> TEOTWAWKI Blog: You Took Away Tomorrow: Chapter 5 - Back Again



You Took Away Tomorrow: Chapter 5 - Back Again

If you're new to the series, the index is a good place to start!

Chapter 5: Back Again

              “Tex, what do you think? Risk the hospital or head back home?” Jack asked. His mind was still racing from the encounter with the thugs—he needed more input.
              “We’ve got an injured mom and two little kids. Normally, I’d say let’s roll to the hospital, but I’m going to bet the hospital is a mad house ‘bout now,” Tex responded.
              Jack had to agree. The hospital neighbored a bad part of town and the E.R. was backlogged during normal times—they would have a line around the block. Jack had some medical supplies at his home, including a stash of antibiotics, and the whole group knew some basics of trauma aid and medical care. If the wound was minor, it wouldn’t be much of a problem—and, it appeared that Brooke had already gotten the bleeding under control.

              “Ask Brooke if she will be ok if we go to my place,” Jack asked. Tex radioed the question; a few moments later, Amy radioed back an affirmative.
              “All right then, let’s roll home," Tex confirmed.
              The drive home was uneventful, with the group speeding back to the Rourke home on quiet streets, the morning sun rising. Sitting in the bed of Tex’s truck, Jack had ample time to think through what they’d done wrong on the unplanned Blackwell rescue mission—and it was a long list.
              First and foremost, they’d rushed in with zero plan and zero intel—completely Jack’s fault. He had underestimated the length of time it would take for anarchy to break out—it was still less than 24 hours after the original attacks. They’d been lucky that the thug camp had been drunk and asleep, and their approach partly masked by loud music. They’d also been lucky that the enemy force’s response was disorganized and slow, giving Jack’s group enough time to plan out actions and communicate.
Next time, they would plan more adequately, rely more heavily on stealth, and roll out with full battle loads. Security had to become a top priority.
              As the two-truck caravan approach the Rourke home, they were greeted by the welcoming sight of a familiar red Ford F150 that had been added to the Rourke driveway—Kyle MacNab’s work truck. Kyle was waiting in the driveway, already kitted out in a drop-leg holster and multicam chest rig, with an AR-15 held at the ready.
              Jack and Tex let out a cheer. Kyle gave them a wave and a big smile.
              “Hey—Look who finally decided to show up,” Kyle called over the walkie as the trucks parked. Amy was out first, running and jumping into her husband’s waiting arms. Jack and Tex gave him hugs of their own. All helped move Brooke and the Blackwell children into the home, where Esmerelda and Fiona joined in the happy reunion.
              “All right, I know we’re all excited, and we’ve got a lot to talk about, but we need to have a look at Brooke’s arm and get her comfortable before we have a big pow-wow,” Jack said.          
             “Honey, can you help the kids get settled and check out Brooke’s arm? We need to start her on some Amoxicillin, too,” he asked Fiona.
              “Already started on the Amoxicillin,” Brooke interjected.
“We’ve got a few bottles in our 72 hour kit and started taking some right away. The kit is mostly medical stuff, actually—I think Mike got a bit carried away,” she added.
              “Awesome. Good thinking,” Jack said.
The women took Brooke and her children down to the basement, Fiona toting a medical kit, Amy hauling the Blackwell’s 72 hour kit.
That left the men alone to trade stories. Jack wanted to up his level of armament, so he had Tex and Kyle follow him to his office, where he kept his gun safe. Knowing that they didn’t have someone outside, standing watch, gave Jack a bit of anxiety, but he let it slide for the time being. Tex and Kyle took a seat in the office’s overstuffed leather chairs while Jack worked the combination to the safe.
“What happened to Brooke, guys? Where’s Mike?” Kyle asked.
Jack and Tex related the story of their encounter, Kyle sitting on the edge of chair, listening quietly as they laid out the details.
“Aww heck, man. I figured it’d take at least a few more days for the mobs to start forming up,” he said as they finished.
“We did too. I think these were the kind of scum that were just looking for any excuse they could find to go crazy, loot, plunder and pillage. They saw what’s happening as their opportunity to have some fun,” Jack responded.
“Didn’t end up that way for them,” Tex said.
“Imagine if Brooke had been unarmed, or too scared to fight back,” Jack added. The other men remained silent, leaving the horrific possibilities unsaid.
“Well, compared to what Brooke went through, I had a regular walk in the park.”
Kyle relayed the story of his long trip home—stuck in endless traffic jams, even on his alternate route. Numerous car accidents dotted the roads, and not enough emergency personnel to clear them. Cars were running out of gas in the middle of the roads as well. Finally, the highway had been shut down entirely, dumping the traffic into a small, country town.
“Good thing I had my map book,” Kyle said, referring to the big Delorme road atlas he kept in his truck.
“Took me a long time and took me way out of my way, but I took all sorts of back country roads. Hit traffic off-and-on, a couple road blocks where the cops were ID’ing everyone. I pulled off down an old dirt road and slept for a few hours, but then got at it again. Saw a lot of crowds, a lot of bad traffic, but nothing like the craziness you guys experienced. I rolled into the area about an hour ago, swung by my house to check on things and grab a few essentials.”
Kyle nodded to the AR-15 held in his arms.
“And then made it over here, safe and sound, glad to be off the road. Been listening to the radio on my truck most of the way, so I’m pretty caught up with what the media says is going on.”
