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Zombie Apocalypse Fiction – Ruth’s Story #70 Camped for the night and beginning of the assault on the cannibal inhabited Costco SHTF & TEOTWAWKI

October 31, 2012

Shack awakens me by waving an US Army surplus tin canteen cup filled with hot, honey sweetened orange pekoe black tea under my nose. I can catch the light clover flower fragrance of the honey in the hot tea. I hear that the action in the camp is still highly active; I suppose preparing to get going for the night. Sitting up in my bedroll, I stretch and sip my tea.

Carol, I see, is already out of her bedroll, which lays empty beside mine. I wonder if she is still suffering from morning sickness. The fact that Carol has not stowed her bed roll, nor has Nikola, whose empty bed roll lies farthest to my left against the canvas tent wall, endorses my suspicion that we are not moving tonight.

Shack looks a little worse for wear with the darkest pair of black eyes I have seen in a long while. He wears a large, white absorbent medical dressing over the right side of his forehead. The pad secured with generous strips of white cloth medical tape is obviously bothering Shack as he is constantly touching it.

Shack is full of exuberant energy and cheerful news this evening. Shack happily informs me that our little Smart car is “toast” according to the mechanics. We cracked something called the transmission pan which caused it to bleed most of its oil. Other things in the transmission called the throw-out bearing, and the synchros are also shot. The mechanics have no way to fix the small car, so the Scouts have procured us a new vehicle.

Our new (to us) Dodge truck was obviously someone’s work truck, maybe a carpenter, and has not been babied at all. Despite the dents, rust, and other signs of abuse that you would expect from an almost 45-year-old work truck, the mechanics said that the truck is in excellent running condition. The four-wheel drive Dodge may be scruffy looking, but it should serve us better than the little Smart car.

Shack cheerily lets me know that he has already moved all of our gear to our new vehicle, which he is happy to mention, is an automatic so I will not have to do all of the driving anymore. Our new steed is an old, long bed, standard cab white Dodge pickup. The truck is four-wheel drive with a non-intercooled Cummins turbo charged diesel.

Shack mentions that the truck has a “whole shitload” of miles on it, but it runs well and does not smoke frightfully much once warmed up. The Dodge has a faded red fiberglass camper shell. An L-shaped 105 gallon auxiliary fuel tank is installed in the truck bed. The auxiliary fuel tank is tucked underneath a single door, diamond plate tool box.

The tool box in the truck bed is full of a variety of tools, primarily for woodworking. An assortment of power and manual wood saws, a few squares, and several different styles and weights of hammers are also in the tool box.

Shack also mentions that a relatively new Stihl chainsaw with an 18 inch blade is also tucked into the tool box. Beside the chainsaw is a one gallon gas can of mixed gas and a white plastic gallon bottle of thick bar oil.

I am not tremendously familiar with the use of a chainsaw, having never used one, although Amy as a firefighter was quite adept at using one. Shack seems quite happy about the discovery of the chainsaw, although I think the noise of the damn thing will draw too much attention.

Nearby where our new Dodge was found, the Scouts found a flame gutted house with several heavy, locked metal cargo shipping containers in the tall chain link fenced back yard. The house, a burnt out husk with nothing of value inside other than the burnt remains of three adults and two youths in the basement, was a total loss.

While I dress, Shack ever the gentleman, turns his back as he prattles on. The shipping containers behind the burnt out house had seen better days; they obviously were beat upon and shot several times in a futile attempt to gain access. Heavy padlocks and sturdy steel chains secured the double doors on each of the five cargo containers.

Shack states that previous would-be looters lacked the necessary tools to access the cargo containers; thankfully the convoy has the proper tools. Upon discovery, the Scouts called back to the convoy to see if the colonels wanted to access the shipping containers immediately or wait for darkness.

The colonels made the decision to access the containers now rather than wait for later because they felt the longer we delayed the greater risk of looters attacking. Better to open the containers now, collect the material and run rather than wait for darkness. Delaying could give other looters time to prepare an ambush.

The Scouts requested a couple of trucks with heavily armed escort, bolt cutters, an acetylene torch and other metal-cutting tools, but the result was worth it. Despite the clamor, which attracted more than just a few zombies, the group recovered several 50 pound sacks containing different types of rice, beans, and sugar.

Particularly appetizing news was the discovery of several 50 pound sacks of pickling, ice melt, rock and table salt. Shack mentions that the recovery team also found several boxes of kosher salt, not that I genuinely care. The discovery of salt is fantastic news though as salt is essential to survival.

Shack, off topic on a digression, describes how the convoy is getting smarter about using silent means to kill zombies. When circumstances permit, convoy members are to use knives, hatchets, and other silent weapons to kill a zombie without endangering themselves or others. I make a mental note to slip my SOG shovel on to my web belt.

Back on topic, Shack mentions that one of the large metal shipping containers was full of Sparkletts blue plastic five gallon water bottles. The sealed plastic water bottles will come in handy, as fresh water is essential and in short supply. Nobody is sure where the plastic water bottles came from. A few of the Scouts opined that maybe someone robbed a Sparkletts water delivery truck.

Quite a few large food service tin cans of beans, chopped and whole green chilies, mixed vegetables, whole tomatoes (with and without seasoning), various canned veggies, hominy, tomato paste, chicken, beef and turkey stock, las palmas sauce and several cans of liquid queso with and without jalapeno peppers were recovered.

Numerous glass jars full of different pickled foods were also recovered from the shipping containers. Jars of various pickles, peppers, olives, sliced beets, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, pizza and spaghetti sauce, salsa, and just about anything else you can think of that comes pickled in a glass jar, was in the containers.

Shack echoes the opinion of some convoy members that the containers must have once belonged to a prepper, possibly of Hispanic heritage. The last two cargo containers were stuffed full of older cardboard cases of MREs, general medical supplies, and Kirkland brand paper towels and TP.

