random blackouts as demands on power were uneven and put strains on the Texas Electrical Grid. Plants started needing repairs and they couldn’t get the parts and if the parts were available the people that could have installed them were long gone. The previously affluent areas were hit first. The thief’s first targets were Highland Park, Lake Highlands, the Preston Country Club and areas like that. Security systems meant nothing. If their battery backups still worked a signal was sent out to security companies that were so overwhelmed they did not even try to verify and see if it was really a problem, they just assumed that it was and that there would be no police to do anything about it.

    Ironically, the traditionally poor areas of East and South Dallas, areas like Oakcliff were among the safest. All the looters must have figured there was nothing there worth stealing as they sought out the more affluent areas. The minorities were a majority in these areas and they tended to put a lot of stock in faith. In the short run, it appeared to work but as people started getting more desperate, the fabric of society begin to tear, then rip into shreds with every person for themselves. While people could fiercely vie for their own survival, that was nothing compared to someone trying to provide for his family, to ensure their survival.

    Convenience stores, grocery stores, specialty food stores, restaurants were looted by hungry mobs. One group would break into a store and on the way out another group would rob them and take what they stole for themselves. There were many shootings, stabbings, beatings, and other actions not conducive to survival. As the urban stores and communities started being cleaned out of resources, the desperate starving, crazed people began branching out, at least the ones that survived the inner-city wave.

    It was a common occurrence to come across dead people in the street or in houses that were already looted to find the owners in various forms of rigor. The smarter people started forming coalitions. They started sharing resources and grouping together. A group could easily over power one or two individuals they ran across and as they did, they gained power and resources. Rewarded by this model, they formed a loose set of rules and impromptu leaders emerged. If they were strong leaders they led their groups to even more power and strength. If they were weak, ineffective leaders they would be replaced by someone with a little more intelligence and a lot more ambition.

    The East Side of Fort Worth followed the Dallas example. Everything was in flames, most people were on their own but there were a few groups learning about teamwork. There were a few groups leaning about strength in numbers and hierarchy of command. As these groups gained knowledge and power they became more ruthless and bold. Hundreds of thousands of people in Fort Worth and Dallas died before they were able to learn the survival lessons. The people that remained became more and more zombie like. Disease was rampant, clean drinkable water non-existent. There were reports of rapes, suicides, murders, all of which went undeterred by law enforcement. There were even rumors about cannibalism since food was a scarce resource and not being replenished. Squirrels, cats and dogs became a rare and endangered species quite likely to end up on a spit over someone’s campfire and if you were invited to share, you didn’t ask what it was being cooked.

    The TCU and University area in Fort Worth was hard hit. The hospital districts already overwhelmed by the influx of diseased and injured patients was quickly overrun by people looking either for medicine to make them better or medicine to make them feel better. The hospital staff quit unpaid, overworked and overstressed.
    Mobs and looters followed Interstates out of their city areas they’d lived all their lives. Many ventured further than they ever did while the world was still intact. Dallas mobs followed I75 and I35 both south and north and I30 mostly west. In Fort Worth they took I30 both east and west, I35 both north and south and State Highway 287 northwest and southeast and State Highway 114 both east and west. The northwest direction took them through a lot of little suburbs like Rhome and Boyd and not too far away, Paradise. Denton looters took I35 South and North. Most of the mobs running into each other between Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton viewed each other as competition for scarce resources and turf wars ensued. More people died. Groups began to form. As locusts storming through the inner-cities salvaging what they could, these groups began to gain in goods to barter and more importantly, weapons. The group with the better weapons usually won out over groups with fewer or no weapons and individuals didn’t have a chance.

    Preppers who prepared diligently for all kinds of disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, Electro Magnetic Pulses, Nuclear Wars, Earth Quakes, Polar Shifts, collision asteroids did not adequately prepare for one factor, human nature. Years’ worth of preps fell prey to invading strangers who chose rather than to prep, to take what they wanted from those that did. There were more than a few prepper’s that died with a look of consternation and confusion on their faces like they did everything right, why didn’t it work.

    Those prep supplies, the guns and ammo, the food, water, and medical supplies, the camping gear, the MRE’s, all followed the motto “To The Victor Belongs The Spoils”, meaning it was all for nothing.

