Author Topic: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission  (Read 13707 times)

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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2013, 03:42:47 PM »
Buddy quickly set the bike into the back of the truck. It took only a few minutes to add the equipment cases he’d packed and stored in the garage. Just in case. He added the fuel cans from the shed, along with a few other items he kept there.

He heard the survey meter sitting on the seat of the truck began to tick occasionally. He saw some activity at his neighbor’s house on his left. Buddy ran into the house for the last few items he was going to take to the shelter and ran back out. He was glad he had. When he came out his neighbor was just starting to get into Buddy’s pickup.

One of the things Buddy had retrieved from the house was a Stoeger double barrel Coach shotgun. “I don’t think so,” he said forcefully, striding up and blocking the man from closing the door of the truck. “Get out!”

Hands in the air, the man slowly slid out of the truck and stepped away. A few steps, and then he turned and ran back to continue loading his car with what looked like to Buddy, totally useless household items.

Buddy took another moment and strapped on the UM-84 holster rigged tanker style for his primary handgun, a Colt 1911A1. He set the shotgun and the rest of his small collection of weapons in the cab, along with a musette bag with ready ammunition for the pistol and rifles. He added four fifty-caliber ammunition boxes full of additional ammunition to the truck.

He tried to reach Charlene on the FRS radio. No response. Buddy put the truck in gear and pulled out of the driveway, headed toward Charlene’s shop. It took only a moment to read the note taped on the front door. “Gone to the house to get Big Bob.”

She done the identical thing that he had done. Her car wasn’t in her regular parking slot so Buddy assumed the EMP hadn’t damaged it. He drove over to her house and found another note. It was simple. “Shelter.”

Wishing she were with him, instead of on her own, at least Buddy knew she was alive and heading for the shelter. He headed that way himself. The survey meter was still clicking, but Buddy took a moment to glance at the meter. Still under 0.5 R. If it didn’t get much worse for a bit he would be okay.

The roads were jammed. Like quite a few others Buddy put his rig in four-wheel-drive and left the pavement. He’d made careful observations on several different routes out of different parts of the city toward the shelter. He knew where he could stay off pavement and get somewhere and where he had to use the regular roads.

Once he had to use the truck to help push three vehicles off the road that were not working. He didn’t ask if it was lack of fuel or EMP damage. He and another man in a pickup just used their front bumpers to get the vehicles out of the way.

Buddy did a double take when he saw Charlene’s car up ahead. Charlene was taking a bike similar to Buddy’s off the rear rack where she carried it when Buddy got up to her. As horns honked, Buddy stopped and jumped out of the truck to help Charlene load the bike into the truck.

It took less than a minute and Charlene was climbing into the passenger side of the truck and Buddy was moving again. Traffic on this section of the interstate was moving well, but Buddy saw what was shaping up to be a major traffic jam ahead.

“Thank you, Buddy!” Charlene finally managed to say. “I wasn’t sure if I would make it on the bike. My car just quit as I was driving. I was having trouble keeping it running since this all started. I thought I was going to just have to take the bike up from the shop, but I finally got it started.”

Buddy reached over and squeezed Charlene’s hand for a moment. “Yeah. I had to bike from the job home. I’m glad I started unhooking the electronics in the truck. If you’ll notice, it’s mostly really old vehicles still running.”

Charlene looked around at the traffic. Buddy was right. There were a few new models, but the majority was older models.

“Time to take route B,” Buddy said and took the next exit. Traffic was backed up almost to the interchange.

“What do you mean?” Charlene asked.

“Road ahead is blocked. We’re taking the railroad right of way past the blockage. If we can we’ll get back on the Interstate. If not, the railroad will take us all the way to the county road. I know we can get off there. Just keep your eyes peeled for an oncoming train.”

Instead of crossing the tracks that paralleled the Interstate and crossed the intersecting road, Buddy turned onto the tracks. It was something of a rough ride as the tires went over the ties supporting the track, but Buddy was afraid to try to run on the tracks themselves. It would be hard on the tires, for one thing. He didn’t think he could keep on the tracks, anyway. At least not at speed.

Apparently someone had seen what he was doing and tried to emulate his actions. Unfortunately they were in a car. The width between the wheels was enough to get the tires on the tracks, but as soon as a little twitch of the wheel bounced them off the track onto the ties the car slid to a stop. The car underside was resting on the tracks. The tires were touching the ties, but there wasn’t enough traction for the car to move.

Buddy kept checking the rearview mirror, to make sure a train didn’t come up on him unexpectedly. He was sure that the car would be moved off the tracks by someone else wanting to use the tracks the same way he was.

Fortunately, the only time they did have to get off the tracks to allow a train past, there was a good place in which to do it. From the looks of the front of the train someone else had been on the tracks and didn’t get off them in time. There were pieces of an automobile hanging from the front coupler of the engine.

The next train was still some distance ahead when they reached the county road and turned off the tracks. The top of the mushroom cloud had broadened significantly. There had been a bit of very fine dust coming down, with the survey needle slowly creeping up from 0.5 R/hr to 0.6 R/hr during the time they’d traveled.

The railroad tracks had been a much more direct path toward the shelter than the roads they normally had to use. It was fortunate because much heavier fallout began and the survey meter jumped up to 200 R/hr. “Hang on,” Buddy said. “I’m going to speed up. It was only another mile to the gate.

Charlene started to get out to get the gate, but Buddy said, “The radiation. Stay inside. I’ll get it.” She didn’t argue, just hopped over and drove through the gate when Buddy opened it. She noted that he took the time to close and relock it. He brushed off as much of the fallout that had accumulated on him as he could, then climbed back into the truck.

Charlene held on tight as they bounced over the rough terrain that was the road to the shelter. Buddy pulled onto the concrete under the roofed area between the barrier wall and the shelter. This time Charlene got out of the truck before Buddy could protest. She ran to the entrance of the shelter and went inside to open the garage doors.

Buddy hopped out as well, and as Charlene struggled to open one half of the sliding doors, he pushed open the other. As soon as there was clearance, he got back into the truck and backed it inside.

When they had the doors closed again Buddy called over to Charlene to get a water hose. He washed down first Charlene, then himself. Then he, with Charlene’s help, washed down the truck and its contents. The contaminated water ran to a floor drain near the garage door and ultimately to the gully.

It was cool in the underground shelter and Charlene and Buddy were both shivering by the time they were finished. Buddy hustled Charlene into the trailer, grabbed a robe from a closet, handed it to Charlene and pointed to the bathroom.

When she’d had a hot shower and had changed clothes, she went out and continued stacking the concrete blocks in front of the windows and doorways that Buddy had started. He hurried inside the trailer and got his shower and changed clothes. He came back out carrying the damp clothes, holding them well away from his body.

“I’m quarantining these till we have a chance to decontaminate them better.”

Charlene nodded. Buddy got the survey meter from the truck and went over to Charlene. “Hold up a minute. Let’s see how we’re doing, radiation wise.”

He ran the survey meter all around Charlene. There was the occasional click and the needle of the meter would wiggle, but it was doing that anyway. There was no appreciably greater intensity of radiation on either of them than the background radiation.

Charlene rested as Buddy checked the rest of the shelter for radiation leaks. Only at the big door and the windows was there any appreciable radiation. Buddy helped Charlene finish stacking the solid concrete blocks to increase the shielding at the big door and the windows. The personnel entryways, with their shielded right angle turns and heavy lead lined steel doors were fine.

When all the additional shielding was in place they took another break. Charlene just looked at Buddy for a moment, then stepped into his arms. He held her for a long time as she cried. He shed a few tears himself. How was his brother and his brother’s family faring?

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 18

Charlie was only able to stay in the stacked concrete pipe for another few days. The ground was excavated and the pipes placed and buried. But that wasn’t such a bad thing, it turned out. Though the piping was installed, it would be some time before the pipe would be in use.

As it was, Charlie had access to one end of the line. He also had access to the freshly poured basement of the building. He was cautioned about being caught in the building, but Clyde didn’t run him off when he started using both places. With the work at the golf course, and the occasional clean up job there at the building site, Charlie was doing okay.

He was able to get a package of disposable razors to replace the single one he’d been using for a couple of weeks. Though he didn’t need it at the moment, he found and purchased a nice woolen overcoat at a thrift store nearby. He used it as extra padding for his bed, which was still primarily discarded newspapers, of which he had a good supply.

The previous winter had been a rough one on him. Something else he stocked up on was some extra food. Like the coat, he didn’t particularly need it at the moment, but one never knew. Ramen noodles were light and didn’t take up all that much space.

He bought another bottle of vitamins and some protein bars, too. All in all, he was feeling pretty good. He always read the newspapers before he added them to his bedroll and the reports he was reading were the only thing bothering him at the moment.

Several of the workers were leaving partial lunches behind, which he scavenged every evening. He was getting more than enough food. He checked the dumpster carefully for things other than food, and found a few more items it contained from the construction site to make his life a bit easier. He’d need to move on before winter, as the building would be mostly complete by then. The dumpster was emptied every morning for the next round of cleanup from the site.

Since the dumpster was outside of the fence, some of the locals had begun using it to get rid of trash after the construction shut down each afternoon. Charlie was able to cull a few useful items from those things that had come from other than the construction site.

When Charlie went down into the basement that evening he noted the tiny trickle of water leaking in at one of the joints of the drainpipe. He’d told Clyde about it and Clyde had asked Charlie to keep an eye on it. If it got worse, Charlie was to let Clyde know.

Clyde wasn’t concerned with the water coming in the drainpipe. He was worried about where it was coming from. There was a twenty-inch main water line running just four feet from the drain tile. If it was leaking, the construction company was going to wind having to pay for the repairs. They’d be blamed for sure, no matter what actually caused the leak.

Charlie shook his head and smiled. The leak wasn’t bothering him. Actually it was to his advantage. It had not been hard to work a soda straw from a discarded fast food cup into the crack where the leak was. It didn’t divert all the water to the container he placed under the end of the straw, but it did catch most of it. He wouldn’t drink it, but he did use it to wash with.

He counted up his money. He had more things now than when he’d first got to this part of town, and even had more money left than when he’d arrived. Charlie was tempted to go back to the thrift shop and get a suit, shirt, tie, and shoes to try to find a job in the area. But it would take all the cash he had at the moment and he was reluctant to do that. Things were just too uncertain.

He might have to leave at any time, if those having the building constructed found out he was living here. Charlie sighed. Things were definitely better than he’d had it in a long while, but they were far from perfect. He hadn’t had a drink since he finished the bottle when he first got here.

Charlie went out the following morning, to take a long walk as was his usual practice now that he wasn’t walking most of the day, dumpster diving. He studied the building as he walked back toward it. It was definitely coming along. When finished it would be five stories. They were working on the second floor steelwork now. Upon seeing the group of fancy cars parked at the gate, Charlie changed his path and skirted the construction site. The bigwigs were there to do an inspection.

Charlie stayed out of sight, out of mind, for most of the day. He wound up making a few dollars helping clean out a burned out store. He’d gone past and seen some men working and asked if they needed help. They hired him on the spot. He was soot and ash coated when he got back to the construction site late that afternoon. Clyde was just locking up the gate.

“I was a bit worried about you. That chintzy banker was here today, looking things over. You’d think the building was his. He is going to have a small branch facility on the first floor, but he acted as if the whole thing was his. You doing okay? You’re a mess.”

“Helped clean up where they had that fire last week.”

“Oh. Come on over to the truck. My wife was cleaning closets and was giving stuff to Goodwill. I thought you might want a few of the items. What you don’t want I’ll drop off down there.”

“Clyde, you don’t have to do stuff like this. I still think it was you started leaving those partial lunches behind.” But Charlie went over to the truck. He was a practical man. There were several items of clothing he could use, but that was about it. Charlie thanked Clyde and headed to what he was referring, at least to himself, as his lair.

It was cool, as always, in the drain tile, but Charley stripped, washed himself thoroughly, shaved, and put on some of the clothing he’d received from Clyde. Feeling a new man, he sat down to work on a project. He’d been accumulating pieces and parts to construct a handcart to carry his stuff. He had quite a bit more stuff than would fit in just two buckets. He had several more, now, but there was no good way to carry more than two. Unless he had a cart.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2013, 02:57:29 PM »
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 19

Edward really didn’t need to be at the meeting, since they wouldn’t even start on his part of the building until much later. But he wanted to be there. It was exciting to be involved in the construction of a new multistory building.

He definitely would be here often when they started constructing the vault. It would be a small vault, but it would be brand new. Both the banks he now owned had all been built before he acquired them. They were nice, of course, but even though this was just a branch facility, it was new. And he loved new.

Just as the ten-person shelter was new. He’d been a little surprised when Emily had not put up a fuss about digging up the back yard on the other side of the pool. When he found out how big the hole needed to be he threatened to sue if excavation of the hole for the shelter damaged the pool. It hadn’t. They’d even done a decent job of restoring the lawn damaged by the equipment.

He’d only been in it a couple of times. Once to check out the installation when it was completed before he signed off on the bill. The other time was to show it to Doc Cutter. He’d picked a time when Emily was off to a seminar of some kind. No need to have a scene with Emily unless it was needed.

Doc had been ecstatic. Edward smiled at the memory. He’d transferred a third of his assets to each of Edward’s banks. Those thoughts faded as he pulled up and stopped at the fence of the new building.

He was careful of his clothing, but he made a show of questioning everything he could about the construction. The others might not care, but he intended to be in one of the best new buildings in the area.

The construction foreman calmly answered each question. He satisfied Edward that he knew what he was talking about and what he was doing. Edward was looking forward to that evening with Courtney. This building was exciting.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 20

Charlie was feeling pretty good, despite the news in the papers. He’d just made fifty dollars working for Clyde on a big cleanup. The hotshots were coming back the next day to do another inspection. Charlie hid his smile when Clyde groused about the banker.

“Thanks for the work, man,” Charlie told Clyde as Clyde paid him off. Charlie knew just what he would do with half of it. The thrift store had a really nice bike he could use to tow the cart he’d finally finished. Twenty-five bucks would get it. He would add the other twenty-five to his winter stash. He was trying to put twenty to fifty percent of everything he made away to help him through the winter. The winters seemed to be getting worse.

Charlie stopped at the hardware store the next day to pick up a few items to make the two parts of a hitch so he could tow the cart with his new bike. It wasn’t fancy, but it was durable. It made him much more mobile.

He was almost back to the building when everything in front of him brightened. He felt some heat on his back, and then heard a terrifyingly loud rumble. He took a quick look over his shoulder and began to pedal for all he was worth.

The crews on the jobsite first tried their vehicles, and when they wouldn’t start, began to run. Charlie assumed they were headed home. He’d just dragged the bike into his tunnel home when the earth shook. A sudden wind pushed him a few feet down the tile, and then pulled him back.

Suddenly he felt of his ears. There was blood coming from the left one. He wiped it away. As he was doing so, he noticed yesterday’s paper. It had some rules to follow in case of a nuclear attack. He had not read it yet. The earth still trembling, Charlie dragged his stuff down to the middle of the long pipe, sat down on a bucket, and began to read by the light of a small candle.

After reading the first few paragraphs of the article, Charlie hurried out of the tunnel, and went to the stack of plywood near the building. Working quickly, but carefully, he leaned several sheets of plywood against the end of the piping.

Figuring if he got into trouble, so be it, Charlie climbed up on the skid steer loader the construction outfit used around the building site. Fortunately the bucket was attached. It was the work of only a few minutes to push enough dirt into the hole, against the plywood, to provide shielding.

That done, Charlie checked the site over carefully, taking everything he thought he might need into the basement of the building, then into the tunnel. That included several wheelbarrow loads of dirt.

By the time he was finished he was aching and the fallout was starting to come down heavily. Making up a new bed, Charlie lay down, lighted the candle again and finished the article. After that he pulled his light blanket over himself and tried to fall asleep.
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 21

Edward’s wife Emily was in Edward’s bank, talking to Angela about the shelter at the house and getting advice on what books to get and read, just in case. She never came to the bank, except on the days that Edward was out golfing. It had been sheer coincidence that she’d run into Angela at a nearby restaurant a few weeks previously and recognized her. Emily had struck up a conversation with Angela and they became friendly.

Like Angela, Emily was worried about the world situation. Emily had been totally amazed when Edward told her it was too bad that she would lose her prize azaleas, for he was putting in a survival shelter.

The only person she felt confident in confiding the news to was Angela. Edward and that scurrilous doctor had not played golf the week before, so Emily had to wait until today to see Angela. She wasn’t worried about Courtney seeing her and reporting it to her husband. Courtney always disappeared for several hours when Edward golfed during the week.

Angela and Emily were talking in the break room when they felt the building suddenly shaking. “Oh My God!” cried Emily. “An earthquake!”

“I don’t think so,” Angela replied. Both women hurried toward the bank lobby from the break room. The mushroom cloud was visible in the distance through the front windows of the bank.

Emily repeated herself. “Oh My God!”

“I don’t know about the rest of you people, but I’m heading home to find shelter,” Angela called out. She’d thought about the vault as shelter if something like this happened while she was here. But the building and vault were both old. The vault had neither a means to ventilate it, nor an inside lock release. Anyone using the vault for shelter would probably die of asphyxiation.

“No! Wait!” Emily said, grabbing Angela’s arm. “Come with me to my house. That shelter is big enough for ten people for months. I don’t have a clue how to survive, and I know Edward doesn’t either.”

“I doubt Mr. Baumgartner would welcome me,” replied Angela.

“I don’t care! I welcome you. I don’t care how many supplies we have. Neither Edward nor I have any clue what we should do. Edward just bought the shelter for a status symbol among his banking cronies. Please. I’m begging you, Angela. Help me.”

Angela thought about it and her own chances for survival at her apartment complex. She had a few weeks worth of supplies, but that basement was going to be crowded beyond belief.

“Okay. But you have to deal with Mr. Baumgartner. If we’re going, we’d better get started. We’ll probably have to walk.”

“Oh, no. I have the Mercedes.”

“I doubt it will run, but let’s check.”

It took all of a minute to decide the car wouldn’t start. Another minute and a very surprised Angela was urging Mrs. Baumgartner into her old Chevy, which started right up. Angela had not thought it would, due to the EMP.

They did have to walk the last few blocks. The streets were gridlocked within a half hour of the attack. Angela got Emily out of the car and hurried to the rear of the car. Angela opened the trunk. It contained a fold up cart, a large backpack, and three large duffel style totes. There was also a moderate size waist pack with belt. Angela put it on first.

It took only a few moments for Angela to set up the cart, add the three duffels to it and shoulder the pack. At Emily’s amazed look, Angela said, “My BOB. Bug out bag. I’ve been expecting something to happen.”

Angela was doing fine, even with the load, but Emily was breathing heavily by the time they made it to the Baumgartner house. Emily nearly fainted when she found her daughter and son alone in the house. The babysitter had left immediately after the blast.

“She’ll never work for me again!” declared Emily.

Angela simply responded with, “The fallout has started. Let’s get the children into the shelter and see what we need to come back and get.”

Emily herded the frightened children before her, Angela following as they made their way to the smooth, rounded entrance hatch of the shelter. Angela opened it without difficulty and had Emily go down first. Next Angela sent Catherine down, and then John. She lowered her bags to Emily. Finally she climbed down herself and closed and dogged the hatch.

Angela took a few long moments to inspect the shelter and decided they really didn’t need to go back out for anything.

Edward let Doc tee off, and then Doc’s wife. He was feeling good today. The building was coming along nicely. They would start constructing the vault the latter part of next week. The vault door was scheduled to arrive the day the rest of the vault was to be finished. The last independent bankers’ meeting had gone well.

Some didn’t like the new restrictions on withdrawals, but it suited Edward. And those that had made preparations other than strictly financial had been suitably impressed with his ten-person shelter with just about all the options.

He had food for ten for a year and water for six months. A generator that would provide full power for the shelter with fuel for two months. Battery capacity with a solar panel recharger that could stretch the generator use to four months or more. Every whiz-bang gizmo he’d been able to find to ensure his survival in style.

Once he started buying he found the subject of preparations rather fascinating. As much as he distained it, he’d bought some gold and silver, though his portfolio of paper assets was much greater. He’d even bought two guns. He refused to buy a handgun, but the Steyr AUG had been irresistible. So had the Benelli police style shotgun. Oh, yes. Let the world bring what it might. He was ready.

Except Edward happened to be playing golf on the north side of town. The side closest to the military base fifteen miles away. The three weren’t the only ones blinded by the brilliant flash of light. Nor were they the only ones the blast wave sent tumbling along the ground, their bodies bruised and battered beyond recognition. They weren’t the only ones to die. Just three of millions. Some quickly, like them. Some slowly, over time.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 22

Percy and the others didn’t find out the sequence of events or the identity of most of the targets hit until months later.

China launched a nuclear attack on the US Fleets near Japan and Taiwan after the attack on Pyongyang. The US retaliated with a single nuke in an isolated area of China and a demand to cease hostilities. China responded with an all out attack on the US and Democratic Russia. This began the full-scale exchange by the nuclear powers.

Every nuclear power in the world began launching ballistic missiles, tactical missiles, and cruise missiles, all with nuclear warheads. Nuclear bombs were launched from aircraft. The few artillery pieces that could fire nuclear shells were put into use, until counter battery fire put them out of commission. Several nations and terrorists alike detonated many in-situ nuclear devices emplaced over the years.

Democratic Russia retaliated, primarily at China.

When the exchange began between the United States and China, after China’s first EMP blast in subspace over the Midwest United States, the newly communist Russian Republics launched the missiles now under their control. They targeted mostly Germany, France, and Great Britain with their medium range missiles, and the United States with their long-range missiles. Spain, Italy, and Turkey also took hits on American bases in those countries.

Several additional Russian Republics suffered Communist coups. They too turned their nuclear weapons on the West, including France and Great Britain.

Those countries with the capability retaliated in kind. Germany seized the US missile forces within their borders and launched retaliatory strikes. The US forces also struck back with the nuclear forces still under their control.

Israel struck nearly every Arab nation after Tel Aviv took a hit with a nuke from Iran and chemical and biological weapons from several other Arab nations.

Israel was not the only nation to suffer chemical and biological attacks. Besides the few terrorist nuclear devices detonated, most traditionally Western nations had terrorist planted chemical and biological weapons activated. Some had been in place for years, their sleeper agent handlers just waiting for the appropriate time to activate them. China also launched some missiles with chemical and biological warheads.

Many places took hits with multiple devices. Some intentionally, others because several countries targeted the same place for the same reasons.

Both China and the United States, with the openly available information on potential earthquake and volcanic problem areas of the world, targeted their respective enemies’ tectonic weak spots. Targeted as well were nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams. For the most part, China and the United States were the only two nations that targeted geological formations. Both used the geological targeting heavily.

The geological attacks worked as hoped. One of the missiles in the first wave of ballistic nuclear missiles from China targeted the Yellowstone caldera. The nuclear device triggered another massive super volcanic eruption similar to the one that had created the caldera previously. The local devastation was total. Massive waves of lava spread out for miles. Lava bombs, thick ash, and toxic gasses sprayed for miles more.

The westerly winds carried huge quantities of ash for hundreds of miles across the northern tier of states and southern Canada, all the way to the Great Lakes. The ash mixed with the radioactive fallout, from not only the warhead that created the volcano, but the series of attacks against military, industrial, resource, and population targets in the Northwest and Northern Rockies.

The Yellowstone caldera wasn’t the only tectonic weak spot hit. Many fault zones and dormant volcanoes took hits. Volcanic eruptions took place on a massive global scale, as did earthquakes.

The Great Rift in Africa was hit with five small devices, unleashing gigantic tectonic activity at the point where one plate overrides another.

The San Andreas Fault was only one of several fault complexes hit along their lengths. Destroyed dams flooded the river systems that lay downstream from them.

The volcano on La Palma Island in the Canary Island chain was hit. As intended, the western side of the island slid into the ocean, creating a mega-tsunami. The tsunami caused great damage to the southern portion of Great Britain and a few other places. However, the major damage was to the entire eastern seacoast of the United States, already reeling from the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons being used.

A series of huge waves, the largest of them towering over one hundred feet high when it hit the coast, devastated the entire eastern seaboard. Much of Florida was literally washed into the Gulf of Mexico. Other places were also devastated. The waves traveled inland as much as twelve miles in places, destroying nearly everything in their path.

Many of the Caribbean Islands, like parts of the state of Florida, were scoured clean. Some disappeared all together. The eastern coast of Brazil also suffered massive damage from the tsunami.

A new outlet channel for the Great Lakes opened when the New Madrid fault system and the fault system that includes the Saint Laurence Seaway received nuclear hits. Each of the Great Lakes was hit at least once, causing huge seiches. The combination of factors allowed the Great Lakes to begin draining from Lake Huron to the Ohio River at Cincinnati to the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois and thus to the Gulf of Mexico, a new bay of which now extends northward up the old path of the Mississippi River to just south of Memphis, Tennessee.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

  • Author of a 100+ stories
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    • Jerry D Young
  • Country: USA
  • Location: Nevada
Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2013, 01:55:06 PM »
In addition to the geological targets, China targeted military, industrial, resource, and population centers, just as most of the other nations did, except, of course, in the areas where China wanted to take over in the Far East.

Part of China’s goal was to cripple the United States’ ability to respond to China’s expansion plans. Therefore, they targeted not only the oil fields and refineries the US controlled directly, but also those in Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America to deny the resources to the United States. Brazil also took several nuclear hits with the aim being to destroy the industrial capacity it had developed, to deny its use by North America.

China targeted all major cities in Australia and Japan to keep the Aussies and Japanese from interfering in China’s now much broader expansionist plans for not only India but all of Indochina as well.

The US targeted China, North Korea, and the Russian Republics that launched against the US, with some limited strikes against those nations that attacked Israel. South Africa used her small stock of nuclear devices to decimate regional tribal rivals.

Nuclear powered submarines and ships were sunk in several locations during the battles. Most were destroyed completely. A handful were sunk with reactors still mostly intact. When the controls failed, the reactors began to run out of control, pumping mega-joules of heat energy into ocean shallows and a few seas, off several coasts.

Some fires start from the thermal radiation caused by the blasts, but most were put out by the blast waves and their reversals. Others succumbed to rain in areas with high humidity as the dust in the area mixed with the moisture and formed gigantic thunderstorms near many of the targets. Ash and smoke from fires still burning, and ash and gasses from activated volcanoes fill the air, mixed with radioactive fallout. Huge storm systems developed over the sites of the still active sunken nuclear reactors.

Huge amounts of fresh water dumped into the Atlantic from the storm systems. This added more fresh water to the North Atlantic, already freshened by the melting sea ice and glaciers caused by global warming. The warm, heavily saline Gulf Stream begins to sink beneath the less saline water of the east coast of the United States.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 23

“I don’t know,” Percy said, watching the western sky for a few moments before ushering the others inside. “But I don’t like it. If it’s nukes, we’re in for some bad fallout. If it is another earthquake, there probably will be more aftershocks. If it’s a volcano, we’re in for ash, And probably fallout.”

They heard the blast of an air-horn over the outside monitor speaker. Percy ran for the door again, then to the gates. It was Andrew Buchanan driving the Wilkins Oil semi tractor. He had a seven thousand gallon trailer with a three thousand gallon pup behind it.

“When it all hit the fan they’d just delivered the fuel trailers,” Andrew told them after Percy had him pull into the estate and park the trailers by the number one tank farm. “The guy dropped the tanks and took off like a rabbit. I guess he was lucky his truck was an old one. There’s a bunch of diesel trucks that aren’t running. I didn’t think EMP would get diesels.”

“Not just the ignitions system that get fried,” Percy responded automatically. “How’d you wind up with the tanks out here?”

“Mr. Wilkins was scared. He headed for the shelter some of the city employees made in City Hall for the townspeople. I was afraid something would happen to the fuel. Fuel is going to be really important. I knew you’d give it back. If that was the best thing to do.” Andy looked hopeful.

“Of course I’ll give it back. I’m not sure bringing it here was the best thing, but it is safe. You were thinking on your feet. That’s good. But why did it take you so long to get here?”

“I couldn’t get the truck started. It took me a while to find another Freightliner computer that wasn’t fried. Pete Broomhouser’s truck is down. Literally in pieces. The computer was in an old fridge he’s using to store some of the delicate parts while he’s working on it. I had to give him all the money I had and a check for everything I had in the bank. But I think it was worth it. I can always make more money.”

Susie had worked her way over and had her arm linked with Andy’s. “That was smart and brave,” she said, looking up at his face. “You didn’t know what might be happening. You were thinking of the community, not yourself. That’s real responsibility.”

Andy turned a little red and replied. “Aw, it’s nothing. There wasn’t any fallout kind of stuff, and I thought, ‘What would Mr. Jackson do?’ So I did what I did. It’s really no big deal.”

“I think it is a big deal,” Percy said softly. “Be that as it may, from now on, I want you thinking about yourself, just as much as others. Did you bring anything else with you?”

“No. I just thought it more important to get the fuel to a safe place. I’ll walk back to town and see if my Jimmy will run. Not very many cars are running, except really old ones. If it doesn’t I’ll figure out something. I can still stay here, can’t I, Mr. Jackson?”

“Of course, Andy. I’ll run you in tomorrow. I should say today. It’s after midnight. So get some sleep. Everybody. Mattie, put Andrew in the beige room. I’ll bring you some clothes and things. Everything else you might need will be in the room.”

Andy was dressed, sitting quietly in the kitchen when Percy came down at four-thirty. “I couldn’t sleep any longer. I wonder what’s going on.”

“We’ll find out,” Percy replied. “At least locally. After we take care of the animals, I plan to hook up a shortwave receiver to see what we can find out. May be too early for it, but I’m willing to risk one cheap radio.”

Andy followed along as Percy headed for the basement steps. “What do you mean, risk the radio? Do you think there could be more EMP?”

“It’s possible,” Percy replied. “There’s no way of knowing what attack scenario has been used. There could be nukes for hours more. Maybe even for several days. But there will be survivors. Just like us.”

“Yeah,” Andy responded, taking the dosimeter Percy handed him. He clipped it in the pocket of his shirt, the way Percy was wearing his. Then he uttered a soft “Wow!” when they entered the tunnel.

“The survey meter wasn’t showing anything, but I wanted you to see the tunnel. We can get to every major building on the property through these tunnels. It’ll be critical when we start receiving fallout.”

“Do you think we will, Mr. Jackson? Get fallout?”

“If there was a full attack, we will. If it’s just been a few, maybe not. I’m just not willing to take a chance. That’s why I want to get the animals taken care of and go get your things. I can’t see us having more than a few more hours without fallout.”

It didn’t take too long to tend the animals. They were restless, however, when they weren’t allowed outside.

When they returned to the house, the others were up. Percy told Susie, “The animals are restless. Work with them some in the barn. I want to get Andrew’s stuff as quickly as possible and get back. No radiation yet, but use the tunnels, anyway. There is some stuff coming down, but it’s not radioactive. Almost has to be ash from a volcano. We’re just going to grab some juice and coffee and be on our way. If the ash keeps up it’ll start clogging the air filters on the pickup.”

Like the Suburban, Percy’s Chevrolet one-ton extended crew cab pickup was stretched and equipped with three axles, all steerable. It had a ten-foot pickup bed with a retractable bedcover. It used the same tires and had many other components in common with the Suburban, including the same diesel engine. “Figured we might need the open space of a pickup,” Percy said to Andrew as they went into the large attached garage.

“Wow,” Andy said again. The garage boasted a pair of sixteen foot wide double garage doors, but was large enough to easily hold the seven vehicles in it with room for a at least three more. Besides the Suburban and the one-ton pickup, there was a lengthened Chevy one-ton van, converted, like the pickups to six wheel steerable drive. The Jeep the twins had picked up in Minneapolis was behind the Suburban.

Two other trucks had been moved from the house garage to the equipment barn after the Jeep had been added to the mix, to provide more space, just in case. One was a second pickup, identical to the first, except with a high shell on the bed, rather than the retractable bed cover. The other truck that had been moved was another one-ton extended crew cab, stretched, with three steerable driven axles and diesel engine, like the pickups. It had a twelve-foot long flat stake bed with a light crane.

The ’74 Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman was behind the pickup. Beside the Caddy were two motorcycles. The first a World War Two era Indian motorcycle with sidecar, equipped with a reverse gear.

The other bike was a customized Harley-Davidson. Not really a chopper, but with moderately raked forks and handlebars. The drop style seat rode on springs for comfort. Percy could straddle the bike and stand, feet flat, with comfort. The bike boasted a sliding, padded sissy bar, carrying a large pack. The bike was also equipped with huge leather saddlebags.

