Monday, March 29, 2010

Prepare: SHTF Fiction - Remnant

Unless you have been under a rock the past three or four years, you probably have heard of or read Tom Sherry's stories, Deep Winter and Shatter. 

Shatter (Deep Winter)

Synopsis: Present day Spokane, Washington. Typical American family, the Drummonds, are awoken in the middle of the night as a massive earthquake tosses them out of bed and badly damages their home. In the days that follow, the Drummonds are forced to depend upon dad, Rick and his emergency preparedeness mindset honed over the years. Not only is their home damaged, but the related seismic activity sends ripples across the United States and world economy. Over the course of one year we watch as the world unravels and one family, their community and the world hangs on by their fingernails. Is it the end of civilization or the beginning of a new era? Only time will tell.

Good news for fans of Deep Winter and Shatter, Remnamt, the third story in the arc is now available online. Like the others, which recently were only available for purchase, but were originally published in installments online, Remnant is being published in blog format by Sherry.

Nearly forty chapters are available here on the blog. You will find yourself reading the whole thing at one sitting, so don't click that link until you get home, have a handy beverage nearby and no distractions. It's a great read.

Go read over the first chapters and find out what happened after the air plane crash cliffhanger from Shatter. You will not be disappointed.

And now, Tom has a new online novel related to the Deep Winter triology, Distance, which follows another character in Chicago as he deals with the Domino disaster.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Prepare: What To Do After An EMP Strike

Recent news stories, popular television shows and books like One Second After left many of us thinking what we could do in the event of a widespread EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) event. While nobody has all the answers, here are some suggestions that might help.

One minute the lights, air conditioner, computer, telephone and other electronics are working fine, the next moment, they are dead. Whether or not an EMP attack will happen, whether or not the effects are as described in popular writing, having a plan just in case is smart.

If you're at home, the first thing you will notice is the lights have gone out like in a power outage or winter storm. The air conditioning or heater, if electric, will cut out. The TV and other entertainment will shut off immediately. Cell phones and land line telephones will end calls and stop working. The silence will be deafening.

The same events will occur in cities, town, in the country, at schools and work places. Cars, not running, will not start or start and run roughly for a limited time. Airplanes in flight, as awful as this sounds, may lose engine power and quickly descend to the ground.

All electrical systems, except the most primitive, will stop immediately. Confusion will reign.

Quick; what do you do?

First things first. If moving, stop. If at work, move to a safe area. If at home. pause and consider if there is anything in your home which may be a threat or pose a danger. Verify that the power is out in the entire home or office and that battery powered devices aren't working either.

Then, where is everyone you care about? Kids at school? Spouse at work or store? How are you going to get them? How will they get home?

Does your car run? Check as soon as possible. If not, is there a neighbor nearby, one block or less, with a running vehicle? Do you have a bike? Can you ride to the kids school and collect them?

Remember, there are no phones working. That relative or friend who lives across town suddenly may as well be living in Africa and there is no quick or easy way to get to them. So forget about contacting Aunt Sue in Baltimore for the time being. Don't be surprised when you catch yourself reaching for light switches that don't work or grabbing that useless cell phone out of habit, though.

If the phones, car and power are all out, you know it's serious. Time to take action.

Go fill the tubs in the house with water. Unless you have a well, all water comes from somewhere else, usually far away, and brought to the house with readily available electricity. Water is still in the pipes and held in place with pressure so start filling the tubs and other containers. Fill everything because clean water will be very difficult to get shortly.

Next, make a judgement call - you can either go get the kids (if that applies) start checking on neighbors, relatives or friends or get supplies.

"The First Things To Go After An EMP Burst"

Pros and Cons - Neighbors are going to be a lifesaver. For instance, the lady across the street can watch your kids while you run down to the market to get more food. Also, neighbors can pool their resources and numbers to watch and protect their properties. A quick check next door with two nearby neighbors is a good start.

But, there's a bad side about spending the initial time after the EMP attack talking to neighbors. Many will be ill prepared to deal with the shock and consequences. Some will believe the power outage is temporary, they may argue and deny the seriousness of the situation. Dealing with these types of people will be a call on your part.

For me, after having the children collected, there are only two neighbors I will speak with before heading to the market nearby to get more supplies. Fortunately, there is a large market within walking distance and I have a bike cart I can use. It will also be a good idea to take along a large backpack and some canvass bags for simple transportation. Having help from a family member or neighbor is wise too.

