I started this story on another forum and some of it is only save by a cut and paste from there so the early parts of it may look a bit strange but it will clear up as it goes. It is also a work in progress so chapters will be added as I have time and come up with them especialy if there seems to be much intrest in them. Hope you enjoy and maybe even that it gets you thinking. DISCLAIMER: This story is FICTION. The people and events discussed are fiction and any similarities to real persons are coincidental. The things mentioned in this story should not be attempted at home as they could result in death, sever bodily harm, imprisonment, deportation, angry neighbors, and lots of other nastie things. That said, use good sence and enjoy the story. *************************************************************************** Jack threw himself back to avoid the belts and blade of the running buzz saw and landed on the ground with a thud. His heart was pounding as he thought of the arm he might have lost, or worse, if he had fallen forward, and as he calmed himself he asked his dad, "What the hell was that?" "I don't know," Frank responded, "Are you O.K.?" "Yeah, just lost balance as I tossed that log off. The flash or whatever it was got me distracted," Jack said as he picked himself up. Frank pushed in the throttle and shut down the saw. "Lets go in and get a drink, thats about the last of the wood anyway." Frank had grown up useing the buzzsaw with his father to cut cordwood, mow brush, buck up logs and so forth with his father in thier tree business but Jack had alwayse been a little nervose around that 3' circular saw blade with no guard, being run by an 8 hp motor and the thought of what could so easily happen. However Jack had been out of work for a while and needed to borrow the saw and splitter to cut wood and make some extra money as well as to get the wood to heat his own home in the winter. It was only spring but he wanted to get started now so as to be ready. Frank agreed to let him borrow them as long as Jack came up and helped get his wood worked up first. Frank lived in K.C. and had a wood burning furnace. He got his wood free from the local tree companies who liked haveing a free place to dump the wood but it was in pieces of whatever sizes they could carryand so still had to be worked up. Jack lived in the country about 80 miles away near the airbase and was glad for the chance to work beside his ageing father. They got in the house and Frank reached over to flip on the light as they went into the kitchen, but nothing happened. "Hmm, guess it must be burned out. Lets grab a drink then we can change it out," Frank said. Jack opened the fridge and noticed the light didnt come on. "Looks like it must be a breaker," he said as he grabbed 2 sodas, "the fridge is out too." They went to the basement to the breaker box, but at the top of the stairs they noticed that the other lights were out too. Jack began to feel a bit uneasy as he knew the flash had been no transformer and the lights were out all of a sudden, the two must be connected but he wasnt sure how. Frank decided to call the neighbors and see if thier power was off too. When he picked up the phone it was dead too. "Well, phones out, lets go out front and see if anyone knows whats going on." Frank said. The two went out to the front yard and saw the neighbor standing in the street looking under the hood of his car. "Car trouble Mike?" Frank called as they went over. "Dont know whats going on. There was a flash in the sky and the car just died." Jack and Frank looked at each other and both began to realize that something was wrong. "The power and phones are out too," Frank said, "Well, dont know whats going on but do you want a hand pushing the car back into the drive?" "Apreciate it," Mike said. They pushed the car into Mikes drive and after chatting for a bit Jack and Frank decidedto walk over a couple blocks to the hiway to see if the same thing was happening there. As they got to the top of the hill they saw what they feared, cars all along 435 stalled. Some had coasted to the shoulder and several were in the middle lanes. "Whats going on," Jack asked. "I dont know, butit dosnt look good." They noticed a semi trying to make its way between the cars and wondered if that meant that the van would run since it was desil also. Back at the house they found that the van would indeed start and decided to turn on the radio and see what was going on, but nothing but static came through the old radio. "I dont know just whats going on, but it looks like its wide spread and I dont like it. I get the feeling it may not be going away real soon iether," Frank said. "Well if this is widespread and lasts, things are gonna get bad around here," Jack repl;ied, "You think we should get some stuff togather and head down to my place?" "I'm thinking it may be a good idea and I think just to be on the safe side we should assume it could last. Since 9-11 and with us at war this could be the start of something bas," Frank said. Frank pulled the van around into the back yard by the big shed and they hooked the 20' trailer onto it that Frank used to haul his cargo canoe. Jack decided to go see if the new splitter still started, but unfortinatly it didnt. "Well dad looks like the splitter is down but I think we should grab the buzz saw." "Yeah, might not hurt to grab the welder and tools too. We'll also want the guns, reloading stuff, camping gear, and I'll gather up the canned stuff from the basement." Frank said. Jack asked, "Do you still have those nets from when we used to fish the river comercial?" [ Added: Sun Jul 31, 2005 6:47 am ] "Yeah, thier in the shed. Those could be good to have and those old bodark bow blanks from when I used to make bows are in there too, might as well bring them too." The two gathered things and loaded the van and trailer down with all the things they thought might be needed and a few keep sakes. The van was stuffed by the time they were ready to go but an area had been set aside between the seats for the guns and loaded ammo. They decided to take surface roads over to 210 then go to 291 and take that to 50 so they would avoid the main interstates as much as possible. It took about 6 hours Rather than the normal 2 but they finally made it to the farm at near 3 a.m. As they got out of the van they heard a womans voice from the corner of the house, "That you Jack?" "Yeah Sue, Its me and dad," Jack replied. Sue stepped out with Jacks 20 ga. in one hand and Jack didn't miss the barel of the .270 sliding back in the window either, he knew that would be thier son Mark. "I wasnt expecting your dads van and knew it wasnt the truck from the sound so I slipped out the back and around the back to see what was going on. Greg next door was at Whitman running errands when it happened and his truck started running bad so while he was checking it out said he saw a big convoy of trucks leave the base towards the city. I guess he asked a guy there and they said that they were headed to the city, that there had been an EMP and they were going to help keep the peace." Jack asked, "Whats an EMP?" "I dont know exactly but Greg said it was something that shuts down anything with a computer chip. He said noone knew for sure what had caused it but that was what it seemed to be. He said that one of the guys said it might have been from the big solar flairs that have been happening lately." Jack said, "Well, I guess its a good thing we came down then." Sue replied with a little smile, "Its a real good thing. If you had stayed gone any longer than you had to and let me set here worrying I'ld have had to slap the crap out of you!" With a wink she turned to Frank, "How you doing dad? Have you guys eaten yet?" "Well a little on edge but as good as good as can be expected I suppose, could use a bite to eat though. You got anything going?" Frank asked. "Sure do, have a big pot of stew on the I made up from the stuff in the freezer. Sounds like the power will be off a while so