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Old 04-02-2008, 04:02 PM
RVM45 RVM45 is offline
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..... Chapter Nine



Larry woke feeling strong and rested for the first time since he’d started his journey. He credited the extra rations that he’d consumed the night before. Nonetheless, he was loath to climb out of his warm bed, into the artic cold.


He shook Prince gently, to get him out of the bed. The big dog not only wanted to sleep with Larry. He wanted to get beneath the covers with him. His body heat contributed more than a little to the comfort of the bed.


Larry had two wool blankets and a ground cloth in his bug-out bag. The blanket bedroll that Lloyd had given him had contained another wool blanket and a nine-by-ten foot Tarpaulin, lined with reflective aluminum on one side. There were also two three-sectioned poles. The cloth and the poles made a handy tent—open to the fire in the front, and the metallic lining reflecting the fire’s heat back at him.


Also curiously, the bedroll had a couple ordinary cotton sheets. Larry couldn’t see much purpose to them; since they had such a tiny insulating ability compared to a wool blanket. Nonetheless, as cold as it was Larry used the sheets too—one beneath, and one beneath. They probably didn’t help much. They sure weren’t hurting anything though.


He decided on a hearty breakfast. He made oats, stirring in plenty of powdered milk when it was done, to make it richer. Then he added plenty of sugar and a dash of cinnamon. The spice was from his bag. It added nothing to the nutritional content of the oats, but a half-pound of carefully selected spices could add much to a survivor’s dining pleasure for months.


Prince eagerly ate his half of the oats off a large piece off bark Larry had poured it onto. He smiled thinking of how his father used to let his Bulldog take a lick off his ice cream cone, and how his mother would feed one of the dogs a bite off her fork or spoon, and then continue eating with that same piece of silverware. Larry didn’t mind sharing his bed with the big dog, or whacking fair, and splitting all the grub fifty-fifty. He drew the line at eating after the Wolfhound though.


With the oats out of the way, he started to fry some bacon, and make coffee. He split the bacon with Prince. He doubted that the big dog would drink coffee. At any rate, dogs didn’t metabolize Caffeine very well. Larry had some instant hot cocoa envelopes. He poured one into his canteen cup, along with plenty sugar, and then filled the cup with hot coffee.


He wasn’t much of a coffee drinker ordinarily, but on this hike both the warmth and the caffeine were welcome. Caffeine for now, he thought, the Theobromine in the cocoa—which would metabolize to Caffeine in his body—for later, he told himself.


There was enough coffee in the pot to fill the cup again, with a little left over. He drank the second cup with sugar, but no cocoa. After a moment’s hesitation, he popped a couple caffeine tablets along with the multi-vitamin and the four aspirin that he’d already decided to take. Gonna ching, might as well ching big-time, he thought—as much as anyone could ching without real speed.


He got out one of the half-pound sacks of M&Ms. He put it in a pocket where he could reach it fairly easily. He was satiated at the moment. When he started to feel hungry, he’d eat the Peanut M&Ms a few at a time. He had five bags of the candy.


That meant that he could continue the practice for five days—and lighten his load an additional half-pound per day. If he wasn’t within a day or two’s march of Bishop’s Ark by the time the M&Ms were gone, he’d be hurtin’ for certain anyway. He’d still have a few days worth of regular food left by then. He’d also have Cookie’s iron rations untouched.


Larry felt bad that he couldn’t share the M&Ms with his companion. The Theobromine in chocolate or cocoa was fairly toxic to dogs. Given the big dog’s size, he could probably eat one of the half-pound sacks of M&Ms by himself, without getting sick. On the other hand, taking the big dog to the vet if Larry turned out to be wrong about his tolerance might prove an interesting challenge. Larry strongly preferred boredom to challenge at this juncture in his life. He’d give Prince some extra bacon and bannock at supper.

############ ########################## #################


I sat deep within the bunker, watching the attack force arrive on closed circuit TV. I was connected to the front by radio, field telephone and an ample supply of runners. I’d have liked to be on the front line along with my people, but however bold and picturesque that might sound, it wasn’t sound strategy. Modest as I tried to be, I knew that the Confederacy could ill afford to lose me. Besides, while in bygone days it may have been necessary for commanders to make decisions with cannon balls whizzing by every which way; it was not necessary now. And it did not contribute to serene calculated decisions—though nothing about this whole situation was conducive to calm emotionless reason.


First, I really needed to set one of my hooks. If I knew for a fact that the opposing commander was sane and competent, I wouldn’t have to point this out to him. On the other hand, there was no guarantee of that. I didn’t intend to suffer for his stupidity.


They stopped a good half-mile away, and sent an envoy to negotiate. The Big Cheese didn’t come, but he sent a couple of his trusted subordinates, along with several aides and secretaries with no obvious function.


I wanted them to go back and tell their boss, and his profilers; astrologers; augurs and strategy makers that I was burnt; psycho; space cadet deviant ranger material. I’d had a room prepared especially for that purpose, and I dressed up a bit for the part too.


The décor of the faux ready-room was neo-hippy. The walls had psychedelic murals. The only lighting, beyond a few UV lights, was red bulbs. There were also several stands of red Christmas tree bulbs. There were lots of mirrors, and we had odd abstract stainless steel mobiles hanging from the ceiling.


The only furniture was beanbag chairs, low coffee tables, and beaucoup pillows of all sizes and descriptions. There was background music—some of the oddest stuff that I could find. The band composed of about equal numbers of Appalachian hillbillies and East Indian immigrants, trying to fuse bluegrass and traditional Indian sitar music—without any particular success, I might add—though that’s my opinion.


My aides lead the Colonel, the Lt Colonel and their entourage to a rather large round table, with a burning hookah in the center. There were beanbags and pillows circling the table. There was a big mirrored disco ball hanging directly over the table, and over a dozen red laser pointers from various positions targeted it.


Once the military dudes were seated, I made my entrance. I was dressed I black, as always. I had a black turtle neck and mirror shades. I had a double shoulder rig, with a highly polished, four inch, stag-handled Ruger Redhawk .44Magnum in each holster. I had my six-inch custom 1911A1 longslides on either hip. I had my long custom Bowie riding cutting edge up, on my right side—above the right-side .45. I had it positioned for a Samurai-style quick draw—left-handed.


A nickeled 20Gauge Roadwarrior rode low on my right thigh. I’d tucked my pants into my black cowboy boots, and I had a Cold Steel Natchez Bowie ostentatiously tucked into the inside of each boot. Almost forgot—I had a Wakazashi sticking up over my right shoulder. I carried a Bull’s penis swagger stick.


I walked up to the seated dudes, climbing to their feet, and offered my hand as they rose to greet me. I shook hands with the old-fashioned thumb-grasping “Soul Shake” from the sixties.


“It is like: really man…be for real!” I said in my best nasal hippy accent.

I sat. I didn’t expect an assassination attempt—and even if there were, each one of them was in the cross-hairs of at least three hidden expert marksmen, armed with pistol caliber suppressed bolt action rifles—every moment. The weapons were props.


“It is like: heavy; solid. It partakes of reality and is not hindered from its appointed rounds—or squares…or ovals…”


I paused momentarily, and then jumped slightly as if something had jarred me back to the present moment.


“What can I do for you fine gentlemen?” I asked.


“Martial law has been declared. You can stand down and surrender this facility to the proper authorities,” The Colonel said.


“And you are like…? I must have missed introductions. By the way, I done been Elder Hawkins—Trueblood Hawkins. My daddy had a sense of humor. Around here, I done been The Dude What Dood.”


“The Dude What Dood—what in hell does that mean? The Colonel asked irritably.


“’Dood’ encompasses all possible meanings of the verb ‘to do’ simultaneously: do; did; done, will do; should do, didn’t do, could never do—all at one time.” I said in a David Attenburough PBS narrorator type voice. I switched back to a burnout voice. “Gotta be a BAD dude to dood, but I is. And you are, little Miss Sunshine?”


“I’m Colonel Benson. I represent Brigadier General Malcolm Hillary and the full power and authority of the US Government. I’m ordering you to surrender. We have twelve tanks and over three thousand men. You don’t stand a chance.”


I slowly drew my Wakazashi, and balanced it on my head. Then I removed my mirror shades, turned them upside down, and put them back on. The bridge balanced precariously on my nose. Then I carefully resheathed the short sword. Shortly afterward, the shades tumbled off my face. I caught them, and put them back on correctly.


“Dagnabbit! I never can get them to stay on that way. Do you juggle, Major Benson?”


“That’s ‘Colonel Benson’ you moron! Stick to the topic at hand!” He shouted.


“That you’re rude, and that you’re a ****-poor juggler? Nah, I think we done exhausted that topic. Oh yes, I wanted to point out that while you may have started this ill-conceived adventure with a dozen tanks, you’re down to eight at the moment—and they’re running awfully roughly.

“You may have three thousand warm bodies—or in this case, chilled and almost universally frostbitten bodies. At least half of them are unarmed, and no better than refugees. They’re tagging along out of hopes that you’ll feed them.

“You might have six-hundred trained soldiers. Even they haven’t had a good night’s rest, or enough to eat for the last few weeks. And you’ve marched them here in twenty and thirty below zero.

“The rest of your ‘Army’ is an untrained mob with a hodge-podge of weapons. I’d imagine that anyone among them with a hundred rounds of ammunition, or more, is a very rare exception. Hell, most of their rifles are probably frosted shut in this temperature.

“Do yourselves a favor. Go back where you came from, while you still have some rations and some transport to ease you way.”


“These people are dying!”


“They’re already dead,” I said sadly. “Even if I gave you everything that we had, you’re people would be starving again in a few months—those that hadn’t died of exposure beforehand.

“The difference is that then all of us would die too—along with one of mankind’s best hope for survival.”


Now came the golden moment: the idea that I wished to plant in his mind, over all others. He needed to carry this idea back to General Hillary. Still, I wasn’t sure that anyone who’d mount such a cluster-bump of an invasion would be able to understand sound strategy. It was like telling Kentuckian jokes to native Kentuckians. You have to go slow and explain occasionally.


“I don’t think your men will charge my emplacements. If you decide to hang back, and shell us with your tank and mortar rounds, you’ll make such a hash of the compound, that it won’t be worth diddly-squat to you, us, or anyone else.”


“Did it occur to you that we could shell your emplacements while sparing the buildings? Once we take out your defensive perimeter and your strong points, it should be easy enough to force our way into your compound with minimal damage.”


I had a ranting screaming hissy fit. I picked up the hookah and flung it across the room. I kicked the table over. I screamed out a long stream of magic gunsmith words that ill become a Holy Man—though I was most careful not to take the God Lord’s name in vain. Then I snatched a .44 caliber Redhawk, and fired three rounds into the ceiling.


I had carefully rehearsed the scene in my mind. My ears are very sensitive to loud noises. I very rarely shoot without the double protection of plugs and muffs. I had plugs in my ears, hidden by my long hair. Nonetheless, a .44Magnum in an enclosed space like that was very loud.


My natural reaction was to grab my ears anyway. I let the revolver drop on to a cushion. I fell to the floor, holding my ears, thrashing around like a beached dolphin, and screaming; whining and crying. Early on, I shrieked for to get the envoy out.


I thrashed around for a moment after the door closed behind them, and then let out a very loud string of curses.


“Are they good and gone?” I asked Minister Sean.


“Yeah, what exactly was the purpose of that?” He asked.


“I want them to underestimate me. More importantly, I want them to realize that destroying our infrastructure benefits no one. It won’t be much of a prize for the victor—which I fully intend to be us—if half our buildings and facilities get ruined in the process,” I explained.

################# ####################### ##############


They attacked at dawn the next day. Our TOW Missiles took out three tanks right at the beginning. One of our LAW squads managed to take out another within the first few minutes.


They shelled us for a few moments with mortar fire, while the troops hosed us with rifle and machinegun fire. We were dug in, so our casualties were rather light.


Then they charged. I had at least three hundred men with Enfields, who’d been diligently studying the principles of marksmanship since the age of nine or ten. At least half the riflemen who were left, were better shots than the average soldier.

I had fifty two-man sniper teams in the field with seven-millimeter magnum rifles, and high-powered scopes. I also had a dozen three-man .50 BMG teams in the field. They shot the hell out of the opposing forces trucks; fuel carriers, and mortar and machinegun teams. Some of the snipers were hunting officers too—very bad for command morale.


The three Bradleys fired short five or six round bursts at the highest concentration of enemy skirmishers. Our Guardsmen also had a few mortars and machineguns. They held back until the human wave was close, and then cut loose.


The attack broke, and they made a ragged, disordered retreat. They pulled all their people back, and stated shelling the beejeebers out of our line—especially the strong points. I hated to loose every single man and woman who died; but even though we wanted them to force us back, we had to make it appear genuine. Finally I gave the order to fall back.


There were minor strong-points around each entrance to the tunnels, as a sort of ‘better-than-nothing’ second line of defense. They weren’t really adequate though. There were too many entrances and no good way to really protect them—at least not for very long.


The enemy sent their four remaining tanks in, using them as both battering rams and as mobile machinegun nests. Their infantry supported the tanks. At long last, our Bradleys and our fifty caliber teams started aiming their fire at the tanks. It wasn’t having much visible effect. Once they were fully committed, I gave the signal to unleash the dragons.


Flamethrowers aren’t that hard to make. Ragnar Benson once wrote an excellent book about how to build three different sizes of flamethrower: personal sized—and he conceded that one was more than a bit dangerous to the operator; Vehicular-mounted sized and the full-sized one for defending fixed emplacements. He called his flamethrowers “Dragons”.


Any of them had the potential to take out a tank. The big ones could throw a stream of napalm over six hundred yards. Ours were tested out to a quarter mile. The tanks were less than half that distance, when we opened fire.


First we took out the armor. Then we turned the flames on the infantry. I’ve never had a weak stomach, and the idea of killing a fellow man when necessary, has never unduly bothered me. But watching the fiery inferno—a ringside peek into hell—and then smelling the burning flesh a bit later, as it thoroughly saturated the air everywhere in the compound…


Well, I was down on my knees throwing up into the toilet, and praying that God would understand.


Judging by the tracks in the snow, perhaps four hundred people lived to flee. We could afford to absorb that many, particularly in view of our casualties—though they had been very light, comparatively speaking.


