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57 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

It had been twenty years since Bert had caught a fish, not that it stopped him from trying. Not since he had moved to Texas at 19 had he caught a fish. It was his curse. He was always out fishing every weekend while he lived in San Antonio. He had fished both the San Antonio river and the Medina river. He tried Medina lake and Canyon lake to the north. He had even driven to Del Rio to try Lake Amistad once. Not a single fish had ever taken an interest in his line. To make matters worse anybody that ever fished with him never caught anything either. His friends would almost never go with him after a couple of years because of it. The few times he could convince them to go fishing with him they would always bring plenty of beer, they would joke that the only thing you could catch with Bert along was a buzz. His best friend Mike said it was because the fish recognized his hook as a "yankee" hook and wanted nothing to do with a "damn yankee". After about 15 years he stopped trying, until now.

The pond was about a acre in size and was dug by his wife's grandfather more than thirty years earlier. It sat a mile and a half back from the house he had built for his family in the 70's. The land had been in the family for generations. Bert's mother in law told them the farm was originally 400 acres, But over the years it had been broken up and parcelled out to the kids. The current plot that Bert and his wife Jean inherited was just five acres. But it was five acres of some of the most fertile land in western PA.

The pond wasn't technically on their land, Jean's grandfather had dug it on his Brother's property but it remained in the possession of a distant cousin that lived in Pittsburgh and only used the land as a getaway and hunting property and so did not object to Bert and Jean using the pond for whatever they wished. When they first moved back from Texas bert had spent the better part of that first summer cleaning up around the pond and cutting the trail back to it again so that it could be used. The brush had grown up all around it and the cattails had all but taken over the edges so that you couldn't get a line in the water without losing your tackle when you reeled in your line. Now he had cleared out all of the cattails and dragged the fallen logs out of the water and it actually resembled a pond again, instead of just another swamp in the forest. It had been back breaking labor cleaning it all up but well worth it. He had used his Chevy S10 Blazer 4X4, lovingly labeled "The Beast" by his daughter Rebecca when he had acquired it eleven years ago, to pull the fallen logs out of the water. The real find had been the dock Jean's great uncle had welded together out of one inch steel pipe that extended ten feet out over the water. Bert had had to replace the wooden deck which had rotted away but he was able to buy the wood from a local amish sawmill for next to nothing. the new wood now gleamed with the three coats of deck sealer he used to waterproof it.

Today was the first day that Bert had been able to actually fish instead of clearing brush. Bert now sat on the end of the dock with two poles in the water keeping one eye on the White tops of his bobbers and the other on his 13 year old son Bert Jr who was on the other side of the pond fishing. They had been there since sun-up and while Bert hadn't managed to catch anything, Bert Jr. had five bass on a stringer in the water, ranging from 12 to 18 inches. Bert looked down into the water from the end of the dock and he could see the bass and Bluegill but so far none had shown any interest in his bait.

"Oh well" Bert said to himself, "Maybe another day." He reeled in his lines, took the crawlers of the hooks and threw them into the water. The fish immediately snapped up the crawlers once they hit the water. "Oh sure, NOW you want to eat 'em." Bert chuckled to the fish. Somehow the big bass that had been eyeballing him all day managed to look guilty. Bert hooked his hook on the bottom eye of his rod and took up the slack in the line to keep the poles from getting tangled. He put the poles in the back of The Beast and pulled out his tool belt and hand saw. He decided he would work on the picnic pavillion that had fallen into disrepair.

The alarm on his Timex went off at 4pm. Bert shouted across the pond to his son that it was time to head home. Bert Jr. reeled in his line and pulled up the stringer that now held 10 small mouth bass. They would make a great dinner once they cleaned and filleted them. The fish went on a five gallon bucket in the back of the beast and they bounced down the trail back to the house. Bert and Bert Jr. cleaned the bass on the wooden work bench he had placed on the back deck, and took them into the house. Jean had already started dinner so they sealed them up in ziplock bags and put them in the fridge for tomorrow's dinner.

The house was a three bedroom two bath two story with a full basement. From the outside it looked like just another vinyl sided home in the country. When you stepped inside that perception changed. Jean's grandfather was a craftsman and it showed. The kitchen cabinets were made from two inch tongue and groove that was much sturdier than the plywood paneling so many houses used these days. The island was eight feet long by six feet and connected to the cupboards that wrapped around three sides of the kitchen. The first floor was an open floor plan with stacked stone planters that lined the walls in front of two side by side picture windows that stretched from the kitchen into an L shape that ran along the stairs that led to a landing where the front door was. The stairs then turned 180 degrees and led to the basement. There was a door to a wine cellar at the foot of the stairs if you went straight or you could turn right into the full basement. Jean's grandfather used to make homemade wine and brandy so the wine cellar was essential in his home. Bert had cleaned it out and built new shelves out of rough cut boards he acquired from the same amish sawmill where he got the wood to refinish the dock at the pond.

Another stacked stone planter stretched across the front of the living room all the way to a three tier stone fountain that once held fish but hadn't had water in it for years. Jean's grandfather had drained the fountain when he could no longer take care of it and her mother had never bothered to put it back into service. Bert planned to remedy that once he had the rest of the property back in shape.

They had moved in when Jean's mother Betty had fallen and broke her leg down near the ankle. She was diabetic and the Doctor said the bones may never heal because of it. She was now in a wheelchair for the rest of her life and could not live alone. She had signed the house over to Jean to avoid inheritance tax since she would be inheriting it anyway, and had given Bert Carte Blanche to do whatever he wanted to the house short of tearing it down. Bert had always admired the house, whenever they had visited for the holidays and vacations, and had no intention of tearing it down anyway. He had spent the winter months updating the electrical and plumbing and building a bedroom in the basement for him and Jean. The Kids took the two upstairs rooms and Betty had the master bedroom on the main floor downstairs. The stone planters had essentially turned into a litter box for Betty's cat and Bert had cleaned them out and laid in new rubber liners and fresh soil in which he had planted herbs and vegetables instead of the decorative plants they were originally used for.

