> TEOTWAWKI Blog: You Took Away Tomorrow - Chapter 19: Battle at the Blockade

Pages

9/23/13

You Took Away Tomorrow - Chapter 19: Battle at the Blockade

Chapter index is right here if you are new or behind. Enjoy!

Chapter 19: Battle at the Blockade

The convoy idled their engines, parked along the side of the two-lane backcountry highway. A wall of Southeastern hardwoods surrounded them, the forest stretching for miles in either direction. A few miles ahead lay a small rural town, which they needed to pass through along their way to their final destination, Barry’s survival cabin. Unfortunately, a police roadblock lay on the road up ahead—they’d heard transmissions on their police scanners, and the traffic was backed up far enough that they could not actually see the roadblock itself—Jack guessed it was at least a mile away, if not more.
Before leaving on the journey, they’d cooked up a half-baked plan to try to bluff their way through any law enforcement entanglements, posing as military personnel, given their camo outfits, heavy weaponry and Barry’s big military surplus truck. Now that they’d come upon what seemed to be an actual check point, that plan seemed less reasonable.
Their hunting lease, a thirty or so minute drive the other way, seemed like their best bet. Hole up there for at least the evening, get some much needed rest and then regroup the next day. It was a good piece of land, well off the beaten path, with a big, secure fence blocking the narrow dirt road that led onto the property. It’d be a safe of a place as any to spend the night, but it would be out of their way.
“Convoy Lead, I recommend we at least get eyes-on the trouble spot,” Barry transmitted via walkie. Jack couldn’t argue that—heck, it could be one lone patrol car, which would make matters different. Distracting one car—perhaps some diversion to get them to move out of the area—was entirely reasonable.
“Sounds like a good idea. I’m up for a field trip—need one more volunteer to come with,” he said. He realized there was probably some great reason why, as designated convoy leader, he should stay with the vehicles and not run off into the night. But, to hell with that, he thought. It should be a quick trip, a half mile up the road, to scout things out.
“I’m yer Huckleberry, Convoy Lead—my bright idea anyways,” Barry answered.


