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Tom drove Ray to an old farmhouse in the country. It was a two-story house from the eighteen hundreds with tall narrow windows. The car lights lit up the barn, and it looked like it was ready to collapse at any moment. Bringing the car to a stop about fifty feet from the porch, they noticed a guy sitting in a chair with a rifle in his lap. Stepping from the car, they heard him yell, “What do you want?”
“We need to talk with you,” Ray responded.
In a demanding voice he replied, “Ain’t in the mood for talking, unless you happen to have a warrant. I didn’t think so, you better get back in that shiny car of yours and leave.”
Tom whispered, “Didn’t think this was going to work, you can’t trust these kind of people anyway,”
“Give me a minute,” Ray whispered, and then yelled, “The Government is after my little girl, and I need some help.”
“Too bad,” he yelled, “She should have stayed away from them. Not my problem, now get out of here before I shoot your sorry ass.”
Tom whispered, “It’s not working.”
“Yes it is your problem.” Ray shouted. Then inquired, “Dose the name Mandy Gunderson mean anything to you,”
Getting up from his chair and walking to the edge of the porch he insisted, “Who is out there?”
Ray responded, “If it were my God Child I wouldn’t be saying those things.”
“Who the hell are you? How do you know these things?” he shouted as he walked down the steps.
Ray kept talking, “You promised you would take care of her no matter what. Now that her parents are dead, you think you can break your word. Well I did your job today and saved her bacon. I think it is time for you to keep that promise.”
Now standing face to face with Ray and his rifle pushed against Ray’s chest. He asked, “Who the hell are you? And how do you know these things?”
Ray went on, “I was there the day you held that little girl in the church, and promised you would take care of her if anything happened. I was there when she put her mom and dad in the ground. I saw you there too, but you never went to her. You just left her standing there.”
He snapped back, “What could I do, she was married and had a husband to take care of her. Besides, she didn’t even know me, and I hadn’t seen her since she was eight.”
Ray replied, “You could make up for it now, and do the right thing.”
“So who the hell are you, and why didn’t she come herself?” He demanded.
Pulling his CIA ID from his pocket, Ray handed it to him. Looking it over he blurted out, “Great, you guys must have dug deep to come up with this shit. You had me going for a minute, but you can take your crap and get out of here.”
“Look at the name,” Ray suggested.
“So what,” he responded. “If you really are CIA you can put any name on there you want.”
Ray mumbled, “My brother told me about the time the two of you were sitting under old man Patterson’s windmill drinking beer, and making dares. He said…”
“Stop right there, “he ordered, “Ok, so what if you are Paul’s brother. I have no pull with the government, in fact their trying to arrest me most of the time. You’re CIA, why don’t you do something.”
Ray answered, “We are doing something, that’s why we came here. Just give us five minutes, and if you don’t want to help us were out of here.”
Letting down his rifle he said, “You have five minutes, but it won’t change a thing.”
Ray reached into the car and pulled out the file. Handing it to the man he informed, I would start about the middle of the file.”
Holding it in front of the car headlights he saw, “Top Secret Shadow Eyes Only.” Looking up he responded, “This don’t prove a thing, I could have made this on my printer in the house.”
“Just flip to the part about Nuke Threat,” Ray demanded.
He flipped through the folder, stopping from time to time just long enough to read the title, “Patriot Act, enact a plan to control the people that removes all rites. Debt Entrapment and Easy Money. Allow everyone to borrow more then they could ever pay back. Slave to the company store theory. Trucking Plan, breakdown the supply chain to control the people. Nuclear Threat, use a Nuclear threat to close all boarders.” Looking up at Ray he informed, “I still haven’t seen anything that hasn’t been on the news, and anyone could print something up.”
“Turn to the next section,” Ray demanded.
Flipping a few pages it read, “Bio-Identification and Rationing. Requiring everyone to have a bio-marker Identification to buy or sell.” Ray reached down and turned to the next section, “Riots and Gun Confiscation.”
“I don’t know, this is pretty convincing, but how do I know you’re not running a sting operation.” He replied.
Ray turned and walked to the car door, and pulled it open. Stopping to inform Cliff, “You are holding a death wish. Twenty minutes from now, there will be more dark suits and black helicopters than you have ever seen in your life. They will be swarming this place like ants on an anthill. If you are lucky, after they’re done torturing you they’ll kill you, and put you out of your misery. I put my life on the line to save this country, and no one person is going to stop me. I’ll find someone else to keep that little girl safe. I just can’t stop this, and keep her safe at the same time. They think that if they get her they can stop me, but you and I both know this is bigger than any one person. I will do what ever I have to. Come on Tom lets get out of here.”
Tom stepped next to the car door and mumbled, “Wrong choice.”
“Wait,” Cliff insisted, “Let’s go inside and talk about this.”
