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Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #63 Camped in the wilds of east Woodinville

September 15, 2012

Not sure how long I slept, but I wake up on my own. I have gotten used to Shack waking me, and I miss it a little. Looking around, I see that it is late morning. I hear the familiar rumble of Shack’s snoring and see him slumped over in his stool leaning against the car, with a blanket around his shoulders.

Shack’s rifle has fallen to the ground; I wonder if that might be what woke me. I do not hear much activity around my section of the camp. I do hear some activity around the camp though, which eases my momentary abandonment panic.

Sitting up in my sleeping bag, I take a proper look around inside dimly lit dark green canvas shelter. Reaching underneath my pillow, I pull out my pistol, checking the safety (off) and ensuring there is a full magazine and a round chambered (there are) in the pistol.

I pull my boots on and stand up and stretch. Stepping outside the large canvas shelter that stretches over my little car and Carol’s truck, I emerge into the late (morning?) sun shine. Blinking rapidly at the unaccustomed brightness, I take another look around the camp. Holding my hand horizontally to shade my eyes, I belatedly remember that I have sun glasses in my purse.

I hear the rhythmic staccato pounding of tools and I see, by craning my neck a lot of activity near the third HEMTT. The mechanics have one of the gigantic rubber wheels off the driver’s side of the ginormous truck and are doing something to the axle hub. The wheeled mechanic’s Hummer is parked next to their patient. I hear the air compressor in the Hummer running and see several of the truck’s service bed doors are open allowing access to the tools inside.

Whatever the problem is with the HEMTT, it requires some large air tools, lots of grease and copious amounts of swearing. The mechanics appear heavily engaged with the repairs to the truck, although I see a few soldiers standing guard over the mechanics incase the noise attracts unwelcome attention.

Shack steps out beside me, giving me a decent startle. “Jumpy this morning Ruth.” He chuckles at me. “Hey, we are staying the day and maybe ‘nother night here. Our boys on the FEMA camp called in to say that they found a primo OP. They have the whole place under observation. Oh, and the colonels want to talk to you at your convenience, after you get a bath and some grub.”

“Is that a hint, Shack?” I ask. “No, Ruth it’s an offer. Nothin’ implied, but the water might still be warm. I can crank the fire up for you.” Shack seems a little embarrassed.

I pat Shack on the shoulder, and going inside again, dig in my toiletry kit, until I find my precious roll of TP. I waggle the roll of TP at Shack while I slip my rifle over my shoulder. Shack understanding my so subtle signal gives me thumbs up. I wrap my pistol belt around my hips, drop my pistol in its holster and tuck the TP roll under my arm.

Tipping my rifle up as it rests on my left shoulder, I flip my rifle from safe to single shot (damn Shack). Shack and I walk in companionable silence to the sandy latrine area and do our necessaries. During our latrine break, I see several convoy members fishing in the Sammamish River.

I wonder if the fisherman caught anything other than zombies. I see that each of the fishermen is armed. There are also a few soldiers standing armed sentry over the fishermen. I wonder why for the briefest moment why they are not fishing with explosives, then dismiss the idea as stupid.

Not only would using explosives to fish consume a precious commodity, but the resulting noise would attract lots of unwelcome attention. Fishing with explosives is an effective way of gathering lots of fish quickly but at this moment, not practical.

Shack notices I am watching the fishermen. “Yes, Ruth they have snagged a few zombies but have also caught some nice trout. I understand some of the convoy members raided the PX on Joint Base Lewis McChord, known as JBLM ‘round here, for some of the fishing gear. They also raided a few off post large warehouse sporting goods stores as well before heading north.”

Shack takes a breath, reaches into his right thigh pocket and pulls out a 20 ounce bottle of Mountain Dew. Shack takes a few gulping swigs of soda before screwing the lid back on dropping the bottle back in his pocket.

