> TEOTWAWKI Blog: You Took Away Tomorrow: Chapter 4 - Search and Rescue



You Took Away Tomorrow: Chapter 4 - Search and Rescue

The next entry in the series! Read and then let us know what you would do if you found yourself in the character's shoes--the character's actions are guided by guided by your input.

For those new to You Took Away Tomorrow, you can find all of the entries, in chronological order, in the chapter index

Enjoy and share with your friends!

Chapter 4: Search and Rescue

Jack scanned the Blackwell’s home quickly, taking in any other details. The house sat in the middle of a flat, grassy lot, with a fenced in backyard. The home had a carport built onto the side of it closest to Rourke’s direction of approach, with an open front and closed in, wood-slatted sides. One of the Blackwell’s cars, Brooke’s old Subaru wagon, was still in the driveway, sitting low on flat tires. The home’s front windows did not seem to be broken. There were no lights on inside the home. The home had three entrances that he knew of—front door, side door on the car port, and a door to the back yard.
              Jack tried to gather his thoughts to come up with a coherent plan of action, but he was struggling to overcome the adrenaline dump that had just hit him. He could feel his muscles tensing up, his hands going jittery and his heart pounding frantically.
              Jack cursed at himself, realizing that he had limited his options by stomping on the accelerator and racing towards the home. He was rushing in, when he probably should have pulled back to come up with a better plan of action.
The group camped out down the street were almost certainly not friendlies, which meant he and Tex were outnumbered and almost definitely outgunned. He couldn’t, in good conscience, abandon the Blackwells. He had to at least check their home. If not, what kind of man would he be?

