When Shack and I relieved Carol, Nikola, and Nguen with little Stiva in his basket in the radio tent, they confirmed that they intercepted many coded radio messages. No one knows who sends the coded messages. Shack, Honey and I throughout the night listened to the coded messages.
Honey is feeling poorly, and is bleeding again. She is worried about her baby. Despite Honey feeling out of sorts, she was able to take her turns cranking the charging handles. I appreciated her help, as I desperately despise cranking the charging handles.
After the day crew relieved us, we grabbed some breakfast and promptly dropped into our bedrolls. Shack and I lay awake until we heard Honey snoring. We gently and quietly made love falling asleep afterwards.
Poor Shack had to get up early this afternoon. Nikola and some of the other Spets lads along with Shack, Longfeather and the other Ranger-tabbed soldiers teach our Scouts and new recruits from the various groups. Dealing with creatures attracted to noise, tactics taught kill without noise. I still teach Krav Maga, but Shack and Honey are my only pupils. Honey, Princess and I still practice yoga.
The Russians, several of who are remaining behind when the Convoy leaves, have been very generous giving several silenced weapons to both our soldiers and the Adventists. Nikola gave and then taught Shack how to use a PSS Vul (Wool in English) silent pistol.
Honey received an ancient MSP Groza (Russian for “thunderstorm”) silent pistol. The old Groza is a double-barrel, derringer-type firearm designed in 1972 by the former Soviet Union. Long out of production, the little Groza was once a favorite clandestine tool of the Spetsnaz and KGB.
I have only seen pictures of Groza pistols. From my studies and service experience, I knew that Groza pistols were used in Central America during the Cold War. Last time that I recalled hearing of Groza pistols was during the American Second Afghanistan conflict where several American service men were killed by Mujahideen using ex-Soviet Groza pistols.
Carol now carries a OTs-38 Stechkin silent revolver in a shoulder holster in a generic black nylon holster. The bulky and rather unwieldy silent revolver rides butt first under her left arm. Another pistol that I am only passingly familiar with, the Stechkin silent revolver I have read about in books.
The newest of all the silent weapons given away by the Russians, the Stechkin revolver should not be confused with Nikola’s Stechkin APB (Avtomaticheskij Pistolet Besshumnyj) made by the same company. Nikola and most of the Spets lads love the older APB pistol despite newer and supposedly better pistols released by Russia.
Nikola has added a black slip on rubber padded grip sleeve to his APB, but otherwise keeps it as it was issued to him when he served Mother Russia. I know that there is no shortage of 9×18mm Makarov ammo but I wonder how much of the quiet special purpose ammo the Russians were able to bring with them.
Before the KCAP pandemic and the zombie apocalypse, 9×18mm Makarov ammo was prevalent loaded by several American ammo companies. As far as I know, no one other than the Soviet Union and then the Russian Federation loaded SP ammo as used by Honey’s Groza, Shack’s NRS-2 knife, Carol’s Stechkin revolver, and Shack’s Vul.
I know that Nikola gave Honey and Shack two, 20 round boxes each of the SP ammo. With no way of reloading the SP ammo or making our own substitute ammo, the Russian SP ammo and their pistols are regulated to emergency or clandestine necessity only.
Shack likes his little Russian Vul pistol which reminds him of an overgrown Walther PPK. Shack searches for a rubber padded sleeve similar to what Nikola placed on his Stechkin for his Vul pistol but otherwise left it as it was given to him by Nikola.
Shack has to be careful that he does not lose the Vul six round magazine. Vul magazines are impossible to replace. Unfortunately, the Russians did not grab any spare Vul magazines when they fled Russia. I hope that the sudden Russian largess does not portend something awful.
Shack also received a Russian NRS-2 (Special Scout Knife) from Nikola with a full accessory kit. Shack received two boxes of 20 cartridges each of the special purpose ammo SP-3, and SP-4. With the weighted insert replacing the firing mechanism and barrel, Shack is not yet as good as Nikola at throwing the large Russian knife.
Nikola’s skill throwing the NRS-2 knife was displayed when, defying all odds, a lone male zombie wandered into the camp. Miraculously missing all the mines, tangle foot traps, and guards the lone zombie shuffled into the main courtyard.
Dressed in the remains of a leather jacket and other biker attire, the zombie looked somewhat confused. Minus one foot, the zombie had a lurching gait. Nikola exiting the dining hall with his family in tow, saw the shuffling zombie just as Shack and I exited the dining hall with Honey following behind.
“Oh, fuck!” Honey’s appropriately yelled upon spying the zombie in the courtyard. At Honey’s outburst biker zombie spun towards our group revealing one side of his face and neck is hideously burnt. Biker zombie reached out towards our group with both hands.
Reaching for us I noticed that biker zombie was missing several fingers as well as most of the meat from his arms and hands. Slapping for my Hi-Power on my hip, while Shack reaches for his Serbu shotgun pistol, without thought we all scatter giving room for weapons deployment.
Nikola however beat us all to the shot. Tossing his NRS-2 knife with an almost casual underhand cross-body flip from his left side, the large heavy-bladed knife sank to the hilt in biker zombie’s left eye.
Dropping his arms, biker zombie looked confused for a second his lone eye blinking attempting to focus upon the strange thing that suddenly appeared in his face. Honey and I as well as several other people were stunned into inactivity by the fact that the zombie was still alive despite the large knife buried in its head.
Biker zombie’s arms started reaching up for the knife handle when a thunderous ear-shattering boom startles us all. Shack’s Serbu obliterated biker zombie’s head in a chunky cloud of hair, bone bits, brain chunks and black blood.
“Oh, fucking yuck!” Queen of the obvious, Honey remarked.
Shack cranked the small vertical handle on the Serbu chambering another round of Rhodesian jungle load. Ejecting the smoking, slightly transparent shotgun hull, Shack looks around at the gathered crowd. Shack joined by Nikola walk the four steps or so to the zombie’s corpse.
Shack prods biker zombie’s headless corpse with his boot tip while Nikola searches for his knife. Nikola finally finds his bloody knife lying in the snow piled against the side of what eventually will be the Adventist’s central armory. Picking up the dripping knife, Nikola wipes it on the snow. The blade must not have been sufficiently clean as then he repeats wiping the knife blade on the zombie’s corpse.
After Nikola is satisfied the knife is sufficiently clean, he pulls a small dented can of 3-in-1 oil from his pocket lightly oiling the blade he inspects it for damage. “Forget remove firing mechanism,” he mumbles while looking at the knife. Sheathing the knife back on his left leg Nikola gathers his family and leaves.
Looking at Shack I see that he has opted to carry the large Russian knife in the American manner strapped vertically, handle down on the left side of his LBV. I noticed that many of the American SF trained men carried large bladed knives in this fashion. Longfeather carries a Vietnam era Marine KaBar knife in the same manner.
Nikola only commented once on Shack’s choice of place to carry the Russian knife. Nikola mentioned that it would be hell to undo all of that 550 paracord in order to be able to use the wire cutters installed on the tip of the knife sheath.
Like two unstoppable armies, our forces prepare to do battle with the opposing force led by the elder Rogers. Showdown should be tomorrow afternoon if all goes according to plan.
Shack and I talk for a little while before drifting off to sleep. After Shack falls asleep, it takes me a little while to go back to sleep. Nestled in the warm security of his arms, it is difficult for me to remember that I am nearly 12 years older than he is.