Speaking of neighbors, I will offer to pool resources, such as money, with one or two neighbors when I go to the market. It's a good policy that will pay off later.

Going to the market - Cash is King. Have a supply of cash on hand for emergencies and an EMP attack is one of them. I keep several stashes of small bills around the house that I have added to each time I get paid. It does not take much to build a home cash reserve. Make it a habit to tuck twenty to two hundred dollars in the back of the wallet, purse or somewhere else hidden on your person. On paydays, take out an extra twenty for the home stash. Also toss in ones, fives and other small bills rather than spend them.

Stores will not be taking credit cards and possibly not even checks if their systems are down so have folding money on hand now. There may be a chance that the stores won't even be selling at all, so be prepared for anything. Most stores will probably allow shoppers to load a cart with necessaries if you make the case to the manager that you need food for the kids or something similar.

Note: I shop at the same store weekly and make it a point to know the worker's names. Knowing the manager or cashier may be useful if there's an emergency. 

If the grocery stores are selling, load up. Here's what to get..

- canned food
- baking supplies
- long term foods like rice and beans
- Over the counter (OTC) medicines
- vitamins
- toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates and feminine supplies
- matches, lighters and cooking fuel
- batteries and candles
- Soap, bleach
- bottled water

You cannot buy enough food in one trip to last during the total effects of an EMP strike; that period will be months if not years. That is why it is imperative that you start stocking now and use this last chance to buy as a "top off" of existing supplies only.

Taking an extra person along makes the trip easier. Have that second person focus on toilet paper, OTC medicines, feminine supplies, etc. since they are often on the same side of the store. Another person means two carts rather than one.

If there are other stores such as hardware or sporting goods stores open and nearby, take advantage now to get any building materials, gardening supplies, camp gear, guns and ammo. Also hit the gasoline station on the off chance that one may have a back up generator to get gas out of the ground, if you have a car or generator which is running. If anything, the rototiller needs gas so get some if possible.

If you have the money (or if the stores still take checks), make multiple trips to the stores as best as you can. In a few days there will be little or nothing moving to and from the stores and warehouses so the window is limited. That means in two or three days, the stores will be cleaned out of everything so get what you can now. For many of us, there are probably two or three stores nearby our homes. Visit each on the first day and get as much as allowed and which can be carried safely home.

Note: Don't forget, many shoppers will be buying short term stuff - cigarettes, liquor, beer, ice, sodas, snack food, etc. Only the older shopper (who remembers the Cold War) or the resident of Hurricane Country will understand which items go first and fastest. Shop wisely.

Don't think for a minute you are hoarding. You are providing for your family. Also, you can share what you have purchased with friends, family and neighbors who were not prepared or unable to get to the stores.

At home, put up the groceries and take a quick stock of what you have and how long it will last. Rationing will now be in effect for the whole family. Food in the fridge is eaten first, followed by the freezer and the pantry last of all.

Meals can be cooked outside if the weather is good, over the barbecue grill or if necessary, over a fire. At this point, you're probably wondering how much charcoal, propane and firewood you have on hand. Make a list because things like this will come up several times a day and need to be addressed.

When it gets dark, there will be more work to do. The lights are out, phones don't work and the car is dead. What will you do if there's a medical emergency? What if a fire breaks out? What if a passerby traveling on foot with others decides to come in the backyard to help themselves to your dinner?

Now is the time to make sure you have firefighting equipment like fire extinguishers, shovel, buckets, sand and water on hand. Same for locks, chains and other means to secure the front and back door, garage and windows. It might be a good idea to have plywood on hand to board up windows too. And items for home protection, such as firearms, will most likely not be available for first time buyers either.

What happens next? Do you have a nearby water source? Toilets will still flush for a few days at least, but you'll need to fill the water box. Only put used water from bathing or washing clothes in the water box. Clean water is for drinking and cooking only! Water can also be collected from rain spouts, from a nearby creek, river or stream. A swimming pool, even an above ground plastic pool, is a lifesaver for collecting water for flushing, clothes washing or bathing.

What about transportation? After an EMP, an older vehicle manufactured before 1972 or so, should still run as will many older diesel powered vehicles. If you have a running vehicle, keep it close (in the garage) and drive it only when necessary. A running vehicle will attract attention and may result in it being stolen or commandeered by local government. Also, what will the neighbors think if you and family have a running 1967 Mustang? Suddenly, you're rich by their standards and their attitude toward you may change.

