Sunday, October 23, 2011

TEOTWAWKI: Beacon's Story Part One

Copyright © 2011
TEOTWAWKI: Beacon's Story
© 2011 David Craig

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This ebook contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express handwritten permission from the author.

This narrative is an instructional tale replete with details not normally included in a fast moving action adventure story. Please bear with me as I bore you with calibers and tactics galore. Hopefully the action will lure you through the strategy sections and, who knows, you might actually learn something.

The radio announcer read the report in the same anxious yet somehow reassuring tone of voice he used on all breaking news stories, but Beacon saw the significance; this was a game changer, this was TEOTWAWKI!

Luckily he'd been getting off work when the news hit the airways. His mind raced as he tried to think what to do first. The plan; implement the plan! First secure whatever additional goods and supplies he could before the public panic became full blown. Then Get the Hell out of Dodge!

Beacon slammed on the breaks and made a right turn into a gas station. Inside he found one plastic five gallon and three metal one gallon gas cans for sale at inflated prices. He took them all outside and filled them after topping off his truck paying for it all with his credit card.

He found a plastic two and a half and two one gallon cans at the next gas station. A line was starting to form at the pumps. The owner was watching a statement by the president on TV as he demanded twice the price on the stickers, in cash, for the cans while a kid was changing the gas price on the big sign out front. Beacon threw a bill on the counter and grabbed the cans without waiting for change. He filled the cans without looking at the pump price as he swiped his credit card. He was putting the cans in the back of the camper shell when the owner rushed out telling the kid to raise the price again. Beacon didn't wait around to see how high the price of gasoline was going.

While he was filling up another newly purchased five gallon can at the next station a big guy pulled into the pumps got out and ran inside. He immediately came back out heading for Beacon.

"Give me that gas can," he demanded.

Beacon finished tightening the can's cap and stood up. "That would be leaded gas," he said curling his pinky finger under the hem of his safari shirt. The big guy took a step forward and Beacon lifted the shirt placing his hand on the grip of his forty-five semi-auto pistol.

The guy stopped, "I've got a gun too," he shouted putting his hand behind his back like he was going to pull a pistol from his waistband, but his eyes had darted to his pickup where a 12 gauge shotgun hung on a rack in the rear window.

"Thank you for telling me that," Beacon said bending over just enough to grab the handle of the gas can, "now I've got justification for killing you if you attack me." He didn't want to let the guy see that he had other cans in the back of his truck so he put the gas can down by his pickup's passenger side door while he pretended to unlock and open it with a key. Putting the gas can in on the floorboard without taking his eyes off of the big guy Beacon closed and locked the passenger door manually.

More cars were pulling into the station now. Beacon backed around to the driver's side. The big guy looked like he was waiting for Beacon to click the remote to unlock the doors so he could open the passenger door and grab the can. But Beacon's truck doors had been unlocked. Only the manually locked passenger door was now locked.

Beacon smiled and said, "There are two things you ought to know. One, the price of gas is going higher every second you wait to fill up your tank and two, if you try to open that door I'll shoot you." The big guy didn't look like he was going to back down, but his eyes darted to the station as the manager came out with a long pole in his hand and some large plastic numbers under his arm as he yelled something about "Cash Only" from now on.

Just then someone began honking their horn from behind the big guy's pickup. As the big guy turned to snarl at the honking car Beacon hopped in and pushed the driver's master door lock control button locking the doors before the big guy could finish screaming and turn back to grab the door handle. Beacon had taken advantage of people's tendency to finish what they were saying before taking action. As the big guy raced towards his pickup and his shotgun Beacon peeled out of the lot without bothering to fasten his seat belt.

He turned right to get the gas station between them so he'd be out of the big guy's sight as quickly as possible. He made another right at the first corner then a left, then a right at the corner after that in a zigzag pattern so as to get and stay out of the sight of anyone trying to follow him because he knew that as long as a pursuer could see him it wasn't an escape, it was a race. Only by breaking visual contact could he turn pursuit into evasion.

When he was sure he wasn't being followed Beacon fastened his seatbelt then turned back onto the main drag and drove straight to Costco. All the gas stations now had lines of cars out into the street.

