> TEOTWAWKI Blog: You Took Away Tomorrow: Chapter 6 - Ring, Ring



You Took Away Tomorrow: Chapter 6 - Ring, Ring

Thanks for your patience! Here it is - the next installment in our ongoing series. Big cliffhanger this time around :). Read, enjoy and let us know what you would do! Share with your friends, too.

If you're starting from scratch, check out the index.

Chapter 6: Ring, Ring

Tex was assigned guard duty while the rest of the group ate breakfast and finalized the plans for the day. The consensus was to hunker down, get some rest and regroup. The radio would be monitored and a small group would go out to greet the neighbors. If things appeared calm and quiet, a scout party might head out in the afternoon to visit Tex’s house for supplies and to potentially swing by Barry’s gun shop, which was only just out of the way.
              It was a tough call, but the group decided that waiting for Mike to arrive was their best strategy for the time being. A trip to the hospital was deemed high risk, and with a high likelihood of failure—there was no telling if Mike would be there, or if they’d be able to track him down. If he was on the job, he was also likely safe, so it was only a matter of waiting for his arrival.
              A simple watch schedule was drawn up. With six able bodied adults—Jack and Fiona, Tex and Esme, Kyle and Amy, and the desire to have shifts no longer than four hours each, a twenty four hour block was divided into six, four hour blocks of time. The group decided to have two people on guard duty at all times, which meant each adult needed to be assigned two shifts. Those not assigned to guard duty would keep their walkie talkies and firearms close at hand.
              “Where are we going to place the guards?” Kyle asked as they planned out their strategy for security. Previously, those on watch had remained on the Rourke’s property—in the garage, with a view of the street, or in the front yard. Jack scratched the stubble growing on his face, focusing on Google Map images spread out across the table. He’d printed them out and put them in protective sleeves a while ago—cost had been negligible, and now it gave them a detailed satellite view of the surrounding area.