No ammo or guns were recovered from the cargo containers; those might have been in the fire ravaged house. The discovery of more TP is welcome news although Shack mentions that even with rationing, the new Kirkland brand TP supply might last a week at best. The Kirkland paper towels are going to be used for TP as well, although it will be a tad rough on the bum.

The vast majority of the food stuffs were still in their original cardboard shipping containers. Several cardboard boxes were marked as either Kirkland or other familiar Costco brands. Many believe the previous owner probably acquired most of his goods from the nearby Costco.

For a moment while Shack talks, I wonder was the former owner of the cargo containers an employee of Costco? He (I suppose it was a male) might have stolen the Costco items during the anarchy of the zombie apocalypse. Or maybe he was a customer that slowly acquired the products legally.

Once the KCAP virus assaulted densely populated areas like Shanghai and Singapore, it spread like wildfire literally around the earth in mere hours. Despite the best efforts of the police and National Guard, looting was rampant quickly followed by rioting.

Once again I listen to Shack as he rambles on about the Scout’s busy day. Fortunate I consider myself, that I was stuck in SeaTac Airport rather than in the city. Shack interrupts my reflections as he informs me that, in a separate location, the Scouts located some bulk propane tanks at a propane company.

The mechanics want to investigate the propane tanks tonight using the attack on the Costco as cover. The group is using an inordinate amount of propane says Shack according to the mechanics, whom seem to be in charge of the propane supply somehow. We, the convoy, Shack mentions are too close to vast urban sprawl to risk any kind of fire betraying our position.

When our recovery team and Scouts left the burnt out house and emptied cargo containers, ruined food stuffs abandoned by the recovery team were immediately seized by starving survivors. A minor conflict ensued, which resulted in numerous injuries, a few deaths and the attraction of more zombies who attacked the injured with considerable relish.

Our Scouts and recovery team were able to slip away in the confusion. I hope those starving survivors do not become ill eating the moldy foodstuffs; I suppose that might be the least of their worries.

Shack mentions that the Scouts got to evaluate a few of the other groups of survivors who were also looting. Most of the other groups were not as heavily nor as well armed as our Scouts and their entourage. Most of the other groups if they had a gun at all it was a civilian handgun, a hunting rifle or shotgun. The Scouts also noted a distinct lack of discipline, unit cohesiveness, and proper weapon training.

Exceedingly few survivors own military grade weapons. Ammunition is in extraordinary high demand and exceptionally short supply. Even the rumor of ammo is enough to create a minor conflict. The Scouts reported that while they were being watched by the other survivors, they felt like sheep among starving wolves.

The other survivors obviously were desirous of the fully loaded LBVs and weapons carried by our Scouts and escorts. Carried by survivors, tools such as axes, pitchforks, hoes, and other common, large bladed tools are in abundance.

Weapons like wooden baseball bats, pieces of metal pipe, tire irons, and heavy metal tools like breaker bars and large wrenches were seen carried as weapons by other survivors. Improvised weapons outnumbered firearms significantly.

Shack believes our Scouts and their escort were risk evaluated by the other groups. Had our Scouts and escort not have been as well armed as they were; Shack echoes the Scout’s belief that the other survivors probably would have attacked our crew and take the stuff (Shack’s word choice not mine) they recovered.

Shack and the Scouts believe that the sight of the professional soldiers carrying assault rifles, a SAW or two backed up by a pair of armored Hummers each carrying a Ma Deuce did not hurt either. The two military deuce and a halves used to convey the recovered materials back to the convoy were each armed with a M240B in the roof pintle mount.

The worry is now that someone might have observed where our vehicles went. While the Scouts reported that no vehicle followed them, there is no way of being sure that the group has remained hidden. The Scouts and perimeter guards are on alert in case our recovery team was followed. One facet of an operation like this is that the sheer size of the company makes keeping it hidden a near impossibility.

It was shrewd of Sam to divide his company into three smaller units. Smaller units are easier to transport and conceal. Larger units attract too much attention and are more difficult to hide from the enemy, living or dead.

After Shack and I hit the latrine, we grab some chow. I note that Gabe and the cooks have been busy. Tonight’s feast is something that I have never eaten before but is apparently common in the southern US. Supper for Shack, breakfast for me is a dish that the boys are calling dirty rice, a mixture of cooked white rice and beans.

The dirty rice, while rather bland, is filling, and there is plenty to go around with generous portions and several servings if so desired. Small pieces of chopped meat that I cannot identify (and probably do not wish to) are in the rice, as well as chunks of red and green bell peppers, onions, and I think I detect a hint of celery.

Following the example of some of my fellow diners, I liberally add Tabasco to my heaped dish. I also add a few pickled Greek pepperoncini peppers to my bowl from a large open gallon glass jug. I pass on the offer of small Mezzetta pickled hot banana green, wax peppers from a much smaller glass jar.

I appreciate a decent screaming fit as any other girl does. I will, however, pass on the bright red face, trying to guzzle gallons of water and the other painful, comical antics of my fellow diners who are foolish enough not to heed the warning on the side of the small jar.

I am not sure what the Scoville rating is of the little green, wax peppers, but judging by the reaction of the few brave souls who try them, it appears to be in the ludicrous range. I do not need a compelling case of the trots during a zombie apocalypse or a sore bum either.

Beer is liberally passed out with each convoy member given two cans or bottles of various brands of beer. I hear through cantina intel that our beer supply is running low which causes some grumbling. The beer is warm, but tasty and washes supper/breakfast down.

While eating in the cantina, Shack and I are joined by Carol. From her, I learn that the colonels put a couple of the SF boys to watch the cannibal inhabited Costco. The initial reports according to mess hall gossip do not appear auspicious. It looks as if the Costco has been the site of several previous pitched battles.

There is further discussion and speculation as the three of us queue up to drop our dirty dishes off. No matter the nationality of the army one thing soldiers love to do is gossip. While, in the queue, I see our four cooks are busy.

