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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
They say luck favors the prepared in most circumstances.

The circumstances included a world-wide pandemic illness known as Crazy-Flu. It wasn’t really flu but it certainly drove people bat-**** crazy when it hit them full on. Mortality appeared to be 100% of those infected. There was no known cure.

Infection was through respiratory fluids - saliva, spit and snot being the known contagion methods. The onset occurred within 24 hours of infection from contact, almost always a bite but possible from a kiss or getting sneezed on. No one had explored “other body fluid” exchange possibilities. Course, maybe someone had and it was a contagion. Anyway, nowadays you waited at least a day before hopping on someone to "do the dirty" as they used to say. Social customs often change to reflect environmental conditions.

Circumstances also included a rapid and total breakdown in the rule of law. Societal constraints also changed when your children were starving or you were facing species extinction....or if you thought you had a chance to get away with something.

In seven weeks the world would completely change for everyone. While remnants of cities, organizations, units and institutions struggled to remain uninfected and viable for survival, within 72 hours mankind was sliding backwards rapidly on most any known measuring scale. The Luddites would have rejoiced to see this day.

The world was what it was.

That was David Lee’s motto growing up. He’d always taken things one day at a time and it had always worked out well enough. A few years ago though, things had changed. For that he was now truly thankful.

He had been at work in the call center when the infection had first struck their city. The previous three days had seen reports emerging from around the world of a strange new illness which made people enter into fits of destructive rage, homicidally crazy in most cases. Comments were being made about the numbers of people calling in sick but that had let many people start picking up some OT so that wasn’t viewed with the alarm the reader may feel. By lunchtime there were reports of strange police calls on the air involving domestic violence, assaulting of officers and groups of people tearing things (and others) apart.

By the time he got off of work, word had spread.

• Go straight home and lock all doors. Do NOT pick up hitchhikers.
• Report any sign of fever or nausea IMMEDIATELY.
• Barricade windows and any form of access to your home.
• Call police at the first sign of an emergency.

Having rehearsed this several times in his mind the last couple of years, he knew exactly what to do. Fortunately, he lived less than six blocks from the call center and could be home in 5 minutes.

On the way, it was clear what was happening. At a gas station he saw two men and a woman fighting over the body of a young teenager. The woman was swinging a torn-off leg. For a minute he wondered if the child was her own. A block from his home someone had rammed a car through the Walgreen’s front door. A man’s body was lying under the car’s right rear wheel and he could make out movement inside the building.

At his apartment, he went at once to his bedroom closet and removed a large gun case from the upper shelf.

Inside lay his pride and joy.

He didn’t make all that much money but when determining his strategy for prepping he had been pretty generous with his weapons budget. Inside was a top of the line DPMS AR. He had added a forward grip, bi-pod, light and an Aimpoint sat atop the rail. He attached the sling, inserted the single full mag from the case and set the rifle aside for a moment.

From the floor he took two ammo containers and the 8 empty magazines lying next to them. Thirty minutes later he had loaded all eight magazines.

Hanging in the closet was a Level II vest which went on over his t-shirt followed by a long-sleeve, light khaki shirt. He then donned a pair of khaki slacks followed by a pair of steel-toed security boots.

He considered himself in the mirror. Reasonable tones, he should blend in as much as he could hope for.

Also in the gun case was a Beretta 92FS. A box in the corner held his tactical leg holster which he now looped through his belt and strapped securely to his leg. A suppressor slid into what had been the mag holder. Quickly he carried the ammo boxes out to his car and placed them on the floorboards in front of the passenger seat.

Time to go, no time to dally!

He went to the hall closet and removed a load-carrying harness from atop his gear bag and quickly loaded the ammo pouches with mags before shrugging into it.

Then he picked up the main bag. It had the basics: three days of food, first aid kit, fire starter kit, 2-man tent, mummy bag, ground cloth, Life Straw, small cooking pot, hobo tool, the whole works. Not too heavy, only about 18 kilos. Thank GOD for that website he had stumbled across four years ago!

He took one quick, last look around the apartment, picked up the AR, opened the door and started for his car.


So many ways this could go now…..

What do you think?

Raider? Mall Ninja? Low-training? Well-planned? Opportunist?

