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You Took Away Tomorrow - Chapter 17: Parting Fireworks

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Chapter 17: Parting Fireworks

Most of the group dispersed to grab their gear and load up, but Kyle and Barry remained behind, moving in for closer counsel. Jack caught Fiona’s eye as she was leaving with the kids.
“Guys, give me a minute here,” he said to the men, jogging to catch up with his spouse. She didn’t turn as he approached.
“Hey, what’s up?” he said, putting a hand on her shoulder. She shook it off and kept walking to the family SUV. Jack wasn’t a mind reader, but he wasn’t oblivious, either. Fiona was mad at him.
She opened the car door, struggling to buckle in Link, who squirmed wildly. Jack let out a sigh, taking over the job of strapping down Link. Porter loaded himself into the seat next to his brother, fidgeting anxiously. Fiona took the drivers’ seat, resting her head on the steering wheel. She left her door open, and Jack stepped into the space.
“Fiona—what is up?” he asked a second time.
“I’m mad at you—that’s what’s up,” she replied, not looking up from the steering wheel.

Jack let out a breath.
“I can tell. What did I do?”
Fiona rested back in the bucket seat, staring at the car’s ceiling, drawing in a breath of her own as she collected her thoughts.
“I guess mad isn’t the right word. That’s not fair—intensely frustrated is more like it. I thought we were going to the hunting land, and then you come back with some crazy old gun shop guy and all of a sudden we’re trusting him with everything? I mean, we don’t even know him very well—do we?”
Jack shrugged.
“Barry? He and I go way back…”
              Fiona shook her head.
              “Well, he’s just some looney bin gun store guy to the rest of us. I mean, what is that—a ninja sword?” she said, gesturing to the sword slung across Barry’s back.
              “That’s a katana—“ Jack started, but Fiona hadn’t really stopped. 
“And you come back here and make up your mind about going with him, without even asking. I love you, and you’ve done incredibly well today, but I don’t have a good feeling about this, and especially about trusting everything to Barry the gun shop guy.” 
 Jack took his time to think carefully through his response. He understood Fiona’s frustrations, but he didn’t need them distracting him or her over the next few hours. He also needed to be careful that he didn’t say anything to make matters worse.
“Look, Fiona, I trust him—I trust that he’s got the property, that we’re welcome to stay and that he’ll help us get there. I also trust that it’s a better, safer place for everyone than our land. You can’t really argue that.”
Fiona didn’t disagree. Jack continued.
“I’m sorry that we changed plans so quickly—I probably should have done that more diplomatically. But really, I think this is a huge blessing for us, and we’d be silly to let Barry drive off into the night by himself.”
Fiona reached out and took Jack’s gloved hand in hers.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry, too—I’m just tired and probably being over protective. If you think this is the best thing for all of us, and if you trust Barry for his word, than I support that. I would have liked you to handle it differently—“
“Yo, Jack!” Kyle interrupted. Jack turned. Kyle and Barry were still waiting.
“You guys done your little lovers’ quarrel over there? Time’s a wastin’!” he joked. Jack shook his head.
“Gimme a minute!”
Fiona leaned out of the SUV, kissing him lightly. Jack drew her into his arms, holding her as tightly as their rifle plate carriers and magazine pouches would allow.
“I love you, babe. You good?”
Fiona stepped back out of his hug.
“I’m better,” she said, kissing him again.
 “Quit your smoochin’ and get over here!” Kyle called. Fiona rolled her eyes.
“All right—go knock some sense into him.”
Jack jogged back to where Kyle and Barry were waiting. The two men were mid-conversation when he joined them, but paused and started again to get him caught up to speed. Barry, the suppressed grease gun cradled like a football in his arms, was the first to speak.
“So, I was jus’ tellin’ Kyle here that it’d be smart to have some kind of plan of action before we roll out o’ here. Nothin’ too complex, ‘cuz frankly we ain’t got the time to get everyone up to speed. But we need to set an order of travel, give folks a plan for what to do if we hit a checkpoint and what to do if we take incomin’ fire.”
Jack nodded.
“Completely agree—do you have experience with that?”
Barry snorted.
“Only half my time in ‘Nam! Spent a lot of it runnin’ truck convoys through Indian country—hundreds of trips that were a hell of a lot hairier than tonight is going to be. At least I hope.”
