The Bug Out - A short story


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Halffast
December 22, 2005, 12:34 PM
The Bug Out


Joe woke up. He rolled over and looked at the clock. The red numbers glowed 2:35 in the darkness. He normally slept through the night, but knew once he woke up like this, it would usually take a while before he could fall back to sleep. Careful to not wake up his wife, he rolled out of bed and padded to the kitchen where the family’s computer was. The dull hum of the fan and the clicking of the hard drive greeted him as he plopped down in the chair and switched on the device. The flashing lights of the cable modem began and soon Joe was logged on and surfing the web. He was a regular at several of the bigger gun forums and he regularly checked in on a survival forum or two as well. He was paging through and reading some of the new posts on his favorite survival site when a new post appeared at the top.

“BREAKING RIGHT NOW – TERRORIST ATTACK IMMINENT”

Joe laughed to himself. The tin-foil-hat brigade was always posting something like this just because gas went up ten cents a gallon or some other meaningless event that they somehow twisted into The-End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It. He looked to see who the paranoid loser that posted this at almost 3:00 in the morning was. Joe was surprised to see the handle Ben Franklin next to the post.

Ben Franklin was a man that Joe admired. He had never met the man, but knew from his posts that he was no kook. Ben was a moderator on this message board and was highly thought of for his fairness and objectivity. Joe knew that he worked at a nuclear power plant, but didn’t know what his exact job was. It seemed that he was one of the top men at the facility, but Ben had never been real forthcoming about his exact title.

Joe nervously clicked the link and a message that appeared hurriedly written appeared on the screen.

“I just got a call from my boss. There are confirmed reports that terrorist have bombs with nuclear material that they plan to detonate during rush hour in the morning. They found a dirty bomb in Boston about two hours ago and the guys they arrested told them there were a lot more of them. Estimates are that they are in ten or twelve major cities. It’s possible that one or two of them could be full nuclear devices. Even if they are all just dirty bombs, the panic will be horrific. This is not a joke! My boss only found out because the NRC called and told him to shut down the plant. If you are in a major city, get out now! The information I got is a little sketchy, but New York and DC are sure to get it. I don’t know where else is going to be hit, but any big city will panic whether they get hit or not as soon as word gets out. This may take a few minutes to hit the mainstream media and maybe that will give the members here a few minutes head start. I’ve got to go load up the truck. I plan to be out of here in ten minutes. Good luck and God bless.”

Joe’s heart jumped into his throat. It was really happening. He always knew that it could, that’s why he hung around in the survival forums. He just never expected that it would be this soon. He had first become interested in survival in 1999. He had stockpiled food and supplies for Y2K, but it had not happened. Since then his level of preparedness had fallen off some, but he still had a lot of things put back. He jumped up and ran into his bedroom.

“Linda, wake up. Wake up!”

“What?” his wife of twenty years moaned. “What do you want?”

“We’ve got to get out of here! There is going to be some terrorist attacks and we’ve got to get out of the city!”

“What are you talking about?” Linda asked, while propping herself up on an elbow. “Did you have a nightmare?”

“I wish,” he replied. “No, this is for real. There are dirty bombs in several major cities. There could even be one here.”

“How do you know?”

Joe quickly explained about the post, who had posted it, and why he believed Ben Franklin.

“Maybe it’s a joke,” Linda suggested. “Maybe someone hacked his password and they’re pulling a bad prank.” She reached onto the nightstand and found the TV remote. She hit power and then tuned to CNN.

“He said it might not be on the news yet,” Joe said.

“It has to be if it’s true,” she answered quickly.

The talking head was droning on about the 40-point increase in the NASDAQ yesterday and how it signaled that the bulls were back in control.

“Think about it,” Joe said, “if the government told everyone, they would just panic. They’re going to keep it under their hats as long as they can. Ben would not kid about something like this. We’ve got to get loaded and head to your parents’ place.”

“What if it’s a joke or a mistake? We’ll look like idiots to the neighbors and at our jobs.”

“Who cares what people think? What if it’s true?” Joe was almost screaming now.

Linda bristled. “Look Joe, you’re being paranoid. CNN would know if something was going on and they would tell us about it. Your friend,” she paused as she folded her arms, “is wrong.”

“What are you guys screaming about?” Melissa, the couple’s fourteen-year-old daughter, asked from the door of their bedroom while rubbing her eyes.

“Your father is going off the deep end,” Linda said. “He wants us to pack up and go to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s because of something some idiot on the internet said!”

“That’s nice,” Melissa said.

As was too often the case, this would end up being a girls against the boys argument, Joe thought. He took a deep breath and tried to calm down. “Look, maybe it is a mistake and maybe it’s not. But, what if it is true? I’d rather be safe than sorry. Wouldn’t you? We can go to your parents’ house and if nothing happens by seven thirty we can all call in sick or something. We don’t have to tell anyone anything.”

Linda stared at him for several seconds while what he said sunk in.

“Alright,” she said reluctantly, “but I’m not driving all the way up there and back and then cooking dinner tonight. When we get back, you’re going for take out or something.”

“Okay,” Joe agreed.

Linda threw back the covers and stood up. She looked at Melissa and spoke. “Go get dressed. But first, wake up your brother.”

“Okay, Mom,” the teenager answered. She turned and headed down the hall toward her brother’s room. She opened the door and called his name.

“Andy. Andy, wake up! We’re going to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house.”

Andy, seventeen and a slow riser, opened one eye and looked at his sister.

“Leave me alone. It’s Wednesday, you dope. We have school in…” He looked at his clock, “…five hours? What the hell are you waking me up for?”

“Mom told me to. Dad thinks the sky is falling or something and he wants to go to the farm.”

“Yeah, right!” Andy said as he pulled the covers over his head.

“Andy, get up now. Get dressed. I need your help,” Joe said as he passed his son’s room, threading a belt through his jeans.

Joe walked to the kitchen and tried to gather his thoughts. His in-laws lived 150 miles away in a rural area. Although they called their place a farm, it was only fifteen acres. Originally, the house and barn had been the headquarters for a large family farm, but once the old farmer died, his kids had divided the place up and sold it off. Linda’s parents had bought the farmhouse and the few acres that surrounded it when they had retired. The larger tracts had been sold or leased to local farmers that used them for crops or hay.

All right, take care of the basics first, he thought. Water, food, and shelter are the most basic. For water there is the well at the farm. And, my generator will work the electric pump even if the power goes out. I just need to make sure we have enough gas to last for a while. That takes care of water.

Food, he thought as he opened the pantry. The shelves were almost bare.

“Linda,” he called, “is this all the food we have?”

Linda scurried into the kitchen looking flustered. “I was going to go to the store today,” she said quickly.

“Where is all the food we had put back for Y2K?”

“We ate most of it. Some of it got so old that I threw it out. But you have that freeze-dried camping food and those MER’s or whatever they’re called.”

“That’s not enough. I only have two cases of MRE’s. That’s just six meals apiece. There might be enough of the Mountain House food to last a week or so, but what if we need to help out your parents or your brother’s family? We had enough food put back to feed 10 people for three months and now we don’t have anything?”

“Well, after the millennium, you told me to use it up.”

“I told you to use it and replace it,” he said pleadingly. “That way the food would be fresh.”

“If that’s what you wanted done then you should have done it yourself. It was a pain in the ass to go through all those totes of food.”

Joe realized that the argument was just wasting time. It didn’t matter whose fault it was. They just had to fix it.

“You’re right. I’m sorry,” he said trying to calm her down.

Linda was surprised. He usually would have argued longer, even though she would have still won. She saw how scared he looked. Maybe there was more to this than she thought. Joe certainly thought so. Her hands fell from her hips as she began to feel bad that she had disappointed him. Not that she could admit it to him, but her tone softened significantly. “What can we do?”

“We have to get some more food. Look, I’m going to send you and Andy to the store. Buy as much dry and canned food as you can. Fill up the back of your SUV if you can. Melissa and I will stay here and load the truck.” Joe looked around. “Andy, hurry up. You need to go with your mother.”

“Okay, Dad. I’ll be right there.”

“It’s almost three in the morning. The grocery store isn’t open,” Linda said.

“But the Super Wal-Mart is,” Joe said. “I know I don’t like us going there, but that’s our only option at this point.”

“Can’t we just wait and see if your Internet buddy is right and buy food from the store close to my parent’s place if we need it?”

“I’m afraid that if there is a big panic, the stores will get stripped quickly, even where your parent’s live.”

“Well, how do you want me to pay?”

“Write a check.”

“But, we don’t have that much in the bank. You don’t get paid until Friday.”

“Look, we’ll worry about that if nothing happens. Right now we just need to get what we have to have and get out of here. I want to save whatever credit we have on the cards for gas and other stuff. Do you think you could be back in thirty minutes?”

“We’ll try. Come on, Andy, let’s get going. I hope I don’t see anyone I know without my makeup on.”

Linda snatched up her purse and the mother and son were out the door.

“Alright, that takes care of food. Next is shelter,” Joe said to no one. He looked at his daughter and smiled. “Grandma and Grandpa have plenty of room for all of us. Even for Uncle Larry and his kids. I better tell your Mom to call him.”

Joe grabbed his cell phone and hit the speed dial for Linda’s phone.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hey, it’s me. You think you should call Larry and your folks?”

“I don’t think so. At least not yet. Remember how crazy Larry thought you were for buying all the Y2K stuff? He still makes fun of you. And, there is no sense waking Mom and Dad since they don’t need to do anything. If it hits the news then I’ll call Larry, okay?”

“Whatever you think,” he said

“Okay, Bye.”

“Bye,” he said and hung up the phone.

“Alright,” he said to Melissa, “the next priority is clothes and personal items. Let’s get our Bug Out Bags.” He knew that defense was really next on the list, but he needed to get Melissa on something. Besides, he thought, getting my guns out of the safe and into the car will be easy. I’ll do that last.

Joe walked to the hall closet with his daughter in tow. He opened the door and a ton of junk fell out around his feet.

“Damn it! I’ve told your brother a million times not to stuff things in here and then close the door.”

He reached down and picked up a bag of golf clubs and kicked some of the smaller items out of the way.

“Here, set these in the corner for me, will you?”

“Sure, Dad,” Melissa said as she took the bag from her father.

Joe got down on his knees and started digging through the closet that was a catch all for his family’s junk. He pulled out three daypacks and then kept digging.

“I can’t find your brother’s Bug Out Bag.”

“I think he used it a couple of months ago when he went camping with his friends.”

“Great, these are supposed to be ready to go all the time,” Joe said.

“Give me mine, Dad. I think I need to put some stuff back in it.”

Joe handed his daughter her pack and gave her the look. It told her that he wasn’t happy without him having to say a word. She disappeared into her room and Joe could hear the dresser drawers opening and closing. He noticed that Linda’s pack looked a little empty as well. He opened it and found that it only held a ratty pair of jeans and a couple of shirts with a few odds and ends. When Joe had made everyone pack their BOB, they held enough clothes and toiletries to last at least three days. It seemed that everyone had raided their bag when they needed something and had not replenished them. He opened his and found it was in pretty good shape. There was no underwear in it, Linda must have taken them out to replace some of his old ones, and his toothpaste had leaked. Fortunately, it was in a Ziploc bag so it didn’t get on anything else.

“Melissa,”

“Yes, Dad.” She answered, sticking her head out of her door.

“Hurry and finish repacking your BOB. Then see if you can find your brother’s and make sure he has enough clothes and stuff in it. You need to repack your mom’s after that. I’ll put it on our bed. Also, turn on the TV and listen to it. If they start talking about an attack, come get me right away. Don’t let it slow you down, though.”

“Okay, Pops.”

Joe grabbed his bag and took it to the bedroom. He threw the busted toothpaste away and got three pairs of underwear out of his drawer and stuffed them in the pack. He wondered if they should take more clothes.

“Melissa.”

“I’m in here.”

He found her in her brother’s room, digging through his closet.

Listen, when you’re finished with the Bug Out Bags, come out to the garage and get a big duffle bag from me. I want you to get some more clothes for all of us and get all the stuff you can out of the bathroom closet, too. Got it?”

“Yeah, Dad, I got it,” she said as she nodded her head.

Okay, what’s next, he asked himself. I better get the camping stuff in case the power does go out for a while. He headed out to the garage. At least this is organized, he thought as he looked at all his emergency equipment stacked neatly on shelves. Much of it was still brand new and in the original boxes. He walked over and started pulling things down that he thought he might need and stacking them in the middle of the garage floor. He also grabbed the generator out from under his workbench and put it next to the pile. What about gasoline, he thought. He looked in the corner and saw two five-gallon cans. He picked them up. One was almost empty and he had no idea how old the gas was in the other. He could pour it out and refill them both on the way out of town, but ten gallons would not last long if they really needed the generator. He called Linda’s phone.

“Hey, have Andy run over to the automotive department and get me six five-gallon gas cans, okay?”

“Alright,” she said.

“How much have you got done?”

“Not much, we just got here a minute ago.”

“Does it seem like anyone knows anything?” he asked.

“No. The place is dead as a doornail.”

“Good. Hurry as fast as you can, okay.”

“I know!” she said.

He could almost see her rolling her eyes at him. “Okay, thanks,” he said as he hung up.

“Your father wants you to go get six gas cans for him.”

“Do you want me to go now?” Andy asked.

“No. Let’s get the groceries first.”

They each had a cart and were pushing them up and down each isle. Linda would point at things and tell Andy how many to get and he would load them onto the carts. When one of the carts was full, she told him to park it where it was and go get another. When all three carts were full, top and bottom, she decided that it was enough.

“Go grab one more cart and run over to automotive and get the gas cans. Make sure they are the five-gallon size.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Andy took off to the front of the store and Linda tried to move two of the baskets at a time by pushing one and pulling the other. She could barely budge them. She gave up on the one she was trying to pull and concentrated on pushing just one. It was so heavy that she even had trouble getting it going. When she got it to the main isle. She went back for the other basket. She pushed it about halfway to the front where they had left the first full basket. She went back for the second basket and was pushing it when her phone rang again. It was Joe again.

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Halffast
December 22, 2005, 12:35 PM
“What!” she answered.

“I’m sorry,” Joe said, “but I need some propane for the Coleman stove and the lantern. Have Andy get about ten of the one-pound bottles. They should be in sporting goods.”

“Alright. We’re almost done here.”

“Good. See you in a few minutes.”

Joe looked at his watch. It said 3:40. He had hoped to be on the road by now, but as long as they got out before 4:00 or 4:15 they should be okay. He wondered why Melissa had not come to get the duffle bag. He grabbed the duffle and walked into Andy’s room where he found her looking at the TV while she was lazily stuffing clothes into his pack.”

“Melissa! I told you not to get distracted by the TV. You should have had that done fifteen minutes ago.”

Melissa was very sensitive to being yelled at, especially by her father. Tears began to well up in her eyes. “But, Dad, I just found Andy’s pack a few minutes ago. It was stuffed under his bed.”

“Okay. I’m sorry I yelled. We just need to be ready to go by the time your mom and brother get home. You should have just gotten a trash bag or something when you couldn’t find his pack right away.”

“Okay, Dad,” she said, sniffing and wiping an eye.

“Here’s the duffle. Anything on the TV yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Okay, hon, let me know if you hear anything and try to go a little quicker, all right?” he pleaded.

“No problem.”

Joe went back to the garage and pulled down some more camping stuff. That should do it. He spotted his chain saw and decided to take it too. If they had to stay until winter, a long shot he knew, but it was already fall, they could use it to cut firewood for the fireplaces. He put it and its accessories in the growing pile. He looked at it and couldn’t think of anything else they might need. He opened the garage door to start loading his truck. He decided to back it in to make the job easier. Just as he was unlocking the door, Melissa called him.

“Dad, Dad, it’s on TV!”

He rushed back into the garage and pulled the door down. When he got in, he heard the TV in his room. He ran down and saw Melissa working on her mother’s bag. She was quickly packing the bag from a pile of clothes on the bed. Her face looked older than it should have, Joe thought. He turned his attention to the television.

…level has been raised to red. Authorities believe that the device found in Boston is the only one and that the terrorists are trying to cause a panic by alluding to others. However, the President has placed the military and FEMA on high alert and experts are searching other sites that might have a high probability of being a target. Authorities are urging all Americans to stay calm and stay in their homes. FEMA suggests that no one venture out until we have definitive word on where any other devices, if they even exist, might be. Moving from where you are might just put you in harms way. Authorities inform us that a dirty bomb is not immediately dangerous to anyone except in the small blast radius. It would take days of close exposure to absorb a lethal dose of radiation. If evacuation is needed, authorities will let the public know in plenty of time for a safe and controlled withdrawal from any dangerous area.

Again, three men were arrested early this morning in Boston trying to plant a dirty bomb across the street from City Hall. A dirty bomb is an explosive device that has been laced with nuclear material. The arrest came about as the result of…

Joe hit the mute button on the remote. He looked at the time. It was five minutes until four. He wondered where Linda and Andy were.

