Bug In.

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by C.T.Horner, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. C.T.Horner

    C.T.Horner Monkey

    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.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
  2. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    click to expand.
    So far, pretty good, just some minor typos.;)
    C.T.Horner likes this.
  3. whynot

    whynot Monkey+++

    I'll continue to read if you write. :)

  4. Harbin

    Harbin Monkey+

  5. C.T.Horner

    C.T.Horner Monkey

    Thanks for the advice, I have edited the story and will do better next time. You are right My name is on it, so it should be my best.
    kellory likes this.
  6. C.T.Horner

    C.T.Horner Monkey

    Bug In-Chapter 2
    Three days went by and Dave was getting cabin fever. The two were sitting on the floor, in front of the open sliding glass door, looking through the row of two by six studs they’d pulled from the wall that divided the den from the master bedroom and nailed across the opening.” It’s gotta be a hundred degrees in here, Pop,” Dave complained.
    “It’ll cool off in a couple of hours after the sun goes down. Just keep wiping off with the wet towel,” Jack offered.
    “How about I take a ride? It’ll cool me down. I can go to town and find out what’s going on out there,” Dave begged.
    “No. We wait here for the Sheriff to get word to us. It’s too dangerous out there,” Jack insisted.
    They were interrupted by a knock at the door.
    Dave looked out the window as Jack looked through the peephole in the door. It was Mike Stevens and his daughter Betty. Jack called through the door, “What do you want?”
    “Can we come in Jack?” Mike asked.
    “I can hear you fine through the door! Now, what do you want?” Jack insisted.
    “Have you got any water?” Mike asked.
    “None to spare,” Jack answered.
    “Please Jack, we’re dying! We need water! Could you at least let me borrow your motorcycle, so I can go to town and get some?” Mike begged.
    “I don’t loan my bike to anybody! Sorry, Mike,” Jack answered.
    “Look asshole! Everybody knows you’re a big, hotshot, shooting champ, so we’ve let you be - until now - but you gotta do something for us! You can’t shoot us all!” Mike threatened.
    “Look, Mike. I already told you we ain’t got any extra water and I ain’t gonna lend out our only transportation. I don’t take kindly to threats. In fact, if you don’t get off my property in the next ten seconds, I’ll kill you. And, if I ever see you again - even if you’re a block away - I’ll kill you!” Jack warned.
    “I’m sorry, Jack! I don’t know what came over me! I didn‘t mean nothin’ by it!” Mike apologized.
    “Just get off my property and stay off, or so help me God, Mike, if I ever see you again - I’ll shoot first and I never miss!” Jack warned again.
    “Dave!” Betty called through the door.
    “Go away, Betty!” Jack answered.
    “I want to talk to Dave!” Betty insisted.
    “What is it?” Dave answered through the open window.
    Betty ran to the window and leaned in through the gap in the boards. “Do you still want to take me on a date?” she asked coyly.
    “I thought you didn’t want to go out with me,” Dave replied.
    “A girl can change her mind, can’t she?” Betty insisted.
    “I’m not allowed to leave the house and, besides, where would we go?” Dave replied.
    “Someplace where we could be alone,” Betty whispered and winked with a wide seductive smile.
    Just then, Jack slammed the window shut, closed the curtain before he returned to the door and opened it. Jack stepped out on the porch and leveled the shotgun at Mike. “At this range, it’s too easy. Aren’t you gonna run? Heck, I’ll give you a head start of a count to ten!” Jack offered.
    “Common. Jack! Can’t you see our two kids are in love?” Mike offered.
    “One, two, three…” Jack began.
    On “three” Mike and his daughter, Betty, turned and ran down the walk, cut across the lawn and didn’t stop running until they were home.
    “Ah, Pop! What did you go and do that for? I don’t wanna die a virgin!” Dave complained.
    “You don’t want a girl like that, son,” Jack warned.
    “No, Pop, you’re wrong! That’s exactly the kind of girl I want!” Dave assured.
    “Look, son, that girl just wants our water and she’s willing to sell herself for it,” Jack insisted.
    “Why don’t we share our water? We got plenty,” Dave asked.
    “First off, we don’t have plenty of water, second, if we share our water with them they’ll tell everybody we have extra water to spare, then, everybody will be at our door. If we share our water with everybody, we’ll all die. And, if they find out we have water and we don’t share it with them, they’ll do what they can to take it. So, no, we can’t share our water,” Jack concluded sadly.
    Another week went by with no word from the Sheriff. The lack of information was causing people to panic, so several of the neighbors decided to attempt to make the long fifteen mile walk into town. Dave asked his father if he could go into town and find out what was going on, but again, his father refused “It’s just too dangerous, son. Let’s give it another week and, then, I’ll go,” Jack advised.
    The pair watched as Mike kissed his wife and followed the crowd down the street headed to town. Dave lingered at the window, he couldn’t take his eyes off Betty and wondered if he could sneak out and meet up with her.
    When he saw his son in a trance looking out the window, Jack called out from the kitchen, “Don’t even think about it! She’s nothing but trouble!” Jack was cutting-down the thin slices of dried beef he’d cut, salted and hung three days earlier. He nibbled on a piece as he called out to his son. “Hey, Dave! The jerky’s ready! You want a piece? It’s not bad - really!”
    Dave replied only after Betty went inside, “Sure, Pop, I’ll be right there.” As he was about to turn away, Dave noticed an old truck pulling a large trailer down the street.
    Then, he heard a horn followed by a loud amplified voice, “Attention! Attention! Gather ’round!” The truck turned around at the cul-de-sac and stopped halfway down the block.
    “Hey, Pop! Come here!” Dave yelled.
    “What is it?” Jack asked.
    “The Sheriff’s here!” Dave replied.
    They tucked their pistols into their waistbands and went outside. As the two joined the gathering crowd, the Sheriff, using a plastic megaphone, addressed the crowd. “First off, if anybody needs immediate medical attention, please bring them out!” the Sheriff began.