“Wise move,” Tom announced, and followed him to the house. Inside Ray told him what he had been through the last two days. Cliff was still hesitant to believe them, but not so much as to do nothing. He pulled a bible from the bookshelf and opened it. Handing it to Tom he pointing to a phone across the room and said, “Start calling these numbers, they are pagers, so use the code 99. I need to have some help to decide what to do.”
Tom found a card taped to the page with the numbers on it, and went to the phone. Then Cliff went to a computer in the corner of the living room. It was next to the front window, so he could watch out the window when working. He logged on to the web, and a survival page came up. It was covered with adds for survival goods. There were adds for water filters, Food storage goods, and Potassium Iodate tablets in case of a nuclear accident or war. After picking a few links, a box came up and Cliff typed his message into it. “The rooster has come home to roost, and all the hens were gone. Now the hen needs help finding her chicks.”
Putting his hand on Cliff’s shoulder Ray whispered, “Pretty smart, not one word that would put up a flag, but there is something you must know. Anyone that goes with us is in for the long hall, and won’t be able to leave. Once someone knows where our command center is, we can’t take the chance of them getting caught. They will have to stay to the end, so we don’t need anyone with attachments.”
On the highway, Wiley made the call. The voice on the other end answered, “You got them?”
“Hell no! What I got is a dead team. I need a chopper now! Not five minutes from now. Now! This is a damn war zone here.
In the woods, the sound of a helicopter pounded in the background not to far off. Rick shouted, “Everyone under the truck!” They scrambled under the trailer of the truck, as Rick climbed in the cab. He soon emerged with the rocket launcher, and a scanner. Tossing the scanner to Dave, he said, “See if you can pick anything up on that thing.”
Then I saw it, a channel eleven-news chopper. At about that time the scanner stopped and a voice blared out, “It looks like a truck is scattered across both sides of the freeway. The fire crews have just finished putting out the fires, and it looks like there are several fatalities. This one is going to take a wile to clean up folks. I suggest finding a different route, or stopping somewhere for a wile. This looks bad, and it will probably be hours before things get moving again. Scot Carlson with air eleven-news signing off.”
The scanner stopped again, “Need an ET on that crane.” After a pause, it stopped again, “Black Cap One to command. We are setting down now, package in view.” Another pause and, “We have a twenty mile containment, they’re in there somewhere, find them. Look under every twig if you have to, but get them, Tiger out.”
Rick jumped up and ran to the front of the truck, putting his hand on the engine cover he gasped, “We need to cool this truck down or get it out of here. We’re going to look like a neon sign on the infrared. They will be all over us in no time.”
Going to the side compartment, Rick pulled out a fire extinguisher, and headed back to the front of the truck. Lifting the cover to the engine compartment, Rick started spraying the engine and in side of the compartment down as he exclaimed, “Hope there is enough co2 in this thing to cool this down.”
At the Pentagon, a Captain steps up behind the Sergeant. “Do we have a bird in place yet?”
“Yes sir, he replies. “I have a satellite lining up now. I’m switching to thermal.”
“Right there Sergeant, zoom in on that,” the Captain commanded. It came up full screen. It was what looked like four people. “Give the coordinates to com, I’m sending in a team,” he ordered.
“Tiger to Black Cap One, we have a target, sending info now.”
“Black Cap One to Tiger, receiving target now.”
On the highway, the black helicopter lifted off, and headed for the target. Flying by inferred the pilot found a place to land. Setting down on a logging road, he informed the team the target was about a thousand yards to the south. Pulling their night vision down over their eyes the team disembarked the chopper with Wily behind them.
Working their way down the road, they spotted the camp. The commander used hand singles for his team to spread out. Working their way around they surrounded the tent, as Wily hid behind the truck that was parked there. He remembered what happened on the freeway, and didn’t want to take any chances. Looking in the back of the truck, he saw two bow’s with quivers. Bow hunters, he thought, but before he could say a thing. He heard the team leader shout; “You are surrounded! Get out here now!” Then he threw a can of teargas in the tent. There was the scream of a woman as they crawled out of the tent choking.
The team leader flipped up his night vision, and shinned a light on them. Checking each face, as they lay on the ground choking, but none of them matched who they were looking for. Wily pulled his cell-phone from his pocket and made the call. “What do you have?” Came over Wiley’s phone. “Not the damn target! Just a group of bow hunters camping out. Get the team in here to debriefed them and clean this mess up.”
