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Zombie Apocalypse Fiction – Ruth’s Story #79 Still camped along SR-9, day one of coordinated looting

August 24, 2013

                When it was time to leave, Shack stuffed my sleepy ass into our designated M35 truck. I vaguely remember him helping me get dressed. I sleep during the long drive to the targeted stores. Despite the rough ride and crowded conditions in the cab; warmly snuggled up between Shack and Nikola, I managed to sleep for nearly the entire ride.

Shack has learned to drive a manual diesel truck fairly well, although he does occasionally whip everyone around in the cab letting off the clutch with too few RPMs on the engine. The mechanically inclined lads stated that another one of the reasons why they chose the older M35 trucks with the manual, five speed transmission, is that they are easier to maintain than the later trucks with automatic transmissions. Shack did not wake me too many times grinding the gears in the poor old M35. 

Another factor in favor of these older trucks is that most of them carry a stupidly stout Power Take Off (PTO) winch mounted to the front bumper. In 6×6 configuration, with an air activated front differential, the 24 volt M35 trucks are fully mechanical. No electronics to be fried by EMP, a problem some of the survivors from central and southern California, tell me occurred when several neutron bombs were dropped on a few key cities overrun with zombies.

The East Coast of the US, we have been led to believe by various radio broadcasts, fared much worse. Anywhere there was a dense population KCAP spread faster than ever thought possible. A panicked US had not ordered the use of nuclear bombs until the very bitter end.

By the time the few limited nukes were used on US soil, it was far too late. Libya’s possession of Indian-made nukes shocked the Western world. Even more shocking was Libya’s possession of second strike capability disguised and hidden underneath an old refinery at Ras Lanuf. I am not sure what good, if any, the few late Libyan nukes did in stemming the tide of zombies.

From what little of the ELF chatter we have heard from the English, Chinese, French, British, Russian and US submarines still afloat, most of the North African Mediterranean coast is nothing but radioactive glass. I wonder if all that trinitite is worth something? Small Mediterranean island nations such as Crete and Cyprus were nearly nuked off of the globe.

Not only did the EMP blasts from the nuke bombs fry every electronic device in range, the infected and zombies proved to be far more resilient to the effects of radiation than the non-infected. The zombies closest to the center of the blast, where the radiation was greatest, were killed along with everything else. Outside the lethal zone, zombies and infected survived in far higher numbers than believed possible.

The surviving, highly radioactive zombies are commonly referred to as radiants. Unlike the other types of zombies, radiants cannot be identified without the use of a Geiger counter. Since remarkably few people possess a Geiger counter, or even know how to use one, a radiant poses a double threat not only from its bite but also the radiation it carries.

Nikola and some of the other Russian lads, as well as several survivors from California, have told several campfire horror stories describing how radiants, even if they did not bite anyone, were still able to make people sick and poison the area. The Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, in the south, is now a giant inhospitable radioactive wasteland occupied by millions of radiants.

Central California is a similar radioactive wasteland according to the few survivors I have talked with. It is generally agreed that nearly all survivors are heading north into the colder climes to escape KCAP. The Russians joke that for the first time, Siberia is actually popular. I wonder if survivors in the southern hemisphere are heading for the South Pole region.

Russia, France, China, India and a few other nuclear armed nations were not as hesitant as the US was to deploy their nuclear arsenal upon their home soil. Russia, with its robust civil defense system, the residents fled into old Soviet-era nuclear bomb shelters using evacuation routes once planned for a likely nuclear war with the US. Many of those citizens would regret their choice in mere minutes after reaching supposed safety.

Spared being incinerated in nuclear firestorms two miles wide, the Russian citizens in the old Soviet bunkers designed to preserve life and flesh suddenly found themselves trapped with hungry zombies presented with a glorious buffet.

When the zombies began attacking the survivors in the Soviet civil defense shelters, I wonder if they had instead wished to have perished in the 1,800 F° fireballs that had consumed so many of their friends and neighbors. Ignited to kindling temperatures, every flammable scrap of material contributed to monstrous fireballs, with ginormous vortex rings, sucking all of the oxygen from the surrounding areas.