Of course, I could go with this one…..

Opening the door he surprised his neighbor, Mrs. Brinkler, as she slowly walked past.

Turning towards the door knob with the keys in his hand he missed her head snapping around at the sound of the door and the glint in her eye as she grabbed his hair, pulling him backwards to bite off his left ear.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
NAW! Why kill him off so quick?


When he felt the hand grab his hair and start to pull him from behind he raised his foot to the door jamb and shoved himself backwards as hard as he could while twisting his head sideways. He heard the snap of clamping teeth but felt no bite. He did feel the impact when he slammed into the second floor railing. Fortunately, that impact was cushioned first by Mrs. Brinkler and then by the backpack rising behind his neck. There was a distinctly loud SNAP and then he felt the railing give way completely, dropping him and the unfortunate neighbor onto the ground nine feet below.

Despite the cushioning he was lucky to land on the grass. Winded he lay there, stunned for a moment and glad he had used the ground cloth, tent and mummy bag as the interior layer of the bag. Suddenly remembering snapping teeth, he cursed and rolled to the side. Struggling to his feet with the extra 30 kilos of gear, weapons and ammunition he looked at Mrs. Brinkler.

She had not been as lucky. She was clearly dead, crushed by the weight landing on top of her frail body. Somehow she had twisted to hit the ground face first and was actually driven into the ground a couple of inches.

Wow, have to be more alert in this world if I’m going to survive.

Scanning the parking lot in the growing twilight he saw only a couple of people moving from parked cars towards their apartments. As he slowly turned, a movement caught his eye and he noticed a little boy of about five or six years of age staring at him from the doorway of the apartment below his.

“You’re Bobby right?” He'd heard the name when his mother call him from the door downstairs. He hadn't seen much of her since they had moved in a month or so ago. He had a vague impression of a slim, brown-haired woman with a nice figure but that was all.

The boy just nodded, wide-eyed.

“Where’s your Mommy son?”

The little boy glanced back over his shoulder but said nothing.

David shrugged off the backpack and stepped towards the door but the little boy slammed it shut. After a minute and he heard a muffled yell inside.

Considering his course of action he thought about what responsibility he had to a nearly unknown neighbor. Turning to scan again his gaze lingered for a moment on Mrs. Brinkler. While he knew what Eddie and the others of the group had been teaching him, he also knew what his mother had taught him he had to do in life and decided to be sure the boy was not alone.

Taking a deep breath, he knocked loudly on the door.

He was about to knock again when he heard a voice.

“One minute! Give me a minute.”

The door opened and a young woman was standing in front of him. “Who are you? G.I Joe?”

“No mam, I’m David. I live upstairs."

She started to smile and then saw the upstairs railing hanging down from the upper floor. Her gaze shifted and changed to shock as she took in Mrs. Brinkler’s body. “What happened?”

“It’s this CrazyFlu they’ve been talking about. She had it, attacked me.”

“Crazy-Flu? What are you talking about?”

Turns out she had worked a 12-8 graveyard shift the night before and had come straight home and gone to bed. She had a roommate who watched Bobby in the evening and through the night but left for classes in the middle of the morning. Normally, Bobby quietly watched movies and played in the apartment all day but the roommate must have forgotten to lock the front door this morning.

David explained the news about the spread of the disease and also described what he had seen coming home. That explanation, plus Mrs. Brinkler’s dead body out front, caused her to turn the TV from the DVD playback of some children’s show to the network news. After three minutes she was convinced of what he had said.

“They said stay inside so where are you going?”

“Well, I don’t think that’s much of a solution. Coming home I didn’t see a single police car and I don’t hear any sirens either. Staying in your home is a deathtrap in my opinion. I’m getting out to the country where there are fewer people, less chance of infection.”

She considered for a minute. “Please, can you take us out of the city?”

“Uh, I can give you a ride but the place I am going doesn’t take any visitors. I’ll have to drop you along the way.”

She looked worried for a moment, “That will do then. How long can you wait for me to get some things together?”

“I’ll give you fifteen minutes; pack good, strong clothing, a couple of coats for each of you and then grab whatever food you can carry. Oh, if you have a gun you'd best bring it along.”

