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Chapter Three

 

Jerry was waved through at the boarder checkpoint, and he continued up interstate five. He had been driving a little over four hours, and was getting hungry. He took an exit and stopped at a store. Inside he looked for things he could eat on the way. In the back of the store, he heard a stock boy talking to someone, “Only about half of the shipment was on the truck, and we are starting to run out of stuff. I don’t know what to do about the empty spots on the shelves.”

 

The man replied, “Move the stock around, and spread it out to fill in the bare places. We don’t want people to start panic buying. If that happens they will empty this place in a day, and we will be out of a job. Spread it around and make it look good.” Seeing Anthony the stock boy whispered something and they moved into the back room.

 

Anthony’s head went into full gear, and he thought about what he had heard. He pulled a bag of chips from the rack, and dropped it in his cart. Then he saw a woman coming down the isle with a heaping cart. His eyes bulged as he looked at the cart, but the woman just smiled as she passed him. His thoughts were racing, dose she know what is happening? Is it just me thinking this because of what I just heard? Maybe she has a big family. Maybe I’m just over reacting.

 

Putting a six-pack of pop in his cart, he headed for the check out. Then it was back to the freeway with his thoughts eating at him.

 

 In the Woods Betty found that Mandy was ok with her horse, so she picked up the pace. She came to a stop at the ravine with the little creek, and waited for Mandy to catch-up. Then she climbed down from her horse, and instructed Mandy to do the same. “We need to water the horses,” Betty informed. Then went on to ask, “I hear Cliff is your godfather, you must know him pretty good?”

 

“Not really.” Mandy informed, “I haven’t seen him sense I was a little girl. My mom told me he had whacked out, and turned into a survivalist nut. Not the kind of person she wanted me hanging around.”

 

“That is too bad,” Betty replied, “He is a real thoughtful guy, and could have taught you a lot. At least he is doing his part now when you really need it.”

 

“I don’t think so,” Mandy responded. “My Uncle Ray is the one that sent Steve and I out here. He is the one that I have to thank for being here.”

   

Betty raised her eyebrows and said, “Oh I see, that’s why you are all over the TV as a terrorist.” Betty was putting a picture to gather in her head, and was coming to realize how big this thing was.

 

Mandy inquired, “What do you mean I’m a terrorist, and what is this about me being on the TV?”

 

Taking a deep breath Betty confessed, “I saw you and your husband along with your uncle and this guy Bill on the TV. They were showing your pictures, and claiming you were part of a group of terrorist. There is a hundred thousand on your head, and we thought that is why Cliff rounded us up. That was until your uncle told us what was going on. Now I guess we’re the ones that are going to start a civil war. That is if we live long enough to wake a few people up.”

 

Climbing back on her horse Mandy got quiet, and thought about what she heard. It was all so overwhelming, and being worth a hundred thousand worried her. What did she know about these people? How much could she trust them with a price on her head? She started thinking about what had happened. It was her uncle on the phone in the restaurant, or was it. Her trust was falling apart. Then again they could have turned her and Steve in for the reward at the truck-stop. She didn’t know what to think, and was having trouble sorting it all out.  

 

On the Wagon Clay saw a covert crossing the logging road and stopped. Looking over the creek he saw a way to get the horses to it, and guided the team off the road. With a thud, the wagon wheel dropped off the road.

 

“Hey what the hells happening,” he heard Ray shout.

 

Clay snapped back, “Were watering the horses’ old man.”

 

Ray hollered back, “Well take it easy Grandpa, it felt like you drove off a cliff back here.”

 

 “Just go back to sleep old man,” Clay requested.

 

At the Pentagon the Corporal walked into the Colonel’s office and announced. “Sir I have the list.”

 

Taking the list, the Colonel commented, “Holy crap!” Then looking up at the Corporal he announced, “You’re excused.” Picking up the phone he made a call, “General we have a problem. It looks like Ray is putting a team together. We have agents missing from Spokane, Seattle, and Portland.”

 

The General ordered, “Get a background on all of them, and get out a press release adding them to the list of terrorist. I want to see their backgrounds as soon as you have them, so we can figure out what he’s trying to do.”

 

“Yes sir,” the Colonel replied.

 

Washington D.C. The Oval Office. “Mr. President we have all the BMG’s (Bio Marker Generators) in they’re staging areas around the country, and are ready to start setting them up. We can start issuing ID’s within the week.”

 

Good,” the President replies, “Have the head of Home Land Security release the fix for the trucking companies.” 