    Several people ran to their homes.
    “All right! From what the Army told us - a solar flare caused a powerful EMP - responsible for a worldwide blackout and subsequent electronic failures. We set up several emergency shelters throughout town and are here to provide transportation for those who can’t walk the fifteen miles to town. Be forewarned, the water and, especially, the food situation in town is bleak at best. We have several people working on a backup generator to get the water pump working, but without the necessary parts, the prognosis is not good, but we hope to remedy the situation. I formed a Posse, they took our only other working vehicle back to the Army base to try to get a working generator and as much food as they can possibly bring back. If they can’t get supplies there, they’ll press on all the way to Barstow if they have to!” the Sheriff informed the crowd.
    As the sick and frail were helped onto the trailer, Mike hopped on to help his wife climb up, the Sheriff punched him in the gut and pushed him to the ground. “I’ll only say this one more time, only the sick and old will get a ride! If you can walk, you will walk!” the Sheriff warned.
    “What about the dead?” someone called out.
    “You’ll have to bury them yourself. I can’t spare a single man,” the Sheriff replied solemnly.
    “When’s the power going to come back on?” someone else yelled.
    The Sheriff addressed the crowd with the megaphone again, “Maybe I didn’t make myself clear the first time - the solar flare, that struck earth, was a life changing event. It will likely be years before some power is restored and, very likely, most of us won’t be alive to realize it!” With that, the Sheriff hopped off the trailer and got into the cab of the antique truck.
    Jack was petting a stray dog as he watched the truck and trailer turn the corner and the group of neighbors walking behind. Mike’s wife was helping her injured husband home and the rest of the crowd began to dissipate when Betty approached Dave.
    “Hey there…” Betty began.
    “Hey,” Dave replied.
    “The Petersons went to town yesterday,” Betty informed.
    “I know. I saw them go,” Dave replied.
    “You know what that means?” Betty said with a smile.
    “That they’re already in town?” Dave answered.
    “No, silly! Their house is empty. I’ll be hanging out there at midnight. I’ll be all alone if you want to know,” Betty teased.
    “Let’s go, son,” Jack interrupted the pair, grabbing Dave by the arm and dragging him off.
    “But, Pop!” Dave protested.
    “Don’t, ‘but, pop’ me! I already told you, once, that girl is trouble. Now stay away from her!” Jack scolded.
    When they got home Dave slumped down in front of the open sliding glass door and put his head on one of the boards.
    Jack went into the pantry, grabbed two warm beers and opened them before handing one to his son. “Well, son, what do you think? Do you want to go to town and die with the rest of ’em or stay here and take our chances?” Jack asked earnestly.
    “What do we do when the water runs out?” Dave asked.
    “If we’re careful, our water will last us for months and we can always take the bike and make a water run. No, the problem we face now is food,” Jack answered.
    “You mean we’ll starve to death?” Dave asked.
    “Not if were willing to change our diets we won’t,” Jack assured.
    “What do you mean?” Dave asked fearing the answer.
    “There’s plenty of food in the desert, it’s just not all that appetizing and definitely something that’ll take some time to get used to,” Jack answered honestly.
    “Like what?” Dave insisted.
    “Well, for starters, I have good news. It’s coming on summer, so all the cactuses will be in bloom. Most of ’em will flower and some of ’em will have fruit - all of which is edible. Then there’s the cactuses themselves - several varieties are edible, especially, the prickly pear,” Jack assured.
    “What about protein?” Dave asked.
    “That’s where we’ll have to move outside our comfort zones. Sure, there are lots of Jackrabbits and I can’t see a bird getting by us, but that won’t be enough. No, if we want to survive, we’ll have to add field mice, pack rats, lizards and, the occasional, snake to our diets,” Jack warned.
    “Might as well as eat the dog the Petersons left behind when they went to town,” Dave replied sarcastically.
    “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that, but you were so busy, sniffin’ up that girl, you didn’t give me a chance,” Jack replied.
    “I was just kidding, Pop! I don’t want to eat Rocky! I like that dog!” Dave defended.
    “No, I don’t want to eat him either. When I saw him begging in the street, he looked really bad off, so I think we should take him in because that German Shepherd could be an asset. Rocky can stand watch and help us hunt, we’ll have to share our food and water with him, but he’ll earn his keep, I’m sure of it,” Jack suggested.
    “Fine, by me, Pop, I always wanted a dog,” Dave agreed.
    “All right, that’s settled. Finish your beer, go get Rocky and bring him home,” Jack ordered with a smile.
    It was nearly midnight and Dave was sitting with Rocky at the sliding glass door. “Hey, Pop? I’m gonna take Rocky for a walk!” Dave shouted to his father in the other room.
    “Okay, but don’t stay out long and don’t wander too far. Oh, yeah, don’t forget to take a pistol!” Jack reminded.
    Dave stopped in front of the Petersons’ house and Rocky pulled at the rope. “Calm down boy! You don’t live there anymore!” Dave said. He noticed the curtains move and saw Betty looking out the window. Before he could consider the consequences of his actions, he was already making his way to the door. When the door opened, Dave picked-up the pace, dragging poor Rocky along.
    When he was in the house, Betty closed the door behind them and Dave just stood there in the dark and had no idea what to say or do.
    After a few minutes went by, Betty took Dave by the hand and led him into the living room. Once there, she spun him around, grabbed him and kissed him. As Dave’s whole world began to turn to mush and form a puddle in his shoes, Betty pulled him down on top of her as she fell back onto the couch.
    Dave opened his eyes to see if this was really happening and caught movement next to him. Dave thought it was Rocky and was about to shoo him away when he saw shoes. That was the last thing he remembered - when he came to, Dave found himself tied up in a closet.
    kellory likes this.
  7. C.T.Horner