He surveyed the parking lot. A few more cars had arrived while they were talking but the people had moved indoors quickly.

At the car he slung the bag into the passenger side of the front seat and slid in behind the wheel. Starting up, he moved the car as close as possible to her door, then got out and stood where he could watch the parking lot. A few more cars were coming in from the road as normal quitting time rolled around and more people were getting off of work.

She called to him from the door as she sat a suitcase down. He walked over to pick it up and placed it in the back seat. A few minutes later she and Bobby walked out. Bobby was wearing an Angry Birds backpack and carried a matching lunchbox. The woman had a carry bag like you would take to the beach and a large shoulder purse slung over her shoulder.

As they climbed into the back seat of the car David opened and closed the trunk, then handed them a sturdy backpack of ballistic nylon.

“Here, repack your clothing into this. You can’t carry that much or have your hands so full while you’re watching for infected folks.”

She smiled, “Thank you!”

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
“Buckle up!”

David hit the door lock then pulled slowly out of the parking lot. It was full dark now and the orange glow of flames from three or four places downtown reflected against the cloud cover hanging over the city. There were few cars on the street and he noticed many houses were dark, more than normal it seemed. Ahead were the bright lights of a gas station and Travel-mart. He’d pull in and check it out to see if it was safe. He could always accelerate away if necessary.

“I’m going to pull in there and see about gassing up. You two stay in the car.”

Pulling into the driveway he could see two cars at the pumps and at least three people in the brilliantly lit store area. A clerk was standing behind the counter talking with a customer or maybe checking them out for their purchase. It appeared to be a normal scene and the bright lights reassured him a bit.

He needed gas. One of the things he was still learning was to build the habit of topping off and never going below enough to get to the BOL.

Unfortunately he was sitting on a quarter tank right now and the car’s gas mileage wasn’t going to let them make it with any margin of error. The location in the mountains was about 2 hours away under normal conditions. Given the time of the year, night driving and possibility of an attack or two, he had to have more gas. Once out of town the stations were very few and if he didn’t find one soon they wouldn’t make it.

He pulled up to a pump. Surveying the scene he waited a moment before getting out of the car. He stepped over to the pump and inserted his card. After a moment it made a soft beep and cleared to begin filling. He began filling at full pressure. He was watching the gas pump when he heard the window slide down.

“Put the win…”

The woman interrupted, “In front of the car by the road!”

He looked in the direction she had described and saw two people standing there in the darkness watching them. As he locked gazes with them he saw their eyes were open wide and they were both panting with their breaths making little puffs of steam in the air.

They stepped towards him but at that moment the bell over the store’s doorway rang as a woman walked out and began to move towards the nearest parked car.

The two figures broke into a run towards the woman and literally howled as they charged her.

David drew the Beretta from his holster and tried to aim at the two figures. However, their speed was too fast for him to track and feel confident of a shot. The first one hit the woman as she fumbled with the keys of her car forcing the second one to stop and start to turn towards the doorway.

David took the shot on him and saw the man go down. The woman being attacked was being mauled by the guy on her. There was no way he could take a shot at the first man without risking hitting the woman as well. In frustration he stepped closer towards the fight as the two dropped to the pavement. The woman was screaming and flailing away at the man but he was unaffected by either. He had her by the neck apparently trying to batter her head against the concrete.

Raising the pistol to try for another shot David was startled by a gunshot right behind him. Spinning around, he saw a large woman standing between the two pumps he had just stepped away from. She had a garden rake half-raised in her hands as if about to strike.

A second shot rang out and the woman’s face changed shape as the back portion of her head seemed to explode. The woman in the back seat held a smoking revolver out of the window. Now remembering (AGAIN) to survey his own position he realized there were two more people moving towards him from the other side of the gas station.

One appeared to be a teenaged girl of 17 or 18, she carried nothing as a weapon but her fingers were extended showing nails like claws. The look in her eye was the rage look he had seen on the two others.

He fired three times, all center of mass and put her down.

Further away, a grossly fat man was waddling in his direction with a plastic garbage can raised over his head. Aiming carefully, David fired twice into the man’s chest, then again into his face.