At the Farmhouse, Jim pulled his bike in the driveway, and saw the shiny car with government plates. He shut down his bike, and pushed it into the trees. The thought of a trap came across his mind. He worked his way around to the back of the house, and looked through the kitchen window. He saw what looked like two ATF agents talking to Cliff. Slipping to the backdoor, he checked it. It was unlocked, so he slowly turned the handle. Quietly opening the door, he listened to what they were saying. Ray’s voice, “They will hunt down everyone in your group, torture them for what ever info they can get out of them. Then kill them, so there is no trail.” Jim’s heart was pounding, damn their going to kill us all, he thought. He pulled his 357 from the back of his pants, and jumped into the kitchen in a signal leap. Pointing his gun at Tom’s head he shouted, “One move and I’m blowing your head off.” Then moving the gun to Ray’s head he said, “I know you, your picture is all over the TV. You’re a terrorist, and wanted for trying to smuggle a nuke to Seattle.
“Put that gun away Jim!” Cliff ordered. “They’re not going to shoot anyone, and what is this about him being on TV.”
Shoving his gun in the back of his pants, Jim walked to the TV, and turned it on. It is on every channel; a truck carrying a nuke headed for Seattle blew up on the freeway. There are quit a few dead people, and they’re looking for some terrorist’s that got away.” Then pointing at Ray he announced, “That guy sitting right there on your couch is one of them.”
Cliff shook his head and broke in, “Have a seat Jim, things aren’t as they seem.” Then watching Mandy and Steve’s picture popup on the TV, he looked at Ray and said; “Now I believe you, but I think there isn’t much we can do to stop this.”
Ray looked into Cliff’s eyes and informed, “I think we can, and when the rest show up, I’ll tell you things you never thought of in your wildest dreams. There is a way to turn this around, but we will need people we can trust. Once I give the briefing no one can leave the group, unless, well we don’t want to think about that.”
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Jim questioned, “What is the point of no return?”
Ray smiled, “For you it’s already to late. You are way past the point of no return.”
Looking out the window Cliff saw two more men coming up on the porch. Waving his hand at Ray he blurted, “You best step in the bedroom for a few.” Taking Cliff’s clue, Ray moved to the bedroom. Over the next hour the room filled with people, soon all the dining room chairs were in the living room, every seat was taken, and people were standing in the gaps.
Cliff looked around the room and announced, “For those of you that have been talking about the reward. Forget it! Those people are not terrorist’s, its part of a government cover-up, and that is not what we are here for. Now its time to separate the boys and girls from the men and women. Anyone that is not willing to put their life on the line for freedom, and willing to keep each other in site for the next month, year, or what ever it takes. You need to find the door now.” The room was dead quiet, as everyone looked at each other. Then the only woman in the room spoke up, “There ant a man here that can take me, and I ain’t giving any of them a chance to show me up. I’m in.”
Cliff looked around the room and inquired, “If anyone wants out, this is your last chance.” No one moved, as they all stared intensely at Cliff. “Then that is it, the only way anyone leaves is in a body-bag. Ray we’re ready.”
Ray stepped from the bedroom, and several people gasped. One of them mumbled, “It’s one of the terrorist’s from the TV.
Ray snapped back, “I’m not a terrorist’s, I’m as much a patriot as anyone in this room. The fact is that we are in the middle of the biggest government takeover sense Hitler. Now you have the chance to be in the history books. A hundred years from now children will read how you saved the country, or how you were the terrorist’s that almost over threw the government. I like the first one, and that is our goal. Now it’s time to bring you up to speed.” Looking at Cliff, Ray requested the folder. Ray spent the next hour telling everything that had happened sense he left the Pentagon.
In the woods, Steve was leaning against one of the truck tires under the trailer, with Mandy’s head in his lap. She quietly slept as he listened to the helicopters and planes flying overhead. They had been searching for hours, and it was scaring the hell out of him. Looking to Rick he asked, “How long are they going to look for us?”
In a whisper, “All night most likely, and in the morning they will be watching this area with a satellite. We’re stuck here for a while, so get use to kicking back. Looks like that’s all we’ll be doing for a while.
At The Farmhouse, Jim spoke up, “That is all good and fine, but I see nothing we can do. Trying to stop this would be like trying to stop the sun from coming up, so just what is it you would have us do that would make any difference at all.”
Others nodded in agreement and questioned what could be done that would make any difference. The one woman in the group, Betty, stared intensely at Ray. She had many run-ins with the law, local police, ATF, and FBI. Somehow, none of them were like this man. She knew he must have something special to even think of fighting this. Finely she asked, “What’s your ace in the hole? You have to have something big or we wouldn’t be here now.”
Looking at Betty he affirmed, “You all know if there is a chance in hell we could beat this, I would have to take it. What I’m about to reveal now will make you all look at each other differently. Each person in this room must have complete trust in each other, and not think twice about taking a bullet for the one next to you. This is not about anyone in this room; it is about freedom and the American way of life. I took an oath to uphold the constitution and that is what I’m going to do. We have a system that once installed will give us control of everything the government has. If they can do it at the pentagon, we will be able to do it. We will be able to see every move they make before they make it.”
