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Fiction – Ruth’s Story Part #27 I hate mornings

April 12, 2012

Next thing I know, Carol is shaking me awake waving a G.I. issue aluminum canteen cup with folding wire handles under my nose. The nauseating aroma of fresh coffee wafts up from the steaming cup.

“Careful the cup is hot,” Carol says. “At least we still have coffee; the guys raided every coffee shop and supermarket we came across. Who knew Seattle had so many Starbucks. The world may have gone to shit, but at least we still have coffee.”

The coffee is gloriously hot and grit-your-teeth strong. I decide not to mention that I prefer tea, and actually abhor coffee because beggars cannot be choosy. I take a few tentative sips, sitting up in my sleeping bag.

Carol is sitting cross legged on the pile of scratchy gray wool blankets beside my sleeping bag. An odor reminiscent of cheap, canned cat food hangs around Carol this morning. With the demise, of society and many of its luxuries, daily bathing is going to become rarer, and we are all going to have to be a little more tolerant of body odor. Carol’s hair is a tad frizzy, but otherwise she looks much the same. Seeing her hair makes me think mine must look like shit and I run a quick hand over my long pony tail pulling it into my lap. My hair is still tightly braided, despite a few loose hairs, thankfully Amy helped me put it up night before my flight from BWI.

Carol is dressed as she was yesterday when I first met her, but this morning she has a black leather flap holster on her belt, out of which peeks the butt of a blue Beretta 92 pistol. She still has on the same baggy trousers, but now is wearing a somewhat too-small woodland camo long sleeved blouse. The poor blouse buttons up the front with large brown plastic buttons which are straining to hold the front of the garment closed over her huge tits. The blouse’s left pocket has the emblem of the U.S. Navy Seabees sewn to it.

I see that she and Nikola have put away their ECWS sleeping bags. Even the HEMTT that was parked behind us is gone. Fuck I was out! I wonder if, for a moment, I were drugged, then decide that I was just extremely tired.

“Sorry, it’s MRE supper for breakfast,” Carol says. Great a chipper, happy person in the morning. I hate mornings and hate people that are perky in the morning.

“Did you ever try the MRE breakfast?” I ask Carol. By the raised eyebrows, I assume not, lucky her, they were pretty fucking horrid.

“I am not much for breakfast,” I tell her. “Coffee will be plenty for me.” If she notices my grimace of distaste, as I sip the coffee, she does not mention it. Coffee, horrid stuff!

“Yeah, lately I am not much for breakfast either,” Carol says patting her stomach. “It’s probably too soon to tell, but there is a good chance that I am pregnant. I ran out of birth control meds a few weeks ago, and my Nuvaring ran out a while ago. We did not think to raid stores for condoms. Seems kinda silly now but we were more concerned with not getting ate than birth control. I think Nikola will be a good father.”

When Carol pauses for breath, I interject, “He did not have any family back home in Russia?”

“If you mean a wife or something no, he’s from Piskov, somewhere south of St. Petersburg. Just his mother was still alive his dad died of cancer a few years ago. His dad was in the Spets, in Afghanistan, from 1979 till 1981 when he came home.” Carol takes a deep breath threatening her buttons, sipping from her own aluminum canteen cup of coffee that was sitting in her lap.

“Nikola and I are heading for the Canadian North West Territories. There’s no zombies up there something about the cold kills them. Nicky’s talking to the colonels now. The colonels have given permission for those who want to leave to do so, so we are taking advantage of the chance. Nikola is getting some supplies. We will be heading north and want to come with you, if you want, I mean if it is OK.” Carol pauses to take another sip of her coffee.

I ponder Carol’s offer, setting my coffee down on the ground I stand and get dressed. I put on my field jacket first as it is damned cold this morning. Just as, I get my pants on and sit down on my ECWS bag to tie my boots, Nikola ducks back inside his arms full of stuff.

Nikola dumps his load on the table, near where the military radios sat yesterday. “Carol asked me to get LBV (Load Bearing Vest) and holster for pistol; this is smallest LBV could find.” He hands me a men’s small LBV in the old woodland green camouflage pattern attached to an old solid O.D. green nylon ALICE pistol belt similar to the one Nikola wears.

“Sorry, could not find more magazines for pistol. Browning not common pistol,” Nikola tells me as he gives me the LBV.