I gave the order to track down the survivors, and bring them in. Most of them had frozen to death, or died from their wounds, or other causes by the time we found them. We saved sixty-three.


It had been grim, but necessary. That would be our only encounter with starving hordes. Other crisis would threaten our survival in the future, but the possibility of large scaled battles was remote—at least for a couple of generations, at least.


.....RVM45
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:54 PM
vandj vandj is offline
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:30 PM
RVM45 RVM45 is offline
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Cool Chapter Ten

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..... Chapter Ten



Things had changed around Ronnie’s compound. Joshua and Esau, the deceased Pastor’s teenaged sons, and his daughter Tabitha had found a half-dozen families shivering and half frozen. Over half of them were survivalists of one sort or the other. That was why they’d survived as long as they had. While most of them wouldn’t have been able to survive long term; nonetheless they brought some good gear and useful skills to Ronnie’s Retreat.


Travis now had a congregation of over thirty people when he had church. Some of his congregation were gifted musicians and singers. Curiously, the very best voice for gospel singing belonged to a big—six-eight—biker dude named Nick, who had tattoos covering most of his body.


All of Travis’ congregation were saved and Baptized in the Holy Ghost, with the exception of Ronnie. That would have seemed a massive coincidence—if Travis had believed in coincidence. Travis saw the hand of God in it.


Then one night Ronnie came forward to be saved. Lo and behold, the little man received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost the same night that he was saved. He fell out of his wheelchair and went rolling across the floor, speaking in other tongue. Now Travis wouldn’t have to worry about the little man going to hell, if he had another crisis.



A few days later Nick brought Ronnie a six-week old Bullmastiff puppy. The little fellow took to Ronnie right away; thus fulfilling his wish to have a dog of his own. That was also the beginning of a deep friendship between Ronnie; Nick and Nick’s wife Helen—who was black.


Ronnie had a plan. He discussed it with Nick, and Nick became an enthusiastic coconspirator—not that either tried to keep things the least bit secret.


Nick stated spending a lot of salvaging time hauling in big touring bikes of all makes and models; as well as small engines; trucks; auto supplies and the makings of a few stills. Ronnie spent lots of time reading his Bible; and studying his religious tapes and videos—especially those by Jed Smock.


One day the weather would break. His people were well blessed with dogs; cats; chickens and rabbits. Nonetheless, he planned to trade for some larger livestock when possible. That would entail travel. Ronnie’s plans didn’t stop there though. He’d determined that once travel became possible again; that he was going to hit the Revival trail.


After all, Ronnie reasoned, if God could save a worthless pervert like himself, he could save anyone. He felt that many folks, who thought their sins too great to allow redemption, could draw encouragement from his example.


He had vehicles and gasoline. When the gas was gone, he could run his caravan on alcohol. He figured he’d establish a yearly circuit—and if he could set up some worthwhile trades along the way, or if some merchants wanted to travel along with him, for their mutual support and protection, that would be all to the good too. Such things should help speed the recovery.

################# ################ ######################


We had a meeting of Elders; Ministers and Missionaries. Elder Bates took the floor. I figured that he was going to raise hell about the Boyz again, or some other niggling thing. I found however that he had his eyes on bigger game this time around.


“I want to know precisely who put you in charge, and why you give the rest of us orders? Who died and left you in charge? You’re no better than any other Elder. I say that we should elect a leader,” Elder Bates said.


The situation was bound to occur sooner or later. I was tempted to simply put a bullet into Elder Bate’s cranium and end the problem right then and there. But an evil desire suppressed, gains strength and allies, and devours the minds on which it feeds. Better to let all this come to a big head—then lance it deep, and clean out all the corruption at one time.


“Elder Bates. This is not a democracy. This compound is the private property of Bishop Pruitt and a board of partners—Bishop being legally entitled to run the place at his sole discretion for life. Bishop appointed me as his sole manager, leaving most of the day-to-day decisions to my discretion.

“Now if you want to talk about some of the small farm refuges surrounding us—I own one of them myself. I could be running it more effectively right now, if I weren’t always tied up here. Bishop owns three of them outright, and is a partial owner of a few more. The ownership is varied. Whether they are bound to follow my suggestions would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.”


He switched topics, from the authority for my leadership, to my performance.


“You killed Major Lermontov right on the pulpit. Does that strike you as a Christian thing to do?”


“Understand, I am the ruler here: President; Czar; Prince; Field-Marshal And High Potentate. I have the authority to impose the death sentence at my discretion—and how I choose to implement it is my business. Lermontov was guilty of high treason and sabotage. Everyone who died in the battle was a result of his kibitzing. And he had been warned—and was even offered a pardon.”


“You fried all those people alive. You didn’t warn them that you had giant flamethrowers,” He railed at me.


“If I hadn’t fried those people, we wouldn’t be here debating it right now. Revealing our strategy would have decreased its effectiveness drastically—as you’d know, if you had the brains of a Jay Bird.”


“Well then, if you’d already decided to fry them, why wait until they’d killed so many of our people first?”


“Talk on! The more you speak, the more you display your abysmal ignorance. They wouldn’t have been so willing to rush in, if our defense hadn’t seemed sincere.”


He tried to shout me down. I lay my hand on my Bowie handle, and barked,


“Shut up! This meeting is adjourned. We’ll meet again tomorrow at this time. Bishop will be here, and we’ll settle this matter once and for all.”


Elder Bates started to speak. I drew my Bowie a hand’s breath out of my sheath, and gave him the dirtiest look that I knew how. He reconsidered, and held his peace.

############ ######################### ##################


Larry started covering far more ground per day. Partly it was because he’d become somewhat accustomed to the trails demands. Mostly it was because he’d started consuming enough food to tip the balance between catabolism and anabolism. He thought he’d be at the compound by midway through the day after tomorrow.


He was thinking how good it would be to get to the compound when he should have been watching his trail. He stepped into a small camp with three men clustered miserably around a small fire. They wore Army clothes, and all of them had singed clothing and minor burns.


The fellow in the center stood up smoothly and pointed an Army Berretta at Larry. Larry could see that half his face was covered in large blisters.


“I am Lieutenant Brodie. I am confiscating any food or other supplies that you have, in the name of the United States Government. Consider yourself impressed into military service,” The man said hoarsely.


Larry had his .30-30 takedown taken down, and stored in his pack. The rifle probably wouldn’t have been in firing shape, if it had been exposed to the Artic cold. Larry had every confidence that the K Frame .357 in the shoulder holster, inside his greatcoat would fire; but reaching it inside the bound coat would be a two-step operation.


He studied his situation critically for several heartbeats. One of the soldiers had an M-16 at port arms. The other seemed to be armed only with a long Bayonet in his right hand. Surely that wasn’t an army issue bayonet, Larry thought. Well what the hell? He wasn’t going to turn the man in to a superior officer.


He had spent some thought into what he’d do, if he encountered this situation. He raised his mittened hands slowly overhead. He grasped the .45 caliber Star PD that he’d created a holster for—inside the elbow high left mitten. He grasped the tip of the left mitten in his right mittened hand, and tugged.


He fired one-handed as the sights lined up on Lieutenant Brodie’s torso: BAM! ; BAM! ; BAM! He made a quick headshot to the lunging knife man and wheeled to target the soldier with the rifle. The man hadn’t even got it to his shoulder yet. Larry treated him to a three-shot burst to the sternum.


While Brodie and the knife yielder had both dropped abruptly upon being shot, the rifleman stayed on his feet for a good long while, though he’d dropped his rifle; and he seemed oblivious to everything around him.


Larry watched the three dubiously. Any one of them might turn out to be a continuing threat, and he only had one round left in the Star. He covered them all while he dropped the empty magazine; shook the mitten off his right hand and fished a spare magazine of his right side—inside the coat.


With the Star in his left hand fully loaded once more, he saw no need to waste ammo. He dropped his pack and managed to extract his Special Forces shovel while covering the men. He walked around and hit each man in the head with the shovel; making sure that the cranium was penetrated in each instance.


A shot rang out, and a bullet passed by Larry so close that he could feel the breeze from the near miss. He dropped prone, and then he heard growling and some heartfelt screams. He ran over to find Prince busily savaging a man who was wearing a ghillie suit. There was already blood all over the snow.


Prince had the man’s right forearm. Larry stepped close. One modest swat from the Special Forces shovel put the man down for the count. The second swat made sure that he never woke.


Larry examined the man’s gear with interest. The ghillie suit was a very good example of the homemade variety. His rifle was one of the set-triggered SSGs that he’d never been able to afford. It had a big variable powered scope that adjusted up to eighteen power. It was mounted on quick detachable mountings. Inside the man’s pack were a spare optical scope identical to the first; and a low-light scope. It looked like a Starlight scope.


The fellow looked to young to be toting the thirty year old gear. He was little ore than a teen. To further Larry’s puzzlement, the man had a Colt New Frontier single action with five and one half inch barrel, and a six inch Colt Python. He had a special belt that carried over a dozen Safariland speed loaders for the Python. Larry shrugged. He’d have swapped them off even for half as many HKS loaders. Either way, he couldn’t see any use for so many loaders.


The dude had been stalking either Larry or the soldiers. He could have backtracked to find out for sure; but it seemed immaterial to Larry. The dude shouldn’t have missed at fifty yards—although it wasn’t beyond imagining some complete chucklehead going afield with top-notch gear. The second possibility was that Prince had spoiled the man’s aim at just the right moment.


Unlike the soldiers, the sniper had a fair amount of grub in his pack—mostly MREs. Feeling grateful, Larry whacked more than fair with the big dog, giving him about two-thirds of the rations as a special treat. The Colt’s And the SSG were too valuable to abandon—especially this close to the goal; but Larry managed to cache the M-16; Berretta; bayonet and a few other things, so he could pick them up later, should he ever feel the need.

############### ######################## ###############


Bishop Pruitt stood behind the podium and addressed not only the Elders and Ministers, but also everyone in the compound.


If I live to see another birthday—and I very well might, God willing—I’ll be one hundred years old. That’s too old to be babysitting y’all. I am retiring as Bishop. The congregation will have to elect a new Bishop. Any ordained Elder is eligible. We’ll have to work out some sort of absentee ballot system for church members in the satellite communities.


“I want to throw my support to Elder Hawkins. I think he is the only reasonable choice for Bishop. If you elect Elder Hawkins as your Bishop, it will make things very simple. If not, I am not giving up ownership of “Bishop’s Ark”. The new Bishop can move his headquarters somewhere else, as soon as the weather allows for it. Whatever your choice for Bishop; Elder Trueblood is still my camp director. That is all for now.”


I was absolutely amazed. Of course I’d daydreamed about being Bishop one day—who hasn’t. I never truly thought that it might happen. Even if I wasn’t elected, at least I’d been close once. I had to use a lot of will power not to pray for the victory, but only for God’s will to be done.

############# ######################### #################


“Did you hear the news? They’re going to elect a new Bishop! Oh how I hope they elect Elder Hawkins. We have to go to Elder Perkins’ meeting tonight!” Pete gasped breathlessly to Aryan.


“Slow down. Why do we need to go to Elder Perkins’ meeting?” Aryan asked.


“Elder Perkins is an ordained Elder in the Church of God in Christ. He can offer us the right hand of fellowship—then we’ll be eligible to vote in the election.”


“The Baptists aren’t going to vote,” Aryan asked in some confusion.


“Why would Baptist vote on a Pentecostal Bishop?” Pete asked him in exasperation.


“Anyway, I can’t join the church. I’m not even a Christian,” Aryan reminded her.


“Aryan, if you’d get saved and join the church, I’d marry you—if you proposed to me,” Pete said in a rush.


“And what makes you think that I have any desire to marry in general, or to you in particular.”


While the idea of marrying Pete had—quite frankly—never so much as occurred to Aryan, he saw that his flippant answer had hurt her. He put his arm around her shoulder.


“I’ll take it under advisement,” he temporized.


.....RVM45
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:06 PM
vandj vandj is offline
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Old 04-07-2008, 03:34 PM
RVM45 RVM45 is offline
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Cool Chapter Eleven

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..... Chapter Eleven



Before Larry even came within sight of the compound, he saw a veritable junkyard of burnt out shells of vehicles. There was a fairly large number of men working diligently to clear the debris. Larry lifted his right hand in greeting. He walked up to the closest group of laborers.


“I’m Tony,” a young black man with a big smile, told Larry. He seemed genuinely cheerful. “I take it that you’re here to join the Ark?”


“Yeah. A strange group that calls themselves ‘The Boyz’ put me up the first few weeks. We couldn’t see eye-to-eye, so they pointed me towards y’all. They told me that you had a place for me.”


“Well, right now we’re excepting just about anyone who walks in—with or without the Boyz recommendation. Just walk over to that sentry post over there,” Tony pointed, while tilting his head, and sighting down his extended arm, as though his index finger was a weapon that he was aiming.


“They’ll take care of you. Just tell them you’re seeking political asylum.”


Seeing the confused look on Larry’s face, Tony explained.


“It’s an ongoing joke that we never get tired of. Don’t fret. They won’t even ask you to surrender your weapons. That is a big dog.”


“His name is ‘Prince’. He goes where I go,” Larry said, with just a touch of challenge in his voice.


“That’s cool, dude. You get inside, and you’ll see a bunch of big dogs; and some little dogs—medium sized dogs too.”


The guards at the gate ushered Larry and Prince through immediately. A trio of guards escorted them to a small cafeteria that doubled as a reception center.


“Do you have any wounds; frostbite or other physical problems that need immediate attention?” A nice young woman asked him. “ That’s good. You can leave your gear here. No one will take it. Go through the line, and get you something to eat. Grab one of the soup bowls, so you can water your dog.”


Larry dropped his pack. He took off his sheepskin greatcoat and mittens and headgear, and laid them to one side as well. He hesitated to lay down the Steyr-Manlicher SSG. He was afraid the rifle might prove too much of a temptation for someone. His pack was quite literally weighted down with guns; but they were out of sight.


