Skip to content

Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #128 Life with Iain in the bunker, beginning of Adventist’s fire #SHTF #TEOTWAWKI

December 27, 2014

(Sorry for the delay in posting this chapter. Family matters kept me from the keyboard, otherwise I would have posted this yesterday as I was supposed to. Damn holidays!)

Today I helped Iain harvest mushrooms from the lower grow rooms. High in vitamin D the mushrooms are a welcome addition to our diet. We do not get much sun as we spend most of our time inside the bunker.

The mushrooms grow in plant and food waste, recycling material from the bunker. Iain and I gather dry grass, straw, used paper towels (when such things existed), and food scraps reloading the harvested mushroom trays.

Iain joked about growing mushrooms in used toilet paper, but I told him in no uncertain terms that would I ever take used TP down here for growing mushrooms. If he wanted to collect used TP, he is welcome to do it by himself. The fact that I have to use a composting toilet is gross enough.

After the mushroom harvest, Iain and I moved into the hydroponics section, selecting a few choice tilapia and rainbow trout to eat. I am always amazed at the size of Iain’s bunker. Iain’s fortress built over several years and expanded many times, started in the mid-1950’s at the height of the Cold War. Built to survive a nuclear war with the former Soviet Union the bunker is an awe-inspiring sight; at least from the inside.

Even though I have lived with Iain for several years, there is always some room or part of the bunker that I have not before visited. Iain’s huge hydroponics system spans several rooms and two floors of the bunker. He explains the hydroponics system as we work. The hydroponics system requires frequent maintenance.

Iain’s hydroponic system uses ceramic media balls over which the water from the fish tanks is pumped in a continuous cycle. Plants in the media are watered by the fish tank water in a circulating system.

We harvest pot herbs, salad greens, and fast growing root vegetables such as kale, beets, radishes, turnips (yuck!), spinach, loose-leaf lettuce, and broccoli. Several varieties of peas including pole, snap, and snow peas also grow in the plant beds. Bush beans, something I have never seen until I lived in the bunker, also grow but not as well as other plants.

Iain wanted to grow citrus and fruit trees, but does not have either the space or the ability to heat the rooms sufficiently for citrus. Unfortunately, my favorite strawberry does not grow well in underground hydroponic systems either, but rhubarb does well.

Iain has several species of fish in the hydroponics system. The recent addition of rainbow trout from the river nearby offers a fast growing, cold water-loving species of fish. The hydroponics system is slightly warmed by the cleverly hidden solar panels near the roof, choosing cold water tolerant fish is a smart choice.

Iain also has edible tilapia, channel catfish, yellow perch and bluegill in the fish tanks. There are quite a few crayfish in the deeper tanks, which Iain tries to convince me taste like miniature lobster. The koi and plecostomus catfish help keep the system clean, but Iain jokes that in a dire emergency they could be eaten. I hope that he is not serious.

We feed the fish daily according to schedule, mostly commercial fish food. Iain is rationing the commercial fish food as it is running out. Outside we forage for grubs and insects, feeding the fish what Iain calls “treats.” I still think that a hellgrammite is an evil looking fucker of a bug, but the fish love them. Iain has mentioned venturing out of the bunker soon on a foraging mission again for supplies.

He wants to take the truck this time rather than the horses so we can recover more goods. If we leave the bunker again we will have to fill and set the automatic fish feeders. Iain worries that something will happen while we are away and he will lose all the fish and plants. It is a risk but one that he has taken before. The need for information and news and for supplies necessitates our leaving the bunker once in a while.

I ponder a supply run while watching the greedy fish eat. The fish separated into tanks and further separated by pipes and screens prevents undesirable predation. A scattering of freshwater clams (mussels) in several tanks are not as productive as Iain would like. Over the years, the mussels have not increased in number to a sufficient quantity for a viable food source.

A creative system of mirrors on the bunker roof directs sunlight into the plant rooms. The sunlight is beneficial for the plants and us, because we need what little sunlight we can get and of course the plants appreciate it. Installed in the roof, grow lights powered by either the diesel gen set (in an emergency), or the wind and water turbines receive infrequent use.

Grow lights however emit a little warmth similar to the sunlight that also warms the rooms slightly. There is an electric heating system for the bunker, which Iain uses sparingly because of the power drain on the gen set. A creative array of wind turbines and a buried water turbine somewhere provide most of the power for the bunker.

Iain has a large, eclectic array of solar panels cunningly hidden so as not to attract unwanted attention. The dehumidifiers in all of the bunker’s rooms drain into the hydroponic tanks. Despite the heat from the dehumidifiers and other sources, I am always cold in the bunker.

I often drink hot tea in the bunker. Today I drink some of the last of the South African rooibos tea. Thankfully, Iain prefers tea to coffee, and while he prefers black tea to my preferred green, at least we agree on tea rather than coffee. I am also grateful that Iain has several bee hives in the upper floors and upon the earth-covered roof.

Iain’s bunker is well stocked with sweeteners, but I prefer the flavor of honey to that of sugar in my tea. Some teas such as Iain’s favorite South African honeybush tea do not require sweetening. Iain likes to keep a pot of honeybush tea simmering on the stove in the main room, filling the air with a pleasant honey-like aroma.

Iain has several fire places in the bunker, and we use the ones in the main room and the master bedroom often. Much as when we are outside, Iain worries that the smoke from the fireplace might attract unwanted attention. We use the fireplace mostly at night when it is hardest to determine the direction from which the smoke comes from.

Thinking of smoke and cold takes me back in time to the convoy upon the farm with the Adventists.

Rudely awoken by someone screaming inside the tent, Shack, and I pile out of our bedroll and hurriedly dress. Next to us beside her bedroll Honey is likewise dressing, she no longer attempts to hide her nudity from Shack.

I suddenly realize that I smell smoke very strongly. I catch Honey’s eye and say simply “smoke” to her. She nods her head at me.

“I smelled it when we woke up. Smells like a huge, hot fire. Lots a’ chemicals in the fire like tar, tires, paint, and other shit.”

Honey’s sense of smell is much better than ours. “Can you tell the direction the smoke is coming from?” Shack asks as he sits lacing his boots.

“South of us a bit is all I can tell. The smoke is getting stronger, which either means the wind is blowing it harder or that the fire is getting closer.” After that proclamation Honey quietly finishes dressing.

With the new construction on the Adventist’s property of cinderblock houses and buildings, I did not believe there was much that could catch fire. The old cement mixers used for mixing thermite and other chemical weapons are finally used for what their builders originally intended.

We dash out of the tent, expecting to see the world on fire. We were not too far off target in our expectations.

  1. medicine man permalink

    Excellent chapter, you never give us crap to read and I enjoy the way you set up the next situation that is about to occur.
    Be well my friend, Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and prosperous New year to you and your family.

    • Thanks for the kind words M.M.. As always I am glad to read your comments. I wish you and yours a prosperous, healthy and happy New Year as well.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: