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Zombie Apocalypse Fiction – Ruth’s Story #82 Life in camp and general thoughts about KCAP, SHTF and TEOTWAWKI

November 2, 2013

For the most part, the night passes uneventfully. Sarah, as far as I can tell, did not deliver her babies. Due to exhaustion, Carol and I napped through the night. Several times both of us dozed off for a while, with Carol even falling out of her chair once, but it does not appear that we missed anything of worth. Most of the air waves are silent. The most exciting thing that happened during the night was that we heard from the remnants of two of our dispersed companies, but more on that later.

As time progresses, more and more of the formerly active radio transmissions have fallen silent. It is truly difficult to describe the sheer scope and severity of such a calamity as we have suffered in mere words. With an estimated 90 – 95% of the population dead or infected, words fail to describe the sheer amount of chaos.

I was lucky to escape D.C. just before KCAP reached the outlying areas spreading from the airports. Stuck as I was in SeaTac I was fortunate that I was removed from most of the chaos. It was not until I escaped from SeaTac and fortunately fell in with the convoy that I realized just how fortunate that I was.

Like the vast majority of Americans (yes, I earned my US citizenship) I was wholly unprepared for any kind of calamity. I was fortunate that I had decided to take my weapons and most of my tactical gear with me. I was also highly fortunate that I was able to locate my luggage.

Had I not been able to locate my luggage I truly would have been up shit creek without a paddle as most Americans were. I wish I would have known about the prepping movement that began some years ago. Unfortunately for most of the preppers they made the grave mistake of telling everyone what they were doing.

Most of the preppers were wiped out during the first few hours of the KCAP pandemic by their desperate and starving neighbors most of whom lacked even a simple transistor radio. Speaking of radios, I note that our lone surviving Afterburner linear amp is not working again.

In true technical operator method, I beat on the malfunctioning amplifier a few times to see if I can make the damn thing work. My pounding on the dead amp wakes Carol who looks to see what I am about. Resigned to the fact that the shitty amp will not work no matter how much I abuse it, I give up. I will have to let Sam know.

Sitting in Carol’s truck is an ancient Kenwood TL-922A linear amplifier, as well as a couple of older Midland linear amps. I have not looked inside the Kenwood amplifier, but familiarity with similar Russian made amps causes me to believe that perhaps the Kenwood’s glass tubes are broken – a common problem with these types of amps. Should the Kenwood or similar amps suffer rough abuse, such as a pissed off and tired radio operator beating upon it, the delicate glass vacuum tubes may break.

We are desperately short of anyone skillful at electronics repair. I may be able to operate all of the radio equipment, but damned if I can repair it. I fiddle around with the near useless amp for a few minutes and then put most of our radios on broad scan seeking any transmission. Having numerous sets is a real drain on the generators, but it widens the search for any transmission.

Occasionally we do come across the transmission of a holy roller or other religious zealot, but even they are becoming scarce. The scarcity of the religious nut job’s transmission is both a blessing and a curse. Some of the preppers followed a 3-3-3 communication schedule, but most of them have fallen silent as well.

The old 3-3-3 plan (turn on your radio every 3 hours, for 3 minutes, on channel 3) was designed for these SHTF and TEOTWAWKI scenarios. I am not terribly adept at Morse code. I can do about 15 words per minute (WPM), but some of the uncommonly talented transmitters were running 25+ WPM. Most of the preppers and other survivalists were transmitting in Morse code. Transmitting in code is smart because it takes minimal power and is quick. Despite the fact that Morse code is not classified, the vast majority of people outside of the prepper and military-like survival culture do not know or understand Morse code.

We still occasionally catch a burst of Morse code, usually in the lower 5 kW band range. Most of the Morse code traffic we catch is stations checking in with each other or just transmitting a general status such as “still here still fucked.” Morse code is extremely brief and concise, two things that I wish the rambling religious nut jobs would adopt.