Linda had pushed her three carts, using her one at a time method, almost to the check out by the time Andy showed up with the gas cans. He helped her push all four carts into the only check out line that was open and then ran back to get the propane. The cashier looked like she was only awake enough to be annoyed at the four basketfuls that she would have to scan and bag. Halfway through the second basket, Linda’s phone rang.

“What?” she said.

Joe was oblivious to her exasperation. “Is anything going on there? It just hit the TV.”

Andy, who had returned quickly with the propane canisters, saw his mother go pale. She shook almost imperceptivity and her lips became tight. She didn’t say anything.

“Mom, is that Dad?” Andy asked nonchalantly. “I need to talk to him.”

Linda, wide eyed, handed the phone to her son.

“Dad, hey, we’re checking out now.” He paused. “No, everything is alright.” There was another pause. “Yes, I understand. We will. Bye.”

Andy folded the phone and looked at the time on the display. He handed the phone back to his mother. “Dad says that we are behind schedule.” He saw the clerk raise her eyebrows at what he had said. “And, you know Dad. He always wants to leave at the crack of dawn.”

The clerk smiled and Andy wondered if her dad was really one of those ‘leave at the crack of dawn’ dads. He knew that his wasn’t. A minute later, a tall, thin, prematurely balding young man came up to the register. His nametag said ‘Barry’. Linda assumed that it was the night manager.

“Kathy, we’re closing in five minutes,” he said.

“Why, Barry?”

Barry gave her a story about corporate calling and saying that the computers were going down for some unscheduled emergency maintenance. He announced over the intercom that the store had to close because of a computer problem and that all shoppers should bring their purchases to the checkouts. He also called all cashiers to report to their registers.

Linda had begun to compose herself and she figured that the computer problem story was just a cover that the manager had made up or was told to use in case of an emergency. The cashier finally finished scanning the merchandise and gave Linda a total. Linda wrote the check, knowing that there wasn’t enough money in the account. She hoped she could get to the bank before it cleared, and wondered if it would even make a difference. She and Andy loaded the carts back up with the bagged merchandise and pushed them toward the door. When they got there, two security guards were standing there with the keys hanging from the lock. The older man smiled weakly and reached to unlock the door.

“Could one of you help us with these?” she asked.

The two men looked at each other and the older one nodded once to the younger man. He grabbed a cart each from Linda and Andy and headed out the door as the other guard held it open.

It only took a few minutes to load the back of the SUV with the bags. The guard shoved the four empty baskets together and pushed them toward the entrance. Linda noticed that there were quite a few cars rushing into the parking lot as she climbed behind the wheel. She started the automobile and pulled out. As she drove by the store entrance, she saw several people banging on the door that she had just exited and a couple of them were yelling obscenities at the guards.

She pulled back onto the street and saw that there was a significant amount of traffic for this time of night. Everyone seemed to be obeying the traffic laws except for maybe bending the speed limit a little. She found herself doing about ten miles an hour over as well. She pulled out her cell phone and handed it to Andy.

“Call your Uncle Larry,” she instructed. “I think it’s number seven on the speed dial.”

Andy did as he was told. A minute later he spoke. “Uh, Uncle Larry, it’s me, Andy.” There was a brief pause. “Here, I think I better let my Mom tell you.” He handed the phone back to his mother.

“Larry, hi. Listen, turn on CNN, there’s some kind of terrorist attack going to take place.”

“Where, when?” Larry asked groggily.

“I don’t know. But Joe has us leaving for Mom and Dad’s. Andy and I just left from the Wal-Mart with a bunch of groceries and stuff and they closed the store as we were leaving.”

“Okay, I have the news on. Oh my God. I don’t believe it,” Larry said as he tried to catch his breath. “We’ll meet you at Mom and Dad’s, all right?”

“All right,” Linda agreed.

“And Linda,” her brother paused a moment, “tell Joe that I said he was right.”

“I will,” she said, not needing him to say about what. “I’ll see you in a few hours.”

“Thanks, Sis.”

The line went dead as she pulled into their driveway. Joe was outside making some kind of weird gyrations with his hands. Linda rolled down the window.

“What?” she asked.

“Back it in,” her husband answered.

Linda backed the car out of the driveway and then backed it next to Joe’s truck. Joe opened the back hatch. He pulled out the gas cans and placed them next to his truck. Linda and Andy came around to the back of the SUV.

“What do you want me to do?” she said.

“Go inside and see if Melissa has all the Bug Out Bags ready to go. Have her bring them out here and you see if we need to bring anything else with us.”

Linda went toward the house and Joe turned to Andy.

“Thanks for going with your mom. You did a good job.” Joe playfully punched Andy in the arm and was giving a return punch. “Now, get a couple of those empty totes and start stacking these bags of groceries into them. Then we’ll start loading the rest of the stuff.”

“Okay, Dad,” Andy said as he walked into the garage.

Joe finished packing the rest of the gear he had assembled into the back of his truck. Then he placed the two old gas cans right next to the tailgate, followed by the six new ones. That done, he turned to his gun safe. He opened it and pulled out all twenty-one of his firearms. He put most of them into rifle cases or pistol rugs and put them into the extended cab of his pickup. He kept four rifles and four handguns out. One of each for each of them. He loaded the handguns from the ammo on his ammo shelf. Next, he loaded several magazines for each of the rifles. He had more magazines, but not more ammo. He had been meaning to buy more, but just never seemed to get around to it. Just like a lot of things he had been meaning to do. He had meant to start running to get rid of the spare tire around his middle. He had meant to get everyone out to shoot. He had meant to have a Bug Out drill. He just never seemed to be able to get around to any of these things. Well, perhaps there would be time for some of them now, and hopefully he could find a gun store close to his in-law’s house and buy or trade for some ammo if they needed it. The few boxes that were for his other guns he put inside the truck. He put Linda’s and Andy’s guns in the SUV and his and Melissa’s went into the truck.

The girls brought out the BOB’s and the big duffle bag with the extra clothes. Linda also had another medium size bag that she handed to Joe.

“Here’s everything else that I can think of,” she said.

Joe nodded and loaded all six bags into the SUV, almost filling it to capacity. He looked at his watch. It read 4:52. Joe couldn’t believe it. It had taken them just over two hours to get ready to go. He looked up and down the street. There were a couple of houses with activity, but it looked like most of his neighbors were still unaware. If he had known any of them well, he would have knocked on their doors and told them. He really only knew the names of three or four of them. Even though they were more than an hour behind when Joe had wanted to leave, they were still ahead of 90% of the population if his neighborhood was any indication.

“Andy, you ride with your mother,” he said. “Melissa, you’re with me in the truck. Everyone has a rifle and a handgun. I don’t think we’ll need them, but just in case, I want to be ready if we run into any trouble. How much gas do you have in the SUV, Linda?”

Linda lowered her head. “Just over a quarter,” she replied.

Joe had continually nagged her about filling up when she got down to half a tank. Unfortunately, Linda’s indicator that she needed gas was the little light that came on at about one eighth of a tank. “Damn it,” he said through clenched teeth. “That will barely get us to the next town. I was hoping to get at least halfway to the farm before we had to get fuel.”

“Sorry,” she mumbled.

“I know a station that leaves the pumps on for credit card purchases when they close. Maybe we can get there before they get mobbed. Let’s get going. Stay right behind me, but if we get separated, use the radio.”

Joe turned on one of the GMRS radios, looked at the channel display, and handed it to his son. He twisted the power knob, which also controlled the volume, on the second radio to find out that it was already in the on position.

“????! Someone left this one on and the batteries are dead. Does anyone know where the AA batteries are?”

“Melissa took the last ones for her Walkman,” Andy said.

“Well, you used a bunch of them up in your Gameboy,” she countered.

“Are any of them still good?” Joe said.

Both children shook their heads sadly.

“Did you buy any batteries?” Joe asked Linda.

“Did you tell me to?” she shot back, happy that this, unlike the low fuel status in the SUV, was not her fault.

“We don’t have any in the house?” Joe asked them all.

“I might know where some are,” Andy said.

“Go see if you can find them. Hurry.”

Andy nodded his head and ran into the house. Joe rechecked the gear in the back of his truck to make sure nothing was where it could blow out. He glanced again at his watch. He walked around both of the vehicles and noticed a low tire on the front of the SUV. Well, he thought, how can I expect her to keep air in the tires when she won’t even keep gas in the tank? He would air it up at the station.

Where was Andy? Joe walked to the door and stuck his head in. “Andy, did you find them?”

“No, not yet. They weren’t in the junk drawer. I think maybe I saw them in one of the desk drawers.”

“Come on. We’ve got to go.”

Andy raced past his father and got in his assigned vehicle. Joe quickly locked the house door and tripped the switch on the automatic garage door. He walked up next to Linda’s car and motioned for her to roll down the window.

“Just try to stay right behind me. Maybe we can find somewhere to get some batteries.”

She nodded her head and started the car. Joe got in the truck, cranked it, and put it into gear. He glanced at the time on the radio as he turned onto the street. 5:01. He was exasperated that it had taken this long. Ben Franklin had said that he was leaving in ten minutes. He was probably already at his bug out location. Next time I’ll make sure I’m ready to go that quickly, Joe promised himself.

There was a little more traffic than he would have expected, but it was moving well. When he entered the Crosstown Expressway, it looked like rush hour. There was a lot of horn honking and finger gesturing, but not much more than there usually was at five o’clock on Friday afternoons. At least they were moving, not as fast as Joe had hoped, but it wasn’t too bad. Joe worked his way over to the left lane and made sure with each lane change that Linda was behind him. He calculated that at the speed they were moving, they would be at the gas station he wanted to fill up at in twenty minutes.

Along the way, every open gas station had a line of cars. Even the ones that were closed had cars at the pumps. Joe figured that those drivers believed it was quicker to wait for the station to open than to get in one of the long gas lines.

As they drove, the traffic got heavier and heavier. It took almost forty minutes to get to the station. It was a few blocks off of the access road. Joe only knew about it because he had needed fishing bait one time and a local had sent him here. The station closed from midnight to 6:00 AM, but the gas pumps would still work with a credit card. As they pulled into the lot, there was a car at every pump. Some had another behind them. Compared to the other stations, this was a dream though. Since only a few of the outside and none of the inside lights were on, most people probably thought the pumps were off too. Joe waved Linda behind a car at one pump and he pulled up behind another.

Linda didn’t have to wait too long before she was able to pull up to her pump. Andy jumped out, swiped the credit card that she had given him and began to pump gas into the SUV. Joe was behind another truck that the driver had finished with one tank and was now beginning to fill the second. He began to reach into the bed of his truck and pull out 5-gallon jugs to fill as well. Joe, not angry since he planned to do the same, was anxious to get back on the road. He noticed that a car pulled out from one of the pumps and the car behind it did not move. Joe looked and could see no one in the vehicle. He put his truck in gear and pulled in next to the pump. Swiping his credit card, he was pumping gas seconds later.

“Hey, I was next!” A man said, startling Joe and making him turn.

The younger man was coming from behind the store. He was quite a bit taller than Joe and appeared to have a bad attitude. Joe wasn’t sure if it was just because of the situation or if it was normal for him.

“I’m sorry. There was no one in your car and I didn’t know where you were. I’ll be done in just a minute,” Joe said.

“I had to go take a leak,” the man said as if it were Joe’s fault that his bladder had filled. He sat on the hood of his car and stared at Joe’s truck. The pump soon kicked off as Joe already had more than half a tank when he pulled in to the station. He reached in the back and started pulling out the jerry cans.

“Oh, no,” the young man said as he jumped off his hood and clenched his fists. “You’re not gonna fill those up too.” He took a step toward Joe.

“It’ll just take another minute or two.”

“You’re moving that truck now or I’m moving it for you!”

He stepped to the back of his car and lifted the hatch. When he reappeared from the back he had a tire iron in his hand. Joe had no idea what the man meant to do with the bent metal weapon, but he didn’t want to find out. He reached in through the open door of the truck and pulled out his Kimber .45 Auto. The man, seeing the weapon and the almost half inch hole of the muzzle, seemed to shrink in size. He quickly backed up.

“Sorry, Mister, I don’t want no trouble,” he told Joe.

Joe prayed that the man couldn’t see his hand shaking. “I…I…I think you better get in your car until I leave.”

“Okay, okay man, relax. Don’t shoot me. I’ll get in the car.” He opened the door and got into his car without taking his eyes off of the high-dollar pistol.

Joe stuck the .45 in his waistband and stood were he could watch the little car and its occupant. He looked over at the SUV. Andy was hanging up the hose, oblivious to what had just happened. Joe didn’t trust the guy to stay in his car.

Halffast
December 22, 2005, 12:38 PM
“Andy,” Joe called, “tell your mom to pull over here and you come help me.”

Andy did as he was told. “Finish filling those cans, while I watch this guy,” his father told him.

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you later, just fill the cans as fast as you can.”

Joe thought to get Melissa to help Andy put the cans back in the truck. He looked in the truck and saw that his daughter’s eyes were the size of manhole covers.

“Melissa,” he said. “Melissa! MELISSA!”

She jumped as finally heard her name. “What?”

“Get out here and put the gas cans in the truck as your brother gets them filled.”

“Dad, you pulled a gun on that guy!”

“I know,” Joe said as he glanced in the direction of the tire iron brandisher. “He acted like he wanted to hurt us, so I had no choice. Now get out here and help your brother so that we can get out of here.”

Melissa opened her door and scurried around to the back of the pickup. Joe carefully watched and made sure that the man could see he still had his Kimber ready. Joe heard several thuds as Melissa swung the now full jugs on to the tailgate. It seemed to take forever for his children to finish. Finally, he heard the tailgate shut and Andy spoke.

“All done, Dad.”

“Good. Load back up and let’s get the hell out of here.”

A moment later, they were on the street and headed back to the Interstate. Joe grabbed his cell phone and dialed 911. He figured that he better call the police before the jerk with the tire iron did. All he got in three tries was a busy signal.

The traffic seemed to have doubled or tripled while they were buying fuel. Joe wondered if they should try to find another route, but he didn’t really know any others. He decided to go ahead and get on the freeway and then look for another route once they got out of town if the traffic got any worse. Linda was not able to get on right behind him, but there was only a car between them. Joe had no problem seeing her.

Traffic would move along at 45 or 50 miles per hour for a ways and then slow to a crawl for a few minutes. Joe couldn’t see any reason for the disparity in speed, but he reckoned that there must be a reason. He hoped that the further they got out of town the better things would be. Joe mentally kicked himself again for taking so long to leave. Well, he thought, if I hadn’t woken up, we’d still all be in bed right now. At least he could take some comfort in that. He wondered what the news was. He turned the radio on. The channel he liked played oldies, but a man’s voice came over the speakers.

…is urging everyone to stay at home. Please keep the streets clear so that emergency personnel can respond. Also, the 911 Emergency system is being overwhelmed with calls. Please, only call 911 if you have true medical, police, or fire emergency. 911 is not an information service. Operators there cannot give you any information. Your best source of information is to stay here with us at KNAA Golden Oldies.

Officials in Washington believe that the device found in Boston was the only one and that the terrorists’ plan was to start a nationwide panic. Local authorities assure us that there is no indication that any nuclear material is in our city. They have stated that even if the threats of twelve devices are true, it is not likely that we would be in the top twelve cities selected. The mayor is asking for everyone to cooperate. He asks that all schools and businesses close for the day and that only critical personnel report to work. The State Department of Transportation is urging everyone to stay at home. Please keep the streest clear so…

Joe turned the radio off. “Well, we don’t have to worry about work and school now, do we sweetheart?”

Melissa ignored the rhetorical question. “Dad would you have really shot that guy?”

Joe was quiet for a long moment. “I was pretty sure that he would back off if I just showed him the pistol. I know I wouldn’t have shot him for hitting the truck with the tire iron, but if he had tried to hurt you or Mom or Andy, I’m pretty sure I would have pulled the trigger. Would that bother you?”

“Yes and no.”

“Me, too,” Joe said thoughtfully. “Thank God it didn’t come to that.”

Melissa leaned over and hugged her dad the best she could.

The traffic continued to slow. It still moved okay at times, but the time they spent just creeping was increasing. Joe looked at the clock. 6:14 is what it read. Almost an hour and fifteen minutes since they left the house. They had only gone 18 or 20 miles. It was obvious to Joe that traffic was getting worse, not better. He had to get off of the interstate.

“Honey,” he said to Melissa, “do you know how to read a map?”

“Of course, Dad. We learned last year in Geography.”

“Good. Reach in the glove box and pull out the state map. Find where we are.”

Melissa opened the box and found the map. She unfolded it and Joe saw her looking over the whole map again and again. He thought that, by now, she should have at least narrowed down where they were to half of the map.

“Having trouble?” he asked.

“This isn’t like the maps we use at school. This one has so many roads on it, I can’t find anything.”