He spun back towards the woman being attacked but she was lying alone in a pool of blood. Her attacker was at the door of the mart pulling on it against the two young men holding the door from the inside.

David ran towards the store at an angle trying for a shot which wouldn’t endanger the two inside. That ceased to be a problem when the man suddenly turned towards him, snarled and jumped onto the hood of the woman’s car. David shot him four times in the chest then carefully fired a shot into his head.

The two young men inside burst out of the door.

“Holy s--- man, thanks! We were freaking out in there.”

“Yeh..yeah sure, no problem,” David managed to get out.

The man wearing the uniform shirt of the Travel-mart was saying, “I dialed 911 when they were running at the woman but there’s a message that all circuits are busy.”

“I’ll bet they are,” David replied. “I need some stuff. Yell if anything moves out here.”

He walked into the store and grabbed a can of orange soda, popped the top and began gulping it down. After finishing the can he picked up a shopping basket and put in a six-pack of the orange soda, 6 or 8 packages of cinnamon rolls and Danish pastries, then moved over to the clothing rack to grab a camouflage pattern XXX lined waterproof jacket and a handful of gloves and mittens from a large bin. Checking more closely he picked up a child’s set of mittens that should fit little Bobby.

He walked towards the counter. From the door the clerk laughed, “You gotta’ be kidding. It’s on the house man. You saved my life.” The other vehicle was pulling out of the gas station.

He stepped back to the aisles and got a four pack of toilet paper and four packages of wet wipes before walking out to the car.

The clerk simply locked the door behind him and after a couple of minutes the lights went off inside the building as he opened his car door and climbed in. Locking the door and starting the car he sat for a moment staring out the window then put his head down on the steering wheel to steady his breathing.

He felt a hand on his shoulder.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
“Rough day?”

“Thanks! I’m just trying to breathe right.”

“Probably coming down from the adrenalin, it’s okay now.”

“Yeah….I never killed anyone before today. Now I’ve killed four in 10 minutes.”

“Five….in an hour.”


“Mrs. Brinkley.”


“Whatever. You’re doing okay. Just a little bit of shock.”

“Yeah, let me drink another soda, that’s supposed to help after this sort of thing.”

“Why is that?”

“Something to do with the sugar I think, maybe the carbonation.” He ventured a joke, “If I burp please don’t hold it against me.”

“Okay, I can cut some slack on burping,” she paused, “just no farting, promise me that.”

David began laughing, a bit of orange drink finding its way into his nasal cavity.

“What about snorting?”

“That’s not disgusting or rude. That’s more like being the dork at the party who everyone laughs at.”

“I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.”

The car suddenly lurched and a loud thump announced a visitor on the hood.

Looking upward through the windshield, David saw a man in pajamas raising a tire iron to smash the window. He threw it in reverse and punched the gas, then the brake.

As the car flew back, the man was thrown backwards off the hood, somehow landing upright. Although he was on his feet he appeared confused and hesitated a moment. David shifted again and floored it right back into the man who folded at the knees. David stomped on the brakes, backed 10-15 feet again, shifted and accelerated to hit the man again. This time the man was sitting upright and the grill smacked him square in the face.

David kept driving, dragging the body to the driveway dip where it became a mass of broken and bloody bones.

He stopped out on the road, removing the near-empty magazine from his Beretta and replacing it with a full one.

Behind him, Bobby spoke his first words, “Six.”

David put the car back in gear and they drove northward to the Interstate ramp.

Silence for a long minute before David spoke again, “Thank you for shooting that woman.”

“Not necessary. You told me to bring a gun back at the apartment.”

“I hate to get on the Interstate but it’s just two exits. You reload?”

“No, I only had the rounds that were in the gun. When I bought it I went to the range and shot a couple of boxes and those were all I had left. That leaves me 2 more shots.”

“Not good. Lean up here and unzip the lower left-side pocket on this backpack. There’s an extra pistol in a holster sitting in there. It’s loaded, so take it out carefully without touching the trigger.”

She did so and a minute later was holding a 9mm M&P Compact.

“Careful, it’s ready to fire. All you have to do is pull the trigger. The first one will be a bit stiff then it will get easier. There’s one in the chamber and 11 rounds in the magazine so you have 12 shots. There are two more mags in the bottom of that pocket.”