While I have seen much more of the world, that was the old world that no longer exists. The youth of today has had to adjust rapidly to a radically different world. Many of the things that once were important today are now about as important as the study of metabolomics.
From Shack’s assessment of his father it appears that the elder Rogers, addicted to either drugs or alcohol or both, has turned into something that Shack hardly recognizes. Shack watched his father for a long time last night observing him swallowing pills, drinking alcohol and abusing female captives.
Shack’s description of his father’s actions sounds as if his father, assuming that he lost everything, sunk into despair. Shack described how when the KCAP pandemic struck his father and he had to kill his younger twin brothers, who were both nine years old at the time. The twins killed Shack’s mother.
Shack and his father caught the twins on either side of their mother in the bed she shared with his father, ripping their mother’s corpse apart with their teeth and hands. Upon Shack and his father’s entry, the twins leapt from the blood-saturated bed attacking both men. Because of their smaller size, Shack and his father were able to fend off the small zombies.
Shoving the twin zombies into the master closet and barring the door, Shack and his father quickly dressed. Arming themselves from the safe in the master bedroom, the men were fortunate that they were armed when the twins shattered the master bedroom closet’s door leaping towards the two men.
The two men dodged the first attacks of the little infected monsters but ultimately came to the decision that they had to kill the infected brothers. Despite numerous bullets to the body which twisted and spun the small monsters, it did not kill them.
No one knew then that most importantly, the amygdala of the infected brain has to be destroyed. We know now that barring destruction of the amygdala, the brain stem has to be severed otherwise the infected remains mobile. A bullet to the brain, just like in the movies has to destroy the majority of the brain.
The usual sniper tactic of aiming for the spot just underneath the nose tends to vaporize the brain blasting it out the back of the head in a spray of blood, bone chips and hair. Barring destruction of either the brain stem or the amygdala, destroying the medulla oblongata tends to incapacitate the infected.
Shack and his father knew none of that information at the time. Shack did not know how many rounds of ammo his father and he wasted until they learned that only a shot to the brain, destroying it, is the only sure way of stopping the infected.
After killing the twins, the men reloaded their weapons just as the shredded corpse of Shack’s mother started dragging itself across the blood sodden sheets. This was the first time that Shack observed that the infected can turn into a zombie with the celerity of a lightning strike.
Despite the danger to himself and Shack’ incessant pleading, Shack’s father was unable to shoot his wife, the mother of his children. Shack’s father scooted across the floor as fast as he could until his back hit the bedroom wall.
The infected woman crawled across the floor towards Shack’s father. When she was just about to bite his father, who was frozen by horror, Shack placed one well-aimed 9mm hollow point bullet between his mother’s eyes ending her misery.
I have heard the rest of the story before of how the two men fled west, and how they became separated. I know that Shack assumed his father was dead, just as his father must have assumed that Shack was also dead. Left unsaid was the question of what to do about Shack’s father.
I woke earlier than I would have liked. I quietly dress, leaving snoring Shack and Honey resting until it is time to rise for tonight’s radio vigil. Wandering to the new combination kitchen and dining hall cinder block house, I grabbed a cup of decent blackberry leaf tea.
Sitting in the warm dining hall, I observe some of Brenda’s gatherers carrying five gallon buckets of mushrooms. I overhear one of the gatherers mention that he found a good amount of Dryad’s saddle mushrooms. He mentions that a decent thick paper might be made from some of the older specimens that are not really fit to eat.
The gatherers drop their bounty off in the kitchen and wander out. I remain sitting for a while longer, until it is time to rouse Shack and Honey. Walking across the compound yard, I notice another hand-fasting ceremony proceeding in front of the frame of what eventually will be the chapel.
The five men and three women join together in a large communal marriage. Rain is central in the group of women with Adela and another woman that I do not know flanking her. The five men are arranged behind the three women. Two of the men I believe are Russian judging by their weaponry and dress.
One of the women observing the ceremony mutters that Rain is marrying three of the men likely to have fathered her child. I overhear one of the older men mutter that the group is a Heinlein-like group marriage.
Not sure what he means, but I am surprised by the inclusion of Adela in the group. Apparently I am not the only one surprised by Adela’s inclusion as one of the men remarks to another about her inclusion. Another man voices the opinion that Adela is ensuring her place within the Adventist’s company by marrying into a group.
Another man makes a wise crack that Adela’s possession of a pussy is enough for her inclusion into almost any group. Some quiet laughter follows his remark. After the ceremony ends, the crowd dissipates quickly.
Entering our sleeping tent, one of the few remaining tents on the farm, I note that Honey is already awake. While tying her boots Honey smiles at me. I smile back wondering if perhaps I am not sending the poor child mixed messages.
I still have avoided talking with either Honey or Shack about what happened the other evening between Honey and I. Gently shaking Shack awake I kiss him lightly on the lips. While Shack dresses I summarize the group marriage ceremony for him.
After I finish my narrative he shrugs, muttering that with more men than women, something is likely to change. I know that Shack and I as well as Carol and Nikola have received offers and suggestions to no longer be exclusive with our bed partners.
So far none of us have opted for an open or group sleeping arrangement. Although I feel guilty about my involvement with Honey, I am not the one who sought her out in a sexual way. I was never into the whole polyamory thing no matter how popular it might have been at one time.
I have always practiced serial monogamy. Just because there is a zombie apocalypse, it does not cause me to suddenly spread my legs for every stiff dick in the camp. Shack, Honey and I cross the farm-yard walking to the dining hall. We will relieve Carol and Nikola on the day shift after we eat.
I wonder if Carol and Nikola intercepted any more code transmissions. I am still wondering who is sending the coded messages.
I join a standing crowd of people on our perimeter watching the fire’s glow.
“Do we know what is burning?” I ask Doc who is standing closest to me. I assume that Shack does not know since we just woke up.
“The cities of Everett, Marysville, Stanwood and something on the island are burning. Don’t know how the fires started but large portions of the cities are engulfed in flames. Shame losing all the buildings but it does clean out quite a few zombies.”
While watching the flames to the south of our position in the cities of Marysville (closest) and Everett (farthest south), I see that there is a black helicopter flying over the flaming cities.
“Doc, did the helicopter start the fires?”
“Don’t rightly know Ruth. But the damn thing’s been flying around the burning cities for a while now. It darts back and forth – even flew over our camp a few times. Got some asshole dressed in one of those Big Bird-yellow hazmat suits leaning out of the rear side door when it flew over us. Guy in the hazmat suit was holdin’ some sort of instrument in his hand when he flew over us. Some of the guys flipped him off as he flew over but he made no sign that he saw the gestures.”
We watch the glow of the fire reflected upon the ever-present clouds. Despite the continuous damp rain, the cities fiercely burn. Thick oily smoke rises into the cloudy sky. The helicopter flies around for a while then heads south and disappears. Eventually the crowd breaks up as people return to their beds or whatever job interrupted by the fire.
Immediately after the supper crowd sits down to eat, Doc and Sam hold a planning session. They want to send the Scouts out with Longfeather in the morning to assess the fire’s extent and damage.
Sam agrees but the Scouts are going out heavy, taking the MGS Stryker with them. The Scouts are also taking two Hummers. The first Hummer has a M2B on the roof. The second Hummer carries a M19 40mm grenade launcher on the roof.