Jack had retrieved his own AR-15—a high-end carbine from Bravo Company, tailored to his specifications. The rifle felt comfortable and familiar in his hands.
“Glad to have you here with us, Kyle,” Jack added.
“So, what next?” Tex asked.
“That’s the big question, right?” Jack said.
First, they agreed on some basics—every adult needed to be armed and have a walkie talkie at hand at all times. Perishable food should be eaten first. A guard shift needed to be determined and pre-planned responses to various scenarios decided upon.
Then, the men spent the next few minutes discussing their various options. Jack was convinced that the threat of fallout was waning—if they were going to be hit by radiation, he was pretty sure they would have seen some by now. There was no telling when or if grid power and the cell networks would come back on. Emergency services were still very clearly overwhelmed. Law and order was deteriorating in areas only a short car ride away. They had one injured but mobile group member, and the final group member still missing.
Bugging out to the hunting lease was one option, but had its downsides. While the land was fairly remote and would offer them better privacy and potentially superior security, it was also basically undeveloped. Jack, Tex and Kyle had set up a handful of caches on the property during a recent project, but beyond those supplies and a simple camp sight, it offered nothing beyond what they could bring with them—a couple trailers and tents for shelter, plus all of the food and supplies their trucks could carry.
In contrast, the Rourke home had some limited electricity from solar panels and generators, hot water and gas cooking for an undetermined amount of time, plus water pressure and essentially unlimited water from their well. They had a flock of chickens, a healthy vegetable garden and fruit trees. The windows were boarded up with thick plywood and the home was made of brick, which gave them pretty good protection from anything short of firearms. Plus, they had plenty of supplies and the comforts of a modern home—all agreed caring for Brooke’s wounded arm would be much easier in their home than out in the bush.
If they were to continue to “bug in” at the Rourke residence, they discussed their next steps. A mental run-through of their fuel supplies had them in decent shape—Jack had about 50 gallons of fuel, not counting what was in his vehicles. During the pit stop at his house Kyle had refueled his F150 with his emergency cache of fuel, bringing its tanks to nearly full. Tex had full tanks and twenty extra gallons of diesel for his truck. So, they had some fuel should they decide to venture out again.
              A trip to find medical attention for Brooke was discussed first, but then Fiona stuck her head in for an update.
              “It’s ugly looking, but it doesn’t look like the bullet hit anything serious. There are two holes, fairly small ones. It went in, hit the bone and jumped out—very lucky. We’ve washed the wound out and put clean bandages on it. I don’t think it’s urgent, though.”
              “How is she doing otherwise? The kids?” Jack asked.
              “They’re rattled and exhausted. We didn’t really talk about any of the details of what happened, but she mentioned that you had to shoot at people.”
              Jack nodded.
              “He was a hero, Fiona. You should have seen him,” Tex said.
Fiona smiled, a mix of sadness and pride on her face.
              “We’re all glad you made it home safely. I think we’re going to put a movie on the laptop for the kids—help calm them down after what happened. Then I’m going to make some breakfast—does that work?”
              “Sounds perfect. We’re trying to figure out what to do next,” Jack said, returning his wife’s smile. Fiona excused herself, and the men went back to brain storming.
With Brooke’s injury no longer urgent, a supply run to Tex’s house was floated as a moderate priority. A run to the hospital to find Mike was discussed, as was a scouting mission for more fuel. Jack mentioned checking in on his neighbors—there were two older couples on the street, a family of Democrats with teenage girls, a single woman who travelled frequently, a middle aged man going through a messy divorce, and a few others Jack had never spoken with. Tex brought up checking in on some of the members of their church congregation—like most Latter-Day Saints, Tex and Jack were assigned a group of families to fellowship, teach and watch out for on a monthly basis. Two of the families lived only a couple miles away, the third was another eight or so further, but in a fairly good area.
“What about Barry?” Kyle added.
“Gunshop Barry?” Jack asked.
“The one and only—what better dude to have with you during the apocalypse?”
Barry was a good friend of Kyle and Jack’s, a grizzled Vietnam Vet and proprietor of their gun shop of choice. Barry was a long time survivalist type, a little bit crazy, and owner of one massive collection of military style firearms. But, aside from the occasional chit-chat, they’d never made any kind of plans with the old gun-nut.
“For all we know, he’s already linked up with a platoon of ‘Nam-era Green Beret buddies. Do you even know where he lives?” Jack asked.
“Ol’ Barry? I bet you anything he’s hunkered down at his shop, waiting for someone to try something. Probably sitting behind that belt-fed .30 cal, reliving his time watching the rice paddies,” Kyle said with a chuckle.
Jack smiled at the suggestion and the mental image of Barry, wearing a flak jacket and helmet, chewing on a cigar, belts of ammo slung over his shoulders.
              “And, of course, there’s always the option of doing nothing. Hang out. Rest—we’re all exhausted. We don’t know what is going to happen—heck, we barely know what is going on with the World War that is apparently raging across the world. We’ve got some resources, but we don’t want to squander them on a trip that isn’t critical. Hunkering down and waiting might be the best option for now.”

