In for a penny, in for a pound.What exactly does it mean? I guess it depends on your perspective. If you are a burglar about to steal the stereo system out of a Cadillac, why not just steal the entire car. The punishment is effectively the same since both are forms of grand larceny (in most states.)Maybe your perspective is
not criminal. Maybe you are an investor or speculator. In your case, if you were going to make a risky investment bet, why go small for small returns when you can go big for big returns. If you are a rich Vegas gambler, the choice is the same: $5 on red or $5000 on red. Why go small when you can go big.For the rest of us, I think the choice falls more along the lines of Liberty or slavery. Every single person reading this has committed a felony crime at some point in their lives, whether they realize it or not. There are some absolutely stupid and crazy laws on the books, some of which are enforced regularly, while others are enforced selectively or never. Enforced or not, if you are breaking them, you are a felon (or some form of criminal at a minimum.)Read this awesome recent essay
before continuing (which gives my exact point of view on the Constitutionality of all laws that are not Constitutional Amendments) to gain a full perspective on what I am discussing below. I find it fortuitous, or of some divinity, that I found it during the writing of this article.Soon, many gun owners will be instant felons
. They will be people like me who will refuse to register our guns, which have been obtained and are held according to Natural Laws and Rights of mankind, as well as held in accordance with our Constitutionally protected Rights to such. Not only does the absolute law of the land state that we can keep and bear arms, but since guns are also property, guns are doubly guaranteed by the protections of the Constitution. We have the Right to Life, Liberty, and Property as well as the Right to keep and bear arms, and the government is PROHIBITED from infringing upon those Natural Rights. Guns are protected from government both by the Second Amendment, as well as the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution."Shall not be infringed," as it states in the Second Amendment, does not mean regulated; it does not mean reduced; it does not mean removed; it does not mean registered; it does not mean not allowed; it does not mean absolved. What it does mean is that no person, entity, or government can take away our Natural Born Rights to make, posses, keep, carry, or use a firearm - ANY FIREARM.If you believe the above to be true, then by default you believe that every gun restriction law ever passed is null, void, and unconstitutional, whether it is enforced or not, or improperly upheld by a misinformed judicial system. The same goes for every law ever created (of which there are thousands) that directly, or indirectly, restricts or prohibits any Natural Born Rights.
If you believe this, you are already in for a penny.Chances are that you have already broken one or more of these many undeclared unconstitutional laws, by conscious choice. That is called civil disobedience [to mankind's laws.] Personally I think of it as civil obedience [to Natural Laws.
] However you think of it, you are still in for a penny. You have already placed a bet and taken account for the risk.Now it is time to go in for a pound. Your risk is inherently no greater, especially if you truly intend to not adhere to a federal gun ban/law. A felon is a felon. However, you are only a felon in the eyes of those persons who do not understand or cherish Liberty (be they sheep, law enforcement, judges,
and/or politicians.) Why would you care what they think?
If you are going to break one serious federal law, why not break them all?I don't want anyone to take what I am saying out of context. I am in no way advocating that anyone go out to rob, rape, and destroy, or engage in any unprovoked acts of violence. This would be going against God's Laws and Natural Laws, as well as a complete violation of another person's Natural Born Rights.
Doing something like this makes you nothing more than an idiot who deserves a sudden death.I am simply stating that if you intend to, and eventually do break a federal anti-gun law (or anti-free speech
, anti-free association, detention, search, and/or false detention laws), then why not go in for a pound and live in true Liberty and break them all at your convenience? Breaking just one by choice is no different than breaking them all. If you are not willing to submit to just one, then you should be willing to not submit to any of them.Only through civil obedience to Natural Laws can we overcome the tyranny of governments. When 300 million people say "no" by way of disobeying any unjust laws, can we be truly free. I know this because I have invested many pennies in many places for many years; in some cases I have invested pounds.
But now, I am all pounds invested in all places.“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
― Robert A. HeinleinHere is where I must add a caveat to the above. If, like me, you have certain intentions and ultimately decide to follow through, you should seriously consider making some very patriotic friends willing (by any means necessary) to break any chains that may bind you in the future.
Myself and my friends believe that any person who supports (by action or inaction) a tyrannous man, machine, and/or government (directly or indirectly), are tyrants themselves, and deserve to be in a special place. Everyone should develop a well oiled support system that can quickly react to any situation in which one might suddenly find themselves, because they choose to live a life of Liberty.Denego dominatusFYI: Keep HH6 happy, Google: Solvent Trap. The rest is up to you to figure out.Copyright AbsoluteSurvivalist.com 2012. All Rights Reserved.
The preceding story may be reproduced in WHOLE for publication on the web for non-commercial purposes only, and or linked in any web publication. It may not be reproduced in part in any manner or form, in any media for any reason.
In times of tyranny and injustice when law oppresses the people, the outlaw takes his place in history. - from the opening of Robin Hood (2010), Brian Helgeland (writer)
The New Outlaw
Our government has seen fit to make myself, and millions of others like me, into outlaws. We have become outlaws simply from the threat of new legislation, which has yet to be presented. Our mindsets have been forced to change because we have seen the minds of our so called leaders through their public rhetoric. Because our government has contempt for the law abiding citizens, they see us as outlaws in the making. They are projecting their completely irrational beliefs upon us. They erroneously believe that we will snap and go on a killing spree of innocent children, shoppers, movie goers, or worshipers. Though this is far from the truth, they see it as truth (or at least their known wishes and actions against us speak it as truth.) Such realizations force a person to look inward at themselves and wonder
why they would be the subject of such an attack from their government. It doesn't take a person very long to realize that there is nothing at all wrong with them, and that the real problem lies with the accuser. But this does not change the reality of the situation. We are being demonized, through legislation and rhetoric, for actions in which we had absolutely no involvement, as well as for actions that have not even occurred.Myself and others are being vilified by our government for choosing to exercise our Rights to speak freely, be well armed and trained, to not be unnecessarily detained, and to be secure in our persons and property
. Because of our beliefs in our Natural Born Rights, our government is attacking us. They are seeking to disarm us. They are turning each of us into outlaws.The new outlaws are business owners, bankers, secretaries, doctors, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, professional military, salesmen, waiters and waitresses, pilots, lawyers, factory workers, linemen, teachers, writers, cashiers, and a whole host of once completely normal and outwardly benign people. But when a government is hell bent on stripping our Natural Born Rights from us, they are unwittingly turning each of us into dangerous outlaws. We are not dangerous to those people the government wants you to believe we are a danger. No, instead we are an extreme danger to tyrants. We are an extreme danger to anyone who attempts to take from us what is not theirs to take.
We understand that no man granted our Rights, and that no man can take them from us. We understand that the fingers are being pointed in the wrong direction, and we will resist.We are already resisting. We are the new outlaws, and we are prepared to defend ourselves, our families, and our neighbors against tyrannous aggression.
You have forced our hands and we reacted swiftly, buying up millions of dollars of guns and ammunition in a few short days with which to defend ourselves. You may get me; you may get a few of us; but rest assured you will not win because there is a rifle behind every blade of grass, each manned by a new outlaw. Unlike you, we have Natural Law on our side, and Natural Law always prevails.Copyright AbsoluteSurvivalist.com 2012. All Rights Reserved.
The preceding story may be reproduced in WHOLE for publication on the web for non-commercial purposes only, and/or a link may be provided in any electronic publication. It may not be reproduced in part in any manner or form, in any media for any reason.
Guns and Capitalism
Due to the recent stunning rise in guns, gun parts, and ammunition sales over the past two weeks, the prices of these items have risen dramatically. During this period of sharply rising prices, I have noticed a similar rise in angst amongst a segment of people who oppose this sharp rise in prices. This has led me to the conclusion that there are still a significant number of people who do not understand or appreciate Capitalism, which is quite sad and disturbing.There are a few gun based websites that I frequent on a daily basis (along with other FREEFOR, survivalist, and alternative news media sites.) Like many, I noticed late in the day on December 14th, that there was no unusual activity, except for a couple of want-to-buy (WTB) requests for AR-15s and AK-47s. By Saturday, I noticed a very sudden increase of about 10-15% in many prices of items that were available for sale from individual sellers, auctions, and
retailers. By Monday, the world had come unglued, and prices for anything remaining had skyrocketed.Today, we sit in a strange position where many retailers have dramatically raised prices on remaining inventory (if they have it), and individuals are asking triple, or more, for certain sought-after items. Many retailers simply do not have any stock at all, including me. My distributor alone sold over 35,000 AR-15 magazines in less than 24 hours. Now they are telling me that I may or may not get any more, and if I do that they have no way of telling me when that will happen.Now add to the mix the people complaining about price gouging. It is not price gouging, it is Free Market Capitalism
. When an item is in high demand, but very low supply, the prices go up. In some cases, the prices might go up and a merchant may apply limits to how much one can buy. Even if a government stepped in to install price controls, this would not keep prices from rising since Capitalism always prevails. What would happen is that merchants would simply not offer their inventory at the fixed prices, but instead sell their products out of the back door at market determined prices. I know you may not want to believe it, but that is the truth of how it works.Why? Because as availability of items decreases to the merchant, the prices usually also increase. The merchant must make a profit to stay in business. If the suppliers are increasing the prices
to the merchants, then the merchants are going to increase the prices to the consumer. If the government tries to institute price controls, there are only two things that happen:1.) The suppliers/merchants take their business elsewhere
, or2.) the merchants take their products to the black market.Even if the suppliers take their business elsewhere - say to another country - then the merchants in that country will smuggle the products back into this country, and the products will still be sold on the black market.
This kind of Free Market Capitalism already happens on a daily basis in the US with other products. However, at this time there are no price controls, so it is really just as simple as supply and demand. The supply is low but the demand is high, which drives prices up. Though you may not be willing to pay $60 for a $14 thirty-round AR magazine, there are plenty of people who are willing to do so. Don't believe me? Go to GunBroker.com and watch people bid up the prices. Auction prices determine real market value of an item. If 15 individual people are willing to voluntarily bid on an item to inflated prices, then that is the item's (as well as any similar item's) value at that point in time. Therefor an individual can determine that a similar product they own has a similar value at that time.
If you were one of those individuals who bought an AR-15 with one magazine, and never took the time to get any more, how much would you be willing to pay to get some more if they were no longer available? Right now, there are NONE AVAILABLE! That makes them very valuable. What if you didn't have an AR/AK/FAL/M1A/PTR91 (or whatever your poison), how much would you be willing to pay to get one if they were no longer available? Again, right now there are NONE AVAILABLE! This is why anyone willing to sell any extra they may have are asking (and receiving) very high prices for their items.Not everyone remembers the prices following AWB1. I remember pre-94 glock 17 used magazines selling
for more than $100 each. There were AR and AK magazines going for $75 each and up. Factory Mini-14 magazines were $150. I find it amusing that people are complaining about $30-60 AR magazines, when in a few months they may be illegal to manufacture; and if some politicians get what they want, they will be illegal to own. Personally, I am waiting for prices to go over $100 per magazine before I start selling my personal stash (set aside years ago for just such an event), and there will be plenty people willing to pay it.So here we are, where thousands of individuals are currently willing to pay double, triple, or higher for a specific product
on the open market. What makes you believe that these buyers and sellers are in the wrong when they are doing nothing more than partaking in the Capitalistic Free Market economy that so many gun owners say they want? As soon as there are no more people willing to pay $3000 for an AR that only cost $800 three weeks ago, then the prices will start to go down. Supply and Demand. I say that those people complaining about the high prices fall into two camps. The first camp are the hypocrites who have what they need but want more, and are pissed off that they didn't get more when the prices were lower and supplies were ample. The second camp are those people who did not heed the years of warnings to buy guns, magazines, and ammunition now, before the day came when you couldn't, and now they are left standing in the cold with prices out of their reach.
Regardless of why you are complaining, I hope you do not publicly tell people you are a Republican or Libertarian, since you are neither. Those of you who failed to properly plan should not be complaining about high prices. The warnings bells have been going off for 15 years. This did not just happen two weeks ago.Also remember that if AWB2 gets signed into law, you may suddenly have ZERO chance of [legally] acquiring some, or all, of these items
. How much would they be worth to you then? $3000 is pretty cheap for the unobtainable, don't you think? No? Then you're an idiot.Here is some more inside information on items that will become very expensive and even unobtainable in the future (maybe even near future):- Get long-term stored food NOW, while it is still cheap.- Get water filters NOW, while they are still legal and cheap.- Get paper products NOW, while they are still cheap.- Store a couple of tank fulls of gas/diesel
.- Store quality medical supplies and medicines before they become impossible to get, even from a doctor.- Get radio and communications equipment and learn how to use it
- Get some gen 2/gen 3 night vision before it is illegal.- Get a suppressor before it is illegal
.- Get body armor before it is illegal
.- Get a quality grain grinder
.- Get heirloom seeds and grow a garden
.- Get a huge supply of rechargeable batteries and chargers
.- And above all, get your head out of the clouds. You're losing your God Given Natural Born Rights. If that was not true, millions of people would not have swarmed every gun store in America buying up everything in sight in the last two weeks.Copyright AbsoluteSurvivalist.com 2012. This article may be posted in its entirety in any electronic media and/or a link back to this original article may be provided. This article may not be posted in any partial form by any means.
When I wrote the story "I'm a Dead Sandy Hook Teacher
," I was mad. I am still mad. I am infuriated that 20 young children lost their lives to a gunman inside a school. I am infuriated that 6 teachers lost their lives in the same incident. I know I am not alone in feeling like this. For some reason people seem to think that I feel otherwise.I am still mad that Holmes killed movie theater patrons, and I am mad about the Sikh Temple shooting. In fact, I am mad at the multitude of mass murders that have happened over the decades. But I am not mad at the victims (mostly), and I am not mad at the perpetrators (mostly.)I am mad at my government for forcing The People, through coercion, threat of jail and fines, and threat of loss of Liberty to give up their God Given Natural Born Rights to self-defense against these murderers. I am tired of hearing about people dying from an assailant who took advantage of a situation where good, honest people were congregating in a place where firearms were prohibited. I am more tired of hearing of similar stories where people died in places where guns were allowed, but the people didn't take responsibility for their lives.I am tired of people not taking the personal responsibility for themselves and their safety. I know there are plenty of people who do not agree with me (it is evident in the vile comments they made), but there are too many people who need to be grabbed by the shirt and told the truth.
They need to be awakened from their slumber. We are being attacked on all fronts, by a power seeking government that is supposed to be limited within the confines of the Constitution, and this will eventually lead to all of our Rights being taken from us by force of legislation. Not just gun Rights, but also the Rights which you hold dear.For those of you who found my process of delivery of a message despicable (or worse), I hope you are complaining just as loud about the politicians who are using the same tragedy to further their agendas - agendas that STEAL your Rights. They were on the air in less than 24 hours following the tragedy spewing their tyranny, and the controlled media were gladly giving them a platform to do so. But I highly doubt you complained about that, or spit your hateful comments towards them as you did me.No, you found it easy to vilify the person hell bent on defending your Rights in the wake of this tragedy. You found it easy to pass judgement on a person who will stand up for your Rights, even if that person does not agree with you.
You found it easy to call me hateful names for using the blood of the victims in an effort to protect your
Rights from an intrusive government. Your government is using the dead children and teachers to HARM YOU, but you're not complaining about that! Hell, you probably don't even realize it is happening.It seems that too many people falsely believe that some draconian legislation banning "Assault Weapons" and magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds
will fix the problem. If you think that, you are delusional. There are 300 million guns that are not going away. There are over 1 trillion magazines with a capacity of more than ten rounds that are not going away. There are people like me that can reload a magazine-fed firearm in one second; there are people who can do it faster.Laws that steal my Right to self defense only hurt me and you. Because when some maniac with a gun enters a place where you and I are congregated
, hell bent on destruction, I will be legally limited to having ten round magazines, while the maniac will not have any limitations; because as usual, they won't adhere to the laws. You won't be armed, because you don't believe in it, while I will be forced to defend you, my family, and myself against someone better armed than me. But when it comes down to it, I won't have enough rounds in my magazine to protect us all. No, I will only have enough for my family and myself, and you are going to be shit-out-of-luck, because you thought it was OK for the government to restrict my Rights.As for those of you who mistakenly believe that I am not close to such a subject, the mother who raised me was a teacher for 20 years; my sister is a teacher, my aunt is a teacher, both of my neighbors are teachers, most of my friends are teachers and school administrators.
So, I am kind of close to the subject matter. On top of that, only one of the people mentioned above never owned a firearm, while the rest own multiple firearms. Since none of them are hunters, we can surmise the purpose for having the guns is for self-defense. What do those teachers know that you do not?Now let's move on to some of the asinine arguments presented:"Thou shalt not kill." The Commandment reads, "Thou shalt not murder." The Bible is clear on the difference between murder and self-defense. It is also clear on the Right of a person to defend not just their person, but also their property with deadly force."If only Lanza's mother had been armed." She was sleeping, stupid.
It is for this same reason that SWAT does most entries in the wee hours of the morning - it's easier to defeat someone who is sleeping. It is not rocket science, its superior tactics.
I "should be ashamed of myself." No, I am not. I will never be ashamed of fighting to retain Rights
.I "feel that [I] have the [R]ight to co-opt the teachers who died that day to push my personal agenda." I certainly do have the Right, regardless of how off-putting it may be to you. And if you think I'm wrong, then I expect you will be writing letters to a few select federal government officials, including the president, and media, expressing your disgust and displeasure with them for doing the same. No? I didn't think so."You can still defend yourself without a gun." Only provided you are within reach of the person with the gun, you have the knowledge and experience to disarm them, and you have some luck on your side. However, it is impossible for an unarmed person to disarm a crazed man with a rifle or pistol who is fifty feet away
. There are plenty of examples of this, including some dead administrators at Sandy Hook. There is a pleasant caribbean island that has some masterful crooks. Three unarmed men approach tourists who have strayed out of the "tourist" areas.
They tell you they want all of your money and jewelry and they point to a man standing 50+ feet away off to the side with a rifle aimed at you. There is absolutely nothing you can do. There is no way you could close the distance before you were shot and they robbed your dumb ass anyway."Teachers should not have guns." Only if you want more dead ones.
This happens to be an already proven fact. If you are a teacher (or anyone for that matter), can you honestly say that you would not want to have a loaded gun in your hand if someone was pointing a gun at you and your children, and you knew that person would pull the trigger. If you say that you would not, you're a liar or live in a delusional world where bullets don't kill."A child could take a gun out of the teacher's desk or purse." They sure could if the teacher were dumb enough to put their gun in the desk or in a purse. A gun should be worn on the body in a manner that makes in quickly available for use. Properly worn, in a suitable retention device, it is nearly impossible for anyone but the wearer to remove.
I am "right-wing." Not in the least. I am a Liberty minded centrist. Though I have always voted in every election, I have never voted for a Democrat or Republican. I doubt you can say the same. I wrote this story to get clicks or sell products.
Nope. I don't care about either. I wrote this story because I was mad and needed to get out the things rattling around in my head. No one was forced to read what I wrote. No one made any of you come to this website and read anything on it. You did so voluntarily. And to condemn me for your willful action is childish.