“Look for our city. It’s in the southeastern part of the state. It should be in the lower right hand corner.”

Melissa looked for a few more seconds. “Got it.”

“Now find where your grandpa and grandma live. It should be toward the top center.”

“I found it,” she said.

“That’s great. Now, come back to where we are and follow the Interstate north until you get to where it intersects with Highway 59.” Joe knew they were only five or six miles from the intersection. He hoped that he could turn west and then find another route north that would not be so clogged.

“Okay, I’ve got it.”

“Follow 59 west and see if there is a road or highway that intersects it and goes up close to your grandparents’ place.”

After a few minutes of tracing roads with her finger, Melissa spoke again. “I found one. It’s just a thin line but it runs almost right to the farm. It’s SH 983. You have to go about this far on 59 to get to it.” She held her fingers about four inches apart.

“How far is that?” Joe asked.

“About this far,” she said holding her fingers up for him to see again.

“I need to know how many miles that is. Look at the legend and see if it says how many miles to the inch.”

Melissa folded the map over and studied the legend. “It says one inch equals 12.3 miles, Dad.”

Fifty miles, Joe figured. That wasn’t too bad. His in-laws were forty miles west of the interstate, so this should only be about 10 miles out of the way. If the traffic was moving any faster at all, they could make that up easily.

“Great job, honey. We’re going to take your route.”

Melissa beamed.

Joe looked to his right and could see the sky turning pink. He looked in the rear view mirror and saw that now there were two cars between him and Linda. There were more and more cars trying to shoehorn themselves onto the expressway at every entrance. Joe looked at his watch and figured it would take another twenty or thirty minutes to reach Highway 59 at this rate. He prayed that the traffic on 59 would be better.

A few miles up the road he decided that he had better start getting over so that he could exit. He looked behind him. Linda was three cars behind. It was starting to get light now, so she should have no problem seeing him change lanes. He put on his blinker and hoped that someone would let him over. Everyone on the road seemed so intent on getting out of town that no one would give him room to move right. He finally had to force his way over and ignore the response of horns and middle digits. He watched in the rearview and saw that Linda was able to find a generous soul to let her over.

He repeated the maneuver and now was in the correct lane. Linda was not as lucky this time. No one wanted to let her over and she was about to pull the same rude stunt that Joe had.

“I don’t know why your father is getting over,” she huffed. “The left lanes are moving better.”

Andy, determined to help his mom, rolled down his window and looked at the drivers on his side, pointing his intentions to change lanes. The on comers just ignored him like he wasn’t even there.

Joe was getting worried. He was getting very close to the exit for 59. He tried to wave at Linda to come on up and he would let he over. She didn’t see him as she was spending more time looking back than forward. In addition, with a few cars getting off at the exit, Joe’s lane was now moving faster than Linda’s. Since Linda was ignoring him, he decided that he would go ahead and take the exit. That would force her to get over. Joe appreciated the fact that she was a very cautious driver, but in this situation she was just going to have to be a little more aggressive.

Andy was still looking for space to get over. When the right lane moved some, the driver he was looking at seemed distracted and he didn’t move. This created an opening and Andy told his mother to go. Just as she cut the wheel and mashed on the accelerator, the driver saw that traffic was moving and he gunned his pickup. The sickening crunch of metal was the result of the two vehicles trying to occupy one space.

Joe saw the collision in his mirror.

“????, ????, ????!” he said under his breath, hoping that Melissa wouldn’t hear.

He pulled the truck over to the shoulder and put it in Park.

“Stay in the truck,” he told his daughter.

Joe got out and loped back to the accident. Behind the bonded vehicles, traffic in both lanes had come to a halt. Only the left lane was moving and the rubberneckers wanting to see what had happened tremendously slowed it. The driver of the pickup was out of his car and surveying the damage. Joe, breathing hard, stopped next to him. Linda started to get out, but Joe signaled for her to stay in the car.

“You okay?” he asked the man.

“Yeah. I think so.”

“Sorry about this.”

“Why?” the man asked. “You didn’t do anything. I appreciate you stopping.”

“That’s my wife in the SUV,” Joe said.

“Oh,” the man said.

“We could call the cops, but it will probably take them a long time to get here,” Joe said as he looked at the impact site. The truck looked to have almost no damage. The bumper might be a little bent, and it was probably scratched up some. Overall, it could have been much worse. Joe saw that the truck’s bumper was one of those heavy-duty steel pipe jobs and it had done its job of protecting the front of the truck quite well. The bumper had hit the front wheel of the SUV. There was a little sheet metal damage to his wife’s fender, but it didn’t look too severe.

“Naw,” the man drawled, “I just want to get out of town. I don’t think my truck is hurt. Just give me your name and address and your insurance info and we’ll settle this later.”

“Sounds good,” Joe agreed.

They quickly exchanged names and the man got back in his truck, backed up a little, and went around the SUV.

Joe motioned for Linda to get going as well. Cars on both sides of her were creeping past. She started the engine, put the car in drive, and mashed the gas pedal. The SUV didn’t want to move at first. She pressed the gas further and the big vehicle lurched forward with a horrible squeal. Joe looked back at the noise and could see that the front wheels were pointed in different directions. He held up a hand to stop Linda. He jogged back up to the front of her car while cursing their luck. He looked under the vehicle and could see that one of the tie rods was broken. They wouldn’t be taking the SUV any further.

“The steering for one of the tires is broken,” Joe explained to Linda when he got to her window. “I’ll stop the traffic. Try to get it off of the road.”

Linda nodded tersely. Joe stepped into the lane she needed to cross and held a hand up, becoming a human barricade. Tires screeched and horns blared, but the traffic stopped. Linda herded the beast with a wounded leg over behind Joe’s truck. It sat catty cornered, half on the shoulder, half on the grass.

“Can you fix it?” she asked when Joe came off of the expressway.

“Not unless you have an extra tie rod.”

“What are we going to do?”

“We’ll just have to leave it here and go in the truck. I think we can stack most of the stuff in here on top of the stuff in the truck. You and Andy start bringing me everything.”

Joe climbed in the bed and quickly stacked the cargo from the SUV as best he could. He covered it with a tarp from the camping supplies and laced a rope over the top to keep it secure. Joe was at least happy that he had these two items. When he had double checked everything, they locked the damaged vehicle and all climbed into the cab of the truck. It was crowded in the back for the kids with all of the guns and ammo. Melissa started to whine about it some, but Joe shut her up.

“Look, it’s just for a couple of hours. You’ll just have to make do, okay?”

The sun was up and Joe could see it in his rearview mirror as he rocketed west on Highway 59 at twenty miles an hour. He was glad to be off of the Interstate. Maybe they weren’t moving as fast as he would have liked, but at least the traffic here wasn’t stop and go. He looked at the time. The clock read 7:29. Joe couldn’t believe it, but the wreck had cost them almost an hour. He had expected to be at his in-law’s house by now and they were just barely out of the city. He turned the radio back on.

…were low yield backpack nuclear devices. For years, experts have warned that such an attack was not only possible, but inevitable. With many of the weapons of the former Soviet Union missing and unaccounted for, the material to build such a device is available on the black market. The other five bombs were only nuclear laced dirty bombs and pose little immediate danger to those not in the direct blast radius. Officials hope that any further devices are of the dirty bomb variety. They believe that the terrorist used all of the back pack nukes on New York and Washington. The authorities are asking that everyone stay calm. All of the bombs were detonated in the downtown areas of the attacked cities. Citizens only need to immediately evacuate if they are in the downtown area of a large city. Please listen to your local officials and obey their directions. If everyone tries to evacuate at one time, all arteries out of the cities will quickly become clogged.

As Joe listened to the radio for the next several minutes, he was slowly able to piece together what had happened. At around 7:45 eastern time, seven cities were attacked. New York was hit by three different backpack nukes. One hit the financial district, one detonated just outside of city hall, and the other exploded on the edge of Central Park. Each blast killed thousands of people in a five or six block radius. Washington was hit by two of these bombs. One was close to the White House and the other was near Capitol Hill. Deaths from these two blasts were not as high as New York as many of the federal officials were evacuated as a precaution.

Baltimore, Charlotte, Atlanta, Bangor, and Miami were all hit by dirty bombs. Widespread panic was proliferating through those cities and others like wildfire. Joe knew that he was far enough away from downtown that even if the worse did happen, they would be okay. However, the news still twisted his somewhat large stomach into a golf ball. He looked down at the speedometer and saw that they were now moving at close to forty miles an hour. He didn’t know if it was because they were getting further away from town or if everyone now had more incentive to move quickly. He didn’t care what the reason was. He was just happy to be moving.

At 7:45, the radio went silent. Joe punched all of the preset buttons but was not able to find a local station. He turned the dial by hand and found a distant station a state away. They reported that in the last five minutes, five cities in the central time zone had been attacked. Three of them, Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas, had been major commerce centers, but two, including Joe’s town, had been medium size. Joe looked south and saw a mushroom cloud forming over what he guessed was downtown. He didn’t know why the terrorists would hit his town except to make sure that everyone felt threatened. The radio said that the bomb that hit Joe’s town had been a dirty bomb, but he wasn’t sure if that was right. Would a dirty bomb make a mushroom cloud and knock out all of the local radio stations? He wasn’t sure. Everyone in the truck was grimly quiet as thoughts of what could have happened if they had not bugged out ran through their minds.

Halffast
December 22, 2005, 12:39 PM
At 8:12 they were at the junction with SH 983. Joe made the right turn along with several other cars. Even though this was just a two-lane highway, it was moving much better than either of the multilane roads he had been on. As he sped toward his destination, relieved that he was making good time, something nagged at the back of his mind. If it wasn’t just a dirty bomb that hit his city, where would the fallout go? The wind usually blew from the south here and he was heading north. Would they be safe at his in-laws’? How much fallout would a backpack nuke produce? These were questions that he didn’t have the answer to. He hoped that someone would.

At 8:50 the news reported that two cities in the Mountain Time zone had been bombed. Dirty bombs hit both Denver and Phoenix. Panic and chaos were engulfing those cities. A few minutes later a report came over the air that a dirty bomb had been found and defused in Sacramento. Evidently, panic had also beset the west coast and the Freeways in the cities along the Pacific coast were grid locked.

Joe slammed on his brakes as the traffic in front of him came to an abrupt stop. He wondered what could be wrong. They had been moving along so well. Traffic started creeping forward and Joe noticed that more cars were coming the opposite direction. He finally crested the top of a hill and could see the problem. In the bottom of the draw between this hill and the next was a small creek. Over that creek was a bridge, barely wide enough for two cars. A tractor-trailer had been heading south over the bridge at the same time a big motor home was crossing it to the north. Somehow, they had collided. Both vehicles were wedged in a fashion where Joe thought that the guardrails on the bridge might have to be removed in order to untangle the mess. Even if they could be removed without disassembling the bridge, it would take a couple of those monster wreckers to do it. It looked like the occupants of both vehicles had abandoned their now worthless rigs. Joe figured that they caught a ride with someone.

There was a wide spot in the road just in front of the bridge and everyone was turning around as they reached it. Joe did not want to turn around and backtrack. He was already much later than he had expected. He also imagined that the interstate would resemble a parking lot by now. As he slowly crept toward the turn around, he pulled out the map. Melissa had been right in that there was no other way to the farm unless he wanted to drive quite a distance. He had the fuel to do it, but then there would be little left for the generator when they got to his in-laws’.

There had to be another way. He looked both ways. There were fields on both sides of the road with only barbed wire fences to keep him from crossing them. He wondered if he could find a place to cross the creek and come back to the road on the other side. If he could, traffic would not be a problem. He could really make some time. He pulled the truck over onto the narrow shoulder.

“You all stay with the truck. I’m going to go look for a place where we can four wheel over to the other side.”

Joe walked across the ditch to the fence. It was old and rusty. He found a place where the wires were loose and he pushed them down and carefully stepped over. The ground gently sloped down to the creek and he was only mildly winded when he reached the water. He walked along the edge noticing that the water was several feet deep in some places and only a few inches in other. About two hundred yards from the bridge, he found a spot that looked promising. There were no large rocks and the water was only six inches or so deep as it ran over a sandy spot that was only seven or eight feet wide. He hated to get his feet wet, but he had to make sure that the bottom was solid enough. He quickly waded across and was thankful that his boots seemed to be mostly waterproof. The bottom was pretty solid and the truck should have no problem crossing here. The bank on this side was a little steeper, but his mighty four by four would have no trouble making it back to the fence. He walked it, just to be sure, and found a route to the fence that would be within the truck’s capabilities.

He walked back to the truck and pulled his toolbox from behind the back seat. He extracted a large pair of linesman’s pliers and walked back to the loose spot on the fence. The four rusty strands of wire popped easily with the bite of the pliers. Joe walked back to the truck, threw the pliers into the seat next to him, and climbed into the driver’s seat. He fully twisted the knob on the dash that activated the transfer case, putting the truck into 4x4 low range. He dropped the truck into gear and easily drove across the ditch and slipped through the hole in the fence. He was almost gleeful at his genius. He would now have an uncrowded road to his in-laws’ where he could drive at a normal pace. With any luck, they would be there in a little over an hour.

As he approached the creek, wondering what the dolts in the two wheel drive vehicles sitting on the road and watching were thinking about his brilliant plan, he made sure he was lined up on the spot he had tested. Joe knew what the owners of the four wheel drive vehicles were thinking. They were watching to see if he made it. If so they would follow him. But he put that out of his mind. He was lined up on his spot.

“Everyone, hold on!” he commanded as he hit the throttle.

The truck lunged forward and the front tires plowed through the water with ease, sending a blinding spray up and across Joe’s windshield. When they hit the ledge of the bank on the other side, the front of the truck bounced up as if it were doing a wheelie. This surprised Joe, and coupled with the fact that he could not see, he lifted his nine and a half doublewide foot off of the gas pedal. He felt the front of the truck began to fall back toward the earth and he breathed a sigh of relief. It quickly turned into a moan of agony as he felt the back of the truck sink. He stabbed at the throttle, but it was too late. His forward momentum had stalled and the tires only spun, digging him deeper into the creek. He let off the gas and opened his door. Looking at the rear tire, he saw a gray goop covering the half that was not sunk. He stepped out, and his foot sunk into the goo.

It seemed solid when I walked over it, he thought. Joe looked back into the cab of the truck at Linda. She said nothing, but her eyes could have bored a hole through the walls of Ft. Knox. He shrugged his shoulders. He looked under the truck and his heart sunk almost as much as the rear axle was. The truck would not come out easily he knew. He looked back toward the road and saw all the vehicles making an orderly turnaround.

Well, he thought, I can stand here feeling sorry for myself and wondering what went wrong, or I can do something.

“Everyone, out!” he commanded. “Linda, you and Melissa go see if you can find some big branches to put under the tires.” He held his hands up in an eight inch circle to show them what he wanted. “Andy, help me get the jack and let’s see if we can get these tires up so that we can put the limbs under them.”

Linda and her daughter walked away from the road toward a clump of trees. When Linda was out of earshot of her husband, she began to complain about the situation they were in. “If we had just stayed home, we probably would have been alright,” she said to Melissa. “Now, we’re stuck, literally, in the middle of nowhere!” They looked around and finally found a couple of branches that looked like they might work. The two exasperated females dragged them back toward the truck.

Linda was surprised when she got back. Both Andy and Joe were covered almost head to toe in the mud. Joe looked at her sheepishly. “It seems solid on top, but once you break through the top layer, it’s just soup underneath. We can’t find a solid spot to put the jack. I don’t see any way to get it out.”

“So what do we do?”

“We walk,” he said.

“What do you mean, we walk?” Linda asked.

“We have backpacks, food, and camping stuff. We load as much stuff as we can into them and take off for your folk’s. It might take a few days, but we can get there.

“Joe, you must have lost your mind. The kids could probably do it, but my feet are bad and neither one of us is in any kind of shape to hike that far, with or without a heavy pack.”

Joe knew she was right. Thirty years of wearing ill-fitting, pointy-toed, and high-heeled shoes had left Linda’s feet where she barely mad it through the mall for half a day. He was carrying an extra twenty pounds around his waist. They would just have to try to get the truck out. He looked up toward the road and noticed that the line of the cars was gone. Only an occasional vehicle was turning around in front of the bridge. Maybe he could find someone who could pull them out.

Joe stuck his .45 into the back of his jeans and walked up to the road. Every once in a while, a car or pick-up would come up to the bridge and turn around. Joe knew they needed a really big four by four to have a chance at pulling his truck out. Finally, an older Jeep came up the road. It was lifted and had huge tires on it. As it slowed in front of the barricaded bridge, Joe could see that it held four men. Joe would have been more comfortable if it had held a family, but he was desperate. He checked to make sure his pistol was in place and hidden, then he stood up and waved at the Jeep. As it slowed, Joe could see that it was loaded with farm boys. He had always heard how helpful country folks were. He hoped the reports were right.