Avoid attention and use "sneaker power" or a bike for getting around, but try and stay near the house. There is no need to go wandering around town unless necessary.

Find a way to get news. Old radios that run on vacuum tubes rather than transistors should still work. That "antique" tube radio of grandpas sitting on the shelf is more than decoration. With power from a car battery through an inverter and you have a lifeline to the outside world.

With a radio, you may find out that your situation is restricted to a limited geographical area. Or that there is an active government relief effort underway. Or maybe that the whole world is effected and the remaining governments are preparing the population for a new dark age. Without communications, you will never know.

Finally, what will you do when your food stocks run low? If its the right time of year, growing food is ideal. Do you have room for a garden? How about a place for containers such as on the patio? Do you have seeds? Have you ever grown anything? Now is the time to start practicing. Also, many of us don't live in rural areas flush with wild game, but there are options, even in the city. Search out websites now which describe urban hunting or foraging.

Also, think outside of the box where food may be stored for salvage later. Like disabled trucks, train cars, office building break rooms, abandoned warehouses. As always, respect private property and know the difference between looting and salvaging.

Regardless, the first 24 hours of an EMP event are critical to long term survival. Think and act. Afterward, things can go several different directions, so get prepared now.

If it's any help, here's what NOT TO DO after immediately after an EMP event -

- Don't waste time having a two hour meeting with neighbors. As noted, if they can't help, move on. If they can help, start getting supplies and agree to meet later that evening.

- Don't hang around work or school - go home the first chance you can.

- Don't wander around the neighborhood discussing what happened - there is time for that AFTER you have obtained supplies.

- Don't ride or walk into town and see what the government is doing. They will be busy, as lost as you are and bothering them may result in your detention.

- Don't start gardening, cleaning up your garage or inventorying your "preps". All of this should have been done before and there will be plenty of time in the days to come.

- Don't try to show off your preparedness skills - "Who wants to watch me make a solar oven?" - to anyone nearby. You'll have plenty of time to demonstrate skills as time goes on, use your time now wisely.

- Don't start defrosting food (the food in the fridge goes first and freezer will stay cold a day or so longer).

- Don't bother trying to get the 2009 car running. It won't happen.

Preparing for an EMP isn't something that can be done in a single day, but every day the power is on is another day to get ready. Stockpile supplies today, have a plan for day one and pray each day this doesn't happen.

Don't forget about the book which made this subject more relevant today..

One Second After

Good luck,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Prepare: How to build a cheap fallout shelter

Too many survivalist writers include preparation of a deluxe expensive fallout shelter as part of their suggestions and fiction. For instance, how often have we read about our hero and his shelter designed underneath his home complete with air filtration and blast door from American Safe Rooms (less than $10,000.00!), well, septic system and multiple hidden entrances?

Most of us have limitations on what and how we can prepare; space, money, time and understanding of others we live with.

A fallout shelter is one of those areas. Most of us simply do not have several thousand dollars around for a complete, sub-basement fallout shelter depicted in stories and movies. So we have to make due with a less expensive version using the tools and supplies we may have on hand.

To get started, you need the following:

A place for a shelter
A shovel, rototiller and pick
Plastic sheeting

What is described is a trench shelter. Basically, it is a long hole in the ground, a few feet wide, with ceiling and walls made from lumber and plastic sheeting and then covered with the dirt from the hole. 

A place for the shelter. This could be the backyard, acreage, vacant lot or other property. While having the shelter on site where one lives is the best option, having a shelter off site somewhere out of the way may be useful in avoiding prying eyes and uninvited guests.

While it's handy to have a back hoe, most of us will have to settle for a shovel, pick and plenty of labor. If thei digging team is limited to one or two adults/teens, then plan the work over a long weekend or several days.
A rototiller is handy because it can break up three or four inches of soil allowing its quick removal by shovel and is faster than using a pick.

The fastest way to start is to mark off the spot where the shelter should go. The usual applies:  Make sure it is away from water source, structures which may collapse on the shelter or exits, away from gas line, fuel tanks, underground wiring or plumbing.

Start small and expand on the basic structure. Mark off and dig a six foot long trench. The deeper it is the more protection it offers and the more comfortable it will be for the residents. At one or both ends of the trench, mark off a ninety degree right angle turn. This will be the entrance/exit to the shelter. Gamma radiation cannot "bend corners" but only travels in a straight line thus the entrance points should be at a right angle.