Bert and Jr. busied themselves with tending the half acre garden he had put in the back yard behind the detached garage and feeding the chickens and rabbits he had acquired that spring, while Jean put the finishing touches on dinner. The rabbits were doing well in the mobile hutch he built that wheeled into the garage at night to keep the predators from getting to them. He had put a chicken wire bottom on it so that the rabbits could feed on the grass in the yard, he put them in a different spot every day to give them fresh fodder to supplement the pellets he fed them at night when he put them inside. The chickens had a run he built off of the lean-to on the back of the garage and he had built them a rather nice chicken house in the 16x6 lean-to with nesting boxes where they could lay their eggs. The place was really starting to take on the feel of the homestead he and Jean had always dreamed of.

"Dad, Junior Dinner's ready" Rebecca called from the back door. Bert and his son stopped in the full length enclosed back porch to take their boots off before going inside to wash up for dinner. Jean had made her famous chicken pot pie along with a salad made from the greens they grew in the stone planters. It was the first meal they had that was entirely from the homestead, right down to the herbs used to season the potpie. The only exception was the flour she used to make the crust, but they had bought the flour in bulk and stored in quart canning jars in the wine cellar after dry canning it in the oven.

"That was delicious babe" Bert complimented his wife of 17 years. They had met in San Antonio 20 Years earlier and it was love at first sight. Bert knew the minute he saw her that she was his soulmate and Jean felt the same way. It was amazing that they were born 100 miles apart and had met 1800 mile away. Bert was from south western NY state and Jean had been born in western PA in the town near where they now lived. They considered it to be fate that they had met so far from home.

"Thank you sweetie" Jean replied. "Now if ya'll will clear out of the kitchen I have blackberries and raspberries to can, that me a Rebecca picked while you two were fishing"

"Okay hun I wanted to do some work in the shop anyway. So I will get out of your way" He kissed her and gave her a swat on the rear as he headed out the back door to the workshop he had set up in the garage to do some woodworking. He was working on a glider rocker for Betty. Bert had been amassing tools of all kinds since he was about 16. His tool collection had more than doubled when they had moved in with Jean's mother as he had inherited all of her grandfather's tools as well. One of the things he had gained was a Sears Craftsman wood lathe that had been buried in the garage for who knows how long. He had been surprised to discover it still worked once he cleaned it up and gotten all the rust off. it was just one of many treasures the garage had held. Bert had discovered many older hand tools some of which he had to look up on the internet to figure out their purpose.
There were clamps, hand saws, wrenches of all sizes, screwdrivers out the wazoo, hundreds of sockets, various power tools, several braces (hand powered drills), and many other tools. He had spent a lot of time organizing them and turning the garage into a viable woodworking shop. The glider rocker would be the first thing he had made in the shop since he had gotten it organized. He planned to surprise her with it on her birthday next week and wanted to get it finished. He had gotten the plans for it off of the internet and was actually making two of them identical as he knew the minute Jean saw it, she would want one as well. It was after 10PM when he shut down the power to the shop and went back into the house. he had finished assembling the first rocker and would spray it with a dark walnut wood stain the next day. Little did Bert know that circumstances would keep him from his well laid plans.

57 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Chapter 2

The next morning Bert was awakened by the telephone just before 6AM.


" Hey Bert it's your neighbor Dan," The voice on the phone said. "I was needin' to do some repairs on my hog barn and was wondering if you'd be interested in helping out. I'll pay your usual rate for a couple of days work"

"Sure Dan" Bert responded, "What time you figure on Starting?"

"Around seven or seven thirty if that works for you"

"No problem, that'll give me time to get my chickens and rabbits tended. I'll see you then" Dan owned the barn and abandoned house next door. He had purchased them to add on to his existing farm. Dan had a set up that Bert was really envious of. Dan not only had a herd of 300 milk cows, at his main farm but he also kept a couple dozen hogs in the barn next door to Bert. He kept horses and chickens at another old farmhouse a couple of miles up the road where one of his farm workers stayed. All totaled Dan had four old farm houses complete with Barns and 1200 acres in fields located in various places around the county.

Bert admired the fact that Dan used organic farming methods instead of spraying his fields with toxic chemicals and fertilizers. Dan preferred the old ways. Even his tractors were old John Deere's that Dan took excellent care of. They didn't have the new fangled GPS systems or fancy radio's or air conditioning in the cabs, But they were reliable and did the work needed without a ton of maintenance costs.

Bert was waiting when Dan's truck pulled in next door. He helped dan unload the lumber he had brought to replace the rotting boards on the barn and they got to work tearing the rotted and broken wood off the barn and replaced them with the new rough cut Dan had brought.

Bert was in the middle of cutting a piece of two by four to replace a piece the hogs had cracked when the power cut out.

"Dan" He Hollered, "Did you unplug me?"

"Not me" Dan shouted back from inside the Barn where he had been repairing the floor of the hayloft. "Maybe the breaker tripped. I'll check it for ya. Nope Breaker's fine. Maybe the power went out"

"I'll check my place" Bert yelled. He walked across the barnyard to his house and discovered the power was out there as well. He walked back to the old hog barn.

"The power is out at my place too" Bert told Dan when he got back. "I guess we'll have to call it day, or cut everything by hand."

" I sure as heck ain't about to cut all this by hand" Dan replied. "We'll just hafta finish it up tomorrow when they get the power back on"

Neither one of them watched much TV so they didn't realize the power wouldn't be coming back on anytime soon.

