"Post"- A survival fiction

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by Radar00, Jun 14, 2011.


  1. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    Hello- This is a fiction story I started writing a while ago about a post SHTF world about 25 years after economic collapse and a world war 3

    Prologue

    A dull haze covered the earth reducing visibility to almost zero. The otherwise crimson sky slowly grew brighter as the sun rose however its radience was cut short due to the ever present clouds that shielded the ground from the full light of day.

    There was not time here. Day and night had blurred into a continum of darkness that enveloped the landscape. In this land, everything was a shade of dull gray where there had once been black and white. No one here knew why the sky was this way but if there ever was a sudden break in the overcast skies, the response from the populous would undoubtedly be one of utter bewilderment.
    The land lay in ruin. The earth's greenery had only been nothing more than a supposed rumor here. The once plentiful trees that covered were reduced to giant naked pillars. They stood as silent reminders of things from times gone by but the natives referred to them as "the monoliths." No one here knew exactly what they were, or how they came into being but they the scenery of this dead world.
    The concrete remained, although it was crack and weathered and badly in need of repair. The building stood as ghostly reminders of a civilization that had all but faded with the passage of time.
    Some of the larger structures that had been better maintained were inhabited. Most of them, unfortunately, had been left to rot forcing the general population to seek shelter in the concrete subterranean sewer and subway stations under the surface. A few however had managed to construct dwellings topside out of the scrap and lived there quite comfortably.

    Even with the extremely low population of the city, food was still a problem. The abundance of healthy land animals was always a concern for there was little vegetation for them to graze on but nevertheless human innovation took over and there were a dozen or so methodologies created in order to obtain sustenance.

    The weather here was virtually non existent. The rains came infrequently but came nonetheless. When they did come, it was only in infrequent torrents and the citizens would scramble rapidly to prevent the water from collecting in stagnation. Again, a myriad of devices had been constructed to collect this precious liquor of life.

    Today began like every other, with the rise of dawn the populace
     
  2. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    Chapt 1

    Ian Kindig leaned against the brick wall and wearily stared up at the sky. These memories weren't his. They weren't anyones. He wasn't even sure if they were true or not. James and the others had told him he was mad. He needed to relax. Play some golf...yeah right... Do something to get his mind right. But that was just the thing. His mind was right. It was the rest of the world that was inherently blind.
    The only thing was, he wasn't sure if they chose to be this way or it had been thrust upon them. After all, it wasn't like they had any knowledge of what used to be and he wasn't so sure that he did either. To them, life merely was. Ian slowly turned from the sky to the hard concreted earth that lay at his feet. Like so many of them, it was cracked and weathered with time. Only in certain spots did life spring forth. Weeds at best but life nonetheless. Only the most noxious of plants remained. Those that could be eaten, were harvested quickly. The knotweed was especially prolific, climbing along the ground and up sign posts and rusted fences along the way. They were quite the desired plant during the long winters as scurvy seemed to be an ever present problem.

    "The time is 2:30PM," droned the speaker system. Ian chewed the block of maple resin in his mouth struggling to ignored the intial bitter flavor. He should have mixed it with more beeswax but it would still be a few months before the colony was productive enough for that. "Two-thirty..." he muttered to himself. As if it mattered much. The days of appointments and schedualing conflicts were long gone but still the time was counted and assigned meaning to the day. By simply knowing the time, it seemed to help people maintain a productive scheduale for themselves. A bit of normalcy that life could be planned by. At least they had reached that stage...planning...

    It had been only 25 years since the wars but it seemed like an eternity. After the first few years, the population had begun to stabilize. The old, the sick, the weak, the out of shape, the foolish, and the brave had all died off. All that remained were the hearty and sensible and ofcourse, the lucky.
    As he stood up from the wall he looked at the field across the road. A few more weeks, then it would be time to till. The ground was softening each night was becoming a bit warmer. They had decided to switch to potatoes this year, a fungus affecting the corn nearly decimated a large swath of the plot. Some of it was made into silage. The rest was eaten. One of the men, Nick had found another use for it...fermenation. The runoff from the corn smut as it rotted was corrosive. With some study at what was left of the library, it was determined to have nitric acid in it. Needless to say, it was an unexpected boon for Bill and John. Now perhaps they would be able to fashion some gun cotton. Several things were now being discovered, or rediscovered in this process.

    A situation would happen, the folks at the library would look up as much information as they could about it, and 9 times out of 10, something could be made of it. They were lucky though. The community had managed to save most of the library from being burned down during the "Burning Time". There was also a strict campaign to prevent the theft of books for kindling and toilet paper. Even now, it was still a problem from time to time. Most of the fictional books and philosophical books were gone. Childrens books too. What mostly remained were the encyclopedias and every type of reference guide. They truly were worth their weight in food now.
     
  3. Yoldering

    Yoldering Monkey+

    It has grabbed my attention. Looking forward to more...
     
  4. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    good start
     
  5. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    (cont.)


    At one time, the United States had a population of just under 310 million. Most of those individuals found themselves trapped within the urban jungles and surrounding suburban enclaves and cul de saqs. It was ofcourse unknown now, but it had been figured by some of the older folk that due to the dieoff, the figure was somewhere around 30 million or so. There was plenty of speculation as there was less to do during the winter other than drink or try to stay warm. Most of the formerly suburban areas were reverting to fields now with Several houses scrapped and salvaged for firewood, piping, and insulation. The lots themselves turned out to be perfect for crop patches with basements that now served
    as root cellars in the middle of each lot. Everything was different now, atleast thats what they told the children.

    Ian strolled leisurely down the street ignoring the rusted and decaying cages that used to be cars. Just about everything in them had been ripped off and salvaged. Some were just torn up remains, the metal
    now being cut off and repurposed by John and his two sons, the blacksmiths. The batteries had quickly been one of the first things to be taken. They were simple enough to daisy chain into a battery bank using some of the old road signs and their solar panels to provide electricity for a while. The gas of course, was long gone. Mostly used up in the first year or so, but the tanks themselves were another story.