Shack starts talking again. “Any fresh meat right now is precious. The SF guys were teaching snare construction earlier. They’ve caught quite a few rabbits in the snares, as well as one ginormous porcupine and a pair of seriously, pissed off raccoons. Some of the rabbits appear to be domestic escapees, while some are the little pygmy rabbits native to the area. Orders are to shoot any deer we see. The guys have also been dropping the occasional pigeon and Mourning Dove with wrist rockets and marbles. Still missing more than hitting; gonna need more marbles soon.”

I am about to tell Shack that I was never seriously that found of neither fish nor rabbit but venison is Ok. I cannot imagine eating pigeon, which is a flying rat. I reconsider since, in our situation, there is not actually cause to be dietary picky. Shack prattles on about how Doc Jamal is worried about the caloric intake of the convoy members. Doc is worried that several of the convoy members are losing weight.

Soldiers on campaign have a hard time maintaining body mass. Soldier in heavy contact combat can burn 5,000 to 10,000 calories per day. It is not uncommon to see even the fittest soldiers lose weight on long, extended campaigns. Shack pronounces that one of the reasons the colonels have been liberally issuing beer and soda to the convoy is for the calories.

One amusing thing about the IDF is that we always had beer. It might not have always been the best beer, but even the most Orthodox of Jews appreciated a good bottle of beer when in the field. I sure wish the beer was cold, but it is still tasty.

I grab the rest of my toiletry kit and Shack walks me over to the bath tent. He checks to make sure the tent is clear, and then motions for me to go in. I see Shack stoke to life a small fire underneath a soot-stained large rusty iron claw foot bath tub laying outside in the sand beside the tent.

“Don’t get in the tub Ruth because the bottom of the tub will burn your feet. Scoop the water out with the pan. Take the hot water in the tent and mix with cold and bathe in the tent.”

As if I needed instructions, but I thank Shack and take a quick bath changing my clothes again. At first, Shack helps brush my hair, and then Carol walks up who joins Shack and I putting my hair back up in its customary long pony tail. Carol for the first time gets a good look at my hair pins and mentions that they look lethal. I wink at Carol and replace my hair pins.

Carol looks good this morning, the extra sleep has been good to her. Carol does not seem to be suffering as badly her morning sickness. I wonder if she is worried about Nikola. Carol and Nikola, as our only expectant couple, have an almost rock star status within the convoy.

Carol, Shack and I walk back to my little Smart car after we get my unruly octopus of hair tamed. I need to put some more conditioner on my hair, and the ends are getting frizzy. Shack and Carol show me where the camp has erected a series of large pots to boil clothes.

Shack tells me the taco truck is being refitted as a portable butcher and meat storage locker. Most of the large aluminum pots now used in the laundry came out of the taco truck. The taco truck was a nice change from MREs, but pretty soon we all know that we are going to be back eating MREs.

If you talk to anyone that has had to exist on MREs for any length of time, they will usually inform you how quickly boring the meals get. Few relish the thought of eating MREs for any length of time again. However, in a zombie apocalypse, when faced with starvation, eating MREs sounds suddenly a lot more appetizing.

I see the Princess has been put to work boiling clothes using what looks like a large wooden oar. She is sweaty and soot streaked, but is working hard and has never looked so good. Did Doc Jamal over do the happy juice?

The Princess works with her surviving daughter, running the fire wood and keeping the fire under the pots going. Both ladies appear to be happy to be doing something. Another pot nearby smells awful , and I inquire as to the smell.

Well, bless her soul; apparently the Princess is not completely worthless. The Princess is rendering lard in one large tub. She has collected and burned red alder wood and is rendering lye from the ashes. She is going to try her hand at making some course soap.

The Princess leaves us to orchestrate the soap making industry and appears to be doing a stupendous job. It is interesting the watch the Princess barking orders like a skinny Marine drill sergeant.

This whole part of the camp, I realize is supervised by the Princess who appears to be in charge and ruling by force of will. She is directing her collection of drones which beat and wring the clothes and then lay the dripping wet clothes out on nearby blackberry bushes to dry.