Shore up the sides of the trench with lumber using two by fours and plywood. Put plastic sheeting on the floor to keep moisture out and then place plywood on top if a stable floor is desired.

At a depth of six or more feet, the top can be covered with plywood, but solid core doors from the house can be used as well. After the doors or lumber have been put on top, cover them with sheets of plastic to keep moisture out. Then cover with at least three feet of earth. The entrances can be covered as well after occupants have entered the shelter, but not neccessarily with dirt.

Shelter residents would block the entrances with bulky items such as preparedness supplies in buckets and totes, water barrels or other containers. A crack should be left for fresh air to enter the shelter which can be protected by placing a furnace filter or similar over the opening.

This type of trench shelter can theoretically be occupied as long as water and food holds out. Typically, the worse radiation is in the first twenty four hours after the last bomb has exploded. Shelter stay normally lasts for a few weeks afterwards, but have a way to measure radiation before leaving the safety of the shelter.

For more information on how to build your own shelter, check with these resources:

Cresson Kerney's authortative website on nuclear war preparedness

K14U - A great site for nuclear prepardness and supplies.

A fallout shelter, in an emgency, does not have to cost several thousands of dollars or take years to prepare.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

SHTF Fiction: Too Bad, So Sad

How about some home made SHTF fiction courtesy of me? I am working on a new site for this stuff and penned a quick tale today to share. Standard stuff applies.. It's my story. No you can't reprint it without my written permission and if I catch you doing so, watch out for my big legal boot.


IT happened about halfway through my standard Thursday night dinner - two McDonald Quarter Pounders, two large fries and a six pack of Miller's Genuine Draft. That ego maniac president came on and stated the obvious - the US was broke. There would be no more welfare, social security or food stamps. In an effort to collect outstanding debts, the UN would be landing about a half a million blue hats tonight at airports around the country. Then he said good night and good luck and he walked off the screen.

I didn't wait to hear what happened next. I turned off the set and threw the remote across the room. It was a matter of time before law and order broke down and things went crazy. Good thing I was as prepped as best as I could be. I looked around at the guns I had acquired over the past three years. They were scattered through out the living room, kitchen and dining room (as well as in my bed room) where they would be handy for just in case. Like today.

My jaw was still on the living room floor taking in all that had happened when I heard a crash outside. Looking out the window, sure enough its a couple of the the gang banger lowlife neighbors next door knocking over my trashcans on their way to pay me a visit. I guess they figure with no welfare check coming from taxpayers LIKE ME, they plan on making a withdraw direct.

Not wasting time, I choose the right tool for the job from my armory. I pick my Mossberg 590 with extended tube, elastic side saddle, sythetic stock and muzzle break. It was loaded with 6 00 bucks I had picked up online from one of the ammo sites I read about online.

After racking a fresh shell in the pipe, I stepped out on the porch in a move I had rehearsed in my mind a dozen times "Come and get it you pieces of scum!" I yelled and let Gang Banger number one have it front and center. GB number two behind him reaches for something in his baggy pants and that give me time to rack shell two into place with his name on it. "Kaboom!", the Mossberg does it's job and makes me a happy customer.

I hustled down to the waiting bodies and turn them over looking for "war booty". Sure enough, number one has a Glock 21 in his pants along with a half dozen spare mags (no wonder his pants were failing down!). Banger two has a matching Glock with four mags and surprise - a wad of twenties and fifties. Drug money no doubt. It's mine for now and will go a long way on some last minute preps.

This was just like those end of the world stories online. I discovered them a few years back and read them every chance I get. I never bothered with buying a computer not when I could use the one in the break room at work for free. I just sneak out a few minutes early for lunch and hog it for the whole hour before anyone else can get claim it. Too bad, so sad for them.

I take my spoils and decide its time to bug out of dodge! I head for the house and grab my left over Quarter Pounder and cram half in my mouth. Gonna need some fuel to get this job done!

I start with my guns and ammo. I have more than a dozen choice pieces and thousands of rounds for each stored in .50 caliber ammo cans. The cans line my living room wall and I frequently like to get all my guns out and line them up in front of the ammo cans and just look at them. Its really cool.

Forty five minutes later and I have only managed to get the ammo into the bed of my Ford Extended Crew Cab Four by Four. I had to take two breaks and the same number of Cokes to keep the ole engine running.

