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Fiction – Ruth’s Story #29 On the road again leaving Seattle burning behind me

April 18, 2012

Rick starts the meeting, “The mechanics tell me that we have to keep our speed down because I am really beating up the hydraulics on the truck. They are worried about a hydraulic pump or line failure, neither of which can likely be repaired. This 2006 International 4300 has a lot of time on the clock, and the mechanics are worried about repair parts. Busting a hydraulic hose or pump means I will not be able to use the plow, as well. The mechanics think they may be able to weld it solid, but then again are not sure of its longevity afterwards.”

Then Nikola speaks up, “We have enough radio to go round. I rigged prick-77 (“prick” is military parlance for any of the PRC-series of radios) to go in car with colonels and in pickup truck with Carol and me. Mechanics have own radio in Humvee, which will work with our collection. Same with HEMTTs and the deuce – they have own radio. Ruth and snow plow radios I changed crystals to work with pricks, thankfully they were already using UHF. We use 3 GHz as primary, going to the next lower odd number freq by substracting 500 from number I transmit should interference or other factors dictate freq change. I am keeping simple UHF encryption on, so no one can intercept radio, or at least reduce chance.”

Sam speaks again, “The mechanic’s Humvee has a M240B in a pintle mount, in the roof, and they will bring up rear security. The M35A5 deuce and a half has a remote controlled dual M2HB mount in the roof, so I want it to ride behind the snow plow. While we are low on pistol and rifle ammo, we have lots of .50 cal and 20mm ammo which is loaded in the deuce and a half. The deuce and a half carrying our 20mm cannon and .50 cal rounds is going to be slow, but no sense in leaving it here – you never know when you might need a 20mm cannon or a ‘Ma Deuce.’ The snow plow has a similar hitch as the military vehicles, so I want the snow plow towing the Oerlikon GAI 20mm cannon on its trailer, which will be, our first response weapon if we need heavier ordnance than the small arms we carry and the dual ‘Ma Deuce’ on the deuce and a half. The boys tell me they can get the 20mm cranking in less than five minutes; they tell me it can take more than 15 minutes to get the M45 Quadmount running. The first HEMTT will tow the old M45 Quadmount on its M51 trailer. I definitely am not leaving that beast behind. Ruth, your little car, will be in front of the mechanics Humvee, then Carol and Nikola in the Chevy pickup. Jamal and I would like to be right behind the snow plow, but I am concerned about you boys in the M978A4 fuel and water tank HEMTTs; Jamal and I don’t wish to get run over,” Sam says to the light laughter. “We are heading for a big unknown in the Great White North. Let’s roll people; the undead are starting to notice our little spot here.”

Rick speaks up, “Sam, why don’t you and Jamal drop in behind the last HEMTT. If we lead with the snow plow, the deuce and a half, then the four HEMTTs, then you and Jamal in the Vdub station wagon, Ruth, then Nikola and Carol in the Chevy, and lastly the Humvee that would be better I think.”

Sam looks around, “All right sounds good. You boys get the HEMTTs cranked up, make sure you do not forget those two water tank trailers, the M45 Quadmount, the 20mm cannon and let’s get the hell out of here. Everybody get in and check your radios, I do not want to drive off with this much heavy equipment and ordnance to realize we can’t talk to anyone.”

As I start to head for my little car, the medical officer, Jamal approaches me. “A moment of your time, please, Ruth,” he says to me.

I stop and look at him with my arms crossed. “What is your blood type?” Jamal asks me without preamble.

“A pos,” I reply. The medical officer nods at me and pulls a small green Writes in the Rain notebook out of his pant’s left thigh pocket. Pulling a pencil from his left arm pocket, he writes in his notebook. Replacing the pencil and notebook the medical officer digs in his left pants pocket and pulls out a handful of small O.D. green Velcro-backed tabs. He flips through the small tabs until he finds one that says “A+” in large heavy embroidered black block letters and hands it to me saying, “Put that somewhere on your person where it can be seen.”

As I ponder the small Velcro blood type tab Jamal speaks again, “Ruth, how are you supplied for feminine hygiene articles?”

“What are you, an OBGYN?” I ask.

With a dry chuckle and lop-sided smile, he replies, “No, I am a neuro-ophthalmologist.”

“Oh, I have one or two pads in my toiletries kit just in case, but I am super regular. I can tell almost to the hour when I start,” I tell him.

“Well, it’s something that you three ladies are going to have to consider when we gather supplies,” he says.

With that, the medical officer walks off towards the VW station wagon leaving me holding the small tab. I shrug and put the tab in my right jacket pocket while walking back to my little car.

While I am walking to my little car, I think about what Jamal told me. I guess Carol has not yet told him that she might be pregnant. Perhaps she is waiting until she is certain of her pregnancy before mentioning the possibility to the doctor.