I am surprised to see a sweat soaked disheveled Reginald arm pit deep in a large galvanized tub full of dirty dishes and hot soapy water. He appears to have pulled double duty both in the laundry and the scullery as Carol calls it. Must be a naval term for the place where pots, pans and cooking utensils are cleaned.

Reginald does not look overjoyed with his predicament. I overhear the four cooks complaining that he is slow, lazy and is not thoroughly washing the pots and pans. I see Reginald being helped in the scullery by a slight Caucasian fuzzy red-headed youth that Shack informs me is Tommy, he of the misplaced NVGs.

I ask Shack why he is not in the scullery with Tommy. Shack replies that he was in there for breakfast and lunch. With his whining, Reginald pissed off Sam today. He disappeared for a while, shirking his work in the laundry, so Sam stuck Reginald in the scullery until further notice, luckily freeing Shack.

There is little room for more than two people in the hot cramped confines of the scullery trailer. Since Tommy’s and Reginald’s transgressions are worse than Shack’s, they continue to remain in the scullery while Shack was released with a stern warning. Shack lost his NVGs because he was accidentally stupid, Tommy just plumb forgot them somewhere.

While walking back towards our vehicles Carol, Shack and I learn from Doc Jamal that Sarah is expecting twins. The poor girl has been put on bed rest until further notice. Doc is concerned that because of her youth, Sarah might experience a terribly difficult delivery. Although I am disappointed with the way Sarah teases Shack, I understand she is going through a difficult time and will try to cut her some slack.

I note Doc has a lovely dark hard wood walking stick, with an ornately carved bulbous head. I know a shillelagh when I see one and comment on the quality of Doc’s ornately carved walking stick probably made of hickory or iron wood. The bulbous head of a shillelagh makes an excellent zombie head smashing weapon.

I also congratulate Doc on his excellent choice of weapon. Doc thanks me, but then goes on to explain that, although very similar to an Irish shillelagh, he is carrying a pink ivory knobkierrie. A gift from the Zulu Nation when Doc, was working in Africa many years ago, he concurs that it makes a wonderfully quiet zombie slaying tool, although he has to get a little too close for comfort to use it.

While Shack and Carol check in with Sam, I duck into the O.D. green canvas tent “radio shack.” Seated at the white plastic folding tables, shrouded in a thick gray haze of foul-smelling cigarette smoke, wearing headphones Nikola and Shen are each operating a PRC series radio set.

Leaning my AR15 against the table, I sit down beside Nikola in a folding chair that creaks underneath me. Nikola, lit cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth, slips the right earphone off his ear, and looks at me.

“Not so much radio traffic, Ruth, most is either religious zealot preaching end of days here and repent we must or is HAM operator looking for other operators. Shen found some Chinese radio traffic but English not so good so can say what is found. He try with books.”

I look over at Shen and see him diligently writing message traffic with a blue ball point pen on a yellow legal pad. Very thick English to Mandarin and Cantonese hard back dictionaries lays open on the table beside Shen. He has a look of intense concentration on his face as he writes and then looks in books for the translation.

Looking around the tent, I note the folding tables are well stocked with just about every language I am familiar with to English hard and soft back dictionaries. There are enough yellow legal note pads, writing utensils and other office supplies to do a large law firm proud.

That is the most Nikola has talked to me since I have known him. “Did you hear from the other units Nikola?” I ask him.

Da, all units report was stopped for day. Continue proceed tonight towards rendezvous.”

“Did you let the colonel know Nikola?”

Da, colonel know.”

“I know what?” Suddenly a voice says from behind startling me. I whirl to see Sam standing in the doorway dressed as usual in faded, well patched woodland green BDUs with a brown leather tanker holster holding his .45. I notice that Sam is wearing his glass eye instead of the black leather eye patch, which gives him a rakish appearance. His black leather combat boots are well polished.

An O.D. green web belt with a gray plastic snap buckle circles Sam’s slender hips. The belt holds four extra magazines for the suppressed L34A1 Sterling sub gun in his arms. The suppressor, folding stock and flat wooden fore grip is particularly distinct on that weapon.

A woodland green camouflage canteen cover wraps the US Army green plastic canteen hanging from Sam’s belt over his left hip. On his right side, a sheathed large single bladed knife hangs. I would bet just about anything that his is a KA-BAR fighting knife or close clone judging by the brown leather stacked handle.

“About the other unit’s progress, colonel” I reply.

Sam nods at me. “Oh yes, Nicky told Jamal and I about the other unit’s movements. I was hoping that there might be some radio traffic from our destination, but so far nothing but silence. I hate driving into a vacuum not knowing what is up there. I’d certainly like to reach someone and apprise them that we are coming. Only transmissions Nicky has found so far are a couple of HAM operators, one in Montana near the Canadian border and one down by Cody, Wyoming. Neither radio jockey was much help. By the way, we’re staying another day and pulling out tomorrow night. The Scouts are doubtful of the Costco holding anything of worth, but we have a plan to hit the cannibals in the morning. We have a briefing at 19:00 Ruth, I’d like you to be there.”

“Sure colonel, I will be there.” Sam nods at me again and walks out of the canvas tent into the deepening darkness. “Good job, Nikola” I say patting him on the shoulder. Nikola slips the earphone back over his right ear and also nods at me, while lighting another cigarette from the crumbling remains of the previous.

“Take radio and see if you can find something in language you speak. Maybe you find Hebrew radio, or other language.”

Following Nikola’s suggestion I turn on the newer PRC radio in front of my seat with a flip of the switch. Looking underneath the table, I see a motley collection of automotive and heavy machinery batteries hooked together powering the radios. Now I know why the mechanics were grabbing every battery they could locate.

I had heard the mechanics are seeking to acquire solar panels from houses and business to charge the convoy’s batteries. Underneath the table, I see several of the very expensive, distinctly red, Trojan six volt, deep cycle batteries. I wonder, did the Trojan batteries come from somebody’s expensive home solar set up and are now being used to power our radios.

