Everything was loaded up and ready to go. The men all sat at Jeff’s kitchen table eating eggs, bacon and toast. Jeff, Mark and Joe all drank coffee so they made sure they had a large supply. While Jimmy didn’t like coffee he did tea, or better yet Mountain Dew. Jimmy had twenty 36 packs of Mountain dew. He only had one each morning so that should last him a while even with sharing some with others.
They had 60 or so miles to drive to the 100 acre property dubbed “Wicked Woods”. Jimmy and Mark had purchased the land 5 years ago for hunting property. They were so excited to own 100 acres of great Ohio whitetail property. It is mostly wooded and some parts are very thick and gnarly. The 100 acre parcel was part of a large tract that was broken up to be sold. There was a total of 1000 acres for sale and Jimmy and Mark had looked at all the parcels. They decided on the wicked woods parcel because they thought it would be the best of the lots for hunting. Once they started hunting the land they realized it was much more than great hunting property and it would be perfect to set up for BOL. They invited Jeff to help setup the land which included an old Barn which they converted into living space for multiple families. They also planted fruit trees and planted vegetables yearly. They also had chickens and they introduced wild Boar onto the property. The northern end was the thick gnarly part and that acted as a good fence for that end to contain their boars. They bought the property from an old man 2 years before he died. He had described Wicked Woods as the best parcel and Jimmy and Mark agreed. The old man had ten 100 acre lots for sale and the wicked woods parcel was the northern most lot. The old man had only sold 1 other parcel and that one was the furthest south. In 5 years Jimmy and Mark had only seen 2 other men hunting any of the lots so that made them feel good. Jimmy had set up trail cams all over the property 3 years ago and not one of them had ever picked up anything other than wildlife. They camouflaged the one entrance to the property accessible by vehicles and they thought that might have kept people out. The old man didn’t like trespassers so that also kept people away for many years as well. After the old man passed away his kids kept the land for sale but they never could sell any more parcels. The kids lived in Florida and neither Jimmy nor Mark had ever met them. The land was 60 or so miles southeast from Jeff’s house but that was via highways. They decided to take mostly back roads so that would add 15 or so miles but there were two sections of the trip required them to use a highway. They had Jimmy’s, Joe’s and Mark’s trucks, plus Jeff’s SUV and the two trucks the thugs came in. Jeff had two trailers so they decided to add them to Jeff and Joe’s vehicles. They would leave the thug’s trucks and use the trailers instead. They decided if they were to take the trucks instead of the trailers they would have spread themselves too thin. All of the men would be driving therefore leaving no one to perform watch. Instead Jennifer and Sydney volunteered to drive so that would leave 2 men able to be a gunner if needed. Mark drove lead in his truck with Jeff on watch and all 3 dogs. Joe drove his truck with Lisa on watch. Jennifer drove the SUV with all 6 children and Janet. Sydney drove Jimmy’s truck with Jimmy on watch in the rear. Jimmy and Mark’s vehicles would be blockers if anything happened as the other two vehicles were pulling trailers. It was 7:00AM and the sun was starting to come up as they pulled out of Jeff’s driveway. Mark was up front with Jeff and the dogs.
“I sure hope we can make it to the land” Jeff told Mark. “And I hope it’s easy going that’s for sure”.
“You and I both” Mark replied. “If the roads are clear we should be alright”. “We shouldn’t have to stop for anything so that should help”.
Hans and Jeff’s two labs were shuffling around the back seat jockeying for position. Jeff had his window down a crack and he was glad it was still warmer than usual. While they made the barn suitable for living it wouldn’t be as nice as any of their houses. They had running water from a well but they didn’t have septic so they built an outhouse. The women didn’t care for it but the kids didn’t seem to mind. They barn was separated into sections for separate families. Joe wasn’t involved in the BOL but he had been a valuable asset to the group prepping wise. They had planned for additional families so they had extra room. The barn was a pole building built by the old man to store his equipment and junk. It had taken them a solid years’ worth of weekends to clean it out. They scrapped a few tons of metal and the rest they put to use around the property. The barn had a full basement, full first floor and a full loft. It was a total of 10,000 square feet plus another 10,000 square feet of basement. They finished off the barn the best they could with new wood and some drywall. The first floor was separated into different rooms for living quarters. The living quarters consisted of a Kitchen, living room, dining area, Shower / laundry area and a Den type room for meetings / teachings. The shower / laundry area and kitchen drained into a French drain 500 feet away from the cabin. They had an electric washer and dryer as well as an electric hot water heater. The barn was heated by a wood pellet stove and they had over 3000 bags stored. They bought a truckload on sale last fall and spent 2 weekends hauling it to the property. The stove did a great job of heating the barn and they also had a wood burning stove as well as a wood burning fireplace to help out. The kitchen had a gas stove and oven as well as a working sink but they had to be careful what went down the drain. The loft was separated into 8 different living areas but they could change it around to make more or less rooms with movable walls. The basement area contained a shop area as well as a hidden gun room. Mark and Jimmy went through a lot of trouble to conceal the gun room and only Jimmy, Mark, Jeff and their wives knew it was there. They also had a cold room where they stored food and other supplies. There was also a drive in area to store up to 4 vehicles as well as 4 ATV’s that were currently stored there. There were also 2 other shed type buildings they built on the property to store additional supplies. All of the buildings were powered by a natural gas generator that was fed by 1 of the 2 gas wells on their property. Mark and Jimmy built an underground enclosure for the generator to conceal it as well as minimize the noise it produced. They also had spare Honda generators that could be run off of gasoline, propane or natural gas that when ran were very quiet.