Ive been canning and cooking as much of the stuff as possible from the freezer. Come on in and get some dinner, you all look beat." The next day all went out and unloaded the van and trailer takeing a closer look at what all had been brought and put it away. "We're going to have to fill the water tank today and figure out how we're goingto have water out here when the tower in town runs empty," Sue said, "Hauling it from town has only ben an inconvenience untill now but thats about to be out of the question." "Well," Jack started, "to start with we can run the down spouts from the gutters into the tank and put screen on the end to catch any gravel from the shingles and such and we can use some strips of tin on the barn to make gutters that can drain into barrels connected by some PVC. We can use the feed barrels or whatever. That should get us through the spring any how, but as little rain as we get in the summer, we'll have get a lot more storage or see if we can witch a shallow well around here that we can dig in the next couple of months. We wont have any way of sending the water in to be tested, so I I guess if we do that we'll have to water a few of the critters with it for a month or so and use it only for wash and such untill we make sure they do O.K. on it. Since we have the little generator we use to run the charger for trolling batteries on long fishing trips we could use one of the barrels on the roof as a water tower and run the generator for the pump to fill it as needed. We can also use it some of the time to run the freezer to freeze some food as well as ice so that we can use the foam ice chest and burry it to have an ice box." "It's been years since I've done any water witching," Frank said, "But I think I can probably still do it. I'll go find a branch and try it later. I think we may have a more pressing problem though, with you being right here on the blacktop I think we may have a lot of folks headed out of the city in a few days. Most of them are going to be hungry and some will be a lot more interested in what they can take than in what you can spare or trade." "Yeah," Jack sighed, "Ive been thinking about that too. We cant really fortify the whole property line to keep people out so I've been thinking more along the lines of setting up some kind of setting up some kind of alarm system for most of the area and move the old dinner bell out to the end of the drive so we can close the gate and post a sign that anyone wanting in needs to ring the bell and wait for an invitation then set up a surprise for those that ignore it." "What do you have in mind," Sue asked, "I'm still working it out but Im thinking some kind of noise cannon on a trip wire so that if anyone hits it it makes a loud enouph noise to let us know they're there and hopefuly scare them off or at least convince them to politely use the front gate." "Sounds good so far. What do we need to do," Frank asked, "Well we have a couple places we should go for some supplies. I hope the elevator has someone around still, and we need to go over to the amish bulk grocerystore." Said Jack. Frank asked, "What do we need?" Jack thought for a moment, "I know we should get some extra feed for the chickens and rabbits if we can to hold them over for at least a couple months so things have a blow over or at least settle down some. While we're there I also wanted to get at least a couple hundred pounds of potash. I know you've mentioned you used to mix it with sugar and use it to blow stumps and in more precise ways to split nasty logs, I figure it might come in handy. We can pick up two or three hundred pounds of sugar and a hundred or two of flour at the amish store to add to what we have and have extra sugar to go with the potash." Frank nodded, "Sounds like a plan, lets get the feed barrels loaded, we can dump them into a bin in the shed as soon as we get the time to build one so we can use the barrels for water." Sue asked, "What do you need Mark and I to do while you're gone, or did you want to take him with you?" Jack stopped for a moment, "No, I want him to stay with you, he's a good shot with the rifle and up close he can do O.K. with the .38. I'ld say you you should try to finish up with the canning, the food will be thawed soon and we cant afford to loose any of it. You should keep the shotgun handy and your rifle at the door just in case you need them. Mark, you wear my .38 and keep the .270 close at hand, it may not fast with being a bolt action but with the way youre able to shoot it at least each bullet will take its target. You'll need to keep your eyes open while you work and keep buck with you, his nose and barking should give advanced warning of any visitors, but get all the stock other than the guineas in thier pens. I want them up where we can want the critters up where we can keep an eye on them and the guineas are even better guard dogs than old Buck," Jack chuckled, "They'll start squackin and goin off soon as anything gets within a hundred yards night or day." "No problem dad," Mark said, doing his best to keep from showing how nervous he was. He was 15 and accustomed to carrying his shotgun or the .22 when he was out on the property, but he knew that today the main concern wasn't just snakes or coyotes. Jack looked at his son and told him, "Son I know this is rouph and I doubt there will be any need for shooting but have to be ready just in case. You know not to look for any fights but keep some room from anyone you don't know that comes around and be ready for whatever happens. Folks are gonna be scared and desperate, some who don't have what they need are gonna be looking to take it from who ever dose and if they take it from us we starve, and folks that wanna take have no regard for the wellbeing of others. If anyone shows up and seems to be friendly and needing or wanting something, keep them back a bit and call your mom out to deal with them, if they aint friendly tell them to get on down the road, call for your mom if you can and do whatever you have to do. We're in a different situation now than you're used to and in these kind of times, I'm sorry to put it on you, but I have to count on you and treat you as a man rather than a boy. We're all gonna have to come togather and carry our weight and I know you can and will do it. I'm counting on you to protect yourself, your mom and the farm, because I know your up to it, if I wasnt sure of you I'ld have you stay in the house with your mom but I know your man enouph to stand up and protect your family. O.K.?" "O.K., thanks dad," Mark said with a half hearted grin. Sue spoke up, "You boys better get going so you can get this stuff done and get back. We'll see ya when you get back." They were lucky, Jack had just cashed a checck the day before for some tree work he had done in the city a few days before so he had $750 and Frank alwayse kept a few hundred dollars stashed in his wallet and around the house, a habbit from his days as a trucker, so they had about $1500 between the two of them. When they got to the grain elevator in town the manager was there, he let them know that they couldnt do any business other than cash and couldnt mix any feed unless it was already mixed since the power was out. Jack said, "No problem Bob, I was Just needing 500 pounds of rabbit feed, 200 of potash, 1000 of cracked corn, 500 of rolled oats, and was also needing to get a few bottles of oxytetrocyclin, some blood clotting powder, and some other vet stuff off the shelves if thats o.k.. I know the scales wont be working but we've figured out these barrels are pretty close to 475 pounds each so if you want to run some corn out of the truck we can just fill the 2 and call it 1000." Bob thought for a minute, "I think we can handle that." He looked at Frank, "If you want to pull around to the dock we can load up the sacked feed and then get the potash and corn." Jack helped them load the bags then went in to get the vet supplies while Bob and Frank loaded the rest. He had been without insurance