 

At Church Camp Cliff and Bill had set up a three-man patrol around the perimeter. Then talked about the stuff they needed for day to day life and to setup the equipment. Cliff told Bill about Doug having a warehouse full of stuff he sold over the web, so they decided to send Doug and Jim for supplies. Before sending them on there way Bill gave them a code phrase, “The apple fall from the tree.” Then told them if something happened they could send a massage using that Phrase and they would know it was them. 

 

On the highway Doug turned on the radio, “Now we switch to the Home Land Security briefing in progress.”

 

“We now have a fix that will recover all data that was lost from the virus. It can be downloaded at Ready.gov. As every one is aware, some locations are running low on necessities for everyday life. Starting tomorrow gas will be rationed by your license plate. If the last number is odd then you can get gas on odd days, and if it is even then it will be even days. There will also be a ten-gallon limit.

 

Starting Wednesday, everyone with the last name starting with the letter A through E must get a rationing card. Like during WWII we will have to ration things until the system catches up from the terrorist attack. We are also limiting your groceries to forty dollars a day, and we will be asking grocery chains to enforce this limit. Anyone caught hoarding will have their stuff confiscated and face strict penalties. Now I hand you over to the head of the rationing program, Ron Davies.”

 

“Good afternoon, as you have been informed we will be issuing a rationing card. It will work a lot like a debit or ATM card, and each family will be given credits based on the number in their family. It will be your responsibility to have your card by the date indicated. If your last name starts with A through E, then you must get a card on Wednesday, and on Thursday you won’t be able to buy with out it. We have made it very easy to get your card, and it should not take more than ten minutes. You will be able to do it at any bank, or major chain store. Questions? Yes Ron with United Press.”

 

“How will the credits work?”    

 

“It’s all outlined in the Press Release my aid is passing out now. Next question.”

 

 Doug turned down the radio and asked, “Did you think it would happen this fast?”

 

“Heck no,” Jim responded. “I thought we would have a few weeks.”

 

Doug confessed, “I thought the same thing, but I can’t help but wonder if Ray made them move to the next steep.”

 

“Look at that,” Jim announced.

 

“I see it,” Doug replied, as he looked at the two state police cars blocking the road. Getting closer, he saw a black Chevy Suburban with two guys wearing dark suites.

 

Jim mumbled, “We have been up scouting for deer, you got that.”

 

“Works for me,” Doug replied as he came to a stop, and rolled down the window. An Officer walked up on each side of the truck. The Officer at Doug’s window asked, “Where are you going?”

 

“Home,” Doug replied.

 

“Where are you coming from?” the Officer asked.  

 

Doug responded, “Been up in the woods scouting for deer, riffle session starts next week you know.” 

 

Holding up a clipboard with Ray, Bill, Mandy, and Steve’s picture on it he asked, “Either of you seen any of these people?”

 

Jim leaned forward and looked at the clipboard, “No cant say I have,” he remarked.

 

Doug looked at the Officer, shook his head no, and added. “We haven’t even seen a bow hunter.”

 

A car pulled up behind them and the Officer asked, “Are these people with you?”

 

Taking a quick look in the mirror Doug responded, “Nope I never saw them before.”

 

Pulling the page from the clipboard, the Officer handed it to Doug, and told him if you see any of these people, call the number at the top of the page. Then told them to have a nice day, and let them pass. After driving through the roadblock Doug commented, “Well that sucks, how in the hell are we getting back to the camp. We can’t come back through here with a truck load of stuff.”  

 

On the Wagon Clay worked the team around the corner and saw the truck. It was pulled up in-between two fir-trees with the back of the trailer facing the road. “Hay old man were here,” He shouted. Pulling back on the rains Clay hollered, “Woe.” Looking under the truck trailer, he threw his hands up in the air. Having rifles pointed at him was scary enough, but the guy laying on his belly with the rocket launcher pointed at him. Now that made clay worry. Tipping his head to his shoulder, he stuttered, “Ray, hope these are your boys. If not we’re in deep do do.”   

 

Sliding out from under the hay bales Ray yelled, “Rick.”

 

Setting down the rocket launcher, Rick yelled back, “Ray is that you?”

 

Emerging form the back of the wagon, Ray questioned, “Who did you think it was? You surely didn’t think they would come after us in a wagon.”

 

“No,” Rick responded, but it might be someone stumbling on us by chance. Then we would have no chose but to take them out.”

 

Looking up at the sky, Ray informed, “Good, this cloud cover is just what we needed.”

 

Rick responded, “I was thinking the same thing. Their satellites are useless with this cloud cover, and I think I could drive the truck up there.