By the way, who am I? My name is Bob Kirgus. I am 45, divorced and living the life on my own in a two bedroom house in a town not much different than yours. I work as foreman down at United Mail Service, you know, the guys in the red and yellow trucks. I am the local trouble maker on the job and have a great time being the "difficult one" my boss refers to at our team meetings. Ha ha! Wonder how HE'S doing with all this? Bet he has his head in some three ring manual trying to figure out the answer to S-H-T-F. Ha!

Right now, I got to get the truck loaded with food and ammo and head for the hills. I imagine this place is going to go up like a road flare once the "Don't Haves" realize there's no more free lunch.

I start on the guns and try to decide the best choices for the ride. The Mossberg for sure. And my Colt 1911A, parkerized, with laser sites and extended custom made Beaver mags and 185gr rounds. But should I include my loaded McMillian TAC-50 (cashed out my 401K for that one!) with flash suppresor in the front seat as well? What if I run across a road block like in those stories? What about my Main Battle Rifle? My loaded Springfield M1A1 Match with synthetic stock and 32 twenty round magazines loaded with Lake City (purchased after the divorce, thank you very much, from my share of the sale of the former Miss Cheapskate Ball and Chain and my home!).

By now, its been two hours since the Big Mouth's announcement and its getting late. I end up throwing all the guns in the front and back seat of the Ford and decide to play it by ear. Then I load up all the canned goods, (good stuff like Hormel chili, Spam, canned tamales, and so on) from the kitchen and grab the rest of my Cokes and Mountain Dew from the pantry. I can't decide whether to take the buckets of sugar, flour and baking stuff I planned on learning to use. In the end I just leave them and the pots and pans and whatever for the looters.

After putting the food in the truck bed, I change into my bug out clothes. A pair of jeans. t-shirt, suspenders (damn gut!), my favorite team's ball cap, photographer vest and fanny pack. I lace up my boots (with a break to catch my breath between each boot).

If you are wondering, my vest is loaded with spare mags for my Raven .25 back up gun, a dozen protein bars, two bic lighters, a compass, notebook, pen, 50" of paracord, my Streamlight tactical flashlight, spare batteries, a half dozen 12 guage slugs and buckshot, p38 can opener, rain poncho and a Cold Steel folder).

Yeah, the vest is heavy, but I got enough stuff here to save my backside in ANY situation. My fanny pack has some of the same stuff plus a roll of Charmin, flattened and stored in a two gallon Ziploc bag and some contractor trash bags.

I stuff my big blue Samsonite suitcase with jeans, t-shits and underwear and haul out for the front of the house. Damn! I forgot my toothbrush, razor and bathroom stuff. Oh well, I can get a tooth brush on the road and I might as well grow a beard. In a few weeks the thin veneer of civilization with its shaving, alimony and red and yellow United Mail Service uniforms will be HISTORY, baby!

I head out the door, but not before throwing the house keys on the couch. I won't need this place anymore! Take that fat cat Mr. Banker!

I snag my four NATO jerry cans from the garage and heave them into the back of the truck bed. Two are empty so I better grab some more fuel before I leave town. I crank up that bad boy and squeal out of the driveway and down the street.

But that has to wait because no sooner had I get around the corner when I run into trouble. Again.

A fruity looking Volvo with a "Hug the Planet" sticker on the bumper is stopped in the middle of the street. Two more gang bangers have pulled the occupants (Mr and Mrs Flower Power) out and are giving them the going over. I slam on the brakes, step out and introduce them to Mr. Springfield M1A. Bam bam bam! The bangers go down and unfortunately, Mr Flower Power took one to the head in the rush. Adrenaline I guess. Not my fault.

Mrs Flower Power, is stunned. Probably the new found respect and admiration she has for a REAL MAN like me. But its not for long. Banger on the ground is still alive and puts a nine into her back. I snap off three shots into the ground from my Springfield before number four finds the mark. No more outings for that upstanding youth as the missed rounds whine off into the night air.

Again, I help myself the leftovers. This time I end up with a Taurus nine millimeter Barretta clone and a Smith and Wesson .38 with a five inch barrel. I didn't know bangers went for classics! Some more ammo and spending money came with the deal as well. Too bad for the Flower Powers, but the tough new world probably won't come with lattes. Ha! Too bad, so sad.

I get back on the road and head for the gas station and get another dose of bad news. There is a line around the block for the four pumps. No surprise, but I don't have time to wait.

I nose the Ford in between two cars already at the pumps, a Honda and a Toyota Prius, and get out with my 1911A. I fire a round into the air and shout "We can do things my way or the hard way! What's it going to be?". Some gal screams and a guy tears away from his car for the safety of the ladies room, so I start filling my truck up.