“Hey man, watcha doin’ out here?” the man in the front passenger’s seat ask.

“My family and I got stuck trying to cross the creek in our truck down there,” Joe said as he pointed. “I was hoping that you would see if you could pull me out.”

The four young men looked at the floundered truck, then at each other and smiled. The driver looked back at Joe and flashed a big set of white teeth. “Sure, Mister, we’ll help you.”

“Oh, thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this.” Joe relaxed a little. His only knowledge of country folk came from movies and books. Some of them depicted them all as toothless, mean, uneducated rednecks. He was glad that they weren’t right. “There’s a hole in the fence over here. Just follow me.”

Joe began to walk toward the opening he had cut in the fence. He heard the gears grind in the old CJ’s transmission and a few mumbled curses from the driver. He turned to look and saw that the Jeep was now lurching backward. Joe wondered what was wrong with the vehicle. Probably something wrong with the reverse gear, he figured. The Jeep stopped and then pulled forward a little more smoothly and followed Joe through the fence.

Linda saw Joe and the Jeep behind him. Thank goodness, she thought. As they got closer, she got a little nervous about the truckload of young men.

“Andy, grab your sister and take her over there away from the truck.”

“Why, Mom?”

“Because I said so.”

Andy sighed, picked up his rifle and walked over to his sister.

“I’m going to go stand by your dad,” Linda told the teenagers as they walked away.

“You couldn’t you find anyone to help but a bunch of rednecks?” she asked in a whisper.

Joe glared at her in his best ‘shut-up’ look. “You’re overreacting.”

The Jeep pulled up behind the truck. The front passenger jumped out and looked under the truck.

“Damn, Mister, you sure did get stuck. You sure are lucky that we came along.”

By that time all four of the men were out of the Jeep and surveying the situation.

“Yeah, you sure are lucky,” one of the men from the back seat said. “You sure got a lot of stuff in there. Where were you goin’?”

“We are on the way to visit some family,” Joe said. Suddenly, he didn’t like the look in the man’s eyes and his use of the past tense.

The other back seater was looking in Andy and Melissa’s direction. “You coulda been here along time if we hadn’t come along,” he said. “And with your family and all. Lots of wolves in these parts.” The man’s smile suddenly looked sinister to Joe and he wondered if he had made a mistake.

“Enough talking!” the driver barked. “You three get the stuff we need to do this out of the back of the Jeep.”

The three men walked to the back of the off-road vehicle as Joe and Linda watched them suspiciously.

The driver turned back to Joe. “I think what we need to do is hook a chain onto your trailer hitch. I’ll turn the Jeep around and we’ll see if we can pull her out this way. I don’t want to take the chance of crossing the creek and both of us getting stuck.”

Joe relaxed again. The guys were really going to help them. He began to thank the man again when he noticed that the man was backing away from him. Joe thought it strange and looked at the man’s three accomplices just in time to see an AK-47 with an under folding stock come out of the small space behind the back seat of the Jeep. Joe tried to scream at Linda, but the words stuck in his throat. He reached under his shirt for his pistol and noticed that the driver was doing the same. Joe’s right hand came up with the pistol and he swung it toward the driver since he was the nearest threat.

Joe grabbed Linda and started to pull her back with his free hand just as he heard the first bullet from the AK zing by his head. He fired his weapon, but didn’t think that he had hit his target. The sound of vociferous gunfire thundered into one long deafening boom. Bullets were screaming past Joe as he desperately and vainly tried to squeeze the trigger on his expensive pistol as the sights were lined up on the driver’s center of mass at the same time he was pulling his wife and his self back toward the kids.

Linda tripped and fell back onto Joe as he heard a sickening smack. The two of them ended up in a pile on the ground. Joe pulled his legs out from under his wife, got to his knees, and reached out to help her up. He was still trying to shoot the driver. His sights settled and held on the target now that he was momentarily stationary. The trigger broke and he saw the driver double over. He pulled on Linda but she was not trying to get up. He looked down and saw that part of her head was gone. If the adrenaline had not been pumping through his veins, he probably would have retched. He struggled to his feet and turned his attention toward the other three scumbags. He could see that the rifles they were holding were all the same. They held them in front of them and wildly sprayed bullets in his direction. He had to keep moving and get to the kids.

Andy saw his father stand and continue on without his mother. How could he? If he wouldn’t save her, Andy would. He stood and continued to fire his rifle as he moved forward.

The slide on Joe’s .45 locked back after he fired the last round in the gun. Joe realized that he didn’t have a spare magazine. He would have mentally kicked himself, but he didn’t have time. He turned to run back to the kids. As he did, he saw Andy advancing on the three shooters.

“No, Andy!” he screamed as he reached out and grabbed his son by his shoulder. “She’s gone!”

Andy turned and looked at Joe. Joe could see that his son’s eyes burned with a look that Joe had never seen before. He briefly wondered if his children would ever be able to get over the sight of their mother being killed. Suddenly, the look in Andy’s eyes turned blank. He crumpled. Joe looked with disbelief at his son and saw his mouth barely moving.

“Go!” Andy barely croaked out as he used his last ounce of strength to push his rifle into his father’s hands.

Joe saw the wound and knew that Andy was dying. He gripped the rifle and fired and few quick shots back at the hell-spawn. He ran to Melissa. She didn’t have a gun and Joe didn’t know how many rounds the black rifle that Andy had given him had left.

“Run!” Joe implored his daughter who was looking back and forth from her mother to her brother and back.

“But, but, but…”

Joe grabbed her, twisted her into the direction he wanted her to go, and pushed her. She began to run and he did his best to keep up with her, turning and firing a shot behind him every few steps. They crossed the creek and continued to run. His mind raced. They had nothing. How would they survive? He realized that the firing behind him was slowing. At least we are alive, he thought. They could probably make it to Linda’s parents. It would be hard with no food, water, or shelter, but they could do it. How far had they run? It seemed like miles to Joe. He looked back and was amazed that they were only about a hundred yards from the truck. Two of the men had quit firing and were bending over their leader. At least one of them paid, Joe thought. He turned back toward his daughter and saw that she was fifteen or twenty yards in front of him. He didn’t know how much further he could run. His breath was short and his side hurt. He tried to call Melissa, but he didn’t have enough wind to clearly verbalize her name.

Suddenly the pain in his side traveled to his chest and intensified exponentially. He grabbed at his heart and fell on his back. He couldn’t catch his breath and it felt like an elephant was sitting on his chest. All he could see was the clear blue sky and the blazing sun. Not a cloud could be seen. Suddenly, Melissa appeared over him. Her eyes were bloodshot and her face looked as if she were old. She kneeled over him, sobbing. Joe tried to tell her to leave him, but either she couldn’t hear him or he couldn’t get the words out. She continued to hug him and he could feel the convulsion of her body against his.

Finally, she must have heard him. He felt her take the rifle from his hands. He was happy that he had been able to get through to her, as he knew his time left was measured in minutes. He looked up and terror ripped through him as he saw that it was one of the gang bangers that had Andy’s rifle. He saw two dirty pairs of hands reach down and tear Melissa away from him. He had to save her, but he couldn’t move. The demon with the rifle looked down at him and smiled. As his vision narrowed to a thin tunnel of light, the last thing he heard was his daughter screaming.

Henry Bowman
December 22, 2005, 12:49 PM
Great. Just great. Now I have another work-in-progress novel to spend my time reading and waiting around for the next chapter. My wife is going to :rolleyes: again. I need this like I need...


Man, I've been waiting for this!!!!!!!:D Even a quickie like this one!

Biker
December 22, 2005, 01:00 PM
Wow. A helluva story. Thanks!
Biker

engineer151515
December 22, 2005, 02:18 PM
Great read. Thanks.

Joejojoba111
December 22, 2005, 03:12 PM
Man, surprise ending.

Werewolf
December 22, 2005, 03:39 PM
Call me a wimp if you will but quite frankly the ending sucked! :barf: Otherwise a pretty good story.

I hate it when the bad guys WIN! :fire:

We get enough of that in real life without having to be subjected to it in the fiction we read for entertainment. :cuss: It's OK to put the good guy down, even knock him out but to kill off his whole family... That's just wrong man! That's just wrong.

CAS700850
December 22, 2005, 04:40 PM
Man, here I've been reading, expecting this to be a nice lesson in being prepared, getting to the farm and seeing society fall apart. Now, we've got a series of disasters leading up to the deaths of everyone but the teenage girl.

BOOOOOOOO!

But, the writing was pretty good. :D

petrel800
December 22, 2005, 04:45 PM
More, more, more, . . .

Man you should do this for a living, I hate reading, but your stories grab me from the first sentence. I guess I'll have to go and re-read Lights Out.

Great short story.

Thanks for sharing with us.

riverdog
December 22, 2005, 04:46 PM
The family didn't stay prepared, took way too long to get mobilized and had to do way too much before they hit the road. Shopping for food, getting gas, looking for stuff instead of just loading the vehicles and hitting the road. When bugging out you need to be ahead of the wave or you get hurt. This seems to be a lesson in consequences.

jobu07
December 22, 2005, 05:18 PM
I think we all learned a lesson from this one. Have a reload! That or keep a trunk rifle so you've got more than 7 rounds on tap.

Will there be more, or is this the end of short story?

svtruth
December 22, 2005, 05:33 PM
sticky.

proud2deviate
December 22, 2005, 05:45 PM
Damnation, that was intense! Like one of those really bad dreams where everything, everything goes terribly, horribly, consistently wrong.

It also makes me realise how thoroughly screwed I'll be if the SHTF. . .

Too bad it had to end like that. Entirely believable, but too bad.The good guys don't always win outside of Hollywood :(

EDIT- Anybody else want to throttle the wife?

TMM
December 22, 2005, 05:53 PM
damn, bad ending, but not in a badly-written way, but a life-sucks-sometimes way. it really shows how one screw up can cost you your life, to bring extra ammunition, and to retreat from the enemy if you have a rifle, not foward.

so i guess Joe got shot in the chest and was running on adrenaline and what oxygen he had in his blood?i heard deer do that.

~TMM

GREAT story, though.

therealsteamer
December 22, 2005, 05:53 PM
good read. The ending was a heck of a letdown though!!!:eek: :eek:

Biker
December 22, 2005, 06:10 PM
damn, bad ending, but not in a badly-written way, but a life-sucks-sometimes way. it really shows how one screw up can cost you your life, to bring extra ammunition, and to retreat from the enemy if you have a rifle, not foward.

so i guess Joe got shot in the chest and was running on adrenaline and what oxygen he had in his blood?i heard deer do that.

~TMM

GREAT story, though.
It was my impression that he had a heart attack. I could be wrong...
Biker

SomeKid
December 22, 2005, 06:40 PM
Man, here I've been reading, expecting this to be a nice lesson in being prepared, getting to the farm and seeing society fall apart. Now, we've got a series of disasters leading up to the deaths of everyone but the teenage girl.


the last thing he heard was his daughter screaming.

Me thinks the daughter is either a victim of gang rape, and then murdered, or just killed.

mpthole
December 22, 2005, 07:00 PM
Yikes. Wasn't expecting that...

Headless Thompson Gunner
December 22, 2005, 07:46 PM
Whoa...

riverdog
December 22, 2005, 07:47 PM
It's a bit open ended. . . He might be dead in which case we know why it's a short story, or Joe could wake up and go get his daughter and stuff back.

I have a feeling it is the former. IIRC Halffast let's the characters personalities take over the writing and in this case you had a survivalist type who went through the motions but didn't check up on things. He had an apathetic wife who only humored his occassional survivalist traits and two teenagers who could have cared less. They didn't live because they weren't prepared to live.

BTW, have you noticed how many 4WD vehicles don't have a winch? 4WD gets you into trouble, a winch will get you out.

aaronrkelly
December 22, 2005, 11:44 PM
Great story.


If it cant get loaded in 15 minutes, it stays behind.....thats my plan. I might not have everything but I will have what is truly necessary.

colt.45
December 22, 2005, 11:48 PM
but i hate it when the bad guys win, and mabey andy should live and they end up smokin those rednecks. otherwise im waiting to see the rest.:)

itgoesboom
December 23, 2005, 01:48 AM
Wow. Pretty depressing.

I told my wife the basics of the story, and read her the end.

Makes me thankfull though that I am far enough away from major cities to not worry, and in the opposite direction of fallout as well.

I.G.B.

trickyasafox
December 23, 2005, 02:44 AM
moral of the story: dont live near a city.:p

10 Ring Tao
December 23, 2005, 04:05 AM
***?!?! Dammit, the hero isn't supposed to die half way through the story!

What would prompt you to take that turn at that point in the story?

Rexrider
December 23, 2005, 06:34 AM
***?!?! Dammit, the hero isn't supposed to die half way through the story!

Sometimes the hero dies. Besides, I don't think Joe was a hero. He was just some guy who could be any one of us, faced with an extreme situation and failed.

It was not a "bad" ending. It was a tragic ending.

The story really pointed out that all the stuff we talk about (9mm vs 45, AR vs AK, Glock vs 1911, how much ammo, gear, etc etc) is not worth squat if you are not prepared and/or make bad decisions.

It may not be been a popular ending, but it is a plausible ending.

P.S Thanks Halffast

CAS700850
December 23, 2005, 09:25 AM
I re-read the story last night, and two points struck me, outside of the general "ill prepared for the situation" theme of the entire work.

1. Commo gear. Two vehicles, yet no communications equipment between them. Bad move. Even a pair of FRS radios would have made a big difference. Could have co-ordinated the move of the two vehicles to the exit, which would have saved time, which may have gotten them to the bridge before the truck crash...

2. Bad decisions. Our hero seemed to be making a steady stream of bad decisions. What do I see as bad decisions.

- he didn't dress to survive. What do I mean? He put on clothes. Period. He needed to strap on the pistol, spare ammo, and some other basics so that he was prepared to address problems with what he had on his person, not having to rely on what was in the truck. Even at the gas station, he had to go to the truck for his Kimber. Good thing the guy with the tire iron wasn't really intending to do harm.

-he panicked under pressure. When the bridge was "closed," he panicked and made bad choices based upon his need to get to the farm. The long way around may have taken more gasoline, but it would have been safer that trying to forge a stream in an overloaded truck.

- he lost his common sense. The guys who ended up taking out the family were predators. They were predatros long before the first bomb went off. Our hero lost his judgment in his desire to get the truck freed, and it cost he and his family everything.

Thanks for making us think abut these things. Thinking ahead will help us make it through should it happenm for real.

chopinbloc
December 23, 2005, 09:29 AM
wow, good writing but...

bogie
December 23, 2005, 09:31 AM
I don't have a lot of time this morning, so I pretty much skimmed it...

Since I'm somewhat "out" of the metro area now, my major bugout plan is to "bug in." Just hunker down for a while.

DunedinDragon
December 23, 2005, 09:54 AM
Enjoyed your story. The only thing that seemed pretty improbable to me was the scope of the initial attack, which really set an unrealistic tone. Nuclear materials and bombs are just not that easy to come by in the real world not to mention going undetected while they were positioned in place and coordinated. Having an attack of that scope as the centerpiece requires too much "suspension of belief" by common everyday citizens that might read this.

bogie
December 23, 2005, 10:02 AM
I'd differ here...

Dispersal of a few hundred or thousand pounds of radioactive waste (not the stuff that's safe behind plexi - the more hardcore stuff...) so the wind can catch it could render a large area dangerous to inhabit... And while it's in the air, it's breathable... These guys didn't need to build/buy a cruise missile - they stole it. They don't need to build/buy an atomic bomb - they can just make fallout.

DunedinDragon
December 23, 2005, 10:14 AM
I'd differ here...

Dispersal of a few hundred or thousand pounds of radioactive waste (not the stuff that's safe behind plexi - the more hardcore stuff...) so the wind can catch it could render a large area dangerous to inhabit... And while it's in the air, it's breathable... These guys didn't need to build/buy a cruise missile - they stole it. They don't need to build/buy an atomic bomb - they can just make fallout.

That would be true if it were limited to dirty bombs, but there is a specific mention of a mushroom cloud which suggests something entirely different.

Again, even with a backpack bomb and "dirty" nuclear material, you're dealing with a number of realities. That material is tracked, getting a sufficient amount of it for numerous attacks, as well as transporting it safely (without killing you before you get to your target) and undetected are pretty daunting tasks. Even if you did, a blast of that type of material in order to have an effect over an appreciable area would have to rise to the altitude of low level winds...somewhere typically in the range of 3,000 - 5,000 feet...that's one HECKUVA blast!!!!

It's the science behind what would be required here that makes it lose credibility. I'm not saying it's a bad story, but it would be better if the attack were more scientifically probable.

bogie
December 23, 2005, 10:26 AM
Hey, enough of it is missing to be interesting. Plus, the Russians had a buncha small nukes. And with Iran developing 'em, hey... Yeah, it'd be rough smuggling it, but stick a lead box in the middle of a cargo container full of something messy, and you're there...

jason10mm
December 23, 2005, 10:28 AM
Damn good story, particularly how it deals with almost every aspect of bugging out aside from medical supplies and a couple of other things. I liked how they had to sweat paying for everything and how everyone raided their BOBs over time (who hasn't done that??).

