> TEOTWAWKI Blog: You Took Away Tomorrow - Chapter 21: Loss

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10/7/13

You Took Away Tomorrow - Chapter 21: Loss

See the Chapter Index for back chapters.

Chapter 21: Loss

Gunfire roared on the road up ahead, a chaos of pops breaking through the night. Muzzle flashes burst to life like fire crackers on the 4th of July as rifles and handguns opened up. Jack ran through the forest, moving as fast as his feet could carry him, crashing through branches and brush. He reached for his walkie’s mic, found it and jammed his thumb onto the transmit button.
              “What’s happening? Where is the threat?” he yelled, getting no answer. He glanced back; Barry was close behind, moving more smoothly through the woods thanks to his night vision goggles, his suppressed grease gun held at high port.
              “We are moving in from your left. Repeat, we are moving in from your left!”
              The cadence of gunfire slowed, and Jack could hear some indistinct yelling coming from the road up ahead. He couldn’t make out the voice, but it was male and panicking. He was close to the road now and could make out movement up ahead in the darkness. He put on an extra ounce of speed, legs pumping up the incline that led to the road. Almost there, he told himself.
Suddenly, he felt his foot snag and went sprawling. He fell forward, face smashing into something rough and hard. He felt his nose give way, cracking audibly under the impact. The pain, for a moment, was blinding. His vision blurred and his head spun. He fought to maintain consciousness. His family needed him.
He shook his head, clearing out the cobwebs and stabilizing the dizzying spin. Warm blood trickled down his face, the patter of droplets onto the vegetation below somehow standing out amidst the gunfire from the road. His vision took a moment to clear, struggling to refocus.
Gradually, the twilight around him came back into view. Movement, only a few paces ahead, immediately drew Jack’s attention. The silhouette of an injured man half limped, half ran towards him, a Kalashnikov rifle clutched in his hands. He had not yet seen Jack, but he was moving on a near collision course, and in the matter of a few strides would be on top of him. It was dark—Jack couldn’t make out the man’s features well enough to identify whether he was friend or foe.
Jack fumbled to bring his AR to bear—the sling had gotten twisted and tangled in his fall. He cursed silently, giving up and reaching for his pistol. Before he could break it free from the holster, the shadow was on top of him, tripping and falling over him. They crashed together in a heap of limbs. The other man swore, and the reek of tobacco and booze told Jack that this was a foe, not a friend.