Out on the Interstate traffic was still moving although several cars were off the sides of the road and there were occasional bodies to be seen. Three miles and they were off on the main highway running though the western part of the city.

Driving through the city they observed several fight scenes, generally involving what appeared to be one or two “uninfected“ and up to a half-dozen of the crazies. Dozens of people appeared to be running around but in the dark it was difficult to tell who was the crazy and who was scared to death. They were chased by some people on foot a couple of times but none got close enough to present a serious threat except for one hulking teenager who attempted to tackle the left front headlight.

“Seven,” said Bobby.

The destination was two hours up the road in a small mountain town. Dale was known for its well-placed site among the dozen or more pristine mountain lakes of Central Idaho. They were teeming with trout and the drive up through the mountain valleys included high mountain ranches with horses, sheep and cattle grazing in the meadows.

As he had begun his “preps” the general location of a BOL had never really been a question for David and his partners. The mountains were what they knew. Hunting the forests and canyon country, fishing the lakes and streams, hiking the high country and skiing the slopes had all been basic training from life.

The Mormons’ urgings for being properly prepared left even the gentiles, atheists and agnostics in the region unfazed at flour in 100 pound barrels, over-sized pantries the size of small bedrooms or dozens of home-canned fruit preserves and vegetables. All of them knew dozens of people who still used wood for heating and occasional cooking. Even “city people” were "preppers" long before prepping was a buzzword.

Eddie Hastings had been David’s best friend since 4th grade. Together they had discovered football, investigated cigarettes, learned about girls and solemnly sampled every beer available in the Pacific Northwest area. Summers shooting whistle pigs and chill fall camp-outs the night before deer season opened had cemented a friendship as close as most brothers. When David had determined that he should prep for eventualities it had only been natural that his wingman, Eddie, would join him. Indeed, Eddie had been all-in with little urging. Three years earlier, they had reached the point where the basic kits were established and they had looked for where they would setup their retreat.

They had eventually decided to go 50/50 on a two acre parcel looking across the road towards the large mountain lake which, with the ski resort on the high slope, made Dale a year-round vacation spot. After putting in a triple-sized septic tank system they placed a double-wide, two-bedroom, manufactured home on the lot. From their prepping studies they had decided to make it low-tech sustainable and had installed a wood-burning heater in each of the bedrooms and a large wood-burner cook stove in the middle section. Last summer’s project had been setting up a catchment cistern water system as the alternate feed for the water supply. A large, but simple, pole barn with an 8’ chain link fence instead of walls gave them a storage area for the woodpile and their cars when visiting.

Others in their circle of friends had watched their setting up of their location and eventually been co-opted into the group. Calling them a MAG would have been odd to them as they were simply friends who were doing what many of their parents and grandparents had done over the decades.

Now, three additional cabins, small ones, were setup on the property sharing a second, equally large septic tank. Two additional slabs and utility stubs provided a spot to park trailers or motor homes.

Shortly, they were in the hills above the city. The hillsides were bare except for a new coating of snow which made it impossible to be hiding along the roadside. David stopped and got out of the car for a few minutes to stretch his screaming muscles. Probably it was just nervous tension and anxiety over the situation. He really had not been doing anything strenuous enough to be tired although the fall from the second floor had probably left him some bruises and wrecked his back for the time being.

As he stood beside the car looking back at the valley floor with the city lights and dozen or so fires raging, he heard the door open and close quietly. The woman came up beside him.

“You okay?”

“Just got to work out the kinks in my back.”

“Bobby is sleeping so I wanted to ask you something. Weller is up ahead isn’t it?”

Weller was a small town at the top of the pass, a small shopping center at a crossroads with a not-so-supermarket, a sporting goods store and a large Exxon station and Travel Mart. It existed mostly as a place for day-hikers and weekend campers to grab a bag of charcoal, potato chips or cokes but did have a couple of subdivisions for those who wanted mountain-living and were not afraid of driving down every morning during an Idaho winter. Total population was maybe 1500 people.

“Yeah, about 4 miles.”

“Is that where we’re getting out?”


“You said we could have a ride out of town so I thought this was it?”