The large, young Ranger-tabbed Air Borne soldier with the Negev and his likewise Ranger-tabbed M4/M203 toting compatriot climb in the back of the snow plow. Both soldiers drop their rucks in the bed of the snow plow in the sand. Both rucks land in the sand with a hearty thump landing like a ton of bricks. I am glad that I was not carrying those rucks whatever is inside them although I doubt a brick was on the packing list.

Each soldier, now free of the weight of their rucks, sits on a huge, desert tan Yeti cooler at the very front of the truck bed, their weapons held vertically between their legs. Both soldiers release their helmet chin straps.

Then the soldier with the Negev reaches into the top of his ruck and pulls out a lump of desert brown camo fabric. Taking his helmet off, he pulls the desert brown camo fabric over his helmet anchoring it with some elastic straps.

Putting his helmet back on his head, the Negev-carrying soldier looks at his companion who says something that sounded like “you look like a camo-clad Muppet Swedish Chef.” While talking, the soldiers reach into their rucks, grabbing a pair of dark-tinted safety goggles and slide them in place over their eyes.

The Negev carrying soldier makes a reply that I cannot hear and wiggles his head while flexing his Interceptor-clad shoulders. As the soldier’s new helmet covering flops around, I recognize it immediately, and the reference to chef makes sense, but not the reference to Muppet or Swedish.

The soldier with the Negev has put on the very distinct mitznefet (Hebrew for hat but better translated as turban) IDF combat helmet covering. Often derided by other countries militaries as looking like a chef’s toque, the mitznefet is unique. Designed to break up the rigid form of the combat helmet and offer protection from the sun, the mitznefet flops about and takes irregular shapes making it harder to spot the combat helmet, and it does not look like a damned toque!

The two soldiers almost look as if they are wearing protective ski goggles, but I bet the eyewear will keep the sand and wind out of their eyes. I see similar eyewear has been given to Gabe and the young African-American couple.

I hope the soldier with the Negev (with whom I seriously need to talk to later) is familiar enough with his weapon to keep it out of the sand in the bed of the snow plow. If that sand gets blowing around enough, it might cause a malfunction if it gets inside the weapon.

The young African-American couple and their sleeping babies are on the left side; Gabe with his axe is on the right side of the plow. Gabe sets his axe down and picks up an old, battered naked M16A2 with a carry handle, narrow triangular-shaped hand guards and pencil-thin barrel that must have been lying against the side of the truck.

The three soldiers dressed in solid O.D. green coveralls run to a boxy, service truck-looking Humvee and jump in the woman taking the wheel I note with interest. A fourth soldier toting an M4 dressed in full battle rattle runs to the side of the Humvee adding his ruck to the other three on the outside rack. Now sans ruck, the soldier climbs into the Humvee handing his M4 to someone in the back seat. I hear a muffled brief discussion within and shortly his helmeted head, and Interceptor-clad shoulders pop up behind the M240B mounted in the roof.

A desert tan coiled line runs from the Humvee into the left side of the helmet of the soldier manning the 240. A communication line I assume, so that he can communicate with his companions below him in the Humvee. I am too far away, and my eyes are no longer good enough to tell if there is a microphone in front of his lips.

The soldier looks like he is experienced and familiar with his position. A possible Afghanistan or Iraq veteran I wonder. He wears the same ski mask looking protecting eye wear as the other American soldiers and either a scarf or a shemagh of some sort protecting his neck and face. His hands are protected by the same Nomex, hard backed gloves that the other American soldiers also wear.

Rick climbs in the snow plow and fires it up. Both cab doors slam shut on the snow plow, and I hear the air hiss as the brakes are released. Surprisingly, the babies remain asleep through all of this commotion. Their mother has rigged some form of shelter for the babies from a couple of blankets and what looks like several pieces of cleaning rod. I hope the two babies will be comfortable enough.

Seeing the young mother in the dump bed makes me wonder about the lady with the M686 and her two daughters. If I were in a similar situation as the lady riding in the cab, I might offer to ride in the back letting the woman with the two babies ride in the cab. But then again I might not want to argue with someone that has a loaded pistol when I lack a similar weapon.

Climbing into my car and putting my key in the ignition, I crank the little car to life. Looking at my instrument gauge cluster, I see the gift fairy has struck my gas tank, as well. Yesterday, I was down almost an eighth of a tank of gas – now the gas tank on my little car is full again.

Belching clouds of blue, green smoke, all four HEMTTs, crank up, their enormous Caterpillar engines shaking the ground. How the hell did I sleep through the other HEMTTs moving? Was I drugged?

I see the snow plow is towing a long, cylindrical dark O.D. green tarp-wrapped object which I assume is the 20mm cannon sitting on a goose necked single axle trailer. Rick appears to be extremely familiar with driving a trailer and truck as he expertly handles the snow plow.