Heh heh, what I'd like to see now is the same situation with a more successful protagonist!

DunedinDragon
December 23, 2005, 10:42 AM
Hey, enough of it is missing to be interesting. Plus, the Russians had a buncha small nukes. And with Iran developing 'em, hey... Yeah, it'd be rough smuggling it, but stick a lead box in the middle of a cargo container full of something messy, and you're there...

That's quite an operation to pull all of that together. Considerably more complex than the 9/11 attack. A lead box thick enough to contain radioactive leakage would require a pretty significant blast to blow it apart. We're talking 2 - 3 inch thick walls.

I just think that the storyline, in particular, the ending is pretty believable and not "hollywood." It would be better if the originating scenario was just as plausible.

middy
December 23, 2005, 11:08 AM
Another eminently readable story from Halffast. Good job.

I'm a fan or noir film and fiction, so I loved the ending. :p

Nickotym
December 23, 2005, 12:52 PM
We are in more of a BUG-IN situation, but I do need to get more ammo and gas on hand. We always keep lots of food on hand. Should also get more kerosene for the campstove.

TThanks for giving us a wake-up call.

bogie
December 23, 2005, 01:05 PM
A lead box thick enough to contain radioactive leakage would require a pretty significant blast to blow it apart. We're talking 2 - 3 inch thick walls.


Unlike the movies, one cannot outrun a blast wave, and jumping down a manhole or turning a corner or slamming a door ain't gonna cut it.

You take a suitcase nuke, put it inside enough lead shielding, and it can go anywhere. And that lead shielding ain't gonna matter when it goes off.

Brat7748
December 23, 2005, 03:25 PM
Since Joe was planning of bugging out to his in-laws he should have stored 95% of his “stuff” with them. No need to go shopping at the last possible second and waste valuable time.

Joe should have had a plan to check everyone’s BOB every six months, so they were ready to grab and go. He also should have had the 6 5 gallon can of gas already stored in his garage (and rotated every six moths at the same time the BOB’s were checked.

3:00AM read note on internet. 3:01AM wake up wife and argue to 3:05AM.
3:06AM wake up kids and argue with them to 3:10AM.
3:30AM have BOB’s, spare gas, guns and ammo in one vehicle and be on the road
6:00AM arrive at in-laws.(150 miles in 2.5 hours at an average of 60MPH).

Knowing alternate routes to in-laws and having all family members at least farmilar with firearms and good idea too.

Horsesense
December 23, 2005, 04:30 PM
Good story.

Being a country boy, I want to take this opportunity to pass along a rule of thumb. If a farmer is farming on both sides of a creek, he will have built a place (bridge or ford) for getting his equipment across.

Bugging out means just that! He could have had everyone stay at home and in thirty minuets had everything loaded in the vehicle with the most gas. If he just had to go to Wal-Mart, it should have been as a family/team. Did you all notice the time wasted on both sides (at home and Wal-Mart) because of lack of manpower?

Its kind of ironic, he was trying to catch up with what should have been done yesterday and neglected the thing that needed done in the hear and now. It would have been better to be the brother who bugged out at the drop of a hat, and had never prepared.

I guess that the moral of the story is if you find yourself behind the curve, consolidate the family and evacuate the city…. You can do the squirrel thing after you get the family to safety.

hso
December 23, 2005, 04:42 PM
If you want BS happy endings where the undeserving live happily ever after then besot yourself with Disney.

What we have instead is a parable for today hitting on every failure to be prepared.

Nicely done.

strambo
December 23, 2005, 04:50 PM
Good story. Only thing I found improbable was the timeline for everyone else. Most folks are sleeping until after 5. So, a news story about a dirty bomb plot in Boston hitting the air at around 0400 wouldn't have much affect. I don't think our hero would have had big traffic troubles when he hit the road.

This doesn't change the message of the story though, I think it would be better set in the afternoon though, or a little bit later. I like the comments about "dressing to survive." A holster and spares would have been a very good thing to have.

NMshooter
December 23, 2005, 04:54 PM
Bumping this one back to the top.

It is short and to the point, I like it.

Oleg Volk
December 23, 2005, 05:24 PM
One aspect of bugging out is even realizing (before most others) that the situation is bad. In general, road hazards would exceed most hazards from terrorist action, IMO.

Lee F
December 23, 2005, 06:42 PM
How many of us know someone, through the internet only, that we trust enough to bug out based on one of their posts? Sorry I frequent this and another dozen boards on a weekly basis and don't know anyone who is credible enough to make me bug out.

itgoesboom
December 23, 2005, 07:11 PM
How many of us know someone, through the internet only, that we trust enough to bug out based on one of their posts? Sorry I frequent this and another dozen boards on a weekly basis and don't know anyone who is credible enough to make me bug out.


There are a few here that I would trust. There are 1 or 2 over at Glocktalk that I would trust. There are a few at FrugalSquirrels that I would trust as well, and a few others that if they said something was up, I would listen and atleast raise my alert level.

I.G.B.

lawson
December 23, 2005, 07:36 PM
if you can't get out of town before the roads are closed, does anyone have a viable strategy for leaving on foot?

or do you think that if it reaches that point, staying put would be a better option?

it's a good story and makes some good points about preparedness.

Ryder
December 23, 2005, 08:42 PM
Arguing? Waiting? Batteries??? Getting stuck? Hahaha, it's a plausible comedy! I can see this circus happening to someone. Maybe lots of someones :D

Did they even bother to take wind direction into account? They probably drove right into the fallout. That would have made a better "tragic ending" IMO. I believe they deserved to come out better in the gun battle since they did try to help themselves.

jamz
December 23, 2005, 08:56 PM
A comedy, I see. ;)


Nice read.

-James

P5 Guy
December 23, 2005, 10:59 PM
The only way out of the city I live in is over a bridge. And me with Centeral Command just across the Tampa Bay?!?!?!?

itgoesboom
December 23, 2005, 11:28 PM
if you can't get out of town before the roads are closed, does anyone have a viable strategy for leaving on foot?

or do you think that if it reaches that point, staying put would be a better option?

it's a good story and makes some good points about preparedness.


That depends. If a nuke is going to blow up 3 blocks from where you live, you better get out of town no matter what.

If you live 20 or more miles away from a place that might get nuked, and you know that the wind goes the other direction, than you will be okay to stay put, most likely.

It's situation dependant, also really depends on where you live, where the nearest threats would be, and how you have prepared.

I don't consider a nuke likely in the town of 2,700 where I live. ;) So I will bug in.

I.G.B.

The Freeholder
December 23, 2005, 11:30 PM
It scares me how much Joe's family sounds like mine. My wife is Joe's wife's sister, my daughter goes to schools with Joe's daughter and my son is too young to be much help. At least both can shoot.

Add to that my bad back, and 82 YO Dad and an 83 YO invalid Mom, and even making the attempt is probably out of the question.

Maybe I can take a few with me. :mad:

bruss01
December 24, 2005, 12:34 PM
Great story, HalfFast.

Because of the ending, the greeks would class this as a "tragedy" (sad ending) rather than a "comedy" (happy ending). Modern society in general is geared to accept happy endings, even in horror films nowdays, most of the time the central character survives and triumphs over the evil whatever. So a true tragedy like this catches us somewhat off guard.

However, we have to remember that the greeks considered the tragedy to be a useful art form. The plays and myths were not just entertainment, but also vehicles for the values and principles of the society carried in the form of an object lesson.

The object lesson in this case is that preparedness, done half-heartedly and with little planning, is little better than not preparing at all. Partly because it can lull us into a false sense of security, believing we are prepared when we are not.

I found the story not only gripping and readable, but I saw myself and my wife in nearly every one of the mistakes that they made. As a result of reading this story, I am launching an initiative to get my preps where they can be found and loaded to go on a moment's notice. The wife and I are discussing plausible bug-out scenarios, and plotting destinations and routes to avoid congestion, roadblocks etc. We've realized we'll need tire chains for her van and my truck, for instance, since a winter bug-out across the sierras will necessitate them. I need a winch for my 4x4. We will re-stock the bug-out kits that we have raided for camping gear and other necessities (tampons, blankets, etc).

Wow. I didn't realize how much I had that needed doing. Now I know how to invest the time off I have coming over the holidays. Thanks again, HalfFast.

Balog
December 24, 2005, 03:17 PM
Wow, great story. Really spoke to me; I know people kinda like that. For all Joe's mistakes tho, I think marrying that harpy was his worst. Seriously, I abhor domestic violence and I wanted to slap her!

Lots of excellent points, esp about how the little things can matter so much. Having a place to go, alternate routes, extra gas, pre-positioning etc etc. Eye opening.

For those who enjoyed this story, I'd recommend James Wesley, Rawles novel Patriots. IIRC you can get 'em from Fred's M14 Stocks cheaply, esp if you get a package deal w/ Boston's Gun Bible or EFAD.

LoneStranger
December 24, 2005, 08:06 PM
The First Rule for a Survivalist is still "Be where the action isn't".

Reading this I was reminded of a short story by R.A. Heinlein. No, I don't know the title and the books are packed up and in storage. Concerns a bar in Manhattan that was frequented by College Professor types which happened to have a "Paddy" from the old country as the bartender.

Brainy types told the "Paddy" about how easy it was to build a nuclear weapon. "Paddy" told how he had left the old country one step ahead of the Black and Tans and he had done it at the drop of a hat.

Brainy types convinced "Paddy" that they were really serious. "Paddy" put down his bar towel and walked out the door. His belief being that when it's time to leave it's time to leave.

Down the road aways "Paddy" starts to have second thoughts about his action and he stops to call back to the bar. Call doesn't go through and then "Paddy" notices large mushroom cloud over the Manhattan area.

BOB bags and advanced planning are all well and good but if you are not capable of maintaining the Mental Attitude necessary, numerous reasons, some good, some bad, contribute, you must at least understand when to go to where the action isn't.

Joe's problem was that he wasn't willing to recognize that the fan had already been hit and his best option was to get out of the way. Even if you don't leave with all the neat stuff from a woulda, coulda, shoulda scenario, only if you are alive can you recover. Once you are permanently dead you have no options.

Joe's actions were based on his belief that he had plenty of time and that at that late time in the game he could play play woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Darwin is unbelieveably cruel and firm in determining results.

depicts
December 25, 2005, 12:11 PM
It's Christmas morning and this story gripped me in spite of presents, grandchildren and my new puppy.

Great impact. Lots of lessons. Coulda, woulda, shoulda type of stuff.

And they might have made it. And it could happen.

Thanks for an electrifying read.

SomeKid
December 25, 2005, 01:59 PM
That would be true if it were limited to dirty bombs, but there is a specific mention of a mushroom cloud which suggests something entirely different.

Again, even with a backpack bomb and "dirty" nuclear material, you're dealing with a number of realities. That material is tracked, getting a sufficient amount of it for numerous attacks, as well as transporting it safely (without killing you before you get to your target) and undetected are pretty daunting tasks. Even if you did, a blast of that type of material in order to have an effect over an appreciable area would have to rise to the altitude of low level winds...somewhere typically in the range of 3,000 - 5,000 feet...that's one HECKUVA blast!!!!

It's the science behind what would be required here that makes it lose credibility. I'm not saying it's a bad story, but it would be better if the attack were more scientifically probable.


Only 3-5k feet? It took me 5 seconds to think this one up, and it would work.

Take plain trip. Have bomb in luggage (not carry on), which is not checked. It explodes, news covers plain crash. Nobody realizes what really happened, and everyone in the city gets a good heavy dose because the plain crash took all the attention.

Feeling safe? You shouldn't be.

hso
December 25, 2005, 02:14 PM
The object lesson in this case is that preparedness, done half-heartedly and with little planning, is little better than not preparing at all. Partly because it can lull us into a false sense of security, believing we are prepared when we are not.

Exactly! Internet survivalist won't be the ones to survive. It's practice that allows you to survive because it shows you what does and doesn't work.

Hemicuda
December 25, 2005, 02:48 PM
2 points form my $.02...

#1, ANY large heat based reaction can cause a "mushroom" cloud... they are not the sole property of a nuclear reaction... if you have the means, build a small wood fire, add a half gallon of gasoline, give the gas a few mins. to soak into the wood, and video tape the thing as you light it. (do so remotely in some manner)... then play the tape back in slow motion, and what you'll see is a small "mushroom" cloud form for an instant...

#2, As any of you hard core (or even moderate off roaders) know, when fording a water hazard, you test the banks, the base under the water, AND all immediate outlying areas with a SHARP stick, reason being that a sharp stick wil exert more PSI of pressure, and tell you if you are dealing with a solid base or a crust over mud... and simply walking the area won't, since the contact area of a boot, with an average human in it is FAR larger, and FAR lighter in PSI than a loaded truck...

Also, as an accomplished off roader, I (and most others) also know that once "in it" and hard on the throttle, letting off is usually the exact wrong thing to do... if your original answer is to "throttle up", then it's usually best to keep it revved until you are outta the goo...

MachIVshooter
December 25, 2005, 03:55 PM
, As any of you hard core (or even moderate off roaders) know, when fording a water hazard, you test the banks, the base under the water, AND all immediate outlying areas with a SHARP stick, reason being that a sharp stick wil exert more PSI of pressure, and tell you if you are dealing with a solid base or a crust over mud... and simply walking the area won't, since the contact area of a boot, with an average human in it is FAR larger, and FAR lighter in PSI than a loaded truck...

Also, as an accomplished off roader, I (and most others) also know that once "in it" and hard on the throttle, letting off is usually the exact wrong thing to do... if your original answer is to "throttle up", then it's usually best to keep it revved until you are outta the goo...

I'll also add that nearly all of the available 4x4's are far from being as capable as many folks think. To get through the truly nasty stuff, you pretty much need a dedicated vehicle that is built to take abuse and equipped with overbuilt or redundent systems. You also carry spare parts.

Locking diff's, large tires and chains are a must, as are a winch and chain. A regular pickup or SUV is somewhat better than a passenger car, but is also more likely to get someone into a bad situation by being over-confident in basic four wheel drive. Four wheel drive does not necessarily mean off road capable.

If you feel the need for a SHTF 4x4, the KISS principle is best. I can't think of a much better platform than a 1970's 3/4 or 1-ton pickup. They are built heavy and simple, making part failures less common and improvised repairs much easier. My own is a 1980 Power wagon atop 4" lift and 35's with both axles spooled. Drives like crap on dry pavement, but throw chains on all 4 and it takes better than 4 feet of heavy snow to be a problem. I also run 2 alternators and a group D-4 commercial battery (about 90 pounds), with a spare battery in the back. It has a 57 gallon fuel capacity and I keep spare axles, U-joints and ignition parts in the toolbox, along with necessary tools and fluids. And as backwoods as it sounds, there are umpteen uses for duct tape and bailing wire in an emergency.

That said, I live in a very rural area away from the city and, in the event of a catastrophy, would likely stay put where I have most everything I need.

Hemicuda
December 25, 2005, 04:44 PM
I also live in the middle of nowhere...

that said, my bug-out vehicle is actually 2...

#1, a 2001 Dodge Ram quad-cab 4X4 off road model (factory limited slip at both ends, and 4.10 gears,) with 4" lift, 35" tires, and a cradle mounted winch, with 2" recievers at both ends, and dual batteries...

attached to that with a tow-bar would be old trusty, an '83 Jeep CJ-7 on 31" tires, locked at the ends, and set up to use the same winch as it's big brother... and BOTH vehicles are set up to carry 2 fullsize spares (though i usually carry only one) and it only takes about 30 seconds to add and secure the second one. (which i keep handy and aired up)

between the 2, i can carry 85 gallons of fuel, (each has a pair of jerry-can mounts) plus whatever i can add in the bed of the pickup in 5 gallon cans.

as far as totally dedicated off-roaders, neither truck is, but both are WELL proven at off-road running here in Michigan... there is VERY little that stops either truck...

But as with the other stuff, as MachIVshooter said, you need your vehicle correctly prepared for the situation... and needs to have the correct related gear ALREADY in it, or stored nearby to be added to it QUICKLY... snatch straps, tire and tow chains, clevises, blocks, some form of earth-anchor (a buried spare tire can work in a pinch) spare standard parts (lockout "fuses", u-joints, tire repair kit, electrical fuses, duct and electrical tape,) renewable air supply, gloves, tools, spare tires, chemicals like oil, tranny fluid, water, anti-freeze, grease, a shovel, binoculars, a blanket or 2, communication devices (CB, FRS radio, AND cellphone) fire-making equipment, ratchet straps and rope (how else are you gonna tie stuff onto/into the thing?) spare lighting, jumper cables, - you CAN recharge a 1.5 volt battery (think AA, C, or D cell) with jumper cables and a good 12 volt battery, just be quick, or they'll explode, and they won't take a full charge, but will run a light or radio for a WHILE...

this stuff isn't just for "bug out"... it's the same stuff you would take if going on a few hour off-road trip. (these sometimes turn into a day or 2 affair, if you break something in the middle of nowhere)

In short, bugging out while improperly prepared can be as bad or worse than not bugging out at all...