Costco's parking lot was filling up as he pulled in. Costco's gas pumps already had lines of cars across the parking lot. Eschewing the large shopping carts he normally used Beacon grabbed the last flatbed cart by the door and hurried inside. He didn't stop for free food samples instead loading the flatbed up with cases of canned foods until the cases were stacked as high as the cart's push bar. He then loaded a layer of large sacks of rice, beans and flour on top and headed for checkout grabbing a case of pint bottles of water along the way.

Already there were uncharacteristically long lines at the registers. One guy had a cart full of frozen food with two ice chests piled on top. Beacon noticed more of his fellow shoppers than usual were on their cell phones. With worried looks on their faces several people in line turned their carts around to go back for more food.

One lady with a cart full of food had several monster packs of various sized batteries with three jumbo 30 roll bales of toilet paper thrown on top. She gave him a knowing wink as her husband showed up with a portable gasoline powered generator and more canned goods on a flatbed cart.

The sound of the generator and lighted windows would draw desperate neighbors and less friendly people to their home, but Beacon didn't have time to remonstrate with them and figured his advice would be ignored anyway.

Their best chance, assuming they had a source of gasoline for the generator, would be as a neighborhood nucleus keeping other people's freezers frozen until either the refrigerated food or the gas ran out.

It looked like the lady in line in front of him had cleaned out the meat department. She was worrying aloud about having enough room in her freezers for all of it. Beacon bit his tongue and didn't tell her the electricity likely wouldn't last long enough for her to eat even half of it. She wouldn't have listened and their argument might contribute to the growing sense of panic he saw building on the faces of customers and employees. He paid by credit card because, as he'd expected, large corporations hadn't yet sent word down to their retail outlets to take cash only.

After moving the contested gas can to the back, he filled the passenger side from the floorboard, up over the seat, to the window sill with cases of Campbell soup topping it off with the bottled water. He left the gas cans in the rear near the tailgate putting the rest of the food up in the front of the pickup's bed by his Get Out Of Dodge bag.

Beacon was confident he could survive and work his way up to Old Bill's place with just his everyday carry knives; a genuine Swiss army knife and a real Leatherman multi-tool, but he'd have a better chance with that small OD Get Out of Dodge backpack he always carried in the back of the pickup. In the event of trouble the Colt forty-five caliber pistol on his hip was there to help him fight his way to his cased Mini-14 rifle behind the truck's seat.

Realizing he was wasting time he should have been using to get the heck out of town before all hell broke loose Beacon hurried. He should have headed for home immediately, but wanted to go into this thing with as much in trade goods as possible.

Beacon expected things that were cheap now like gasoline could be traded for more expensive things like ammunition at a very favorable rate in the immediate aftermath. Of course once things settled down and realization set in ammo value would go through the roof.

Once the riots, shooting and looting died down Beacon expected the local Army base commander to take over the town. The military's obsession with command and control would limit military domination to the area surrounding the base until food ran out. Then they'd have to go rogue or build a fiefdom of backyard farms and livestock. Beacon hoped the commander would choose to become king. The surrounding towns wouldn't stand a chance against a marauding military unit.

The real knock down drag out battles would be between the criminal gangs and the military since they would be the only armed groups with an intact command structure. A few police chiefs and National Guard armories might pull off similar feats, but for the most part their personnel would choose to stay home and protect their families or take them somewhere as happened to the police forces in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Once home Beacon put on his tactical vest with full magazines and equipment then grabbed his home bug out bag, actually a large camouflaged Army, rucksack he kept by the front door and tossed it into the truck in the middle between him and the Campbell soup.

He had everything he needed to survive and get to Old Bill's place in his head and on his belt; the Get-Out-of-Dodge bag in the back of the truck and the home Bug-Out-Bag were redundantly packed with food, first-aid kits, sleeping bags and other amenities to make the trip more comfortable.

If the balloon went up while he was at work and he couldn't get home for some reason the truck's small Get-Out-of-Dodge backpack would provide minimal supplies for the trip. But he'd planned to get to the large Bug-Out-Bag at home which had more equipment. Ideally he'd carry both bags in the truck which was the way things were working out now.