Many people in outlying areas died of suffocation well before the 1,800 F° 125 mph winds incinerated their bodies and everything flammable around them. In the less populated areas, survivors fared much better. Much like the area that our convoy is looting now, which was once sparsely populated, the lower the population the better the chances of survival.

A few of the Russian lads from key cities spoke of survivors welding the blast doors shut on the old Soviet subterranean nuclear bomb shelters. The zombie-infested catacombs and bomb shelters are hopefully sealed forever.

The densely centralized European, American, Asian, and Middle Eastern population created billions of zombies in mere hours. Literally within minutes, smaller cities were swallowed by zombie hordes. Watching the world’s population plummet by an estimated 100,000 people a second, caused massive and widespread panic among the political leaders.

Thankfully during the ensuing panic, smaller cities and areas like the area we are currently looting fared much better. Less population meant that many survivors were able to flee before the roads became traffic filled cesspools choked with refugees from the larger cities. We are fortunate that the speedy evacuation combined with coordinated bombing and shelling of the principal highway bridges, helped to leave some supplies untouched by looters until now.

A sudden bump in the road brings me back to the present for a moment. Warmly snuggled between the two men in the cab of the M35, I close my eyes and let my mind drift again.

The looting convoy left camp when there was finally enough sunlight that the drivers could see well enough without using either the headlights or NVG gear. We barely have enough of the precious NVGs so that each driver has a pair. NVGs are an item that we cannot replace and so are used sparingly. Headlights attract too much zombie attention and might attract other unwelcome attention, as well.

The noise of the recovery crew’s vehicles draws enough attention as it is from the walking dead. The Scouts we brought along are kept busy clearing our route. It is amusing to watch the Scouts drive by bludgeon zombies as if they have been doing it for years. Practice does truly make perfect.

Jousting with zombies upon motorcycles proved to be ineffective. Jousting did not always guarantee a kill. Jousting also carried too much of a liability for the motorcycle rider as sometimes they were knocked off of their steed.

Bludgeoning or chopping the zombie as you pass is much safer. We have a few of the United Cutlery M48 Talon survival spears found in some shitty sporting goods store. The steel is not particularly robust in the Talon spears. Struck hard, the Talon spear blades either shatter or bend.

The Talon black fiberglass three-foot long spear shafts are decent, however. Once the cheap, Chinese, soft and not terribly stainless steel, eight inch blade snaps, the lads replace it with a real blade that can handle abuse. I am sure the original Talon blades looked scary and impressive to the armchair generals and SF warrior wannabes.

If you are going to attack zombies with a bladed weapon, make sure that you possess quality steel; otherwise you might regret it. I have never appreciated a large bladed combat knife before now. We have too few large knives of quality. The few Cold Steel Trail Master Bowie knives we possess are well used. We also have far too few of the Cold Steel Kukri knives. My much smaller Glock field knife is far too tiny for me to use as my sole weapon against a zombie.

Attrition has truly decided which equipment is capable of surviving a zombie apocalypse. Cheap poorly made and inferior equipment does not long survive. Often, regrettably, neither does the damned fool survive who chose to trust their life to the shitty equipment.

Just as if the whole convoy is on the move, the snow plow leads the way with its blade hovering just above the ground. Bill is behind the snow plow in the double tank civilian fuel tanker. The lads have been making jokes about the fact that a few of our guards ride on top of the double tanks. Apparently, an old post-apocalyptic movie from the early 1980’s has a similar scene.

I have not seen this “Mad Max Road Warrior” movie, but it sounds as if several of the lads have seen it frequently and enjoyed it. There are frequent discussions among the lads arguing which is better; the original “Mad Max Road Warrior” with the late Mel Gibson or the recent Guillermo Del Toro remake. Apparently the tanker chase scene in both the original and the remake are fan favorites.

Somebody seriously could lose a lot of personnel attempting to take our civilian fuel tanker. A M240G machine gun is mounted on top of each of the fuel tanks. Resting in the cab between his legs in the passenger seat, Longfeather’s beat up M79 grenade launcher should deter all except the most ardent attacker.

