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Chapter 8: Ambush
Kyle, standing at the edge of the garage with a big power drill in hand, had overheard the exchange between Jack and Tex. Decked out in multicam cargo pants, a tight fitting combat shirt worn over his athletic frame, a well-outfitted rifle plate carrier, and a backwards coyote brown ball cap, Kyle looked like he was straight out of a full-page ad for some tactical gear dealer.
“Yo Jack,” Kyle said, leaving his work in the garage and joining Jack in the driveway, “You know, regardless of whether it’s a chemical bomb or an accident, we’re probably going to have a lot of company in the area, really quick. Especially if that blast was on the Interstate—might create a bottleneck and dump everybody out in our area.”
“You’re right. If we could confirm that it was on the Interstate that would be a big help—we’ll know what might be coming our way,” Jack acknowledged. He had also shed his everyday clothes and donned more military garb. Instead of multicam, Jack had chosen the Kryptek Mandrake pattern, and had a set of matching tactical pants, a button up shirt, plate carrier and a chest rig atop that. Up close, Kryptek had accents that appeared to almost like snakeskin, but which, at a far, aided in giving it a three-dimensional look when trying to blend into the background. Jack had ditched his concealed holster for a drop-leg rig for his Glock 17.
“But I think we’re missing the obvious here—is now the time to cut our losses and run for the bug out land? If that much bad news is headed our way, why wait around to face it?” Kyle said.
Jack was taken aback. He hadn’t considered abandoning his home and hitting the road for the hunting lease—he just hadn’t thought that far ahead.
“But I think we’ve got a pretty good plan for holding down the fort here, Kyle,” Jack said.
“You’re right—we’ve got a pretty good plan. But we’re short on people. We got what, five, maybe six people who can work security? If the Interstate is blocked off and all the traffic is dumping in our area, how many people you think will be showing up in the neighborhood? Tons of people, man. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. People looking for shelter from the imaginary bombs or whatever the hell is going on out there. Situation like that could get real ugly, real quick,” Kyle explained. Jack nodded. Fiona was waiting nearby.
“But Kyle, you think leaving the house and heading out into the unknown with all of our kids and Brooke, without Mike, is a better idea?” she said. They’d never invested in a set of camouflage clothes for Fiona, so now she wore a pair of khaki hiking pants and one of Jack’s older surplus multicam BDU tops. She’d pulled her dark hair back into a pony tail, and strapped a war belt—a padded gun belt that carried a gunshot wound kit and extra magazines for her AR and Glock—on around her hips. Her AR-15 was slung across her back. It was a hand-me-down from Jack, the first AR that he had purchased, the first to get him infected with that he called the “black rifle disease.” The rifle was a bit old, outfitted with a light and scope that were now outdated but still totally functional.
Kyle turned to Brooke, stopping himself for a moment before responding.
“I hear you. But, if we stick around here and end up in a gunfight with a mob of people, then that would be pretty bad, right? It’s a crapshoot—stay or go—but like my Daddy always told me ‘You gotta know when to cut your losses and walk away from the table’.”
“Kyle, you are right, though—we could have a really bad situation in our area. We’re undermanned, even if we can recruit some help. It’s a tough call, though. We don’t know if the back roads to the land would even be clear,” Jack said. The group’s bug out land was a little over an hour drive away under normal road conditions—but, currently, road conditions were totally unknown. If the roads were impassable and they were forced to hike out on foot it could be a three to five day walk, depending on the pace they were able to keep—a tough hike with an injured woman and five children.
“And we’ve got everything we need here—my garden, the chickens, fruit trees, the well, the solar panels and all of the other things. The land has none of those things. Mike has got to be on his way here, too. I don’t think we could drag Brooke out of here without him,” Fiona added.
