Chapter 16: Change of Plans
Barry slung the katana He-Man style across his back and then quickly repacked his duffle.
“All righty. I’m not going to dilly-dally ‘round here too long, so if your crew is going to come with me to my property, you’ll need to make up your minds pretty quick. I’ve got power, running water, a machine shop, a mountain of ammo and plenty of land—been working on it for 30 years. You probably won’t find a better place to kick back and watch the world end.”
Jack and Kyle looked at each other. Their answer was clear. Jack didn’t feel entirely comfortable making an executive decision for the whole group, but knew that after all of the back and forth, the decision would still be the same.
“Ya man, of course we’ll come with you. We’ll pull our own weight, too—we’ve got a paramedic, a big ol’ Texan linebacker and Kyle here is a combination pit fighter and MacGyver,” Jack said with a grin.
“Hell, we’ve even got an accountant,” Kyle joked.
Barry scowled mockingly.
They moved out of the backroom, onto the floor of the shop, Rambo trotting happily behind. Barry scanned the gun racks, letting out a sigh.
“Like I figured—plundered all the evil black rifles and space guns. Oh well, they left us some good stuff. Have at it and take whatever you want—but if the ATF asks, tell ‘em I had ya fill out paperwork for everything,” Barry said with a chuckle.
Jack scanned over the shop. He and Kyle did not have a ton of room in either of their vehicles and they were already loaded down with hundreds of pounds worth of guns, ammo, water, fuel, food, generators and camping gear.
“What would you recommend? We’re pretty loaded to the gunwales already.”
“I’m not much interested in this junk,” he said, scanning over his shelves and gun racks, “Got plenty of it where we’re headed and then some. Can always use some more powder an’ primers, though.”
Barry gestured to the reloading section of his shop, with plastic powder kegs and cartons of rifle and pistol primers.
“You boys have at it. I’m gonna go load this stuff up,” he said, gesturing with the ammo cans he held in each hand.
Jack and Kyle looked at each other again.
“Shopping spree in a gun shop--never thought I’d have one, and now I don’t know what to do with it,” Kyle said.
Jack strode over to the display of various sizes of military style backpacks, grabbing one of the larger ones and tossing it to Kyle, then taking one for himself.
“You hit the reloading stuff, I’ll go for spare parts and cleaning, and then we’ll give the display cases a once-over. Sound like a plan?”
“Ya, sounds good,” Kyle said, unzipping the bag and moving into action.
Jack jogged to the cleaning aisle, sweeping armfuls of CLP and gun lubes into the bag. He grabbed cleaning kits, brushes and bore snakes, and then moved to the section of shops that held gunsmithing tools, parts and components.
Somehow, there were still several AR-15 lower parts kits on the wall—each held every part necessary to assemble the lower half of an AR-pattern rifle. Those went into the bag. He grabbed an armorers wrench, swept a couple receiver extensions and a butt stock into the bag, then moved onto more components. He found the area that contained spare parts; the big pack was quickly filling up.
“This thing is going to be heavy!” Kyle said from the reloading aisle as he tossed boxes of bullets into the bag.
“Run down the ammo aisle and see if there’s any left for Tex’s hunting guns,” Jack said. Much of Tex’s gun collection had been handed down from various relatives and included a hodge-podge of less common calibers. A .45-70 lever gun was one of the big cowboy’s favorites, and it was doubtful that he had more than a hundred rounds of ammo for it.
Barry was back in the shop. He stopped for a moment, scratching his beard and watching them work.
“Hey, I just remembered somethin’. You’ll like this,” the old vet said, slipping behind the counter and crouching. Jack moved over, seeing him at work on the combination of a small safe. In a moment, Barry had it open. Stacked inside were a variety of boxes—some plastic, some cardboard, some clearly for handguns, others for high-end optics and accessories.
“5.56mm, right?” Barry asked.
“Ya—why?” Jack said. Barry responded by tossing him a brown cardboard box. Jack fumbled with the box a bit before finally getting it under control. He rotated it over, instantly recognizing the logos on it. It was a sound suppressor; AAC’s M4-2000 model.
“Holy crap—you got any more of these?” Jack asked.
“One more in 5.56. Got two for 9-mil, one .45 and two in .22.”
“Let’s take ‘em all. You have mounts for them?”
Barry got back up, went over to one of the racks behind his counter, sorting through and coming up with a couple flash hiders and a handful of threaded barrels for various handguns.
“This is what I’ve got,” he said, sliding them across the counter. Jack swept them into the pack, moving behind the counter to check the little safe for himself.