Some of the religious nut jobs actually transmitted some decent intel concerning their location. Most of the religious transmitters were located in exceptionally sparsely populated areas, but those few that were in large municipal areas, transmitted enough details about their area to surmise that avoiding their location was wise.

Our Scouts have done an excellent job locating 1950s to mid-1970s American made Zenith and GE AM transistor radios with old-fashioned tubes. So far, unfortunately, every SupeRadio series Japanese made Zenith radio from the 1970s we have located has been broken. The few SupeRadios we did find were scavenged for parts.

With an excellent superheterodyne circuit coupled to our inductive antenna enhancer boosting the built-in antenna, the SupeRadio sets are awesome AM radios with some FM capabilities. Nearly soldier proof, the old American made, and early Japanese made Zenith portable AM radios were excellent sounding and had excellent receivers.

For DXing (amateur radio slang for receiving exceptionally long-range radio transmissions), it is hard to beat the old, monster-sized AM transistor radios. Those early AM radio sets are also EMP proof built with the old vacuum tubes or are all solid state, with nothing to be fried by an EMP.

The old nostalgic radios though have two weaknesses. The first is often that the old cardboard covered electrolytic capacitors are frequently deficient. The second weakness is that often the battery compartment is an acid corroded mess. The second weakness is not usually as bad as we can cannibalize just about any battery pack to replace the old batteries. Batteries and neglect are the enemy of good transistor radios.

The first weakness is the worst as often the manufacturers of these old AM transistor sets used whatever parts they had lying around from their previous construction of radios with vacuum tubes. You can find some genuinely fascinating capacitors and other parts in some of these old radios.

That being said, other than cannibalizing other old sets hopefully with proper capacitors in the voltage required, it is nearly impossible today to find capacitors. It used to be much easier to acquire new capacitors, but even towards the end of the 20th century, the only place to find most capacitors was online auctions.

Regrettably one of the first casualties of the KCAP pandemic was the WWW. Scrounging old radio parts from old pawn shops and second-hand stores like Good Will and the Salvation Army is usually not terribly productive. Sometimes, though, we do get lucky. I had an old IDF artillery friend who said often said that he would rather be lucky than skillful. Maybe he was correct.

Our Scouts are getting remarkably adept at locating old pre-electronics gear and cannibalizing it for parts. Thankfully the old AM transistor radios are extremely lenient when it comes to cannibalizing parts. In the later years, many of these old radios were put together with whatever parts the manufacturer had lying around.

I like listening to our one surviving Zenith Royal 1000D Trans-Oceanic (T/O) AM transistor radio. The old Zenith T/O radio has some weaknesses but it is still an impressive radio. We also have an old Taiwan made, Zenith Royal R7000 T/O sitting in Carol’s trailer, but it is not working. There has been some discussion about cannibalizing the 1000D to repair the R7000.

Sitting beside the dead R7000 in Carol’s trailer is an old WW2-era marine FH4 “huff-duff” set. Not sure where the old military set came from but it is dead and much like the dead R7000, there has been talk of cannibalizing the FH4.

Unfortunately, we lack the necessary space to continue to carry around all the radio gear that I would like to have. It would not be until nearly a year later, sitting in Iain’s bunker that I was truly awed by Iain’s collection of excellent radio gear.

(Iain is a radiophile, but I am getting ahead of this narrative again. More on Iain’s radio collection and the radio room in the bunker much later.)

Thankfully, despite the super-EMP spikes caused by multiple consecutive nukes, most of our electronic gear survived with a few anomalies. Most of the anomalies were fixed with a simple mechanical reset. A lot of electronic gear was fried by the numerous EMP blasts, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the destruction. Unfortunately, no one actually tested any of the EMP theories before KCAP.

Our main problem is that we lack enough stable electricity to run all of our surviving electronic gear. We have enough generator capacity but nothing to clean and stabilize the power to protect the delicate gear that we still possess. So far we have failed to find even one working uninterruptible power source (UPS) of a significant size for our system.