Larry had his five-inch K Frame .357 in a shoulder holster. The companion five-inch N Frame Smith and Wesson rode in a custom holster on his right hip. His four-inch Smith .44Magnum was in a cross-draw position, on his left hip. He had a nine-inch Western Bowie in a custom left-hand speed holster, worn behind and hanging below the Model 29 .44. His rifle was slung muzzle-down, on his left shoulder.


And no one looked twice at him! In fact, many of the staff seemed to carry medium-sized machine pistols of an indeterminate make, slung in a variety of ways, or simply carried casually in one hand. Multiple handgun carry seemed to be the norm, rather than the exception.


After he and Prince had eaten until they were completely satisfied—and were whole-heartedly urged to take enough sandwiches for a snake later on, they were taken to the processing room.


“We’ll need to do a brief interview—find out what useful skills you might have; assign you a bunk; get you issued some clothing if you need it—that kinda thing,” the smiling young lady told him before she left.


Larry looked around. He saw an oddly matched couple sitting together and conversing quietly. The girl was black. She was young and pretty, though she was muscled a bit like a female bodybuilder. The man was white. He looked big and tough. He also had ‘SS’ lightning bolts tattooed on his neck. Larry could also see a swastika; a skull and a spider web tattooed on his hands.


“I’m Pete. This is my boyfriend Aryan. Don’t let the tattoos bother you. He used to be a white supremacist. We came from Baptist Town, to join Bishop’s Ark. Are you a Christian? If you are, you need to join the church ASAP, so you can vote in the election. Where do you come from?” Pete said in one long burst.


“Yes, I’m a Christian. I don’t know anything about an election. I came from a bizzarro place they call ‘Boyz Town’. Hell of a place. Not a woman in sight—then you find out that none of the Boyz has any use for a Grl…”


“You’re Larry aren’t you? We’ve all been praying that you’d make it here safely. The Boyz are reprobates!” Pete exploded.


“Well, to give credit where it’s due—they did nurse me back to health from a gunshot wound. They were quite generous with food and cold weather gear, and they did call ahead, to reserve me a place here. That seems an unnecessary formality though.”


“Friends?”


“He doesn’t mean that kind of friend,” Aryan interjected. “If he did, he’d still be at the Boyz compound, being friendly.”


A six-foot tall black woman in a long dress walked up to them. She was on the stout side, but fit. She was built somewhat like Queen Latifa. She also carried a machine pistol nonchalantly, and had one stag handled K Frame Smith on her right hip, and another in a shoulder holster.


“I’m Missionary Debra. I need to make a note of any essential skills y’all might have, as well as any special needs, or problems. We should have another volunteer here for the interview…”


Just then the door opened up, and the woman from the cafeteria escorted in a skinny middle-aged white man, in—of all things—a long white lab coat. The man’s snow-white hair stood upon end, as though he’s stuck his finger into a hot light socket. He seemed to quiver with barely suppressed nervous energy. Larry thought that the man looked like he might take flight like the cartoon Koko Puffs bird any moment.


“Now that everyone is here, we can begin. Any problems?”


No one spoke. After a moment’s pause, she continued.


“What skills do y’all have?”


“I was about to finish my third year in college, studying Mechanical
Engineering,” Pete said.


“You were a junior in college at age seventeen?” Aryan said.


“I graduated early,” Pete explained.


“Well, I’m a certified mechanic. I also know diesel and small engines. I’m an A-1 welder. I’ve also done some carpentry and painting,” Aryan said.


“I’m an apprentice Tool and Die Maker,” Larry said.


“You’re a bit old to be an apprentice,” Missionary Debra noted, without sounding skeptical.


“Tell me about it, “ Larry said. “I really wanted to get into the field badly. Have you heard about the Gingery Machines?”


“You’d be surprised what all I’ve heard of; but yes, I have heard of them. Read the books, actually,” Missionary Debra told him.


“Well I’ve made improved copies of every one of the Gingery machines: foundry; Lathe; Shaper; Mill; dividing head; Drill Press… I used that, and a lot of string pulling by my cousin, to land a position as an apprentice. I’d have been a journeyman in a few more weeks.”


“I take it that y’all like Guns?” Missionary Debra asked.


All three of them nodded their enthusiastic approval. Missionary Debra removed the magazine from her Holmes Machine Pistol. The weapon fired from an open bolt, so she didn’t have to clear the chamber. She let each of the three examine it.


“We make these here,” She said. “Along with some other weapons. How would you like to work in our armory?”


All three readily agreed to that idea.


“Three down, one to go,” Missionary Debra said. “What can you do, Mister…”


The man rose to his feet. He spread his legs fairly widely. As he spoke, he would alternately shift his weight from one leg to the other, in sideways lunges reminiscent of the Japanese deep knee bends that Judokas often did. He spoke in a staccato rhythm, as if he were rapping. The beat that he measured with his voice and his flailing arms, however, had no obvious connection to his side lunges.


“I am Doc-tor, Doc—tor … BING-BIIINGGG!”



Both his volume and tempo went way up when he shouted “ Bing-Bing.” Larry assumed that was the old cracked-pots name. However, it soon became evident that the sound effect was not his name, but an uncontrollable ejaculation that the man had frequently when he tried to speak.


“I am Doctor BING- BINGGGGG! I am Duhh…BEAING-BING!!! I’m a Professor. Doctor of Chemistry—BING-BING! Professor BING-BIIINGGG!

“I can synthesize almost anything that you might need. BING-BING!

“Drugs: Sulfa; Amphetamine; Hydrocodone: Explosives; Plastics…

“I mean like: I aim a chemical impresario. Carry all the formulas in my head. BING-BING.”


All the while the bizarre man talked, he moved his hands all around like an actor in a bad Kung-Fu movie—and did his sideways deep knee bends. Although he eventually calmed down enough to be able to talk at least partial sense, and his involuntary exclamations became less frequent, any attempt to speak his name invariably bought forth a big attack of the “Bing-Bings”. Inevitably he became known as Doctor Bing-Bing. Despite his abundant eccentricities, he could indeed figure out how to safely synthesize almost anything—including a great many things that weren’t considered economically feasible to manufacture before the eruption.

#################### #################### #################


Joshua had rescued a HAM radio operator named “Gib”. The man was a positive genius with radios—and anything else electronic for that matter. Ronnie had lots of HAM; and other radio communication gear lying around; but no one in he retreat had been particularly interested.


Gib had five times as much electronic gear as Ronnie, and he made a point to clean out several electronics stores before he even settled down to make a communication system for Ronnie’s Retreat. Pretty soon the inhabitants found that there were more survivors around than they had figured.


There was a group of Engineers and Veterinarians at Purdue University. They had elected to stay put when most of the faculty and students had fled. Not only had they survived, they had built Geodesic dome over the Ross-Ayde Stadium, and turned it into a greenhouse. They were salvaging far and wide to get more construction materials, to build more giant greenhouses. They had hopes of having the whole onetime campus under glass within a decade.


They talked with a large compound called “Bishop’s Ark”; and a smaller compound Called “Baptist Town”. There were lone survivors and small groups in North and South Carolina; Georgia; Mississippi and Alabama. There were groups in the Ozarks and Appalachians. There was a big compound in Montana. Surprisingly, there were a large number of survivors in Alaska, presumably because they were used to severe Winters.


Ronnie and Gib had some long and serious talks over the radio. The upshot was that two black men who were extraordinarily good hackers rode to Ronnie’s Southern Indiana compound, on four wheeled Hondas. Several electrical engineers came down from Purdue.


Interestingly enough, the engineers came down in two vehicles with eight articulated legs each, looking for all the world like giant spiders. Most of the engineers went back West Lafayette eventually—scouting for salvageable construction material all the way. But three engineers decided to stay on at Ronnie’s Retreat, along with one of the spiders.


It wasn’t too hard to put in a radio system; broadcasting on several commercial wavelengths; at a power level that put the old mega-station at Del Rio to shame. But Ronnie wasn’t satisfied. He had his technicians hack into the communications satellites still in orbit (many of which would stay usable for decades) so that Ronnie could have a worldwide Television Station.


He only broadcast a few hours a week. Many folks had to listen to Gib’s radio instructions, so they could build a satellite dish to receive it. They broadcast tapes of Billy Graham; Jimmy Swaggert; Jed Smock and Ronnie’s own increasingly impassioned messages. They also had tutorials on everything from knitting and macramé’, butchering pigs, tanning hides and building green houses.


Purdue wasn’t Exactly in competition with Ronnie; but they weren’t happy until they had a radio and TV station of their own—and the airwaves were far from crowded. Bishop’s Ark managed to get the world’s third Post Eruption worldwide station into operation.

###################### ################### ###################


But I race ahead of my story. First came the election.


Bishop Pruitt got up to speak.


“Almost twenty years ago, the Holy Ghost spoke to me. He said, ‘Bishop, I want you to prepare a refuge of safety, where I will preserve a large number of your people. Call it an “Ark” you will no that the man that you have picked is the right one; because he’ll mention animals, and an Ark, with no prompting from you. Elder Trueblood wasn’t even a Minister then, but the Holy Ghost led me to him. He told me that Elder Trueblood was the leader for the Ark. He tells me today that Elder Trueblood should be your next Bishop. That’s all that I have to say.”


The Bishop sat down to thunderous applause. Nonetheless, everyone wasn’t on my side.


Then Missionary Debra stood up. She spoke from the lower pulpit that women used in the Church of God in Christ.



“A few weeks ago, a strange man was holding a knife to my daughter Natalie’s throat. Without the instruction that Elder Hawkins had given me, I wouldn’t have been able to take the shot that saved Natalie’s life.

“Without the forethought that Elder Hawkins has shown, we might not be here. If we had managed to make it this far, we’d be missing many of the amenities that we have today.”


She also got a thunderous round of applause. As one of the chief troubleshooters for people problems, she was very popular, and carried a lot of influence.


Several other people spoke on my behalf. Then it was Elder Bate’s turn.


“Elder Hawkins is a man of Guns and knives,” He started. He is a man of hatred and violence. He has shed man’s blood in this very sanctuary, not five feet from this podium. He is a white man, in a black church. Does he come as a respectful guest, grateful to be here? No! He comes in as an interloper—as a conniving schemer, conspiring to take over. We don’t need the likes of Elder Hawkins playing ‘Massah’.”


Next we had a few people speak on behalf of Elder Bates. Finally we had a couple of the other Bishops—from other jurisdictions beside Kentucky, largely without a congregation now—throw their hats into the ring.


“I have been a Bishop for fifteen years now. Experience should count for something…” Bishop Monty started.


Brother Jason stood up. He was Missionary Debra’s brother. He was given to relapses into drinking whiskey, but he was outspoken, and known to be brutally honest.


“Do you have any experience running this camp? No, I thought not. Do you have any experience leading men into battle? You’re a greedy old parasite, and a hypocrite to boot. Sit down, and shut the hell up!” Jason Boomed. He didn’t need a microphone to be heard all through the place.


“You’re out of order Brother Jason,” I said. “Let the old hypocrite…er, the Bishop have his say.”


Two Bishops ran for the office. Two of them supported me, with one undecided.


Elder Brown from Baptist Town was there as well. He’d indicated that he wanted to be heard. He was a major player in the area, though he wasn’t of our denomination. I had no idea what he’d say.


“We don’t have Bishops in our denomination, but there’s no reason that the by-laws couldn’t be amended to allow for a Bishop. The title is Biblical. We’re surely the largest group of our people left anywhere on Earth. If y’all don’t have the sense to elect Elder Hawkins as your Bishop, I’d like to invite him to come be the Bishop of Baptist Town,” Elder Brown said.


That brought down the house. I won the election by over ninety percent of the votes. As the results came in, Bishop Pruitt asked me to come to his quarters. He handed me a small box. Inside were two rings. The first had a very large brilliant cut ruby.


The protocol said that a ruby ring on the right index finger was one of a Bishop’s badges of office—but I’d never seen a Bishop wearing a “Bishop’s ring”. I’d made the remark to Bishop once, that if I ever became a Bishop, that I wanted a Bishop’s ring with a big round ruby. He’d remembered that whimsical remark all those years, and had gotten me the ring long ago, in anticipation.


I carefully slipped the ring onto my right trigger finger. It fit perfectly. The other ring had a big round amethyst the same size as the ruby, but it fit my ring finger.


“Think of it as a birthday present, Bishop. If you don’t know, that’s your birthstone.”


“I know, but how did you get my ring sizes?” I asked.


“That is a secret.”


“Thank you Bishop,” I said.


“You’re a Bishop too now. Maybe we should use our given names”


“Forgive me but you’ll always be ‘Bishop’ to me.”

############### ################## ######################

A couple hours after the Bishop gave me the ring; Missionary Debra came and spoke to me for a few moments. I told her to bring in the two young people.


“How old are you Pete?” I asked her.


“Eighteen Bishop,” she replied.


It took some getting used to, to hear myself addressed as “Bishop”.


“And how old are you Aryan?”


“Twenty-seven.”


“Are you both Christians? Both Church of God in Christ?”


They indicated that they were.


“Aryan, I’ve been told that perhaps your conversion was influenced more by your desire to marry Pete, and to vote in the election, rather by a true desire to be saved. What do you say to that?”


“Bishop, I was raised in the Church—the Christian Church, I mean. I know that God is nothing—no one—to play with. Outside considerations weighed on my decision, but it was a genuine decision,” He told me.


“That’s well spoken. Jesus asked the man if he believed. The man replied, ‘I believe, but help my unbelief.’ That’s all that’s necessary—that you be sincere. If you have doubts, well we’ve all had doubts. If there are things that you’re not quite ready to leave behind—nonetheless, if you can sincerely say, as that man did, ‘I believe, but help my unbelief.’ If you have that faith of a mustard seed, you can be saved. Do you believe that you are saved?”


“Yes, I do,” He stated confidently.


“Well nonetheless, I can’t marry you two at this point in time.”


“Why not Bishop?” Pete asked respectfully.


“Because it will take a few hours to get a ceremony and a celebration organized—and it’ll take awhile to get enough wedding cake baked for everyone. We haven’t had a good celebration since this whole end-of-the-World trip started,” I replied with a smile. “Y’all’s wedding will be a perfect excuse. I’ll see y’all in the sanctuary in about seven hours”


.....RVM45
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:18 PM
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Thanks for another good section, RVM your doing a really good job!
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:58 PM
RVM45 RVM45 is offline
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Cool Chapter Twelve

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..... Chapter Twelve



The first year PE (Post Eruption) was very cold. There was a noticeable warming during the Summer of the following year, but it only rose above freezing a little, on a scant handful of days. The snow covering progressively shrank each Summer after that, but it wasn’t completely gone until early in the Summer of the fifth year.