The larger woodland camouflage tarp-wrapped, much bulkier object on its twin axle trailer being hooked to the deuce and half by a team of four soldiers must be the M45 Quadmount with its four .50 cal heavy machine guns and four 200-round “Tombstone” ammo bins. I have never seen a live M45 mount in action.

The M45s were deactivated in favor of the Vulcan after Vietnam despite its popularity with the troops in Vietnam. Seeing a M45 in real life, in action, will be fascinating. My head is already pounding in expectation of the racket that damned thing is going to make.

Or, is my head pounding because it is almost noon and I have had nothing to eat or drink but some fucking horrible coffee? With that thought, I grab my half empty liter bottle of water from the passenger seat and down it in a few gulps. I crush the empty, clear plastic bottle; replacing the lid I toss the empty crushed bottle on passenger floor behind my collection of frag grenades.

Where the hell did these guys find a live M45 Quadmount? Did some psycho have the M45 squirreled away in his garage somewhere? I have watched the famous quad .50 in old war movies like Band of Brothers, Patton, The Longest Day and that old, horrid Science Fiction turkey of a movie, Waterworld but to have a real one is going to be interesting.

In Israel, all the M45 mounts I have seen are in museums, seeing a live one in use will be educational at best. Let’s hope the soldiers manning it has at least double hearing protection. Most of the M45 mounts in Israel after World War 2 that were not scrapped were converted to a pair of single 20mm automatic cannons whose manufacturer escapes me right now.

I see the desert tan four wheel drive M35 deuce and a half is the new, extended cab factory up-armored version with the super charged Caterpillar diesel engine, Allison transmission and either a two or four speed transfer case, I cannot remember which. The remote control, dual M2HB on the reinforced M35’s roof has an effective coverage of about 180 degrees to the front but cannot protect the rear of the vehicle.

When the M35 pulls in line, I see the desert tan canvas-shrouded back of the truck is full of ammo cans, MRE cases, and shrink-wrapped pallets of water bottles. I guess the colonel was not kidding about having a lot of .50 cal and 20mm ammo. Why they are bothering to haul this stuff north, I wonder? As I ponder why the soldiers are hauling this much stuff, the young Asian man sitting in the rear, pulls the rear canvas panels shut blocking my view of what is inside the truck.

I hope the young Asian male and the soldier sitting across from him are prepared to defend the rear of the M35. The young Asian man is carrying an old M16A2, I did not see the weapon of choice for the soldier across from him.

I cannot drive either the HEMTTs or the M35 as I am too damn short. Even the Chevy pickup that Carol is driving behind me might be a challenge. In larger vehicles, I end up doing chin ups on the steering wheel trying to see over the dash, or my legs are too short to reach the pedals.

As our motley convoy of vehicles align themselves, my Motorola radio crackles to life startling me. I see someone has hot-wired a charger to one of my cigarette lighter ports for the radio. A whole chorus of “radio check” and “lima charlie” responses rattle over the radio. Followed by several choice swear words in Russian, as stations forget to identify themselves. The swearing in Russian is followed a “ass hole, I don’t speak Rusky!”

As I am chuckling about how some things never change in an army, no matter its nationality, my radio crackles again, and Nikola’s (I can’t bring myself to call him “Nicky” maybe because I am not sleeping with him) Russian-accented English comes over the radio asking me for a radio check.

I pick the radio up and pressing the “Push to Talk” button and say, “This is Ruth, I read you lima charlie, out.” To which I receive a single, “roger.”

I cannot honestly see much other than the two hulking desert tan Yeti coolers stacked on top of the non-colonel’s VW TDI station wagon in front of me. In front of the former colonels is a fuel tank HEMTT towing a water trailer. I thought Sam said he wanted the M35 deuce and a half – oh hell I can’t remember where the M35 was supposed to be!

As our little procession moves along, we pass several abandoned deuce and halfs, more than a few Humvees minus tires, and a couple of field artillery pieces. Very rarely do we pass a burning or burnt-out car.

Shame to leave all this military hardware but we have no way to take it all north with us. We pass even the occasional abandoned HEMTT. I am sure the four HEMTTs we have with us now would have been left if they were not full of fuel and water.

I cannot actually see much around the fucking humongous HEMTT in front of the non-colonel’s VW station wagon. Looks as if we have not quite lined up as either Rick or the former colonel, Sam suggested.

But I do notice that, as we slide back onto the I5 south main line, a few zombies attempting to follow our procession. Traffic in the southbound lanes of the highway was much lighter than traffic in the northbound lanes resulting in far less abandoned cars blocking our progress south. Wait a minute we are heading south – why?

  1. phil evans permalink

    good chapter, liked the “wagon train” descriptions – head um up, lead um out.

  2. Thank you Phil for continuing to read. I thought if I had the theme song from “Rawhide” playing in the back ground it would be a little much. Convoy protection and managment in a hostile environment is a whole new scenario.