Beacon placed the home Bug-Out-Bag on the seat next to him so he could grab it and run if he was forced to abandon the truck. Locking the truck he ran back inside for more.

In three trips he'd loaded all his winter clothes, rendezvous reenactment and camping gear over the food in the back of the camper shell. His extra rifles, pistols and shotguns went on top of blankets with more clothes over them.

As he shoved the last of the two rows of ammo cans in the back between the gas cans and the tailgate he wondered what OSHA would say if they learned of his cargo?

A crash and a honking horn disturbed his musings about federal agencies that wouldn't exist when the sun rose again. Two of his neighbors on opposite sides of the street had backed their cars out of there respective driveways simultaneously smacking rear bumpers in the exact middle of the road just 60 feet from him.

Another neighbor, with a large suitcase tied on the roof of his car with a rope, was honking to get by as the first two started to argue about their fenders. Suitcase guy could easily have driven around if he'd been willing to drive up on the sidewalk and lawns.

The two arguing had a lot more to worry about than whose insurance company was going to be buying bumpers; but habits held and all three drivers conformed to the norm as civilization crumbled around them.

Beacon walked over to the arguing men and suggested they go back inside to clean out their kitchen pantries, freezers and refrigerators before hitting the road. Beacon could almost see the light bulbs flashing on above their heads as he pointed out that there'd be little food available on the road.

Both men jumped back into their cars and peeled back into their respective driveways as quickly as they'd backed out of them. "Don't forget water, coats and blankets!" Beacon yelled to them as the car with the suitcase on top sped off ignoring his advice.

"Ya reckon this is the big one Mountain Man?" Pete called out to Beacon. He was in front of his house closing window shutters like they used for hurricanes in Florida but heaver because they were made of steel with loopholes in them.

Beacon called him "Prepper Pete" and he called Beacon "Mountain Man" during their endless friendly debates over whether the world as they knew it would end with a sudden decisive bang or a series of gradually worsening whomps.

The two had frequently discussed what they would do in the event of a truly big disaster. "Ya gunn'a go live in the woods an' eat beaver tail?"

"It's gunn'a be true TEOTWAWKI Pete, The End Of The World As We Know It. The governments aren't going to recover from this one."

"Naw, this is only a Shit Hits The Fan event. It'll just take a little while longer for the government to reform, hopefully with new people this time – 'Then I'll get on my knees and pray we don't get fooled again!'" he sang the Who's lyric off key.

"But if it is TEOFWAWKI there'll be no government to reestablish control and your food will eventually run out. Then you'll be forced out of the house on to the mean streets."

"But by that time most of the die-off will be over and we'll have been eating freeze dried food and fresh vegetables from our backyard for a year while you've been subsisting on squirrel-sickles."

"You can Bug In if you want to, but I'm Buggin' Out while the Buggin' good!"

Pete and his wife expected a WTSHTF event. They planned to sit it out with their two sons. In other words they planed to Bug In; just sit out whatever happened in their fortified cinder block house with its ceramic tile roof while sitting atop their mountain of food and garage full of fifty-five gallon water barrels.

Pete was the only man Beacon knew who had a 500 gallon propane tank for his backyard barbeque. He told the neighbors he didn't like going to the store for those little tanks and didn't mention the special valve he had that allowed him to refill his propane lanterns from the big tank nor the underground line he'd secretly installed that would fuel his kitchen range once the utility supplied natural gas ceased to flow. His wife, Ann, was inside double checking to be sure they had all the parts to convert the stove from natural gas to propane when the time came.

Neither Pete nor Beacon wanted the neighbors to know of all the stores they'd built up over the years. Beacon handed Pete the key to his house, "Anything you want in there is yours."

Pete and Ann, together with their sons, would be hard targets. Unlike most people who were going to remain in their homes because they had no idea what else to do. Those people would be easy prey for looters, but any uninvited guests attempting to loot the Prepper house would get a load of buckshot for his trouble.

Bumpers forgotten, the husbands and wives finished their frantic runs to and from their houses and peeled out again narrowly missing another rear end collision. In both cars frightened women and children peered around fishing rods and camping gear as they roared around the corner.