Thankfully the Israeli army uses mostly American equipment, so I am extremely familiar with the PRC series of radio sets. In a highly familiar manner, (I have done this uncountable times) I take a headset; plug it into the PRC radio in front of my seat placing the headphones over my ears.

Slowly searching the radio frequencies on the dial in the broadest ranges possible hunting for any radio traffic that I might be able to decipher, I spend an hour or so. There are vast blanks of empty radio territory on the dial. Even using auto scan, I find only a few broadcasts.

I find remarkably little traffic that the other radio operators have not already located. Most radio traffic that I locate is in the lower and higher FM and AM bandwidth ranges. I find utterly nothing in the VHF, EHF and ELF bandwidths.

Silence in the ELF bands is surprising as that is the way most navies communicate with their ballistic missile submarines when they are deeply submerged. I know from the colonel that at least a few of the American ballistic and attack subs are still at sea. Granted we lack the crypto to be able to decipher those submarine ELF transmissions, but utter silence I did not expect.

Other than the few religious nut cases Nikola mentioned, there is little on the air to interest anyone. A few HAM operators passing radio traffic looking for missing family and friends, but there is little response or hope of finding missing people. I have very little hope of finding a HAM operator in D.C., but if I do, I might ask him about Amy.

I am surprised that I did not find any transmissions in Arabic, Farsi or Pashto. I expected to find at least one transmission. If someone in the Middle East is transmitting, perhaps their radios are not powerful enough to reach here. The Middle East was badly affected by the KCAP pandemic.

I did expect to find at least one strong and survival-minded government broadcasts, but even those transmissions have gone silent. Even 121.5 MHz International Air Distress (IAD) and 243 MHz Military Air Distress (MAD) are silent, which makes sense as there are likely few planes.

I give up eventually and slip out of the smoke-filled radio shack, the chilly evening air feeling peachy after the stuffy interior. It has been a while since I smoked so much in one sitting, boredom will do that to you. Standing outside alone with my thoughts, I happen to catch sight of Reginald, slinking off into the bushes in an alarming manner that makes my skin crawl.

The way his black oversized raincoat bulges, Reginald obviously has something hidden underneath which he is trying to conceal. I am utterly fucking positive he is planning something insidious. The way he looks around furtively, cements my opinion that the slimy bastard has stolen something and is slinking off into the bushes to enjoy his purloined treasure.

I watch Reginald slink deeper into the bushes, certain he has stolen food, or maybe some booze. I suddenly see a small pink high top Converse sneaker punch out from underneath his jacket. The sneaker is obviously kicking repeatedly but having no effect. The only person in the camp wearing pink Converse sneakers is the Princesses’ daughter.

A faint gust of wind causes Reginald’s coat to flutter open slightly before he can close it. As I suspected, I see that he has the Princesses’ daughter clasped to his chest with his arm around her neck. Her large dark blue eyes are wide with fear in her flushed red face over Reginald’s flabby arm.

I take quick mental inventory of my equipment. My AR15, slung over my right shoulder, wears its AAC M4-2000 suppressor and my holstered Hi-Power wears its AAC Evolution suppressor. I momentarily consider shooting Reginald, but decide against it. Grabbing my rifle sling, I pull it over my head to the left so that the sling now crosses my body at an angle bisecting my breasts.

With my hands now free, I take a few steps quietly following the hunchbacked retreating form of Reginald. Slipping into the brush as silently as I can the blackberry thorns prick at my skin. Most of the brush is comprised of something I heard the soldiers call Scots Broom. Ostensibly, it is a common invasive species of bush in the Pacific Northwest.

Stepping quietly and carefully, so as not to alert Reginald to my presence, I try not to lose him in the dark. I momentarily wish for my NVGs. Stepping on a branch would let the shifty bastard know someone is following him. I am unsure what his reaction would be with regards to the child, so I do not want to spook him.

I cannot risk a shot because I do not want to risk hitting the child. The way Reginald has her clamped to his chest, hunching over her, even a shot to the head is too risky in my opinion. Both of my weapon calibers are notorious for over penetration.

Coming into a small grassy clearing, in the center of several blackberry thickets, I see Reginald still hunched over the struggling little girl. From my angle, I cannot see what he is doing. Moving to the right slightly to remain in Reginald’s blind spot, I can now see that he has a hand shoved down the young girl’s pants while his other hand chokes the poor girl holding her down on the damp ground.

Gray Duct Tape covers the young girl’s mouth and I see her small fists beating on Reginald’s shoulders. Reginald is whispering something in to the girl’s ear. I can see panic in the girl’s wide blue eyes; tears stain her face.

I briefly again consider shooting Reginald but decide it is still too risky, I might hit the child. Stabbing him, however, has it merits. I slip my Glock fighting knife silently out of its sheath. Stepping carefully through the thick, wet matted grass, I observe the young girl watching me approach Reginald from the back.

Now within striking distance, I bring my right leg back; shifting my weight onto my left leg. Snapping my foot in a horizontal kick, I strike savagely with the hard steel toe of my boot into the center of the nerve plexus of Reginald’s right outer thigh.

I distinctly hear the snapping dry branch sound of Reginald’s femur breaking when my steel toe hits his thigh. This is a common Krav Maga strike point which renders the leg useless for a minute or two, but does not usually snap the femur. The kick is even more effective when you are wearing heavy steel toe boots, and you are kicking an unawares opponent.

Reginald screaming as if he has been castrated his leg spasming uncontrollably and unable to support him collapses on to his knees. Reginald’s right thigh bends at an impossible angle, and he shrieks shrilly again as the broken ends of his femur grind together.

Unaware until later, that Reginald has dropped the child onto her bottom, I close in now intending to slice Reginald’s throat. I grasp a fist full of Reginald’s greasy, lank hair. Honed to a fine edge, my Glock fighting knife held in my right hand is poised to rip into Reginald’s neck when there is suddenly a small-caliber gunshot quickly followed by a second shot.