“I knew you had the Rokon’s,” Andy said. “I didn’t know you had a Harley!”

“I don’t ride much. I just always wanted one, and when I could afford it, I got one. That Baby Boomer thing, I guess. The Indian was my dad’s. It was in poor shape, but I had it restored. It was a military dispatch bike and has a reverse gear so you can back it up with the sidecar. Really stable and can carry lots of gear. I have trailers for each bike… see there in the back?”

“Oh. Yeah. Cool.” Earnestly, Andy added, “I really appreciate you taking me in to get my stuff. I hope the Jimmy runs, but even if it doesn’t, I want to get the other things.”

They climbed into the pickup and Percy started it, and then opened the garage doors. They were doublewide doors, and there were two doors for each opening. An inner door and an identical outer door, separated by the five-foot thickness of the outer dirt and concrete vertical wall that fronted the garage section of the house. Both sets of both doors were on electric openers with manual overrides.

Like much of what Percy owned they were custom units. The panels were three-eighths inch thick steel. The panels overlapped when closed. The doors were counterbalanced with weights and pulleys and could be opened electrically or manually. When closed they provided significant fallout protection. With the two layers of steel, separated by four feet of space, they were proof against most types of forced entry when locked. The man doors were also three eighths inch steel and doubled.

Percy activated the door closer when they pulled out and around the berm that had been put up in front of the garage, similar to the ones at the barns. “The berms for radiation protection or defense?” Andy asked.

“They’ll work for both. I hope we never need to use them for the latter. We did the same thing for the barns. We can wash down everything and still get outside after any radiation level falls to a safe point. Even if there is still some radiation beyond the berms for a while, we will have a safe place to work outside.”

“You’ve thought of everything,” Andy said with admiration. They were headed toward town on a deserted highway.

“No one can think of everything,” replied Percy. “I’m always worrying about what I might have neglected to get… or do… even now.”

They rode in silence. It was cloudy and a fine ash was falling. Percy ran the wipers to keep the dry material cleared. When the first faint scratch appeared he quickly turned off the wipers, remembering that volcanic ash tended to be highly abrasive. He would stop occasionally and dust off the windshield with a cloth.

He checked the survey meter often. They saw not a soul on the way into town. They began to see some movement behind windows as they pulled up to where Andy’s Jimmy was parked, near the door to his first floor apartment, in an old two story converted house.

“Good,” Percy said, “I thought I remembered you having a tow bar. Even if it doesn’t start we can get it out to the estate. Give it a try right quick. We’ll hook it up if it doesn’t run.”

It didn’t. It took a couple of minutes to get the Jimmy attached to the back of the truck. As they began loading the things Andy wanted to take with him, a couple of people came out, standing under the roof of the porch.

“Aren’t you afraid of radiation?” the first one asked. It was Andy’s neighbor, Pamela Johnson. “We’ve been staying inside, behind piles of books and drawers full of dirt.”

Percy quickly showed them the survey meter. “You did the right thing. You’ve still got time to add more protection. I wish we could stay and help, but the fallout could start any minute. If you see any change in the look of the ash falling, get back into shelter. Do you have water?”

“A little,” Pamela replied.

“Again, there’s time to get some things. Andrew and I will go see what we can find and bring back, but take the time now to gather up whatever you can and improve your shelter.”

They finished loading Andy’s belongings as more people came out and Pamela explained what Percy had told her. Percy looked over at Andy when they got back into the truck. “I can’t not help, as long as there’s no radiation.”

“I know,” Andy replied. “I feel the same way. I’m lucky you’re letting me stay at the estate. It’s probably the safest place in the state, except for the shelters for government officials. I hope Tom Nesmith and his family have good shelter. They were helping get the shelter at city hall and one at the old granary set up for people when I was out looking for the Freightliner parts.

“We’ll stop at both places and see if there’s anything we can do. But Andrew, we have to be careful about becoming sidetracked or encumbered with too much. We have people at the estate depending on us. There could be some people that might want to take from us what we have. Just so you’ll know, there’s a Marlin semi-auto Camp Carbine in .45 ACP under the cover behind the rear seat. I want you to get it out the next time we stop and keep it handy. Extra magazines there, too.”

“Yes, sir,” Andy responded, hating the fact that it might be a necessary precaution, but knowing they must be careful.

Percy shifted the bottom of the windbreaker he was wearing. “And I have this.” Andy saw the grip of the Para-Ordinance P14 extending from the holster on Percy’s belt.

Fortunately they didn’t need the rifle or pistol at any of the stops they made. Steven Gregory, the owner of one of the small grocery stores, was in the store, rationing items out. He was letting people take a limited amount, without paying. He told Percy and Andy that the other store had mostly sold out, then been looted. He’d started rationing, at regular prices, until people had more or less run out of money. He quit asking and just handed out what was left, a little to each person that came in.

“You have any water left? The people at Andrew’s apartment house could use some,” Percy said.

“I’m giving everyone two bottles and two cans of food of their choice. You can take the same for however many are at his place. I trust you, Mr. Jackson, not to cheat.”

“Thank you, Steven. You’re doing a great thing here.” Percy looked around, and then took two coin tubes from his pocket. “Here’s a couple of tenth ounce gold coins and a roll of silver dimes.”

Pulling a pad of his small barter sheets from his pocket, he wrote quickly, tore the top sheet off at the serrations, and handed the piece to Steven Gregory. “Here’s a barter for a week’s food, when things settle down. We seem to be okay at the estate and so far the green houses and animals are okay. Use some discretion, but let people know you’ll be able to barter for food when the danger of radiation is over.”

Steven’s eyes brightened. “Really? I didn’t know what I was going to do when my personal supplies ran out. I didn’t think about the farms around here. Maybe some of the others will trade, too. Could I get some of those barter sheets you use?”

“Sure,” Percy said. “Andy, there’s a pad in the pocket of the truck. Would you get it for Mr. Gregory?”

“Sure, Boss.” Andy was back in a flash with the pad.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2013, 02:41:55 PM »
“Please don’t promise people too much,” Percy said, “Or be too specific. I’ll do what I can, but until we get together and see what I can supply, I wouldn’t do any bartering. I wouldn’t even say anything until we know we will be able to do it at all. I could lose everything if we wind up with a nearby detonation.”

“I understand. But you’ll come through. I know it,” Steven said, his voice filled with awe. Percy was the first person he’d seen that had any hope at all. Everyone else was just desperate to survive the next few hours or days. It was a rural area and people tended to keep a few groceries in the pantry, but that was usually a week or two’s worth. He’d not been able to think past when the store was empty.

When they got back to the truck, Percy looked at the survey meter. “Andrew, go tell Mr. Gregory the fallout has started.”


Percy turned the truck around and loaded up the items Steven had indicated. Andy jumped into the truck and Percy headed back to Andy’s apartment house. “I was afraid we wouldn’t have much time,” Percy told Andy. “It’s just barely above background, but we’re definitely getting fallout now.

They quickly unloaded the water and food, leaving them with Pamela to distribute. They told her the radiation had started. Pamela quickly called to the others as Percy and Andy drove away. It took only moments to check in with those sheltering at city hall. They seemed to have what they needed, including a survey meter.

Percy took a moment to take Tom aside and tell him much the same as he’d told Steven Gregory and asked him not to mention it until things settled down. “We might get some help from the state or the feds. I just don’t want to get peoples’ hopes up then not be able to follow through. I just wanted you to know there are some possible options for food in the foreseeable future.”

“Okay, Percy. Thanks.”

Percy started to turn away, but then said, “Is Patrick Wilkins here?”

“Yeah. He’s a real problem. Feel free to take him with you,” Tom said dryly.

Percy grinned. “Not a chance, but I would like to talk to him.”

It took only a couple of minutes for Wilkins to sign over the ownership of the trailer loads of fuel to Percy for an ounce of gold and a barter slip for a week’s worth of food sometime after the next two weeks.

Andy looked on as the two men had talked privately. He couldn’t hear, of course, but when Percy and he walked out to the truck, Andy asked, “Did you just buy that fuel from Mr. Wilkins?”

“Yep. Greedy devil, but not too knowledgeable of the real value of things. I would have given him a month’s food for that fuel. He took a week’s worth and an ounce of gold.”

“What good is gold? The food I can sure see. Not going to be many reefer trucks with fresh food for a long time.”

“He took gold. Others will. We’re still going to need a medium of exchange. I don’t think paper currency will do it. People won’t trust it. I think they will gold and silver, just like people have since the very beginnings of modern civilization. Barter is great, but you still need a medium of exchange. A means to acquire things when you don’t have the trade goods the other party wants. Some means to set values that people can understand.

“You’ve heard me refer to a couple of, quote, weeks’ worth, unquote, of food. There’s bound to be a difference of opinion on what that is. Since it will appear that I have so much, my definition is going to be considered a lot less to those that are hungry, with their hand out. I’ll be more specific in the future, but we’re in a hurry right now.”

It took a few more minutes at the other shelter. They didn’t have a survey meter, just a couple of dosimeters. They did have a hand held radio and plenty of batteries. They would be able to stay in touch with those in the town hall and coordinate activities.

“We’re not going to do this again,” Percy said, glancing at the survey meter as they headed back out to the estate. Percy had to swerve almost off the road to avoid a SUV rocketing toward them on the way back to the estate.

“That guy’s crazy!” Andy exclaimed when Percy had the rig back fully on the road. “He could have killed us and him.”

“Scared,” Percy said, calmly.

They backed the Jimmy into the garage of one of the cottages, and then returned the pickup to the garage at the house. They washed down both vehicles before they went into the garages. Then Percy called Mattie on the intercom and had her bring out a change of clothes for him. Andy took out a change from one of his suitcases that they’d washed down.

“Not much on these,” Percy said as he changed clothes in the garage, “But we do not carry any fallout into the houses or barns. We decontaminate every time from now on. We’ll deal with these later.” Percy showed Andy where to put the clothes they’d removed, for later cleaning.

“We were getting worried,” said Sara, when the two entered the kitchen of the house. She gave each a quick hug, and then stepped back. “We’ve been watching the meter. There’s radiation now.”

Percy showed them all how to read the dosimeter he insisted they each now wear at all times. He used his as the example. “See, it’s not even a measurable amount. But as I told Andrew, we don’t take any chances. From now on, until the radiation falls back to the background level I have recorded for here, we wear the dosimeters and track our accumulated dose, as well as taking readings with the survey meter regularly. We limit our outside trips to those absolutely necessary. And for the immediate future, only Sara, Mattie, and I will go outside, unless there is a major emergency.”

All the rest immediately protested that they should share the risk. Percy raised his hand to quiet them and explained. “We three are the oldest. We’ll be close to the end of our lives before a low dose of radiation will usually result in cancer or other problems. Like thirty or forty years from now. Even if it’s twenty, we’ll still be old. You all would just be in the prime of your life. Still in the childbearing years for some. There is no reason for you younger people possibly to suffer during the most productive part of your life, if it can be avoided.

“It’s not that you won’t get some exposure. It’s bound to happen. We won’t be in shelter forever. We will limit the exposure more, the younger you are. We’re talking long term planning here. We have to think of accumulated dosages over the next twenty, thirty, forty years. Even after it’s safe to go out… relatively speaking, each and every time you do, you will be getting a little radiation.

“We’ll decontaminate here. Things are set up to make it relatively easy. But the radiation will be decaying after the detonations stop and the dose rate peaks. By the seven ten rule, radiation should be one tenth what it is an hour after the peak dose rate, seven hours after that first hour. Then one-tenth of that 49 hours later. Then a tenth of that about two weeks later and so on. For each seven fold increase in time the dose rate, assuming no new radiation, the dose rate drops to a tenth of what it was.

“So, if we were to peak at… say… one thousand Röentgens it would be down to zero point one Röentgen in four months and down to zero point zero one Röentgen after about two and a half years.

“While the fallout is building, then the first two days are really dangerous. Then the next two weeks, still dangerous. But okay after that to go out for decontamination and necessities. After four months, it will be a matter of sleeping in shelter, but working in decontaminated areas should be okay for a regular daily schedule. In less than three years, there won’t be much to worry about. Except the weather.”

“Nuclear winter?” Melissa asked.

“Possibly. More likely climate change for other reasons. We’ve been staring at the possibility since the North Sea started freshening up from melting ice. We might get colder, warmer, or stay the same. One thing is for sure, the weather will be unsettled for a long time. As much ash as we are getting, and the different varieties, makes me think that a lot of volcanoes let loose. A couple of big volcanoes can put more debris in the air than all the nukes that could be used.

“If the trend is warmer, we’re looking for lots of rain. If it’s a lot cooler, then drier weather. Either way, storms will be worse. Really heavy rains and snow, even if it’s cooler and drier over all. Lots and lots of rain if it’s warmer. If we’re really lucky… Geez!”

The dome shook yet again. Percy ran to the den and flipped on a TV, flipped another switch, and then worked a remote control. “This camera is in a grounded steel housing out by the towers. I opened the cover. Look.”

There was an ugly glow in the distance to the west, illuminating the clouds and falling ash. “Probably thirty miles. Possibly more,” Percy said. “No target there. Could be one that just missed. Or there’s something there that we never knew about but they did.” Percy didn’t specify who ‘they’ were.

“I just thought!” Jock exclaimed. “What about chemical or biological weapons?”

They all looked at Percy. “They both have very localized areas of destruction. If any were used… are being used, the effect will be right there. They are primarily tactical weapons. They can be used for denial of territory, too, on a strategic scale. We should be fine. The house HVAC system has appropriate filters. So do the animal barn fans. There is a danger of biological weapons spreading diseases from locally affected populations, but I doubt there’ll be much long distance travel for a long time.

“Most of the biologicals I know about are virulent and would kill off those exposed quickly. It wouldn’t be able to spread without fast transportation. And chemicals should dissipate pretty quickly. Nor are they mobile. They’ll stay where they are, except for some possible runoff problems.

“There is always the possibility. We will just have to watch for signs of them as we go about our business. I have suits and respirators for the decontamination. They’re good for NBC. We’ll be wearing them when we first go out anyway, so if there was something biological or chemical we’ll be protected until we can detect it.

“Since we’re on the subject, when we do start going out, without the protective suits, I want everyone in long sleeves and no shorts. Everyone wears a wide brim hat, or at least a cap. There’s going to be a lot of UV exposure, probably. Even when it’s cloudy. A person could pick up a burn without realizing it. Try to wear UV coated glasses, sunglasses or clear, whenever it’s daytime, to protect the eyes from the UV exposure.

“Now, I want to go check the animals after this tremor. They’ll probably be agitated and upset anyway about being cooped up.”

Everyone except Mattie went with Percy and helped calm the animals. The horses and dogs were the most agitated, but calmed down quickly with the human presence. The cattle and chickens didn’t seem to be affected. The pigs showed signs of having been, but were happily rooting around the dirt floor in their area of the barn.

The dirt areas in the barn had raised quite a few comments from people that learned about them. Percy never really explained why he had them. He just told people he was too cheap to buy concrete.

In actuality, it was for the animals’ health that he had put in pits in the barn floor and filled them with dirt. The surfaces were kept raked clean of wastes, which went into the compost piles or the methane generator, or both. Each animal had an individual stall, if needed, but were allowed, for the most part, to stay in designated areas in groups.

The barn was a series of connected domes, creating plenty of space for the animals, with a generous area for work and another for feed storage. There was even a well-equipped veterinary area so they could do much of the vet work themselves. Doc usually came to the barn to do what he needed to the animals. Only if one needed isolation did Percy take the animal over to Doc’s hospital. He could isolate three animals in the barn if he needed to, it was just labor intensive to take care of them. Doc had a couple of hired hands that did it for him.

The stalls were equipped with individual automatic feeders and waterers. The compounds were equipped with group feeders for each type of animal. Percy, as he did the crops, rotated the animals on the different areas yearly to minimize the chance for disease organisms building up. The occasional complete emptying and refilling of the pits also helped.

The studs were usually stalled when a female of the species came into estrus, when Percy wanted outside breeding. There were separate birthing areas for the horses, cattle, and pigs. The chickens had their yard and coop in the barn. There was a separate sitting coop for when he allowed a brood hen to hatch eggs.

Most of the cattle came to the edge of their pen to watch as Percy and Susie put the horses and dogs through their paces. The pigs pretty much just kept rooting around or sleeping. The humans seemed to enjoy the activity as much as the horses and dogs. They returned the dogs to their indoor kennel. Several went to the doors through which they normally went outside, but made no fuss when they were told they had to stay inside.

Percy showed them the rest of the tunnels and the utility rooms of the various barns before they went back to the house, staying in the tunnels. Mattie had a late lunch on the table when the others returned.

“Reading is up,” Mattie said when they all gathered in the dining room after having washed up. “A lot.”

Percy went to look at it before he sat down to eat. “Three hundred and climbing,” he said when the others looked at him. Percy wasn’t particularly religious, but he asked Sara to say grace before they ate.

She did, and included Percy in the thanks for giving them shelter from the storm. They all said heartfelt amen’s to the sentiment, knowing the storm Sara meant. As the meal neared its end, Percy said, “I’m going to hook up a shortwave receiver and see what I can get. I’ve tried the regular broadcast bands and there wasn’t anything. Satellite services seem to be out, too. Anyone want to listen in?”

When the others all gave resounding versions of ‘yes, of course they wanted to listen,’ Percy muttered, “Stupid question, I guess.”

They spent the rest of the afternoon listening. There was a great deal of static. There were also some conversations going on in the amateur radio bands, which brought sighs of relief from most of the others. Percy had expected it, but the others seemed to think they might be the only survivors, after the radiation levels began climbing.

They felt several more shocks, though they were very weak. There was much speculation of what was causing them. Nukes, volcanoes, or earthquakes. There was simply no way to tell. Percy checked the camera occasionally, always closing the protective cover after a quick look around. It would be several days before he went out and installed another camera on the antenna towers.

The next few days were spent the same way. Sleeping, eating, tending the animals, and listening to the shortwave. Things were more or less normal, except they couldn’t go outside and there was no live TV.

Percy had a vast library of books, music, and video. There were days when there was quite a bit of activity on the shortwave, others when there was little but static. Those days the library got a lot of use. Percy was convinced that the war was still raging in some places in the world. The radiation spiked three times, the last time at six hundred roentgens, and then began a steady decline.

At the end of eight days after the last peak, the dose rate was under two Röentgens. Percy would go out the next day and put up a camera. Mattie and Sara would begin the decontamination.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 02:47:03 PM by Jerry D Young »
Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #24 on: October 01, 2013, 02:17:09 PM »
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 24

It took Percy less than a half an hour to mount the camera, return to the house, and decontaminate. He’d put a time limit of a half hour on all of them. He paced while he waited for Sara and Mattie to finish their half hour. They seem determined to stay the full length of time, though both had seen him go into the garage.

Percy managed to wait for them without calling them on the radio and telling them to come in. He was waiting by the door when they came through, each woman not starting to remove their respirators, rubber boots, or Tyvek suits until they were in the mudroom. Percy had a simple decontamination shower in the garage that drained to a dry sump in the yard. They’d hosed each other down thoroughly before going inside.

“Barely getting a tick now,” Sara said, handing Percy her dosimeter. He checked it, then Mattie’s. They picked up only a tiny dose, as had he. He made a point to log it on the chart he’d printed for each person. He’d enter the data in a computer later to keep a running track of accumulated dose over given time periods.

The Doctors Bluhm had been reading up on radiation sickness in the library and were now familiar with the symptoms. At the doses the three had been exposed to, there was no danger. The doctors, as well as Percy, intended to keep it that way.

“Just a tick,” Sara repeated. “Inside the berms of the house. Outside, of course, it’s still over one. Do you think we can do the animal barn tomorrow and maybe let the animals out, one at a time?”

“Not yet. They’re going to want to run free a bit. I want to use the sweeper on at least one of the pastures first. I’m debating whether or not to strip the top soil. I want to look at the crops, too, and decide what to do about them. I’ll do what I can in the greenhouses, too. The automatic systems are okay, I saw the watering system go on as I was coming back to the house. We should be able to recover quite a bit.”

“Whoa!” Jock said. “Even if all that needs to be done, you can’t do it all. Not in one day. It’s low enough that a couple of us can get just a little exposure the next couple of days. It should be below zero point six in less than a week, if my calculations are right. We’ll be able to do a lot then.”

Percy frowned.

“Come on, Boss. We spray the outsides of the greenhouses, and then I can go in and work the greenhouses for half an hour,” Susie said.

“Yeah. I know you and Mrs. McLain, and Mrs. Simpson will do most of it right away, but we can risk a little exposure,” Andy said. “Except Doctor Bluhm, of course, since she’s still pregnant.”

“And I will be for another eight months. I don’t want to go out much, but a few minutes of fresh air, in the decontaminated zone won’t hurt, will it?”

Jock looked reluctant, but his studies told him that the risk was minimal. They had to wear the respirators while they were stirring up dust, but a few minutes without one in the area that Sara and Mattie had cleared today should be okay. He said as much.

Melissa smiled. The others frowned. “Tomorrow,” Jock quickly added. “After the area is tested again.”

“Well, okay,” Melissa said. She touched her belly and said, “I don’t want anything happening to junior here, but I really need to get outside. I could stand it when I had to. Now it’s hard.”

“We all feel the same way,” Percy said. He hung up the suits and racked the boots, gloves, and respirators for their next use.

They had the entrances and work areas decontaminated by the end of the week, including the patios atop each of the buildings. It hadn’t occurred to Percy to do it sooner. As soon as they were hosed down, and the slopes of the dome, there wasn’t even a tick on the survey meter in the center of the patios, being as high as they were and with the mass of the earth covering the domes between the remaining fallout particles and those at the patio center. The radiation was very little higher even at the edges.

Percy decided, for the first pasture to be decontaminated, to till it very shallowly and scrape the tilled soil up. He dug a pit just outside the pasture and buried the dirt he scraped up. Percy had washed three large patches of grass near the barn. He’d used a fire hose run from the barn to wash any fallout from the patches to the surrounding grass. He left the washed patches when he tilled the rest of the pasture. When they turned the animals out the horses and cows went immediately to the three grassy areas. The hogs and chickens were happy with the large expanse of bare ground.

Percy debated about trying to reseed the pasture. The occasional rain they were getting was washing some of the high flying, very light fallout particles out of the sky, but the radiation levels were so low, and Percy knew it would continue for months, if not years, that he decided to go ahead and get the pasture reseeded. He waited until the next day and used a broadcast spreader on one of the Unimogs to get the seed distributed.

They were still limiting their exposures, keeping the time outdoors down, and wearing the exposure suits and respirators whenever they were doing decontamination work, which was at least a little every day it wasn’t raining. Percy decided the field crops were going to be a total loss, except as feed for the methane generator and the alcohol still. They would be cut down at ground level, raked into windrows, collected, and then fed to the stills.

After the alcohol content was extracted the material would go into the methane generator. The remains would be buried in a pit. Percy knew it would be useable as compost eventually, but decided to let it wait a couple of years in the pit. Then the compost would be used on fields set aside to grow crops not for human or animal consumption. Those fields would be used for fuel crops for the bio-diesel operation.

There was some loss in the greenhouses due to the lack of attention the first few days when radiation levels were too high to go into them from the earth-sheltered structure to which they were connected. Sixteen days after the radiation had peaked at six hundred roentgens, Percy decided to make a run into town with the produce from the greenhouses. Susie loved the animals and could not help when Percy butchered a dozen chickens, a calf and two of the yearling pigs to take in, too.

He’d always sent the animals in to the butcher shop, but had everything needed to handle the job at the estate. Percy was a bit surprised when Jock offered to help. He wasn’t surprised when Andy did. Andy wanted to learn everything. With the meat and fresh milk on ice from the large ice machine in the product barn, they headed into town with six dozen eggs, the produce, milk, and meat.

Percy was both pleased and disappointed with what he found in town. He, Jock, Andy, Sara, and Susie went. Percy and Sara were in a Unimog with the products, the others were in the van, with Susie driving.

Percy and Andy were both armed with HK-91 rifles and P14 handguns. Susie carried one of the HK-4s in .380. Jock declined, as did Sara.

What pleased him was that those that had stayed in shelters until the worst had passed had come through with flying colors. It had been crowded and uncomfortable in both the public shelters, but they had worked. What was disappointing was the number that had forgone shelter or left it early.

They had stopped at the clinic on the way in to pick up some of the medical supplies that had been stocked. The clinic was still intact and everything was okay. Jock took everything he thought he might need for those in town. He gave the care to the injured, sick, and dying that he could. There were many in the last two categories. Only a couple of injuries were sustained while cleanup and decontamination were being done. He treated them as well.

Like Percy’s group, people had been rotating outside work, with everyone still sleeping in the crowded shelters. Progress had been good. David Reynolds had run out of fuel for his backhoe and there were several still unburied bodies. Percy transferred most of diesel that was in the tank of the Unimog to cans for Reynolds to use.

Word was sent around the town by runners that Percy was at the town hall with food. Patrick Wilkins had already made his demand for his week’s supply of food. And as Percy had told Andy right after the deal had been made, there was a difference of opinion as to what a week’s worth of food was.

As people began to gather, Percy put it up to them. “There’s going to be lots of trading and bartering going on. Think about this. I’ll let what a week’s worth is be decided by vote. Remember, many of you will be growing gardens and trading labor, so think about what’s fair for all parties. Should there be more than I’m offering Mr. Wilkins for our agreement of a week of food?”

Quite a few hands went up. Wilkins demanded a lot more. Percy, pretty sure he’d be handling it like this, had shorted the pile somewhat from what he normally would have given. He added six more eggs and cut off another small piece of beef.

People looked at the quantity of food for the one person. They’d just gone through over two weeks of food rationing and knew what it took to get by. Patrick Wilkins was not a well-liked man. He’d been a constant source of trouble during the entire shelter stay and after. The consensus was that the pile of food was adequate for a week.

“You want to take it all now, or a little at a time as I come in occasionally?” Percy asked Wilkins.

“I want it all, right now,” came the growled reply. “And don’t none of you think you’re getting any of this. It’s mine. I traded for it all legal and square.” Wilkins gathered up his bounty and disappeared.

As Sara, Susie, and Andy began handing out the food, asking for an hour of labor out at the estate at some point, but not doing any barter slips, Percy talked to Tom and some of the city council.

“My field crops are pretty much a washout,” Percy told them. The greenhouses are okay and I think most of the fruit will be all right. But things are going to be short.” He waved Steven Gregory over. “I’ll get you that food in a minute. We were just discussing the situation.”

“Nothing to discuss,” Abigail Landro replied. “The city council will take over the farm and handle the distribution.”

“I don’t think so,” Percy said. His temper suddenly was close to the surface. He’d expected something like this, but not this soon. Another of the town council was nodding in agreement with Abigail.

“I’m willing to share, but it will be on my terms,” Percy said, rather forcefully. “I have the means and the willingness to protect what is mine.” He made no move for the rifle slung over his back or the handgun on his hip, but several pairs of eyes took in the sight.

“Let’s be reasonable about this,” Tom quickly said. “We can work out something. Percy is a fair man. Always has been. He’s managed that place for thirty years and knows how to get the best out of it. He’ll help where he can, but has to have the resources to do so.”

“Oh, he has resources,” Jeb Canada spoke up. Wilkins told me he stole that last load of fuel that came in before the stuff hit the fan.”

“That little scene a few minutes ago was part of the pay off for that fuel. Wilkins was more than willing to sell it.”

“Yeah. For food to keep from starving and twenty pieces of silver, Judas.”

“Judas is the one that took the silver,” Percy said. “Not the one that gave it. Now, are we going to discuss this or do I pack up and leave you to your fate?”

“Come on, Percy,” Tom said placating. “We will work something out. You do have a right to get for give. What is it you want?”

“For the moment a day’s food for one person for one hour of labor at the estate. I’d figured to have Steven Gregory here act as my agent. He knows how to run a store.”

People were beginning to gather around. “I want a piece of that action,” said Rodney Stalinsky. He’d been the manager of the other grocery store in town. “I can run a store, too.”

“Not for me, you can’t,” Percy replied coldly. “I heard what you did when things started getting tough. You won’t be handling anything for me.” Percy looked back at Tom, ignoring the crowd around them.

“Steven did a good thing, rationing out what he had, even giving it away. I plan to bring in things as we can produce them, and let Steven run a store just as he has before. We’ll work out something between us for his doing this for me. The food will be bartered, at least for the moment, for future labor. I’m decontaminating my fields, but the fuel will eventually run low. I’ll have to farm with the animals and by hand labor.

“I’m going to need lots of hands. Everyone will have plenty to do, and not everyone can do that much physical labor. I’ll need people to watch the hands’ children, others to help cook for them, and so on. So just about anyone can provide an hour of labor from time to time. Steven will give everyone a barter slip. I’ll have a record of who owes me labor and work with the individual to pay it off. I’ll do all I can to work it out to the person’s best time, but some things on a farm just have to be done at a certain time. I’ll expect the town council’s help on seeing that people follow through on their agreements.”

“That’s forced labor, bub,” Jeb said. “We don’t go for that around here.”

“Shut up, Jeb,” Tom replied. “It’s not forced labor. This is still a free country. People still own their property and have the right to price it the way they want. I know for sure I’m willing to work for an hour picking corn or slopping hogs to get a full day’s worth of food.”

Tom had turned slightly and was addressing the crowd as he continued. “We’re scavenging from houses of those that died or abandoned them. If anyone comes back we’ll give the individual the equivalent of what we took. Everyone is helping, that can, to start the recovery. And everyone is receiving a share. This is America. We’re not inherently socialists. Many people will want to start selling or bartering whatever they can to have the things they want, in a free market. Mr. Jackson is just already ready to do it. What do you say? Do we strike a bargain with Mr. Jackson?”

Not everyone left in town was there, but a majority were, and there was an overwhelming yell of approval of what Tom and Percy had discussed. Percy asked Tom if he could say something else and Tom nodded.

Percy turned to face the crowd. “I’m going to need lots of things myself and I’ll barter food for them. For some things I’ll pay hard cash. I’ll also take hard cash if anyone has it, for food and fuel.”

Someone call out, “You mean gold and silver?”

“Yes,” Percy replied.

“What about bills?” someone else called out.

“Not right now. I don’t know about the future. For now, for me, it’s labor, gold, silver, and specific goods. Anyone that wants to convert large denomination gold to smaller denominations or silver, to make trading easier, let me know. Most of the gold I have is the one tenth ounce coins. I also have silver dimes and quarters. A few halves, but not enough to count.

“I’m figuring on converting using the ratio of thirty six ounces of silver to one ounce of gold, just to keep it simple. Two hundred pre-1965 quarters per ounce of gold, or five hundred pre-1965 dimes. That’s twenty quarters for a tenth ounce gold coin, or fifty dimes.”

“What about gold rings and diamonds and such?” yet another person asked.

“That’ll be strictly a negotiated deal. If I take any jewelry, I’ll probably remove the stones and melt down the metal. That goes for platinum and other precious metals and stones. Each case would be negotiated.”

The additional questions had caught Percy a bit by surprise. In order not to take undue advantage, or get peoples hopes up, he quickly added, “I’ll be back day after tomorrow. Anyone that wants to discuss this can see me then, here.”

Jock Bluhm came up to where Percy was standing on the steps of city hall. “Mr. Jackson, I need to talk to you.” They stepped away from the others.

“What do we do about the injured, sick, and dying? Some of the people I can help, others… Don’t have much hope. We don’t have that large of a stock of drugs. I guess the pharmacy was picked pretty clean sometime after this started. I talked to the pharmacist. He said there’s nothing left.”

Percy rubbed his face with his hands. “Okay. Let’s go talk to Tom and the council. I have a couple of ideas. But let me talk to Steven first.”

Jock nodded and moved over to let Tom know he and Percy needed to talk to him again. Percy went over to join Steven Gregory. “You heard what I told the others. You willing to be my agent? Handle the food distribution? Maybe with Claude’s help?”

“Sure. I bought meat from Claude. Some of yours at times, I suppose. I think he’ll go for it. Of course, we don’t have refrigeration.”

“I know. I can do the butchering at the estate, but I prefer to bring them in for Claude to do it. We’ll bring in the animals as needed. Keep the meat on the hoof until butchering day. Say Saturdays. The other stuff, two, maybe three days a week. I thought perhaps providing you and your family with the minimums. Anything over a basic amount, you’d have to buy with labor or whatever.”