The Russians pushed beyond their endurance by constant US interference in their sphere of influence in Asia and Europe made a secret pact with Iran, China, and N Korea to take over the the Middle East and Asia and drive the US military out. It began with N Korea attacking S Korea in force with Chinese air force Migs (with N Korean markings) clearing wide swaths of land mines out of the DMZ using air to ground missiles. The million man army swarmed across the border decimating the UN peacekeeping forces using Russian artillery and tanks and then rolled over the S Korean army and marched toward Seoul. The US and NATO coalition protested shrilly in the UN but Russia vetoed everything the coalition proposed in the Security

The Chinese had dispatched three of their newly created super carriers naval groups to the Middle East under the guise of lengthy shakedown cruises. The Russians capitalized on the resulting shift of US forces to SE Asia to back Coupes in Ukraine and Iraq. The newly formed Russian/Chinese coalition then fortified those nations with Russian and Chinese made arms and military equipment as well as 300,000 military "advisors" to help ensure the security of the newly formed nation of Iraq. Russia also dispatched 150,000 troops to Ukraine to secure their new ally to the south. The Nato coalition became desperate. Realizing that anything they tried to do through the UN was pointless as long as Russia held the veto power in the Security council, they dispatched a joint task force with two British carrier groups and
numerous support vessels from mostly European nations to the Middle East, as the US was trying to get the Korea situation under control. The British led task force was ambushed by the 2 of the three Chinese super carriers and sunk to the last vessel 150 miles from the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The remaining Chinese Super carrier group wreaked havoc in the Gulf.

The few remaining US ships that were not directed to SE Asia were devasted by the superior Chinese forces. The Chinese task force then began bombarding US military installations all over the ME. The Russian Military "advisors" in Iraq moved quickly to secure the oil fields in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Royal Palace and city of Riyadh was bombed by Chinese stealth aircraft, the King along with most of the government were killed. China launched amphibious assaults on both Taiwan and Japan quickly squashing the little resistance those two largely demilitarized states could muster. The US naval forces arriving in the South China Sea were met by Russian and Chinese hunter/killer Submarines. More than 3/4th of the
US task force was laid on the bottom of the sea by torpedoes and the remaining ships turned tail and limped toward home.

Iran having a much more developed nuclear program than anyone knew used the new Chinese made stealth bombers to deliver 8 nuclear devices on the state of Israel effectively wiping their old rival off the map. China had sneaked half a million troops into Iran and sent those troops into Afghanistan to push the US military out of that nation as well.

Here in the US, congress passed numerous resolutions, and gave the new president sweeping powers to dispatch all available forces to the battle front. Juicy government contracts were awarded and the printing presses at the Fed went into overtime printing money to hand out by the billions to companies to make weapons, ammunition, and replace the lost
fleets. The draft would be reinstated with every able bodied American male of the proper age to be inducted into the military to be shipped to the war front. Congress finally got the idea that the US was at war and issued a Declaration of War against China, Russia, Iran, and N Korea. The Chinese had been waiting for that moment.

Unknown to the US, and the rest of the world, China had created space based rail guns. Disguised as weather satellites, they used the pull of the earth's gravity to accelerate 150 ft Tungsten-titanium alloy rods to speeds that would cause devastation on a scale never before seen. They dropped the first rod on Washington DC the moment the president announced to the nation that the US was going to war and signed the declaration of war live on national TV. The tungsten-titanium rod accelerated toward the earth breaking the sound barrier before it even hit the atmosphere. The US air defense shield radar equipment registered the blip mere seconds before it struck DC. The Tungsten titanium rod hit DC at more than twice the speed of sound and created a crater 600 ft across and 300 ft deep where the white house once stood. The resulting shockwave left not a single building standing for a 100 mile radius. The Tremors from the impact were felt as far away as Nashville. Seconds after DC was destroyed the other five Chinese rail guns fired at their designated targets. NYC, LA, and Chicago were hit and leveled. A fourth gun hit the Hoover Dam causing a Flood that washed away everything down stream. The fifth Rail Gun was targeted at the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting Tsunami hit the coast at 800 miles an hour and devastated the entire gulf coast disabling much of the US refining capability. The dust cloud, kicked up by the rail guns engulfed the nation and blocked out the sun for weeks.

Each rail gun satellite also carried a High altitude EMP weapon that detonated seconds after the rods were fired. The US electrical grid was decimated. All across the nation the lights went out and would not come on again for decades if ever.

57 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Chapter 3

It was around 11AM when the power cut out. Bert looked at his watch and made the decision to go ahead and apply the stain to the rocker by hand. He placed the rocker on the work bench he had built just outside the shop door and got to work.An hour later and he was putting the lid back on the stain, finished.

"Well what in the heck do I do now" Bert said to himself once he set his staining brush in the jar of paint thinner he kept on a shelf in the shop. He looked around and spotted his fishing tackle just inside the door where he had left it the day before. "I guess I'll go drown some more nightcrawlers in the pond. Bert Jr. likes catching crawlers at night anyway"

Bert figured if he got bored with being ignored by the pond's underwater inhabitants, he could always do some more work on the pavillion since he had to cut everything by hand at the pond anyway, as it had no power line running to it.

He tossed his favorite rod and tackle box into the back of the Beast and grabbed the old plastic Folger's can he used to carry crawlers. He went over to the old bathtub where he and his son kept their stock of crawlers. He dug his fingers into the soft mix of shredded newspaper and used coffee grounds they used for both bedding and food for the crawlers. His grandfather had taught him that trick for crawlers, they grew fat on the newspaper and turned it into great potting soil and the coffee made them lively so they would do a lot of wiggling on your hook to attract attention in the water. He found and deposited about a dozen in the coffee can and jumped into the beast to drive back to the pond and suffer through another round of his favorite past time.

Bert reached the pond and headed out onto the dock. He knew he was in essence punishing himself by being able to look down in to the water at the elusive, sleek bodied bass that he could see. There was just something in his mind that couldn't resist watching them glide through the water. He reached the end of the dock and flipped his baited hook out over the water aiming for the spot about 5 ft in front of him. He sat down on the bench he had built on the dock and set his pole into the holster that was built in to the end.

He didn't sit long. Barely a minute after he sat down the tip of his rod bent way down toward the water and his reel started to unwind and Bert could hear the rapid clicks of the Daiwa's tensioner playing out line to whatever had grabbed his bait. Bert grabbed his rod and gave the tensioner on top of his reel a quarter turn which stopped the line from playing out. He then set about to reeling in whatever it was on the end of his line.

Bert let out a whoop of excitement as he watched the 20 inch bass swing back and forth, as it dangled from the end of his line FINALLY!