Longfeather, a crusty, supremely fit Vietnam vet in his early to mid 70s (I guess, he is probably one of our eldest lads), dressed in a decidedly faded sleeveless “pickle suit,” has a pair of olive drab cloth bandoliers of 40mm grenades across his shoulders. Each bandolier holds ten 40mm grenades. At Longfeather’s feet beside the muzzle of his M79 Thumper rests an old, beat up, heavy fabric faded olive drab mechanic’s tool bag stuffed to near bursting with loose 40mm grenades.

Before Longfeather closed the top of the old mechanic’s tool bag, I noticed that it contained several of the old MEI Mercury HE 40mm grenades. Longfeather, I know from past encounters, prefers the M576 buckshot rounds, so I was surprised to see the older, fearfully distinct Mercury HE grenades. Nikola, I also know, brought along some of the unique Russian 43mm thermobaric grenades. I can see several of the Russian 43mm grenades beside me tucked into Nikola’s LBV. I wonder if Longfeather possesses similar grenades for his bloop tube.

Nikola’s KBM GM-94 43mm pump-action grenade launcher rests in his arms. I was also surprised to see that Nikola brought along both RPG-27 and RPG-29s, the latter along with several thermobaric rockets. One of the RPG-27s rests at Nikola’s feet, the larger and less maneuverable RPG-29 rests in the back of the truck with one of the other Russian lads. I am told that another Russian soldier carries an identical weapons load out in one of the other trucks. The colonels wanted this looting mission heavily armed. It appears that Nikola took the colonels seriously.

Nikola is overall in command of the convoy with me as second in command. Longfeather acts as our sergeant major, a role in which he appears to be well versed. When the two looting companies divide, I will be in charge of the force on the northern side of the road while Nikola takes command of the southern. Once the southern stores are emptied, Nikola will send the laden trucks back to the convoy and assume command of the remainder of the company in the northern portion.

Longfeather and Bill, along with a much smaller force will go in search of more fuel. Longfeather will be in command of the fuel retrieval detail when this company splits. Thinking of the logistics of this fiasco on tires, gives me a headache. My specialty was/is translation and intel extraction. I cannot imagine dealing with the whole moveable feast. Far too many personnel and trucks for me to handle.

Our M35 truck does not have a hole in the roof for a mounted weapon unlike a few of the other trucks. I pity the poor bastards stuck standing up in the cold, drizzly rain. While another weapon would be welcome, the lack of the cold, drizzling rain dripping in on us through a hole in the roof is a welcome respite. Lacking a hole in the roof also means that the truck’s heater actually manages to warm the cab enough that I stop shivering. I even manage to sleep a little once I warmed up, snuggled between the two men.

Arriving at the targets, we quickly dispersed from the trucks. Shack gently shakes me awake upon arrival. I sleepily climb out of the truck still fuzzy and warm from being snuggled between the two larger men. The Scouts and the guards quickly eradicated what few zombies were wandering around. I quickly dropped two zombies with my suppressed AR. I winced at the crack of the supersonic bullets as they snapped across the parking lot.

Subsonic ammo is way too precious. We have far too few sub sonic rounds to use for average zombie killing. I am using some Hirtenberger 5.56×45 NATO M855A1 ball ammunition. Not my favorite round but we have plenty of it. My longer, exceptionally fast twist AR barrel does not stabilize the itty bitty 62 grain FMJ bullets extremely well. Bullet stability does not genuinely matter as most of our shots are going to be well within 100 yards.

We are armed for the highly likely chance of encountering zombies or other, well-armed looters. Since our looters were here yesterday, we came heavy loaded with numerous grenades, machine guns and as much ammo as we could carry. Thankfully zombies do not drive vehicles or ride bicycles, so it takes them awhile to get anywhere distant. Enough time has passed that zombies from the surrounding areas, attracted by yesterday’s and today’s noise, could reach our position at any time.