They had been driving for 15 minutes and made it 20 or so miles. So far so good Mark thought to himself
“Look up ahead” Mark said. “What is that the Army”?
“I’m not sure” Jeff replied. “Let’s stop and I will take a look”. Jeff raised his binoculars to his eyes and glassed the road ahead.
“****, whatever it is it doesn’t look good” Jeff told Mark. “Here take a look” Jeff said as he handed the binoculars to Mark.
“I can’t tell but they seem to be blocking the road” Mark said to Jeff.
Just then Mark’s radio buzzed and Jimmy spoke “Snowman what did we stop for?”
“Bandit we have two camouflaged looking Humvees blocking the road ahead over” Mark said to Jimmy.
“Copy that Snowman” Jimmy replied. “What are your thoughts over?”
“Bandit you stay in the rear in case something comes up behind us and I will pull up ahead to check it out” Mark told Jimmy. “I will try and keep the coms open so you can hear what transpires up ahead over”.
“Copy that Snowman” Jimmy replied. “Just be ready to get the hell out of Dodge if things go south over” Jimmy said.
“10-4 Bandit” Mark replied. “Do me a favor and fill Joe in on the situation so he is aware over” Mark said.
Mark watched in his mirror as Sydney pulled the truck up next to Joe’s truck and after a minute or so she flashed the lights. Mark pulled forward towards the roadblock not sure what to expect. He had his 1911 out and ready to go while Jeff had a Glock next to his seat as well as his AR locked and loaded. As they approached the roadblock a man in what looked like an Army uniform held his hand up for them to stop. Mark pulled the truck up to the soldier as he rolled down his window.
“Howdy there gentlemen please put your hands on the dash for me please” the soldier asked Mark and Jeff.
“What’s this all about?” Mark asked as he put his hands on the dash while holding his 1911. Jeff did the same with his Glock.
The soldier raised his M16 towards the truck and asked the men to take their hands off the weapons.
Mark let go of his 1911 and Jeff did the same with his Glock. Jeff still had his AR across his lap and ready to go if needed.
“Thank you gentleman” the soldier said. “Where is it that you two are headed?” he then asked.
“About 45 Miles southeast of here” Mark replied.
“Are all those vehicles with you” the soldier asked as he pointed towards the rest of their caravan.
“Yes sir they are” Mark replied. Mark looked around and there were 5 other soldiers. “What’s this roadblock all about?” Mark asked the soldier.
“We are out patrolling as we have had multiple reports of robberies and looting in this area” the soldier replied.
“Sir we are just trying to get to a safe area is all” Mark replied. “We have 4 families in all and we mean no harm to anyone” Mark said.
“Do you gentleman have ID’s” the soldier asked Mark and Jeff.
Mark pretends to reach for his wallet and replies “Shoot, I must have left it at home”.
“Gosh I must have done the same thing” Jeff told the soldier.
“Gentleman would you mind stepping out of the truck for me please, slowly” the soldier asked as 2 more soldiers approached the truck.
Mark opened his door with his hands in the air and Jeff did the same. Jeff’s AR was still attached to him via the weapons sling. A soldier approached Jeff and removed the AR from his possession.
“What did we do wrong?” Mark asked the soldier. “Is there a problem?”
“You say you have another 45 miles to go to a safe place correct?” asked the soldier.
“Yes sir that correct” Mark answered.
“And where is it that you are headed?” asked the soldier
“Sir I don’t see why that is necessary” Mark replied.
“What are your names” the soldier asked Mark and Jeff
“My name is Mark and that’s Jeff” Mark replied.
“It’s very necessary because I am asking you Mark and Jeff” the soldier replied.
“We are headed towards Salem” Mark told the Soldier.
The soldier nodded over to one of the other soldiers that had approached the truck and he nodded back and walked towards one of the Humvees. The soldier came back a minute later and nodded to the soldier that was questioning us.