    The good news was that this group inner warfare was killing a lot of bad people off, even though a lot of good people were being killed as well. The bad news is, the ones that survived followed the motto “Survival of the fittest or strongest.” They were the worst of the bad and they had the strength and the cunning to survive where hundreds of thousands before them did not. That made them very dangerous.

    The outward flow slowed somewhat. Now that groups started gathering resources they started being a little more cautious. They’d hole up in a few conquered houses for a few days after the conquest and consolidate their bounty. Each outward stage was like a groups of bees swarming from one location to the next gathering more resources, more despicable vile people and further entrenched the hierarchy to a more efficient level. They were getting organized. With nothing to fear from local, state or federal law enforcement, and not many people that could withstand their onslaught, they advanced slowly toward Paradise.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  27. #67
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    Chapter – Good Army

    Captain James Adkins of the 4th Regiment called his Staff Sergeant David Yates in.

    “Yes sir.” Sergeant Yates said.

    “Call in the men, we have been assigned a mission.” The Captain said. They served the Northwest/North Central Texas areas.

    “We have been assigned to Denton and areas west, there are rumors of city gangs headed that way. We have also been instructed to confiscate weapons and supplies that anyone might be hoarding for the greater good. Before you assemble the squad, bring Hawkins, Hinton, and Larson.”

    “Yes sir.”

    Staff Sergeant Yates rounded them up and delivered them to the Captain’s office.

    “Close the door.” Captain Adkins said.

    Annie Hawkins, PFC or Private First Class closed the door.

    “I know you four; you are patriots, like me. I’m going to ask you to take an oath and this is off the record, totally confidential and if you decline, it will not be held against you.”

    Captain Adkins looked at each of them in the eyes for several seconds. There is an organization I’m part of, maybe you’ve heard of it. The organization is called the Oath keepers. It is a non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters who will fulfill the Oath we swore, with the support of likeminded citizens who take an Oath to stand with us, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God.

    “There is a contingent in our current administration who might ask us to do something that is morally wrong and goes against the Constitution. We are trying to fight that mindset as it is destructive to the continuity of the United States. Are you with me?”

    He heard a chorus of “Yessir’s.”

    “Here is the Oath of Enlistment: I, [state your name], do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

    All four repeated the pledge.

    “Staff Sergeant Yates, I’m going to ask you to take an Officers Oath.”

    “But sir, I’m not an officer.” Yates said.

    “You will be an officer in the Oath Keepers. Are you willing?”

    “Yes sir.”

    “Repeat after me: I, [state your name], do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

    Sergeant Yates recited the oath.

    Captain Adkins said “Your oath never expires! It’s time to keep it!”

    “We have been assigned a mission. You all know the turmoil the cities are in, Dallas and Fort Worth and Denton. It seems that mobs are spreading out from the cities and heading toward the suburbs. We have been assigned the mission to stop them, to not let them disrupt the food chain, ie, stealing and disrupting the rural farmers. We have also been tasked with rounding up supplies and returning them to the city. They want to try and establish some stability by providing food, water, and some basic supplies and the cities are fresh out. The only supplies left are likely to be hoarded by farmers and communities outside the city. It goes against everything I believe in to take supplies and goods from the people that produced it by their hard work and sweat. I’m going to remind you now of the ten orders that Oath Keepers will NOT obey.

    Number 1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.

    Number 2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people.

    Number 3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.

    Number 4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.

    Number 5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.

    Number 6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.

    Number 7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.

    Number 8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”

    Number 9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.

    Number 10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.”

    Finishing the list the Captain asked “Are there any questions.”

    Sergeant Yates raised his hand. “Excuse me sir, but doesn’t this list preclude us from following the orders we have just been given. We are being asked to disarm people, do warrantless searches, detain any one protesting our actions, we are already in martial law, and they want us to confiscate food and other essential supplies?”

    “That is a pretty good summary Sergeant.”

    Annie Hawkins spoke up. “So why did you bring us here to give us the oath and then give us orders according to the oath that we can’t follow?”

    “Because the five of us are not enough to fight the corruption and indifference of those in the service that did not take the oath. I want each of you to try and see how other members of your platoon feel and see if you can get them to take the oath. If any of them have any questions, please have them talk to me.”