The O.D. green nylon ALICE pistol belt hanging from the bottom of the LBV has a newer Kydex Serpa holster attached to it on the lower left side. It’s a right-handed general purpose holster and fits my Browning Hi-Power but only after I remove the suppressor. I will have to put the AAC suppressor in my pants pocket for now. Maybe later I will look at slicing a hole in the bottom of the holster, so my AAC suppressor can stay attached.

I move the holster to the right side of the ALICE pistol belt securing it with two nearly brand new looking ALICE clips. I would prefer a Fobus drop leg tactical holster, but this will do for now. I need to find some magazine pouches for my pistol.

The ALICE pistol belt also carries two large solid O.D. green nylon ALICE pockets each capable of holding three 30-round M16 magazines. One of these M16 pouches hang on the ALICE belt on each side of the LBV. Each M16 magazine pouch has two smaller external pouches that hold a frag grenade. A large flap with a black plastic closure snap cover the top of the M16 magazines. Unfortunately, the M16 magazine pouches are empty.

The old Cordura nylon woodland green LBV looks brand new. I’ve worn similar LBVs when I served in the IDF – most of our material was U.S. Army surplus. The LBV has four pockets capable of holding a total of six 30-round M16 magazines and two additional pockets each for one frag grenade.

The LBV right shoulder pad has two small O.D. green nylon pockets clipped to it each held by a pair of black ALICE clips. I search both pockets finding them both full. The top pocket has a small Velcro strip sewn in the center and contains a standard U.S. military first aid dressing in its solid brown plastic packet with white lettering. The date on the sealed dressing reads made in 1983 , so it should still be useable.

The lower small O.D. green pocket contains a genuine Rothco U.S. military tritium lensatic compass. I pull the compass out it appears to be brand new. Folding the compass, I put it back in the pocket.

For now, I put the LBV, and the ALICE belt now carrying my pistol on the table and help Carol finish folding the scratchy gray wool blankets.

With Carol’s help, I roll up my ECWS sleeping bag system, I note it is the mighty warm rated to -30 degrees F model. After stuffing my ECWS bag in its black nylon stuff sack, I grab my LBV to continue to adjust it. I am adjusting it over my field jacket as the padding on the jacket will soften some of the pressure applied to my shoulders.

I pull a chair out and sit down at the table near where the radios and HEMMT were yesterday. I start fooling with all of these damned belts adjusting my new LBV. I forgot how much I hated these old ALICE LBVs with a million little buckles to adjust.

Nikola lights the small Esbit stove and starts making more coffee. The smell of fresh coffee is not enticing to me even though it smells darned pleasant. The light streaming in from the missing HEMTT seems odd. I wonder where the HEMMT went?

As Nikola is busy making coffee and I adjust my new LBV, Carol picks up the folded scratchy gray U.S. Government issue wool blankets and carries them out of the Radio Shack.

As I am fooling with the thrice-damned LBV Rick ducks into the shack.

“Mornin’ Ruth,” Rick says to me and nods appreciatively at Nikola as he hands Rick a steaming aluminum canteen cup of coffee. “Looks as we’ve picked up quite a procession. I’ve been talking to the two colonels, and they want to follow the snow plow. They have three tank HEMTTs full of diesel fuel and another HEMTT tank full of fresh water, plus a pair of 2,500 gallon water tank trailers. All the fuel tanks on the HEMTTs are nearly full. The soldiers want to trade diesel for the snow plow as I clear the path in the highway.”

This is the longest Rick has talked to me since we joined forces. Now he is saying we are joining forces with the soldiers. I ponder this as I continue to try to get my damned LBV adjusted. Carol picks up my forgotten coffee and sets it on the table next to me; Nikola bless his soul warms up my coffee, just what I wanted more yucky coffee. I smile my thanks at him and take a sip of the slightly cooler coffee.

As I ponder Rick’s revelation, the two colonels enter the radio shack. Seeing the African-American medical officer again I finally remember who he reminds me of! He reminds me of the food critic Anton Ego from the old Pixar movie Ratatouille. As I chuckle to myself at my silliness, the two colonels are standing with their arms held behind their backs.

The scarred Caucasian Special Forces colonel asks, “So, Ruth have you considered our offer?”

Rick looks at me and says, “I was just conferring with Ruth. Ruth, you don’t mind if the soldiers tag along with us in exchange for food, fuel and security, do you?”

I ponder how the fuck I came to be in charge of this fiasco! “No, I suppose not,” I reply to Rick.