“It’s tempting to ask for a percentage, but I know what would happen. Just like with Wilkins. If it is thought I get more than a fair share for doing this, people are going to be really upset.”

Copyright 2012
 Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2013, 10:13:15 PM »
“Right,” Percy said. “If they see you and your family working to get extra, that should mitigate any problems like that.”

“Yeah. Okay. You’ve got a deal. I’ll talk to Claude. Same deal?”

“Yes,” Percy replied. “I’ll have a price list when I bring in the first load.”

Steven nodded, and Percy headed back to the steps of city hall.

“Jock said you had something else?” Tom asked.

“Yeah. I just had an idea, after people started asking the questions about jewelry and stuff. Look. I’m set up okay at the estate. We can make it just fine. But I was sincere about needing help, in order to help the community.

“What I have in mind is to buy up some things, to get some circulating currency to make it easier for trading to take place. If people start accepting the coins, it’ll make it a lot easier. That’s why money was invented in the first place.

“What I’m thinking, is that I’d buy the clinic shuttle bus from the town. I’ll use it to run workers to and from the estate, with stops at the clinic. Kind of like it was planned anyway. There are probably a few more items I can use that I’ll use gold and silver to buy. That way the city will have a treasury.”

Percy smiled. “I’ll even pay my taxes in advance in gold and silver. That should be enough of a base, with what I’ll buy from individuals, to get the coins flowing. How does that sound?”

“You know good and well the town can’t tax you for anything.” Tom frowned when Percy just shrugged. “We’re going to have to talk this over,” Tom said. “We’ll let you know when you come in day after tomorrow. Is that okay?”

“Of course it is,” Percy responded. “I want to get everyone back to the estate. And Dr. Bluhm needs to take care of some of the people that need help. I’ll also trade some fuel for a few things. I know you need to get some bodies buried. I transferred some from the truck to Reynolds, but I imagine you need some more.”

“We sure do. We’ll make a list of what we need and want. One thing we do need, that I don’t think you’d charge us for anyway, is water. Without electricity, we can’t pump. The boys are dipping some, but it’s a struggle.”

“I’ll bring some in when I come. Have everyone keep their empty water bottles and bring other containers. We’ll figure out how to get the supply back here in town.”

“Okay. Then we’ll see you day after tomorrow.” Tom and the rest of the city council headed into the building to discuss things. Percy joined his small group. They were just handing out the last of the food.

“What now?” Susie asked.

“We check with the doctor. See what he needs.”

“Until it’s safe to stay at home,” Jock said, “I’d like to take a few of these people out to the estate so Melissa and I can take better care of them. I think they’ll all be okay, if we keep them from catching something. A couple can be treated and brought to town in a couple of days. The rest… It’s only a matter of time. There are eleven more that I don’t think will make it, even with the best care I could give them.

“I feel cold and heartless not offering them more than some over the counter stuff that the pharmacist managed to save. If I use more effective measures, it’ll only treat the symptoms. It won’t save them. Won’t even make them that much more comfortable. Except maybe at the end. All of the eleven are okay at the moment, but their first symptoms indicate that they received lethal doses and are in that period where things appear pretty normal. They’ll start losing hair and teeth, bleeding at the gums and under the fingernails in a few days. They’ll only have a few days after that.”

“It’s up to you, Dr. Bluhm. I don’t mind bringing some out to the estate, even the dying ones, if you think that best. We’re making sure those that die will be buried quickly. I’d just as soon not start a cemetery at the estate, though we can, if necessary.”

“No. The ones that are sure to die should probably be with their families, even if it is hard on them. I’ll talk to the families. We might need to take one or two that don’t have anyone to care for them.”

“Okay.” Percy had noticed Andy sitting off by himself, and then saw Susie go over and sit down beside him, taking Andy’s hand in hers. He went over to them.

“Andrew, are you all right?” Percy asked, looking at the tears shimmering in Susie’s eyes.

“It’s pop. He died three days after the power went off. I was sure it would happen. He knew it too, when I talked to him the other day. If the facility lost power, he wouldn’t last too long without his machine. I thought I was prepared, but…”

“We’ll see to it that he gets a proper burial,” Percy said.

Susie stood and took Percy a few steps away. “They’ve already done that. For all those that died at the care facility. He’s beating himself up about not trying to do more, even though his father didn’t want him to, and there wasn’t anything he could have done, anyway.”

Percy nodded. He went and sat down beside the young man. Andy was trying to hide his tears, without success. “Whatever you want to do, we will,” Percy said gently. “Your father loved you very much. He knew you would not be able to help him and I’m sure as can be he wants you to go on and help as many others that you can.”

Andy, tears still streaming down his face looked around at Percy. “I know. He even said, ‘You can’t help me. Help someone else.’ That’s part of why I did some of the things I did. We can help people, can’t we? Me, at least? I’ll work for my share at the estate, but I want to help those here, too. This is my town.”

“I know,” Percy said, fighting back his own tears at the anguish Andy was in. “We’ll all be helping, in whatever ways we can. The city council has a few plans we can help with. I imagine you’ll be part of that. At the very least, you’ll be driving workers back and forth, and delivering food to the town.”

“Really?” Andy said, the tears slowing. “More food like this?” He motioned to the food that was already gone.

“Delivering to the store. It will be distributed from there. Might as well make that the pickup point for the laborers, too. What it amounts to is you’re going to be my transportation captain.”

The tears stopped now, Andy nodded. “Okay. That sounds like a good plan to me. I can drive pretty much anything with wheels. And drive a team, too. Pop taught me when I was little and we had a pair of old horses for fun. I guess I should check the rigs. Make sure everything is ready for the trip back.”

When Andy had turned and begun walking toward the truck and the van, Percy found himself encased in a bear hug from Susie. “Oh, thank you, Mr. Jackson! You made him feel a lot better. A useful human being again. You know just what to say, every time. Thank you.” She released him and ran after Andy.

Sara was smiling at him, standing a couple of feet away. “Not you, too?” Percy said, frowning.

“No, of course not,” Sara said softly. “I won’t add to your embarrassment.”

“Good,” Percy said. He turned to go help Jock and Sara followed. “Oh,” he said, absently, “I need you to figure the value of my property. I need to pay taxes to the town. Figure it in gold.”

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 25

Calvin couldn’t find anything else wrong with any of the electronics. It looked like only the one scanner and the weather radio in the living room had been damaged. And the big screen TV. The radio in the kitchen seemed to be working, and it had been connected to a small wire antenna. None of their receivers worked very well without external antennas due to the shielding effect of the earth-sheltered construction. At least they’d had EMP protection on everything, even though not all of it had worked adequately.

Nan met him in the kitchen a few minutes later and said, “It’s like we planned. The kitchen, this bathroom, and the pantry are showing no radiation at all for the moment. There aren’t any places where there isn’t some reduction, based on the CD V-717 remote meter. But, like the area from the front door toward the hallway, there are a few places where the protection factor is only a hundred or so, rather than a thousand.”

“We’re in good shape then. What was the outside reading?” Calvin asked.

“Only fifty roentgens, but I swear I could see the needle creeping up as I watched it.”

“Probably is. Let’s get a few things and set up for an extended stay in here.” He hugged her and said into her hair, “We’re going to be okay. We just have to hunker down and deal with it.”

“I know,” she replied, slipping from his embrace. She gave him a quick kiss, and then hurried off to the bedroom, Calvin following quickly behind. It took only a few minutes to bring down enough clothing and toiletries to last for several days.

It was several days and more before they ventured outside. It was two days after things started before the radiation peaked. Calvin assumed it was the massive fallout from the Dakota missile sites. That was about the same time that he and Nan began to cough. Calvin suddenly looked at Nan and said, “I forgot to put the filters in line with the HVAC system!”

He ran for the garage and quickly diverted the air intake through the filter pack and hurried back to the kitchen.

An anxious look on her face, Nan asked, “Do you think it’s poison gas?” She coughed to clear the burning sensation in her nose, mouth, and throat. The smell was fading.

“No. No. It’s obviously gas, but it had a sulfurous smell. I’m thinking it’s fumes from Yellowstone or some other volcano. But it could have been poison gas, or lethal fumes from the volcano. I should have switched in the filters immediately. Actually, several of the really bad volcanic fumes are odorless. I could have killed us both!”

“It’s all right, Cal,” Nan reassured him. “It worked out okay.” She added, lightly, “Just don’t do it again,” to try to make him feel a little better.

“You can count on that. I guess we should eat.”

They pretty much ate, read, and slept, with some time spent listening to the shortwave radio from time to time. They heard enough to know that the situation was essentially worldwide. There had been a nuclear war. And Yellowstone had blown. But there were plenty of survivors in some locations. Survivors like themselves.

After a week of being closed in, they began to lose power from the solar cells. It was often cloudy with volcanic ash, which continued to fall steadily. Calvin surmised that the panels were probably covered with the ash. They had several LED flashlights and lamps, with plenty of batteries for them, so they had plenty of light. The stove was propane and they also had plenty of that.

They were getting anxious to get out after the first fourteen days, but the radiation level was still too high. But it did rain and Calvin checked the battery charger the next day. They were getting current again to the batteries. Nan suggested they wait for a couple of days to let the batteries recharge before they began to draw power from them. Calvin agreed.

“I think I should come with you,” Nan insisted on the twentieth day after the attack. “It will be safer if we both go out.”

“But I don’t want you to get any more exposure than you absolutely have to.”

“Well, is this trip absolutely necessary?”

“I can’t say it’s life and death, no. But we… I need to check on some things for my own peace of mind.”

“I have that same need, Calvin.”

Calvin knew better than to press it any longer. Nan had a mind of her own, and when she was right, he had to admit it. They both put on Tyvek footed and hooded coveralls, put on respirators, gloves and boots. They taped the joints for each other, and then ventured outside. Everything had come through with flying colors. They took a little time to wash off the U500, after looking around the place. After that they opened the garage and brought out the A300 and the Toolcat. Both had buckets on them and were used to good effect to clear the parking area of its accumulation of ash.

“That’s enough for today,” Calvin said. “Let’s go in the garage and decontaminate and wash the residue back under the garage door.”

Nan had had enough. The sight of the new accumulation of ash, even after the rain had knocked much of it off the trees and down the ravines rather got to her. It was a drab, gray-brown day, even with the sun shining.

But it rained again that night. When they checked the next morning the sky was still hazy, but without falling ash, and the trees had been washed clean. They checked the survey meter. Down just a little from the day before. They could risk a quick trip to town. “We turn back at any sign of trouble,” Calvin said. “We can’t afford to be out of the shelter for more than four hours.

After checking the U500 with the survey meter, they decided to wash it down again. There wasn’t much accumulation of fallout, but there were still fine particles of fallout coming down. It was low levels of radiation, but it was better to reduce the risk as much as possible.

They didn’t get very far. And it wasn’t just the effort to clear the two foot accumulation of ash from the road with the loader bucket mounted on the Unimog. Only halfway down their drive and they came upon a truck they recognized. It was Herbert Anderson’s old truck. The truck was off the road. “Oh, no!” Nan said softly, seeing the two forms inside. The bed of the truck was piled high with cardboard boxes.

It was obvious the two were dead, their bodies already decomposing. “What do we do, Calvin?” asked Nan. “We can’t just leave them here.”

“No, we can’t. Let’s go back to the house and get something to wrap them in. Or wait. Let’s see what they might have in the truck. Every single manufactured item that exists is going to be precious from now until industry is back on its feet. We can’t afford to use anything we don’t have to, unless it’s for a very good reason.”

“This is a pretty good reason,” Nan replied.

“I know, honey. It is. But let’s just see what they have.” They went through the boxes in the truck. The rain had washed the fallout off the boxes. It had also ruined many of them. They contained mostly canned and packaged food, some of which was ruined from the exposure to the elements. It also looked like squirrels or birds had been into some of the packages. Most was salvageable.

One large box contained sheets, blankets, and a folded up air bed. Nan stared at the contents. “They were coming out to stay with us,” she said.

“From the looks of the ground under the truck they waited quite a while. Got caught in the worst of the fallout. I’m thinking Mr. Anderson had a heart attack on the way out and she just stayed with him until she died from the radiation.”

“You’re probably right,” replied Nan. “I guess we can use the bedding to wrap them in, can’t we?”

“Yes.” Calvin looked over at Nan. “I could use some help doing that, but I can bury them by myself.”

Even through the faceplate of the respirator, Calvin could see Nan’s face go even paler than it already was. But she nodded and turned to get out the bedding.

It was an ordeal, but they got the bodies out and wrapped up in the sheets and blankets. Nan stayed with Calvin as he took the truck back to the house and fired up the Toolcat. A few more minutes and they had the backhoe attached, and were on their way back to the Anderson’s truck. It was the work of only a few minutes to dig a large grave for the couple.

Nan helped Calvin lower the bodies inside, but couldn’t watch when he refilled the hole. Silently they loaded the goods from the back of the pickup to the bed of the Toolcat. Nan climbed back into the passenger seat of the Toolcat and they went back home. The trip to town would have to wait a couple of days.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2013, 01:54:50 PM »
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 26

Buddy wasn’t sure how long he held Charlene, but she finally quit crying. He held her for long moments more, and then gently disengaged himself. “We need to survey the place with the meter. Find out if we have any radiation leaks.”

Charlene rubbed her face for a moment with both hands, and then nodded. “Thanks, Buddy. I’m sorry I lost it like that.”

“Don’t worry about it. We were entitled, I think.”

“What do you want me to do?” she asked.

“Go ahead and get the things you brought up put away. I’m going to check the radiation.”

Charlene took the few things she’d brought with her and put them away in the trailer’s second bedroom where she had stored the stuff she’d already brought up. She hesitated for a few moments, and then quickly began to move everything to the other bedroom. The one Buddy was planning on using. If he argued about it, she’d just have to convince him.

With that thought, Charlene felt herself relaxing a little and she smiled. She stepped out of the rear door of the trailer and walked over to Buddy. “What’s it look like?”

“Well, the berm and steel door are keeping most of the radiation out, but we need to avoid the area in front of the big door. Everywhere else is fine.”

“What about the truck?” Charlene asked. “It’s parked right there, in front of the door.”

Buddy shook his head. “The radiation won’t hurt it. But I think I’d better get everything out of it that we may need before the radiation level gets any higher.”

He handed Charlene the survey meter and went to the truck to unload everything. When Charlene started to help he motioned her back to the safer area of the building. “I’ll take care of it. No need for you to increase your exposure any more than necessary.”

As he worked, Buddy continued to talk. “I checked the power system. The EMP protection worked, or we wouldn’t have the lights. We could have dealt with it, but having power is going to make things so much easier. We won’t have to run the genset as long as the solar power and wind systems hold up.”

Buddy frowned. “Maybe the fallout won’t build up too much. The solar panels are slanted pretty good.” Like her short crying jag had helped her, Buddy seemed to need to talk, at least for the moment.

“We should be just fine, even if the photovoltaic panels can’t get enough sun. The battery bank is charged and we do still have the wind turbine and generator. We also have alternative sources of light and heat for cooking. Warmth shouldn’t be a problem. The temperature stabilized at fifty-five degrees after I closed the place up. Need a jacket or sweater, but it shouldn’t be too bad. We can turn the heat on for a bit when we take showers and all.”

“What about nuclear winter?” Charlene quickly asked when Buddy fell silent.

“I don’t think it will happen… Well… Not nuclear winter. But I’ve been seeing things about the Gulf Stream. If it fails, we’re going to have bad weather for sure. Not like it hasn’t been strange, anyway. I’m not sure whom to believe. The global warming people or the new ice age prophets. I just hope there weren’t too many nukes used. Like I said, I don’t think that would cause nuclear winter, but I’m worried about some of the nukes setting off volcanoes or something. A big volcano or two, on top of the stuff in the air from the nukes might just cause a cooling trend. I just don’t know.”

“Well, we’ll weather whatever the weather does. You’ve got us pretty well set up here. How long could we stay in the shelter if we had to?”

“Easily two months. But the stuff I’ve read, we should be able to go out after a couple of weeks after the last nukes go off in this area. We’ll just check with the meter every so often and when the radiation is down, we go out and take a look.

“I wish now I’d put some kind of camera system in, but I was afraid the EMP would get it.” Finished with the unloading, Buddy walked over to the side of the structure, near where Charlene was standing. “We do have the periscope, such as it is.”

Reaching down, Buddy grasped the handles of the hand-built device. It was made of heavy pipe and pipe fittings, quality mirrors, and throttle control cable. It was counterbalanced with lead weights suspended by steel cable. With a grunt he lifted it to viewing level and took a look around. Other than the particulates that were the fallout, everything looked normal. It was still bright and sunny.

“Amazing,” he said, stepping away from the periscope so Charlene could take a look.

She had the same take on it as Buddy. “But it looks normal, except for the fallout!”

“That’s what I mean,” Buddy replied. “It just seems like it should be different, somehow.”

Charlene took another look. “Yeah. It is weird. I don’t know what it should be, but a bright sunny day with dust in the air isn’t it.”

“Exactly.” Buddy helped Charlene pull the periscope down and secure it. “Not much left to do, except maybe get a bite to eat, maybe read, and wait for the radiation to peak, then fall to a safe level.”

Buddy didn’t say anything when they went into the trailer and he saw that Charlene had put her things in with his in the one bedroom.

Their days were much as Buddy had said. Sleep, eat, read, watch DVDs. And check the survey meter several times every day.

It was boring, but they got through the two weeks. Buddy checked the periscope, and everything looked the same. It was a clear, sunny day. There was no ash in the air. But when they began checking with the survey meter at the door, the level was just below one Röentgen. The fallout had peaked at 988 Röentgens.

“We can go out for a few minutes,” Buddy said, looking at Charlene. “Just to check things. We’re going to need to stay sheltered most of the time for three months. But barring a renewed attack, we can at least get out and do some things.”

“Three months! Oh, Buddy!” Charlene went into Buddy’s arms. He held her for a while, but she calmed herself. “I’m sorry, Buddy.” She managed a small smile. “It just I’ve never been through a nuclear war before and don’t quite know how to act.”

“It’s all right,” Buddy said. “I’m not too thrilled with the situation, myself. But I plan to live to a ripe old age, and that means avoiding increasing the risk of cancer any more than I have to.”

“I’ll cope. As long as you’re willing to hold me from time to time.”

A soft look came over Buddy’s face. “You know I will.” He took her in his arms again and kissed her.
Then, stepping back, he added, “Let’s at least go take a look around. And I want you armed, just in case.”

Charlene nodded. One of the things they’d done to pass the time was firearms training for Charlene. Buddy was no great shot, but he knew the basics and taught them to Charlene over the two weeks. They were able to shoot the pellet pistol and rifle Buddy had, to familiarize her with shooting. One of the things they’d do once they were outside was get a bit of target practice, with the firearms, so Charlene would be comfortable with them.

Buddy was by no means a serious gun collector, nor had he stocked up on “survival” weapons. He had an old M1 Garand his father had picked up, along with the Colt 1911A1 .45 ACP that had belonged to his father as well.

In addition, he owned a Marlin 336 .30/30 for deer hunting; Remington 870 12 gauge pump shotgun for upland birds and waterfowl; a Ruger 10/22 .22 rifle and a Ruger Mark II .22 pistol for small game and for fun; and a Beretta Tomcat pocket pistol in .32 ACP. And because he once thought about getting into Cowboy Action Shooting, he’d bought a cowboy model Marlin 1895 .45-70, the Stoeger 12 gauge Coach gun, a Marlin 1894 in .45 Colt, and two Ruger New Model Blackhawk convertibles chambered for .45 Colt and .45 ACP, along with an ADC .45 Colt double barreled derringer.

His only real “survival” related firearms purchases were his “bug-out” rifle, a Savage 99A in .308 with Williams peep sight, a thoroughly modern Glock 21 in .45 ACP, and a ten round magazine extension for the 870 pump.

The weapons practice would have to wait. For the moment the main concern was just being outside for a few minutes. Despite the radiation exposure, Buddy and Charlene were glad to go out for a little while. They both donned Tyvek hooded coveralls with attached booties, slipped on dust masks, gloves, and rubber boots and went outside. Buddy had the tanker holster on over the coverall with the 1911 in it.

For the first few seconds they just enjoyed the sunshine. Then Buddy lifted the binoculars looped around his neck and looked toward the city. Charlene saw him blanch. She looked in that direction. Even without the binoculars she could see the smoke. Silently Buddy took the binocular strap from around his neck and handed the binoculars to Charlene.

When she used them, she could see what had affected Buddy. There were signs of numerous fires, some long burned out, but others still smoldering and smoking. A large part of the city had been destroyed by the blast and shock and the resulting fires.

Buddy walked up onto the top of the shelter and surveyed the rest of the property. He also checked the gate with the binoculars. The gate was still closed. He doubted if anyone else would be up here, but he couldn’t be sure. Many people were fleeing the city that day and probably in the days afterward. With the radiation levels dropping, they were going to have to keep an eye out for things.

The next day they went out again for a little while. Besides checking on things, they began to decontaminate the top of the shelter and the area around it. That became the routine as they waited for the time to pass and the radiation level to fall.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 27

Charlie didn’t think about it until a couple of days later when he went to wash up. He hadn’t decontaminated when he’d come back into the drainage pipe after sealing the end of the pipe and bringing everything in. He took everything and shook it out and brushed it off in the furthest corner of the basement, and then stripped and washed thoroughly at the same spot, then hurried back into the tunnel.

When he began to feel nauseous a week into his shelter stay, Charlie reread the series of articles in the paper, concentrating on the ones about radiation sickness. The best he could determine he must have got a dose somewhere between fifty and two-hundred roentgens. He would probably be sick, and might have bleeding gums and loose some hair, but it shouldn’t be fatal. According to the paper.

Though he didn’t feel like eating, he heated water at least once a day and made a meal of the food he had on hand. He had no way to purify the water seeping into the shelter, but it stayed clear and did not seem to be adding to his distress. Charlie ate when he knew he should, and slept most of the rest of the time, his body in the process of repairing the damage done by the early radiation damage.

The simple plan he came up with was to stay in the shelter until there was evidence of activity outside, or his food ran out. Already ill from the radiation sickness, he wouldn’t be able to afford to wait very long, if any, to find more food after his accumulation ran out. He’d be too weak to do anything if he waited longer.

He had a little diarrhea during the second week, but there was no way to tell if it was the radiation, the water, or just the overall situation. He had to take the bucket he was using for a toilet, adding some of the earth to cover the waste after each use, to the garage and begin using another. But that was all right. He had plenty. Charlie felt pretty good about the fact that he had enough energy to load it into the wheelbarrow and move it without collapsing.

At least he was getting some exercise moving the water buckets he kept filling from the seep. A little exercise seemed to help, though he did spend the majority of time lying down, much of that time sleeping.

Between the food the workers had left behind the day of the attack, plus the Ramen noodles and other foods he had on hand that day, Charlie was able to stay in the tunnel for twenty-seven days. He had not heard any sounds of activity outside the basement in that time.

He had his last package of Ramen noodles, and put the last energy bar in his pocket before he readied the bicycle and cart to set out to find more food, at the least. Perhaps better shelter, too. Maybe even a relief operation.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 28

When it became obvious that night that Edward and the others would not be coming, Angela thought Emily took it rather well. Angela told her that the radiation was already over two thousand Röentgens. Emily seemed clueless, so Angela explained that if Edward, the Cutters, and Courtney weren’t in shelter long before now, they would die of radiation poisoning within a few hours.

Angela decided not to mention it to Emily when the day after the attack she was checking the area using the camera and saw Courtney stagger into the back yard, look around hopelessly and fall to the ground. She didn’t move again. Angela shut down the camera.

Fortunately, whoever equipped the shelter for Edward, for it certainly had not been Edward himself, Angela was sure, had included plenty of activities for the children to occupy them.

Despite the toys and games, the DVD player and movie selection, the children got restless not being allowed to go outside. Angela said a little prayer, hoping the person that had stocked the shelter had made it through. Besides the activities, and the long-term storage food, plenty of “comfort” food had been stored, too. The adults, as well as the children, were much the better for it.

Emily let Angela take charge. She took care of the kids and what little housekeeping was involved. Angela took care of the operation of the shelter, monitoring the ventilation, power, water, and sewage systems. Angela used the camera a few times a day to check on their surroundings. Several times all she could see was thick smoke. She saw a pack of dogs one day, early on, and the next time she checked, Courtney’s body was gone.

They fell into a relatively easy routine for the weeks they stayed in the shelter. For they did stay in the shelter until the radiation had dropped to under one Röentgen. It took over two months.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section and not here with the story. Thank You.

Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2013, 12:18:31 AM »
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 29

They took two of the eight people they taken to the estate with them to town when they went back. They were the two men that had been injured during the decontamination work in town. The doctors had treated them at the estate and released them. The other six were in the cottage that had not been in use. Two each in the two bedrooms and the other two in the living room on beds brought from one of the other houses. Melissa was caring for them. They all had relatively minor cases of radiation sickness.

Again Melissa stayed at the estate when the others went in to avoid exposure. This time Sara stayed with her to help, to allow Mattie to go in to see Tom and check on a few of her friends. It was raining this first day of August. A light rain, but cold. The temperature was in the mid sixties. Everyone was bundled up as if it was late fall.

It was still raining when they reached the town. There was a small crowd at Steven Gregory’s store when they arrived. Percy was glad to see that many people were carrying empty containers for water. He’d filled his second tank trailer with seven thousand gallons of water at the estate and had Andy bring it in with the Kenworth tractor. Andy began filling water bottles immediately.

They’d mounted one of the two box beds Percy had for the Unimogs on one of the trucks and brought the estate products into town in it, with Percy driving. He was pulling a stock trailer with another calf and two pigs, plus half a dozen chickens in a transport crate.

Susie had brought the stretched van with Jock, Mattie, and the two townspeople. Susie let Mattie and Jock out at the store, and then went to drop off the other two at their homes. She pulled the small tank trailer with fuel.

Besides those waiting for food and water, there was a small group of people to see Dr. Bluhm. He’d brought what he thought he might need and began seeing people in the office of the store.

Claude was with Steven, and they helped Percy begin unloading the food from the Unimog. When the food was unloaded, Percy and Claude took the animals to his butcher shop. They unloaded the animals into the holding pens behind the shop. Claude would coordinate the butchering with Steven, to make the meat available for the orders Steven would take ahead of time.

When Susie and Percy both returned, Percy and Mattie walked down to the city hall to see Tom and the council. Percy had come prepared. Several people were waiting to see Percy there at the city hall. He asked them to wait until after he’d seen the council.

Mattie checked in with Tom, and then went off to find her friends. Percy hitched up the straps of his overalls and went into the council meeting room with Tom and the rest of the council. Several others crowded in to watch the proceedings.

“We can do this in private,” Tom said, surveying the group that wanted to watch.

“I’m okay with it,” Percy said. “In my view, this is their town and they have a right to know what decisions are being made, just like before the war.”

“That’s the way I feel, too,” Tom said. There were some murmurs from the council members, but Tom ignored them. He addressed those that had taken seats in the observers’ section of the meeting room.

“It’s okay to observe, but this is official business. Unless we open the floor for questions or comments, I expect everyone to keep it quiet while Mr. Jackson and the council discuss the matters before the council.”

Tom sat down at the head of the conference table and the members of the town council did as well. Tom motioned for Percy to take a seat. Percy took the proffered seat and opened the portfolio he’d brought with him.

“I guess we should let you know what’s happened and what we’ve come up with, before we start negotiating,” Tom said.

Abigail interrupted before Tom could continue. “We don’t have to explain anything to him. Just let him make his demands and we can do what we have to do. And I still think we should just seize the property and do what we want with it.” Her words brought some whispers from those observing.

“He’s not even close to the city limits,” Tom said, rather harshly. “We have no authority to seize anything outside the limits, and we may be on shaky ground doing what we are doing, if someone ever takes it to court, once the court system is up again. It’s just easier for everyone to know what is going on.

“Now. As I was saying, Percy, what we’ve done, based on what you indicated you’d be doing is assumed that the town owns everything in town that doesn’t have a local owner or local resident. Things like the Jiffy Quick store. It’s part of a chain and Rodney doesn’t own it. He was just manager. So it’s part of city property now. Not that there’s much use for it. It’s just an example.

“There are a lot of people that headed for the hills when this all started. We figure anything not tenanted is public property. We’ll keep track of everything, and if someone returns or has a claim, we’ll do something to correct the situation. There’s been quite a bit of scavenging already, but we’ve pretty much got that organized now, using your system of barter.

“We’re using Johnson’s warehouse to store things and Betty Lou is keeping track of where everything came from and where it goes. Most of us never realized how important some simple things are. Old newspapers have become very valuable, if you know what I mean.”

Percy smiled. “Toilet paper,” he said.

“Exactly. People are not throwing much of anything away and some are cataloging even little things that they have, with the intention of trading for things they need, just like you said. We figure to use the warehouse as a trading post for city property goods. The other businesses will do business as usual, just trading, bartering, and using gold and silver, like you said.

“Clarence, our mechanic, figured a simple way to get water, we just need more fuel. Alfred had a small deep well submersible pump in stock. We moved the generator from the phone company substation down to the maintenance building by the well and hooked it up. We can pump water and there’s enough power to use some other electrical stuff. We set up Howard’s big ham rig there and he keeps an eye on things while he monitors the radio during the day.”

Tom looked at Percy questioningly. “We’re giving him food credits, based on you saying you’d be buying some stuff the city has, to handle the well and generator.”

“It won’t be a problem,” Percy said. He pulled two plastic coin tubes from the pockets of his overalls. He removed a pad of his barter slips from the portfolio. “I’m prepared to make a few offers.” There were a couple of gasps and whistles at the glistening gold and silver.

The room was crowded with spectators by the time Percy and the council had concluded their deals. The city now had a treasury of ten one ounce gold coins, a hundred tenth ounce gold coins, a hundred twenty silver quarters and five hundred silver dimes. They also owned barter slips for a hundred gallons of gasoline, five hundred gallons of diesel, and food for two hundred individual meals.

In return, Percy now owned several items of town property, including the clinic shuttle bus, and the town’s agricultural museum and all its contents. No one seemed to understand why Percy wanted the museum, but Percy had offered what seemed a generous amount for it. Reasons why he wanted some of the other things weren’t quite clear to most, either.

He also gave the town additional gold and silver as his tax contribution for the following year. “We just figured an ounce of gold for each section, and an ounce for the improvements. I’ve got the six hundred forty at the estate, and then the other nine hundred sixty spread out,” Percy said, adding one one-ounce gold coin, five tenth ounce gold coins, a hundred silver quarters and two hundred fifty silver dimes to those already on the table. “We can adjust it next year, if that’s okay.”

“That’s fine, Tom said. “Geez,” he added staring at the gold and silver. “How we going to handle this?”

“I was figuring on opening a deposit account with Camden Dupree. I figure his bank is as safe as it ever was. You might consider doing the same.”

Tom saw a hand go up in the crowd. He smiled and acknowledged Dupree. Camden stood and said. “I’ll be glad to handle the money. For a fee.” Most of those in the room laughed.

Percy wasn’t sure what Tom intended to say, but Percy spoke first.” I’m okay with one tenth of one percent per transaction, accumulated until it is redeemable in round figures.”

It was obvious that Camden was figuring in his head. “That’s okay by me.” He looked around. “I’ll do the same with anyone. Gold, silver, and barter slips for labor, food, and fuel, like Mr. Jackson was talking about.” He looked at Percy.

“You said before the exchange rate for silver to gold is thirty-six to one. What is it for labor and food?”

Percy had figured to let that work itself out. He had a rough idea in mind. Since it had come up this early, he decided to voice his thoughts on the matter. “To keep it simple, what about a silver dime for a meal, a silver quarter for a day’s food, an hour’s labor, or a gallon of fuel. Would that work?”

Camden thought another minute. “That’ll work for me. Fuel seems high, but there is a limited amount available,” he said.

“Some will pay more, or won’t pay as much, but with a set conversion rate, at least for the meantime, people have a basis to make deals,” Percy said.

“I’ll post a chart at the bank. Mean’s I’m going to need to hire a teller and a clerk back,” Camden said, looking around for his former employees. None were there. “I’ll be down at the bank in just a little while to set up the accounts.” He left the room, a determined look on his face. He’d been wondering what he’d be able to do, with his back the way it was. Percy had just probably saved him from starvation. He wouldn’t be quite as ornery to him as he’d been in the past, he vowed to himself.