Jokingly one of them blurted out, “We’re taking over NORAD, (North American Aerospace Defend Command.)”
With a snicker Ray announced, “That would be nice, but we don’t have too. If there is one thing our government is good about, it’s backup plans. For everything the people know about, there’s at least two more. In the case of def-con centers, there’s five in the country. The two the people know about, the Pentagon, and NORAD. Then there are three more that are above top secret. Like these, there is one that is beyond the reach of even our government. One that dose not exists, and no one in the government knows about. That’s the one we have, and will be using. The thing is, it’s in crates in the back of a truck, and we have to put it together. There are other things we have to overcome, like power. The place we have chosen to setup the command post has no power, but we have more important things to worry about. First, we have to get this package to the location, and right now, it is most likely pinned down in a search area, and they don’t even have a clue that it’s there. It’s me they are looking for, and anyone that has come in contact with me.”
A big muscular man sitting on the couch asked, “Why don’t you take that file to the news media. They would rip this thing wide open.”
Ray shook his head and responded, “You surely don’t believe we have free news in this country. That would be the fastest way to bury this I know of. The government has people in key places at all the networks, and decide what the public sees and hears. Next question.”
“Yeah, where do we start? A tall guy standing by the door asked.
“Let’s start with you telling your name, and what you do for a living. Then work are way around the room,” Ray replied.
“I’m Jeff, Satellite TV Installer.”
“I’m Betty, and I drive truck.”
“Brian, Network Technician, and Software Engineer.”
“Jim, Hunting Guide, and sporting goods salesmen.”
“Kevin, Concrete Finisher.”
“Henry, Heavy Equipment Operator.”
“Doug, survival analyses.”
“Ok this is the plan,” Ray announced. “We break up in to three teams. I will command one team, Tom will take another, and Cliff will command the third team. If you would pick the three team leaders Cliff, we can get started.”
Cliff barked, “Doug, Betty, Len, team leaders.”
Betty couldn’t take her eyes off Ray. There was something about him; she just couldn’t put her finger on it. Ray knew she was trying to size him up from his years of field experience, and she would be a strong asset. If she weren’t Cliff wouldn’t have picked her as team leader. Looking at Cliff, Ray insisted, “Betty’s my team leader.”
She stood from the chair, about six foot tall, arms a guy would die for, and a body to match. This was a woman that took pride in her physical shape. Pushing her shoulder length blonde-haired hear behind her ear she walked over and stood next to Ray. Ray looked into her blue eyes and whispered, “Your job is to protect the package, not me. If it looks like I’m going to be caught, put a bullet in my head. The location of the package is more important than I am. This will happen with or without us.”
In Eugene Oregon Anthony awoke in a cold sweat for the third night in a row. Looking at the clock he saw it was 2:45 AM, what are you trying to tell me, he thought. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he thought about the dream. For three nights, he had been dreaming about the church camp he went to as a child, but did not understand why he was dreaming about it now. Another week and he would be back in Bible College; maybe that was what was making him have the dreams.
Then his room filled with a fog, and he watched the light on the clock fade away; soon it was so thick he could see nothing. Then he was surrounded by light, and he heard a voice. “You must go there, it is you they need, and the Lord of Lords is sending you.”
“Who needs me? He questioned, but there was no answer. The fog had gone, and he was sitting in a dark room. Slipping into his pants he staggered to the kitchen, poured a glass of milk, and had a seat at the table. Soon his mother appeared in a blue robe, “Having trouble sleeping Anthony?” she asked.
Looking up he replied, “It’s this dream I’ve been having. I keep dreaming about the church camp I went to as a boy. I think I will drive up there tomorrow.”
She sat across from him at the table, and pulled her long brown hair from her eyes. Then she looked at her son and said, “There isn’t going to be anyone there this time of year.”
Looking to his mother and shaking his head he whispered, “I think God is sending people there, and he wants me there with them.”
Her eyes opened wide and she informed, “Anthony that is over 200 miles away, and you would have to cross the Washington boarder to get there. I don’t think it is a good idea to go there now. Besides, I have been worrying about you going back to college next week. With all the threats in the country, I’m not sure it would be safe.”
Anthony smiled and suggested, “Maybe when I wake in the morning things will be different. Think I will sleep on it, and see how I feel then.” Then he went to his room.
At the Farmhouse they had split up into three teams, and each had their mission. Ray’s team would find a way to get the package to its destination. Cliff’s team would find a source for power, and Tom’s team would secure the church camp and setup a meeting point for Cliff’s team.
In front of the house, Ray’s team had decided to take Betty’s Explorer. With Jim and Brian in the back seat Ray turned and asked, “We need a way to move the package over logging roads, a way that can’t be tracked by satellite or infrared. You have any ideas?”