The bug out land itself was little more than raw land at this point—hardly the survivalist compound that they would have liked. There was a year round spring and streams for water, plenty of wood and wildlife, and the group had a few basic caches recently hidden on the property, but there was nothing in the way of permanent structures or development. The land was adjacent to a large farm, and the old farmer was a friend of sorts to the group and might be able to offer help—sleep in a barn, trade manpower for food and so on. The land was certainly out of the way and well off the beaten path, though. It would offer the group a relative refuge from the chaos that seemed to be unfolding in their current area.
Kyle looked back to the garage, where Porter was awkwardly hammering nails into place on one of the boards.
“Right—I know, I know. It would be a hard decision,” Kyle said.
“But, as tough as it might be, we need to figure out if it is the right call. If we have a thousand people on our doorstep by this evening…that doesn’t sound good,” Jack said.
“I’m sorry guys, but even if there were a thousand people, we’re armed to the teeth. At this point, I doubt anyone would be desperate enough to charge into a wall of gunfire,” Fiona added.
“Well, I think first up, we need more intel—what’s going on out there and, if possible, what the roads are like,” Jack said.
The radio crackled again with Tex’s deep voice.
“Yo, Rourke—you left me hanging here. What’s the plan?”
“We’re trying to figure it out. We need to get more intel about what’s happening out there—you got any ideas?”
Tex paused for a moment before responding.
“Maybe, actually. I might have an old police scanner in one of the bags in the camper. Forgot about it until now.”
Jack and Kyle exchanged looks. Kyle shook his head.
“I thought all the police departments were switching over to encrypted radios.”
Jack vaguely remembered reading about the move towards encrypted police communications, but couldn’t recall whether their local force had made the transition. Scanners to receive encrypted police communications were not readily available to the general public, and an old yard sale scanner certainly wouldn’t be able to pick them up. But, it was worth a shot.
“Ya—that would be great. I’ll jog out there and take your spot so you can look for it.”
As Jack relieved Tex and took his position standing guard, he had ample time to think. He kicked himself for not investing more time and energy in communications—or at least encouraging one of the other group members to do so. The group had their walkies and portable AM/FM/shortwave radios, but that was the extent of their communication capabilities, as far as he was aware. They were in the dark about events happening only a few miles away and their lives might very well depend on that information.
The radio crackled—it was Kyle.
“Hey man, Tex found the scanner. He’s getting fresh batteries in it right now…”
Jack checked his watch. It hadn’t been long since they’d heard the distant blast. Ten minutes at most. They hadn’t seen an influx of traffic yet, but it could be on its way.
“Hey Kyle, how are those spike strips coming?”
“Almost done. They’re pretty nasty looking—I used up most of your nails, though. Give me another—Hey, hold on. Tex has got the scanner thing working,” Kyle started, trailing off as he was distracted on the other end.
Jack waited for a few moments, anxiety and impatience growing. What was going on out there?
His walkie crackled again.
“Dude, something seriously bad is going down. The cops are calling out shots fired…they’re calling in for any available backup. You can hear gunshots in the background—it sounds like a warzone, man,” Kyle called over the radio, talking fast.
“Who is shooting at them?” Jack responded. Another agonizing wait for a response.
“The boom we heard—that was an explosion. A truck bomb. They’re calling out multiple injuries and fatalities—the attackers set up an ambush. This sounds really bad, Jack.”
“An ambush? Who in the hell would set off a truck bomb and an ambush at this point?” Jack said into the radio, sensing the panic and anger in his voice.
Of course, neither Tex nor Kyle had any answers. More silence on the walkie as his friends listened in to the transmission. Jack strained to hear the distant sounds of gunshots, but couldn’t make out anything clearly.
Finally, the radio crackled again.
“Jack—man, it sounds like the cops are losing. They’ve got officers down…this guy keeps saying it over and over again. Requesting back up…It doesn’t sound like it’s coming,” Kyle said, anxiety breaking through in his voice.
Jack wasn’t sure what to say. He was having trouble processing what he was hearing. Who would do something like this? How?
“Jack—should we go help? I know we’re not cops and soldiers, but we’re armed and ready to go. Our guys are dying out there…we’ve got to do something, right?”