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

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6/20/13

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?