Jim spoke up, “I don’t think there is a way to do it short of digging a tunnel, but I might have the next best thing. How about using a team of horses and a wagon, they move slowly, but look like a couple of elk on the infrared. Even if they knew it was a wagon, who would think of it as a getaway vehicle.”
Ray gave Jim a smile and theorized, “That might just work.”
“Then take us to my place Betty,” Jim requested.
In an old one-ton Dodge crew-cab truck, Cliff was going over the plan with his team. With Len driving, and Henry and Doug in the back, they were off to Clay’s place. Clay was an old man that was into being self-sufficient. He lived off the grid, raised his own live stock for meat and eggs, and grew a huge garden every year. If there was anyone that would make it after a complete collapse, it would be Clay. He had a thirty-kilowatt diesel generator he had converted to run off wood. A wood gasifier he called it, a process of wood gasification from slow burning wood.
At Jim’s Place, Betty pulled into Jim’s driveway, and drove straight back to the barn. Stopping with her lights shining on the doors, she got out with the rest. In the barn, Jim pulled the tarp from the wagon. “Wow,” Ray commented, “That looks new.”
“Just about,” Jim replied, “I have had it two years, a place north of here makes them. I’ve only used it twice, and that was at the harvest parade in town. I filled it with hay, and took some school kids through town.”
Betty walked over to a burlap-bag and pulled out a can of oats. She walked to one of the stalls and whispered, “Sugar,” and held up the oats. Soon a horses head appeared in the shadows, and she rubbed its ears as he ate the oats.
Jim walked over and turned on the light, as the barn lit up Ray saw the horse. They looked to small to be pulling a wagon, so Ray inquired, “Are those horses big enough to pull a wagon.”
“Heck no,” Jim replied with a laugh. Then leaded Ray to the back of the barn, and pointed out two huge horses. “These are the ones, Clydesdales, good strong pulling horses. The others are appaloosas; they’re a good trail horse, and I use them for hunting mostly.”
Betty cut in; “You got that right, got my biggest buck ever on old sugar here last year.”
Jim looked to Betty and instructed, “Betty go get my truck and horse trailer, and pull it around here. The keys are over the sun-visor.”
“I’m on it,” she replied as Jim opened the stall door. Hooking a rope to one of the horses, Jim pointed to the wall and informed, “All that stuff hanging on the wall, it’s the rigging for the wagon. Put it in the back of Betty’s Explorer.”
Soon they had the horses in the trailer, and hooked a flatbed trailer to the back of Betty’s Explorer. After loading the wagon on the trailer, Jim had them load it with hay. Then they were off.
Cliff and his team pulled up at Clay’s place. Len turned off the lights and engine. Then let the truck coast down the driveway. Looking at his watch, Cliff saw it was 4:45. “Hope he keeps farmers hours,” Cliff mumbled.
With a sigh Henry replied, “Don’t think it is going to matter.” As they heard a dog barking. In no time, it was running around the truck barking. Doug rolled down his window and talked to the dog, but it was no use. It just went off even more, as a light came on in the house. Then the front door came open, and out stepped Clay whit a shotgun in his hand. “Ruffes!” he yelled, and the dog ran to him. Then walking with the dog at his side, he headed for the truck.
“Bet he’s going to be mad as hell,” Doug whispered.
Len rolled down his window as Clay got to the truck. Dressed in nothing but long-underwear, and slippers Clay leaned his arm on the truck door, stuck his head in the window, and looked around. Then set his eyes on Cliff, “Kind of early for a social call. What are you and your boys doing running around this time of day?”
With a chuckle Cliff announced, “We came to rob you.”
Clay’s eyes opened wide as he informed, “Oh I see.” With a chuckle he related, “Looks like you guy’s have me out gunned, maybe we should go inside and talk about what you want to steal.”
They followed Clay to the house, as he told them about his granddaughter. Clay told how she came to live with him a few months ago, because she was worried about him living alone. She thought he was too old to be living alone. Clay opened the door, and there she stood. Seeing the men, she pulled the robe tight around herself, and headed down the hall.
“Have a seat,” Clay requested, as he sat in an old rocking chair. After everyone had a seat, Clay questioned, “You guys have the law chasing you?”
Cliff gave Clay a strange look and informed, “No, not yet that we know of, but that could change.”
Malissa stepped behind her grandfather. Dressed in blue jeans and a flannel shirt, she put her hand on his shoulder and asked, “You want me to start breakfast?”
Tipping his head up he replied, “You better throw another slab of bacon in the pan, and make a big stack of cakes. Some of these boys look kind of big, and I bet they could eat both of us under the table.”
She gave him a kiss on the head and headed to the kitchen. Clay started speaking his mind, “You know, I’m not blind, and I see what is happening. I figure it’s just a mater of time and they will be out to take are guns away. They will start with people like you, and use it to scare the rest into handing over their guns. That’s what I thought when I saw you parked in my driveway.”