Because he and Tex were outgunned and outnumbered, they needed to search the home quickly, stealthily, and be ready to get out of dodge at the first sign of trouble. With two trucks racing down the road, Jack had probably already compromised much of their stealth. The booming music may have saved them, though.
If they hadn’t been spotted, Jack decided they might as well try to get out of sight. Jack slowed the truck and keyed his walkie.
“Follow me,” he said, braking, steering out and then backing up the Blackwell’s yard along the outside of the parking lot. Tex backed in alongside him.
“What’s the plan?” the big Texan asked in hushed tones.
“We’re going in, Amy’s getting the AR and holding down the fort,” Jack said, hopping out of the Tacoma, leaving the engine running and the door open. He scanned around—the road, the neighbor’s house, what he could see of the Blackwell’s house. They seemed safe, for the moment.
“Don’t close the doors,” Jack instructed. Amy looked at him quizzically.
“The noise,” Jack said, waving her and Tex back behind tailgate of Tex’s Chevy.
 “Tex, keep an eye out, you and I are going in.”
“Got it.”
Jack looked at Amy, who was clearly a shell shocked by the situation—but then again, they probably all were. They needed to get over it and get moving.
“Amy, I need you to cover the vehicles until we get back,” he said, handing her the AR pistol. Amy took it.
“You comfortable running this gun?” Jack asked.
Amy nodded. She’d been to the range many times—Kyle had even built her an AR-15 with pink camouflage furniture. She was not an ace with an AR, but she wasn’t a novice, either.
“Is it loaded?”
“Yep. Take off the safety, put the red dot on the target and pull the trigger. Same as on the ones you’ve shot before. There’s a flashlight here, too,” Jack said, pointing to the weaponlight attached to the side of the rail, “Don’t use it unless you have to, and ID your target before you shoot.”
“Ok, I think I can do this,” Amy said, looking over the weapon.
Jack handed her his walkie talkie.
“You have to do this, Amy. Keep this on, we will keep in touch.”
Amy nodded again.  
              Jack wished they’d trained more, wished they’d come better equipped. But those were only wishes at this point. Now, they needed to keep their heads, play it smart, get in and get out alive.
              Jack directed Amy to take position behind the Chevy’s front passenger side tire. It would provide her the best ballistic protection if bullets started flying, and it was in the direction opposite the camp’s location. Leaning out from behind the truck, they could just glimpse the camp, bonfire still burning. Jack paused for a moment, trying to spot any movement silhouetted by the flickering flames. Nothing.
              “Tex, stay close. We’re going to try the side door,” Jack said, drawing his Glock 17 from its kydex holster on his belt.
“I got your back, bro,” Tex said, drawing his 1911.
              Jack tracked back behind the trucks, which provided greater cover and concealment than walking in front. He and Tex edge alongside the carport. Jack paused, checking the bonfire again. This time, he saw movement—shifting on one of the mattresses thrown onto the pavement—but nothing imminently threatening.
              The pair slipped into the carport, sneaking in a low crouch behind Brooke’s Subaru. The tires were slashed, the driver’s window smashed in. They made it to the door without trouble. Jack tried the knob—predictably, it was locked. With the music booming vulgar lyrics, listening for any faint background noises was pointless.
              Jack paused, thinking over his next move. They could cross in front of the house and go in through kicked-in front door. He could try to bypass the side door—he had a pair of small lock picks in his wallet, and he didn’t doubt Tex’s ability to smash through the particle board door without breaching a sweat. Or he could just knock and see who was home—Blackwells, bad guys or no one at all. If it was bad guys, they would know the home was under enemy control and would have the initiative.
              “I’m going to knock. If it’s not the Blackwells, I’m going to shoot,” Jack whispered. Tex nodded, edging to the side and leveling his handgun on the door.
              Jack leaned over and knocked—not just any knock, but the first few notes of a church hymn the Blackwell’s would be familiar with. Then, he moved a pace back, standing on the side of the door, waiting, pistol pointed a gut-level, trigger finger resting on the side of the Glock’s frame, tritium night sights lined up and ready to go.
              There was a long pause as they waited in the darkness, breathing slowly and waiting to act. Nothing happened.
              “Try again,” Tex whispered. Jack tried again, knocking out the same tune. They waited again, but this time their wait was interrupted.
              “Who’s there?” called a woman’s voice from the other side of the door.
              “It’s Jack—is that Brooke?” Jack said, lowering his Glock into the sul position—the barrel pointed at the ground, pistol held high, tucked in against his chest but still ready to deploy into action.
              There was the sound of the door unlocking, and then it swung opened rapidly. Brooke Blackwell entered the doorway, one arm bandaged and in a makeshift sling, the family’s 10/22 rifle in the other.
              “Oh my gosh, I am so relieved to see you guys, you have no idea,” Brooke started, struggling to continue as tears welled to the surface. She waved them into the house; Jack scanned down the hallway, which looked clear.
              “Brooke, I just want to make sure: are there any bad guys in the house?” Jack asked. She shook her head.
              “A few of them tried. They were coming through the door…I had to…”
              Jack smiled, trying to be comforting.
              “You did what you had to, Brooke. We came here to get you guys, and I think we need to move pretty quickly. Are Mike and the kids here?”
              “I don’t know where Mike is—at work, I think. I’ve been praying that he would get home—the phones aren’t working, there’s no way to get a hold of him, or the police or anyone.”
              “Ok—what about the kids?”
              “Yes, they’re ok. Scared. They’re hiding in the master bathroom.”
“And are you ok to move, Brooke?” Jack said, pointing to her hastily bandaged arm.
“Yes, don’t worry about me.”
“Ok, we’re going to check in with Amy, then Tex and I will help bring the kids out to the cars,” Jack explained.
Tex keyed the walkie talkie.
“Brooke and the kids are here and ok; we’re bringing them out in a minute. Any problems out there?” he asked.
“Umm, it looks like some of them are awake. I think—ya—it looks like one of them is pointing over here. Not looking good. Go fast, guys.”
Tex and Jack exchanged looks. They needed to move—quickly.
“All right, we’re on our way out.”
Brooke led them back down the side hallway, through the kitchen and into the living room, where they saw the battle scene. The front door, kicked askew. Another man, this one gangly and thin, with a Mohawk, lying dead on his back a few paces in, staring up at the ceiling. The thug’s face was pock-marked with a handful of small bullet wounds—deadly accuracy from the .22 long rifle semi-auto. Brooke had tipped a large bookcase over, the piles of music, church and medical books forming a makeshift firing position that blocked the back hallway.
              “Damn,” Tex muttered. They cleared the obstacle, making their way to the bedroom.
              The booming music suddenly disappeared, shut off. The camp had, without a doubt, noticed their presence.
              “Damn,” both men said simultaneously.
They rushed into the master bedroom. Brooke pointed to a large duffle bag on the bed.
              “Our 72 hour kit,” she said. Tex snatched it up, one handed, slinging the heavy bag over his shoulder with ease.
              The Blackwell kids were hiding out in the bathtub of the master bathroom, a blanket thrown over them, both looking tired and terrified. Tex picked up Lilly, the oldest, with his left hand, keeping his right free to operate his pistol. Jack did the same with Ash, the younger sibling. The toddler started to struggle and cry, but Brooke stepped in to offer comfort.
              “Hey, there’s a group of four guys, starting to walk my way. Get out here…” Amy’s voice crackled over the walkie talkie.
              “How fast are they?” Tex responded.
              “Umm, half-awake drunken stumbling.”
              “All right, we’ll be out in a few seconds. Don’t shoot us.”
              Jack exhaled slowly, thinking if there was anything else they needed to do before sprinting for the cars. Mike—they needed to leave a sign for him.
“Brooke, can you write your bug out phrase on the mirror, in case Mike comes back here?” Jack suggested.
Brooke nodded, set the 10/22 on the bathroom sink and grabbed up a tube of lipstick. Within a moment, she had “Jericho” scrawled across the mirror.
“All right, let’s go,” Tex said.
They moved rapidly through the house, heading out the side door and sneaking back through the carport.
              “Hey! Look at that!” a male voice shouted from down the street, far too close for comfort. Jack didn’t chance a look back, but the voices were within 50 yards. They’d been spotted.
              “You see that? They runnin’!” another called, laughing.
              Jack, Tex, Brooke and the kids were on the other side of the carport, Jack and Tex loading the Blackwell children into the double cab of Jack’s Tacoma. Brooke slid in alongside her kids, the 10/22 still held tightly in her good hand.
              With the Blackwells loaded up and ready to go, they just had to figure out how to get out of dodge.  
              “Amy, what’re we looking at?” Jack yelled.