444
December 25, 2005, 10:36 PM
"moral of the story: dont live near a city"

Right
Oh............wait, the whole family got murdered way out of town on a farm.


"I'll just bug in".
Say hello to your new neighbors: those people that bugged out. But they wouldn't dare come on YOUR property. :rolleyes:

Farnham
December 26, 2005, 01:30 AM
Great story! You can tell it's a great story if you're genuinely pissed off when everybody gets smoked.

All of y'all that hate that harridan of a wife, do you not think that your Mrs. is going to be even more opposed than her to going to Wal-Mart in the wee hours of the morning to get sardines and gas cans? My wife's liable to slug me if I suggest something like that, and she's fairly supportive of my survivalist tendencies.

Speaking of BOV's, anyone know where I can find a '70-'72 Chevy 3/4 ton 4WD in South Texas? ;)

S/F

Farnham

Sam Adams
December 26, 2005, 05:03 PM
Good story - shows a guy like many here on THR who wants to be prepared, and even went through the motions at one time...but life interfered and parts of the plan fell apart (BOBs not replenished, no training, no spare food & batteries, no extra gas cans, etc.). Lots of lessons there for all of us.

I don't think that the way he found out about the situation is very plausible, but somehow or other the whole country will become aware of something similar if and when it happens. For the vast majority it will be the TV or radio, for others the phone call in the middle of the night from a relative who has a friend of a friend who's in the know. Whatever, that isn't really critical to the story.

I've always had a bit of the survivalist mentality, but never really acted on it (except for the gun stuff) since I've always lived in or near big cities. I've got to do several things:

1) Decide what kinds of threats are the most probable, and then decide whether to bug in or bug out based on the nature of those threats;

2) Prepare a list of items needed to survive a bug in or bug out, and to gradually acquire them (as in 6-12 months);

3) Practice for a scenario - i.e. if a bug out, see how fast you can find the list of stuff you need and then load the car/van/SUV with it;

4) Have a regular schedule to make certain that all items needed for survival are packed or easily accessible - AND FRESH. The latter applies to food, gas and batteries.

5) Make sure all weapons have at least 50 rounds (pistols) or 100 rounds (rifles) in magazines and/or speedloaders that are with the guns. My own personal preference is to have several times that much in reserve, but the amounts mentioned should be sufficient for immediate needs.

6) If bugging out, have a definite place in mind - there's generally little use in just driving away from your home if there's no place to go have maps in all vehicles with alternative routes. If you're really serious, check out the country road portions of the routes to make sure that the routes are still viable ones. Know where there are gas stations more than 20 miles away from home, preferably off the main roads. If it is with family, or in a secure place that you own in the "boonies," then store a lot of your supplies there.

7) Whether bugging in or out, having good friends and reliable family as partners will be of immense, perhaps critical, help. These plans must be practical and realistic. I'd love to have my Long Island uncle as part of my group, but he's 2,000 miles away.

I'm sure that there are at least 10 things that I missed here, but the point is that this story - with its realism (even the tragic ending) - is a wake-up call.

Templar223
December 28, 2005, 02:00 AM
Great story. Depressing ending. Probably typifies many "survival"-minded folks.

How many threads have we seen here or at Frugal Squirrels about how the spouse is a sheeple, kids are rowdy, etc?

The story read like a Hollywood movie - like Panic Room, for instance. Well thought out plans made in advance go to hell because the main character lacks a critical ingredient. It might be as simple as a gun or something else. How long would have Panic Room lasted if Jody Foster had one of those $200 S&W Model 10s that J&G Sales is currently selling (or one of those $120 S&W 65's someone was selling in the late 90s)? Five minutes and a puddle or two of urine on the floor from BGs?

I recall a story of a guy at Alpha Rubicon who was "Too fat to run."

Google found it for me:
http://www.alpharubicon.com/survpage/toofat.htm

Here's a guy with good plans, some supplies, etc. but he's overweight (is this YOU?) and grossly out of shape (hmmm?). He wrote that he was in Hurricane Hugo and found himself exhausted carrying his bug out bag across his front yard. He was lucky that things turned out okay for him.

It's one thing to be a keyboard survivalist / rambo. It's quite another to be able to grab a pack or two, load them and the spouse / kids in the car and get out of dodge in five minutes with confidence knowing your basic supplies are along for the ride.

Everyone makes their own choices.

So you think you're ready.

Are you really, or is it just wishful thinking?

John

mbt2001
December 28, 2005, 01:33 PM
When hurricane Rita looked like it was going to hit Houston, I was planning to get out of the city. I went on Monday and got some supplies and other things. For the most part I had everything ready. On Tuesday I put up the plywood and on Wednesday I was planning to leave. Since my wife had to work and we had a full 3 days before the hurricane it not only was logical, we didn't have a whole lot of choice.

Well, Wednesday came and the evacuation of Galveston and the costal areas and areas close to the coast began in earnest and millions of people (est. 3 million) came through my area and sucked up all the gas and supplies and created huge traffic jams that lasted until Friday. At that point there was no way out, so we stayed and fortified our position. We were North, so it was safer to do.

Sometimes, using the time you have to fortify your position is the thing to do. When Joe found that things were taking more time than he really had, he should have fortified his own position, securing windows and doors with plastic and rooms as well to protect from chemical and radiological blasts. With all those things considered, he could have kept his truck loaded, packed and fueled up with the spare cans too and then waited. All he needed was wait for is the traffic to die down a little.

Here was a guy bugging out, that had no conception of what it meant to bug out....

CheriG22
January 10, 2006, 09:55 PM
I read the Halffast novel called 'Lights Out'. Great read, and you should read ,too. There are other novels in progress on the Backwoods forum.

I am learning all the time, and these free posts help. I think that you have to understand that the message will be received differently by those who read them. But the basic premise here, is the fact that we may not be as ready as we think. Read the stories, take in the info, and adjust as necessary.

I feel that if the bad endings are upsetting, then maybe you need to read it again. It points out what went wrong. What you should double check. What you may have forgotten.

If you cannot get the message, then maybe you do not see the danger. It really is up to each one of us to decide how far we are willing to go to survive if - and this is an if, for those who may not want to think that this will ever happen- to make sure our family can go on after SHTF.

Cheri

Balog
January 11, 2006, 10:40 PM
Welcome to THR CheriG22! Always good to have a new member.

So, how did you find out about our little club?:)

Syphonius
January 16, 2006, 05:02 PM
Reading this I was reminded of a short story by R.A. Heinlein.

First, Google is your friend. :) I managed to find that Heinlein story:

___. "On the Slopes of Vesuvius." In Expanded Universe: The New Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein. New York: Ace, 1981.
A physicist in a New York bar gives a Heinleinian lecture on the danger of nuclear attack. The bartender, panicked, flees; sure enough, New York is bombed. A barely disguised editorial, dated 1947 by Heinlein, but not previously published.

Second, this short story made me sign up on these forums. Good stuff.

bamawrx
January 17, 2006, 01:30 AM
Very Very good. I would have liked the daughter to finish off the bad guys because the father made her learn how to shoot. Otherwise I couldn't stop reading!

bama

BedPimp
January 17, 2006, 02:55 AM
High on my list are a few cases of PBR and a couple cartons of cigarettes. You never know when you're going to need a favor from someone, and being able to offer a beer or a smoke can go a long way, especially in tense situations.


Tactical advantage goes to the guy who's hands aren't occupied with booze and tobacco. :-)

History Nut
January 17, 2006, 07:34 PM
It hooked me right from the beginning. It was so "everyman" in all the details of Joe's mistakes. There were a lot of hints too. Like his realizing that a lot of his camping gear had never been taken out of the box. Everything like that should at least be tested as a warrenty isn't worth anything in the middle of a disaster. Another reason for 'testing' is to get everyone used to using the items.

Everyone here has made some great comments too. I have learned a lot and realized my own failings in preparedness. I live in a rural town and would plan on staying home but have realized how poorly organized I am to access my equipment. I would be expending valuable time and energy just digging stuff out to use it. "Spring cleaning" and reorganization will be coming early this year!

Others have mentioned it but I will add my reinforcement. Joe's main mistake that affected everything that happened later was trying to make up for poor preparation by last-minute purchases. I remember an old saying that goes something like: 'A poor plan implemented immediately and with vigor is far better than a better plan started too late'. He should have grabbed what food and clothes he had on hand and left right away. Part of that mistake involved his 'gun collection'. He should have never tried to take everything. Grab a long arm and sidearm for each family member plus a .22LR rifle and 12 gauge shotgun as spares/hunting arms and all the ammo for them and leave the rest. He had been given a gift of time by waking up and reading the email. He squandered it by trying to make up for poor preparation. If he had just grabbed and gone, he would have been on the road long before the main tidal wave of people hit the road. He could have filled his vehicles and the two cans he had the same place only without lines/delay. That would have let them use the main highways while they were still clear and he would have been at the relatives 'farm' long before the crowd. Once there, he could have 'gone shopping' as the rural area would not have been moving or stocking up as quickly. Most folks would have still been glued to their TVs/radios instead of heading to the market.

The main point being, he squandered his most valuable resource of TIME while concentrating on things that could be obtained later or lived without. This was a great read and good 'wake up call'. Thanks

atek3
January 26, 2006, 01:13 AM
when will "lights out" come out in print?

gunsmith
January 26, 2006, 05:29 AM
I called some friends in NYC and told them to go buy water and food now, some asked me why!
Then I went and did the same, the streets were quiet- evrybody was watchin TV, the next day same...there was a bum on the side walk really agitated, yelling about "how it's all in NY any way" he tried to corner me he was bugging out as he was used to the regular SF north beach crowds to keep him in cigs and cheap wine & spare change. "you got any change man" he asked me, it was way more of a demand. I said no and tried to dodge him & he blocked my path (he was twice my size, a tall black ex con used to intimidating san francisco chumps) "man gimme a ciggerette" ....I lost my patience, I'm a native New Yorker and had been watching my friends die ...I used to be a NY bike messenger and saw a biker struggle with his bike out of the dust. I Had been in the towers working many times myself.... I yelled get the (expletive deleted) out of my way now! he was kinda surprised and tried to glare at me to somehow intimidate me...I grabbed the handle of my revolver in my pocket..."Or what" he said ...I said "or die" looking him square in the eye....he sat down and mumbled "man, I would just kill for a ciggerette"...I went and got more water and batteries, the stores were still empty of people , plenty of supplies..I got a call from my boss, they had a delivery to Calistoga . when I got off my motocycle and had lunch, nobody in the expensive anti starbucks coffe shop was talking about the attack, or even concerned . Calistoga could care less. I had my coffee, read the newspaper and tried not get angry at a bunch of brain dead uber liberals.

EVIL5LITER
January 26, 2006, 05:19 PM
Excellent, excellent read. I've been meaning to read "Lights Out" for some time, I believe I will now!

Peet
January 26, 2006, 08:21 PM
Because of the ending, the greeks would class this as a "tragedy" (sad ending) rather than a "comedy" (happy ending). What are they teaching in the skools nowadays?

Comedy: Protagonist is confronted with a "conflict" of some sort. Resolves the "conflict" successfully.

Tragedy: Protagonist is confronted with a "conflict" of some sort. Does not resolve the "conflict" successfully.

This is clearly a tragedy because the protagonist was faced with a conflict and (despite the failings of others and bad luck) failed to deal with the conflict himself.

Pe (didactic) et

Arc-Lite
January 26, 2006, 09:05 PM
hmmmm...reality with teeth...and many good lessons.

creitzel
January 27, 2006, 03:10 AM
Excellent story

If you are not already writing professionally, you should be :)

gunsmith
January 27, 2006, 09:59 AM
MZB I like that term, but the book ends abruptly..is there more?

Herself
January 27, 2006, 10:08 AM
...I highly recommend adding a copy of Dean Ing's collection, "The Chernobyl Syndrome" to your reading list if you're looking into tools and techniques for "interesting times." He's very practical and covers the more-common sorts of trouble in addition to TEOTWAWKI.

Alas, gave up the best one or two-person bug-our vehicle awhile back, as it was just too rusty: a Suzuki Samuri. Though small (and tippy if improperly handled), they are agile and light, and can keep up with all but the very best off-road vehicles. The gas milage is also impressive. You can't get them any more thanks to the nannies. :sigh: :banghead:

--Herself

Sungun09
January 27, 2006, 07:15 PM
My GF knows when my mind goes on red alert she is to obey without question (for the duration of the event).

She actually proposed that i take her to the range tomorrow and teach her about my particular gun(s).

Good story even if the ending didn't come up roses.

chud
February 8, 2006, 12:18 AM
Thanks for writing that story, it taught me a few lessons. I went to the grocery store and stocked up immediately after reading it!

suertetres
February 8, 2006, 12:53 AM
Great story, until the end, still good ending , just not teh way i though it was or should, but that's the way things go. makes me want to load my vehicles up now!!!

HerrWolfe
February 8, 2006, 12:48 PM
Trash, absolute trash..... Everyone knows that a .45 Sig is faster, in the right hands will outshoot a few AKs. Otherwise we would all be carrying AKs....right? :D . Was thinking that at the end, the Dad would awaken from his dream, only to find the same events occurring for real, and then doing stuff the right way the second time. That way the end is happy :) . Was fun anyway.

Q-Lock
February 8, 2006, 02:20 PM
Damn good read! Throughout the entire story I was sure that I was going to tell my wife to read it...but after reading the ending....I know she will be mad at me if she does read it. So I just had to tell her the jist of the story....great eye opener though. I'll have to check out this "lights out" story people are talking about.

Quinten

Micah513
March 16, 2006, 01:36 PM
I loved how it ended because it makes you go back & break every piece of the story apart & try to figure out what went wrong. If it had a happy ended you just wouldn't be as critical.

What a tragedy to waste a 3 hour headstart!

I thought the bugout scenario was so realistic. All the stuff that went wrong will go wrong. Remember all the people evacuating out of Houston? Bus catching on fire & killing all the old people - hundreds of people running out of gas... interstate a parking lot.

One thing that struck me as odd was the fact that he was so clueless on the food situation. I just do not understand why so many guys think it's a woman's job to do all the grocery shopping & cooking? They are missing out on so much - like tasting the food as it's cooking, making what you like, when you like, etc. Having said that even if he didn't like to cook he should have been constantly monitoring the food stores. Self reliance has got to include more than having a bunch of guns - your food supply is just as important.

I love 5 gallon buckets! It would take me less than 5 minutes to load up our van & 4-wheel drive pickup. I'm already planning on splitting the rice, flour, etc. evenly between the vehicles in case one of them dies on us.

rayra
March 21, 2006, 05:34 AM
Sorry, lost me completely as soon as I read 'if it's true it has to be on CNN'

lol

YellowLab
March 21, 2006, 12:27 PM
After the bombs go off its survival of the fittest.

Do not ask for help, commandeer the vehicle and render the former owners safe. If it comes down to you and I, its more important that I live than you. I'm selfish that way.

Your mind has to be in 'I WILL SURVIVE' mode. Civility and good neighbor's do not exist in lawless times.

After the bombs go off all the BS stops. I become the only thing in the world to the people I am protecting. They do as I say or suffer consequences. Being locked in the vehicle is a better place than on the line when the person (or child) can quickly become a liabilty for everones survival. We all groan when in the movie the timid person is expected to pull thier weight. They never do and survival is comprimised.

After the bombs go off creature comforts do not exist. Screw gas, radios, coleman stoves and lanterns. All that stuff is useless if you are dead. Clothes can be washed or looted. Rabbits and squirrels are tasty treats, and deer still abound. How many of the city folks are going to be competitng for natures resources? NOT A DAMNED ONE. Guns, ammo knives and fire starting impliments (flints, steel, matches, lighter) are what you need, besides the clothes on your back... which should be your long term survival clothes... boots, long pants/shirt, jacket hat, gloves etc. MAYBE a toothbrush and comb... but thats it.

Sure the kids will cry about thier x-boxes and PC's... they are kids and they value such things. But an x-box is usleless without a t.v. and power. Kids can QUICKLY become accustomed to life without them.

You can buy what you need when you get where yuo are going. And if the S has HTF and there is no infrasturcture to support financial transactions steal what you need.

You need to SURVIVE. That is most important.

V4Vendetta
March 21, 2006, 01:54 PM
All I can say is WOW!:what: That's a great story. Sounds real to me. I just think that after all that planning & leaving out a gun for each of them, the daughter would be armed with a handgun instead of just leaving it in the truck. I'd have been holding the AK with all my strength. I also would NEVER take help in a situation like that unless I knew the people REAL well. Humans are like jackals. In a nuclear attack, I'd be in red alert always.