After the firefight at the Blackwell house, our heroes regroup and try to figure out--what next? What would you do?


  1. I would just sit tight for today. Rest and get you watch schedule established . The next day you should probably go for supplies. You cannot have too much supplies. Go to Tex's house and/or Kyles house for remaining supplies. Or you could build/setup a watch tower/post.
    Also, why in the world do they not have a manual pump on the well!

  2. AnonymousJune 20, 2013

    I'm enjoying this. Keep it up.

    For Gawd's sake people never roll boldly by a potentially hostile camp when you can sneek/tip-toe by without being seen.

    I'd never have lived this long if I behaved liked these people!

    Lessons Learned....


  3. Peanut_galleryJune 21, 2013

    I agree a watch schedule should be first on the list as having mostly everything they already need wont do them any good if they get overrun and have it all taken away from them. Security at this point should be at the top of the list. Second they should definately plan on any outside trips for supplies or check on people before too much time goes by as things will only get worse. Most people are probably still in denial but once they figure they are on their own you don't know how they will react.

  4. It's tempting to hang out for a day. Given the speed that things are deteriorating, waiting a day may not necessarily be the best.
    Really Glad Brooke is more or less OK. If Amy's diagnosis is correct, they may want to splint the arm and assume there is a fracture, too.
    Getting in touch with church congregation members would be smart. I'm not LDS, but I'm very impressed by their organization and commitment to community. Connecting with the neighbors should still happen at some level. Even if it's just to share the fact that Brooke and her family were recently attacked. You may have a family of "Democrats" up the street, but even with some disagreeable political & social ideas, most will revert to marginally decent people in an emergency -- especially when they realize that there will be no government aparatchik to show up and enforce a "progressive" policy. If nothing else, don't marginalize them too early.
    Connecting with Gunshop Barry is smart. Just be careful -- as in be smarter than when they rolled in "hot" to get Brooke. Sharing intelligence with Barry about their encounter in Brooke's neighborhood would be certainly welcomed by Barry. It's highly likely that Barry will have a means to secure his inventory, but he may be grateful for an hour of help to move stuff. If they're already on good terms, and considering that Barry has been in his business a long time, there will be some shared respect and understanding. If Barry is an old time survivalist, he'll have his network and will likely have a HAM radio, too. Good intelligence to be gathered. Good alliance to establish.
    Now for the tough decision: make a sortie to the hospital or not? Given the scope and pace of attacks on the USA, I would expect some sort of martial law to be invoked in the next 24-48hrs. Yes, the hospital is in a bad part of town, but its very nature will mean that some available security resources will be used to keep it partially functional and early gang behavior tends to focus on drinking and looting businesses before medical centers. There may be only a small window to check on Mike. In driving out to get Brooke, they saw a police car in front of the shopping center. It might be a useful tactic to drive over and ask that officer what's going on at a safe distance and through the rolled-down windows of their vehicle(obviously don't show off the firearms).
    For those back at the home base, get fortifications improved, some sort of covered and/or covert sentry on duty, consider some bug-out rally plans, and have go-bags really ready to go if all goes bad.

  5. AnonymousJune 21, 2013

    I think it would be a good idea to do an inventory of exactly what they have on hand. They can then identify any shortages they may have that they can look for on their supply run.