Gunshots sounded a few blocks away. Beacon realized he'd been greedy and waited to long to head for the hills. He jumped in his pickup and peeled out without bothering to close the front door to his home. TV, stereo, computer, microwave, washing machine and dryer; as far as Beacon was concerned none of them was worth locking up now. He almost stopped when he remembered the books. Damn! He wished he could have made one last trip inside for an armload of books.

As he'd anticipated, off in the distance he could see the freeways and paralleling access roads turning into giant parking lots. Desperate drivers were driving down the embankments into residential neighborhoods trying to find a way around the city wide traffic jams. Now they'd be trapped in the city but away from the resources they'd abandoned in their homes.

Beacon had mapped out routes to the mountains that bypassed main roads in favor of utility rights of way, fire trails and logging roads. The radio announcers were repeating the same news stories about world wide calamity, interspersed with statements by world leaders claiming everything was under control as Beacon drove the 4X4 pickup slowly up over a curb at the end of a cul-de-sac, crossed a field and pulled onto a farm road.

He couldn't count on his GPS functioning much longer, of course, but he'd downloaded and printed out Google maps and satellite pictures of his planned route and alternate routes. He had to pull the handmade book of maps in plastic page protectors from the glove compartment several times when he was forced to plan B and later to plan C as even the small side roads near towns filled up with refugees and stalled cars.

Using only his parking lights, partially covered with duct tape, Beacon drove all night and through the next day without sleep. The hundred gallon auxiliary gas tank installed behind the cab in the pickup's bed enabled him to avoid gas stations which had been swamped with desperate refugees as soon as the exodus from the cities had begun and were soon out of gas in any case.

Driving nonstop kept him ahead of the spreading tsunami of refugees pouring from the cities despite the slow going forced on him by the poor conditions of the dirt roads. He'd left the paved roads for good after a man offered him one hundred dollars for a gallon of gas. Beacon had opted for trade goods instead; a high end self-winding diamond encrusted gold watch powered by the natural motions of the wearer's body.

Late in the afternoon of the second day Beacon was hurrying to a spot off the dirt road he'd long ago decided would be a safe place to sleep.

Then he noticed the tire tracks of many vehicles turning onto the dirt road he was on. From the large tread marks he guessed they were 4X4 off-road vehicles which meant the occupants were probably better prepared (and possibly better armed) than most of the sheeple about to discover the joys of third world living.

Wanting nothing to do with them Beacon followed carefully hoping they weren't planning on using the same roads and trails he intended to travel but knowing neither he nor they had much choice in this rough country.

Turning a corner around a hill just before sunset he saw they'd turned off the dirt road onto the dirt track leading to his first planed hunker down spot.

Two of the vehicles blocked the entrance to the primitive campground. Obviously Beacon hadn't been the only one scouting bug out routes and camping locations.

Beacon stopped. He could see figures with long guns standing atop large plastic boxes the size of steamer trunks in the back of a 4X4 pickup. The other had a camo painted camper shell. Being on the higher than normal beds of the pickups with oversized tires the boxes gave the figures an unobstructed view of the surroundings and they were looking at him through binoculars. Detouring around them would involve significant backtracking and add days to his journey, but he was unsure whether they'd let him pass or try to rob him.

One of the men on the pickups was talking into what appeared to be a walkie-talkie. Beacon didn't like the odds and put his pickup into reverse. Just as he'd backed to a turnaround point a figure on a dirt bike inched around the roadblock and approached him its rider holding one empty hand high to show peaceful intent. Beacon unsnapped the retaining strap on the holster of the forty-five on his hip and waited.

It was a girl about seventeen dressed from head to toe in MultiCam camouflage and armed to the teeth with double shoulder holsters containing a Glock 9mm semi-auto on each side and a 12 gauge Remington 870 with Choate folding stock shotgun with extended magazine in a scabbard attached to the dirt bike. She had a Cold Steel Tanto knife sticking out of the boot that he could see and he wouldn't have been surprised if she'd had a tomahawk sticking out of the other boot.

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TEOTWAWKI: Beacon's Story