The scarred Special Forces colonel gives a brief nod, then the Anton Ergo-looking colonel, speaks for the first time. His voice is mellow with a pleasing accent that sounds like he grew up in North Africa, Morocco perhaps? “There are not that many soldiers that are going to be traveling north with us. Most of the soldiers are scattering in an attempt to find family and friends.”

The scarred Special Forces colonel speaks next, “We have to abandon most of this gear. We’ll take the four tank HEMTTs with us and one of the deuce and a halves, but the rest of the gear just eats too much fuel. I’ve got the guys that are coming with us stripping the Humvees and other vehicles of anything valuable. The only Humvee we are taking north with us is the wheeled vehicle mechanic’s Humvee with all of its tools. Thankfully all three wheeled vehicle mechanics are coming with us. We have plenty of weapons, but ammo is running low. I’ve ordered the ammo be distributed evenly between those leaving and those staying. That has led to a flurry of horse trading between the soldiers. We have plenty of MREs and a lot of bottled water, so I am making sure that everyone is getting enough of those. Regrettably none of the snipers chose to come north with us.”

“Well it sounds good, Colonel,” I reply.

“Call me Sam, please; I am not a colonel anymore, as we are not the U.S. Army anymore. We are simply a band of survivors, joining together to better our odds,” the scarred non-colonel replies.

I note that neither colonel is wearing collar devices other than the medical officer who still wears the medical corps emblem.

“All this activity has attracted plenty of attention, both from the living and living dead. We do not have ammo to spare. Rick tells me that you were heading for the Snohomish Washington National Guard Armory, is this still the case?” the scarred colonel, I mean Sam asks.

“Yes I promised one of the soldiers I met at the airport that I would look for his brother at the Snohomish armory,” I reply.

“Well that is on the way and I am hoping there may be fuel, weapons and ammo available at the armory as well,” Sam replies.

“Let’s get going, I hope to get moving before noon,” with that the two former colonels step out of the radio shack and into the bright sunlight.

While I was talking to the two former colonels, Nikola finished playing barista had started hauling radios, and tables out of the Radio Shack, often followed by Carol also carrying stuff.

I set my coffee on the table, don my fucking ALICE LBV and walk around the radio shack a few times checking the fit of the LBV. It is not perfect but will do for now. I like how the pistol rides even if it is a little loose. I hate having the suppressor off, but cannot help it right now. The Serpa holster, while not perfect, does an adequate job of retaining my pistol even when jumping around like a frutin’ kangaroo.

As I am stomping around in my LBV tugging at it, Nikola comes in and stops me for a moment to make some adjustments on the back of the LBV. Nikola’s adjustments make the fit about right over my field jacket. I nod my thanks at him, and he squeezes my shoulders in what I assume is affection and grabs another folding table and chair carrying them out into the sunshine.

I pull my car keys out of my field jacket and picking up my ECWS sleeping bag head for my car. I blink when I come outside in the bright sun shine. I spot Nikola standing in the back of a large dark blue late model diesel four wheel drive Chevy Silverado short bed pickup.

He is talking to another soldier who is showing Nikola an aluminum baseball bat with a distinctly flattened u-shape. I hear Nikola tell the soldier, “Aluminum not so good to bash zombie head, use wood much better.”

Soldiers are running all over the place. I see several have commandeered vehicles that were abandoned; almost anything is fair game as long as its diesel. Other soldiers are stripping vehicles of batteries, tires, belts, hoses, and searching the closest vehicles for useful items.

Nikola has placed the military radios in the bed of the Chevy pickup and has packed his and Carol’s stuff. The short walk to my little car reveals just how empty this camp has become. I cannot believe they let me sleep so long. Many of these commandeered vehicles are heading south, I guess those are the soldiers not coming north with us.

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4 Comments
  1. BobOK permalink

    I check daily for my ‘Ruth Fix’. I’m satisified now.
    I can’t wait for the next chapter. Well written, and very addictive.

    Thanks again.

  2. Thanks for continuing to read, Bob, I am trying to be a little more consistant with my updates.

  3. John permalink

    Nice !!! It’s cool to see some of my comments seeping into the story.

    Ruth’s struggle with the Alice LBV was hilarious. And I’m sorry but I’m still wondering what’s in those darn rucks !

    Keep up the good work, when I received this last update via email, I actually rescheduled a meeting 30 minutes so I could read it first. LOL.

  4. John, your suggestions were very apt and fell well within the limits that I had set for the story. There will be some more horse trading coming in the next installment, wait and see what Ruth “acquires.” I hope that you will appreciate what she receives.

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