The other man was instantly atop him, raining down with a hail of wild, windmilling punches. Jack bucked out of instinct, trying to roll the attacker off. Instead, the man landed in a side control position, jamming his left forearm down on Jack’s windpipe while his right arm punched furiously for Jack’s face. The man’s body blocked Jack’s access to his pistol.
Jack threw up his right arm to deflect the blows, fighting and trying to roll out and shift away from the man. He failed to improve his position, his exhausted body not responding with the strength he thought it should. Already, he was seeing stars as the crude choke cut oxygen off from his brain. A solid punch snuck past his defenses and slammed into his already broken nose, the pain staggering. Again, his vision swam.
Then, as his attacker reared up to deliver another blow, the man suddenly went limp, flopping loosely onto Jack. He was dead. Barry stood above him, antique katana in hand.
“Hey – quit messin’ around!” the old veteran whispered, kicking the corpse off Jack with the toe of one of his combat boots. Barry sheathed his katana with practiced ease.
“Thank you,” Jack managed as he stumbled to his feet, wobbly, Barry helping to stabilize him. He glanced at his attacker—the back of his neck had been severed almost halfway through, cleanly chopping through the spinal cord. The head lolled off at a weird angle, dark blood pumping free.
“You alright to move?”
Jack fished around for his carbine, untangling it and getting the long gun back into action.
“Ready,” he said.
Barry led for the last few yards back to the road. Automatic gunfire began its deadly chatter up ahead, a long spray of fire.
“That’s Tex,” Barry said. There was shouting, too, but it was impossible to make out over the roar of the machinegun. Jack could see his friend now, silhouetted by the constant succession of muzzle flashes, clearly identifiable by his distinctive cowboy hat. He was crouched behind one end of his trailer, firing the RPD into the night with reckless abandon. Jack couldn’t see anyone else. Smoke grenades had been set off to the front and to the rear of the convoy, and now they belched thick clouds colored of smoke, obscuring any view they might have of the attackers.
Jack keyed his walkie.
“Anybody read? Jack and Barry, returning on your left flank.”
              “Jack! It’s Jack! We need help!” Esme’s voice came over the radio, panicked and frantic. It sounded like she was moving.
              “We’re returning to the vehicles! Coming in from the left flank. Tell everyone not to shoot us!”
              “Do you see my husband?”
              The machinegun let up and a chorus of return fire opened up in response from further up the dirt road, in the direction of the cabin. Tex ducked back behind his trailer, bullets skipping across the dirt road around him.
              “He’s fine! Where is everybody?”
              No response came. Jack swore. Next to him, Jack could sense Barry tense up.
              “Tango, coming our way. They’re trying to flank him,” Barry whispered. Jack scanned the forest and roadside, struggling to see the threats. Slowly and silently, Barry shouldered the M3, moving like a hunter lying in wait for his quarry. Jack still could not see the enemy. Barry fired
The submachine gun was so quiet that Jack could make out the clink of the .45 ACP shell casings as they fell across the ground. Barry fired for what seemed like a good three or four seconds, one long burst of hot lead death. The enemy never even got a chance.
“Problem solved,” Barry said matter-of-factly, stowing the depleted magazine and loading a new one. Still, enemy gunfire cracked out from up the road. From what Jack could see in the shadows, Tex was struggling to switch in a new drum magazine on the RPD.
“Tex!” Jack yelled.
The cowboy looked in their direction, instinctively reaching for his sidearm but stopping short.
“Woah boy, it’s us!” Barry shouted.
“Good to have some company!” Tex yelled back, slapping shut the top cover on the RPD. He swung the big gun out around the other side of the trailer, opening fire again. With Tex keeping the enemy’s heads down, Jack and Barry dash out across the road, joining their friend. Jack put a hand on Tex’s back, signaling that they were with him.
“We got boxed in, had to ditch. Everybody else ran into the forest. I’m holding back, buyin’ ‘em some time,” Tex shouted in between short bursts. Jack knew what that meant.
“Well, no Jim Bowie at the Alamo tonight!” Jack said, joining in and lobbing shots back up the road. Tex grunted.
“If you say so!”
Barry was listening to the exchange of gunfire.
“There’s only one shooter up there,” he said, shouting over the roar of the RPD. Jack paused for a moment to listen, and came to the same conclusion. It did sound like there was only a single shooter—a Kalashnikov, probably—firing off a shot every second or so. They were un-aimed, seeming to zip randomly past them and into the night.
“You’re the pro—what should we do?” Jack said,
“Flank ‘im! You and me, Tex covering.”
Jack looked back over to his shoulder to his buddy.
“Tex, you got that?”
“Got it! I’ll hold out here!”
Jack slapped a hand on Barry’s back.
“You lead, I’ll cover!” he shouted. The old veteran nodded.
Jack leaned out from behind the trailer, triggering off a quick burst of fire. Barry jogged out behind him, heading once again for the cover of the forest. He made it nearly there, when suddenly his leg gave way. The veteran went down, groaning in pain and clutching at his right shin.
Jack swore.
“Barry is down!” he said.
“I’ll cover, go get him!” Tex said, shifting his position to join Jack at his side of the trailer and opening up in one long spray of gunfire, tracing bullets back and forth across the shoulder of the dirt road. Jack dashed out from behind the vehicle.
As he closed in on Barry, Jack could see his lower right leg, flopping painfully out of place, snapped clean through by a bullet’s impact. A pool of blood was forming underneath the wounded leg, but already Barry was throwing a bandana on above the wound to stem the flow.
“Come on!” Jack said, grabbing the old gunfighter’s arm and hauling him up onto his one good leg. With Barry using Jack’s shoulder for support, they hopped back to cover behind the trailer.
Tex’s machinegun fell silent, again depleted. Enemy gunfire responded, and this time Jack could clearly hear multiple shooters. They were on both sides now, sending bullets whizzing down either shoulder of the road. Tex reached into a small duffle thrown on the ground, searching through it and coming up with another drum of ammunition. He went to work reloading it.