              “Four guys—I think one has a shotgun? They’re standing in front of the house, looking over here. What do you want me to do?”
              Jack wasn’t sure. If they were just standing there, looking their direction, gunning them down might not be needed. But, if they were going to open up fire the second the trucks edged around the car port…
              “Amy, I want you to drive my truck. Move over here—go behind the trucks,” Jack said. He reached into the Tacoma, retrieving the bandoleer of AR magazines from the duffle bag on the passenger seat as Amy made her way around the two trucks. She passed the AR pistol to Jack and hopped into the driver’s seat.  
“All right, I’m going to provide cover fire. Amy, you go first—burn out of here like a bat out of hell. Then Tex. Tex, wait for me, I’m going to jump in the back of your truck. Keep your heads low,” Jack explained. Both nodded in confirmation.
              Jack jogged back to the edge of the carport, standing back a foot or so and shouldering the AR pistol.  He readied himself, settling into a good fighting stance, then popped out from behind cover. He activated the AR pistol’s light, the LED bulb sending out a wide cone of light in the direction of the four thugs.
              The men reeled at the sudden onslaught of blinding light, instinctively pulling hands up towards their eyes, which gave Jack an opportunity to see how they were armed. One holding a pistol gripped shotgun, another holding some kind of black semi-auto handgun, another with an aluminum baseball bat, the fourth seemingly unarmed. All were well muscled, tattooed and mean looking. Then, having gained the information he needed, Jack slipped back behind cover.
              Jack changed levels, dropping into a crouch—he wanted to avoid being in the exact same position the next time he moved.
              There were sounds of cursing from the thugs, and then came the booming report of the shotgun as a wild shot was fired in Jack’s general direction.
              The first shot had been fired. The gloves were off. The fight was on.
              Jack dropped out from behind the carport, falling prone and onto his side. The firing position kept his profile low and gave him good enough visibility of the enemy. The thugs were in the same relative position as before, silhouetted by the light cast by the bonfire. Jack flipped the AR’s selector from safe to fire and leveled his optic’s crimson dot on his first targets center of mass and then opened fire. The first shot boomed loudly, echoing through the night.
He depressed the trigger rapidly, firing a quick trio of shots at the shotgun thug. Then, as his first target began to stumble, the 5.56mm rounds having their desired terminal effect, Jack moved his optic to the next target in the clustered group. He settled the Aimpoint’s red dot on another thug’s chest, firing again, and then onto the next.
              The AR pistol boomed loudly, hot brass flying from the ejection port and bouncing across the Blackwell’s lawn. Gouts of flame belched from the barrel, the pistol’s Noveske Flaming Pig muzzle brake earning its name. The thugs tried to react, reeling as they attempted to escape the line of fire. None were prepared for the speed and violence of Jack’s attack; in the space of a heartbeat, a half a magazine worth of rifle rounds had been fired into them.
              Jack stopped firing and keyed the flashlight again. The cold white-blue of the LED spilled out across the Blackwell’s yard, illuminating the writhing remnants of the thugs. One began to cry out in pain. All were down.
              Jack hopped up out of the urban prone position he was lying in, settling into a low crouch that would afford him move mobility. He scanned down the street quickly. Startled movement from around the bonfire as the camp struggled to react to the gunfire. Jack looked back to his friends and waved for them to move out.
              Amy stomped on the gas pedal, sending a rooster tail of dirt and grass flying, and then rocketed forward, tires screeching as they searched for traction on the pavement. The truck fishtailed slightly, but then the tires caught hold and the Tacoma raced away into the night.
Jack opened up again with his AR as Amy, Brooke and the kids made their escape in his pickup. Not having clearly identified threats from the camp, he instead took deliberate aim at the car that had been the source of the rap music. He fired off a quick pair of shots into the car’s engine compartment, and then moved to a slower, more deliberate rate of fire. His goal was to suppress the enemy position, keep them scared and running for cover instead of fighting back. While he shot, Jack readjusted his position to just at the edge of the carport, which gave him greater concealment from anyone from the camp who decided to return fire.
              Now it was Tex’s turn. He stomped on the Chevy’s accelerator, the big diesel engine roaring. Instead of rocketing forward, the old pickup truck shuddered lurched a few feet, shuddered and then died.
              Jack glimpsed back, exchanging looks with Tex.
              “Don’t worry, she does this sometimes,” Tex yelled, working the ignition and the gas pedal.
              “Now is not the time!” Jack called back in between shots.
              Inside the Chevy, Tex cursed himself silently, while simultaneously offering up a prayer to whatever gods governed the functioning of old diesel engines.
              “Come on, baby, don’t let me down now,” he said, turning the engine over, waiting for it to catch.
              Gunfire cracked out from the gang camp as someone began to return fire. It was not accurate, aimed fire, but a wild spray of bullets across the Blackwell home and in Jack’s direction. Jack keyed his flashlight again, the wide beam illuminating a thug awkwardly holding a folding stocked AK and taking cover behind the trunk of one of the cars. Jack opened fire, bullets sparking across the car’s trunk. The thug disappeared from view.
              The bolt on Jack’s AR was locked to the rear—the magazine entirely spent.
              “Tex, if you can’t get it running, we’re going to have to ditch it!” Jack yelled while he changed out the magazine, dumping the empty mag, drawing a fresh one from his bandoleer and sliding it into place in the AR’s mag well.
              “You hear that truck? You want to get abandoned? Come on and start!” Tex yelled in frustration. He jammed his foot to the floor as he tried the ignition one last time. The diesel roared to life.
              “Yeehaw, baby!” Tex cheered, slamming a hand on the dash. He popped the truck into gear and started forward.
              “Rourke, get in!” Tex yelled. Jack jumped up, hauling himself over the Chevy’s side and rolling into the bed. He slapped the back of the cab, signaling that he was in and ready to move.
              Tex accelerated away. From the bed of the Chevy, Jack opened up with his AR-15, firing rapidly into the car where he’d seen the AK-47 wielding thug. With the truck moving at high speed, bouncing and swerving, accuracy was next to impossible. But Jack only needed to keep heads down and allow them to escape unscathed. A dozen rounds went down range as the diesel belched black smoke and propelled them onwards. No return fire came from the camp.
The 80s vintage Chevy smashed through an old card table in the middle road, the bull bars and oversized off road tires sending the aged particle board flying. Soon they were turning off the Blackwell’s street, tires screeching, the Chevy’s body shifting as Tex took the turn at high speed. Tex could see Jack’s Tacoma up ahead, racing away into the night.
              “Amy, we’re right behind you. Everyone ok?” Tex said into his walkie.
              “Yep—we’re ok. Where are we going?”
              “Not sure yet—head towards Jack’s house.”
              Jack kept watch behind them as the Chevy raced onwards, checking for any pursuers but finding none. He let out a long breath, emotions and the reality of what he’d just been through pouring over him. He’d just been in a gunfight. He’d just shot and almost certainly killed several people. His hands were shaking.
              “Suck it up, Rourke,” he told himself.
              He knocked on the Chevy’s back window—Tex reached around and slid it open.
              “You all right back there, buddy?” Tex yelled.
              “I’m good,” Jack said, scanning over his body to make sure that he was, actually, unhurt. No blood gushing was a good sign.
              “What’s the plan?” Tex asked.
              Jack wasn’t sure.
              “We need to find out how bad Brooke’s arm is. Might need to go to the hospital-- Mike might be there, too.”
              “I’m gonna smack that guy when I see him—not coming home to protect his family.”
              Now wasn’t the time, Jack thought.
              “Tex—radio Amy and have her find out.”
              They pulled out onto a main road. Tex radioed in the question, and Amy replied a few moments later.
              “Holy crap guys, she got shot when they were breaking in. I can’t believe that! She bandaged it up—it doesn’t look like its bleeding bad, but oh my gosh, a gunshot!” came Amy’s response.
              To Jack, the next move seemed clear—they needed to get Brooke to the hospital. But, with this level of chaos going on and the utilities down, what would the hospital look like? Under control or overwhelmed with throngs of injured and little way to help them? Would they be able to help? Would it even be safe? The hospital was further in towards the city, away from Jack’s home and their planned route. It seemed like Brooke had gotten the wound under control all ready—was it worth the time and potential risk? Could they return home? Should they run the rest of their planned trip?