Henry responded, “No, the ID thing comes first. They have a plan to make everyone get a Bio ID. It will be a special ID with your DNA on it. Their going to compare it to the ration stamps they put out during WWII. Now that they have broke the supply chain by messing with the trucking. It won’t be a problem to get people to buy into their plan.”
“I don’t know,” Clay responded, “I think all the religious people will see this as the beginning of the mark. Then again, it might work, I just don’t know. I’ve been watching this for a long time, and people don’t seam to care. The government just feeds it to them a little at a time, and people seam to go with it. Guess they think their being patriotic, and doing what’s best for their country. That’s what happened in Germany you know, one-day people woke up and found they lived in a communist country. Hitler won that one without even firing a shot.”
Cliff responded, “Yep, like a bunch of sheep heading to the slaughterhouse. Most people don’t have a clue what is going on out side their own little world.”
Clay looked to the kitchen and informed, “Looks as if Malissa has some stuff ready. Why don’t you boys have a seat at the table, and I’ll put some clothes on. Then we can talk about why you really came here.” Then Clay went down the hall, and Cliff and his team moved to the table.
In the woods Steve had dozed off a few times, but only for a short time. He was too worried to sleep for any length of time. Rick tapped Steve on the shoulder and asked, “Do you want to help me get something to eat? We need to do it before it gets light.”
“Sure,” Steve replied, and tried to slide out from under Mandy without waking her. It didn’t work she woke right away and looked at him. He held his finger to his lips, as for her to be quiet. Then moved to the back of the trailer with Rick, and waited. Rick climbed in the trailer, and soon returned handing Steve a box. Taking the box, Steve moved back up by Mandy. Rick sat next to them and opened the box. Pulling out a brown plastic bag, Rick dropped it on the ground and said, “Beef in teriyaki sauce.” Then pulling out another he announced, “Grilled chicken breast patty. Not as good as what Mandy would make I’m sure, but it will keep our bellies full. Look around in there and see if you can find something you like. Then don’t blame me about how bad it is.”
Pulling a knife from his pocket, Rick cut open a bag, and laid out the contents. Then handed the knife to Steve, and he opened one for Mandy. Looking at Rick he asked, “How long do you think we will be waiting here?”
Rick paused for a moment then replied, “I’m sure Ray and Bill are working on that as we speak. None of this has been planned, so it will take a little longer. I’m sure two days at the most.” Steve knew it could take a week, but he didn’t want to dump news like that on them.
At Clay’s place, they had finished eating and Clay asked what it was that they had come for. Cliff explained that they needed a big generator, and would like to borrow his.
Sitting back in his chair, Clay thought for a minute. Then he asked, “Any of you ever ran a wood gasifier?”
Henry shrugged his shoulders and Doug looked at Cliff. Len just looked puzzled, and didn’t know what to say. “That’s what I thought,” Clay responded. “Looks like you just added another man to your crew.” Clay didn’t know what they were up to, but whatever it was, he wanted in on it. If it took his knowledge of how to run the generator, he would use it.
Cliff snapped back, “You don’t know what you’re asking. This might take a long time, and there is no turning back. We could be gone for months.
This enticed Clay all the more, now he thought it must be something big. “Let me see,” Clay announced, “I have all the winter wood in, the garden is all but dead, Malissa knows how everything works around here. Nope, just don’t see anything to keep me from going.”
Malissa stepped in from the kitchen and argued, “Grandpa! You are too old to be running around like a kid. They don’t need to be watching some old man.”
Clay was quiet for a moment, and Cliff was thinking, thank goodness she is going to talk him out of it. Clay took a drink of his coffee, and comely said, “I cut, split, and stacked six cords of wood this year. I’m in as good of shape as anyone here. I might be old, but I’m not dead, and I can take care of myself. Nope, my mind’s made up. If you want to use my generator, I’m coming with it.”
With a huff, Malissa went back into the kitchen. Then Clay stood and announced, “Lets go see what it’s going to take to load up the generator.” They followed Clay out to the Generator, and stood around looking at it. The thing was big, about eight feet long and four feet wide. Built on two steel I- beams, and setting on a concrete pad. Clay commented, “I built it right here and I know my tractor won’t pick it up, but I think it will pickup one end though. Maybe we can pick-up one end of it, and back the truck under it. Then pick-up the other end, and slide it in the truck. What do you think?”
“Works for me,” Cliff replied. Then sent Len to get the truck and Clay went for the tractor. Clay drove up with the tractor, and the bucket was full of short timbers. He dumped them on the ground and pulled around to one end of the generator. Sliding the bucket under one end, he started lifting it. It was almost too heavy for the tractor, and the back end was bouncing a little. Clay pointed to the back of the tractor, and Doug and Henry climbed on to add weight. Cliff and Len put the timbers under it as it went up. Soon it was high enough to back the truck under. With the truck under one end, Clay started lifting the other end. The truck squatted under the weight, as Clay lifted the generator. Clay started pushing it into the truck, but it was not working. The truck was skidding across the ground, as he pushed it. Cliff slid one of the timbers in front of the back tire, and Clay pushed it again. This time it jerked a few times and slid in.
