> TEOTWAWKI Blog: You Took Away Tomorrow - Chapter 14: Tyrants of the Suburbs



You Took Away Tomorrow - Chapter 14: Tyrants of the Suburbs

Real life has been keeping me busy, busy, busy, but got your weekly update written up and ready. Should have a bit more bandwidth this week.

If you are new to the series or have been slacking in keeping up to date, the Chapter Index is your friend.

Chapter 14: Tyrants of the Suburbs
Jack couldn’t shake the feeling of loss that fell over him as his neighborhood’s entrance slipped from view in his side mirror. The hard work that he had put into his home, the well, the solar array, the garden and the other things that they were leaving behind weighed heavy on his mind. It was his home, too, and it felt like he was saying goodbye rather than leaving for a few days. He hoped that they would be able to return in a day or two, once order had been restored and the rule of law reinstated, but at this point, that was only blind hope.
Jack flipped on his truck’s radio, tuning into the local station that had been running off-and-on since the attacks began. It was not broadcasting at the moment, either conserving power or just unable to broadcast for some reason. It was late afternoon, and Jack imagined they would broadcast again closer to dusk.
The group’s world band radio had been able to pick up a BBC broadcast the previous evening and listen into sporadic updates throughout the day. The news had been ominous: war was spreading over the globe, with exchanges between Iran and Israel, North and South Korea and likely many others. The U.S., the world’s longtime police force, had been knocked down and the thugs and tyrants of the world were taking advantage of the opportunity. 