I "value [my] Rights over what's right." My Rights are what's right; that is why they are God Given Natural Born Rights. Thinking that God would grant mankind something
(in this case, the Right to self-defense) just to cast it aside is delusional.I "value my guns over the lives of [my] countrymen." No. I value my Right to self-defense with any weapon I deem suitable for the situation (including guns), and the ability to protect, not just my countrymen, but all mankind from tyranny, whether that comes from a lone shooter, a terrorist cell, or a government gone mad."Everyone supporting the gun industry is responsible for Sandy Hook." That's funny. Adam Lanza is responsible for Sandy Hook. There's is nothing like the delusional musings of a person who was never been taught accountability to try and lay blame where it does not belong. Actually, all those people who are not being accountable for their own personal security, and that of their children are responsible for Sandy Hook. Guns are NEVER going to go away. Therefor you have one choice in the defense of one's self from a gunman - your own gun and the training and will to use it."Who the hell am [I] to speak on behalf of a victim of violence?" Hmmm....let me think....OH YEAH! A victim of violence. Did you think that the victims of Sandy Hook are the only people to have ever been victims? Apparently."Where do [I] think the money comes from to fix potholes?" Probably China. I wouldn't know. My road is covered with potholes, and has been for many years. That's not the point. Cars originally used carriage tracks. Once upon a time, roads were privately built and maintained, then the government decided to get in on the action by proxy, creating a need to lay taxes for their trouble.
Paved roads are not necessary, but most of us grew up with them and just expect them to be there. I prefer dirt roads. They are cheaper to make and maintain, and they don't eat tires like paved roads do. I would rather have my Liberty and money than roads. Call me a country-hick-hillbilly-redneck. It's a complement.I should reveal who I am? I have a Right to privacy, and I shall retain it.I shut down comments because I am a coward or could not handle the [insults.] Nope. I have had far worse things happen in my life than having people hurl obscenities and insults at me in the comments section of a blog. No, I had to get on the road for holiday travels and am unable to moderate the comments for a while. I wrote this piece while using the Wi-Fi at a rest stop. I would just leave comments on, but is seems that drunk people leave some pretty strange comments that make little or no sense, or people write a paragraph in a single unreadable ru
n-on sentence with no punctuation and strange spacing.
This is a continuation of my short story series. If you came here looking for my Sandy Hook story
or GC rant, either scroll down or click here
for the direct links.
Note: I want to give a special thanks to commenter Ed for cleaning up my grammatical mess in Part 5.
J. Allen Timms was the man in charge of the old RVS distribution center, but very few people, including the employees who worked there, realized it. He started his career in Naval Intelligence immediately after graduating college. Through some fortuitous events, as well as his natural ability to diagnose a situation, come up with a solution, and take the right actions, he moved up the officer ranks to Commander at the quickest possible speed the Navy would allow. This, coupled with his natural abilities, got him noticed by the CIA. They recruited him while he was still serving in the Navy and based on the feedback they were receiving from him, they decided to move forward with getting him in a position that better suited his abilities.
The CIA arranged for his very early retirement from the Navy. They then took 18 months to secretly send him through multiple training facilities to hone and better his skills, and get him familiar with the latest state of the art gadgets that would be available to him. After his training was complete, they got him a top position with the newly created Bureau of Domestic Affairs and Crisis Intervention Agency (BDACIA), that dealt specifically with domestic terrorism and extremism, which was a sub agency of the Domestic Homeland Security Agency (DHSA.) Because the CIA could not conduct operations within the borders of the United States, they simply circumvented them by creating sub agencies of domestic agencies that had the power to operate within the US, and they filled positions with their trained operatives that were paid, not by the CIA, but instead by the parent agencies. This made it all legal. It was no coincidence that Timms worked for an agency who’s acronym ended with CIA. The conspiracy theory people ate it up. However, J. Allen Timms was an elaborately created alias. It was so good, that even the DHSA and FBI hadn’t flinched when doing the background check for the high level position at the BDACIA.
Timms had been asked by his country to stop the negative domestic actions against his country, and he had willingly answered the call. He knew it was his patriotic duty to stop the terrorists and extremists operating in the US. He had aggressively studied and excelled during every course the Navy, CIA, and DHSA had laid upon him. During his 18 months of various CIA training, he had mastered martial arts, two foreign languages, the art of covert operations, surveillance (of every type imaginable), coercion, evasion, killing, and healing, among others. He took his job and responsibilities personally. He knew that there were very few people capable of doing the job, so he was very serious about everything he did to make sure the job got done. No terrorists would ever get past him while in his area of operations.
The BDACIA’s publicized function was to deal with the new and emerging development of people who were resisting the new laws and taxes, while its primary unpublicized function was to process persons who had been deemed “domestic extremists and/or terrorists.” The BDACIA operated various processing, holding, and internment facilities throughout the US as well as overseas when necessary. But the position Timms held within the BDACIA was a dual role of interrogations of “interesting” persons being processed, and external intelligence gathering to assist in the capture other extremists. This was a highly classified unrecognized position. Timms’ actual job title was Director of Operations, American Health Authority (AHA) Region 6-2.
External intelligence gathering is where Timms excelled. Though he had become quite good at interrogating people, it was not what he loved. In his back office, he had access to a large array of sophisticated electronic and visual surveillance technologies, many of which ran automatically 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. For his work, the best tools were those he personally manipulated, directed, or controlled in some manner. These sensors worked best when coupled with his innate intuition and gut instincts.
This is how he had found Doreen and Drew, several months earlier. It started with a gut feeling, but the finding of the two anti-government extremists was pure luck. He was monitoring one of his near perimeter sensors (which was not something he normally did) that scanned for anomalous RF transmissions, when he noted a spurious Wi-Fi handshake attempt. It wasn’t the fact that it was Wi-Fi, or that it was attempted, it was that what he witnessed was encrypted and lasted less than two seconds. The encryption itself was not a big deal, as people used encryption all the time (not that it ever mattered, since he could either break it or use the back door accesses to the encryption programs), and the attempted handshake was no big deal either, but the combination of the two that piqued his interest. Had he not been monitoring the receiver at that very moment, he would have received a computer generated report several hours later with the broken handshake, and not given it much thought. He may have given it to a technician to follow-up on, but generally nothing ever came from these anonymous RX/TX hunts.
He quickly turned his chair to the bank of monitors and looked at what the building’s various cameras were seeing. He could detect nothing out of the ordinary, but this did not change his mind about the strangeness of the event. He took a few minutes to look over some of his recorded data and concluded that this event was worth pursuing. Even if it led nowhere, it would be a good exercise. He determined that since the RF monitor had been installed, that it had never recorded any similar events. He also found that the connection attempt was made with the BBQ restaurant across the street from the old RVS facility, which had an upgraded and more powerful business signal that had a significantly longer range than normal private Wi-Fi signals.
These two pieces of information, coupled with the time of occurrence, he hoped would allow him to find out what happened. Since the restaurant had a signal booster he had to do some math, but figured they had a boosted range of somewhere around a three hundred feet radius from the router. This was a fairly significant area to search, but whatever had occurred, he was confident he could figure it out.
He slid over to his review monitors, which allowed him to look over the recorded video and any other data collected on a pair of monitors simultaneously. Normally, he viewed video feeds on one monitor and data from other sources on the companion monitor. Timms pulled up the first eight video feeds and had all of them paused at the exact time of the event. He also pulled up the collected RF data (Wi-Fi, cellular, radio, etc.) streams for the same time period on the other monitor. He would need to correlate each signal with a person or place on the various video feeds. This was something he normally had one or more of the technicians do for him, but on this particular day, he was treating this event as “hot” and wanted to do the exercise himself. He felt it was important that he stayed fresh.
It didn’t take him long to match up various transmissions with their associated sources in the videos. His saving grace was that the restaurant was closed and not full of patrons on cell phones and tablets at the time of the event, otherwise it would be impossible to figure out what happened, but at a little after 9am there were only passing cars and pedestrians to deal with. He was also fortunate that there was only one other business open with an active Wi-Fi signal within the area he was doing his search, and he had direct access to the internal camera feed. After 15 minutes, he had visually correlated all but two RF transmissions - the event, and an encrypted connection that was still ongoing. He did not need to visually correlate the last one since he was able to break the encryption and determine that it was a computer belonging to a family in a nearby apartment surfing the web for how to repair a dryer. He had accounted for every, passing car, person, business, and residence within the range of the Wi-Fi signal. But the event was still associated with someone he had yet to find.
When Timms took over at the old RVS Distribution Center, now dubbed the AHA Distribution Center, they were winding down their actual distribution functions. The facility had been quickly undergoing a conversion from distribution of drugs and medical supplies to use as a temporary internment and interrogation facility for the purposes of processing persons arrested and captured under the new anti-terrorist and extremist laws. The trucks kept coming in those early months, but instead of bringing in new medical supplies they were bringing in fencing, pre-fabricated walls and cells, as well as tons of fancy monitoring equipment. And instead of taking out medical supplies for distribution to stores, they were taking out the old logistics equipment, shelving, and heavy equipment. Because the trucks backed up to the bay doors, what was happening inside was unseen by the outside. It only took four short months to accomplish, and they had created a very useful facility for the purpose of getting the bad guys processed out to where they needed to go, but only after extracting any relevant information first through various interrogation techniques.
During the transformation, all of the external security systems had to be updated. Instead of the normal closed circuit security cameras, the guts of the cameras had been upgraded to the latest technology. Along with camera upgrades, various sensors and other devices had been installed. One of Timms’ favorite pieces of equipment was a very small acoustic listening device that had been installed on an existing antenna on the roof. It was barely bigger than a hand, and was made from a special clear polycarbonate material. The receiver’s electronics were the size of a woman’s pinky finger, and the servo that allowed the device to be actuated to the controller’s desired position was the size of a bottle cap. From fifty feet away, it was almost impossible to see. From one hundred yards away it was completely invisible. In this case, with it position on the roof of the large building, no one even knew it was there.
Timms put on the headset for the Claptrap 2012a, and faced his bank of video monitors. He would listen to normal audio while monitoring the video feeds for correlation. Mostly he listened to people talking on their phones, or cars going by on the street. There was nothing of interest to him. After more than half an hour, he was about to move on to something else, when he spotted a woman on the sidewalk talking on her phone. She stood out to him because of the way she dressed, which was very nice for this area of town. He figured she must work for a bank or some other institution that required a higher standard of dress code. He rotated the acoustic dish to her position on the sidewalk, placing the digital overlay of crosshairs on her, and then began the drama into which Timms was unwittingly pulled.
The entire conversation revolved around a divorce. Though Timms was detached, the whole conversation made him sad for the couple. They had small children together, and he wanted to work things out. She was over him and his antics. As they talked it out for ten minutes, the young lady paced back and forth on the side walk, forcing Timms to constantly keep the dish moving to keep up with her and the conversation. He noted that this falling out had nothing to do with the normal problems that ended relationships - money and infidelity. No, this one had more to do with personal attention. She wanted more than he was giving.
“What?!” Timms jammed the remote toggle for camera 6, instantly forgetting about the lady and her problems. He panned and zoomed the camera onto an older Ford Crown Victoria parked in the lot between two buildings across the street. He continued to zoom in to look into the interior. The windows were tinted very dark and there was a tint strip across the top of the windshield making the dark colored interior of the silver Crown Vic pitch black. The best he could do was to see that there were no occupants in the front seats, but he was certain that he had seen movement inside the vehicle in the background while he was watching and listening in on the lady’s conversation. It had been a small movement, but he knew he saw something. It could have even been a dog for all he knew.
He rotated the Claptrap listening dish and put the crosshairs on the car. The only thing he could hear were some external city noises and rap music. He continued to watch and listen, but he neither saw nor heard anything of interest. He brought camera 5 to bear on the parking lot, and started a methodical search. As he did, it dawned on him that he could not tell where the rap music was coming from. He started rotating the dish around the area of the parking lot and noted that the only place the music seemed to be coming from was within the parking lot, and most specifically the silver Crown Victoria.
‘Were there people smoking dope in the back seat? Did anyone still do that?’ he wondered. He focused his two cameras on the car and then the listening device. He adjusted the sensitivity on the Claptrap to diminish other sounds. Then he tried to cancel out the rap music, but the computer program that did the work was unable to match the notes, even though it had identified the correct song. He zoomed in camera 5 to the corner of the rearview mirror. If he could see it vibrating from the bass, then he would know the music was coming from the Crown Vic. As the zoom hit 122x, he could make out the mirror vibrations. Most people would think it was the camera vibrating in the wind on the roof of the building, but Timms knew better. Besides the fact that the wind was minimal to non-existent, the camera was triple dampened, with a dampener at the base mount, the head mount, and internally on the camera itself. It would stay completely stable up to 25 mph. It was definitely the mirror vibrating.
Now he just needed to hear what was going on inside the car. He needed to know if it was a dope smoker or something else. No amount of adjusting would cancel any of the rap songs that played on the radio for the next ninety minutes of observations. The computer continued to note an anomaly in the sound, that is best described as “incalculable distortion.” He also noted that the volume would increase and decrease from time-to-time, but never saw anyone make an adjustment to the radio. He picked up the phone and punched the number 3:
“Yeah, Boss?” came the answer on the first ring.
“Launch the cloud,” Timms replied.
“What’s the tasking?”
“Don’t know yet. Just get it over us. Call me when you are in the AO.” Timms hung up the phone.
Timms knew that with the SilkCloud IV es (electronic surveillance) drone airborne, he would be able to use its more sophisticated infrared and thermal cameras to see into the car. He didn’t have any on the building. That was something he was going to need to remedy. He figured it would take Jason about 15 minutes to get the bird up and over their area to start the surveillance. He just hoped he wasn’t spending a bunch of money on some damn dope smokers. Of course, he could call the police and have them check out the car, but that would ruin the exercise, and if it were something other than dope smokers, they may get spooked off. Timms was aware that counter surveillance was a better option than to just burn a possible lead with a police check.
Minutes later, he watched as a person exited the rear driver’s side of the vehicle and get into the front seat. The person was wearing a denim jacket and a ball cap. Because the person had short hair, he assumed it was a man. The person kept his head down so his face was not visible, which meant that Timms could not run a facial recognition profile. Timms was unable to tell if the person was a man or a woman. The car backed out and exited the parking lot.
Timms punched the speaker button on his phone and tapped the 3.
“Where’s my bird?”
Timms hung up without acknowledging. There was really no use at this point. The SilkCloud would not make it in time. He returned to his bank of monitors and pulled up the traffic cameras. As the Crown Victoria passed through a signaled intersection three blocks from the parking lot, he snapped photos of the front and rear of the vehicle. The driver was still obscured by the ball cap, and it was still too dark in the interior to see anything useful. He did get the license plate, which he immediately ran through the police database.
The license plate came back to Jones Sisters Security, L.C. out of Spain. ‘Spain? That didn’t make any sense. The license plates were from this state. What is going on?’ He simultaneously did a check for the company while tracking the vehicle with the city’s traffic cameras. As he was waiting on returns for the security company, he watched the vehicle turn into a large restaurant’s parking lot. The traffic cameras could only see at an extreme distance, and there was almost no detail. Timms immediately picked up the ringing phone.
“Three minutes. Tasking yet?”
“Head over to the Greasy Spoon on the west side. You are looking for a mid-nineties silver Crown Victoria. Do you know what those look like?”
“Uh, yeah boss,” Jason retorted in a sarcastic tone.
“Hey, I had to check. Those were a little before your time,” Timms joked with the young flight operator.
“Ok. I will reroute and be there in five.”
Timms turned back to his display to look at the incoming data on the vehicle and the company. He found it odd that there was almost no information. The vehicle had a very short history. It had been owned by a large city’s police department on the other side of the state, then purchased at auction by an individual four years later. Then just less than a year ago it was acquired by Jones Sisters Security, L.C. with an address in the Canary Islands, La Palma (Spain). He could not find any record with the county for such a company. He was almost at a dead end. He knew one thing for certain - these were no pot smokers.
Timms had reflected on that fortuitous day many months since. Had Drew and Doreen not been so poorly trained, he would have never detected them that day in the background of a separate conversation he was watching and listening in on. Even so, he had lost them that first day. The car was a complete dead end, and had been abandoned later that day in the Greasy Spoon parking lot, never to be revisited. The company was finally found to have been created in another state, with no listed members or owners, and the Registered Agent had no information other than a bad address.
It was three weeks later that Timms found the 58-year old Broussard twins again in a mid-nineties Ford F-250 truck in an adjacent parking lot. The only reason he caught them was from the music playing on the radio. It took several more weeks for him to finally get enough of a face shot to identify the pair. They were again driving a vehicle registered to a New Mexico limited liability company with a foreign address on a difficult-to-access island. It cost the government considerable monies to run down the addresses only to find that they ended with a tourist hot dog vendor who moonlighted as a mail forwarder. He would send the mail to another island in another country where the mail may or may not be forwarded again. Eventually, it would dead end somewhere. And why not? No one really needed to be notified that their registration was about to expire. They knew when it happened. Since the limited liability companies were not doing business, the State never needed to contact them for any reason. All very anonymous. All very untraceable.
But your face stayed with you where ever you went. Doreen made the mistake of propping her binoculars on the headrest of the seat in front of her. At one point she moved them and a camera captured enough of her face in the darkened truck to run through the recognition computer. Through Doreen, Timms determined her accomplice was her twin brother Drew. Neither had any criminal history; they both graduated high school and operated the family ranch, which they inherited. Though neither of them were well trained in actual surveillance, they were most certainly being trained and assisted in everything else by professionals. Timms was glad he had not burned them with a police check many months back, but he was still no closer to their handlers than he was that first day.
The twins had a fairly set routine. Early in the morning, one or both of them would go to a local store or shop and purchase some non-essentials with their Homeland Equitable Liberty Pay (H.E.L.P.) card. Timms was grateful for the laws that did away with paper money. Digital money was so much easier to track people down with. He found it very effective to use against people he was interrogating. Timms figured that these purchases gave the twins some form of plausible deniability in the event they were confronted by police. Of course, it would not help them once Timms finally decided to bring them in, since he had video evidence of their activities to confront them with once they started lying.
The other thing they did was play rap music, especially music with long bass hits. Sometimes they would run the engine of the truck in lieu of music. He knew they were doing this to mask their conversations, and it was working well, even against the agency’s most sophisticated equipment. No matter what he tried, the computers could never noise cancel the music or engine. There was some anomalous background interference that the computers were unable to account for. On top of that, the engine would change speed at an irregular interval. Because of this, Timms could never hear or record any part of their conversation in a manner that was useful.
Once the twins completed their surveillance, usually no more than twice a week, they would leave the parking lot and take a circuitous route through the city streets and end up parking the truck in a private parking garage. Even though Timms had had teams covertly enter the vehicle, install trackers, and put 24/7 surveillance on it, they always seemed to get around it. Twice a covert team had entered the vehicle, and it was completely clean. The only worthy intel that gave a piece of the puzzle was to learn that the stereo system had a wireless remote that allowed them to change the volume, station, or CD track from the back seat. Every vehicle tracker had failed to operate when they were in the vehicle, and no one ever got near the truck when surveillance was on it.
Even when the SilkCloud was up, they would either go into an underground structure, parking garage, or operate in places that had dense overhead cover. Even on the days that Drew would spend over thirty minutes to get his snacks at the corner convenience store, he took a route that shielded him from overhead view. Any of the private cameras at various businesses that Timms had access to, either suddenly didn’t work or were of too poor quality to be of any use.