While the lads prep the vehicles for tomorrow’s foray, Shack, Honey and I grab supper. Settling in the radio tent we prepare for a long boring night. Fortunately the night was anything but boring as some interesting news came over the radio around midnight.
The VP (I guess we should really call her Madame President) is back in the battle against the hordes of undead. She took some time off to have a child and get married, but now that domestic home life is settled, the VP is taking the fight to the undead.
Mount Weather is completely lost and full of the undead. I am not sure where the VP got the old W45 warhead armed Medium Atomic Demolition Munition (MADM) but she had it dropped down the elevator shaft of the sealed Mount Weather. When the MADM exploded the ground shook but there was no smoke or fallout escape.
Dropping a nuclear bomb into a zombie nest is one of the most creative ways I have heard for killing thousands of zombies with one shot. Even if the VP is back in the fight, the radio broadcast had a very uber-propaganda feel that I automatically mistrust.
Shack ever the pragmatist, shrugged his shoulders. “Who cares? But isn’t the VP a little old to be having another child this late?”
“She’s in her early 50s. She lost her first husband and children in the evacuation of DC. Her family never made it out of the District.”
“How do you know that Honey?”
“Because I heard it on the TV several months ago, Shack back before all the news stations went off the air.” She sticks her tongue out at him.
The rest of the night passes uneventfully. The next evening, the returned Scouts brought some interesting news. Sam briefs the assembled company at supper. Although we are not military anymore, old habits die hardest. When Sam enters the cinder block house we still rise to our feet.
After the room returned to their seats, Sam starts the meeting without preamble. “There is a well-organized and well equipped force out there. They use zombies as shock troops, and burn out any resistance they encounter. This force is made of folks that are either former military, police, or were preppers and survivalists. We have not seen any military weapons other than a few M16s. One of the tasks of tonight’s raid is to find out what heavy weapons, if any, they possess.”
“The Scouts ran into some of their advance scouting forces. None of our boys and girls were hurt but we did kill several of their members. They most likely know our position. Gear and weapons descriptions leads me to believe that this is not an organized force, where everyone carries the same weapon. We’re on heightened alert, as today two of these assholes were caught sneaking through the forest on our flank. Thankfully they were caught by some of the clever booby-traps.”
“We might not get lucky next time. This force has steadily worked their way north, burning and pillaging as they go. They are less than a day from us, so tonight we are going radio cold. Listen only – no transmissions unless I authorize them. All personal radios are to be on receive only as well. Maintain light and noise discipline.”
“Longfeather’s taking the Rangers and other SF folks, including the Russian Spets’ lads out on a harassment and interdiction raid. Goal is taking out the scouts, sentries, destroying or looting supplies and damaging vehicles. Hopefully, the sharpshooters with suppressed weapons can trim their command structure, but we do not want to tip them off until morning that they were attacked.”
Out of the corner of my eye I see Carol nursing Stiva, grasp Nikola’s hand tightly. He raises their joined hands to his lip and kisses her hand. The huge chunk of ice on Carol’s left hand shimmers in the candle and lamplight lit room.
While Sam talks, Shack leans over and whispers in my ear. “While I was in the can, Longfeather signed me up for tonight’s raid since I was a Ranger. It’ll just be you and Honey tonight in the radio tent.”
That night in the radio tent it was very quiet. Poor Honey suffers from cramps and has even had some spotting of blood. Cranking the charging handles, I missed Shack not only for his turn on the handles but his quiet company. Honey spent most of the night in pain, hunched over and was not able to crank the handles for very long.
Several times we picked up several pieces of Morse code. Deciphering the Morse code revealed messages such as “page six, paragraph 4, third word” and “preface, second paragraph fifth word.” Someone is transmitting in a code, but who I wonder.
After eating breakfast, Honey leaves to talk with Doc while I climb straight into bed. Before drifting off I watch Honey enter our tent, strip naked and slide into her bedroll. We still have not discussed what happened between us. I feel guilty for not telling Shack, and drift off to sleep with that thought.
Sometime later I am startled awake as someone cold and naked slides into the bed spooning against my warm back. At first I fear it is Honey seeking a repeat, but feeling stubble and smelling smoke underneath which is the familiar scent of Shack, I am relieved.
Relaxing into Shack’s cold embrace, he wraps me in his arms, his right hand slides down my right arm grasping my hand. He seems troubled. Not wanting to wake a (thankfully) snoring Honey, I turn my head slightly towards him.
“Shack what is wrong? Did someone get hurt or killed?”
“No, that’s not it. Some minor injuries but nothing major. I saw my dad, he leads the bunch of assholes. I almost shot him.”
(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.
I mentioned earlier how sporadic radio traffic is. We received a lengthy Chinese broadcast that minus Shen took us forever to translate. Nguen’s Chinese is still too erratic to translate such a long and technical broadcast.
Once finally translated, the message from the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine Beijing, China speculated that the KCAP pandemic may have knocked mankind backwards three or more centuries in regards to health, quality of life, medical care and society.
I have already seen some of the medical problems within the camp. We buried a young soldier yesterday who contracted an antibiotic-resistant staph infection in his face possibly from shaving. The young man’s face swelled up to the point the skin split along his jaw line.
Our Scouts scoured every building possible searching for different antibiotics to no avail. All the hospitals, dentist clinics, veterinary clinics and any other drug or medicine supply point was raided long ago. Our Scouts now search homes, hoping some forgotten antibiotics lay in a medicine cabinet somewhere.
The poor young man would have died in agony; we could not spare the morphine to put him out of his misery. When the infection spread to his spine, paralyzing him, Doc provided the proper medication to terminate his life if he wished. He wished.
Although we cannot find antibiotics, there are plenty of other drugs available. We share recovered goods with the Adventists since they provide housing and food while the convoy provides protection. The Adventists should be in good shape when we leave as there are several former members of the convoy staying.
Bill and his wives are staying. Carl and Nikola have not decided if they are coming or not. The birth of little Stiva caused his parents to reconsider staying with the convoy. Stiva snores contently during the day in a trendy rocker recovered from some hipster baby store.
Right now there are plenty of disposable diapers, but eventually we will exhaust the local supply. Practicing for the loss of convenient disposable diapers the camp mothers use sphagnum moss recovered from a plant nursery for swaddling.
Cattail and cottonwood fluff is also used for baby swaddling, something that Brenda said the Native American tribes used long before the presence of white man on this continent.
I watch the Adventists coached by some of our lads practice forming an Afrikaner laager. The importance of the laager drills is not lost on anyone. Our convoy members need to keep their skills sharp and when the convoy leaves; the Adventists require the skills to survive without us.
Interrupting my musings, the radio bursts with traffic, but it is only the Russian Yamantau Mountain radio attempting again to contact survivors living in the Moscow Metro-2 tunnels.
I listen to the Russian survivor living in the mountains, and wonder how he fares. There is desperation in his voice that I have not heard before. In the past few days, we tried to make contact with the survivor so far to no avail. I attempt contacting the Yamantau Mountain radio operator with no luck again.
I know that our transmitter works because we regularly talk with our Scouts in the field. Eventually, I give up and relieve Shack cranking the fucking charging handles. Shack gives me a light peck on the lips before he settles his bulk into the seat before the bank of radio gear.