    “So what do we do when we go out with these orders and we aren’t planning on following them?” Sergeant Hinton asked.

    “I believe we may be the last line of defense Americans might have. Remember the line ‘Foreign and Domestic’?”

    “Yes sir.”

    “We have domestic enemies with traitorous agendas and we are at war, make no mistake about it. Now it is just a matter of whose side we are on. I choose America’s side.”

    General George Washington once said to his troops before the battle of Long Island “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their Houses, and Farms, are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a State of Wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this army”.

    “I believe such a time is near at hand again. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this Army and our Oath Keeper brothers in the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and National Guard. The declaration of Orders We Will NOT Obey is recognizing that we each swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and affirming that we are guardians of the Republic, of the principles in our Declaration of Independence, and of the rights of our people. We will not make war on our own people, and we will not commit treason, by obeying any such treasonous orders.”
    “Orders have come down to prepare the FEMA camps for dissenters. Mass forced internment into concentration camps was a hallmark of every fascist and communist dictatorship in the 20th Century. Such internment was unfortunately even used against American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. Whenever a government interns its own people, it treats them like an occupied enemy population. Oppressive governments often use the interment of women and children to break the will of the men fighting for their liberty – as was done to the Boers, to the Jewish resisters in the Warsaw Ghetto, and to the Chechens, for example. Such a vile order to forcibly intern American switch-out charges or trial would be an act of war against the American people, and thus an act of treason, regardless of the pretext used. We will not commit treason, nor will we facilitate or support it. “NOT on Our Watch!”

    Annie Hawkins said “What about gathering up goods and supplies from the suburbs and distributing it to the people in the cities. Surely they are in a desperation state and the suburbs could spare some of their goods.”

    “One of the causes of the American Revolution was the seizure and forfeiture of American ships, goods, ad supplies, all in violation of the people’s natural right to their property and to the fruits of their labor. Deprivation of food has long been a weapon of war and oppression, with millions intentionally starved to death by fascist and communist governments in the 20th Century alone. Accordingly, we will not obey or facilitate orders to confiscate food and other essential supplies from the people, and we will consider all those who issue or carry out such orders to be enemies of the people.”

    Captain Adkins went on. “Remember, our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and not to any political party. In the long-standing tradition of the U.S. military, we are apolitical. We don’t care if unlawful orders come from a Democrat or a Republican, or if the violation is bi-partisan. We will not obey unconstitutional (and thus unlawful) and immoral orders, such as orders to disarm the American people or to place them under martial law. We won’t “Just follow orders. We are at a time within the ranks of the military regarding their oath. Some mistakenly believe they must follow any order the President issues. But many others do understand that their loyalty is to the Constitution and to the people, and understand what that means.”
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  28. #68
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    Chapter – Bad Army

    The squad ignored looters breaking out windows and taking appliances, large screen televisions and anything else that wasn’t nailed down. The eight of them had just been assigned to go door-to-door in White Settlement and the two Hum Vees were ordered not to let anything else deter their mission including crime. The vandals and looters outnumbered the soldiers and even though they had M16 Rifles they would end up killing a lot of people and causing them to rebel against the government. Instead, their instructions were to round up food and supplies from people that were hoarding them and to deliver those supplies to warehouses the government had set up to distribute to the very people that were looting and rioting. The top brass were trying to defuse the anarchy and reestablish order and FEMA was maxed out with no available resources to help.

    Colonel Frank Seline in the lead vehicle talked into the radio. “Keep close. We have reports that there are people near Lake Worth in White Settlement that have amassed large amounts of supplies and are hoarding them. We are there.” He said as they pulled up to an older style house with a large barn in the back yard.

    “Corporal Jenkins, establish a defensive posture with your team.” Colonel Seline said.

    “Yes Sir.” Corporal John Jenkins said. He and three others jumped out of the second vehicle. Two of them ran to the back and the other two each took a side of the house. The Colonel and his second-in-command Sergeant Major Raymond Chandler walked to the front door, the other two in their vehicle slightly behind and to the side of them.