“If we’re done here,” Percy said, turning back to Tom, “I need to make arrangements for some other things.”

“We’re done. Chief, can you take this down to the bank?” Tom asked the town’s Chief of Police and town barber.

“Sure, Mayor. Me and Deputy Jones will get it there safe. Come on, Mark. You’re younger. You carry, I’ll guard.” Mark Jones gathered up the tubes of coins and the filled out barter slips and the two headed for the door.

“Well, then, I’m headed back to the Gregory’s and then the bank,” Percy said, standing up. He turned to face the now milling crowd. “I’m in the market for a few things. I’ll be ready to deal when I get to the bank. Rodney, I see you’re here. Could you meet me at the bank, in, say, half an hour?” Rodney waved an acknowledgement and agreement.

“And if anyone sees Mark’s father, let him know I need some stuff from the hardware store.”

“He died, Mr. Jackson,” someone called to him. “Mark sold the store to Mr. Gregory for the promise of food for a year.”

Percy recognized the young man as a friend of Andy’s. “Thanks. Are you staying busy or do you need some work?”

“I could use some extra food and stuff for the family. Mom’s kind of sick. This ash and stuff has her asthma kicked in really bad. The kids could use more milk.”

“Okay,” Percy replied, “I recognize you, but I don’t know your name.”

“Henry Bradshaw, Mr. Jackson. I’m Henry Bradshaw. Me and Andy’s good buddies. I’m a hard worker, just like him. I know a couple other fellows need work, too, if you need some good hands.”

“I do. Come on with me. You can help Andrew with the water tanker.” Besides Henry, several others followed Percy back to Gregory’s Grocery. People were lining up to get food. Percy was a little surprised at the number that had silver coins. Most were signing barter slips for labor.

Steven had someone helping, so took a minute to talk to Percy, when Percy asked. “Things going okay?” Percy asked.

“Yeah. I’ve debated how young to let them sign up for labor. I’ve kept it at sixteen. What do you think?”

“I have things that can be done by someone as young as twelve. I don’t think I’d want the responsibility for anyone younger than that. And no more than four hours for them. Sixteen for adults sixteen and over.”

“Men and women the same?”

“Yes. I’ll put the person on a job they where they can be effective, no matter what the abilities.” Something caught his eye. “Has Jorge Ramirez bought anything?” Percy asked, nodding over to a man sitting in a wheelchair, watching the proceedings.

“No, he hasn’t,” Steven replied. “I offered him a little, even though he didn’t have anything to trade. He said he was okay, just wanted to see what was going on.”

“Make sure you make an offer for labor, like for the others. He’s as good as they come with horses, even with only one leg. His hour of labor would be just as effective for me as anyone else’s.”

The rain, which had dropped to a drizzle while they were in city hall, now stopped all together. The clouds were breaking up and the sun was peeking through. People began to shed jackets.

“Steven, I was told you bought the hardware store from Mark, after his father died.”

“Yes. I felt sorry for him. The city council wants him to stay on as deputy chief, but they can’t provide enough to take care of his family. With what I’m getting from you, I can afford to feed at least him for a year for what’s left in the store.”

“You want to sell it?”

“What are you offering?” Steven asked.

“That year of food, plus something more. What would you like, in addition to the year’s food for one person?”

“People are showing up with their coin collections. It’s easier than bartering. Some hard currency would be best for me. People are already willing to take it for things. Abigail baked some bread and will only take silver for it.”

“How about a ten rolls of silver dimes? That’s five hundred dimes, thirty-six ounces of silver. I know it’s not that much.”

“That’ll do,” Steven said. “This store is going to be all I can handle, anyway. Lot more labor intensive with the bartering and all. I’d have to pay someone to help me with the hardware store. I’d rather have the silver.”

“Okay,” Percy said, handing Steven a plastic roll of dimes. “You trust me to bring in the rest next trip?”

“Of course I do,” Steven said, pocketing the roll of coins.

Percy found Rodney waiting patiently at the bank for him. “Be right with you,” Percy told him, then went into the bank. People were standing around, but there didn’t seem to be much going on.

“Okay,” Camden said. “Mr. Jackson is here. We’re open for business.” Percy didn’t say anything about them waiting for him before they did anything. He just handed Brittney four coin tubes and three pads of barter slips. One pad was for a gallon of fuel on each of the slips, one was for one meal on each slip, and the third was slips for a day’s food.

Camden stood behind Brittney as she tallied up the deposit, wrote it on a deposit slip and handed it to Percy. Camden was beaming. He took the bank’s copy of the slip and turned, to hand it to Arthur Lang. “Set up a new account for Mr. Jackson. This is his initial deposit.”

Quite officially, his hands clasped behind his back, “We will deduct our one tenth of a percent from your account, Mr. Jackson, and credit the bank. And remember, all withdrawals must be made in person, or by your authorized agent.”

“I understand,” Percy said. “I’ll thumbprint any checks I write on the account, as well as sign.”

Camden looked a little startled, but quickly suppressed it. He’d only considered direct deposits and withdrawals. But what was in the bank was in the bank. There was no reason not to allow checks to be written on it.”

“Of course, Mr. Jackson,” Camden said quickly. “Just mark out the word dollars and write in the currency on which you’re paying the debt and initial it.”

Percy slid the thumbprint inkpad forward and pressed his thumb against it. “I’ll stamp my account sheet, if you like, for latter comparison purposes.”

Arthur quickly handed the paper to Camden, who laid it on the counter. Percy pressed his inked thumb on the top of the page, rather with a flourish. He picked up the counter pen and signed, then initialed beside the thumbprint.

“There you go, Mr. Dupree. I assume you will check each transaction against the print, signature, and initials, as appropriate, to verify authenticity.” Percy winked just slightly at Camden.

The tiniest of smiles lifted the corners of Camden’s lips. “Of course, sir. This bank has always verified identity and authenticity. We will continue to protect our customers’ interests, just as we always have.”

“Thanks,” Percy said and stepped away from the counter. The next person stepped up, a coin collection folder in hand. “I want to go ahead and get my silver in here so I can’t lose it,” she said.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #28 on: October 05, 2013, 02:45:13 PM »
Percy went out, a smile on his face. “Randy,” he said.

Randy stood up from where he’d been sitting on the steps. “Yes, Mr. Jackson?”

“I need to use a little of that labor credit I have with you. I’ll supply the fuel, rod, and such for some items I need you to make for me.” He pulled a sheaf of papers from the portfolio in which he’d put his deposit slip.

“I need two primary stills and a secondary still to double distill alcohol. I also need another pair of methane digesters built. Here are the drawings. I’d like them twice as big as the originals. Can you figure how to do that?”

Randy studied the drawings for some time. “Yes, sir, I sure can. These are basic. Just a matter of scaling things up. The design can be the same, with some additional reinforcement elements.” Randy looked up from the drawings. “Do you have all the materials?”

“I do, but I’d like you to scrounge everything you can. Here’s a roll of dimes. Buy as much as you can. Check the rates in the bank and just ball park a price for the things you want. I want as much coin spread around the community as possible, so get a little from each person that has something that will work. Anything you can’t come up with, I can supply. I want to conserve the easy to use things as much as possible.”

“Okay. I have probably enough fuel to get out to your place, but I’ll need some to get back.”

Percy nodded. “If it is okay with your family, I’d like you to stay there overnight, every other day, to conserve fuel. I’ll provide meals while you’re there.”

“Okay, Mr. Jackson. You have a deal. I’ll still owe you after this. I appreciate you letting me pay off some of that debt.”

“Being the greedy man I am,” Percy said, “I’d like to extend the time you owe me a bit and pay for part of this with current currency. Food and fuel for you. Is that okay?”

“Well, sure! But you don’t really have to do that.”

“I want to,” Percy said. “You’re the only professional welder around. I’m going to need your services from time to time.”

“You’ve got them, guaranteed,” Randy replied.

Percy made several more deals that day on the steps of the bank. Some were executed immediately. Some were deals that would be transacted in the future. He hired six of the neediest to go to live at the estate and work full time for room and board, and some spending cash. The six included Henry Bradshaw and one of his friends. It also included Jorge Ramirez.

The fourth and fifth persons were the Jenkins. Ellen and Hank. Ellen would cook, clean, and act as bunkhouse boss. Hank would be working in the shop, mostly. They’d share the bunkhouse boss’ bedroom.

The other two were a pair of sisters, aged seventeen and eighteen. They’d be helping Mattie with the house duties, the gardens, and some work in the greenhouses. They were from a large family and were going to help provide food for them. Everyone’s belongings for a lengthy stay at the estate were loaded in the Unimog and the six rode out with Susie in the van.

Andy moved into the bunkhouse with his two friends, taking one of the four person bunkrooms. The sisters shared another. As those that were recovering became able to manage for themselves, they were taken back to town, to their homes. Three chose to stay. Two men and one woman. Still weak, Percy made a deal with them to do limited work, as they were able, for the time being, while drawing similar, but slightly less in wages than the others were. Mainly, they got plenty of good food, and the rest they needed to finish their recovery.

The trips were working out well. Percy began culling the animals he’d bought from several locals. He kept Doc and Susie busy taking care of ailing animals. Doc had a good basement and survived just fine, though Percy had to help him bury some of the animals he lost that he didn’t have adequate shelter for. They’d all been ill to start with and many didn’t survive the exposure of the radiation and the volcanic gasses that wafted through a few times with the ash.

They couldn’t save all the animals that were ailing that Percy bought. The carcasses, like those Doc lost, were buried on one of Percy’s noncontiguous fields that was close. As they decayed, they would enrich the soil.

A few of the animals that had been fed clean feed, but had been exposed to radiation and would die, were butchered for the meat. The meat wasn’t contaminated, but all the organs were processed through the methane generator, just in case. The hides were cleaned and used as rawhide.

Percy managed to be able to take in at least one good-sized animal for Clyde to cut up and Steven to distribute each week. The people that had sold Percy the animals had not been able to care for them properly. They would not even be able to transport them, except to walk them to town. Some of them were ten miles or more from town. Animals and humans alike couldn’t afford the additional dosages of radiation it would entail to travel that distance on foot.

People finally figured out why Percy had bought the town’s museum. It had an extensive collection of old farming implements. Many were horse drawn versions. Many more were early conversions of horse drawn styles to the then newfangled mechanical tractor. Percy had Randy and Hank convert them to horse drawn.

He got enough horses to have at least six teams that could work the fields, and another half dozen additional saddle horses. There were two sets of four steers each that took to harness and could do the heavy pulling like the Clydesdales. They wouldn’t be used to harvest much, but they were ready to work the ground the following spring. Percy used the mechanical equipment to harvest the failed field crops to avoid exposing the animals to the additional residual radiation.

The crops all went into the stills and methane generator, the remains buried with the animals on the other plot to enrich that soil for future use, when the radiation had finally decayed to a point where it could be used safely. The oily crops had been pressed for oil first, to feed the biodiesel conversion process, and then the cake was processed further in the still, then the methane generator.

They finally made a trip into the city. Percy had Susie go with Sara. The state government was functioning, Sara knew from the shortwave and amateur radio reports they were getting. A call had gone for former state employees that could, to report to their local offices.

Sara would eventually do her old job, but for the moment, she was census and report taker. Percy loaned her a laptop with extra batteries and a solar charger to make the work easier. She was one of the very few so blessed.

Percy made a similar arrangements with the city, county, and state government officials as he had with the town. It had taken quite a bit of negotiation, but between Sara, Tom, and Percy they avoided confiscation of Percy’s resources. That was despite Abigail’s and Jeb’s attempts to get Percy kicked off the property and it be taken over by the authorities.

It became obvious to the powers-that-be that Percy could produce far more running the place the way he had been than what the immediate confiscation and use of all his supplies would supply. They could always seize it later if Percy reneged on his agreements or made excessive demands in return for the goods and services he provided.

As a gesture of goodwill, Percy gave the county and state one percent of his diesel up front. Percy would also provide a certain amount of food and fuel to each of the governments every month at no cost. That was his cost to avoid complete confiscation. Percy considered it close to extortion, but he bit his tongue and made the arrangements. He was getting something out of the deals, anyway. The additional arrangements he’d made gave Percy a few material things he wanted, and the jurisdictions received much needed extra food and the fuel to provide for the needs of the communities.

Sara would get enough fuel to do her job in her hybrid. Despite all the electronics, it had survived just fine in the garage of one of the cottages, shielded by the earth surrounding it.

They found a computer module for Andy’s Jimmy and his friends used it on occasion, for a small fee. Andy seldom used it. He was almost always in one of the estate vehicles taking care of something for Percy.

By the time October rolled around, everything in the orchards and fields that could be harvested and used, had been. There had been some losses to the ever-bearing strawberry crop, as there had the blackberry crop. But what did survive had sold for a premium price in town, despite Percy’s intention to have it simply as the fruit portion of the food rations. After the initial purchase in the store, people began buying and selling from one another at higher prices.

The tree fruit crop suffered some, but not as much as other crops. There was quite a bit of additional handling of the fruit and the nuts. Percy insisted on double washing every single piece. Just as he did the strawberries and blackberries. Much of it was done in tanks, but the soft fruit was done by hand. The fruit and nuts, too, began to fetch premium prices in town.

Some of the fruit was far enough gone that, though edible, it wouldn’t even stand a trip into town. It was made into juice, jelly, preserves, and butters, or dried. Percy had the equipment to do it all. The sisters were kept busy helping Mattie with it. And Mattie had a pretty thriving supplemental business selling fruit pies for a while. Mattie baked them and Susie sold them in town, sharing the proceeds with Susie and the girls.

One thing that Percy worried about was his bees. He’d moved all his hives into the bee barn and closed it up right after they’d put the berms at the other barns. He’d kept the barn closed and the sugar water feeders filled until the radiation had dropped way down. Still the bees were dying in droves. He checked all the hives with the survey meter. The readings were only marginally above the background reading in the barn.

October started off cold. As cold as November usually was. Jim and Bob were bundled up to their eyeballs when they drove the Jeep onto the estate October Third. The top was ripped in several places.

“Almost didn’t get back,” Jim said, as they sat around the kitchen table in the house, hands wrapped around bowls of Mattie’s chili. Percy, Mattie, and Susie were clustered around, to hear the story.

“We got there just fine,” Bob started off.

Jim continued. “Had mom convinced to come with us. Then it happened.” Two pairs of sad eyes turned up to Percy.

“What you taught us,” Bob said, “Saved us. But it was too much for Mom. She had a heart attack. We carried her to the hospital, but it was too late.”

“Got a pretty good dose of radiation in the process,” Jim interjected.

“Yeah. Got sick as a dog. They let us stay in the shelter they’d set up in the hospital. By the time we were well enough to travel…”

Jim took up the story again. “We felt like we owed the folks that took us in something, so we worked, helping the community get going again. We were still pretty weak at that point, anyway.”

“Yeah,” added Bob. “Still are. That radiation stuff is pure poison.” The two exchanged a look. “The docs at the hospital said we’d have a much increased chance of cancer or leukemia and stuff in a few years.”

“Yeah,” Jim said. “But it was our Mom. We had to try. Anyway, we finally went back to the house and loaded up a few things we wanted to bring back. The Jeep wouldn’t start, of course.”

“The EMP thing, we figured.” Bob was telling the tale now. “So we unpacked the computer you talked us into taking with us, Boss. Cost an arm and a leg when we bought it, but it sure was worth it. Money ain’t worth nothing now.”

“We had that silver you gave us,” Jim said. “That saved our behinds a couple of times. People saw that date before 1965 and snapped ‘em up. We managed to eat and fuel all the way back on those two rolls. Had to push a few times for a few miles at a time, between stops where we could get gas. Part of what took us so long. Didn’t want to leave the Jeep, since it would run.”

Bob grinned up at them. “And I tell you, every time we pushed, it was up hill.”

“‘Cept that time when the dang thing almost got away from us when we topped that little rise.”

“Yeah. Anyway, we finally made it back.”

“What happened to the Jeep?” Percy asked.

“Oh,” Jim said. “That.” Again the brothers exchanged a look.

“Yeah. Somebody tried to stop us. Fired right into the Jeep from an overpass. No warning or nothing. We floored it and made the guys jumping out from the edges of the overpass scramble to keep from getting run over.” Bob shrugged the sweater he was wearing down. “Dude clipped me with a twenty-two round before we got out of range.”

They saw the pink pucker on Bob’s shoulder. “Jim was weaving and all,” Bob continued, “but they either had somebody really good or really lucky.”

“If they were good, they’d been shooting something besides a twenty-two and you’d probably be dead. I say it was our good luck and their bad.”

“Can’t argue with that, Twin. Anyway, here we be. With one hole in me and a few rips in the Jeep top.”

“Yeah,” Jimmy said. “I see you got some new hands, by the look of things.” He was eyeing the two sisters that had come into the kitchen moments before. He looked up at Percy’s face. “We still got a job, Boss?”

“Of course you do,” Percy replied. “But not for a few days. I want one of the doctors to look you over and decide when you can go back to work and how much you can do at the moment.”

“That’s fine with me,” Bob said. “I can’t seem to ever get rested. A couple days with no responsibilities would be good.”

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2013, 07:47:40 PM »

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 30

The sky was clear and there was no fallout when Calvin and Nan suited up again two days later and headed to town. It was slow going through the thick layers of ash. It was drifted five feet deep in places. The rains had made it a heavy mess. But the U500 with front bucket easily cut a path. Though the ash was drifted in places, other stretches of the road had been blown clear before the rains wetted the ash down.

They were fearful of what they would find in town. The fear was justified, though there were many survivors. There were also many houses showing no signs of life. Their first stop was at the police station.

Chief Connolly was there with both the town’s officers. “So you two are okay?” he asked.

They’d checked with the survey meter and the radiation at the station had faded to about the same level as at their home. Calvin and Nan had taken off their respirators when they entered the building. Calvin nodded. “We wanted to report we found the Andersons the other day. They must have been on the way out to our place. Both of them were dead.”

Bill Connolly sighed. “I’ll add them to the list. We’ve been meaning to do a census of the town and outlying areas, but just haven’t had time.”

Just then Nan noticed the slight wince the Chief made when he sat down at his desk and pulled over a notebook. “Chief, are you okay?”

“He got shot,” said one of the officers. Neither Calvin nor Nan knew him, though they’d seen him from time to time. “I’m Officer Tom Perkins,” he said, reaching out to shake both Calvin’s and Nan’s hands.

Stanley Smith, the other officer, said, “A small group tried to loot the store. We stopped them, but the Chief took a round in the thigh.”

“Oh, my!” exclaimed Nan. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Bill said. “It was just a scratch on the thigh. Betty Lou fixed it right up.” His eyes took on a distant look. We need to get out there and see if they’re okay.”

Tom said, “We’ve only been out and about for a couple of days. Haven’t had time to do much. Only rig we’ve found so far that will run is Jackson Clements old Ford.” Tom sighed. “He didn’t make it.”

“Yeah,” added Stanley. “He knew he wasn’t going to make it and brought the car down and left a note for us to use it. We went to check on him when we found it. He was dead.”

“And we need to do something with his body. And the others I know are out there,” said the Chief. “I just don’t know what.”

Calvin and Nan looked at each other. “We might be able to help with that,” Nan said.

“Yes,” Calvin added. “With our equipment we can dig graves and haul bodies if we need to. Clear the ash where needed. But we have a pretty limited supply of fuel.”

Nan looked at Calvin questioningly, but didn’t contradict him on their fuel situation. It had occurred to Calvin that not everyone needed to know everything about them. Tom was eyeing their gun belts and holsters.

“That would sure help,” Bill said. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do. Only a couple of the town council made it. The mayor didn’t. We’ve talked to state emergency management and they told us were on our own for a while.”

Tom started to edge around toward the side of Nan and Calvin. “You know, Chief. We’re basically in charge. We ought to think about commandeering their equipment if it works.”
“Hold your horses, there, Tom,” the Chief said. “And come back around here. What’s the matter with you? They just said they’d help out.”

Tom stopped flanking the two, but didn’t move back. Calvin edged Nan slightly behind him and his right hand drifted to the gun belt, near the holster, his eyes narrowing as he looked at Tom.

“Well, we at least ought to disarm them. We don’t need a bunch of guns around at a time like this. Look what’s already happened.”

“That’s enough, Tom!” There was a distinct note of anger in Bill’s voice. “We’re not a bunch of jack booted thugs out to rule the town. We have a job to do. That’s to protect and serve this community. I aim to use every resource I can, but we’re not going to usurp the constitution. Not on my watch.”

“Come on, Tom,” Stanley said. “We talked about this. It’s going to take a community effort to get through this. Trying to strong arm people is not going to help.”

“Well look at what happened to the Chief! He could have been killed. That was some of our upright citizens that did that to him. If I ever find out who shot at us, I’ll…”

“You’ll arrest them and they’ll be tried,” Bill said firmly. “We are officers of the law. Not a judge, nor jury, nor executioners. Some things are different now, yes. I don’t want to hear any more about it. If someone is making trouble, we’ll do something about it. But the Stubblefield’s are already trying to help. I aim to let them.”

The Chief looked over at Calvin and Nan. “Thank you for your offer. We’ll see about supplying some fuel for you to use. When can you start?”

“With the radiation levels where they are, I don’t think we should be out of shelter more than four hours or so. It takes us close to half an hour each way, so that gives us three hours a day to get things accomplished. We can bring the equipment in tomorrow and get started.

“I think it’s best if you and the townspeople get together and decide what the priorities are. We’ll provide the equipment and a little manpower, but it is up to you guys to provide the plan.”

“Okay,” Bill said. Tom seemed to be settling down.

“We just want to help where we can, without getting radiation sickness or shot or anything,” Nan said.

“Nobody is going to get shot that doesn’t deserve it,” the Chief said. He looked a bit surprised when the other four suddenly laughed. It dawned on him then, what he’d said. “You know what I meant,” he said with a chuckle. “Now,” he continued, looking at Nan and Calvin, “Is there anything we can do to help you at the moment?”

Calvin shook his head. “No. I want to get back. We just wanted to see how things were going and if we could be of help. We’ll be in tomorrow morning with the equipment and we can get started.”

Bill stood up, with another wince, and shook Calvin’s hand. “Okay. Sounds like a plan. We’ll get with the others and come up with more of a plan for tomorrow.”

For the next several days Calvin and Nan did some very unpleasant work. Those that had survived in and around town had begun to make themselves known. New council members and a mayor had been elected and they had wanted individual graves dug. Calvin was able to talk them out of it, with support from the Chief.

Calvin dug a wide trench and the bodies were laid in it side by side. Someone was marking down the exact location and markers would be set, sometime. It took several days, working only three hours a day, to get the work completed. But it was finally done, except for those that would die from radiation exposure. There were several that were very sick and would not get better.

It was a heart wrenching time and Calvin and Nan went home every day with tears in their eyes. Though there were no tears for the occupants of another trench grave that Calvin had to dig just after the last local had been buried.

The small grocery store had become the local meeting place. Calvin had used the Unimog to clear the parking lot of ash. The town council was allocating what resources were left, and people were trading and bartering for things in the parking lot, too.

Nan and Calvin were in town again, working with the city council and the Chief, planning a scavenging trip using the Unimog, one of the Stubblefield Jeeps, and a couple of old farm trucks that still ran, when a carload of outsiders roared into town. They stopped at the store and clambered out of the VW van, guns waving.

Other than the near riot at the store a few weeks earlier, there had not been any real trouble in the town. But Nan and Calvin, and the police force weren’t the only citizens going around armed. Before they could think about it, Calvin, Nan, and the others returned fire when the group opened fire on the crowd as they moved into the store. It was a short battle.

One man from town took a round in the arm. The Chief got the first aid kit out of the old Ford that was their new squad car. Tom and Stanley checked over the marauders and found two of them alive. One man and one woman, both severely wounded.

“What do we do, Chief?” asked Stanley.

“About all we can do is bandage them up with what we’ve got and get old Broderick the vet to take a look at them. County says they’re going to send over a doc to check everyone out, but that’s going to take a while yet. I’ll call it in and see what the county wants us to do with them in the meantime.”

He looked over at the Ralph Clemens, the local that had been shot. “Ralph, too, I guess.”

“What about right now?” Tom asked, as Sally, the woman that had bandaged Ralph, began to work on the two injured marauders. “We can’t take them in to the county jail at the moment. At least we haven’t taken out the old cells at city hall yet. Put them there, even injured?”

“Yep,” replied the Chief.

“Just one, though,” Sally said. “The woman just died.”

Stanley went to get a stretcher from the ambulance shed for the man. Sally stood up to talk to the Chief. Of the five ambulance attendants in the town, Sally was the only one that had made it through the war. Two had been gone on vacation when things started, and the other two had each tried to shelter in place for their families. Neither had been successful.

Sally had become hardened to illness, injury, and death since the war, being the only one with anything other than advanced first-aid training in town that was ambulatory. There were three nurses, all employed by the county hospital. All three were down with injuries or radiation sickness. And Betty Lou hadn’t been back to town since that first day.

“You all right?” Calvin asked Nan, seeing her watching the injured man being placed on the stretcher in preparation of being carried to the city hall jail.

Nan leaned against him and Calvin put his arm around her shoulder. “Yeah. I guess so. It’s just that something like this seems so pointless. All we have to do is help one another. We’ll make it. There is no real need for things like this to happen.”

“I know,” replied Calvin. “But you know as well as I do that there are people in this world that would rather take and not give in return.”

“Yes,” Nan said with a sigh, “I do. I just don’t like it much. Let’s go on back home. The plans are made for the trip tomorrow. Nothing more we can do here.”

Nan was driving one of the Jeeps and Calvin the U500 the next morning when they returned to town. It was a bright, sunny day, and warm. The Chief and the Mayor met with them for a few minutes before the convoy of vehicles left town.

Besides Calvin and Nan, Stanley Smith was going along as official city representative. Two farmers, with older bob trucks that still ran, were coming along. Four people would ride the backs of the trucks, with an additional man in the cab of each truck. That gave them a total of twenty people.

Everyone was armed. Calvin had an M1A and his Glock 21. His load bearing vest and belt carried six spare twenty-round magazines for the M1A and four thirteen-rounders for the Glock, along with two one-quart canteens, first-aid kit, a utility pouch with a few odds and ends, and an M-6 bayonet for the M1A that was more for field use than its intended purpose.

Nan was similarly equipped, except she carried a Steyr AUG and a Glock field knife. The others were armed with a mix of weapons, mostly hunting rifles and the occasional revolver.

The police armory for the town was limited. Stanley was in uniform and carried his normal load out, including a Glock 17 9mm with high capacity magazines. About the only other options he had was a Remington 870 12-gauge pump shotgun or one of two M1 Carbines the town had acquired in the 1950’s. He left the 870 for Tom in town and was carrying a carbine with a fifteen round magazine in it and four thirty-rounders in his pockets.

Calvin led the way, clearing the ash where needed, with the Unimog. They found their first vehicle about five miles out of town. It was locked and abandoned. Stanley used a key gun to get it unlocked. There was nothing in it of real use. “We found a few people just outside of town,” Stanley said. “One or more of them were probably in this when the EMP hit.” They siphoned the gasoline from the car’s fuel tank and transferred it to a fifty-five-gallon drum in one of the farm trucks. Stanley took down the pertinent information and they moved on.

It went much the same until that afternoon. Nan and Calvin wore their load bearing equipment over their Tyvek coveralls. The others, except for Stanley, had some type of overall or coverall and jacket to protect themselves from the ash. Everyone had respirators or dust masks, as well.

When they found bodies, and they found many, in vehicles, and afoot, Stanley recorded what information he could find. A few of the passenger vehicles had some supplies that were useable, and they were loaded onto the trucks. Not a one of the vehicles would start. They emptied any fuel that remained from each one.

The only major find was the delivery semi for the grocery store. It had been on its way to town with a full load for the store. They tried to start it, too, but to no avail. Everything was transferred to the smaller trucks. It was late afternoon and they decided to head back to town.

When they returned, they found the roadblock at the edge of town. The Chief and Tom had not been idle during the day. The town council had decided they did not want a repeat of the previous day and authorized the roadblocks on each road into town. They would be manned by armed local citizens until they were sure the threat was over. Each one would have a radio available so those manning the roadblocks could call the police force for assistance, if needed.

Calvin and Nan made a couple more trips with the townspeople, but became worried when they saw some signs that there was at least one group out there that was raiding for supplies. They had found one family massacred. A man, woman, and two children. The house had been ransacked. Anything and everything that might be of use to a roving band was taken. Everything else was trashed. It looked like the gang had stayed in the house for at least a couple of days.

After the find, Calvin and Nan stayed at home for a while. Partly to conserve their stock of fuel, but also for security reasons. The Chief and his officers had suspicions that someone in town was involved with the gang. If the gang got word from someone in town that the Stubblefield’s were doing well in the aftermath, it would only be a matter of time before the gang descended on them. Calvin arranged with the Chief to have two way radio communications between their home and the police station, in case their home was attacked.

Calvin and Nan were careful to always go outside, either together, or with one covering the other from a good vantage point. They were working diligently in the greenhouses. The ash had pretty much destroyed the garden. The attack and the volcanic activity had them worried about the weather.

What little news was coming from FEMA, through the county and thus the town, was to expect a severe winter. Calvin’s and Nan’s gardening paid off. They had plenty of vegetables to can. They’d been able to trade for a half a beef from one of the locals, and a whole pig from another. Both had taken partial payment in gold and silver coins and the remainder in work on their farms with the Stubblefield’s equipment. Mostly digging burial pits for the animals they lost.

Both had some working farm equipment, but very little fuel, despite the ongoing scavenging trips by those in area. Small amounts of fuel were coming to the town from FEMA, but only for emergency and protective services. Food shipments were also few and far between. The community had to fend for itself, for the most part.

With heavy snow starting in early September those that could, prepared for the forecasted harsh winter. Quite a few had moved to the camps that FEMA set up, hoping for the best. The rest hunkered down and also hoped for the best.

Except for that small handful that had no preparations, except for weapons. With a system that looked good to become an early blizzard, the gang finally attacked the Stubblefield home. Calvin and Nan had continued to keep their guard up. That included regular checks of the property.

“Nan,” whispered Calvin into the Motorola FRS radio. “We’ve got company. Bad company from the looks of it. Get back to the house and up in the stairway cupola. You’ll have 360 degree vision. I’ll hunker down in one of the hidey-holes and hit them from the rear while you take them head on. But be sure to keep scanning all around.”

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #30 on: October 08, 2013, 03:59:21 PM »
“Okay,” Nan whispered back, the tension in her voice obvious. She’d been following Calvin, about twenty yards back as his cover. She hurried back to the house, entered, and locked everything with the security system.

They’d talked about how to effectively defend their home, and having one of them outside in prepared defensive positions and one in the armored cupola was the only remotely effective method of repelling an attack of more than one or two people. At that, if there were enough of them, it wouldn’t work either and Nan would have to bug out through the escape tunnel and join Calvin outside.

She took the time to call the police station and tell them they were coming under attack, then hurried up to the stairwell cupola. They had pre-positioned ammunition there, just in case. Nan removed the thirty round magazine in the Steyr AUG and inserted a one-hundred-round Beta C-Mag dual-drum magazine into the rifle.

Nan used the binoculars kept in the cupola and did a quick scan all around the property. The only place she couldn’t really see was the area right in front of the house. She kept checking the other areas, but watched the area around the road leading to their place. She could see at least six men in the forest, and two walking up the road itself.

Calvin was watching, too. From inside a prepared fighting position. It was off the road, but where he could see parts of it. He waited a while as the group continued to move toward the house. Calvin checked the forest behind him. No signs of anyone else staying back to cover the group’s rear.

When he was sure everyone was between him and the house, Calvin exited the fighting hole and move toward the men, to another fighting hole. He removed the cover, climbed inside, and pulled the cover back over him quietly.

Calvin could see all of the front of the house and a good section of the road, as well as much of the open space between the tree line and the house on the front, and well to each side of the bluff.

Those in the forest stopped, each one taking up a position behind a tree right at the tree line. One of those in the road threw his arm over the other one and hunched down slightly, faking a bad limp.

That settled it for Calvin. He had some question that the people had just wandered into the area and were being cautious. The deception proved otherwise.

“Hello the house!” the one supporting the limping man called out as they stopped out in the open area in front of the house. “My friend’s been hurt! We need some help!”