enouph to learn that antibiotics for cattle and some of the other things like utterbalm, blood clotting powder and sutcher kits worked just fine on people too in a pinch, and had been poor enouph to figure out that rolled oats was just oatmeal in a cattle feed bag, so he got a good supply of these and a few other items. When he was done he took the stuff out front where the light was a little better so they could add up the bill. Bob totaled it up on scratch parper and they settled the bill and stood around talking about what was going on for a bit then Frank and Jack headed out. They had to go right past the house anyway so Frank suggested that they stop and unload before going to the amish store. [ Added: Sun Jul 31, 2005 6:51 am ] Jack took no convincing, he knew Sue and Mark could take care of them selves but he had been through some times growing up in the city of haveing to be in the middle of gun fights and bad sceens, even if they could Jack just didnt want his family to have to go through that, especialy not without him there to take on the brunt of it and he just wanted to check on them. He knew that was probably a big part of why Frank had brought it up but niether of them needed to bring it up, besides, it was a good idea not to carry any more supplies than they were getting from one trip as if anything happened to them then the family would loose anything that was with the two of them. They got back to the farm and unloaded with Marks help. Jack made it a point not to ask if anything happened or show any concern, after the talk he had with Mark he didn't want to let it seem that he was checking up on him. Soon as they got unloaded Jack let Mark know they were headed to the store and would be back in a while and they were off again. They got to the amish store and as expected they were doing business as usual, if a bit heavier than usual. They walked in and Earvin greeted them from the behind the counter. Jack smiled, "How ya doin?" "Pretty good," Earvin replied, "I hear theres been some problems around with the power and cars and such though." Jack replied, "Yeah seems powers been knocked out all over and isnt expected to come back on any time soon. Not sure how it's gonna affect gases availability so dont know how long the vehicle will be up and the 30 miles over here is gonna be a fair piece without it so thought I'ld stock up a fair bit more than usual." Earvin nodded, "Sounds laike a decent idea. What did you need?" Jack told him,"Well, I could use about 300 pounds of white sugar, 200 of raw sugar, 250 of polyana flour, 5 gallons of peanutbutter, 150 pounds of potatos a case of oranges and we'll need to get some things from the shelves." Earvin shook his head affirmative, "Alright, that is a little more than usual but we'll fix you up. I'll have my boys just load it up for you." "Thanks, oh and can I add 20 pounds of red star yeast," Jack said. Earvin nodded as he headed to the store room. Jack took a cart and went through loading up on spices to last a couple of years easily and a few extra cases of canning jars, loads of jams, pasta, several feet of lamp wick, a box of lantern mantels, a few yards of candle wick and other odds and ends. By the time they checked out Jack had two carts over flowing aside from the Jars and list of good he had given Earvin. They settled the bill and after a bit of gabbing were back on the road. As they drove back to the farm Jack said, "You know, Ive been thinking, if we do have any shooting there at the farm the walls of the house wont do much to slow down any incomeing bullets. We still have a bunch of stuff in the ditch out back that we havent gotten hauled off yet, I think there were a couple of old bathtubs in there from when the house that was here before we got the place burned. I was thinking that we might go cut them up with the tourch and put chunks of that under some of the windows so that the walls right there would provide better cover rather than just concealment." Frank said, "yeah, couldnt hurt. those old tubs were built pretty solid. I dont know, we may have touse a hammer to chip off the enamil where we're gonna cut but I think we can get it done." When they got home Jack asked Mark to unload the van and Jack and Frank took thier rifles and the welder with them and headed for the ditch at the back of the property that the former ownershad used as a dump for all sorts of unwanted things. After a bit of tugging they managed to get one of the tubs up out of the ditch and to a suitable spot to cut it up. Frank took the slag hammer kept on the tank dolly and started chipping the enamil while Jack went to unbury the other tub that was sticking only half out of the pile. By the time the first was cut up Mark came back to help and they got the other tub out of the ditch. While Frank was cutting it up Jack and Mark started carrying the plates frim the first one to the house, no easy job even for the two of them as each of the 3 larger plates was easily over 100 pounds and the smaller 2 were over 50 pounds each. These had been heavy old tubs of solid cast iron. They finaly got all the plates from both tubs and the welder to the house and blew a couple holes in the corners of each piece with the tourch. Found some lag bolts in the barn and mounted the plates under the windows. By the time they were done Sue had dinner ready and all were ready to eat. Sue had pretty well finished up the canning except for the 2 five gallon pots, one of stew the other of chili, that were still simmering on the stove. After dinner they shut off the stove and left the pots to cool over night and all headed for a well earned rest. Shortly past dawn Jack decided to get up as he had scarsely slept, being awakened by every bug, bird, or breeze through the night. "I've got to get some alarms set up or I'm not even going to be able to sleep," Jack thought to himself. He got out of bed and went to the kitchen to start some breakfast for the house, still contemplating the best way to set the alarms and perhaps a few "deterants" around the barn and such for any would be thieves. By the time breakfast was done the rest of the house was up and Jack had a few ideas. As Jack dished up biscuts and gravy for himself, after putting a plate full in front of the others in the house, he sat down and said, "Sue, did Greg say what he was up to at the base by any chance?" Sue thought for a second then anwsered, "I think he said the other day there was going to be a small surpluss auction or that he was picking up stuff he got from some other auction that they had sent through there or some such thing. You know the way he's always getting surplus stuff to sell at fleaa markets and such. Why?" Jack replied, "I think I'm gonna go over there after breakfast and see what he has in stock and if there's anything we could use." "I'm sure he'll be glad to see you. He always sees you comeing and gets out the list for what he needs to replenish." Sue said with a laughter in her eyes. After breakfast Jack headed out for Gregs while Frank and Sue and Mark got started on adapting the down spouts to drain into the water tank and connecting barrels and getting the barn set up to collect water to drain into them. As Jack pulled into the drive at Gregs the stout old man walked out to see who was comeing up the drive with the always present .45 on his hip. Soon Greg was able to recognize Jack through the windshield even though the van was unfamiliar and waved hello. Jack pulled up and got out and called, "Mornin." "Mornin, "Greg replied, "What ya up to this mornin?" "Thought I'ld come by and see what all you had in the warehouse that I might be able to use." The 'warehouse' was Gregs barn where he kept all the things he got at auctions, estate sales and who knows where all to take to the fleamarkets and sell, sometimes for a profit and other times just for the fun of haggeling with the folks he met. "Well I'm sure we can find something in there to haggle over." Greg said with a big grin. They walked in to the warehouse and