“It’s your lucky day Mark and Jeff” the soldier said. He then reached for the radio attached to his vest and said “322 - Come in over”.
“Copy Delta this is 322 over” came from the radio.
“322 I need you at our location for a detail over” the soldier spoke into his radio.
“Copy Delta in route over” came from the radio.
“322 what’s your 20 over” the soldier said into the radio
“Delta - 20 minutes over” came from the radio.
“Gentleman sit tight for 20 minutes if you would please” the soldier said to Mark and Jeff.
“Sir 20 minutes is a long time we could be on the road” Mark replied.
“Mark, just sit tight, and tell your caravan to pull up and wait with you please” the soldier told Mark. “You can wait in your truck and please holster your weapons” the soldier told Mark and Jeff.
The soldier who had taken Jeff’s AR returned it to him and walked back to his station. Mark and Jeff got back in the truck but left the doors open. Mark picked up the radio and told Jimmy to pull forward with the rest of the group. Jimmy and the other 2 vehicles pulled up and Jimmy approached Marks door.
“What the hell is going on?” Jimmy asked Mark.
“Not sure Jimmy, but they let us keep our guns” Mark said. “Let’s hang tight but keep your eyes open” Mark told Jimmy.
Jimmy nodded at Mark and walked back to Jeff’s SUV which Jennifer was driving and Jennifer rolled down the window
“What’s going on?” Jennifer asked Jimmy.
“We’re not sure Jennifer” Jimmy replied. “They told Mark to sit tight for 20 minutes or so” he told her.
Jimmy asked the kids if they had to get out for any reason and they all said no. Jeff let the dogs out of the truck and they ran off in a field to burn off some energy. Jimmy walked to the front of Mark’s truck and leaned against the hood. He took out his tin and threw a chew in his mouth. The soldier who had been questioning Mark approached Jimmy and smiled.
“Now if you had any smokes that would be amazing” the soldier said to Jimmy.
Jimmy smiled at the soldier and pulled out a pack of smokes he took off the thugs and offered one to the soldier.
The soldier took one and Jimmy offered his lighter as well.
“I got one of those” the soldier told Jimmy as he lit the cigarette. The soldier took a deep drag and smiled at Jimmy. “Thank you very much”.
“You’re welcome” Jimmy said to the soldier. “So what’s the holdup here?” Jimmy asked the soldier
“We are trained very long and hard on how to read people” the soldier told Jimmy. “It’s pretty bad out there and we are out here to help people” the soldier said. “I have another detail in route to escort you to your destination” he told Jimmy.
Jimmy didn’t know what to say or think. He didn’t know how to thank the soldier or even how to respond so he just smiled.
“I thought you might like that” the soldier said to Jimmy as he finished his cigarette. “You guys have coms?” he asked
“We only have 2 short range radios” Jimmy told the soldier. “A long distance radio was on our long laundry list of items to acquire”.
“Consider it checked off of the list” the soldier said to Jimmy. “Be right back” he said and he turned around and headed for one of the Humvees.
The soldier came back with a few boxes. “Here is a HAM radio, some spare parts, and a few antennas” he told Jimmy.
“I don’t know how to thank you enough” Jimmy told the soldier.
The soldier then gave Jimmy a brief crash course on how it all worked and boxed it all back up. The soldier pulled out a card and wrote some frequencies on the back of it telling Jimmy that he could reach him on those. Jimmy thanked the soldier and walked to Marks window.
“You see this man?” Jimmy asked Mark
“Yeah I sure do” Mark replied. “And did I hear him say he’s going to provide us with an escort?” Mark asked Jimmy
“That’s what he said” Jimmy replied. “I’ll be right back” Jimmy told Mark.
Jimmy walked to his truck and put the radio in the back seat. Jimmy rummaged around until he found what he was looking for. He put some items in a plastic grocery bag and walked back towards Mark’s truck. The soldier was speaking to Mark and Jimmy handed him the bag.
“It’s not much but it’s all we can offer” Jimmy told the soldier. Inside of the bag were 2 cartons of cigarettes and a bottle of Crown.
The soldier smiled when he looked in the bag and reached out to shake Jimmy’s hand. “My boys will sure like this stuff” he told Jimmy.
“I never caught you name soldier” Jimmy asked the soldier.
“Lieutenant Morris. Derek Morris” the Lieutenant replied.
“Well lieutenant Morris, my name is Jimmy and me and my family thank you for your support” Jimmy said to the Lieutenant.
“Anytime Jimmy” the Lieutenant replied. “I’ll keep an ear out for The Bandit or the Snowman on the radio” the Lieutenant told Jimmy as he turned and walked towards the Humvees. Jimmy looked at his watch and it was now 8:30 AM.