Bug In. This is just Chapter 1, so you can play along. If you have any ideas, I would be delighted if you shared them. The main characters are Dave Nelson - age 18 - and his father Jack Nelson - age 50 and retired. They live in a small subdivision, outside a small town, somewhere in the southeastern California desert. Thanks - CT. Bug In-Chapter 1 Dave Nelson, woke to the sun peeking through the blinds. “Oh shit!” he exclaimed aloud as he looked at his alarm clock to see the familiar red glow missing. “Shit!” he exclaimed again as he bolted upright and leapt from his bed. He dashed to the bathroom and cranked the knob on the shower as he shed his T-shirt. Then, he noticed the water wasn’t flowing, so he cranked the knob all the way up to no avail. “Shit!” he reiterated as he stared at his image in the mirror trying to figure out how he was going to explain his boss why he was late for the third time this month. “I’ll be fired for sure!” Dave told his image in the mirror. Then his mind shifted to his father who’d warned him - if he couldn’t hold a job, he’d toss him out for his own good. Since his mother died from cancer last year, his father was less tolerant of his lazy attitude. He was eighteen and broke - where would he live? “Shit!” Dave swore at himself in the mirror. Then, he ran back to his bedroom and got dressed. When he was dressed, he ran to the kitchen and pulled a bottle of orange juice from the fridge, took two gulps before grabbing a couple of slices of white bread from the bag and slipping out the side door to the garage. He hit the garage door opener while stuffing the bread in his mouth, before jumping on his father’s vintage Triumph motorcycle - that he and his father had painstakingly restored together - and kicked the starter. Dave sat on the idling Motorcycle and waited, but the door stayed shut. “Shit! What else could go wrong?” he swore again. Dave got off the bike and opened the door by hand. When he had the door opened, he just stood there stunned as he watched - what appeared to be - the entire subdivision of Desert Vista, standing in the middle of the street, in tight little groups. “What the Hell’s going on?” Dave asked himself as he jumped on the bike, dropped it in second, took off out of the garage and wove his way down the street - avoiding the groups of people chatting away in the middle of the road. When Dave got to the intersection at the county road, he stopped the bike in line behind several cars, and saw the drivers were all out of their cars talking. Dave motored up to the group and asked them what was going on. One of the men spoke up. “No idea son. Our cars just stopped working. The Day the Earth Stood Still kinda thing I guess.” “I bet it was an EMP!” a young woman exclaimed. “What’s an EMP?” Dave asked the neatly dressed woman. “Electro Magnetic Pulse,” the woman answered. “That’s crazy talk! You only get those after an atomic bomb goes off!” another bystander offered. “Well then mister smart guy you explain it!” the woman challenged. Dave looked at his watch, decided he was late enough already, so he popped the clutch and raced down the county road - weaving around the stalled cars and trucks surrounded by people talking in little groups. When he reached Main Street, he stopped the bike in front of Dry Gulch Hardware, where he found his boss standing in the parking lot talking to a group of people. “Sorry I’m late Mr. Archer, but the power went out. I promise it won’t happen again,” Dave assured. Mr. Archer tore himself from the crowd and grabbed the approaching Dave by the arm. “Don’t worry boy. I’m just glad you showed up! Now, help me board the windows up - before it’s too late!” Archer ordered, dragging Dave inside the store. “What’s going on?” Dave asked as he followed his boss to the back to get plywood for the windows. “I’m not sure, boy, but the power’s out and nothin’s working. No phone, no TV, no radio - nothin’. Cars don’t run and people are gonna start panicking if the power doesn’t come on soon,” Mr. Archer confided. By the time the two had the store boarded up, the crowd in the street had dispersed. “You go on home now, Dave. Don’t come back until the power comes on!” Mr. Archer ordered his only employee, pushing him out the front door and locking it behind him. Dave stared at Mr. Archer through the glass, as his boss slid a sheet of plywood in place, sealing himself in the store. Dave rode home, weaving around the hundreds of stalled cars. The groups of people had all but vanished and the scene was starting to scare the crap out of him. Dave closed the garage door after he had the bike safely inside. Then, he went into the house, made a beeline for the fridge and downed the rest of the OJ before heading to his father’s bedroom to wake him and tell him what was going on. When Dave reached the bedroom, he found his father wasn’t there so he made his way to the study where he found his father with his head stuffed into the bottom cabinet of the gun rack. “What’s going on, Pop?” Dave asked. “I’m looking for that box of double-0 buck. You didn’t shoot it? Did you?” Jack Nelson, Dave’s father, asked. Dave just stood there in silence, afraid to answer. Jack took the silence for an admission of guilt and stood to confront Dave, “You shot it up, didn’t you, son?” “Well, yeah, I did. But I was gonna replace it, when I got my next check,” Dave lied. “Son of a bitch! How many times do I gotta tell you? When you want to borrow something - just let me know! How hard is that?” Jack admonished. “Sorry, Pop. I said I’ll replace it! Don’t get all bent outta shape over it, for Pete’s sake! What’s the big deal? You still got, like, a thousand rounds of ammo!” Dave defended. “No, Dave. I only had one box of 00 buck and you shot it all up. Now, all I got