    Sergeant Major Raymond rapped on the door with a baton. Twenty seconds went by and no one came to the door. He rapped harder. A curtain pulled back from a bay window and quickly pushed back. He yelled out “Open up, Military Police.” He rapped again leaving large dents in the door.

    An older man that looked to be in his mid-sixties opened the door that was chained. He peered around the door carefully. The Colonel slammed his hand on the door causing the chain to break and the door to fling back knocking the older man down.
    They stepped over the man and walked into the house.

    “You can’t come in, I don’t give you my permission.” said the older man.

    “We don’t need your permission, in case you haven’t heard, martial law has been declared. Hoarding has been outlawed. We are searching the premises for excessive stocking of emergency supplies.”

    The older man continued protesting. “The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probably cause.”
    “That may have worked a month ago, but that doesn’t mean squat now. Corporal, search the premises.”

    The older man pulled himself up and said “I must protest, who is your superior.”

    Private Lloyd Bramble ran from the side of the house. “Colonel, we found supplies in the barn. There was a trap door leading to an underground chamber. There were cases of water and canned food as well as weapons and ammo.”

    The Colonel said “Corporal, arrest this man.”

    A white haired lady came from the kitchen “No, leave him alone.”

    “Arrest her as well. Take them to the Camp.”

    The Camp the Colonel referred to was a recently created FEMA camp at the Naval Air Station in White Settlement.

    Corporal Jenkins said “Sir, we have procured the supplies, is that really necessary?”

    “Tell me you are not questioning my authority, Corporal, that would not make me happy.”

    “Sir, no sir.”

    “Good, carry on, we have four more stops to make today.” The Colonel was operating from a list communicated to him through channels but in essence coming directly from the President’s office. President Packard’s office a year back began compiling a list of journalists, bloggers, and others that publically issued criticism for his administration. He belabored the people as unpatriotic and categorized them as terrorists. Forums were reviewed and those people who held dissenting and negative opinions were classified as persons-of-interests to watch. Now with Martial Law declared, the witch hunt began where the progressive agenda could further itself by thinning out the ranks of the conservatives and the right-wingers.

    Corporal Jenkins and Private Bramble gathered the older couple up and moved them into the Hum Vee as they protested.

    “Wait, you can’t take us away from our home, we haven’t done anything.” The woman said.

    “You will have a chance to address the charges against you. Right now you have been charged with hoarding which under martial law, the Patriot Act and orders from President Packard, what you have done is illegal.”

    The older man said calmly “You know it can’t be illegal unless there is a law passed that makes it illegal. The president cannot pass laws, only Congress can. Therefore what you are doing is illegal.”

    Private Bramble slammed his M16 rifle butt into the older man’s head. “Shut up. Traitors like you make me sick.”

    “Knock it off Private.” The Corporal said.

    The old man slumped moaning lowly into his wife’s lap.

    They arrived at the camp and were waved through the gates. The Hum Vee drove over to a large hanger. The wife helped her husband out of the vehicle. His white shirt was covered in blood and he looked pretty dazed. They were escorted in through the doors where they saw a wire fence taking up most of the space in the hangar where it was full of people looking equally oppressed and hopeless. There were hundreds of people milling about glassy-eyed and shell-shocked.

    The Corporal escorted the couple into the processing area and then he and the Private returned to their vehicle to return to his squad where they had several more stops to make.

    On rejoining their squad, they continued on to the next destination. The Colonel said “If we can find one more stash of supplies people are hoarding we may be in for a commendation. What we are doing here is vital in getting supplies to the people that need them. We are a life-line to thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of people who would be destitute and hopeless without us.”

    Sergeant Major Chandler said “Sir, what about what the old man was saying about the Fourth Amendment, was that true?”

    “It may have been true at one time but we are in an emergency situation. We take orders directly from the President of the United States, there is NO higher authority so we will follow orders as usual.”
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  29. #69
    very good story like your work, can't wait for MOAR

  30. #70
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    Doug worked long days including the planning sessions after the daily chores were done. He hadn’t had much time to spend with Susan but surprisingly was okay with that. He was filled with a sense of accomplishment each day like what he was doing really mattered. He never had that sense being a manager of a sporting goods store. Granted, he did his work well, his effort contributed to the stores profitable bottom line but he never felt like he was accomplishing anything worthwhile. The people at the Compound that accepted the provisions Ralph laid out were all getting along very well. Everyone was performing their assigned chores and if anyone had any spare cycles they were volunteering to help in other areas. There was a sense that they were in a precarious situation and the group was their main line of defense. The reports that were coming in horrified the people and everyone was worried that despite their best efforts, what they were doing was not enough to protect them from the ravages of the current conflict.