 

Ray asked, “When was the last fly over?”

 

About six this morning,” Rick replied. “They have been working the area south of us hard, but will probably expand the search area tonight. 

 

“Then if were going to do it, lets get with it,” Ray ordered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doug pulled the truck into an industrial park, and drove back to a row of big metal buildings. Parking by the building at the end, they got out and walked to the door. After turning off the alarm and unlocking the door, they went straight through the office, and into the warehouse. Turning on the lights, Doug pointed to a pallet and told Jim. “Grab two of those Berkey water filters and put them by the dock door.” Having second thoughts Doug took another one and carried it to the stack. Then looked back at the warehouse and informed, “Darn, we need everything. This all happened so fast no one has anything. Sleeping bags are big and bulky better get them over next. Probably need twenty, so we better get twenty-five.”

 

Doug kept adding to the pile, and finely added two comealongs and some rope. Then stopped and looked at Jim as he admitted, “I know we are missing something, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

 

Jim thought for a minute and responded, “I think we have everything we need. I know there is a creek and well up there, and I’m sure the creek is safe to drink out of, but I threw in a few of those pump water filters just in case. No I…, wait a minute, how about picks, shovels, ax, chainsaw, and that kind of stuff.”

 

Doug’s eyes lit up and he informed, “Now I remember, it was an electrical box and wire. We’re going to be hooking up some electrical equipment to the generator. We will need some stuff for that.” Looking at his watch he saw it was almost 7:00 PM and responded, “We have time to go to Home Depot and pick up the wire.”

 

Jim smiled and added, “Then we can go by my place and pick up my guide truck. We will need it to get back to camp.”

 

With a strange look on his face, Doug questioned, “What do you mean we will need that beast?” Doug knew the truck well, an old military duce and a half. It was ugly as hell and stuck out like a sore thumb, and would only do about 45 MPH on its best day.           

 

Climbing in the truck Jim confessed, “I know it is ugly and drives like a tank, but it is the only thing we have that will drive down that old track line.”

 

Stopping at a light, Doug commented, “Damn, look at this traffic, you would think it was rush hour.”    

 

“Well I’ll be damned,” Jim responded. “Look at that gas station, the line must be two blocks long.” Then it hit them, the gas rationing would start in the morning. The announcement of gas rationing had put people in panic mode. Driving by a store they saw the same thing, people were lined up trying to get in the parking lot. Down the road and around the corner they pulled into Home Depot. The lot was almost empty, and they parked up by the door. They took a big flat cart and headed to the electrical section. Jim got someone to help them and they picked out a breaker box. Then they looked at the wire, and Doug asked the guy about a roll. He told Doug that it was ten gage, and he didn’t need something that heavy for his house wire. He put the roll on the cart then picked up a roll of 12 gage the guy told him would work, and told him he needed a hundred feet of the heavy stuff that feeds the breaker box. Jim was adding bags of wire nuts, electrical boxes, plugs, and switches to the cart. Putting the hundred feet of wire on the cart, they headed for the checkout.

 

At the check out, the casher recognized Jim and asked, “Jim, right?

 

Jim smiled and replied, “Yep. Do I know you?”    

 

She responded, “You’re the guide that got my husband the big elk last year. Aren’t you?”

 

 Jim remembered meeting her when she dropped off her husband for the hunting trip. She went on and told about how people were talking about the new ID, and how some thought it was the beginning of the mark. She explained how once everyone had the card. It would not be that hard to switch it to a chip in your hand.

 

Then she asked if he knew the guy that sold the survival stuff. Doug’s eyebrows went up and he responded, “That would be me.”

 

She picked up the scanner gun and walked around the counter. Looking to make sure no one was around she asked, “How much is one of those one year food packages.”

 

Looking at her name tag Doug informed, “About $1,500 Amber”

 

Scanning the spools of wire she asked, “You don’t think it would be hoarding if I got one of those tomorrow morning? Do you?”

 

Doug paused for a moment then answered, “I don’t, but I don’t know what the government would call it.”

 

Looking up Amber queried, “If I paid for this would you take it off the price of the food pack?”

 

Thoughts raced through Doug’s head. Why dose she want to do this? Is she worried I won’t have one? That she won’t be able to get it tomorrow?

 

Amber mumbled, “I get a discount, and would save some money this way.” She totaled Jim and Doug’s sale, and it was a little over a $1,000. Then she starred at Doug and asked, “What do you think?”