Stunned by the two-gun shots, which I was close enough to feel the heat and shock wave, I fail to realize that Reginald has slumped over on his face and has ceased shrieking like a scalded cat. When I realize that I am no longer holding Reginald, I see the Princesses’ daughter holding a small, double-barreled, stainless steel derringer in her shaking hands.

Sheathing my knife, I roll Reginald’s corpse onto its back just as Sam, the Princess, Shack and four of the perimeter guards come crashing through the brush like infuriated bulls. I have seen enough corpses knowing instantly Reginald is dead the voiding of his bowels and bladder only confirms what I already knew.

Looking down at Reginald’s corpse, I see that he has a pair of small holes in his forehead about three inches apart at a slight angle. The small, powder burn surrounded holes in his forehead seep blood slightly. The holes contrast markedly with the stunned look on the corpse’s face.

The two shots did not exit the cranium as there is no exit wound on the back of the head. I am grateful that the child did not miss her target. It looks as if the derringer was practically against Reginald’s forehead when she shot him.

I look at the Princesses’ daughter, whom at this point I still did not know her name, and although visibly shaking and wide-eyed, she does not appear to be hurt. Doc Jamal appears with his medical kit, shoving his way through the small crowd just as I rip the tape off of the child’s mouth eliciting a shriek of pain from her, the first noise she has made.

Sam is the second person to break the stunned silence his hands on his hips like a disapproving father observing naughty children. His Sterling slung over his right shoulder, Sam says, “Somebody want to tell me what the hell happened.” I take the small derringer from the shaking young girl; Shack is the first to answer the colonel’s demand.

“Sir, I saw Ruth head into the bush with murderous intent on her face, so I followed her to provide back up. I arrived just as Ruth kicked the shit outa Reggie’s leg. She was gonna gut the bastard, but the little girl shot Reginald before Ruth could use her knife.”

The Princess rushes to her daughter, clutching her in her arms. I hear some whispered endearments and assurances between mother and daughter. Looking at the Princess, I ask a question that I already know the answer to. “You armed your daughter. I take it that this is another one of your husband’s pistols.”

I pop open the small, double-barreled High Standard nickel-plated stainless derringer and see that it is one of the very common .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire pistols. The small derringer with white, ivory grips is showing its age but is still in excellent working condition.

Leaving the derringer open, I hand it back to the shaking girl, who after a few dropped rounds manages to reload it from a red plastic Hornady box in her left jacket pocket. The girl snaps the derringer closed and drops it in her left jacket pocket. No one says otherwise.

“Just who was your husband?” I ask the Princess. “He had considerable taste in weapons, not something that I would expect from a wealthy urbanite lawyer.”

“Before he went to Harvard law, and became a wealthy lawyer, my husband was a Washington State Patrol officer.”

“That explains the guns” I tell her, sighing and shrugging.

“Yes, I never actually cared for guns or thought nobody, but the police or military needed one, until now. I am glad my husband insisted we keep the guns and refused to get rid of them even though I begged him to do so. When panic hit, the first thing everyone was searching for was guns and ammo. My neighbors, who were the nicest, most liberal people you ever met, kicked in my front door and tried to steal our guns. I ended up shooting them both, and I had known them more than 20 years.”

The Princess turns from me and asks her daughter if she is OK and she gets a shaky nod. Then I hear the Princess ask her daughter, Jenny, why she did not use her pistol. Huh? What pistol. Jenny reaches into her right pants pocket and pulls out a silvery Baby Browning .25 ACP pistol.

Jenny explains that her pants were too tight to be able to get the Baby Browning out of her pants pocket, so she grabbed the derringer. I note that Jenny transfers the Baby Browning to her right jacket pocket. Reginald’s corpse is unceremoniously stripped of anything of worth and left where he lays.

Walking back to the convoy after Sam dispatches the perimeter guard back to their posts, I note that Jenny is visibly shaking in her mother’s arms. Poor girl, I hope she is able to cope. I notice that it is almost time for our staff meeting; as a matter of fact we are almost late.

I follow some of the other staff members in a quick trot to the cantina tent which also serves as the command tent. The two colonels take a seat along the folding plastic tables and without preamble Charlie, one of the burly SF soldiers, starts talking.

A hand drawn map is passed around for everyone to look at as we lack any means of mass copying it. It takes a while to circulate the room. The map causes numerous questions and side conversations. Sam finally has to halt the map’s passage by confiscating it, which stops the side chatter. Charlie is told to continue by a gruff Sam.

The observers believe the Costco has changed hands several times with each consecutive group looting and damaging it more than the previous. The observers describe the Costco parking lot and entrance as resembling down town Baghdad with bullet-ridden and burnt out cars scattered throughout the parking lot. Also, mentioned is several zombie infested cars in the parking lot.

The sheet metal façade of the Costco building is badly bullet pock-marked with several large poorly repaired holes. There are obviously signs of previous heavy weapons use against the Costco. The asphalt parking lot around the entrance is badly pockmarked, and riddled with scorch marks.

The roll up doors on the front of the Costco have been blown away, in their place is a makeshift assortment of car doors, scrap lumber, plywood, and miscellaneous other junk blocking the twin entrances.

Since there is no power, the cannibals appear to be using the front of the store only. A make shift barricade of sorts in the parking lot protects the front of the store. The barricade consists of stacked shopping carts chained together, abandoned cars, and another reinforced articulated Metro bus.

The Metro bus this time is not operational, but does provide significant cover to the defenders. Wrapped in corrugated roofing panels, the Metro bus will be difficult to overcome. Behind the Metro bus is a large open area which appears to be the cannibal’s communal area.

Within this large open, communal area shielded by the Metro bus and the barricade, are the cages used to keep fresh meat. When some poor bastard is brought in either by trade or caught by one of the hunting parties, they are tossed into one of the cages for safe keeping. At present, the cages are empty.