There you have it! What would you do? Try for the hospital? Head home? Complete the rest of the trip as planned? Why?


  1. Peanut_galleryJune 17, 2013

    I would continue on as Brooke seems to have handled her gunshot to the arm, and it doesn't appear to be life threatening. Either that or bring Brooke and the kids to the house first then continue on with the rest of the trip as maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to have the kids with them if they should run into more trouble.

  2. AnonymousJune 17, 2013

    I agree. Get the kids to safety, check her arm out more thoroughly, and if she needs med attention, take a small, well armed group. I would think the closer you get to the inner city, the worse it's going to be. I don't know how I'd handle the Mike situation. If you're gonna look for him, probably better to do it sooner than later.

  3. Get med help now. Jack has a former Navy Med Tech friend. Not part of the group. Lives in the opposite direction. But better than going to a crowded hospital.

  4. Well, they seem to have gotten themselves into a gun fight because they rushed into something without a good understanding of the situation and not maximizing their options. While handling the fight was reasonably well done, they were able to take advantage of luck more than skill.
    Brooke seems to be handling her gunshot wound OK, especially if it's a day+ old. This is not a life-or-death emergency. Is the wound through-and-through? Any signs of infection? She didn't seem to indicate loss of motor control.
    Going into the city with the kids in the vehicle is stupid. Especially with the discovery that Tex's Chevy truck isn't exactly the most dependable in a tight spot. Get the group back to (relative) safety. Head back home, get Brooke's wound cleaned out and treated. She may not be the EMT, but she can't be completely clueless.

  5. Part II --
    Play time is over. The next steps are complex, but need to be acted on very quickly:
    - conduct a quick AAR with the scout group; have the rest of the families listen but hold their peace until all the rescuers have finished. Emphasis on what worked, and what didn't. Make sure all understand that it was self-defense in a life-or-death situation. Then, keeping it as calm as possible, let the others weigh in with observations and questions. What are the areas for immediate improvement?
    - deal with the post gun fight stress/decompression. Killing isn't something that is just done casually. If Amy was freaked by seeing the bullet wound, think about how she's going to react when she thinks about 4+ guys getting shot in the street. Brooke may have her own melt-down when she realizes that she killed a man and what may be happening to her husband in the city. PTSD of some sort WILL hit Jack; I don't know anybody who even fired their weapon at an enemy, let alone actually hit a person with a bullet that wasn't profoundly affected.
    - determine if/how they will scout for Mike. They will need planned routes in & out. They will need tactical loads. All the basics of some mission planning. Surely more can be learned from the emergency broadcasts by now, too. What did the family back home learn? If it's going to happen, it's going to need to be sooner rather than later.
    - get the local neighbors organized ASAP. At least let them know what the team saw at the Blackwell's. Be careful how much info is shared on who shot/got shot -- I'd stop at the one guy Brooke got and emphasize she shot second after being wounded.
    -- make recommendations for securing homes, defending themselves, maybe some emergency communications, and maybe using old vehicles or barriers (chain saw a few trees?) to cut easy access to their neighborhood streets. Tell them there are no police responding, no firemen coming, and no ambulances that will come if somebody's hurt. This is America: there will be sheeple in denial, but there will be some other sheep dogs. And if there are any local wolves, get them ID'd right away, too. If the families are going to Bug In, get the area organized and start building the tribe. I would start by parking the Tacoma in the middle of the street and hitting the horn loud and long at about 0700 and see who comes out and is willing to talk.
    - identify skill sets. There may be a another doctor, dentist or veterinarian that can treat Brooke's arm with specific skill. There may be a HAM radio operator: what have they heard? There may be a diabetic or somebody with a difficult health condition: if going into the city hospital is the plan, at least make sure they can get vital meds on the same trip, too.
    - get the home base (more) fortified. Everybody is armed (maybe not openly yet). Body armor on for anybody outside (and why doesn't anybody in TEOTWAWKI fiction have a helmet?). There must be some sentry system established to cover security. Is there a spot for a good observation post? Make one or get it better. Work out the emergency escape and rally point procedures if they have to leave in a hurry (fire bomb, attack, etc.).
    - Last, consider the potential for the Bug Out. Is it worthwhile to get to their remote land? This is tough choice, but a contingency plan needs to start getting worked out and prepared.
    Again, there's no more play. And it will only get tougher.