    As if to underscore their precarious situation, Gunny came in, out of breath as if he’d been running.

    “Doug, come quick, to the infirmary. Sean Buckler was standing watch in the tower and he was shot.”

    Doug stopped what he was doing and ran with Gunny to the make-shift infirmary.
    Houston Ashcroft, co-owner of the canoe and Kayak store helped bring Sean down from the tower. He was laid out on a table with Jeb Rodd applying a compress to Sean right shoulder.

    “What happened?” Doug asked.

    “Sean was standing watch and fell down before the sound of the shot reached him. We know the general direction and think the shot must have been from about two hundred yards out, back in the tree line. They must have used a rifle for that type of accuracy.”

    “Is he going to be okay?”

    “The bullet passed through his right shoulder and exited. He should be okay, but we really should be at a hospital, but I know there isn’t one and a doctor should really be treating him, not me.” Jeb Rodd said.

    Jeb was the veterinarian that worked with Susan at the no-kill animal shelter
    Doug said “Jeb, you are doing fine. Gunny, is there anyone in the tower now?”

    “No, we didn’t think it safe.”

    “We have to get someone up there that is our only vantage point. Make sure they don’t provide a silhouette or target but we have to have eyes in a 360. If we are under attack, we have to know about it.”

    Tim McCall was there. “I’ll go.”

    Doug said “Be careful. Let us know as soon as possible if you see a threat.”

    Tim left to go to the tower.

    Doug said “Gunny, round four or five guys up and get some arms, double the patrols.”

    “Done.” Gunny said.

    “How is Sean?” Doug asked.

    Jeb said “He has stabilized; we are going to need to give him some antibiotics.”

    “Do it. I think that is a good justification for using them.”

    The Compound went on alert and besides Tim in the tower; the patrols were checking the perimeter at various points along the wall. Even though they were fairly secure behind the fourteen foot wall, a coordinated attack could undermine them.

    Doug climbed up the inner ladder to the first chamber of the fifty foot tower. He peered through one of the window crosses and scanned the tree line. He pulled away from the window and went back to it several times taking a full minute to view the horizon just in case he was dialed in. He climbed up to the top level.

    “See anything Tim?” Doug asked.

    “No. I’ve been looking through the spotting scope and the only thing that has moved has been a couple of birds. Of course if they are still and wearing camo, it would be easy to miss them.”

    “What do you suppose their deal is? I mean pick us off one at a time. Obviously, they aren’t trying to rush the Compound.”

    Tim said “They might be trying to provoke us and setup an ambush on the people we send outside the wall. It could be strangers or it could be people around town that know what we have here in the Compound.”

    “I can’t believe anyone from Paradise would shoot someone here.”

    “How about your buddies, the three stooges? Or the Chief at the bidding of the Mayor? Or it could just be random gangs trying to drive us out. Luckily for us they can’t get the high ground on us as the land is the high point and with the fourteen foot walls there is no where they can see in.”

    “Yes, but there are times that we are going to have to go outside the walls. We are supposed to plant the spring crops in about three weeks. We have some inside the walls but to feed all of us, we are going to have to use land outside.”

    “That could be a problem.” Tim said.

    Doug stayed with Tim for another hour. “I’m going to go check on Sean.”

    “If he’s conscious, tell him I’m praying for him.”

    “Will do and I’ll send someone to relieve you in a couple of hours. I think we are going to have to do 24x7 for at least the foreseeable future.”

    “I think that would be wise but the watch group will have to be careful. We might never know they are out there until they pull the trigger.”

    Doug climbed down and went to the make-shift infirmary. Sean was almost as white as the sheet covering him but he was awake.

    “How’s it going bud?” Doug said.

    “I’ll be okay. As soon as I’m better I’m going after that bastard that shot me.”