Shack and I drop our dirty clothes off with the Princess who actually smiles at me, will wonders never cease. As we walk away, Shack says that before becoming someone’s trophy wife and a mother, the Princess was a Vassar graduate and rumored to be, at one time, a CEO of some big game software company in Seattle.

I note that the Princess has an old Smith and Wesson 3913NL in a sweat-stained and water-soaked brown leather horizontal shoulder holster. On her right hip is a black leather open-topped horizontal magazine pouch holding four magazines. I note that she has four magazines in the pouch and one in the gun, so she is fairly well armed.

At first I thought she was carrying one of the earlier LadySmiths (LS) pistols, but the lack of ambidextrous safety and color indicate it is not a LS. I note the pistol under her left arm pit has had a full custom carry and bevel package done to it. I ask the Princess if I can please see her little pistol. I always liked the little LS pistols, but never acquired one of my own.

The Princess pulls the pistol with some difficulty and hands it to me butt first. I note the pistol has been hard chromed. The pistol has also been Magna Ported through the slide and barrel with four ports. The Israeli made Hesco-Meprolight tritium sights still glow faintly.

Pointing the pistol in a safe direction, I flip the safety off. I ease the slide back enough to glance into the chamber and see the pistol does not have a round in the chamber. I like the heft of the pistol but remember these little pistols with their short 8.9 cm barrel are God-awful loud. Since this one is ported, I bet it is even louder.

Even a Glock 19 is quieter than these little 9mm pistols with their finger length barrels. The Smith and Wesson 3900 series pistols are notorious for their crappy triggers. My only real gripe against the 3913 LS pistols is the awful DA/SA trigger pull weight. My Hi-Power’s trigger was massaged by a SAS armorer many years ago, before I was born. My pistol’s trigger breaks at 4.5 pounds, which is great for a semi-auto pistol.

I drop the magazine from the little 9mm pistol and notice that the gun is currently loaded with a full mag of NATO-spec FMJs. I am surprised to see that it has one of the rare, discontinued RamLine nine round magazines. The Princess tells me that it is the only nine round clip she has for the pistol. I correct her terminology, teaching her that clips go in a lady’s hair, and a magazine goes in a weapon.

The Princess gives me the telltale blank look of someone who is not genuinely into guns. She mumbles something about her husband buying the damn thing, and that it was made in the mid ‘90s. Apparently her husband had decent taste in weapons.

I wonder if the missing husband had the pistol purposely customized or bought it that way. Thoughts of her husband make me wonder if he died in the KCAP outbreak. I hand the empty unloaded pistol back to the Princess and start to walk away.

Then I turn back to the Princess who is holstering her pistol, and inquire about her S&W 686. She shrugs and says that it was her damned husband’s other pistol , but ammo for the huge pistol is hard to find. She left it in the cab of the snow plow. The little 9mm is much easier to find ammo she says with a shrug.

Leaving the Princess, we laze around for most of the early part of the day, cleaning weapons and other gear thoroughly for the first time. Shortly before noon or thereabouts, the colonels come walking up.

The colonels want to have what they are calling a staff meeting in the morning to decide the course of action regarding the FEMA camp. The reports from the observers are a mixed bag. Once they get back tomorrow, the colonels want to sit down and decide the best course of action with the FEMA camp. The colonels do drop a hint that the observers spotted the sister.

After the colonels leave, Shack and I munch on a lunch consisting of MRE snacks. We consume such goodies as sugar cookies, mixed dried fruit and nuts, and the last of my crackers and jalapeno squeeze cheese.

Our lunch is washed down with a warm can of beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon this time. I notice that a few of the convoy members have the Canadian MRE equivalent. I have always heard that the Canadian MREs are far superior to the American variety that most people eat. I have never had occasion to eat a Canadian MRE, I wonder if that will change soon.