    The gunshop owner would be an excellant partner to have during this mess so they should make it a priority to check on him as well as supplies.
    One thing to watch out for when writing fiction like this is the "too good to be believable" scenarios that I have noticed in other stories/books that I have read over the years. For example, they go to the gunshop and the guy gives them most of his guns and ammo for next to nothing cause he's bugging out to sunny Florida to retire beachside.
    So far so good on the story. I check your site everyday to see if there is a new installment. Keep it up!

  6. AnonymousJune 21, 2013

    Just as a side note: The characters have been relying on walkie talkies pretty heavily so far. It would be cool to see a recommendation for one that would fit in well with the rest of the kit from the $40 a week series - something with good battery life and fairly durable. Also, I'm guessing running on double A's would be good for only having to carry one kind of battery. I'd sure like to see your thoughts and recommendations on the matter.

    1. Agreed. I would like to see a budget recommendation for walkie talkies. That is some thing that would be useful (for me anyway) before something like this happens. I always like to get gear that is useful to me before bad stuff happens, be cause if the bad stuff doesn't happen, it is still useful. Of course, hurricanes are inevitable down here so I could use all this stuff pretty much all the time.

    2. Baofeng UV-5R can be had on E-bay for about $40 each. The battery is good for several hours, and it goes across much more than the HAM radio spectrum, so you can find a frequency that should be fairly unique.

  7. Time to rest up, none of these folks are used to operating under long term stress. 24 hours of go go, and they should be reaching their limit at this point.
    Security watch and inventory of supplies would be the first steps. Determine what needs to be beefed up asap.
    Retrieve whatever possible from Jack's and Tex's homes, along with fuel sources along the way.
    The LDS families are a low priority right now, unless they are on a travel route rather than an independent trip.
    Really need to know more about Mike's situation. My department would have a mobilization point set up. Casualties would be brought there, then transferred to the hospital from there. Finding an EMT at the hospital would be real shot in the dark.

  8. AnonymousJune 21, 2013

    It seems by this point, the group hasn't caught a break. They have spent a ton of energy and adrenaline. By now they should be real tired. There should be some some catch up emotions coming on as Jack recounts this mornings events to his wife and the group inevitably gathers to talk and eat. During this rest/plan/pow wow, it seems that they would surely have some brief interactions with their neighbors just to get a feel for what page everybody was on. I have had many conversations with local residents before and after a few tornado's in our area and we've "felt each other out", without giving to much away as to our own provisions or political views. In a crisis most people are just people. and if/when they show conflicting ways then proper distance is put in place. But by communicating with the neighbors they can get an idea as to how others chose to handle or involve themselves. Plus, consideration of supply, search/rescue or medical runs should be done during the day. This gives more visibility and access since all the lights are out, not to mention cutting down the threat level when the "freaks come out at night". Also Something that always seems sticky in almost any CHTF scenario is encountering others. Be it passing people trying to get home, Other people seeking help/aid, or groups trying to make their way south (so to speak). It would be interesting to see how the group addresses a few of these scenarios. Mainly because If i ever find myself away from home trying to get back or find shelter from a thug militia while on foot in the dark. what are ways to announce yourself, seek help, communicate your peaceful intentions without getting passed on as a plague or shot like a raider. Just a few thoughts.