as usual there were things stacked and piled as high as a man could reach all through the place with only isles between them. Greg was the only one who had any idea where anything was or what he ever had in here, and even he was always in for several surprises when he started digging around to get something. "Anything in particular you were looking for today," Greg asked. "Well, had several things I was wantin' to see if you had. Wanted to see about some extra rope, parachute cord, fishing line and was also wanting to see if you still had any of those dummie grenades you always sell as paper weights and if you had any extra barrels," Jack said. Greg looked around thoughtfuly then said, "The only barrels I have are those old barrels out back, thier a little rusty but if you can use 'em I'll give 'em to ya for a couple of those rabbits, long as Sue cooks 'em up with her famous dressin'. On the grenades your in luck, I just got a dozen cases at a great deal, you know I always have the rest of the stuff around, how much of the stuff you want?" Jack gave him a list of how much of what he wanted, then came the fun part, finding it! In the search they came across several odds and ends Jack just couldnt do without, Greg always had a way of "stumbling across" those kind of things whenever Jack came over, Greg knew him to well like that. By the time the stuff was loaded and the haggeling was done Jack had 4 foot lockers that even he couldnt remember what all was in them, 20 old barrels, 5 cases of dummie grenades a couple hundred feet of strong rope, a large spool of parachute cord, a case of nylon cord and a box with several spools of different sized fishing line as well as a couple boxes of wax and candle wick. He also had a commitment to bring over a full dinner from Sue and come by when he had a chance and butcher a couple hogs for Greg and smoke them out, though Jack would also get half of one of the old hogs for this. Both men knew it was quite a deal but Greg was really just "selling" all this stuff to defray the cost of shoping at the auctions and such and an excuse to get out to gabb with new folks. After visiting with Greg for an hour or so Jack finaly took his leave and headed home. As he got out of the van Sue came out and gave him that look and sigh that always followed any trip to Gregs that said, 'What new toys did you get talked into this time?' but only said, "So, what am I cooking this time?" Jack gave a guilty grin and said, "Two rabbits with your apple stuffing, a loaf of bread and abowl of gravy." As he made a show of cowering as if in preperation for flying objects. Sue just laughed and shook her head as she turned to go into the house and called over her shoulder, "Go kill me a couple rabbits when your ready, I'll go start the bread." Jack unloaded the haul and just put the foot lockers in the barn deciding to go through them when he had more time. He took a case of the grenades to his work bench and unpacked them, takeing the tops off each as he went through, they all had the holes in the bottom and no detinator in the caps so they were disarmed and could be sold as novilties but he had an idea. After he had the caps seperated from the bodies and the pens out of them he started checking the various primers in the reloading suplies untill he found the ones that fit the nipple of the capsthen put one on each cap, drew back the spring loaded hammer, secured the hammers in place with the handles and replaced the pins. "There" he said. Then he went to the pile of scrap metal, pipe and such he kept behind the barn and got a couple 10 to 12 foot long sections of galvanized pipe. He took them into the barn and cut them into 6 to 8 inch sections and secured a cap in the end of each then got the potash and some sugar and mixed them in about equal parts and poured a few tablespoons in each and stuffed a good wad of paper in after then he melted down some wax and poured a bit on the paper to seal it. When he had a good supply of them he made sure the pins were secured and put them into a duffel bag and started off to the back of the property. Jack walked the fenceline of the property and each time he found a likely spot to cross the fence he put one of the pipes on the base of a tree or rock on the side closer to the house then ran a piece of fish line from the ring on the pin across the path of anyone crossing the fence there at a little lower than the top of his boot height and tied the other end to something on the other side. Then he straightened the pen and went on to the next place, untill he had done so on all crossings and all trails about 25 feet inside the property line. If anything pulled the fishing line the pin would come out and the charge in the pipe would instantly go off and blow the wax and paper outthe end since that was the path of least resistance for the pressure to escape, but not without creating enouph "chamber pressure" to make a nice BIG BOOM! They were all aimed basicly up so they wouldnt hurt anyone or any animals but would let everyone know there was something coming through there. Jack then set a post just outside the gate at the end of the drive and moved the old bell from the front pourch to the post at the gate. It was a large bell like the old school house bells that they had gotten at a yard sale to use for a dinner bell but had found that it generally worked just fine to step out the door and yell since anywhere on the property you were within 200 yards of the house and if you couldnt hear Sue hollar at that distance you wernt gonna hear much of anything anyway. Then Jack got a sheet of plywood and painted a large stop sign on one side in red and in yellow he painted this message, "NOTICE: Guests ring the bell and allow us to come let you in, Those who enter uninvited will have thier remains fed to the hogs!!!" Then he mounted 4 pipes, loaded with rock salt in front of the first wad of paper and a second wad with wax in front of that, over the drive so they would spray the entire area of the gate if triggered and concealed the line as it went to the gate post and attached to the latch on the gate and ran a piece of black parachute cord from the top of the gate to a piece of empty pipe out in the open and painted yellow with a screw in the on cap on one end. "Well," Jack thought, "that gives them the idea of what the sign means and what they face if they ignore it. Besides that should give any thievs enouph false security to think they have disarmed the gate if they want to trespass, thievs always think everyone else is so much stupider than they are." Then Jack secured the barn and out buildings similarly and made sure the whole family knew everything he was doing and how to disarm and arm the "alarms" and what was in store for anyone who tripped one, so it was a good idea to be sure you didnt forget. Everyone felt a little better knowing these were up and that, while they still had to be alert, they had a far better chance of knowing if anyone was trying to slide up. [ Added: Sun Jul 31, 2005 6:53 am ] His security system had only taken a few hours to install so Jack went out to the rabbit hutches and got a couple of rabbits and butchered them so Sue could cook them up for Greg and took them in the house. Lunch was ready so the four of them sat down to eat and Jack said, "You know, with everything being down the stores are gonna run out of everything pretty soon and I was thinking that between the folks around here we already produce most of what we need though no one farm really produces everything so I thought we could kind of try to talk to a bunch of the folks around and see if we could have a kind of trading post here. I have the anvil out in the barn and could set up a forge again to make or repair some tools and such, we could reload ammo for folks since that will run out sooner or later, dad, you could make bows for folks that want to use them to hunt. Sue you could set out a couple of tables and run a little eatery. We could trade for whatever folks have or work