Sitting cross-legged across from each other, on an old, gray thread bare wool Army blanket Shack and I completely break down our weapons for a thorough cleaning. We are joined by the soldier carrying the Negev who informs me that he heard through the grapevine that I wanted to talk to him. Ben with his Negev drops to his butt between Shack and I making a three-sided melee of weapon cleaning.

I find out that Ben is half Israeli, born to an American soldier father and an Israeli mother. Born in Tel Aviv, same place I was born, Ben and I talk about Israel for a few minutes. Ben’s Hebrew is very poor, not even grade school level.

Ben never learned Yiddish at all which is a shame because Yiddish is the lingua franca of Jews. No matter where a Jew originated from, they could communicate through Yiddish. This was more prevalent before the founding of Israel 14 May 1948. Yiddish was dying a slow death and was no longer a living language, but a few Jews still learned and taught Yiddish.

Ben does not remember much of Israel, as they left when his Infantry Officer father rotated back to the States. Ben’s father is the one that brought the Negev back from Israel, and kept it in his private collection. Apparently Ben’s father acquired it from some Israeli Infantry officer in a game of cards. The Negev, since it was illegally imported, was never brought out but remained in Ben’s father’s gun safe.

Ben’s family was living on Fort Campbell, KY when the KCAP pandemic broke. His father was the commander of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) and Ben was a senior at Fort Campbell High School on post.

Like Shack, Ben was conscripted when the call went out. Ben went through an abbreviated boot camp and then training with the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) before being assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion (HHB), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

Like many of the other Army posts, Fort Campbell was overrun by zombies. Ben thinks most of his family, his two younger brothers, an older sister and his mother were evacuated to Canada. But no one knows if they made it or not.

The 101st was badly shattered and disorganized. His father, the general, ordered the evacuation of the base and instituted a scorched earth policy attempting to prevent the further spread of the KCAP virus.

Ben and the remains of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) has been slowly working his way west, and north. The general gave Ben the Negev when they emptied out their house on post. The general ordered the stripping of the post and lead the evacuees west.

For a week, or so after Fort Campbell fell, Ben and his father travelled west with the survivors. The Fort Campbell survivors along with thousands of other survivors stopped in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

For several weeks, the large group of survivors was able to live comfortably in the rec area. With plenty of wood for cooking and heat and plenty of fish and game to eat, the survivors lived well enough. Ben talks about the KCAP infected wild swine causing lots of problems in the refugee camps. Some of the refugees ate KCAP infected swine, became cannibals attacking other refugees.

Unfortunately, such a large group of people also means that a few people slipped in that were infected. When these infected people died and were reanimated, they attacked everyone near them and within minutes the refugee camp was in chaos.

Ben does not know if his father survived the retreat from the rec area, because he became separated from his father crossing Kentucky Lake. The bridges crossing the lakes were dynamited by the Army Corps of Engineers attempting to slow the spread of the KCAP virus.

This worked against the refugees as they had to acquire water craft to cross the large Kentucky Lake. Many survivors and refugees that did not fall victim to the zombies drowned in the lakes in over-loaded water craft that capsized.

Later that evening, after all guns, are cleaned, function checked, and reassembled, a small fire is made in the center of a deep depression in the sand soil near the center of the camp. The fire is kept low , and convoy members are rotated through so that everyone gets to eat and have a break.

Supper tonight was venison steaks, cooked over a bed of red alder coals in the center of the camp. Most diners opt to eat their venison medium rare to rare. A few members like Carol opt for well toasted charcoal, but each to their own. Salt and pepper are liberally applied , and we laugh as most convoy members go full-out “cave man.”

Most of us got to munch on MRE snacks again for desert. I get Skittles and Shack gets this large Canadian MRE chocolate brownie in chocolate sauce. Shack heats his chocolate brownie with an American MRE flameless heater.