  3. BobOK permalink

    Great entry! What will the convoy meet that it needs a quad .50 and a 20mm…
    I want to know, and the wait is killing me!

    Again, great story!

    • Thanks Bob I appreciate your comments. These former soldiers are heading north into Canada’s NWT. In the new normal (as Toby calls it over at the Union Creek Journal), people with useful skills like a farrier, mechanic, etc. are going to be able to contribute to society. I read a story, not too long ago, with similar situations where they shot the “useless” people like lawyers, IT and PR folks. What do the soldiers have to offer to the Canadian residents to convince someone to let them stay?

  4. Glad to see that they are moving out, and less about big/small boobs, etc.

    No zombies killed in quite a while, but I assume they are everywhere? How about some “culling” of the zombie herd. A flashing strobe light attached to some remotely detonated C4 would be a nice trick to attract and destroy a crowd of them, like a bug light, though it may waste resources (and make a mess).

    Also, I’ve wondered…how do zombies get stuck in cars? Does it take a while for the infection to manifest itself, and did so for some in cars. I doubt the zombies opened car doors, bit folks, and then shut them again.

    A 20mm cannon (or even a .50 cal) is quite a bit for a zombie headshot. Maybe it’s meant to defend against the living who would try to rob and loot.

    • The discussion of boob size was meant to convey a better mental image of the ladies, rather than a mention for an erotic episode. I was also attempting to explore the female psyche, they compare themselves to each other just as much as males do. While there is sex (and will be more) I am attempting to keep it as PG-13 as possible. Our culture (America) has no problems with extreme violence, graphic displays of dismembered corpses, but will not show graphic sex. What does it say about the American culture that we would rather show abject senseless violence than two people making love? Did you feel the mention of the women’s breasts were inappropriate?

      While I have not gone into it yet in the story, in my out line, most of the zombies that are trapped in cars are there as the result of someone in the car becoming infected and biting the person who later dies and then reanimates in the car. The zombies lack the mental capacity to unlock car doors, and unbuckle seat belts. I’ll go into the exact details of the KCAP virus and the epidemic as the story goes along. If you have read some of the previous entries of Ruth’s story, back where she was first leaving SeaTac and passes the first Humvee with a 20mm cannon on the roof, I made mention of how the soldier zombie trapped in the Humvee might have gotten there.

      In the story line the last mention of a zombie was yesterday, but there will be plenty more zombie killing coming up. There is certainly no shortage of zombies, as the KCAP virus has a stupidly high R0 number. R0 (called “R naught”) is part of the formula for mean basic generation i.e. – how many people is one sick person likely to infect. Generally the higher the R number the harder it is to control the epidemic.

      Your idea on the purpose and use of the 20mm and Quad .50 are right on the money.

  5. Gadsden11 permalink

    Great story!! They sound like quite the motley crew of survivors!

  6. Allen, your detail about the IDF is quite good. Do you have some personal experience?

    • Yes, I was a soldier (I’m retired US Army) for a number of years and was highly impressed with the IDF, the Mossad and the Sayeret (IDF Special Forces). I admire the state of Israel, and have enjoyed several visits to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. I also possess serveral books on the IDF, their structure, weapons and training, and IDF tactics as well as their history. For a military buff it is interesting reading but to most it would probably bore them to tears.

  7. KTH permalink

    Great story, but makes me wonder about the zombies. Do they fight each other? Are they immortal (can’t die if already dead)? Maybe they’re peaceful and perhaps misunderstood–just hungry.

    • I have not gone into greater detail about the zombies and the KCAP virus yet, but no the zombies do not fight each other. The zombies are not immortal and I will divulge more details about the KCAP virus and zombie physiology as the story progresses. As for peaceful and misunderstood, that is not a bad theory, but I would not want to test it with a bunch of zombies with the munchies chasing me.

  8. John permalink

    Good segment. I’m curious to see when your story hooks up, if at all, with the parallel segment written by the Union Creek blogger.

  9. Those MREs are going to run out, and the frozen north isn’t much for agriculture. I think food is going to be an issue soon. I doubt Zombies are very tasty.

    • You are correct the MREs are going to run out eventually and the NWTs are not very conducive to agriculture. Eating KCAP-infected meat whether it be porcine, human or ape (the only three species that are succeptable to the KCAP virus) will slowly infect the consumer with the KCAP virus. The infection will be slower than getting bit by a KCAP zombie, but the end result is the same.

  10. Looks like you’ve got a lot of followers…and we’re all looking forward to an update (I look for it every morning)!

    • Thank you for continuing to read. I have been trying to get an update posted but I have been busy lately with school and life. I should have another post up soon, I appreciate your loyalty. I am suprised at how many people are following my humble attempts at fiction and appreciate the comments.

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