 

Doug knew he wouldn’t be at the warehouse in the morning, but the look of desperation on her face hurt him deeply. He thought about the worry she must be going through, and his compassion was taking him over. With a smile he responded, “You will have to pick it up tonight. I won’t be at the warehouse tomorrow. Do you know where it is?

 

Amber questioned, “In that warehouse complex just north of here?”

 

Doug acknowledged, “If you can be there in an hour, go a head.”

 

She unclipped her name badge and slid it through the register. Then she called the manager for approval. It went with out a hitch, and soon they were loading the stuff in the truck.

 

They stopped at Jim’s, and loaded the stuff into the duce and a half. Jim threw some shovels, two chainsaws, and other tools in the truck. Then they headed back to the warehouse. Pulling into the lot, they saw a red truck parked by the dock door. As Jim backed the truck to the loading dock door, Doug could see Amber sitting on the passenger side of the truck. The man driving got out and walked to the truck. As Jim climbed down man announced, “Hey I remember this truck, but last time I saw it, it had a monstrous elk in the back of it.”

 

With a smile Jim replied, “That it did.”

 

Jim and Frank talked while Doug opened up the warehouse. With the sound of Doug starting the forklift they walked to the truck. Soon Doug pulled up with a banded pallet of boxes, and waved for them to drop the tailgate. Jim looked over the pallet and announced, “Hey Doug, I don’t think this is the right one.”

 

Doug snapped back, “I know what I’m doing, and this is what they need.”

 

Jim stepped back as Doug slid the pallet on the truck. Then parked the forklift in the warehouse, with Frank asking, “You do take VISA don’t you?”

 

Doug shook his head, “Nope, it’s all paid for. Your wife took care of it.”

 

With a strange look he asked, “You sure?”

 

With a wink Doug responded, “Yep, you’re ready to go.”

 

Jim looked at Doug and informed, “That was a two year package you gave them. How come you told him it was paid for when it was $2,500, and his wife only paid $1,000 on it.”

 

Taking a deep breath Doug confessed, “I’m seeing things a little different, and thinking about what is happening. It is just the start of it all, and look how people are acting already. The lines at the gas station were to be expected, but what we saw at the grocery store. Now that is bad. Every store will be empty tomorrow, and then it will happen. I knew they wouldn’t get the ID card. I could read it in her eyes at the store, and I did what I could to help them. Call it my last flaming stab at what was a government.”

 

With a serous look Jim asked, “What do you mean then it will happen?”

 

Stepping off the forklift Doug replied, “If you think about it. In a few days it will be anarchy out there, and they will have no choice but to declare marshal law. Of course, they knew what would happen, and I bet they are ready to jump in at anytime. That file that Ray briefed us with was only an outline. I’m sure they have stacks of reports that give the different scenarios of what will happen, and they have planed for each of them. Now let’s get that truck loaded, and get out of here.”

 

Betty and Mandy road into the church camp, and were met by Cliff and Bill. They led them to the cabin closest to the meeting hall, and told them it was theirs. Mandy tied her horse to the post on the cabin porch. Then turned her head, and cupped her hand over her ear. Everyone turned and looked. They could see nothing, but now could hear it too. Someone was coming, and Cliff yelled, “Everyone out of site.” Ducking around the side of the cabin, they watched around the corner. The sound got louder, and soon the big blue truck appeared. Casually walking from behind the cabin Bill announced, “It’s my team, and the package.”

 

Mandy ran to the truck looking for Steve, and Bill climbed up on the driver side of the truck. He instructed Rick to back the truck up to the Meeting Hall. Mandy waited on the passenger side of the truck for Steve. When the truck stopped and the door opened she saw a face she didn’t know. Clay stepped down from the truck as Mandy asked, “Where is Steve?”

 

Clay was not sure who Steve was and answered, “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Rick?”

 

Running to the other side of the truck, she found Rick bringing Cliff and Bill up to date on what was going on. Then her question was answered with out asking, as she heard Rick tell them Steve was coming back on the wagon with Ray. Her heart sank, and she was filled with worry. She wanted to say something, but knew none of these people. She was in a strange place with strange people, and had a hundred thousand dollar price tag on her head. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked to see Betty smiling at her.

 

Betty whispered, “Come on, let’s help unload the truck. It will help pass the time until Steve and Ray get back.”

 

Mark and Andrew were in the truck, and setting the food on the back. Others were carrying it inside the meeting hall. Betty slid a case of caned peaches on to her shoulder and insisted, “Take something light Mandy. Let the men get the heavy stuff.”

 

Taking a box Mandy questioned, “Then why are you taking something heavy?”