    “I don’t blame you but we can’t do anything without planning. That may be exactly what they want us to do is lose our temper and leave the Compound where they can pick us off.”

    “So we are going to let them get away with this?” Sean said with disgust.

    “Not hardly. But we are going to be smart about it. I don’t know how they are equipped but we have some night vision goggles. Several people have already volunteered to go outside the walls tonight with the NV goggles. It might be dicey if the shooter or shooters have them too but we need to know if it was a random stranger passing by or if there is someone stalking us and waiting us out.”

    “Count me in.”

    “I don’t think you are quite ready but I appreciate your willingness.”

    “Tell me if you catch them alive, you’ll let me have a crack at them.”

    “You got it, though the men have instructions to err on the side of caution. Shoot first, take names later. It would be nice if we could get at least one of them alive so we can get information from them. I’m going to go brief Ralph, take it easy Sean.”

    “Okay, thanks.” Sean closed his eyes like the conversation had worn him out.

    Doug found Ralph in the study. He knocked and walked in.

    “Sean’s going to be okay.” Doug said.

    Ralph gave a big sigh. “I’m relieved. What are we doing about it?”

    “Houston and Tim are going out tonight, I’m checking the NV goggles out for them to use tonight.”

    “Is two guys enough? Does that put them at risk?”

    Doug said “We thought about that, we think it will be easier for just two guys to conceal their movement. Also, from a logistics point of view, we only have four Night Vision goggles so we really can’t afford to lose all of them in one foray.”
    “Makes sense. Did you distribute the weapons?”

    “Yes, eight men are going to rotate shifts in the tower, they are going to share two 30-06 rifles. We handed out four .223 Bushmasters to the guys walking the perimeter. Right now it doesn’t look like there is an effort to storm the Compound but they could be out there waiting us out.”

    “Keep me informed. This could be a problem with anyone leaving the Compound. Eventually we will have to go out and if someone is out there we won’t last long.”
    “I was talking about that with Tim, that’s why we are going out tonight. Hopefully they would catch the shooter unawares and either take him out or even better catch him so we can question him to see if there are others.”

    “You know, one of the fatal flaws in this whole Compound plan is that we can’t outlast a prolonged siege.” Ralph sagged visibly.

    “Ralph, are you okay?”

    “I’m just tired, I’ll be alright.”

    Doug worried the stress might be getting to Ralph, he’d never seen him this desolate looking.

    He looked at his watch. It’s about time for Tim and Houston to go out; I’m going to go brief them.”

    “Okay, Godspeed.” Ralph said.

    Doug found Tim and Houston at the base of the tower. It was almost dark and they were adjusting the NV goggles.

    “I can see you five by five.” Houston said.

    “Isn’t that a CB term?” Tim asked.

    “Well, yeah, but it seemed an appropriate use.”

    “Goggles are working fine Doug, we are ready to go.”

    “I’ve been thinking, instead of going out the gate we should drop a rope ladder on the opposite side and sneak out. If they are watching anything, it will be the gate.”
    “Good idea, but if we run into a large group, I hope you open the gate if you see us running full speed toward you.”

    “Definitely, we have two guys with rifles standing by and two others to open the gates if necessary while the other two cover them. I’m hoping it was a random walk-by and they are long gone but the next best hope will be to catch a small group. Don’t take any chances.”

    Doug walked with the two to the back fence. They’d staged a wooden ladder on the wall allowing them to climb to the top of the wall. They attached the rope ladder to the wooden ladder and the two climbed to the bottom. Doug couldn’t see them very well since it was so dark. He couldn’t remember a time when the countryside achieved such darkness and the stars were so brilliant and plentiful. He heard a whistle and then Tim called out, “You make a great silhouette, go down the ladder.”
    Doug scurried down the ladder and but thought he was only a silhouette if someone had NV goggles. He walked to the gate to stand with the other four, anxiously awaiting their return.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  31. #71
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    Thank you very much, I am a avid reader and this helps to have so many chapters .

  32. #72
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    I'll post some more tomorrow, I have been evaluating a franchise today since no one seems interested in hiring this old guy.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  33. #73
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    Finally caught up with this great story. Thanks

  34. #74
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    Hey Deena,

    It took 4-5 tries to post my thank you above.
    I kept getting;

    "Your submission could not be processed because the token has expired.