We started building greenhouses during the second year. I had not taken the greenhouses into account at all in my food storage program, because I had no idea how long it would take to start harvesting a reasonable amount of food from them. There was a limit to how much heat that we could pump into them, and if the dust blocked too much sunlight; they wouldn’t produce very well—or possibly at all.


Nonetheless, we got a fair amount of produce from them the first year that we used the greenhouses—mostly tomatoes; carrots; potatoes and a few other things easy to grow hydroponically. The first season, we got mostly a garnish to go with our stored food, and a little fresh browse for the rabbits. That was okay. A little variety was most welcome.


Every year after that, we added more greenhouses and perfected our techniques of cultivation. The fourth summer a little green grass started showing here and there, and we were able to graze our stock sparingly. No one had known for sure that Summer number five would completely melt the snow cover, so we weren’t prepared to plant much in the ground—just a few quick-growing crops. We were planning on planting a big crop the following Summer though.


My father used to have a saying: “They were doing fine until prosperity hit them in the ass.” I guess that’s what happened to us.

#################### ################ ########################


“Why don’t we sow all our pastures with clover, and put all of our land into cultivation? We could be able to stop using stored food completely by this time next year. I for one, am powerfully tired of stored food,” Bishop Monty said.


There was a scattered rippling of agreement through the meeting hall. Bishop Monty had been sniping at me every since I’d been elected Bishop. He and Elder Bates were always murmuring and complaining about something. Still, many of our people were asking the same questions.


“Why couldn’t we plant more food? Why didn’t we start building homes, so folks could move out of the compound? Why didn’t we do something about the Boyz? Why this? And how come that?”


“Dudes, it is like: think about this. The weather is getting warmer, year by year; but it is going to be colder than it used to be—and perhaps even more significantly, it will be much more unpredictable for many years. We don’t want to risk losing too much of our resources to an unseasonable frost; a hailstorm; locusts or crop circles. We have to play a conservative hand,” I tried to explain.


Elder Bates stood up to put his ignorance on display.


“We don’t have to play a conservative game. Bishop Hawkins CHOOSES to play conservatively. We all suffer for it. If he’d let himself be truly led by the Holy Ghost, he wouldn’t have to worry about crop failures,” Elder Bates chanted.


“Well by that logic, we shouldn’t even have to plow—just go out in Mid-Winter; throw a handful of seeds on the ground; and viola’! We have a giant beanstalk…

“No wait! I remember. Scratch the giant beanstalk. That was another story. We wait, and God does all the rest. Come harvest time, the fields are ripe with grain. No wait, why should we have to harvest it? Maybe a big cyclone will winnow all the grain for us, and set it gently down in our silos. Really man, be for real,” I said in disgust.


“I have another issue that I want to raise in the council. How long are we going to let people walk around armed to the teeth? We aren’t in a war zone anymore. Just the other night, Rasputin was shot arguing with his old lady. These Guns are a danger,” Elder Bates continued.


“Rasputin was a sociopathic crack-head before the eruption. I’m not entirely clear who invited him, but he showed up. He works for Doctor Bing-Bing now, largely in exchange for all the amphetamines that he can consume.


“Hey, that’s okay. If we didn’t have a few burnouts willing to work around some potentially harmful chemicals, then we’d have to come up with much more elaborate protective procedures. Point is: Rasputin is no poster child for respectability.


“Jamilla has been separated from him for several years—since before the eruption. He tried to slap her around. She shot him. The only down side is that she shot him with one of the Holmes .380s, and he recovered. I’ve sent one of my personal aides to make sure she has a major caliber weapon, and instructions in its use—as well as adequate range time. That should handle the problem,” I said.


“You shouldn’t let Boom-Boom make crank. It’s a shame and a disgrace!”


“You shouldn’t drink our pure corn liquor. It is intended for medicinal purposes. But if I made a real effort to stop the flow, I’d have a bumper-crop of the maimed; the halt; and the blind—from drinking pop-skull. I don’t have the time, or the energy, to try to impose prohibition. If you really think it’s bad, preach against its use—and stand ready to offer your addicts an alternative. That is, just as soon as you stop drinking and fornicating in secret,” I said.


“You can’t accuse me that way! You can’t talk to me that way! I’ll…; I’ll…”


“You’ll what? You wouldn’t have had the nerve to challenge me to a fistfight when you were in your prime. I’m not exactly young anymore myself; but I’ll tell you what: I’ll spot you a handicap. I’ll fight you blindfolded. Is that a big enough handicap?”


“You are a barbarian.”


“Well you’ve got that part right.”

##################### ################## ################


“I noticed your tattoos,” Derek said to Aryan.


Aryan laughed and said, “Remnants of a long-lost, and misspent youth.”


“No seriously, I groove on where you’re coming from. There’s a meeting tonight—a meeting with our kind of people. Would you like to come?”


Aryan reviewed what he knew about Derek. The man had drifted in last Summer. He claimed to hail from parts West. He didn’t seem to want to talk about his past. Lots of folks found their memories too painful to dwell on. And some had used the dawn of a new World as an occasion to recast themselves in a better mold. Either way was fine with Aryan. But the man’s hushed remarks started a new train of thoughts in Aryan’s mind.

############ ####################### ####################


There were a half-dozen of them, and they met outside, about a half-mile from the clearing. Aryan, who was fairly sure the meeting was a waste of time, reflected that they were unlikely to hang around very long in the cold. He rethought that idea, when he was led to a concrete block garage that was still standing, and was furnished with an old double fifty-five gallon barrel heater.


He’d heard talk that lots of folks had similar getaways. There was an almost compulsive need to get out of the compound. The meeting place wouldn’t have been against the rules—or even frowned upon. There were remarkably few rules at the compound anyway. Even so, Aryan wondered at their exaggerated air of secrecy. A simple sign on the door saying: “This place claimed,” would have kept folks away as effectively as any amount of secrecy.


They started the meeting. They took attendance; read minutes from the last meeting and all the other time wasting maneuvers that a club with less than a dozen members could conceive of. Then Derek stood up to speak.


“Do you notice how all the bosses at the armory are black? Most of the bosses everywhere nowadays are black. They’re hogging all the good positions,” Derek stated.


“Bishop is white,” Aryan interjected.


“Don’t tell me that you’re so naïve that you can’t tell that their ‘so-called’ Bishop is mixed breed?” One of the others said contemptuously.


Aryan sat and pondered the implications of what was being said. He didn’t speak again.


“Well, what can be done about it,” A fellow named “Jackson” asked. He had a mouthful of rotten brown teeth, and he was always scratching himself.


“I’m coming to that. But first I want to make sure that you’re all on board. I want you to go back to your bunks. I want you to lie there for a few moments before you go to sleep, for the next few days. When you’re sure that you truly want to be a part of the final solution, let me know. Come to the next meeting prepared to take an oath, and be initiated,” Derek said.

################## ################### ##################


Doctor Boom-Boom stood doing his odd kinetic dance. It made concentrating on his words rather challenging at times.


“Sure you have Guns. You make Guns. Hell, a smart baboon could make a Gun, if he had a Drill Press. In fact, Goodal recorded her chimps making primitive zip-Guns in the middle of the Belgian Congo, back in ’83,” Doctor Boom-Boom rapped.


He exaggerated sometimes, in order to make his points.


“Ammo, now that’s a very different thing. Without the capability to make ammunition, the day will come when you’re unarmed.”


Truth be told, explosives have always scared me. I have no fear of dying; but who wants to lose an eye, or half his fingers? Hell, on a bad day, you could lose both eyes and all your fingers—and have the rotten luck to live through it.


I was persuaded that the modern arms companies had come up with some reasonably safe ways to handle explosives. The only kind of primitive ammunition making enterprise that I could conceive of, would be one where the disaffected were placed in danger of losing life and limb to the occasional, and inevitable industrial accidents.


Everything that I have already said would apply double to priming compounds. All of them are notably less safe than smokeless gunpowder. They have to be, or they wouldn’t go off.


Boom-Boom claimed to have a way to make our gunpowder and priming compounds safely—partially through his unique formulas and partly as a result of his brilliant low-tech means of automating things.


I’m not sure whether Doctor Boom-Boom’s bizarre eccentricities were the result of too many hallucinogens; the emotional stress of the eruption; or combinations of that, and other things.


He stopped his crazy movements when he sat down to work on a project. They came back when he stood and they got worst of all, when he tried to communicate.


I always had a knack for communicating with oddballs—largely I think, because I respected them, and took the time to learn about them. I had found that the best way to talk to Boom-Boom, was to catch him at his desk working out something. I would ask him a question. As long as he multi-tasked, he could write me two or three sentence notes. I found out that his given name was “Wayne” that way. If he devoted too much of his attention to talking to me though, he went bananas again.


Point is, I’d found him reasonable sane, and I didn’t ever remember him promising something that he couldn’t deliver.


“Start the planning stage, Wayne,” I told him. “But before you actually synthesize so much as a microgram of explosive, we’re going to set you a factory up, well outside the compound—like several miles. Got that?”



“SH-SH-SURE!” He managed to say through gritted teeth, before going on about his business.

############## ##################### ####################


“Are you sure that you can breed a Clydesdale to a Shetland Pony, Bishop?” Tony asked.


“Well, you have to artificially inseminate them. Otherwise they’d have all sorts of trouble coupling their chassis together. Read about it in an Animal Science book at Purdue. They crossed them, and they said that while the ones that had a Shetland for a mother were born smaller—they purtin’near have to be, beings the womb is so much smaller—that they eventually grew to be about the same size as the hybrid horses with Clydesdale mamas. At any rate, that’s where I found out that it could be done.”


“But to what purpose?” Tony asked.

“When we were staying inside, and buttoned down, those little pony mares ate less, and took up a lot less room than full-sized riding horses, much less draft horses. Now that we have pasture again, and can grow grain, we should be able to breed them back up in no time—at least to reasonable riding size.”


“Why do we have so many dairy farms?” Tony wondered.


“Well for one thing, dairy farms can produce a lot of protein and calories per square acre. Secondly, it will be a generation or two before there’s truly enough horses to go around.


“ About half the cattle will be born male. Nowadays instead of using most of them as vealers or feedlot steers, we can use them as oxen—pull a plow, or a cart. With the right saddle, you can even break them to ride—though I’d want a bull for a mount. Hell with riding castratos.”


“Aren’t bulls mean?”


“Some of them. Depends on the breed and the training.”

#################### ################ ###################


Aryan came walking up to me in the field, as Tony and I were watching the livestock graze, and discussing animal husbandry. After all those months of white snow, seeing the stock graze on green grass was a moving sight.


“I need to talk to you right now, Bishop,” He said without preamble.


Aryan was one of the very few close friends that I’d made after being appointed Bishop. The title seemed to overawe many who hadn’t known me before. There were also a fair number of sycophants who wanted to lay hold of my coat tails and ride their way to prosperity. Aryan had always been simply Aryan.


I thought he needed something from me, and I asked Tony to excuse us. It turned out that he wanted to do me a good turn. He warned me that a conspiracy was brewing, and promised to keep me informed—if, as he allowed, he didn’t simply lose his patience and religion, and simply shoot all of them.


.....RVM45
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Old 04-08-2008, 02:45 PM
vandj vandj is offline
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Another good bite! It's coming along very well, look forward to more!
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:46 PM
RVM45 RVM45 is offline
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Cool Chapter Thirteen

.
.
..... Chapter Thirteen



We were having a staff meeting. Missionary Debra was there, of course. While it is undoubtedly true that no one is irreplaceable, Missionary Debra was the closest facsimile that I’ve ever seen. She had a hand in everything. Ministers Sean and Matthew—now having been elevated to Elders Sean and Matthew were also there, along with Minister Tony. Minister Tony, who had a special gift for raising livestock, had recently been made Minister at the age of nineteen. There were also a few other key staff, but it doesn’t bear going into.


Sean was frowning and obsessing as usual. Matthew was implacable, and Tony found reason to smile and be cheerful in almost any circumstance.


“I’m telling you Bishop, people are getting powerfully tired of dormitory living,” Elder Sean said ominously.


“Okay. I want to start a block of about fifty residential houses. We have enough construction materials cached to build about four times that many. Nonetheless, I want our salvaging of construction materials to shift into a higher gear. There’s concrete; lumber; insulation; glass—beaucoup kinds of good stuff that may not be any good much longer. We’ll need it eventually,” I said.


“There are cases where we’d get a much bigger return on our efforts cannibalizing existing structures,” Minister Tony pointed out.


“Oh by all means. Triage everything. Triage, Triage! But what I started to say: put ten percent more laborers on the construction crews. Get volunteers for overtime—both construction and anyone who wants to work OT out of department.


“People won’t like the extra work,” Elder Sean groused.


“People want more housing, but they don’t want to build them. Do they think that I can make houses spring up like mushrooms?” I asked.


I thought for a moment.


“Could we raise two houses ready to move into, during a weekend—if we had a ‘cabin raising’? “


“Yes, if people would participate,” Missionary Debra said.


“Okay, I want a cabin raising every weekend, for the next twelve weekends. Make it fun. Make sure that a reasonable amount of our medicinal pure corn gets there; good food; a party when it’s finished.”


“If the people work on Sunday, they’ll miss church,” Elder Sean objected.


“It might be a news flash to you, but lots of our people skip church anyway,” I pointed out.


“That’s true, but we don’t want to be seen as encouraging impiety,” Missionary Debra said.


“Cool, we’ll appoint a Minister or Elder to have a brief Sunday service on site. Will that suffice? “ I said.


“Could I volunteer to preach?” Minister Tony asked.


He was new, and never got enough chances to speak to satisfy him.


“If you can constrain yourself to be brief. Anyway. In a month or so, we could have the block of fifty built. Figure four folks per household—that’s two hundred people, probably a bit more, removed from the dormitory—plus the weekend built houses. Two hundred is close to ten percent. That should make a noticeable less crowded situation for everyone.