Last he’d heard, America’s military might was mobilizing to assist allies and wage counter-attacks, with the Secretary of State assuming the office of President. That the Secretary of State was in charge spoke volumes of how serious the situation was: all those who came before her in the line of succession were missing and likely dead. The Secretary was not even on U.S. soil—she’d been on a diplomatic mission to China when the attacks were launched. Jack had not heard whether she had been moved since then, and could not help but wonder how much hospitality the Chinese would show.
              Beyond the little that they had heard over the radio and personally witnessed, Jack could only guess at what was happening in the wider world. If full-scale war had broken out in the Mideast and Asia, he worried at how fast and how far it would spread. The U.S. would come to Israel’s aid—would Russia side with Iran? Would the conflict spill over to other nations in the region? In Asia, would the Chinese get involved in the fight between the two Koreas?
Jack shuddered at the thought of a rapid escalation beyond the horrors that had already occurred. New York and D.C. lay in radioactive ruins, the nation’s technological backbone was under attack by hackers and small groups of well-armed guerrilla fighters were rampaging through the suburbs. All that paled in comparison to the terror of a full-scale nuclear war. One day ago, that had seemed a remote possibility; today, it was entirely too plausible.
              The clock had finally ticked past the twenty four hour mark since Jack had first learned of the attacks. Twenty four hours, but it felt like an entirely different lifetime. It’d been a constant barrage of real and potential threats to his group, a roller coaster from bad to worse. In those twenty four hours, he’d been in two separate gunfights and killed seven or eight men, and could only thank his maker that he and his friends had made it through unscathed.
              He was utterly drained and exhausted, emotionally and physically, the activity of the day and little rest combining to sap him of his strength. Jack was an office worker, not some special forces operator used to running for days on no sleep and little food. He was tired, moving forward largely through force of will, and knew the others were in the same boat.
The drive to Tex’s house was fortunately a fairly short one, but it did intersect with the one of the area’s major roads. A strip mall with a supermarket, gas station and a handful of restaurants lay a mile to the east of the intersection. Mike had driven through that area during his fateful flight to the Rourke homestead, and had related that it had looked largely abandoned, save small crowds waiting outside the grocery stores. They could only hope that was still the case.
Jack felt strange driving down the familiar county road. He’d driven it literally hundreds of times over the years that he’d lived in the area, but this time it felt different, almost foreign. His eyes were working overdrive, scanning for new sights or potential threats. A car travelling the opposite direction approached and Jack went white knuckled on the wheel, ready to swerve to avoid the vehicle if it made an aggressive move. The car passed by harmlessly.
“Just an average person out travelling on the road. That’s what roads are for, right?” Jack told himself. He was getting jumpy, but two gunfights in twenty four hours would do that to a man. His mind was looking for threats everywhere. More traffic passed by in the opposite direction and Jack had to mentally tell himself to stay calm as each approached.
The caravan of vehicles rounded a bend in the road and the main intersection came into view. The traffic light blinked yellow.
“I am going to shield us in the middle of the intersection. Keep going—I will catch up.” Jack radioed, accelerating a bit to break away from the group. He slowed quickly as he entered in the intersection, coming to a stop right in the middle, partially blocking it to any oncoming traffic. Jack scanned in either direction—a cluster of five vehicles, a mix of import cars and SUVs, were traveling in from the east but still a quarter mile off. The strip mall was out of view around another bend in the road. Jack edged forward, blocking the vehicles path of travel. The maneuver would have been better with two trucks—one for each direction of travel, but Jack hadn’t thought through it beforehand to coordinate.
Jack watched in his mirror as his caravan approached and then raced past him. They were through the intersection in a matter of seconds. The oncoming traffic was still a ways off and had started to slow, unsure of what to make of the pickup stretched across their lanes. Jack accelerated away, catching up with his caravan and moving back into the lead position.
Tex’s neighborhood was a half-mile up the road, a gated community that was still in the midst of development. They were designer, custom homes on small-ish, treeless lots—very nice but not exactly Jack’s style.
He made the turn into the neighborhood’s entrance and found himself facing a roadblock manned by four men—two with shotguns, one with an AR-15 and the fourth with an SKS rifle. They wore regular clothes—jeans, polos and buttons ups—but with the addition of a belt of shotgun shells or a shoulder bag of ammo and a N95 particle mask or a paint respirator. The breath masks hid their facial expressions, though their visible eyes did not look happy to see him. Hastily made cardboard signs read “Residents Only” and the classic “You Loot, We Shoot!”
Jack stopped, smiling and waving to the men. None returned his greeting; they just stared at him with cold, tired eyes.
“Uhh, Tex, need you to get up here and help with the welcoming party,” Jack radioed, pulling his pickup off to the side. Tex’s diesel truck roared in, his toy hauler trailer in tow. Two of the guards neared his vehicle enough to have a conversation, but kept ten or so paces back. The other two kept in place, physically standing in front of the gate to the development.
Jack couldn’t clearly hear the conversation that followed, but could tell that Tex was losing his temper with one of the guards. After a minute or so, the guards seemed to be done talking, stomping back angrily to join the others in forming a physical barrier in front of the gate. This did not look like the warm welcome they had been expecting.
The radio crackled to life.
“Guys. Bad news. They won’t let everyone in—just my family, by decree of the all-powerful HOA.”
Jack stared incredulously at his walkie.
“Wait, are you serious?”
“Yep. They are jittery as heck the warnings about the bio and chem weapons, and the fallout from the nuke attacks. So they’ve putting a quarantine in place. Sounds like something went down here last night, too, but I couldn’t get any details.”
Jack smacked the steering wheel in frustration.
“You can’t sweet talk them into letting us in for the evening? What about Esme?”
“I know one of these guys, he was a fairly decent dude, but he wouldn’t budge when I asked if we could all pass. Just us.”
Jack cursed.
“So, they think we might all have the plague, but they’ll let you in and not us. That makes no sense.”
“It’s an HOA, Jack. They never make sense. So, now what?”
Jack thought about putting his Noveske AR pistol to use once again and solving the problem through judicious use of superior firepower, but that was clearly not the wise or moral course of action.
“We could help out with protecting the neighborhood, since that’s what they seem to be interested in.”
“I tried. Said we had a paramedic too and nothing.”
“Could we buy our way in? Trade some of the jihadi firepower? Or some of the cash.”
“Might work, but these guys are scared for their lives. Not sure if they are in the bartering mood. Let me check.”
Jack rolled down his window so that he could hear this exchange better than the last.
“Hey, I can pay you guys to let my friends in! Ten k—each. They just need a place to stay. I can guarantee that they won’t cause trouble and none of us are sick. What do you say?”
The man who seemed to be the lead guard, the one with the AR-15, responded quickly.
“Nope. Non-negotiable, Tyler! ‘sides, that cash isn’t good for much more than wiping now!”
“Your friends need to get outta here,” one of the other men shouted, pointing to the road for emphasis.
Jack sighed, thinking through their other options. They could head directly to the hunting lease, though all were exhausted, the afternoon was getting late and the conditions of the route unknown. They could start the drive and try to find some place along the way to camp out should they get delayed. Or they could stick with the original plan of finding a local place to hunker down for the evening.
Kyle and Amy MacNab’s home was a fifteen minute drive away in normal times and the direct route required crossing the Interstate and the location of the terrorist’s bomb and ambush. It was likely still complete chaos. There were alternative routes, but they were miles out of the way. The Blackwell home was an obvious no-go, and they’d just left the Rourke home for fear of a counter attack from the jihadi guerrillas.
Aside from the group’s homes, there were a handful of people from their church that Jack felt would at least provide a welcome driveway if they showed up on their doorstep. Two were fairly close by. There was also the church building itself—the chapel had a large parking lot and a grassy field behind it that could serve as a temporary camp.
Then there was Barry’s gun shop, only a mile or so from Tex’s neighborhood. It was an older, standalone brick building with a gravel parking lot out back. Barry had an older camper trailer and a Deuce and a Half military truck that he kept parked there, but otherwise there was plenty of space. Jack had lost track of the number of times that Barry had told him to give him a shout if he needed help. He felt like the wiry Vietnam vet would probably be good for his word, though he couldn’t be certain.
Jack didn’t feel particularly confident about any of the destinations, but they didn’t have a ton of options at this point. They were essentially refugees.
Regardless of which destination they tried for, there was the possibility of splitting the group up, with Tex returning to his home and the rest of the group heading elsewhere. That would allow the Ryan family time to rest and gather some more supplies from their home, but with the added complication of needing to regroup before heading to the retreat.
“How much stuff are you talking about picking up at your place, Tex? Could you do it pretty quickly?”
“Some more of our food storage, some camping gear, fishing stuff, stuff for the kid. My cowboy hat. Probably fifteen, twenty minutes to grab it and load it up,” Tex radioed back.
The guards at the gate were clearly starting to lose their patience, so they did not have a ton of time to sit around and plan their next move. Tex’s home had been their best, first option, and it appeared to no longer be viable for the whole group, at least not without some trouble. Jack felt inclined to just say screw it, pop a few caffeine pills and make for the bug out land, but he was nervous about trying that journey with the whole group so worn down. They needed a new plan of action, and they needed it fairly quickly.