    1. AnonymousJune 17, 2013

      One thing I will never forget from watching The Walking Dead about defending a location is to set up spike strips. Without trying to spoil anything - I had this thought before they brought it up in the show and I was proud of myself when they finally did it :D

      Barriers in the road could be knocked down/over, but if you have the threat of semi-permanent damage to their vehicles and can stop the vehicles from even reaching their targets, trouble makers might think twice before trying to cause trouble. You might consider putting up signs to that effect to let outsiders know. It would be helpful to emergency services, and hopefully deter the badguys once they realize they are dealing with a cohesive force.

      I am still rooting for the idea that society hasn't completely collapsed and that this isn't TEOTWAWKI just yet - more like opportunistic criminal element taking advantage of the overwhelmed infrastructure. So right now organizing the neighborhood into a small village to take care of each other is the best option.

    2. AnonymousJune 17, 2013

      Good advice on traps/barriers (if the group has prepared for this in advance). However, I would assume the worst with what is known at this point. Most folks are going to behave in a completely irrational way, and assume that it is TEOTWAWKI whether true or not - including first response personnel. Even attempting to organize the neighbors could be a waste of time at best, and deadly at worst.

      At this point, I would stick to the script (and group). I would only involve other neighbors if they reach out. It will be obvious to the other neighbors that the group is the best prepared for this horror. Leadership is critical. If other neighbors want to be included, great, but the organizational hierarchy of the group must not be put at risk. This is not time for democracy. The group must be managed like a cohesive military unit from this point forward. Fragmentation in any form kills.

    3. I don't think killing someone needs to be an emotionally traumatizing situation. Obviously everyone is going to react uniquely and you'll never know for sure until you actually take a fellow human's life. But I found it very interesting in "No Easy Day" when the author describes the first person he had to kill in combat. He said he had thought about it for years--how he would react. If it would change him, if he would be freaked out by what he had done. But after he had done it he said he didn't really feel anything. He knew it had to be done and that he had done the right thing. Great insight and differs greatly from what we often might imagine.

      I think if we have that mind-set it can be the same for us. Decide ahead of time: what justifies lethal force. I think Jack was fully justified in this situation and most would agree. But ask yourself that question and you need to answer honestly. Once you've found that answer there's no need to go crazy if it ever comes to that. If your within what you decided was justifiable lethal force then know you did the right thing. Know you did what had to be done and know it was honorable. Know that NOT doing what you did would have be dishonorable. There's nothing to regret or freak out over. In such a situation there isn't time for that. It doesn't mean your a soulless killing machine, it just means you know whats right, what needs to be done, and so if you ever have to do it you can be at peace about it. Of course I've never had to kill anyone so I could be wrong about all this (PTSD can obviously effect anyone) but its something we should all think about.

      I have and I'm happy with my decisions. I hope if I'm ever put in such a situation I'll do what's necessary and not have any qualms about it. If we've honestly thought it through ahead of time there's no need for hand wringing, hesitation, or regret. We can act when such a situation presents itself and afterwards keep doing what needs to be done without having a melt down. No need to second or triple guess yourself once you've answered the question honestly ahead of time.

    4. The actual act of firing your weapon in any life or death situation will create PTSD in the shooter.The VA has put significant study into this, but it may not necessarily happen right away but it will happen.The emotional turmoil mainly does not come from the act but the justification of your actions.You are your own worst enemy, something I and several of my good friends deal with frequently. Everyone should be ready for a meltdown, cause stress will keep coming down with real stress or stress the mind creates.

    5. I disagree that every shooter is going to have PTSD. Taking someone's life WILL make an impact on you and I believe it differs greatly from person to person.

    6. Yeah, I kinda regretted using PTSD when I first posted...the term carries a lot of baggage and assumptions with it.
      To clarify: shooting at, hitting/wounding, and killing another in combat all have major pshychological impacts on the individual. Some sooner, some later, some more and some not so much. And for a few, catastrophic.
      I really liked the expansion of context for morality and justifiabilty posted by KingHoju. He said it better than I did.

    7. Obviously everyone reacts differently and you'll never quite know what'll happen. And PSTD isn't just about the guilt of killing a bad guy--its more about reliving the fear and stress of battle, over and over again. I think someone 100% prepared to "do what needs to be done" could still end up freaking out or suffering PSTD for a while. BUT I think if you do prepare--mentally, emotionally, and most importantly morally/spiritually--if you do that well before the event then it will minimize the risk of a mental meltdown. Might happen anyways, you'll never know until it happens. But "prepping" isn't just about the physical preparations. If anything, the mental/emotional/spiritual preparations are much more important than food storage or guns.

  6. Homebase...quickly. Even basic first aid is better at first to a day old wound than trying to find a functioning hospital where she would just be triaged. Also, she would have the relief of knowing her kids were safe and that is huge to a mom. HUGE. I agree with PTSD; even the most trained and seasoned people get it when the storm stops pounding. Jack might even find himself wrestling with it.