              “That’s a good question,” Jack acknowledged, “The problem with our street is that there is one way in and a dead end. If the entrance to the street gets taken over, we’re boxed in and we’ll need to bail out on foot. Hardly ideal.”
              “Yup—all those pretty hardwoods make off-roading out of here a challenge. We could probably hop the curb, run over some bushes and squeeze our way out of here if someone decided to road block off the entrance, but it’d be dicey,” Kyle added, “We really need to watch the main road, ID and stop any trouble before it turns onto the street.”
              “So wait, we’re setting up a road block now?” Amy said, jumping in.
              “Naw, babe. There’s going to be through traffic and we don’t want to deal with that. Somebody can hide in the trees, watch for trouble and radio it in if spotted,” Kyle responded.
              “But then we likely end up with the same problem—they’ve turned onto our street and now our exit may be compromised,” Jack added.
              “Well, do you think we’ve got the people to man a roadblock on the main road?” Kyle said.
              Jack shook his head.
              “Not really, and like you said, we don’t want to deal with that.”
              There was a moment of silence as the group thought collectively through the problem. Jack was the first to speak up.
              “Well, if we lose the entrance, we lose the entrance. Let’s plan for that contingency. What if we took a couple of the trucks over here,” he said, pointing to a cleared area on the other side of the forest that covered the Rourke’s neighborhood. The area was accessible from another through street, and, from the satellite images, showed a nice little spot where they could park the vehicles in a place surrounded by trees and out of sight from the road. On foot, the group would just need to head out of Rourke’s backyard and travel for a quarter mile or so to reach the spot.
              “Throw some camo over them, and leave them there just in case. Then, if we have to bug out on foot, we can head for the trucks and get out of here. There are a lot of cars in my driveway now anyways, not doing us much good.”
              “Makes sense to me,” Kyle acknowledged.
              “You’re volunteering your truck then?” Fiona chimed in.
              “And my husband’s truck too!” Esme added.
              Jack laughed.
              “We can use my truck, but I’m not going to trust my life to Tex’s truck again. That thing wouldn’t start when we needed it to last time around.”
“We can use Amy’s Explorer,” Kyle said, receiving an elbow to the ribs for his trouble.
“Why not your truck?” Amy said.
“It’s red—not going to camo up very well,” Kyle said with a shrug and a grin, “besides, if the crap hits the fan, that means you’ll get to keep your car and I’ll have to leave mine to the zombies.”
With that part of the plan decided on, Jack moved onto other details.
“We’ll want to load the vehicles up with some supplies, and may want to wait until after dark tonight to move them into place. And, everybody needs to make sure their bags are packed and ready to roll at a moment’s notice.”
“The guard’s main responsibility, then, will be providing advanced warning if anything really bad looks like it is rolling our way, and also slowing the advance of any bad guys to give us time to retreat. In terms of the entrance to the neighborhood, I think we set out some obstacles and then have the guards observe them. Make up some spike strips or other barriers. Bad guys would have to try to smash through them or get out and move ‘em out of the way, which would give our people a signal of their intentions. If they are good guys, we’ve got some buffer distance to determine that, and can then talk with them and figure out what to do from there.”
The group nodded in agreement. They hashed out some further details of the plan—clarifying rules of engagement, how the guards would retreat if they found themselves in a protracted engagement, how and when the guards would call for support, and so on.
“All right—we’ve got the basic plan decided on. We should have probably figured that out way before this started, but hey, we’ve got it down now and I feel pretty good about it. It would be great if we could get some of the neighbors involved in pulling guard duty—they’re unfortunately pretty much unknowns, but they’ve got some skin in the game when it comes to security,” Jack said.
“I’d like to be a part of that,” Amy said.
“Me too. Most of them know me better than they know you,” Fiona chimed in.
“You’re a heck of a lot better looking, too,” Jack said with a grin. “And Amy, I think your people skills will be a big help. We’ll load up the garden cart with water jugs and bring those around to share if they need it, and see if we can find out any other intel as well.”
 With the plan in place, the group went to work. With Tex still flying solo on guard duty for the time being, Kyle recruited Jack’s 7 year old boy, Porter, to help in fabricating some homemade spike strips and wooden barriers for the street’s entrance. Jack, Fiona and Amy headed out on their diplomatic mission, water filled wagon in tow, while Esme was left to watch over the brood of toddlers and a napping Brooke.
In favor of presenting themselves as the friendly, low-threat neighbors that they were, Jack was the only armed member of the diplomatic party. He carried only a concealed handgun and a pair of hidden knives. The women decided that the neighbors were very low risk and potentially very skittish, so heavier fire power was left behind for the short trip down the block. They had Tex waiting in the wings with an AK-47 if anything did happen, and Kyle was only a few short paces away from them.
The first home, directly across the street, went very well. Jack stood back and let the women work their charms on the older couple, sharing information and telling, in vague details, about the chaos and violence they’d seen in the Blackwell’s neighborhood. Though he was in his late 70s and had never fired a gun in his life, the husband offered his services on guard duty. The couple hadn’t heard any more about the attacks than what had been available over the radio, and were not expecting any visitors or family to arrive in the next few days. Their home was also on well water, and they had a gas generator to keep it running for the time being.
“Well, they were nice,” Amy said as they walked street to the next home.
“They certainly were,” Fiona added in.
Jack had to agree. They were good, nice people. He didn’t know how much help they would be, and, quite possibly, the couple would need help if the crisis continued on for as long as Jack feared it might. He kicked himself for forgetting to ask if they had any medical needs that they might need help with—not that they could do a whole lot if one of the couple were say, diabetic, but it would have at least been good to know.
Getting to know the kind older couple a bit better also made the idea of cutting and running in the face of trouble a bit harder to stomach. If an angry, hungry mob came rampaging down their street, was he prepared to abandon them as he ran for safety with his wife, children and friends? Could they hope to bring the older couple along with them?
Jack was lost in his thoughts when something summoned him back to the present moment. It was a familiar sound—a repetitive buzzing—but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Then, a loud 90s-vintage pop song began playing from Amy’s back pocket.
Their phones were ringing.
Jack’s hand flew to his pocket, retrieving his phone—he’d charged it up and put it in his pocket out of habit. He checked the caller ID—Unknown. He slid his thumb across the touchscreen, answering the call, and then switched the speaker on.
“This is urgent emergency message,” an awkward computerized voice declared, “U.S.A. Air Command has reported nuclear missile inbound for your location. You have approximately twenty minutes to evacuate the area. Disregard any reports to the contrary—the enemy may be broadcasting misinformation. Repeat: U.S.A. Air Command has reported nuclear missile inbound for your location. You have approximately twenty minutes to evacuate the area. Disregard any reports to the contrary—the enemy may be broadcasting misinformation.”
Then the line went dead, the call over.
Jack, Fiona and Amy all looked at each other, a mix of surprise and confusion pasted across their faces. Jack checked back to his phone—it was still reporting no signal. He looked back to the house, where Tex had his phone up to his ear, a similar look of confusion developing on his face.Jack stared at his phone again, dumbfounded.
“What the heck?”


