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Monday, November 22, 2010

"Bugout Versus Hunker" Short Story by Christopher Young - Chapter 3

At charles house, his wife also thought he lost his
mind. The fire in the wood stove was a good idea,
the house would start to get cold. But filling
barrels of water in the cellar. That was a bit
much. Well, she was warm in the bed, and soon fell
back asleep. Soon, Charles came up from the cellar,
and slipped into bed. Minutes later, they were both
sound asleep. Charles woke again, about 2 AM to go
pee. He went to the bathroom, and then down the
stairs to put more wood into the  wood stove. He
also took a moment to stop on the way up, and look
out the front windows. Again, not much happening.

Where it was all happening was in Butch's truck.
Butch had the news and information radio station on
the radio, and was busy trying to find out anything
he could. He had the CB radio turned to channel 19,
so he could talk with the truckers. He had his wife
scanning the channels on her FRS walkie talkie, in
case they could pick up any local chit chat. Butch
was loaded for bear, he was taking this very seriously.
Butch was mentally reviewing the list of things that
had to happen for a successful bug out. Load up the
wife and kids, and the bug out bags. And the
unregistered handgun. He was going a safe speed,
slightly under  the posted limit. Butch stopped for
a stop sign, and then as he started out from the
intersection, the "check engine" light came on. Butch
looked down, and wondered what was with that. The
truck was in perfect running order. Then, he noticed
that the gas gauge was reading less than 1/4 tank of
fuel. "Honey, didn't you gas up the truck after you
took the kids to soccer?" But it was obvious that
she had not. No matter. He had credit cards, and
some bug out cash. They would have to gas up the
truck.

Butch knew where the was a gas station on the way
out of the city. But, it had closed at 11 PM, and
there was no one there. He drove another mile and
found another gas station, and this one was closed
also. Across the street was yet another gas station,
and it was also closed. There was a 24 hour truck
stop, about two miles up the road. Butch turned
onto a side street, and headed for the 24 hour
truck stop. Somehow, this wasn't what he expected
to be doing, going to gas up the truck instead of
bugging out. At the truck stop, there were a couple
guys standing around the front door, so he knew it
was open. He pulled the family hauler up to the
pump, and put the nozzle into the fuel filler.
Slipped his credit card in, but the pump screen
was blank. "POWOFF" called one of the guys near
the door. "What?" Butch asked. The man replied
again, and Butch finally realized he had said
"Power off!". Of course, what an idiot. No gas
stations would be pumping gas, because the
electricity had been off.

No matter. Butch had a 5 gallon gas can in the back,
thanks to the instruction of Samurai Sam, the
survivalist. Fortunately, Butch was prepared.
They would be fine. Butch opened the back of the
truck, and dug around to find the 5 gallon gas can.
It was under the gas cans, and case of MRE. When
he pulled the gas can out, it felt surprisingly
light. "Honey? Why is the gas can empty?" "Oh, I
don't know. I think I used it to fill the lawn
mower. I was going to fill it back up before you
got home from work."

Butch realized that the lawn mower holds about
a gallon. The 5 gallon can must have been used
more than once, to fill the lawn mower. This
wasn't just a one time thing with the mower.
Butch got back in to the truck, not feeling all
that good about things. Well, gasoline or not,
there would be mutant zombie hordes before too
long, and they needed to be going.

Butch restarted the truck. The "service engine soon"
light was now blinking, and the dash board was
making annoying ding ding noise, like the cabin
"seat belt" sign, in an airplane. The clock on
the dashboard read 2:17 AM. Butch unclipped the
CB radio microphone. He pushed the microphone
transmit button and said into the mic "Breaker
nineteen, this is Samurai Butch. Anyone know any
gas stations that are open and pumping?" A voice
came through the speaker. Told him that with power
off, no stations would be able to pump fuel.
Butch pressed the transmit and asked "Well, do any
of them have backup generators?" The reply was
"Negatory, driver. They can't charge more for gas
during emergency, so they don't spend the extra
money on generator. The anti gouging price laws
and all, driver." Butch thanked the other driver,
and put the mcirophoe back on the clip. With a
deep sigh, he pulled he shift handle down to Drive,
and slowly took off. His wife silently  started
to cry.

At the news studio, at the all night cable TV station.
The power was off. One of the news anchors remembered
the box of holiday candles that they had from the
Christmas celebration. They weren't allowed to use
them, due to fire regulations. But, this is an emergency.
The station's oldest anchor reporter managed to find his
way down the hall, and find the closet. Using a battle
scarred Zippo lighter, he had enough light to find the
candles, and light one. From one candle, lit another
one. And started to hand them out. A ringing phone was
heard, down the hall. Strange. The phones went off, with
the power. Then, he remembered the boss had a couple of
direct line phones, in case the key system power was
down. He went down the hall, and answered the phone.

The news and information station was transmitting on
part power. During the Cold War, the Government had
paid for a backup generator, which was diesel powered.
They had a 275 gal tank of diesel fuel, which would
run the generator for several days. The tank was nearly
full, the fuel supplier had just topped it off. The
generator only used a couple gallons a year, for the run
tests. Due to some old law, the generator had been
maintained and run every couple month, and it came on
dependably when the power winked out. The generator was
about 50 years old. But with regular oil changes and run
cycles, it was still in good running condition. Several
lights in the building were operating off the generator,
and also the telephone system. The news people were
keeping notes on legal pads, and were answering the phone
lines. Four phone lines were all lit up. And the one secret
number that was known only to management and staff. The
news wasn't cheerful. The food riots were in all major
cities, but the suburbs were unaffected. The city people
had burned some of the buildings in the city, and had shot
at police and firemen.