“Last one!” Tex yelled.
Jack swore.
Then the enemy machinegun opened up.
“That’s a Pig!” Barry grunted through the pain, the sound of the M60 machinegun familiar to his ears. .308 rounds skipped across the road, tracers ripping through the night, tracking the stream of fire in alongside the trailer. The machinegun had been set up at a slight angle, not directly ahead on the road, giving it a better firing position on the trailer.
“Get down!” Jack said, shoving himself and Barry to the gravel road as the bullets blasted into the side of the Tex’s trailer, zipping clean through and over their heads. Shrapnel rained down over them, bits of fiberglass siding blown free by the gunfire.
“We gotta move!” Jack yelled at the top of his lungs as the bullets tore overhead. The three men belly crawled away, moving as quickly as they could, arms and legs crunching through the gravel. The M60 kept blasting wildly and blindly, tracers crackling like laser beams in the night.
As they crawled, Jack kept anticipating the impact of a bullet somewhere on his body. It seemed like bullets were everywhere. Somehow, they made it off the road and into the forest. They just rolled down the hill, away from the road.
They paused for a moment, safe from the enemy machinegun fire.
“Everyone ok?”
“I’m good.”
“Didn’t pick up anything new, if that’s what yer askin’” Barry groaned. Jack helped him to his feet, throwing an arm over his shoulder. Barry hopped painfully, his nursing his injured leg.
“Come on, you boys gotta run. Leave me here, I’ll keep ‘em off your tails. I’m just going to slow ya down,” Barry said.
“Screw that,” Tex said, scooping up Barry and throwing him into a fireman’s carry over his shoulder. Barry cursed him in protest, but Tex was already moving forward, plowing through the forest, putting distance between them and the road. Jack followed after the former linebacker, watching their rear. The M60 was still shooting, though now in short bursts.
Jack shook his head, cursing their attackers. They were leaving everything—their vehicles, food, supplies and weapons—behind and there was nothing he could do about it. He could go back up to the road and get himself killed, but even that would not change the outcome. His family and friends were out there in the forest, scared and possibly wounded. That fight would have to come another day, on his terms.
Tex led the way through the forest, running through the darkness, Barry’s weight seeming not to slow him down.
“Jack? Tex? Barry? Anybody out there?” Fiona’s voice came over the radio, flooding Jack with relief.
“We’re here! We’re here—all three. I think we’re moving in your direction,” Jack said.
“You’re alive! Thank heavens! We’ve stopped—there’s a little stream, we’re alongside that. Amy is…Mike’s trying to help her,” Fiona said, relief clear in her voice, too.
“You have the boys?”
“Yes, they are with me. Scared, but ok,” she said.
“All right. Stay quiet as you can. We’ll find you. Be ready to move.”
On they went through the forest, Tex keeping a steady pace and Barry protesting all the while. Gunfire from the road had stopped, and Jack could hear the faint sounds of shouts and yells from back that way.
Finally, they reached the stream. Jack’s legs were weak and wobbly, barely able to move him forward. They stopped catching their breath while scanning up and down the stream, trying to find any sign of their group. The dark forest towered all around them, not giving forth any signs.
Jack heard a faint clinking of metal and turned to see Rambo the German Shepherd, trotting towards them. Tex had set Barry down for a moment, and the old veteran chuckled in delight, collapsing to his knees to welcome the dog with a hug and scratches behind her ears.
“I knew you’d bug outta there! Good girl!” the veteran praised.
With Rambo’s help, they navigated down along the stream for several hundred yards before finding their friends.
“It’s us!” Jack transmitted over the walkie, flashing his flashlight on the low setting to show their position.
“I see you, love, come on in,” Fiona said. She rushed out to greet him, her handgun held at her side. She recoiled as she saw the dark stains of blood across his face.
“What happened?” she asked, reaching for her flashlight. Jack put out a hand, stopping her.
“No lights. It’s just a broken nose. Where’s Mike—Barry hurt his leg,” he explained.
Jack and Tex helped Barry hobble into the temporary rest sight, Fiona leading the way. She led them to the far side of a huge hardwood tree.
Bathed in the pale moonlight, Kyle cradled Amy in his arms, rocking slowly back and forth. Amy’s eyes were closed and her head hung loosely to one side. Kyle sobbed quietly, his head buried in his wife’s blond hair. She was dead.
Jack’s heart tore at the sight. He nearly buckled, but somehow stood firm, helping Barry maintain his footing.
Mike was kneeling off to one side, staring blankly off into the night. He hadn’t reacted to their arrival and did not turn to look at them then.
“Mike,” Fiona said softly, her voice breaking him from his shocked trance.
              “Uhh, what?” Mike managed.
              “Barry needs you to look at him,” she explained. The paramedic gathered his things, shoving them hastily into his medic’s bag.
              “Yes, of course,” he said, rising and walking to join them. Jack turned to help Barry limp away and leave Kyle to grieve in peace, but found Fiona taking his place at the veteran’s side.
              “He needs you,” was all she said, helping Barry limp off into the night, Mike close at hand.
              Jack collapsed to his knees alongside Kyle, placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder. He had no words or actions that could sooth Kyle’s pain—at least not now.
They stayed like that for a while, Kyle sobbing quietly, clutching his wife to him as tightly as he could. Jack listened to the sounds of the forest—the crickets singing their songs, the frogs chirping in the stream and the breeze rustling through the branches overhead. For a moment, all was still in the world. Jack thanked the heavens for a moment of respite.
              Finally, Kyle looked up from his wife, locking eyes with Jack. Jack could see the sorrow in his friend’s eyes, but he could also see the barely restrained fury caged within.
              “I’m going back, man. I’ve got to. You guys go on without me, but I’ve got to make those bastards pay,” he said, voice filled with grit and resolve.
              Jack shook his head.
              “No. You’re not going to do it alone, brother. We’re all going to make those bastards pay.”