David sighed, “Yeah well, I’m not going to put you out unless you want to head off on your own. Having people you can trust to watch your back is always good but I think it’s considerably more important today than it was last week.”

“You said where we’re going they won’t be taking in visitors.”

“Yeah, I’ll deal with that.”

"But if it’s against their rules or something….”

“I’ll have to be…..extra assertive then.”


“As you said, no need for them. There is something I’m going to need in return though.”

“What’s that?”

“Your name.”

She laughed a little, “Sarah.”

She had a nice laugh.

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Coming into Weller the first thing you usually noticed was the big Exxon station and Travel Plaza on this side of the crossroads.

Tonight, the first thing on your plate, after the line of eight or nine cars backed up in front of you, was the police car, flatbed and dump truck blocking the entrance to town a hundred yards down below the crossroads. A number of flashlights were moving around and there was a set of road-crew work lights trained on a car in the road.

The placement was good; this was the main road into the foothills that gave access to Weller, Dale and a dozen other small communities from the city and metropolitan area. Aside from commanding a view of the road all the way to Boise it showed the panorama of the other nearby cities and towns.

Twenty-five miles to the west there was another route which looped back into Weller and fifty miles further on another road ran northward but added at least another 150 miles to the drive.

To the east there simply was no other road leading to the area without going through Montana and looping around to come from the north, a journey of over 350 miles.

Ahead, a half-dozen people were out of their cars and standing around. A body lay in the median up the way about thirty yards past the large lighted sign saying:

** STOP HERE! **

Off to the right side of the road about twenty yards further along was a rolled over camper with another body visible a few feet further on in the snow.

David considered the situation a moment then shrugged out of his load harness and pulled on a heavy sweater from the pack.

“Wait here, while I check on things. Lock the doors and don’t open up for anyone else.”

He got out and approached the small crowd. Since his clothing and holstered firearm looked almost like a uniform they quieted as he got closer. There appeared to be four men and two women standing and the front three cars were all occupied with faces in the windows.

“What’s happening?”

A well-dressed man snapped out, “I’ll tell you what’s happening. These *******s are blocking the road and shooting if we approach more than one car at a time. They’re killing people.”

Another man answered in more measured tones, “Police and citizens are operating some sort of roadblock. You pull up, they get you out of the car, check the vehicle over and take you to those tents over there. Then you come back and get in to go on your way.”

One of the women was fretting, “I HAVE to get to my house my husband is trying to cook dinner!”

The remaining two men and the woman were eyeing him and he could tell they were paying particular interest in the Berretta and the boots he was wearing.

Two large dark blue tents were back behind the roadblock in the parking lot of the travel plaza. As David watched one flap opened revealing light inside and a woman came out. Despite the snow she was shrugging into her coat. A man wearing civilian clothing and carrying a rifle was leaning against a table but straightened and waved her back towards the car. Two men emerged from the second tent, also donning their coats and began moving back towards their car although they had three escorts.

The first man spoke again, “This is insane, it’s a public road for God’s sake! They can’t block a public road! It’s not legal to shoot someone who is driving on a public road. If we all go up there at the same time they won’t dare shoot!”

“I’m guessing that’s what the camper and probably that person in the median thought when they went past that sign.” He paused a minute, “Fact is they’re probably trying to keep new infection out of the area while they’re dealing with any already up there.”

The second man piped up, “That seems reasonable to me. I’ve got blankets and food. I just hope we can get some gas at the Exxon or down at the Shell station.”

David surveyed the scene a minute, “I’d wait for a wave if I was you,” then turned and headed back towards the car.

Behind him, he heard voices arguing as he climbed back into the car.

A moment later the car at the blockade moved around the police car then the dump truck to disappear from sight and the lead car from the line moved up to the blockade.

One of the two quiet men walked back to the car in front of him to advance the line. After he got out he walked back to David’s car. David pushed the pack down on the AR and exited the car closing the door behind him.

“You got any food to spare?”

“Afraid not, I was planning on a hot dog from the Travel Mart there.”

“Yeah but you got that gun so I thought you might have some good gear.”

The man was looking through the windshield at the figures of Sarah and Bobby in the rear of the car. “Wife and kids wit ya too, huh?”