  1. AnonymousJune 25, 2013

    Talk about a cliffhanger, can't wait till the next installment!

  2. AnonymousJune 25, 2013

    Interesting. The call is probably fake, sent by whoever hijacked the network to get people to panic. I'd find a way to verify that broadcast before I would run. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the neighbors respond.

  3. AnonymousJune 25, 2013

    Finally, an easy question! Twenty minutes isn't going to get you anywhere close to far enough away from a nuclear blast, unless a rocket in your back yard is part of your preps. I would say my prayers, and return to the basement just in case there is one that goes off somewhere far enough away to be survivable, but if it is really a nuke, not much you can do in 20 minutes.

    1. I think you are right on...into the basement and pray for the best!

    2. Agreed. Seal as much as u can and fall back to the basement

    3. Could be less than 20 minutes too. 20 min on a completely empty freeway--in the right direction--could get you as far as 20, maybe 30 miles away. That much COULD do some good, depending on the strength of the warhead. But even if you could load up everyone in the car in under 5 minutes (unlikely) and make your way to a major road its almost certain that everyone else got the same automated call. You're not likely to make it a mile from where you started in 20 minutes--or 20 hours for that matter. If roads weren't congested before they certainly will be after that.

      Its likely a fake call but if not then running for it won't be very helpful. Who knows even what direction to travel in. The fact that the call even suggests running makes it seem dubious. "USA Air Command" would know that running isn't going to do any good. If they detected an incoming warhead they'd be busy try to shoot it down and retaliate, not needlessly warn the public. An authentic warning would tell people to stay put, try to find shelter/protection.

      Its a smart attack for the terrorists though, if everyone in the country got a message like this the chaos would be devastating. Furthermore, since the message was claiming to be from the US government, future government communications might be hard to trust. People won't believe government information, fearing it too might be an act of cyber terrorism. The federal government's authority and ability to command/control will be deeply compromised.

      I agree with everyone else. Best bet is to seal off the basement as best as possible. Pray, take some more iodine, try to find some international radio reports, and wait for a boom in about 20 minutes. Don't go outside until you can confirm (via several different broadcasts) that no bomb ever went off. Information coming out of the US will be unreliable but another government would be able to confirm nuclear strikes based on satellite images and the like.

  4. I'm at the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment now. I agree with trying to verify the message authenticity, as it could be a cyber attack by someone attempting to instill more panic causing even more stress to what is left of the running infrastructure.

  5. Peanut_galleryJune 26, 2013

    I am inclined to believe the message to be fake as well. Not likely our own government has it together enough to warn its citizens. Also twenty minutes would not be enough time to get far enough away for you to be safe.

  6. I think its fake also but as said above 20 minutes isn't going to give you time to get far enough away. I say continue what you're doing but the threat level just went up. People are gonna freak out and mass panic will ensue. Roads are really gonna be packed now.

  7. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    I think the logic behind the call being a fake is pretty sound. If the cell network was down due to cyber-attack then it seems a little much to expect that the federal government was able to regain control of the network long enough to broadcast some kind of early warning message. Also, a nuclear early warning emergency phone call system sounds a little far-fetched. More reasonable explanation- the cell network remains under control of a cyber attack and this is an automated fake message intended to cause a panic.

    And as others have mentioned, twenty minutes isn't much time to escape a nuclear attack. Best case is that they might get the minimum distance to escape the immediate blast, but they have no information on which direction to run. They might end up getting closer to a potential blast rather than further away.