 Jack popped open his door, reaching for his Noveske AR-15 pistol, but then paused. The suppressed Uzi that Mike was carrying was probably a better overall choice for night fighting, should they for some reason run into trouble. But, Jack pushed that thought away. While he knew the manual-of-arms for operating an Uzi, he’d never shot one, and they’d never actually tested this particular Uzi for functionality. Bringing an unproven, unfamiliar weapon did not sound like the wise move to make. He grabbed the Noveske.
“Be safe, dude,” Mike said as he left. Jack nodded, forcing a tired smile.
“No worries—but hey, the keys are in the ignition if you need ‘em.”
Jack stepped out into the night, slipping between the vehicles to gain some measure of privacy should any vehicles pass their position. He donned his hearing protection—a pair of Sordin Supreme Pro Xs--flipped the headset on and plugged his radio into them. The Sordins were top-of-the-line ear pro—aside from their obvious noise reduction abilities, they also selectively amplified less audible sounds, allowing him to hear a little bit more than usual. He did a quick radio check to confirm that the radio was working, scanned his chest rig to ensure the magazines were all in place and secured, and then did a final press-check on the Noveske. As expected, a round was in the chamber.
Satisfied, Jack moved up the convoy towards Barry’s deuce and a half. The old vet was there waiting for him. He had his ‘Nam-era suppressed grease gun in hand and antique katana slung across his back, but had donned a very modern night vision monocular, attached to a swing-arm mount on a ballistic helmet.
“Man, wish I would have bought one of those,” Jack said. Night vision had always been on his list, but they were a large investment that he’d never gotten around to. Training classes, the hunting lease, vehicles, food storage, guns and tools had all taken priority. Of course, there had been the luxuries that seemed reasonable at the time—vacations, electronic gizmos, eating out—that now seemed like complete foolishness. Hindsight was of course always 20/20.
“Ya, they sure beat stumblin’ around like a drunk tryin’ to find his way to the bathroom,” Barry joked, then turned serious.
“No lights. No talking unless we’ve gotta. Keep close to me, I’ll lead.”
Jack nodded, and Barry set off, heading into the cover offered by the thick forest. After making it a few paces in, they turned in the direction of the roadblock. Jack quickly found himself struggling to keep up. The forest wasn’t pitch black—there was some faint ambient light from the moon and spill from the vehicle lights on the highway—but that only gave him good visibility of the trees, not the dark forest floor. Where Barry could see and walk essentially normally, Jack had to tread carefully, focusing on what was directly in front of him, trying to to trip over every fallen branch and tree root. He stumbled and halfway tripped with annoying regularity, doing what he considered to be an embarrassing job of moving smoothly and stealthily through the night. His inner ninja was deeply disappointed.
“Hey, uhh, Convoy Lead,” Tex’s voice boomed in his ears, startling him. The airwaves had been dead. Jack let out a breath, then keyed the push-to-talk microphone.
“Go ahead.”
“Just heard a transmission that sounded like they were telling the officers to stop letting people into town. Sounds like folks are setting up camp across the town and the locals are starting to get worried. We’re already seeing vehicles heading back this way—it looks to me like they are turning cars around.”
Jack and Barry exchanged concerned looks.
“Copy.”
They moved on. Jack kept focused on Barry, stepping where he stepped and moving where he moved. Barry paused briefly after every twenty or so paces, scanning and listening. On one of those stops, Jack was able to make out what sounded like angry yelling. The Sordins allowed him to pick it up where Barry was unable to.
If they could hear yelling—though distant and indistinct at this point—it meant they were close to the check point. They picked up the pace, moving as quickly as Jack could manage. A voice came on over a loudspeaker, booming through the relative stillness of the night.
“Please return to your vehicles,” the voice said, “This road is now closed.”
They’d stopped moving to listen, and Jack could hear angry cries break out in response to the announcement.
Satisfied that they had moved close enough, Barry led the way out of the forest, back towards the road. He dropped prone, knees cracking. They belly-crawled the last few yards before stopping on the outer edge of the shoulder.
              The check point was simple – three police cruisers with road flares, a stop sign and traffic cones to set up the actual checkpoint itself. The opposite direction of travel was clear. Jack counted a quick scan of five police officers at the check point—some with long guns, some without. One of the cruisers had been parked across the road—Jack guessed that had been a recent change, as the car would have to move out of the way to let each vehicle pass. An officer stood at the driver’s side door, the car’s PA system microphone in hand.
The officers were arrayed out across the road, presenting a show of force to a crowd that had formed some twenty five or so yards back from the check point. There were maybe thirty or forty people—men, mostly, but some women and even a couple kids—who had emerged from their vehicles and were either yelling in anger or pleading in desperation.
“Please! We’re running on fumes! We just need some gas!” a man begged.
“Are you kidding me? You can’t CLOSE a road!” another bellowed.
“Make us wait two hours in this line and then turn us away! Where the hell are we supposed to go!” a man in a trucker’s hat nearly screamed.
The police officer with the mic something to one of his fellow officers, then raised the mic to his mouth.
              “Ladies and gentlemen. I’m truly sorry, but due to the curfew and the limited resources in the town, we are unable to allow anyone else through,” he said, trying to reason with them.