He had broken his curse! He unhooked his catch and dropped it in the bucket he had placed on the dock for that purpose. He rebaited his line and flipped it out again. The next fish hit almost immediately.

"Another one" Bert exclaimed. " The curse is definitely broken!!". This bass was not as impressive as the first but hardly a minnow at around 16 inches. The next hour he pulled in 10 more bass of moderate size and 4 small Bluegill which he threw back. He knew you could eat bluegill but they were so small and full of bones it wasn't worth the time it took to clean
them and cook them.

Bert decided to head home with his catch. He couldn't wait to show Jean his prizes he was so happy that he could finally catch fish again. He jumped in the drivers seat of the Beast and headed back to the house, as he turned the corner out of the forest and into the open field behind the house he could see a dark cloud heading in from the NW.

"That's funny" Bert mused "I don't recall the paper mentioning anything about a storm today". He'd have to check on TheWeather dot com when he got in the house, Provided, of course, that the power had come back on.

Jean was nowhere near as excited about his catch as he was. In fact her facial expression looked rather worried and scared as He quickly related his "fish" story of catching the decent sized fish.

"What's wrong Sweetie" Bert suddenly interrupted his own ramblings when the look on her face cut through his excitement at ending his 20 year fishing drought. "Don't worry it doesn't mean I'm going to spend every waking moment at the pond from now on. Not only would I clean out the pond pretty darn quick, but even fishing would get boring if I did nothing but that all the time." Bert said sardonically.

"That's not it Bert" Jean said in a shaky voice. Bert had never seen or heard her this scared, her face was paler than her normal milky complexion. "The US is going to war. Our neighbor, Henry from three doors down, stopped over, just after you went to the pond, and told me. He said the President had just made the announcement when the TV station cut out and then the power a minute later. He didn't know anything beyond that. Henry said he was going to Johnson's general store up the street and grab some ice for his freezer, and get whatever information he could. Bert, he said that the US may have been hit with nuclear weapons!!!" His normally strong wife was on the verge of tears.

Bert stood frozen in the kitchen, a thousands thoughts whirling through his head. What if there was a nuclear detonation? He didn't have a bunker for his family to hide from the fallout. He remembered from his prepper forums that they could possibly make it in the basement. He had heavy squares of clear plastic he used to seal up the windows for winter. He could staple those on and then seal them with duct tape. He would have to pile some dirt over the small basement windows that sat at ground level. He had concrete cinder blocks he could use to build a double thick wall at the turn into the
basement. Bert would have to cut more plastic to seal the doors. Water!! They would need water.

"JEAN! JEAN!" Bert's voice cut through the stunned silence in the kitchen. Jean shook her head to clear it. "Jean we have to get everything we can into the basement start with food and water. Then get all the blankets and pillows you can into the basement. Don't worry about putting it all down there neatly, just stack it up in the far corner. I'm gonna hook the generator up to the well pump so we can get some water. And then I've got to get some dirt piled up over the windows to keep radiation out. Jean we can survive this if we get get moving NOW"

Jean stared at Bert at first like she didn't know what he was saying. Then slowly the fact that he was speaking to her
intruded on her terror.

"JEAN! JEAN! We can live through this...JEAN" Bert grabbed his wife and held her for a moment. "Baby I love you. I love you but you have to listen to me get the kids to help you, and get all the food off of the shelves on the backporch and get them in the basement. I'm gonna get the generator hooked up to the well so we can stockpile some water. Get Junior to round up every container he can find for water and start filling them from the hose faucet in the basement."

He propelled her towards the stairs to get the kids from their rooms where she had sent them to read. Bert went out the back door towards the shop.

Last summer he had buried the electrical line that went from the house to the shop. He had also installed an extra line of 10 guage 3 wire Romex that he had wired into the well pump breaker. He had wired the shop end to 220 plug that fit the 4500W generator he kept there.The generator was a hold over from his racing days in Texas when he was crew chief for his best friend Mike. Bert had never gotten rid of it. Not surprising since Bert never got rid of tools.

Bert had reached the door to the shop when he heard a tractor engine coming up the road. He heard the engine cut down and saw Dan turn into the driveway driving his back hoe. Bert ran towards the backhoe with thoughts of getting dan to pile the dirt on the windows for him with the machine.

Dan Climbed out of the cab as Bert ran up "Dan can you pile up some dirt around the basement windows for me?"

"I Can't do it for you I got things I gotta do at my place, but I can let you use the backhoe, that's why I brought it. I guess you heard that we were attacked." Dan looked at Bert with a serious look on his face.

"Yeah Henry came over and told the wife. I was back at the pond" Bert admitted " I was just getting the generator going to run the well pump so we can get some water stocked up. Do you need anything? A ride back to your place?"

"Nope I'm good Bert" Dan looked over his shoulder as his wife drove into the driveway in Dan's old farm truck. "Helen is picking me up. She stopped to grab as much ice as she could from Johnson's."

"Now you boys get over here and help unload some of this ice" Helen called as she stepped out of the truck. "The ice truck was at Johnson's when I got there and the driver was selling the ice out of the truck. I got 20 bags. We only need ten so Bert, you and that lovely wife of yours can have the other ten."

"Now that was mighty nice of you to think of us Helen" Bert said as he rushed to the truck to grab the ice. "how much do I owe

"Don't you worry about that Bert. He was selling at Johnson's regular price it wasn't much. He said his truck wouldn't start any way and the ice would just melt. He figured this way at least the ice was getting some use. If you want to pay us back, just talk Jean into baking one of her apple pies and bring it over when all this is straightened out." Helen grabbed two bags of ice and followed Bert and Dan through the house and down the stairs in the basement. Jean saw Helen walk into the Basement and flew into her arm.
Bert and Dan set the ice in the chest freezer in the corner of the basement and went around the two women and back up the stairs pausing on the landing with backs to the wall to allow Bert Jr and Rebecca pass by with boxes of food. Despite the fact that Helen was 20 years Jean's senior the two women had somehow connected. Bert figured that Helen could calm Jean down and get her focus.