Aboo or Habib who runs the place comes out and demands cash or no gas. No problem and I start peeling Jacksons and Grants off the bangers flash wad and Mr MidEast's eyes light up like he was in paradise and is meeting his 50 virgins. After twenty minutes (hey, I got three tanks on the truck and two of the jerry cans to fill), I get back on the road.

I got a bad case of indigestion coming on. Must have been that last burger. And my shoulder is really hurting from firing the Springfield. I wish I would have spent more time at the range but that used up ammo. I liked keeping my ammo all together and wanted as much as possible when the baloon went up. Oh well.

Nothing between me and the wilderness but.. hey, the Albertsons grocery store has some activity so I pull in. Might as well grab some spare grub while the stores are still open. Too bad though. Folks are streaming in and out with full carts. The only problem is those coming out are being relieved of their goods by those outside. Time for backup plan two! I figured this out after lunch one day reading those online stories.

I pull around back and see the loading door is open. I back the Ford up and grab my Colt Python .357 with chrome finish and Pachmeyer grips, six spare speed loaders and my 4 battery Monster Maglight. In the back door and.. wonders of wonders. Several pallets of Spam, chili, beef stew, tamales and lots of Cokes and Mountain Dew are waiting just inside the door.

I pull my Cold Steel boot knife and hack into the plastic wrap on the pallets. Next I grab a dolly and start loading cases and taking them to the Ford. About ten minutes later (and a break for the old man. This is a lot of work!), I hear someone walking into the back room. Some guy with a crew cut and white apron on comes in and asks "Hey! What are you doing?".

Might be trouble so I level the Python at him and tell him he can get in the way and in the grave or turn around and act like he saw nothing. Crew Cut wets his pants right there and starts blubbering about his mom, his auntie, some guy he's pals with named Bruce and his little dog at home and a whole bunch of other stuff. I don't have time for this so I put a round into a big stack of Depends diaper cartons to get his attention. Well ironically, that makes Crew Cut take a dump in his pants and fall on the ground babbling and bawling.

I hear feet and voices coming from the store, so I make my exit. The truck is pretty loaded down with my food from home, ammo, guns and now several cases of canned food, so it's probably best. Anyway, it was starting to stink in there.

My chest is really burning with indigestion now. It feels like theres a lead weight on it. I gotta grab some Tums or something. You never read about that happening in those adventure stories.
Now, I am on the road and heading out of town, but sure enough, I hit a road block. Well, it looked like one to me. Two cars are plowed into each other and blocking most of the road. There is some lady yelling at this old guy who looks like he's drunk. It's gotta be a trap so I better be careful.

I grab my Mossberg again, but figure its time for my FAL to get in on the action instead. I shove a 30 rounder of South African surplus in my European wonder weapon and grab a bandoleer of 16 more mags from the back set and try to step out of the cab in one quick move. But my gut hits the steering wheel and I have to raise it up to get out. The bandoleer is in my left hand so I throw it on the dash when drunk guy pounds on the passenger window.

I jumped about ten feet when that happens and I break some seriously loud wind. But that wasn't loudest thing. The FAL goes off in my right hand and takes out the whole passenger window and most of Drunk Guy's face.

Sheet! I hadn't meant to do that. I can't remember if the safety was on or not. The lady in the street goes into hysterics right then and there and won't stop screeching. No time to waste. I am sweating like a pig and my heart is going a million miles an hour. I start the truck up and back up. I put it in forward and head to the right and around the wreck in front of me. I think I rolled over the drunk guy at that point but was too amped up to think about it, I just went over the curb, grass and back onto the road leaving that screaming lady in the middle of the street.

I hope she didn't get my license plate and that had me shaking bad. I wish I had a beer or something. Damn my chest hurts. But you know what? The poop has hit the fan and the cops are going to be too busy taking care of their own families to worry about me! Too bad so sad. The guy was probably some rich banker getting drunk because his house of fiat money had collapsed. I bet he was going to hitch a ride or demand my truck. Jerk. Probably deserved it.

I was about to get on the interstate when I saw that blue and white sign calling my name - Super WalMart. I knew I needed a toothbrush and maybe a few other things. I would be living on the road and in the wilderness now and there is no better place for a few last minute preps than Wally World!