“Let’s say that the weekend houses are awarded by lottery, but to be eligible, at least one family member has to have participated in the building. That will add a nice bit of incentive.


“We also need another pentagonal multi-purpose structure built. It and the accompanying tunnels will allow us to spread the remainder of the folks out some.”



“It will be late Summer by the time the block of fifty gets built. Depending on a number of factors, we may commit to another twenty to thirty unit block of houses then. In the meantime, make it work people.


“With the resources we would expend on building a new pentagon, we could build fifty or sixty more houses—more,” Elder Sean objected.


“True, but we need the building. People are just going to have be patient. There hasn’t been any law passed to prevent anyone from scrounging up their own materials, and building their own house.


“On to other things—I want a factory building built to these specifications, at this location. Doctor Bing-Bing is going to do something interesting.


“Oh Tony, the Boyz have some of the extra large donkeys they’re willing to trade. I want at least one stallion, and three mares—along with an agreement in principle, to sell us stud services when we want some new blood. They also have llamas. Feel them out, but we’re not looking to go into the llama business anytime soon.”


“People won’t like trading with the Boyz,” Elder Sean objected.


“By the way,” Elder Matthew weighed in. “We have a couple of defectors from the Boyz compound. They said they’re tired of that lifestyle, and want to repent. One of them used to own a gunstore, and he claims to have caches of Guns and ammo galore.”


“Welcome both of them to the compound. Feel them out, see if they’re ready to commit to Christ and join the church—but don’t pressure them,” I ordered.


“Oh really now, are we accepting homosexuals into the church?”
Elder Sean sneered.


“No, we’re accepting former homosexuals as candidates for membership. Why the issue? I guar-an-tee that we already have homosexuals and lesbians in the church. They are simply deceitful about it. Remember the parable of the wheat and the tares? Let them grow together. God will sort them out on judgment day.”


Staff meetings were beginning to give me headaches. It is so wearying to have to think for other people; or to refute arrant nonsense.

################# ################## ####################


Aryan made his way surreptitiously to the concrete block garage. He knocked on the door; whispered a password and was hustled in. There were almost sixty people crowded into the garage. Someone had located and liberated a bunch of folding chairs and they were arranged in rows and columns—just like church, or any one of a number of otherwise benign organizations.


There was an American sign on one side of the makeshift podium. There was a Nazi flag on the other. Derek stood up to speak. Once he had everyone’s attention, he introduced someone Aryan hadn’t seen before. He said that he was Comrade Hearst from Georgia.


Comrade Hearst was a powerfully built man of about fifty. He was about six foot tall and close to three hundred pounds. He looked like a man who’d spent many years doing heavy squats; deadlifts and bench presses. He shaved his head and eyebrows.


Aryan thought he looked malevolent and reptilian—like an aged bellicose snapping turtle. When the man spoke, his voice sounded strained and hoarse. It was a bit too high, and it broke frequently. He only gestured with his right hand as he talked. The rest of his body seemed turned to wood, or stone.


“How did a bunch of white folk like yourselves, end up being flunkies for a bunch of black folks,” Comrade Hearst asked rhetorically. “Now I represent an outside organization that could help you folks to set things right.


“I say that we ‘could’. The question is: are you folks worth our effort, or are you so far gone in your black loving, race mixing ways, that we’d be better advised to shun you—consider y’all as part of the problem? As I say, it’s a question. It is you folks place to convince me.”


Aryan was astonished at the man’s words and attitude. He watched him carefully, trying to spot any sign of humanity behind the reptilian face. He had seen evil before, many times. Comrade Hearst didn’t seem so much evil, as he did empty. Gazing into his eyes, Aryan thought that he was the most exquisite example of an empty human shell that he’d ever encountered.


The man droned on interminably. Aryan felt the hypnotic cadence of the man’s voice, and summarily brushed it away. There was something else though—something dark and spiritual that enveloped Aryan in vain. It sought frantically for an opening, but Aryan was indwelt by the Holy Ghost. There was no opening for the unclean spirit, and no room for him inside; even if he could have forced an entrance.


The spirit had encountered this situation before. He was forever barred from entering into Aryan. Nonetheless he could fasten himself on the outside—slowly drain Aryans energy; blight his spirit; deceive him and lead him into error. But there weren’t even any external handholds for the demon to cling to.


Aryan experienced the assault as a momentary and minor irritation. He shrugged it off, never being consciously aware of it. If the thing couldn’t get into or influence Aryan, it still had a season pass into Comrade Hearst’s spirit. It whispered to him. It told him things about Aryan.


The demagogue was finishing up a long riff about “the good of society” and the brotherhood of man. Aryan pondered momentarily. Even if he believed in the fictitious entity known as “society”, he still couldn’t imagine how putting Baldy in charge of anything might accomplish any good purpose. But as he sat, carefully keeping his face expressionless, he noticed that the speaker spent more and more of his time glaring at him.


Aryan gazed blandly back into the man’s eyes. As the fellow put more and more hostility in his gaze, so did Aryan. He’d never backed down from anyone. He didn’t intend to start now. The old bastard might have thirty pounds on him, but he’d go out and dance with him right then, if the Nazi thought he could hang.


“I have spent many years perfecting my powers of observation. I can pick up on the slightest cue—something that none of y’all would ever notice. I can tell that you have a traitor in your midst. That man there,” He said, pointing to Aryan. “Grab him”.


Aryan was lightly armed, but most of the fellows in the garage weren’t packing at all. He drew and fire one round at Comrade Hearst before someone grabbed him from behind. The rude shaking that the back-grabber gave him, kept him from aiming very precisely. Nonetheless he managed two center of mass hits, on two other clients, with the Mag-Na-Ported two-inch Smith and Wesson Model twelve that Pete had given him. They had to break two of his fingers to pry the Gun from his hand. Then the World went black.


Aryan wasn’t out very long, but when he came to, he was bound hand and foot. Comrade Hearst was holding a rag to his face. When he took it away momentarily, Aryan saw that the 158-grain lead semiwadcutter hollow point +P had struck a grazing blow, which had nonetheless done an excellent job of completely evacuating the fascist’s right eye socket. One of his other clients was dead. The last client was gut-shot, but hanging in there for the moment.


“Drag him up front,” Comrade Hearst commanded. “This man is a miscegenist. He has a black wife and three hybrid children. He’s a good friend to the mixed-breed Bishop. What kind of conspiracy are you idjits running?”


“Yeah well,” Aryan told him.” Didn’t whoever told you all that stuff, while he was riding you barebacked—no doubt—tell you that the Bishop is one of the purest examples of Scots-Irish that you’re ever likely to find—with a generous dose of Indian blood thrown in? Even Hitler himself once remarked that the American Indians were ‘Brown-skinned Arians.”


Comrade Hearst struck Aryan a backhanded blow across the face.


“Shut-up!” He screamed. “I am going to kill you very slowly, but first, I’m going to let you watch your wife and your hybrid children die horribly”


Aryan laughed at him.


“I have an appointment with death and it is not within your power to either speed, or delay it. Jesus loaned everything that I have on this Earth to me. That includes my wife and children. When he needs them back, he’ll call for them. In the meantime there is nothing that you can threaten me with. I’m through wasting words on you. You aren’t worth speaking to.”

############# ################# #########################


Larry received a summons to go see Minister Tony. When he got there, he was delighted to see Lloyd and Dave there. He grabbed each of them in a hearty embrace.


“It’s good to see you guys again. What are you doing here?”


“We’re defecting,” Dave told him. “It just kept weighing on our minds, how they threw you out into the cold that way. We talked it over and decided to come here as soon as practical—if they’d have us.”


“You two aren’t like...”


“No, no!” Lloyd laughed. “The Boyz don’t believe in emotional attachments. We want to find a better way.”


“Well you’ve found a very good place to find better ways,” Larry said.


“You don’t have to acknowledge us in public. People knew we were friends, they’d look at you funny.”


“Nonsense! I’ve never turned my back on a friend—for any reason,” Larry declared.


“We both turned our backs on you,” Dave said sadly.


“Then you’ll have to learn to forgive yourselves. I’ve already forgotten.”

############### ######################### ###############


Ronnie stayed busy with his television and radio stations. There had been a small influx of people into the retreat. A disproportionate number of the new members were teens and youths. Ronnie; Travis; Gib along with two of the three engineers from Purdue, were the only inhabitants over twenty-five years of age.


Most of the inhabitants were extremely gifted with at least one special talent. Many of them were multi-talented. Nick led the choir—that was seen and heard all over the world, due to Ronnie’s TV broadcasts. Miriam liked to play with the computer. At the age of seven, she’d started doing her own animation. At the age of nine, she was frustrated by the limits of her computer system.


Gib and the three engineers from Purdue had helped her both to scavenge the hardware, and to wire it together to make her a massive Beowolf system. With no economic restraints, and with several of the best electronic and programming minds of all time working on the design, they soon had something orders of magnitude more powerful than any previous animation system.


At the age of eleven, Miriam had attained the Holy Grail. Her graphics were good enough to be mistaken for live filming. She had made several short features, and three full-length movies to broadcast worldwide. Most of her work had a Christian theme, and all of it was Christian-friendly.


As she said, it would be generations before they could once again have “Casts of thousands”, or even hundreds again. She was making much of the apparatus of movie-making unnecessary.


One of the engineers named “Jake” had made Ronnie a set of prosthesis that surpassed anything yet made. Ronnie said that they were almost as good as his original legs.


There were numerous other projects going on—some trivial, and a few grandiose—but all of them ingenious.


Then the plague hit. They had heard about the sickness over the airwaves, but so far as they knew it had been confined to Europe and Asia until The young people of Ronnie’ Retreat started getting sick.


There had been speculation that the virus could be carried for hundreds of miles on the wind—perhaps across oceans. Certainly, they hadn’t had a newcomer for several months, and none of them had been overseas, or even within a state of the ocean since the eruption.


The plague seemed to perversely prefer the young and the healthy, though no one was exempt. The first sign was itching festering pustules that continued to grow in size and number throughout the course of the illness. The sickness was deadly, but it didn’t kill particularly quickly. Indeed, the victims often suffered for weeks. Death usually came from kidney and sometimes, liver failure. The disease seemed to Cram-jam the system with toxins.


Several veterinarians and chemists from Purdue came down, along with a couple Doctors. The veterinarians and chemists were all PhDs; accustomed to research. They had every confidence that the plague would get to them eventually, and they elected to meet it head-on. If there was a cure, they aimed to find it—quickly.

################# ################### ###################


Aryan had given the barest outline of his plans to Larry. Larry only knew approximately where the meeting place was—and it could very well have been moved. There might also have been alternate sites. He did know that Derek was a ringleader in whatever had happened to Aryan. He talked it over with Pete. The three of them had become fast friends since in processing into the Ark at the same time.


Larry didn’t tell Bishop what he and Pete were going to do. Their actions would not be terribly Christian. Bishop had enough troubles without being implicated in their harebrained schemes. Pete made arrangements for one of her sisters to watch her children for however long was necessary. Larry went to see Doctor Bing-Bing and returned with a small leather pouch.


Before they left Pete’s apartment, Larry started tying his arm off.


“What are you doing?” Pete asked him.


“Well I’m sure not getting high. This will make me immune.”


“To what?”


“Some of the stuff Bing-Bing gave me.” Larry said a brief prayer aloud. “Lord, when I had gas gangrene and they wanted to amputate my arm, I promised you that if you’d save my arm, that I’d never shoot dope again. I kept my promise. You know my heart. This isn’t dope. It’s not to get high and it’s to help a friend. I hope you understand.”


Larry spent an extra long time swabbing his arm down—first with alcohol, then with Betadine. He might get an infected injection site, but it wouldn’t be through not using proper sterile technique. He hit his vein, and injected himself with an ease that astonished, and also reassured him. Despite the fact that the antidote wasn’t for getting high, it had a kick that made Larry think he was going to pass out for several very long minutes. Cocaine had never done that to him.


Pete demanded a complete explanation. Once Larry explained, she turned to him and said,


“Do me.”


“I had one syringe for me, and one for Derek. Oh well, if I give Derek something, tsk-tsk is all I gotta say.”

############### ################## ######################


They found Derek running a Lathe in the armory. Larry placed a large gelatin capsule in his mouth. He walked up behind Derek and chewed the capsule several times quickly. He tasted the foulest thing that he’d ever had in his mouth. Then the capsule started effervescing. He grabbed Derek’s shoulder and spun him around. He opened his mouth wide and blew the thick green smoke into Derek’s face.


Derek faltered, but staggered past him. Antidote or no antidote, the gas stunned Larry. He paused to quickly puke his guts up. Pete had grabbed a hold of Derek. Instead of opening her mouth wide, she pursed her lips and blew a steady stream of the gas into Derek’s face. He fell. Pete fell an instant later.


Thankfully, Larry didn’t much trouble reviving Pete. They wrapped Derek in a blanket, and carried him nonchalantly out of the compound.


When Derek came to, he was bound hand and foot. Larry had a booming headache from the drugs he’d been exposed to and was feeling even more merciless than usual.


“My good friend Derek, Aryan has disappeared. I believe that you know something. You will be here until you tell me what you know—or until you convince me beyond the smallest shadow of a doubt that you know nothing.”


“Tell you nothin’“ Derek spat out.


“Do you see this syringe? I used it earlier, and I didn’t sterilize it. You might catch something from me. That’s life.”


Larry quickly injected Derek straight into his jugular vein.


“Always wanted to try that,” Larry remarked conversationally.


“Truth serum won’t work on me.”


“Maybe not,” Larry said indifferently. “That wasn’t truth serum. It was a chemical Doctor Bing-Bing came up with. It resembles both black widow venom and some of the nastier jellyfish toxins. It will stimulate every single pain nerve in your body to the max. At the same time, it heightens your brain’s capability to feel pain. Pete has the antidote in that syringe over there.”


He paused and turned Derek’s head towards Pete.


“You get the antidote when she’s convinced you’ve told her everything you know about the disappearance of her husband. You know the neatest thing? The drug takes a few minutes to take effect. Isn’t anticipation gratifying?”