and scavenging things for us like the coal, scrap metal and such for the forge and make it so folks can come to one place to get what they need for what they have rather than haveing to go to each farm for each thing and figure out what they have that that farm could use, at the same time we could trade those services and our goods for what we need." Sue thought for a moment and said, "Well, I have always wanted to start my own diner, never thought it would be like this though. Why not, we can see what folks think of the idea, You and Mark could go talk to the neighbors and we could have our 'Grand Opening' in a couple of days for everyone to bring thier things and have a kind of farmers market to set it off." After a bit of discussion they all decided to give it a try. While Jack and Mark went to invite the folks around Frank went out to see if he could find a good spot for the well. As the two of them left Sue gave them the food to take over to Greg so they decided to go there first. Greg was a widower and not much of a cook so he always took any chance he could get to have some of Sues cooking. They delivered it and let Greg know thier plans. Greg offered to help out with the shop for for a sort of credit acount at Sues chow hall and to bring a load of the things from his warehouse to trade with. They agreed that they could work something out and Greg thanked them for bringing the dinner by and asked them to let Sue know he would bring back her dishes on Thursday when he came to the market, then the two headed out to the other folks in the area. Some of them were more upset than others by thier new situation but most just took it in stride and resolved to get through it. Everyone thought it was a good idea to have the market and liked the idea of a new store close by. They were also looking forward to the idea of folks around just getting together. The last stop on thier way home was the rolling Y. Tom had grown up on 150 acres there and raised horses more just because he loved to work with them than any real financial goal to make a bunch of money from the place. He generaly kept around 50 head or so and knew each of them by name. Jack had chosen to stop here last for a reason. He knew that Toms wife had been married before and lost a child to an accident with a gun and so when they had thier daughter she made him sell his guns. Since Tom didnt hunt he had grudgeingly agreed. Jack had a feeling that in light of current events and Jill being 17 that Martha might not be so opposed and Tom might be in the market for a rifle and Jack was the market for a horse. The gas in the van wasnt going to last forever and was only going to get harder to find so he figured that conserving it would be the best coarse whenever possible. As they walked up Tom came out to greet them, haveing been alerted to thier presence by Jakes barking. Mark walked over and started playing with Jake while his father and Tom talked. When Jack mentioned the trading post Toms first question was if he could get a rifle there. While Jack had not thought of this before he did store the thought in his mind for further consideration then said, "Well, if your in the market I think we could work something out this evening." After a bit of back and forth they agreed on a 30-30 winchester and a single shot 12 ga with 200 rounds for each and some credit at the new shop in trade for a couple of two and a half year old geldings, one green broke and the other not broke at all and an old saddle that had a broken girth strap. The geldings were healthy but nothing special, they came from the stallion getting out of his pasture and getting ahold of the wrong mare Tom had said. Jack knew they were decent horses though and that the one that was green broke had a lot of spirit, even more than Tom actualy and thats why he had never been finished out yet, but he had enouph experience to know he could handle them. Both men knew that Jack had gotten a real deal on the trade but they also both knew it would be balanced out by time and other trades in the future. With Mark carrying the saddle and Jack leading the horses they made thier way home and got there just past dark. Jack had left the winchester and 50 rounds of the ammo for Tom, that he had taken along with the thought in mind, and told Tom he could pick up the rest Thursday or sooner if he had the chance to come by. [ Added: Sun Jul 31, 2005 7:00 am ] After they got home Jack got the horses settled in then went to work on the saddle with a sewing awl and some heavy nylon strap he had, and repaired the strap so the saddle could be used, then he got to work on a list of things that he knew he would need a constant supply of for the shop so that folks would have an idea of things to look for to trade as they chose in addition to thier crops or stock or whatever they might have in mind. He planned to paint the list on the wall under the car port off the side of the barn where he planed to have the shop. On the list he had RR spikes, and coal that he knew could be had from a walk along the RR tracks a mile or so down the road, for makeing knifes in the forge, crops, livestock, ammo brass, lead, tin, scrap metal, springs, fabric, and several other items and at the bottom he wrote, "If you have anything else we can haggle, if you have nothing I can find work for you to do in trade." After he finished the list he went in to dinner then to a good nights sleep. The next day Jack gave Mark a brush and a can of paint to put the list on the wall and he went to slaughter one of the pigs from the last litter for Sue. She had decided to roast it for the following days get together. After he got it ready to go in the large smoker he had built several years ago, he and Mark got an old steel wheel and with a bit of work turned it into a workable forge. Then with some scrap tin and a heavy duty trash bag and a bit of imagination, as well as the alwayse useful duct tape, made a set of billows to keep it hot enouph to work the metal. Once they had it set up Jack and Frank took the van and trailer and went the 40 miles or so to the power plant to see about a load of coal. When they got there they didnt see anyone around. Jack had helped a friend of his who had worked there in the past haul coal from there as they alwayse had a pile of coal that would fill several rail cars that they had rejected for haveing other rocks and such in it, or some other various reason. They would send it back or if anyone wanted it they would let them haul it away and his friend had done this to burn it in his stove. They pulled up to this area and loaded the trailerwith all it would hold then headed back to the farm and dumped it by the forge area. It had been years since Jack had worked at a forge though he loved it, and couldnt wait to get started. Soon he had a fire in the forge and took the a spike he had laying around and started to work. An hour or so later he had a nicely shaped hunting knife with a heavy butt and no hilt that he knew from ones he had made in the past, while not the best, would make a very decent hunting knife and hold an edge well enouph once it was put on. So he started to work with the file and soon the knife had a decent edge and was ready to find an owner. Jack knew there would be refugees from the city soon and they would need tools that they could trade for cheap but would do the job and this was what he planned to make for those with little to trade. Jack heard Sue call that lunch would be ready soon so he went to clean up since, after shoveling the coal and working the forge, he knew Sue would skin him for setting down to lunch if he didnt. Over lunch Jack said to Frank, "You know, some of the folks around had electric stoves and propane dont figure to last for ever. I dont know if they will even be able to get it out of the holding tanks let alone deliver it, and if things arent straightened out by winter folks will need a way to heat thier houses this winter. I got those barrels and thought while I make up some other tools this after noon maybe you could take the tourch to some of them and make wood stoves from them, we could put flaf plates on the tops for a cook area and make two or three smokers so folks could use them to cook or to smoke meats depending on how and where they run the fire." Frank thought and said, "I could do that, I had been thinking we should get started digging on the well though." Jack said, "Well, some folks wont have much to trade, especially since I expect to start seeing city folks looking for greener pastures any day now who arent likely to have much of anything and are likely to be figureing out that they need a lot of things, so I figure if we have work around here that needs to be done then those who dont have goods to trade can tradethier services, like digging the welland such in return for the things they need." "Makes sense," Frank admitted, "That sounds good to me," Jack replied, "I guess I'll take care of those barrels after lunch then." "You want some help at the forge," Mark asked. "That sounds good to me," Jack replied, "You can run the billows and help me with the fileing." "So long as you all stay out of my kitchen, I have a lot of cooking left to do for tomorrows opening of my diner," Sue said. After lunch Frank started in on the barrels while Jack and mark started up the forge. Jack took an old leaf springthat had broken from the truck and was laying in the scrap pile and cut the brackets with a chisle after heating them, so he could get a single leaf then went to work. Cutting the longest one into thirds he pounded one end of each out so it was a couple inches wider and tappered to an edge then heated the other end and beat it around a piece of pipe in an oval and forge welded it back to its self makeing ax heads. These would basicly be for heavy hatchets or backpack type axes but could be used for large jobs if needed. As Jack was starting on the third ax heard the old bell he had placed at the drive. He put down his hammer and made sure the .357 on his hip was loose in its holster as he walked around the corner of the barn. He looked and saw that it was Tom at the gate and was relieved. He knew there would be strangers comeing soon and that most would be decent enouph people but he was still dreading haveing to figure out which ones werent and how to deal with them. He counted himself as very fortinate that as many bad situations as he had been in he had so far never had to kill another human being and it ate at him to know that that could soon change with no law around and lots of desperate folks. He had alwayse been prepaired to do what ever it took to protect him and his but that situation was now just looming as a dark cloud in the back of his mind. He knew he would do as needed but it still made him sick to his stomach. Jack got to the gate and after disarming the gate invited Tom in, since Sue was cooking in the 'summer kitchen' also known as the smoker, out in front and in good view of the gate he just left the gate unarmed. Tom had ridden his chestnut mare, she was a fine horse by any standard. He led her up the drive and tied her to the fence by the chicken yard. "You're gonna need to set up a hitchin post pretty soon," Tom chuckled, "I've had three more folks come over this mornin to buy horses from me and I understand the other fellas around with horses have been getting visits too." Jack smiled, "Well, I guess I just may have to do that then. You come by for that 12 ga and the rest of the ammo," Jack asked. "Yeah, was gonna see about that and get a sneak peek at what was gonna be at the shop." Jack said, "Oh so far I just have a few mid grade knives and a few axes, my dads workin on some wood stoves and a couple of smokers. Greg is supposed to bring a load of his stuff over tomorrow and I hope to get at least one good hunting knife done still today." Tom nodded his head, "Sounds like a fair start, I was kinda thinkin about a hunting knife myself. I've alwayse taken the stock to the locker and had them take care of it in the past but thats almost 35 miles. Not far by truck but on horse back thats a pretty good ride, so figure I'll have to start doing my own and dont know that a kitchen knife will be the best for some of it." Jack shook his head, "I tell you what, I'll get on it this afternoon and I'll have you a good general purpose skinning and hunting knife and a cleaver tomorrow. Come on in and we'll go get the rest." Jack led the way into the house, Tom stayed in the front room and Jack went into the bedroom where he kept the guns that wernt used on a regular basis and returned carrying the shotgun and an ammo can and said, "We can put the ammo in your saddle bags so I can keep the can, Theres a box of buckshot in there and eight boxes of number sixes. I put the 30-30 shells in there too." "Thanks," Tom said, "There was something else I was wondering about too, I was wondering if you had a small handgun that Jill could handle. I talked it over with Martha and she dont like it but we agreed that since she still rides all over our place and we cannot go with her all the time... she's a pretty girl, and things could get bad around and well..." Jack knew what Tom meant and told him, "I do have a .380 that I don't use. I got it several years ago to play with and just decided I didnt care for it as much as I thought I would. Sue and Mark both like my .38s so I could part with that one." Tom said, "There is one other thing, I need her to know how to use it and Martha is going a good ways from what she would normaly accept but she still would not do well with me turning the back yard into a shooting range to teach Jill to shoot, besides I dont have much experience with anything but long guns. So I was thinking that I could finish those horses for you and give you a blanket type saddle I have if you could get that little piece for Jill and spend a day or two teachin her how to take care of it and be safe and hit what she needs to and such." Jack smiled, "I'ld be happy to Tom." Tom sighed, "Ishould have kept hold of a couple guns and taught her to use them years ago. Ignorance about guns and haveing them being forbidden was the cause of Marthas first childs accident but she always blamed guns and I just never thought it was important. Now I wish I had tried harder to change her mind." Jack said, "We never know what the future will hold, just be glad it was a choice for your home and not manditory for everyone from the government. Why dont you have Jill come by Friday and I'll start working with her then, shes got a good head on her, in a couple of days I should be able to have her safe and accurate enouph to defend herself inside 20 yards at least, and lets face it, past 20 yards and people usualy arent a threat anyhow." With that the two shook hands and Tom took his new shotgun and ammo and headed home while Jack headed back to the forge. Jack finished the last ax and started in on the cutlery he had promised Tom. He took a bit more time on them but when he was done he had a fine hunting and skinning knife made from folding spring steel with an old file to make a high grade damascus knife about 12 in over all and a nice heavy cleaver from a piece of leaf springthat was cust a bit larger and a little over 4 inches deep. He cut a couple pieces of oak from a stick in the pile of firewood and carved them into handles, split them and after boreing a cople holes in them, riveted them to the cutlery. Then he took some oil on a rag and rubbed down the handles and used nylon cord to tightly wrap the handles so as to give a better grip on them if they were slick from blood or what ever, the cord could also be unwrapped and used in absolutely needed by cutting it at one end to free it. It was a fine set and he was sure Tom would be pleased. By the time he was done it was time for dinner and bed, tomorrow was a big day. Jack went down and rearmed the front gate then went in and cleaned up for dinner. The four had a good dinner from some of the extras that Sue had made to get ready for the