22 comments :

  1. Bad situation. Problem is same as its been all along. Too much to fast. The group has been running on empty and is now out of gas. They should hunker down and rest a few hours and regroup. Fighting without rest is one thing, but throwing anger and revenge into the mix is suicidal. Sure hope their situation improves soon or story will be over.

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  2. Luis EduardoOctober 07, 2013

    Now, I'm the one that could not wait until next week. Good job.

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  3. "Kyle sobbed quietly, his head buried in his wife’s blond hair. She was dead."

    Okay, we're officially "married" to these characters now. I know this because for an instant, my eyes stung when I read this. Well done, Mr. Wolf.

    I can't wait for the full version to come out and flesh these characters out a little more. Keep em comin' !!

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    1. As long as its an indie movie. If you leave this masterpiece to Hollywood, it will turn out as PC as the remake of Red Dawn.

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    2. Yep that stung me too! Made me mad and wished they had laid in wait for the attackers to show themselves at the vehicles.

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  4. Ok, they all need rest. Kyle needs to be tied up if he can't control himself. They need to get to a place to hide and rest. The next day maybe organize a recon. Then form a plan and attack. They don't need to stay to close to the stream because that could be the enemy's water source. Ask Barry. He knows the lay of the land so he could help figure out the attack. You might even be able to get him on the RPD for cover fire. Quick, silent and deadly. If you have a suppressed sniper rifle, then give that to barry and take them out slowly. We are talking strike hard and fast and then hide. Try to attack when they are out in the open, and when you have the advantage (obviously). Once they see that there aren't any bodies at the road, they might come looking for you. Get to a defensible position and keep an eye out do some counter tracking and get off the beaten path. Walk through the stream, just in case they have a dog. Any and all precautions should be taken. They can't afford another injury or loss until after they have taken the cabin And they are secure. Be sure you have a count on how many hostiles there are before you start shooting. You have to know if there is any left because they will just try to take the cabin back. If you are successful, and only end with minor injures and one loss, you are doing well, plus you have probably gained some supplies.

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  5. Shouldn't they be worried about who has control of the jihad weapons? Will's group did a lot of damage to the police force with those weapons. I think their priority would be to make sure those weapons don't fall into the wrong hands. Destroy them if necessary. Now is the time for Barry to use some of the tricks up his sleeve that he mentioned in chapter 15. There were four vehicles at the cabin so unless a bunch of people road in the bed of the two pickup trucks or the RV they might be evenly matched. That is until they get ahold of the jihad weapons.

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  6. I have a question that doesn't exactly go with this but, it could apply. I basically want to know what y'all (Mr. Wolf in particular) thinks about having young teenagers (14-16) participate in a gun fight (like this or the ambush on the jihadis). Would you arm them? Would you have them as backup? What if they are knowledgeable and trained with you before teotwawki? Just kinda wondering what you thought. What if one of the characters had a son that was in this age range. Would he have helped out?

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    1. For almost all of human history a 14-year-old was considered an adult. Just saying.