    Some of the experiments with biogas demanded them. But the better purpose was the storage of the grain alcohol people were making. What better storage than an already air tight container designed to hold flammable liquid?

    The sound of footsteps trotting down the road behind him made Ian stop in his tracks. It was much safer now, although everyone was still armed, it had just become a habit now especially with wild animals coming into the area so much. The smell of food traveled quite the distance. Wild dog attacks were still a problem for those on the outskirts of town. The attacked in packs and for atleast some of the time, it wasn't because they were hungry. Apparently they just had the taste for human flesh. After all these years of making due on corpses, there was little that could be done. For those deceased, cremation seemed to be more in order as digging graves was time consuming and laborious. It also took up alot of space that could've been used to grow food. It also didn't help much that the dogs would dig the bodies right up and the worst thing was telling that to the family members. Ian griped his 1851 Navy colt and turned.

    "Hey!", Alexa yelled out.

    Ian frowned and decocked the pistol. "You know should atleast say something," he muttered. He shoved the pistol back in its holster and frowned at her. Alexa stood before him hands on her hips, dress blowing slightly in the breeze. She was 24. Born a year after the collapse. Sometimes he wondered how the world looked to her. After all, it was all that she knew. The first generation in a long time to grow up without the "aid" of the television. The first generation to grow up without the computer. He thought to himself, "I guess this is Generation Z...End of the alphabet". Ian himself was not much older than her-only 35. A child himself when the world fell apart. He still remembered it.
    Refrigerators...microwaves...televisions...the internet. It was hazy but
    it was there.

    "Where ya headed?" She said heading towards him. The sap was sweetening now. "Uh...nowhere really. Just taking a day off I guess." He nodded and turned as she joined him. "What about you?" he asked. She sighed lightly. They're still trying to fix that loom. It's a shame too, but I guess I don't really mind" The loom, he thought. What a great find. It had been buried in the basement of an abandoned factory. A real working loom. Well, almost working. Still it wasn't perfect since it was a power loom. They had, ofcourse, constructed others, but the power loom was a necessity. Clothes wore out quickly, especially when they were worn for days at a time. There was also the need for blankets, coats, bags, backpacks, sacks, anything and everything textile. Tanning hides were all great, but there was a limited supply. Almost all the leather from what few big game they could get went to making shoes. They certainly were lucky that the game had comeback. There was almost a decade when they thought they had hunted and trapped everything to extinction. Ian chuckled to himself, Old Man Chuck was right-
    manufacturing had indeed come back to America.
     
  6. Yoldering

    Yoldering Monkey+

    Thank you. It is developing nicely.
     
  7. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    (cont.)

    "Um, just heading down to the store" Alexa nodded as she joined him as he continued down the road. "The store" was indeed the center of the town now. It wasn't so much a storefront but rather, the store of the town's resources. In a prior lifetime it had been a fairly large industrial park who's distribution centers now held most of prior years harvest, innumerable salvaged goods and even a few of the luxuries of the "old world. The industrial park held about five different warehouses each separated by parking lots and small roads. Most of the food and supplies was scattered between three of them. The remaining two served as a laboratory/hospital and tavern/town hall respectively. The whole of the industrial park wasn't quite unlike that of a military base. The food stores were guarded religiously 24/7 by "the militia". They were mainly made up of military veterans and their progeny. More than a few had been in the local ROTC unit at the college some time ago and were now in their early to mid 40s. Their sons and daughters continuing to run the college ROTC as if nothing had happened. It was quite the problem at first, merely being able to find people that is. Children didn't live very long and mothers almost always wound up dying after childbirth. The lack of sanitation and sustenance and knowledgeable medical personnel all contributed to it. But now, 25 years post there was finally a glimmer of hope. It took nearly a decade for the population to stabilize and childbirth was still as risky as ever. Positively medival to be exact. The medical supplies were long gone and if it had not been for a few books on medival history found in the library's basement, it was doubtful that things would have turned out as well as they did. Using spiderwebs for guaze was not necessarily the most hygenic of practices, but now, with the loom and weaving in practice coupled with grain alcohol- the mortality rate was much better.

    Alexa and Ian continued down the street in silence. It was something he had been unacustomed to during his childhood. The silence. When this had all started, it had been most unnerving, but as with all things, the passage of time changed that. The wars that had changed the world happened quickly after the economy failed.

    His country had been able to stave off outright collapse for the longest time with a tangled web of militarisim, capital controls and political rhetoric but eventually, that all came to an end. When the world broke from grasp of American imperialism, everything changed. Their Foreign held currency had repatriated itself and coupled with the liquidity injections from the old banking system, turned the dollar into what it was truly worth- paper. Almost instantly, several countries used to this to their advantage to reassert their old empires as the United States experienced the Roman Empire's history of the lost legions. Before the end, several million service members and government officials were left stranded around the world in hostile countries on their military bases. Thier home country not possesing the funds to even bring them back. Still, it wasn't a sudden affair. Efforts were made with the creation of the New Dollar to continue to fund the empire but it was not accepted internationally. "Faith" was in extremely short supply and so things continued to accelerate unto oblivion. Finally the problem was answered with war after a series of attacks on US soil. Unfortunately, this new war was completely unlike all of the old wars. The weather itself was used causing large scale devistation to areas around the planet. Unending droughts and subsequent famines. Massive tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons were steered towards major cities and agricultural bases. Even earthquakes had been used.
    Initially the populace had found the whole idea of weather manipulation to be incredulous. Ian had seen for himself in an old scientific journal called Interperiodika that indeed the science of weather modification had been researched, tested and implemented even in the late 1940s. The Russians had been researching it in the 1930s along with Americans as an antidote to the Dust bowl. It had taken only 70 some odd years before it was used on a global scale as a weapon. The only problem was that it backfired. As there is but one world, the skies were inextricably linked. Massive heatwaves and cold snaps reaked havoc on the worlds already dwindling food production and only now, 25 years post was the weather beginning to return to normal. At the time there had been a premium on water as previously fertile areas were had reduced to barren wastelands. Who would have thought that one day water, the stuff of life, would be more valuable than oil? Needless to say, there was no clear winner of the Weather War although all countries claimed victory, their populace remaining indifferent as they dealt with real world effects of starvation, disease, and death. There was no victory day for this war. Nor were the masses treated with any sort of aide to help them rebuild. Even before the war, America, with nearly 80% of its population on food assistance, institued the Agricultural Security Act. In short it was a complex system of rationing headed by the Dept. of Homeland Security.