next day and then all went to bed for a good nights rest. Jack wondered as he lay in bed if he was that out of shape or if this new life was makeing everyone else as sore and tired as him, they had always lived a little more primitive than most folks but had never really been prepaired for this. Jack was thinking of this as he drifted off to sleep. Jack woke in the morning to the smell of coffee and of breakfast on the stove. He lay in bed for a couple of minutes still to gather his thoughts on what he needed to get done before folks started showing up and what all the day held. then he got up and went to the kitchen and after telling everyone good morning, went outside and disarmed and opened the gate for any early arivals and tied Buck out front to let them know, along with the guinies, when anyone arived. Jack then went back and sat down to breakfast. As they were eating Jack heard the guinies going off and Buck barking. Jack recognized the bark as one reserved for those Buck knew rather than the challenging bark he had for strangers. Jack went to the pourch and saw Greg comeing up the drive with a wagon behind his old tractor loaded with goods he had brought for the big opening. Jack called out, "Mornin. Come on in and have some breakfast then we'll help you unload." Greg called back with a smile, "I was hopeing I wasnt to late for breakfast." After breakfast the men all went out to unload and set up while Sue finished getting ready for the opening of the dinner. Greg had brought water filters and purification tabs, surpluss firstaid kits, fishingsupplys and all sorts of other things as well as his large canopys and several tables to display his wares as well as a couple extras. The men set up the canopys and tables and helped to unpack the goods and lay them out. Once everything was unpacked they could see that between the two of them they had a little bit of just about everything you could think of from a sporting goods, militery surpluss, hardware store and a few things you wouldnt find at any of them. Once they were done they set up a couple tables with benches for Sue and put up a large tarp awning over them to make some shade and keep off any rain. As they were finishing up the dinning area the first of the people started to arive and look around. By 10 that morning over 50 folks had shown up, some from as far as 10 or 12 miles away. Seemes word had already spread about the new shop and a lot of folks wanted to come and check it out and also Jack knew, to see what news there was and what everyone planned to do or was already doing to cope. Tom and his familyshowed up and Jack pulled out the promised cutlery from his shop. "You may want to make up a sheath for them as I havent done that but its good steel. You will need to protect it though as its not stainless, you can oil it or rub it good with the stump of a candle then heat it enouph to make the wax run and rub it down," Jack said. Tom looked them over and replied, "These are butiful. I never knew you could make knives like this. They have a nice heft and balance to them too, thanks Jack, I appreciate it." Jack nodded, "Glad you like em." The two chatted a bit then went over to see what Sue had on the menu, Jack knew that Sues eatery would do as much to bring folks in as anything in his shop if not more for the folks that had had her cooking before, and many had at one time or another. By that afternoon Jack had traded off most of the items from his forge, a couple of boxes of nails from the barn, he could always make more, and a few other things in addition to what Greg had sold or traded, and had gotten several bushels of feed and corn in addition to a fair selection of home canned foods, preserves and jams. He had also gotten a case of .38 special ammo for a smoker. He had several requests for manual pumps and had let them know to check back in a few days and he would see what he could do. He had an idea to use chainlink fence pipe as the body and tin can lids covered in leather or rubber to make check vualves then put a second moveable check vualve in the tube above the first so that as it went up the top one would seal, drawing water into the chamber below it then as it went down the lower vualve would be pushed closed and force the water through the upper vualve to be pulled up on the next stroke and keep going untill the water came to the top. Jack also had orders for several more of his better knives and a couple of teen boys agreed to come by and put in a couple of days each for hunting knives or hand axes. Sue had done pretty well also and had made a fair bit of money, and had plenty of help for the dishes and other chores from folks that agreed to give her an hour or so of work for thier meals, honestly she had more help by the end of the day than she did work but she wasnt going to turn down anyone who wanted a meal and had some of them help with other various things around the place. She had also made a few deals to feed folks for a set time in trade for livestock and other stuff she was going to use to put on the tables. Folks left well before sundown and all seemed to have enjoyed the day, several mentioned plans to return to trade later, others to come back for meals. Jack had several ideas for new items to make by the end of the day and several folks who had agreed to bring him large amounts of materials in return for items they wanted. It surprised Jack how many folks were looking for firearms of any type since they had none or had only one or two and wanted to have something for everyone in the house. Jack had told them to try back in a few days and he would try to have some close range guns. He planned to make some 12 ga shotguns from 3/4 in pipe and a nail on a mouse trap for a trigger and fireing pin, and made up some match lock black powder guns from some other various pipe or variations on potato guns to use a few drops of gas or spray from aresols and a lighter to fire a projectile. As soon as most of the folks left Jack fired up the forge and got started on the orders he had taken through the day and a few odds and ends of other things to trade and ended up working untill well past sundown by the light of a lantern. By the time he stopped he went in, washed up and had dinner then went to bed. Jack was suddenly awake and lay in the dark for a moment wondering what had woke him. Then he heard the guinies and heard Buck in the front room bouncing up on the couch and start growling. Jack woke Sue as he jumped out of bed and jerked on his pants, his .357 still on the belt, and his boots. "I forgot to close and arm the gate and it sounds like we have company," Jack said. Sue jumped up and threw on a house coat. "Where do you need me," she asked. Jack said as he grabbed the shotgun, "Get the SKS and watch from the front room window, I'll go out the back and circle around. Past that we'll just have to play it by ear." With that Jack went through the front room and out the back door. As he reached for the door Frank, who had been sleeping on the couch and awakened by Buck on his chest looking out the window and growling, said, "Whats the plan," already haveing an idea that there must be something wrong outside. "Sue will explain, just back her. I dont want two of us out there in the dark mistakeing each other for a stranger or hesitating against a stranger thinking they're family," Jack whispered quickly as he slipped out the door. Jack went around the back of the house swinging wide at the corners so that if there happened to be anyone there he would be out of reach of a club or knife and couldnt be disarmed from a gunbarrel comeing around a corner before he could see what was there. As he came around to the front he stopped and surveyed the area. Jack looked by the barn and saw two figures that appeared to be men, looking around by his shop and carrying backpacks in thier hands. Jack waited a moment looking around the yard to try to be sure if there were others, he didn't see anyone else and turned his attention back to the two. One