Sure enough, there was a mob going in and out, but I didn't let that stop me. I pulled around back again and went in accompanied by my good buddies, Mr Mossberg and Mrs Colt and Python. I went through the double doors in the store room into the store fully intending on heading for the pharmacy and personal items when I saw the sporting goods section was right in front of me.

Someone left the cart for a second so I tossed their stuff on the floor and snagged it. I grabbed all the twelve gauge bird shot they had on the shelf and then started loading up camping gear like lanterns, a sleeping bag, a tent, a bunch of that freeze dried food and one of those camping toilets. I was about to get some fishing stuff when I saw the ammo cabinet open.

I was deciding between Federal and Core-Lokt 30.06 when some big mouth comes up and tells me to get out of his way cause needs all the .40 caliber in the cabinet. He's got a Smith and Wesson shoved in his fancy dress pants and completely ignores my Colt in the drop leg holster, my Python in the shoulder holster and my Mossie hanging over my back. I ignore them too and went for my Raven .25 in my vest pocket.

I pointed the tiny, yet lethal weapon in his face and tell him "I don't like hoarders or fancy pants like you who forgot their manners". Fancy Pants laughs at the Raven and says "Where did you get that? From the toy department?".

I was ticked and I forgot all the firearms training I had read online. I pulled the trigger and could have shot the guy, but forgot the safety was on. Fancy Pants sneers at me and goes for his .40 but was too jazzed up. The gun went off in his pants and shot his.. well you know what off or close to it.

This big blood stain appears on the guys's pants and he starts to freak. He reaches for me and grabs a hold of my vest and kind of falls on me. Well everyone's freaking cause his gun went off and I kind of fell backwards and this guy lands on top of me. He's getting all white and screeching in pain. I try and flip him off but between the Mossberg on my back and my big fat stomach, I am having a hard time sitting up.

I start freaking out myself having this dying guy on top of me so I start wiggling around on the floor like Curly in the Stooges until he falls to my right side. After that, I can't get up fast enough and get away from this place. I push my cart for the back and forget all about the ammo in the cabinet and everything else I missed including a toothbrush.

I practically run for the loading dock and throw everything into the back of the truck, which by now is riding low in the springs. I add my weight to the load and peel out for the interstate. This is not the way things are supposed to be going. What is the deal with all these other people? In the stories, everyone goes into Walmart and loads up two or three carts and makes a break for it. Sheesh. That guy's blood is on me.

I get on the interstate and for the FIRST time I catch a break. Traffic west bound is light. My plan is to head to a state park about an hour outside of town and set up a camp hidden far back in the woods off a fire road I found last year. From there I will monitor the radio and do some foraging on the interstate once things quiet down. I dig around in the console and find a Mountain Dew and slam it one big long gulp. I gotta get that sick taste out of my mouth.

I try to put that guys face out of my mind but when I do, I think about that drunk guy at the window. The window is still blown out and some of his blood and stuff is on the door frame. I gotta pull over and get this cleaned up but first let me make some tracks away from town.

Just then, Lady Luck stepped out and Murphy hopped aboard. I felt a thump under the truck and then it starts to ride slightly to the right. Great. I got a blowout. I hope its not one of the inside tires. Those are a real killer to change. In fact last time, I took it to the dealership to change it because I couldn't figure that out.

I pull to the side of the dark interstate and slowly get out. My back is killing me from all the heavy lifting and that scuffle in the Walmart. And this extra weight I packed on since my divorce can't help, but that's the ex's fault. Women, sheesh.

I stagger around the back of the truck and was relieved to see it was the outside tire. Then the fun begins, getting the spare and tools out. I have my Maglight for light, but wish I had something brighter. Oh well. This shouldn't take long.

About fifteen minutes later I managed to get the spare down from the carrier under the bed when headlights illuminated the back of my truck. Swell. Might be trouble so I go for the passenger door and retrieve an adequate response. I pulled out my Ruger Mini 14 Ranch Rifle with the nickel finish and forty round jungle magazine; FMJ on top, hollow point on bottom. Say hi to my death stick you freaks!

The car behind me is some sort of low rider Pontiac those bangers love to ride around in. Two baggy pants step out of the car and before they can lay some ebonics on me, I raise my Mini 14 and tell them to reach for the sky. Too bad, one of them goes for the handgun in the front of his low rider pants.

Pow, pow, pow! I start unloading the Mini on the driver and then swept across to the passenger side. Then something went wrong. My left arm felt sort of numb, like it was plunged in ice water or something.

