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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 5a , by Christopher Young

David's Generator

Bill says that guy from New York wants me to write a bit. I flunked out of school, so he's going to have to fix it up a bit, cause I don't know much about writing. Why don't I just tell you a bit about what's going on, and you can write it. OK with that?

Anyhow, as this starts, I'm driving down the road to town. I went and visited a couple friends of mine, and see what kind of generator they have to trade. Chuckie says he knows a guy who has one, but he wants a rile and about a thousand rounds of ammo. I know Bill has one in the closet, he's never used it, and so that should be OK. I mean, it's not like he ever used it or anything.

Lot of stuff that never gets used. Like the Model A Ford in Sam's garage. And all that firewood and Pepsi at Gomer's retreat. Heck, even that guy Chris has piles of stuff he's never used. I figure Bill won't miss that stupid plastic gun.

So, I've got the rifle in the trunk, and it's dark. I'm driving down the road, and I know my way around. Lived here for years, and I've been this way a lot of times. Not much cool music on the radio. I scan up and down the dial, and finally found one station that's working. Blast, thought the radio was broken. I'm half way paying attention, and the radio is saying how the President is calling for everyone to remain calm. The Muslims have burned just about everything they could, and it's going to take at least two years to rebuild the power grid. Two years? You mean it's going to take that long? And the radio guy says that they have been burning stuff all around the world, too.

What the radio guys weren't saying, is that a quick conference had been called, of some of the leading minds in the USA. The power grid was off line, and it looked like it might not be possible to get it going again. A few isolated small power companies had isolated themselves from the national grid, and so there were still some pockets of places which had power. A few hospitals have backup generators, and a few fire halls. But, the equipment needed to make more sub stations was not working, account of the failure of the power grid.

The casualty report was also depressing. All states were asked to report back to Washington. Several states were out of contact, the cell phone switching had long since run out of battery backup power, The telephone switching stations, many had been burned down in the initial wave of violence. Many ham radio operators were still transmitting, and many more were listening. However, there was little substantial news. More and more people were starving, dying, and diseased without medicine. The over the road fleet of trucks had been confiscated, and FEMA was holding all of them with no real plans to get commerce running again.

Lucky me, I didn't know all of this at the time. I pull into Chuckie's  driveway, and sure enough, there is a van I don't recognize. Chuckie introduces me to the other guy, and we have a look. In the back of his van he's got a generator. It's the ugliest thing I've seen  in years, it's really old you know? I asked  if it works, and so he pulls the cord an it starts  right up. He plugs in a light, and the light comes on. Good enough for me.

I go to the trunk of my car, and pull out the rifle. I can't  remember what it was, some hokey foreign name like Daiwoo. It's all plastic and black. Doesn't even look like a rifle to me. But the guy smiles, an I have the ammo can with the thousand rounds. He loads the generator into the trunk of my car, and we shake hands. We're all good.

I asks him if he has any cigarettes. Well, sure enough. He's got a whole bunch, and he'll trade them for another rifle and some more ammo. I figure Bill is going to have a big scream about this, but what the heck. After all, it's a generator, right? And that means I'll keep my car chases going all night. I'm thinking quick and ask if he'd consider a pistol and some ammo. Sure, he says. Pistol is good, too. And so I ask what brand, and how many cartons he figures he's got to trade. Well, I've only got the one gun with me so I'll have to come back later. Told him to sit tight, and I'd be back in an hour or so.

Car chases. Well, I wasn't the only person thinking about car chases. I find out later that Gomer and Chris were having a nasty  night sleep, that military thing they did, the exact shun or something they called it. The distraction they did for Sam. They were both thinking too much that day, and so they were having a hard time sleeping. Good thing that they were both pretty tired. Nice thing about being up late like me, not many people out and moving.

At Gomer's retreat, Heather just turned off the television. She and Faith have been doing a lot of talking. You know how women jabber jabber all the time. They sure are up late. I figure that they ought to be friends, they have so much in common. Living in New York and all.

Meantime, it's night, and I want to be home watching TV. Wonder if Connie has any more cigarettes? I'm doing my own car chase, got to get my ass back to the house and grab a pistol before Chuckie sells those cigarettes to someone else. I'm going down the road about 80 miles an hour, the nicotine withdrawal is really getting worse.

Back at the house, Connie was still looking at the FRS radio like it was some kind of poison snake. Bill's voice came over the radio again, "Backup, backup...." Connie picked up the radio, and said David would be out in a couple minutes. But, where is he?

Everything is good. I'm coming up the driveway, and Connie is running out of the house to me. She's screaming something about got to back up. I throw the car in reverse, not having any clue what that crazy lady is yelling about. So emotional. She says no, no. Not to back up the car. Says Bill is out at the military thing and he's saying he wants Dave to back up. Finally I figure out what's going on, Bill is having another one of those drills with me. Well, hope he doesn't scream too much.

I go into the house, and keyed the microphone at the house twice, the arranged signal for backup on the way. Connie's got a cigarette going in the ash tray, so I pop it in my mouth. And then grabbed my rifle, and emergency grab and go bag, and ran out the door. It was a quick run down the road. I'm in fairly good shape. So, I quietly came in the back door of the listening post, lit cigarette still dangling from my lips. Bill coughed loudly, grabbed the cigarette out of my mouth and threw the cigarette to the ground. Stomped on the cigarette. Damn, that's the last one too. Bill handed me the binoculars, and pointed. I looked through the binoculars, and said I'd go flank to the left. Bill nodded. I dashed back out of the LP. When the stranger had gone a couple more feet down the road, Bill threw the switch that turned on the flood lights, and lit up the entire stretch of road for about 50 yards.