We try to be as quiet as we can, but there is only so much you can do to silence the large diesel engines. We also try to limit the unsuppressed shooting. We kill as many zombies as we safely can with blades or by bludgeoning. The seven-foot tall fur ball with the sword we met at the Snohomish Armory had the correct idea. We need to procure more Medieval weapons.

Just in case things go truly sour, as we fear they might, my little deadly Swiss beauty, my Brügger & Thomet MP9, with her suppressor installed, is strapped to my back on top of my fanny pack. My MP9 has one 30-round magazine full of Federal subsonic 147 gr FMJs loaded. I have four more 30 round MP9 magazines filled with the same ammo tucked into my LBV. I also carry four antipersonnel frag, one Willie Peter, and one red smoke grenade.

With the exception of the lads toting grenade and rocket launchers, most of the convoy personnel carry a similar weapons load. Each person carries as much ammo as they feel comfortable carrying. Everyone carries at least one smoke grenade of various colors. Any smoke, no matter the color, indicates zombies in greater number than the personnel in that area feel they can handle. We also carry FRMS radios with either Push To Talk (PTT) or Voice Activated (VOX) microphones.

I had forgotten how much I hate the old US Army Interceptor vests. Everyone wears either an US Army issue Interceptor or another brand of bullet resistant vest. I am wearing my Dragon Skin vest. I am glad for its lighter weight and ease of movement. My vest is not as rigid, and I can bend and flex easier than the lads can with the stiffer SAPI plate carriers. I watch poor Shack and the other lads struggle while wearing the Interceptors.

Everyone has SAPI plates inserted verified by Sam, Longfeather and Randy who walked around with a piece of metal tapping everyone to ensure proper plate installation. Bill, I note, is wearing a civilian SAPI plate carrier made by Condor. Someone found Bill a current issue Kevlar helmet without a cover. The lack of a fabric cover on Bill’s Kevlar helmet makes him stand out among the convoy personnel. Most of our personnel wear US Army issue knee and elbow pads. As I drop to my knees to check underneath abandoned vehicles in the parking lot, I am ever thankful for my knee and elbow pads courtesy of Sam.

I note that the lads yesterday marked the vehicles which are zombie occupied with spray paint. Several cans of spray paint were recovered yesterday adding to our supply, which was running low I understand. I note also that the abandoned vehicles have been drained of their crankcase motor oil as marked on the hoods of the vehicles.

I am assigned to the shopping mall side of the highway to the north. Using the snow plow and the M985 HEMTT, we clear a few of the abandoned cars from the parking lot so that we can get into the large grocery and drug store easier. There was a small debate concerning the store’s doors. We need to open the doors far enough to facilitate the quickest possible looting.

The lads yesterday did a fantastic job of securing the doors to keep other looters out. The boys say that it did not appear that anyone managed to get past the chains, shopping carts and scrap lumber that they used to block the store’s entrance. While we are discussing how to get into the damned store, Rick solves the problem for us by repeatedly ramming the snow plow’s blade through the front of the store to the left of the secured doors, clearing a wide swath and shattering most of the windows.

A little bit more noise than I wanted to make, but I cannot fault Rick’s choice of methods to open the store quickly. The lads quickly reverse the assigned M35 trucks into the demolished storefront. The M985 HEMTT and snow plow roar across the highway to loot the tire and automotive supply stores with a few of the M35s and approximately half of the force.

Shack and I crawl on top of the first M35. Tossing a climbing rope to the roof, Shack prepares to start our ascent. After a few failures, Shack finally gets the damned grappling hook to stick. With Shack holding the rope, I shimmy up the rope as quickly as I can. Being the smaller and lighter person, the grappling hook may hold for me but, not for someone as heavy as Shack.

I peek over the roof of the large shopping center with my US Army issue safety goggles and Kevlar helmet firmly strapped to my head and face. I note that the grappling hook has wrapped around a piece of short, black PVC pipe on the roof. It certainly might not have held Shack’s weight. My significantly less weight is even now stressing the poor short piece of PVC.