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  7. I understand everyone is tired and a rest would be good but they have a couple of big advantages right now. It is likely that whoever attacked them is trying to gather their stuff and probably tending to some wounded/dead of their own. They have night vision and at least one suppressed weapon. It might be worth it to go back and at least try and pick off one or two. Heck that may be all that is left of the attackers.

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  8. The three musketeers should have moved down/up/over the road and taken up new positions with intersecting fields of fire, good cover and concealment and laid in wait with an expedient ambush. Barry wasn’t going to die from his wound and he had already applied first aid. Once these half-drunk goons come to profit from their victory WAIT. Let them feel they won, put their guard down momentarily, count heads whatever. Teams ALWAYS regroup and that is when you release the dogs of war. While Barry and Tex are devastating the goons in the kill zone, Jack flanks and finishes the job at a close range on anyone left squirming. Reposition to a different firing point but with covering fields of fire, 2 off/1 on for an hour at a time and wait for the sun. Radio group and determine their position and notify that they are Ok. Tell them to go 2 off/1 on until further notice to rest up . Give no location or plans and radio silence unless an emergency. If no one moves an hour after dawn, retake the vehicles, reload, resupply and bring the men up to the vehicles. Take the compound and neutralize any hostile force. There is much to be said for a well-planned and laid out plan of attack. But nothing ever goes as planned and leveraging existing opportunities is invaluable. Poorly trained and/or intoxicated enemy will think you did what they would have done, RUN! Surprise, shock and awe can be a game changer. Doing what your enemy never expected, wins wars.

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    1. 100% agree. Make em think they won and get them clean when they come to inspect the bounty.

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    2. I agree completely. It does not seem as if the occupying force planned for this. They seem to have been caught unawares. It would be very relevant to question Kyle or Tex and see what exactly happened. Who fired first and how many made initial contact? I think an immediate counter-attack would be wise. But I guess we'll have to wait 156 hours to find out. Hopefully Barry doesn't bleed out by then.

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  9. This series is freakin awesome! You rock! Its a real situation that isn't far fetched and could truly happen. Keep up the good work!

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  10. By far the best action sequence I've ever read!

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  11. Reckless, unplanned, bozos. Barry should've been better prepared and shared the details before a commitment was made by the crew to join him. The only reason I continue to read this is just to see how much longer their luck will hold out. They were doomed ever since that idiot Mike led the BGs back to the neighborhood. Let's see how much more luck the author will write for them. If it were me, I'd write off Barry as bleeding out, Kyle will go rogue, and the rest will over-rule Jack and head back into town begging for help from whatever powers that be. They have become refugees, and pretty soon will be classed as criminals once they are taken into custody and their story comes out.

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    1. I always wondered who are these people who willingly throw the towel in when things go wrong or become difficult and submit to the whatever powers that be with the hope that "they" will protect and provide for you. Thank God that Washington and his rabble of patriots did not think like this at Valley Forge. Can only speak for myself but I would rather live on my own terms, misery, suffering, pain, hardship and all, as a free man then as the servant of a power that is. Live Free or Die was the cry of our founders and that drive, that desire, that passion still lives in the hearts and minds of many today. STAY IN THE FIGHT JACK! STAY IN THE FIGHT!

      -DB

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    2. I have to agree w/ the issue of the LEO accompanying Mike w/ the injured terrorist (that's what he was, no PC here) is where it went downhill. If smarter decisions were made at the beginning of the storyline, although Barry does have a lot to offer; they probably should have went straight to the hunting lease. If they did that, they'd probably be dealing w/ less issues right about now. In this situation, survival is key. One in the hand is better than two in the bush.

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    3. Should of, could of, would of........ It's all about where your at now and what you are going to do with what you have and the circumstances you are in. Looking back for lessons learned is important but you cannot linger on choices that could have been made. That is not different than lingering on why you didn't buy an underground bunker, night vision googles or an urban assult vehicle. Learn from your mistakes and missteps but stay firmly rooted in the here and now.

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  12. BUT....If Mike hadn't brought the terrorist back to Jack's to get the whole ball rolling, this would probably be a pretty boring story right about now. :-)

    I'm lovin' it...keep 'em comin' !!!

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  13. Why don't you have an underground bunker, night vision googles, or an urban assault vehicle? If you are serious about prepping, which I assume most are who even bother to comment here, now's the time to get ready. You need to have all the tools in place & a team of well trained friends to use them. When TSHTF, it'll be too late as our cast of characters is finding out. They should've never left the neighborhood without a better plan!

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