    C.T.Horner Monkey

    Bug In-Chapter 3
    Jack checked his watch again and saw that it was a quarter past midnight. Dave had been gone for thirty minutes and he was beginning to worry. He donned his shell belt, filled the pouch with cut shells and tucked his Colt 44 into his waistband before grabbing his prized Ithaca.
    Jack locked the front door, made his way across the lawn and headed for the Stevens’ house. Once he was on the porch, he rapped the barrel of the shotgun on the door. Mike Stevens opened the door and asked him what he wanted.
    “Where’s Dave?” Jack demanded.
    “How should I know?” Mike replied startled.
    “Cut the crap, Mike! I know Betty lured him over here!” Jack accused.
    “That’s bullshit!” Mike insisted as he turned and called out for Betty. When there was no reply, Mike made his way down the hall and burst into Betty’s room - only to find her missing as well. Jack had followed Mike and the two stood in the girl’s bedroom staring at each other. “What now, hot shot?” Mike asked.
    Jack thought about it for a second then, abruptly left the house.
    He made his way up the block calling out for Dave, with Mike, hot on his heels, calling out for Betty. Halfway up the block they noticed Rocky sitting on the front porch of the Petersons’ house. Jack thought that the dog must’ve gone home when he was separated from Dave. But how were they separated? Jack thought to himself as the pair made their way back down the block, calling out for their children.
    “Let’s split up - we can cover more ground that way,” Mike offered.
    “All right. I’ll go east you take west,” Jack agreed
    Betty heard her father calling for her as she struggled with the ropes that bound her. She tried to cry out, but the gag, in her mouth, made it too difficult.
    The man, at the window, peeked through the curtain and whispered to his partner, “I say we take our loot and go now - while we can.”
    “No way! I’m gettin’ me some first!” the second man insisted.
    “Well you’d better make it quick! There are two men out there and it’s only a matter of time before they start going door-to-door!”
    The man approached Betty, who was tied-up, on the floor. He dropped down and began pulling her pants off while the other man watched.
    Betty kicked and screamed, but the rag in her mouth only allowed muffled her cries.
    “Help me!” the rapist implored his partner.
    You wanted to get you some - go ahead. After you soften her up, I’ll take my turn,” the other replied.
    As the rapist struggled to get Betty’s pants to her knees, Rocky began to bark and lunge at the closed front door. “Shut that dog up!” the rapist ordered his partner.
    Jack heard Rocky barking and thought that maybe the dog was trying to tell him something, so he turned around and ran back to the Petersons’ house. As he approached, he saw a man open the door and kick violently at the dog.
    “Hold it right there!” Jack ordered as he approached with the shotgun in his hands.
    The man was startled by Jack and took a shot at him with the Colt that he’d taken away from Dave.
    Jack hit the deck and returned fire, splintering the door jam with the first round and putting a huge hole in the door with the second.
    The man slammed the door shut and retreated into the house.
    Jack couldn’t believe he’d missed, he almost never missed, but he’d never been shot at before either. He was a retired librarian and had never been in a fistfight, let alone a gunfight. Jack quickly reloaded and made his way to the side of the house to look in, through a window.
    What he saw made his blood boil. He saw Betty tied up on the floor with her pants down around her ankles. As he scanned the room, he also noticed two men were hiding behind the upturned dining room table, but there was no sign of Dave in the room.
    Mike called out to Jack from behind a car in the driveway.
    Jack signaled for him to come forward and, as the two knelt at the window, Mike begged Jack to give him a gun when he saw his daughter on the floor.
    “Can you handle a single-action cap and ball?” Jack asked in a whisper.
    “I sure can!” Mike lied in order to get the gun and save his daughter. In fact, other than water pistols and cap guns, Mike had never fired a real gun in his life. But, he’d seen it done on TV and in the movies, so he figured he’d be all right.
    When Mike had the pistol, he made his way to the front door and tried the handle. It turned easily, so he pushed the door open and made his way down the hall holding the heavy revolver in front of him.
    Dave had managed to free his hands and was untying his feet when he heard the shots. When he was free, he quietly opened the closet door holding a nine iron he’d found in the closet. Dave made his way across the bedroom, opened the door and looked down the hall.
    When he decided it was all was clear, he made his way to the staircase, quietly crept down the stairs and peeked into the dining room. Dave saw the backs of two men, hiding behind the upturned dining room table. He also saw Betty on the floor, tied up with her pants around her ankles and got angrier than he’d ever been before in his life.
    Just as he was about to attack the pair crouching on the floor, Mike entered the living room and pointed a gun at the pair behind the table. “Drop it!” Mike demanded.
    But, rather than drop the gun, the man opened fire.
    Mike stood his ground and squeezed the trigger, but nothing happened. He repeatedly squeezed at the trigger, in vain. Mike had no idea he had to cock the revolver before it would fire.
    When he realized Mike wasn’t going to fire, Dave leapt over the banister and wildly swung the nine iron.
    The man with the pistol turned and leveled the gun on Dave, but before he could fire, he was struck in the back by two quick shots, which obliterated his spine.
    The second man grabbed Dave’s club and the two wrestled on the ground for control.
    Jack was afraid to take another shot as he watched his son and the assailant roll around on the floor. Mike was down and, it looked like he’d been shot, so Jack made his way to the front door to help Dave.
    The rapist got the better of Dave and had him in a side-mount, delivering blows to his face and head.
    Betty kicked at the rapist and, when he brought his arms up to block the kicks, it gave Dave the opportunity to roll out to regain his feet. The rapist turned his attention to Betty, so Dave dropped down and reengaged him on the floor. Dave managed to get the attacker in a headlock and he squeezed with everything he had. Then, the sickening sound of bone breaking frightened him, so much, he let go, but, it was too late - the man was dead.
    Jack ran to his son to help him up, but Dave pulled away, went to Betty’s aid and pulled a cushion from the couch to cover her with it before untying her.
    When Jack realized his son was all right, he turned his attention to Mike, who was trying to stop the bleeding on his hip. “Stick your finger in the hole!” Jack ordered as he ran to the kitchen for a towel. When he returned, he pressed the towel over Mike’s hand. “Can you feel the bullet?” Jack asked.
    “I think so,” Mike replied before he passed out.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
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  8. C.T.Horner