    The slogan had been "Food is a right!" and following this, everyone would have "equal access to food and water". In reality, this meant that there was extremely limited access. Citizens were given a "calorie card" that would serve as their allotment to purchase any type of foodstuff they desired. The calorie card was initially measured monthly, but as the Weather Wars continued, they were turned to bi-weekly and then weekly.

    footnote
    1.Russian Journal Interperiodica- this is a real russian scientific journal. In 2007 I worked for a publishing house that printed this and read for myself that cloud seeding and weather modification was actually pursued in the 1940s
     
  8. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    (cont)

    Now Ian was here. In this small town where food, although not plentiful, was little more than enough to keep one alive. "So what do you think the meeting is all about?" Alexa asked. Ian shrugged his shoulders, it didn't really matter. Although these days, any news was worth assembling to town for. "Dunno. Maybe we got another message from Jasper."

    A smaller enclave not more than 30 miles down the road had reported news that a railyard almost 50 miles away over the mountain seemed to be untouched. Trains just frozen in time on the tracks with none of the cars opened. They had long knew it was there but stayed away assuming that it was occupied. It was only when one of their patrols decided to venture out and see if they could begin to salvage steel when they found the area completely untouched. Needless to say, if this information was indeed true, this could be the find of a lifetime. There was no telling what those trains held but most surely anything that they did would be valuable.

    A smile crept to Ian's face. He was incredibly lucky. Lucky to be alive, lucky to be here, now with Alexa. Twenty years ago, he could have never imagined himself with any sort of future. But now, he thought glancing at Alexa. Now perhaps there was a future not just for him, but for them all.
    <<<<>>>>

    Twenty years ago-
    5 years post collapse
    Ian Kindig age 15
    Ian woke with a start. His body numb but he could still move it. A few days ago he awoke to find he lost all feeling in his body and it wouldn't respond. It was a terrifying feeling when he went to move his arm and it refused to move. Today was a bit better but the cold sapped still him of his strength. It looked like the roof of his shelter had puckered slightly with the overnight snowfall. Cardboard only held so much. Ian rolled on his side to look out through the small crack of the brick wall of his shelter. Yep, it looked like it was atleast 4 inches of new snow which was beginning to settle somewhat now that the sun had come out. Hopefully the roof would hold and he wouldn't have to go out to brace it with twigs. Right now, he needed to focus on being invisible.


    The shelter that Ian had constructed was made mostly from an abandoned pallet of bricks and cardboard. He had lugged these bricks a few at a time up the hill, being careful to take a different path up the hill each time so as to not wear a path into hillside. With the snow falling lightly at the time, he was confident he would be done by dusk and the overnight snowfall would mask his tracks. It was the best he could hope for.

    The cold bit at his exposed face. He had managed to cover his mouth and nose but his eyes and forehead were still exposed. They were quite numb and he had difficulty blinking his eyes. It was as if the muscles of his face were literaly freezing as he worked.
    The shelter Ian was building was little more than a coffin. First a layer of brick for the floor and then the walls. The cardboard from the pallet served to cover the roof. All in all, it's dimensions were 7 feet long, and bout 4 and a half feet wide and 4 feet tall. He didn't have the time or desire to make anything else. He also couldn't risk cutting down any tree limbs as that would have been an apparent sign of activity in the area, not to mention the sound from his hacking would echo on the hillside and there was no telling how many others were out there. Indeed, he did know they were out there.

    Fire was an impossibility. There was no time to create one and no space to create it. He would have to suffer for the night and pray. If he did make it to the morning, he would then have to see what he could do. Most likely, he would have to move on. Staying in one place to long would be a death sentence.

    And so, it came to pass that Ian had lived through the night. It had only been a week earlier that he had come upon an older man frozen in the snow, his legs missing. Ian didn't speculate on what had happened to them for he already knew. It was something he didn't care to think about. As he rolled in the shelter, he ears were focused. He needed to get out and stretch but he had to make sure the area was clear for the time being. Nothing but silence. Not even the birds were chirping. Just silence.


    Army style, Ian crawled out of the coffin shelter and out into the snow covered world. He wouldn't worry about covering the distrubance, he would need to move and move quickly and hopefully find some place else to spend the night. He was still extremely tired because for most of the night, he would fall asleep only to wake up shivering violently. A few minutes would pass and he would fall asleep again and wake up in the same manner.

    Ian came to his feet amazed that as far as he knew, neither his hands nor his feet were blackened with frost bite. It was truly a miracle. The young man strode a few feet from his camp and relieved himself. He would have a short breakfast, a hunk of the frozen spam he had last night and then he would head out. He would prefer to move at night, but after building the shelter, it would undoubtedly be seen by someone. His worst fear was waking up to a gun in his face, or more possibly the feeling of a knife tearing across his throat while he gagged on his own blood. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps that old man was lucky. Most likely died of a heart attack because of exposure. Then the scavengers would come, stripping him of what little worldy possesions he still had and then his dignity.
     
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  9. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    After finishing his spartan meal, Ian grabbed the backpack from the coffin shelter that had served as his pillow for the night. Inside it contained a large sheet of canvas, a waterproof tarp, folding knife, metal canteen, jar of blackpowder, 100 lead balls and caps, some rope and several small tins of .22 pellet gun ammunition. Two of the tins had been emptied and filled with fishing line, weights, safety pins, thread, water proof matches and scrap bits of cloth. It was not the ideal setup but it was all he owned in the world and he would most certainly die to protect it.


    Most of his tools were from childhood. Relics and memories of an earlier time with his father. He was 8 when his father had given him his first rifle. Well, a pcp pellet gun to be exact. His mother, who was something of a rabid pacifist post-hippie had forbidden his father from buying him a real .22. It was no consequence, his father told him. When he was 13 he would get it for him but for the moment, the airgun would have to suffice.