Barry was digging through the good stuff, sorting through high end Trijicon sights, a Nighforce scope and handgun cases before coming to a box with the Nighthawk logo on it.
“Almost forgot about this bad boy,” he said, setting the box on the counter for himself and stepping aside.
“Have at it!” he said.
Jack dug in, grabbing a boxed Wilson Combat 1911 for Tex and a few of the high-end optics. Barry, watching what he was getting, passed him some Larue mounts to use with the scopes, which were added to the bag as well.
Jack moved his attention to the gun racks, deciding on a wood stocked Remington 870, double barrel shotgun and a worn Ruger 10/22 that had escaped the looting. Barry opened up one of his display cases and came up with a matching pair of big stainless steel five and a half-inch Ruger Redhawks, chambered in .44 magnum. He grinned at Jack.
“Guess six shooters weren’t tactical enough for ‘em!” Barry said.
Kyle was scavenging over the remainder of the ammo aisle, adding boxes to his heavy pack.
“Hey Kyle, thought I saw some .44 mag left over there!”
“Yup, plenty of it!”
They spent a few more minutes running through the remnants of the gun shop, filling up another big pack with magazines, speed loaders, spare barrels for the ARs and a dozen or so of the leftover handguns. The rogue cops had ignored the revolvers, .22s and many of the pocket-sized pistols, so there was still a small selection of those to bring along. Kyle loaded up a dolly with the last of Barry’s cased military-issue Meals Ready to Eat, and then all three gathered in the middle of shop.
“Well, if you boys are done plundering my fine establishment, I’d like a few moments to say goodbye and lock up,” Barry said.
Jack and Kyle returned to their vehicles, loading the packs and long guns into the last nooks and crannies that remained in their vehicles. It was a tight fit, but they managed to cram everything in. The sun had finally set, leaving them in the last few minutes of dim light before the night.
Tired, they took a moment to catch their breath.
“Can you believe this?” Jack asked.
Kyle shook his head.
“This day just keeps getting crazier.”
Jack radioed in an update to the group, but left out the part about accompanying Barry to his doomsday retreat. That news he wanted to deliver in person.
In a few minutes, Barry emerged from his shop, jogging along, Rambo loyally tagging along at his heel. To Jack, it looked like Barry was actually hurrying away from his shop, like a teenager would run away after pulling some kind of prank.
“All right, let’s not linger ‘round here any longer! I’ll follow you guys to join back up with your people,” he called, making a beeline for the big two and a half ton truck. Rambo joined him up front in the cab, riding shotgun and looking very happy to be there. The truck roared to life and Barry gave a quick wave, signaling his readiness.
The trip to the church took only a matter of moments. Tex was watching for them and emerged from his hiding spot inside a cluster of trees as they approached, waving his welcome. They turned into the parking lot, finding some of the kids were out of the cars, running around and playing, with Mike, Brooke, Esme and Fiona were watching them and talking. Amy was standing guard at the edge of the parking lot.
“Are you kidding me?” Jack said to himself, rolling down his window and pulling up alongside the group of chatting adults.
“Fiona, what the hell? You guys were supposed to wait in the cars!” he shouted.
Fiona furrowed her brow angrily.
“Excuse me? You were supposed to be back in a few minutes. It’s been over half an hour!”
Jack rolled his eyes.
“Well, we need to load back up quick and get out of here. There’s been a change of plans—get everyone together.”
He pulled his pickup out of the way, allowing Barry room to pull the big military truck into the parking lot. Tex, Amy and Kyle joined the others in the middle of the parking lot. Jack waved Barry over, and the vet emerged from his truck, leaving Rambo to guard over it.
Jack introduced Barry to the group and was about to related the change in plans when Fiona interrupted him.
“There was a radio broadcast while you were gone. The Governor has declared a state of emergency and is imposing martial law,” she said.
“Apparently, they’re calling up the National Guard. There’s a curfew and all non-official travel is forbidden. They’ve closed down the interstate and are apparently setting up check points and patrols throughout the area to try and get things under control,” Mike added in.
Barry swore loudly, and the others, mostly unused to hearing harsh language aloud, stared at him in surprise.
“Apologies, ladies and yougins’—I’m not used to havin’ polite company around—but that is bad news for getting out of here.”
Silence fell over the group. Tex was the first to speak up.
“Well hey, maybe this is good news. There are terrorists roaming the streets, looters and crazy people running wild,” he said.