At least with Honey now a part of the night radio crew, we have a third person to crank the charging handles. I look forward to when the Adventists get the damned wind turbines and a water turbine in the creek completed. Maybe we will not have to spend all night cranking these fucking handles.
While I crank the charger, I let my mind wander recalling events from a few days ago. Shack and I made up both of us sorry for our actions. I blush as I remember the rather frantic bout of makeup sex. Afterward, lying in his arms I did not mention Honey’s masturbation, and Shack did not bring it up either. I am still not sure if he heard Honey or not, but he did not make an issue of it, so I am not going to either.
Yesterday was the wedding/handfasting ceremony for Nikola and Carol. Officiated by Pastor, the ceremony was beautiful if brief. Carol accompanied the Scouts for a few days searching for a suitable, non-bloodstained wedding dress.
Nikola accompanying another group of Scouts found a large rock somewhere set in an obscene amount of platinum. Someone once had a beautiful piece of ice; it is nearly worthless now. Junior, the ring bearer, of course, forgot the ring in the tent he shares with Jenny, so he had to run quickly retrieving it.
The flower girl Jenny, the eldest daughter of the Mercer Island princess resplendent in a gown of her own, had eyes for no one but Junior. Shack jokingly mentioned that no one had better contest the marriage. The sheer number of guns present alone might cause someone to mistake this for a shotgun wedding.
Carol is insanely happy and flashes her indecently-sized platinum wedding bands with its monster rock every chance she gets. The bitch rumor mill suggests that Junior and Jenny are probably the next couple headed for matrimony.
Shack and I spoke with Junior and Jenny after the ceremony while stuffing ourselves with extremely rare cake. The young couple still plans to travel north with the convoy. I wonder if their plans will change should Jenny become pregnant between now and then?
Brenda with her husbands might have started a trend in the camp. Doc suggested that because of the sudden population decrease resulting in a disproportionate amount of men surviving compared to women, polygamous relationships may become the norm, rather than the exception.
Back in the radio tent and the present, I watch Shack scoring with his knife light 12 gauge loads while listening to the poor Russian transmitter. He lightly cuts the plastic shell hull just ahead of the metal base. The light shot dove loads are all but useless. We have plenty of hunting ammo.
Shack keeps a stockpile of “useless” 12 gauge shells. At night while sitting in the radio tent, he scores the hulls with his knife, turning once “useless” 12 gauge shells into deadly ammo. Shot type does not matter much as even the lighter steel shot waterfowl shells are lethal once cut.
When fired the cut shells perform like a slug. Shack is using cut rounds in the 12 gauge Serbu rather than taking the scarce slugs. While Shack scores 12 gauge shells to radio static hiss, my mind wanders again back to a few nights ago.
A trio of lengthy messages whose translation took forever we picked up late near midnight on the ex-US Navy ELF receiver. It took forever translating the three messages in ancient Morse code. One message originated from Vozrozhdeniye Island, the second from Zagorsk, and the last from Sverdlovsk.
No one in the camp is proficient in Morse code. Using old textbooks and some ancient USN tech manuals we eventually decoded the messages. The first message from V-Island explained the presence of biological weapon (BW) material abandoned in a forgotten Kazakh Soviet Cold War bunker.
The second message detailed the shipment to the Kazakh bunker of some 20 metric tons of weaponized pulmonary anthrax, mixed together with Q-fever microbe and weaponized Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus. JE virus was once the leading cause of vaccine-preventable encephalitis in Asia.
The final message was the longest. Towards the end the transmitter speculated that some of the BW material may have come from the Scientific Research Agricultural Institute (NISKhI), the only Soviet BW research center in Kazakhstan specializing in viruses.
The concluding message explained the probability that most of the seed stock viruses that mutated into KCAP came from the Stepnagorsk Scientific and Technical Institute for Microbiology, and The Scientific Experimental and Production Base (SNOPB), both now a pair of highly radioactive craters.
The last message suggested the possibility that several of the virus strains were strengthened by the use of a linear particle accelerator. The message also mentions that the weponized viruses were probably “heated up” by exposure to vaccines and antibiotics, making the viruses impervious to current vaccines and antibiotics.
Viruses invade cells where they are safe from body’s immune system invulnerable to attack by antibiotics. Virus exists to find a carrier and reproduce. The weaponized virus strains exploited then enhanced the virus’s natural abilities. Constant mutation and adaptation are the survival mechanisms of viruses. Weaponized viral strains possess enhanced and increased speed of mutation and adaptation.
All three messages detailed movement of BW material after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Records covering that period of Russian history are sketchy at best. I wonder how records from this time period will compare?
A few days passed since I last wrote in my journal. Shack and I had a huge fight the worst since we have been together. It all started with an innocuous comment during lady’s shower day.
Sitting wrapped in my threadbare towels on the bench while Honey braids my hair I let my mind wander. My hands resting in my lap hold my lethal hair pins. At the time, for some reason I remembered back to the days when I worked as an occasional assassin for the Mossad.
For certain missions, I coated my hair pins with a rather nasty lethal toxin derived from the poison of the marbled cone snail. An artificially enhanced quick-acting poison that killed by paralyzing the diaphragm, the poison quickly dissipated in the victim’s body.
Lost in thoughts of the past, I am grateful for Honey’s silence. She stands behind me, her naked body steaming in the slightly warm air inside the tent. Honey’s hairless alabaster white body is corded with wiry muscle.
I am grateful that the thick canvas walls of the bath tent keep some heat. The colder weather blanketed all the mountains surrounding this valley with snow. We have snow drifts around all the tents and in the shadowy areas. Sleet and hail remain frequent although the cobalt blue lightning is not nearly as frequent as it was a few months ago.
Honey joined our radio tent crew relieving Nikola and Carol as they adjust to parenthood. My constant shadow Honey is never far from my side. Although Shack shares my bed, he cannot join me in the bath when it is the ladies’ day.
The best Krav Maga pupil I have ever taught, her strength, and speed are frightening. Honey’s flexibility and stamina are incredible. I hate to admit it, but she is much better at Krav Maga than Shack is.
Previously Honey mentioned that she misses having hair. She enjoys braiding my hair helping me wash it and put it back in my traditional braid the tip of my braid still touches the bottom of my ass cheeks. The first time Honey assisted taking down my hair she expressed amazement that when loose my hair reaches nearly to my ankles.
Enjoying the gentle strength of Honey’s hands as she brushes and braids my hair, lost in my memories, I jump when Adela loudly mentions Rain’s pregnancy.
The gossiping women speculate who might be the father. I sigh at their cattiness. Adela is a mousy, loud brunette with a face like a donkey and a disposition worthy of her face. A recent arrival at the camp, Adela has yet to find her place among the Adventists other than leading a gossip ring.
“Who gives a fuck,” I respond hotly to Adela. Honey and I dress quickly, tossing our wet towels over our shoulders. We head for the exit our backs to the catty bitches.
“Well, it’s not like you lack for companionship,” Adela responds to my back. “Shack told me you go both ways.” I flinch at the woman’s words. Out of the corner of my eye I see Honey tense.
I pat Honey’s hand letting her know that it is ok. I actually hear her growl low in her throat like an animal warning its enemy. Honey bares her teeth; her black teeth contrasting starkly with her alabaster skin. She and I are close, but I would not have expected her to come to my defense.