is skeet shot - low brass at that - they’re not the same thing. That box of buckshot was our only defensive rounds,” Jack insisted. “What do we need defensive rounds for?” Dave asked confused. “To defend ourselves! What else?” Jack answered annoyed. “Defend ourselves from who?” Dave followed still confused. “In case you haven’t noticed - the power is off and nothing electronic is working, so that could mean only one thing,” Jack informed. “EMP?” Dave answered hesitantly. “That’s exactly right, my boy, and, regardless of how it happened, the ensuing panic will cause riots and chaos unlike anything you can imagine. So we’ll have to defend ourselves or be swallowed up by hordes of desperate people,” Jack concluded. “Shit!” Dave exclaimed. Dave watched as his father pulled his prized Ithaca, over-under, 12-gauge trap gun from the rack - the one that took him all the way to the Skeet and Trap Nationals where Jack had won first place. Next, his father grabbed a box of skeet shells and dumped the box on the desk blotter. Then, he opened the desk, drew out his pocket knife and went to work carefully cutting the shells in half - well almost in half - he left just enough of the plastic shell casing intact to hold the round together “What are you doing?” Dave asked. “Making cut shells, since we don’t have defensive rounds, this is better than bird shot. It’ll come outta the barrel like a slug and then explode on impact,” Jack answered as he inserted two of the modified shells into the Ithaca, before handing the loaded shotgun to his son. “Put that by the door, go get your twenty-two, load it and leave it by your bedroom door,” Jack ordered his son before returning to the rack of trap guns to load them all. When all six trap guns were loaded, Jack turned his attention to the pair of Colt 44, black powder revolvers in display boxes on the wall. He loaded the pistols with the bullets and powder from the gun cabinet, then, put the brace of pistols on the shelf by the door. When all his guns were loaded, Jack met Dave in the kitchen and found him looking into the nearly empty pantry. “What are we gonna do for food?” Dave asked. “That’s the least of our worries. What we need to concentrate on, right now, is security and water,” Jack insisted as he went out the side door, through the garage to shut off the water main. When he returned, Dave asked Jack, “What were you doing outside?” “I shut off the water main, so what water we have, in our pipes, will stay in our pipes and we can collect it,” Jack answered. “What about the water in the water heater?” Dave asked. “We leave it there for emergencies - it’s money in the bank. We need to collect all the loose water we can before it disappears,” Jack informed. “How do we do that?” Dave asked. “We open all the faucets, dig out the water main and put a container under the pipe. Then, we loosen the connection at the main valve, on our side, and collect the water. When we’ve drained our pipes, we open the main and see what we can get from the main line. If we’re lucky, we should be able to drain all the water in the main line, uphill from our house - we might get several hundred gallons,” Jack speculated. “Where do we put all the water?” Dave asked. “We start with every container we can find - pots, pans, bowls, plastic-ware - you name it - if it’ll hold water, we use it and, then, put the rest in plastic bags in the bath tub,” Jack explained. “I’ll get a shovel and you start staging all the containers we have, in the garage. We gotta hurry before one of our neighbors figures out the same thing and beats us to the water!” Jack warned as he dashed into the garage. Jack crouched down behind the giant patio umbrella he was using to conceal what the pair were doing in the side yard. The sun beat down on him - the stale, hot, dry air evaporated the sweat immediately. It was 98 degrees and summer officially hadn’t started yet. It was going to be a hot and miserable summer without electricity, but without water, it would be deadly. The water was coming in drops now. He feared they’d taken all of the water that was available and hoped it would be enough to see them through. “That looks like the last of it,” Jack informed his son, handing him the bucket after shutting the valve. “Good!” Dave exclaimed exhausted. “How much do you think we got?” Jack asked. Dave looked at his notes and did a quick calculation, “Well - this is just a guess - some of the buckets weren’t full, but I counted ninety-two buckets and this bucket is just over a gallon - so I’d guess about a hundred gallons.” “Good. Let’s take a break and have a salad and a glass of milk,” Jack offered. “Salad and milk?” Dave asked. “Yep. First, we eat the perishables before they go bad,” Jack insisted as he shoveled the sandy soil back into the hole. “What do you suppose happened, Pop?” Dave asked between bites of salad. “I don’t know, son, but after we board up the house, I’ll take the Triumph and go into town to see if I can find out,” Jack replied. “What if something happens or you need help? I should go with you, Pop. We can ride two up,” Dave offered. When the house was as secure as they could make it, the pair each tucked a Colt into their waistbands and rode to town together. When they passed the mini mart, they noticed two men with assault rifles guarding the front. By the time they reached the town hall, it was becoming clear - people were beginning to panic. Jack stopped the motorcycle behind the large crowd gathered in front of the Courthouse. The Sheriff was on the steps, trying to get the crowd to quiet down enough, so he could speak. When he’d had enough of the chaos, he drew his pistol and fired a shot in the air. “Now that I have your attention, I want everybody to go home and wait for further instructions. I