“Barry’s a regular pro at this kinda thing,” Kyle added.
“I’d like a bunch more grunts and a couple gun trucks with sand bags and ma deuces in the bed, but I forgot my magic wand at home tonight. It’d best if we could take fewer vehicles—fewer drivers, more security would be better—but I’m going to guess everything loaded in the trucks is stuff we want.”
Jack and Kyle voiced an affirmative.
“All righty, so we’ve got six vehicles, including my Deuce. We’re going to organize into two march units of three vehicles each—we’ll call ‘em Alpha and Bravo units for short. And then we’ll number the vehicles – one, two three—so the lead vehicle will be Alpha One.” 
“We’ll keep the vehicles with the kids in the main body of the column, and I’ll put my Deuce up in front. I know the way, and it’s usually best to have the biggest, slowest beast of a vehicle up front. And, if anything needs to get smashed outta the way, I can plow on through. So I’ll be Alpha One.”
“Kyle, like we were chattin’, I think you take the trail position at the rear of the column.”
Kyle nodded.
“And then Jack, we’ll have you in the number three spot as convoy commander. You keep an eye on the vehicles, help out when needed. If possible, let’s have Tex ride with you—that way, you two can act as a sort of security element, if needs be.”
“Gotcha,” Jack said.
“So you’re big boss man of the whole show, and then I’ll be the commander for Alpha, and we’ll have Kyle be commander for Bravo. If things get hairy and we have to split up, we fall back to that. We’ll go quick and try to keep some space in between the vehicles—a three or four seconds of space is good.”
“If we take contact—incoming fire—the best case, we slam on the go pedal and get away from it. If we can’t drive away from the attack, then we’ll probably need to ditch vehicles and get to better cover. If that happens, Jack, you and Tex may be able to lay down some suppressive fire while the women and children get to cover. Sound good?”
Both men replied in the affirmative.
“What about a checkpoint?” Jack asked.
Barry scratched his beard, looking to the night sky.
“We’ll need to play that by ear, I think. Might smash our way through, might try to talk our way through. I don’t really think we’ll be able to pass for some kind of official traffic, but stranger things have happen. I’m hopin’ that we get out of here fast enough to bypass ‘em all. With everything all FUBAR, organizin’ something like that is going to be like playin’ a crossword puzzle in the dark.”
“Makes sense to me,” Kyle said.
“All right then, let’s go over the route and then bring everybody else up to speed. Times’-a-wastin’, but we may only get one shot at this, so let’s do it right.”
Barry spent the next few minutes walking them through the primary and alternate routes to his cabin. Jack was happy to see that the route brought them within twenty miles of the hunting lease—if they ran into trouble, they could make the detour and lay low there. The lease was designated a rally point if something happened along the way and the group was separated.
It was a roughly three hour drive to the cabin, if the roads were clear. Each vehicle had either a GPS or a paper map—some had both. Barry would not divulge the exact location of the cabin, but instead gave them a spot that he said was within a five minute drive of the cabin.
“That way, ya’ll have an investment in helping me get there alive,” he said with a laugh, “but really—if we get compromised along the way, I’d rather have the location of my place a secret, versus plugged into everyone’s GPS and marked on maps,” Barry explained.
Jack wasn’t thrilled about not knowing their exact final destination, but also didn’t want to spend the time, energy and goodwill with Barry to try and force the issue. He doubted the tough old soldier would crack under after hours of waterboarding, so polite persuasion had little chance of success.
“The big question mark will be the roads—there just ain’t too many ways up into the region,” Barry explained, drawing a finger over road atlas that they’d placed on the ground, showing the highway that led to the area.
“If we can’t get up this way, we’ll have to back track around this here—probably take us fifty miles out of the way.”
Barry traced the alternate route out for them.
“Let’s hope we don’t have to do that,” Kyle said.
“We can hope, but we’ll see—might be road blocks, accidents, all sorts of things blocking our way. Worst case, we have to cache the vehicles and ruck in. Hope everyone has on their hiking shoes, just in case.”