Stung by Adela’s words hurt by Shack’s betrayal of my trust, I nod towards the exit, Honey understands my gesture. Leaving, I hear Adela loudly mention that I am probably sleeping with the bald but beautifully pregnant young woman.
Before I can even turn around and respond, Honey leaps upon Adela. Flipping Adela over her shoulder as if she weighed nothing, Honey slams the woman so hard to the ground it knocks the wind out of Adela with gusty whoosh.
Before the stunned woman can regain her breath or even scream, Honey has the tip of her knife pressed underneath Adela’s right eye. Holding her knife with her right hand, Honey’s left hand firmly grasps Adela’s chin tightly not permitting the frightened woman to look away.
“Ruth’s my friend not my lover. But even if she was it’s none of your damned business. You insult Ruth again I will tear out your beating fucking heart and eat it before your eyes.”
A small drop of blood wells up underneath the tip of Honey’s knife. She licks the drop of blood off of the quivering woman’s face. Slowly and sensually licking her knife blade clean Honey maintains eye contact with the scared woman. Putting her knife away, Honey looks up at me and smiles.
Honey skips through the utterly silent bath tent joining me at the door. Leaving a quaking Adela lying on the floor, Honey acts as if nothing happened. As shocked as I am by Honey’s actions, I am still very pissed at Shack.
When I get into our tent, Shack and I have a grand screaming match. I know that Shack probably did not intend anything, but he should not have told Adela that I am bi.
Shack shrugs his shoulders at me. “I didn’t think you would care,” he shouts at me.
“I usually would not care! I prefer to tell someone myself! And not some fucking stranger who has only been in the camp a few days!”
Incredibly pissed at Shack, I join Honey in her bedroll, curling against her warm naked back. I thought that Honey was asleep until she squeezed my hand. I eventually fall asleep, holding Honey closely wrapped in my arms.
I awake in the morning drenched in sweat. Damn I thought sleeping with Shack was warm, Honey is a small furnace. I realize with some embarrassment that my left hand holds Honey’s breast the nipple hard underneath my fingers. I try to remove my hand from the warmth of her breast.
As my hand moves slightly, her nipple hardens some more at my hand’s movement. Honey groans deeply. Embarrassed I hold still. Her voice husky Honey moans again moving faster.
I suddenly realize that Honey has thrown her smooth bare left leg over my hip. Grinding her ass into my groin, Honey’s moist left hand suddenly grabs my hand pinning it to her breast in a painful grasp. She moves rhythmically in a very familiar way.
Ah shit! Honey is masturbating!
Honey suddenly tenses as she comes, silently screaming into the pillows. Embarrassed using the distraction of her orgasm I try to reclaim my hand.
As Honey’s orgasm fades, she releases my hand. I am sure that had there been any light my face would be bright red. Honey rolls onto her back and looks me square in the eyes. I do not see shame on Honey’s face, only after orgasm contentedness and something else I cannot place.
“I am sorry Ruth. I know that we are not like that. I was raised to believe that being gay is wrong. But after Adela’s comments yesterday, it got me to thinking. I have been so horny lately! Before the cannibals … er, you know to me … I never even had a sexual thought.”
Honey pauses looking down at our legs still entwined under the bed roll’s covers. “When I woke this morning, you were holding my breast and it felt so good! I couldn’t help myself. I just had to ummm … you know.”
She looks at me, and I can see the tears brimming in her eyes. “You’re not mad at me are you? You’re not gonna toss me out?” the last part said in a desperate plea with tears welling in her eyes.
The poor child how confused she must be. I lightly kiss her cheek in a more sisterly way than how a lover would. I am grateful that Honey does not try to make it more than I intended.
“I am not mad. Shocked and a little embarrassed, but we shall keep this between us. I am with Shack and I never cheat on a lover. We are having a fight. I am thoroughly pissed at him now, but that does not mean that we are through.”
Honey looks at me her eyes shining in the dark tent. “I am so confused. I thought I liked boys you know before. But now I am not sure. My first time was so horrible! I find the thought of another man touching me revolting.”
“Honey, you would not be the first woman to turn to her own sex for love because men mistreated her. Oh, God Honey. I am sorry, but I am really out of my element here. Maybe you should talk to Doc. We do not have a shrink in the camp, but I suppose Doc is relatively close. If not perhaps Pastor would talk with you. Honey, did you practice a religion before KCAP?”
“We’re sorta Lutheran, before my dad left us. After that, mom tossed herself really hard into the church, dragging us to every church meeting and prayer service. I think she went kinda nuts.”
Honey looks down, and sniffing says, “Ugh I need a shower. I smell like sex and sweaty woman.”
I briefly consider telling her that it is not a bad smell, but fear that she may take it the wrong way. Her sense of smell I understand is also much better than mine. I briefly remember something Doc said about cannibals having increased blood flow to the sinus passage area with a proportionate increase in sinus size.
We dress in silence. Honey wipes herself with an old dirty tee-shirt before donning her clothes. She appears slightly embarrassed. Her baby bump protrudes slightly over her waist.
Looking at me she says, “I am sorry Ruth” before she ducks out of the tent. Sighing I look over at my usual bed roll seeking my usual partner. I notice that Shack is already out of bed this evening.
Oh God! Did Shack hear Honey masturbating while I held her? Dressed I leave the tent to see what other excitement this evening may yet hold.
Radio traffic has slowed considerably. I swear to God that I am getting man-like shoulders from cranking these fucking charging handles so much. The constant drone of the charger grates on my nerves.
We do occasionally receive an automatic radio station, sometimes on a lower AM frequency. A few of these old radio stations blast some of the classics. We have heard everything from Bach to Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Van Halen and Iggy Pop.
Shack and I have had a couple of arguments, mostly over stupid stuff. We have spent far too long cramped in this damn small radio shack staring at the walls and each other. Our arguments are stupid and over petty stuff. The make-up sex afterward is very sweet.
Shack is a very gentle and considerate lover, indeed the most considerate of my male partners since William. Shack takes direction well and never forgets how and where I enjoy being touched. It is exciting being with such a young and inexperienced lover.
The way Shack explores my body and the sheer joy on his face as he explores my most intimate parts turns me on to no end. The wonder on his face when he discovered that I am permanently hairless almost caused me to laugh.
He thought I shaved, waxed or something in the woman’s shower. When I explained to him that because of my Arab heritage, I had extremely dark and course pubic hair, the look on his face was priceless. I explained my hairless state, the dipilitation process and why I decided to have the majority of my body permanently dipilitated.
Afterward, Shack descended under the covers for a long period of exploring all the areas I had treated. Shack is not one for much pillow talk. We do talk a lot in the radio tent, and during most of the time that we are together. A frequent topic is the new personnel in the camp and speculating the date of our departure north.
Our new Scouts have completed their basic training. A few of these new Scouts are showing real promise while others Shack refers to optimistically as “probable zombie bait.” We did have our first Scout motorcycle fatality a few days ago. One of the new kids was going too fast and ran right into an enormous pack of zombies on the outskirts of a town called Stanwood.
The Stanwood zombies pulled him off of his motorcycle swarming over him so thickly that his buddies could not even see the poor bastard so that they could put him out of his misery before he was eaten alive. His screams were short-lived, thankfully as there were so many zombies that he was ripped to pieces in a moment. His death was gruesome and painful but thankfully short.