 

Betty whispered, “Because there isn’t a thing a man can do that I can’t, and I want them to know it.”

 

They talked as they unloaded the truck, and Mandy came to understand Betty a little better. She knew she was headstrong without a doubt, and wasn’t going to let anyone show her up no mater what. Even though she was headstrong about some things, Mandy found her to be kind and caring. She had never known someone like this, but thought she would make a good friend. At least she would be up front with you, and not hide things.

 

Time went fast and soon all the food was off the truck. Then Bill and Cliff got in the back of the truck, and started passing out guns. After everyone had a gun and ammo, they tried to figure out the numbering on the crates. They finely decided to open the one that ended in 01. After prying the top off of it, they saw a laptop computer. Next to it were a lot of cables, and a box of CD’s. Bill picked up the laptop, and looked at the CD taped to the top of it. The label read Project T.I.M.E embossed over the national seal. Bill opened the laptop and the battery was dead. Picking up a cable with a car lighter plug on it Cliff asked, “You think this will work?”

 

Bill turned the laptop on its side, and took the other end of the cable. Plugging it into the laptop he replied, “Yep. Guess we should start with this CD taped to the laptop.” Picking up a set of speakers that were under the laptop, Cliff informed, “We might need these.”

 

They took the laptop out to Betty’s Explorer, and set it on top of the roof. This way everyone would be able to see it. With everyone gathered around Cliff plugged it in, and Bill turned on the computer. After it booted he loaded the CD, and it auto launched. It opened a media player and started a video. With Senator Suntter at his desk his voice blared from the speakers.

 

“If you are watching this, it means one of two things, either Washington has been destroyed by a nuclear attack, or we are in the middle of a government takeover. This system was setup by myself, Senator Ron Hutson, Senator James Hinderson, and Congressmen Paul Witfilled. It is a special package and runs in stealth mode. If you follow the startup instructions, no one will know you are online. But remember even in stealth mode if you give orders, or send communications you run the threat of being tracked down. Make your dissuasions wisely and do what is best for the country. May God be with you. I’m sure you will need him.”

 

  Then it went to Senator Hinderson, “Welcome to TIME. TIME stands for Tactical Insertion Movement Engaged. This is the brain child of Congressmen Pall Witfilled, and is the last line of defense against the shadow government, or a foreign invasion. Until the discloser of the shadow government no thought had been given to its dangers. This lead to the system you are about to activate. Along with this computer should be a box of CD’s. The CD’s are a step by step guide on how to assemble and activate the system. God willing, this system will bring us back to the great nation we once were.”

 

      Dave whispered, “Wow! Every one of them are dead, and I remember two of them skied into trees and dyed. It seamed strange to me at the time, but now I think I know why.”

 

After driving north around the roadblock area Jim turned the old army truck onto a logging road. Slowly he headed south while telling Doug about the track line. Doug thought a track line was something old trappers used, so Jim explained what it was. He told Doug how back in the late eighteen hundreds loggers made them. They used to use trains to haul the logs out of the woods, and would lay down tracks for it. After they were done with an area, they would tear up the tracks and put them down in the next area. This would leave a track line behind, or a dirt road.

 

Jim used these track lines to guide hunters, and had found then to be productive. He had looked at old maps, and spent weeks looking for some of the track lines. However he knew this one well and had walked it many times. He had never tried to drive it, but though he could do it. Bringing the truck to a stop, he told Doug this is it. Then he reached down and pulled back a lever and turned off the road. Driving up what look like a deer trail Doug questioned, “You sure this is it? Its pretty dark, and this don’t look like a road, or track line.”

 

With scraping sounds coming from the sides and under the beast Jim responded, “Oh yeah this is it. What did you expect for something over a hundred years old?”

 

Being thrown against the door Doug hollered out, “Maybe something drivable.”

 

A little farther down the road they drove out of the heavy brush and small trees, and it looked more like a road. Covered with grass, but it was a road. Coming around a corner Jim stopped the truck and looked at Doug. Doug whispered, “Chainsaw?”

 

Right in front of them was a downed tree across the road. They took the chainsaw and cut it into small pieces, and rolled them to the side of the road. Not too far down the road they were doing it again. It went this way for miles, drive a little and move a tree. After spending four hours to go about ten miles Jim stopped the truck. They both looked at the big missing chuck of road. Jim insisted, “That wasn’t there when I walked this last year.”

 

Doug admitted, “It don’t matter now, its there, it’s two in the morning, and I’m tired as hell. I say we get some sleep and look it over in the daylight.”