Timms had tried to use the cameras in the parking garage to monitor the truck and the twins, but they always seemed to be broken. Timms had entertained offering the owners of the parking garage an upgrade to their video system, but figured that it may be too suspicious. Regardless, he was still perplexed as to why, with all of the great technology he had, the twins were still able to keep their actions following their surveillance secret. They certainly had professional help.
Timms was contemplating new ways to track the twins as he was driving in to work this morning. He always made it a point to not look in the direction of the parking lots from which they would conduct their surveillance, even though his instincts always told him he should. They had been playing this cat and mouse game for so many months now, and he was enjoying the chase. His only ace was that he knew they were there; otherwise they seemed to be holding most of the cards in this game. He knew they didn’t know what was going on inside the building under his command, and he was sure…
“Is that…?” Timms said aloud to himself. He was only four blocks from his office when he spotted what he thought was Doreen walking down the sidewalk several blocks ahead, likely on her morning illicit caffeine run, later than usual. He slowed down to several miles under the speed limit to observe longer and make sure. The person had all of the right features. In fact, everything was right except for the time. It had to be her. As he was only a hundred yards away, he could tell for sure that it was Doreen.
Timms made his decision instantly. He was going to jump on this rare opportunity to do some field work. He made a left turn into the first parking lot on the same side of the street as Doreen, but still almost one hundred yards away. He took the chance that she saw him when he made the turn, but it was a chance worth taking. She may be doing surveillance on the facility and its employees, but there was no way that she knew who he really was. In fact, Drew and Doreen had come in contact with several agency employees over the months, and they had always acted as if they didn’t know who they were.
He quickly parked and set into a jog towards Doreen. His line of sight to her was blocked by a building, and as he approached the corner of the building, he slowed to a walk and stepped onto the sidewalk. He saw less than the back half of Doreen as she was disappearing into the long pedestrian alleyway between the various businesses. He picked up his pace again to close the distance and get to the alley before she could disappear down one of the many side alleys. He was contemplating his next move. He wanted to subdue her, capture her and get her into an interrogation room. He could have had a team do this months before, but never saw a good opportunity. But today she was out of routine, and out of routine was an opening to be exploited.
As he came to the alleyway, he was becoming excited to be personally responsible for getting a domestic extremist off the street. Drew and Doreen had broken many of the constitutionally upheld laws that he had sworn an Oath to protect and defend. He already had a Constitutional Executive Decree (C.E.D., erroneously pronounced “seed”) for their arrest, search, and detainment back in his office, drafted under provisions of the Agriculture, Livestock, and Paper Products Act (ALPPA). Today was going to be a good day. He could see Doreen just twenty-five yards in front of him. The narrow brick-lined alley with dense foliage trees made the alley a perfect way to prevent a person being seen from overhead. These alleys were strewn throughout several blocks of businesses and residential lofts. It made sense that people used them to conduct illegal business. Yesterday was Doreen’s last day for doing that, and she didn’t even know it.
As he approached her from behind in a fast walk, he was rolling his foot falls in a heel-toe fashion and keeping his weight on the outside edges of his feet. This made his fast walk nearly silent; certainly quiet enough to approach a lady twice his age who had been listening to loud rap music for the past twelve hours. He noted her limp caused by a genetic defect that both her and Drew shared. It didn’t help that she was overweight by seventy pounds.
Timms scanned the area for witnesses. All of the businesses in this area were closed, and there was no one in the alley but Doreen and himself. He reached under his suit jacket and pulled the small 100,000 volt Taser out of its fabric holster. The new technology made these amazingly small. It was no larger than his two battery flashlight, and actually looked very much like it. He was just ten feet away and ready to make his move. He was going to have to go for her neck, as her heavy denim clothing and jacket would likely keep the prongs of the device too far from her skin.
As he raised his hand to deliver the voltage, Doreen delivered a mule kick directly to his abdomen just above his groin, causing the Taser to fly out of his hand and him to collapse to the ground. She had not even turned around, but had waited until he was in range and thrust her leg rearward with immense force on his advancing body. Timms wondered if she had seen his shadow or reflection in some glass. It didn’t matter, he was down, and she was not.
“Blue Jay?!” she said with astonishment as she turned to face her attacker. “Well, I don know wut you wan’ned, but Ima ‘bout ta fuck you up!”
She reached down and grabbed Timms by the hair and stood him up. He was still half folded trying to recover from his abdominal pain. He never saw the powerful punch to his face, followed by a swift kick to his groin as he was falling backwards. He was curled up as sheer pain spiked throughout his body. He was developing a putrid metal taste in his mouth. Then Doreen started to kick him in the spine and ribs. His fetal position was the only thing protecting his vital areas, but he was in so much pain that he figured dying might be the only plausible solution to his current situation; and it sure seemed that Doreen was intent on delivering that solution.
“You’s a dumb bas’derd!” she said between kicks. “You dun taut you’s could take vantage of da ol lady, huh? You piece of….”
Her voice trailed off, and she stopped kicking him, which he was more than grateful for. The pain he felt was worse than any training he had been exposed to. He glanced up and saw Doreen half bent over holding her chest with one hand and the other on her knee. She appeared to have used all of her energy and was suffering from not being able to get enough oxygen into her chest. She was breathing hard and gasping. Timms decided this was the best opportunity for him to get back on the offensive. He tried to push himself back up, but the pain in his abdomen and groin was too much. He just had to lay on the ground and hope Doreen stayed winded for a while.
As he kept watching her, she didn’t seem to be recovering at all. She was wincing and pushing on her chest. She had backed herself up twelve to fifteen feet from him trying to catch her breath. He just kept watching and waiting for his pain to subside. Doreen stood upright, still clutching her chest, but it appeared that she was intent on smashing his bones even more if he didn’t do something to stop her. He started to push himself up again, fighting through the pain in his back and belly. He was unable to stand completely erect. As he looked towards her, a wave of pain went through him and he threw up bile between his spread legs.
“Caint hold da breakfast, huh? Wuss!” Doreen scolded him. She started limping her way towards him, clenching both fists as she approached. He couldn’t let her hit him again. She had already bested him. She was far stronger than he had anticipated, extremely quick, and not at all what he anticipated, especially for a 58-year old disabled, overweight woman. He figured that she could probably take out more than half of his classmates in his hand-to-hand class back at the CIA. If she got another good lick in, he’d be done. This isn’t how this was supposed to go.
As she closed, he braced himself for the blows, hoping to be able to launch an effective counter. Her first swing was a left uppercut intended for his abdomen, but hit his breast plate instead. Even this was considerably more painful than he expected, as it had enough energy behind it to force him into a considerably more erect position. With his peripheral vision he could see a right overhand coming straight for his head. He wasn’t going to have time to dodge it, at least not completely. With considerable effort, he thrust his knee into her ample abdominal region, making contact just below her sternum, as the punch grazed down his face, almost entirely missing him.
Doreen collapsed in a pile at his feet and he folded himself again, putting his hands on his knees. Doreen rolled onto her back, either by her own efforts or by momentum, he didn’t know. She was pale with bulging eyes and obviously in serious distress. She weakly put her right hand on her left shoulder and attempted to squeeze. She was having a heart attack. Timms reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone.
“Doreen? Doreen? Look at me,” Timms said in a soft, but panting voice. He looked down the alleyway in both directions and saw no one moving about.
“Doreen? You’re having a heart attack.” Timms held up the phone, with its face towards Doreen. “You need an ambulance if you want to live. I just need a little information from you. Doreen? Look at me.”
Doreen rotated her head slightly and looked blankly at Timms.
“Doreen? Did you hear me? You are having a heart attack. An ambulance can be here in two minutes. Just tell me who you work for,” Timms said, still waggling his phone at her.
Timms wasn’t sure what to do. He had never had to interrogate someone who was suddenly dying from natural causes. Maybe she knew she was dying, or maybe she was in denial. Either of those were not good for him being able to extract information from her. A person had to believe they were going to make it, or at least have a chance. He knew she was not going to make it, but what did she know? He had to assume the worst.
“Doreen? Drew’s going to be next unless you tell me who you work for. I am going to go pick him up, and he is going to go to prison for the rest of his life. But if you tell me who you work for, I will leave him alone. He can tend the ranch into old age and live a good life,” he lied to her, still panting. “Who do you work for?”
Timms could see that she was trying to speak, but he couldn’t hear anything. He wasn’t about to get too close. She had proven a significant adversary and could still have a winning card to play in this fight. If she had not had a health problem in the middle of their confrontation, he likely would have died or been captured if that was their prerogative.
“What? I can’t hear you Doreen. You‘re going to have to speak up.”
“Traitor!” She spit out in a gravelly voice, her eyes tightening on him as her grip loosened on her shoulder.
“Traitor? Are you calling me a traitor?” Timms queried, incredulous at the accusation. He was a patriot, and this woman was an extremist, maybe even a terrorist, calling him a traitor, of all things. “You’re the traitor, sweetheart.”
Her eyes relaxed and started to gloss over. Her body was relaxed, and she was still taking short shallow breaths. Timms put the phone back in his pocket and walked in the direction where his Taser flew when he was mule kicked. She was a lost cause if her delirious mind thought he was a traitor. He found the small Taser some thirty feet from where he was initially kicked, between the wall of a building and the base of a tree in the alley. He holstered the device and continued to walk opposite the direction he had entered the pedestrian alleyway. Just as he was turning into a side alley that would take him back in the direction of his truck, he noticed Drug Doug standing in an alcove in the alley. He quickly wondered if Drug Doug had witnessed their altercation. Probably not from where he was standing in the alcove, but Timms couldn’t take the chance.
He retrieved the phone from his pocket and dialed 911.
“911. This call is recorded. Where is your emergency?” came the female voice on the other end.
“There is a lady laying in the pedestrian alley behind the old Johnson’s place. I don’t know if she is breathing or not, and I saw a man dressed in black jeans and a dark plaid shirt walking away from the area to the south.”
Timms disconnected the call and removed the battery from his phone as he came to the street. He could already hear sirens in the distance. He dropped the back of the phone into a trash bin and put the battery in his pocket. He crossed the street and walked the block and a half back to his truck. Once he got there he put the main part of the phone under his front tire and got into the truck. He looked himself over, and noticed that his suit was a bit dirty, so he stepped out of the truck and started dusting himself off. He removed his coat and dusted off the back to make it as presentable as possible. Fortunately, the brick lined alley was swept daily by city workers, and Doreen’s boots had not done any noticeable damage.
He could hear more sirens now. He looked in the mirror to see if any bruising was visible from the punches he had received. He couldn’t see any, but he knew that some might show up later. He was certain that his body would be bruised. He was still suffering from the effects of the beating he took, and would likely suffer for weeks to come. He removed his “company” phone from his other pocket and punched in the speed dial number and hit send.
“We’re secure. What’s the job?” came the familiar voice.
“We need a man at the hospital to get eyes and ears on one fourteen alpha and one fourteen bravo. Alpha may be arriving later, while bravo should be arriving by ambulance in a few minutes. We also need to get the Cloud up ASAP, with tasking to follow. Can you handle that?”
“I am going to be a little bit late.”
“I’ll pass it on.”
“Thanks.” Timms disconnected the call and put the phone back in his pocket.
He waited a few more minutes in the parking lot, recovering as best he could. As he backed out of the parking space, the tire crushed the phone he had left behind it. As he turned on to Collins Ave, he could see three police cars and one ambulance in the street. He drove slowly past them with the slow moving traffic. He could not see anything down the alley, as the body of the ambulance was blocking his view. He pulled into the parking lot and entered the building, going straight into Jason’s flight control room for the SilkCloud drone.
“Where are we?”
“Hey boss. We’re up and flying. We’ll be in the area in 3 minutes.”
“Good. Your task is to follow one fourteen alpha wherever he goes. He is still in the truck across the street.”
“What about bravo?”
“She is on her way to the hospital. Don’t ask. I think this is going to significantly change their day, and there might be a slip up.”
“OK,” Jason responded dryly.
“Just don’t lose him. Record everything.”
“Just like normal, boss.”
“Yeah. Just like normal, except this won’t be a normal day.”
Everything they had done thus far had not produced any more leads. Today had been no different. Drew had gone through his normal routine to shake tails, and left the truck in its normal parking space in the parking garage. The surveillance team had been delayed in getting into position by a minor traffic accident they had been involved in. The only difference was Drew did everything at an earlier time period than usual. He went to the hospital as expected, and found out his twin sister had died of a heart attack. Drew had not done anything unexpected, except make a strange phone call from a pay-as-you-go phone that had been purchased two years previous and never used until that moment to another pay-as-you-go phone that had been purchased three years before and never before used until that day. Otherwise he drove straight home to his small ranch. Neither of the phones used for that short phone call had ever been found.
Timms had made his way out to the D&D Ranch an hour before Drew arrived. He had parked his truck well down the road beyond a bend where Drew would not see it when he was approaching. Timms had removed the rear wheel and tire and put them in the back of his truck, and installed the spare. He let the air out of the spare and punctured the original. He then made his way to the home of Drew and Doreen by foot. Jason had been keeping him apprised of Drew’s whereabouts. Timms broke into their home by entering through an unlocked window.
Timms knew from the multiple “sneak-&-peeks” his team had done on the ranch, that they left their windows unlocked, so he already knew he could get in without any issues. He situated himself on a nice comfortable recliner in the living room, facing the front door. He would confront Drew the moment he walked in the door, his internally suppressed custom Ruger MK 22/45 resting on the arm of the chair. He would have Drew dead to rights if he tried anything, but he didn’t expect a grieving man to be ready to fight.
Timms heard Drew arrive on the gravel driveway. After a few minutes, Drew had not come in the house. Timms became a bit nervous, wondering if Drew had figured out he was there. No, he couldn’t know. How would he know? Just then he heard the engine of an ATV start up. He slowly got up and moved towards a window that faced Drew’s Man’s Shed. He realized that that is where Drew’s gun safe was, and Drew may be getting ready for a fight. Timms observed the building from back in the room, where Drew would not be able to see him. Just then, he could see Drew drive out of the building on the ATV in the direction of the bulk of the Ranch. Timms reached for the collar of his RealTree camouflage tee-shirt, grabbed the ear bud connected to the phone in his pocket and put it in his ear.
“Talk to me.” Timms said.
“He’s going west on an ATV,” Jason came back, watching the large man riding an ATV with the camera on the SilkCloud IV es drone aircraft that was circling at just 3000 feet.
“OK. I am going to grab the other ATV and follow far behind. You are going to have to keep me in the loop on what he is doing and where he is. Don’t let me get too close.”
After nearly two hours of tracking Drew driving around in aimless wanderings of his ranch and a part of the neighboring ranch, Jason was finally able to report that Drew had stopped and dismounted. Timms was about 200 yards away on the other side of a small rise, and decided to walk in to keep from giving away his position with the ATV’s engine noise. Jason guided Timms to within 50 yards of Drew’s position just beyond a tree line.
“Jason? You’re off this task now. RTB,” Timms whispered into the microphone.
“Umm…Roger. Returning to Base,” Jason said with disappointment in his voice.
Timms removed the ear bud from his ear and disconnected the call. He drew his Ruger and made sure the safety was off. He moved the last 50 yards in a slow crouch. He paid careful attention to his shadow and any sound he was making. He didn’t know what gave him away to Doreen this morning, but doing the same with Drew would certainly get him killed. Just as he came to the edge of the tree line, Timms could see the ATV and Drew laying behind a scoped rifle. He was just twenty five yards away.
He took a long look at Drew laying behind the rifle. Timms had assumed that Drew was out here to commit suicide, but it appeared he was hunting instead. It didn’t make sense that a guy would go hunting just a few short hours after finding out that his last remaining relative was dead. He surmised that Drew must have been one tough cookie to be able to quickly work through such a trauma. That, or he was just cold hearted. Either way, it spelled trouble for Timms. He really wanted to interrogate Drew. Drew was his last link to the extremist cell in the area. They had no other leads. But dying at the hands of a man who was either amazingly emotionally tough in the face of lost family, or a cold hearted bastard with the same fighting genetic code as his sister who had damn near killed him this morning made his decision a little easier. He also had to consider that Drew had nothing left to live for. Timms no longer had any hook to coerce Drew with - no family, no improprieties, no public embarrassments, no better life, nothing. Prison wouldn’t scare him. Interrogating him would be a completely wasted effort.
Timms pushed the button that turned on the compact red dot mounted on the top of his Ruger. He was not going to take the chance of making noise by closing the distance, only to be mule kicked again then pummeled to death. No, he could easily hit Drew in the skull at 25 yards. He lined up the glowing red dot on the back of Drew’s head. He took a shallow breath as he took up the minimal slack in the trigger and then pressed the trigger back.
The sound of the special subsonic 22LR bullet passing through the suppressor and out of the barrel barely made a sound. In fact, the louder sound was the metal on metal bolt cycling and making contact with the chamber when it loaded the next round. The shot was so quiet that he could even hear the bullet smack the back of Drew’s skull, killing him instantly.
Timms approached the lifeless body. When he was about six feet away, he put two more bullets into the man’s head, just to be sure. Timms took a deep breath, and actually felt a little bad about what he had done. It was such a waste of resources. He really needed Drew and Doreen to get to the real extremists. These two had obviously been pawns, and now they had died for their transgressions. It was also the first time Timms had intentionally killed someone from the Executive Transparent List, which was a list compiled for the President, of terrorists and extremists that could be captured or killed (as required by the situation in the field) at the discretion of field officers. Drew and Doreen had been added to the list by Timms only days after he determined who they were, and they had been approved by higher authority. He didn’t like doing things this way. He felt that most people deserved due process, but not at the expense of him dying to make sure they got it.
Timms looked down at the magnificent rifle Drew had been about to use. It had a long bull barrel, free float railed forearm, an adjustable precision stock, and was sitting on a bipod. He looked out in the direction the barrel was pointing and saw a small movement in the distance. “What the hell…”
Timms rolled the heavy body away from the rifle. There was only some slight blood spatter on the shooting mat, so he didn’t bother to clean it up. He laid down behind the rifle and adjusted his eye to the scope. He rotated the rifle just a little bit to bring the target back into view.
“HOLY SHIT! It can’t be!” Timms was beside himself. He took his face away from the rifle and looked over at the pale lifeless face of Drew, eyes still open. “I’m sorry. That would have been a real trophy around here. Very illegal and immoral, but a back-slapper for sure.” He sincerely meant it when he said it to the dead man.
Timms put his cheek back on the riser and thumbed up the dial to raise it about a quarter of an inch, since his cheeks were not fat like Drew’s. He put the crosshairs of the scope back on the beautiful, and quite large brown bear. Timms was not an avid hunter, but he knew it was very rare for this area, and certainly one this large. It had a light brown, almost tan coat and blackish feet. It had adapted its coloring well to the area. He could see that the bear appeared to be eating something. As he focused in, it appeared to be plastic of some kind.
He started rotating the rifle around to look for where the bear had acquired its gains, and that’s when he saw the man come out of the tree line below. He was one of the Livestock and Agriculture Recovery Department agents. They had sent some eighty plus agents out this morning to a neighboring ranch to do a recovery and collection under the Livestock, Agriculture, and Paper Products Act, for not bringing the livestock to market and paying the required taxes on them. They had used his facility this morning to do the briefing and make the transfers from the buses to the SUVs. The man was obviously deserting his post. He was supposed to be doing the work of the United States, not out here in the wilderness.