    Regroup, reconsider and move on from here.

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  7. I agree with Sarah. At the hospital there are going to be questions and probably police. Maybe!? If Amy's house is on the way back you might stop there and pick up the supplies that were left in the hasty exodus. But definitely return to safety and regroup. Come up with a game plan and act.

    I like GEJ's idea of getting the neighbors involved, surely Jack would have already canvassed his neighbors and have at least an idea of who they are. It is time to assess the information gathered during this last encounter and possibly pass it on to friendly forces.


  8. AnonymousJune 17, 2013

    GO HOME to jacks! What , you want to be number 5000 in line at the hospital, that more than likely is not even in service. Get back to jack's and get the kids safe and dress the wound as best as you can. Wait for her husband Mike who is a paramedic and more than likley has taught her some things and see if it gets infected and then worry about the hospital or doctor.

  9. Even if the hospital is still going it will take you days to get in. Sitting in an ER on a normal day cane take hours. Think about all the people that would have gotten hurt and would be at the hospital, not knowing any better. I would go back to the house. If you don't have an extensive first aid kit in you preps, you screwed up big time. Also, with all the people at the hospital, there would be a very high risk of infection. So return home and do what GreenEyedJinn said to do.

  10. AnonymousJune 17, 2013

    The bullet wound definitely needs to be looked at. I think the major dangerous of a gunshot wound to the arm is firstly rapid blood loss and secondly infection. Regardless of what happens next you will want a round of antibiotics to clear any infection if it develops.

  11. First off, Mr. Wolf, thank you very much. I agree that your story thus far is equal to or higher-caliber than a lot of the TEOTWAWKI stuff you find in Barnes and Noble or on Amazon. As someone who also enjoys creating and consuming stories, I appreciate it.

    Put in context, as a bit of introduction, I'm a very long-time reader and first time commenter who's been enticed to join in by this awesome series and audience-interactive concept. 18 years old, operating out of southern New England. I've been survival- and preparation-minded for a long time, but there's only so much one can buy and do within my legal and financial brackets. Put together a respectable EDC (sans pistol, of course), and have done a good bit of outdoors/survival training and exploring, but that's about it. About to have the honor and pleasure of shipping out to Colorado Springs to the USAF Academy - will acquire a LOT more relevant training.

    As to the story, the crew should pull over. On the side of the main road might actually be best; open areas mean nobody and nothing can sneak up on 'em. Least queasy person double-checks the GSW and dumps whatever sterilizing agent they have on hand on it, then packs it up again, with the other adults on overwatch. If it's not an immediate danger, as it seems to be, push on through the rest of the trip. They've already burned a lot of gas, and are seemingly through the most dangerous part of their mission. They might as well keep going, and some of the supplies they'll be picking up will be really valuable (i.e. Kyle's guns, since things seems to be going down the drain). Hopefully they can beat the clock and get everything before the inevitable psychological impact of a gunfight like that sinks in on everyone.

    As for Mike, as a medical professional, he did/does have an obligation to the public as a first responder for at LEAST the rest of the shift he was on, as one of the formal, uniformed sheepdogs whose job it is to look after the sheep. He's also competent, if less combat-experienced. Trust him to either see "Jericho" and book it or make the connection that nukes in N.Y./D.C. make for bug-out situation and head for Jack's straight from the hospital. Take care of everything else, namely the neighborhood situation. Once Jack, Tex, and co. are home safe, some sort of meeting in a neutral place should be arranged. At least get some sort of "don't shoot up/loot the neighbors" pact going, and catalogue what kind of assets and risks they might be. If the former outweigh the latter, neighborhood defense might be viable. If not, our group should head for the hills ASAP.

    Sorry for the novel. TL;DR is I'm a new poster who thinks the scouts should fly through the rest of the trip, then consolidate at home. Mike can take care of himself, but the Joneses next door are unknowns.

    1. Cody - aside from the story, congratulations on accepting your Appointment to USAFA. While I'm a grad of Tecumseh's School for Wayward Boys on the Bay, I think ANY service academy or ROTC program is a GREAT place for any young patriots to start out.
      You've obviously already achieved a lot on your own. Remember that the first year is nothing more than a drawn-out right of passage. Keep your focus, do your best, know that everybody is tired, that pushing past every breaking point (there will be more than one) is an achievement and discovery, and always be ready to lend a hand to a fellow airman if you can.

  12. home quickly and discreetly, watching for tails. First aid asap (but then I am an ER nurse and feel pretty confident dealing with GSWs).

  13. Day TripperJune 17, 2013

    Go back to Jack's house so that everyone is safe and you can check on the others there. Now is the time to review the recon info they received on this mission and plan accordingly. They now know that there are minimally organized gangs of violent, armed people. With that knowledge, any future trips away from the safe house need to be more methodical and definitely have a purpose that is a priority to the survival of the group. I think I would be more focused now on fortifying Jack's house and waiting for some type of contact from the missing people. Losing 2 people on a rescue mission of 1 is not a good idea.

    They need to work on securing a safe perimeter around the house so that they aren't just confined to the house itself. The story could really go many different ways from this point, but assuming that order will not be restored for some significant period of time, preparing their base camp for the long haul should be a top concern. They have a pretty sizable group, with the possibility of more, all of whom need water, food, first aid, sanitation, etc. I would begin divvying up tasks to promote the sustainability of the group with security of the "compound" a major priority. Maybe while the adults are setting up safe areas around the house for water collection, bathroom/composting, etc. the children (can't remember their ages) could work on organizing and making inventory of all of their food, water, batteries, medical supplies, etc.