EDIT: Is that all or will there be more to the story?

Balog
March 21, 2006, 02:11 PM
Hey Yellowlab, do me a favor. Post a pic of yourself so the good people here will know who to shoot first in a survival situation. After all, you'll be sure to have useful things, and murder is A-ok "when TSHTF" right?
And if the S has HTF and there is no infrasturcture to support financial transactions steal what you need. You do make a valid point tho. As long as viewpoints such as that outlined here exist, we must always be vigilant. The lazy grasshopper deserves to survive, even if he's gotta murder the ant.

PS what do you describe as a SHTF scenario? When you've lost your job and the bank is gonna repo your house? Slippery slopes, not just wrong of the anti-gunners anymore!

Sportcat
March 21, 2006, 02:41 PM
Great read! I finished just before lunch and had chills the entire time I was eating.

YellowLab
March 21, 2006, 08:23 PM
Well when the nukes go off.. its all about taking care of your own.

Cause all the bad people will suddenly realize the errors of thier ways and help you.. not hurt you.... they will not take what they need at your expense.

Not like I'm saying mow down every biped you cross... but 911 is definately NOT gonna respond, and safe is better than sorry.

Would I help a stuck traveller? BIG IF. Depends on my exposure to the situation. If all it requires is the tow hook from a wench.... OK, that's doable.. but they all stay in thier vehicle and 1 person hooks up the tow line. Do I help dig them out of the mud? No.

Its not about making friends.. its about SURVIVAL.

mordechaianiliewicz
March 21, 2006, 08:48 PM
Being around for 9/11 showed me that guns are one of many bug out preparations one need make

Working Man
March 21, 2006, 09:54 PM
D@mn, I'm all tense and angry now...

Good read, very good.

50caliber123
March 21, 2006, 11:37 PM
Moral of the story: Have an AK-47. Good thing I have my Mak-90. Otherwise it would be difficult to live day to day. Moral #2: Have spare magazines.

centuryhouse
August 15, 2006, 01:22 AM
Nice job, once again! I loved this AND Lights Out.

zula
August 21, 2006, 12:28 AM
Good read, just too close to real for comfort. Joe has a real problem that is too real in real life. Y2K we got ready, 9-11 we returned to a state of readiness. Today its a fact of life.

leadcounsel
August 21, 2006, 02:22 AM
Makes for an excellent short story where the characters were indifferent to being prepared and, despite some effort at the last minute, paid heavily.

The family dies, Joe of a heart attack, and the daughter likely gets gangraped and killed by the "wolves." One of millions of sad stories in SHTF situations for the unprepared.

Prompted me to update my BOB and other preps.

Great story by the way. I found one spelling error around the last page.

bruss01
August 21, 2006, 01:26 PM
Excellent story. I'm STILL upgrading my bug out process. Just this weekend I finally sat down and drew up the list of what we will/won't bring re: guns & ammo. Foolish to bring everything, not everything lends itself to traveling fast and light, takes up space in the vehicle better served with other needs. For instance shotguns - great by the nightstand, but they take up space in the car and if you're reduced to foot travel, how many rounds can you hump on foot, plus all the other necessaries you'll have to tote? Then, because we're doing a "high alert" drill over the next week (Iran, Aug 22) everything that is going was readied with ammo and put in position where it can be loaded into the vehicle in seconds. I had to ask myself how long would it take to realistically load up and hit the gas pedal? Realized that we'd be upset, maybe slightly paniced, and running around like beheaded chickens to load up. Bad. Currently drawing up a bug out "to-do" script for each of us, so we can quickly and efficiently, without any waste motion or taking precious moments to make decisions, get loaded and gone. Gasoline, we have about 80 gallons in 5 gallon containers. It'll fit in my wife's van better than my truck, but she's sensitive to fumes. Easy answer, I drive her van, she drives my truck. Simple planning like that, things you can anticipate now, which you would probably overlook in the rush to get outta dodge.

In talking this over, my wife refused to leave unless the cats were taken care of. The CATS! Shouldn't surprise me, lot's of people refused to be evacuated after Katrina because the JBT's wouldn't allow their pets to come. Explained to her that catching all the cats, and getting them into travel crates would be impractical when we're trying to run for our lives, they'd be miserable and afraid, constant yowling to be let out grating on our already frazzled nerves, apt to escape when we open the crates for feeding, potty, etc. and then they'd be as bad off as they would've been at home, except they're LOST IN A STRANGE CITY on top of it all. Finally got her to agree to leave them IF we got those extended food & water dispensers for them, leaving them behind to take care of themselves but knowing at least there will be food and water for them. For our high alert drill, these will be filled but not "deployed", so they only take 30 seconds to set out. She seems satisfied with that compromise. There is an emotional aspect to the business of evacuation, you don't want to be racing the clock, trying to make every second count, and your teenage daughter is crying and refusing to pack her bags saying if her cat doesn't go, then she doesn't go. You don't have time to reason with her, or fight with her over such things at such a time, and you jolly well can't club her unconscious unless you want even more problems. Do everything possible ahead of time to make sure you won't have to deal with someone's emotional state getting in the way of you getting yourself and your family safely out of harm's way.

What a great, thought-provoking read!

kevin-45
August 22, 2006, 12:33 AM
Great story! Made me change my thinking from "grab everything I need" to "grab what I can and go".

TroyR
September 17, 2006, 10:07 PM
Thanks and it was a great read, it gave me plenty of stress !

ozwyn
September 26, 2006, 02:22 PM
Great story. Given my location and situation, it confirms that I would bug in, not bug out. (close enough for hell traffic on a good day, far enough out to be downwind of major targets)

On the other hand, where I live guns are less common but grocery stores are everywhere. :evil: Loot a bunch of BBQ's, cook up all the meat you can loot (and make jerky from as much as possible) and use the food to lure out the neighborhood and get organized. People panic because they are looking for direction, be the director.

MErl
March 25, 2007, 05:56 PM
bump for a good cautionary tale :)

GhostlyKarliion
March 26, 2007, 11:02 AM
Wow, very good read, is there any place that has all of the short stories that have been posted on THR in one location?

what is the possibility of getting a fourm just for stories?

Essex County
March 26, 2007, 01:19 PM
However if You are a member of the large group that needs to "Bug Out", You have picked the wrong place to reside. Rural America still beckons. No disrespect intended, but I feel I've been Bug Outed to death. Essex

DontBurnMyFlag
March 26, 2007, 10:29 PM
uh...wow

Surprise ending is putting it lightly

Ive got some...uh..planning to do

*rethinks bug out strategy* :evil:

good read

ImWorkinOnIt
April 4, 2007, 01:58 PM
I had the 'pleasure' of reading this story last year through an email attachment someone sent me but part of the story was missing -- the scene at the gas station -- but I certainly got the jest of it, and later got to read the whole thing in it's entirety. I assumed that our "hero" dad either was having a heart attack or had been shot and the last sound he would ever hear was his daughter's screams.

Being a woman, I guess I was easily persuaded that her screams indicated that she was in trouble - serious trouble, since it didn't seem to read that she was screaming just because the big bad dude had pulled her away from her father. I interpreted the story to mean that she was facing the beginning of possibly her final life-ending crisis as well.

I read this story while I was reading Lights Out, which is exceptional as well, and I think that at the time I read this short story, I assumed that the girl would be dead after a brutal handling by the bad guys, but having now read entirely the Lights Out story, there is the possiblity that the bad guys would hold on to the girl as long as she pleased them or it was expedient to have her around......either way it is a haunting story, well written (my husband writes great murder mysteries so I can tell good and bad writing!) and it does get the main point across -- title being Bug Out -- meaning being it should be a successful bug-out, and then proceeded to be a fine example of what not to do before a crisis (let your equipment get pilfered), and what not to do during a crisis (panic, not be able to execute the plan, etc).

I do have to add to the poster up above who persuaded his wife to agree to leave the cats, we don't have kids, so my cats ARE my children and my husband knows I don't go anywhere without them. :-)

My bug-out pre-planning consists of having all my pet carriers (5) set up in the tub/shower of our guest bathroom -- we don't ever use it so it's easy to pile up the carriers, extra TP and PT and close the shower curtain & no one knows the stuff is there unless they peek.

We covered the tub with 2 pieces of board so we'd have an even surface from front to back, stack the carriers, have the cats' color photos laminated with their name and phone number on the back along with their current rabies tags clipped to the door of the carrier and the doors stay unlatched always (they're inside cats so they don't wear collars with tags). This room is also our safe room so we periodically have bad weather drills and so we've practiced gathering them up and shoving them into the carriers! Because of their temperment, some are more easily "caught" than others so we know which ones to get first, second, third, etc. so that we're not trying to extricate a cat from under a bed at a crucial time.

I also have a bug-out bag specifically for the cats with dry and wet food and water, medicine, couple of 'first aid for cats' books etc. We live in a condo where space is a premium and we each have a bug out bag (each with food water and a little money) that we're responsible for, plus the cat's bag.

I devised a way to easily recognize what to grab without thinking too much about it by using some really big neon colored tags I got at Sports Academy in their luggage section, and I numbered them 1-4 (4 is an extra bag of food if there's time to grab it) and all the bags stay in one closet in the guest room and we are not allowed to ever set anything in front of the closet door or impede progress in any way in getting those bags and the cat carriers out the front or back door of the condo. We can be out of the house with cats and all bags in less than 10 minutes, and quicker than that if things run as smoothly as possible and there's intense urgency to do so.

We manage to keep our cars at least 3/4 (mine) 1/2 way full - my husband sort of just goes along with me on our preps -- he's ex-military and feels he will handle whatever comes up, but I try to think in practical terms liek if we had a gas leak in the neighborhood or a fire, so I've done our bags in such a way to deal with those type evacuations. I even leave 2 emergency N100 masks on top of the cat carriers so that we will have them handy in an emergency and smoke or fumes shouldn't be a problem right at the first. My husband must enjoy life more than I do, since I seem to ponder what I hope is the improbable more than he does, but I rest more easily at night, knowing I'm able to be/stay prepared enough to be able to get the family AND the cats out at the same time without having to leave anyone behind with food.
It's a challenge, but for me a challenge I had to meet and succeed. But enough about me.....

I want to say I'm grateful for all the time and thought and inspiration that had to go into the writing of both Lights Out and The Bug Out. I really appreciate the fact that any of those people could be my neighbors -- especially in Lights Out and the subtle way the problems became more and more serious were quite realistic to me, given the situations that arise during the stories. Reading Lights Out, after the first few chapters, I told my husband that no one was sick, no one had pets and it didn't seem anyone had a swimming pool so it seemed contrived, but as the story progressed these items were introduced at times when it made sense for them to be the focus of attention, proving a good point with each situation and giving the reader reason to ponder the consequences in his own neighborhood!

Very well written, both stories, and thanks for sharing them!

Rose

the naked prophet
April 4, 2007, 05:36 PM
I've seriously started exercising, mostly because of this story! I've lost 15 pounds and two inches off my waist since january, and now I can bike for 4 miles or run for 1/2 mile before I wear out. I've still got quite a ways to go, but compared to where I was in january, I'm doing much better. Still working on the BOB, with limited funds.

bruss01
April 4, 2007, 06:16 PM
Imworkinonit -

Kudos to you for having such thorough plans and provisions!

But a question - have you ever tested that plan? Seen how long it takes you to get x- number of cats into crates, load up and go?

Have you ever driven for more than 2 hours on the highway with the cats in crates? When we moved, we had to do exactly that. My wife drove the vehicle with them inside and it was pure hell. Constant yowling. They puked, shat and pissed until their tanks were dry. And this was on an ordinary day when we were not upset or frantic for our own safety, just moving the last load of boxes and of course, the cats. Our cats are indoor/outdoor so they might not even be home when we get that "15 minute warning". I guarantee you, I will not have presense of mind to make critical judgements about traffic, roadblocks, listening to which way fallout is drifting on the radio, etc. when I have frightened cats in the back howling like they have been lit on fire and the stench of cat-diareah permeating the van. I believe that taking them, in our case, cuts down the probablility of survival for both us and them. I'm grateful my wife was able to see this reality for what it is. YMMV.

BigSoundRacing
April 4, 2007, 07:53 PM
ImWorkinOnIt,

Thanks for your post - best first post I have ever read. Your idea about the colored/numbers tags on the bags is a fantastic idea. For myself, implementation of that idea will give me a way to tell others what to grab when things are time critical. I'm going to add to the concept with a "A" and "B" next to the number, so that my crew can split the bags between two vehicles for redundancy.

Makes one less thing to think about as things approach critical mass.

Be safe, BSR

beretta9
April 4, 2007, 11:40 PM
Do not ask for help, commandeer the vehicle and render the former owners safe. If it comes down to you and I, its more important that I live than you. I'm selfish that way.

If everyone was like this, why in blazes would anyone want to go on living? Sounds like a person would be going from bad to worse.

Thankfully, I live in the country, hundreds of miles from a large city, so shouldn't have to bug out.:)

The Canuck
April 5, 2007, 12:48 AM
Dad should not have tried to take too much. Bug Out to me means you get your kit and are gone within 10 minutes tops. He should also try to keep a rotating stock of ammo handy. I keep a minimum of 150 rounds handy for each gun, it will be more when I am back from school (two weeks). Also, the BOB will be coming shortly. Right now it is more like Bail Out Battle Order (BOBO, that's great!)

At the end when the wife chased the kids away he should have given the kids each a big scoped rifle and orders to plug any monkeys. Badguys think twice when their guys start going down before they even get thier firearms up. Its also stuff like this that enforces my desire to train my wife in the defensive use of a firearm. I will trust those whom I trust. In this city I can count that number on Anne Bollyne's hand.

Oy, I'm venting. I should sign off before I go bonkers here.:uhoh:

Rearden
August 6, 2007, 06:18 PM
Thanks for the story. I "enjoyed" it, as in I wasn't happy Everybody Died, so that means Halffast did a good job writing it. Better than the usual "I'm a Jack Bauer Wanna Be" who demonstrates how to use all their preps and how clever they are compared to the Sheeple.

The primary thing I took away from the story is that time counts and orchestrating how to get outta dodge when you have to is difficult. Hitting the stores is not recommended, even though most people will be missing some important things. Shelter in Place needs to be seriously considered.

In real life, a few modifications to your vehicle can improve your BO capability. I would guess that most of the time will not be off road. You will be either in a traffic jam or driving down the road, but that being said here are a few recommendations.
1. Tow points front AND rear. Many cars have them already, but a quick trip to the tractor supply/ace hardware to buy a clevis or tow ring and is cheap.
2. "snow chains" are fairly inexpensive, especially at the end of the season on ebay. They can dramatically improve the off road performance of street tires for ~$50. Put them on at least once to test. Where I live a very light rain will cover a dirt road in a thin layer of snot and front and rear locked 4x4 with nice ORV tires can easily slide off on a sloped road.
3. Nylon straps/logging chains which you will use with #1. <$30 from harbor freight.

(#1-3 will set you back less than $100 per vehicle)
4. A can of fix a flat (<$5), "slime" and/or a "tubeless tire repair kit" ($5), needlenose pliers ($4) and a means of putting air back in the tire like a 12v compressor (~$30). Fixaflat will put water in your tire, so you will later have to dismount it. slime is not recommended for highway speeds.

and the more expensive options:

4. Add a "lunchbox locker" or limited slip to your RWD/4WD vehicle. Something like the Aussie or powertrax locker. <$300 and you can put it in yourself in a few hours. (Go all the way and put in a torsen/limited slip in the front :)

5. When you buy new always (_especially_ for the family/wife's vehicle) at least get limited slip/traction control and preferably All Wheel Drive. It usually adds about $1500 to the cost of a new vehicle. This is an option on minivans (sienna, mountianeer, astro/safari, MPV, etc.), SUVs (RAV4, Suburban, etc.), subaru, audi, volvo, etc. This will give you more traction, but not clearance or favorable "attack" angles.

my $0.02,
rearden

mike6161
January 7, 2008, 11:37 PM
good story
i liked the end it is what would happen to most:(

takhtakaal
January 8, 2008, 01:18 AM
*Snort*

Mack Bolan wouldn't have collapsed from a heart attack, now would he?

m4joey94
February 18, 2009, 02:18 PM
great story!!!

Duke of Doubt
February 18, 2009, 02:37 PM
Alright ...

Everyone take a deep breath, sit back, and think about baseball for a minute.

O.K. Now, turn your attention back to this situation you all seem to love imagining.

Now ask yourself: WHY is your first instinct to run away to an unknown destination with improvised equipment and provisions? What do you hope to accomplish by abandoning your base of operations? Where do you plan to go? What will you do there?