              The crowd erupted with more anger. Someone threw something—an empty can maybe—at the squad car blocking the road. The officers looked at each other—even from a distance, Jack could see their anxiety growing quickly.
              “Crappy job to get assigned, huh?” Barry muttered next to him. More trash was flying at the officers now, clattering across the hoods of their cars. The situation was escalating quickly. He could no longer make out individual voices in the crowd—they were all blending together in one furious voice. He radioed in an update to the convoy.
              The deputies were trying to calm the crowd, but they were having little success. At the same time, it looked like they were committed to holding the line and not letting anyone through.
              The guy in the trucker’s hat broke off from the crowd, keeping low as he jogged back down the line of parked cars. He was shaking his head, cursing to himself and looking back at the roadblock.
“Are you watching this guy?” Jack said.
“You mean ol’ redneck there? Yup. He’s up to something,” Barry said.
Redneck stopped at a huge Dodge pickup, popping the door open and climbing up into the doorway. He lingered there for a while, leaning out and looking back at the scene unfolding between the crowd and the deputies. He shook his head a final time, and then disappeared into the cab of his pickup.
The Dodge’s engine growled to life, belching black smoke out of the oversized rear exhaust. Redneck eased his truck out of the traffic jam slowly on the accelerator, swerving into the other lane, tires burning.
“Might not be a good plan, bud,” Barry whispered, almost as if he was watching a scene from a movie. The big pickup accelerated forward.
The deputies seemed to realize what was happening all at once. Most of them didn’t move, and instead shouted and waved their arms. One of the deputies, though, decided to play chicken with the speeding truck, running into the far lane and standing in its path. He shouldered a pump-action shotgun, shouting orders frantically. The crowd fell silent.
Jack lost sight of the deputy as the pickup bore down on him. The officer on the PA system started to yell for the man to stop, but the boom of the deputy’s shotgun interrupted him. It echoed out through the night.
Jack couldn’t tell what had happened to the officer, but it quickly became apparent that his shot had hit its target. The truck swerved erratically past the road block, tires screeching as it careened off the road and onto the shoulder. The vehicle slid sideways, the edge of its big mud tires caught, sending the vehicle flipping into a barrel roll. The top-heavy pickup rolled over onto its roof, then up onto the driver’s side, parts and debris flying everywhere.
Everyone watched the crash, quiet and awestruck. Someone in the crowd was the first to speak.
“They just killed him!”
More angry voices joined the first in protest.
“Stay back! Get back to your vehicles and get out of here!” the deputy on the PA system warned.
The officer with the shotgun had made it out of the way of the speeding pickup, but was slow to get back to his feet. One of his partners rushed over to help him, jogging across the pavement.
Another shot rang out—Jack couldn’t see where it had come from—the jogging deputy stumbled, made it another step or two, and then went down in the middle of the road, dark blood pumping through his neck. He screamed for help—a blood curdling, panicked cry.
Barry swore.
“Did you see where that came from?” Jack asked.
Barry grunted in the negative.
Women in the crowd screamed, and many panicked, scattering and running. The shooter fired again, hitting the officer with the mic. Jack caught a glimpse of a muzzle flash from somewhere in the crowd—it was a big guy in a tank top, with rifle raised up to his shoulder. The mob was running all around him; there was no clear, safe shot.
That did not stop the two uninjured deputies from trying. They fired into the chaotic mob. More gunfire erupted in return. People were running everywhere, frantic to escape the gun battle—several were hit by stray bullets. Some went down screaming, others stumbled but kept on moving. Vehicles back down the line to the checkpoint took off, turning around and racing away.
The mob scattered within seconds, seeking the safety of the vehicles. Jack could make out three men and a woman who were actively engaging the deputies. They’d taken cover behind vehicles and were firing a shotgun, handgun, lever gun and an AR pattern rifle at the check point. Others without weapons had stayed behind too, further down the line of traffic. Without firearms, they were instead chucking rocks, cans and whatever they could find.
The deputies were returning fire and trying to regroup. The shotgun wielding officer was on his feet and moving, dragging his wounded buddy back to the patrol cars. He made it behind the lead patrol car, collapsing behind it.
One ballsy minivan went to the shoulder of the road, bouncing past the now oncoming traffic and heading to slip past the check point while the deputies were engaged and distracted. He actually made it—swerving past the wrecked Dodge and then accelerating off into the night.
“Barry, what’s the call on this?” Jack asked. They had a good angle on the shooters—clear line of sight of their backs. Something about this felt different than the other gun battles he’d been in, though. Perhaps part of him could relate to their desperation to fight through the check point and get to safety beyond. Perhaps it was because the deputies had opened fire and negligently shot several bystanders. The mob’s actions weren’t without justification—this wasn’t necessarily Jack’s fight.
“Wait and see fer now, I think” Barry responded.
Jack nodded. He wasn’t sure if he could just stand by and watch the battle unfold, but that felt like the best call to make in terms of extending their life spans.
But was it the right call to make?