  1. "He hoped that they would be able to return in a day or two, once order had been restored and the rule of law reinstated, but at this point, that was only blind hope."

    This is probably one of those cases where it's better to deal with "the devil that you know rather than the one you don't know". What would a restoration of order look like? It would only be partial, at best.

    It might be better dealing with known hostiles like WOA rather than scared, hungry and therefore dangerous "citizens", once some order is restored. People begging for food with children in tow, tempting one to let their guard down in order to help, could be a greater threat in the long run.

    Who would you trust? No one, in reality. Even people you know. Look at the reaction of the residents of Tex's neighborhood. They probably have the right idea. How do they know that Tex isn't bringing in a group to ambush them and take what little they may have stored?

    Boy, the tension just got ratcheted up several notches. At this point, Barry may not even be very welcoming. Good stuff. Keep 'em comin !!

  2. Just like always, good read. I hate those danged HOAs. Good for taking your money and giving you nothing in return.

  3. I think the fear of the terrorists has led to poor decisions already. But, once they took to the road, they had only one real option, the lease camp. But, it is also possible that it has been taken over by others. This is one of my biggest fears of having a BO retreat-others will just move in when it is needed most. But, this story is very well written and the first thing I look for each Monday! Thanks for making it available.

    1. "I think the fear of the terrorists has led to poor decisions already. "

      Agreed! And, poor decisions tend to build on each other as well. Plenty to learn here. Good story.


  4. I say get Tex's supplies and either head to teh Church or the Gu Store. The Church would probably be less of a target.