This was no good, but it was also excellent, Timms realized. He had the right to kill any deserters on sight. The Desertion Act had been instituted just over a year ago due to far too many police, military, and government employees suddenly not showing up for work. Much of this behavior began after the passage of several new federal laws following the re-election of a contentious president. These desertions were preventing the government from properly functioning, and offering monetary incentives in the face of very high unemployment (officially 21.8%, but realistically 49.2%) did nothing to keep these people on the job. This spawned the one page Desertion Act, which allowed for the immediate death (by any means) of any member of a government office who left their position without due notice and for good reason.
This circumstance certainly qualified as desertion: this man, still dressed in his issued tan uniform was far from his assigned duty. But what was even better was that Timms could use the illegally possessed gun of a known extremist to kill this deserter, and it would be blamed on the grieving domestic extremist Drew Broussard, who took the loss of his sister too hard and killed a federal agent acting in the line of duty. It was genius. It would save his whole day. Hell, it would make his whole year. The government would pour money, manpower, and technology into his office and area. It would give him far more resources to find the extremists and terrorists in Region 6-2.
He put the crosshairs on the man and worked to anticipate each movement. His target was moving and almost 300 yards away he estimated. Drew had a bullet drop compensation chart (BDC) glued to the inside of the eye piece scope cap showing where to place the crosshairs for various distances. Timms lined up the crosshairs according to the BDC and got ready to take the shot. He slowed his breathing and took up the slack on the trigger. He had timed the forward and up and down movement of the man as he walked. Exhale….squeeze….
The clean break of the two-stage trigger sent the titanium firing pin into the primer of the cartridge, igniting the power and propelling the 75 grain round out of the barrel at nearly 3-times the speed of sound. The bullet impacted the man from behind sending him immediately to the ground. Timms fired another round into the body about a second later, just for good measure. He looked through the scope and could see the man’s lifeless body laying half curled on a bag of what appeared to be trash.
“That’s where the bear got the plastic,” he said aloud, followed by, “Oh shit! The bear!” Timms suddenly realized the bear could ruin his plans by eating the man, and with him the evidence of the crime. He quickly swung the rifle back to where the bear had been. It wasn’t there. He looked over the top of the scope to see if he could pick up movement with his wider visual field, and he did. Moving in the opposite direction, he saw the bear enter the tree line at a full run. Even after the bear became invisible in the trees, he could still tell it was running, as he could see the tops of the trees swaying as the bear was crashing into the small trunks.
Timms stood up and surveyed the scene. He grabbed the ear bud hanging on his shirt and put it in his ear and pressed the appropriate speed dial button.
“We’re secure…Ready for orders,” came the reply after one ring.
“Clean up on isle 3. Jason will give you the coordinates. Everything goes back where it belongs as though it never left. Alpha and vehicle disappear along with all coin in the safe. We gotta hurry on this one.”
Timms took a deep breath. The thoughts of half a dozen SilkCloud drones and half a dozen more covert teams brought a thin smile to his face. He was going to root out these extremists and help get America back on its feet. Right now, Timms was on top of the world knowing that a lucrative promotion was going to be in his future. Even when things went wrong, they always turned out right, and today was a perfect example.
I want to tell you about my recent death. I will be brief, because I know there are many other stories to be told about my tragic day. I hope that my death brings about the the type of conversation that will help to prevent more unnecessary deaths of teachers and children, or of any persons caught in similar circumstances.
I was a normal person. I liked many of the things that you like. But mostly I loved my children and I loved teaching them. That is what I was doing four days ago on the day that I died, when a man out of his mind attacked us in our sanctuary.I am sure you already know most of the story, so I won't reopen that wound if I can avoid it. However, the part that you may not know about, and never hear about is the fact that I was prevented from protecting myself and my children. That's right, the school board, the state, and the federal government told all teachers including me
, that so long as we were on school grounds that we could not defend ourselves against a deranged person, hell bent on killing us.When the man came into my room armed with a rifle, we were huddled in the corner. He shot me with a rifle several times, the bullets easily passing through my body and through several children
behind me. We didn't have a chance. The inadequate training we received to combat such a person or situation failed. I know you will mourn our deaths, and you should. But when you get to that point of being mad, ask why we were not allowed to defend ourselves? Ask how it is that an unarmed school teacher can be asked to defend themselves and the children under her care against an armed aggressor? Why don't they ask police to be unarmed and defend themselves against aggressors?So far, it is nice here in Heaven. We are not beyond The Gates yet - the line is very long.
We do have many people from the other side of The Gates who have come out to help us with the transition. Some of them are familiar faces to us, and some are not. Some are helping us grieve, while others are helping us to understand our new reality, but all of us are happy. It is impossible not to be happy here.I met a fine young man from the military shortly after I arrived here. He is not from this era, but one long before my time. He presented me with this computer so I could write this to you.
It was funny when he saw the expression on my face and said, "we have a very special Wi-Fi connection up here."
I couldn't help but laugh. It's obvious they have dealt with this before.I asked him what he wanted me to write. He told me to write whatever I wanted. We both sat silently for a while when he suddenly asked if I had any questions. As I started to speak, he indicated that he could not answer any questions about the other side of The Gate, so I just asked his name. "John Smith," he replied, still looking forward at the children standing patiently in line. "I fought and died in the Revolutionary War.""I am sorry," I replied."Why are you sorry?""Because you died fighting in a war...a very horrible war," I said to him, the tears starting to well. He was so young."So did you,"
he said as he turned his head to look at me. "That is why I was sent out here for you.""What?" I said incredulous at his false assertion.With calmness and much love in his teenaged voice he said, "I know it is hard for you to see, or even believe, but you and I fought the same kind of war for the same reasons. The difference is I volunteered for my war and wore a uniform and you did not volunteer. Even your children,"
he rotated his eyes towards the line of six and seven year old angels standing in front of us, "fought the war.""I don't understand.""I died in 1778 fighting under George Washington. I was fighting for the Liberties granted to all men by God that had been stolen from us by King George and the British Crown..."I was a school teacher. I had to cut him off before he went too far. "I know these things, John. I taught school remember?""Yes ma'am, but did you know about all of the tyrannous legislative Acts imposed upon the people?" "Sure. There was the Stamp Act and the Tea Act that eventually spawned the Boston Tea Party," I responded."Yes ma'am, but there were many more, both before and after those most infamous ones. There was the Sugar Act, the Currency Act, the Quartering Act, the Declaratory Act, the Townshend Revenue Act, the Boston Non-importation Agreement, the Boston Port Act, the Administration of Justice Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, Quartering Act of 1774, and the Quebec Act. This was the government's way of stripping the God Given Natural Born Rights of mankind in the new colonies. These are but some of the things that added to the fuel that became the Revolutionary War. The 'shot heard 'round the world' were the attempts by the redcoats to kidnap Sam Adams and John Hancock as well as deny the use of arms by capturing gunpowder.""That's all well and good Mr. Smith, but I still don't understand why you believe I am fighting a war too," which was more of a question to him than a statement. I was feeling like I was back in school myself.
John continued, "It is not just you, but tens of thousands of you fighting the new Revolutionary War.""No. You're mistaken, Mr. Smith.""Do you believe the Revolutionary War was a good fight? That is was worth the cost?""Well...yes.""Do you believe we could have won that war if our motives had not been Just and Right in the eyes of God?""No. But they were Just. You and your men were fighting for our freedom from unjust laws imposed upon the people by a king across an ocean," I told him, showing him that I had retained my education about the Revolutionary War."Do you believe we could have fought a war against the redcoats had we been disarmed?""Well, of course not!""Then why would you believe that you could defend yourself and your children against a gunman with no arms yourself?"I was shocked and dumbstruck. I didn't believe such a thing...or did I? No, I know that I didn't believe such a thing. That was ridiculous. My head was spinning. How could he make such an assertion? He doesn't know me..."Then why were you unarmed?" he asked softly."What!?" Could he hear me thinking?"If you don't believe that you could defend yourself and your children against a gunman with no arms yourself, then why were you not carrying a gun?""We can't carry guns in school!" I wanted to be mad, but I couldn't be. Not in this place."Says who?""Says the law.""What law are you speaking of? God made no such law. God gave you the Right to defend yourself and those in your charge against such aggression,"
he stated, still speaking softly."The laws of the country and state say that schools are 'gun free zones.' They even have signs all around the school.""How did that work out for you and your children?"
John asked as he got up and walked away.Before I had a chance to answer or call him back, a woman on the other side of me, who I never noticed before addressed me."He's right. You were fighting a new war, along with many others who have now passed on. There are still others fighting it now.""I still don't understand how I was fighting a war. And who are you?""It is probably better that I don't tell you who I am. The news media painted myself and others like me with a broad brush in order to turn the people against us, and I was killed in a fire holding my children. But like you, we were unwittingly fighting the same war."
"Exactly what war is that?" I wanted to know.After a brief pause, she looked up at the line of children, took a deep breath and began, "the war to retain the Rights and Liberties God gave you when you were born...""I have all of my Rights. What are you talking about?" I interrupted."Yes ma'am, you do have them, but you don't practice them for fear of retribution by your government," the unknown woman said."No, I did everything I wanted to do."
I told her."Did you?""Of course I did," answering her rhetorical question."Ok, I believe you. But let me ask you this. If you had to do it all over again, would you have taken a gun to school with you this morning?""Well...no. I would have gotten fired.""So it is more important to you to keep your job than your life, or to preserve the lives of those children?" she asked."What? NO! That is not what I was saying." I had to pause and collect my thoughts. "I am saying that I am not allowed to have a gun at school, and that if I had taken one to school, and used it to defend myself or the children, that I would have been fired and most likely put in jail," I restated to her."My question still stands. You would still choose the shackles of tyranny over the life of yourself and your children. You feared the retribution of government more than you fear the retribution of God,"
she said as she looked towards The Gate."No. That's not true. I couldn't...There was no...The laws don't allow..."She put her hand on my shoulder and looked at the side of my face as I stared at The Gate, "You don't have to answer to me. God knows that Adam Lanza killed the children, your co-workers and yourself. But he also knows that you chose to follow man's laws over His laws, for which twenty beautiful children now stand at The Gates waiting their turn to get in, and He may want an explanation for that."I went cold. I was numb. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
I turned to look at her, but she was gone. As I turned back to The Gate, I saw a police officer and an older military man approaching me. I wondered what was going to happen now."Ma'am. We know you may be confused. Maybe even reeling a bit. Sometimes the truth can be harsh and painful. We hope to help you through a little bit more of it," the police officer said as he neared me.
They each took a seat on either side of me. It was only now that I realized that we were not sitting on anything at all, just air. Maybe that explained the comfort. I wasn't ready to hear any more, but I was certain they were going to deliver it anyway, even against my objections if I chose to lodge one."I'm Officer Tally, and this is Sergeant Munson. We wanted to help you understand a few more things about this morning.""I am not sure I can take any more guys," I said meekly."You can. You're stronger than you realize," Sergeant Munson tried to reassure me."I don't know about that."Officer Tally started, "You were taught to put your faith in men like us. Men who volunteered to step in harms way to protect and defend the defenseless, and we gladly did so."Sergeant Munson continued the thought, "But what they did not teach you was the part about you taking the personal responsibility for yourself in the event we cannot make it in time.""...and we generally cannot make it in time,"
Officer Tally finished."I don't understand."Officer Talley continued, "Using this morning as an example, several people were already dead or injured before the call to police came in. Even though an officer was on the scene within one minute after receiving the call, serious damage had already been done. A mass murder had already been committed in that short sixty seconds. Even after officers entered the building, they saw the gunman enter a room from the hallway. Before they could make it to him, he was shooting teachers and children."Sergeant Munson continued the conversation, "Had the teachers and staff, including yourself had guns for defense of yourselves and the children and the proper training to use them, the outcome would have likely been much different. The teachers and staff would have been able to attack the shooter from multiple angles and ended the hostilities long before they reached these dimensions,"
he was gesturing towards the line of happy children who were talking with other children who had come out from the other side of The Gates."But...""There is no but," the Sergeant calmly stated. "We know what you are going to say, and those measures don't work against someone who is intent upon killing. Taking guns and weapons away does not prevent mass murderers from committing their acts of violence, it only prevents the unarmed people from properly defending themselves against such people. Connecticut has some of the most oppressive and strict gun laws in the United States, and still the massacre happened there, not in Alaska or Wyoming where gun laws are minimal."Officer Tally put his arm around me and said, "There was an Assault Weapons Ban that started in 1994 and ended in 2004 that prevented the sale and manufacture of certain types of guns and magazines. There is also the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, but none of these laws prevented Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from committing mass murder at Columbine High School in 1999. In fact, they broke multiple federal and state laws in the planning and executing stages of their killing spree. Not a single one of the man made laws stopped them, or prevented them from killing twelve children and one teacher that day. But had the teachers and staff been following their Natural Born Rights to self-protection that day, maybe things would have turned out differently.
"On the computer screen in my lap an article appeared. It was an article about mass murders by knife and bomb. Most of these occurred in places where guns had been outlawed. The Osaka School Massacre grabbed my attention, because I noticed that it involved children the same age as mine. The man had used a kitchen knife to murder 8 children and seriously wound 13 more children and two teachers. There was also a story of a man that killed 8 children with a knife at another elementary school. The list was very long, with many different ways that killers had adapted to the laws of the land to use what was available to them to commit their crimes, including knives and explosives.Officer Tally pointed to the screen, "most people forget that one of the worst mass murders in history was perpetrated by men with box cutters. They were able to kill over 3000 men, women, and children. What would have happened if multiple people on those airplanes had been following God's laws by carrying guns for self-protection?""Explosive decompression?" I said rhetorically."That's a myth," the sergeant
said, "unless you were talking about the terrorists suffering from explosive decompression, and then you would be correct."I wasn't
, but I let it go."Your training wasn't adequate for what you encountered," Officer Tally continued. "Your systems of defense were also inadequate. The only reason Adam Lanza didn't kill more people isn't because the doors were locked, it was because he didn't know what he was doing.""Didn't know what he was doing? He killed all of these people...and me!"Officer Tally calmly forged ahead, "Had he known what he was doing, he would have brought the shotgun with him and shot the locked doors off of their hinges. With the shotgun, he could have done some serious damage and easily gotten though every locked door with little fanfare.""Even worse," Sergeant Munson jumped in, "had he carried a gun that had more power, like the type most hunters carry, he could have shot straight through the walls, even if they were made of cinder block."I was stunned, "guns can shoot through walls?"A video of a man shooting a rifle at a cinder block wall popped up on the computer screen. The first round punched a hole the size of a fist in the wall. The second round made the hole the size of a head. It only took a few more rounds for the majority of the wall to collapse."Yes, quite easily. That is a video of a man using a common hunting rifle. So just having ballistic locked doors and cinder block walls won't stop a determined assailant. Only equal or greater force will,"
Sergeant Munson finished.Looking at her beautiful children
, "So we were doomed no matter what?""No. Not if you, the other teachers, and staff had been armed and had been even minimally trained. You would have been able to confront him with bullets instead of harsh words, because there was nothing you were going to be able to say to stop him," Sergeant Munson said."Your mistake was believing in man's laws over God's laws,"
said Officer Tally."But we have to follow man's laws...the Constitution," I rebutted."No. God's laws, and mankind's Natural Born Rights existed long before the Constitution, long before the existence of the United States, or the nations of Europe, even before mankind learned to write. Man's Rights are not given or guaranteed by governments. They are not subject to negotiation, dilution, curtailment, distribution, or removal by any man or government. They are YOUR Rights, given to mankind as a gift of Life. Only mankind can protect them, not governments." I didn't have anything to say. Everything they were telling me made sense. I was personally responsible for my own life and Liberty. It wasn't up to anyone else nor any government. I died because I had voluntarily relinquished my Right to self-defense, not because the police had not come to rescue me in time. They would never had made it in time."You gave up more than your Right to self-defense, you just didn't know it," said a new voice. I looked up and noticed Officer Tally and Sergeant Munson were gone. "I did?"
I asked, looking up to notice a vaguely familiar face that I couldn't place."Yes.""In what way?""Would you have publicly criticized your school's superintendent or the chief of police, if you had had a problem with them?""Of course not?""Why not?""Because I probably would have lost my job?""So you feared retribution for speaking freely. You gave up your Right to speak your mind," the now more familiar man said."OK.""Would you have driven your car without a license, or registration?""No," I answered. Realizing he would ask why, I went ahead, "Because I would get a ticket, or have my car towed, or be jailed.""So the threat of government punishment kept you from doing it?""Well...yeah.""So you allowed the government to convince you that driving a car was a privilege; that it was a requirement to register your car and have a license to drive it. There you gave up your Right to free travel upon God's earth. Why did they not register horses and wagons, and require licenses?"I was feeling exasperated, "I don't know.""Because the government could not convince people that riding a horse was a privilege," he said. "I could go on, but I think you get the point.""Yes. I get it: I am dead because I relinquished my God Given Natural Born Right to defend myself in lieu of a false belief that the police could do it for me when seconds mattered. I was not as free as I thought I was because I lived in fear of retribution from my government if I broke their laws. I was put in this unfortunate position by an overbearing government who forced me to choose between my job and my Liberties. And....what am I supposed to do with this information now...now that I am dead?""Well, when I was killed in a school murder spree over a decade ago, they didn't have independent blogs like they do now. The internet was not as wide spread as it is now. You have the opportunity to continue the new Revolutionary war from here, at least for a little while. Because of the deaths of these beautiful innocent children, you, and your coworkers, there is talk of more laws that will only weaken other teachers and people of the world like yourself. You have been shown that no law will prevent a mass murderer from doing their evil, but that it will only result in more deaths of innocent people who have been hamstrung by their governments if they further restrict the God Given Rights of self-defense through ill-advised legislation. It has never worked. It never will work. Gun free zones are only free of guns in the hands of people who would stand against a murderer. Write your story. Tell the people that they must not tolerate the reduction of their Rights to adequately defend themselves. Convince them that had you been armed, less people would have died this morning. Show them the Truth, because once seen, the Truth cannot be unseen." The man started to walk back to The Gates.As I was letting his words sink in, he turned and said, "if no one has told you yet, we have special Wi-Fi up here."*Note: If you are seething mad after reading this story and want to leave an insulting comment, go here.Copyright AbsoluteSurvivalist.com 2012. All Rights Reserved.
The preceding story may be reproduced in WHOLE for publication on the web for non-commercial purposes only, and or linked in any web publication. It may not be reproduced in part in any manner or form, in any media for any reason.
For those of you waiting on Part 5, it is forthcoming soon. I have had to get over the flu, or some other grunge, that kept my mental faculties too dull to write.
This is my rant for the week/month.