"What are you and Helen going to do Dan? You gonna try to tough it out in the basement too?". Bert asked as they walked toward the truck to get the rest of the ice. Dan went to the cab of the truck and grabbed a small box while Bert grabbed the other four bags of ice.

"Actually Bert we have a bunker at our place, my father put in during the Cuban missle crisis. I've kept it up and stocked with long term storage food over the years. We've got enough to last two to three years down there for the two of us and our kids and grandkids. We'd invite you and your family Bert but we've already got 16 people going into a bunker made for
8. You should be Okay in the basement, Just make sure to pile dirt up all the way around the house. up to the bottom of your windows there." Dan pointed to the Big picture windows that looked into the house where the stone planter boxes were. "Dig some dirt from my field across the street to do it, we can put it back later. Here"

Dan handed Bert a large handheld radio and a little black rectagular object on a keychain. There was Yellow lettering on the object that said "ALERT".

57 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·

"That there, is a Nuke Alert keychain," Dan explained. If it goes to beeping more than once every minute or so you get yourself and family into that basement and don't come out until I tell you it is safe on that CB radio. I got spare batteries in this box for you.Leave the radio off most of the time. I got a propane generator I can turn on and off from my bunker to keep the batteries charged up on my base unit so I will be monitoring at all times. Check in with me every Sunday evening. I monitor on channel 19. Check in with me on channel 4 anytime on Sundays. When you call ask for Old Macdonald that's my handle, You ever have a handle on the CB?

"My grandfather, father and uncle were all truck drivers." Bert answered nodding his head, "I used to go by the handle of "Little Bear"

"That'll work for now. I'll keep you updated on the radiation count if there is any."

"There has to be, doesn't there." Bert said worriedly, "If we had an EMP that means a nuclear detonation, and Nukes means fallout. Do you really think we'll have to stay down there for a couple of years? I'm not sure we have enough food for that long!"

"Calm down Bert. I don't think it will be that long. Probably more like a couple of months. I just have that much food in our bunker cuz I believe in being safe." Dan's explanation had a calming effect on Bert. Relief washed through him as he listened to Dan's reassurances. Bert hadn't really thought about how long his family would have to stay in the basement, he was too busy focusing on what he had to do to make sure his family survived the immediate threat. He would have to take it one thing at a time. He was still too much in shock to think about the future.

"If everything I've studied about it is any indication" Dan continued, "We will probably be able to come out after about 6 weeks. We're far enough away from any major cities, except Pittsburgh, that the fallout will be minimal. And if Pittsburgh had been hit, we're close enough that we would've seen the light from the explosion and felt the shock wave. I didn't feel anything, Did you?"

"No I didn't" Bert admitted. "But why wouldn't they hit Pittsburgh It's a major city? And what about that cloud coming in from the North west where is that coming from?"

"I can't say for sure," Dan answered, "But judging from how long it has taken to get where we can see it, I'd say they hit Chicago. If that is the case we shouldn't see too much fallout."

They headed back to the basement with the remainder of the ice and the box containing the radio and batteries.

"Helen we have to get home" Dan called gently to his wife. Helen looked up at him from where she was sitting on the loveseat Jean and Bert kept in their basement suite. The older woman stood up and looked down at Jean.

"Do you feel a little better. Dan and I have to get home, I know Dan gave Bert a CB and some batteries so you can call me anytime you need to hunny"

Jean nodded her head at the older woman. "I... I'll be Okay"

"Good" Helen said Cheerfully. "I'll see you in a few weeks then." She followed her husband up the stairs and back out to the old farm truck.

Bert crossed the room to his wife and took her in his arms. "Are you going to be alright. I really need to get the generator going and get some dirt moved before the fallout gets here. Dan said he thinks the nearest strike was Chicago and said we probably won't get much fallout, so we stand a pretty good chance of getting through this"

"I'll be okay sweetheart, go do what you need to, to make sure we survive." Jean stood up straighter and looked lovingly into the eyes of her husband and father of her children.

" Dan left his backhoe so I can get the dirt moved in a hurry to keep the fallout out of th windows." Bert told her. "Have Junior grab my crossbows and bolts out of the shop when he gets done filling water jugs. He knows where they are."

Bert took the stairs out of the basement two at a time. He went out the door and headed to the shop where he fired up the generator and plugged in the pump. He ran back to the house and shouted at Bert Jr. to start filling water jugs.

Lucky for Bert He had run Dan's backhoe before, so he didn't lose precious minuted trying to figure the controls. He quickly set to work pushing dirt from his yard up against the walls of the house using the front bucket. Tearing up the yard was the least of his worries. Speed was of the essence. He glanced down occasionally at the nuke alert key chain on his belt but so far it remained silent aside from the occasional beep from regular background radiation.

The backhoe made short work of mounding the dirt. Bert parked the backhoe behind his shop and headed back to the house to get the plastic up on the windows. Bert enlisted the aid of his son and together they had the plastic stapled up and sealed with duct tape in about 45 minutes. Bert sent Junior back down to the basement with orders to take all the food out of the wine cellar and move it into the main basement. Bert stepped out the back door and looked to the northwest at the dark dusty cloud that continued to bear down on them.

He looked down at the nuke alert keychain clipped to his hip and it was silent. Bert headed up stairs and started dragging the kids mattresses down the stairs. He would let Jean share their bed with her mother and he would sack out on the loveseat he figured. Bert finished getting the mattresses in the basement and then went back outside to check on the progress of the dark cloud to the NW. It was definitely getting closer. Bert began grabbing cinder blocks from the pile he kept in a lean-to he had built against the shop. He hooked his fingers into two blocks per hand and hurried across the yard with his load. He carried them to side door that opened onto the landing of the basement steps.

"Jean, You and the kids come grab these blocks and set them next to the door in the basement." Bert called down the stairs, "I've got to seal us in as much as I can."

Bert didn't wait for a response but headed back to the lean-to. He kept looking from the NW to the nuke alert key chain. Bert had to admit to himself that he had never been so scared in his entire life.