    Ian's father had been somewhat of the sterotypical Grizzly Adams. Although he was an accountant by trade, every spare second of his time was spent outdoors in the field. They lived in the city and every weekend, he and his father would take a trip into the country just the two of them. It was "guy" time. His mother and sister Emily would hold down the fort at home while Ian's father showed him how to hunt, shoot and fish while explaning to the young boy his love of bushcraft. Little did Ian know how very important just this small taste of survival would be.


    Ian checked his pistol, the 1851 Navy colt and shoved it in his belt. The outer layer of his overcoat covered it while still allowing him free access should the need arise. A need that, so far had not been met. The pistol itself was nothing remarkable. It was one of those old .44 cap and ball weapons reproductions from the civil war. It was his fathers. The only thing he had managed to save from the house as it burned to the ground. Luckily, it and the supplies had not been in the safe at the time. They had been tucked in the basement cubby chest collecting dust. Thank God for that, Ian thought as the butt of the pistol rested against his torso. It wouldn't have helped even if he could've gone back to the house anyways. The safe was buried under a ton of rotting brick and wood and it wasn't as if he knew the combination to the safe anyways. Besides, he had no desire to sift through the remains of his house only to find what was left of his family. Ian closed his eyes and bit his lip. No, he would not think of that now. He attempted to block it out but he could still hear them screaming. Screaming as they burned alive when he could do nothing but watch and hide as the mob of looters proceed to loot and torch whatever laid in their path. It was a night that would be burned in his mind until he died.


    Chapt 3

    Five years.

    That's all it had been. Five years since normalcy. Five years since he had his family. Five years ago his biggest concern in the world was homework. Five years ago his greatest desire were toys. Bits of plastic. Oh how the world had changed. He would have been a sophmore in high school by now. Perhaps dating that girl Amy that lived a few houses down the road from him. The snow crunched softly under Ian's feet as he made his way through the woods staying alert for signs of life and activity. He knew he wasn't alone in this forest. He had heard people the night before but they were off some distance. Cursing, crying. They were still too close for comfort. He had seen with his own eyes the depravity to which men sunk. The raping, looting and murder. The insanity was now the norm. How he had managed to survive thus far had been nothing short of miraculous.

    His father was somewhat of a history buff. On several outings he had told him of stories of the World Wars, vietnam, the wars in the middle east. They were foreign to him save the glorified cyber killing of his Xbox. Now he understood. It had crossed his mind since- how had that been entertainment. Running around in a virtual battlezone killing and being killed? There was nothing entertaining about it. It was sick. But this was now. Hindsight was 20/20 and at the time. It was hilarious. His mother of course had been against it all along. "It'll poision his mind" she complained to his father who seemed not to bat an eye as he played the games more than him. Well, it was no longer a game. It was very real, and the price of failure- was death.

    Crack! Ian dropped immediately to a prone position and drawing his pistol. It was a bright and sunny day and his body stood out amongst the trees on the snow as a large brown target. There was no cover. His eyes scanned the trees for any signs of movement. Nothing. Nothing at all. Wait. Out of the corner of his left eye he spotted it. A tree squirrel. It had made the jump across a fairly large gap of branches and was now perched on a limb fiddling with something. Ian didn't move. He scanned the area again. Nothing. No crunch of snow. No voices. It was all quiet for now.

    His stomach rumbled slightly as his mouth watered. It had been some time since he had eaten real meat. The pink salted brick of spam was nauseating at this point and he had been living off of very little. A few hearty plants here and there. A cache of nuts that he had come upon and the occasional pigeon, crow, or squirrel he could find. He thought for a second as he slowly reached for his air rifle. If he took this squirrel he would need to stop and cook it. He only had 2 cans of fuel gel in his rucksack. That would undoutedly be the quickest way. He might be even able to hold it over the fire gel can while he walked. It would certainly warm his hands up which were near numb at the moment. There was the problem of skinning. If he did it quick he could be on his way. Ian rested the rifle on snow creating a platform for it. He was just too hungry.

    Click!
    The rifle fired and the squirrel bounced down thumping softly in the snow some 75 feet away. It was times like these he was happy he did indeed have the pellet gun. It had a barrel shroud and since it was not spring driven, there was only a puff of air and the click of the trigger. It was indeed quiet. Ian didn't waste any time slinging his rifle over his shoulder and producing the fire gel can from his backpack. As he approached his quarry he produced his ka-bar knife. The folder tucked away backpack somewhere. he decided to keep the larger knife out and folder as the backup incase he would ever need to fight. The folder was to finicky to haggle with should he ever need a ready blade. Ian quickly skinned the squirrel which was fat with the season. He would keep the skin. It was almost infinately useful now and stuffed, would serve as an excellent decoy in the future.


    The hide was packed in the snow and thrown into his makeshift game bag. A set of plastic sheeting from a construction site that he had sewn together and created a strap with. It had turned out to be a worthwhile endevour as it was waterproof and provided a bit of insulation. He wasted no time with the meat, gutting the intestines but leaving the heart and lungs. He would eat it all. It was no time to be picky and he needed every bit of protein he could find. The meat was placed on a twig shiskabob style and the fuel can was ignited. He would eat on the move holding the squirrel-ka-BOB under his arm and
    alternating holding the fuel can. This meal would mean he would only have one more fuel can for emergencies. After that, he would be forced to camp for fire or continue for a bit eating on the raw. That could only last another week, possibly a week and a half if he stretched it but even then, fatigue was a real problem. If he didn't watch himself he could collapse like that old man.


    Spring wouldn't begin for atleast 4 more weeks and even then, it would mean varying temperatures and rain. That would be the worst. He would have to push on. Hopefully making it to the lake by then. It was desperation that engulfed him now. If he couldn't manage to find a stable food supply for atleast a month, he would not make it past this year. He was already down to skin and bones staying constantly on the move for the past 5 years. Always one step ahead of the herd. Still, it was wearing on him hard. Hopefully, he could make it to the lake and set some fish traps. Ian took a bite of the charred squirrel.