There is a common thing missing from all of the following events:
Virginia Tech - Blacksburg, VA 2007 - 32 dead
Sandy Hook - Newtown, CT 2012 - 27 dead
Luby's - Killeen, TX 1991 - 23 dead
University of Texas - Austin, TX 1966 - 15 dead
"Going Postal" - Edmon, OK 1986 - 14 dead
ACA - Binghamton, NY 2009 - 14 dead
Columbine - Columbine, CO 1999 - 13 dead
Ft. Hood - Ft. Hood, TX 2009 - 13 dead
Howard Unruh - Camden, NJ 1949 - 13 dead
Momentum Securities - Atlanta, GA 1999 - 12 dead
Batman Movie - Aurora, CO 2012 - 12 dead
GMAC - Jacksonville, FL 1990 - 11 dead
Geneva County - Geneva County, AL 2009 - 10 dead
Manley Hot Springs - Manley Hot Sprigs, AK 1984 - 9 dead
Standard Gravure - Louisville, KY 1989 - 8 dead
101 California St - San Francisco, CA 1993 - 8 dead
Westroads Mall - Omaha, NE 2007 - 8 dead
* Miami Welding Shop - Miami, FL 1982 - 8 dead
Carthage Nursing Home - Carthage, NC 2009 - 8 dead
Seal Beach - Seal Beach, CA 2009 - 8 dead
Living Church - Brookfield, WI, 2005 - 7 dead
Sikh Temple - Oak Creek, WI, 2012 - 6 dead
Giffords - Tucson, AZ 2011 - 6 dead
Capitol Hill - Seattle, WA 2006 - 6 dead
Crandon - Crandon, WI 2007 - 6 dead
Kirkwood City Council - Kirkwood, MO 2008 - 6 dead
Westside Middle School - Craighead County, AR 1998 - 5 dead
IHOP - Carson City, NV 2011 - 4 dead
LA Fitness - Bridgeville, PA 2009 - 3 dead
Clackamas Town Center - Clackamas, OR 2012 - 3 dead
What's missing? A well armed citizenry, with guts and fortitude, hell bent on not allowing their lives and Liberties, and those of their families, friends, and neighbors to be snuffed out by some asshole.
No, instead they live with the false belief that someone else will do the hard work for them. Worse, they falsely believe that a police officer will make it in time to save their huddled masses.
When I worked in law enforcement, we had a saying:
When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. It was absolutely true. Yep, even the police know the truth.
I am not sure what possesses people to put their lives in the hands of killers, because that is exactly what they are doing when they do not exercise their God Given Natural Born Right to defend themselves against aggression.
When one of my friends finds out that I carry in certain places, they invariably ask, "is that legal?" To this I respond with, "What do you mean?" This generally starts a discussion on the "legality" of my choices. I have to take the time to explain to them that there are two sets of laws: society's tyrannical laws and God's Natural laws. I only follow God's laws granted to me at birth, which are not subject to anyone's review, degradation, or removal. End of discussion.
Maybe you noticed that six of the top eight mass murders occurred at facilities where the US Government mandates that The People be unarmed while at such a facility. The results are obviously devastating, especially considering that the gunmen didn't adhere to the laws. In fact, the gunmen probably snickered at the "No Guns Allowed" signs as they passed them on their way to kill. Therefor, the government is putting you and yours in jeopardy by denying your God Given Natural Born Right to defense of your person and property at such facilities.
So for any of you dickless humanity (this includes those CHL carriers who shamelessly leave their sidearms behind to go into "gun free" zones) who may one day find yourself in the same room as myself when the SHTF and there is an active shooter situation, you needn't worry your huddled mass, or should I say your puddled bowels, I shall step into the breach bearing my sword on your behalf as well as mine; you just better hope the shooter doesn't get the drop on me, because then your sorry ass will be dead too.
* This particular jackass was killed by two citizens, who shot and ran over him, but only after he had done his damage and was fleeing the scene on his bicycle.
I leave you with Suzanna Hupp, who was in Luby's on that fateful day in 1991.
There are many new people here due to my Short Stories, and I hope you are enjoying them. I write them to clear my mind of all the junk rattling around in there, but my real background is in Survival, which is nothing more than long-term logistics.I feel compelled to visit the following subject due to the potential resisters
, militias, and patriotic sympathizers I come across in my various works. It just so happens that the majority of these people come from two different camps: ex-military types and patriotic non-military. The common downfall I see amongst many of these wonderful people is a complete lack of logistical understanding and no forethought on what is likely required, even for just one single event.The ex-military types tend to focus on fighting equipment (rifle, sidearm, ammo, mags, armor, LBE, etc.) and tend to completely forget
that when they were in the military, they had a huge logistical machine with unlimited funds and resources behind them. They speak casually of contact with the OPFOR, or try to compel others to read the Army Ranger Manual for guidance, as if they would be able to call in support from their encrypted radios, and suddenly a bevy of helos, air drops, tanks, a medivac, a fuel/supply dump, or any number of other military style logistics would suddenly come rushing to their aid while operating as a FREEFOR. They speak of doing peels, or military style fire suppression/superiority, which expend significant amounts of ammunition as if ammunition will be readily available and would be provided for free.Even now, when I talk to some ex-mil guys that have some appreciation for logistics, and I ask how many mags they have for their AR, I get something like, "I have seven."Me: "Do you carry all seven for missions?"Them: "Yeah."Me: "How many spares do you have?"Them: "What do you mean?"Me: "If you lose a couple, or they get damaged beyond repair...?"Them: "I will go to the store and get some more. Duh."As if they will be legal or available with any FREEFOR v. OPFOR situation
. In my humble opinion, this is a complete lack of foresight. I have over 150 magazines for one AR-15, and no I don't keep them all loaded. This is so I have spares in the event of battle drops, damage, malfunction, and to pass out to my narrow thinking FREEFOR buddies who wouldn't listen. A magazine fed rifle is a very poor single shot when you run out of mags.I went to a training event for a FREEFOR platoon, and was shocked when their commander recommended that each man should have 1000 rounds of ammunition, a 50lb bag of rice, a case or two of MRE's or freeze dried food packs, and a water filter (besides their fighting gear.) Needless to say, neither he nor his men are going to last long without some real logistical knowledge and support, especially considering it is estimated that the US government expends 250,000 rounds per kill.On the other end of the spectrum are the Patriotic non-military, who though sincere in their desire to effect change in support of the Constitution, have even less than the average ex-military patriot. This group tends to have a hodgepodge of equipment and supplies based on reading internet forums. They have little training (if any), and almost no concept of war or insurgency and the cost and toll it may take on themselves, their families, and in some cases their neighbors.During my military career nearly two decades ago, I would venture to guess that there were a minimum of six support personnel for every fighter. In a FREEFOR fighting situation, I would say the logistics would still need to be the same or greater. That means that a 6-man fighting element would need on the order of thirty six support personnel to take care of the logistics for that team.Some basic examples: If a team needs to cross a river at a point other than a bridge controlled by the OPFOR, do they have access to a boat? Can they get that boat to the river? Can they cross the river without getting caught? Will someone need to stay with the boat? How long? How will that person feed, shelter, and secure themselves? If they need to take the boat out of the water and return later, how does the FREEFOR notify him?
If a team is caught outside of their normal reprovisioning corridor for an extended period, do they have access to other sources? Do they have contact information? Are there other ways to reprovision them?
What if a team expended 95% of their battle loads in a break contact scenario and are being pursued, and are not near any person or place to reprovision? Do they have more ammunition and supplies somewhere else? Can they call another flanking force from somewhere? Do they have contact information? Can they call transportation to get them out of the box? Will they have more magazines, gun parts, and/or supplies to replace the ones dropped/damaged/lost? A FREEFOR fighting team does not need to be bogged down with day-to-day logistics, but if they don't get the minimum requirements themselves, they may not get to fight very long, since expecting someone else to do it for them may never come to pass.What are the logistics? Besides lots of money:TransportationFeedingClothing/MendingShelterResupplyFuelCachingTrainingMessengersCommunicationsSpecial ServicesPurchasingPlanning/CoordinationTacticsIntelligence (lots of people here)Interference
The following is an adaptation of a post I made some time back on my other website, which pertains to survival. I have modified it somewhat to pertain more to a FREEFOR fighting unit and logistical support system, which is still a form of survival - they go hand-in-hand. If you are not breathing because you starved to death, you're not fighting either.WHAT YOU NEED TO GET...
IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE: FOODYou cannot fight if you cannot keep enough calories in your system. As FREEFOR, it is your responsibility to ensure you have an adequate food supply, and not rely upon the "just-in-time" delivery system
of grocery stores.
Lack of food will be the most likely cause of violence. For the poorest of you, the easiest way to stock-up on this much required item is to establish a "survival budget" into your normal weekly grocery budget (you do have a grocery budget, don't you?) This can be as little as $5 per week, up to whatever you can afford. Every week, you use the money set aside for your "survival budget" and purchase dry food (beans, rice, pasta, etc.), canned goods, salt, sugar, powdered milk, cooking oil, and spices, and you store these away for later. You will have a pretty good supply before you know it. Obviously, the more you allocate to your "survival budget" the faster you will build up your supply. As well, using coupons and/or sales will further stretch your "survival budget."
For those of you with more disposable income, go to Sam's Club or Costco and purchase your dry foods in bulk, as well as all of the other items. You are going to save a considerable amount of money when you purchase 25-50lb sacks of food. You can also get these items from a local LDS Cannery
. Yes these are Mormans, and they are quite welcoming to non-Mormans.
The final option for those with a tax resale certificate is to get a membership at Restaurant Depot
. Here you can save considerably over Sam's and Costco, since everything they sell is bulk only.
You should also seek out a local source for heirloom seeds. WATER
You also need a safe source for drinking water in the event your local supply gets cut-off or contaminated. For emergencies only (drinking and cooking) a person needs 1-2 gallons per day. For fighting and hard work is could be as much as 6 gallons per day. From this you can calculate how much water you may want to try to store. There are many options for storing water: Swimming pool (portable one's are cheap from Walmart and Target) 275 and 325 gallon Totes - these can be had for $50 - $75 each from multiple sources 55 gallon water barrels - $10 to $20 each 5 gallon water carriers - $5 to $15 each Reused two liter bottles Whether you decide to store water or not (in the event you have a spring, creek, pond, lake, etc. nearby) you will want a way to filter and or treat the water. The least expensive ways to treat and or filter water is to boil, use common household bleach (unscented) as a treatment or use a Sawyer SP181
as a filter.
Boiling water for 2 minutes will disinfect water and make it safe to drink. The only problem with this method is that it uses fuel - fuel you may not have.
Treating water with bleach is also common for making water safe to drink in the following doses:
- 1 quart bottle 4 drops of bleach
- 2 liter soda bottle 10 drops of bleach
- 1 gallon jug 16 drops of bleach (1/8 tsp)
- 2 gallon cooler 32 drops of bleach (1/4 tsp)
- 5 gallon bottle 1 teaspoon of bleach
Using a water filter is also a common form of disinfecting water. I have found that the Sawyer water Filters are by far the least expensive way to do this. For survivalists and FREEFOR, I have found that the Sawyer SP181
is best suited for any circumstance we may find ourselves in, since the filter is very inexpensive, easily packable (3 oz pack weight), long life span (1,000,000 gallons), and useful for filtering large amounts of water per 24 hour period (bucket attachment). SECURITY/FIGHTINGThis section was written for the few "preppers" who didn't much believe owning guns was necessary for survival.
You need it! This means guns, ammunition, and the skills to use them. Guns are tools and should be thought of as such. There are plenty of discussions on this website about guns, so I will only be brief here.
Pistol - This is for close contact self-defense. This is also so that you can be armed and carry concealed EVERYWHERE YOU GO. Don't end up a victim like so many do
. Get your CC license inTexas, or better yet get Utah license which is good in Texas, cost less, and takes less time to get.
Shotgun - This is also for close range self-defense and hunting. A shotgun is a versatile weapon, depending on ammunition, and works well out to 100-150 yards. The Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 have the ability to easily change barrels for different types of use. Battle Rifle
- This is what you will use to protect your food, family, home, AO, community, and country. MEDICAL
Other than a good supply of YOUR needed prescription, over the counter medications, and broad spectrum antibiotics, you need a good supply of medical and first aid equipment. Buy lots of Hydrogen Peroxide, Alcohol, Betadine, Tea Tree Oil, bandages, medical tape, etc. You will also want BP cuff, stethoscope, thermometer, braces, splints, suture kits, gloves, oral airways, BVMs, etc. One of the more important medical items you will want to have plenty of will be IV equipment - bags, tubes, needles, etc. There are other regulated items that one should strive to obtain. Dental tools will also prove important. For the FREEFOR, besides your IFAK
, and if you are lucky enough to have a bonafide [combat] medic in your group with a comprehensive medical kit, you will need to establish an assortment of doctors and surgeons and have the supplies they may need to fix your problems (especially the type that can kill you.) There could come the time and situation where medical and surgical supplies will be very hard to come by, even for MD's. You should lay in as much of these supplies now as possible. If you needed a doctor for a serious problem, he may be far more likely to come if he knows you already have the supplies, especially if you have supplies he does not even have. FUEL
Generally speaking, one gallon of gas can do the equivalent work of 10 men for 10 hours. Other than gas, diesel fuel, kerosene, propane, and other oil distillates, only Gold and Silver have any comparison in true work value, and are considerably more expensive comparatively speaking. Just as you budget for groceries each week, you can do the same for fuel.
Stop by you local hardware store, Walmart, Tractor supply, HD, Lowes, etc, and pick up a few 5 or 6 gallon fuel jerry cans - Red containers are for Gasoline, Yellow is for Diesel (sometimes kerosene), Blue is for kerosene (sometimes water so be careful with blue).
During one fill-up each week, fill up one jerry can. Eventually you will have a huge cache of fuel. If you are storing gasoline, be sure rotate your supplies each month - when your vehicle's tank is empty, fill it with the fuel in the jerry cans, then refill the jerry cans. You can easily store diesel and kerosene for a year or more provided it is not in the sun.
For those with more of a budget, you can pick up an old propane tank (150 gallons and up) sometimes for free or a couple hundred dollars. These can be easily converted to hold fuel. If you live on a ranch, and you have the budget, you can obtain a several thousand gallon tank and call the fuel supplier directly and get a fuel dump. You will get the best price break at 1/2 trunk or a full truck. If you have other ranches around you, this is a good way to coop. If you are getting diesel, you can get commercial (dyed) diesel for considerably less, but don't put it in your road vehicle unless you want to encounter the wrath of government. COMMUNICATIONS
Though not everyone knows how to use HAM, SSB, CB, VHF, or other radio systems, you should still have the equipment and work on the knowledge to use them. Unfortunately, communications is expensive and can be complicated.
For the FREEFOR, communications will be extremely important. Also important will be figuring out a way to communicate so as not to get munitions dropped on your head. I do not have suggestions I am willing to discuss on the web for this topic. However, each FREEFOR element will need to develop a system for tactical purposes, and then have as system for communicating with other FREEFOR elements.
You need to eventually work up to a HAM with the knowledge to use it. I like the Yaesu FT-817 ND for portable and low power base station work, and the Yaesu FT-857 for full power work.Besides radios, pay-as-you-go cell phones and minutes purchased with cash now can become valuable comms assets later if the network stays up. The internet is also still going to be a good tool provided it is used properly and done behind a heavy cloak of VPNs, encryption, and anonymity. TOOLS and MISCELLANEOUS
This category is all encompassing and cannot be covered completely. But tools are an important part of survival preparations. You need to amass quality hand tools, generators, lanterns, camping stoves, force multipliers (night vision, suppressors, IR equipment and lights, body armor, scopes, etc.), knives, tents, saws, plows and cultivating equipment, rechargeable batteries, solar panels, hammers, nails, screws, shovels, rakes, axes, sledge hammers, tires, reference books, and the list goes on. Most of these things you can pick up at extreme discounts from ebay or at yard sales. Keep a sharp eye out and offer low.
Paper and general hygiene goods are also worth stocking up on when you find them on sale. Items like toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brushes, floss, q-tips, cotton balls, shaving cream, razors, washrags, towels, sheets, blankets, etc. SILVER
In the event of a monetary collapse of the US Dollar, hyper-inflation, or conversion to digital money, you can expect silver to reclaim it's historic purchasing power of approximately 1/10 oz for 10 hours of labor. At today's silver prices, that is $2.75 to purchase the labor of one man for 10 hours.For the FREEFOR, eventually silver and gold may be the only means to make purchases anonymously in the regular marketplace among patriotic merchants and service providers, as well as on the black market and in System D. CLOSING POINTS
If you have infants and/or small children, you should know what you need to stock up on - Formula, cloth diapers, bobby pins, butt balm, bottles, nipples, nail clippers, clothing to grow into, toys, and so on.
Operational and Personal Security (OPSEC/PERSEC) - Don't tell people you do not trust with the lives of your children, what you are doing or what you have. History proves you will be overrun by the have-nots
. Find like-minded people with which you can hunker down with and provide mutual support and defense.Disclaimer
(per FTC File No. P034520
): I sell products listed in this post. As of the date of this posting, none of the companies who supply the products mentioned in this post have solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, and have not provided me any free or reduced-price gear in exchange for any acknowledgements, reviews, or endorsements. I do not hold stock in any company.
Drew’s back had been aching for over an hour from sitting in the same position. Not only that, but he was starting to get stir crazy from the long hours of doing nothing. The conversations had grown stale by 2am, and he was just bored. His body and his mind were not created to do this job. He did it anyway because it kept meat on the table. When he saw his opportunity to get a break from the monotony, he jumped at the chance.
“Hey! Ders George. Ima gonna go see whut new stuffs he got.”
“You ain’t got no money to get nuttin, Drew,” Doreen chirped.
“Da hell I don!”
And with that, Drew was unceremoniously out the door. He had never taken orders (or good advice for that matter) from Doreen and certainly was not going to start now. He bounded down the sidewalk as fast as his numb legs would take him. Doreen watched him disappear around the corner, unsure when he might return. She put the binoculars back to her face and continued her surveillance of the old RVS distribution center. The sixteen plus acre building was over 700,000 square feet and sat on more than 60 acres. When it was originally constructed, it served the entire six state region of convenience store pharmacies with every product they carried. As the economy started to falter, and the National Health Care Act (better known as O’drama Care) started to take effect, certain medicines became more difficult to get, while others were in very short supply or not available at all. Even many common over-the-counter medications became difficult to obtain. This started a series of high profile violent robberies and burglaries of the RVS chain stores and other similar stores they competed with.
Doreen was now looking through her twenty power Sony Digital Recording Binoculars (DRBs) at the consequences and fallout of the legislation passed without any votes from the opposing political party. The windowless steel facility was encircled in a double row of twelve foot high chain link fencing topped with razor wire. RVS had only installed one row of fencing as a deterrent after the robberies and the American Health Authority (AHA) installed the second row, as well as the razor wire on both fences, when they took over the facility after RVS declared bankruptcy. The AHA continued to use the facility for its intended purposes for nearly a year. But when the pharmaceutical and medical supply companies took their business outside of the US, refusing to sell their products at fixed pricing, eventually the AHA no longer had any use for the facility, at least not for its intended purposes.
It had been believed that the Domestic Homeland Security Agency (DHSA) had then acquired the right to use the facility from AHA and was doing so in a nefarious nature. Publicly, the building was still funded by the AHA and had their acronym on the outside. Drew and Doreen had been requested to watch the facility at given intervals and document any comings and goings. They were paid either in sides of beef or silver coin, which they considered a perfect situation. The two assumed that others watched the facility when they were not, or that there was intelligence to which they were not privy that indicated when the facility should be watched. On previous occasions when they had conducted surveillance on the RVS facility, the most they ever noted was the occasional government passenger vehicle or SUV entering, and later exiting, though the “Deliveries” gate. This activity was besides the normal “employee” traffic that entered through the front gate of the facility, of which they had compiled extensive documentation and photography of each vehicle, its tag, and the occupants. They didn’t know if this information would ever amount to anything, but at least they had a baseline of data to work from. Any new vehicles or personnel would be easy to spot. Yet after all these months of surveillance, they had never seen any activity to back up the rumors.