Bert kept moving blocks until he had moved about half the pile he had accumulated. He knew he had around 200 blocks and figured 100 should be enough to build a double wall across the basement door. The dark cloud was almost on top of them when Bert finished toting the blocks and stapled a triple sheet of plastic on the front door, making sure to seal it extra well with Duct tape as it was the door closest to the basement and Bert knew that it would represent their greatest danger of leaking radiation. Bert headed to the basement and began stacking the blocks across the basement door way.

Jean Brought him a plate with left over pot pie from yesterday's dinner. Bert sat down on the edge of the wooden bench that was built along the wall of the basement and wolfed down about half of the portion.

"Gas is still working." Jean said with a strained little laugh, as she down next to him. " I warmed it up on the range you put down here to have an extra oven in the house. Isn't that funny? It's the end of the world and the gas is still working!"

"Probably won't work for long." Bert said as he set the plate on the bench next to him. " Just what pressure is left in the pipe. I'm sorry Baby But I gotta get this wall built, It's got to protect us from the radiation."

Bert went back to stacking blocks. When he set the last block in place on the outside wall he noticed that the light outside was gone completely despite it only being 5pm and sundown was still another 2 to 3 hours away. The radiation must be falling out there but so far the nuke alert that Dan had given him still remained silent. With a sigh Bert placed the last block and quickly began the second row, he had a hunch that it would be a long time before he went fishing again.

684 Posts
Good story, keep it up!

Kinetic energy weapons are an effective WMD for conflicts in which you plan an invasion. No fallout for your troops to deal with and controlled damage. C. Cussler used a Russian built one in one of his books and I used one in my story "I'm Just Me". The rail gun works for a single launch or programed guidance rockets for multiple launches.

The curse reminds me of the story of the guy that made a good living going to hunting and fishing lodges. The week before he went and the week after would be excellent hunting/fishing and would be booked accordantly.

57 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Good story, keep it up!

Kinetic energy weapons are an effective WMD for conflicts in which you plan an invasion. No fallout for your troops to deal with and controlled damage. C. Cussler used a Russian built one in one of his books and I used one in my story "I'm Just Me". The rail gun works for a single launch or programed guidance rockets for multiple launches.

The curse reminds me of the story of the guy that made a good living going to hunting and fishing lodges. The week before he went and the week after would be excellent hunting/fishing and would be booked accordantly.

I'll have to check out your story, I think I saw it on this forum. Never heard the one about the cursed hunter....sounds like it would be a good one.

1,993 Posts
You are doing a fantastic job, oldcutlas. Your story it self is excellent and you have done a wonderful job editing. Nice to see a story with proper punctuation, grammar and spelling. Keep up the great work!!!

300 Posts
It was years ago, I think it was in "Field and Stream".
That was a old pat McManus story, he wrote for several fishing-hunting magazines, funniest guy I ever read, I have all his books, some of the titles to his books, Real Ponies Don't Go Oink, and They Shoot Canoes Don't They. all hunting and fishing adventures from a 10 to 14 year old,
Think Calvin with a shotgun!

57 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You are doing a fantastic job, oldcutlas. Your story it self is excellent and you have done a wonderful job editing. Nice to see a story with proper punctuation, grammar and spelling. Keep up the great work!!!

My mother was an English teacher before Multiple Sclerosis made it impossible for her to work anymore...My passion for writing comes from long days and nights I would spend with her collaborating on writing...she loved to write but could not stand long hours at the keyboard so She and I would brainstorm and talk out the story and I would type it...she would then of course proofread what I wrote over and over and make me correct it...While I do miss her as my writing partner and editor, that experience with her definitely made me a better writer. Sometimes when I am writing and trying to put a certain idea to words, I can almost hear her in the back of mind saying "Try it this way and then read it back to me"!!

Ok enough about Mom...I'm gonna try and get another chapter or two cranked out and posted tonight.

57 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
HOOKED YA!!..Now that I got your attention it is time for a little character development. that's pretty much all this chapter is, so it may seem a little boring. But it will be pertinent to the rest of the story.

DON'T skip it...there will be a test later!!

Bert woke up to the sound of his dog, Duchess, whining and scratching at the cinder blocks, where she knew the door was supposed to be. Duchess's mother, Lady was a Husky/Shepard mix that had adopted Bert and his family in San Antonio. She was a stray that showed up in their yard one day and never quite left. It had taken Bert three months to convince Lady to come into the house, and then another three before she would stop cringing at every loud noise or sudden movements. She had obviously been abused by someone. If Bert had his way, Dog abusers would get the death penalty. Bert couldn't stand people that preyed on creatures weaker than themselves.

Duchesses father was also a stray. He was a Black mastiff that pretty much ruled the canines in their neighborhood in San Antonio. Bert's Children had named him Duke. Duke was more than happy to accept an invitation into the cool air conditioned house for a nap during the hottest part of the San Antonio summer days. But once he had napped for a bit and ate a bowl of food he would be out the door and they wouldn't see him again for days. Duke managed to be at Bert's house when Lady went into heat, and on December 23, three years ago, Lady gave them the present of five little puppies. Duchess was the only pure black puppy in the litter. The other 4 carried the Husky/shepard markings of their mother.

Bert had originally intended to keep one of the two males from the litter, but two days after being born Duchess came bombing out of the corner in the kitchen, where her mother and siblings were curled up on a blanket, and laid down between Bert's feet under his chair. After that whenever Bert spent time with the puppies Duchess would bully her siblings out of the way to get his attention. If Bert picked up one of the other pups Duchess would whine and cry until he put it down. Once her eyes were opened she followed Bert no matter where he went in the house. She had claimed him. Bert was HER human.

Right now though Bert had to figure out a way for Duchess to go potty. Bert looked around the thirty by thirty foot main room of the basement. He grabbed some newspaper that was in a large tote next to the basement entrance and laid them out behind the furnace. He called Duchess over, showed her the papers and told her she could go potty there. She wasn't
happy about it but she did her business on the papers anyway.

Bert used the small half bath he had installed in another corner to take care of his morning rituals. He would have to flush it once a day with buckets of water as long as the water held out that is. Bert reasoned that if worst came to worst he could cover up the best he could from the radiation and go to the shop and fire up the generator when they needed to refill their water.