Beer was liberally passed around, but no one became intoxicated that I noticed. One of the young BMX kids does not appear to appreciate the taste of beer. Shame we do not have any of the sweeter, smoother alcohol like Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

I know the colonels have some very smooth Patron they break out when it is somebody’s birthday. I also know Doc is keeping some very strong, pure grain alcohol for medicinal purposes. I wonder what other booze the colonels might have squirreled away.

The colonels issue military surplus green banded mechanical wind watches to all convoy members. After issuing the watches, watches were synchronized. Two hour watch rotations were assigned by the colonels after supper. I drew the 22:00 to balls shift while Shack gets the 03:00 to 05:00 shift.

After watch rotation assignments, most convoy members sat around the small fire talking quietly. The mechanics have a wheel bearing they have to finish replacing and repacking whatever the hell that means. Rick and one of the mechanics wants to check over the snow plow tomorrow.

Convoy members eventually drift off to their beds. I lay down in my bedroll, Shack stretched out beside me in his bedroll. We talk for a few minutes before Shack drifts off to sleep. Shack’s gentle snoring lulls me to sleep , and I sleep soundly until someone shakes me awake for my watch.

My watch goes quietly; afterwards I return to my bedroll and fall asleep again until morning.

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8 Comments
  1. John permalink

    Good episode, outlines camp routine, and even the Princess is getting productive. Are you many episodes away from incorporating Toby’s guest entry?

    • Not too far as soon as the convoy gets to the Snohomish Armory. I will also update some of the events at the Armory prior to the arrival of the convoy. Toby’s story was in the first hours of the KCAP outbreak and we are now almost a full month since the whole world became infected. Thanks for asking John and keeping me on my toes.

  2. Nice filler chapter, though still a filler. I’m looking forward to the eventual clash between the convoy folks and the gang. As part of the filler, I was hoping to hear some of what the recon team learned.

    • Yes Jake it is a filler chapter. Next chapter will have details about the gang from the OP.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Filler or not, It is awesome my man. I know that putting this tale together is hard work, you are doing well and I don’t take this chapter as a “filler” it is well written, moves us forward with the convoy / team members as they move through this situation in hopes to survive.
    I like the fact of the princess coming down to earth to help, and to be a viable part of the team. Maybe losing the thong underwear and fancy (Yet Smelly) clothing by the capable hands of our Ruth, and realizing that it’s wake up time, seems to have worked. I like the way you have moved her into the crew. thanks for bringing Ruth and the negev soldier together. Keep up the good work, I miss more frequent posts, but I am not writing the story as you are, along with keeping a family going .
    Do as well as you are able, quality beats quantity any day. Since you are doing this from the bottom of your heart and not asking for funding, I truly appreciate your fine writing and storyline. My uncle rode with a South Fla MC Club, so 1% folks are not new to me. I don’t know if the convoy would be able to stave off the group holding the stadium, other than possibly abducting and debreifing one or more of the military persons that were absorved by the gangsters and bringing them onboard after the assault. Then a good plan of attack could be assembled if it is worth while. Seems like the Vehicles,fuel,weaponry and medicines might be worth an all out balls to the wall,shitstorm. I hope we don’t lose too many of our folks, if that is the way it goes. Thank you.MM

    • Thanks MM, I am glad that you liked the chapter. Growing up, my best friend’s mother worked for Harley (she still does today). I am very familiar with the 1%ers and their culture. I am glad that you liked how I brought the Princess back into the convoy. I did not want the Princess to be worthless forever, but wanted to redeem her in a manner that made sense.

  4. Robert permalink

    You (Ruth) correct the Princess’ use of clips instead of magazines after having used the same term multiple times in the same and preceding paragraphs. 😉

    • Robert, thank you for catching that mistake. I should have caught the terminology mistake myself. A good editor might have caught the mistake, one of the problems of being the writer and the editor, some of the smallest simplest mistakes sneak by. When you write something and then also attempt to edit it, you are sometimes too close to the work to see the little mistakes. I will fix this in an edit – thank you again, Robert.

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