Jack remembered the police radio that he’d recovered from Officer Bowman and the collection of radios retrieved from the jihadis.
“Hey—we’ve got a bunch of radios that we could use to monitor traffic—at least it would probably give us an advanced warning of a roadblock.”
              “Doesn’t Mike have a radio, too?” Kyle added.
              They confirmed that Mike had his own radio, which meant that they had multiple radios capable of monitoring emergency traffic and two capable of transmitting.
              With the plan roughly sketched out, Kyle and Jack dispersed to brief the other vehicles and do final checks. Fuel levels were good, loads were secured and the plan was quickly distilled.
Esmerelda was not comfortable driving Tex’s pickup and pulling their trailer, so Tex was unable to join Jack. Mike, who was a passenger in Amy’s SUV, went in his stead. After a quick tutorial on the manual of arms from Jack and Barry, Mike was given the jihadi’s suppressed Uzi and a satchel full of loaded stick mags. The radios were distributed between the newly formed Alpha and Bravo units, along with smoke grenades to be used to signal or conceal a retreat and extra batteries for the walkies.
With everything ready and the vehicles loaded up, the group took a minute to pause and say a prayer over the walkies. Jack offered it, keeping it sincere, short and to the point. He felt some of the anxiety lift from his shoulders as he finished.
“We might actually have a shot at this,” he told Mike, fastening up his seat belt and starting up the Tacoma’s engine. The engines of the rest of the convoy rumbled to life. Each vehicle reported in that they were ready to move.
“All right everyone, we’ve burned too much time up here. Let’s move out. Barry, if you’ll lead the way,” Jack said.
“Convoy Leader, this is Alpha One, not Barry,” the ‘Nam vet corrected. Jack could hear the grin on Barry’s face, loud and clear.
“All right then, Alpha One it is—lead the way,” Jack restated.
“Alpha One has good copy—moving out.”
The convoy eased slowly out of the church’s parking lot, moving into the night and beginning the first few yards of what Jack knew might be a very, very long journey. He hoped it would run smoothly, but knew the odds of having no complications along the way were slim to none. Despite the risks, he knew that this was, by far, their best option and the right thing to do. In the first twenty four hours, the area had already become a literal warzone. It would only get progressively worse as food ran out and people became desperate.
They passed by Guns and Glory, the old shop sitting quiet and still. The convoy picked up speed.
“Hey Bravo Three, let me know when you’re a hundred yards or so past the shop,” Barry’s voice called over the walkie. Kyle was Bravo Three.
Jack shook his head, incredulously.
“Alpha One, this is convoy lead—what the heck do you have planned?”
“Just some fireworks to send us off. No big deal—promise you guys will like it,” Barry replied.
In his peripheral vision, Jack could see Mike tense up in the seat next to him.
“Wait—he’s not going to blow up his store, is he?” he asked. Jack didn’t answer. Instead, he shifted his review mirror so that he could get a good view of the shop.
Kyle called in that he was clear of the shop. A moment later, flames smashed through the front of the shop, blowing out the glass storefront, sending glass flying into the street. Jack saw one corner of the roof rock up and out of place, blown free by the pressure, a pillar of fire erupting in its place. The flash momentarily turned night into day, washing out the light cast by the convoy’s headlights.
As the convoy rumbled away from the burning funeral pyre that had been Guns and Glory, the radio came to life again with Barry’s voice.
“Like I always say—if you can’t take it with you, blow it the hell up!”
Jack couldn’t suppress a smile.
“Kyle, err, Bravo Three you all right back there?” he radioed to confirm.
“I sure am—might have singed my eyebrows on that one, but I’m all right. Impressive work, Barry.”
“Alpha One,” Barry corrected again, “and thank you, thank you. Explosions have always been a passion of mine. Would have liked a better send off for my old place, but sometimes you’ve got to make do with what’s at hand.”
Jack could hear rock music—AC/DC, he thought—playing in the background as the old veteran transmitted.
The vehicles sped away, the burning shop quickly disappearing in the rearview mirror. Mike shifted anxiously in the Tacoma’s passenger seat.
              “Jack—this guy is completely crazy.”
              Jack shook his head, grinning.
              “Yep, he probably is. But I’m sure glad he’s on our side.”