Bert's stirrings woke up his wife and son. Jean came over to where Bert was sitting on the loveseat and sat down next to him, while Bert Jr made a beeline for the restroom.

"Should I make some coffee with the percolator or should we try and save the gas in the lines?" She asked him, after giving him their habitual morning kiss.

"Might as well" Bert answered after a moment's thought. "I doubt the gas pressure will stay for very long so we might as well use it while we got it."

Bert reasoned that others that were sheltering in their basements as well and some of them in this area had second ranges in their basements as well so the pressure probably wouldn't last for more than a day or so. Then they would be left cooking on the propane camp stove that Bert Jr had thought to grab from the shop.

Junior had also thought to bring the extra propane canisters they had as well as the six extra bottles of lamp oil they kept in the shop for Jean's hurricane lamp collection. Bert had at first objected to the amount Jean had spent at an antique store for the first one. His objections ended after the first power outage they experienced and used the lamp. The antique she bought may have cost twice as much as a new one at walmart, but it was a lot heavier, less prone to breaking and for whatever reason used less lamp oil than the new ones that were made in China. The modern smokeless lamp oil worked flawlessly in it to provide a steady light that didn't need batteries. After that he had no objections to her buying every lamp she could find at antique shops and flea markets. Bert had even bought a one or two when he saw them at yard sales where he would stop and browse for tools.

Jean set the percolator they used for camping on the gas stove and lit it with a match. She then set about making breakfast for the family while Bert sat on the loveseat watching her. Bert knew that he would do everything he could to make sure his family survived this disaster. He knew they had enough food to last for at least two months in the basement with him. He also knew he had another couple of months left in the wine cellar on the other side of his makeshift wall. He reasoned they could last four months if they had to. The only problem is that would mean they would run out sometime in December when the Pennsylvania snow would restrict their ability to get more. He hoped the chickens and rabbits would survive. He had closed the chickens up in the hen house and emptied all the grain he had for them in one corner, and filled all the water dishes he could find for them.

The rabbits he had released out of their cages. They would have to tough it out on their own. Bert thought that it would be better for them to to die from the radiation or get taken by a predator, than to slowly starve to death in their cages. Who knows, maybe a few would find a safe place to hide from the radiation and survive.

The chickens would at least give them a source of food so that they could get through the winter. Bert could also replant the indoor planters with vegetables and beans instead of just salad greens and herbs. Dan was obviously prepared for this, maybe he made provisions for his cows and hogs and Bert knew Dan would find a way for Bert to do some work for some meat if his livestock survived. Dan wasn't the type of guy that would let a family starve. Bert would have to ask Dan about his livestock on Sunday when he made his scheduled radio contact.

Bert Jr. came out of the restroom and sat down next to his father. He was small for his fourteen years, but he was sturdy as an ox and worked with determination to whatever task he was about. Whether it was helping out around house, or playing some crazy prank on a teacher at school, he went about his work with a single minded focus that was almost scary.
He had blonde hair and Blue eyes and had his mother's milky white complexion. He was funny at times but knew when it was time to get serious. Junior always had energy, and loved being outside and Bert knew this time in the basement would be hard on him.

Junior's blonde hair and blue eyes were a stark contrast to his dark haired sister Rebecca. Rebecca was the spitting image of her mother, and had the attitude to match as well. She loved to read and had a very impressive library she had built up over the years. She was 16 and smart as a whip. She already had a scholarship to go to a local college to get a teaching degree. Bert didn't even want to think about the fact that she may not get her chance now.

"Bert Coffee's ready," Jean's voice brought him out of his reverie. Bert took the cup she offered and gave her a tip in the form of a playful slap on her bottom when she turned. She looked over her shoulder as she walked away, Bert could see the pink rising in her cheeks. She blushes so prettily Bert thought. Her fair complexion had been the knock out punch for Bert when they had met. She was still in school when they met. Bert had just moved to Texas and went on a double date with his best friend Mike. Mike wanted to introduce Bert to a friend of his current girlfriend. Bert suspected it was some ugly cousin or sister. When they had picked Jean up, Bert was speechless, it took him thirty seconds to stop staring and mumble a greeting. She was by far the prettiest girl Bert had ever seen. Her dark brown hair fell about her face that was rapidly turning pink at her embarrassment from Bert's stunned expression, and her green eyes twinkled whenever they looked at Bert. He was smitten. They married two years later and Jean quickly became pregnant with Rebecca. They had lived in Texas until two years ago when they decided to move home to be closer to family.

Bert's brother, Fred, and his two sisters, Regina and Pearl, lived about 100 miles north up near the NY/PA border. Fred was two years older than Bert and had somehow managed to dodge the work ethic so many in their family had. Fred had never liked to work and shirked duty any chance he got. Fred could never hold down a job for more than a year. Once Bert had gotten a friend to get Fred a job driving truck through a friend, after he had gotten the idea to go to trucking school. But after 2 months Fred had gotten himself fired by spending more time at truck stops, flirting with waitresses, than actually driving. Because of Fred's propensity to flirt, he had eleven or twelve kids by 7 different mothers, and that was just the ones he knew about.

Fred had been trying to get social security/disability since he was about 20. He was slightly dyslexic and the teachers at school convinced him he was "mentally handicapped" and Fred had spent his high school years at a "alternative" school. He had filed appeal after appeal and kept reapplying until the Social security people finally gave in and started sending him a check. He got section 8 to pay his rent and received the maximum amount of food stamps every month for his current Girlfriend and their two little girls that currently lived with them. Fred spent all of his time on his computer at home, downloading illegal movies and complaining about people who live off of the government.

Bert and his family had originally moved to the same town as his brother when they moved back home from Texas. But as always they just could not get along. It had all come to a head just a few days before they had moved down to be with Jean's mother Betty. Fred had stopped over to return some tools Bert had lent him. Bert had to call his brother 6 times in the last seven days to get him to bring the tools back before they moved. Fred decided to stay and visit and have a cup of coffee. Fred started going on and on about some neighbor who was getting disability for their deaf child, and how they were taking his tax dollars.