    C.T.Horner Monkey

    Bug In-Chapter 4
    Jack and Dave carried Mike home. They laid him on his dining room table, gathered all the medical supplies they had and thought they would need. Meanwhile, Mike’s wife, Susan, was out back, boiling what little water they had left on the barbeque. Mike came-to when Jack was cutting his pants off. “Here bite on this!” Jack said as he pulled a leather wallet from the cut up jeans and stuffed it into Mike’s mouth.
    Dave returned from the Swanson’s house with a package of diapers. “I had to break a window,” Dave explained as he tore open the package and set the diapers out on the sideboard.
    Jack took one, pulled the towel from Mike’s wound and replaced it with a diaper. As soon as Susan brought in a pot of boiling water, Jack tossed the tweezers and knife he would need into it. After three minutes, he picked them out with a pair of kitchen tongs and laid them on an open diaper on the table next to Mike. “All right, Mike, here we go. Now, I know this is gonna hurt like Hell, but I’ve never done anything like this before, so you have to hold still or it will only get worse,” Jack warned.
    Mike nodded in agreement.
    “Okay Susan, climb on the table and sit on his chest. Now Mike, intertwine your fingers through your hair clasping your hands together. Betty, you hold his hands there and Dave you hold his legs,” Jack instructed.
    When everybody was in their place, Jack made an incision across the hole in Mike’s hip cutting through several layers of skin. Then, he used the tip of the knife to probe for the bullet. When Jack felt the bullet, he went in after it with the tweezers. As blood flowed from the hole, he used more diapers to mop it up. When Jack had the bullet out, he stuffed some gauze in the hole and everybody took a break. While his helpers relaxed their muscles, Jack threaded the needle and soaked it in rubbing alcohol for a few seconds. When he was ready, he went back to the table and announced to the group, “You’re all doing great! Now, let’s go for round two.” When Jack had the wound stitched up and the blood was only dripping out, he cleaned the area with alcohol and slathered on a layer of triple-antibiotic cream before dressing it. When Jack was all through, Susan comforted her husband.
    Jack told Dave and Betty to go door-to-door and look for some antibiotics - anything was better than nothing he supposed. “If you’re sure no one is home, go ahead and break a window, if you have to. It’ll be all right,” Jack assured Dave.
    When the pair returned with several partially filled bottles of antibiotics, Dave informed his father that they had run into Mister Ferguson, while he was burying his wife in his backyard. “He told us that we’re the only people left in the neighborhood. He was digging an awfully, wide grave, Pop. He asked me to ask you to come over when you get a chance. He wants to talk to you,” Dave informed his father. Dave wanted to go with his father back to the Ferguson’s house, but Jack insisted Dave needed to stay and look after the women.
    Jack took his time as he walked down the block. He was afraid he knew what Old Charlie Ferguson wanted to talk to him about and wondered if he could do it.
    Jack rounded the house and found Mister Ferguson standing on his back patio arranging items on the table. “Thanks for coming,” Ferguson offered as he held out his hand for Jack. The two shook hands and Ferguson held on. “Look Jack, I know I don’t have the right to ask you to do this, but you’re the only one I can ask,” the old man concluded.
    Jack closed his eyes as they began to swell with tears, nodded in agreement and let go of the old man’s hand.
    Mister Ferguson picked up his 30-06 from the table and chambered a round before handing it to Jack. Then he walked over and climbed into the hole, lay down next to his wife and covered himself with the same sheet. As Jack stood over the grave with the rifle, Ferguson reached around the sheet and placed a yellow, macramé coaster over his heart before tucking his arm back under the sheet.
    When Jack had the hole filled-in, he drove the wooden marker he found beside the pile of dirt into the mound. It had a crudely carved placard, “Charles and Edna Ferguson - Together Forever.” Jack reflected over the grave for a moment before walking over to the patio table to sit down.
    He opened the bottle of scotch and filled the single glass that, he was certain, the old man had left for him. He downed the glass in two gulps before he surveyed the other items on the table. There was a .45 Colt 1911 semiautomatic pistol, several boxes of ammunition - both for the .45 and for the rifle - and a note, that simply said, “Thank you.”