.....RVM45
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Old 04-10-2008, 05:04 AM
SurvivalOfTheFitte SurvivalOfTheFitte is offline
 
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Great... keep it coming =]
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Old 04-10-2008, 10:07 PM
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Thanks for another bit. I'm getting hooked big time.
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Old 04-11-2008, 01:26 PM
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Cool Chapter Fourteen

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..... Chapter Fourteen



The night air was chill, but Derek was sweating profusely. He writhed in pain, and could only speak in tortured gasps forced between tightly clenched teeth.


“I knew that deep down you were really on our side, Derek. You just needed some proper motivation,” Larry said to him.


Derek was too preoccupied with his agony to argue the point.


“I’ve told you everything—time and time again. I don’t know any more. Please give me the antidote,” He pleaded.


“There’s a problem with that,” Larry said. “There isn’t any antidote. Doc says that it will probably wear off within forty to fifty hours. If either of us survives our rescue attempt, and we’re feeling extra charitable, we may come back to untie you. In the meantime: enjoy.”

################# ####################### ####################


Larry had a bunk in one of the unmarried men’s barracks. He stopped outside the door to have a hurried consultation with Pete. Pete left to go get her gear, and to ask her cousin to watch the children for her. Larry stepped inside the barracks to get his gear.


He decided to take the companion K and N Frame five-inch Smith and Wesson .357s. The Guns seemed almost alive to him. The next Gun he planned to take was a Holmes Designed machine pistol that he’d made at the armory. It was the same size as the .22LR, but chambered for the .32ACP.


Larry had meticulously crafted thirty-two and seventeen round magazines for it. They were essentially downsized Sten magazines. The pistol was a foot long and Larry had made a foot-long screw-on suppressor of his own design. It was more or less a standard monoblock suppressor, except that it had a smaller auxiliary expansion chamber welded onto the bottom of the tube. He’d also added a Skorpian style folding wire stock.


He hesitated. His natural tendency to load himself down with all the Guns that he could carry warred with a desire to travel light. He compromised. He strapped on a 1911A1 style .45auto along with enough magazines to shoot an IPSC match, grabbed a trio of small hideouts, and decided to stop there.


Dave and Lloyd met him at the door. They too looked like they were on their way to a gunfight. Dave gestured him to one side where they could talk.


“I overheard you talking to the warrior princess. It was her husband that disappeared a couple days ago, wasn’t it? You’re mounting a rescue operation, aren’t you?” Dave asked.


Larry shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something intended only to be vague gibberish.


Why not go to the powers that be?” Dave asked.


“There’s a conspiracy. Don’t know who might be involved—or monitored.”


“Well count me and Lloyd here in.”


“Guys, it’s not your fight. You could get yourselves killed.”


“I might get killed, but I’m never going to turn my back on a friend again.”

############# ############################# ##################


“Doc, these boils seem an integral part of this illness, yet from everything that we’ve been able to glean from the airwaves, no one has made a concerted effort to lance them. Why is that?” Travis asked the Doctor.


“There are so many, and even if you got rid of them, more would probably form,” The Doctor said.


“Well Doc, figure it this way: ninety percent of them are going to die anyway and those boils ache and itch something fierce. At the very least it would give them some relief. Besides, this thing seems to progressively poison the body. I can’t help but think that all those boils contribute to that,” Travis told him.


“I think you may be right. It’s worth a try. Nothing else seems to help. Are you a Doctor?” The man asked Travis.


“No, but I’m perfectly capable of playing one on TV,” Travis said with the smallest of smiles.


“Pity, you’d probably have made an excellent Doctor.”

############## ######################### #####################


The veterinarian and a radio technician sat sending a long stream of code over the airways, to Purdue.


“That seems a time consuming operation. What are you trying to accomplish?” Miriam asked.


“We need to sequence the genes on this cursed virus. We got lots of computer power at the University, but with no hard connection it’s slow. Faster than courier, but not by much.”


“Well if you need numbers crunched, you could use my Beowolf. It has more gigaflops than any other yet built.”


############### ##################### ########################


Travis went to find Ronnie. The little man spent many of his waking hours in the chapel, down on his artificial knees in prayer. He wasn’t particularly little anymore though, with his new legs.


“The death count still stands at three. Lancing the boils has proven to slow the progress of the disease considerably, but it’s no cure. We now have eighteen sick. The scientists say that they’re ripping the genome apart with Miriam’s computer system. The question is: will they find a cure fast enough to do any of us any good?”


“Travis, please stay and sit with me awhile.”

############# ######################## ######################


They were holding Aryan in a small concrete block garage similar to the meeting place; only this one was a smaller one-car garage. The concrete buildings had stood up to the ash fall and the snow better than some of the wooden buildings. Also, it was far more likely to find some sort of wood stove in a garage.


There were two guards inside. One of the guards decided that getting Aryan to speak was a personal challenge. The other sat at a table reading a book, and largely ignoring the other two.


Finally the man tired of verbal taunts and started to slap Aryan’s face repeatedly.


“That’s enough of that. We’re supposed to keep him alive,” The other guard said.


Aryan was bound to a straight-backed chair. The man tilted the chair backwards and laid it on its back with Aryan still strapped in. He covered Aryan’s mouth and nose with a small terrycloth towel and poured water on the towel.


As long as Aryan kept his head, and breathed very slowly, it was endurable—though he had a constant feeling of being suffocated. Whenever he lost his composure and tried to breath fast though, the towel would cling tightly to his face, shutting off all air. The towel would dry, and just as it got dry enough to give some relief, the guard would wet it again.

#################### ####################### #################


There were three guards spaced along the building. Lloyd, by his own admission, was no great rifleman, or stalker. Dave was a consummate sniper though. Larry and Pete went to take out the sentries. Dave watched through the scope of his .308 Savage Scout. If they were discovered, it was his job to take out the remaining sentries as quickly as possible. Lloyd stayed with Dave as a spotter.


Larry focused every ounce of his rage on the sentry ahead of him. Some folks said that if you looked directly at a client you were stalking, or focused on him too much, that he’d sense you somehow. Larry was convinced that the idea was BS.


Larry wrapped his right hand around the client’s mouth and nose to stifle any outcry. He had a Cold Steel Corsican Dagger in his left hand. The dagger was okay, but it wouldn’t have been his first choice for any other purpose than assassinating clients surreptitiously.


After he’d cut the client’s throat from ear to ear, the only thing holding the man’s head on was his spine and some spinal erector muscles. Larry was a good butcher with a razor sharp blade. It only took four gentle slices to sever the head. He put it into his shoulder bag. He was going to use it for a psy-op in a moment.


Pete beat him to the third sentry. He had no idea how she’d handled her first client, but she was grimly strangling the third one with a wire garrote.


Larry was more than a little disappointed in himself. While the act didn’t bother him in the slightest, he hadn’t taken any pleasure in it. He thought of himself as less of a Warrior; since the sight of the enemy’s blood didn’t thrill him to the marrow.

############### ####################### ######################


Aryan’s guard had added a new twist to the torture. This time instead of dropping water on the towel, he stood urinating on it. Just then a knock came at the door.


“Get that for me, Will you?” He asked the other guard.


The second guard walked to the door. He gave a sign and Larry gave the counter sign. As he opened the door, Larry hit him in his eye-sockets with a five-round burst of silenced .32s. He shoved the client back, simultaneously tossing the head into the garage.


An unmuffled blast of gunfire would probably have galvanized the client into furious action. However, all he heard was an odd subdued coughing sound, and then something rolled into the room. He never identified the object as a human head; but it distracted him momentarily nonetheless. The man died in a hail of .32bullets with his Gun undrawn, and his business still in his hand.


Aryan was unable to walk right off, so they propped him up on either side. Others might show up at the hideout any minute. They didn’t intend to stay to welcome them.

################### ##################### ####################


Elder Sean walked up to the sentry outpost with a small crowd of brethren along. He was a high-ranking official, and the sentries were geared to guarding against outside threats. So when Elder Sean asked them to have a few words with them, they readily complied. Within seconds they’d all been knocked unconscious and handcuffed.


“That should do it,” Elder Sean said into the microphone. He added a short string of alpha-numerics to prove his identity.

################ ##################### #######################


One of the few places the five friend’s could meet privately to discuss their current state of misery, was Pete and Aryan’s little apartment. They were lucky to have any private space at all. Bishop had sacrificed a Janitor’s closet to give them their own space. It was a large closet—about twelve by eighteen—but it was a small apartment.


Larry had left Prince at the apartment and the big dog was thrilled to be reunited with Larry. They were very seldom separated. While Larry talked to his dog, Dave tended Aryan’s wounds: Pete fixed them all something to eat and drink. With the immediate needs of the flesh attended to they discussed their options.


“Bishop needs to be told what is going on as soon as possible. I’m not sure that his bodyguard would get him out of bed to speak to us at this time of night, or not,” Aryan said.


“They will if you told them what’s happened,” Lloyd said.


“Unless they’re part of the conspiracy,” Dave pointed out. “Then not only would they not summon Bishop, but we get vanished.”


Larry thought that for once Dave’s cynical paranoia was justified.


“Tell you all what,” Larry said. “Lets all stick together ‘till we talk to Bishop in the morning. I understand that he start’s his day rather early.”


“Well before dawn,” Aryan supplied.


“Anyway, if we hang together, we’ll make a harder target for them in the meantime. I’m beat. I can sleep right here on the floor.”


Dave busied himself propping a chair against the locked door, and hooking up a small alarm to the doorknob.

################### ################# ####################


Missionary Debra and I had been up all night going over some of the plans. We had figured out a way to get another thirty or forty houses built before cold weather set in. Every house lowered the population density somewhat. Crowd too many, too closely together for too long and they start acting neurotic.


We tried to get the people outside into the open as much as possible, but many of them had more or less become mole people. Strangely enough, the one’s that you could hardly drag outside, were the most vocal in demanding housing.


Somewhere along the line, I got to reminiscing about the World I knew as a child. That was back before personal computers or cell phones. Part of my childhood was even before they passed the cursed GCA 68.


What I remembered were ice cream trucks and swimming pools; screen doors and summers that were so hot and seemed to last for centuries. I grooved on little corner grocery stores where people would loaf and talk. I talked about Double Colas in returnable glass bottles, and buttermilk that still had flakes of butter in it.


“We had made such a mess of things before the eruption: Wal-Mart’s; the Brady Bill; plastic handguns. Everything had become cheap; uniform and disposable. Tool and die makers were being replaced by CNC. People were compromising their creativity by giving up Drafting for CAD. It was a screwed up world.

“Maybe the World that we remake together will be better—God willing.”


“I hope so,” she said.


I started feeling very sad.


“My father died twenty years ago. I don’t know. I still miss him every day. I miss my mother too, but we weren’t as close. Most of my family was gone, even before the eruption. Our parents and grand parents tie us to the past.

“I mean, even if you never knew them, they existed—like a tree’s roots anchor it to the ground. It doesn’t matter that you can’t see them.

“But without children, there’s nothing to anchor you to the future. You’re like a one-wing dove trying to fly. If it really tries hard, it can rise a few feet, but then it just falls to the ground again.

“Vanity of Vanity, all is Vanity—and chaseth after the wind…”


“Why didn’t you ever have children?” Missionary Debra asked.


“Takes a woman. I never met one that would have me. I suppose it wasn’t my geas to have children.”


Somehow, we’d gotten to sitting too close together. I know that there could be no excuse or justification for what I did next. Even as a Bishop—with my own Bishop’s ring—I found out that deep down inside, I was still a carnal man. I put my arm around the Missionary, and started kissing her.


I can’t answer for what evil I might have gotten up to next, because at that instant the door opened. Aryan; Pete; Larry and Prince, and the two new guys from the Boyz compound were all there. Aryan looked like he’d taken a good beating recently.


“Bishop,” Aryan said without any preamble. “There are folks plotting to take over the Ark.”


They weren’t halfway through telling me about their experiences though, when the alarm started ringing. That particular code meant that the outer defenses had already been breached. We scurried to battle stations.

############### ######################## ###################


“While you’re praying, say a prayer for Bishop Hawkins and his people. We’ve just received word that they’re under attack,” Travis told Ronnie.


Ronnie rose, and sank wearily onto a bench.


“Hasn’t there been enough bloodshed and dying to satisfy everyone?” Ronnie wondered.


“It would seem not,” Travis said. “We need to stay focused on finding a cure for this virus. It will wipe us out, even if the chuckleheads spare us.”

############ ############################## ##################


Travis went looking for Badger. He felt a need for the big dog’s company. Later, he’d help himself to five or six ounces of Ronnie’s single malt Scotch, and read some of Miranda’s journals—but he had a few duties to attend to first.


He found Badger in the infirmary. He was busy licking a little girl’s arms.


“Badger, I don’t think that you ought to be doing that,” Travis gently chided him.


“It’s alright Travis. Badger loves me and his kisses make my sores feel better,” Suzy said


“Does it really make you feel better? Maybe I can get them to bathe you in some warm water. Thing is, I don’t know if dog’s can get the virus. I don’t want Badger to get sick. Besides, he might cause them to get infected—well, more infected than they are.”


He sat by the little girl. An idea came into his mind.


“So you really like Badger?” Travis asked.


“He’s my favorite of all the dogs,” Suzy said.


“Do you like Lee-Ann?”


“She’s okay, but Badger’s my favorite.”


“Well, Badger and Lee-Ann are going to have puppies soon. To be precise, Lee-Ann will have them, but Badger is the father. They’ll have a little of both in them. You get better, and I’ll let you have your pick of the litter.”


.....RVM45
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:34 PM
SurvivalOfTheFitte SurvivalOfTheFitte is offline
 
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Great. Looking forward to more (hopefully soon :P) perhaps in the next ones you could describe what happened to the government etc? Just a suggestion
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Old 04-12-2008, 06:29 AM
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.....I'm picturing less than one-hundred thousand survivors in the US and Canada. Goverment pretty much gone. Nonetheless, your question gives me the idea for a new plot twist.


.....RVM45
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:47 PM
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Going real well. Thanks for sticking to it.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:41 PM
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Cool Chapter Fifeteen

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..... Chapter Fifteen



My main command post was within a few yards of my quarters. I’d set it up that way for convenience sake. I told my friends to stick with me rather than trying to fight their way to their assigned posts.