I can feel the cold clammy sweat sliding down my back. Several rivulets of perspiration slide down my neck and chest winding between my breasts. I grimace at the sour, old perspiration smell of my body. God, I am so looking forward to a hot shower and change of clothes this evening!

My armpits are also dripping sweat, and I grimace at the thought of what I must smell like to others. I am glad that I decided against having the sweat glands in my armpits sealed. If I had the glands sealed, then I might be in some serious trouble now as I would have no way to cool my body. Thankfully, I had delayed getting the plastic surgery; I had procrastinated too long. It is one of the few times that my procrastination was actually beneficial to me.

Looking across the wide flat black expanse of the shopping center roof, I do not immediately detect anything moving. I worry about the ominous creaking piece of black PVC holding my weight too much longer. I lock my climbing ascenders. Reaching into my tactical vest, I pull out the small battery operated plastic alarm clock I prepared earlier.

Making sure that the alarm is set to go off in about 30 seconds; I lightly toss the small white plastic clock towards the center of the roof. The glowing red digital numbers tumble across the roof before it comes to rest near the large beige ventilation gear. The alarm clock came to rest upside down, but I hope it will still be loud enough for any zombie on the roof to hear.

Hanging off the side of the store I feel particularly exposed and vulnerable. The noise of the alarm clock landing upon the roof did not attract any attention that I can detect. I hear the lads below me start to load the trucks. God must they be so damned loud!

I am startled by the sudden and irritating alarm clock. Thankfully, I locked my ascenders or I might have landed on poor Shack guarding the rope below me. With the alarm clock blaring on the roof, I am sure that every zombie within a mile hears it. I pause for a little while, and not seeing any movement, haul my ass up and over the roof edge.

Once I am on the roof, I signal for Shack to climb up which he does quickly. With both of us on the roof, we grab the rolled up aluminum and steel spelunking ladder strapped to Shack’s ruck. I cringe at the sound of the .22 caliber blank gun firing bolts into the roof while I pull security. As soon as the ladder is secured the rest of the security detail climbs up the ladder.

While the lads are busy setting up the M240G and M2HB, Shack and I take a quick walk around the roof looking for zombies. The two gun crews also help Arseny, the Russian Spets soldier with the RPGs, bring his weapons and the crates of rockets onto the roof. Arseny is one of only a few surviving Spetsnaz soldiers in the convoy. Unfortunately, he and Veniamin, his fellow RPG toting Spets comrade upon the roof of the automotive store, do not yet speak a lot of English, so it falls to Nikola and I to translate.

All three Spets soldiers carry Stechkin APB pistols with suppressors. At least the hard sided crates of RPG rockets provide a spot to sit upon on the damned uncomfortable roof. Both RPG-29s are loaded with a thermobaric warhead rocket. A prepared HE “bunker buster” rocket lays ready on the lid of one of the rocket crates.

Veniamin is across the highway and to our right, next to the burnt out Burger King. There is enough distance between the two forces on the roof to catch someone below in crossfire. Our comrades on the other side of the highway are similarly armed with a tripod mounted M240G and M2HB. I just hope the lads remember to aim down, or we might hit each other.

With me translating, we are given a quick lesson on how to unbox and prepare a rocket for the RPG-29. I just hope the lads on the other side of the highway understood. If we need to shoot the RPG-29 Shack, one of the machine gun lads or I will act as an assistant and loader.

I recover and silence the damned little white plastic alarm clock. We attempt not to silhouette ourselves against the sky line as much as possible. Not finding any zombies on the roof, we do a quick reconnoiter of the area hobbling around on our knees for much of the time.

We take the time to check the radios. We had already established communication with our forces across the highway and with the guards stationed around the perimeter.  We also verified communication with our home base. Carol and Sarah sounding cheerful on the radio. Per our SOP,  we will perform a radio check each hour on the half hour.

Shack and I note the location of a few zombies wandering closer. The zombies are obviously attracted by the noise of the activity below. Shack, the lads on the machine guns and I take a mental note to watch the zombies. Bill and his escort took off to the dairy and from there to search a few of the commercial fueling centers. The guards and escort with Bill are supposed to attempt to establish communications with us when they get to their target.