    You have to respect that fact these guys are protecting their territory. They were doing the same earlier in the day...

  5. Let Tex go get his stuff, then go to Barry place as a plan B. I would bet that with the BG arsenal, you will not have problems getting Barry to let you stay. Just give him some grenades or something. He might even want to join you (if he offers don't turn him down). If that doesn't work, push on to the bug out land.

  6. I think you have to go to Barrys first since it is so close. I would tell the HOA guards that you are all going to wait on Tex to get his stuff and then you will all be on your way. They shouldn't have much issue with that but if they do then I would sent the rest to Barry's and Tex to hurry and stay in radio contact.

  7. Have Tex take 30 min to get everything he can. Go back to the Jack’s house and preposition everything as before and bunker everyone down with trucks in that clearing. Go back to the house in small groups under cover of night and with full light/noise discipline for needs (shower, bathroom, tools, etc.) and keep an LP/OP in the woods with a view of the house. Cycle through like this for a few days and if nothing move back in. Jack was right about all the time effort and energy he put into preparing at his house. They need to stay there and rethink their defenses and escape routes in case Will does come back. However, this is the early stages of a world war so everything is very fluid. The chances Will and the Gang have the resources, manpower, ability or time to come back for a personal vendetta is slim to none. They lost at least half their unit, 1 of 2 vehicles a ton of cash and weapons. And it is more likely than not that Jack landed a couple of rounds on target as they fled that did not immediately register. Add to this they have a seriously wounded leader who will not make it with real medical help for long. By the time Will and the Gang are able to recover to the point they can chase down a vendetta they will either be dead or fighting somewhere else. Don’t surrender the house if it can still be useful. Even if you have to campout in the woods for a week to make sure it’s clear. It’s your stomping grounds and you fight best and most effectively on terrain you know.


  8. Currently house shopping. What you mentioned is one of the many reasons I'm not interested in a neighborhood with an HOA. I say the group backs up 200 meters and circles the wagons. Tex goes to grab the stuff he needs in a hurry then rejoins them.

  9. Go see Barry, he will probably know way more of what the hell is going one than anyone else. I am sure he has a great bugout local and may invite them to join. If not they can get intel , and go to the church , the bugout spot, or go back home. To make the right decision they need to know more, it is only 24 hours into this deal so they still have options.

  10. Barry is the way to go. Even if reluctant to help he may be swayed if they barter the 'jihadi' weaponsIn exchange fo 1 nights safety and rest.

  11. First, with this size of group (not that big) and with the forces you already encountered (the 4 thugs + camp at the beginning and the 2 expeditions) I see it as a huge no no to break up. I would be within a quarter mile tops at all times! Assuming everyones in good shape and can run to help in whatever situation in under 2 minutes. As well, the goal is to GAIN numbers and people you trust, not decrease. So regardless you need to stick together.
    Second, since your already their, give Tex his 20 minutes, then plan A would be to go shack up with Barry for the night and DEFINITELY try to get him on your side. Having the preps he has and knowledge in general from Vietnam and guerrilla tactics would be hugely beneficial. Not to mention another person who is very well trained and confident behind a weapon, seeing as though it sounds like only a quarter of the group is right now, I'd be increasing my trigger men/women. Plan B would be to set up at the church for the night. Set up in the most advantageous position and keep two centries up on 30 min-1 hour intervals throughout the night. Then I'd wake up and get out of their early for a push to the hunting lease.
    Lastly it would take me personally a lot to give up the grenades, RPG, and RPK. Even the Dragunov to some extent. Reason being the BG have these weapons. In a fight, the last thing I ever want to be is outgunned. So whether you come up against the Terrorists again, Thugs, or any other bad guys. These weapons are out there and potentially being ready to be used against my group. As well, all of these are high casualty producing weapons. Were looking at the MG being the equivalent firepower of 3 men. Which is a huge force multiplier. I would want as many options at my disposal as possible and those can open up a lot of options. I would do everything I can to keep those. If I had to give them up or leave them, I'd disable them.

    Thanks for the writing! It's awesome and you're doing a great job! Really learning a lot!