    It was delicious.
     
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  10. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    keep it up radar, its comin along good
     
  11. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    3 Weeks later

    Ian blinked and shut his eyes, the right side of his face warmed slightly from the suns rays through the glass. He rolled over groggily and stared up at the cieling and thought. How long had he been here. A week? No, two was more like it. At least two. The rust coating the inside ceiling of the school bus didn't look all that different from blood he thought.

    A week ago he had made it to the lake. The edges of it were still frozen for the most part but not hard enough to walk on risk free. He had scouted the area climbing an overgrown pine tree and viewing it through the cheap Tasco binoculars he wore around his neck. There was somebody or more likely, some people here. It was to be expected and he hoped his entrance into their territory had not been noticed. A wispy black smoke emanated from the far end of the lake and the scent burning pine wafted through the air. They were probably almost half a mile away but it would not do to build an open fire here. Obviously there were a few of them if they were not so careful to disguise themselves. He would have to tread lightly. Very lightly.

    Ian wasted no time setting up the fish traps. Driftwood and low hanging branches were cut into small sticks and placed along the shore in a box pattern. An inlet was crafted with an angled entrance for the fish. It wasn't the ideal time for fishing but perhaps he would get lucky. A chunk of spam served as the bait with a bit of tinfoil from a sheet he kept in the breast pocket of his vest. It wasn't great but it would have to do. With no boat or canoe, there was no way to get past the ice and he could only clear out a small area near a fallen log for fishing. He was careful to disguise the pole prefering to leave on the needles so that the "pole" looked more like a branch extending from the log. It was the best he could do at the moment and hopefully it would serve him well.

    The next two days Ian waited, mostly finishing off the rest of the spam and surveying his surroundings. Luckily he had not come into contact with anyone and it seemed that those down the lake had not bothered to venture out of their protective enclave. Perhaps it was too cold. Perhaps their shelter was well constructed or it might even be a cabin. For himself, Ian was delighted to find an old abandoned yellow schoolbus several hundred feet further into the forest.

    After almost a full day of surveillance he had concluded it was indeed abandoned. It most likely had been there long before everything fell apart and the tall grass, nearly up to his shoulders provided sufficient cover. Inside, the bus was suprisingly well preserved. The windows were still intact although covered with a mucky caked on film. The door had been a difficulty to open, it's internal actuators frozen and rusted shut but gave way with the application of a tree limb fulcrum. It would serve well as a temporary shelter for the moment but Ian couldn't shake the feeling that he wouldn't be able to stay here for long. Just until he caught something, then he would have to move on. As easily as he found the bus, others were sure to find it and there was no telling when that could be.

    As the time passed, Ian spent most of it sleeping. There was little he could do and inaction conserved energy. He would check the traps at dusk and use the remaining fuel can if he caught anything. Occasionally he would wander out into the tall grass hoping for birds but none showed
    themselves. Nights were spent weaving lengths of the grass into cordage. It wouldn't support much of anything but it gave him something to do. The second day he caught catfish.

    The trap had worked flawlessly with the fish being caught in stick-box with no room to manuever or turn around. The head and other entrails were used as bait for the other remaining traps. Nothing else was left save some of the bones.

    With his stomach now full, his mind began to wander contemplating the past. His family. His friends. They were all gone now. There was no telling what happened to any of them and it disturbed him. What was worse was not having anybody to talk to. In the five years since the world stopped he had not talked to another person in what seemed like ages. It was an odd feeling and at times, Ian caught himself voicing his thoughts aloud through a dry mumbling tone that didnt sound like speech at all. At first he was alarmed, but now it faded from his purview. It just was something that happened unconsciously and Ian was only aware of it usually at night. Now, his thoughts drifted to that night.

    The night of the riots, he had made his way to car salvage lot not far from his house. The electricity was out so he had scaled the gate with little problem and hid himself in a half gutted van. What
    happened was inconcievable and even now, five years later he tried to make sense of it.

    The fire bomb had entered through the large glass window in the living room after his father was shot. His mother had hidden him and Emily in the basement and locked them in there. Emily was 2 years older than him, 12 at the time and cried hysterically. Ian was silent throughout the whole ordeal and leaned against the steps hearing the chaos outside. The glass broke and the fire ensued.

    There must have been other firebombs, he thought staring at the rusted ceiling, the catfish weighing heavily on his stomach. The coughing, and then- the sounds of flames and yelling outside. He had grabbed the backpack in the basement and filled it with everything he could find as his sister screamed, not knowing how they would escape. The basement had no exterior door and all the two fire extinguishers were upstairs in the kitchen and in his parents bedroom. The smoke coming through quite thick as Ian finished packing all the canned food and odds and ends from the chest.

    "Ian!" Emily shrieked.
    "Emily!" Ian cried back as the tears rolled down his cheeks, his eyes and lungs burning with the smoke. "Come here! Help me!"

    There was a small window that looked out to the driveway in the far corner of the basement. It had been somewhat of an annoyance in the past due to rainfall. Everytime it rained, the water would roll down the driveway and collect at the window causing some to leak into the basement. The water ate at the drywall and in turn weakened the windows frame itself.

    Emily was the one that broke it. Their fathers golf club shattered the small pane allowing Emily to pull out the frame. The jagged edges cut her hand but in the moment, she was oblivious to it.

    "We have to get out!" she cried shoving the backpack that Ian filled through the small opening. "Get on my shoulders!" The smoke was so very thick now and it was very difficult to breathe but his sister was
    undeterred.

    Ian's eyes welled up as the memories came upon him. His sister. His saviour. She had pushed him out the small frame as he was too short at the time to reach it. Outside the house, Ian could see the destruction. The entire first floor was awash with flame. The smoke nearly blinding even on the outside. Ian reached back through the window frame and caught his sisters arm. It was bloodied and he couldn't get a good grip. "Em-Emily!" He choked. The smoke billowed from the small opening and he couldn't see in but he felt her hand grasp his forearm tightly and could hear the coughing.