  9. AnonymousJune 21, 2013

    Sit tight, relax and wait for missing team member. Set up a watch schedule. More detailed planning after a good rest.

  10. Resting should be priority one while establishing a watch. Send out a few members while the sun is still up to "check" on the members. Assess where they are at mentally and prep wise. Pass along info about the attack, hopefully they will reciprocate with information, and get them thinking. Make a standing offer of water from the well, if they need it along with a password such as "Marco" and "Polo". Strength in numbers, possibly even a roadblock at the end of the street.

    Contact Barry. and let him know that he has a backup location if things go south with any of his plans. Chances are he has a support system in place.

    I currently work at a hospital and we had a code green [disaster drill] that overwhelmed a lot of the departments with only 15 victims. Imagine a whole city with no power. The hospital is a long shot..maybe Barry has a friend that could help?

    Wait for the straggler to find his way home.

    A better system of collecting information/intel is needed in a bad way.

    A trip to collect supplies would be a good early morning mission, after some much needed rest. Gas can be scavenged from abandoned vehicles and the LDS are probably better prepared than most, so they aren't worth the risk.

    1. * check on the neighbors [not members].

  11. AnonymousJune 21, 2013

    I would connect with Barry and see if he wanted to trade jewelry or some other valuables for ammunition. They are previous customers so he might, if he has any to part with. If I trusted his integrity I might ask him for any advice he wanted to share as a long time survivalist. But if there was any doubt about his trustworthiness, I'd stay away, because he has an arsenal...it wouldn't be great to have him raid the homestead, for example. But the first thing I'd do would be to go to Kyle and Amy's house. It was apparently OK when Kyle was there just a little while ago...I'd go get all the food, batteries, garden supplies, toiletries, anything useful (if Kyle has not already....and he may not have...he likely grabbed the guns and went to see that his wife was OK.) Once they've done that I would check with the neighbors, just meet and greet, see what they know, and advise them of what happened in Brooke's neighborhood, and set up a meeting later that day to discuss making it difficult for strangers to enter the neighborhood. I'd make sure to plan for guard duty starting that night. And then I would have a good cry and take a nap.

  12. AnonymousJune 21, 2013

    I agree that people are probably tired and need to recover. However I think an important part of that is coming up with a new 'normal' schedule. Especially for the kids. Some kind of schooling would probably help them. As for adults, they may rest better if they are not just sitting around. An inventory would probably be a good call, as would be talking to neighbors. I think that sitting around would be psychologically taxing. On the other hand, It seems like things are still together for the most part, so resupply and other runs would be better done earlier.

    On another note, people have been critical of the approach to the Blackwell house. How should they have approached? How far away should they have dismounted, and what if the mob had been in the street behind the house instead of infront of it then the back way people suggest would have been worse. I guess I'd really like to see some discussion of peoples tactics for that event.

  13. 1) Figure out a watch schedule.
    2) Get a good nights sleep.
    3) Get to Tex's house and grab everything you want from there.
    4) See if you can get some fuel someplace along the way.
    5) Try to link up with Barry. Having an idea of what ammo/ mags/ gun stuff you are short on and some stuff to trade would be a good idea.
    6) This is an as needed. If the gal who got shot's would starts showing signs of infection/ she starts a fever get her better medical attention.

    Those are my thoughts on that.

  14. For the time being I think you're better off "bugging in". Take stock of what you have and what you're lacking and get some rest. Once rested you can try a resupply run.

    Meet with neighbors and come up with a security plan. If any of the neighbors aren't home I'd be using that lock pick set and salvaging any food I could. Even if they make it home later ruined food isn't gonna do them any good. If any of the neighbors have outside dogs keep an ear open for them to let you know something's amiss.