“Terrorists roaming the streets?” Barry asked. Jack filled him quickly in on the encounter they’d had earlier in the day and what little they knew about the jihadi forces operating in the area. When Jack had finished relating the story, Barry swore again, though this time a bit more quietly.
Jack told the group what the remnants of the local police force had done to Barry and his shop.
“That is terrible, Mr. Barry,” Esme said, “I’m sure they have told you that you’re welcome to come with us to our land if you’d like.”
“Uhh, not exactly—“
“We’re actually going up to Barry’s place. He’s invited us to go to his cabin—it’s going to be a lot better option for us, I think,” Kyle interrupted.
Fiona looked at Jack, clearly uncomfortable with this development.
“Barry is a great guy and has been preparing for something like this for a long time, much longer than we have. He has plenty of space for us and supplies to share. He is very generous to offer,” Jack said.
“That’s awesome,” Tex said.
Barry cleared his throat.
“Jack and Kyle here pretty much saved my life back there, so I owe them and you a real big debt of gratitude. One of those life debt type things you see in movies. It’d be my privilege to help you all out.”
“The question is now, how do we get from here to there?” Jack said.
Barry waited to see if anyone in the group had anything to offer, then spoke up.
“I think we gotta go right now, tonight. When they call up the National Guard, it’s not instant. They don’t just—poof—appear all over the place. Takes ‘em time to deploy, set up roadblocks and so on. If we wait too long, then we’ll be screwed.”
Brooke spoke up for the first time.
“Weren’t we going to get some rest, though? We’re all so tired. We’re running on fumes. I know I am,” she said.
Jack was dazed and exhausted, but he also knew that Barry might be right about having a limited and quickly closing window of opportunity. Jack had a gnawing feeling of anxiety about staying around the area much longer—he wanted to get out, leave. He wasn’t sure if it had been the encounter with the jihadis, the shootout with the wild mob or some intuition that more trouble was headed their way. With martial law being declade, it felt like walls were now closing in around them, trapping them in the suburbs of their city, along with the chaos and lawlessness.
Barry’s scowl suggested he had similar feelings.
“I’m not sticking around here if they’re imposing martial law, setting up road blocks and curfews. Nazi-type stuff—no rights, no due process, what they say goes. And you can guarantee they’ll start going door to door, searchin’ houses and confiscating guns. I ain’t turning over my guns to nobody, but I also ain’t got no interest in getting into a gun battle with a bunch of American soldiers. You all can do whatever you want, but this truck is leavin’ tonight,” Barry said firmly. Jack had little doubt that the old meant what he said.
“What if we hit a road block? We aren’t exactly on official business, and I don’t think we’ll do very well if they decide to search any of our vehicles,” Tex said.
“We punch through or go around,” Barry said.
“Well, half of us look like we could be in the military, with all the guns and camouflage,” Amy said, gesturing the multicam battle gear she and Kyle wore, “And we’ve got Barry’s army truck. Maybe we could just talk our way through?”
The men exchanged doubtful glances.
“I’m a little outdated on my military lingo, and most units don’t travel with children and civilian women, but hell—if it’s our only option, there are some really, really dumb officers out there. Just hope we catch ‘em without their NCO to tell ‘em how to run things.” Barry said with a chuckle.
“We might as well travel ‘heavy’ then,” Jack said, “More guns, less questions, maybe. Let’s make sure every adult has a long gun. Tex, you get that RPD. I think we’ve got some spare camouflage and battle gear for those who don’t have any. Keep your bail out bags close by if we need to head out on foot for some reason. I know it isn’t much of a plan, but we’re open to suggestions.
I’ve got caffeine a-plenty if you need some to make the drive. If you don’t think you will be alert enough, raise your hand and we’ll figure something out. I know everybody has been exhausted, but we get out of here and get to Barry’s place and we can finally get some rest in real, true safety. Sound good to everybody?”
Jack looked at his friends, the exhaustion showing on their faces. The Blackwells—Brooke, her wounded arm in a sling, the 10/22 held firmly in her good hand. Mike, his arm around Brooke, still in his blood-spattered paramedic’s uniform, with his toddler Ash on his hip. The MacNabs—Kyle and Amy—both with a tired yet determined look in their eyes. Tex Ryan, proudly wearing his cowboy hat, AK-47 resting across his broad shoulder and his wife Esmerelda, holding her 3-year old daughter and staring blankly off into space. And, finally, he looked over his own family—Fiona, weary and—much to his chagrin—looking mildly annoyed, and his two boys, Porter and Lincoln, trying to look brave.
The affirmative replies came with varying levels of enthusiasm.
“All right then, we roll out in five!”