They waited a few seconds and repeated the call. When they received no answer both men stood up, bringing weapons out from under their coats, and moved toward the house. The snow started to fall lightly. Calvin lined the sights up of the M1A on the center of the back of the man that had shouted. He squeezed the trigger.

As soon as Calvin fired, Nan began to fire on those that had just started toward the house when their two companions had brought weapons out began to approach closer. Calvin put another round in the man he’d shot, and then took out the second man, who was simply looking around uncertainly, his rifle at the ready.

Again Calvin fired two rounds, then switched his aim to those still approaching the house. They had begun to bob and weave, but Calvin and Nan were both experienced shooters. It was some time before the group realized that they were being fired on from behind as well as from the house, and began to return fire at Calvin. They had been concentrating on the cupola.

Calvin tried not to think about the fire pouring toward his wife, despite the fact that she was well protected with concrete, steel, and thick Lexan. And the firing ports were just large enough to use, and no larger. He could tell she was taking out those most likely to get behind her first, letting Calvin take care of those around the front of the house.

It didn’t take long for the gang to realize they were in untenable position. The survivors began to run back to the forest. Nan stopped firing, but when Calvin continued to drop assailants, she resumed, as well.

Those few still able to move had run out of sight. “Nan,” Calvin called her on the radio. “Stay alert. We’re not moving until I know they aren’t coming back or the Chief gets here.”

“Okay,” Nan replied. She switched magazines, putting in another of the three C-Mags they had for the AUG, then set it down and picked up the binoculars. The snow was beginning to get heavy, but she continued to scan the area. At least that kept her mind off what had just happened.

Calvin was doing much the same, surveying the area all around him. He was beginning to get a little cold by the time the Chief and Stanley showed up thirty-five minutes later. Calvin waited until the two got out of the car and he was sure it was them before he came out of the fighting hole. “Nan,” he said into the radio, “Keep watching. We’re coming in.”

As he approached and saw the Chief with the force’s shotgun, and Stanley with an M1 Carbine, Calvin called out. “Over here!” He was holding the M1A down at his side so they wouldn’t mistake him for an attacker.

Both continued to swivel their heads around as Calvin walked up. “Looks like you took care of it yourselves,” Bill said.

“Maybe,” Calvin said. “Some of them got away.”

They walked over to the two bodies near the front patio. Bill looked at the bodies, and then gave Calvin a quick look. Calvin said nothing, but looked calmly back. The two men’s weapons were lying in plain sight.

They went and checked each of the other bodies. Well, six bodies and three badly wounded live men. None of the three were able to move on their own. “What do we do, Chief?” Stanley asked.

“Well, I’m tempted to just put them out of our misery,” Bill replied. Stanley looked shocked. “But we can’t do that,” the Chief continued. “We’ll have to send someone out for them. It’s really a county problem, you know.” Bill looked at Calvin.

The snow was coming down harder. “You can’t leave us out here like this!” one of them cried out.

Amidst groans and the occasional scream, the three were moved none too gently over in front of the house. “I’m not going to ask you to take them inside,” Bill said, as they propped them up against the patio wall.

“Stanley,” the Chief said then, “You stay here and guard them. I’ll go back to town and see what I can do about getting a deputy and an ambulance out here.” He looked down at the three men. “Don’t be holding your breath, fellows. It could be a while.” His voice was as cold as the weather was turning as the snowfall increased. Bill headed out to the old Ford.

One of the men had lost consciousness when the situation finally got to Calvin and he went inside to make them something warm to drink. He called Nan down from the cupola. She wouldn’t be able to see anything now, anyway. With the snow falling, and the light fading, you could only see a few yards.

Nan took Stanley inside to use the bathroom while Calvin watched the men and tried to help them drink the warm beef broth he’d made for them. It was mostly a waste of time. The one was unconscious, one had chest and stomach injuries, so couldn’t drink, and the third died of his wounds before Calvin could try to help him take a sip.

Stanley came back out carrying a cup of the broth to warm himself up, with Nan accompanying him. “Nan,” said Calvin, “I’m going to get the Bobcat and drag the bodies over by the road.”

Nan nodded. She swapped rifles with Calvin, taking his M1A and giving him her AUG. It would be easier to sling and keep handy while he worked, just in case. He didn’t want to be out there with just his Glock 21.

The man with the chest and stomach injuries gurgled loudly one time, spasmed and died while Calvin was moving the bodies. By the time he’d moved the bodies from around the house, and the two on the patio, the third man had died. Calvin added him to the pile.

“Chief,” Stanely said into his handheld radio. When the chief responded, Stanley said, “No need to bring the ambulance. All three of them have died.”

Calvin and Nan both heard the reply, as did Stanley. “Just as well. County, through state, from FEMA, just put out a shoot on sight order for looters and marauders. We’d have had to hang them tomorrow. Anyone captured in the act is to be executed immediately. Only if there’s reasonable doubt is anyone to be held and taken to the FEMA holding camps. I’ll be there in a few more minutes to pick you up.”

Calvin and Stanley took a quick trip around the tree line, checking one last time, before they went into the house to wait for the Chief. Nan started a fire in the fireplace. “How are you holding up?” Calvin asked her, putting his hand on her shoulder when she stood up.

She sighed, gave him a quick hug, and said, “Okay, I guess. But I’m going to need some serious crying time here pretty soon.”

Calvin hugged her to him and held her for long moments. “I may just join you,” he said softly.

Bill came in for a few minutes to warm up when he arrived. The heater in the Ford wasn’t working all that well and the temperature had already fallen to below freezing. “We can’t stay very long,” he said. “The road is starting to get bad.”

“You want to stay here tonight?” Nan asked. “We can lead the way in the morning with the Unimog, if you think it’s too bad to go back tonight.”

“No. We’ll be fine,” Bill replied. “But keep your radio on, just in case. I don’t want to have to walk the rest of the way in if the car quits.”

As he and Stanley bundled up to go out into the storm, Bill looked at Calvin and Nan. Calvin was standing with his arm around Nan shoulders. “You two did what had to be done,” Bill told them. “Don’t knock yourself out about it. That’s the group that’s been killing and raping and stealing from the survivors. When we catch up to the rest of them, they’ll meet the same fate.”

Bill frowned. “I hate to leave those bodies out there. Could be wild dogs get to them. They deserve to be dead, but I don’t like to see bodies desecrated.”

“Chief,” Calvin said, “we haven’t seen a single animal or bird since the start of this. I think the ash got what the radiation didn’t. Oh, there’s bound to be a few animals that made it, especially ground dwellers, but I doubt there’s anything out there now that’ll brave this storm.

“You could be right. Now that you mention it, there hasn’t been much in the way of wildlife, except for domestic animals. And a lot of them died during this, too. Okay. We’ll see you guys… whenever. I think you’re safe for now, but keep being careful.”

“Thanks, Chief. Thanks for being there when we needed you. You were right. We’re really the county’s problem.”

“You may be the county’s problem,” Stanley said, “But we aim to see you stay safe. You and that equipment of yours. It’s going to be a big part of saving the town.”

When the Ford had disappeared into the snow and the darkness, Calvin and Nan returned to the fire, after locking the door. True to her word, Nan snuggled up against Calvin and began to cry softly as he held her.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 31

Buddy and Charlene went out nearly every day, suited up. When they were actively decontaminating they wore respirators. If just getting some fresh air and sunshine, such as it was with the nearly constant volcanic haze in the air, they wore dust masks.

By then end of another two weeks the area around the shelter was decontaminated and they could go outside without the Tyvek suits. “Char,” Buddy said, as he checked the city again with the binoculars, “I think I should go down and see what we can find in the city. We have food for a long time, but I’d like to get more. Some more ammunition. Some more supplies for you.”

“When should we go?” Charlene asked.

Buddy took the binoculars down from his eyes and looked at her. “I think it should just be me.”

“Oh, Buddy! That’s too dangerous! We should both go. I’m comfortable with a gun now to be of some help, if something happens.”

“I know,” Buddy replied. “It’s just… I’m worried it might be bad. And now that I have you, I don’t want to lose you.”

“Well, Buddy,” Charlene said somewhat sternly, “I feel the same way about you. If you go down there alone and something happens, I would never know it. I couldn’t stand that.”

“It would be better if we both went. But then again… I hate leaving the place alone now. We’ve seen smoke a couple of times. There are other people up here.”

“The chance of anyone running across us is slim. You said so yourself.”

“I know. But I still worry.” Buddy paused for a moment, then added, “Okay. We’ll go down together, but be prepared to take the place back if someone had found it. At least we’ve got some of the supplies cached, too.”

“Do you plan to stay overnight, or go and come back?”

“We’ll take things for an overnight stay, just in case, but I’d rather do a quick reconnaissance, pick up what we can find, and get back here. There’s bound to be some people that made it. I want to find out what I can. The radio broadcasts haven’t been that informative.”

“Tomorrow?” Charlene asked.

“Tomorrow,” Buddy said.

They moved the shielding from in front of the garage doors that after noon, in preparation of taking the truck out the next morning. They loaded up what they wanted to take with them, and then turned in early. It would probably be a long day, the next day.

They didn’t see any signs of people until they got to the suburbs of the city. It took them most of the morning to make their way that far. The roads were choked with abandoned vehicles.

Tense with worry, Buddy cautiously drove up to the two men walking along the side of the road. Both stopped and turned to watch as Buddy approached. Both were armed, but left their rifles slung over their shoulders, though they looked ready and willing to bring them into play if needed.

“Hi,” Buddy said. He had his window down and drove up to them on his side of the truck. “I see there are other survivors. I’m Buddy Henderson. This is Charlene Brubaker. We’re up in the hills.”

Buddy breathed a slight sigh of relief as the two men nodded politely. The first one, dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt said, “We figured there are a few of you up there. I’m Alan and this is Juan. We’re headed in to the shelter to get supplies. Any chance of getting a ride? Aren’t too many vehicles working anymore.”

“We can tell you how to get there,” Juan said.

“You understand, we have to be careful,” Buddy replied. “The news reports…”

Juan patted his rifle. “Understood. We haven’t run into anything yet, but we always go armed.”

“Okay,” Buddy said. “Climb in the back. But if I get a bad feeling about something, you’ll have to get out. Okay?”

“Sure,” Alan replied. “Any less walking is better than not any less walking.” He gave Buddy the address where a shelter had been set up by FEMA. Buddy knew where the location was. There would be plenty of time to see if there was some type of ambush set up.

There were more and more signs that some work had been done on the roads as they got closer. A regular lane had been opened up in the worst of the traffic jams. It was another twenty minutes before they saw more people. They were all moving the same direction. There were children as well as adults. Perhaps ten percent were armed in obvious ways.

Convinced that the two men had been telling the truth, Buddy stopped to let a family of six, with small children, climb into the back of the truck, too. It was another fifteen minutes of slow driving before they got to the entrance of the compound set up on the parking lots of a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

  • Author of a 100+ stories
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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #31 on: October 10, 2013, 12:22:05 AM »
There were a handful of vehicles parked outside the compound. Juan directed Buddy over to them. When Buddy was parked, the others got out of the back of the truck and thanked Buddy and Charlene.

A National Guardsman walked over, M-16 slung, and said, “I’ll log you in and your vehicle will be guarded until you return. Can I see your ID? You’ll need to show it again to get the truck, in case I’m not on duty.”

Buddy pulled his wallet out and handed his driver’s license to the corporal. The Guardsman dutifully recorded the number on the clipboard, along with the truck’s license number.

Handing the license back to Buddy, the man said, “You look new here. You need to see registration first off.” He pointed to one of the tents near the entrance. There was a table set up in front of the tent. Next to the tent was a large board with many things posted on it.

When Buddy and Charlene got over to it, they could see that the postings were mostly messages from one person or group to loved ones, stating their condition and location. It wasn’t too busy at the moment at the table, so Buddy and Charlene approached it.

“We just came down from the hills,” Buddy said. “First time since the war.”

“Fill these out and we’ll get you on the census,” the Guard Lieutenant said. “Are you healthy? Do you need a doctor immediately?”

“No,” Buddy replied. “We’re fine. We just wanted to find out what is going on.” He was filling out the card as he spoke. “Should we put our old address or… Oh. Never mind. I see.” Someone came up behind them, so Buddy and Charlene moved to one side and continued filling out the form.

A sergeant took the form from them and went into the tent. A few minutes later she returned and handed each of them a laminated ID card. “You can show this to get rations and such. Be aware that the information is recorded in a computer and anyone found abusing the relief system will be dealt with harshly. You’ll have to check your weapons, but you will get them back when you leave.”

The sergeant nodded over toward a tent a few steps further in from the registration tent. Half a dozen soldiers were taking and giving weapons as IDs were shown. Buddy looked back at the sergeant and said, “We were going to try to find some more food, but we’re pretty well supplied. It looks like…”

“You’ll need to speak with our Captain, Sir. There is nothing I can do for you. I have a specific job to do. Just tell Lieutenant James what you have in mind. She’ll direct you to where you need to go.”

Buddy nodded. Charlene had yet to say a word. When there was a break in the line, Buddy stepped back up to the Lieutenant’s position. “Lieutenant, we’re not desperate for food or anything. We’re more interested in finding out what is going on.”

“That’s good to hear,” she replied. “Go to the third tent in the cluster just inside and ask for Captain Hansen. He’s the PIO. He can update you.”

It wasn’t quite a madhouse, but the place was busy. Buddy and Charlene followed some other people inside the delineated area and approached the tent. Several people were standing around. Buddy saw a soldier standing at the entrance of the tent and asked for the Captain.

“He’s just getting ready to give an update, Sir. Just join the group there and you should be able to hear everything.”

They listened to the Captain and learned the condition of the city, surrounding area, statewide and nationally. It wasn’t good. Buddy and Charlene exchanged a look. Charlene started to say how lucky they’d been, but realized that luck had been only a small part of their good fortune. It had been Buddy’s foresight and preparations that had allowed them to be in as good of shape as they were.

After the briefing, they hung around until the captain could see them. “I don’t really know what to do,” Buddy said. “We’ve got a place in the hills. We’re okay for the moment, but we’d like to get more food, fuel, and some ammunition. We heard about the marauders…”

“We can’t help you on the ammunition. The food yes. Fuel we’re using all we can salvage for official purposes.” The captain gave them a hard look. “As you mentioned, there have been some marauding. That includes looting. Now I know there are some areas of the country where that has been condoned as salvage and scavenging, but here in the city it will not be tolerated. Just keep that in mind.”

Buddy nodded. “Like I said, we aren’t that bad off, short term, as long as the marauders don’t make it up our way.”

“I don’t want to sound too harsh,” the captain quickly said. “You can barter, trade, or buy whatever someone has to offer, as long as it hasn’t been looted. There are people that have. Most do not.”

The captain’s fatigue was suddenly obvious when he added, “Most of those out there now are not going to make it. Too much radiation exposure. It just hasn’t caught up with them yet. But you didn’t hear that from me. Shouldn’t have mentioned it at all. But you folks look like nice people, trying to do the right thing.

“I’d suggest you share as much as you can, if you have supplies, but I’d be cautious. Re-supply is going to be problematical. I’m afraid that is all I can tell you. Since you’ve said you have supplies we can’t really give you anything, despite the fact that it is known that at least a few people are getting everything they can, even if they already have good supplies. Fear at work with all this talk of a bad winter coming on.”

“I guess we should head back to our place, then,” Buddy said. “I wouldn’t be comfortable taking anything, anyway, with people needing that have nothing.” Charlene squeezed his hand in agreement.

“I wish I could do more. I can make arrangements to see our commanding officer, though I don’t think it would do any good. I’m not a policy person, as you know. I disseminate information.” He managed to smile then. “And acquire it.”

“No. That won’t be necessary.” Buddy shook the captain’s hand when he held it out. “Thank you for the information.”

“Good luck to you. Oh. If you do have a mind to trade, there is an area on the far side of the compound for barter and trade. It separate from the compound itself. You’ll have to walk around.”

“We’ll check it out.” With that, Buddy and Charlene left.

“What do you think?” Charlene asked Buddy as they made their way toward the entrance of the compound.

“Let’s check out the barter area. What the captain said changes things a little for us. I thought we’d be able to scrounge things. I guess they are in places, but not around here. Though I bet some are. Some get caught, others are sneakier.”

“Okay. Let’s see what they have.”

Buddy thought there was quite a bit available. But most of it was of no use to them. He and Charlene did make a note of things that were in demand. They would be able to do some trading if things continued much the same.

A few people were taking silver and gold coins, though many would only trade item for item. Buddy had brought some coins with him and used some silver to buy all the seed he could find. Gardens were going to be very important in the future. Even more important would be farms.

There was a different guard on duty at the parking area, but upon showing his driver’s license again, and the new ID, they were able to get the truck and head out. Rather than turning back toward the hills, Buddy headed for Charlene’s place first. She gathered up quite a few more things, and with Buddy’s help loaded them into the truck. They did the same at Buddy’s place.

Both their houses were in decent shape. They’d not been damaged much by the blast, other than losing some shingles. Neither had been looted. Buddy suspected that would just be a matter of time. He would try to find the parts to get the plumbing van going so he could move it and all his plumbing supplies up to the new place.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 32

It wasn’t until he got to the suburbs that Charlie saw any activity. What he did see was people all heading in one direction. He followed along slowly, keeping his distance from everyone. Part of the way was uphill and he was very tired when he came to what had to be a government camp.

Charlie pulled out of the way and thought about things for a long time. He really didn’t like the idea of being in a camp, but they should have food and a safe place to sleep. Probably medical care. He must have stayed in the shelter long enough, since there were people here in the open. Still, he hesitated.

He noticed that people with transportation, the occasional motorized vehicle, several bicycles, and even one horse, were all going to one area and leaving their vehicles. There were also people coming back and getting the vehicles and leaving. That convinced him.

Showing the state photo ID when asked, Charlie asked several times if he would be able to get his belongings back and was assured patiently each time that he would. He went through the registration process FEMA had in place, and then sat down to a hot, filling meal.

Charlie got a change of clothes, since they were offered, and three days worth of food. “That wasn’t so bad,” Charlie said softly, as he pedaled away. Though told it was safe to be out of shelter now, if he hadn’t received much radiation exposure, Charlie thought that since he had received enough to make him sick he should stay in shelter all he could.

But it was a long ways from the construction site to the FEMA camp. Charlie decided to try to find an abandoned house with a basement he could stay in until he decided what to do. He’d been told it was going to be a terrible winter. Deciding that a ritzy place was as good as a hovel, if it was abandoned, he headed for the upscale part of this suburban area.

He almost went past the house, but he saw the front door open and decided to investigate. The place certainly looked ritzy enough. Charlie looked around carefully, and then quickly pedaled the bike to the side of the house. He hid the bike and trailer near the back corner of the house, behind some landscaping bushes.

Taking his closet pole, minus the chains and buckets, Charlie waited a few minutes, then quickly went inside the house and closed the front door. “Hello!” he called, not yelling, but not so soft that it couldn’t be heard.

It took a couple of hours to search the place. It was fancy, all right. And it did have a basement. There was even some food in the pantry. Fancy food. The food in the fridge and freezer was all bad. He found a few tools in the garage. Taking a shovel, he buried the stinking mess in the side yard.

When he went out into the backyard he noticed two big plastic looking disks some distance from the house, and a nice bird fountain with gazing ball, but didn’t think much about them.

He’d tried a faucet. No water pressure, he noted, but remembered from the articles in the paper that there might be some in the hot water heater. He’d get to that later. He waited around until dark, to see if anyone showed up. When they didn’t he brought his things inside the house. He brought the bike inside, but didn’t want to open the garage door manually to move the trailer in. He left it hidden behind the bushes.

Charlie didn’t fill the buckets very full, but he used the shovel to dig a pretty good size hole in the back yard, near the fence line, and put the dirt into several buckets. He would use it to cover the waste in the toilet bucket, and then bury the accumulation in the hole.

He was feeling the strain by the time he had the last two buckets in the basement. It had been a long day for him. The basement was semi-finished and included a family/game room, as well as a bedroom.

Sleeping in a real bed helped Charlie. He woke up refreshed. After he ate, he stashed some of his belongings in several places outside the house, and then hooked the trailer back to the bike and set off. Apparently water wasn’t a problem at the camp. They let him fill all six of the buckets he had on the trailer.

Charlie took a rest after taking each of the buckets into the house. That was his drinking water. Water from the pool in the backyard would do for sanitation and bathing. The rest of the day he spent resting, inventorying items in the house and garage of use to him, and making plans.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 33

Angela hadn’t told Emily about the man staying in the house for the last three weeks. She’d seen him on the camera system in the back yard occasionally, digging and filling holes. He would also get water from the swimming pool with a pair of buckets on a pole. He seemed harmless, moving slowly, as if he were weak. Of course, he was out in radiation of over a roentgen. He must be staying in the basement, for shelter, Angela had decided. She wondered what had brought him to that specific house.

Despite the man being there, they needed to get out of the shelter and take a look around. The information on the radio indicated FEMA and the National Guard had a camp nearby where they could get help and find out more about what was going on. They still had plenty of supplies, but the reports of a bad winter coming had Angela worried. And Emily was next to useless when it came to decisions.

Emily was content to let Angela call the shots. She made no protest when Angela strapped on the holster and 1911A1 pistol that had been in her fanny pack, and slung the Benelli over one shoulder, a bandoleer of shells over the other, and began climbing the ladder up to the shelter hatch. She’d checked the camera. The area was clear at the moment.

When she had the hatch un-dogged, she quickly opened it and clambered out, closing the hatch behind her. Angela ran over to the side of the house and looked around the corner, bringing the Benelli around off the sling and to the ready.

After checking the other side of the house, she tried the back door. It was locked. Angela had taken the precaution of getting Emily’s keys from her before she left the shelter. Quietly she unlocked the door and went inside.

Things were in better shape than she expected. There was no sign of any ransacking. Deciding to leave the basement for last, she checked the rest of the house. It was obvious that some things had been disturbed, but there was no wanton destruction.

Finally, Angela tried the basement door. It didn’t have a lock, but when she opened it the door knocked something down the stairs that made a loud clattering noise.

The noise from the early warning system woke Charlie up. He’d been taking a nap, one of several he took every day. He was regaining his strength, but it was coming slowly. He had to work at the camp for a couple of hours now, each time he went in to get food or water and he was tired much of the time.

He lay there quietly, not moving, in the darkness of the basement bedroom as he heard footsteps on the stairs after several long moments. Afraid he might get shot if the person or persons coming down the stairs were armed, and he startled them, Charlie finally decided to call out. They’d find him anyways. Perhaps he could talk his way out of this. He got up and went to the open door of the bedroom.

“Hello! What do you want?”

Angela stopped her descent. He was in the room that opened off the family/game room. “I want to know who you are and what you are doing here.”

“Just crashing,” Charlie replied. “Look. I’ll get my things and go. I thought the place was abandoned. I don’t want any trouble. I’ll just go.”

“Where is that big stick you carry?”

Charlie was surprised. “How’d you know about that?” he asked, but quickly answered anyway. “There by the sofa.”

“Okay,” Angela said. “Come out where I can see you. I have a shotgun. I’ll use it if you try anything.” There was enough light from the basement windows, set high in the basement walls to see adequately.

Charlie stepped out, his hands at shoulder level. “Don’t shoot me. I’ll be out of here so fast you’ll never even know I was here. Can I take my stuff with me?”

When Angela saw Charlie she came down the last three stairs. “Is there anyone else here? And don’t lie to me. I’ve been watching the place for some time.”

“Just me. Honest.”

Keeping the Benelli at waist level, but trained on the man, Angela took a quick look around. It was obvious the man was living in the basement. But he was living neatly. Still no signs of wanton destruction. “What’s your name?”

“Charlie. Charlie Grayson.”

“If you want to get out of this alive, Charlie, you’d better tell me the truth. Do you have a weapon?”

“Closest thing is the closet pole there.” Charlie was keeping his hands up. He took a step forward and added, “Please. Just let me leave. I’m not out to hurt anybody. I just wanted a safe place to stay until I can head south. I have radiation sickness.” Realizing that the woman might think it contagious he quickly continued. “But it isn’t catching or anything.”

Angela frowned. “I know that. How bad is it?” She kept the shotgun trained on him and made a small motion for him to stop moving. He did.

“Not too bad, but I’m not up to a long trip. FEMA says the winter is going to be tough. I aim to put together some supplies and go south. FEMA is handing out a little food for work.”

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.
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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2013, 07:33:28 PM »
“Yeah. I heard that on the radio.” Angela shifted the gun slightly, raising the end of the barrel enough for it to point over Charlie’s head. But ready to drop it again and fire if needed.

“You have a car or something? And fuel?”

Charlie shook his head. “No. Bicycle and trailer. Fuel is hard to get. There’s people scavenging, though they aren’t supposed to. You can buy it if you have whiskey, food, guns and ammo, or silver and gold. If you don’t get caught.”

“So there is trading going on,” Angela said. She brought the shotgun barrel down and tucked the stock under her arm. “You can put your hands down. But don’t try anything.”

“I won’t,” Charlie replied. “Yeah. You can trade. A lot of people are. There is a lot of scavenging, despite the National Guard patrols. They aren’t pushing it too hard as long as it doesn’t get too flagrant. Or violent. They’re really cracking down on violence.”

“What are they doing to gun owners?”

Charlie shook his head again. “Nothing if you don’t use it first. A lot of people go armed. Me, I just have my closet rod handy.”

Angela started visibly when Emily called down from the top of the stairs. “Angela, are you okay down there?”

Looking up the stairs, Angela saw Emily standing in the doorway, John on one side, and Catherine on the other.

“Jeez, Emily!” Angela called up. “You scared me half to death! And I could have shot you. What are you doing out of the shelter?”

“Well, the kids wanted out and you’ve been gone a while and I wanted to see what was going on and… I know you told us to stay, but it’s been such a long time and you were out… and I was afraid you might just take off… and… I don’t know. I’m sorry!” Emily was starting to cry.

“Okay, Emily. It’s okay.”

“Someone has been here, haven’t they?” Emily asked.

“Yeah. A man named Charlie. He’s here now. He’s been living in your basement for three weeks.”

Again Charlie was surprised at her knowing that detail. She must have been watching from the start. That was creepy.

“Is he dangerous?”

“I’m not. Really,” Charlie said quietly.

Angela frowned. “I don’t think so, but we can’t take any chances,” she told Emily. To Charlie she said, “I’m going to let you go, with your stuff. But don’t try anything.”

“Thank you,” Charlie replied, relieved. “I won’t try anything. It’ll take me a little while to move everything.”

“I understand. Make sure it’s far away.”

Charlie’s face fell. “I was just going to move to the next house,” he said, the disappointment obvious in his voice. “I can’t afford to get too far from the FEMA camp.”

“Oh,” Angela said. “But how do I know I can trust you not to try something?”

With a shake of his head, Charlie sadly replied. “I guess you can’t, can you? Can I have a couple of days to move everything? I’ll do it whenever you say.”

Angela groaned when Emily called down, “Why can’t he stay here, Angela? We’re staying in the shelter. He can’t do anything to us there.”

“Emily!” Angela barked. Under her breath she muttered, “Tell all our secrets, why don’t you.”

It hit Charlie then. The big disks on the ground in the back yard must be part of an underground shelter. “You must be alone, then,” Charlie said. Before he could continue, Angela spoke.

“What of it? I’ve got the gun. And I will use it.”

“I understand. What I meant was that it’s hard being on your own. I don’t want to stay in the camp, but I’m afraid all the time that someone will catch me off guard and hurt me and take my stuff. Like you could have done, if you wanted to. Maybe I could be of some help to you. I don’t want anything, but you’re going to want to go to the camp and register. You can get food and water there. And information. I can keep an eye on things.”

“Yeah. Like that’s going to happen.” Angela snorted.

Emily had come down the stairs several steps. She bent down and looked at Charlie. “Isn’t that a good idea, Angela? We need to do that. Get registered. I’m sure the government will know what to do. But I don’t like the idea of leaving the place empty.”

Angela just shook her head. After a moment she said, “But we don’t even know him. He could do anything.”

“We have to trust someone,” Emily said quietly. “Has he really done anything to indicate he’s a danger? It doesn’t look like he hurt the house.”

“Well, no, not really. And he’s got radiation sickness.”

With that, Emily backed up the stairs and gathered her children to her. “Maybe it’s not such a good idea, then.”

“Emily, you can’t catch radiation sickness from someone. Not if they’ve been decontaminated.”

Charlie quickly interjected, “I have been. Clothes and all.”

“Oh,” Emily said. “That’s different, then.” Firming up her voice, Emily added, “I’ve let you make the decisions so far, Angela. But I’ve always been one to lend a hand. At least when Edward would let me. Which wasn’t often. He’s obviously a sick, homeless man. And he said he wants to help. We should help him if we can.”

“Things have changed,” Angela protested.

Angela was rather impressed when Emily stood up to her. “I must insist.”

“Well, it is your house and shelter. And I’m not going to give up what you’ve shared with me, unless I have to, so what you say goes.” Angela looked over at Charlie again. “I guess you get to stay.” It was Angela’s turn to harden her voice. “But you try the least little thing and I’ll put you down like a rabid dog.” She was surprised when Emily didn’t protest.

“You aren’t making a mistake,” Charlie said. “Okay. What’s next?”

“I want to see this FEMA camp of yours. Come on upstairs.” Angela stayed cautious, but Charlie followed her up the stairs without any problems. They all took seats around the dining room table. Angela had the Benelli slung over her shoulder, but kept her hand near the Colt 1911.

“I’m reluctant for all of us to go at once,” Angela said, when no one else spoke up. The two children headed up to their rooms to get some toys they’d been deprived of for the last two months.

“Maybe you and Charlie should go so you can check it out while I and the children stay in the shelter.”

Angela was surprised again. It was what she was going to suggest. “Okay. That sounds workable. But you must promise me you will stay in the shelter with the hatch dogged until we get back.”

Emily nodded. “When?”

“I was going in tomorrow for more rations and water,” Charlie offered. Emily and Charlie both looked at Angela.

“Okay, I guess. Charlie and I’ll go in tomorrow.”
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 34

Firewood became another major commodity as the weather turned wintry before the end of October. Percy had been coppicing his woodlands for years and had massive amounts of firewood stacked in several huge storage piles around the estate.

One of the deals he’d made when he’d gone into the city so many months before when he’d first become uneasy with the world situation and the weather patterns was the purchase of firewood from several establishments that sold it in the city. He’d bought a total of a hundred full cords and it had all been delivered, except the last two cords, by the time the war started.

He’d made quite a few deals since then, to obtain wood from others. A few people cut it and sold it to him. Percy wouldn’t clear cut, so many people allowed him to send a wood cutting crew in to harvest selected trees for firewood. He took the entire tree, including branches. The good stove wood he began stockpiling at the hardware store. He’d found someone to manage it for him. They began selling the firewood, along with the remaining stock of items that Percy hadn’t taken out to the estate.

After Percy had moved what he wanted there was plenty of room to stack firewood inside the store. There had been three house fires in the time since the war. There simply wasn’t water available to fight them, nor equipment with which to do it. The town had a small pumper truck, but with only the two-hundred-fifty gallons of water it would hold, and no working hydrants to pump from, each of the three fires had been lost causes. Percy bought the houses, demolished them and stored the good lumber for later use. Wood not useable as lumber was added to the firewood piles, including furniture that wasn’t exceedingly useful.

Many people were grateful for the source of wood. No one said much when the winter worsened and people began to tear down abandoned houses for the wood they contained. Tom and the city council finally just condemned several of the houses, demolished them and used the wood and furniture from them in stoves that Randy built to heat the rooms in the school for people to use as shelter when they couldn’t heat their own homes adequately.

An opening was made in the outside wall of a room adjacent to the school’s kitchen. A large water tank was moved in and a pump with a pressure tank connected to it. A generator was run twice a day to pressure up the water system and provide electricity for several purposes. Part of the diesel they bought from Percy was used to run the genset. A horse drawn wagon with a water tank in it kept the tank in the school supplied. A limited amount of hot water was obtained by circulating water through the radiator of the engine of the generator.

Percy wasn’t able to make quite enough biodiesel to prevent using the stocks of the commercial fuel, but the use was vastly minimized. One of the things he paid a premium for were the chemicals needed to produce the biodiesel. The alcohol production was going well. Several vehicles had their engines converted to run straight alcohol, based on information obtained from books that Percy had in his library.