will not have a riot on my hands. I am invoking Martial Law and my Deputies have orders to shoot looters on site!” the Sheriff declared. “What’s going on?” someone yelled. “If I knew, I’d tell you. From what I’ve gathered, so far, it looks like some kind of EMP’s shut down all electrical equipment. I’ve sent two men on horseback to the Army Desert Training Center outside of Tyler to find out. It’s a two day ride, so I don’t expect them back for a while. So we’ll just have to wait until they return. Now, everybody, go home and stay there until we get word!” the Sheriff insisted. “What about the water?” someone yelled. “As you all know, our water is pumped from the ground and, without power, the pumps won’t work. The water tower is half-empty, so we shut it off for now. I recommend you conserve what you have and use it only for drinking. If the power isn’t restored in a couple of days, the firehouse will be rationing what water we have in the town water tower along with the water that they have in their two tanker trucks. But first, I want to lock the town down. I’m still looking for Deputies, so anybody who wants to volunteer, please see me later. Now, once again, I want everybody to go home and stay there. Martial Law is in effect - anybody outside after dark will be arrested and anybody caught looting will be shot!” the Sheriff reiterated. Jack had heard enough. The Sheriff didn’t know any more than he did. “Let’s go!” Jack ordered Dave as he mounted up before the two rode out. As the pair passed the Dry Gulch Hardware, Jack pulled in and stopped the bike. “Did you say Mr. Archer locked himself in?” Jack asked his son. “Sure did, Pop. He boarded himself in the minute I left,” Dave assured. Jack got off the bike and tapped on the glass door. When there was no answer, he called out, “It’s me, Mr. Archer, Jack Nelson, Dave’s father!” “Whadda you want?” came the muffled reply. “I need some supplies!” Jack replied. “I’m closed! Come back when the power comes back on!” Mr. Archer answered. “That may be for quite some time, Archer. Be a sport and let us in!” Jack begged. After waiting several minutes with no reply, the two got back on their motorcycle and returned home. When the pair reached their house, they saw a large crowd gathered in the street. Jack stopped the bike and the two listened in. “I already told you Phillips - I don’t care WHO you know! I ain’t sharing my water with nobody!” one man shouted. “Look, Thompson. You have the only pool in the subdivision and, because their against the HOA rules, you gotta share!” Phillips implored. “I aint gotta do SHIT! I paid for MY above-ground-pool and I paid for the water to fill it! Now, if you want water, I’ll be selling it for twenty bucks a gallon! Take it or leave it!” Thompson insisted. “I’ll take five gallons,” someone offered waving a hundred-dollar bill. “All right! Now we’re talkin’! Go get your own containers, ’cause I ain’t providin’ none. Line up in my driveway, if you want water!” Thompson replied to the crowd. Jack pulled the Triumph into his own driveway when he’d heard enough. The two opened the garage and, when the bike was in, they closed and secured the door adding a bike cable to the track to lock it shut. No sooner did the pair begin to raid the refrigerator, for whatever might spoil first, they heard a gunshot. Jack ran to the window to see the crowd lined-up in Thompson’s driveway scatter. Then, he saw Phillips run from around the house with a shotgun with Thompson hot on his heels. “What’s going on?” Dave asked as he looked out the window standing next to his father. No sooner than Dave asked, the two watched a wave of water run down the side yard and into the street. People were dipping their buckets in the gutter to capture as much as they could before it was too late. “I think Phillips shot Thompson’s pool,” Jack offered. Meanwhile Thompson was pounding on Phillips’ door, demanding the coward come out and fight like a man. Dave watched the scene and tried not to laugh, but it was just too much for him and he let out a little guffaw. “It’s no laughing matter, son. It won’t be long before they start killing each other,” Jack warned. Betty Stevens, the girl from two doors down, had captured Dave’s attention, as she bent over to scoop-up water from the gutter wearing those short-shorts she liked so much. Dave swore he could see a thin, sliver of red, peeking out from the crotch, which he figured must be her panties. Jack noticed Dave in a trance and asked him, “Have you asked Betty to the VFW Dance yet?” Dave heard his father, but remained silent, embarrassed to tell him he did, indeed, ask her. Not only did she say no, she said Hell no! In fact her exact words were, “I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last man on earth!” The two had more lettuce for dinner, finished-off the milk and leftover spaghetti that had been in the fridge for a couple of days. Jack decided to stand watch in the living room while Dave slept in his room. Jack dozed-off at around one in the morning, but woke up moments later when he heard screaming followed by, what sounded like, several muffled gunshots. He looked out the window, between the boards, and saw Philips’ house on fire. As he watched the fire grow, he heard several more loud pops. Must be ammo going off, Jack thought as he watched Mr. Phillips hugging his wife as they stood in the middle of the street in their pajamas. Jack considered going out and helping the destitute couple, then, he reconsidered. Phillips did bring it on himself after all. He destroyed the only source of water the neighborhood had. No Jack would let nature run its course. Carol is a fine looking woman. It’s too bad she hitched her wagon to such an asshole, Jack thought as he closed the curtain.