I live in Maine. To my near-southwest, millions of people, literally millions, somehow expect to be able to "bug out" to my neck of the woods in the event of disaster. Word -- they will NOT make it. From top to bottom of the emergency preparedness establishment here, the situation has been discussed and gamed to death. That bridge will not permit passage of millions of refugees northeastwardly. It won't. Don't even try. Your timing might be ... inauspicious.

I happened to find myself in the Washington, DC area on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Not surprising, as I worked there. Never mind the stuff we saw in the air and on the ground; the biggest panic-inducer was what we heard on the local radio. Everything from the Dalecarlia Reservoir being poisoned to the State Department being blown up to funny goings on at Fort Detrick to you name it. Roads and phone lines became impassable for days. When the immediate dust settled, I went home to suburban Maryland. Got there, after a fashion. Ate a good meal, and prepared for war.

I really don't fear those sort of nuclear devices which a bunch of rag-tag ragheads might set off in a metropolitan American area. Not so much. But I DO fear what happens to masses of people when they panic, as I have witnessed close at hand, and the things they do. What happened in New Orleans a few years back merely confirmed my take.

10 Ring Tao
February 18, 2009, 03:11 PM
Duke is right. I don't think enough people consider bugging in.

10 Ring Tao
February 18, 2009, 03:21 PM
Oh, and why don't you guys add these comments over on the proper domain, in the corresponding thread?

http://www.thehighroad.us/showthread.php?t=172494&highlight=Bug+short+story&page=5

Duke of Doubt
February 18, 2009, 03:29 PM
10 Ring Tao: "I don't think enough people consider bugging in."

Or bugging around. I've spent several years reconnoitering my area for everything from fresh water to edible wild plants to shelter to infrastructure to things I'd rather not relate. I admit we aren't a likely nuke target, but even then a little one and a few rads wouldn't frighten me into running away to ... where? Labrador?

Dirty bombs are not that effective, or that deadly, except as panic inducers. I make Geiger counters rave based on childhood and young adulthood exposure to some industrial and experimental stuff, and I haven't had any health effects at all. And my daughter beat me at chess by the age of six -- no ill effects. I've had her read my childhood copy of Walt Disney's "Our Friend the Atom." Radiation is a good thing, in moderation -- and not a bogeyman from which to run screaming in terror barring extremely unlikely eventualities such as occurred in Ukraine, 1986.

CGilbert74
February 19, 2009, 03:08 PM
"Imworkinonit -

Kudos to you for having such thorough plans and provisions!

But a question - have you ever tested that plan? Seen how long it takes you to get x- number of cats into crates, load up and go?

Have you ever driven for more than 2 hours on the highway with the cats in crates? When we moved, we had to do exactly that. My wife drove the vehicle with them inside and it was pure hell. Constant yowling. They puked, shat and pissed until their tanks were dry. And this was on an ordinary day when we were not upset or frantic for our own safety, just moving the last load of boxes and of course, the cats. Our cats are indoor/outdoor so they might not even be home when we get that "15 minute warning". I guarantee you, I will not have presense of mind to make critical judgements about traffic, roadblocks, listening to which way fallout is drifting on the radio, etc. when I have frightened cats in the back howling like they have been lit on fire and the stench of cat-diareah permeating the van. I believe that taking them, in our case, cuts down the probablility of survival for both us and them. I'm grateful my wife was able to see this reality for what it is. YMMV."


This why I refuse to date, marry or even talk to a woman who loves cats. Not worth it.

ThrottleJockey
March 16, 2009, 03:12 AM
WOW!!! That's all I can say. I simply could not stop reading. Please give me more:(

D-Day
March 16, 2009, 04:54 AM
Man, the ending had me freaked out like Christian Bale.

For me, bugging out is simply not an option. I live in the country, and I know of nowhere else to go to. My neighbors are armed, so we could hold down the area if necessary; I hope.

My biggest disadvantage is living right next to a highway. If traffic gets gridlocked here, and there are desperate mobs...well, things could get hairy. I hate to think of what I may have to do. I like to help people, but you can't help everyone.

The closest thing I can think of bugging out would be getting out of St. Louis and to home, because I visit friends there occasionally; a 470 mile drive, including passing through Indy and Dayton on a usual route. I keep a 5 gallon can in the bed of my truck, but that wouldn't be nearly enough to get me close to home.

I usually take my rifle and a couple pistols and some ammo, as well as the emergency pack in my toolbox with some Mountain House. Speaking of, this story motivates me to rearrange my truck toolbox tomorrow, perhaps.

I'd hope that I would hear of an attack quick enough through my packed crap in my truck, get my tank(s) topped off and make a b-line for home.

Country roads, take me home...

The story made me incredibly thankful to have a Mile Marker hydraulic winch welded to the front of my truck. And a 3/4 ton truck. Man, an SUV taken out by a love tap? Those are some weak tie rods.

mr.b
July 21, 2009, 11:21 PM
ditto on the close to the highway thing.

I'm about one mile away from I-95 here in Florida. On the road that intersects mine here is a bridge going over the Interstate, so I'm sure some of the mobs of folks coming up from south Florida will take a 'shopping detour'

While I have 2.5 acres fenced in with a lot of trees hiding the property, I worry that I am still too close to the evacuation route.

Personally, I'd probably bug-in for a few days, post guards at the bridge amongst my neighbors (if they will band together!) and then relocate to a more remote area if my fears of invading masses come true.

I'm about 45 miles from downtown Orlando as the crow flies, so I guess I'm out of the blast area if it were a dirty nuke situation, but on a peninsula like Florida, the direction of the wind really depends on the time of day.

daorhgih
July 21, 2009, 11:43 PM
She was screaming at the four pickup trucks full of their friends who had been following them from the start. One burly friend ran up to them and snatched her away in his huge arms, while the rest of the 27 Bubbas unloaded 150 rounds of 00-buck 12ga into the slimy bad guys. Joe's chest pain began to subside as he inhaled more and more cool air. He was sure glad he had been a little prepared, and this incident would never be repeated in his lifetime. Or, write your own ending. The only thing missing is the tin-foil. Say, D-Day, "....passing through Indy and Dayton on a usual route....." will take you directly through the fallout cloud from Chicago and the lake-effect. Use lots of duct-tape.

Mags
July 21, 2009, 11:47 PM
I would most likely be at work when "it" happens which would suck. I am in the military and would most likely be "locked down" away from my wife since we reside off base. I would be safe but I would not know about my family and I would just have to "press on" and do my job.

ccsniper
July 22, 2009, 12:45 AM
all I can say is WOW!! I loved this story, and the ending really makes one think. I really think you should try to get this published. the beginning kinda reminded me of "panic in the year zero". awesome story.

Prophet
July 22, 2009, 12:54 AM
Considering that I was expecting a happy ending and didn't get one, it's a story that will definitely stick in my mind. Although I do think the teenagers dialogue could have used a bit more work. That doesn't affect the moral of the story, however. Nicely done. Your otherwise realistic writing style succeeded in keeping me up past my bedtime. :p

ThrottleJockey72
July 22, 2009, 01:10 AM
all I can say is WOW!! I loved this story, and the ending really makes one think. I really think you should try to get this published.
HalfFast is a published author, you can read one of his novels here, Lights Out (http://www.giltweasel.com/stuff/LightsOut-Current.pdf)

paintballdude902
July 22, 2009, 02:35 AM
thats why my bronco has a 4000lbs come-along in the back with a tow strap and a winch is going to be ordered when i get the cash (this college thing is drainign the funds)


im going to the gun store in the moring and to get a new set of mud tires lol

i dint like the ending i could deal with the mother and son but i wish the father had turned around and picked off the other attackers with the rifle..... so in other words i wish the story hadnt ended i want to read more

Erik M
July 22, 2009, 04:01 AM
Im glad I don't live near any major metro areas. Im also glad i dont have a wife and kids.

This story pissed me off that I wasted 30 minutes and a cup of coffee on it.

It did remind me of the paranoia of 9/11. i remember here in south Kentucky everyone ran for a gas station because there was a rumor that the arabs would support the terrorism and there wouldnt be any more oil to produce gasoline. Myself and my brothers concealed carried, under 21 and obviously without license everywhere we went the next few days.

my house is my bug out location.

THE DARK KNIGHT
July 22, 2009, 04:40 AM
Good story, I loved the ending.

And to all the people bashing the ending, get real. What did you want, the guy to pack up all his canned good from wal mart, head out on the road, stop some bandits with his CCW and live happily ever after on MRE's and canned food?

Would seem pretty corny to me. If that was the ending then they should have just called it "another typical zombie thread"

ccsniper
July 23, 2009, 02:03 AM
this just hit me, why is it the bad guy ALWAYS have AK's!?! ALWAYS!!!

PT1911
July 23, 2009, 02:32 AM
my impression... be prepared for anything, guns, supplies, a plan.... and be in SHAPE... otherwise, you may just have a heart attack in a really inopportune moment...

good read..

ThrottleJockey72
July 23, 2009, 02:34 AM
this just hit me, why is it the bad guy ALWAYS have AK's!?! ALWAYS!!!
Good point, and it seems the good guy usually has a 1911....Well, at least in this case the AK proves its worth and got the job done. I'm sick of the bad guys always losing....

anythingshiny
July 23, 2009, 01:59 PM
it was good meeting ya this past weekend 1/2fast. learned a bit and opened up the brain.

the thing that i took away was the 'angels pissing' metaphor...being truely prepared is different. mindset, tactics, skill, gear

it was frustrating to read the sequence of failures and to see the end coming long before it did. we can all play the what if game..but it is just that game that will make a difference.

the P.A.C.E. analogy applied across several of the situations.

thanks again and i have 'lights out' on the bedstand.

Cmdr. Gravez0r
July 23, 2009, 02:02 PM
I remember reading this in 2005...made quite an impression on me at the time, I was 18 or 19. The unhappy ending is very important. If SHTF, only the fittest will survive. Guns and ammo aren't even half the battle.

Buy Cheap, Stack Deep!

mbt2001
July 23, 2009, 02:18 PM
The best post I saw in regard to this story. Thought I would mention it again.

I re-read the story last night, and two points struck me, outside of the general "ill prepared for the situation" theme of the entire work.

1. Commo gear. Two vehicles, yet no communications equipment between them. Bad move. Even a pair of FRS radios would have made a big difference. Could have co-ordinated the move of the two vehicles to the exit, which would have saved time, which may have gotten them to the bridge before the truck crash...

2. Bad decisions. Our hero seemed to be making a steady stream of bad decisions. What do I see as bad decisions.

- he didn't dress to survive. What do I mean? He put on clothes. Period. He needed to strap on the pistol, spare ammo, and some other basics so that he was prepared to address problems with what he had on his person, not having to rely on what was in the truck. Even at the gas station, he had to go to the truck for his Kimber. Good thing the guy with the tire iron wasn't really intending to do harm.

-he panicked under pressure. When the bridge was "closed," he panicked and made bad choices based upon his need to get to the farm. The long way around may have taken more gasoline, but it would have been safer that trying to forge a stream in an overloaded truck.

- he lost his common sense. The guys who ended up taking out the family were predators. They were predatros long before the first bomb went off. Our hero lost his judgment in his desire to get the truck freed, and it cost he and his family everything.

Thanks for making us think abut these things. Thinking ahead will help us make it through should it happenm for real.

Dravur
July 23, 2009, 05:07 PM
Here is how I would hae handled it int his situation.....

Get the family, let friends know. Jump in the truck with said family and leave town. Do not stop, do no pass go. If you have to hit the gas station and head north. I don't need a chainsaw, not even a lot of food or water. I just need to get to Montana.

In Montana, we have everything we need. These people overthought what they needed to take. I would bet that their in laws had some cheerios and a stick or two of beef jerky.

I think the best thing to do in that a situation where you have some pre-warning that others dont have is to get out of Dodge, get to where it is safer and then work out the parts

I could be out of my house in less than 10 minutes with enough stuff to get me to Montana.

Erik M
July 23, 2009, 05:27 PM
I always thought BugOut ment gtfo before SHTF. This guy wasted valuable time rounding up clothes, even went to Wal-Mart. I live at least 100 miles from the nearest metro area, and my home is the BOL for 2 college friends that still live in that urban area. Get gass and hammer down.

Doomsday, nation is in panic, no law enforcement. possible anarchy for following weeks untill continuity can be reestablished. Fortify the BOL and always shoot first.

Claude Clay
July 23, 2009, 05:34 PM
you are pre-warned

that time puts you past the roads that 2 hours later are gridlocked.

ua dont go shopping. for all that the story is well written, the story line went south at wall-mart.

or is being prepared the moral?

Erik M
July 23, 2009, 05:49 PM
I thought the moral was dont drive SUV's cause you will have to buy gas in a evac-situation.


Maybe that or Jeeps CJ's have bad transmissions.

Cmdr. Gravez0r
July 23, 2009, 05:57 PM
ua dont go shopping. for all that the story is well written, the story line went south at wall-mart.

or is being prepared the moral?

Definitely "be prepared." The main character started out with a peachy-perfect situation. He knew S was HTF HOURS before anyone else. Then from then on he screwed himself by not only being ready but bad decisions along the way. He may have been able to mitigate the unreadiness by putting himself in a more secure position.

Darkninja
July 23, 2009, 06:11 PM
I didn't know you posted here Halffast! Great story as usual.

oldfool
July 23, 2009, 06:45 PM
buy rope

DRYHUMOR
July 23, 2009, 06:52 PM
Good read.

Seems like the hero didn't fully develop his op plan, before the SHTF. Nor did the "team" train regularly as preparation.

Something to think about.

Sheepdog1968
July 24, 2009, 02:11 PM
Great article. Anothe book besides Lights Out that I highly reccomend is Patriots. You can get Patriots on Fred's (M1A stocks guy) in a package with Boston's Gun Bible (worth owning).

This has got me thinking of how prepared am I. I live in earth quake country and have a backpack loaded with a 3 day of vital stuff including clothers just in case. Car has 3 day supply of food & water. A good chunk of my emergency supplies are in those plastic containers. I usually fill the car at half a tank. I've got firearms I could take. What I truely wonder is how much ammo could I take as it gets heavy fast. I keep it in those plastic ammo cans you get from Cabellas. The bigger question is where would I go and how would I get there. I've got some ideas but I really need to sit down and plan it out. Hunkering down at home has usually been my general plan and I really need to give more thought to if I ever have to leave.

Sheepdog1968
July 24, 2009, 02:19 PM
I was going through the same debate as Dravue post (above) to how much time to spend on getting food, etc. A big lesson I got out of this would be for me to have storage in the garage locked (but easily pried into shoudl I not be home) in a cabinet so that I can better ensure family doesn't dig into it. Having a wimpy lock on it just keeps family from digging into it.

Something I read in a book once that I wanted to pass along that didn't occure to me. People often think of chickens as a good way to get eggs, etc. Another good animal stock would be rabbits. They breed, well, like rabbits and they are quiet animals so if you are rual it is less likely to draw attention of people heading for the hills.

ezypikns
July 24, 2009, 04:02 PM
if you're going to "Bug Out", do so.

Everyone in one auto. If you need gas, get it. Take enough water to last a few days. Firearms to protect yourselves. The main thing is to go. All that running around getting ready when time is so precious? Get the H*ll OUT!

Like LoneStranger said:

when it's time to leave it's time to leave.

dirt_j00
July 24, 2009, 04:03 PM
Can we get an alternate ending?

THE DARK KNIGHT
July 24, 2009, 05:46 PM
Here's an alternate ending for those complaining.

Larry reached over and saw the bandits about to draw on him. He quickly drew his 1911 loaded with 230gr Black Talons and smoked all three bandits, one shot each directly between the eyes.

As he started to walk back to the car, he stumbled, and noticed a crumpled paper on the ground. He leaned over and picked it up. Upon inspection, he saw this was Obama's birth certificate, proof that he was born in Kenya not the USA.

He could barely contain his excitement as he ate the lunch of canned goods his family had bought at Wal Mart. Just when he thought it could not get any better, a transmission came through the radio. Due to the nuclear explosions, California, NJ, NY, CT, MA, RI, and Wisconsin all fell off the continent into the ocean. Crumbling rocks from the blasts in Denver had naturally constructed a wall made of boulders, at least 300 feet high and several miles thick, between the US and Mexico.

Larry broke out an extra MRE to celebrate. THE END

fiddleharp
July 24, 2009, 05:48 PM
Many major cities have rivers running through them. That's why the ancient Indians and White pioneers chose to live there.
If everybody in town decided to leave at the same time, all roads would quickly become useless deathtraps.
Personally, I would load supplies into a large canoe or inflatable boat and paddle quietly away in the dark, traveling at night and hiding in streamside brush, islands, or under old wharves during the day.
Just between you, me, and the internet, I'll tell you a little secret. I was once homeless for 4-1/2 years in an urban area. In order to avoid harassment from the police and teenaged vandals, I traveled around in a canoe and camped in many of the above-mentioned places along deserted waterfronts.
This system kept me out of trouble when I was down-and-out, and I believe it would be a pretty good bugout mode if TSHTF someday.

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