We found another FEMA camp near a small town north of here called Sedro-Woolley situated in and around what used to be the Sedro-Woolley High School. Typical of the day-late-and-a-dollar-short approach of FEMA, thousands of people gathered at the high school only to find themselves trapped with no means of escape.
Due to the wisdom of FEMA, refugees had to surrender all weapons, medicines leaving vehicles and any other means of transportation outside the beautiful, sturdy fence. When initially established the Sedro-Woolley FEMA camp was a model of order and neatness.
Some white coat bureaucratic jackasses even posed for large glossy poster pictures. We found those posters splattered with mud and blood on the ground and tacked to several nearby power poles.
The pictures show a bunch of smiling white coat assholes standing in front of the Sedro-Woolley FEMA center encouraging people to receive help from the government. The local population should have known better. Anytime a government says, “we are here to help,” what they really mean is “we are here to fuck you and everything else we can.”
From what I saw, the Sedro-Woolley FEMA camp disintegrated into mud, sickness and chaos in very short time. Once KCAP slipped into the camp, it was a death sentence for those gathered here.
FEMA’s plans were static and did not account for variations and changes in the situation or the specifics of the disaster. Trapped in the high school holding more than a thousand people, it was only a matter of time before the area was overrun by zombies.
With a thousand persons stuck in the high school buildings and grounds, it was fertile ground for the KCAP virus to spread. While we were not witness to the events that transpired there, viewing the aftermath was sickening enough.
Debris and remains scattered throughout the buildings and grounds attested to a panicked mob who crushed members underneath the stampede further trapping themselves inside the convenient zombie feeding ground provided by FEMA.
We are unsure if anyone survived and escaped the hungry hordes of zombies attracted to the high school. There were still thousands of zombies milling about the area. Every building was lousy with zombies. We did not lose any personnel clearing the Sedro-Woolley FEMA camp, but the expenditure of ammo was startling.
Back in those early days of the KCAP outbreak it seemed as if there was a never-ending supply of ammo. Today Iain and I carefully horde any ammo we have left. Iain has started flint knapping again, more as a hobby to pass the time he says more than anything else. Some of the flint and obsidian knives, arrow heads and ax heads are truly beautiful works of art.
Thankfully Iain works outside as the little stone chips are razor-sharp and penetrate even the stiffest boot sole. In the bunker, we mostly go barefoot. I shudder at what one of those razor-sharp stone slivers would do to my bare foot. Iain has quite a stockpile of flint and obsidian stones collected over the years.
We have modern arrows fired from crossbows and compounds, but it is nice being with someone who is so handy he can literally make weapons from rocks. While we still carry our guns we only use them if necessary. For one thing, we have a finite supply of ammo.
Another thing is that a rifle shot will echo around this valley telling everyone who hears it, living or dead that someone is alive. We do not want anyone to come exploring. The last time Iain and I went exploring we almost met with disaster, but that is a tale for another chapter.
Back at the Sedro-Woolley FEMA camp, once cleared of all of the zombies, we recovered a virtual treasure trove of supplies. Poor Jeff had to work his poor fingers to the bones writing all of the new supplies into his clipboard now bursting with pages of paper.
One of the oddest things recovered was a complete, fully loaded, and self-contained mobile embalming pump filled with 5,000 gallons of heavy-duty formalin. With an electric 25 horsepower motor capable of producing up to 120 psi of pressure, the device is truly monstrous. I do not even know what half of the equipment on the machine is for or what it does.
Doc explained to me that the mobile embalmer (apparently never used) was part of the FEMA emergency plan for disinfecting thousands of corpses. Once a person died, pumping the corpse full of formalin usually renders the body safe for Judeo-Christian burial.
These corpses never gave the FEMA people time to pump them full of formalin before they got the munchies deciding that eating FEMA personnel was a cure for hunger.
Gleaming in the sunlight like a stainless white elephant that damn stupid mobile embalmer now sits in the farm-yard. I suppose the Adventists might take some of the components off the damn portable embalmer.
Scavenging some of the hoses and fittings from the embalmer might give the Adventists repair parts for some mechanical device. I just do not know if it was worth the effort to haul the fucking thing here.
Iain took me trout fishing this morning in the Powder River. I had never been fishing before. While I would not call my fishing a rousing success, we did manage a nice fried trout lunch beside the river. I lost more trout than I caught, which seemed to amuse Iain to no end.
The old highway is crumbling and falling apart. Trees now grow through cracks in the asphalt. Grass covers quite a bit of the roadway. We spooked a few mule deer munching on the grass in the center of the highway. In a few years, you will not be able to tell even there was a roadway there.
I fell on my ass in the river that also amused Iain much to my frustration. Now soaked and cold, I was not interested in fishing anymore. Iain decided to risk a fire, both as a way to dry my clothes, and to cook lunch. We have not seen anyone else in years, but we cannot be too careful.
We had to be careful with our fire. With the old highway 84 immediately above our heads, Iain was conscious of his choice of fire location. Using a shovel Iain dug a small depression in the bank, placing the fire in the hole limiting its light exposure.
I asked Iain once why he did not use one of the small ultralight twig and pinecone burning camp stoves once popular with backpackers and preppers. He shrugged and said that it was just something else to fool with which took up too much space in his bags. He would rather carry more ammo than some fancy hippie wood stove.
When starting the fire Iain’s choice to use charcoal brought from the bunker rather than found wood, of which there was plenty, limited the amount of smoke produced. Because of my wet clothes, we did use some of the wood lying about as we quickly exhausted the charcoal supply.
Iain always chose the driest wood possible breaking it into small pieces. He was careful not to dump too much wood on the fire at once limiting the amount of smoke produced. While we have not seen anyone in years, we are always careful. Iain worried that even the little amount of smoke from our tiny fire and even the smell of our cooking lunch might draw unwanted attention.
After lunch, we laid in the sand against the bank near the fire. Iain banked the coals, so we had a nice warm spot. Iain had wanted to use hardwood that produces better coals, but there is very little hardwood beside the river.
Snuggled up against Iain, wrapped in an old plaid wool blanket, lying on a few other old wool blankets I was suddenly aware that I was nude from the waist down. Iain, of course, did not miss this fact, his large hand slid over my ass cupping it in a way that was all too familiar.
Making love is a great way to warm up. By the time, we finished my clothes were mostly dry if a little smoky smelling. While I dressed, Iain the crazy idiot waded into the river for a quick scrub. Man is a fool to wade naked into that frigid water.
He seemed to enjoy his frigid plunge, the steam pouring off of him when came out. Iain is the warmest man that I have ever been with. I do not mean his personality either. His body seems to radiate heat like no other man I have ever known.
Iain is also the largest man I have ever been with in all respects. At seven-foot five inches tall and about 355 pounds, he is a massive specimen of a man. I am only five foot two, so he towers over me. His waist is flat with thickly sculpted muscles. He might not have a six-pack, but there is very little fat on him. His arms and legs are thickly corded with muscles as is his shoulders.
His muscles are not the bulky kind that gym rats used to pride themselves with, but rather the smooth muscles acquired naturally. With his great shaggy beard and thick body hair, as he emerged from the river he looked like some nude prehistoric Neanderthal.
Iain asked if I wanted to take a quick dip in the river. No thank you I will wait until I can heat some water back at the bunker. I have already taken a dip in that river and did not wish another. I just got warm.