  12. Have to agree, great job on this story ! It's the best part of my Monday !

    Give Tex time to grab the supplies he wants and his hat. Make for the church first. If the area looks OK, set camp behind the church keeping out of sight as much as possible. Rest is the priority. Bad decisions will be made if they don't get some shut eye.
    Try and make contact with Barry. A fast recon to the shop, see whats up. If safe to do so, and Barry is there, approach and see where he stands. If he is willing to join up and has a defensible place go for it.

  13. Let Tex gear up, wave a California howdy at the HOA guards as you head down the road, and get thee to Barry's. Church is a last resort for the night.

  14. They should wait and let tex get his gear, then head for the gun shop. After some rest and maybe an extra gun added to the group, they should return to jack's house. bug out to the woods would be a last resort for me. I'd rather have the fortification of my home.

  15. Tex should check the HOA rules on guests...I'll bet these clowns at the gate are in violation.
    I'm not a member of one anymore (and never will be again), but I used to delight in using HOA rules to push the petty tyrants back with their own medicine. Didn't like how many cars I had in my driveway? Well, your flower bed is too close to the sidewalk and hasn't been weeded recently -- and I can move the cars now, but you have a lot of work ahead moving that flower bed and re-seeding the grass... My dog barks too much? Oh, well your cat wandering the neighborhood out of control requires the HOA to contact Animal Control (but don't worry, I already called 'em). And the wind chimes on your porch? -- nighttime noise violation for sure.
    It probably won't work, but there's nothing to lose trying.
    Anyway, the group should pull back a bit, get some quick rest and let Tex get his stuff. You can't go through the Apolcalypse without a cowboy hat.
    Keep monitoring the radio(s). Talk through the pros/cons of the church or Barry's. Why not check both?
    PS if I were feeling really vindictive, like they pointed a weapon at one of my kids, I would get on the police-band radio and announce to "the Authorities" the address for Tex's house and that we were going to hole up there. See if the HOA likes a visit from the Will of Allah...

  16. Who else besides me pictures Hoss USMC from youtube when they read about Tex in this story? :-)

    1. I doubt The Hoss lives in a gated community :)

      Tex only aspires to The Hoss' level of coolness at this point.

  17. They have women and children and are moving targets of a plethora of food and guns and ammo for someone to get. Go back to Jack's area. Move the crew into a vacant house and fortify the entrance to the neighborhood. Why waste time with the HOA arguing when there are precious hours that can help the entirety of the group. Throwing HOA rules at them won't work against guns, my bet. Yes, yes, I used to mess with my HOA too before I wised up and moved, but a TEOTWAWKI is not the time to play tiddly-winks.

    I cannot fathom that Barry's gun shop is either looted to a shell or boarded up tighter than the HOA and no sweet words or offers will let them in. A church is a high profile target...just look at the recent events in Egypt.

    Leave Tex to load up. Get thee to the neighborhood from whenst you came. Or, bug out. I prefer the first, as there are more supplies in houses to use and the path to the BOL is already established from there.

  18. It just gets worse and worse. Nuclear attacks are bad and so was Will of Allah and his pals, but neither as scary as an armed HOA. I would have Tex get his gear, then go talk to Barry for 15 minutes, let him know about the jihadis and see what info he has. I agree with the previous comments not to get rid of the jihadi's weaponry....or even let anyone know about it. To me the best approach after Barry's would be to go back to Jack's neighborhood, set up camp in another house, set up guard duty, block entrance to the neighborhood, and let everyone sleep as much as they can over the next 24 hours. They need it.

    Of course, everything we write is being read by the NSA. NSA spooks: what do YOU think?

  19. Replies
    1. Ha Ha! Classic !!!

  20. Let Tex grab what he can as quickly as possible. Since you're that close you might as well run by Barry's and see what's going on with him, if you can get close to him. If it were me I'd change out of the camo before going any further. If someone that has any knowledge of the bad guys sees you, you could be mistaken for them.

    What you do after that will depend on what you learn at Barry's. If nothing pans out there I'd go hide out and keep an eye on Jacks place for a few days. I agree with some of the others that its not likely the bad guys will come back.