Clay climbed down from the tractor, and instructed them to pull the truck to the barn. At the barn, he had them load bags of wood pellets, and a five-gallon can of diesel on the truck. Then Malissa came out caring a small backpack, sleeping bag, and a rifle. She leaned the rifle against the truck, and set the pack next to it. Giving her grandfather a hug, she told him she packed some things for him. Then pulling a box of ammo from her coat pocket she told him to get a deer well he was out. Then looking to Cliff she asked him to take care of him.
Clay pulled her hair from her eyes, and told her not to get one of those ID things, no matter what. Then assured her everything was going to be fine, and he would be back soon. Then he wiped a tear from her cheek, and told her she had everything she needed to last a year. She just stood there watching as they pulled out and whispered, “Everything but you Grandpa.”
Twenty miles north of the Church Camp, Ray’s team turned off on to a logging road. Down the road a little ways they saw Tom and his team waiting. Sitting on the hood of the Suburban was Bill. Betty came to a stop, and Ray jumped from the Explorer. He walked over to Bill as Tom emerged from his rig. Looking to Ray Tom inquired, “You know this Guy? We found him at the Church Camp.”
“Nope,” Ray replied, “Better shoot him.” He teased as he put his hand on Bills shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “Saw the mess you left on the TV. You had me wondering if you made it out,”
Shaking his head Bill whispered, “Ray, oh Ray, you should know better than that. That was a cakewalk compared to some of the fixes I’ve been in.”
On Interstate Five just south of Portland Oregon in Wilsonvile Anthony came to a stop. The traffic was all backed up, and he was stuck in stop and go traffic. He turned on the radio and looked for a traffic report. “Your number one station for news, traffic, and weather. Now we go to Kin for the news. Thanks Bob, we have a report that the President will be giving an update on our terror threat. We will brake-in when it starts. In other news we have reports of four bow hunters being murdered, it was in the woods about twenty miles north of the nuke threat on interstate 82. Another hunter found them this morning; they had been shot to death in their tent. Homeland Security says there is no connection to the terror threat.
The Mayor announced in a special meeting, that starting tomorrow there would be extra busses at gateway terminal. These busses will be going to the Vancouver bus terminal. This should ease some of the problem crossing the boarder. The Mayor assumes the wait to cross the boarder could take three to four hours in your car. There you have it folks, if you work across the boarder, it’s either leave at four in the morning or take the buss.
“Now to Jon for weather, thanks Kin. Looks good for today with highs in the low seventies, and dropping down to the low forties for tonight. Tomorrow we have a front moving in, and highs will be in the mid sixties at the best. With clouds moving in about noon, I don’t see any rain, but get ready for colder temperatures this week.
“Now I will pass you to Jerry for the traffic. Everything is looking good around town, but just south on interstate five. Boy do we have a mess; the trucking program to check the trucks is messing things up. All the boarder-crossing trucks have to take interstate 205, and there is a lot of confusion at the 205 cutoff. It is backed up through Wilsonvile. You better give yourself about an hour if you are stuck in that mess.”
At the Church Camp Ray had just finished going over the plan to use the wagon and horses. When Cliffs team showed up. Len came to a stop, and Cliff rolled down his window. Ray walked over and commented, “I see you got the generator, and picked up another man.”
“Yeah, this is Clay, he replied. “He wouldn’t let us take the generator unless he came with it.”
“Ok then,” Ray informed, “We’re off.” Then he waved for Tom to pull out. Everyone piled into their vehicles, and Tom led them down the old road. Twenty miles and an hour later they were pulling in to the Church Camp. It was laid-out like a main street. It had cabins lined up on both sides of the road, and a big meeting hall on the end. Tom got out at the meeting hall, and pointed for Len to pull around the back. Then he went to the back of the Suburban, and pulled out some tarps, a rake, and two cans with paintbrushes on them. He instructed Jeff and Keith to gather leaves, and he had Kevin help him layout the tarps. Then they went to work spreading the contact cement onto the tarps, and had Jeff and Keith dump the leaves on it.