Shack and I settle in on the roof as best we can frequently using the radio to check the progress of the looting below and ensure all of the guards are alright. Other than the cold, drizzly rain and the occasional light flurry of hail, the morning proceeds smoothly. The lads on the machineguns try to cover up using some old camo netting while Shack and I hunker down (his term not mine) as best as we can.

Shack and I possess binoculars, so we take advantage of our optics by sweeping the surrounding area for possible trouble. While we are sitting on the damp roof, I take the opportunity to swap out the too light 62 grain M855A1 FMJ ammo for some of the precious 77 grain Mk 262 OTM loaded in my few 10 round AR magazines.

I am one of the two Designated Marksmen (DM) on this side of the highway. The other DM on the roof with us, Jeremiah, is one of our few surviving US Air Force personnel. Jeremiah carries an old Springfield M1A National Match, with an ACOG and some unfamiliar brand of suppressor. I understand Jeremiah’s MOS was base police or base security; something like that. He seems too old for a Senior Airman.

Jeremiah is lying prone on top of the large ventilation machinery, the highest point on the roof. During the briefing,  I heard that his rifle is loaded with some of the particular Lake City M852s tipped with Sierra Matchking 168 grain bullets. He has a magnificent view of the roadway and a significant portion of the parking lot. I try to watch the areas opposite of Jeremiah. I am pleased to note that Jeremiah possess an old pair of olive drab, military range finding, Steiner binoculars. I wish that he had let me know that he possessed binoculars before now.

I also observe Jeremiah making a quick range card. Jeremiah’s light khaki suede, Clarks of England boots, I have mostly seen worn by Special Forces (SF) soldiers. The Mossad is particularly fond of Clark’s boots for its operators; even I wore a pair for a short time.

I wonder how Jeremiah acquired the boots. I did not care much for the Clark boots as the damned things flopped around too much on my feet. I much prefer something a little taller to keep the sand out and with more protection for my delicate ankles.

I also disliked the lack of a rigid shank for foot arch support. Even a heavy steel shank would be better than none. My IDF ruck in the field often weighed more than I do. Carrying a heavy pack without any rigid shank in your boots is sheer torture for your body.

I am wearing current issue US Army desert tan, nylon and suede, leather boots. The waterproof boots have a light yet strong carbon fiber foot arch support shank. I genuinely like the eight inch height and the side zippers for speedy on/off. I wish that the tongue on my boots were fully gusseted to keep out debris, but the three-quarter gusseting is adequate.

From their condition,  it appears that Jeremiah has had the Clark’s boots for some time. The light khaki and suede boots with their distinct white crepe soles, look well cared for but have obviously seen many miles. Jeremiah does not wear any SF badges upon his uniform. I wonder if he is what the American lads call a “poser” or a SF wanna-be. So far Jeremiah seems decent enough, but I have not seen him shoot yet. Time will tell if he will be an asset or just an ass.

The other two DMs on the other side of the highway with the HEMTT and snow plow are a father and son team of US Marines Scout Snipers. The father and son are more recent additions to the convoy having been discovered by the scavs. The scavs knew someone was in the old farm house, by the sheer number of dead corpses surrounding it. The father and son were nearly out of food, water and ammo. Having lost all the rest of their family, they were happy to join our convoy.

The older Marine, a Second Iraq War veteran in faded desert BDUs, carries an old, beat up Winchester Model 70 in 7.62 NATO. A large Nightforce scope with an Advanced Reticle Technology (ART) reticle is mounted on the Model 70. His son, the younger Marine dressed in the current issue MARPAT BDUs, carries a SPR-12 with a Leupold LR M3 scope mounted to it. The younger Marine is one of the few in the convoy to possess a night vision optic for his weapon. The old AN/PVS-14 looks well-worn but appears still serviceable.