After dressing and repacking the hobbled horses who were contentedly munching on the tender grass on the river banks we rode out of the river ravine. We spent the late afternoon selecting a useless (his words) neutered male goat for butchering.
Back in the bunker later that evening after a meal of spicy goat stew with fresh soda bread, I sat at my desk with a hot cup of tea. I started looking over my notes of my early days with Shack and the convoy. It is hard to believe how many years have passed since those days.
I am no longer a young woman as I was when the KCAP pandemic broke. The small crow’s feet around my eyes and the gray in my hair, still worn long to my waist, attest the fact of the passing years. Iain looks much the same as always.
Looking up from my notes, I open the computer document where I have compiled my journals. I see a note written in the side margin on the first page that the German state health department at Düsseldorf tried to keep the infected people out of hospitals to restrict the spread of KCAP.
A note under the one about the Germans reminds me that the WHO also recommended keeping the infected at home. I remember the early days of the KCAP outbreak when as much as a third of the population tried to flee.
The Boston-Washington Corridor was once the most heavily urbanized region of the US with approximately 75 million people living in the northern suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, to the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C. in northern Virginia. The eastern seaboard of the US alone had 165 million people living along the coast.
The US quickly found itself overran with infected. Programs designed for epidemics or pandemics never started because most of the personnel either were killed, infected or unable to reach their destinations.
The FBI’s multi-billion dollar SIOC (strategic information operations center) was never used properly because only a few of the critical personnel actually made it to the center, which by then it was already too late. Placing the SIOC in the center of D.C., meant the critical agents had to brave traffic in order to reach it.
The few agents that did man the SIOC lacked the expertise needed to respond to such a catastrophe. The FBI lost most of its expertise in biology in 1969 when the US terminated all biological weapons programs.
Finding themselves dealing with a hungry tsunami of infected the agents at the SIOC could do little but watch the wave subdue everything in its path. Thinking of waves of infected, I am suddenly transported back to the early days of the convoy just after the last attack on the farm.
Doc and Jeff glance momentarily at each other as if to decide who speaks first. Doc speaks first.
“We’ve got 12 KIA, mostly perimeter guards and Scouts at the SARBOO. There are 16 wounded, of those four are not likely. We’re going to have to close the SARBOO. We’ve just lost too damn many people to man both it and our perimeters. As for the Adventists, they’ve lost only a few personnel, mostly incidental losses in the line of fire. Most of their KIA were wrong place at the wrong time. But losing Phyllis is going to be a real blow to the Adventists.”
Sam takes a bite of his (by now) cold, dripping BBQ Spam sandwich grimacing as some of the sauce drips on his BDU blouse.
Jeff sets his half-eaten, cold Spam sandwich down in his lap. He consults his notes on his ever-present clipboard. Looking up from his clipboard around at the assembled staff, he pushes the thick Army-issue black framed glasses up his nose. Those damn glasses are so thick and heavy they are always sliding down Jeff’s nose. Jeff speaks in a low voice.
“Material loses are fairly minimal. Losing the farmhouse hurt. With it, we lost most of our paper maps and a few personal effects, but nothing that we cannot replace, well – other than the personal effects anyway. We’ve lost some livestock but not as many as originally feared. Cooks tell me we will be eating mutton for a few days.”
Jeff takes a small sip of his beer grimacing at the taste. Looking briefly at his notes, and replacing his glasses again, he continues.
“Thankfully, unlike pork or beef, there is no religious prohibition eating sheep. Looking at my notes, we’re going to be eating quite a bit of mutton. Good thing the smokehouse escaped damage. But the delayed Kayak Point trip to acquire salt is now even more critical.”
Jeff pauses again, sipping from his beer and grimacing at the taste. I do not believe that Jeff likes the taste of beer. Jeff continues after swallowing noisily.
“With the new kids added to our personnel, we’ve gained several more mouths to feed with little or no helpful skills. It could be argued that the gain of the girls offsets any strain on the resources, but that is arguable. Ammo expenditure was minimal, but the loss of several motorcycles damaged in the fighting cannot be replaced. Our Scout loses essentially offsets the loss of motorcycles as we now possess enough motorcycles to outfit each remaining Scout.”
Sam interrupts Jeff. “We will need to train more Scouts before we head north. Add that to the list of other important shit we need to do.”
Jeff uses Sam’s opportune interruption by drinking a large swallow of his beer making a strange face again at the taste. Jeff shoves his eyeglasses back in place.
“We did not lose any of the fuel tankers thank God, which apparently, was one of the goals of the attackers. We are back to tent city though. The farmhouse was our last wooden structure. We must concentrate on the essentials – shelter, sanitation and food.”
While Jeff talked, Carmine and Pastor silently joined our meeting. Both men appear rough, but not nearly as haggard as the women. Shack and I noted that the men slim down and get a hard-lived look to them, that is not necessarily unpleasant or at least to my jaded eyes.
However, the stress of this post-apocalyptic life takes a toll on the women. The women look much worse than the men. Perhaps I rely on too much on personal criticism and self-criticism; required practices in every socialist social unit. In my adolescence, I learned how to criticize not only myself but also my peers as well.
Shack and I discussed at some length the many reasons why mostly men have survived the KCAP pandemic. The main difference between the sexes, at least that we have concluded, is the presence of children. Many women had children to care for, making them more at risk. A lot of the men only had themselves to worry about, so more males survived than females.
Carmine and Pastor have little to add to the meeting that ends shortly after their arrival. I note that Pastor and Carmine each appropriated one of the Obrez pistols taken from the attackers. During my IDF service Obrez pistols of varied craftsmanship turned up from time to time usually in the arms of insurgents.
Carmine carries an Obrez pistol made from a beautiful Japanese Type 38 Arisaka rifle with the Imperial Chrysanthemum intact. I wonder just how many of the Japanese cartridges Carmine possess. Carmine’s Arisaka pistol is very well done with beautifully carved wood.
I notice that Carmine now also carries a Japanese Type 30 bayonet. With no bayonet socket on his Obrez pistol, I suppose that Carmine will use the Japanese bayonet with its 15” blade as a sword. Carmine with his Escrima skills will be very deadly with the long Japanese blade in addition to his Filipino sundáng.
By comparison, Pastor’s Obrez made from a battered, disreputable-looking Mosin Nagant rifle is one ugly piece of work. Whoever carved the Mosin rifle stock into a pistol grip had little or no woodworking skills.
Pastor now wears a brown leather Mosin rifle bandolier around his hips. He still wears his shotgun bandolier. Pastor’s battered shotgun, now hanging from an OD green woven paracord sling hangs over his right shoulder.
At least we have lots of the ammo for the Mosin rifles even if most of it is old corrosive crap. The zombies do not seem to care if we shoot them with corrosive ammo or not.
The subject of the new kids in the camp is going to something that is going to be settled later. Perhaps some of the older kids might want to travel north with us while some might prefer to remain here with the Adventists.
In our bedroll Shack and I gently make love. Afterwards, we get a few hours of sleep before taking over the night watch in the radio tent. Since the morning that I awoke to Shack buried to the hilt inside me, taking the path to pleasure that only men may take, we have been making love fairly regularly.
Despite my fear of pregnancy, we have not used any contraceptives. Shack sweetheart that he is, during the first time even asked if I wanted him to pull out before he orgasmed. I merely locked my heels behind his ass encouraging him to thrust faster and harder.