It must have affected my shooting because I hit the passenger low, in his upper leg and crotch. Sure, it dropped him like any other fella, but it definately was not center mass like those online stories tell you to hit. With my arm rapidly going number, I swept the rifle one more time across the Pontiac's windshield in case another bad guy or two are hiding in the backseat.

The magazine hit empty and the bolt slid back so I tried to pull the spent mag with my right hand and hold the Mini by the upper. No such luck as my left hand couldn't hold a feather in its current state so the rifle clattered to the ground in front of me.

Maybe it was the sight of my Ruger hitting the ground with a finish marring fall that made me feel really nauseous suddenly. It didn't help that my vision was blurring and rapidly going black. I staggered towards the open Pontiac in order to check out the car and pick up the thugs guns and other goodies. I barely made it to the open door when I collapsed to my knees.

I was coherent long enough to look inside and see a small person, a kid no more than ten or eleven, clearly dead and covered with blood in the back seat. I must have hit him when I fired blindly into the car. Bummer.

But it did not matter much. I fell backwards and felt my head hit the ground with a thud. My body seemed to cease working and my bowels let go. Nasty. At that moment I realized what was happening; massive coronary. The stress, the exertion, the extra seventy five pounds I packed on with beer and junk food since the divorce finally caught up with me. Three years of sitting on my fat butt watching tv, cramming garbage in my face dreaming about the end of the world. Too bad, so sad. For me.

The last thing I remember seeing was one of the gang members pistol lying in the ground not six inches from my face. A Desert Eagle. Damn. I always wanted one of those. Then nothing.

The Suburban pulling the trailer coasted to stop next to the Ford pickup and Pontiac on the shoulder. A tall, lean man steps from the drivers side and cautiously walks around the front of the Chevy and looks over the scene. Three dead guys on the ground, one dead kid in the car. What looked like a Ruger Mini 14 lay next to the truck and at least one semi auto handgun near one of the victims.

A young man, high school age and clearly quarterback material joins the man on the side of the road.

"What happeend Dad?" the younger of the two asks.

"Looks like the fat guy had a flat and was planning on robbing these people in the car. He ended up shooting all of them but then was shot in the end. Look at all the blood on his pants and that vest."

"Check out the truck dad! Look at all those guns in there!".

"This must be the guy they were talking about on the radio a few minutes ago. Driving around shooting up the town. Things are bad enough there and now him".

"Should we just leave him here?"
"Him, yes, son. The guns and the ammo, no. Don't touch the guns he's wearing or the rifle on the ground. But the rest of them, except for that FAL, can go in the trailer. The ammo too".

"Why not the FAL, dad? And isn't that stealing?"

"There are some spent .308 rounds in the front seat, son. I bet he shot a few folks with that rifle and I don't want anything to do with it. As for the rest, tonight showed me what happens when things go south in a hurry. We can't take any chances that some other goon like this one won't take the rest of these guns and kill some other folks. I know. It doesn't make sense, but trust me on this one".

The two men quickly moved the ammo cans and guns to the trailer and locked it up. A voice called from the front seat of the Suburban.

"Honey the news is on again!"

"OK, dear".

In Washington, the Vice President was sworn in at eight o'clock local time only minutes after the President suffered what experts are calling a complete mental breakdown. At seven PM this evening, the President appeared on national television declaring economic collapse and pending military invasion by United Nations forces. Experts are speculating this might have been caused by the President's recent re-election loss and the economic problems which have plagued his administration and the country the past four years. The now former President was taken to Andrews Air Force base for observation. President elect Paul said the nation's thoughts were with the former President and his family during this trying time... In local news, police have managed to stabilize the sudden outbreaks of unrest and violence which flared briefly after the President's inflammatory announcement...

"Hey dad. Did you want to get all those canned goods from that pick up?" said the teen pointing at the huge pile of canned Spam, tamles and chili in the back of the truck.

"Are you kidding? That stuff will kill you" said the father.

The End

1. It's fiction.
2. It's my first work of fiction published here. You know the saying about if you don't like it and what you can do.
3. It was fun writing it. I came up with the idea driving home with my son and wrote the first part out loud for him to judge. He wanted to know what happened so I wrote it down.
4. Don't reprint it.
5. If you really like it, point others to the URL and share it that way. Hey, I need the traffic and it keeps me writing more.
6. If you really like it, I have a bunch more in here (points at head) and would love to write it. Leave a comment and say so.
7. Thanks for reading this far.

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