One amusing thing came about Carol’s and my sleepy night in the radio tent – the remnants of A and B companies should rendezvous with us later this morning. The survivors finally got close enough so that their limited radios reached our receivers. For that good news, we decided to wake Sam.

Sam was mighty pleased to hear from the remnants of the companies but dismayed at the losses they suffered. Of the 59 people sent out in the two companies, only 11 original members remain. Their company totals 17 personnel with six new survivors picked up near the ruins of Galloping Gertie, whatever the hell that is.

We also learned that one of the new survivors is Jeff, an Army 42A MOS clerk. Jeff is described as a quiet, soft-spoken white male of medium height and weight in the early days of his “Golden Years.” Despite little skill with arms, or other martial skills, he excels at organization and keeping records. Jeff we hope will be able to scour our sketchy personnel records quickly and determine who was lost and who remains.

Despite his lack of military or martial prowess, Jeff was smart enough to make himself enough of an asset that his survival benefits us all. His survival benefits the company, so we will ensure that he survives, mostly because no one else wants his job. The small group of survivors found Jeff at the abandoned US Naval Station in Everett, WA.

Of intriguing note is that the survivor group also includes another woman. I wonder who this woman is and whether or not she will get along with the six of us currently in camp. I also wonder what her particular skills are and how she survived. Women are a rarity, so news of a survivor, even if she is a butt-ugly, fat (a distinct improbability these days), snaggletoothed harpy, would be largely well received.

The remains of the two companies had lost contact with C Company more than three weeks ago which is now assumed lost. A and B companies, now being referred to as K Company for brevity’s sake, also lost most of their equipment but still retained Sam’s fully functional M50A1 Ontos, whatever the fuck that is.

The Ontos sounds large as K Company mentions that it is being carried on a lowboy flatbed trailer pulled by a much older Kenworth semi. Listening to the radio discussion, I am already imagining Mike and Bill having a fit about another vehicle that requires quality diesel. They did not specify what the Ontos is or what it requires.

The survivors in K Company also report that all of the National Guard armories they searched were either looted or occupied by survivors. Most of the survivors were former Guard soldiers and their families and were content to remain. Despite being fairly easy to break into, most of the older National Guard armories are fairly well fortified buildings with strong gates.

It is a shame that the National Guard units did not have AT-4s ((either version, although the Confined Space (CS) version would be better for our uses)), Stingers, or Javelins stored in any of the armories searched by K Company. Stupid US Army ammunition policies prohibited the storage of such weapons in anything except an approved ammunition and explosives storage facility, which was usually an ammo bunker on an active US Army base.

In reality, we do not need anti-tank or anti-air shoulder launched weapons, at least until the zombies start driving tanks or flying aircraft. Other than the anti-aircraft weaponry, which would be about useless these days, there may yet be some use for weapons such as the AT-4. The ability to destroy heavily reinforced structures may come in handy.

Weapons such as the AT-4 can be employed to destroy bridges and other structures from a distance preventing the need to risk a team to accomplish the same task. One of the best uses for an AT-4 with an Anti-Structure Tandem-warheads (AST) projectile is mouse holing a building wall for combat entry.

Many supplies and other necessaries these days are locked in buildings with no access. Many of these supply caches are also extremely well defended by equally desperate and well-armed survivors. Being able to detonate quickly an access hole in a wall is an enormous tactical advantage. A sudden mouse-hole will often circumvent defensive positions often before the defenders will have time to respond. The mouse holing technique also allows our lads to avoid defenders weapons and not get caught in deadly enfilade fire by machine guns or snipers.

While not a pressing need at the time, the ability of an AT-4 with a High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) 505 projectile to destroy a structure from a distance is also a potent bargaining chip. We used to hear a lot of radio traffic concerning gangs and other unsavory types setting up road blocks and robbing everybody coming through.