Doreen took a quick glance at her watch then went back to the binoculars. It was 7:07am, and George always arrived an hour before his store opening of 8am to conduct his “l‘economie de la debrouillardise” business (also known as “Systeme D,” or to Drew it was simply the Black Market), and only with people with whom he was familiar. George was very familiar with Drew. Drew had worked for George many years before when George had a profitable hunting and sporting goods store. Last year, George had been forced to downsize his store when 90% of the firearms, 75% of the ammunition, and some 25% of his hunting and sporting goods products had been outlawed by Amendments to the National Firearms Act.
George had seen the writing on the wall and sold off his entire inventory of what would become contraband arms, ammo, and supplies, to a dummy LLC just a week before the amendment was signed into law. George had continually listened to far too many people falsely believe that there was no way such an Amendment would get passed by congress. George knew differently. He had historical precedence on his side. He tried many times in vain to show people that the government was not working in the best interests of The People, and that they had already removed their Natural Born Rights through previous legislation, and would certainly do so again when the time was right. He would even provide documentation when people didn’t believe him.
George would pull out his binder and show them the laws: The National Firearms Act (1934), which restricted access to certain types of guns and equipment and levied a hefty tax and registration system; the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (1968), which restricted interstate trade of certain guns, mandated a minimum age to own handguns, and established a national gun licensing system; the Gun Control Act (1968), which restricted ownership of any gun by certain persons, established the FFL system, restricted importation of various guns, and created marking requirements; the Firearm Owners Protection Act (1986), which did the exact opposite of what the title stated, and instead restricted citizens from owning machine guns manufactured after a certain date, and established the national background check system, and above all was signed into law by the erroneously loved Ronald Reagan; Gun Free School Zones Act (1990), which eventually led to multiple mass killings with guns at several schools around the nation; the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993), which also had no effect on actual crime, but instead created red tape for citizens and retailers by forcing an expensive national background check before purchase of any marked gun from a dealer; and the expired Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994), which further restricted access to certain types of guns by citizens. But people just wouldn’t listen to reality. “Oh, that would never happen again,” they would say.
George was no idiot. The harassment by the BATF(E) of his original store, before recently consolidating with a near bankrupt hardware store where he now conducted business, only hardened his resolve that the government would (and eventually did) remove, through draconian and tyrannical legislation, the Natural Born Rights of The People. Seven years previous, George recruited his assistant store manager, Darvin Watts, to help him create another dummy store. He did this for two reasons: George trusted Darvin who started working for him at age 15, and Darvin had recently been diagnosed with an inoperable congenital heart defect and was only expected to live a few more years at the most. George’s wife had chided George for taking advantage of Darvin, but George would have none of it. All that was required of Darvin was to sign the paperwork and answer the BATF(E)’s questions. For this he earned $1500, plus $100 every time the BATF(E) made a visit, plus another $25 each time FFL paperwork needed to be processed; all of this was on top of the salary and benefits he already received as an Assistant Manager, and Darvin didn’t have a problem with any of it.
George started by establishing a LLC in a state that did not require the members or owners to be listed in the public record, and did not require annual filings. This gave George an anonymous LLC with which to work. Darvin then acquired the requisite EIN and Resale Tax certificate for the state in which the business was conducted, which was different from the LLC. From there he used Darvin to establish the FFL to go with the LLC, and being that Darvin was a fine, upstanding 22-year old with no criminal record, the FFL went through without a hitch. They established a store front on the edge of town at a storage facility with offices for rent in the front. It was very inexpensive space considering none of the 11 available office spaces had been rented for over a decade, mostly because they were too small for most businesses. The owner was just pleased to have a little extra revenue, especially since the rent was paid in cash one year in advance, every year. George then had a sign made to put on the glass door that read:
FFL Transfers $25
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Mo, We, Fr - Noon-5pm sometimes
Tu, Th - 8am-noon otherwise
Sa, Su - never open so don’t ask
If we are not here, try back tomorrow.
If we are not here tomorrow, call us
It was never George’s intention to be open for regular business, but to only serve as an established place to make FFL transfers if needed at a later time. Friday Firearms actually did a fairly decent business doing mail order FFL transfers, which gave Darvin some extra income. To satisfy the BATF(E) visitations, he made sure to purchase a few guns from a distributor and keep them on hand in the safe. It tended to annoy the Feds, that no one was ever around when they came to inspect. They would call the 877 number and wait 15 or so minutes for Darvin to arrive. After Darvin’s unreported death a short 19 months later (he had been sent out of state to an in-care hospice facility to die in peace and comfort, 100% paid by George), George would send any one of half a dozen other young men (Friday Firearms employees) he had recruited to deal with the BATF(E), each whom earned $100 for the 30 or so minutes of work - Darvin was simply unavailable, and the men knew what they needed to do.
When George realized that the new draconian gun laws were going to pass, he immediately transferred all of what would a week later become contraband illegal firearms to Friday Firearms LLC using one of the hundreds of previously created sales/receiving forms and checks signed by Darvin before his death. The actual transfer was nothing more than a paper push, and the actual firearms, ammunition, and banned sporting goods went into a storage facility registered to a blind Trust. When the BATF(E) came to collect Georges 122 now illegal guns, he could produce a legal sales receipt dated before the ban, to a legal FFL dealer who’s owner, unbeknownst to the BATF(E) was long dead. The BATF(E) put out a warrant for Darvin, but he was never captured. The day of the passage of the Amendment, George immediately went down to Friday Firearms and changed to sign to read:
CLOSED DUE TO THE
SAFETY OF AMERICANS Amendment
George was now selling his guns, ammo, and other items (all considered illegal per federal laws) for silver and gold out of the back office of his combination store. He couldn’t sell them any other way since all US currency was now electronic only. The Homeland Equitable Liberty Pay (H.E.L.P.) cards that had been issued to every person with a social security number (including children to keep track of gift monies) tracked all income, ependitures, items purchased, taxes collected, and the legality of each transaction. This lack of tangible money allowed “Systeme D” to flourish in the US. It was more common within “Systeme D” for the average person to use black market obtained Chinese Geuld Yuan, which were fully backed by Chinese Gold, but George would not accept these on principal.
George was surprised that seventy-five percent of his “Systeme D” sales were for ammo. The new laws mandated that all ammunition manufacturers must load center fire ammunition with degrading primers and/or powder for civilian sales. This prevented stockpiling of large amounts of ammunition since the ammunition would only fire consistently for about six months. The government had considered serializing ammunition, but found it so cost prohibitive that it would put manufacturers out of business. This created a huge black market for surplus ammunition and any ammunition that was created before the new laws went into effect, as the day the new laws were passed, every available box of ammunition and reloading components were scooped up nation wide in just under 20 hours, most at highly inflated prices (for the time.)
By the time Drew returned forty five minutes later, Doreen could see he was carrying his usual shopping bag from the convenience store and a six pack of cola. As he hopped in to the back seat of the ‘94 F-250 4x4 Crew, she reached for the wireless remote to the updated stereo system and turned up the music. Playing was 2 Live Crew’s Ghetto Bass, which though completely grating on Drew and Doreen’s nerves, served a valuable purpose, or so they were told.
“Wud’ya get?” she asked, already back to peering through the binoculars, ready to document the regular employees that would be soon arriving.
“Same as usual, jus double dis time.” After a brief pause he asked, “wanna cola?”
“I dun tole you, I don drank dat poison with dat new fake sugar.”
“Suit yoself woman!”
“Ima gonna go get me a real bev’rege,” Doreen said with sarcasm.
“Bev’rege? You been goin’ ta charm school or sum’n?”
Doreen put the binoculars in Drew’s lap, lowered the volume on the radio with the wireless remote and exited the rear door of the Ford. Within seconds she was out of sight. Drew checked his watch and pulled out the tablet computer to make sure it was on the right application for documenting what he saw. He picked up the binoculars and started to make notes on the normal, do good, early arriving employees. They didn’t bother recording them any more, unless they saw something unusual, and then it was just a simple press of the record button on the top of the high dollar optics. Over all of their observations, they could now determine the basic patterns of each employee. They knew which ones were very consistent in arriving, and those who would be late and unable to properly manage their time.
For ten minutes, Drew made notes on the normal parade of employees arriving at the facility. Documenting each under their associated code names in the application on the tablet. So far, at two minutes till eight, everything was occurring as normal at the facility and Drew could hear a siren approaching from a distance. It had to be a fire truck or an ambulance with its continuous wail. Police rarely let their siren wail unless they were involved in a pursuit of some kind, or were responding to some other grave emergency, neither of which were rare these days, except this early in the morning. He needed to push the distraction out so he could be sure to catch the principals of the RVS facility arriving. With few exceptions, they always arrived within one minute either side of 8am.
Just as a police car passed by on the street in front of his surveillance spot, he watched “NoteBook,” the CEO of the facility, turn in to the parking lot. He made his notations as he pondered the surprise of the passing police car. As it went by, it had also appeared to be slowing, and the siren was extinguished seconds later. Though he couldn’t see it, he realized it had stopped on the same block or next one down the street. He wondered what was going on, but could not neglect his post. He then could hear at least two more sirens approaching in the distance. Something was definitely going on near his surveillance position, just out of sight. He watched “Big Bird,” the executive VP of sales arrive just 20 seconds after “NoteBook.” Making his notations, there were only two people left to arrive “Blue Jay,” the Director of Operations, who should arrive in less than 90 seconds, and “Magnum,” an executive secretary who was always late by up to one hour.
He realized he should be documenting the police car going by, and whatever else was coming down the road. Later, he would insert a new entry just before the “NoteBook” arrival entry. Still peering though his binoculars at the main gate, he saw an ambulance and two more police cars go by and extinguish their sirens just seconds after going out of sight.
“Whut da hell is goin’ on?” he said aloud, taking a quick glance at his watch, “and where da hell is Doreen?”
A knot quickly formed in the pit of his stomach. Doreen had never been gone this long to get her caffeine fix. (At least one of them shopped in the area with their HELP card to establish some base reason for being in the area if they were ever questioned.) It had only been a few minutes, but it had still be longer than usual. He took a quick look over his shoulder to see if she was returning the back way to avoid whatever was happening on the street, which would certainly take her a little longer. Nothing. He went back to his binoculars. Nothing. “Blue Jay” was late and Doreen was late. He took a quick glance at his digital notes and quickly found that in eight months of watching, “Blue Jay” had never been more than one minute late. It was now three minutes after 8am. Drew thought to himself, ‘maybe the police had blocked off the street for an accident and “Blue Jay” was stuck on the other side. Maybe Doreen was rubbernecking.’ He just kept watching and wondering. Finally, at seven minutes after 8am he recorded “Blue Jay,” the Director of Operations arrive in his 6-month old Chevrolet Silverado 4x4.
Drew documented the late arrival in the tablet as well, then went back and added the police and ambulance arrivals to his chart. While making the changes, he continued to glance up to see if “Magnum” was arriving or not. He now expected Doreen at any moment since “Blue Jay” had gotten beyond whatever was going on in the street. Just as he set his tablet computer down, he could see in the distance three busses entering through the “Deliveries” gate. He quickly put the binoculars to his face and depressed the record button to try and get more information. All he could tell was that they were of the MCI style, solid white, and no noticeable markings anywhere. All 3 busses followed nose to tail and were driving straight for the side of the building with no signs of stopping. Drew was aware from previous surveillance that there were a pair of roll-up doors at ground level that were adjacent to the normal loading bays. He could only assume they were going to drive the busses directly into the building through one of these ground level doors. Sure enough, all three busses disappeared into the side of the building.
He needed Doreen here now. Normally one of them operated the binoculars, and the other documented the goings on in the tablet. Now Drew was doing both, and the knot in his stomach was not going away. The rap music was driving him nuts. He started the diesel engine and turned the music off. He wasn’t speaking, so it wouldn’t matter. He took a quick scan around for Doreen, then mounted the Sony DRBs on a small tripod in the middle of the floorboard. He peered through and focused them on the “Deliveries” side of the building. He decided to let the DRBs free record what was going on. He removed a pair of compact 8x21 binoculars from his jacket pocket and continued monitoring the main gate, occasionally glancing over at the “Deliveries” gate.
After a little less than ten minutes passed, he could hear a siren wind up and then the Ambulance passed back by in front of him. A couple of minutes later, two of the three police cars slowly rolled by with no extra occupants, neither with their lights or sirens operating. But still, Doreen had not returned. He knew that whatever had happened just out of his view had happened to Doreen. He just didn’t know what, and he couldn’t stop watching the new happenings at the old RVS facility. Three busses pulling in was a big deal, and Doreen was a tough old gal. He loved her as much as a person could love another, but there was nothing he could do to help her. He would find out what happened soon enough.
Eventually at 8:31am, Drew was able to document the normally late arriving “Magnum” finally showing up to work. Then at precisely 9am, he witnessed the oddest thing he had ever seen. A convoy of SUVs and Vans were exiting the side of the building where the busses had disappeared earlier. Once they were beyond the “Deliveries” gate, they scattered in all directions. Something serious was going on, that much Drew was certain, and it probably wasn’t good. Once the parade of vehicles had exited, he waited to see if the Busses would exit as well. While he waited, he couldn’t help but think about Doreen and what must have happened to her.
‘There were three police cars and one ambulance. They had all responded code 3 (lights and sirens). Police responded like this to unknown injuries. Had she been hit by a car? No. He never saw a wrecker or anything else that would indicate such an event, and there was no excess traffic in on the street. Had she had another one of her fainting episodes? Maybe, but those happened very rarely, and only now when she was sick with something. Was she sick?’ He wondered to himself. He didn’t think she was sick. ‘What else could have happened? Could she have tripped and smashed her face again? Maybe. But would that elicit a response from three squad cars? Maybe she had been mugged? No, that was not very likely; too many people knew neither of us had any money, and you can’t use someone else’s HELP card with their imbedded biometric sensors.’ He realized that he just didn’t know what happened, but he would find out soon.
After waiting 15 more minutes, and not seeing the busses exit, Drew disassembled the DRBs from the tripod, collapsed the tripod and put it in its bag, removed the micro SD card from the DRBs and inserted a fresh one from his pocket. Then he placed the DRBs and the tripod into the Pelican case on the floorboard. He inserted the DRB’s micro SD card into the tablet computer, making sure none of its Bluetooth or WiFi ports were open and downloaded the data to the tablet. He double checked that the content had actually transferred, then securely erased the micro SD card. He removed the card and then reinserted it. His next step was to transfer both the video from the DRBs and his documentation log back onto the micro SD card, but only after is was first encrypted, then put into a separate encrypted folder. This took him few minutes, but was now routine. He removed the micro SD card, put it in its tiny waterproof case and snapped the hasp closed, putting this in his pocket. Finally, he securely erased the data from the tablet using a custom application, and put the tablet in the Pelican case with the DRBs and closed it.
Drew moved to the front seat, taking his breakfast bag with him. He put the truck in gear pulled out of the parking lot and turned left on Collins Ave. The slowness of the acceleration of the old diesel assisted him in looking for signs of Doreen or what might have happened too her. Passing by both of her normal routes as well as the shop he knew she was going to showed no signs that he could perceive. At this point she had just disappeared, but most likely had left in the ambulance. Drew followed his third choice of routes through the city to get back to the parking garage. The route took him through multiple choke points to catch anyone trying to tail him, and also used these routes to lose any tails.
After driving for fifteen minutes and 4 miles to go less than one mile from their morning surveillance spot drew pulled into the parking garage and drove to the top floor of the four story structure. He assembled his four month old pay-as-you-go-phone and called the only number he was allowed to call from that phone, ready to let them know he had abandoned the surveillance early because of new developments, and that the package needed to be picked up earlier than usual to be analyzed due to something important being on it.
“Hey buddy, been waiting for your call,” came the answer after just 2 rings.
“Yea…well…I got delayed and won be able to make da show,” Drew responded.
“Are you sure you can’t make it?” came the unknown voice.
“Ima sure. I still gots to tend my cattle.”
“OK. Maybe next time then?”
“Sure. Next time.” Drew ended the conversation.
He disassembled the phone and stuck the battery in his pocket. He drove the truck back down to the second level and parked it in its normal spot. He put the disassembled phone parts in his shirt pocket, picked up his breakfast bag and untouched 6-pack of cola, removed the encased micro SD card from his pocket and exited the truck, locking the doors as he left. He walked down to the other end of the garage to the trash can. With the tiny SD card pinched flat between his fore and middle finger on his right hand, and his breakfast bag in his left, and the 6-pack squeezed under his armpit, he deftly disposed of the trash while at the same time pushing the SD card deep into the cigarette disposal sand tray that rested on top of the trashcan. Anyone who may have observed him would only have seen a man supporting himself while he threw trash away.
Drew continued walking while removing the thin leather driving gloves he had been wearing since 8pm the previous night, and stuck them in his back pocket. He stopped at an older midsized sedan parked in a reserved space on the third level, opened the door and got in. He located the keys and pulled out of the parking garage. Minutes later, the ever-present bedraggled homeless beggar lady who panhandled near the entrance of the garage retrieved the micro SD card from the cigarette tray, as well as the pelican case from the truck. She placed the pelican case in the trunk of an adjacent car and reassumed her spot at the entrance to the parking garage, politely asking people to give her food to feed her children. She put the SD card in the bag with her donated discarded food from passers-by. In less than ten minutes, she would be robbed of her entire food bag by a young vagrant man who would ensure that the SD card made it to the proper people. They were both paid well (anonymously in silver rounds) for their covert actions, and the constant requirement to maintain their poor appearances and to always be on standby for immediate action.
Drew took a circuitous route through the city, just to be sure he was not being tailed, on his way to the county hospital. He would find out what happened to Doreen and give her a hard time about it for weeks to come. If she had done something stupid, like tipped over her shoelace and broke something, he was going have a difficult time not laughing out loud at her. He pulled into the ER parking lot and made his way inside. He went to the reception desk and inquired about Doreen. After some confusion on the part of the receptionist not being able to understand what he was saying, they finally got things straightened out. He presented his ID to confirm their relationship, and he was directed to a small unoccupied waiting area.
Twenty minutes passed before a doctor finally came in to talk with Drew. Drew quickly sensed that there was something seriously wrong. He could tell by the way the doctor was presenting the timeline to him that the condition of Doreen was grave. Doreen was it. She was the last of his family. There was no one else. His heart started racing just as the doctor started to conclude his timeline:
“…and I’m sorry to say, there was nothing more we could do for her.”
Drew drove the thirty minutes back to his small ranch in a complete daze. Just hours ago, it had been theirs, but now it was just his. Doreen had died of an apparent heart attack. How was he going to manage, he didn’t know. Maybe he would finally sell to Mr. Numrey, who had for so many years been trying to buy his small ranch. He didn’t have anyone to pass it on to, so why not? Over time, he would just get further and further behind on the upkeep without Doreen to help. It would probably be better to sell now. Drew was distraught and his mind was wandering. He was thinking silly and sane at the same time. A little hunting would help to settle his mind.