    Another week went by and Mike showed signs of improvement.
    Jack and Dave went house-to-house and salvaged what they could. Besides, some food and medical supplies, they were able to locate - and mark for collection later - five full water heaters.
    The group decided to conserve the dry goods they had and began supplementing their diets with what they could gather in the desert.
    One day, while Dave and Betty were out picking prickly pear fruit with Rocky, they saw a pickup truck with several armed men in the bed of the truck turn off the main road and enter their subdivision. The two crouched down in the cactus patch and Dave held Rocky’s muzzle shut while they discussed what they should do.
    Jack heard the truck before he saw it. He tucked the .45 into his waistband and grabbed the 30-06 before slipping out the side door. Jack made his way around to the back of the house and climbed the ladder up to the roof. Jack watched the truck turn around in the cul-de-sac and stop in the middle of the street.
    The men hopped out of the truck, formed a tight little group and, after several minutes passed, they split up into three teams of two and entered the houses at the end of the block.
    Jack watched and waited because he had no idea what they were doing.
    Several more minutes went by before one of the men came running out of the Ferguson’s house, shouting for the others to come as he went to the truck and removed two Jerry cans. The other two teams went to the truck and retrieved two Jerry cans each before following the first man into the Ferguson’s house.
    Jack watched helplessly as the men carried out the precious water and put the cans in their truck - there was nothing he could do - he couldn’t confront six armed men.
    When the men finished loading the truck, Jack counted twelve cans in all - and realized they had emptied the entire tank.
    Dave and Betty returned after the men left and Jack gathered everybody together for a meeting.
    “That was close!” Dave said with a sigh of relief.
    “We were lucky they only had twelve cans with them, but they’ll be back you can count on it,” Jack assured.
    “What’re we ganna do, Pop?” Dave asked.
    “We gotta hide what water we have left - before they come back!” Jack insisted.
    “How do we do that?” Susan interrupted.
    “We’ll have to work fast! We can pull empty water heaters out of some of the houses and bury them in the desert, then fill them with the water from the full ones,” Jack explained.
    “There are four water heaters left, Pop - that’ll take days,” Dave whined.
    “I don’t think we have days, in fact, we’ll be lucky if they don’t come back before tomorrow morning. So stop yakking and let’s get to work!” Jack ordered.
    They propped Mike up in a lounge chair in their back yard with a view of the main road. Jack rotated the cylinder of his Colt revolver, so the empty chamber would strike next and put a cap over the nipple. Then he showed Mike how to cock the revolver so it would fire. “Fire the gun when you see them coming. The sound of the cap will be enough for us to hear, no matter where we are,” Jack assured Mike before running to help his son pull out the empty water heaters.
    Dave and Jack pulled empty water heaters and moved them into a wash in the desert behind their house. Susan and Betty drained water from the full heaters and carried the buckets to fill the empty tanks once they were covered-over with sand in the wash.
    The four of them worked through the night and, as the first rays of dawn began to light the sky, Betty found herself pouring the last bucket of water into the funnel Dave held for her. “That’s the last of it!” Betty declared with a satisfied smile before slumping down on the sand. Dave plugged the hole in the tank with a tapered wine cork before helping her up. Betty kissed Dave, grabbed his hand and the two made their way back to the house to join their parents - who had collapsed next to Mike, an hour earlier.
    As if on cue, the truck returned with the rising sun. Jack woke to the sound of the Colt cocking, sat bolt upright, reached over and grabbed the pistol before Mike could fire the cap. The hammer caught Jack’s thumb on the way down and he let out a muffled cry as he sprung to his feet and shouted for Susan to wake up.
    “What do we do now?” Dave asked as he approached.
    “We grab Mike and the dog and we hide!” Jack insisted as he removed his bleeding thumb from the gun.
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  9. bagpiper