  1. Hmmm... Let's see. Not really much to discuss in this chapter, and we have a whole week until the next one.
    That Sir is just plain mean.

    Great story. Can't wait for the next chapter!

    1. Nothing to discuss? Explosions, AC/DC? Really? Totally uncalled for and inappropriate to the situation and way to ruin their OPSEC, and they could've used those explosives later blah blah blah. Kidding. I agree with Shane 110% HOW DARE YOU MAKE US WAIT A WHOLE WEEK!

      This chapter of relative calm is building up to something... dun dun DUNNNNNNNNNNNNN! Lock and Load

    2. The side trip and introduction of good ol' Barry did derail us a bit, but we'll get back to the action shortly :)

  2. Keep 'em coming!

    1. Hey, keep 'em coming is my line !! :-)

  3. What could go wrong?


  4. Damn! Now I am as tense and anxious as Jack! I have to wait a whole nother week? This is killing me.

  5. I like the descriptions of how they are planning to move. more of that, please. i'm really enjoying the book.

  6. I am enjoying the story, but I am really disappointed in the main characters. They are cowards! first sign of trouble and they head for the hills. This country was built by hero's who swore to defend the constitution, but these guys abandon the country and community that fought to give them the right to own the guns they carry. At the first chance they get, they torture the enemy, disregard sworn law enforcement that is actively engaged in defense of the country and then run. I hope that they can find some backbone and use their preps to give them the backbone to justify their existence in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    1. W/ Women and Kids in tow, the best thing to do is bug out to the cabin, regroup and fortify. W/ Barry's tactical knowledge, I am sure they could do something at a later time if required. IMO, in a situation like this, survival first is a priority. Regroup, recharge and discuss things/ideas with a clear head. Prudence, preparation and discretion is what will save these folks. Engagement with hostiles would be best suited at a later date.

    2. I had hoped they would fortify and bug in. That boat has sailed. I do agree w/ women and children and given all the "action" of the past 24 hrs, a good rest, slower pace, and a little sense of safety for the group is a good decision.
      Keep us wanting more!

    3. I agree with the two replies. Bug out, rest up, re-group, plan. THEN deal out some mayhem on the bad guys if possible. Nukes have already been popped off, armed terrorists are on the ground. The S has definitely the fan. And the fan was on high...

      Charging in John Wayne style (right after you got out alive the first two times) is a good way to quickly wind up like the kid on Red Dawn yelling "Wolverines!!" as someone mows you down. Then what good would you be to anybody?

    4. Green Eyed JinnSeptember 11, 2013

      I humbly disagree that they have been cowardly. They have taken risks to gather their families and friends. They have offered assistance to the neighbors to the extent possible. They have taken steps to safe-guard their families so they can survive to fight more effectively another day.
      Bringing the terrorist to Jack's house was an act of extra-juciary authority. And the police officer realized it as soon as he thought it through. They did offer first aid to the officer, and first aid to the illegal enemy combatant in their midst. Geneva conventions do no apply to illegal enemy combatants; but my assessment sees nothing remotely meeting the definition, morally or legally, as torture. One punch might get a charge of mistreatment. Hardly torture.
      Then, Jack's group successfully engaged, defeated and largely dis-armed a full terrorist cell.
      In evacuating their home in the face of potential terrorist attack that the local authorities could not reasonably be expected to stop, our survivors did not assault any other citizen, but respected the rights and authority of a home owners' association on private property.
      Next, they rescued a private citizen who had been illegally assaulted, kidnapped and imprisoned, and whose goods had been illegally seized by the police. They have joined forces and are actively working to ensure their own safety with their own lives and property.
      If you would like an modern example of cowardice in the citizenry, please take look at how the average Bostonian reacted to the Marathon-bombing Tsarnayev man-hunt. True heroes would have quickly established a block-watch, communications to make sure all their neighbors were OK, and would not have submitted to forced (and patently unnecessary) evacuations under force of arms from their homes by over-reacting local and federal law enforcement - officers who clearly thought the none of the "law enforcement" rules actually applied to them!
      I cannot recall a single instance from 27+ years in uniform where I received or issued an order for troops to execute impossible (read: suicide) missions without a full understanding of how it contributed to specific, over-arching objective - where sacrifice of a few would directly benefit an overwhelming many and directly contribute to victory.
      When in doubt, re-group to a covered position, re-assess, and act for the best possible outcome.
      I would reasonably expect Jack's group to engage a terrorist group if they knew its location and disposition. Operating in the blind is not a 'brave' option.