Unlike most of the women in the camp, my periods have stopped completely. At first I feared that I might be pregnant. A few of those home pregnancy kits confirmed that I was not to be a mother – yet.
Doc tells me that women who are under a great amount of physical stress can have their monthly periods stop. Stopped cycles were a common problem among professional women athletes who had to reduce their physical exercise in order to conceive. A famous woman Ironman Triathlon athlete, used to running 15 miles a day, had to reduce her daily runs to a mere two miles so that she could conceive her first child.
Rain, still the holdout among the women, has yet to choose a single lover. Despite her promiscuity or it is because of it, no serious fights have broken out. Many of the men still court Rain hoping to be the lucky final one she chooses. I do not see Rain often, but I do occasionally bump into her in the women’s shower.
I started practicing yoga again. The stretching and peace of mind imparted by yoga has greatly helped my state of both mind and body. Frequently I am joined by the Princess and Honey now both sporting visible baby bumps.
I was not aware that the Princess practiced Bikram yoga until she mentioned it after a morning yoga session. I imagined the Princess, dressed in the chicest and most expensive yoga attire, attending some yuppie Mercer Island yoga place. From the description of the Princess’s yoga before KCAP, I might not have been too far off the mark.
We cannot heat any space sufficiently for her preferred style of yoga, but the Princess does not seem to mind. Vinyasa and Ashtanga are my two preferred styles of yoga. I may never be as advanced a yogi as Amy was, but at least I never embarrassed myself.
I find the coordination and stretching of yoga complements Krav Maga quite well. I have tried to convince Shack to join me in yoga every time, so far with little success. Shack will occasionally join me for a little while, but the boy is incredibly stiff, and many of the forms are hard for him to attain. If Shack keeps stretching, he may become limber enough to attain the proper forms.
I have told Shack that he needs to stretch more and the forms with practice get easier. Shack seems more interested in perving on my ass as I stretch, rather than stretching himself. Damn skin tight yoga pants. I have learned that some men have an inordinate puerile desire to stare at a woman’s ass while she stretches.
At least Shack is allowing me to teach him Krav Maga in which I have found him to be an apt if a little too stiff pupil. Surprisingly one of my best students has been Honey, despite her pregnancy. Honey is incredibly limber; her strength and speed is frightening. Honey also possesses and excellent memory able to remember the basic forms and techniques.
Honey usually puts Thing 1 in a play pen while we practice Yoga, or I teach Krav Maga. At least he quit screaming after a few times in the play pen. Thing 1 is already walking while his baby brother is only crawling. That little monster gives me the creeps; the way he follows Honey everywhere is unsettling.
A few hours after the fighting ceased, once most of the clean-up was completed enough so that some normalcy (if it could ever be called that) returned to camp Sam, held a staff meeting beside the burnt-out remains of the farmhouse.
As the staff sits down to hold a meeting, the cooks handout warm BBQ Spam sandwiches. The cooks have become adept at cooking a kind of flat bread. The bread such as it is might not be the prettiest or the tastiest bread, but it works.
I grimace as I am handed a dripping Spam sandwich. I am not sure what brand of BBQ sauce is dripping over my fingers, but it is somewhat too sweet for my tastes. As I perform a very un-ladylike stunt by licking my fingers, another cook offers a choice of either a can of warm beer or hot tea.
At least the tea quality has improved since the Adventists joined us. I take the warm can of beer placing it my coat pocket. I sip my tea between bites of dripping Spam sandwich.
Sam begins the meeting once everyone is seated and served.
“We got hit hard, but not as hard as we could have had those assholes waited long enough to truly discover our defenses.” Sam takes a bite of his BBQ Spam sandwich pausing to wash the dry bread down with a swig from a warm can of Coors Light.
Talking around a mouthful of Spam, Sam continues. “Fuckers knew exactly what to bait the hook with. Knew that we would take in a group with kids. Well, at least we still have the kids. The loss of adults is going to hurt both groups.”
Turning, Sam looks at Doc. Sam takes another bite of his sandwich looking thoughtful. I nod my thanks as the black cook hands me another warm, dripping BBQ Spam sandwich accompanied by another warm can of Coors. I note that the sandwich bread is missing little divots probably where the cooks cut mold from the bread.
The cook continues to hand sandwiches to the staff as Sam continues. While the cooks hand out sandwiches to any who request another, Carol and Nikola join us.
Nikola carries his swaddled child in his arms. Carol looks tired but ungodly happy. No woman who just gave birth should look that damn happy. She is even crying for Chrissakes!
Nikola pulls down the swaddling revealing a red, freckled cherubic face framed by a mop super fine fiery red hair. The baby possesses a small red button nose over a thin-lipped mouth. I assume that the child’s eyes are blue; I wonder if the eyes will remain blue or change to another color.
Puffing out his chest while walking a little unsteadily, Nikola shows around his baby. I suspect that the new father has already been celebrating the birth of his child.
“Present I, son of mine, Stephen Nikolovich. We call him Stiva.” The proud father hands his sleeping infant son to his mother. Carol sits with her son and promptly puts him to nursing. Well swaddled, and nestled against Carol’s breast, Stiva waves a small chubby hand in the air, visible occasionally through the gap of Carol’s naval peacoat.
Carol refuses a Spam sandwich with a brief shake of her head but takes a can of beer, gulping it down in one shot. Nikola takes two Spam sandwiches placing them in his chair. When Carol finishes, the first can of beer Nikola gives her another. While nursing, Carol sips the second can of beer.
From the immense deep pockets of his huge, fuzzy gray Astrakhan great-coat, Nikola produces a sealed bottle of Starka vodka. Tossing the vodka lid into the small campfire we are sitting around he offers a traditional Russian toast, in the form of a poem, to his son.
“I wish you to be always happy,
I wish you a great mood,
I wish you to never know sadness,
I wish you all the kindness in your life,
I wish you to never be sad,
I wish you to start your days with a smile,
Like on this Birth Day!”
After the poem, Nikola takes a large swig of the vodka. Handing the bottle to Sam, Nikola wobbly sits down in his chair. I think perhaps the new father has started celebrating well before the birth of his son.
Sam mumbles a pleasantry before taking a polite sip of the vodka. The other members also mumble brief pleasantries before taking a sip of the vodka and passing the bottle. I am the last to receive the bottle of vodka, Shack handing it to me while he coughs at the burn of the alcohol.
In keeping with the father’s Russian toast to his son, I repeat an old bawdy Russian toast that I heard many years ago.
“Let me raise a toast for the well-known word that consists of five letters starting with letter “P”.
The word describes what people of all over the world think of. It is written in every possible place in words and pictures. It never kills, but on the contrary increases the population of the globe. It is what every woman thinks about and wants very much for herself, and for her daughters, for her husband and for her sons. It is what every man wants to preserve as long as possible.
Stiva, may you have “Peace” always.”
I take a healthy swig of the Starka vodka enjoying the smooth taste. I offer the bottle to Carol, who gently shakes her head no, so as not to disturb her nursing son. I next offer the bottle to Nikola, who takes it in his left hand. He sits quietly watching his son feed taking an occasional healthy swig of the fiery liquid.
We all watch in silence as the boy lustily feeds, the new parents quietly holding hands. For a few moments, the only sounds we hear is the little boy nursing. Sam turns to look at Doc again, but this time looks at Jeff as well.
“So Doc and Jeff, how bad were we hit?”