Lately, we have not heard much radio traffic concerning these problems. This may be because those radios are now silent, the problem no longer exists, or a combination of factors that my tired brain cannot fathom at this point. Some of the gangs and highway robbers allegedly possessed military weapons and gear possibly taken from dead soldiers or from various looted armories.

I did not know that many of the states prohibited the storing of any sort of small arms ammo in the armory. I also learned that NG armories possessing tanks, Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), and artillery pieces do not store any ammunition either, for the same stupid reasons stated above. High explosives are also kept in approved ammo storage facilities.

So those stupid policies severely limited our access to military grade explosives and ordinance.  I wonder how much better the KCAP apocalypse could have been suppressed had the National Guard units had immediate access to military grade ordinance. Some of the armories did possess either training or inert versions of AT4s, Stingers, Javelins, etc. but those are totally useless for our purposes.

I know that much of our military grade ordinance and explosives were either stolen off of active US Army posts, or taken from fallen or disbanded US Army units. With total chaos in mere hours, many of the Guard units had no chance of either surviving or suppressing the KCAP pandemic. The Russians were exceptionally smart to have brought all of their gear with them, grabbing all the military grade weapons and ordinance as they could find.

I wonder if the Russians had as much trouble as we are having securing military ordinance. Maybe that is something that I could ask Nikola later this morning.

After the brief radio conversation, after K Company signed off, Sam sat for a moment. He then abruptly got up, tossed the radio handset on the table and left the tent. The look on Sam’s face did not appear to indicate that he was open for an enduring round of 50 questions by my over inquisitive self. Sam left the radio tent to go back to his bunk muttering to himself.

The last few hours in the very early morning passed in relative silence other than Carol’s light snoring. I was dozing off and on in my chair when the boys came in to relieve us. Nikola forces Carol to eat her breakfast. Nikola watches her carefully as she shoveled warm, gelatinous oatmeal into her mouth, despite her protests that she just wants to go to bed.

Shack and I sat together silently eating our oatmeal. I will be disappointed when the prepackaged instant oatmeal runs out. Despite the fact that I am sick of oatmeal, what I really crave is fresh bread for toast dripping with butter to eat with my oatmeal. We have not had any bread for a while. Our cooks could bake bread but they lack the necessary ingredients.

One thing I am truly sick of is this shitty tasting Spruce tip tea. Even some nasty coffee would taste better than this shit but would not be as nutritious. We need the little bit of vitamin C found in the Spruce tea. Shack mentions that he craves some hot chocolate and cold fresh milk. We have not had fresh milk in ages. I also crave fresh eggs, but that is another food item in drastically short supply.

Shen comes into the radio tent carrying his breakfast. I notice that his Tokarev pistol now rides on his right hip in a Soviet era Russian holster complete with Soviet army emblem on the flap. Shen flops down in a chair, taciturn as always, grunting his acknowledgment as Nikola and Shack escort Carol and I to our bed rolls.

Stripped to just my tight, cotton wife beater style t-shirt, I slide into the US Army issue Extreme Cold Weather System (ECWS) sleeping bag. With all three components together it is rated to -30°F the user wears an expedition weight polypropylene shirt, drawers and issued cushioned sole woolen socks.

Dressed lighter as I am it might not keep me warm to -30 but conditions have not deteriorated to that degree, yet. Despite the worsening cold weather, the patrol sleeping bag combined with the intermediate sleeping bag covered with the Gore-Tex bivy sack should keep me warm enough. There is a light coating of frost on the bivy sack this morning, as I slide inside.

The sleeping bags are still warm from Shack’s body. I turn over on my left side facing Shack as he kneels beside our cot. Shack kisses me lightly, and then clips his M4 to his IBA and leaves the tent. I quickly doze off, sleeping through the day.

  1. Mudd permalink

    Very good stuff, please continue!

    • Thank you, more to come very soon. I had written one extremely long chapter and broke it into three parts. I followed another reader’s advice and broke a very long post into smaller chapters so that I can post more frequently.

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