Gasoline was scarce. Percy had set up a buying program for gasoline the day he’d made so many other deals in town. He was buying gasoline from people that had cars that wouldn’t run, but still had fuel in them. He got over a thousand gallons that way. Most of it he accumulated in a tank in town and sold in cans out of the hardware store. He also sold some biodiesel there, as well.

Plans were made to convert a couple of trucks with gasoline engines to run on wood gas. It was a project for the next year, when better plans for providing firewood would be made.

Percy kept the generators going at the estate on a limited basis. They ran only when needed, then were shut down to conserve fuel. The heaviest use was for supplemental grow lights in the greenhouses. Some of the plants began to show signs of distress when the weather stayed cloudy for days on end. The regular rains kept the panels clear, and there was increased UV, but the lights were needed in three of the greenhouses that had plants needing more light than nature was providing.

With what people were doing on their own, in town and on other area farms, people were able to have enough to eat, though many lost considerable weight. Many had it to lose. A few didn’t.

Since it was easy to keep warm, one of the cottages was declared the new clinic. The equipment was moved from the clinic that had been built. Henry made regular runs into town and back to deliver small quantities of food, and shuttle people back and forth that needed a doctor or were paying off their labor barters to Percy.

Percy made it a point to feed everyone well when anyone worked for him. Many of them considered the hours of labor they’d already received some good, product, or service for, as a gift from heaven. They often got the equivalent again of what they originally purchased, as Percy provided everything, including their transportation.

Percy even insisted they see the doctor while they were at the estate and had an arrangement with the Doctors Bluhm to cover the cost so anyone working more than four hours for Percy had at least one comprehensive doctor’s visit. They didn’t have a real dentist, but Jock studied up, again in Percy’s library, and began to do the work.

There’d been a dentist in town at one time. He’d left in a hurry with the IRS after him two years previously. He’d left all his equipment behind. It was one of the properties that the city council had declared town property. Percy bought the equipment and moved it to the cottage for Jock to use.

It was an austere Christmas for everyone, but most that were Christian were able to celebrate to some degree. Percy hosted a Christmas Eve party in the school auditorium and almost everyone in the area attended.

One of the reasons for the party, besides the Christmas aspect of it was to have half a dozen marriage ceremonies performed. It was easier for the one surviving minister to perform them. It was also easier on the couples. The reception was taken care of, and all the guests were pretty much guaranteed to be there.

Four of the couples were townspeople. One couple was Andy and Susie. The sixth was Percy and Sara. He’d asked her after their Thanksgiving dinner at the estate and she’d agreed. Mattie had helped her move her things from the gold bedroom to Percy’s that weekend. Percy had the idea for the Christmas party and wedding when he’d asked her.

Percy provided all the food and drink for the party. It strained the production of the greenhouses, and put a noticeable hole in Percy’s reserves, but he felt it worth it. Things were going well. The townspeople provided the decorations, except the tree. Percy provided it and contributed it to the firewood pile after New Years. Everyone brought an ornament. The tree decorating was the start of the party as everyone hung an ornament.

It was the best meal many of the people had all winter, except those that worked at the estate from time to time. Percy hadn’t skimped. It was only partly due to the fact that not all the animals would survive the winter, though that was a factor. Two steers, four hogs, and thirty-six chickens fed the nearly three hundred and fifty people that attended. It was nearly the entire remaining population of the town and surrounding farms.

Even Sara’s boss made it down to attend. He was down to consult with Sara on her progress evaluating the area’s population and progress. He stayed for the party and left Christmas day to go back to the capital. There were many places, he said, that weren’t celebrating. Of all the counties he dealt with, this one was doing the best, by far, of any of them.

There was no celebration for the New Year. The weather had been cold and snowy for Christmas. It was downright bitter the week after and got worse after New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve night the low at the estate was forty-one below zero. There was four and a half feet of snow on the ground. The snow was dirty, mixed with the ash that continued to fall from time to time.

Those at the estate did fine. It took very little to heat the earth-sheltered structures to a comfortable temperature. The animal barn didn’t need any heat. The animals kept it more than warm enough.

Percy always remembered the death toll in the town and surrounding area. There were forty-one deaths from the cold. The same number as the negative thermometer reading.

At least the bees had quit dying off. When Percy had checked the hives in the bee barn that night there were only the normal number of bee carcasses outside the hives. The fanners at the entrance of one of the hives looked like very young bees. Percy breathed a sigh of relieve. Bees were very important to a farm.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #33 on: October 11, 2013, 03:51:38 PM »
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 35

“Okay, honey,” Sara said, “I’m up. What is so important today?” Sara was standing and stretching beside their bed.

From the bathroom Percy said, “We’ve got to get a load into town today. It’s your first trip driving one of the Unimogs with the snow blower on the highway. I want you to practice on the driveways before we get out on the highway.”

“Oh, Percy! I’ll do fine. You know you can have one of the others drive it if you don’t trust me.” The last was added chidingly.

Percy looked around the doorframe. He still had shaving cream on his face and the straight razor in his hand. Unlike most of the men, he still shaved every day. “It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just… I worry about you. I finally have you in my life and I don’t want anything to happen to you. Since the road became so bad, using the snow blower is tricky and dangerous. Especially at the stream crossing. It’s really narrow there across the culvert we put in after the bridge went down.”

“Oh, Percy,” Sara said with a smile. She stepped up to him, put her arms around him and kissed him on the lips, shaving cream and all. “I love you when you worry. I love you a tiny bit more when you don’t, but it’s not that much different.”

Percy wiped his wife’s face clear of shaving cream with the towel from the vanity. “I love you too, all the time. No matter what. Now get your shower and get dressed. We are going to clean the driveways on the estate before we leave, whether its practice or just getting the job done.”

When they went downstairs for breakfast, Andy was fussing in the kitchen, banging things with the cumbersome splint on his left leg. “Dadgum it,” he half cursed. “I hate this thing.”

“He won’t sit down and let us do it,” Amy said. Her sister nodded.

Susie came into the kitchen and put her hand on Andy’s arm. “Come and sit down. Let them do their job. I keep telling you not to try to do things with that leg. Jock said you need to keep off it. That splint isn’t quite as effective as a regular cast, but the one that will fit you is on Howard.”

Andy frowned at his wife, but took a seat, out of the way. The sisters went on with the breakfast preparations. Mattie was sick in bed with a bad cold. “I wish I could go with you,” he groused. It’s my job to be doing things like this. Not you and Mrs. Jackson.”

“Not when you’re hurt, Andrew,” Percy said, pouring them both cups of tea. The coffee that was left was kept for special occasions. There were four coffee plants in one of the greenhouses, but Percy wasn’t sure they’d produce. Even if they did, they wouldn’t provide much coffee. But some. Eventually.

“You’ve worked hard enough, and will again. You can monitor the radios, just as you’ve been doing. Each person has to do what he or she is capable of doing. You can do the radios and keep things on an even keel around here. And keep an eye on the other Dr. Bluhm. Dr. Bluhm has been saying she’s doing too much, too.”

“When are you going to start calling us Jock and Melissa?” Melissa asked. She elbowed Jock just a little. “What have you been telling them? I just realized that everyone has been trying all of a sudden to get me to take it easy.”

“Well, it’s your first child, and you’ve had some problems already.”

“I’ve got the second best doctor in the state attending me. I’m fine and I will be fine, if Junior here ever decides to take a break from trying to kick my insides to the outside.” Melissa’s hands cupped her belly. It was February and she was almost eight months along. She was short and slender. Jock was tall and rangy. Apparently the baby was going to take after its father.

After a quick breakfast Sara, Susie, Jock, and Percy headed for the equipment barn through the tunnels. The additional berms had all been removed before the worst of the freezing weather had hit. Suzie fired up the Bobcat 5600T Utility Vehicle. She ran it over and connected the snow blower for it. Percy and Jock were raising the barn door to get out the vehicles.

Susie used the Bobcat to clear the accumulation of snow near the doors and headed toward the animal barn doors. Percy and Sara climbed into their respective Unimogs. The snow blowers for them were already attached. The box beds were installed the night before. The plows had been on for days. The two headed out of the barn, one blowing snow one way, the other, the other way.

It took only a few minutes to get the three feet of accumulation cleared from the area between the various barns. The rest of the crew would work on moving the fifteen foot high windrows of blown snow that resulted from the multiple snow blower passes away from the barns later. Right now they wanted to get the day’s delivery to town. They were only making two runs a week now and people were waiting on the food.

Henry pulled the shuttle bus out of the equipment barn and followed the two Unimogs, now clearing the driveway toward the open gates. Percy took the lead and Sara dropped behind him, offset to clear an almost doublewide road. They turned toward Doc’s first, and cleared the road to his place and his drive while Henry waited in the shuttle bus for them to return.

It didn’t take long. Doc would be able to get out now if he needed to in Andy’s Jimmy he’d started using when his old Dodge Power Wagon blew an engine. The engine was being replaced, but it would be spring before it was done.

The piles on either side of the road stood close to twenty feet high. The actual snow depth was over ten, but each of the last few trips to town the road had needed clearing. Not much of the snow blown to the sides of the road had melted.

Percy slowed appreciably when they came to the stream. The bridge, damaged some during the quakes, had become detached at one end and half fallen into the stream. Percy had moved a large culvert from the county maintenance shed and installed it in the stream. They filled over it and packed the fill down using the Unimogs and the Bobcats. A layer of compacted gravel completed the roadbed. The culvert was big enough around, but it was only twelve feet long. Not much margin of error when crossing the stream.

Percy eased onto the new stretch of road and cleared the single lane. He pulled back onto the highway on the other side, stepped out of the truck, and watched Sara cross the culvert. She did it easily and waved to him. She passed him and took up the lead position. Henry followed sedately behind, his passengers napping. Another crew would be coming back with him to work the labor hours with which they bought food, fuel, and firewood. Not a one begrudged Percy the work.

Reports coming in on the radio indicated that, as they had been at Christmas, their little community was thriving in comparison to others in the state. Down south it was better, but there was no guarantee it would continue to be so. Even the areas that weren’t under the waters of the new, much larger Gulf of Mexico.

Much of the crowd at the school didn’t really think it was so great. With the heavy snow accumulation, Steven’s store had been abandoned, as had the hardware store. Everything centered on the school.

The main entrance of the school had been cleared with shovels, and there were the signs of a couple of paths leading somewhere. Percy and Sara cleared the same large area cleared on the last trip.

People were waiting for the food delivery. Those scheduled to work the next few days eagerly helped unload the food and take it to the kitchen. Steven would distribute it from there. He, like several others that had remained fairly independent, had moved his family to the school when it became difficult to maintain heat in their own homes.

“Hi, Tom,” Percy said. He noted that the Mayor was beginning to look haggard. The harsh weather was telling on his health. “What’s the word today?”

“Fair, at best,” Tom replied. “It’s a struggle. Thank God for your help. Most of us never would have made it through without you. The reports from the feds and the state are indicating that the weather should be breaking in another two to three weeks.

“Still not much chance of aid. We’re going to have to plan better for next winter. Or move south. That discussion starts every few days. I’m beginning to believe it may be a viable option. People are dying here, and I can’t do anything to stop it.”

“Tom, you’re doing everything you can. Some of the people that have died just made bad choices. Estelle and Dwayne never should have tried to go back to their place after Christmas. It was too cold and snowy. And young Dale… Janice would have preferred to see him a few days after her birthday, rather than see him make the attempt to deliver her birthday present in the middle of a blizzard. It’s tragic, but he made the choice to walk to the farm. It wasn’t your fault.

“This is still a nation of individual freedom. We can’t deny people the right to make stupid decisions. At least, not unless the decision will affect other people. Then there is some justification. Like when you prevented Jeb from storing fuel in his family’s area here in the school. There would have been a fire, eventually. I know he blames you for the fact that the container was overturned and the fuel lost, but you still made the right decision.”

“That man is upset about something, every day. I wonder sometimes if I object to moving the town south next spring, just because Jeb and Abigail are for it. And Wilkins. The three of them are still coming up with plans to try to get you ousted from the estate. Now, if just them, and a couple more I could name, would head south on their own, I’d be all for it. They’re a constant thorn in the operation here.

“I mean, everyone is entitled to an opinion. The things we’ve done here have been group decisions, but they are always so negative. It just really gets me down.”

“Tom, you’re a good guy. The offer to have you come out to the estate and stay still goes,” Percy said.

“I can’t leave these people,” Tom said slowly, looking around the auditorium where they were standing. Fortunately, unlike most such structures, the school’s auditorium was an arched construction building. Basically a large Quonset hut. It took the snow load with no problem. The rest of the school was much the same. A large asterisk of Quonsets with dormer windows in the single floor sections.

“Not,” Tom continued, looking back at Percy, “any more than you cannot help where you can. You don’t have to be supporting this town with your resources.”

“You know I’m doing just fine. I’ve pretty much got all the original value of gold and silver back in trade that I put up to help get things started. People had a little here and a little there. And when Alfonse set up his little assay, refinery, and mint operation to turn jewelry and other things with precious metal into coins, a lot more came out of the woodwork. There is a lot of gold and silver in things that I had no clue. Alfonse has been able to extract it for people and put it into useable form.

“For a fee,” they both said together. It was a catch phrase now, heard often during discussion of bartering, trading, and requests for services.

“I know. But you really don’t have to be doing all of what you do. You could sit back and live comfortably, supporting yourself for the rest of your lives at the estate, without all the hassles and work.”

“It’s just not in me,” Percy replied. “I’ve worked all my life to get where I am. It didn’t turn out the way I imagined, even with all the planning I did for such things. It is essentially what I set out to do, in the event of an emergency. Have what was needed to get by and help others if I could. I guess I never really believed it myself, that things would happen the way they did. I’m just glad I’d made the preparations I did. And I’ve made a good living in the process.”

“A lot of people are grateful you did. Even some that used to make fun of you for your strange ways. And that equipment you bought. Who ever heard of farming with trucks and industrial equipment but you? And keeping working teams to actually farm with, not just have to march in parades, in the day and age of mechanized farming. Just you. I haven’t really said it in a while, but thanks, Percy, for all you’ve done.”

“Come on, Tom. You don’t need to say that. I do what I do because I want to do it. It’s an ego thing I guess. I like being prepared. I like having my toys. I never really needed all those six wheel versions of my vehicles. I just like them. They work great in these conditions, sure, but four wheel drives would be almost as good.”

“Maybe,” Tom said, “But if things ever get back to normal enough to allow me to obtain some of the same things you have, I’m going to. Those trucks of yours are amazing. And I can tell you, my four wheel drive SUV never would have made it across that stream the way your six-wheel-drive Suburban did when the bridge first went out.”

“Hopefully things will get back to a semblance of what they were. The reports we’re getting indicate there are many areas firing up again. Smaller scale, but to a degree.”

“Yeah. Where the weather is still reasonable. You were right about the Gulf Stream. Apparently it did sink. The experts are saying that we’re in for these kinds of winters for a long time to come.”

“Just like Canada used to have. They dealt with it. So will we. And I agree with you. Those that want to go south should go. This area will easily support the same number of people that are here now, if they are people that want to be here and are willing to do what it takes to make a comfortable life. It’s just a matter of adjusting to things. And a matter of scale.”

“I know,” Tom said. “There are a few taking to this like ducks to water. Others never will. Maybe we should plan on helping some go south this spring.”

“I’ll see what I can come up with,” Percy said, grinning.

“No doubt,” Tom said, his grin matching Percy’s. “But before we get too maudlin, or too eager to get rid of people, let’s get through the rest of winter.”

“Good idea,” Percy agreed. They went their separate ways then. Tom to see about an administration problem and Percy to get things ready to go back to the estate.

It was still snowing lightly, but there was no need to use the snow blowers on the way back. Henry got the current batch of six people settled in the bunkhouse as Sara and Percy parked the Unimogs and went to check on things in the house and the barns.

The snow had been moved, piled in a nearby open area. The dirty white pile was growing. “I know we need to keep this cleared, but why are you being so careful to keep it so organized,” Jim asked Percy as they stood behind the barn and watched Bob put the last bucket load of snow on the pile using a Unimog.

“That ash mixed in with the snow will be very good for the fields. I want to work it in like compost next spring. Piling up the snow like this will leave the ash behind when it melts. Speaking of which, show me how the Ice House is coming.”

“Another good layer,” Jim said, leading Percy around the pile of snow, to a spot behind the utility barn. In the space between the barn and a section of the orchards was a growing mound of ice. Each morning when it was the coldest, water was sprayed on the mound, freezing as it flew through the air or when it hit the existing ice.

A light structure of wood had been built to form a cavity in the ice when the pile was first started. Now they just had an inverted U shape that was moved slightly each day to maintain a tunnel into the head high cavity. Flexible plastic tubing was laid in a spiral pattern inside the ice as the mound was being built.

Later in the spring, when they could no longer create more ice easily, the ice mound would be covered with straw bales to insulate it. The cavity would be used to store things requiring refrigeration. Water could be pumped through the tubing and used to cool things, too. The entire mound was sitting on plastic lying on the ground. As the mound did melt, the runoff would be directed to one of the many underground water storage areas Percy had incorporated when he began the renovation of the place. That cold water could also be used for cooling purposes.

The storage areas were stacked interlocking panels consisting of four-inch high cylinders inside of pits with plastic liners. The stacked panels allowed a top liner to be laid down, and then the pit backfilled with eight inches of covering that would support vehicles. The panels took up only roughly four percent of the space in the cavity, leaving room for thousands of gallons of water in each one. All water diverted into the tanks ran through gravel and sand filters to remove debris.

Percy collected pretty much all the rain and moisture from snow that fell on the area comprising the estate building area. Since a generator had to run part of the time anyway for other needs, it was no problem to have a pump moving water from a well to make the ice mound.

A large tarp was drawn over the mound when the spraying was finished. Snow was blown over it to keep the sun from hitting the mound. Not that they got a lot of sun, but there was no reason to let any of the ice melt until it was needed. Plus, the snow that accumulated naturally was removed and added to the ash and snow pile Percy was building.

“Looking good,” Percy said. “Thing might just last all summer, if we get it big enough. Though, from what the reports are saying, this summer may be as hot as this winter was cold.”

“This’ll be the place to hang out, if it is. Set up a lounge chair inside and just let the heat glow outside.”

“Yeah. Right. Go find something to do.” Percy laughed and Jim responded in kind. Percy headed to the house.

Melissa, Andy, and Mattie were commiserating with each other in the dining room as the sisters went about their work. Sara had started preparations for the household noon meal. She mostly supervised and the young women did the work.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

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Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2013, 10:35:09 AM »
“Burgers for lunch okay, Percy?” she asked.

“Sure,” he replied. “Dr. Bluhm over in the infirmary with today’s load?”

“Dr. Jock Bluhm is,” Melissa called to him from the dining room. “This Dr. Bluhm is right here. I should have kept my maiden name for my work,” she groused.

“I’m going to see how he’s doing,” Percy said, ignoring the pregnant woman’s comments. “Barbie didn’t look too good this morning. We might have another inpatient for a while. Until that baby comes, too.”

“I’d better go check on her,” Melissa said. Andy stood and helped her get up from the chair.

“You be careful,” Mattie admonished, wrapped up in her favorite blanket. Her voice was muffled from the congestion of the cold. “You’re not in the best of shape yourself. Be sure to use the tunnel and don’t go outside.”

“Yes, Mother.” Melissa quickly apologized for her sharp remark. “I’m sorry Mattie. It’s not your fault. I just feel rotten. The tyke is kicking me something fierce.”

“It’s all right, sweetie,” Mattie got out before she started coughing.

“Maybe you should go lie down, Mrs. Simpson,” Andy said. “Susie will kill me if I let anything bad happen to you.”

“Thank you, Andy. I think. And I think I will.” Mattie staggered off to her room.

“I think I’ll lie down, too,” Andy said. “My leg is hurting.” He went off to the bedroom he and Susie shared.

“We’ll call you when lunch is ready. Andy paused, lifted a hand from the crutches to wave, and then hobbled on down the hallway.

“I guess it’s just us for a while, ladies,” Sara said.

Everyone seemed to be in a better mood by the time lunchtime rolled around an hour later.

“Makes me thankful I’m doing as well as I am,” Melissa was saying as she, Jock, and Percy re-entered the kitchen to the smells of grilling hamburgers. The sisters were setting out plates and flatware, as Sara monitored the burgers.

“She’s going to be fine,” Jock said. “She’s just having a lot of discomfort. It’ll be over soon. The baby has dropped.” Jock looked over at Percy. “Do you think Amanda would come out for a few days to help? You can up her pay a little. Take it out of my ration. I’d like an experienced nurse to help with the delivery. She’s been doing fine in town since she showed up.”

Amanda Gardner had walked into town one day before the weather had become so bad. She was headed to Arkansas from Wisconsin. She’d been carrying a huge backpack, pushing a mountain bike piled high with equipment, with a pipe strapped to the handlebars to steer it.

There was a two-wheeled deer drag loaded with additional equipment and supplies attached to the bike as a trailer. An inverted adult size snow sled topped the supplies. The sled had been converted to a pulka with plastic pipe and rope and could be used to carry the deer drag and bike in snowy conditions.

There were also a pair of cross-country skis, a pair of snowshoes, and a pair of alpine poles strapped to the equipment to allow winter travel.

When she arrived her intentions had been to stop for a day to rest. She agreed to stay and help with the medical duties for a share of food. She’d been invaluable to Jock, with Melissa able to do limited duty due to her pregnancy. When the thaw came in the spring, she’d head south again, with a fresh stock of jerky and dried fruits and vegetables. She was trading some labor for additional food stocks for her trip.

“I’m sure she will come out for that. And I’ll absorb the additional cost. She wants as much food for her trip as possible.” Percy was adamant about taking care of any additional barter Amanda might want.

As it turned out, Amanda was happy to do it. And it worked out well. Shortly after Barbie safely delivered her seven pound eleven ounce baby boy, Melissa went into labor. Melissa bore an eight pound thirteen ounce baby girl. Both babies were healthy. The happy news was transmitted to those in town.

The births seemed to be a turning point in the weather. It snowed more, but they were light snows, both in intensity and color. For the moment at least, the volcanoes to their west were behaving. There was still over two feet of snow when March rolled around, but it rapidly melted under the often seen sun.

The early rains began not long after the snows had melted away. Since they’d been able to decontaminate the fields the previous fall after stripping the fields for fuel production, Percy began turning the ground as soon as the horses and oxen could get into the fields safely.

Besides the moisture from the accumulation of snow that winter, the early rains, cold as they were, added another significant amount of moisture to the worked ground. The irrigation ponds and canals were also full. Percy was sure that the moisture and significant amounts of volcanic ash would result in bountiful crops. He expected a shorter than normal growing season, so pushed to get things planted as soon as it looked like the danger of a hard frost was over.

The federal government was doing its best to provide what help it could, and getting weather reports, both short range and long-range forecasts were a priority they had been able to do.

When the roads were relatively safe to travel again, Sara began the spring census of the area. Percy had her take the Chevy pickup with the shell and plenty of emergency supplies. The first few weeks of her work there was still danger of a sudden blizzard. By the end of March, seasonal weather prevailed.

Most of the people that had worked their rotation had been trained in what they would do come spring if they worked at the estate. The preparation and then planting went well. Percy had always saved seed to plant and had more than enough from the prior years to plant everything he wanted, despite last fall’s failed crops. There were a few other farms equipped to do horse farming and the small amount of seed left in the farm supply store was divided among them.

For the first time in his life, Percy deviated from the rotation plan for the fields and garden. He knew the ground was in good enough shape to plant every available acre to get a good harvest. The plan was to go back to the rotation the next year.

Since the weakest of the stock had been used for food during the winter, the stock that was left was in prime shape. Percy had only been using a fifth of the space in the animal barn before the war. The additional animals had filled it, though not to the point of overcrowding any of the animals.

All the animals seemed grateful to get outside the first time they were allowed to do so. They’d all been exercised regularly in the barn, but the freedom of the first pasture trip seemed to bring out the friskiness in all of them, including the chickens. The dogs had opportunities to go outside during the least severe of the weather, so weren’t quite as excited as the other animals were.

Nature had taken its course, as expected, and all of the female animals began giving birth. Susie and Percy had a good handle on it, but Doc helped, as did the Doctors Bluhm. They only lost three piglets and one calf. Baring another disaster, there would be meat for the year.

With the crops in and being cared for by hand and by animal power, other projects began to come to the fore in people’s minds.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 36

Calvin and Nan were able to get to town a few more times before winter hit full force. They helped all they could, wherever they could, helping people prepare for winter. There wasn’t that much they could do. They hauled as much wood as they could get cut, letting the town council allocate it. They were getting a small fuel allocation from the state for what they were helping with, allowing them to conserve their own fuel.

When October rolled around they made what would be their last trip until spring. It saw the end of the gang that had attacked them. They’d been caught in a house in town, the owner of which had been providing the information and shelter. When she traded a jar of homemade preserves to Sheila McGuire for a half pint of liquor, Sheila recognized the label on the jar. It had come from one of the families that had been massacred by the gang. The woman showed it to the Chief.

Calvin was with the group that surrounded the house. They never determined if the gang had heard about the no mercy dictate that had come down, but they surrendered without a shot. They were hanged the next day, including the woman, during another snowstorm.

Calvin and Nan didn’t go outside much that winter. Only to take the occasional look around and to clean the solar panels of snow. The snow was fourteen feet deep at its worst. They could not have gone anywhere even if they’d wanted.

They checked with Bill from time to time on the radio he’d left them. Things were not going well in town, and from what little information Bill was getting, things weren’t much better in the outlying areas like where the Stubblefield’s were.

But Calvin and Nan did just fine. They barely touched their stock of LTS food, using mostly the home canned goods they’d put up the previous fall.

The snow was down to only five feet deep when they decided to try to make it to town. It took them a week of long days of work with the Unimog to get there. They worked three more days in town under Bill’s direction, clearing the most important travel lanes.

Again Calvin and Nan helped in many ways, as spring came in with a whimper. The extreme winter had taken a heavy toll in life. Less than twenty percent of those that had survived the war survived the winter. The town itself lost proportionately more than the outlying areas. Several of the farms, used to being on their own for long periods during normal winters had survived intact. Others had not.

Bodies were buried, including those that had been hanged the previous fall. They had been there the entire winter, it being beyond the capability of the town residents to dig their way to them, much less bury the bodies. The cold weather had preserved them.

One farm family survived the winter by moving an antique wood kitchen stove into their barn and living there with the animals for mutual warmth and support.

It was never said aloud, but there were suspicions of cannibalism at one farm. But everyone there died, anyway, so nothing was done about it. Nothing could be done.

The survivors pulled together to make it. Very little food and not much more fuel came to the town through the auspices of the state and FEMA. They got a little, accepted gratefully. Most of their supplies were scavenged, through a FEMA sanctioned plan, from those that had not made it through the winter.

Not all had starved to death. Many deaths came early in the winter when a storm plummeted temperatures to thirty and forty degrees below zero for days on end. Most of the deaths were caused by freezing, or asphyxiation when wood was burned in snow covered houses with not enough ventilation.

Once travel could be accomplished, most of the rest of the population of the town and countryside opted to go to relocation centers in the southern states. A hardy few, farmers mostly, chose to stay.

Calvin and Nan stayed busy berming up barns and houses for the next winter, and cutting wood for hire. They started the garden and continued to grow vegetables in the greenhouse. They talked about going south, but with some of the farmers sure they could endure the winters, there would be food for barter, trade, and sale. They decided to stay.

FEMA managed to keep a trickle of fuel coming in, and Calvin was able to refill his tanks before the end of fall, doping it with Pri-G and Pri-D to keep it stable, as he had the year before. They were still well stocked with propane.

It was going to be some difficult years, but with the hardy people that chose to stay behind and continue with their lives, and Calvin and Nan with their resources they were willing to use for the benefit of the community, in return for supplies, there would continue to be a human presence in the Black Hills. Even the flora and fauna began to make a comeback the following years.
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 37

Buddy was able to barter and trade for quite a few things the next couple of months as they prepared for the winter. He also bought a few things with silver and gold, but he was holding what he had left pretty closely. Though he was pretty sure it was some scavengers, he traded for almost three hundred gallons of gasoline over that time. It kept the truck running back and forth for their weekly trips, plus increased his supply slightly.

FEMA and the National Guard began allowing those with businesses to open them for a limited time each day. Buddy was able to get new ignition parts for the plumbing van. It took several trips to move it and all the supplies he had at the house to the shelter. He also moved the storage building and re-erected it beside the shelter.

Much of what he acquired he was able to trade his expertise as a plumber, and some of his supplies. He was one of six that plumbed water and sewer for the camp as it grew. The tradesmen had plenty of unskilled help to get the work done. Everyone that wanted to stay at the camp and receive assistance had to contribute some of their time.

Buddy knew the winter, no matter how bad it got in the city, would be worse, but he and Charlene both preferred to be where they were, rather than in the camp. He wasn’t sure how well they would make out if the winter got as bad as the forecasts said it would.

And the captain had been correct, the die-off continued, though more people were coming out of the hills, to the camp, as their supplies ran out. Despite the fact that the total population of the region was falling, the camp population was growing.

Those facts made some things more difficult. Others less so. One of the farmers that was ill and going to stay in camp made Buddy a good deal on two roosters, a dozen layers, and three brood hens. It took Buddy and Charlene several days to haul enough dirt into the shelter to make a spot for the chickens for the winter. The farmer had thrown in the old pen and coop. It was set up near the garden spot they prepared for the next spring.

Knowing what was needed, Buddy took the opportunities during the decent weather to make arrangements with several other farmers to help out on their farms in exchange for meat, vegetables, and other staples. None would give him anything in advance, and he couldn’t really blame them for that.

But as the severity of the coming weather became obvious, Buddy, since he’d already made the contacts, was first in line to stock up on butchered meat as farmers culled the animals they had left to herds they could take care of during the winter.

Things like freezers were cheap. Buddy picked up two twenty-one foot chest type freezers for next to nothing and installed them in the shelter. He filled both of them completely full with meat. Hunting laws had been relaxed, or more truthfully abandoned. Game had already begun to disappear during the immediate aftermath of the war, due to the radiation, but also to hunters taking anything and everything they could to survive.

But there was still a little left, and hunters were out in force. Buddy bought as much fish, fowl, and game as he could to finish filling the freezers. He hunted some himself, on his property and added to the take.

That was when he ran into the only trouble they had in the aftermath. Buddy had Charlene with him, teaching her to hunt. They were looking for anything they could get so Buddy had the Savage 99, and Charlene was carrying the Stoeger Coach Gun. They were at the edge of the property nearest the road when they saw three men, who also appeared to be hunting.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #35 on: October 13, 2013, 09:57:40 PM »
Buddy had grown a bit careless since things had been going so well. He hailed the others, intending to see how their hunt was going. Their response was to fire at Buddy and Charlene. Fortunately all three missed, and Buddy and Charlene dropped below the slight rise they’d been coming up. It flashed across Buddy’s mind that this needed to be taken care of right now. They couldn’t allow any rogue hunters that were willing to shoot on sight to have access to the property.

“Charlene,” Buddy whispered, guiding her to a rock outcropping. “Hide here, with the shotgun out. Give it a couple of hours. If I don’t come back, make your way to the shelter, being really careful. Anyone comes up and it’s not me, shoot first and ask questions later. I’ll make sure you know it is me. If I call you anything but Char, you know they caught me and they think they are making me show them where you are. Come out shooting. I’ll go down to give you a clear field of fire.”

“Buddy, I’m scared!” Charlene whispered back.

“I know. So am I. But we have to take care of this now. We can’t have them at our backs. They’ll eventually find the shelter and kill us. You know that time I won’t talk about much?”

Charlene nodded.

“What I learned then applies to this situation. Just stay quiet and keep a good watch. I’ll see you in a little while. I love you.” Buddy leaned forward and kiss her deeply, and then faded away into the forest.

Charlene set out several 12-gauge shells, and loosened the Glock 21 in its holster. She was as ready as she could be. She jumped once several minutes later when she thought she heard a shot. But she couldn’t be sure.

She was gathering up the shells, in preparation to head back to the shelter, as Buddy’s time limit of two hours was almost up, when she heard Buddy’s strong voice. “Char,” he said, “It’s me. Everything is okay.”

She lunged into his arms in the fading light. He held her for a few moments, and then said, “We need to get back to the shelter. One of them tagged me before I got him.”

With a gasp, Charlene stepped back and looked at Buddy in alarm. Then she saw the blood on his pants. “It’s not serious,” he said quickly. “But it hurts like the dickens and it’s starting to get dark.”