    5. Everyone has different priorities of course--but IMO taking care of your wife and kids should take precedence. Its one thing to go off and fight a war when your family is safe back home--but when they are in eminent danger you really need to put them ahead of the well being of the country. IMO that is the truly patriotic thing to do--not to abandon them to go play Rambo and shoot at bad guys.

  7. This probably is not the best place to ask this question, but there is no better place to ask it, and there really isn't much to discuss here. So, my question is this: If there were an assault weapons ban, prior to you getting an "assault weapon" of some kind, what gun would you choose for this this type of situation to serve the same purpose?
    P.S. Great story, and being the pyromaniac of a redneck that I am, I loved the bomb. Keep them coming!

    1. think tactical shotgun.

    2. I'm pretty fond of lever action carbines in this role. Pretty ban proof, compact, and fairly fast shooting. The Rossi 92 series are a good value for the money, I've been very pleased with my 357/38 Trapper model. These pistol caliber chamberings also generally have a 9+1 capacity or more. They don't have the mag capacity of an AR or the like, but they are easy to keep topped off as you shoot them. A revolver in the same caliber makes for a nice pair and allows for some ammo standardization. Definitely not a "tactical" rifle, but they are an effective low-profile weapon.

    3. Much to be said for the lever action in this role.
      While the rifle calibers such as the winchester and marlin model 1894's have a limited mag capacity(usually 5+1 or less), the pistol calibers (.38/.357, .44spl/.44mag, .45colt) range from 9 (trapper models) to 13 (long barreled rifle models).

      The Rossi model 92 is one of the better values in this field. They have the "lawyer inspired" manual safety on the top of the bolt but it is easy to apply a drop or two of "locktite" to it to prevent it being accidently turned on and to use the half cock and common sense gun handling as was done for 100 years. (I'm not a lawyer and do not Reccomend disabling a safety device, use your own judgement. "disclaimer") The other lever actions, the Henry, the Model 1866 "yellowboy",and the Model 1873 Winchester reproductions are nice guns for cowboy action shooting, but they tend to be MUCH more expensive than the Model 92 replicas and are not as strong.
      I used to have a .44 mag marlin as a deer rifle. It was pretty much equal to a .30-30 out to 150 yards or so, beyond that the .30-30 would be better. The .38/.357 and the .45 colt in a carbine become good out to 100-150 yards, beyond that velocity has fallen off a lot. BUT.... back in the "old days" some remarkable shots (for today) were considered the norm for the .44-40 (pretty equivalent to the .45 colt) in a lever action rifle or carbine. 200+ yard shots on deer and other game were common.
      I now own a .45 colt and a .38/.357 rossi m92 that I use in cowboy action shooting and can do a good job at the 50-75 yard targets that sport uses. Offhand shooting, iron sights, 100 yards is pretty much my limit as far as my marksmanship skills allow, beyond that, I pretty much suck unless I have a good rest and a scope.

      I do know that SOME guns have trouble feeding the shorter .38spl and .44 spl cartridges. My .38/.357 has no trouble but a friends does. ( I think it is a technique thing though, I have no trouble using his gun with .38s but he has cycling problems.)