Drew pulled into the D&D Ranch, and drove down the long driveway. It was not near as long as most of the driveways around, but their home, his home was not visible from the road. He couldn’t go into the house right now knowing Doreen would never be inside again. He would bury her in the family cemetery over in the southwest corner of the Ranch. He headed to the Man’s Shed. He entered and Doreen’s presence was still everywhere here too. He started to break down. He hated crying, and did all in his power to stop it. He immediately walked to the safe and put in the combination. He opened it and removed the custom AR-15 heavy target rifle he bought from George just before the new laws passed.
He was supposed to have turned in nearly every rifle and pistol he owned to the Firearm Recovery Team, but had decided not to. They were his, and he was keeping them, at least as long as he was alive. He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the four boxes of Hornady .223 75 grain hollow point ammunition he had purchased from George this morning. The three ounces of silver, now worth a little over $1200, he paid for the 4 boxes of unregistered ammunition was a bargain. The ammunition had been purchased wholesale before the ban by George for $15 per box, and the silver Drew used to purchase the eighty rounds had been purchased at $4.20 per ounce at the turn of the century. Drew definitely got the better end of the deal, but the best part is that they were able to conduct business without the government having any say so in the matter.
Drew opened a box and loaded up a 20-round magazine. He put the rest of the ammunition in the safe and closed it. He slapped the magazine into the mag-well and pulled the charging handle, letting the bolt carrier slam a round in the chamber. He thumbed the selector to safe and proceeded to slide the 24” long bull barrel into the ATV gun carrier. He pulled the start cord and the old Yamaha fired right up. He removed the pay-as-you-go cell phone pieces from his pocket and threw them into the smoldering double barrel heater along with five new pieces of wood. He grabbed his hydration pack from the shelf, filled with basic essentials in the event he got stuck out in the field, and drove the ATV out of the Man’s Shed, still thinking deeply about Doreen.
He decided to hunt on a section of the Numrey Ranch (he had a lifetime invitation to hunt any open season predatory animals) where he almost always got a kill, and just maybe, he would run into Mr. Numrey or one of his children and could open the conversation about the possibility of selling his land. He slowly drove around his ranch and a corner of the Numrey Ranch for almost two hours, but it didn’t take his mind off of his loss. He just couldn’t shake it. Doreen was gone. She was actually gone…forever! It hurt him. The tears were starting to well up as he approached his best hunting position overlooking one of Numrey’s small open-sided barns in an open area that was built to offer protection to the horses in that section. It was a great location that attracted all types of wild animals that also used the building for shelter from time to time. The nearby shallow creek also attracted a lot of wildlife.
He shut off the reliable ATV that had his own custom version of a camouflage paint job. He withdrew the coveted heavy target AR-15 rifle from its ATV gun case, unfolded the bi-pod and set it on the ground. He removed his pack and laid it across the front rack of the ATV and opened the hard case on the rear rack and withdrew a rolled up foam pad. He unrolled the green yoga pad on the ground and set the rifle on it. He removed his jacket and hung it on the handlebars. He made the two steps to the mat and looked down into the narrow valley that was only about seventy five feet below his elevated position, and could see a black trash bag sitting in the open. It appeared that its contents had been partially strewn about. This was a good sign.
How the trash bag got there, he didn’t know, but there was a really good chance that a predator of some type had recently dug through the bag that had not been there yesterday. He laid down behind his rifle and took a couple of deep breaths. This was so he could start making shallower breaths, but also served to help him drown out the background thoughts of Doreen’s sudden death. Peering through the scope, he started to take short and shallow breaths while peering at the trash bag and trash around it. He could tell that something had definitely dug through it. He started to think like the animals that might enjoy such a find and started to move the crosshairs across the terrain in search of a target.
Drew took about 30 seconds to methodically search the open-sided barn in all of the usual spots animals liked to lay up. When he couldn’t find anything, he continued his search. After a few seconds, he was quite surprised by what popped up in his crosshairs. It was certainly not what he expected to see, not by a long shot. What was he going to do? This presented a real moral dilemma for him. He could do what his heart told him to do, and take this rare opportunity, likely to be rejoiced by his neighbors, but he would be breaking laws on so many levels; or he could not take the shot, and maybe just observe for a while instead, and would have to live forever knowing that he probably made the wrong choice, never being able to tell a soul that he passed on the opportunity.
He resigned himself, with great pleasure, to exploit this very rare chance. He wasn’t looking for accolades from his neighbors, but he would certainly get them. And like him, they would not care that much of the rest of the world would look upon his actions as immoral and illegal. He looked over his scope with his bare eyes at this glorious chance to make sure it actually existed. It did. Strangely, the black area near the feet appeared to be burnt areas. ‘Odd,’ he thought to himself. He put his eye back behind the scope. His focus became sharp; his breathing shallow with a slow tempo. He fixed the area between the crosshairs and the 1st mil-dot on the vertical bar of the mil-dot reticle of his scope on the area just between the shoulder blades, and slightly to the left of the spine. He knew the range to the target, and he knew the bullet drop for the ammunition he was using. His prey, completely oblivious to his presence was moving slowly, as if being cautious for some reason…and there was good reason.
The tan was blending well with the background. Drew had to double check his placement. He moved his left hand under the stock of the rifle to provide better support. He flicked the safety to the fire position and took up the first stage on his custom trigger. Taking one last short inhale, he was ready to send the bullet into his target when he had completed his exhale, which would bring the reticle back to the exact shot placement he desired.
The suppressed .22 long rifle bullet entered Drew’s brain from behind, and his death was instantaneous. His face fell off of the rifle stock and his finger released the trigger. He had been focused on his amazing luck, and doing what needed to be done to make a clean kill. He had temporarily forgotten about Doreen in these few moments. His hunting expedition had done what he intended it to do. He had never heard the person come up behind him. Drew may have been better served staying in his Man’s Shed and drinking his sorrows away for the day. He would be meeting Doreen far sooner than he ever imagined.
“Oh no!” she whispered quietly to herself; Jo frantically felt over her body for it. It wasn’t where she remembered, or was she remembering incorrectly? Her mind was still racing beyond her capacity to process the information, and her heart was pounding in her ears. She couldn’t stop or even slow down, so feeling around for it was more difficult. Regardless of how important it was, she could not go back if she had inadvertently dropped it somewhere. Even if she could go back to look, there is no chance she could find it anyway.
The branches were lashing at her face and body as she fled through the forest. How far had she gone? She couldn’t be sure. She had to just keep going! She found it ironic that her peanut lighter, a trusted source of life giving fire, was what she was desperately searching her body for considering she had just escaped a serious fire that claimed the lives of most of her fellow co-workers, and at least one armored military vehicle and its crew. Her body took over stress relief duty and she began laughing at the strangeness of her current circumstances. She slowed her pace and then finally took a seat in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but trees in every direction, and continued to pat her hands over her body in search of the silvery bullet.
Her laugh turned to giggles as she finally looked at herself for the first time. Her breathing began to slow as she took stock. Her black tennis shoes had a light dusting of white ash on them, and one of the shoe lace ends from the right shoe had been singed and was curled back with a hard nodule now replacing the original plastic on the end of the shoelace. The outside edge of the sole on her right shoe was also partially melted, but still intact. Her black socks also had a dusting of ash, dirt, leaf fragments, and pine needles stuck in them. The bottom of the right pant leg on her tan coveralls was well blackened on the outside up about four inches from the bottom.
How she did not get burned, she could not understand. She had been surrounded by dozens of people engulfed in flames, and the grass was on fire as well. She had been looking at the man walking next to her, mostly because his body stench was wafting downwind into her nose, when she saw a black shimmering ball coming down from the sky in her general direction. Jo didn’t know what was going on, and ducked down just before it impacted the hard ground beyond her. She could hear the “whoosh” of the object as it passed nearby over her head, followed by a loud crash, which sounded something like glass breaking. Then she could immediately feel the searing heat as the fire consumed nearly everything (and everyone) around her. As people started going in every direction, she was pushed over to the ground from her crouching position, and trampled on several times. When she was finally able to get up, she was horrified by the dozens of people on fire, running, rolling, screaming, and writhing on the ground engulfed in flames. Feeling under attack, she immediately started running for the cover of the their vehicle convoy parked 100 yards away on the gravel driveway.
She saw a black Ford Expedition near the rear of the column of vehicles that she figured she could slide under, about halfway between two of the armored military vehicles that had come with them - armored vehicles that were supposed to protect them from harm, which obviously was not working well at this point. As she ran out of the burning grass licking at her ankles, towards the Expedition, she dodged burning bodies and hurdled dying hulks. Just before reaching the vehicle, she heard one of the military vehicles start to fire its full automatic gun in short bursts. Jo could see the muzzle flashes in her peripheral vision. Something was definitely wrong.
She quickly reached the vehicle and easily slid under it. She had only been there a few seconds, and was evaluating her options when she noticed a soldier crouch between the Expedition she was under and the vehicle in front. At nearly that exact moment she heard another “whoosh” overhead quickly followed by a sickening crash of glass breaking. The screaming was instantaneous. After only a few seconds, the soldier (which she only recognized as a soldier by the boots that he or she wore and the camouflage pants that she could see from her limited view beneath the SUV) started running.
She assumed that if the soldier was running away from the same area she was in, that she had better run too. She slid out from underneath the SUV on the opposite side from which she entered and began running towards the distant woods. Everything after that was a complete blur to her. She felt as though she had covered the mile long distance to the woods in what had to have been record time. Just as she entered the tree line, she took a quick glance back to see if anyone else was behind her. No one was there, but in the distance, she could see that the armored military vehicle in the middle of the row of vans and SUVs was blackened and on fire, as were several other vehicles parked in front of the armored truck, and there were black lumps of people all around the outside of the vehicles. The other two armored vehicles were near the very large ranch house where they were supposed to have been conducting a search and seizure.
There was also a huge burned area of grass with dozens black lumps scattered within its ring of death. The most disturbing sight were the burned bodies that were outside of the large black circle, and the black lines of burnt grass that led to the bodies with the small circles of brunt grass surrounding the now lifeless mounds. It looked like the inverse of a child’s drawing of the sun, with radiating lines of sun rays flowing out from the main sun, indicating where burning men had fled the impact zone, their burning clothes catching the grass on fire in the path they had followed, and ending at their final resting place. There were at least a dozen such men who had fled for their lives, some leaving longer sun rays than others.
The remainder of her coveralls were in good condition. She had a scrape on the palm of her left hand, and she could feel a slight burning on the back of her head. As she continued patting her body in search, she came across the familiar feel of her CRKT Folts Minimalist neck knife resting between her breasts. The comforting feel of the two inch long Bowie point fixed blade knife with its sculpted dark green colored resin handles and deep finger grooves gave her pause. She immediately felt more relaxed with the realization that it was still where she left it. ‘But where did that damn lighter go?’ she wondered.
She continued her search and self-examination as she sat in the woods. She found the wound on the back of her head, and it felt tender to touch. She spread her hair to get a better feel. It was slightly raised, and maybe scratched a bit, and there was a noticeable feel of wetness. She brought her hands down and inspected them for signs of blood, but none was present. Instead it appeared to be oil. She decided that she must have hit the back of her head on the underside of the SUV at some point. She also concluded that as a result of her rail thin figure that she was lucky not to have been burned on the underside of the SUV. It had only been turned off for a few minutes when she slid under it for cover. There had been so much heat from the fire, that she had not felt any hotter for the few seconds she was under the vehicle.
“Of course!” Jo shouted much too loudly. She immediately ducked down and started listening and searching for anyone who may come running through the forest after her. Her heart was racing again with the realization that she may have just given away her hard fought position - thrown away in a moment of excitement. As she continued to listen and scan the woods for danger, she fingered the neck knife, tracing its features, feeling the Kydex style friction lock sheath, then finding the neck cord holding the knife to her body. That’s when she was able to feel the small peanut lighter. Earlier that morning she had taken it out of its normal place in her right front pants pocket and threaded it on the parachute cord used for hanging the knife around her neck. She had moved it because she was wearing the coveralls over her normal clothing, and would have reduced access to it had she left it in its normal place. Hanging from the knife’s neck cord, it would be more accessible if she needed it. She had learned this lesson the hard way in the past.
Jo removed the knife from her neck and held it in her hand. She slipped one end of the parachute cord from the quick adjust toggle and slid the peanut lighter off of the cord. She then replaced the cord back into the adjustment toggle. She held both items, one in each hand. Then she began to sob. She tried to cry quietly, but she was both overjoyed and overwhelmed. So much had already happened in her life, and here she was sitting in the woods after surviving yet another traumatic experience. She had been raped at seventeen, administratively discharged from the Marine Corps after less than two years, had lost her entire family, had a 10-year drug addiction problem, lived on the street for 12-years after losing her home to foreclosure, had been unable to hold a job, and now this. At least she had her knife and lighter, which were now being drenched with her tears.
She was not crying because she felt sorry for herself. No, she had done that enough in her life. It was definitely from stress. The same kind of stress that just moments ago had her laughing. Her emotions ran quick now. She had learned some years back that she couldn’t let her emotions get the best of her. She had to deal with them, then move on. But this was different. With the exception of the rape, she had brought every other adversity in her life upon herself, until today. Today was not her fault, and she had just witnessed dozens of people burned alive. People she had just shared a vehicle with. People who were her fellow co-workers, even if she had only just met them two days before. She and the fellow agents had just been attacked, she just didn’t know why. No, this was not her fault, and she had every right to be crying right now.
After she felt mostly relieved, she hardened herself and wiped her face dry with the sleeve of the coveralls. Jo started to walk, but stopped herself. She didn’t know where she was, and therefore didn’t know exactly where to go. The very few things that she did know were that she was in the woods near a very large ranch house that she was supposed to have been using as a base of operations to find the livestock the owner had not registered, paid tax on, or brought to market as prescribed by the Agriculture, Livestock, and Paper Products Act. She had been informed of her task only this morning from her new boss who had also given her, and thirty or so other agents, the tan coveralls she was now wearing, after arriving on a bus from the city after a three hour ride. It was painfully obvious that someone did not want her, or her co-workers, at the house, so she couldn’t go back there. It would help if she knew which direction that was.
She needed to orient herself. Because they had arrived at the ranch house in the late morning, she remembered that the rising sun was on her right side as they rode in the van down the long dirt road. She had boarded the white van just shortly after getting off the bus in a small town some 20 minutes ride from where they turned onto the very long dirt road, and had been driving generally west on the small farm road since she remembered that the sun had been reflecting off of the driver’s side rearview mirror into her face for part of the drive. That meant that she was at least 20 miles southwest of the town, and more likely double that. There was just no way she could walk that far without food and water. She was already near starving as it was, which is why she took the low paying government job to begin with. She could vividly recall the full page ad in the city newspaper:
“JOBS FOR PATRIOTIC AMERICANS
Assist your government with instituting, enforcing, and maintaining new legislation passed by Congress.
Immediate openings for:
NO EXPERIECE NECESSARY. Interviews conducted daily.
Must be willing to travel. We provide all transportation.
New hires receive a cell phone, clothing, and food allowance.
Government Employee Benefits are available after 180 days.
For Interviews, Contact:
Domestic Homeland Security Agency (DHSA) Division of Personnel
Interviews conducted from 9:00am to 3:00pm at any local bus station, library, or civic center in your area.”
While waiting in line for her interview at the substantial library, which had been a 45 minute walk, she realized that they seemed to only be hiring men at the time. At least half of the over 200 people in line in front of her that early morning were women; some had even brought their children with them. She noted that only women and the occasional drunken man would exit the building, all appearing quite upset. She correctly guessed that they were either not accepting women to the positions, or they were only accepting certain types. She couldn’t take the chance. She quickly grabbed another one page application from a nearby table and started filling it out. This time, she omitted the “Anna” of her first name and added an “e.” Now she was Joe Lee Bolton.
Everything about the name was correct except for the replacement of the “e” for the “Anna” following Jo. Everyone that knew her called her Jo anyway. She could easily pass for a man. Her long term homelessness and drug abuse had turned her once striking 5’8” figure and near runway model face into a gaunt, dirty, average looking “person.” The long term cocaine use had also served to reduce her once perky B+ breasts to barely A cup - she didn‘t even wear a bra any longer. Her voice was deeper than average, due in some part to her drug smoking. Her short hair style, cut on the streets without aid of a mirror, added to the overall effect. For the first time, she actually considered being mistaken for a man to be a good thing. And it worked, even though no mention was ever made about being male or female during the interview. There was not even a box to check on the application, which was probably due to the Gender Equality Act that eliminated gender specifications from almost all forms of employment and benefits, public or private. It still didn’t eliminate discrimination, even within the government. If anything it made it worse since there was no longer any way to document what gender worked where, and in what ratios, since it was illegal to ask about gender.
Now she was dealing with the strange consequences of having masterfully negotiated acquiring the job of a man. She just shook her head and continued to work on evaluating herself and her situation. She grabbed a stick about 18” long and drove it into the ground standing straight up in a mostly sunny spot between some trees. She marked the end of the shadow cast by the stick with a small white rock. Water was going to become critical soon, but she was unsure of how to locate it in this hilly terrain. She needed to make it a priority. She chose a direction and started walking away from her shadow stick, taking care to pay attention to small details so that she could find her way back to the stick.
Her old Marine Corps training was coming back to her. She had grown up in a big city, and lived in a big city the entirety of her 35 years, with the exception of her short stint in the military. During this short time in her life she had spent the majority of her Marine Corps career in the rural country side. Boot camp had been a huge shock to her system, along with much of the follow on training, but all of it had served her well over the years. She realized that here and now was going to be the time when that past training would serve her best. She continued to walk for about 100 yards, constantly searching for useful items, game trails, water sources, or anything that might assist her survival. When she felt she had gone far enough, she did an about face and returned to the shadow stick. She continued these outward walks in four different directions, always returning to the stick.
After these short walks, she concluded that the general area she found herself in was completely unremarkable and had very little variance. She was only able to perceive a slight grade drop going in a consistent direction. Now she just needed to figure out what direction that was. Finally back at her shadow stick, she placed a new rock at the new position the shadow had moved to over the course of the 45 or so minutes that had elapsed since placing the first rock. She pulled the stick out of the ground and laid it between the two rocks, connecting the “dots.” She then stood with her feet together and her toes just touching the edge of the stick on the ground. Her heels were facing the hole from which the stick had been removed from the ground. Now she knew for certain that she was facing north, and that to her immediate right was east. With this information, she was able to determine that the slight slope in the earth was trending northeast - the direction she wanted to go; the general direction of the distant town.
This was currently working out better than she had hoped. The tree canopy was far to dense to give the ability to pick a distant point of reference in order to keep on a straight course. The slope of the terrain, provided it did not change directions, gave her the frame of reference she needed. She could also use the sun to double check her direction of travel and the trueness of the slope. She faced northeast and made note of how the sun felt on her neck, right ear, right cheek and exposed right arm. She also noted how her shadow cast on the ground away from her body when facing the direction she wanted to travel. Jo figured that the sun’s reference would be good for at least an hour, maybe two. She started to walk.
She continued to scan for anything of use as she walked, always taking great care to continually check her direction of travel. Her mind would jump in and out, moving from the task at hand to various memories of her life. Most of her thoughts centered on her short Marine Corps career, one of the best times in her life, and the recent events that got her into her current situation, though certainly not one of the worst events in her life, but traumatic none the less. Occasionally, her thirst would seep in and take control, but she was able to suppress it and get back to the mental work she really needed to focus on.