The communal cooking is also done in this area on a large cinder block fire pit covered with a metal grate. Fuel of choice right now is wooden pallets. A large stack of wooden pallets lies within the communal area next to the fire pit.

In the evenings after the last meal, the grates are lifted off the fire pit and trash is burned as well as larger pieces of pallets and other scrap wood. The cannibals sit on folding chairs around the fire pit, drinking wine from bottles, often late into the night.

Used by women to cook meals several soot stained pot and pans lie on the grate over the fire. It is intriguing to note that the collapse of civilization has caused a return to the traditional gender assigned roles. So much for women’s lib.

Women do the cooking and cleaning while men hunt, gather food and protect the group. No children are presently within the cannibal enclave. However, the observers report a couple of the cannibal women might be pregnant. There is some grumbling about shooting pregnant women.

The cannibals enjoy hunting people for sport and fun. The observers note that women do not join the hunt, but are eager to partake of the meal that results from the hunt. Reminds me of the Hemmingway quote about hunting man. “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

The person to be eaten is starved for at least three days, but given all the water and wine they can drink. If the poor, doomed bastard is not sufficiently drunk before cooking they are force-fed at least a gallon of wine. Apparently the wine adds flavor to the meat which the cannibals seem to enjoy. The doomed, drunken person is then dragged to and tossed on the fire pit.

With a festive, party like atmosphere, when a person is to be eaten, the meal is stripped of its clothes, held hand and foot, and tossed naked on the grill when it is sufficiently hot. First cooking is usually on the back.

Long steel chains fastened to the hands and feet of the meal keep it spread eagle over the fire. The poor bastard, after cooking upon one side for a while is flipped over and cooked upon the other side; the cannibals seeming to prefer their meat medium rare. Most people are dead by the time they are flipped, but sometimes they are barely alive when flipped over.

From the observers, it appears that the cannibals hunt people for fun, as they have been observed cooking and eating other food. The cannibal camp has a near festival feel to it when they catch or decide to butcher and eat a person. Perhaps it is some great festive occasion for them.

The cannibals will not be too difficult to remove as they lack any obvious, heavy weapons according to the observers. The cannibals do have a few rifles and shotguns, but all are civilian weapons. However, there is no telling what they might have tucked out of sight in the cavernous building.

The inside must be dark as can be, and the observers doubt there is little left of worth in the building. The cannibals were doing a brisk trade in fresh flesh for various large bottles of liquid hand soap, bleach, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, and booze most notably bottled wine. The last person was butchered the day our observation commenced, and no more has been caught since.

A few attack options are considered. The final plan considered and approved is a three-pronged attack. The first attack group will attempt to enter the Costco through the back of the store, and using NVGs attack from the rear.

The second attack group will attack from the roof, rappelling down into the communal area. The third attack group will perform a frontal attack, causing a disturbance which will draw all attention to them. The third attack group is also responsible for launching the tear gas into the Costco main structure.

The convoy has acquired a lot of non-lethal tear gas and other riot control munitions that are of little use against the dead. The cannibals though are quite alive and are likely susceptible to the effects of the tear gas.

Doc gives us a brief summary of how we can identify someone infected with the mutated minor strain of the KCAP virus and what we can expect from them in combat. Those infected by eating meat tainted by KCAP lose all of their bodily hair, become exceedingly pale and lean with prominent blue veins, and highly defined muscles. Fingernails and toenails turn black and eventually fall off.

Speed, reflexes and muscle mass, are all increased while sense of taste slowly, gradually dwindles to nothing at all. The mouth becomes bright red, with receding gums and the tongue becomes a vivid dark blue or black. The lips become thin and nearly shapeless. The eyes remain unchanged, with the exception of prominent red veins that no amount of Visine can cure.

The other senses remain unchanged with the exception of a slight dulling of the sense of touch and substantially increased pain tolerance. Doc has no experience with how the cannibals will react to the tear gas, so flash bang grenades and other disabling nonlethal antipersonnel weapons are included in the assault plan.

All attack groups will be issued Oleum Capsicum (OC), 2-Chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS) and Dibenzoxazepine (CR) hand grenades. I am surprised to hear that somehow they got a hold of several of the old British CR grenades from the late 1950’s and early ‘60s. How the hell did they get those?

All assault parties are to wear gas masks, which we hope the cannibals lack. A squad of M224 60mm mortars will bombard the cannibal communal area first with HE and Infrared Illumination (IR) rounds. The third attack party will be issued extra CS 40mm grenades.

I am surprised at the variety and number of antipersonnel and riot control grenades in the convoy’s armory. Ostensibly most of the material is left over from riot control efforts that proved largely futile. There are also numerous O.D. green, baseball sized OC/CS sting grenades handed out to the attack groups.

The sting grenades, which conveniently are the same size as an American M67 frag grenade, combine a concussive explosion with 60 hard rubber .45 caliber balls and a charge of combined OC and CS gas. Nasty business.

The antipersonnel grenade armed attack groups will also be backed up by one of the Strykers we recovered from the 1%ers camp. This particular Stryker, which turns out to be a M1129 Mortar Carrier, is fully loaded with a full complement of grenades.

Mike, field promoted from buck sergeant to captain by the colonels, is in charge of our two Strykers and their crews. While the damned 105mm cannon-carrying Stryker is rather obvious, the M1129 Stryker to the uninitiated looks similar to the usual infantry Stryker when its roof doors are closed.

I have never seen a M1129 before. After the staff meeting breaks up, I spend a little time getting familiar with it and its crew. The newer Strykers, with their upgraded turbine engines can burn just about any flammable liquid fuel, unlike the HEMTTs and Hummers which are restricted to diesel only. Once I have satisfied my curiosity, I leave Mike to prepare the mortar Stryker and crew for the assault and go find Nikola.

I find Nikola in the radio shack. He is assigned to the second attack group and will carry his GM-94 grenade launcher, Threadcutter rifle and one RPO-A Shmel man-pack. I am assigned as Nikola’s assistant and sidekick carrying a second Shmel man-pack. I am to provide sharpshooter over watch protection from the roof of the Costco with my suppressed POF AR15.