    "I'm coming" a voice said hoarsely. Ian braced himself against the side of the house using all his strength and could feel Emily struggling to climb the basement wall. Her coughing intesified and he grip on his arm loosened. "Em-!" Ian coughed trying to breath through the smoke. Crash! It was followed by a loud bang as something in the house collapsed and possibly exploded. "Ian" a weak voice said. "...go..." His sisters grip loosened a bit and he could hear her wheezing.

    Emily was asthmatic.
     
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  12. Yoldering

    Yoldering Monkey+

    That last part was a bit heartbreaking...great job!
     
  13. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    3 Days later
    Almost Spring near the lake


    The rain tapped gently on the roof of the bus creating a dull drone. Some had rolled down the inside of the roof and dripping over the emergency exit in to a bottle Ian had placed there. There was little to do today and even though a few days earlier he had vowed to leave the area, he just could not bring himself to do it. The almost daily meals of squirrel, fish, and pigeon were hard to leave after not eating regularly for so long. With the rain the past few days most of the snow had melted and there was no longer the threat of being followed due to his tracks.

    Near the rear of the bus he had constructed a dakota hole fireplace. The digging was easy due to the rain and the heat from it warmed the side of the bus where he slept. He wondered how long this peace would last and if perhaps, he had found a suitable living area. The thought of continuing further west was very unappealing considering that spring was around the corner. There was also no telling if he could find an area like this in the future with an ample water supply and wildlife. Even the other day he
    had heard the honk of canadian geese in the distance and knew that day and most likely some ducks were nearby.It was about noon when Ian dosed off as usual, his head resting on two squirrel pelts he had aquired earlier in
    the week.

    It was the foosteps that startled him. Ian awoke to see the man standing in the aisle of the bus, shotgun in his hands, although it was not pointed at him. A scared and slightly confused expression was on the mans face and he stood still and silent, not saying a word. Ian returned the gaze, not moving an inch. He swallowed lightly, staring back at the man. Neither of them moved nor spoke for what seemed like an age. The man was the first to break the silence.

    "...h-Hey..." he said softly, his lips barely moving. "Hey" Ian whispered back. Ian eyed him over. He was african-american, probably mixed. Middle-aged or so and looked quite well-fed. Possibly these were the people on the other side of the lake. The man sighed. "Uh, look. We don't want any trouble. But we had to go see who else was out here. The name's Wilson." Ian nodded, gaze still fixed on the man and saw him relax slightly. The grip on the shotgun was loosened and his posture relaxed. Ian swallowed again. "My name's Ian," he said softly. The man nodded taking a half step back and tucking his shotgun under his arm. Apparently he didn't feel much of a threat.

    "Nancy!" he yelled. "It's just a kid." Ian could hear the sound of of people outside moving from around the bus. Two or three he guessed. He was trapped. The man tried to smile and adjusted his glasses with his freehand. "...Ian was it? Say son...You hungry?"
     
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  14. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    damn, what a hanger,hurry im hungry for more....lol
     
  15. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    Chapter 4
    Friends and Allies


    "You should slow down. You don't want to get sick" Ian gorged himself on the stew in front of him. He had been wary as he had followed the couple back to their cabin on the far edge of the lake. They had not hassled him about his belongings or weapons and seemed to be genuinely friendly. Ian suspected it was due to his age. Had he been a 40 or 50 year old man, the couple might have done otherwise. Still, slight precautions were taken. Nancy, Wilson's wife lead the way with a Ruger Mini-14 at the ready. She was a young hispanic woman, probably in her early 30s and like Wilson, was well fed. He face was nice and round rather than the gaunt look or near starvation Ian had seen in the past. She hadn't said anything to him when he exited the bus. Just merely looking him over as if to assess whether or not he was a threat or possible asset.

    Wilson took up the rear walking behind Ian. The shotgun was still tucked under his arm not pointed at him. It wasn't like he was about to risk anything however. He was no match for two strangers so heavily armed. Part of him was just plain curious. Aside from the initial encounter he didn't feel any hostility from them, then again looks could be deciving. He could tell though, that they were very cautious. Most likely they had observed him from afar since he had entered the area and deemed him not to be a threat. Ian sighed as he followed Nancy down the path. It had occured to him a couple of times. Besides fighting starvation, exposure, and possible injury or disease- there was always the threat of the random bullet from a hunter or sniper that would end his life before he heard the shot. He figured of all the ways to go, this would be the best. Assuming, that the hunter or sniper did not shoot to disable.


    "Almost there," said Wilson softly. Ian looked up. The cabin was well hidden in the tall grass and shrubs. It looked as though there had been a concerted effort to make the cabin as camoflauged as possible. It was log style cabin and they had weaved nets full of shrubbery, twigs and other debris over the outside. From the right angle, it looked like just a pile of logs on a hill. Even the firewood surrounding the cabin was camoflauged in the same manner. The cords of wood had been arranged around the house in an attempt to form some perimeter obstacles. Behind each stack of logs was a mound of dirt mixed with some stones. Indeed these people were very careful.

    Just so you know, " Nancy started in sultry spanish accent. "It's a good thing you didn't try to find us first." She paused for a second. "Michael! We're back!" she announced. There was a minute of silence where the three of them did not take another step foward. Then the cabin door opened to produce a young male only slightly older than Ian holding an AK-47. He was clad in bullet proof vest with a relieved look on his face.

    "Hey mom!" he said happily.

    Once inside, he was astounded to see the place. It was like a normal home. Refrigerator, kitchen stove, microwave- even a TV. It was all like nothing had happened. After passing the rows upon rows of gutted and burned down suburbs and cul de sacs Ian had been sure that only those living in bunkers had the amenities of the old world. Apparently he was dead wrong. Who were these people, he wondered. How had they survived the collapse nearly uneffected?

    "Nancy, why don't you heat of some of the left overs. This boy is starving. Then we can all sit down and talk." Nancy nodded as placed her weapon in a rack by the door. The boy, Michael had done so already and was looking Ian over with a curious look on his face. The inspection was making Ian uncomfortable. "What?" Ian muttered being careful to not sound too agitated. It wouldn't do to be a belligerent guest.