    bagpiper Heretic

    Excellent start sir.
    EMP (ala One Second After & Lights Out) is one of the scariest of all dystopic scenarios... and an excellent subject to get the survival juices flowing... now with that said.
    Q: have you ever written fiction before?
    It seems to jump just when it should slow down...
    The scene w/ Mr Ferguson and his wife... don't worry about pulling punches, you've already started a 'thriller' in a doomsday novel... so the reader should feel the sweat on Jacks brow as he aims the rifle at the old man, and pulls the trigger... then sweats with him as he fills the grave, thinking thoughts that relieve his guilt.
    To skip over such scenes, and not allow the reader to become part of the story and feel the sweat, blood and pain, is, well, a sin...

    write an outline, first. then SEE the scenes, SAY the scenes.
    hope this isn't offending you.
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  10. C.T.Horner

    C.T.Horner Monkey

    Bug In-Chapter 5
    The group watched as the truck left the subdivision and, once it was out of sight, they made their way out of the wash.
    Jack and Dave carried Mike to his home and put him on the couch while Susan went into the kitchen to fix them all a meal. They had been hiding in the wash for eight hours and they were all hungry. “They took our food!” Susan cried when she got to the kitchen and saw the cupboards open with pots and pans strewn across the floor.
    Dave headed for the door before Jack could tell him to go home and check their kitchen. Five minutes later, Dave returned looking sick and told the group that the men had cleaned them out too - there wasn’t a crumb left. Betty began to cry and Dave took her in his arms and tried to comfort her.
    “Well it’s not all bad news. Since they cleaned us out, it’s unlikely they’ll be back,” Jack offered as he headed out the back door.
    Jack walked twenty yards into the desert, took out his pocketknife, stopped in front of a prickly pear cactus and used his knife to trim the needles from a pad. When he had them all cut-off, Jack grabbed the pad and sliced it from the plant. He laid the thorn-free pad on a rock and repeated the process until he had twenty pads, stacked them like saucers and made his way back into the house.
    Once in the kitchen, he picked up a large pan from the floor, put it on the counter and dropped the pads in the sink. One at a time, he trimmed the edge and carefully cut away the skins on the cutting board. Then, he cut the pads into strips and put them in the pan with some water from his canteen. He found the saltshaker on the floor, salted the water liberally, and finally, Jack took the pan outside to put it on the grill.
    “Are you sure that’s edible? Because I’ve been staring at that cactus for two years and I don’t think it’s edible,” Susan insisted.
    “Not only is it edible it tastes like green beans - that’s why I cut it into strips so it will look like green beans,” Jack assured her as he stirred the “green beans.”
    Jack continued to add water, a little at a time, just to keep the cactus from sticking to the bottom of the pan and, when they were tender enough to cut with the spoon, he declared them done and took the pan back into the kitchen to divide them onto six plates.
    Rocky gulped his down in a few bites and Jack and Mike ate theirs with the same vigor. Betty and Dave poked at theirs, while Susan took a brave mouthful, to encourage her daughter and, to her surprise, they did taste just like green beans - just a little slimy! Dave ate half his plate and gave the rest to a grateful Rocky. Betty toughed it out and cleaned her plate.
    The following morning, Dave went out for a hunt with Betty and Rocky, while Jack went over to the Nickelson’s house. Tom Nickelson had a workshop that was the envy of the neighborhood, but he had never lent his tools to anybody.
    Jack smiled as he opened the garage. “If you have a problem with me using your tools, say something now, Tom!” he announced to the empty garage with a wide grin as he entered the shop. Jack put the box of things he’d gathered on the work bench and unloaded the contents before going to work. After three hours, and two cuts on his hands, he stepped back to admire his work. Jack had never worked in metal before and he learned the hard way that he had to watch out for the fresh cut edges.