I figured that with conspiracies brewing, I might need a few extra bodyguards. Besides someone might still be stalking them. Whatever they could tell me was probably a moot point by then, but maybe not. We could watch each other’s backs, just in case.


I was vastly encouraged to note that both my main Lieutenants were already there. I sat in my chair and grabbed the “Pickle”—a kind of super remote control, though it used a fiber optic cable rather than radio or infrared. I went through a quick survey of the key closed circuit monitors throughout the compound.


Long practice let me get an excellent overview of the tactical situation in moments. Things were bad. Not only would the casualties be much worse fighting at close range like this; but also vital equipment and livestock were at risk. It was quite possible to win the battle, only to find that our survival machine was destroyed in the process.


Elder Sean was having a hurried exchange with someone on the other side of the door, but I only noticed in a peripheral sort of way. Then he opened the door wide, and a couple squads of uniformed men walked into the command post. That got my full attention.


“I’m in command now!” Sean shouted.


Then he leveled his pistol at me. My command chair was many things, but being a good platform for a fast draw wasn’t one of them. I knew deep down that I couldn’t save myself, but with a little luck, I might take the traitor with me. I saw the muzzle of Sean’s Gun. Then Missionary Debra stepped in front of Sean’s Gun to shield me. Sean hit her with a triple tap to the body, then a shot to the head. I could clearly see the impact of each shot.


As I’ve said, the Missionary was no fragile flower—six foot, two hundred pounds, and built like Queen Latifa. Although she could have been put to any number of better uses, she made an excellent shield. Not a single bullet penetrated.



I screamed louder than I’ve ever screamed—part rage at what had just happened to Missionary Debra—part kiai to speed my draw, though I’d never teamed a kiai with a Gun draw before.


Before I cleared leather, Dave had swung his Savage Rifle around in a vicious butt stroke to the face that sent Elder Sean careening back with a ruined nose and quite possibly a broken neck.


In a moment the room was filled with dead bodies and the debris of smashed monitors, and so forth. Most of the bodies wore the quaint uniforms of the invaders. The uniforms weren’t that different, but they had a camouflage pattern that I’d never seen before, and the uniforms were cut differently as well. Sadly, there were several of our folks down as well.


I drew my thumb across my throat, signaling Pete and Aryan to make sure that all the enemy who were down, stayed down. I had just gotten back to my monitors when I saw a much larger wave of the invaders heading our way.


“Tactic: Way-Way-Alpha,” I spoke into the microphone. I repeated it twice. Then I turned to my remaining friends and said,


“Time to bug out.”


We went down the corridor a few yards then I unlocked a door and waved everyone into a small circuit breaker closet.


“We’re sitting ducks in here,” Larry said.


“No we’re not,” I told him.


I opened a small hidden panel revealing an escape tunnel. I’d also had the forethought to lay in some knee and elbow pads—though unless someone was too incapacitated to high crawl, the elbow pads were largely unnecessary.


“Come on dudes, we got about a quarter-mile crawl ahead of us. Hope y’all done been in shape,” I said.


The panel could be put back into position to hide the entrance, from the inside—if you knew how. I did; so I remained behind to close it.


We came out of the tunnel in what appeared to be a small shed—all run-down, and unlikely to contain anything worth looting.


Pete and Aryan went towards Baptist Town. Although radio warnings sent out to our allies the moment we were attacked were part of the protocols, I had no way of verifying that they were sent. Anyway, Elder Brown needed to know just how deep the rot went. At any rate, Pete had sent her cousin to Baptist Town with the children. Her and Aryan wouldn’t rest until they were positive that the children were safe.


Larry, Dave, and Lloyd were to come with me, along with Elder Mathew and a few others. Larry had Prince along, and I had my Bloodhounds. Courbet, Renoir and a nine-month-old pup named “ Manet”.


Minister Tony said that he had kin homesteading a couple miles away. He knew where we were going, and promised to rejoin us as quickly as he could. Although go-it-alone homesteaders were a small minority, there were still more than I could keep track of. Many of the families lacked radio communication gear. I couldn’t rightly keep the man from trying to warn his kinfolk—not that I wanted to.


We hadn’t been parted from Minister Tony very long when the dogs started to whine quietly. They were warning us that someone was stalking us, and doing an excellent job of it.

######################## ################ ####################


Minister Tony approached the house cautiously. Wouldn’t do anyone any good to get himself shot by mistake. His brother Brandon was a hard fellow to sneak up on. Brandon’s wife Theresa was also his second cousin, so he’d known her all his life too. He was about to give a signal, when he noticed that something wasn’t right.


He could see from where he stood, that the house had been ransacked. He watched silently for several minutes. He asked himself where he’d be, if he wanted to ambush someone coming to check out the house. He stalked each spot making little more noise than a tomcat.


He had been hunting coons and possums and running a trap line since he was seven years old. He’d been taking some of Bishop Hawkins’ marksmanship and martial arts classes almost as long. He was a dangerous man in the woods—or most anywhere else, for that matter.


When he’d satisfied himself that it wasn’t a trap, he gave a low warbling whistle, and went in. The fact that there weren’t bodies and blood on the ground outside meant that the perpetrators had to have been accompanied by someone that Brandon trusted.


He found Brandon inside. He’d taken two or three shotgun blasts to the mid section and his guts were all over the floor. Apparently even that hadn’t put him down, because he also had a head wound. They must not have had any fear of the children, because they’d taken the time to shoot each of them once, to the bridge of the nose.


There were four of the soldiers wearing the same unique uniforms as those who’d invaded the Ark. These had been stripped of any gear or weapons that might have had any value, but they’d left them lay. They’d probably be back to claim their dead once their takeover of the Ark was complete.


Tony went inside the bedroom. He found his cousin lying in the bed naked, with a hole in her head. It was obvious that she’d been gang raped before having her brains blown out.


He felt an almost curious lack of emotion. Tony was a black man, and a Minister in a Pentecostal Holiness Church, but he’d grown up a few miles outside of Harlan, Kentucky. He was no less a hillbilly than the people that Hunter S Thompson had once referred to as: “The in-bred Anglo-Saxon Tribes of Appalachia”. In fact, if it could have been traced back that far, there was more than one of the dour Celtic mountain men in his family tree.


He knew the call of kin. He had the way of the blood feud in his very bones. He was capable of actions that would have caused the staunchest Mujahadeen to lose heart. Yet he kept his temper and his blood lust under control at all times. This was the first time he’d ever encountered a situation where there seemed no good cause to hold back. And instead of raging and frothing at the mouth, he felt calmer and more in control than he’d ever been.


It wasn’t hard to follow the tracks. They’d had multiple vehicles—some of them tracked. Even when they’d taken the pothole-strewn road, they left a trail of torn-up asphalt in their wake.


Tony had a Springfield Armory M-1 Garand in .308, and plenty of enblock clips to feed it. He also packed a 1911A1 styled pistol, with plenty of loaded magazines and a six-inch Ruger Security-Six .357Magnum with a Colt Python barrel custom mounted on it. Some folks used to call them “Cougars”. He also had several blades and a Cold Steel Norsehawk.


He had no thought of surviving. He just wanted to take as many of the enemy with him, as he possibly could.

############## ############################ ##################


We took cover and waited to ambush whoever was following us. Lo and behold, it was Doctor Bing-Bing. He had a couple of his right-hand lab techs with him, and his four Warlocks.


Doc seldom went anywhere without the Warlocks. A Warlock is a cross between a Pitbull and a Timber Wolf—to what end, I’m not sure—perhaps to give the Pitbull bigger teeth, and even more jaw strength. It should beef them up a bit too. Doc’s Warlocks all weighed well over a hundred pounds.


Dogs can be hierarchical and territorial, but wolves have these traits much more strongly. If someone who isn’t a wolf specialist tries raising a wolf, there is the constant danger that he’ll steep across some invisible line, or violate some lupine taboo, and get the living daylight savaged out of him.


Thing is, a hybrid either inherits wolf psychology or dog psychology. There doesn’t appear to be any middle position. The folks who’d traded the Warlocks to Doctor Bing-Bing claimed that they’d been hybrids for a minimum of seven generations—more on some branches of the family tree; and they claimed to have been weeding out defectives, and selecting for proper attitude all along the way.


The people he’d gotten the Warlocks from were odd nomads who wandered by every year or two, to trade. They were very reticent to talk about themselves, but my best guess was that they were the result of Gypsies joining forces with a gang of outlaw bikers. They traveled in old-fashioned looking gypsy wagons—that were nonetheless recently made—drawn by oxen with well-made tack. Most of the men rode horses, but some rode choppers, and there were more bikes stowed on the wagons.


I was glad that Doctor Bing-Bing had survived and escaped, largely because I wanted as many of my people as possible to survive, but also because he was a personal friend and an invaluable resource.



We quickly compared notes, and continued to our destination.

############## ########################## ####################


When Minister Tony caught up with the small convoy, they’d joined up with a much larger group. They were parked just out of sight of the outermost fence around Bishop’s Ark. There were scores of big trucks with dual M-2 .50 Caliber Browning Machineguns. There were a couple of tanks and at least a dozen Bradleys—along with all sorts of miscellaneous vehicles, some military, some not. There were maybe two thousand men.


Apparently they’d parked outside so they wouldn’t trip over each other inside. They already had an overwhelming force inside, thanks to Elder Sean, and undoubtedly a few other traitors.


The number of enemies didn’t daunt Tony, but he did see a way of expanding his client list considerably. They were parked within a couple hundred yards of one of the Dragons.


The Dragons were diligently kept in working order, but only a few of them were manned nowadays, and they’d let a bit of brush grow up around many of them, partly through neglect, but also partly because it made good camouflage.


Tony’s master key let him inside. The napalm couldn’t be made ahead of time. It would become too thick to pump. The jelling agent had to be tired in, and agitated for about twenty minutes before it was ready to use. If it wasn’t used in two or three days, it would form big thick ropes of gelatinous resin, and have to be discarded.


The vengeful Minister spent the longest moments of his life waiting for the napalm to form. When it did, he checked and all the other systems were on line. He said a prayer. He prayed for his deceased brother and cousin. He prayed for the children. He prayed for all his friends and kin still living. Then he prayed for himself.


He knew that he hadn’t yet forgiven those who’d despoiled his home and his family. Nonetheless, even if he had forgiven them, tactics and justice would still guide him to do what he was about to do anyway. He just wouldn’t have gotten such a thrill at the thought of all the agony, death and destruction he was about to unleash. As it was, he felt like a little kid preparing to open his Christmas Presents.


He fired up the dragon and started spraying napalm. He sprayed the tongue of afire back and forth among the bivouac tents. He paused to make sure the two-ton trucks got a healthy dose, and covered the armor even thicker. He traversed the flame slowly, making sure that he laid down plenty of fire.


As he saw the occasional burning man running frantically, he cried aloud in delight. Many more were simply swept away by the burning stream, never to reappear. He saw that he had less than a third of a tank left.


About this time, the clients began to figure out which quarter the attack was coming from. Several of the twin .50s were still operational. They started tearing up the hillock the Dragon was buried under. The Dragon was protected by four courses of brick, but it couldn’t hold out against the .50 caliber bullets indefinitely.


Then a couple of mortars got the range. A tank shell struck a glancing blow. While it didn’t penetrate, it tore up the earthworks and the bricks a good deal more than they had been earlier.


Minister Tony felt the end coming an instant before the second round of tank-fire hit.


“It is always a good day to die!” He shouted. Just as he finished his declaration, the second round both blew the emplacement sky-high, and turned it into a blazing inferno. Tony was torn into tiny burnt pieces before the realization that he’d even been hit ever reached his brain.

######### ################################### ################


“Suzy is improving dramatically,” The Doctor told Travis. “ I only wish that I knew what to credit the improvement to.”


“Doc, it sounds crazy, but I think I know the only treatment Suzy got, that none of the other patients did,” Travis Said.


“Well don’t keep me in suspense. Tell me!”


“A couple days ago, I caught Badger licking her sores. It looked like he’d been working on them for sometime.”


A few hours later, the Doctor told Travis: “There is definitely something in Badger’s saliva that attacks the virus. However, beside the puppies, he’s the only dog that seems to have the anti-viral agent. We can harvest a reasonable amount of saliva from badger to treat all of our sick. We’re going to use what small amount of saliva that we can get from the puppies, to try to isolate the anti viral factor.”


“I hope that too many more don’t get sick all at once. As long as Badger’s saliva is the only source of the cure, there’s a major limit on how many we can treat at one time.”

################### ######################### ################


Aryan and Pete, with their firsthand experience with the Horde, had been asked to listen in on the talks between Baptist Town and the new proprietors of Bishop’s Ark.


“So what I’m basically proposing is that we share the burden of capturing the smaller compounds, and split their resources between us,” Comrade Hearst concluded. He wore a black leather eye patch over his right eye.


Elder Brown pushed a hidden button, asking Aryan and Pete to come in.


“Do you remember me, you fat toad? I’m the dude that shot your right eye out. Elder, I wouldn’t trust a word this lying piece of pig doody says,” Aryan nearly shouted.


“You needn’t worry. He’s just trying to use a strategy on me, that’s as old as the Ancient Greeks. It’s called ‘Divide and Conquer’. I’m neither that stupid, nor that greedy,” Elder Brown said.


“You came here under a flag of truce. You’re free to go,” Elder Brown said.


“Maybe I’ll take your little jerk-water compound next,” The one-eyed man threatened.


“Oh please do try,” Elder Brown said.” I’ll give you a taste of what you’d have gotten attacking Bishop Hawkins, if you hadn’t used treachery and deceit. Remember The Alamo.”


“Just one thing,” Aryan said. “I see that you’re wearing my revolver. My wife gave that revolver to me. It means a lot to me. I think you might want to give it back to me.”


“Why would I care to do that?” Comrade Hearst asked arrogantly.


“Because if you don’t, I’ll kill you and all your underlings. Then I’ll simply take it, along with whatever else that any of you have, that I fancy.”


“I’m here under a flag of truce.”


“It’s Elder Brown’s truce, not mine. I’m sure that he’d be justly upset with me for breaking it. However, he’s forgiven me for worse things. Elder Brown, I’m going to shoot Toady first, then his three henchmen. In the unlikely event that one of them gets me, then hold him blameless. “


“For God’s sake, give him the Gun,” One of the others urged him.