I wish both Marines had suppressors for their rifles. Suppressors are a rare item, but one much appreciated. There has been some discussion of fabricating improvised suppressors, but materials are difficult to acquire. There has even been some discussion of finding a machine shop to manufacture suppressors.

A major problem with a machine shop is that they require a lot of high amperage electricity. Electricity is in extremely short supply these days. We also lack any kind of portable electrical generator that could provide enough electricity to power a machine shop anyway. Some have mentioned steam power as perhaps a way to regain manufacturing capability. But even steam power is beyond our current capabilities.

I watch on the ground beneath me as the trucks are loaded. A zombie wanders too close occasionally and is quickly dispatched as quietly as possible. As the day wears on, Shack and I eat our issued MRE. My MRE is Spicy Penne Pasta and tastes like heaven. If anyone is reading this drivel after I am gone, and you are not put off by my massive ego, you might find it humorous that I think an MRE is delicious.

Usually the last thing that a soldier wants to fucking eat is another MRE. When I served in the IDF, during field exercises we often got sick of and complained mightily about the MREs. When there are better dietary choices, MREs pale in comparison. However, during a zombie apocalypse MREs are some of the finest dining available.

I mix the strawberry flavored drink mix in my US Army regulation non-BPA canteen. Sipping my drink, I can still feel the warm pasta in my stomach. At my feet lies the still steaming MRE heater. Seems silly to worry about littering, but I do feel an occasional pang of guilt just leaving my trash. I roll the little empty plastic Tabasco bottle upon the black asphalt roof with the toe of my boot.

Later we heard over the radio that Bill and his escort were lucky at the local dairy. Apparently it was one of the few surviving dairy farms in the area. Just before KCAP, whole milk prices were so low that many dairymen were going broke. According to Bill, several local dairies sold most of their cattle further depressing beef prices, which hurt the beef cattle ranchers.

Bill got a little under 1,500 gallons of red dyed ag diesel from the dairy; but so far every commercial fueling site has either been already looted or is a burnt out hulk. Most of the roadways, according to Bill, are choked with abandoned vehicles. While they are looking for sources of fuel, they take the opportunity to scout other possible routes north.

We had considered taking Highway 9 farther north as far as we can, and that so far, still sounds like the best plan. Highway 9 is, for the most part, a narrow two lane road. The snow plow clears that narrow highway well enough by straddling the yellow center line. The larger, wider highways are choked with not only too many vehicles, but also larger vehicles like Metro buses, huge SUVs and tractor trailers.

The snow plow is a mighty vehicle, but even it cannot clear the tractor trailers and larger vehicles, such as Metro buses. The snow plow might damage itself attempting to clear the larger vehicles, so we are sticking with the smaller highways that can, usually, be cleared easily.

The rest of the day progresses along well enough. Surprisingly, few zombies are attracted to our noise. The rural areas were sparsely populated before KCAP. Now that means that there are fewer zombies in this area. With almost all of the bridges blown, it hampers the zombie’s movements as well as our own.

The tire store was quickly looted. The auto supply store took a little longer to empty as it had only been lightly looted before our convoy emptied it. The loaded HEMTT and the M35s are sent back to our camp with their guards. The trucks below us are slower to load as the grocery store had been fairly well looted before our crew finished the process.

The lads below on the ground said it was a real mess inside and made some comments about the fall of Saigon. I am glad that Longfeather was not around to hear those comments as he might have had something to say about it. There were still enough supplies in the grocery store, and the drug store next door to it, to justify our looting expedition.

As the day progresses, I am surprised that we are not either attacked or at least investigated. We have certainly tried to plan for an incoming attack. The area around the highway on the banks has been mined with toe poppers and improvised claymores made from old M112 demolition charges embedded with various nails, coins, bolts, nuts and screws. Some of the lads wanted to use glass marbles, but the charges of C4 in the M112 would pulverize the marbles rather than project them. Better to keep the marbles for use as hunting slingshot ammo.