    Please push the back button and reload the previous window."

    I've never seen that before. Any idea what it means?

  35. #75
    This is begining to be a "good'un"!!!! Great job.



    WAB
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."---- Robert A. Heinlein

  36. #76
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    Tim and Houston moved as quietly as they could around the wall. They proceeded to the trees and went about ten feet into the tree line. They worked out a few hand signals, a raised fist to signify hold or stop, fingers extended straight up to mean proceed with caution, and pointing a finger to mean look that way. They may not be official Green Beret signals but it got the job done. They each swung their heads back in forth constantly, each responsible for checking a 180 degrees with both of them together covering 360 degrees. They walked ten to fifteen feet and repeated the process. They’d moved around in front of the Compound but still in the tree line even more careful now not to make noise. Tim figured they were close to the angle where the shot had come from. Tim and Houston split up to cover more area. They were always within sight of each other but about fifty feet apart. Now they had to swivel their heads 360 degrees since they weren’t together so their progress slowed a little.

    Tim looked through his goggles at the grainy green figure Houston made through the goggles. Houston had his arm up, his hand in a fist. When he saw that Tim saw him, he pointed his finger out front of him. Tim followed the direction the finger was pointing and he saw the figure of a guy sitting on a log. They guy was smoking a cigarette which gave off a big glow in the goggles. The smoking guy did not have any kind of night vision so Tim suspected he was just there in case the Compound sent anyone out and was going to renew his surveillance when dawn broke.

    Houston swung wide and signaled Tim to go the other way. They were trying to flank the smoker.

    Everything went well and they were about twenty-five feet away with the AR-15’s held at the ready. They had to constantly shift their gaze from the shooter to the ground so they could see where they were stepping and to each other to gauge their progress. They were going to try and capture him.

    Houston managed to find a dry twig to step on and it snapped. They both froze but the smoker grabbed his rifle and held it pointing in the general direction of the snapping twig noise. It was very hard to hold still and fight off the urge to run when looking through the night vision you saw a man holding a rifle pointed right at you. You had to reason that he couldn’t see you but you knew if he pulled the trigger at that point, even if accidently, you would be shot. The smoker swung the gun back and forth in the general direction of the front gate. Ironically some animal directly behind Houston picked that time to scurry off. The smoker panicked and started shooting blindly into the forest. Tim saw Houston go down fast so while he had the smoker in his sights, he unloaded three shots into him. He saw the smoker go down. Tim rushed over to Houston to see him getting up.

    Keeping watch on the prone figure of the shooter, Tim asked “Are you alright?”

    “Yeah, just scared, I dropped to the ground when I felt a bullet whiz past my ear.”

    Together they approached the still figure on the ground. The rifle was still strapped to the body but it was not pointed at them. They walked right up to him, ready to pull the trigger on their rifles at the slightest inclination of movement. Tim held his rifle pointing at the guys’ head and Houston prodded the guy with his rifle. The guy didn’t move. Houston reached down and felt the guys’ neck. Twenty seconds went by and Houston said “He’s dead.”

    They looked all around and not seeing anything; Tim took his goggles off and searched the body. There was no ID or anything on him and he didn’t recognize him. Tim saw he hit with all three shots, the first above his navel, the second just above his sternum and the third directly over his heart. Tim’s heart was racing and he felt elated and nauseous at the same time. There was nothing else at the lookout site save for a lighter and a package of Winston Lights. Houston took the guys gun and they left him where he dropped and returned cautiously to the Compound the same way they came, through the woods. Tim climbed up the rope ladder and down the wooden ladder. Houston then climbed up and pulled the rope ladder up after him before descending down the wooden one. They went and found Doug and gave him a full report.
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

  37. #77
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    The next day Doug went with a group of eight people to the spot where Tim killed the smoker. Tim led the group both because he was there the night before and because he wanted to see for himself. They found where the body must have laid and bled out but the body was not there. That could only mean one thing, the guy wasn’t along. They figured he was a spotter for the group and they would be under surveillance right now. Tim led the group back in a hasty retreat with no incident.
    Doug found Ralph in the kitchen drinking a cup of black coffee.