Aryan drew his 1911A1 style .45 and pointed it straight at Hearst.


“Do it nice and slowly,” Aryan said, mocking the tone of someone it a dirty movie.


When Comrade Hearst left, he left without a custom Smith and Wesson Model Twelve .38Special, with a two inch barrel.


.....RVM45
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Old 04-14-2008, 08:43 PM
vandj vandj is offline
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Another good chapter. Things keep happening unexpectantly.
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Old 04-16-2008, 06:43 PM
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Took me a while to catch up. it's an intriguing story. Thanks.
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Old 04-17-2008, 02:01 PM
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Cool Chapter Sixteen

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..... Chapter Sixteen



When Missionary Debra awoke, she had a booming headache. She had no idea where she was, or how she’d got there. Even so, there was a sense of urgency overlaying everything that caused her to frantically try to get to her feet.


“Please be still! You’ll tear out your stitches,” a disembodied voice told her.


Something about the voice convinced her that it was in her best interests to relax. She lay back and struggled momentarily against panic. A few seconds later the pain medication sped through her bloodstream, and she drifted back into pleasant oblivion.


When she next awoke, she awoke with all her faculties. She could tell that she was in the infirmary. She knew that she had an IV in her arm; that her body ached; and that there was a bulky bandage on her head. Her head was still a bit tender, but the booming pressure was gone.


“Have you rejoined us?” The nurse asked.


“Charlotte, how long have I been here? What’s going on? Where’s Bishop? I want to see my children…”


“Peace, you were shot. You were wearing a bulletproof vest, but it was very light, and somewhat worn. It didn’t completely stop any of the three bullets that hit you in the torso—but it slowed each of them down enough that they had rather minimal penetration,” Charlotte told her.


“Yeah, that was an old Level II vest that I picked up second hand, before the eruption. I liked it because it was thin enough, that it would fit under clothes that a regular vest wouldn’t, and it was comfortable.”


“Well, it saved your life. You were also struck in the head. The bullet struck at an angle. It didn’t penetrate the skull, but it did fracture it badly enough that we had to operate, to take pressure off your brain.”


“Where is Bishop?” Debra asked.


“Listen to me!” Charlotte hissed urgently. “ Archbishop Sean is in charge of the Ark now…”


“We don’t have Arch-Bishops…” Missionary Debra began.


“We do now.”


Charlotte grabbed both of Missionary Debra’s hands before continuing.


“Sean took over with the backing of some skinheads from Georgia. Bishop Hawkins escaped, but he captured the five old Bishops and got them to declare him a Bishop first, and then Archbishop. Two of them refused, and he shot them. Oh, I’m so glad that Bishop Pruitt didn’t live to see this.”


“How could this happen? Why didn’t more people fight?”


“They were inside our lines before we knew it. They took all the strategic strong points. No one was prepared,” Charlotte said sadly.


“Well, lets grab our Guns, and take the Ark back!” Missionary Debra said.


“They took everyone’s Guns. They haven’t gotten all of them, of course. They did get most of them. Most of our folks in singles barracks either carried their Guns, or had them in a locker. Either way, they were easy to take.”


“Well by damn, lets storm these knob-gobblers with our bare hands. There can’t be too many of them.”


“I still haven’t told you the worst of it. They’ve put all our children together, and the Georgians are holding them hostage.”


“Cowards take hostages. Georgians?”


“That’s what they call themselves. We have folks from Georgia that bristle every time they hear the name, but that’s what they call themselves.”

################ #################### ########################


The Georgians had surprisingly sophisticated ideas how to manage a slave labor force. They moved into all the best lodgings and appropriated all the best furnishings for themselves. They demanded the best of the first fruits for their tables. And excepting the occasional outraging of womenfolk (and in the modern World, a few men folk as well) they pretty well left the peons alone.


Most of the day-to-day decisions on how to manage the place were left to “Archbishop Sean”. That meant when they had to work longer hours, eat less or rougher food, or abide by various curfews, it was the “Archbishop” they cursed.


The Archbishop sat glumly on his throne. He’d been more or less the unofficial second-in-command to Bishop Hawkins—though he’d been co-equal to Elder Matthew and Missionary Debra. But back then everyone had liked and respected him. Even Bishop had treated Sean with respect. Now he was sandwiched between people, who addressed him as “Archbishop” with the same tone of voice, and facial expression they’d have if saying “dog turd”, and white supremacists that made a point of calling him “boy” and “dinge”.


Like the Spartans before them, the Georgians made a point to keep their martial skills honed. They also kept a number of guard posts manned—both against external, and against internal threats. They used Sean’s new police force (the Ushers) to maintain a vast and complex web of snitches, informants and double agents.

################### ############### #####################


The Georgians feared me. They had pretty much disrupted the whole countryside looking for me, and they were keeping it stirred up. So I decided to go to Ronnie’s Retreat. Not only did it put me well out of the range of the Georgians, it gave me a chance to talk on their worldwide radio and satellite television stations.


The television appearances in particular, demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that I was at Ronnie’s Retreat, and not still in Breathitt County. I put more store in the radio broadcasts though. There were undoubtedly more than a hundred working radios for every working television—and even if someone had kept a television up and working, they’d still need a satellite dish to groove on our broadcasts.


“People, you don’t need me to tell you that we’re in rough times. We’ve been through bad times. Things in general aren’t bad anymore for us—the survivors; and for those who did not survive, it’s a moot point.


“No, as a general rule, times aren’t bad for most of us. They’re not bad, but they are exacting times. We have very little margin for error. We don’t have any resources that we can afford to waste. Nonetheless, if we persevere things should improve, gradually at first, and then ever more rapidly.


“However, there is one force that can send us all back to the dark ages—or the stone age—or it could wipe mankind off the face of the Earth, though I personally don’t think that God will let things deteriorate quite that badly. That force is a combination of greed—greed for the unearned; Stupidity—the stupidity of a man in a glass boat juggling anchors; and arrogance—the arrogance that causes folks to think they can get away with something.


“No one ever gets away with anything—not even on this Earth. You may steal, and not have to bear man’s censure; but you can never escape the fact that you are a thief. Men may not catch a clever enough liar; but the liar cannot escape the reality that he is a liar.


“I am not talking about conscience. Many folks have consciences that are seared by a red-hot iron, and have grown as hard and dead as a piece of steel. I am talking about the fact that if you are a thief; or liar; or idolater—or whatever—it will inevitably become a part of everything you are and do.


“You Georgians think that you’re getting away with something. You’re not—not even momentarily. You hold the people’s children hostage. That’s clever, but it’s cowardly. Not only that, but it won’t keep you safe indefinitely.


“Well that was more or less the message that I wanted to give; but it’s behind the times now. There is a plague in the land, which may very well wipe us all out in spite of our best efforts. We need to find a cure, but instead many of us are forced to waste time and resources clowning around.


“So, you people who didn’t want to stay on security alert—do you see now why I wanted to keep more sentries? You morons that wanted to disarm everyone—you are disarmed now, are you better off? You folk that thought you could advance your own agendas by bringing in foreign powers—how’s y’all’s agendas doin’ now? Do you hear me, Elder Sean?


“Oh, and just to let everyone know—while I am still the legitimate ruler and Bishop of Bishop’s Ark, I am a ruler in exile. But I have also been appointed Bishop of the Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church denomination—and I have another Bishop’s ring to prove it. Good thing that I have two trigger fingers, what say?


“Right now my only advice to everyone is to pray above all else, and keep your eyes open for any opportunity to improve your, or everyone’s situation.”


The speech had drained me. I hoped that it would give at least some of my people some inspiration.

############# #################### ######################


“Good news,” Travis told Doctor Bing-Bing. “The Wolfhound and all of your Warlocks have the anti-viral agent in their saliva. It will help the scientist immensely. They say that it’s going to be a wooly bear to synthesize though.”


Doctor Bing-Bing started to get excited. He started going through maneuvers that would have done a Shaolin monk or a break-dancer credit—all to his weird disjointed staccato rhythms with his characteristic “Bing-Bing!” liberally distributed throughout his outré dance.


“I’m a…I’m a…I’m…I’m a chemist—BEAINGGG-Bing!!!!!!

“Mighty…mighty good chemist—BING-BINGGG.

“They call me Doctor Bing-Binggg; Beeingggg-BINGGG!!!

“I can…I can…I can synthesize anything. Got a…got a structural diagram? Beeeing-Binggg!!!” The Doctor spit out like a psychedelic rapper.


Travis looked at me curiously. I told him that while the Doctor generally acted somewhat demented, that he was a chemical genius and he had was a virtuoso at improvised synthesis. Travis wasted no time in getting him seated at a computer monitor. As Bing-Bing studied the three dimensional molecular diagrams—both of the bizarre virus, and the canine anti-virus, his hyperactivity gradually subsided.


Travis wasn’t a chemist or Doctor. So far as I know, he’d never taken a single college class—but he picked up stuff fast. As Bing-Bing stared at the diagrams, Travis would point out first one, then another oddity that made the cure extremely complicated to synthesize. They kept at it until the wee hours. Eventually I went to bed, and left them to their odd collaboration.

################## ################## ###################


I had Larry and his friends Dave and Lloyd along with me; as well as Aryan and Pete; Elder Matthew; and a handful of others. I tried to get Pete and Aryan to stay with their children. They argued that they were some of the best Warriors available; and that I represented the best chance that their—or anyone else’s children had to survive, in the long haul.


We all gathered to have a strategy session. There were a couple engineers from Purdue, and one history professor who’d taught military tactics for the ROTC. No matter how we looked at it, the situation seemed hopeless.


Even if I had overwhelming force at my disposal, they held the children hostage. Even if it weren’t for the children, it wouldn’t do any good to take the Ark back, if we destroyed it in the process—and we faced the double jeopardy of ruining the Ark through damage to the equipment, or through too many casualties to our people.


One thing that we did have in our favor was the fact that Minister Tony had taken out about sixty percent of their personnel and much of their armor in his brave Kamikaze attack. Also, they’d been invited to leave their compound in Georgia—not because of differences in doctrine, but because they’d backed the wrong players in a failed coup attempt. They weren’t likely to seek support from that quarter. Still, for the moment it seemed that they had all the advantages.

############### ######################### ###############


Natalie had had her consciousness level raised when she was seven years old, and she’d seen her mother shoot two would-be rapist. She could also remember very clearly the sensation of having a knife at her throat as one of the men had attempted to use her as a hostage. Now seven years later, she was a hostage again.


This time though, she had just recently turned fifteen. She’d seen many examples of violence over the years. She’d watched on the monitors, as the breath of Bishop Hawkins’ Dragons had roasted the army that had come to try to take their home. She’d saw friends killed during the Georgian’s takeover.


At fifteen, she’d already absorbed years of martial arts and firearms training. She also had a Seecamp .32ACP automatic pistol, along with an extra magazine, and a small, but razor sharp Buck Esquire—all hidden deep in her panties. She also had another, even stronger weapon in her unwavering faith in God.


The Georgians hadn’t bothered searching the children too thoroughly. Despite their other faults, the overwhelming majority of the Georgians were not pederasts. Also, they had discovered early on, that it wasn’t particularly prudent to rape the women of a Warrior race.


Most of the women weren’t Warriors, of course. Neither were most of the men. However, there were enough Warriors scattered around, that taking a woman by force was not a particularly safe endeavor. Throats had been cut. Eyes had gotten gouged out. Soft body parts were bitten with rare ferocity and a will to hang on that would have done credit to an English Bulldog.


During an occupation, there will always be a certain number of people ready to prostitute themselves for necessities, or even better, luxuries—even in a religious enclave. The vast majority of the Georgians limited themselves to the willing.


One of the Georgian guards slipped Natalie a sandwich—thick slices of home made whole wheat bread, with an extra thick chunk of pork steak between them.


“Thank you, but that won’t buy you any sexual favors from me,” Natalie told him defiantly.


The man, he was barely a man at the age of nineteen, was highly embarrassed by the suggestion. Actually, he had only give Natalie the sandwich because he felt sorry for her. The children were on half-rations, and while that was a modest hardship to the small one’s, Natalie was hungry all the time.


“I’m just trying to be nice. You don’t have to be hateful. I really enjoy listening to you sing and tell the little ones stories,” He said.


“Well then, since you’ve shown me kindness, I’ll repay you by praying for your soul. You do know that what y’all are doing here is wrong—don’t you?”


“You don’t see the whole picture. Unclean races have to be brought under subjection. It’s the will of God.”


“Do I look unclean to you?” Natalie demanded, while holding a forearm up for him to inspect.


“No,” He said miserably. “Look, I don’t want to fight. I want to be your friend. I’m lonely. Do you play chess?”


“Some,” Natalie allowed.


“I’ll bring a small set tomorrow, and I’ll bring you something else to eat. My name is ‘Alan’; but they call me ‘Art’.”


“That’s curious. I’d have thought they would call you ‘Al’.”


Natalie resolved that the first time that the opportunity arrived, she’d turn Art into a corpse, and escape over his dead body.

############ ##################### ######################



Missionary looked at Archbishop Sean and smiled. He though that maybe she’d finally decided to loosen up a bit.


“I can’t help it,” She said without the slightest trace of remorse. “Every time I see what that Homosexual did to your nose, it makes me truly happy. I love it! You weren’t anyone’s idea of handsome before, but now…”


“I’ll catch that pervert someday, and your precious Bishop too. Then it will be pay-back time.”


“Yes, someday it will be pay-back time. What are you going to tell Jesus on Judgment Day? ‘Well Jesus, I got jealous of your anointed—so I sold your people into slavery, so I could be the head slave. That is okay with you…’” Missionary Debra taunted him.


“Are you going to help me, or not? You said you would.”


“I said it and I will—wherever I can cut down on wasted resources. On the other hand, I never promised to like you—or to show you even the smallest possible amount of respect. As far as I’m concerned, you’re a shin-humper. You need to be neutered without anesthetic and then gut-shot and left to die—and I’ll do it, if the opportunity ever arises.”


.....RVM45
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Old 04-17-2008, 04:00 PM
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You've got me checking every day for another chapter. Keep up the good work.
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