      A matching revolver in the same caliber makes sense today just as it did back in the 1870's.
      Single actions such as the Ruger are pretty near unbreakable and can be loaded with 6 rounds whereas other models such as the Cimmeron colt copies are safe only with empty under the hammer. They are slow to reload though.
      A double action in a matching caliber would be better. (I say this even though I have single actions and I am VERY comfortable with them)
      As for the "low profile" the lever action will bring to mind John Wayne movies in most peoples minds rather than "evil black rifle"

    4. Jeepboy, I agree 100 percent. As an aside, I've found any cycling issue with my Rossi 92 38/357 is directly tied to bullet profile/shape. Due to the angle of the feed ramp, the gun likes "skinnier" bullets with tapered profiles. Bullets too wide or blunt nosed, depending on length, will catch on the chamber edge while loading. Often this is a minor enough issue that a little more force/speed in operating the lever will chamber the round. I've had some bullets that are perfect in 38 Special cases but will stick during chambering when loaded into the slightly longer 357 Mag cases...

    5. In my experience, lever action pistol caliber carbines work well with most all jhp or jsp bullets, the exception being really large cavity jhps which can snag on the chamber mouth.
      Lead bullets can have issues. Round nose flat points and truncated cone lead bullets work well, round nose lead feed good but the owners manuals say that they have the POTENTIAL to set off a primer in the magazine. This is the same reason that the rifle caliber lever actions say not to use pointed bullets. In pistol calibers the recoil is so light that if it happens it will be a really really FREAK occurrence but just use round nose flat points, they are more available now anyway.
      Semi-wadcutters do have issues feeding in lever guns, In my experience, they tend to hang up the front driving band on the chamber mouth and if you "muscle" the lever to feed them, you scrape and damage the driving band which will affect accuracy some. If it will be significant, my experience is not sufficient to say. I never really noticed much.
      I do know that if I have to use my rossi in a "tactical" fashion with magnum loads, I will have a small adjustment to make to adjust to the added recoil of .357 mag loads (small but noticeable, much more noticeable in the handgun) and will have to adjust the sights. .38 spl cowboy loads are standard velocity (around 800 fps). and do shoot to a different point of aim. (note to self, next time at the range, find out what sight setting works with magnum loads)

  8. Although no decision to make, there is the human aspect of this. How to deal with everyone, how you dealt with the wife etc. Making decisions on do you go or stay is great and important but now in these slower times, its the human interaction esp as defacto group leader to help everyone through mentally. Keeping moral up etc.

  9. Green Eyed JinnSeptember 11, 2013

    Pretty self-contained to get back on the story line. Still continues to be a great read.

    One comment/question: how far away is Barry's redoubt from the hunting land Jack's group had originally intended to go? It seems implied by Fiona's reaction that the two spots aren't close. But it was never really addressed.

    And what is Jack's call-sign as the convoy commander? "Bug-out Actual"? ;-)

  10. The land is on the way, 20 miles out of the way. It's probably about 90 to 110 miles from Barry's cabin.

    And I like the call sign :)

    1. Hmmmm. Well I'm glad I mentioned talking over issues with Fiona. "Happy wife = happy life."

      Some brilliant member of the convoy (Mike? - whoops, never mind based past performance) might want to suggest an eval of the route planned with consideration of the hunting land and Casa di Barry.

      Barry's place at 110 mi distance is reachable in about 3 hours with the convoy. That's certainly do-able. Given that the group has headed out already, I would estimate they should not run into any Nat'l Guard checkpoints on non-Interstate roads. I love the Guard, but they just do NOT move that fast.

      Nothing addressed the RPGs they possess. Somebody should think that through (and don't forget the back-blast). Be ready. Peace through overwhelming firepower.

  11. Love the story so far, and the comments. I had one observation. With all the various families, wives, children etc. Nobody had a dog, cat, or even a hamster to complicate things.....herb

    1. They did have chickens though! And Barry has a dog.

  12. Worse case scenario, as harsh as it sounds, anything non-essential needs to be left behind. Dogs serve a practical purpose, livestock, must have. Gerbils and Goldfish; not so much. In a situation such as this, it is important to be pragmatic. Take what you have to have and nothing else. At this point, it us survival and nothing else. All the other stuff will come later...