Despite not needing it, Buddy finally accepted Charlene’s shoulder as support as they walked back to the shelter in the fading light. She cleaned and dressed the wound at the shelter, without another word, and then just held Buddy silently, until he fell asleep.

The next morning there was a foot of snow on the ground, and it was coming down heavily. Buddy got dressed, grunting and groaning a bit, over Charlene’s objections. “I have to, Honey. It won’t take too long, but those three had some things we can use.”

“Well, I’m coming with you!” she insisted.

“Are you sure you want to? It’s not a pretty sight.”

Charlene gulped slightly, but she nodded. “I insist.”

Buddy suggested they forego breakfast, and Charlene was glad he had. Stripping the equipment and then the clothing from the first man made her stomach churn. The second and third time weren’t as bad. Buddy had made clean headshots, so there wasn’t much gore. Just the fact they were handling dead bodies.

Buddy had insisted they wear their Tyvek suits, with rubber boots, gloves, and respirators. There was some type of bug going around and he didn’t want to chance that the men might have it.

It was an amazed looked on Charlene’s face when Buddy led her to the county road and she saw the truck there. They threw the gear in the back of the pickup truck, on top of three deer carcasses and half a dozen turkeys.

The truck was a small Toyota four-wheel-drive pickup that had seen better days, appearance wise. But someone had loved the truck at one time, Buddy pointed out, opening the hood. The engine was immaculate and it started right up.

Buddy was hurting by the time he finished dressing out the game. There wasn’t room in the freezer for it so he hung it in the storage shed. It would be plenty cool enough now for it to keep until they used up some of it and made room in the freezer for the rest.

They didn’t get off the property until the following spring. When they got to the city they found a virtual ghost town. Whatever had been going around the previous fall had been deadly. FEMA and the Guard had pulled out when only a few survived. What supplies were left were adequate for the few people that chose to stay behind.

They only knew that because the one person they found in the camp had kept a journal. It was still in his frozen hand when Buddy and Charlene found him. They loaded up the remaining supplies over the next three days and took them to the shelter. They used it to trade with those few on the surrounding farms that had survived.

Buddy fulfilled his promise to help on the farms that had people that made it through the winter and received enough supplies, in addition to their own garden, to make it for at least two years.

By that time the area began to recover. FEMA moved back in and began to help those that were left. Buddy and Charlene needed little actual help, but welcomed the fact that fuel and supplies were again available on a limited basis. Life would be hard for a while, but they would make it.
Percy’s Mission - Chapter 38

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Angela asked Emily.

“Yes, I do. Sure, the shelter got us through the fallout and stuff, but we can’t live in it forever. I know you think I’m making a mistake, but I’m afraid we won’t make it far enough south before winter sets in. FEMA and the National Guard won’t let anything bad happen to us. Everyone that wanted to go south left two weeks ago.”

“I know,” Angela said, “But Charlie just wasn’t ready. We still have time. The authorities have said there are places to stay once we get there. And we can work. With the rest of the food from the shelter, and those bug-out bags that were there, we’ll have what we need to get south. Are you sure you want to give all that stuff to us?”

Emily nodded. “If it hadn’t been for you, I and the children would never have survived this. And Charlie has been a big help since we found him. It’s the least that I can do.”

“Well, I’m not going to turn it down,” Angela replied. She hugged Emily and both children, and Charlie did the same. Charlie and Angela watched as the three turned and walked into the FEMA camp, to take up residence.

“Come on, Charlie. Times a’wastin’.”

“You sure like to push an old man around,” Charlie groused. He wasn’t one-hundred percent, by any means, but he’d recovered remarkably during the summer months. The fact that he had a safe place to stay, and someone to watch his back, had allowed him to get more rest in a shorter period of time than he had for years. The food he got from FEMA wasn’t in great quantity, but it was enough for him to recover.

In the weeks, then months, after they’d made connections, Angela had come to look upon Charlie as an uncle she’d never had, and to trust him completely. Charlie’s feelings were reciprocal. He came to appreciate Angela’s resourcefulness, knowledge, and skill. She had been the one that guided the small group through the last months. It was she that insisted they go south. Charlie had been ready to go into the camp at one point, but Angela had talked him out of it.

When they got back to the Baumgartner’s, the trip going faster than it used to, now that Angela had a bicycle, they began to make their preparations for leaving. They had traded a few things from the house to a couple that were going into the camp for it. Like Charlie’s, it was a good mountain bike.

They had also acquired an old pickup that still ran, and a trailer. Angela had traded her car for it. It had taken a while to get it out of the traffic jam. They’d been collecting gasoline for a long while. It wouldn’t be enough to get them as far south as they wanted to go, but it would get them a long ways on the journey.

It took them three days to pack up everything they were going to take, including the remainder of the LTS food, the weapons, and removable equipment from the shelter. Once Angela had decided they were moving, and Emily had approved the action, they used what they weren’t going to take for barter, to get the rest of the things they needed to take with them to ensure the success of the trip.

Charlie had rigged larger and better trailers for the bikes, and modified four of the packs that were part of the ten BOB’s that had been in the shelter to fasten to the bikes that they would push, rather than ride, when they ran out of fuel for the truck.

A farm family heard about their plan to go south a day in to the preparations and asked if they could travel with them in return for some fuel. They had a two-ton farm truck with a trailer of gasoline. They were still trying to find more food when the group left.

Angela readily agreed. That would let them take all the food from the shelter with them. Enough to share, with plenty left over for their first days in the south.

Angela had to admit, whether he had planned to or not, Edward Baumgartner had prepared well. They were a well equipped, though small, expedition that set off for greener pastures and better climate that day.

It was no easy trip, but with the goods they had, and the arms they had to use twice, they made their journey. They were even able to cache everything that wouldn’t fit on the bikes and trailers when they ran out of fuel after parting ways with the Stanford’s, who were headed for relatives about three quarters of the way to where Angela and Charlie were going.

Once they established themselves, Angela and Charlie returned and retrieved the caches. It was enough to see them through the winter at the farm they found that needed willing hands.

Emily and the children didn’t fare well that winter. The two children froze to death one bitterly cold night, and Emily died a few days later, from malnutrition, cold, and grief.

It was experienced farmers and survivalists that owned and ran the farm where Angela and Charlie took up residence. Unlike Emily, John, and Catherine, Angela and Charlie would make it.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 39

Some of the first were the plans of those that wanted to go south to avoid another winter like the one they’d just endured. Sara’s census indicated there were three-hundred-twenty-one people in the area that included the town and the estate. One third were children. Almost half the adults wanted to move if it were possible.

Reports had come from the area of the new Memphis Bay of the Gulf of Mexico that they had fared well. Memphis had snow most of the winter, but it was one or two feet at a time. Not four or five or six or more. And not nearly as often. They’d had two periods when the snow was gone for a few days. It was a much different kind of weather than before the war, but reasonable to the minds of the town folk. More like what they were used to.

The area around the Gulf had suffered even more than the town had, because no one in that area was even remotely prepared for that type of hard winter. The death toll had been high, according to the reports Sara was getting. There were places available for people that wanted to go there. They would be welcome.

Everyone at the estate attended the town meeting set to discuss moving. Percy hadn’t wanted to bring up any of the projects he had in mind until the issue of moving was settled. It didn’t take that long.

Sara had reported that there would probably be a big change in the population soon when she turned in her preliminary report in March. Both the state and federal governments were represented at the town meeting. When it was clear that so many people wanted to move, the government representatives asked to be allowed to speak.

Sara’s boss spoke first. “We don’t like to lose citizens, in ordinary times,” he said. “These are extraordinary times. The way the future looks, winters like this past winter will be the norm for many years. The state lost many of her citizens, between the war and the weather. Our services, such as they are, are strained to the limit. I doubt if you have noticed, since things have gone so well here.”

There were some murmurs and restlessness from the crowd at that. Howard Broadfield lifted his hands for a moment. “I know. I know. Everyone here suffered. But believe me, compared to most you really did have it easy. I lost three toes myself to frostbite and that was in the state’s shelter at the capitol.

“Be that as it may, we have been helping people in other locations to the best of our ability. Many of them also want to leave and go south. It would ease the strain on the state’s resources and speed our recovery. The state will help with this project, to a limited degree. We can discuss the details after you’ve conducted your meeting.”

The federal official took the podium next. She was a representative of FEMA. “Howard is right,” she said. “As long as some move south, and not all, everyone will benefit. The south was hit even harder than you here.” Again came the murmurs.

“Believe me when I tell you, twenty below in Memphis is ten times worse than forty below here. People were not prepared for anything except a dusting of snow, perhaps once each winter, and temperatures below freezing only a few times a winter. Estimates are that in this area we lost fifty percent of our population directly to the war, and sixty percent of what was left to the winter weather, combined with the results of volcanic and seismic activity. Twenty percent survived.

“Down south, the death toll from the war was about the same. The weather, complicated by severe earthquake damage and flooding, caused a ninety percent death toll on the war survivors. Only about five percent of the people residing there are still living.”

That brought more murmurs, but these were of dawning realization that perhaps they had fared relatively well.

Claudia Robertson continued. “Despite the damage from the earthquakes and floods, life will be easier there. There are buildings left standing that can be repaired for use. Homes as well as businesses. We… the federal government… have a stronger presence there, also due to the less severe weather. There are more remaining resources, though, like here, organized scavenging will need to take place. There are rules in place to compensate people for losses, but everything remaining, just like here, will be used.

“Your bartering system has worked so well here, as word of it spread, similar systems were instituted in many places with government assistance. That’s not to say that people weren’t doing anything similar. They were. This was just the most advanced and well thought out plan.”

Nearly every resident of the area looked over at Percy. He turned red.

“You won’t be going into a strange environment. People are doing similar things to what you’re doing here. FEMA wants to see the relocation succeed, just as the state does. We do not want any more deaths that can be avoided. If some of you move south, I think we can save lives.”

Claudia smiled. “Chancing being booed again, I must say that there has been very little lawlessness around here. Now, it was nothing like books and movies late in the last millennium depicted, but there have been cases of lawlessness in other areas. Highwaymen and such. Because of that, Federal troops can be assigned to accompany the wagon train, so to speak, to the south. That is, if this area can provide at least four men of appropriate age to add to the forces for at least two years. The military is just as shorthanded as everyone else and we need recruits. From what I understand goes on here, it’ll pretty much be the same deal. Room and board, with a little spending cash for luxuries. In silver. Again, two year commitment, but everything will be provided for your services as soldiers.”

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #36 on: October 14, 2013, 02:25:32 PM »
“What about women?” a woman called. “I was in the army a few years ago. I still got what it takes.”

Claudia was shaking her head. “It’s too difficult to maintain the facilities necessary in the field for mixed gender units. You can certainly reenlist, but you would be transferred to a base operation. Probably north of here.”

There was some laughter at that and the woman replied, “I’ll pass, thank you. My sights are set on the south.”

Several men were speaking up and Claudia interrupted them. “The trip is not dependant on whether men sign up. We just won’t be able to provide an armed escort for the trip. You would be expected to help in the defense, of course, but a group of ten troopers would accompany you, commanded by a Lieutenant. Four locals would be joined by six experienced people. Training for the four would begin immediately, from the time they joined.

“Now. Only a limited amount of supplies will be contributed. They will be for the troops to get there and enough to get back. The only thing we can supply for you is a water truck and treatment plant to supply safe drinking water. You will need to take everything else with you, to get you there. As I said, there are some resources already there. You won’t have to worry about immediate housing when you get there. Final quarters you’ll work out with the local authorities. If you contemplate running some sort of legal business, you’ll want to take whatever it is with you.

“I’ll be available, like Howard, after the meeting, for questions. Thank you for allowing me to speak.”

There was polite applause, and then Tom and the members of the city council took seats around the conference table. People looked over at Percy expectantly. Tom looked at him too. “You might as well come up here. We’re going to need your help and input on this, anyway.”

Sara gave Percy a slight shove to get him started. Red in the face again, Percy went up and took a seat at the table. “I don’t plan on moving,” Percy said. “I don’t really know what I can contribute. I just wanted to find out how many would be going. And when.”

Tom looked a bit alarmed. “But you will help us with supplies and such, for the trip, won’t you?”

“Well, of course I will. But that’ll be a straight forward barter, just like always.”

“Sure,” Tom said with a relieved smile. “You’ll need to be involved in this so you will know what’ll be needed.”

The open meeting lasted until almost ten that night and was tabled until the next morning, only a few of the details worked out. Essentially the same people showed up at ten the next morning to resume the discussion. The state and federal representatives were actively included in the discussions. There had been no problem having enough volunteers for military service. There would be four going on the trip, plus a couple more going to base duty, including one woman. Not the woman that had asked about it.

There was a plan in place by that evening. Percy was playing a much larger part in it than he had anticipated. He’d found himself volunteering to do this, then that, provide a few things, and supervise some of the preparatory activity. By the time the plan was finalized three days later Percy found himself leading the trek, though he would return, with the military contingent, with the people he was taking to help on the way.

He was thanked many times for agreeing to participate, over the next few days, as preparations began. Many of those going were farmers from the outlying areas. They had a hard time surviving on their farms during the winter. Many had moved in to the school, though not all. While they were discussing what would be required for the trip, Percy realized that while there would be housing, and even some ready food supplies when they arrived, many of those wanting or needing to go would be hard pressed to come up with the quantity of supplies required.

It wasn’t that Percy couldn’t supply the items. He could. The problem was that for the time before they left the people wouldn’t be able to work off the debt, and very few had enough hard currency to pay him. He couldn’t just give his products away to those that needed them. It would cause too many problems with those that were paying.

It hadn’t been in his mind initially, but Percy warmed to the idea he came up with. He talked it over with Sara, then a few key people at the estate. Percy began trading the supplies that were needed, for peoples’ property. When it was property he really didn’t want, he was able to help set up equal trades with other people to get the land adjacent to his.

Percy also took in trade homes and property in town. Many just thought he was being kind to those not able to pay any other way. Which was okay. He would take property even if a person could barter labor, goods, services, or hard money.

Percy tried to get people to understand that he did have reasons for what he was doing. He wasn’t that kind. People nodded, but thought what they wanted. Sara finally told him to quit worrying about it and just take care of business. He worried a little about stripping the estate of too much, but Susie assured him the plan was more than workable.

Susie would stay behind, in charge of the operation, with Jorge Ramirez as foreman. The cadre of already trained farm hands would be able to do everything needed with the equipment they would have. Mattie, Jock and Melissa would also still be at the estate. Andy would be going on the trip, as would Sara.

It would be a wagon train indeed. Not only was their group going, but also when it became known that Percy was leading the trip, many of the other communities and individuals asked to join the group. They were providing their own supplies, but wanted to travel with a large group. Percy sighed and agreed when Howard and Claudia approached him with the idea.

“We knew a lot of people wanted to go, and planned more than one trip, but a large group, while there are problems with it, will get more people there faster and more safely than two or three small groups. It also doesn’t strain us helping nearly as much either,” Claudia said.

“One of the biggest problems,” she continued, “is safe drinking water. And our purification system is more than capable of handling the larger group. It was really overkill for just a hundred sixty odd people, but it is the smallest unit we have. It’ll handle the daily needs of at least a thousand. Still a bit overkill for the five hundred or so that looks like will be going.”

“Five hundred!” Percy exclaimed. The idea gave him shivers. It turned out that there would only be four hundred eighty-nine. Percy still shivered when he heard the number.

Most would be taking handcarts of some type on the trip. Some would be walking with backpacks. A few had cars and enough gasoline to go that far. Several from the town were taking the cars that had been converted to run on alcohol. Percy would be taking the tank trailer with a split load. Diesel, gasoline, and alcohol.

In addition to the fuel tank trailer, the Kenworth tractor would be pulling a second trailer with a fifth wheel dolly. It was one of the reefers, to keep food fresh on the trip. It would save on time since they would not have to wait for much of the food to be dried. They’d be able to leave in late June.

Three of the Unimogs would go on the trip, as would the pickup with the bed shell. Percy was leaving behind the Suburban. He was taking the Kenworth based motorhome he referred to as The Beast. It would be towing a box trailer on a fifth wheel dolly. It would carry much of the other supplies that needed to go. Behind the box trailer would be the barge trailer.

Also going would be the Kenworth service truck. It would be towing a second box trailer on a fifth wheel dolly, with more equipment and supplies. It, like the Kenworth Tractor, would pull a second trailer, also on a fifth wheel dolly. It was the flatbed.

The flatbed would carry equipment too, mostly camp gear, which the military had agreed to furnish since there were so many going, including twenty soldiers instead of ten. Since their rate of speed would not be high, the flatbed trailer would be equipped so people could ride on it. Most of the people that didn’t have horse drawn wagons or operable cars would be walking, though it was expected that those with vehicles with space would make arrangements to carry as many people as possible.

As for the military detachment, there would be a Lieutenant in charge, as before, but there would be an additional sergeant and two corporals in the small command making twenty-four in all. The detachment was set up as four squads, each led by a platoon sergeant, with a corporal, and two private-first-class soldiers. They’d have five Hummers, each pulling a trailer. Two of the trailers would be fuel trailers.

Though they had the military Hummers, Percy decided to take the Indian with its sidecar to use for scouting, along with two of the Rokons.

Each of the three Unimogs would be pulling trailers. One Unimog would go with a flat bed, loaded with equipment, with front-end bucket attached. It pulled a trailer carrying several potentially useful implements useable by any of the Unimogs. The implements included the backhoe and a dozer blade, among several others.

Another Unimog was also equipped with a flatbed. It carried equipment on the bed and towed an equipment trailer to carry the pickup, Indian, and the Rokon’s. The third Unimog was equipped with a box bed to carry the equipment for Percy’s group, and would have a large flatbed trailer that carried yet more supplies and equipment.

In addition to the horses being ridden and pulling wagons, there were at least another twenty that would be herded along. Besides the horses, three bulls, and thirty head of cattle, mostly heifers, were going with some of the farmers. There were several pigs going, but they were all being transported in wagons or trailers.

With people walking, and the stock, Percy figured they’d be able to average ten miles a day. They expected to travel almost seven hundred miles. It would take over two months. The trip back was expected to take less than two weeks.

“Place looks like pictures of Independence, Missouri when it was one of the departure places for the westward migration,” Howard told Percy as they walked through the bustling town. It was bustling because of the dozens of families and large number of individuals preparing to head south toward the outskirts of Memphis, Tennessee, which was now a port city on Memphis Bay of the Gulf of Mexico.

“And I feel like Ward Bond in a bad episode of Wagon Train. If there ever was one. This is not quite what I expected when I agreed to do this.”

“You’ll do fine, Sweetie,” Sara told him. She was walking along side him, her arm linked with his as they checked the various voyagers’ sets of equipment.

“Some of these people are not going to get there with what they started with,” Percy said.

Claudia, walking with them, chuckled and said. “I thought you watched Wagon Train. Of course some of them won’t make it with what they started with. And I bet hard cash that a few drop out before you get there, but that you’ll wind up gaining a few on the trip.”

Her smile faded when she added, “And the condition of a few of them… you may lose a couple, too.”

“I know,” Percy said. “It would be nice if Jock could go, but he and Melissa are both needed here. I want things set up to have a real clinic and at least a makeshift hospital before winter hits. And they’ll be overseeing the new homes going in on the estate.”

Many of those staying behind would be stripping the town of everything useful, including dismantling many of the buildings. The materials would be used to build housing on the estate property east of the barns.

Though not domes, all the new structures would be earth sheltered. There was plenty of material to build the walls heavy enough to carry roofs heavy enough to carry the earth they would be covered with. They would be rather smaller than what would have been built before the war and climate changes, to make them easy to keep heated in the harsh winter.

There were five compounds planned, each a large U shape, almost rectangular, with a central courtyard area that the dwelling spaces would face. Each of the dwellings would house four people easily. Larger families would use two units. There were to be ten dwellings in each compound and four units that could be used for storage and for cottage industry.

Like Percy’s dome structures, the earth roofs would boast walled patios over the entire U, providing much additional space. There would be a gap in the nearly closed U to allow access to the courtyard. The compounds would be side by side, the closed ends of the U’s facing the north and the open end the south.

A sixth compound, similar in construction would be used to house animals. Again, like Percy’s compound, a tunnel would connect the individual compounds, though it would not be built by the simple expedient of setting sections of pedestrian underpass into place in a trench.

Instead, a slightly tapered tube would be constructed of planking and sheet metal, on top of a sheet of plastic. The resulting pipe would be six feet high, five feet wide at the bottom and four feet wide at the top. The sheet of plastic would then be wrapped up and over the pipe and the trench backfilled.

Only two of the housing compounds and the animal compound would be built that summer.

“Amanda,” Percy said, “is going, much like her original plan. She’ll be of great help. I plan to keep her on the payroll until we get there. She’s done such a good job this winter. I’d like to see her set up shop when she gets there, and it will be easier if she has a few assets.”

Sara patted her husband on the shoulder, but said nothing about his remark. They came to the group of military men and Sara excused herself. She needed to go talk to one of the new groups and give them some advice about their vehicle. It would never make it the way it was packed.

“Lieutenant Pastolori,” Claudia said, “This is Mr. Jackson. He’ll be in overall command.”

Pastolori saluted, and then reached out to shake Percy’s hand when Percy held it out. “I’m sorry I’m late, sir. My men and I will get up to speed as quickly as possible. There was a group of bandits preying on two of the communities that had quite a few people come down here. We wanted to take care of the situation before we left. We are the most mobile force in the area.”

“I’m glad you took care of it first, Lieutenant,” Percy replied, looking over the group assembled before him. There was a wide spectrum of men. Young and old, several different races, all different sizes and shapes. Eight of them definitely looked like recruits. The rest of the command looked exceeding competent. Percy was confident the new soldiers would be brought into the fold quickly and easily. They wanted it, and those doing the training obviously knew what they were doing.

Percy continued, “I take it you have the equipment and supplies you need?”

“Yes, sir,” the Lieutenant replied. He smiled then, showing even white teeth in his rather dark face. “We are looking forward to the fresh rations you have so graciously offered to share with us. I hear that this is the best eating outfit in ten states.”

“I don’t know about that,” Percy said, turning red again. “But we do okay. I have good hands that see to it.”

“Yes, sir. And we will do our best to make sure everyone makes it there safely. And those of us coming back, safely as well.”

Percy never did get Lieutenant to call him anything except Sir and Mr. Jackson. He learned to live with it. Unfortunately, in his eyes, most of the rest of the civilian group began doing the same thing. His people more as an inside joke, because it bothered him a little. The rest out of respect generated from that shown him by the military and the local townspeople. And it was reinforced over time by his actions.

Worry lines wrinkling his face, Percy, two days later, gave the order to move out. The worry lines were justified that first day. They made barely five miles. Three small groups changed their minds and turned back. Two more had vehicles that broke down. Another two ran out of fuel. Despite all the information that had been distributed, they thought fuel was going to be furnished, gratis. Their vehicles, a pair of pickups using gasoline, were huge fuel hogs.

Percy had determined to be firm before they left. He was not going to be a pushover for every little problem and ailment. He needed to get the people to Memphis and get back in plenty of time for the harvest. He knew the projects would go okay without him there, Susie and Jock would see to it. He still wanted to inspect them before winter set in.

Percy had fuel calculated to get everyone there and his group back with a good safety margin. The military the same. Percy would not cut into the safety margin to provide fuel for these two vehicles. They had no way to pay for it, even if Percy had been willing to allow it. He left it up to them to find someone that would provide them with transportation. He would give them enough gasoline to get back to their home, if they couldn’t convince anyone to take them.

Both pairs of men did find someone willing to allow them to travel with them, in return for labor around the camp. Both were families with small children and only the mother and father to care for them and do all the camp work.

Percy was a bit surprised, but the arrangement worked all right. The trucks were abandoned, pushed well off the road. Percy allowed the men to stow their gear on one of the trailers, as he’d made the same arrangement with several others short of space. The four men would take turns helping Percy’s group with their chores in return for the use of the space.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #37 on: October 16, 2013, 02:56:29 PM »
It was nearly midnight when the camp finally was assembled and settled down to Percy’s satisfaction. Despite the lateness of the hour, the orders were to rise at daybreak, and be prepared to travel by seven the next morning.

They were late starting, with some similar confusion about breaking camp, as there had been the night before on setting up the camp. It was almost nine before the Lieutenant’s Hummer led the way. Despite the later than preferred start, they managed to make their goal of ten miles.

The camp setup went much more quickly and the camp was secure by nine. There’d been a few gawkers along the route. Word had traveled ahead of them and it became common to see people along the roads, watching the group pass.

And they did stay on existing roads for the most part. Only when bridges, overpasses, and underpasses were out, or the road was blocked in some way, did they leave the pavement. Some of the pavement was in relatively poor shape after almost a year of no maintenance, but the roads had received very little traffic during that time, either.

The Unimogs and their implements were of great value when a road needed to be cleared, or approaches from and to the roads had to be made when they did need to take a detour.

As Percy had expected, some of the vehicles gave out quickly, despite staying on the pavement most of the time. He’d allowed for some of it, and with the example of the out-of-fuel vehicles, arrangements were quickly made for those whose vehicles could go no further to continue on the trip.

As time passed, they managed to pick up a couple of useable vehicles along the route, by bartering. Percy helped out by trading out some goods with the group needing the vehicle so they would have the resources to make the trade.

Percy was pleased, that despite the time it took to ferry everything across the rivers that lacked useable bridges by using the barge trailer, they were averaging more than the ten miles expected. They chose places to camp at night that had plenty of forage for the animals, so they didn’t slow much during the day to graze.

The military water purification system worked as they were told it would. They even treated the water for all the animals, just in case. The food was holding out well. Percy had allowed for some bartering along the route. They were trading to those that needed it about as often as those that had extra food bartered it to them, primarily for gold and silver, though once in a while, they wanted something else.

Percy always gave first chance at the barters to the group of people moving. He would trade only if no one else wanted the particular trade. Not that he took every trade offered. There were things being offered for trade in which he had no interest. Apparently word was traveling ahead of them by radio that a wealthy band was on the way. People were people. They would get what they could, when they could.

Only once in the first three weeks of travel were they bothered by any form of banditry. They had been warned in one small town they passed through that a band of about ten people were waylaying people traveling the route Percy’s group was taking. Lieutenant Pastolori and his men were ready for the attack when it came.

They’d sent some of the more or less normal vehicles ahead, driven by the soldiers. The Hummers held back, out of easy sight. When the lead car radioed that there was a roadblock ahead, the Lieutenant ordered the Hummers ahead at full speed, top mounted machine guns and grenade launchers ready to fire.

When the bandits saw the cars stop and the Hummers approaching at high speed, they began to fire, but quickly broke away and ran. Three of the bandits were killed outright, another three injured and taken captive. The others got away.

“How many in your group?” asked Lieutenant Pastolori of one of the captives being treated by Amanda.

The man was totally dejected. He was drawn and thin, weak with hunger. “Thirteen of us. Picked up a couple of kids wanted the easy life just a few days ago. Tried to tell them this was no easy life. Slim pickin’s. And now we got the Army convoying people. It ain’t rightly fair. What’cha going to do with us?”

“Legally, martial law is in effect. We have the right to execute looters and bandits caught in the act. But what I’m going to do is treat your injuries, give you enough food for yourselves and the rest of the group that survived, and tell you to go straight. We’re coming back through here in the near future. We hear you’re still active, we’ll hunt you down and execute you. You understand me?”

“I unner’stand,” the man replied. “Billy Joe ain’t gonna like it, but me, I’m agonna do it. I think the others will, too. More power to you if you kill Billy Joe. He’s a mean un’, even afore the war. The rest of us… we just kinda fell into it. Bad mistake. My wife, God rest her, is probably turning in her grave.”

The three men stood along the road by the barricade that had been pushed out of the way by the Unimog with the front-end bucket. Those in the convoy looked on curiously as they passed the three.

The three stood openmouthed as the full impact of what they’d attempted hit them. “We nary stood a chance,” said the one that had been questioned. “Look at them rigs. Billy Joe said they was a rich outfit, but Lordy, I never seen nothing like it. Even without them soldier boys we’d’a lost. Them folks sportin’ more guns than the soldiers.”

The man was right. Though kept out of sight for the most part, nearly every group making the move was carrying arms of some type. That included Percy and his crew. Percy, Andy, Jim, and Bob stood near the former roadblock, HK-91 rifles held at the ready, until every last person, vehicle, and animal was well past it. The Indian and the two Rokon’s had been offloaded from the trailer and were parked near the Hummers.

When everyone was past, Percy climbed into the sidecar of the Indian, Andy took the controls, and they headed to catch up to the convoy again. Jim and Bob straddled the Rokon’s and joined them. The Lieutenant left in the last Hummer, bypassing the convoy and took up the lead again.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 40

The group began to see signs of the serious damage caused by the giant earthquakes caused by the nukes set off along the New Madrid fault system and related faults. Very few bridges remained standing and the pavement of many of the roads was wavy or broken in many places.

Only the presence of the barge trailer allowed them to cross the Missouri River near Hermann, Missouri. They were getting rain every few days and the river was swollen with the runoff. Fording anywhere near the path they wanted to travel was out of the question. Aerial surveys done after the war by FEMA showed not one intact bridge between St. Louis and Jefferson City.

They were ahead of schedule by at least five days, so Percy ordered a camp set up. The majority of the group would rest for two days while the barge trailer was rigged as a tethered ferry. Then everything would be shuttled across, a group at a time.

The Kenworth Service Truck was taken across the river under the power of the two big Mercury outboard motors on the barge trailer. When it was across a Unimog was taken across with the implements needed to get the south side of the crossing set up. They were able to use the remains of the bridge approach to anchor one end of the cable that had been brought along for the purpose.

The north side was anchored similarly. Heavy pulleys were fastened to each end and the middle of the west side of the barge. A Unimog was fastened to each end of the barge with cables long enough to reach all the way across the river.

Three days after they’d reached the river the first ferry trip began. They moved the animals first, to get them onto fresh graze. On the north side the Unimog would put tension on the barge to hold the ramps against the shore.

When everything was loaded the Unimog on the south shore would pull the ferry across, with the heavy cable running through the pulleys keeping it from drifting down stream. The south side Unimog would hold the ferry against the south shore until it was unloaded, then drive toward the river as the north side Unimog pulled the ferry back across. It took them less than half a day to get everyone and everything moved.

They stayed the night on the south shore of the Missouri, and then continued their trek the following morning. Now experienced travelers all, including the stock, it took less than an hour each morning to strike camp after breakfast and a little over an hour to set it up each night.

Summer was upon them and they were able to travel for almost ten hours a day. They were able to manage twelve to fifteen miles a day, depending on how many streams and rivers they had to cross. They were carrying three bridging sections they made after they found three forty foot long aluminum I-beams at a building site on the way. Four-foot wide platforms were built on each beam.

In places where the crossing was less than thirty feet and there was no easy way to ford the stream, the work crane on the Kenworth utility/service truck was used to set the beams in place to make a temporary bridge. It was much faster than rigging up the barge trailer each time.

Percy wouldn’t allow them to span more than thirty feet, even though the panels were forty feet long. He was afraid of collapse. Gaps wider than thirty feet the barge trailer was unlimbered and everything was shuttled across on it. Often as not the barge only had to move a few feet to make the crossing.

In those cases, as they’d done at the Missouri, the Unimogs would pull the ferry back and forth, only without the stabilizing cable, since the Unimogs could stabilize it, with the much lighter downstream flow of the smaller streams.

Since the barge was over forty feet long, it often could bridge the gap, on the water, and not need to be moved. It couldn’t support the weight of the equipment across an open span the way the I-beams could. It had to be in water to support the weight, so the backhoe on the Unimog was used to actually widen the stream at the point of the crossing to get the entire barge trailer in the water. The barge trailer had tow bars at each end, so it could just be crossed by everything and then pulled out on the other side. The larger rivers, they used the same technique that had been used at the Missouri.

Though they did find an occasional crossing that could be used, their average travel distance dropped slightly due to the number of crossings they had to make, and the much worse roads in the southern half of Missouri, caused by the earthquakes.

They continued traveling generally southeast and finally picked up Interstate 55 north of Cape Girardeau. The road was in poor shape, because of all the earthquakes that had shaken it. There was not a single overpass standing, or underpass that wasn’t blocked. The pavement was offset in many places by up to dozens of feet.

The ground had also shifted vertically in places, both by shearing and in waves. There were places where the pavement was a few inches to a few feet higher on one side of an uplift. The waves generated by the earthquakes had pulled the pavement apart at the joints in places.