    "Nothing man....You just." He paused. "You just look like ****." A smile came to his face and he started to chuckle lightly. Wilson chuckled too. "So Ian is it?" He turned to face the boy. "Why don't you get washed up? We have a shower out back." A perplexed look came to Ian's face. A shower.

    In five years of trekking crosscountry, the most Ian could do to bathe was finding a river or pond during the summer and jumping in. Usually clothes and all. He now looked down at his hands. Without a reference point he hadn't realized it but he was nearly as dark as Wilson with all the caked on dirt. He knew his hair was long and matted and for the most part it hat been all shoved under a beanie hat during the winter. He would periodically cut it off with his knife but it reached down to his shoulders by now. He probably looked ever bit the refugee.

    Ian nodded silently as Michael showed him to the shower out back. These were good people he thought. The had to be, either that or they were just preparing him for slaughter. It crossed his mind as he showered. A rain bucket had been built over a wooden stall and he wasn't sure but somehow they had managed to heat it. He noticed a few sets of solar panels in the "backyard" and found that to be the most likely solution. "Don't be stingy with the water," Michael had remarked. "You smell like wet coyote" He had then presented Ian with a few towels and a bar of soap. "We usually make our own soap nowadays but theres still a crate of the old stuff in one of the pantries. You better use this 'cuz it's scented"

    Ivory. As Ian began to wash himself, he could longer hold it back. He began to cry. A shower? With real soap- and a hot meal? Had he died during the night?

    An hour later he was sitting down with the whole family. Apparently it was just the one. Nancy, Wilson, Michael and 2 year old Scott. After saying grace, Wilson got into it. Regaling the story of how they had come to be there and how they had survived thus far. Apparently Wilson had gone in with a close friend of his on the property before hand. It was a small lake and fairly secluded on all sides by forest and then hills of Appalacia. When the economy had collapsed and the war began he and Nancy had sold their house at a loss to move to the cabin. His friend had not yet decided to head up and for two years they continued to eke out an existence with Wilson doing odd jobs and bringing in the money only to turn it around spending it on the necessities of life. The riots had not bothered the local area much as they were mostly relegated to the large cities and suburbs and Wilson and Nancy figured that eventually it would all blow over. They would only live at the cabin until then and then they could get back on their feet once the world resumed. Then came the war.

    To make a long story short, as Wilson put it. His friend and his family never made it join them. He didn't know what happened to them after the power went out. The phone lines had been fried with the EMPs and weather wars and there was no telling what had happened or what was happening out there. "And thats where you come in," he stated pointing his fork at Ian.

    Ian had already gone through two bowls of chicken stew and would've started on a third but his stomach wouldn't let him. "I uh, well." Ian tried to find out how to explain it while they all looked on intrigued. He wasn't sure exactly himself how he had managed to survive these five years on his own. "You only have a pellet gun, how the hell you keep on like that?" Mike chimed in. Ian scratched his head. "I-I don't know really."

    Now it was Nancy the chimed in. "But you must have been with somebody? Your parents? Brothers? Family? Friends? Somebody..." Ian shook his head. "They died...a while ago." he replied softly. "But then, how did you manage to get out here?" Ian sat back in the chair trying to figure out where to start. It was such a good feeling to sit in a chair.
     
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  16. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    "Decisions"

    Two weeks later Ian was a regular family member. Life was much simpler for the most part and he found much to do to pitch in around the house. He and Michael were busy most days preparing the soil and setting traps around the lake. Wilson was in the midst of reparing a spot on the roof with shingles cut straight from the local flora. It was a good life Ian thought. Simple. It almost made him forget what he had been though the past few years. Almost that is. From time to time it came back, in flashes. He wondered what would have happened had Emily been with him.

    "Hey there son..." Wilson said softly as he headed out to the "backyard". "Since you're around here now, I figure I can make a trip up to town." Ian sighed and buried the axe in the stump. It was still morning and quite cool out but he was drenched in sweat. "Town?" Ian repeated baffled. As far as he was concerned, there were no "towns". Atleast not any that he dared venture into. There were groups. Gangs of all sorts that inhabited various areas. It didn't matter where and it didn't matter who they were but he had managed to steer clear of such areas.

    "Yup!" Wilson said. " If you follow the old logging roads a bit northwest theres a group out there. I don't visit them much as I can't leave Nancy and the kids here alone. Since you've come, I kinda feel better and frankly we need the supplies." Ian nodded wiping his brow with his forearm. He and Wilson hadn't talked much but they seemed to have an understanding about things. Ian did what he was told thus far and volunteered for several tasks about the house. Afterall these people essentially saved his life and he was grateful. However it crossed his mind. How long could he stay here. It was two weeks and he was thinking about summer. They'd need him around, or atleast want him to help with the crops and whatnot and to build up cords for winter. In return he'd have food and shelter. It seemed too good to be true and he didn't like that. One thing he had learned the past couple years was to take nothing for granted and always err on the side of caution. Living depended on wise choices and even with all these people had offered him, he still was wary. He decided to speak on the matter.

    "They've got all manner of salvage there. Pots, pans, boilers. What I really need are some more nails and some rubber hose for the water purifiers- " "Um.." Ian interjected. "I see. I..." He started, trying to choose his words carefully. The last thing he wanted was an arguement or worse.

    Ian's eyes quickly darted to the axe. If need be, it was there- but all his gear was inside the house. "Summer will be coming soon, and its getting warmer out." Wilson nodded and pushed up the glasses on his face. " I kinda figure I should help out a bit more and best be on my way y'know?" He swallowed, bracing himself for any reaction. His muscles tightened.
    A puzzled look shot across Wilson's face. "You wanna leave?" Ian nodded slowly.

    Wilson scratched his head still confused. Then a smile slowly formed on his face. "I suppose.." he chuckled. "Well we're not keeping you here. But think long and hard about it." Ian relaxed slightly. "I mean, with all you've probably went through I'll respect your decisions as a man. I don't know where you're planning on heading, especially in this world. But I guarantee you, you probably won't find a better setup than this. Atleast come with me to that Bazaar. You never know what they have there and I'm sure you'd find something that'd help you out."
    Ian sighed thankfully. "Alright. I'll do that"
     
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  17. Alpha Dog

    Alpha Dog survival of the breed

    Good reading thanks for posting it cant wait to read more.
     