    Jack stepped out the side door, looked around the ground and picked up small pieces of dried branches that had fallen from a dying tree. When he had a hand full, he went back in and stuffed the lot into his wood-gasification stove. Jack said a prayer before he lit some paper and dropped it on the pile of sticks. After several minutes went by, the fire was going good and strong and Jack held his breath to wait for the blue flame of the wood gas to emerge. Just when he was about to call his project a failure, the flame went from yellow to blue in an instant. “Now were cooking with gas!” Jack exclaimed.
    Dave and Betty returned with four big Jackrabbits. “I’m so proud of him, Mom, he got them all on the first try!” Betty declared as they entered the house.
    “You want me to clean them Misses Stevens?” Dave asked as he put the rabbits in the sink.
    “No, I can manage - I’ve skinned a rabbit or two in my time. Would you just get the pruning shears from the shed for me? Then, could you start a fire in the yard? I collected a bunch of dried wood while you were hunting,” Susan insisted as she pulled one of the hares from the sink. When the rabbits were all skinned, Susan used the garden shears to remove the feet, put one aside for luck, then spread the rabbits open and rubbed them with some of the fresh sage, she grew in the yard and salted them down. Then she laid them on the grill grate that she’d removed from their barbeque.
    When Susan was finished, she went out in the yard and removed the bricks that lined the pavers on her walkway, stacked them around the fire and put the grill full of rabbits on the bricks. “I hope you like your rabbit well done, because I’m not taking any chances,” Susan informed the pair holding hands as Dave poked the fire.
    Meanwhile, Jack was collecting more firewood when he found two buckets of prickly pear fruit that Dave and Betty had collected two days earlier, took them back to the shop and went to work. First, he burned-off the tiny, hair-like thorns and then smashed the cleaned fruit with a potato masher. After straining the mush twice, through a fine strainer, Jack put the pot on his wood gas stove and cooked the mush down to a thick syrup. While the syrup was cooking, he took a bowl from the kitchen, went to the desert behind Nickelson’s house to pluck cactus flowers and filled the bowl. When he returned to the shop, to feed wood into the stove, he found Mike standing at the bench, leaning on a walker.
    “What’s this?” Mike asked.
    “Dessert,” Jack replied.
    “Good, because dinner’s ready and everybody’s waiting on you,” Mike replied as he turned and slowly made his way out the door, using the walker to help him stay on his feet.
    “Right behind you!” Jack called out, grabbing the pot of syrup and bowl of flowers.
    The five sat at the Stevens’ dining room table with Rocky waiting impatiently at their feet. But, before they dug in, Susan placed an empty bowl on the table. “This is for the bones and anything you don’t eat. I’ll make some broth with it - we can’t afford to waste a single nutrient!” Susan insisted.
    When they’d finished the rabbit, Jack poured some of the syrup onto the flowers and tossed it together before plating it up.
    After dinner, Dave and Betty took Rocky for a walk, while Jack joined Mike and Susan on the patio. “Dinner was great!” Mike complimented.
    “Thanks, but don’t expect all of our meals to be like that. We can’t live on rabbit alone. If we don’t get some fat in our diet we could die of ‘rabbit starvation,’” Jack assured.
    “What’s rabbit starvation?” Mike asked.
    “It’s because of the lack of real nutrition and calories in rabbit and, generally, it occurs when the majority of your diet consists of rabbit,” Jack explained.
    “So what do we do?” Mike asked.
    “I’m way ahead of you Mike. I’ve found a dozen rat traps. I’ll use the syrup I saved to bait them and I’ll set them tonight. First, I need to find some wire,” Jack informed him.
    “What do you need wire for? Are you gonna set some snares?” Mike followed.
    “No the wire is to tie the traps down, so another predator doesn’t carry our trap off with our kill if they beat us to the traps,” Jack answered.
    Mike fell asleep in the lounge chair and Susan followed Jack into the living room. “Would you like to have sex?” Susan asked Jack.
    “What? Jack replied.
    “I see the way you look at me and I think you’re sexy too,” Susan confessed as she pulled him close.
    He could feel her warm breath on his neck and it drove him crazy. “What about Mike?” Jack asked.
    But, Susan wouldn’t relent. She stuck her tongue in his ear and it sent a shock wave of pleasure through his entire body. Jack tried to pull away, but he was unable to move. It was as if he was paralyzed and, as Susan worked his ear, it stirred up carnal feelings he hadn’t felt in years.
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  11. C.T.Horner