This guy was way too curious.

“Yeah. We’re going to try to get some sleep. Honk if you move and I don’t, please.”

By the time they reached the front of the line, two hours had passed. He woke his passenger.

“Best wake up completely. We’ll be getting out of the car while they search it and us.” He handed out the remaining orange sodas then produced a candy bar for Bobby and split some peanut butter bars with Sarah.

Finally, a police officer pointed towards them and waved him forward.
Pulling slowly past the sign, he placed the AR up on the dashboard and turned on the inside light about halfway up the grade.

Pulling up to the roadblock he noticed that two uniformed deputies were present, along with a half-dozen or more citizens in support. All carried weapons, mostly ARs, although one of the deputies was carrying a Remington shotgun. All had that tight-lipped look of people doing something unpleasant that they intended to get done. All were wearing raincoats, nylon gloves and surgical face-masks.

One of the officers approached flanked by two men carrying ARs. The other deputy was behind the hood of the cruiser watching.

“Evening offi.…sorry….Sergeant. My name’s David Lee and I am heading for Dale to see Jack Hastings.” He extended the driver’s licenses although the man remained about 5’ away.

The sergeant motioned him to turn off the car as he shined the light on them.

“Have you or anyone in the car had contact with any of the ‘crazies’?”

“I had to fight at a gas station downtown. These two were in the car the whole time.”

“Any bites, scratches? They spit on you or anything like that?”

“No sir.”

The officer stepped close enough to take the offered licenses.

“You live up here somewhere?”

“In Dale out on South Lake Road just past the dam.

The officer’s eyes flickered across the AR on the dashboard, the piled equipment in the front seat, then to the woman and child in the back. “And them?”

“This is Sarah and Bobby, I’m taking them to see Jack.”

Aside from his unwavering loyalty and sly humor, Eddie had provided another essential ingredient in their prep planning – a powerbase.

Eddie’s father had retired from the Boise Police Department as a Captain.

The boys, along with Eddie’s sisters, Kelly and Sherry, had grown up shooting on the police range and even participated in the Junior Shooting League sponsored by the PD.

Jack Hastings had come up in the Patrol Division. He had done his time on the street before serving as a Training Officer, making it to SWAT, advancing to Sergeant and eventually unit commander before rotations had returned him to Patrol. Then had followed watch commander and Assistant Chief of the Patrol Division. His final assignment had been Director of the City’s Police and Fire training facility which served the entire region as a training ground for certifications and special programs.

After retirement, Jack and his wife, Karen, had moved full-time up to their mountain property at Dale, replacing their semi-permanent trailer with a spacious five bedroom, log cabin kit home on their three acre lot overlooking the lake. Life was good; Jack had worked hard for thirty-two years as a soldier and law enforcement officer while Karen had raised their three children and done her time on the social and political circuit. Both of them had been taking their annual limits on deer and elk, with an occasional antelope for good measure, for over forty years. Karen cooked a mean venison stew-rice-potato casserole and Jack could size up the grain and fat on an elk to cut near-perfect, well-marbled flank steaks for the grill.

Retirement lasted all of 2 months for Jack. He put in five small, one-room studio cabins and established a year-round hunting and fishing guide business within the year. Now, he normally ran 40-45 clients a year on trips into the high country lakes and meadows in search of trophy trout, elk, deer and wolves.

Aside from having been a part-time resident for twenty years, his contacts with the LE and grassroots political community had eased his entry into the community considerably. Almost every sheriff and officer with more than eight years on the job had met Jack professionally and all of them knew him by reputation. The previous year he had been elected to the Dale City Council.

David and Eddie’s lot was across the street from Jack’s house.

The officer flashed his light on the driver’s licenses again.

“Okay, leave the keys in the ignition and get out of the car slowly and follow these men to the medical tents. They’ll show you which is which.”

After a quick exam which included a temperature check and full strip search for bites or scratches, they were allowed back to the car.

“Excuse me, Sergeant but the car in front of us, where they were going?”

“They live back by the old hot springs campground and were headed home.”

“They armed?”

“Shotgun and a Sig P-230.”


“Mr. Lee?”


“The woman has the pistol in her purse.”

“Why, thank you again, sir.”
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