    I still say you're best bet of contacting Mike is through a cop or if there's a Fire dept. fairly close by that would work too. I'd be willing to bet the Blackwell's house is a smoldering heap right now and if he heads home he could be in big trouble.

    When you need to refuel take the bilge pump from Jack's boat, extend the wires a few feet and attach alligator clips, connect pieces of garden hose and you have a makeshift pump that runs on a car battery. Put the hose down the tank of a vehicle or into the fill hole at a gas station and pump away. I'm not sure how far straight down you can go and have enough suction to pump but with the hose running at an angle (up stairs) I've pumped water out of a flooded cellar before.

    To save batteries, candles, fuel, etc at night use solar garden lights for inside. Most of the houses on my street have at least a couple so they shouldn't be hard to find if you don't have any at you're place. Put em back outside in the mornings and they're ready to go again that evening.

    1. You can make a decent manual pump with some PVC and some stiff leather. There are instructions out on the web to do so. I would make one of those, as well as making a watch tower at the peak of the roof.

  15. AnonymousJune 22, 2013

    I am disturbed by the posters who advise breaking into stores for antibiotics and the neighbor's houses for food. That is different from the looters in the Blackwell neighborhood, exactly how? Only by degree. If you join the looters you contribute to the overall chaos and violence, and degrade yourself and your principles.

  16. AnonymousJune 22, 2013

    Thats a very good idea. It's easy for any "Unchecked" intentions to take you from a practical survivor to a ravenous raider from an outside viewer. Better a few refrigerators spoil than taking a few shots from watchful neighbors who see you as the enemy and not a friend. In times of crisis what is "normal" will balance on a very thin line but, there is a line. This storyline could be a great mechanism for showing some of the oft unmentioned survival codes of ethics and conduct, communications, and rational thought processes that show Surviving is not every man for himself. Although some may be foaming at the mouth for a chance to throw civilization to the dogs there are just as many if not more who opt for a more cohesive approach.

  17. AWESOME Brother Wolf!!! Still just a quiver!!! This series has put me in the mindset to fire up the forge and start cranking out Apoc. choppers...
    With upwards of a dozen mouths to feed now, food would be a concern worth thinking about...I have a map of our area hung up in the barn with different colored push pins showing the locations of farms if my boys need it...A cow/ goat/ horse field butchered in the night provides tons of fresh meat...A steak vs. Cheerios puts the mind in a better state...
    One other thought(than my selfish belly) would be to block the end of the street with an accident looking scenario...Stolen car set on fire, whatever, to keep outside traffic to a minimum....Don't want the same thing to happen to US that WE just done to the Blackwells house...

  18. AnonymousJune 24, 2013

    Like Shane W said, I think talking to a firefighter or police officer is a good idea to try to get a message to Mike. When he decides to head home he might not be in the best state of mind to confront dead people and a gang roaming his neighborhood and could likely get himself killed. Hopefully a friendly officer or firefighter will be sympathetic and use their radio to try to get a message through to Mike.

    Going to an officer might also be a good time to report the shooting that happened as well. I do not know how anyone else would handle the aftereffects of a lethal self-defense scenario, but I would be super afraid of being charged with murder after order is restored. You can only imagine the ballistics report of Jack's AR going into some cold case file only to be reawakened some time later... "Oh by the way the bullets from this rifle match the bullets found in four bodies." It would depend on the laws of this specific state/city but maybe you can first see if the officer is interested in you reporting the shooting and then tell him/her about rescuing Brooke. Obviously you don't want to go end up getting hassled by the police at this point in time, but you definitely don't want to go to jail down the road when the evidence of self defense is still available for police to collect now if they care to.

  19. AnonymousJune 27, 2013

    Great story cant wait to read more. I also like the feed back for extra ideas and so many good ones.

  20. I think once you know there have been confirmed nuclear strikes and people already killing and looting, all pretense about worrying about state and federal law is over. Time to be serious about fortifying the house against gunfire, prepare fighting positions, and identify fallnack arras in case of being overwhelmed. This is where having your family or small group engage in basic fireteam training for bounding overwatch, communicating through hand and arm signals, having established LP/OP,etc.