  14. Get away from the neighborhood and someplace they can pull over and assess Brooke's wound. Does it look like any bones were broken? If its a clean thru and thru wound they're probably ok but at the very least she's gonna need antibiotics to stave off infection. If they don't have any in their preps they'll have to get some from somewhere.

    I'd get everyone back to Jack's and figure out what they're going to have to do from there. If either of the other houses are on the way you might drive by and see what it looks like but if ANYTHING looks out of place keep on going.

    Something else to think about is if you can find a cop they would probably be able to tell you what conditions are at the hospital and you might be able to get a message directly to Mike on the police radio or through dispatch. Let him know everyone's ok and to NOT go to his house. You could skip the details and just tell the officer she was assaulted. Not the best of ideas but that's your best bet of getting in touch with Mike.

    Agreed you need to fortify things more when you get home. If possible get the RV out of sight behind the house. I wouldn't drop trees across the road because you want to be able to get in and out but putting some cars abreast of each other will work and you can move em easily when you have to. Pistols on your person at all times and I'd stage some rifles around the house for easy access.

  15. Catpocolypse NowJune 17, 2013

    Wow, my front yard suggestion got worked into the story. Very cool. :)

    I would: inspect the wound, and if it doesn't look infected, then I would pick up more supplies if it's on the way to Jack's house. If the supply route is out of the way, then head to Jack's house ASAP, drop off the kids, debrief the group, and wait for nightfall before attempting the supply route again (unless the supply route is located in a less dangerous neighborhood, then daytime operation could be considered).

    Regarding organizing the neighborhood, that's an interesting thought but it will depend on whether Jack is leadership material (can't really tell at this point, but he better be because the group's survival depends on it). Also, if Jack has not engaged with other neighbors before (conversationally speaking), he most likely will not have their trust. No trust = failure. In that situation I wouldn't engage them unless if they come to me voluntarily.

    Where is Senator Arthur Jellison when you need him?

  16. Another great chapter! Indeed the group made some foolish choices--shouldn't have rushed into the situation before they knew what was going on. Parking a block away, moving on foot under cover of stealth--would have been a much better option. BUT hey that's life! In a disaster scenario none of us are going to act perfectly or make 100% logical decisions. Its great that this series reflects the dumbness we ALL exhibit in life.

    One of the awesome parts of this series is we see realistic characters in realistic situations (sometimes thrown into them out of their realistic short comings) and then we get to be armchair quarter-backs and analyze what the characters did wrong or right--and what we might do better in said situation. From this chapter I learned not to rush into such a potentially deadly situation. Sometimes time is of the essence and you can't take your time--you need to act immediately. But this wasn't one of those scenarios. The family had already been there for 24+ hours--if they were dead or injured or in troubled an extra two or three minutes of planning wouldn't change any of that.

    As for the hospital I'd avoid it for sure. Its going to be a mad house--if hasn't been burned to the ground already. Perhaps there are other places to go--a doctor, a clinic of some kind, maybe a vet office--but even those places are liable to be over run. It all depends on the severity of the wound (infected?) and the medical supplies the group has back home. If she 100% absolutely needs health care that the group can in no way provide on their own I'd drop the kids off first and then try a health care facility (probably not a big hospital though--I'd honestly try a vet first). If it is infected its likely nothing a shot of antibiotics won't fix--find some of that and you're good to go.

  17. Get home, quick! Hospitals will be assaulted by fix-needing junkies and flu-fearing grand'mas and every other un-prepared animal under the sun.

    Then, someone can find a HAM/CB and call in for medical help or try to find a county where the chaos isn't widespread and that still got a med center working.

  18. AnonymousJune 18, 2013

    Most of my thoughts have already been well covered by other submissions. But to add my voice to the mix, if Brooke's wound is not immediately life or limb threatening, then go home. Get the kids to a safe location and treat the wound to the best of their ability. The hospital is probably not a good idea at this point. Their plan is also fragmented and they need to fall back, re-group, and re-arm.

    The next trip out, the gear should probably be augmented with some
    rifles, and also body armor if they have any. Some additional fortifications back at the casa should be considered (but the possibilities for this are probably limited) and also coordinating with neighbors is also probably a worthwhile effort.

  19. Were I Jack, I would continue on with the mission. You have accomplished one leg (the most difficult leg) and should not stop. However if Brooke's wound seems life threatening then yes head home. DO NOT GO TO THE HOSPITAL! that would be a horrible idea, and the chances of being treated are slim to none. Non life threatening bullet wounds are going to get infected no matter what, I would hit up a pharmacy (break-in)and load up on penicillin or other broad spectrum antibiotic and other stuff that would be salvageable. Heck Brooke may have some and already treated herself, so no need to stop. Now that you have secured part of the Blackwell clan move on too helping Kyle's family. Don't waste anymore gas and time then necessary. Finish the mission and get back safe and sound.

  20. AnonymousJune 18, 2013

    Regardless of the severity of the wound, this group needs to go straight back to the house and re-group, especially since they have kids with them now. The uncertainty of civil unrest has been answered, and any further ventures need to be well planned with those conditions in mind. Also, any concerns about the legality of firearms need to be tossed, and they need to arm themselves appropriately for the types of confrontations they just survived, and worse. The next moves after getting back to the safe house would depend on any changes in conditions there upon their return, as well as the status of Brooke's wound.