    Either ignore it and check the radio for any news or EBS messages to confirm the nature of the calls, or hedge their bets and throw the bags in the trucks and drive down the road for a half-hour and see what happens. If nothing, turn around and come back. The problem with that strategy is potentially getting caught in a panic exodus and not being able to make it back home easily.

  8. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    I've got to agree with the consensus. 20 minutes won't matter. I'll be interested in seeing how this plays out with the neighbors. I live in the same situation, older, small town neighborhood, and I"m at the end of a dead end street with farmland and trees behind me. I know most of my neighbors, who are retired/elderly. Forming a group would definitely probably be more additional concerns than help, but it would be hard to bug out and leave them.

  9. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    Whether the call is fake or not I have no idea but reading it sent chills down my spine- Great writing!

  10. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    Okay, let's say you even want to bug out, it will take you at least 10 minutes to get ready to leave. That leaves you 10 min to get somewhere, that is if you are the only ones to get the message, if not the roads will be more crowded than ever before. Get home and hunker down and wait it out. That is the only plan, besides like everyone else the call was a fake and is there even a real target for nukes around them??? One thing for sure they are not getting out this afternoon to move the cars or go to tex's because there will be people that will believe the call and panic and just drive like crazy. That may mean there will be people stranded all over the place with no supplies and they will be coming to the neighborhood. Better get ready for the zombie surge.

  11. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    I would wager the call is fake, especially given that the network was dead prior to it. Get on the emergency weather radio and see if there is a broadcast message there. A question I have is this family's familiarity with thier neighbors. I live in a neighborhood (small development) about 13 years old. I know most of my neighbors very well, whether it be from cook-outs, parties, hanging out, walking through the plan. I can tell you for the most part who hunts, who has weapons, who has kids, who is like minded. I am suprised this group was so isolationist they don't know the couple across the street. I also know how I would secure the neighborhood from incursion, a good escape route through the surrounding woods and farms, and the first person who deserved to be knocked on the ass! :)

  12. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    Wow! Excellent twist. I didn't see that one coming. I would take the 20 minutes and gather the group down the basement and do my radio monitoring from there. I really enjoy the comments of others and the mental prep that comes from the "what ifs."

  13. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    I agree with the concensus also. Twenty minutes is not enough time to get far enough away. That 20 minutes would be best spent making sure everybody in the group is prayed-up, maybe getting alone with the wife for a few if possible :-) and then holding on to all your loved ones present until it hits...

    Great story. Better, by far, than many shtf paperbacks I've read. I can't wait for the next installment (so stop reading comments and get to typing already !! LOL)

  14. its a fake call---maybe by local bad guys?
    once neighbors start their movement---its time to get a meeting, get organized and by all means barricade the entrance!

  15. There are two main purposes for bombs. Kill (as in terrorist), and cause mass panic, chaos and just trouble in general. What where the intentions of the original bombs. If I was a terrorist launching bombs and I had 5, I would launch them all at once, so there would be no chance for escape or warning of any kind. BUT, if I were using the bombs as a distraction sending them at different times would keep the panic longer, and thus would be a greater distraction. Go check the radio and see if there is a similar warning. Between this and the "intentions" that I gave above, it should give you your answer. Now, if you have your answer and it says the bombs are real, not much you can do. You are basically toast. Of course I don't know how close they are to a target area. If your answer says fake, I would hunker down in the basement and maybe even encourage neighbors to do the same.

    1. BTW, I was not expecting that at all. Nice twist. This series a has made me think "what if" with my current preps and it just makes me realize, I need more food, water, garden space, ammo, livestock, first aid, training (mental and physical), and more "friend/allis.

  16. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    You can be assured as well that half his neighbors will leave...

    1. My bet would be more than that, even if you did try to convince them to stay.

  17. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    Great installment. It sounds fake to me, a way to cause fear and confusion by the hackers. 20 min. isn't enough time to get far enough to make a difference. You might get in the basement as a precaution.