was keeping an eye on the front door of the house. Jack could see them pretty well as it was a clear night and there was a little over 3/4 of a moon, he didn't see any guns on them and decided to try to give them a chance to surrender. Jack slipped back from the corner and headed back so as to circle around by the pasture and come in behind them. He stayed to the concealment of the pig pen and came up 15 yards behind the pair and as he stood up he said, "You boys should have waited untill we was open for business." The two jumped like they were snake bit and as they spun around one started to reach for his waist. Jack cocked the shotgun as he brought it level from the hip, "You wont get it out before you die if you try it," Jack said in a cold matter of fact voice. The man froze and both slowly put thier hands out from thier bodies. Just then Jack noticed the gleam of moon light on something metalic from the shadows in the shop. He quickly turned the barrel of the shotgun and fired at the gleam and along with the report heard the scream ot the man in the shadows. Jack broke the shotgun over, dropped a fresh shell in as the empty came out, closed and cocked the gun before the sound of the report letf the air, a trick he had learned by shooting at two clays at a time from the trap thrower with this single shot. He was reloaded and ready for a second shot before the mans dieing body could even hit the ground. "Is there anyone else," Jack demanded pointion the shotgun at the nearest punk, he knew the one in the shop was hit hard in the chest as between the fadeing screams he could hear the blood spraying out and splattering the surroundings. Jack knew well from the deaths he had seen in his past that death, even from a shot to the heart or head was rarely clean and never pretty, even those shot in the head would commonly convulse for several seconds. "No! No, it was just the three of us man. Oh God please don't kill me, it was all Tonys idea," whined the punk. "You sure?! If anyone else pops up I'll shoot you first," Jack shouted. "I swear!" the punk said. "If iether of you tries to run or tries anything I'll kill you where you stand," Jack said, "Now nice and slow, undo your pants and put 'em around your ancles then put your shirts over your heads and get a face full of the ground! If you have any thoughts that you have me outnumbered youll wanna know there's two more guns on ya from the house." The two quickly did as they were told. All was sow quiel in the shop aside from the slow dripping of blood that had sprayed on things in the shop dripping to the ground. Once the two were on the ground Jack called to the house, "Sue, bring me some zip ties!" After just a couple of moments Sue came out and gave him a bundle of large zip ties. Jack said, "I'm gonna tie em up, if they even look like thier gonna try anything shoot to kill." Jack layed the shotgun on the ground behind Sue who had the rifle still in her hands then went over to the first thief, "Put your hands behind your back, "he ordered. Jack looped two of the ties together and put them on the teen and pulled them snug as hand cuffs then did the same to his ancles and did the same to the second punk. Jack realized the two were both around 18 or so. "you boys made a big mistake trying this move. We don't have any cops or jails close enouph to take you to so you wont be getting any bale to skip on or any plea bargians out here. You just get what the folks you tried to steal from decide you deserve." Jack said. "Please man don't kill us," the one teen beggede as the other began to sob. "I'm not gonna kill you," Jack said, "but you aint goin free iether. You boys'll stay tied up in the barn tonight and I'll decide what to do with you tomorrow." Jack drug the two boys into the barn and closed the door. By this time Frank was satisfied that his cover from the house would not be needed and came out with a flashlight and firstaid kit. "I didnt figure we'ld need the first aid kit but thought I should go make sure. Couldnt tell for sure, where was the one you had to shoot?" Jack replied, "He's in the shop. You can check but from the sounds I heard I can pretty well tell you he's done. I'll be right back." As the adrinelin slowed and the full force of what he had been forced to do hit and Jack stepped around the corner and vommited violently. This wasnt the first time he'ld seen death but it was the first time he'd had to kill another humanbeing. Jack wasnt a weak or cowardly man but he spent several minutes wretching before he came back around the barn. Shakeing from the toll the events had taken on his nerves, Jack met Frank comeing out of the shop, "Well," Jack asked. "Through the chest and neck, what kind of loads did you have in there anyhow?" Jack replied, "Three inch mags with No. 2 shot." Frank said, "Well, this was beside the body," he said as he held up a Mosberg 12 ga. pump. "I saw the moon light on the barrel as he brought it up," Jack said. Frank nodded, "You did what you had to." "I know, but it still dont make it feel good," Jack said. Frank said, "If it ever gets easy or feels good then I'll start to worry about you." "I'm gonna go close the gate, then we may as well start some coffee. I dont think any of us are going to get any sleep tonight." Jack closed and armed the gate and the three went inside. Mark had woke up at the blast of the shotgun and Frank had told him what had happened. They put on the coffee and as it was ready they heard the bell at the gate. Jack took the shotgun and went to the window that faced the gate and after opening it called, "Who's there?" "Its me, Greg. I heard a shot and came to make sure everyone was okay." Jack called, "Ill be right out." Jack went and let Greg in and closed and rearmed the gate behind him. As they went in Jack briefly filled Greg in on what had happened. They all sat and sipped thier coffee for a couple of hours untill the sun came up with only limited awkward conversation. No one disputed what had had to be done but none took it lightly either. Shortly after day break Jack went out and got two lengths of chain and attached them to wheels with bolds and took them into the room in the barn where the two teens were held and attached one to the ancle of each boy and cut the ties while Frank stood guard with the shotgun. Jack went over and got two shovels and a pick and said as he tossed them down in front of the two, "You boys have a grave to dig." The two were taken out past the gate to the end of the drive where they were told to dig a grave for thier friend. While Frank stood over them Jack went and painted a marker that read; "Here lies a thief, any who come to steal or fight will be laid by his side" and when the two prisoners finished burrying thier friend they were told to dig a second grave beside him for the next person that wanted to try any such thing. After they were done Jack told them, "You boys tried to steal from me and your friend tried to kill me, now he's dead and since things are not normal now and I dont think you two had any violence in mind, the two of you are going to spend the next six weeks here learning how to work for what you get. If you dont work you wont eat or drink and the time will grow, if you try to escape or attack anyone you'll be shot. If you do what your told and behave yourselves youll be turned loose but if you steal anything in this area again I"ll personaly track you down and kill you. Are we clear." "You cant do that man, we have rights. You have to give us to the cops and we get a trial," one of the boys said. Jack replied, "you gave up any rights you had when you decided to become a criminal, if you want the protection of the law you have to honor the law. As to cops, there arent any that I know how to find and as to what I have to do, I have to do what I figure is right and your in no position to argue or give an opinion on whats right, by the way, I find that disrespectful so you just added a week." The boys looked at each other then said, "Alright, what do we do?"