At that point, Bert's wife, who normally let Fred's garbage go in one ear and out the other, had enough. She came out of the kitchen where she had been packing dishes and told Fred point blank that he was the LAST person that should be talking about someone living of the government. Fred had left in a huff and they did not see him the rest of the time before they moved.

Bert wished it had ended there. Fred started to harass Jean and their children on Facebook. He wrote things to Bert's children calling Jean names, and trying to fill their heads with lies. Bert had made the children and Jean Block Fred. Bert had then called Fred and told him that he was severing all contact and if he ever saw him again he would smash him in the mouth for the things he had said about Jean. They hadn't heard a peep from him since.

Bert's sister Regina was five years older than Fred. She managed one of those retail-chain buffet restaurants across the border in NY. Regina had definitely inherited the family work ethic. She had done a tour in Iraq during the first Gulf war where she had lost a leg from a roadside bomb. She was more disappointed when she was told that she couldn't go back to the war zone with a prosthetic than she was about losing the leg in the first place. She became a waitress. Working at various restaurants, she then got into management and never looked back. Regina had been married, and divorced 3 times and had two children by her third husband Gary. Gary wasn't too bad except for his drinking, which is what had ended their marriage. They had been living in San Antonio when Regina took their two kids and left him, moving back home to stay with their sister Pearl. Of all his siblings Bert got along with Regina the best.

Pearl was the oldest. Pearl had gotten married straight out of high school to a man that was twice her age. Despite every one saying it wouldn't, She had stayed married for more than 25 years until her husband had passed away last year. Bert didn't really talk to her very much even when he was living three miles away up near the border. There was a fifteen year age difference and they had never found much to talk about.

Bert sat with his arm around his son, listening to the frying pancakes and eggs his wife was making for breakfast, Bert hoped his family to the north had found a safe place to wait out the radiation, even his brother Fred. Bert may have his issues with his brother, but he was still his brother and wished him no ill will.

57 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Short chapter. Not a lot goes on in a sealed basement hiding from fallout that doesn't really exist.


The family finished their breakfast and Bert called a family meeting. Bert and Jean hadn't told their children much about the situation and it was more than time to get everything out in the open. Bert started by telling them every thing they knew and every thing they suspected about the situation. He was absolutely truthful with them and hid nothing. Junior and Rebecca sat in stunned silence as the full weight of what had happened sunk in.

"How long will we have to stay down here, dad?" Bert Jr was the the first to recover.

"I honestly don't know son. it may be a couple of weeks or it may be a few months." I'll know more on Sunday after I talk to Dan. He said he has a radiation meter he can read from his bunker" Bert answered. I remember reading something about a way to figure out how long it takes radiation to fade. Maybe dan will know since he has all the equipment."

"What about school?" Rebecca sounded on the verge of panic. "Are they still going to have school once we can all come out?"

"I don't know Rebecca. School has been around a long time and I'm sure there will be some effort to restore the education system but there is no telling how long that will take. In the meantime there is nothing that says you can't teach yourself." Bert told her. "There are plenty of books down here you can read." Bert pointed to the back wall of the basement where he had built bookshelves that took up the entire wall. They had always kept an ecclectic collection of books. One thing Bert and his wife Jean shared
was a love for books, and their collection had gotten pretty large over the years and even included three sets of encyclopedias. Some of the volumes were missing from the encyclopedia sets but between the three sets they had all the letters. They also had various literature books including a Complete Works of William Shakespeare. How-to and home improvement books took up one whole corner. The rest were a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

"We can set up a schedule for you and your brother to study while we're down here" Jean supplied helpfully, That way when school starts back up you will be ahead of the game."

Bert didn't think there would be school for a long time to come but he didn't want to dash the hope he saw in Rebecca's eyes. Besides, who was he to say there wouldn't be school. People had been binding together to teach their children for thousands of years without electricity.

"Any other questions?" Bert paused to wait for questions. "No? Okay, then we have things we can be doing to at least stay busy. Rebecca, can you help your mother get the breakfast dishes cleaned up and get the area around the stove organised? Good. Junior you can come help me sort and organize the canned goods you brought down here."

They set about their work letting the work take their minds off of what they all felt was a hopeless situation. The temperature in the basement was quite cool so they worked in sweatshirts. When they had finished organizing Bert determined they had enough food in the basement to last them about two and a half months. Longer if they went on short rations. Bert would push off that decision until he spoke with Dan on Sunday. For now he would go off of the assumption that they would only be stuck in here for six weeks.

The girls had done a wonderful job with, what Bert thought of as, the kitchen area. Jean had remembered to bring down plenty of kitchen utensils and they quickly had those set up on the wire shelves they usually used for cooling canning jars. Jean and Rebecca had also set up a little dining area using the collapsible card table and folding chairs that was stored in Jean and Bert's closet.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

That evening after Jean's mom and the kids had gone to sleep, Jean cuddled up to Bert on the loveseat and cried into his chest. He held her tight and let her get it out of her system. After an hour or so her sobs trailed off and she just clung tight to Bert, as they sat there in the dim light of the single lantern they had burning on the end table next to them. Jean finally lifted her head from Bert's chest and gave him a wan smile.

"Are we really going to be OK?"

"I think so baby." Bert replied with wht he hoped sounded more confident than he felt. "This radiation thing that Dan gave me hasn't gone off at all. Dan said that beep every minute or so is just normal background radiation. Even when I was over by the entrance earlier today, it didn't speed up at all so I think we are safe" His arms wrapped around her gave a reassuring squeeze. Although Bert wasn't sure if it was to reassure his wife, or himself?

"How long do you really think we will have to be down here?" She asked him after a while.

"Dan said he thinks it will only be 6 weeks, Two months at most. He said he thinks the nearest city that got hit was Chicago. If that's the case, then we shouldn't get much fallout." Bert answered.

"What are we going to do after we get out" her next question surprised him. Bert thought a long time before he answered.

"We'll keep on living babe,...We'll just keep on living.
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