But the route itself still existed. They changed their procedure of staying on the pavement most of the time and went to running along the shoulders or median. Sometimes in the ditches or along the edge of the fences where the ground itself could be smoothed by the equipment Percy had brought along.

A Unimog with the dozer blade led most of the way from Cape Girardeau, smoothing the path for those following. It was not unusual to have to pull a stuck vehicle from clinging mud, since the rains continued, off and on, heavier than they’d been further north, due primarily to the proximity of the rather larger Gulf of Mexico.

It was outside of Osceola, Arkansas that the group had their only pitched battle with bandits. Percy and the Lieutenant had information, both from the government and from locals that a band hiding in the Mississippi bottoms were raiding both river traffic and road traffic. They were reported well led and well armed.

But the members of the group were seasoned travelers now. They knew what potential ambush sites looked like. Lieutenant Pastolori had all five Hummers leading the way, and checked every potential ambush site. They found the bandits along a stretch relatively good road. Each end of the particular stretch had a fallen overpass blocking it. Both blockages had been cleared, but the material was still piled precariously alongside the road.

Percy and the Lieutenant studied the situation from the basket of the aerial lift on the Kenworth utility/service truck. They’d lifted themselves just to the tops of the trees at a ridge a mile from the first overpass.

“This has to be it,” Pastolori said. “The road is pretty good, but the ditches are wide and deep. You go through the first cleared overpass… They shift the rubble to block it and the one on the far end. You’re trapped on the stretch of road. They have clear fields of fire from the forest on the one side, and probably some emplacements out in that field.

“I’m sure they are there, though I have to admit, I can’t spot them. I think the reports are right. These guys know what they’re doing. We would have checked this out, but we’d have sent someone through if Charlie hadn’t spotted the movement at this first overpass.”

“So what do we do? I have no problem backtracking a ways and going around. Take some time, but we have it.”

“That’s the safest approach,” Lieutenant Pastolori said. “And that’s what I recommend we do if you don’t want to do the plan I’m about to explain to you. I’d like to put these bandits out of business. You’re in overall charge. I can’t order you to have your people go into a fight. But I think we can take these guys with minimal, if any casualties.”

“I don’t like the idea of knowingly risking any lives. We’ll lose three days, but we should go around.”

“And if they have people watching and move their ambush?”

Percy frowned. “You think that is likely?”

“I’m not sure likely, but definitely possible. We’re reasonably sure the bandits are here. Even if they’ve had someone watching us, they really can’t have a true idea of the capability of your equipment. It wouldn’t take long to rig some shields on front of your trucks. They have the capability to take to those fields at speed.

“The Hummers with their firepower can take those that would be at the tree line. They may or may not know about the grenade launchers. Their people have to be right at the edge of the trees. Once they fire, we can direct deadly fire right onto them. “I don’t think those in the fields would be able to stand up to a charging wall of fast steel with concentrated fire coming from it behind barricades.

“We would come up like we would normally, but would stop and pour fire into the area where those that are to block the road would be. The Hummers would advance on the woods, and your team, with soldiers behind the barricades, would attack those in the fields, if there are any. I have to be honest. All the attackers might be in the woods, but I suspect there are some in those fields.”

Lieutenant Pastolori fell silent and waited for Percy’s comments. “The country can’t afford to tolerate banditry. I say we do it, but I’m going to be careful who goes and doesn’t.”

“Of course,” Pastolori said.

Percy lowered the aerial basket and the two of them began to detail the plan to the group. Percy was more than a little amazed at the outpouring of rage toward the bandit’s plan.

Tom said it best perhaps, when he commented, “They would murder women and children in an attack like that. I, for one, don’t want them doing that to anyone, not just us. If we go around, they will prey on others. From what we’ve seen on this trip, there will be others following us. I don’t want the knowledge that I could prevent something from happening and didn’t do anything about it.”

“I’m not going to lie about it,” Lieutenant Pastolori said. “There is a significant chance of casualties on our side. And we will be killing people. I will give them a chance to surrender, but I imagine they’ll just laugh. Killing people is not easy. It stays with you the rest of your life. Anyone that doesn’t think they can handle that should stay in the group that stays back.”

The consensus was to attack the bandits as the Lieutenant had suggested. The timbers from the bridging sections were quickly removed and attached to the fronts of all three Kenworths and the three Unimogs, leaving only small view ports for the driver to see through. Secure platforms for two riflemen were incorporated on each vehicle, with firing ports for the riflemen to use.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.

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Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #38 on: October 18, 2013, 06:15:39 PM »
Percy would not let any family men participate, including Tom. They had sharp words over it, but Percy told Tom that he wanted Tom in charge if something happened to him. It was just as difficult to get Sara to stay behind, too. She wanted to drive The Beast, which was where Percy would be with his HK-91. He finally convinced her, too. Other than himself, at one of the gun ports on The Beast, all of his people either stayed with the bulk of the group or were driving the vehicles.

It went even better than Percy had hoped. Like the other attack, many of the bandits broke and ran when the firepower of the group became obvious. There were six trapdoor hidey-holes in the fields along the road. Each had two riflemen. The rest of the bandits, twenty-three more they learned later, were in the edge of the woods.

There were three bandits at each of the overpasses. The ones at the first overpass were all killed almost instantly when the withering fire erupted from thirty weapons when the lead vehicles stopped and everyone in them opened up with rifles.

The Hummers charged toward the edge of the woods, drawing fire. As soon as a bandit fire point was identified, the Hummers used their machineguns and grenade launchers to good effect to silence them one or two at a time. By the time the first half a dozen bandits were dispatched by the gunners in the Hummers the others turned tail and faded into the woods.

The bandits at the far overpass were seen running for vehicles that disappeared quickly down the road. It was an absolute rout in the barren fields. The three Kenworths, on their high flotation tires didn’t even slow down when they left the road. They hit the fence that bordered the first field.

Only a couple of rounds were fired from the first hidey-hole. The sight of the six onrushing trucks panicked every one of the bandits in the fields. They all climbed out of their holes and began running. But there was no place to run. A few rounds from those holding on securely behind the barricades on the trucks and, to a man, the bandits threw down their weapons, stopped running and lifted their hands into the air.

Percy was a little concerned that the twelve men might just be shot by his people, but a few words about turning them in to the authorities in Memphis would do more good in the area than their executions would, calmed the situation.

The soldiers went into the woods a little ways on foot, but there was no sign of the rest of the bandits, besides the eight they’d killed in the first few minutes of the short battle. That was a total of eleven killed, including the three at the first overpass. With the twelve captured, Lieutenant Pastolori was sure the bandits had been broken up as a force. One of those killed at the overpass had been the leader of the band. The second in command had been killed in the woods. Their third in command was one of the captives.

From what the captives told Lieutenant Pastolori, those that survived were not very likely to be of any great danger. That end of the line in the woods had been the least experienced of the group, and those at the other overpass had been mere kids.

With the amount of supplies that had been used up there was room to take the captives with them the rest of the way to Memphis. The hunters in the group had managed to take a few game animals as they traveled in the bottomlands along the now even mightier Mississippi. There was enough food to feed the prisoners, though there were calls to let them go hungry until reaching Memphis. Percy made sure they were fed.

Interstate 55 had actually washed away in a few places, where the river was much larger due to the influx of the Great Lakes waters at Cairo, Illinois. The going slowed slightly more with the conditions.

The Corps of Engineers had a pontoon bridge in place across the Mississippi, just above where it emptied into the new Memphis Bay. The group was able to cross with no problems, though only a few at a time were allowed to cross. It was the largest group that had needed to cross since the bridge was installed after the others had all dropped during the first earthquake.

They met the Memphis FEMA representative and he directed them to the housing the group would use until each family group picked out the area were they would settle permanently. Percy had intended to turn around and head back immediately, but the horse trader in him wouldn’t allow it.

Percy and those going back with him spent two days in and around Memphis, with Percy making several deals. A few were immediate, but several were long term deals, having to do with sea based products now available with the changes in the Gulf of Mexico. As it was, they froze half a trailer load of seafood in the reefer trailer and took it back with them to the estate. The fish tanks at the estate in the animal barn provided fish protein, but the seafood would be a welcome addition to their diets while it lasted.

Percy was able to buy a few hundred gallons of diesel in Memphis. There was some coming by way of the Gulf from Texas. One refinery was back in operation. Most was going to the military, but coastal communities were getting some distribution. One of the things he’d hoped for, and managed to get, were significant quantities of the chemicals he needed to continue and increase his production of biodiesel.

He was also able to pick up more seed, including a quantity of hemp seed from the Ag department of Memphis State University. He’d had quite a bit from having done a pilot project for the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Percy had not been allowed to grow it on a production basis the way he wanted, but those restrictions no longer applied. At least, he didn’t intend to follow them. And from the source where he got the seed, quite a few other people weren’t either. Hemp was too important a source of too many products not to start growing it again.

They started back toward the estate the last week of August. With the work they’d already done on sections of the road, without the stock, and with everyone going back riding Percy’s vehicles, the trip went quickly, as Percy knew it would.

They said goodbye to the military in a town that looked rather different from what it had when they left. There were still plenty of buildings, but there were very few mostly wooden structures left.

Tom, and the handful of other townspeople that had gone on the trip to help, went the rest of the way out to the estate with Percy and his people. Like the town, the estate looked markedly different. The work on the new housing was well underway. The fields were showing good stands of crops. The snow and ice was all gone, except for Percy’s insulated mound.

Percy noted the fervor with which the twins were welcomed back by the Statler sisters. Amy and Sandra had decided to stay on, while the rest of the family headed for Memphis. Percy was sure it primarily due to the fact that Jim and Bob were both staying.

Andy and Susie disappeared quickly, but discretely after the welcomes were exchanged. Sara and Percy were left in the house, with Mattie and Tom and his wife Marie, whom they’d picked up in town, as everyone else went out on their own. Mattie was quickly filled in on the happenings of the journey. She began filling them in on the progress that had been made at the estate.

“Things are going well, Boss,” Mattie said. “All the hands had pretty much learned what they needed during the winter. With my talented daughter at the helm, and Jorge’s help, the care of the fields has gone just fine. The animals are doing great. You could see how far the building has gone. Everything is ready to put up the wall for the greenhouse enclosure. The clinic and hospital is almost done.

“The storms keep raging through, and there is some loss to the crops, but we all knew there would be. But we have enough people and hoes to keep the weeds down the horse drawn equipment can’t do. The hemp, especially, is doing great. The shipments to town are going fine. We had some trouble with the methane thing, but they got it figured out from your written instructions and the books in the library. Every tank we have that can be used for waste oil is full. You should be able to make several batches of biodiesel in a row, without any problems.”

“Good,” Percy replied. “I was able to get enough hemp seed to do another eighty acres next year, even if there is a problem with this year’s crop. But if it goes well, we can have at least one hundred sixty, if not two hundred forty. I take it the special seed plants in the greenhouse are going okay, too?”

“Yep,” Mattie replied. “I check those myself every few days. They’re coming along great. I’m not sure how much seed each one will produce, but every plant is doing well.”

Percy smiled. “Plenty. I probably didn’t need that other seed, but I’m glad I got it, just in case. Now, how are the Doctors doing?”

“We’re doing fine,” Melissa said, coming into the kitchen, Jock on her heels. “And the baby even better. Welcome back, by the way.”

“Thanks. Can I hold her?”

Sara looked at Percy in surprise. They couldn’t have children, of course, and Percy had never said a word about particularly liking children. He’d always done fine with the ones they came into contact with during the last few months, but he seemed truly anxious to hold the baby and see how it was doing.

As he took the baby, Percy was asking, “How have you two been? Mattie tells me the clinic and our mini-hospital are about done. How’s the health of everyone, here and in town?” Percy was looking down at the baby in his arms as he listened to their responses.

“Barbie’s little Michael is doing just fine. Barbie is doing okay. She needs to continue to take it easy. She is really struggling to keep it together. Losing Mike this winter hit her really hard. She’s still struggling with the idea of being a single mom in these times.”

Percy only nodded, and Jock took up the report from his wife. “As you can see, Melissa, Junior, is doing just fine. As is her mother, as you can also tell.” His arm was over Melissa’s shoulders and he gave her a loving squeeze.

“Mattie finally got over that cold, but only recently. She is going to have to take it easy this winter, too.”

“I’m fine, thank you very much,” protested Mattie. Rather less forcefully than her normal protestations. She was beginning to feel her age.

“Everyone else,” Melissa said, “is doing fine. The usual minor things. No more broken bones. Just a few scrapes and things from the various projects. Nothing at all related to the farming.”

Percy looked up then. “And in town?”

“Not as good there,” Jock replied. “A couple of people haven’t recovered very well from illnesses from the winter. And there are reports coming in now of outbreaks of human anthrax and really bad smallpox.

“I don’t know if you heard it from the military while you were on the road, but it was confirmed that both biological and chemical weapons were used. Haven’t heard too much about the chemicals from the weekly report from the Feds. We were informed that Wisconsin and Michigan were both hit with anthrax.

“It’s just speculation, but they think they wanted to infect the dairy herds as well as people. I don’t think they were expecting the terrible winter. They’ve lost most of the herds north of us. Quite a few survived, of course, in isolated events, but the big dairies couldn’t get most of their herds into enough protection to save them.”

Melissa spoke up again. “We’re really going to have to watch things carefully, with the additional inter community travel. If an epidemic gets started, in the close confines like we have here, and had at the school and city hall last winter, the entire population of any given group could be wiped out. Epidemics turn pandemic quickly in these types of conditions.”

Again Percy looked up and nodded. “Anyone in town need any special consideration?”

Jock answered again. “Those that are still weak will need plenty of good food, especially protein. Everyone else needs are similar, just not as critical.”

Percy stood up and handed little ‘Lissa back to Melissa. “They’ll get it.” He looked at Mattie and continued. “I want you taking it easy. Let the sisters do the work. Just supervise.” He looked at Melissa then. “Tell Barbie we’re going to need someone to help with the smaller children here at the estate when we have families here. She was planning to be a teacher. As soon as she is up to it, she’s in charge of the littlest ones. She’s now on the fulltime estate payroll. Make a note, Sara.”

He looked over at Jock. “Print up some flyers with things people need to watch for this winter, including the signs and symptoms of the pox and anthrax. Anything else you think important.

“I’ll talk to Susie about starting a real safety program. We’ve always tried to work safely, but I want people aware of dangers. What might have been a minor annoyance in the past, can be life threatening now. I’m going to go look over the construction. Anyone want to come? Sara?”

“I’ll be out in a bit,” Sara replied, smiling at Percy. “I’ve a couple of things I want to do here in the house first.”

Percy gave her a quick kiss on the lips, grabbed his hat, and headed for the door.

“Whew!” Mattie said. “He was on a roll, there.”

“It was this trip,” Sara told the others as the Bluhms took seats. Sara took the baby when Melissa offered her.

“He’s seen the effects of no organization. Many people we saw really did have it a lot worse than we did. Right, Tom?”

“Sara is right,” Tom replied. “Some had as much in the way of resources as we did in some of the cities and larger towns. But a lack of cooperation and coordination of resources, like Percy did here, caused as much damage as everything else.”

“Don’t limit your contribution,” Sara quickly said. “You were the main other half of what happened here. Without your leadership in town, much of what Percy did would have been wasted.”

“Maybe you’re right, but less than half of us would have survived, except for what Percy had been doing for years. He did it on purpose. It was like it was a mission for him. But think about that one barn we saw. It wouldn’t have taken much to have bermed it up and used it for shelter for animals and people. People died for a lack of forethought.”

“Percy has more than his share of forethought,” Sara said.

“Yeah,” Mattie replied. “I’ve been here a long time, and I’ve learned that he seldom does anything for a single reason. Most things that he buys have multiple uses, just like those ugly trucks. And those bikes of his. He uses one to cultivate the garden sometimes. Whoever heard of gardening using a motorcycle?”

The others smiled.

“He takes the responsibility he’s taken onto himself very seriously. He did before, but even more so now.”

“I know how he feels,” Tom said softly. The others looked over at him and smiled. Then they all noticed how much more gray hair he had than they could remember. The little group broke up then, Sara and Tom going out to join Percy on his inspection tour.

The work was coming along nicely. Sara could see that Percy was pleased. The structures would be completed by October first, with the rest of the estate’s equipment now back. That had been Percy’s goal. The weather would be turning bad by that time, but Percy was confident the finishing touches could be put on the structures and people moved in before the worst of the expected bad weather hit.

“Tom, are you, Marie, and the kids planning on moving? You know you have a place here anytime you want it.”

“I know,” Tom said. “But as long as we still have a town that is a town, I feel like I should be there. Some of us are going to finish fixing up the city hall and live there this winter. There and the school, with the improvements that are being done to it, should house anyone that doesn’t want to live off by themselves.

“I know quite a few people are going to take you up on the offer to stay here, at least during the winters. Now me… I was thinking… well… Never mind. It’ll be a couple of years probably before I could do anything, anyway.”

“What?” Percy asked. “You have a plan of some kind?”

“Actually, I’d like to get back to farming. It’s even more important than it used to be. I was a farmer for a long time before I went into the insurance business. You know that. I was leasing out the three hundred acres I had. I’ve been thinking about trying to farm it again. It’s just pretty difficult to get geared up again. In a couple of years, maybe.”

“You’re still concerned about the town. What about continuing to live there and start farming right there. With all the vacant lots now, you could start with them and then start working your acreage when you have things the way you want them.”

“Percy,” replied Tom, “You know I can’t afford to buy up those lots. I don’t want to trade my current land, even if someone would take it. I want my kids to have at least some legacy. And before you offer, I won’t use your property without paying for it, and I can’t.”

“We are going to need all the food and other organic products that can be produced. There are other arrangements that can be made, besides outright purchase. Such as lease purchase and farming on shares.

“If you want to use the arable land in town that I own, you can, for ten percent of what you produce. I’ll provide what you need, that you can’t acquire on your own, and you can pay it off over time with another one percent of production until everything is paid off. How about that?”

Tom looked thoughtful.

Sara urged him, “Talk it over with Marie, Tom. It’s a good deal, and the more substantive farms we have going in the area the better. Even with the weather, there’s rebuilding to be done. And it will be done. With the discussions going on in Congress, flat rate taxes payable by hard currency or goods, products, and services will provide the means for a full recovery eventually.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

Please post any comments for this story in the Comments Section, not here with the story. Thank you.
Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
(There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein) Kindle Author page

Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: JDY Fiction - Percy's Mission
« Reply #39 on: October 19, 2013, 05:21:11 PM »
“Not everyone has the ability to inspire others to do their best, the way you and Percy do. If you have an ongoing estate, even if it starts small, our little area of Iowa will be a model for other communities.”

“You make it sound like a responsibility I can’t shirk,” Tom replied.

“It is, in a way. Everyone that can contribute should, each in his or her own way. You’ve already been doing it, with you duties as mayor. I’m not suggesting you haven’t been doing your share. You have. It’s just that if this is something you want to do, anyway, it’s just one more way of helping the community.”

“What? Did you two rehearse this? You aren’t really leaving me much choice, the way you’re both putting it. I mean, it’s too late to start now, except for prep work, but it does sound like a good deal.” Tom paused, looking off into the distance for long moments. “Look. Let me talk it over with Marie and the kids. See what they say. They’ll be a big part in the success or failure. If they really don’t want to do it, I’m not going to make them.”

“I’m confident,” Percy said. “Marie’s like you, and your kids are your kids. They’ve all done more than their share. I suspect they’ll want to do this, too.”

They did. During the evening radio contact with town, Tom said as much. They would work out the arrangements over the next few days.

Percy’s Mission - Chapter 41

The harvest of the early crops was beginning and Tom ran a harvesting crew for Percy, as part of their arrangement. Two crews were still working on the housing, but most of the rest of those that could labor were working in the fields. Everyone else was providing a support function of one type or another.

The weather cooperated, at least part of the time. The indications were, as feared, that it would be another severe winter. Equipment had finally been rebuilt to access the few satellites still in orbit, including a few of the weather satellites. Naval ships were a large part of the reporting network providing global weather information.

There would be no moderation of the North Atlantic weather systems with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream now traveling deep under the fresher waters of the ocean between North America and Europe and North West Africa.

Cold snowy winters and cool, wet summers would be the norm, counter to the normal weather cycles when the climate turned colder. Cool climate eras tended to be dry eras. There was less evaporation and much of the available moisture was locked up in ice and snow.

Warm climate eras tended toward lots of rain. With the higher rates of evaporation and the huge amounts of moisture in the atmosphere, the rain, drain, and evaporation cycle was constant. With warmer oceans overall, storm system after storm system would develop.

With the effects of the massive amount of ash and nuclear created dust that had entered the atmosphere, that would take years to eventually settle, temperature drops were worldwide. Less so in the southern hemisphere, though even there many more nukes had been used than most scenarios had foreseen. And many had been tectonic plate attacks, activating many volcanoes. The southern hemisphere, though with slightly clearer skies, still had significant temperature drops.

Instead of the world going into another little ice age, the nuclear reactions still going on under the oceans and seas in several places continued to pour heat into the system in isolated spots. These were creating huge storm systems one after the other, carrying large amounts of moisture, counter to the general cold era climatic trend.

Normally, when a reactor lost its cooling system, it would quickly go critical, usually blowing the reaction vessel apart by steam explosions, which scattered the reaction material and therefore stopped the reaction

In the cases of the nuclear powered ships and submarines that had gone down more or less intact, the cooling system had failed, of course. However, a more than suitable one was immediately available. The ocean or sea itself. The nuclear fire continued to burn, moderated and cooled by the salt water surrounding it.

A few of the reactors that went down still operating were nearing the time when fuel would need to be replenished. Most had anywhere from five to ten years of fuel remaining, under ordinary operating conditions. The reactors, controlled only at the level they were in when the sinking happened, and moderated by the seawater, would probably run for considerably less time as the sea took its toll on the equipment. In any case, it appeared that the particular distorted climate that the war and nature together had created would exist for at least another three to five years.

After that, nature would take its course. What that would be; only time would tell. For the moment, Percy’s and Tom’s concerns were planting, tending, and harvesting crops during the shorter growing seasons the current climate was producing. Tom was able to get some help from the Iowa state government, and the federal government. State governments, as well as the Federal government, were much changed, but still in place and beginning to offer real help again.

People were willing, for the most part, to pay their taxes, since they were payable with other than money, of which people had very little. Gold and silver were circulating again, but much of the trade that was going on was still for tangibles. With the government accepting them to provide much of the support required to do their work, the work was getting done. The economy was still running on a value base; gold and silver; but much of the actual transfers were in goods, products, and services, though valued on the gold and silver standard.

One of the highest priorities was the housing and feeding of the remaining population. So farmers got as much help as could be. With much of his reserves still intact, Percy traded most of the assistance offered to him to the few other farms still in a semblance of operating condition, including Tom’s in-town efforts.

As the town had done, county, state, and the federal governments took possession of property not legally claimed by anyone. They were honoring deals and trades, such as those Percy had entered in to with the former legal owners. Those simply claiming property because it was abandoned lost it to an appropriate government entity.

Towns were entitled to property within their pre war city limits. The counties, states, and federal government divided the rest. Counties got twenty percent for their use, the state fifty percent, and the federal government controlled the other thirty percent.

Some of it was sold outright, to people like Percy that had the resources to buy it. Most was leased out for use to generate the income needed to accomplish other tasks. In Tom’s case, a few city lots were rented from locals that still owned them. Most of what he was preparing to put into production were lots that Percy had bought from people leaving the area.

The war and its aftermath had changed Camden Dupree. After Percy had started using the bank as his central exchange, and other people did the same, Dupree, with the profits of his handling of the accounts, had begun doing things much the same way as Percy. He acquired some property, not just because he could, but also because it could be put to good use. In no way a farmer, the lands he bought he leased at the same types of rates that Percy started to do. A share of the production. But it let people get back to productive work, and put land into production that would have lain useless otherwise.

It wasn’t always farmland, either. He began financing cottage industry, too, just as did Percy. When Percy and Tom realized what Dupree had been doing, they met with him and set some long-range goals, and instituted cooperative plans to get them done.

One of the people that took Percy up on his new housing at the estate was Randy Phillips. He took one of the community housing units and one of the commercial ones for his use. His former welding service was now essentially a blacksmithing operation. He was converting some existing farming equipment to horse drawn, as well as building new, there at the estate, using scavenged and recovered materials.

That wasn’t to say that only animal-based farming was taking place. With a few refineries going again, each state was getting an allotment for fuel for emergencies and for food production. The government would not provide fuel for other types of farm products. Since much of Percy’s production wasn’t food, he got very little of the fuel so allotted.

Tom, when he’d retired from farming and begun leasing out his land, had sold his equipment. One of the items Percy had taken in trade the previous winter that he really hadn’t needed, was a Kubota estate tractor. While it wasn’t suitable for large-scale farming, it was ideal for Tom’s city lot farming. The family that had owned it had been using it to mow their large yard, and for a garden.

Percy, though he had no need for it, and because of the Kubota’s utility, had kept all the attachments the family had for it intact. The tractor and implements were enough to set Tom up for the town farming. Partly because he simply didn’t want to get everything from Percy, on general principles, Tom made other deals for a pair of horses and a wagon, though they weren’t really needed for the ground prep work. The tractor would get done what he planned that fall.

Though he worked one day each week at Percy’s, as did Marie, Tom Junior, and Shirley, the rest of their time, other than town council time, was spent preparing several of the now houseless town lots for the spring. Remaining piping and such was taken down below ground level and carefully capped for possible future use. Then available manure from the animals being kept in town was spread and turned under. With the ground in furrows, it would accept all the moisture it would be getting through the rest of fall and throughout the winter.

At Percy’s urging, Tom prepared several basements that existed on some of the properties to hold water in the rare chance of a drought. Having seen the utility of Percy’s ice mound, he set up a system to make ice blocks to stack in a few of the basements that would then be covered with straw at the end of winter. The ice would be used the following summer to help keep some of his products cool until they could be sold.

People had learned a lesson the previous winter. Insulation was an important survival tool during the severe winters to be expected. Every acre of tall grass that grew naturally or had been sowed was used. Mostly for feed, but much of it found its way into, onto, or around buildings as insulation. Because of the great danger of fire, wherever possible it was covered with earth or a fair grade of adobe made from the local clay soils.

Tom converted one of the remaining large buildings into an insulated barn. With his team and wagon he moved some of the grass bales Percy baled up in order to insulate the barn. More were stored for feed and bedding for the winter for the wagon team, a riding horse, two brood sows, half a dozen piglets to be used for food that winter, two fresh cows, and two dozen chickens.

Part of the deal he’d made with Percy was for additional feed for his animals. It would be oats, some of the protein rich cakes left after pressing various plants for their oil, and some of the mash from his stills after the alcohol had been extracted. It would be enough to supplement the regular high-grade hay and the grass hay that Tom would buy. The extra milk from the second cow would not be needed for the family’s use. It would be sold or used as feed for the other animals.

The snow began to fall before Tom was finished, but all the weather critical work was done. The rest could be done at his leisure. The one thing he asked Percy for some help with was additional firewood. He simply had not had enough time to get enough together to last the winter, even with the much better insulated housing.

Percy had been careful of his wood harvesting. He maintained the harvesting rate of his coppicing woodland that encircled his estate and was part of the fencerows between the forty-acre fields that made up the arable land. Quite a bit of the land he’d acquired had some trees. Even those he allowed only limited cutting.

Many people were cutting anything and everything. Percy wouldn’t. There was quite a bit of scrap wood from dismantled buildings. It would be used. Percy would be making paper and cloth from the hemp he was growing eventually, but at the moment, at least this winter, the hemp straw that wasn’t used otherwise, would be available for burning.

Percy was raising tree seedlings in one of the new greenhouses that had been built that summer. The seedlings would be planted the next spring on some of the property that Percy now owned adjacent to the estate. The seedlings would be heavily mulched the following winter and each winter after that until they were large enough to survive without it.

With the tree spades Percy had; a medium sized one for the Bobcats, and a larger one, for the Unimogs; the trees would be transplanted to their final growth spot. Most of the trees were ash trees and would be harvested over and over again, through the coppicing process. It would just be a few more years before the first harvest. But Percy knew it was important to get the process started with getting the trees into the ground initially. With other fuel sources available for the meantime, Percy held fast on his tree cutting restrictions.

With the alcohol production going well, Percy was selling some of it to people who had bought the simple alcohol stoves that Randy was making and selling.

Two of the other sources for firewood were state and federal lands. They allowed selective cutting, supervised by a state or federal employee. Percy had enough time and resources to send teams in to purchase and harvest all the governments would allow.

He was permitted to take more than most, since he offered, and fulfilled, a promise to give ten percent of the firewood harvest to the governments for their use, and leave another ten percent with the governments for the governments to sell with no labor or fuel investment of their own. Percy added the government wood to the stocks he made available for sale to those unable to obtain wood on their own.

Steven Gregory’s grocery store had evolved into a bartering center serving the entire area, not just the estate, town, and immediate surroundings. Like Camden Dupree, Steven took a small percentage of each transaction from those with ongoing goods, products, or services to barter. He had an arrangement with the town to provide those that weren’t bartering on a constant basis, like Percy and several others, the facility for a small fee.

Once it became the primary place for the region to barter, the counties, state, and federal governments kicked in a little to support the operation. Most of the things the government agencies acquired wound up going through the Steven’s Barter Store. Like Tom and Percy, Steven acquired some additional property, including the stores adjacent to his store. He had a place to store goods and products that people brought in to barter on consignment.

Also, like Tom, he made arrangements to have ice made that winter and stored for use the next summer to make shipping some of the more perishable items feasible. People were learning how to deal with the situations that the war and climate had presented to them.

With the preparations complete that had been planned to endure the winter, those at the estate, in town, and at isolated locations elsewhere, put their lives into winter living mode. Only one trip per week was required to get enough of the estate’s products to the town to serve their needs, and keep Steven Gregory’s store supplied.

People stayed relatively healthy and happy. The Doctors Bluhm had a great deal to do with the first, and a little with the second.

Percy had a great deal to do with the second. One of the things he’d acquired while in Memphis was another large screen high definition monitor and home theatre system. The town had not had a theatre for years, but each Saturday night everyone that wanted could watch a movie in the gym at the school.

People had liked the fact that Percy had working video at the estate in one of the activity rooms of the bunkhouse. Now everyone could see some of the huge collection of movies that Percy had, in addition to those that people brought from their own collections. The town’s contribution to the community night was the power from the generator for the electronics. On Saturdays the generator was run and all the other things that needed power were taken care of at the same time the movie was shown.

As during the previous winter, Percy threw a huge Christmas party, providing mostly everything except the decorations. While there’d been a few outsiders the previous time, quite a few people managed to show up for the party. The invitation with RSVP had gone out through the radio network in the area, now kept manned daily. Several government officials attended, from various jurisdictions.

The news coming in that winter was much better than that they’d received the winter before. Theirs was not the only community doing better than it had the previous winter. One final blizzard dragged on until April the next spring. There was a short break, with the snow beginning to melt, when the rains started. They were not alone in the devastation wrought by raging floods. The estate and the town fared well, but the roads suffered tremendously. There had been some maintenance the previous summer and early fall, bringing the road system to a slightly better stage of repair, making for an easier mode of travel.

The rains and the floods wiped out many of the repairs and created much new damage. Percy used the bridging sections they’d created during the move south to span the stream he’d put a culvert in the year before. The culvert had been washed away. The parts of the bridge that had not been salvaged shifted and dammed the stream. This caused the stream to find a new route for a half mile before it merged into the old streambed again.

It took some time, after the initial rains had ceased for a while, to get a permanent low water bridge put in, using concrete rubble from the old bridge, plus rock and gravel from the nearby gravel pit. It would be washed away, probably, in another storm like the first one of the spring, but things were set up to rebuild it relatively easily and quickly.

Percy and Tom got their crops in all right that spring. Percy conserved much of the seed he had stockpiled and used the seed provided by the federal government, through the Iowa Department of Agriculture, which was one of the biggest government departments in the state now. The federal government had rescinded the laws restricting the production of hemp. Percy no longer had to grow it in violation of the law. Those in power had finally recognized the importance of the crop to the recovery of the nation, much as it been instrumental in the early days of the republic when it was a crime to not grow hemp.

Copyright 2012
Jerry D Young

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Jerry D Young -
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always remember TANSTAAFL
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