  18. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    1 no such thing as "usa air command"
    2 they are hacking reverse 911 so if there was a message it will come from 911 or civil defense NOT the military
    3 as above 20 min ain't cutting it [this is just to panic the public]

  19. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    also the message reads like a spam email -- bad englisk verry

  20. AnonymousJune 27, 2013

    This line is very problematic for me, “Getting to know the kind older couple a bit better also made the idea of cutting and running in the face of trouble a bit harder to stomach. If an angry, hungry mob came rampaging down their street, was he prepared to abandon them as he ran for safety with his wife, children and friends? Could they hope to bring the older couple along with them?” The neighbors may be great people but a perceived duty to protect them adds risks to the group. Normal Life is over and a new way of thinking must be envisioned. In my heart, I want to right the wrongs of the world, vanquish evil, and protect the downtrodden. But if I follow this path, I cannot avoid the fact that I am doing so by adding additional risk to my family.

    What if 2 trucks roll into the neighborhood and catch the old man on his lawn doing something. The group dismounts and decides he is the easy and first target. The bad guys out number Rourke and his clan by a couple and are as heavily armed as Rourke’s group. Rourke’s group decides the element of surprise tips the scales in their favor and engage the bad guys. A 5 minutes firefight ensues with Rourke’s group gaining the upper hand through fire and maneuver and about the trounce the bad guys….just as 4 more trucks the bad guys called in roll onto the street. Now you are committed to a battle with personnel spread out and unable to easily retreat. Your ammo is running low because you cannot easily resupply advancing personnel during the fight, at least 1 or 2 of your people are out of action (e.g., damage or jammed firearm, wounded, injured, out of ammo) and you are now facing a refreshed force at least 2 times the size of your group’s. Did the idea of helping the old couple make sense? While you cannot see the future, you must be able to see plan ahead and incorporate multiple contingencies.

    Make friends, make allies, have agreements but realize that anything made after the SHTF are done so because of fear and duress and must be held at arm’s length until time and circumstances proves them to be of value and worthy of sacrifice to protect and defend. Until that time, you need to be able to walk away from ANYTHING post SHTF in order to ensure the survival of you and your family. $hitty reality but far better than losing everything to protect and defend someone who did not take time to prepare, practice and train when they had the chance.


    1. Totally agree--your family should be your priority and you shouldn't risk their safety no matter what the cost.

      There is a difference between "not helping" and "hurting." You shouldn't be hurting anyone unless first provoked. Don't loot, steal, kill etc. Even if it might help you or your family's situation. You don't have to become a monster just because the world is falling apart. Some things are even more important than your family's physical safety--better for you and them to die with honor than to live as monsters.

      But that doesn't mean its your duty to always protect or save everyone else. You have the right to defend your family (with violence if necessary) and you have the right to "not help" someone in need if it compromises higher priorities. That is true now and it'll be true in TEOTWAWKI. I don't like the idea that when SHTF all of a sudden morality shifts, you live in a different world, and its ok to be a bad guy to survive. The same rules apply now as will apply then. Helping strangers out is important but your family well-being should be paramount. Well placed priorities should be set in stone and should be the same today, tomorrow, and on doomsday.

  21. AnonymousJune 28, 2013

    While I agree that the call sounds fake, and that 20 minutes is not enough time to get out of the area, our group needs to take heed and understand that there will be a great many who do take it seriously, thus raising the heat of an already serious situation.

  22. Catpocalypse NowJune 28, 2013

    I don't think anyone has pointed to this line of thought yet...

    If they live in/near San Diego, San Antonio, Seattle, Colorado Springs, and/or any other places with significant military presence/assets (especially ICBMs or air force bases), I would be a lot more concerned. Otherwise, there are places that are simply not worth bombing. And yes, in this situation, living in places that are not worth bombing is actually a GOOD thing.

    So the message is probably fake... Although I would be concerned that the network is compromised to this degree. And when is America gonna fight back or at least establish some order? Yes the situation is chaotic but it's not like all major cities or state governments are taken out. There should still be a chain of command, and our fictional heroes might soon start to wonder where their elected officials are (and why they paid all those tax dollars).

    Time to get on the HAM radio and find somebody who knows how to use it. Maybe Barry has one? ;-)

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. They are in the Southeast, and local government is there, but struggling to cope and overwhelmed.