    C.T.Horner Monkey

    Bug In-Chapter 6
    NOOOOO!!!” Jack managed to yell as he bolted upright. He looked around and Susan was gone. Then, he realized he was alone, in the lounge chair, on the patio, with Rocky panting away besides him. He slumped back in the lounge chair and Rocky went back to licking his ear. “That’s enough of that!” Jack scolded as he pushed the dog away.
    For the next couple of weeks, Jack foraged while Dave and Betty took Rocky and hunted. Each time they went out, they had to go further and further to find game. One day, while they were out hunting, they saw a windmill and decided to check it out. When they got to the site, they discovered a water trough at the base. The windmill turned slowly in the mild breeze and a narrow stream of water trickled out adding water to the trough. Scattered all around the area were piles of cow poop - most of it was dried-out and old, but some of it was fresh.
    Dave was dipping his bandana in the water to mop his face and cool down when the dirt beside him splattered - followed by the sound of a shot. The two hit the ground and took cover behind the water trough. Dave removed the safety from his Rugger 10-22 and used the scope to look for the shooter. He didn’t see the shooter, but he did see a saddled horse tied to a mesquite tree. “We don’t want any trouble. We’re just out hunting rabbits!” Dave called out to the would-be sniper.
    “Well you already bought you a whole mess of trouble by stealing my water!” a voice called back.
    “We didn’t steal any water!” Dave defended.
    “I seen ya with my own two eyes. You’re not only a thief, but you’re a liar to boot!” the man accused.
    “Well, sure, I dipped my bandana in - but that’s all!” Dave assured.
    “Stealin’ is stealin’, and a thief is a thief!” the man accused.
    “So what are you gonna do now - murder us?” Dave asked.
    “If I wanted ya dead - you’d already be dead boy!” the man insisted.
    “So what do you want?” Dave asked.
    “Well since ya asked, and all… I could use a hand,” the man replied.
    The sun was setting and Jack was beginning to worry because the kids hadn’t returned. “Do you suppose someone should go out and look for them?” Susan asked.
    “No it’ll be dark soon, so if they not back by morning, I’ll go and look for them,” Jack assured.
    No sooner did Jack finish his sentence, than the two burst into the house in frenzied excitement. Dave dropped a heavy burlap sack on the table, removed a smoked ham and Betty emptied limes from her pockets. While Dave was explaining where they got the food, Betty sliced small pieces from the ham and handed them out.
    Susan asked Betty why she and Dave weren’t having any.
    “We couldn’t eat another bite - we’re both stuffed! Misses Jackson makes the best biscuits and the potato salad was the best I’d ever eaten, but the peach cobbler was to die for!” Betty explained.

    “Who’s Misses Jackson?” Jack interrupted.
    Dave leaned back in the chair, exposing his distended belly and explained the whole thing. How, after they first met Mister Jackson, he asked Dave to help him round up his cattle, he’d lost several to poachers and intended on keeping the few head he had left. His brother broke his leg and Jackson was struggling to round up the cows alone. Dave also agreed to return the next day, and every day after that, until Mister Jackson’s brother could walk again. In return for the work, Jackson agreed to pay him with food. “They’re ‘Preppers,’ Pop! They’ve got everything! The house even has solar power with a swamp cooler on the roof. The canyon, they live in, is hard to find and easy to defend. Heck, he said those guys who stole our water tried that on him and he buried all six of ’em!” Dave explained.
    “Aren’t Preppers those crazy hoarders?” Mike asked.
    “If you think living comfortably while everybody else struggles just to stay alive, secure in the knowledge your family is safe and taken care of and not hiding in a hole for fear you’ll be discovered! Or, if you think eating delicious, normal, everyday food rather than rat and cactus is crazy, then I wish we were crazy like them!” Dave concluded.
    Shameless pandering to follow, so stop reading if you like.
    If you enjoyed this short story, please check out my survival series, Corporate Survival, available on Kindle.
    You can copy and paste the link below or just search Kindle for Corporate Survival by C.T. Horner.
    Thanks for your support! - C.T. Horner
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