Will Tom’s team was making camouflage tarps, Ray’s team was unloading the horses, and Cliff’s was unloading the wood pellets. Soon Jim and Betty had the two appaloosas saddled up, and were hitching the team to the wagon. Ray called Betty over to the front of the truck. Then he laid out a map and said, “I’m sending you on a mission.” Pointing to a spot on the map he informed, “This is where we are.” Then pointing to another spot he continued, “This is where our other team is. I need you to take the horses and pick up Mandy. She will be the only woman in the group, and that is Cliff’s godchild. I would send Cliff, but you are far better with the horses. It’s a little over twenty miles south, and I need you to make the best time you can. I don’t know if she has ever been on a horse, so you will have to do what ever it takes. Now get some of the blankets we got at Jim’s place, and leave them with the rest of the team there. It is going to get cold tonight, and I don’t want anyone getting hypothermia.”
Then he handed Betty the map. As she took it he held onto the other side of it, and looked her in the eyes and said, “Don’t make any marks on the map, you never know what might happen, and stay off the roads.” Then he let go of the map. She strapped some blankets on the back of one of the horses, and climbed on the other. Looking at Ray she informed, ‘I’ll be back about dark.” Then she gave the horse a kick, and was off.
Bill and Cliff came walking up, and Ray went to meet them. Bill looked to Ray and informed, “We hung a tarp off the back of the Meeting Hall over the generator. It looks like we’ll have to run the generator on the back of the truck. The damn thing is too heavy to get out. Give us another hour and we will have tarps over every truck, trailer, and what ever else needs one.”
“Good,” Ray responded, “Why don’t you spar a few men to unload the hay. I want the bottom layer left on, but the rest can go. I’m going for the first load, but this thing moves slow. If I remember right, the pioneers only made about twenty miles a day in one of these things. That means it will take most of the day to get there, then loading time, and most of the night getting back. At one trip a day, it will take a week to move the stuff up here.”
Jim over heard then talking and butted in, “You can’t do that, it don’t leave time for the horses to rest. You’ll kill my horses and then we won’t have anything.”
“So much for plan A,” Bill announced.
“What about the other team of horses?” Cliff inquired.
Jim shook his head and responded, “They aren’t broke for pulling the wagon, and even if they were they couldn’t pull much. By the time you got the wagon to the truck they would be wore out.”
“Then that is its,” Ray announced. “We need a think tank, you can try to come up with something well I go for the first load.” Then looking over at Clay he yelled, “Hay Grandpa, come over here.”
Clay walked over and snapped at Ray, “I don’t know who you are calling Grandpa old man. Have you looked in the mirror lately? You ant exactly a spring chicken yourself.”
With a chuckle Ray agreed, “Yeah, that’s true, but I will never be a Grandpa. You have to have kids to make that happen. Now, do you think you can drive that wagon?”
With a smile Clay answered, “In my sleep blindfolded.”
“No need for that,” Ray replied. “I’ll be doing the sleeping on the way, and then you can sleep on the way back.” Then he climbed up in the back of the wagon, and picked up a bale from the middle. He turned it sideways, and stacked it on top of the others. Then he pulled out his knife and cut open a bale. Lifting another bale he put it next to the first one, and spread hay under it. Soon he had a little tunnel in the middle with a hay bed under it.
Clay went to the truck and got his sleeping bag and rifle. Back at the wagon he through the sleeping bag to Ray, and climbed on the wagon. Picking up the rains Clay gave them a whip, and they were off. Ray sat next to Clay until they got to the logging road. Then instructed clay to take a right, and stay to the right at the next two forks. After that just watch for the truck, he informed. After seeing Clay could handle the team, he went to the bed he had made.
Betty pulled her horse to a stop, the road was in front of her, but she did not see the truck. Taking the map from her coat, she gave it another look. Went down the right ravine she thought, it must be close by somewhere. She thought east or west, then went west staying off the road, and keeping in under the trees. About a hundred yards down the road, she spotted it. The truck was pulled off the side of the road, and parked under two big fir-trees. She guided the horses up alongside the truck, only to see three riffles pointing at her. She announced, “I’m here for Mandy, Ray sent me, and I have some blankets for you.”
“Ok Mandy,” Rick commented, “You got a ticket out of here.”
“What about Steve?” she asked as she gave him a squeeze.
Throwing down the blankets Betty answered, “I only have orders to get you.”
Steve gave Mandy a kiss on the cheek and said, “Its ok sweetie, I’m sure I’ll be coming soon.”
At the Pentagon the Sergeant announces, “I have something moving in the target area.”
The Captain steps to the Sergeant’s station, “Well, zoom in on it.”
“Looks like some guy with horses pulling a wagon sir,” the Sergeant informs.
“Enhance that,” the Captain orders. There it was, an old guy on a wagon of hay with a team of horses, and a gun sitting next to him. The Captain chuckled and asked, “Don’t you know what that is?”
The Sergeant replies, “A guy on a wagon.”
The Captain shook his head and informed, “He’s hunting, my Grandpa hunted the same way, but he used a tractor and a hay wagon. Let’s not jump the gun and make another mess to cover-up.”
“Yes sir,” The Sergeant replies.