Since I am providing sharpshooter cover, I consider swapping the optics on my carbine from the old ACOG I have on it now to my Leupold VX-R patrol rifle scope. After brief deliberation, I decide to stick with the ACOG as the assault ranges are not going to be particularly lengthy. The ACOG is also NVG compatible while the patrol rifle scope is not.

Our attack is planned for an ungodly 03:00, very early in the morning while it is still dark. Most of the evening is spent preparing our gear for the attack after which the day crew naps best as they can.

After a bland lunch (Carol calls it mid rats for some reason – what rats have to do with the meal I am unsure) of cold, dirty rice and MRE snacks washed down with warm beer we start assembling our kit. Trying to be as quiet as we can, so we do not disturb our slumbering friends, we gather our equipment

I spent an hour or so with Nikola before lunch learning about the RPO-A Shmel. I have never used one of these weapons before, despite the fact that I have read about them several times. The Russians, especially the Spetsnaz and Federal Security service (FSB), are particularly fond of them. Of course, the boys did not think to grab a printed instruction manual as the CD-ROM instruction manuals are less than worthless.

Nikola’s abbreviated lessons are all theory as we cannot launch one of these weapons for a plethora of reasons. Not only are there a finite quantity of these weapons, but launching one is tantamount to announcing to the whole damned world where we are.

After the Shmel lessons, Nikola finalizes his kit. Nikola, I notice, chooses several non-fragmenting 43mm HE and some Fuel Air Explosive (FAE) thermobaric grenades for his pump-action grenade launcher. Not for the last time, I am sure; I wonder just how many of the proprietary 43mm grenades the Spets lads brought with them. After stuffing a black cloth grenade bandolier, Nikola leaves to take a nap before the assault.

Supper consists of a thick, mildly spicy chili like meal, washed down with our last cans and bottles of warm beer. More time is spent going over the attack plan once again. After the attack plan is finalized with no major changes, the attack groups separate to prepare gear. Several of us attempt to nap for a few minutes after our kit is finalized.

Shack has been assigned to convoy guard duty since he is still listed as walking wounded, or “down checked” as he calls it. Nikola, now dressed in tiger stripe camouflage BDUs, Carol, Shack and I all sit in the radio shack along with Shen who is also assigned convoy guard duty. The radios are on auto scan, and we give them half an ear as we once again check, clean and prepare weapons.

Assembling our kits for the last time, I note that Nikola elects to carry a suppressed Nagant M1895 revolver. I watch as he takes a suppressor off of a Makarov pistol and screws it onto the revolver. I ask him about the effectiveness of a suppressor on a revolver which I thought was impossible if not impractical.

I get an unexpected lesson on the peculiarities of the Nagant M1895 revolver, its ammo and the Russian 9mm suppressor screwed on to its barrel. Rather than carry his preferred 4th generation suppressed Glock 20 pistol, Nikola elects to carry the Nagant revolver because it is much quieter and easier to shoot.

The Nagant revolver is not known for being a particular heavy hitting man stopper, but up close, and head shooting it should prove adequate. The Russians brought numerous 1,092 round sealed tins of Nagant 7.62 x 38R  revolver ammo, some of it more than 100 years old. Nikola elects to carry Nagant ammo that is only a mere 70 years old with corrosive Berdan primers.

While I check my magazines, I watch Nikola use cheap charcoal lighter fluid to clean the Nagant pistol and suppressor. He says it removes the corrosive salts and residue better than some traditional gun cleaning fluids. The corrosive powder and primers of the old Nagant ammo are not something that I thankfully have to worry about.

My Browning Hi-Power pistol is loaded with Federal 147 grain subsonic rounds. I make sure to remove all the non-subsonic ammo from my pistol magazines. A quick cleaning and oiling of my gear and it is as ready as possible.

Everyone is wearing full body armor and current US Army issue MCU 2/P gas masks with a fresh canister and sealed spare. My Dragon Skin vest is the best I have and will have to do. Nikola elects to wear the Russian equivalent of an Interceptor vest with SAPI plates.

Full ammo load outs are issued. I am astounded when I am issued 150 rounds of Mark 262, Mod 0, 77 grain, open tip 5.56 ammo. I am told that this is all of the heavy 77 grain ammo. I am admonished to use it with extreme care. It makes sense that they issue to me, the heavy 77 grain ammo as my POF AR15 has a ridiculously fast 1 in 6.5 inch twist barrel.

Both Nikola and I are each given an old but serviceable frameless, medium-sized, O.D. green ALICE pack. We toss a first aid kit, spare ammo, a few MRE snacks, and several bottles of water into the packs. We lash the Shmel man-packs to the outside of the ALICE packs. To our LBVs we lash the antipersonnel riot control grenades added to our usual frag grenade load.

I watch the mortar Stryker head off to take its carefully plotted position. As we board the trucks that will take us within a mile or so of the Costco to launch our attack, I ponder the likelihood of this attack going to hell quickly. I squeeze into the truck sandwiched between Nikola and part of one of the M224 mortar teams.

Something sharp and damned hard is hitting me in the leg I think the lad beside me is carrying the recoil plate for the mortar. His ruck bulges with cardboard mortar canisters. I always hated mortars. I hope the lads assigned to the task are at least proficient with the damn thing.

I notice sitting in the back of the truck, with interest, one of the young soldiers assigned to protect the convoy trucks while the assault team is away. This soldier carries a black, suppressed, Wilkinson Arms Linda 9mm machine pistol with collapsible M4-style shoulder stock, red dot sight and several high-capacity magazines. Interesting choice of weapons, I wonder if it is another 1%er acquisition.

As we ride through the dark forest along the highway, each of is alone with our thoughts. I hear a few quietly whispered prayers, which is not an awful idea before combat no matter your faith. Shack is about the closest thing we have to a chaplain. He is back in camp with the rest of the convoy. With almost two-thirds of our combat strength dedicated to this assault, I hope those we leave behind will be OK.