“Improvise, adapt, overcome,” were the words that rang in her ears, not just today, but over much of her previous life. That nasty drill instructor yelling them at her and her company constantly was how she still heard them, she just left out the “maggots!” part of saying, or any of the other derogatory endings the colorful and demanding drill sergeant liked to use. It was these words that helped land the job that got her here when she adjusted her application at the last minute; it was these words that helped her overcome the horrible recovery period following the end of her drug addiction two years ago; and it was these words that helped her every day of her 12-years of living on the streets. These same words had even helped her after the fact when she would have adverse feelings about being raped as a teen.
After nearly an hour of walking down the very slight grade, she came across a trail of some kind. It was well worn and crossed her path in a north-south direction of travel. She studied it, trying to determine what type of animals may be using it. She was a city girl, she didn’t know animal tracks, and it wasn’t something they had really taught her in the Corps. Well, they had a little during her fortunate to be accepted into Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape (S.E.R.E.) course, but that was a bad memory that right now that she didn’t want to visit. The trail was wide and easy to see, so either it was traveled by some monstrous rabbits, or some much larger animals.
Even in the city, homeless animals created trails - not so much visible trails on the concrete, but consistent paths from one area to another. She noted that it was very rare that any of them wandered aimlessly. She knew that this behavior in animals was their survival technique. They used their trails to get from where they sleep, to where they eat, to where they drink. They were consistent patterns that she had used herself on the streets to avoid danger and basically do the exact same things that the animals did.
This trail represented an animal’s survival. But what kind of animal? She certainly didn’t want to follow the trail of a bear or something, right to its den, or worse its dining area. ‘Were there even bears in this area?’ she wondered, having no clue to the answer. She knew that this trail led to an animal’s food, water, or shelter - all three things she needed. But which way led to water? Water was more likely downhill than up, and north was going downhill. North was also much closer to her intended path. Now the choice was either keep heading northeast or follow the trail? She didn’t know how far the trail went before reaching resources, what those resources might be, what kind of animal(s) she may encounter, or if the trail even continued north or eventually headed off in a direction that she did not want to go. There were so many unknowns.
She suddenly realized that her decision to walk northeast was also a complete unknown, and had no better known prospects than taking the game trail. All she knew about walking northeast, was that somewhere out there, at least 20 miles distant was a town; she would be dead before she could walk that far without food, water, and shelter. She immediately made a half-left turn and started following the game trail through the woods to the north. With her mental commitment to take the trail and abandon her other route, she felt relief. Following an established trail freed her mind to wander, but she was still keeping an eye out for resources and signs.
‘What exactly happened today?’ she questioned. Too many things just were not adding up the more she thought about it. ‘Why were there so many agents? Why did so many of those agents appear downtrodden (including herself)? Why had they been handing out bats and axes, and why were the drivers carrying liquid-filled glass containers? Why had she been required to not talk to any of the other agents until this morning? Why were there only men? Why had they been required to wear these amazingly cheap coveralls; didn’t the government have better resources for their federal agents? Why were the vehicles so old? And for the love of God, why were the military there to protect us?’ She did remember that the military were not supposed to do such things, though she couldn’t remember why. ‘Had the laws changed?’ she wondered. It still didn’t seem right to her. ‘Then, we got fire bombed. How did that happen? Why did it happen?’ So many questions, but no answers.
She had been so excited to just have a job after more than 5-years of joblessness, even though it was only going to pay the national minimum wage of $64.20 per hour. Once she had been on the job for 180 days, she would receive benefits and be able to tend to some of her long-term her health issues. The previously mandated National Health Care Act (O’drama Care it had also been called) had only served to keep her from getting help for her medical problems. “The Panel” had determined that her health issues were caused by her own negligence due to heavy drug use and she had been summarily denied treatment. Her friend Alice had told her that the real reason she was not receiving help was due to her not being “a productive member of society.” Alice said that she had also been denied after having been on unemployment for more than two years. Sure she could go to any emergency room for free, but unless her problem was critical, the staff let her and other non-critical patients to languish in the waiting rooms until they were either fed up waiting and left, or were eventually seen almost a day later, only to be sent packing with no real treatment. Government Employee Health Benefits would change that, since they had a completely different health care system. She wouldn’t be denied, wouldn’t have long waits, and would actually get the proper treatment for her issues. Government Employee Health Benefits were as good as private insurance was 20 years ago.
She was also told that her job would be helping the country, helping the poor, and would serve to indirectly enforce the laws of the nation. She felt very patriotic about her new position. It was her way of making up for the disastrous Marine Corps career, where she had also felt a patriotic sense of self. She was proud to be able to serve her country again. She was proud to be able to help feed the many hungry people in America, including herself. She felt that it was an honor to be part of the new DHSA Livestock and Agriculture Recovery Department, which would serve as a directly responsible unit for helping to keep affordable food on the tables of Americans. She just could not fathom why anyone would resist such good works from their government. But still, something just wasn’t right, she could not put her finger on what that was.
Just ahead Jo could see that the trail came to a fork at a rather large tree. When she arrived at the fork, it was more of a “T” than a fork, with the left trail suddenly going down steeper terrain, and the right trail going on relatively flat, and possibly even uphill terrain. Since she had only been walking for a couple of hours, she used the shadows to determine that the right fork went generally east by north east and the left fork went more north west by west. Based on what she was looking at, the left trail in her mind had a better chance of leading to water since it was noticeably heading downhill. Even in her darkest days of drug addiction, when she would go without food for days, and sometimes more than a week, or shivered behind a dumpster or in a building’s exterior alcove, she always drank plenty of fluids, generally water from an unlocked tap behind an electronics store in a seedy strip mall. She took the left trail and started down the grade. She so hoped water would be near. Her cotton mouth and the burning corners of her lips were beginning to take over her thoughts. She didn’t yet have a headache, but that couldn’t be far behind.
This new path wound down the hillside. At this point she could see that there appeared to be large hoof prints off to the sides of the trail on occasion. They didn’t appear to be horse tracks, at least not shoed hooves. Maybe they were cows. ‘Were there any other animals that had this type of hoof shape? Were they even hoof prints,’ she wondered? After a few hundred yards down the trail, there was a flat spot that was quite wet. It was all rocky hard ground, but it was definitely wet. As she stopped to inspect, she could see that just above and below the two foot diameter wet spot on the trail, that there was a very thin line of moisture. She touched the wet line that was no wider than her thumb and smelled the ends of her now moist fingers. It smelled fine. It appeared that only this small area was moist, ‘but why,’ she wondered? ‘Where had it come from?’
Trusting her survival instincts, honed over a decade in the concrete jungle, she worked her way above the wet spot. She could hear the squish of moist ground under the dead leaves and grass. Ahead she could see the earth move upwards in a steep grade. The distant ground and underlying rocks were glistening and shimmering in the intermittent sun that was being moved by the gently blowing leaves.
“Water!” Jo quietly exclaimed. The water was flowing out of the rocks and trickling down the sloped face where it disappeared under the leaves and grass a few feet down. Straddling the tiny stream of life, Jo moved up to the rock face. The water stream was so minimal that it clung to the rocks. Without some new idea, she would be relegated to licking it off the rocks, which she was certainly not against doing, but she wanted to drink water, not lick at it. She placed her fingers on the rocks and smelled the wetness. There was no foul odor. She touched her moist fingers to her dry tongue, and could perceive no foul taste. The moisture on her leathery tongue was almost exquisite. She quickly ran through her options: She didn’t have a container; she could lick the rocks; sponge the water with clothing and wring it out, or use a some string to create a temporary faucet. She quickly removed her knife from around her neck and pulled off the twenty-eight inches of parachute cord that held it around her neck. She put the knife in her pocket and took one end of the cord and tried to figure out a way to get it to attach to the rock face. There were small cracks, but none large enough to get the cord in easily. She looked around the immediate area for a small stick to use to force the cord into a crack. She located one and used her knife to quickly whittle the end of the stick to the proper size. She place the end of the cord over a crack and used the stick to force the cord in.
With the cord laying against the sloping surface, she could see it immediately soaking up the water along its length. She pulled the end of cord away from the rock face, and it immediately began dripping. She was satisfied it would work. She left the cord to rinse. It had been hanging around her neck for years, and was caked with body oils and salts. She had occasionally taken the time to wash it, but she couldn’t remember the last time the cord had been bathed. A few minutes would do. Having found a primary source of life, she relaxed and rested against the sloping ground and allowed her eyes to close. She used the time to congratulate herself on making good decisions, for once. She knew there was still much more to come. She wondered how she would get back in touch with her new boss. Jo had not yet received her free phone that was promised in the want ads for the job - it was not mentioned during the interview, and she forgot to ask. She was more than a three hour bus ride away from the main DHSA facility in the city. Where would she find the bus? The last one had dropped her off, along with her co-workers at a stark windowless facility outside of the small town where she got into the van earlier this morning. What would she tell her employer once she got back? She would figure these things out after she got out of these woods.
Jo snapped awake from her unintended nap. She didn’t know how long she had been sleeping, but the sun was in a noticeably different position than when she had first closed her eyes. She felt her overwhelming thirst and tried to lick her lips. Her dry tongue only stuck to her chapped lips. She squatted down below the attachment point of the cord and lifted the other end out of the water. The fresh water was streaming off at a drip rate nearly fast enough to be a continuous stream. She held the end of the string above her open mouth and started to let it fill with the invigorating liquid. Suddenly the water stopped. She looked and noticed that the slight dip in the cord was now dripping water and that where her fingers grasped the cord was also diverting the flow of water away from the end. As she moved her hand, the drip moved. She tried to position herself under the drip, but it was elusive with the long moving cord.
“Improvise, adapt, and overcome, private Bolton!” rang in her ears. She picked up another small dead stick and quickly carved a sharp point on one end with her Minimalist knife. She cut off the other end to where the stick was about a foot long. She stuck the sharp end into the cord about three inches from the bitter end. She then stuck the blunt end of the stick into a crevice in the rock face so that the stick was pointing at a downward angle and was holding the cord away from the rock, but not allowing any inadvertent dips. The end of the cord was dripping water at a fast rate. The support stick added to the flow with water also now running down its length. She dropped her head under the flow and partook in the luxury for several minutes, stopping only to catch her breath.
“Aye, Aye Sir!” Jo murmured aloud, and started to cry again. She was on an emotional roller coaster. She wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed if this had happened in the city- an environment she was intimately familiar with. Until recently, she had lived full time on the streets of the city, creating her own mostly invisible trails of repetitiveness. She knew where she could find food, drink, shelter, and if desired human companionship. She even knew how to get arrested so as to spend the night in a warm jail and get better food if required. But out here, it was so much different. Nothing was going to come easy. She was going to have to work so much harder for every step of her survival. In the city, she relied on other people’s cast offs. Dumpsters were packed full of useful items. A simple plastic bottle, old blanket, or perfectly good thrown out food could be had in a matter of minutes. But out here, the resources and their availability were much different. All this work for a simple drink of water! She still had to find or make some form of shelter today before the cold night set in, and hopefully food as well.
Getting up and brushing herself off, Jo walked back down to the wet flat spot on the trail, and started down the trail to investigate. After traveling about 150 yards down the trail she came to a small pond. She could see where the spring she had found was helping to fill this pond. It was obvious that much game used this pond to drink from. She could see all types and sizes of prints in the moist ground around the edge. She realized that she could have far more easily drank from this pond, but there was a one hundred percent chance it would have made her sick without filtering or boiling the water first. Since she didn’t have a filter, and no container to boil water in, the spring was a far better source. The little bit of S.E.R.E. school she had completed taught her that she could also dig a hole adjacent to a water source and allow water to filter through the nearby earth to create drinking water, but this ground was too rocky to dig deep enough without tools.
What was even more interesting to her was what she was able to see in the distance. There was a small clearing in the trees beyond the far edge of the pond. The elevated area of the pond overlooked a valley of sorts below. In that valley she could see a building in a large clearing. It looked like a barn or small covered livestock pen. She didn’t know since she wasn’t a rancher. ‘Why did they assign me, of all people - a city girl - to the Livestock and Agriculture Recovery Department?’ The thought just suddenly popped into her head. It appeared to be a mile or two away, and she felt this was her best bet for quick shelter. She hoped there was some hay inside, and maybe some feed of some type that she could render and eat. Who knows, maybe she would be lucky enough to run into a rancher and he could get her back to the small town. ‘Wouldn’t that be some good luck, for once?’ she wished.
She headed back up the trail to the spring. Now she was riding high. She had water in her system, was about to get more, and was likely to have adequate shelter tonight. Two out of three wasn’t bad, and she had two of the most important ones given her current situation. The parachute cord faucet was still doing its job when she returned, and she ducked down and took in multiple mouths full to the point of feeling bloated. She jerked the cord out of the rock face, threaded the soaking string back through her knife’s sheath and hung it back around her neck. She checked her pocket for the presence of her peanut lighter, and started back down the hill. With any luck, she would put her peanut lighter to use tonight.
The trail ended at the small pond, and she made her way around the edge to the clearing on the other side. She found that the small pond was emptying into a twelve inch wide, one inch deep creek that was flowing down hill directly towards the building in the clearing. Only a few feet down the hill she came across a small clearing in the trees that was obviously manmade. Three of the trees that had been cut down long ago were gone, but their intact and still rooted stumps had been carved into chairs. New limb shoots were growing out of the lower parts of the chairs indicating that no one had used them for some time. There was a small rock fire pit centered between the chairs. Inside the pit she dug out an old coffee can. At first she was excited, but upon inspection found it had several bullet holes in the sides. Someone had taken the time to fashion a wire loop handle for it, so at least it could carry anything she found along the way. She sifted through the ashes and found melted blobs that had once been aluminum cans (one of which tossed into the coffee can), and a few bent nails that she also kept. She also picked out a couple of pieces of well bunt wood fragments that would act as coal, or if necessary as a charcoal filter.
The sun was getting lower and so she kept moving down the hill parallel to the nearly straight creek. She could see the building for most of the way down. Once she reached the flat bottom of the valley floor, she noticed that the trees were shorter, more bushy, and spaced much further apart, and that the creek made a sharp turn to the south. At least she knew where it was, and could return to it if she didn’t find another water source. She could easily see one hundred yards or more, and at times much further. This gave her the occasional partial view of the building, which definitely looked more like a barn of some kind with at least one open side. She came upon a translucent piece of plastic tarp wrapped around the base of a small bushy tree. It looked very dirty, but her bigger concern was sun rot, which would make the plastic brittle to touch or move. She reached down and grabbed an edge and pulled on it, fully expecting it to break. But it didn’t and the entire piece of plastic came free of the tree.
As she opened it up, she quickly noticed the four inch triangular shaped hole almost in the middle of the trapezoid shaped heavy plastic drop cloth. She realized that it occurred when she did not carefully remove the plastic from the base of the tree. If she had some duct tape it would be an easy fix. If she was in the city, she would find some discarded duct tape in a dumpster and fix it. But now she just had to deal with it the way it was. It was an awesome find with a ten foot long side and was about eight feet wide. She would be able to use it for shelter out in the field, or wrap herself in it to retain some warmth. She could even make a greenhouse effect tent out of it if she found the right place to use it. She shook off the loose dirt then spread it out on the ground. She started to fold and roll it up as tight as she could. ‘Where did this come from? There is really nothing out here…or is there?’
She quickly looked up and scanned the area, the sudden realization that she had not been paying close attention to her surroundings. Maybe there was more around than she realized. Even though it was more open in this part of the woods, she still could not see anything but trees. She finished rolling up the plastic and slid one end down inside the coffee can, taking care not to catch the plastic on the metal turned in by the bullets passing through it. The other end stuck out of the top of the can a little, but it would not interfere with carrying the container. She continued on in her original direction, taking care to pay better attention to her surroundings.
Just as she came to the clearing she could see what might be a real gem in the distance, about halfway between the edge of the trees and the building. It was probably five to six hundred yards to the building, and the black plastic blob was just sitting there in between. ‘Could it actually be a bag of trash? Way out here?’ she thought with excitement. It almost felt like home. There were almost always treasures in trash. From this distance, she could not tell how old the bag was, but it looked completely intact. She could tell that it was open and appeared to be laying on its side with some of it contents spilled out on the ground, possibly caused by wild animals.
‘Wild animals!’ she shuddered. She would not be able to defend herself against much with her two inch long knife, or even her fists and feet for that matter. If wild animals had opened that bag up recently, and removed some of the goodies, they could still be nearby, maybe even in that barn thing. She had been having a streak of good luck since this morning’s horrible luck. Jo was still feeling lucky. She remembered the words from her well worn and compact pocket Bible that she always kept in her left rear pocket. It had been given to her by the Collins family, who were her sponsors and mentors when she went through her long drug recovery process two years earlier. They had taken the time to show her the Way, introduced her to Jesus Christ, and from the day that she finally saw the light, Jo was a changed person. She had been doing everything right, and had been looking for work ever since. The DHSA job was her first since becoming drug free.
She quietly recited the words of Psalms 23:4 from memory as she reached back to feel the small paper book through her coveralls:
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
With that, she walked forward, eyeing the bag and darting her eyes left to right looking for dangerous animals. Occasionally she would peer behind her to make sure no fearsome predators were stalking her. Her heart rate started to rise as she could discern a recognizable clear plastic bottle with the red and white label that at one time many decades before denoted one of the potent ingredients it once contained as part of its snake oil formula. She couldn’t believe her luck. If that was an actual intact and useable cola bottle (without bullet holes) she was going to be able to vastly extend her range. With this great luck, she wondered if it was too much to ask that it had a useable cap with it? There may even be some edible food in the bag.
She was almost floating as she neared the bag, almost within reach now. “Thank you Jesus!” she exclaimed aloud. It was definitely a two liter cola bottle and there was more than one! She was already running through her mind how to get them filled with water from the very shallow creek, how to secure them, carry them, and get herself out of this situation and back to the city and her new job. Maybe she would even get a promotion for surviving the whole ordeal, or at least a commendation; metal of valor; keys to the city; something!
The overwhelming and intense burning pain ran through her upper body just as she started to bend down for the bag. It was like nothing she had ever experienced before. Child birth was a cinch compared to this pain, especially since she had had epidurals for both of her children. Unable to control her descent, she slumped to the ground in a pile, partially crushing the garbage bag. She could hear the crack just as she hit the ground, followed closely by another crack. She was intimately familiar with the supersonic crack of high powered rifle fire from her days in the Marine Corps, shooting thousands of rounds through her M-16 rifle, as well as her time on the streets under the constant barrage of gunfire.
Her mind went into hyper overdrive as she lay in the dirt, starting to have severe difficulty breathing. She knew she had been shot, but could not fathom why. She could feel her heartbeat racing in her head. She tried to move but nothing seemed to work. He breaths were getting more shallow with each rise in her chest. She could feel the warm blood running down the side of her chest. Focusing her eyes was quickly becoming difficult. She coughed and blood splattered out. Jo went over the last few moments leading up to this new crisis in her life:
‘My luck had been going so well.’
‘Had a knife and lighter’
‘…There were bottles……’
‘…….. tarp for cold………..’
‘…………bucket for carry bullets………’
‘……………drinked well strings………………’
‘………………no dangerous furs…………………’
‘……………………impro, adap, over, priv……………..’
‘…………………………God save queen………………….NO!’