  18. Radar00

    Radar00 Monkey+

    "The Road"

    The road was suicide. Everybody and their mother knew that and nobody dared to travel on it. Various packs of dogs usually made the roads their home and lived in and amongst the abandoned cars along with their human counterparts which were usually just as vicious. The brave and the stupid would chose sections of highways to salvage parts but it was a dangerous job. In most open spots the road provided a corridor those that would scavenge the salvagers. Areas of highway with sound walls were particularly dangerous along with roads that wound their way though dense forset or overgrown weedfields that used to contain corn. They were killing corridors and everybody knew it.

    Still, the lucky few had managed to make a business of it. Scrapping rubber tires, seats, hoses, wires, batteries, headlights and anything else they could carry with them. There was a premium on batteries, lights and mirrors if you were lucky enough to find someone that was willing to trade.

    Wilson had learned this early on from his previous trips up to the trading post. He didn't particularly care for the clientelle it attracted nor the danger of the journey or leaving his oldest son to defend his wife and homestead but there wasn't much of an option unless he wanted to risk salvaging himself. He had tried that before and didn't enjoy the sound of gunfire nor the constant watch for dog packs.

    He and Ian made thier way through forest following a game trail that Wilson used often. It was a quiet trip as both knew not to make too much noise as they traveled. Wilson had stated it would take nearly a day to get to the "town". If they hurried they would make it there just before
    dusk. Not the best of times, but it was either that or start their journey at night and with one wrong turn, they could easily find themselves off the trail and in the middle of the woods which would cost more time.

    "So..." Ian started. "What exactly is this place?" The forest now began to break into a field of weeds that had grown in a frenzy in the past few years. Trees were already springing up and in a few years, most likely the field would just be another part of the forest. "Used to be a truck stop. Guess it still is kinda. The real kicker is a train had stalled on ther tracks crossing the place and there's a plot of motorhomes on the otherside." He paused for a second stopping in his tracks to scan the long grass and bushes. Dogs liked to roam around this area. It was just another unfortunate reality of the world they lived in and Wilson was glad for the extra pair of eyes. "You see anything moving, you unload." Wilson said quietly. He had been chased before and the memory was still vivid in his mind.

    "I know." Ian retorted. For the most part he had traveled away from towns and roads only following rivers and train tracks. He hadn't come into contact with many dog packs but had found enough evidence of them that he was on guard.
    Once during a previous summer he had gone a long time without water before coming to a creek. As he made his way down to it he was hit by a wall of the stench of death. Only a few feet from him was some unlucky soul that had ran into a dog pack. The poor bastard was probably asleep in a makeshift A-frame tarp tent when the dogs got him. Ever since then, Ian found himself falling asleep in enclosed spaces of abandoned vehicles or buildings or even in trees. Sleeping out in the open was simply asking for it.

    "Oh yeah.." muttered Wilson. "That train had all sorts of stuff on it. Coal, Wood, oil, a couple box cars full of merchandise and others full of food. Those folks up there have been living off that stuff ever since." Ian nodded, "So why didn't you and Nancy move up there. I mean, I know that's your house but...But wouldn't it be better to be..." Wilson shook his head. "I thought about it. Y'know just packing up and moving up here once everything ran out at the house. But, then I figure. What's gonna happen to those folks once that train is bone dry? There were about a hundred or so people living around there. Now I'm not sure. I think there's more now that its a trading post. Well atleast they probably get more traffic than they ought to." Wilson trailed off.

    Ian thought about it. He was right. It was just the same as him wanting to leave during the summer. He guessed people like Wilson and himself just needed to live on their own terms for good or bad.

    Wilson chuckled unexpectadly. "What is it?" Ian muttered. "You might like it there. I know for a fact theres a girl about your age that lives there." Ian rolled his eyes. That was the furthest thing on his mind right now. "I think her names Katey er Kristy or something..."

    Crack!


    The sound of a twig snapping brought them both into the present. Ian swung around scanning his rear. His pistol already in his hand and cocked. Wilson scanned ahead shotgun tight against his chest. They both waited at second before they heard it. The rustle of the longrass gave way to a panting sound. "Left!" Ian choked and Wilson turned and fired one blast of buckshot into the moving grass. Suddenly they heard then. There was a yelp and then the grass started moving. "They're- they're- " Ian stuttered. Wilson grimaced. They were nearly surrounded. If they started to run now-

    "Move!" Wilson motioned. Ian didn't hesistate. He darted foward down the path towards a maple tree ahead. Sure enough the dogs came out after him.

    "Ian! Run right!" Wilson shouted. Reflexively Ian dug his heel into the moist earth and did a right flank and sprinted into the grass. The blasts rang out behind him as Wilson slam fired his shotgun taking three dogs.

    Ian felt them behind him and a second later felt weight as one jumped on his back. He staggered but refused to trip. It would mean death if he fell now. He would have to fight. Ian turned as the snarling mongrels bit at his legs. Luckily for him his boots and two layers of pants protected him as the beasts continued to nip at him. The one on his back was now in front of him snarling, ears back, teeth bared and barking ferociously. Ian pulled the trigger. The 1851 roared dropping the dog in an instant. The others backed away for second caught unaware before quickly turning and dissappearing into the grass.

    "You alright?!" Wilson said as he ran toward Ian. "You're not bit are you?" The last thing they needed now was rabies or some other disease. Ian checked himself as he still shook slightly from the encounter. Apparently aside from a couple scrapes on his hands he was okay. "C'mon" Wilson sighed. "Lets get out of here." Ian nodded and jumped over his quarry and headed back to the road.

    They both picked up the pace. "They shouldn't bother us now since they've got four of their own to eat."
     
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  19. Sapper John

    Sapper John Analog Monkey in a Digital World

    Very nicely done Radar.
     
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