Some of the old M183 Satchel Charges are on hand as well if needed. Some of the C4 and PETN we carry were scrounged from old USMC Linear Demolition Charges (LDCs). Not sure if we will need all the heavy ordnance and explosives we dragged with us. It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

The optimistic colonels, to make room for the incoming supplies from this raid, issued everyone numerous grenades. Adding to our collection of various frag grenades, Shack and I are now the proud owners of several M61 “lemon” grenades complete with “jungle clips.” Most of these older M61 grenades were made in the early 1960s for the Vietnam conflict I am told by Longfeather. Shack and I still have numerous Mk2 frag grenades. Massive production during World War 2 produced possibly millions of the distinct Mk2 frag grenades.

Thinking about grenades reminds me that Jeremiah is the first rifleman in a while that I have seen issued an adapter to fire grenades. I am unsure of the model number as I have never seen the long black M14 grenade launcher adapter before. I overheard that the colonels were overjoyed that Jeremiah’s rifle has a proper bayonet lug to hold the grenade adapter.

What use rifle grenades are going to be is highly debatable. I know that we have some of the old Mk1 and Mk2 rifle grenade projectile adapters. Not sure which rifle is going to launch those old relics as most of our folks carry M4s or similar rifles in the M16 family, which I believe are incapable of launching a rifle grenade. I watched Longfeather giving Jeremiah a quick lesson on how to use the grenade launcher on his M14 type rifle.

Most of the time grenade work is fairly close. Some of the old rifle grenades could reach as far as 300 yards. Granted dropping grenades and killing zombies is best done as far from you as possible. I have watched our lads slow underhand toss grenades to a zombie and watch the stupid thing actually catch it.

Of course, when the grenade explodes, it kills the catcher and several other zombies around it. Playing catch with a live grenade and a zombie is not my idea of a good or practical combat tactic. Grenades are some of the most useful and dangerous weapons issued to soldiers. My IDF basic grenade course instructor told his students to remember that, “once you pull the pin, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend.”

I understand that a lot of our Mk 2 grenades were once deactivated. How the lads reactivated them I do not know, but it does not seem to be a difficult process. Apparently the lads were saying that it was common for some people to decorate with deactivated grenades.

Reactivated grenades explain the wide color variation and lack of appropriate markings on several of the grenades. I have never seen lavender or fluorescent colored frag grenades before. It would also explain the various earlier models of grenades, several of which have not been in active service for over 80 years.

Zombies do not recognize the threat posed by a grenade. They will walk over a live grenade, even if another grenade has recently exploded nearby killing several zombies. Thankfully the zombies do not appear to give two shits about each other. You can kill zombies by the dozens; the survivors do not appear to care about the loss of their comrades. The surviving zombies will climb over their dead comrades without any other care than getting to the food. However, the noise of killing zombies is what often attracts more zombies. 

Despite how effective they are, the noise of several grenades always attracts more zombies. Sometimes you can get away with using one or two, but more than that always attracts unwelcome attention.

While my mind wanders about trivial things such as color of grenades, zombies and such, the call that I have been dreading all day blasts over the radio accompanied by rapid machine gun fire.

“Contact south!”

(Special thanks to NUKEMAP 2.0 by Alex Wellerstein.)

  1. Anonymous permalink

    Another fine chapter. I appreciate the time that you spend, giving us fine reading and the cliffhanger at the end. I feel sorry for those idiots that are moving on the convoy, I am sure they will get their asses handed to them. Keep up the good work my friend. M.M.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    I love your story and have been following it from the beginning. I liked your reference here to Mad Max. Not sure if you know but they are making a sequel/remake/reboot that is set to come out next year. It is written and directed by George Miller and far as I can tell Guillermo del Toro is not involved with it. Thanks for your time in giving us this great story.

  3. Len permalink

    I love your story and have been following it from the beginning. I liked your reference here to Mad Max. Not sure if you know but they are making a sequel/remake/reboot that is set to come out next year. It is written and directed by George Miller and far as I can tell Guillermo del Toro is not involved with it. Thanks for your time in giving us this great story.

    • Thanks for your comments Len. In my alternate future the remake of Mad Max was done by del Toro. I was aware a remake was in the works and just assigned a current popular director to it.

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