  1. John Guide permalink

    Awesome. Well worth the wait.

    You have gotten down pat the mixing of dialogue, scene description, action, and tactical gear talk. Now just keep it coming.

  2. Tim permalink

    Awesome! And thanks. Enjoy your elk hunt. I can’t wait for the next chapter.

  3. Great chapter, and one worth waiting for (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). I’m not sure that I like the attack plan. I’d much rather wait for the hunting party to leave, destroy them in the open, and then that night attack what’s left.

    • Helios permalink

      Agree with Jake – attacking a fortified position seems to be the worst choice for this type of mission. Of course, they may not be willing to wait for the hunting party to leave (not sure how often they go out). Also, since there is no real objective here, why are they wasting their time? Do they see themselves as the righter of wrongs? The moral police?

      • Helios next chapter will answer your questions. As for attacking a fortified position, the convoy does have superior weaponry.

  4. Excelent work!!!!. It was well worth the wait but I swear that I was dying each day waiting for the new chapter to come. you did a great job of hitting all of the high points and moving us into the cannibal assault. The description of how the cannibals went about their buisiness was awesome, You went beyond what i had expected. The descriptions of how the captives were prepared for “good eats”and how the cannibals physical body changes from eating KCAP flesh were explained, You went over the top. I hope to see another chapter before you go to Deer camp., If it’s something you can do for us, wonderfull. if not, we will wait. You have done some fine work and we all appreciate your efforts. Thank you! M.M.

    • MM, I am glad that you enjoyed the last chapter. It took me too long to get the chapter to the point where I was happy with it. So far it has been the chapter that I have rewrote, shredded and cussed at the most. One good thing about sitting in a deer stand for hours gives me time to plot out the chapters of my zombie tale.

  5. I also loved the “removal’ of Reginald, good job Jenny! He was a worthless pig, definetly up to no good.

    • I live in the Midwest and we get tedemnrous snow and tedemnrous rain. Right now we are heading into tornado season which means more thunderstorms and more blackouts. While every item would be extremely useful, especially the radio, i think the most useful would be the blackout buddy. It always seems like when the power goes out thats when you cant find the flashlights or theyre out of batteries. It would be a big help.

  6. Craig W permalink

    Great that they found all of those supplies in the shipping containers. They seem to be having great luck finding things. I look forward to the assault.

    • Yes they have been fortunate but if you consider the amount of territory they are searching, and the effort it requires, they have really not found that much. Ruth’s journal entries also tend to cover the high and low points, typical of anyone’s journal keeping. The convoy also happened to possess the necessary tools to cut into the containers. Had they lacked the metal cutting tools then they would not have been able to access the storage containers.

  7. Tim permalink

    I hope that you and your family had a safe and pleasant Thanksgiving. I can’t wait until the next chapter. Hopefully soon!

  8. As Tim said, I agree. I hope Deer camp or if it was Elk camp, went well. I hope you and your family had a great thanksgiving. We await your next chapter, I’m sure it will be superb.MM

  9. I hope you didn’t get lost in the woods, or eaten by zombies. It seems that this story has stalled, significantly.

  10. John Guide permalink

    This was a great story with both action, humor and lots of tactical details. I guess dealing with life has caused the author to drop the story line like so many other authors have done.

    RIP, it was a great story while it lasted.

    • Tim permalink

      Sometimes life gets in the way. Family, college, deer hunt, elk hunt, Thanksgiving and pretty soon Christmas. Allen will be back. I will keep watching for the next entry.

  11. Greg Landgraf permalink

    Like the other, I miss the story, but more importantly, hope all is well!

  12. Thanks all for the kind words. No worries the story is not dead, just life has gotten in the way for now. I am in my last semester of college, had an unexpected number of my family arrive for deer and elk camp which transferred into the Thanksgiving weekend. I have written the next chapter, but am struggling with getting it right or at least to my satisfaction. I must have rewritten the next chapter at least 20 times, and it is still not to my liking. School ends the 15th and I hope to get the next chapter posted soon after.

  13. luckyalaska98 permalink

    is this story dead?

    • No the story is not dead, just life has gotten in the way of my writing it. I am in my last semester of college attempting to graduate with honors, and have had some family issues. My wife has had some medical problems which have taken my time away from writing as well as a gnarly final project to earn my BS. This story will get resurrected soon, probably within the week. I have the next chapter written but I still am not happy with it, so I will attack it again soon when I get school done.

      • I wish you the best and hope the lady of yours will be well. We wait for your additions to the story, because you do good work. But we also realize that this story is only a part of your life and we appreciate all you do considering the twists and turns that life sends to us all. Be well and a prayer will be sent from
        South Florida for you and your wife. God bless you and your family.
        M.M. & Crawdad J.R.( My Wife’s handle)

  14. I sent part 4 of my storyto you today. I took it a little further after i sent it to you. I just got hit hard by regrouping and the story just fired up in my head. I hope you enjoyed it as it was.

  15. Anonymous permalink

    Daaaaaaum son, what are you doint to us? 😉

    • Well, normally this time of year we’d be prpareed for storms, high wind, flooded basement and power outtages, but this morning we got SNOW! 2 Inches of snow on the ground! This climate change thing is real and its only going to get worse, we all need to be prpareed for the worst! I think the weather alert radio would be the most useful item in the kit because we don’t have one yet!

  16. Craig W permalink

    It’s Dec 21 – the end of the world. I guess we’ll see how that goes.

  17. Quack,Quack,Quack, flutter,flutter, zip, whoosh…BOOM!!!!!! Bye Daffy. Come back to us dude, we need you, the large black viens have started to branch out from the wound of the lack of your awesome tale. We are dodging the infection as well as possible but You have the vaccine. We need it, we need it bad. Come back to us.M.M.

  18. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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