  21. AnonymousJune 18, 2013

    Brooke probably needs better medical treatment, but I'd not go to the hospital if I were them. Even with a "bad" wound, ER waiting can be a while under normal circumstances, and you know there are going to be lots more people and with a lot more critical injuries than "normal." Since her wound is semi-stabilized she wouldn't be in the front of the line anyway, even if the hospital is working. And under overloaded conditions like that, sometimes you can come out worse than you went in, with the rampant non-hygiene and such. Plus getting there is dangerous. The risks are not outweighed by the possibility of treatment sometime. I'd try to complete the mission (going to houses for supplies), splitting up to get the kids and Brooke home straight away. If you can't split (with one vehicle unreliable and Brooke possibly unable to drive), I'd just all go home. When that's all done, I'd then turn attention to Mike, at least to debating the issue, because that'll be a complicated one, too. He'll be your next best bet for Brooke's arm, but in the meanwhile use what 1st Aid you know, and maybe some "tricks" (i.e. not exactly real practice of medicine, but it'll do) from med books (like Where There is No Doctor and similar publications from the Dr.s that go to help "3rd World" countries) or trainings that they've had (like if they've had 1st Aid classes, preparedness-minded medical classes, CERT training, etc. they should have picked up some stuff)

    I really like the format of this, with the input and all, because it helps us make better use of the thought-provoking than just reading a novel straight-up. Plus, it helps you to realize there is a life or death decision at every turn, and although we can never write completely realistically, that fact is a very real one. Having a bunch of people's ideas/input to read through is very helpful, too, so thanks to all the commenters.

  22. Stealth would have been the better choice, lesson learned, hopefully.
    The group has now doubled in size to no tactical benefit at this time with wounded and young children. Time to head home, tend to the wounded and secure the kids.
    What does Brooke know about Mike's agency Emergency Plan ? He has most likely been held over for the next shift. If he is not an officer / management, there is slim chance of finding him at his base. PD radio will be swamped, based on the description of things, so getting a message through that way wont work, and is an extremely unlikely option in the best of times.
    Unfortunately Mike is on his own for the next few hours. Without knowing Mike's usual travel plan and any emergency pre-plan he and Amy may have, trying to find him on the road is a major risk.
    Resupply if needed, and make the supply run to Amy's. Once that is done, reevaluate the information available about Mike.

  23. AnonymousJune 18, 2013

    Jack is pondering whether to go to the hospital, but he needs to talk to Brooke first. Her husband is an EMT and it seems likely he would have trained her at least in part, especially with 2 kids in the home. She may have already assessed her wound as superficial, disinfected it, and started taking antibiotics....and may have a supply in their bug out bag. And also, she has a right to weigh in on the decision; she has two kids with her...if I were her I would not want to risk a trip to the hospital, for all the reasons everyone has mentioned. But I do think a wary and careful trip to Kyle's to get the rest of the guns is warranted. Amy knows the neighborhood and they can assess before they go in. Clearly, they are going to need those guns. The situation is going to deteriorate further...so their chance to get the remaining weapons and supplies will only decrease...and the risk that they get stolen higher with every passing minute. If Brooke can still drive, I might have her wait with the kids in Jack's truck in a hidden place a block or two from Kyle's house...if there is such a place...and then Amy, Jack and Tex go in and load up Tex's truck...keeping the motor running. If they run into trouble, or bad guys grab Tex's truck, they can hightail it to Jack's truck as a backup. There are no perfect plans anymore...just greater and lesser degrees of risk and and weighing both short term and long term survival needs.

    Sheesh. These stories have me on the edge of my seat. Extremely well written and it really makes me think about weighing the risks and how to mitigate some of the things these characters have encountered.

  24. Ptsd is not an issue now; never is in heat of battle. Probably hasn't sunk in yet enough for them to be in shock. Brooke might have been, but with her competence bandaging herself up she will be fine for now. A real mama bear. Continue with plan; they did the first part, rescuing brooke and the kids- they must have suspected some injury as they hadn't bugged out and would have known they'd have the kids. Next part of plan is to the Macnabs. If they are there there and have transportation a part of their plan may have been for 2 cars to continue on with plan while the other car and team go back to Jacks.

  25. GodfatherJsJune 20, 2013

    1) keep going with mission or resupply/scout/locate members.... adrenaline will keep you going and prevent the whole psychological trauma from kicking in if it does at all... some people are able to block out the stuff that makes others break down

    2) break into a vet or pet store and steal all the drugs you need they will not be looted yet and are less likely to be protected

    3) look for soft targets with high value supplies along your route and gather everything possible as future runs will likely not be possible (no gas because noone listened earlier)

    4) sterilize the wound, bandage, pain meds, antibiotics, put her on light duty and call it a day (assuming the gsw was a through-and-through.... if not she needs surgery or she is SOL)

    5) dont rally the neighborhood. ... get your stuff and get out whe you can to a defensible position where you have a chance of resupply (think no natural food or water sources in the house)... as soon as you hear multiple nukes hitting the US that should be a wake-up call that the SHTF and its time to bail. 3 days in and the whole country will look like New Orleans post Katrina minus the water.

    6) assume everyone is a treat and treat them as such until proven otherwise. If you have weapons carry them. If you have a vest wear it.

    Good job... im glad these articles are generating more interest in your site. I see good things for you coming from this series (I.e. book)

  26. Head back home, it is important to get the kids to safety, Brookes wound does not seem to be life threatening, especially since its a day old. Get home, check her out, I would assume that they are pretty much squared away with trauma supplies stored in their preps. Once home check the neighbourhood to see if there are any doctors or nurses. Go to the hospital ONLY if he wound is so serious that only the facilities of a hospital could cope with it.