    “Ralph, you okay? You look a little peaked.”

    “I’ll be alright. I’m worried about what or who is out there.”

    Houston popped into the kitchen. “Hey guys, I was looking for you. I just finished my shift in the tower. Pretty uneventful although I did see two flashes, could have been binoculars or rifle scopes or could have been nothing.”

    “What is your feel?” Doug asked.

    “I think there is somebody out there watching us. I saw some movement in the trees but it was dense and it could have been anything including deer or even the wind. Still, I have a gut feeling we haven’t seen the last of them.”

    “Is there any outside help we can get? I know the Chief probably won’t help us.” Doug said.

    Ralph nodded. “Not only will the Chief not help us, he might be behind it as far as we know. We have to get some intel on who is doing this and what their motivations are. We can outwait a random group of strangers passing by; it’s a prolonged siege that might do us in.”

    “Sheila was going to call her dad and ask him if he knew anything about it but the phone lines are still down.” Doug said.

    “If he is behind this, he probably won’t tell her anything.”

    “How risky would it be to send a group into town?” Doug asked.

    “Not sure but we can’t afford to lose anyone, either to bandits or corruption. The Chief could try to use the Patriot Act or Martial Law or just the fact there is no one to stand up to him to put our guys in jail. If they can take our numbers down, over time they can weaken us to the point where we could be easily overrun.”

    Gunny came in to the kitchen as Houston left to take a shift in the tower.

    “What’s up gunny?” Doug asked.

    “I just turned down a group that came out from the town; they wanted to join up with us. They walked here and I hated to turn them away but we did the analysis and we can’t take on more people without adding to our resources. There were about fifteen of them including some women and children. It breaks your heart to turn them away. They told us the Chief came around and took all their supplies. Made it look nice and legal-like by giving them a receipt. Then Chief told them they could get their emergency rations from the central supply, only when they went to the central supply they were told the supplies had run out. There were more people needing supplies than they had so they were distributing them to the cronies of the Mayor and the Chief. They were starving. I gave them a case of water and a dozen MRE’s.” Gunny looked up at Ralph as if he would chastise him for giving away their supplies.

    Gunny went on. “They said the jail was full mostly with people that tried to stand up to the Chief and his men. A lot of the people in the town left, taking whatever they could in their vehicles as they bugged out. The people left in the town were mostly loyal or scared of the Mayor. We watched until they were out of sight. A few minutes we heard a few shots. We are thinking it might be the group watching us and they might have attacked those folks that tried to join us.”

    “I’m going to go up in the tower and watch for a bit.” Doug said.

    “Be mindful you don’t make yourself a target.” Ralph said.

    Doug climbed to the top of the tower. “See anything Houston?”

    “I’ve seen movement in the trees.” Houston handed Doug the field glasses. Look at your twelve o’clock, about two hundred yards out, halfway up the tree.”

    Doug looked toward the area. “I don’t see anything.”

    “Keep looking, I thought it was a guy wearing camo.”

    Doug continued watching for a few minutes. “Hold on, I just saw something move. Yes, it looks like there is a man in a tree; he is looking through a scope at us.”

    A thud hit to one side of the cross window causing a chip to fly and hit Doug’s cheek. He heard the sound as he dove toward the platform floor. Houston ducked under the window when he saw Doug hit the floor.

    “You okay?” Houston asked.

    Doug reached up and wiped at the stinging sensation in his cheek. His hand came away with a little blood. “Yeah, I think I was just grazed by a rock chip. We are going to have to do something about this.”

    Doug climbed down and found Ralph. “We need to get Gunny and Susan and have a meeting.

    As if he knew he was needed, Gunny walked in on cue.

    “Gunny, we need to do something about those guys outside the Compound.”

    “They have the upper hand because we can’t really leave the Compound without being seen, unless we do it at night with the Night Vision Scopes.”

    “We don’t know what we are up against or how many.”

    “Yes we will have to go out in force. It will be a risk. If we fail we weaken the Compound. If we don’t go we will weaken through attrition. We have to go.”
    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    -John Adams, America’s Second President

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  39. #79
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    Woo Hoo! Liking this one very much! Thank you.

  40. #80
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    Starting to get a little excitment now. Thanks

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